The Best Carry On Duffel Bag

Last Updated on April 15, 2020

5 Travel Duffels That Are Great For Air Travel

In summary: I took a look at duffel bags suitable for carry-on luggage and concluded that the Timbuk2 Wingman Travel Duffel was the best carry-on duffel bag.

It was the top choice because:

  • It’s the ideal size for a carry on
  • It’s got a padded section for a tablet or laptop
  • It’s lightweight at only 3.4 lbs
  • It has fold away backpack straps
  • Comes in five great designs

Duffel Bags… Not Just For Robbing Banks…

If you’re wondering if you can use your duffle bag as carry on luggage the answer is yes… no… maybe…

The size of your duffel bag usually depends on how much stuff you put in it!​ They don’t have a fixed size like a suitcase.

As long as it’s smaller than 22x14x9 inches then you’re probably going to be ok.

Remember the cool thing about duffle bags is that you can just leave some room and squeeze them to make the smaller. You will probably need to squeeze your bag down to 22 x 14 x 9 inches so don’t over pack it.

You can check this page to see all the airlines carry on luggage size limits.

Good Travel Duffel bags are:​

  • Lightweight
  • Soft sided and flexible
  • Cheap
  • Versatile

We’ve picked out 5 duffle bags that are great for air travel. Without further ado here they come:

At A Glance: Our Best Carry On Duffel Bag Picks

What To Look For In A Carry On Duffel Bag

The bags were selected for their size and suitability for travel.

For travel we are looking for a little more performance than a gym bag.

Comfort was important.

The carry-on bags need to be able to be closed and secured to protect from in-flight theft.

While not essential it’s often handy to be able to access passports and a boarding pass quickly so external pockets were viewed as a plus.

Filson Medium 25″ Duffle Bag

We had to kick off with a duffel bag that looks like an old fashioned duffel bag.

The Filson bag looks like the kind of bag looks like the kind of bag that you’ll keep for life and you might even hand it down to your children. “Might As Well Have The Best” is the Filson motto and from the look of this bag it’s hard to argue with that.

It’s 24 x 13 x 11 inches or so don’t pack it too tightly. Leave a couple of inches squeeze room to be sure.

Or be prepared to jettison some socks in the airport lobby!

If you want something smaller try the Filson small version. It would make a great carry on duffel too.

  • 24  x 13 x 11 inches
  • No easy access pockets

Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

The Cenzo Duffle is a thing of beauty. What it lacks in wheels and pockets it makes up for in classic style. It’s made of high-quality leather, is well crafted and has that lovely leather smell.

Size wise it’s the same deal as the previous too. At 21″ x 11″ x 10″ it’s within the guidelines on 2 out of 3 dimensions so leave a little room and it will squeeze into the airport baggage gauge without any problems.

  • Italian Leather
  • YKK Zipper
  • Variations in color due to leather

Rockland Luggage 19 Inch Tote Bag

Maybe this one is for the ladies. The Rockland bags are all about style and they come in over 20 different colorful patterns. They have a strap, side pockets and front pockets.

The size is 19″ x 10″ x 11″ so it’s the same deal as the Victory you shouldn’t have a problem on most flights unless you pack it completely full. I would say that the shoulder strap is not very comfortable looking so if you are going to be carrying it for long periods then maybe it’s not the best option.

  • Tons of different styles
  • Smaller than maximum carry on

Skooba Design Laptop Weekender

The Skooba would not look out of place at the gym or tennis club but it also looks the part to the business traveler too. At 11 x 18 x 12 inches you can fit clothes for trips of 2 or 3 days.

I can’t help but thinking that this travel duffle bag was designed with technology geeks in mind. It has pockets galore! Inside it has pockets for phones, pockets for ipads or kindles and outside it has a big padded pocket for up to 15 inch laptops too.

This is really handy when you are travelling on planes because you always need to take your laptop out of your bag to get through the security checkpoint.

  • 18 x 12 x 11 inches
  • Strap can cut into shoulder when heavy

Are Duffel Bags The Best Multi-functional Carry On?

We humans seem to have a natural want to complicate things which really should be simple.

Some carry on bags look like they were designed by Nasa!

Manufacturers are under constant pressure to innovate and come up with the next feature that allows them to charge more and/or st​and out from the opposition.

And so begins the march towards over engineered solutions for simple problems.​

Tell me? Would you take your rolling hardside 4 wheeled spinner to the gym or to the beach?​

The versatility of the​ humble duffel bag could be it’s most endearing quality.

With some airlines enforcing weight limits of 11 lbs does your 8 lb titanium carry on really make much sense? You couldn’t even take a bag of sugar with you without going over the limit!

Yes there is a lot to be said for that neglected gym bag. Learn how to pack light and you will be able to travel free and unrestricted​.


Not everyone wants to look like a business man with the standard issue black rolling suitcase and not everyone needs a dedicated bag only for air travel.

If you don’t travel often the right duffle bag will sort you out for the occasional flight but you’ll have a bag that you can use for other purposes too.

And if you landed on this page because you need a new duffle bag for camping or sports activities I bet you never even thought that it might come in handy for your next flight!

These are only a small selection of the many types of duffle bag that you can find. As you can see there are benefits to be had with a duffle bag over a wheeled suitcase particularly if you don’t mind carrying your bag. For a start they are much more stylish you will be able to use them at other times in your life and not only when you are on flights.

Not only that because they don’t have a rigid size you can simply put less in them and squeeze them down to meet the requirements of budget airlines that only allow smaller bags.

If that’s not enough for you duffle bags can often fit underneath the seat in the plane which means you don’t need to fight with all the other passengers for that space in the overhead locker and this can take a little stress out of your journey and that’s no small thing.