The best rolling duffle bag – In-depth guide

Long a mainstay of military luggage, the duffle bag (or seabag if you’re a marine) is traditionally a long cylindrical holdall made from durable material such as canvas or other thick fabric, with an opening at one end, closed with a drawstring of some description. Military personnel would pack all their worldly possessions into it, from shaving kit to a spare pair of boots, and heave it over their shoulder. Today’s rolling duffle bag has come a long way from its early ancestors, as can be seen from the baggage retrieval conveyor at any airport terminal in the world.

It’s easy to see why the duffle bag accounts for a growing chunk of the luggage market: it holds a ton of stuff (metaphorically speaking), it’s flexible (which means it can be squeezed into the overhead luggage compartment), and it usually has a range of zippered side pockets on the outside, which means you can organise the stuff which you need close to hand, like passport, tickets, cellphone charger, kindle, or moisturiser!

Nowadays, of course, no one leaves home without wheeled luggage, and even the humble duffle bag has caught up with this trend. It’s hard to imagine that the now ubiquitous wheeled suitcase has only been around since the early 1970s.

[In this article, the size of the bag is quoted in inches and refers to the length of the bag; height and width may vary but are generally proportional to length. Fibre thickness is measured in denier, the standard unit of measure for textiles and fabrics; microfibres measure less than one denier, and a human hair is about 20 denier in thickness.]

Like other forms of luggage, duffle bags come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, configurations and colours. Here’s a selection of ten of the most popular recent additions to the range.

1. ICEUSA 42-inch Rolling Wheeled Cargo Duffle Bag

ICEUSA 42-inch Rolling Wheeled Bag Cargo Duffel Outdoor Travel Oversize Hockey Sports Duffle 42", Black, XL

1 used from $96.06
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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
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$119.99 $129.99
Customer reviews of this rolling duffle bag usually start with the word HUGE! On our list, this is certainly the biggest bag by size and volume. It’s touted as an “outdoor travel oversize hockey sports duffle”, which covers a multitude of applications, and immediately gives the (probably correct) impression that this is the type of bag which can easily accommodate the hockey goal-keeper’s gear including pads, helmet and chest protector. While you’re at it, there’s plenty of room left over for your skates, too.

To bear all that weight, there are three inline skate wheels for smooth rolling, and three support bars at the back, providing sufficient rigidity and preventing sagging and buckling. Its 18-inch depth is bigger than most, and while this may be great for road trips and sporting events, its bulk is understandably considered oversize by most airlines, especially when fully loaded.
Customer reviews are generally positive: a clear 80% of customers rate this rolling duffle bag as 4 or 5 out of 5. That’s the highest rating on our list of ten products, which has got to be telling us something about this big bag. Somewhat amusingly, one of the lower ratings for this duffle was because “the bag was too big; I had to return it”. (Gosh, son, didn’t you even look at the product specification before you ordered it?)

One wonders whether some of the other lower ratings attributed to handles breaking or wheels coming off might not be because of the temptation to overload this duffle because of all the space it provides. But then again, I guess that’s not an excuse for poor quality. A bag this size must be built to accommodate a proportionate load. Use your common sense: one smart customer wanted to know if it would hold a couple of his 60-pound speakers. Maybe, said the sales guy, and if it falls apart we’ll replace it for free. There’s customer service for you.
The 1200 denier (D) polyester cloth should be tough enough for all but the roughest treatment, and should endure the type of loads that this duffle is made for, for many years to come.

2. Tangkula 36” Rolling Wheel Duffle Bag

TANGKULA 36" Rolling Wheeled Tote Duffle Bag Carry On Luggage Travel Suitcase Black

Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
in stock
$56.99 $69.99
Labelled as a tote, carry-on luggage, travel bag and duffle (all pretty much the same thing, in luggage parlance) this bag claims its “simple style” as one of its features, starting perhaps with the colour: black. You can have it in black, period. Never mind, it’s dirt resistant and there are other more attractive features. In terms of storage space, at 36” it’s one of the bigger bags in our range under consideration, and at it’s just below the mid-range price when looking at the average price in our list. It also boasts a generous two front pockets for storage of smaller items.
Claimed to be “strong and sturdy”, this duffle is on the thinner end of the fabric range at 600D (all the bags reviewed were either 600D or 1200D), which reduces toughness and durability but on the plus side makes the bag lighter, somewhat more flexible, and easier to fold up and store away.

Another big plus for many travellers is that it has an adjustable and removable shoulder strap which allows for hands-free movement through the terminal – assuming you haven’t loaded it with the kitchen sink, in which case the wheels will come in handy.

Still, 74% of customers reviewed the Tangkula Rolling Wheel Duffle Bag highly at about 4 of 5, with an overall average of 3,7. The folks who are happy with their purchase compliment it on its size – its length in particular (it’s is one of the longer bags under review), so you can easily fit stuff like tripods, light stands, and pool cues (how many folks travel with a pool cue?). They also liked its big wheels which make for smoother passage over rough surfaces.
On the downside, the fabric thickness was criticised for being too thin, especially when heavily loaded. One guy admitted to loading 74 pounds of gear in his bag for a year-long trip, so not too surprising that it burst at the seams. Overloading, even with all that space available, inevitably leads to fabric tears, broken zippers and popped rivets after only a few outings.

3. Kattee Rolling Duffle Bag

Kattee Rolling Duffle Bag with Wheels Canvas Travel Luggage Duffel Bag 50L (Light Gray)

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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
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$74.99 $79.99
This is one seriously good-looking bag. It’s in the more expensive range, but you’ll want to be seen striding through the terminal buildings towing this beauty. It’s made from a durable high-density cotton canvas, with genuine cowhide leather straps and trim and antique brass buckles (*Sigh*). There’s an attractive choice of colours too: army green, dark grey and light grey.

Together with a detachable and adjustable shoulder strap (leather, of course), this duffle comes with an array of exterior and interior pockets and storage spaces. Outside there are two large side-snap (button-down) pockets at either end of the bag, and one zippered pocket flush with the side panel. The retractable aluminium alloy towing handle is stored and covered with a neat zippered flap, and the four-wheel arrangement is sturdily riveted to the casing. No worries there.

Inside, apart from the large compartment pocket, there are two zippered wall pockets and another two open wall pockets – plenty of options for those knick-knacks that you don’t want to carry around in your jacket or pants pockets, and for the small items that tend to get lost in the debris of your bag. This is a great piece of luggage for the short-business-trip, out-of-town conference, or weekender when you don’t want to be lugging a suitcase, but need the space for a couple of changes of clothes, some running gear for the morning jog, plus the laptop and a couple of work files. And especially if you want to look seriously cool, elegant, and perhaps a little (dare we say it?) European in style. This duffle lives up to Kattee’s slogan of, “Not just a bag”.

So what do the customers think of it? This bag has a surprisingly low rating of 3,6 out of five stars, with only 62% of customers rating it 4 or 5 (albeit from a relatively low number of ratings). Looking at the reviews, it’s hard to understand why. Apart from a couple of comments about the bag becoming unstable on its wheels if not evenly packed, the odd tear and a pocket flap that won’t close, there are only positive comments about its styling, space, and convenience. With not too many ratings, a few outliers can easily skew the ratings. Our advice: ignore the negativity, this bag is great.

4. Traveler’s Club 30” “Xpedition” Rolling Duffle Bag

Travelers Club Luggage 30" Xpedition Multi-Pocket Rolling Duffel- Exclusive

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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
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$33.65 $44.99
The small number of customers who have reviewed this bag (12) like it a lot. With the Olympia 22” bag, it shares the highest rating on our list at 4.2 out of five stars. In fact, ninety two percent of customers rated this bag either 4 or 5. One of the reasons, one would guess at first glance, is the price: extremely low. It’s one of the cheapest buys on our list. But following the old saying, “you get what you pay for”, are they happy with a trade-off in quality and features? The answer, generally, is a resounding “yes”.

There’s a lot to like about this bag, apart from the price. The advertising claims seven pockets, which is usually more than enough for anyone’s needs, but one reviewer claims he found eight pockets: an extra zippered pocket on the top outside. And looking at the pictures, he’s right: the bag stands upright on its base, and there are three zipped pockets on either side panel, plus two zipped pockets on the front/top of the bag. Seeing is believing, so go out and purchase one to see for yourself. People also like the U-shaped zippered top flap for the main compartment which makes for easier packing. Then there are padded top and rear grip carry handles which are a boon for easier lifting and carrying.
Unusually, the 600D lightweight polyester construction doesn’t seem to bother anyone: no reports of poor quality fabric or wear and tear after only a few trips, and the zippers also get good reviews for being sturdy and “well reinforced”.

The bag comes in a variety of colours: black, blue, crimson red and teal green, and all in an attractive two-tone mix with a basic black/charcoal base design and coloured panelling. Very eye-catching. Except for the fella who bought the crimson red version and expressed disappointment that when his purchase arrived it was (in his misspelled opinion, anyway) a “dark burgandy”. Oh well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Users also commented positively on the strong support bar along the bottom of the bag which prevents sagging and dragging – a necessary appendage to most wheeled duffle bags, I imagine, especially when you’re wheeling.

5. Olympia Luggage 22” Rolling Duffle Bag

Olympia Luggage 22" 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag, Black, One Size

4 used from $25.24
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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
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$29.51 $34.64
This Chinese-manufactured smaller bag in our stable still boasts a credible eight side pockets. So if you’re a bit obsessive-compulsive about your travel organisation, this might be just the bag for you. And it seems that there might be a lot of you out there who are OCD because this bag shares top spot of 4,2 on the Amazon ratings scale. Eighty one percent of customers rated this product 4 or 5 out of 5.

With nearly 1600 reviews, a lot of people are buying this product, and are prepared to take the time to pass an opinion on it. Coupled with this, it’s in the lower price range on Amazon, well below the average price for these ten rolling duffle bag. It seems that you’re getting a quality product at a good price.

This bag is choc-a-block full of good features: that U-shaped top opening for easy access and packing of your stuff in the main compartment; high quality in-line skate metal ball-bearing wheel system which is recessed for a smoother bag contour; hideaway telescopic pulling handle in a zippered flap when stowed; self-repairing excel zippers (what?); those eight convenient pockets; and (ta-dah!) tough 1200D polyester nylon fabric. This is a quality bag. Not to mention that it easily meets airline specifications as carry-on luggage.
Although Amazon lists this product only in black, it seems to come in a few more colours: the listing pics are in a fire-engine red, and some other reviewers list navy and black/purple as well. Ask your supplier.

Reviewers rate the Olympia 22” Rolling Duffle Bag highly for the many features already mentioned. It’s hard to find a bad word about this product, but here are a couple: the telescopic handle is a bit too short for taller guys, and it doesn’t lock in place so you can’t push your bag (erm, who does?); and it doesn’t corner well at speed, so get to the airport in good time.

Otherwise, reviewers think this bag is just “awesome”.

6. Olympia Luggage 29” Rolling Duffle Bag

Olympia Luggage 29" 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag (Navy w/ Black - Exclusive Color)

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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
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This bag is the big brother of the 22” Olympia Duffle, and you may think that you’re getting more of the same, only bigger. But according to the folks who have bought this product, you’d only be half right. The 29” version is bigger, no doubt, and enjoys all of the product features of its baby sister listed above: tough 1200D polyester fabric, the same inline wheel system, retractable pulling handle, U-shaped top opening, strong zippers, and eight convenient pockets.
But somehow this all translates into an average rating of 3,9 out of 5 stars, compared to the 22” rating of 4,2. Only seventy three percent (compared to 81% for the 22”) rate this bag as 4 or 5 out of 5.

Why the difference?

