Common knowledge dictates that if you’re going to invest in luggage, a rollaway suitcase is your best bet. Versatile, sturdy and easily able to fit in an overhead compartment, the rollaway is fundamental for an extended trip either domestic or aboard. While we’re clearly fans of Rimowa and Tumi, for shorter excursions and road trips, a hard-case nine gallon behemoth simply won’t do. Thankfully, there’s an alternative: the duffle bag. One of the most popular bags in existence, the duffle crossed over from function to fashion decades ago, and given strong associations with nearly every high-end European fashion house, today the duffle is one of the most common status symbols in existence. Interestingly enough, it’s also one of the most commonly miscategorized—at least in the United States.

What is a duffle bag?

What Americans most often refer to as “duffle bags” are in fact gym bags. The "duffel" or duffle (named after the Belgian village of the same name where the fabric derives from) is in fact a cloth or canvas bag with a drawstring that stands upright. Dating back to the 1600s, these bags were adopted by soldiers centuries ago and have remained a military staple since. Gym bags (also called carryalls and holdalls in the United Kingdom) usually feature a hard rectangular base, a zipper closure at the top, two handles and often a removable strap. While the difference is increasingly negligible and the terms are used almost interchangeably, historically the distinction was quite stark. Regardless of proper nomenclature, for many consumers a duffle bag is a direct reflection of personal style.

What to buy?

A purchase intended to last for years, the duffle should ideally make a statement. Given the bag’s ubiquity, the options are similarly endless. Available in canvas, nylon or supple leather and both adorned with logos or unbranded, there is a duffle that suits every person’s style and taste. Rather than make you dig through thousands of options, we have gone ahead and selected a few of our favorites. We already taught you how to pack—now you can find a bag to fit it all in.

Tags: packing, travel, luggage, filson, patagonia, supreme, the-north-face, goyard, louis-vuitton, gucci, nike