5 Best Carry On Duffel Bags for Air Travel and How to Choose the Right One

Whether you are trying to avoid having to check a bag in or simply need a piece of luggage to take some of your valuable belongings with you onboard, picking a carry on bag can be a challenge.

5 Best Carry On Duffel Bags for Air Travel and How to Choose the Right One

Not only do you have to be careful about selecting a bag that’s the right size. You also have to pick the right type of luggage for your need. There are rolling suitcases, camera bags, laptop bags, and many other types of luggage you can get.

One of the most versatile types of bags, though, is a duffel bag.

In this article, I will look at what some of the best carry on duffel bags are and how to choose the right one for you. Before getting into the details, though, here’s a quick overview of the bags mentioned further down:

Travel TripodBudgetDimensionsWeightMaterialDetails
Domila 21” Travel Duffel Bag$$21.3" x 9.1" x 13"2.6 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon
Gonex 20″ Rolling Duffel Bag$$$20" x 12" x 10.5"4.6 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon
Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag$$$$$21" x 10" x 11"4 lbsLeatherCheck on Amazon
iLotusBAG Travel Foldable Duffel Bag$17.7" x 13.8" x 5.9"8.8 ozFabricCheck on Amazon
Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag with Shoe Pocket$$22" x 12" x 12"1.7 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon

 

5 Best Carry On Duffel Bags for Air Travel

Below are quick reviews of the five bags that I would consider when buying a duffel bag that will fit carry on limits. They are in no particular order, and instead, I picked one from each of the following broad categories: classic design, classic design with wheels, leather, foldable, and women’s.

 

Domila 21” Travel Duffel Bag

If you are looking for a very affordable classic style duffel bag, then this one by Domila is a great place to start your selection process at.

Being mainly made out of black Oxford cloth, it is a great choice if you are looking for something simple, something that you can carry with you whether you’re wearing shorts or a suit.

The bag, measuring 21.3 x 9.1 x 13 inches (or 54 x 23 x 33 centimeters) for a total of 43.4 linear inches (or 80 linear centimeters) is well within most airlines’ of carry on restrictions. Empty, it weighs 2.6 pounds (1.2 kilograms) and so is not the lightest of the bags out there, but it comes at the benefit of being sturdy.

The Domila 21″ Travel Duffel Bag is an ideal bag for situations where you want to travel for two or three days without having to check your bag in. It’s main compartment will comfortable fit your clothes, toiletries, laptop with accessories, and even a spare pair of shoes.

It also has a couple of pockets attached to the outside which are handy for storing and organizing your travel documents and other smaller things.

Like most of the bags in this list, the bag doesn’t have wheels. Its biggest downside, though, is its shoulder strap which is not padded and thus can be uncomfortable to use for prolonged period of time.

Overall, this is a very practical bag that can fit a lot of things and be matched with any outfit. If you plan on getting it, though, I recommend you to also buy a separate pad for the bag’s shoulder strap like this one.

Learn more about this bag on Amazon

 

Gonex 20″ Rolling Duffel Bag

While most duffel bags are designed to be carried over your shoulder, more and more rolling duffel bags that combine the advantages of a rolling suitcase with a typical duffel bag are appearing on the market with the Gonex 20″ Rolling Duffel Bag being one such product.

Just like the previous bag on this list, the bag can be used in a variety of situations due to its black color and simple design.

The bag measures 20 x 12 x 10.5 inches and so it can be carried onboard in most cases while maximizing the storage space. Just like many of the other products in this list, it is equipped with a couple of smaller exterior pockets besides the main one and it is ideal for weekend trips.

One of the biggest advantages of this bag is the fact that it’s made out of water-repellent material, and so you don’t have to worry about carrying your laptop or other electronics inside it or about your clothes getting wet.

On the other hand, its biggest disadvantage is its weight. Coming in at 4.6 pounds (2.3 kilograms), depending on the airline you fly with, just the empty bag itself can consume a significant portion of your carry on luggage allowance.

Overall, if you don’t mind the extra weight of the rolling mechanism and are not looking for anything flashy or with a fancy design, then the Gonex 20″ Rolling Duffel Bag should be high on your list.

Learn more about this bag on Amazon

 

Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

If you are looking for a leather rather than a cloth carry on duffel bag, look no further than the Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag. The bag is made in Italy out of full-grain calfskin leather, and so it is not only durable but its gets softer and its color gets nicer as the bag ages.

Being made out of leather, the bag weighs around 4 pounds (2 kilograms) when empty, which you might find a bit too heavy – especially if you travel with a lot of gadgets which take up large part of your carry on allowance.

Also, since the bags dimensions are 21 x 10 x 11 inches (53 x 25 x 28 cm), the bag is slightly larger than some airlines allow. That problem is easily resolved by not packing the bag completely full, though. And, even then, the bag offers enough space for most short trips.

One downside of the bag is its lack of exterior pockets. In fact, the bag only has the main large compartment and a small zippered pocket inside it. As such, if you are someone that likes organizing your items into several pockets to be able to easily find things, this bag might not be for you.

Otherwise, if you are looking for a leather duffel bag to take with you onboard an aircraft, this one is a good place to start looking at.

Learn more about this bag on Amazon

 

iLotusBAG Travel Foldable Duffel Bag

Sometimes there are situations when you need extra space just one way. Whether it is when you are taking a lot of gifts to your family overseas or doing a lot of shopping at your destination, having to take an extra bag just for that purpose may be cumbersome. For situations like that, the iLotusBAG Travel Foldable Duffel Bag is perfect.

