The 6 best wheeled duffels
Regular duffel bags are great to take the gym or tote around town but when you're traveling, it's nice to have something on wheels. To help you find the most ideal choice, I did some research and made a list of the best wheeled duffel bags out there. Here are the criteria I used:
- Durability: When you're traveling, your bag can take a serious beating. To find one capable of withstanding the wear and tear, I looked for options made from durable polyester, ripstop nylon, or thermoplastic polyurethane (also known as TPU).
- Structure: Duffel bags that lack structure can be harder to wheel. All of the bags on this list offer some sort of support to make them easier to pack and smoother to wheel around.
- Easy-glide wheels: No one likes that "shopping cart" effect where you try to turn a corner or move to the side and the wheels get stuck. During my research, I read the reviews carefully to find bags that roll smoothly and effortlessly, according to customers.
- Sturdy handles: Almost as bad as wobbly wheels are handles that get stuck, steer poorly, or break easily. I made sure all of my picks feature strong handles that have been vouched for by consumers.
A final factor to keep in mind is size — especially if you're flying. Size restrictions vary by airline, but for domestic flights, the most common allowance for carry-ons is 22 by 14 by 9 inches. Wheeled duffel bags seem to be a rare find at this size, but I did uncover one solid option that fits the bill. The rest of the bags on my list will need to be checked for airline travel.
Below, I've organized the best wheeled duffels from smallest to largest. Take a look to find the one that's best for your travels.
1. This miniature duffel that's small enough to work as a carry-on for most domestic airlines
Dimensions: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
Weight: 3.3 pounds
This High Sierra wheeled duffel bag is built with tough polyester and a sleek design that makes it durable and well-structured. At 22 inches on the long side, including the wheels and handle, it makes a great carry-on option for most domestic airlines (though you should always check the airline's carry-on restrictions before flying). The sturdy, inline-style wheels move smoothly, while the strong telescoping handle makes steering seamless. Designed with a spacious main compartment, the bag features a convenient zippered divider, along with convertible backpack straps.
Fans say: "What I really like: Wheels work fine and are very unobtrusive (so they take up much less room in the overhead bin than, say, the four wheel spinner I used to have) ; back straps to carry like backback in case you need it; Two compartments rather than just one big one; an expansion zipper to give you a bit more room; two big buckles plus compression straps. [...] Dislikes: nothing. It's perfect. "
2. A stable duffel that can stand upright even when empty
Dimensions: 26 by 16 by 14 inches
Weight: 7.65 pounds
With easy-glide inline wheels and a robust telescoping handle, this Eddie Bauer duffel bag is both strong and user-friendly. The main compartment boasts two separate sections to keep your things organized, along with compression straps so you can fit a few extra things inside. The exterior is built with durable ripstop nylon that's abrasion-resistant yet soft and stylish, too. On top of that, the duffel has a drop bottom with lockable zippers and a structured design that allows it to stand up by itself, even when it's not fully packed. The only drawback: it's the heaviest option on the list, at 7.65 pounds.
Fans say: "I selected this [duffel] for my vacation to the [Caribbean]. I packed clothes, shoes, swim fins, bottles, food...you name it! I survived 4 airlines, three ferries, and 4 taxi rides [...] Zippers are tough and easy to use...and lockable to TSA cable locks. Best of all the lower half is a tough shell that you can put anything [in]."
3. This smooth-rolling duffel with special shock suspension wheels
Dimensions: 28 by 14 by 14 inches
Weight: 7.27 pounds
Constructed with durable, water-resistant polyester, this Samsonite wheeled duffel offers a fantastic blend of ruggedness and style. Not only that, but it also has zippered pouches on each side and a roomy main compartment, making it convenient to pack and easy to use. The inline wheels feature shock suspension that makes them roll extra smoothly, and the handle locks securely into place. In addition to the 28-inch option, this bag is available in 22- and 32-inch sizes, too
Fans say: "Works great and has plenty of storage."
4. This sleek, lightweight bag with an attachable case for extra space
Dimensions: 30.4 by 12 by 12.8 inches
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Made from smooth, durable nylon, this tough wheeled duffel bag is the lightest option on my list, weighing just 3.2 pounds. It showcases a giant U-shaped main section with a storm-flap zipper that makes it extra water-resistant. The smooth wheels are surrounded by impact-absorbing casings that help them navigate bumpy ground. At 30.4 inches long, the bag is large enough that it doesn't need a pull-out handle but it's still easy to hold and roll. The sides have lash points to attach accessories, and it comes with a handy bonus case to attach to the side when you need extra storage.
Fans say: "This duffel survived two and a half weeks trekking from Lukla, Nepal, to Everest base camp and back. Was constantly overpacked. No problem. Was tossed, dropped, mis-handled and otherwise punished. Held up like a champ. Testimony to Granite Gear. It was beaten up, to be sure...but not damaged. As good as the day I bought it."
5. An expandable duffel bag with a separate compartment for sneakers or laundry
Dimensions: 32.3 by 15.4 by 12.6 inches
Weight: 7.47 pounds
This large, wheeled duffel bag, which is made from durable polyester, features a unique pull-out handle that locks into three different heights, making it comfortable to wheel no matter how tall you are. Even cooler: it tucks away discreetly behind a zipper so that when it's not in use it's not adding any bulk. The main compartment has enough structure that it doesn't flop around, and it's expandable by 1.1 inch. As a bonus, there's a special back compartment to store dirty shoes or laundry.
Fans say: "Bought this duffel to have something larger for an international trip. 8 airports later I'm happy to report that it still looks new. [...] It rolls smoothly and all the handles make it easy to move around. The top compartment is absolutely perfect for my toiletry case (though if your toiletry bag is wider than normal it may by a tough fit). It is, in general, an utterly pleasant and very durable piece of luggage."
6. This big, sporty bag that boasts impressive water-resistance (and it converts to a backpack, too)
Dimensions: 30 by 14.5 by 13 inches (37.75 by 14.5 by 13 inches when expanded)
Weight: 5 pounds
If you're looking for a wheeled duffel backpack that's extra rugged and stormproof, this Eagle Creek bag is a great choice. It features exceptionally durable 900-denier thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that's been treated with a strong, water-resistant coating. The large, 30-inch main compartment expands to almost 38 inches when you unclip the sides, and it has an interior pocket, along with a zippered pouch outside. On top of that, the convertible straps allow you to wear the bag as a backpack, too. In addition to the 110-liter option that's pictured above, it's also available in 40-, 60-, 90-, and 130-liter sizes.
Fans say: "Well made with plenty of room. The wheels are good and this bag has tremendous versatility and came be used in a number of ways. I like that the bag is water repellent which is great when travelling and the material seems like it would be very easy to clean off ... You might pay a little more than you would for this bag than a Costco bag, but the quality is way worth it."
Mic may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Mic's editorial and sales departments.