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Sustainable Duffel Bags: Your Guide to 4 of Our Fave Travel Bags

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If there’s one piece of gear we’ve come to appreciate most in the last couple of years, it’s the not-so-humble duffel bag. Versatile, durable, and endlessly useful, duffels have become essential companions for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at four rad, more sustainable duffel bags that are designed for travel and adventure.

Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel

Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel: Packable Simplicity

This is the simplest, most easily storable, standard, no-frills duffel on this list. The No Matter What Duffel packs into its own pocket easily–no wrestling or aggressive jamming in corners required–is made of flexible materials, and still has all the features you want in a duffel bag.

What it doesn’t have is backpack straps, so if that’s how you prefer to carry your duffel, this one may not be for you. If that’s not a dealbreaker, this is a solid standard duffel. It’s roomy, has external attachment points, even a key clip in the zipper pocket. 

The one we tested is 60L (there’s also a 90L version), which means it isn’t sized to be a carry on–it’s just a smidge too big unless you don’t pack it full and can really compress it to fit in an overhead bin–but where it does excel is as a bag you can pretty easily stuff and stash in your luggage on the way to someplace, then fill it with gear or souvenirs and check it on your way back.

It’s also an easy way to stash bike or outdoor gear in your backseat on a road trip. Because again, when it’s empty, it takes up the least space of any of the bags on this list. It’s also the least expensive.

How it’s sustainable: It’s designed to create almost zero fabric waste. As in, not only is it made of 100% recycled materials, but the designers crafted the pattern to use almost every inch of material available to them. And that takes some engineering-level skill right there. Which matters because textile waste is a huge problem in the outdoor industry. And this bag helps address that and offers a solution. Eagle Creek calls it their “Chasing Zero” philosophy. Meaning zero waste. The No Matter What Duffel is a simple, packable option that doesn’t result in a lot of material waste. It’s not currently PFAS-free, but it will be starting fall 2024.

Features

  • Packable design, easily folds into its own pocket
  • Carry handles on top that snap together
  • Grab handles on both ends
  • Zippered exterior accessory pocket
  • Compression straps on top
  • Luggage pass-through for easy attachment to rolling carry-ons
  • Shoulder strap
  • Sizes Available: 60L, 90L, 110L
  • Price: $109

Eagle Creek Migrate Duffel.

Eagle Creek Migrate Duffel: The Travel-Ready Workhorse

Another sustainable option from Eagle Creek is the Migrate Duffel, which comes in multiple sizes. This is the 40L, which, yes, makes a great carry-on. I know, because I flew with it on a recent trip to Austin and then Arizona. What makes it such a great carry on and bag for travel is all the carry options. Naturally it has a grab handle on top, but it also has two shoulder straps that easily stash in dedicated sleeves on the top of the bag when not in use.

But that’s not all, folks! This duffel has six super sturdy grab handles spread around the four sides of the bag. That makes it super easy to snatch it out of an overhead bin, out of the trunk, or wherever else you have it stashed. The grab and snag options are endless, and I found that extremely useful.

Yes, it does just have a single zipper down the top middle, but because of compression buckles on each end that you can undo when you’re rooting around inside, the opening becomes a bit wider so you can more easily find the things you need.

Overall, it’s a solid, weather-resistant option for either travel or hauling gear.

How it’s sustainable: it’s super durable and made with heavy-duty materials, so it’s gonna last a good long time. Plus it’s water resistant and made of 100% recycled materials, so, plus. It’s not currently PFAS-free, but it will be starting fall 2024.

Features

  • Top grab handle and stowable backpack straps
  • Multiple grab handles on every side
  • Exterior zipper pocket and easily accessible opening
  • Compression straps for securing contents
  • Weather-resistant materials
  • Sizes Available: 40L, 60L, 90L
  • Price: $119

Nemo Double Haul Duffel and Tote

Nemo Double Haul Duffel and Tote: The Gear Hauler

Speaking of a gear hauler, this is the Nemo Double Haul Duffel and Tote, the 55L version. But that capacity is for when the bag is all closed up. When it’s open, because of how it’s designed, it can hold so much more. That comes in handy if you’re using it to stash bike or camping gear in the back of your car instead of traveling by air.