At first glance of the reviews, it might be assumed that the larger size of the bag leads to more stuff being packed into it, which in turn leads to overweight for the type of luggage we’re talking about. One reviewer remarked that in his opinion a rolling duffle bag – any duffle bag – is fine for a short excursion (a week at the beach, a couple of nights away on a business trip), but is inappropriate for a longer journey entailing multiple stopovers, stowage in the hold (have you seen the way baggage handlers respect those seventeen “fragile” stickers you plastered all over your duffle?), carrying of breakables, and so on. He could have a point. But duffles are not only designed as carry-ons, and the bigger bags should be engineered to take the loads for which they are made.
This points, then, to design, and the reviews do seem to indicate that weight is a problem for this particular product’s design. The bag is said to sag between the wheels when being pulled, leading to dragging on the floor – wearing of the fabric, difficulty in pulling, defeating the purpose of having wheels in the first place. Customers suggest a sturdier structure, more reinforcing, which may then make the bag more rigid and defeat the purpose of some of its inherent benefits. It’s a fine balancing act.
Truth be told, the majority of customers are quite happy with their purchase. One customer calls it “a great bang for your buck – for occasional use”.

7. Explorer 30” Rolling Duffle Bag

Explorer Rolling Duffel Bag, 30-Inch

Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
out of stock
This rolling duffle bag with two large front pockets and a big compartment is at the lower end of our price range, with a respectable 3,9 out of 5 star rating from twenty four customer reviews on Amazon. 80% of its customers gave it a 4 or 5 out of 5 star rating. That’s very high when it comes to rolling duffle bags.

Made from the less robust 600D fabric, the Explorer is valued by users for its size and space, even though it’s in the mid-range size of 30”, and with few complaints about its durability – a broken strap here and there, but no real moans and groans about the lighter fabric material. Its durability is helped by the two rigid reinforcing bars along the base of the bag, and the business-like ribbed wheels recessed into the bottom of the bag, giving it the feel of a tractor. This baby is going cross-country!

If anything, users seem to appreciate the fact that this is a bag which can take a lot of abuse: drag it around the sports fields in all weathers, toss it in the back of the car with all the hockey gear and helmets (both in it and on it), and give it a quick wipe down if it happens to get a bit scuffed and muddy. Who cares? This bag can withstand a beating, and at that price, well, we can easily afford to replace it. Not that these happy customers have to replace it regularly. The bag seems to “meet and exceed expectations” with most users. And who cares if it only comes in black?
One suspects that, because of the price tag, this is the sort of bag which doesn’t enjoy too much respect from its users when it comes to handling. Yet, ironically, this is exactly what has earned it the respect it does enjoy from its customer base. Well done, Explorer.

8. High Sierra Evolution Wheeled Duffle Bag

High Sierra 89573-6200 Evolution Wheeled Drop Bottom Duffel Bag, True Navy/Midnight/Pool, 30"

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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
out of stock
This bag scores 3,8 from 29 customer reviews, and it is one of the more expensive duffles on our list, especially considering that it is made from the thinner 600D polyester fabric. With a higher price tag comes a bit more cachet, starting with the range of colours: black/ash (black with grey trim – nice); navy/midnight/pool (shades of blue: navy bag with dark and sky-blue trim and corporate lettering – very nice); black/zest (black with lime green trim – nicer); and mercury/redline (black with silver and red trim – nicest). Very eye-catching bags.

its “drop-bottom” design allows for the bag to be unzipped around three sides to open flat, revealing a large storage compartment. Effectively, the bag has two halves, which make for more options when it comes to packing and separating whatever it is you want to carry. It’s a good idea. This is in addition to a side accessory pocket and a front panel ticket pocket for the handy storage of travel documents.

Styling themselves as suppliers of “versatile adventure lifestyle gear for adventurers”, High Sierra clearly appeals to millennials and others who want to be seen as outdoorsy and adventurous. Nothing wrong with that.

Seventy three percent of users rate the High Sierra products highly (4/5 rating). But a relatively high 21% don’t (1/5). Where this lower rating comes from is a bit of a puzzle, because a careful look at the customer reviews doesn’t seem to bear out the statistic. The only complaint I could find was from an otherwise satisfied user who couldn’t source a replacement for a broken clip from the manufacturer. Otherwise, for the majority, this is a great product.

People like the drop-bottom configuration, and they love the colour schemes; these were mentioned in a few reviews. They compliment the smooth rolling of the wheels, the sturdy structure, and the large heavy-duty zippers. One satisfied customer remarked that this is her second High Sierra product in ten years – so they do last.
This is a good-looking wheeled duffle bag, with some special features.

