The 4 Best Carry-on Duffel Bags of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Our top pick is the roomy and convertible Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag.

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Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

A duffel bag is an incredibly useful piece of luggage that can fit just as much as a standard suitcase (if not more) and can compress down for hassle-free storage. Whether you’re embarking on a weekend getaway or flying overseas, there are plenty of options for carry-on duffels that are comfortable to carry and easily fit in an overhead compartment. 

To find the best carry-on duffel bags on the market, we returned to our extensive testing insights from when we evaluated 25 duffel bags of all shapes and sizes based on traits like organization, maneuverability, and durability. We combed through the top-performing bags to find the options that fit the standard 22 x 14 x 9-inch airline regulations for carry-on bags to pick out our favorite ones for your next flight. 

We love the Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag thanks to its well-built design that boasts an eco-friendly, TPU-coated recycled polyester exterior. And it can compress down into a small pouch making it easier than ever to store a piece of luggage. We also found options for lightweight, convertible, and budget-friendly bags, too. 

Here are the best carry-on duffel bags, according to T+L testing:

Best Overall

Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag

4.4
Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag

Backcountry

Why We Love it: It can collapse into a built-in bag for easy storage. 

What to Consider: It has a rugged and outdoorsy look. 

Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffle is one of the most durable carry-on bags we’ve tested. Made of recycled polyester and water-resistant TPU coating, we think this duffel bag is equipped for any adventure whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a frequent flier. In testing, the bag first appeared to have a small capacity but once we started filling it with clothes, it proved to fit a lot more than initially thought. The opening flap has a mesh pocket on the inside for storing undergarments or toiletries, and there’s an exterior pocket on the side perfect for phone chargers and wallets. We love that the duffel can compress down into a smaller bag included so it can be easily stored without taking up too much space. We found the tote bag straps comfortable to hold onto and the bag includes detachable padded backpack straps to convert the duffel into a backpack. This makes the duffel bag extremely versatile for hiking, camping, or walking through an airport.

During our durability tests, the exterior proved to be as resilient as it looked, showing no signs of damage after it was dropped from a ladder several times. There weren’t any scuff marks, zipper damage, or scratches to the shiny coated exterior. Our tests lead us to believe that this bag will last over time making it ideal for all types of traveling. 

Price at time of publish: $224

Dimensions: 22.5 x 13 x 8 inches | Weight: 2.19 pounds

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Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

Best Lightweight

Kipling Bori Duffle Bag

4.8
Kipling Bori Duffle Bag

Kipling

Why We Love it: The bag itself is incredibly lightweight even when it’s packed full of clothing. 

What to Consider: It’s not the most stylish duffel bag.

In testing, the Kipling Bori Duffle Bag felt lightweight even after the bag was packed with clothing. Weighing 1.6 pounds, it’s the lightest weight duffel bag we tested that still feels well-made and durable. We were impressed with the spacious capacity on the inside of the bag which could hold several outfits, shoes, and a toiletry bag without looking cramped or tightly packed and there are several interior and exterior pockets that made organizing the items on our packing list easier. We loved that the bag comes with an adjustable strap that clips onto carabiners on either side of the duffel to increase or decrease the capacity. The nylon exterior looks a little plain but it proved to be durable after we tossed it off of a ladder several times. There wasn’t any damage to the exterior or items packed, and we like that the inside is lined with water-resistant fabric, too. 

Price at time of publish: $139

Dimensions: 24 x 10.5 x 14 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds

Kipling Bori Duffle

Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

Best Budget

Gonex Canvas Duffle Bag

4.6
Gonex Canvas Duffle Bag

Amazon

Why We Love it: It has plenty of pockets to stay organized. 

What to Consider: The main compartment is on the smaller side. 

If you like to stay organized while traveling, opt for the Gonex Canvas Duffel Bag with its abundance of pockets for every travel item you could need. We love that you can separate your shoes from your clothes with two side pockets that can also fit books, jackets, or other bulky items. Plus, there are several front and back zippered pockets, as well as a few slip pockets to easily grab a passport or phone. While the main compartment is a little smaller than we would’ve liked, it was still able to hold a solid amount of clothes with room in the larger pockets to add more, if desired. Both the shoulder strap and tote handles were comfortable to hold and it was easy to maneuver the bag, leading us to think it would be an excellent duffel for navigating busy airports or other crowded areas. The cotton canvas material held up perfectly against several drops from a ladder and it absorbed the impact keeping all the packed contents safe. We think the value of this budget-friendly duffel bag is unmatched thanks to its superior performance during testing. 