That’s because it’s designed sort of like a doctor bag, with rigid trusses around the opening and down the sides so it stays open better–with a super wide, square mouth–when you’re packing or searching for that one pair of hiking shoes.

It does stay open better when it has stuff in it than when it’s empty–it’s not THAT rigid–but we did love how easily accessible everything inside was. I mean, the opening is as large as the base, so you’re talking major real estate, here. Plus there are nice long rigid grab handles on the top, compression buckles on the ends, and stabilizing straps on the inside to help compress packing cubes or what have you.

Those are permanently attached, but they never felt like they were in the way when traveling or unpacking. AND there are longer handles (that also can function as over-the-shoulder straps) tucked away in a hidden snap compartment located underneath the stiff grab handles. This bag has it all.

And it has definitely become our go-to for gear storage on road trips, ‘cause that doctor bag opening is legit. And as long as you don’t overstuff it, the 55L can count as a carry on, plus it’s water resistant.

How it’s sustainable: It’s Bluesign approved, PFAS-free, comes with a lifetime warranty, the shell is made of 100% recycled nylon and super durable.

Features

  • Doctor bag-style opening for easy access to contents
  • Rigid trusses around the opening and down the sides for stability and easy access
  • External and internal zippered pockets
  • Padded backpack shoulder straps
  • Comes with a storage pouch that could double as dirty shoe or clothing storage
  • Sizes Available: 30L, 70L, 100L
  • Price: $180

Deuter Aviant Duffel Pro (60L)

Deuter Aviant Duffel Pro: The Versatile Beast

If a nice wide opening is what you’re after, you should also take a look at the Deuter Aviant Duffel Pro, which will be re-named just the Duffel Pro in September. I dig this bag for a few reasons: one, because it has a nice big U-shaped opening on top so you can easily get to stuff inside without having to dig around in dark corners. Two, the interior is a light gray, which makes everything even easier to spot. And three, it has an end cap pocket on both ends, which are perfect places to stash helmets, hiking shoes, toiletry kits, or anything else you want to keep separate or easily accessible. Love.

Plus it has multiple zippered pockets, including on the underside of the lid, and two backpack straps that are stashable in the lid, but can also be secured together to create a top grab-handle or even a shoulder strap.

Multi-functional, huzzah! That does mean, though, that if you stash the straps–they totally don’t get in the way of packing, by the way–that you won’t have a top grab handle. Fortunately, there’s a sturdy handle on each end. Personally, I’m a big fan and love this bag for air travel but also road trips since it holds clothing or gear so beautifully, is water resistant, and makes everything inside so easy to find.

How it’s sustainable: It’s ultra durable, plus comes with Deuter’s lifetime warranty. It’s also Bluesign approved, PFAS-free, and made of 50% recycled materials.

Features

  • Wide U-shaped opening
  • Light gray interior for visibility
  • End cap pockets for separate storage
  • Internal compression straps
  • Stashable backpack straps that double as a grab handle or shoulder strap
  • Grab handles on both ends
  • Water resistant
  • Sizes Available: 40L, 60L, 90L
  • Price: $140

Bottom Line

Obviously which bag is right for you will depend on your travel and packing style, but hopefully we’ve helped to pick out the perfect duffel so you don’t waste, time, energy, money, or emissions trying out a whole bunch of different options.

That’s why we’re here, after all. To help you find more sustainable gear options. Specifically the right sustainable gear options. So you know, less gear goes to waste.

And if that wasn’t enough bags for you, you should check out this review we did of the Cotopaxi duffel and Patagonia Black Hole. The latter recently got a more sustainable materials upgrade, but is still essentially the same bag.

So if your old duffel bag is beyond repair or it’s time you added your first to your gear closet, then grab one of these–we’ll share all the links below–then get out there and wander on. And don’t try to carry on a dozen six packs. You’ll never make it through TSA.


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