Bags to Travel: The Difference Between a Duffel Bag and a Travel Bag

You’ve got an exciting trip coming up and it’s time to start packing! However, there are many types of bags to travel with, and it can be difficult to choose from the huge selection available.

Two of the most popular options are the duffle bag and the classic travel bag. If you’re not sure which is more suitable for your trip, we’re here to help. After all, different travelers have different needs and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your trip away.

Will you prefer carrying a duffel, or rolling a suitcase down the streets? Read on to learn the differences between a duffel bag and a travel bag.

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What Is a Duffel Bag?

A traditional travel duffle features soft sides that can easily compress or bend. This makes it easy to fit into many irregular spaces.

Duffle bags were first designed with drawstrings but today most use zippers to make the bags easier to open and more secure. These zips usually feature along the length of the bag. Depending on the brand and the bag, some also have extra interior and exterior pockets too.

While the original duffel came in a cylinder-like shape, more modern versions feature square sides giving a box-like shape. The square design is very efficient as it makes the bag easier to stack and saves more of the shape.

Duffel bags come in a huge plethora of colors, patterns, and materials so there’s a design out there to suit everyone.

Duffel Bag Pros

There are several pros to choosing a duffel bag instead of a classic travel bag.

The first is that the loose shape of a duffel bag allows you to stuff a lot of gear into it. This works especially well if you’re carrying the duffel bag for short distances or trips, such as a sports or diving outing and you need to pack a lot in.

As mentioned, another pro is that duffel bags are very versatile and come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. When choosing a duffel bag, consider the shape and amount of equipment you’ll need to carry to help decide on the capacity you’ll need. While the classic duffel bag is cylindrical, a duffel bag with a rectangular form and flat base will let you hold more gear.

Typically, duffel bags are very durable, especially ones featuring a well-made zipper. To look for a quality duffel bag, seek out waterproof materials and strongly stitched handles and straps that can easily hold the weight of the bag.

If you’re looking for the best wheeled backpack for Europe travel especially, you can keep an eye out for a duffel that’s travel-specific and features wheels. That way you can roll it along smooth pavements and can carry it over cobbled surfaces too.

Duffel Bag Cons

Many duffel bags aren’t very secure, so when browsing for a duffel bag keep an eye out for options with strong lockable zips. If you have trouble finding one, you can always thread a padlock or cable tie into the holes of the zipper. Be aware of external pockets too as they make it easy for a stranger to slip something inside without you knowing.

It’s also important to note that larger duffel bags with soft sides can lose their shape if they aren’t full, causing them to flop around uncomfortably. This makes the bag more difficult to carry.

Likewise, duffel bags aren’t suited for carrying around for long periods of time. When using the handles or straps, duffel bags can soon become quite painful to carry.

What Is a Travel Bag?

Unlike duffle bags that were designed for shorter distances, a travel bag is any bag created for travel trips in mind. In this article, we’ll focus on the classic suitcase as it’s the most popular travel bag on the market.

The suitcase is usually flat and rectangular. It features rounded square corners that are usually metal or hard plastic to ensure that the bag stays in a consistent shape.

A suitcase carries clothing and other travel items and has a handle on one side which is used to roll the bag around on its wheels. A suitcase usually opens with a zipper, so the inside is very accessible.

Suitcases work great for weekend trips or much longer holidays and come in a huge range of sizes and designs.

Suitcase Pros

With its hard shell and durable case, a quality suitcase is very secure. Many suitcases also come with latches or integrated locks, making them even safer.

When it comes to transport, wheeled suitcases are very easy to move around on smooth and hard surfaces compared to bags that need lifting or carrying.

The rectangular shape and firm sides of a suitcase also mean they’re very efficient in packing plenty of gear, allowing you to make use of all the available space. Many designs will also include an expandable section for extra room.

Suitcase Cons

While suitcases are easy to transport over smooth surfaces, once you come across stairs and rough surfaces such as grass or sand, it’s a completely different story.

Some destinations – especially in Europe – feature cobblestone streets, sandy beaches, and old multi-story buildings without elevators which could make getting around with a suitcase difficult. Traveling to less developed countries with a suitcase could also be a problem too.

Likewise, if you’re planning to stay in shared accommodation such as hostels or small rooms, suitcases are bulky and can get in the way. Often, they won’t fit in luggage lockers or fit under beds.

Choosing Bags to Travel With

When choosing bags to travel with, think about how far you’ll be traveling and where the final destination is.

For short distances and trips, a duffel bag is a great choice, especially if you’ll be moving around on uneven terrain and using stairs.

For longer travel trips where the ground is likely to be smooth, a travel bag such as a suitcase is more practical.

If a duffel bag is your choice, check out our huge range in various shapes, sizes, and designs.

Do you have any questions regarding the duffle bags? Feel free to contact us toll-free at 888-596-4449 (available Monday to Friday, 10 am - 4 pm) or email us at We look forward to hearing from you and showing why we should be your #1 choice!

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Written by Bagz Depot — October 30, 2019

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