 Price at time of publish: $63

Dimensions: 17 x 11 x 10 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Gonex Canvas Duffle Bag

Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

Best Convertible

Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Pack

4.3
Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Pack

Eagle Creek

Why We Love it: It can be used as a backpack, messenger bag, or traditional duffel. 

What to Consider: The capacity could have been a bit bigger. 

The Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Pack impressed us with its ability to easily convert from a backpack to a traditional duffel bag for a variety of travel needs. We found that the surplus of pockets was ideal for staying organized, but the main compartment has a smaller capacity making it slightly more difficult to pack a lot of clothes. However, we were still able to place enough outfits for a long weekend with ease. Our tester raved about how lightweight the bag felt when it was worn as a backpack but the shoulder sling and handles were equally as comfortable to use. When the duffel was dropped from a ladder, the scuff-resistant material prevented any scratches and the bag has plenty of cushioning that kept a mug safe from breaking after multiple drops. In addition, the bag is outfitted with self-repairing zippers that can be locked for added security. 

Price at time of publish: $119

Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 5 inches | Weight: 2 pounds

Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler

Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

Our Testing Process

We tested 25 duffel bags in our New York City lab, and to determine the best carry-on duffels, we combed through detailed tester insights from our top-performing bags that fit the standard 22 x 14 x 9-inch carry-on dimensions set by most airlines. To evaluate each duffel, we rated the bags on a scale of one to five based on organization, maneuverability, and durability.

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Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

First, we recorded the dimensions and weight of each bag before we tested capacity by packing the duffels with five shirts, five pants, two jackets, two pairs of shoes, a mug, and a toiletry bag. The duffels that scored a five for organization had plenty of storage solutions and enough room that made packing intuitive and hassle-free. After packing up the duffels, we walked around with the duffel bags, carrying them with the tote handles, shoulder strap, or backpack straps, if applicable. Our top-scoring bags for maneuverability were comfortable to hold and distribute the weight evenly to prevent unwanted pain or aches while traveling. Durability is a crucial factor when it comes to luggage so our testers threw each duffel off of a ladder several times to check for scuffs, scratches, or damages to the contents inside like the breakable mug. Duffels that scored fives for durability showed no signs of damage and kept the contents safe.

Leatherology Kessler Large Duffle

Tripsavvy / Nick Kova

Lastly, our testers were unaware of the cost of each bag prior to testing and were only made aware after the series of tests were complete. Then, they judged the overall value of the duffel to determine if it performed accurately or better than advertised to evaluate its worth.

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Travel + Leisure / Nick Kova

Other Options We Tested

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall Bag: It had plenty of pockets and a spacious interior compartment, but we felt unsure of how durable the neoprene fabric will be with prolonged use.

Tips for Buying a Carry-On Duffel

Double-check the dimensions

Before you invest in a duffel bag to carry on, you’ll want to check the dimensions of the duffel bag and the size limit of the airline you plan on traveling with. While most airlines use the standard 22 x 14 x 9-inch limit for all carry-on bags, the specific dimensions can vary a few inches depending on the airline, and for international travel.  

Consider your organization needs

For travelers prioritizing storage solutions, consider a bag with plenty of inside and outside pockets for smaller items. If you prefer to use packing cubes, a duffel bag with a large main compartment might be better suited for cubes. Duffels that have lots of outside pockets and compartments might have less interior space in the main compartment so you’ll want to factor that into your organization preferences when choosing a duffel bag. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What size duffel bag counts as a carry-on?

    The standard carry-on dimensions for most airlines are 22 x 14 x 9 inches. While it can vary by airline, it’s important to check ahead of time to avoid checked bag fees in case your bag is too large.

  • Can I bring a duffel bag and a backpack on an airplane?

    Depending on the airline and airfare type you purchase, a carry-on duffel bag will count as your one carry-on item and a backpack or purse will be your allotted personal item. If you purchase the most basic fare of some airlines like United or JetBlue, you may have to pay extra for a carry-on item. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure Commerce Writer, Anna Popp, tests and writes about T+L’s best travel products. She has been a travel writer since living overseas in 2018 and began testing products for various publications in 2021 before joining T+L in 2022. Anna collaborated with travel editors to determine the results for the best carry-on duffels based on a series of tests completed by our expert product testers in our New York City lab. 

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