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What is a Duffle Bag?

When thinking of a large bag to stuff multiple things in for a casual laid back trip, oftentimes the first bag that comes to mind is a duffle bag. 

It's large, easy to carry and the best thing about it is that unlike a suitcase it doesn't have a super rigid and defined shape, which means you can fit loads of stuff in it and it’ll still be able to easily fit in your trunk. It’s the best traveling companion, maybe that is why it is also commonly called a weekender (which is a different bag by the way). 

So, what is exactly a duffle bag? Why is it called that and does it qualify as a carry-on, capable of fitting in the overhead compartment of a plane? Let's find out!

What is a Duffel Bag?

The Cowboy Duffle

Duffel bags have been around for centuries and were even largely used by military soldiers during World War II. The name duffel likely comes from Duffel, a town in Belgium known for its woolen cloth production. The duffel bags were originally made using that cloth but over the years the materials have changed.

These days duffel bags come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials but typically have a cylindrical shape and are made from either cloth, canvas or leather. They have two short straps or handles for carrying by hand, often accompanied by a long strap to sling over your shoulder making to more comfortable and easy to carry. They typically have only one large compartment but sometimes even have pockets on the outside and inside. Some duffel bags can be found with extra added features to them such as wheels for easy transport.

The key benefits of duffel bags are that they are spacious, durable and versatile. They can be used for a range of purposes, from travel, to keep sports equipment or even as a baby diaper bag.

What is a Duffel Bag's Origin?

The Holiday Duffle

As briefly mentioned above Duffel bags are called duffles because of the Belgian town Duffel where duffel cloth was originally made. Duffel cloth is a heavy, coarse twill fabric that was used to make duffel bags and coats for the military because of its durability. The duffel bag got its start as a military tool and only later became popular with the general public. 

Duffel Bag's Popularity

Premium Holiday Duffle

Today duffel bags are still very popular, although perhaps for different reasons than their military origins. Duffel bags are stylish and functional making them perfect for a range of activities. They are also spacious and can hold a lot, making them ideal for packing almost everything. Plus, duffel bags are often more affordable than other types of luggage.

Duffel bags are one of the most popular carry-on luggage items, though keep in mind that they do not always meet the carry-on dimensions set by airlines. 

Duffel Bags as a Carry On

The Premium Classic Duffle

It depends on the each airline’s carry-on size restrictions. Many duffel bags do not meet carry-on dimensions for most airlines. Usually duffels are quite long and wide which means that generally they aren’t carry-on friendly. Duffel bags also vary a lot in terms of weight, many aren’t considered as lightweight luggage. 

However, duffel bags are forgiving and can often be packed so that they fit carry-on dimensions. For instance, you can leave it partially filled to save some space to later squash it down to your liking. So duffel bags may not always meet the letter of the law but they often can be carried on the plane if packed correctly.

It’s best to check with your airline to confirm their carry on requirements, before making the decision.


In short, duffel bags are large and spacious travel bags. Duffel bags are often affordable and durable, making them a great choice for any traveler. And while duffel bags may not always meet carry-on requirements, duffel bags can often be packed so they do. 

Duffel bags are the perfect companion for a weekend road trip. They come in a variety of materials, sizes and shapes giving you many options to choose from, ranging from minimalistic designs to more stylish and complex duffel bags.  

A fine example of a minimalistic duffel bag is Vintage Leather Gear's 'Premium Classic Duffle" available in the all-time favorite color black. Made from Premium Hunter leather and Polycotton Lining, this beauty can offer up to 34L capacity. It has cushioned leather handles that mold to your hand and a detachable shoulder strap.

However, if you're looking for something with a little more flair and eye-catching,  Vintage Leather Gear also sells a tan-colored 'Cowboy Duffle' bag. Like the one above, this one is also made from Premium Hunter leather and Polycotton Lining, offers up to 34L capacity and has a detachable shoulder strap. Did I mention that both bags come with a 3-year warranty?

Well then, what are you waiting for? Go duffel bag shopping!

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