The bag measures just 7.9 x 7.1 x 1.5 inches when folded, and so it can be easily stowed into your backpack, suitcase, etc. At 17.7 x 13.8 x 5.90 inches when expanded, it is well within most airlines’ carry on luggage allowance. It weighs just 8.8 ounces (250 grams).

Besides the main compartment, the bag also has a small external pocket and a sleeve that can hold it attached to your suitcase’s handle. It’s made out of waterproof nylon fabric and comes in a variety of colors including the pictured grey, wine red, orange, and black.

While for trips longer than a day or two, this is not a bag you will want to carry as your main piece of luggage, if you are going on a longer trip and think you might need extra space on your way home (or vice versa), then it’s a great bag to get.

Learn more about this bag on Amazon

 

Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag with Shoe Pocket

The last item on this list, Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag with Shoe Pocket, was designed with the female traveler in mind. Besides the pictured floral pattern, the bag is also available in a more toned-down Arrow Tails Grey pattern.

As the bag measures 22 x 12 x 12 inches, you will want to check your airline’s carry on baggage policy and potentially pack the bag a bit loosely to comply.

It is made out of polyester and it weighs just 1.7 pounds (765 grams).

There are three small pockets inside the bag as well as one outside which makes organizing your documents, cables, and so on very easy. On top of that, there is also a shoe compartment on one side of the bag and so you will not have to worry about placing your dirty shoes on top of your clothes or inside the main compartment overall.

Overall, the Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag with Shoe Pocket is a great light bag, and if you like its design then it should be towards the top of the list of bags you consider buying.

Learn more about this bag on Amazon

 

How to Choose Your Next Carry On Duffel Bag

If you didn’t find a bag you like in the above list, or if you would like to know what some of the criteria that you should look at when getting a duffel bag are, continue reading as in this section I’ll look at exactly that.

There are basically six things to consider when choosing the duffel bag that’s right for you: size and weight (especially important if you are looking for a piece of luggage to carry onboard an aircraft with you), material, layout, carrying mechanism, and price.

Let’s look at each of the six in detail.

Size

When looking at carry on duffels, the bag’s size is perhaps the most important thing to consider. While you will have to check your airline’s specific requirements, generally, many airlines allow bags measuring up to 45 linear inches (length + width + height) onboard.

The benefit of a duffel bag as compared to a suitcase is that if you happen to be flying with an airline that has less allowance, you can simply fill the bag a bit more loosely so that it will be possible to compress it to the required size.

Weight

The bag’s empty weight is another critical thing to consider before picking one. Given that hand luggage allowance can be anywhere between 7 and 10 kilograms, you will want to empty bag to weight no more than 1 or 1.5 kilos so that you have enough allowance left for the actual items.

However, if you are looking for a leather duffel bag or a duffel bag with wheels than you might have to compromise on the weight front.

Material

You basically have two options when it comes to the materials a duffel bag is made out of – fabric and leather. Depending on your preferences, you might find leather bags more elegant, however, fabric bags are easier to fold and take up less space when not in use.

Layout

Every duffel bag has a large main compartment where you will store most of your things. The one thing where all the bags differ though, is whether the bag also has smaller interior pockets that might be helpful for keeping your chargers, etc. within easy reach.

Also, if you will be using the bag as your main luggage for a trip, you might want to look for one that has an external pocket or two. Those pockets can come in extremely handy for storing your passport, boarding passes, and other documents and things that you need to be able to get to quickly without having to necessarily open the whole bag.

Finally, if you often travel with a spare pair of shoes, you might want to consider a bag that has a dedicated shoe compartment. That way, you will not have to worry about getting your clothes or the main compartment dirty with soil, etc.

Carrying Mechanism

Generally, duffel bags have two carrying mechanisms – a pair of handles that can be strapped together and used to hand-carry the bag and a shoulder strap that you can, well, use to put the bag around your shoulder.

One thing to be careful about when choosing a good duffel bag is whether the shoulder strap is also equipped with a shoulder pad to make wearing the bag for long time more comfortable.

If you plan to walk with your bag for a long time at airports or along other flat surfaces, you might also consider getting a wheeled duffel bag. Although, as mentioned above, it comes at the expense of the bag being heavier.

Finally, if you will be carrying the bag in conjunction with a rolling suitcase, you will want to make sure the bag is equipped with a sleeve that can be used to attach it to the suitcase.

Price

The price of duffel bags can range anywhere between ten dollars for a cheap one to hundreds of dollars for the more expensive ones. Whatever your budget is, though, you should be able to find one that suits your needs well.

One thing to keep in mind is that, of course, leather duffel bags tend to be more expensive than fabric ones.

 

Summary

With so many duffel bags that are within or just slightly above airlines’ carry on allowances, it might be difficult to make a choice. Hopefully, the five bags listed in this article give you a starting point and the buying guide above will help you make the right decision.

If you reached the end of this article, and still don’t know where to start, then, just to recap, here are the five bags again:

Travel TripodBudgetDimensionsWeightMaterialDetails
Domila 21” Travel Duffel Bag$$21.3" x 9.1" x 13"2.6 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon
Gonex 20″ Rolling Duffel Bag$$$20" x 12" x 10.5"4.6 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon
Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag$$$$$21" x 10" x 11"4 lbsLeatherCheck on Amazon
iLotusBAG Travel Foldable Duffel Bag$17.7" x 13.8" x 5.9"8.8 ozFabricCheck on Amazon
Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag with Shoe Pocket$$22" x 12" x 12"1.7 lbsFabricCheck on Amazon

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