I'm a Travel Writer, and This Rolling Carry-on Duffel Is the Best Soft-sided Suitcase I've Ever Used

It fit everything I needed for my 15-day honeymoon trip.  

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Briggs and Riley rolling duffel
Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom

As a travel writer and editor who's been lucky enough to visit nearly 50 countries, I have my standard packing routine down pat. And that routine always included a hard-sided carry-on. I hate waiting around at baggage claim, so I never check a bag, and I've always preferred the sturdiness and forced inability to overpack that comes with a hard-sided suitcase.

But when I recently went on safari for my honeymoon, that all changed. Getting to your safari lodge usually requires taking a tiny plane that's often crammed to the brim with not just luggage, but also supplies for the hotel and neighboring outposts. Because of this, most lodges require you to pack a soft-sided bag, and my lodge even specifically noted that duffels were best.

Knowing that I was headed on a 15-day trip that included not just a safari but also city and country stays in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and South Africa's Winelands, and would need numerous outfits to match these various activities, the thought of packing it all into a duffel left me reeling. Duffel bags have always been my least favorite luggage option for two reasons: they're impossible to keep organized and carrying one always hurts my shoulder, no matter how padded the strap.

Related: I'm a Travel Writer — and This Is the One Last-minute Packing Hack I Swear By

So when I stumbled on Briggs & Riley's Rolling Carry-on Duffle, I was excited to put it to the test. It easily solved my shoulder strap issue by offering wheels and an adjustable handle. And unlike traditional duffel bags that open down the middle into one large abyss, this bag unzips all the way around and folds open completely like a traditional soft-sided carry-on. Plus, it features numerous pockets for organizing and buckled straps to keep folded clothes neatly in place.

Briggs and Riley rolling duffel
Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: nordstrom.com, amazon.com, and briggs-riley.com, $429

Despite its smart design, I was still extremely worried about whether everything I needed would actually fit in the 21-inch bag. To my shock and delight, the deep interior offered me plenty of space.

While I am an admittedly light packer, I was impressively able to fit four safari outfits, running shoes, flip flops, numerous dresses, linen pants, several tops, two hiking sets, two bathing suits, a cover-up, and two lightweight sweaters in this bag. I even managed to get my mini travel straightener in the top mesh pocket.

In the end, this carry-on and my Madewell tote were all I brought on my entire two-week trip. The rolling duffel ended up being the perfect bag. Its ballistic nylon exterior made it incredibly durable; it wheeled seamlessly on every surface, including dirt landing strips; and it effortlessly fit on every plane we took, from the overhead bins on our trans-atlantic flights to the back of a tiny four-seater plane.

Plus, it even had a handy top pocket to keep my passport and wallet secure and accessible and a phone pocket on the back that made going through security a breeze. It's safe to say I'm officially a duffel bag convert.

At $429, the Rolling Carry-on Duffle is a worthy splurge that will last you years to come. While I haven't found anything of the same size and durability that packs quite like the Briggs & Riley version, if you're seeking a less expensive piece of luggage, you can find a few alternative wheeled duffel bag options on Amazon.

Shop more rolling duffel bag options here:

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we'll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles