Best Wheeled Duffel Bags

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
303 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best wheeled duffel bags

Last Updated July 2019

Even those who really love to travel will tell you: going from point A to point B can sometimes be a hassle, particularly if you have the wrong travel bag.

Wheeled duffel bags offer a lightweight and easily transportable option. These bags are easier to tote around than other larger bags, and they are especially effective for longer trips involving a fair amount of airports or other locations where the ground is relatively smooth and wheel-able.

When shopping for a wheeled duffel bag, there are a number of factors that you will need to consider. Is it durable enough or large enough? What should you keep an eye out for in terms of zippers, wheels, pockets, handles, and other features? How much should you be spending for a wheeled duffel bag?

This guide examines all of these issues to help you find the perfect wheeled duffel bag to meet your needs. We also offer up some of our favorite wheeled duffels and tell you what we particularly like about them.

Duffel bags originated from the rugged cloth manufactured in Duffel, Belgium, in the 17th century, but they really took off in popularity after World War II.

Key considerations

How durable is the bag?

Wheeled duffel bags can be constructed from a wide range of materials, including leather, canvas, polyester, and nylon. Whichever material you choose, it should be rugged enough to hold up to the rigors of travel. The outer material should be abrasion-resistant and water-repellant. The bag should have strong seams and offer added protection on the corners to guard against stray bumps and scrapes on the road.

Soft sides mean less weight and will allow the bag to be stored more easily, but be sure that the workmanship is still of high enough quality so that your bag will last for many years to come.

Weight and size

Even with the benefit of wheels, a large — and full — bag may be a bit hard to handle, particularly if you are going to be hoisting it up stairs and managing curbs or other obstacles. Be sure you don’t buy a bag that is going to be too heavy for you.

In addition to weight, size is an important factor to consider. You need a bag that is going to hold everything you need for your trip (with a little extra for souvenirs on the return). A larger bag is preferable if your travel primarily consists of longer trips. On the other hand, if you want to be able to carry on your bag or mainly take shorter trips, a more compact-sized bag may be a better idea. Give some thought to both weight and size before starting your bag search.

Rolling duffel bags are also a great way to carry around sports gear of various shapes and sizes.

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Features

Appearance

If you travel often, you will be spending some quality time with your bag, so be sure you can stand to be seen with it. If this is a primary concern for you, some brands offer a wide range of colors and prints.

Handles

The handle is what you grasp to drag the duffel bag around. The best handles will be telescoping, so you can pull it out to use it and push it back into the duffel when it is not in use. The handle should sit flush with the bag when idle; some can even be completely hidden via a zippered compartment. The button used to lock and unlock the telescoping handle should be durable and easy to use. A handle that offers padding will be more comfortable to use.

Carry straps

While a handle is standard on a wheeled duffel bag, carry straps can vary from bag to bag. Since we are talking a duffel here, the bag should have hand straps so you can carry it like one. Some bags also have a shoulder strap, giving you the option of carrying it that way.

Rarer still are wheeled duffel bags that have straps so that you can wear the bag like a backpack. These may also have daisy chains, which you can use to easily attach gear to the outside of the bag.

The more straps the bag has, the more versatile it will be in the ways you can carry it. All straps should be durable and offer rugged stitching where they attach to the bag.

Zippers

Zippers are the standard way that wheeled duffel bags are secured. All zippers on a bag should be durable and resist sticking or breaking. Some bags feature self-repairing zippers. While few bags have built-in locking mechanisms for use with their zippers, they should offer zippers that you can easily use compact locks with to secure your bag.

Pockets

The more pockets in your duffel bag, the easier it will be to organize your stuff. Larger bags will tend to feature more pockets. A variety of easy-to-access pockets on the outside of your duffel bag will give you a quick way to reach your passport, boarding pass, and other important items.

Wheels

Arguably the primary feature of a wheeled duffel bag (it’s in the name, after all) is its wheels, which should be large enough to handle whatever terrain you will drag it through. Treaded wheels will also provide better traction on rough surfaces. Some bags feature wheels that recess into the bag when you’re not using them.

DID YOU KNOW?

Wheeled duffel bags typically feature two wheels instead of the four you will tend to find on wheeled suitcases.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some wheeled duffel bags use wheels from inline skates as a rugged, smooth-riding option.

Wheeled duffel bag prices

The price of these bags range quite a bit depending on the quality and size of the bag. Bags on the low end will run you $30 to $40, while you can expect to pay $300 to $400 or more for a premium wheeled bag. Shelling out for a better quality bag is advised here, as the bag will tend to last longer and easily pay for itself over time.

Compare warranties for any wheeled duffel bags you are considering, as these can also vary from bag to bag.

Tips

  • For increased weather protection, try to find a bag that includes a durable storm flap.

  • Avoid buying a bag too big for your needs, as it will not only be harder to lug around, but the empty space inside it will also put your possessions at greater risk of being damaged.

  • Self-repairing zippers refer to zippers that, should the zipped track split apart, allow you to easily “repair” the split by simply unzipping and re-zipping the bag.

  • Separate compartments in a duffel bag allow you to easily isolate items such as dirty shoes or laundry to protect clean clothes and personal items.

  • If you are hoping to carry on your duffel, weigh it before you leave for the airport to verify that you are within any weight limits imposed by the airline.

  • Larger outside pockets on a duffel bag are perfect for storing so-called “3-1-1 rule” items (liquids, gels, and aerosols that are up to 3.4 ounces go in one bag, one bag per passenger).

  • If you are shopping for a bag that you plan to check, go with a bright color. It will be easier to pick out on a luggage carousel.

  • Interior cinch straps are handy for securing lesser amounts of clothing and electronics, in addition to compressing everything so that you can fit more in the bag.

  • A general rule of thumb: the more durable a duffel bag is, the heavier it will also be.

  • Daisy chains on a bag are straps that you can use to clip a variety of gear to. While not standard, you can find some wheeled duffel bags that include these.

Other products we considered

In addition to the wheeled duffel bags listed above, we wanted to share a few more that caught our eye. The AmazonBasics Ripstop Wheeled Duffel offers up a sturdy polyester and ripstop construction in a variety of sizes. It features numerous pockets and compartments to hold all your travel gear. The Travelpro Bold 30-inch Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel has a large, expandable capacity. We really like the way the zippered divider gives you the option of additional interior spaces. If you really want to supersize your bag, try out the Gothamite 36-inch Rolling Duffle Bag. This bag measures 36 x 17 x 15 inches and features three inline skate wheels for enhanced balance on all terrains.

To be kind to the environment, you can seek out eco-friendly bags constructed from recycled materials.

FAQ

Q. Can you carry these types of bags onto a plane?

A. The majority of wheeled duffel bags are compact enough that you can, but you should check with the airline you are flying with to be sure. All airlines have their own restrictions concerning bag size. A plane’s capacity can further affect the size of bags that you can carry on.

If this is a primary concern, you should definitely buy a more compact bag and not overpack it.

Q. Can these be used as a backpack?

A. Some can, although this is relatively rare. For a wheeled duffel bag to be used in this way, it must have shoulder straps and a sturdy, lightweight frame that can fit comfortably against your back. A belt strap should also be included to help take up some of the load.

Q. How do these bags open?

A. Again, it depends on the bag. The majority of them zip open like a suitcase, providing easy access to all your stuff. This is in direct contrast to a traditional duffel bag, which opens on one end, requiring you to dig through the bag to reach items on the bottom. Some bags combine the two, with a bottom suitcase-like compartment and a top duffel-like section. These bags give you more options in terms of organization.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
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    Angela
    Editor
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    Writer
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    Editorial Director
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