By Sarah Bruning
April 25, 2019
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Courtesy of Away

I'm not usually a duffel person. As a chronic overpacker, I tend to favor hard-sided rolling suitcases (even for short leisure trips) because they force me to be more judicious and I can push them around easily, even if they're super heavy. The one time I tend to make an exception is when minimal schlepping and lifting is involved — say, a road trip. So when Away invited me up to the Hudson Valley for an overnight to test the new Weekender bag, I couldn't wait to put the duffel through its paces.

The lightweight bag — available in black, olive green, and light khaki — has a slightly textured canvas exterior and a leather-lined bottom, which look great together but also make the bag durable. The roomy interior features two large side pockets, which work well for tablets or notebooks, plus a laptop sleeve.

Related: The Best Carry-on Duffel Bags, According to Travelers

Outside, you’ll find two zippered exterior pockets designed to keep small essentials within easy reach. A separate wipeable shoe compartment on the bottom comes in particularly handy if you’re dealing with muddy hiking boots (or, in my case, flats spattered with clay from a pottery class).

With a 38.7-liter capacity, Away’s Weekender holds roughly the same amount as the brand’s beloved Carry-on. Since it was early spring, I knew the weather could change at a moment’s notice, so I filled my packing cubes with plenty of options for layering — two pairs of jeans, a couple T-shirts, a light sweater, a chunkier knit, an outfit for yoga, and a utility jacket — and tossed them in, along with my toiletries bag.

At that point, with about half the duffel filled, I did a test lift, first with the canvas handles, then with the long detachable strap. Both methods felt comfortable, but once I slung the latter over my shoulder, I could really feel the difference in how easily it carried. (An unexpected bonus I would later discover: The duffel’s slim profile helped me avoid accidentally knocking into other people in a busy hotel lobby.)

Even when I added the rest of my must-haves, I could pick up the bag and load it into my trunk without an embarrassing heave-ho move — a revelation for which my back and my husband will thank me when it comes time for summer road trips.

Away Weekender in Natural

Courtesy of Away

To buy: awaytravel.com, $245

Away Weekender in Olive

Courtesy of Away

To buy: awaytravel.com, $245

Away Weekender in Black

Courtesy of Away

To buy: awaytravel.com, $245

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