9. Samsonite Luggage 22” Andante Wheeled Duffle Bag

Samsonite Luggage 22 Inch Andante Wheeled Duffel (22")

3 used from $24.19
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Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
in stock
For starters, this product stands alone for its lengthy product reviews. Most product reviews from customers are one- or two-liners, a short paragraph at best. Samsonite users can burble on about their luggage for over 300 words. Unfortunately, it’s not all complimentary. But any customer who is willing to commit time and effort to writing a lengthy review is probably quite deeply vested in the product itself.
Of course, Samsonite has got a long and proud history in the luggage industry, and that’s one reason for the loyalty. But the other is that they do make a decent product. As a result, 75% of customers on Amazon rate this product as 4 or 5 out of 5, giving an overall average score of 4 from over a thousand customer reviews. That’s good.

What’s special about this rolling duffle bag? In terms of a product description, nothing much, really. It’s got all the usual features: lightweight design (although the site doesn’t mention its denier weight); U-shaped opening for easy access; smooth rolling wheels; retractable and locking pull handle; useful side pockets, and handy carrying handles.
Importantly, it’s the right size for carry-on cabin luggage, and it certainly looks good with that bold Samsonite logo emblazoned across the bottom and front of the bag, and a range of attractive two-tone colours in plain black (with grey piping), black with red panels, black with grey panels, and black with lime green panels – all very striking.

The recessed wheels and plastic-reinforced corners are a good feature, giving a strong and sturdy look and feel to the bag. There is the odd complaint about a wheel breaking and not being able to be repaired, a tear in the fabric which effectively destroys the bags utility, and indifferent customer service following a request for a replacement bag. But one never knows what sort of abuse these bags may have undergone to bring about such damage, does one? It’s not always the fault of the manufacturer.

10. Traveler’s Club Luggage 36” X-Large Rolling Duffle

36" X-Large Space-Saving Triple Wheeled Rolling Expandable and Collapsible Duffel, Black and Blue Trim Color Option

2 used from $25.47
Free shipping
Last update was on: October 20, 2019 8:24 pm
in stock
$28.45 $41.80
This bag is big and cheap, and the general consensus of customers, both satisfied and disappointed, is that you get what you pay for. On the plus side, as one may expect, you can fit an awful lot of stuff into this bag. In fact, one satisfied reviewer went as far as to say that the bag performs better the more you put into it. That may make some sense in that it would probably be more rigid and, in his experience, rolls much better under a full load than if it were not so full. He adds, quite sensibly, that if you don’t need all the space which this bag provides, well, get a smaller bag.
Other users were happy to fork out the small price tag, even if it performed the one job you bought it for: bringing the kid’s stuff home from college, or having to watch your airline weight allowance – as big as the bag is, it’s light and practical for its purpose. But if you’re paying $30 for a bag of this size, don’t expect it to last forever.
It may be a concern that the bag is so big that it can be considered oversized by some airlines, even when you remain within the standard weight limits. Also, although it has three wheels at the base, it has no telescoped pull handle – only a padded handle, but users don’t report this to be a problem when the bag is up and running on its wheels.
In summary, product has a specialised purpose of carrying stuff in bulk, and is cheap enough to not raise too many expectations about how long it is going to last.

The best rolling duffle bag

There are an awful lot of products to choose from in the rolling duffle bag luggage market. What may help you to narrow down your choices is to ask yourself the following questions – common to any traveller, of course:
• What is the purpose of my trip?
• How long am I away for?
• How much (volume) and what do I need to pack?
• How much do I want to spend on my luggage?

All of these questions – and there are others, of course – will provide a guide to narrowing down your choices as to what to look for in the market. But even then, your options can be bewildering. For some, the style and look of the piece of luggage is a reflection of their status and self-image; for others it’s a more utilitarian decision: will this bag suit my purpose?

Whatever your final decision, it is important to know that your choice may seriously influence the enjoyment and experience of your journey. It would be wise to spend a little extra if you can be assured that you have bought a quality product with the features that you need on your trip. Travel can be stressful enough without the inconvenience of the wheels falling off – literally or metaphorically.

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