How to pack A duffel bag

  • ​How to Pick a Duffel

Duffel is a catch-all term for any large bag made of fabric or leather. Their flexibility is useful on car trips, safaris, ski vacations or any other getaway that requires hauling bulky, odd-shaped gear. Another advantage: Traditional duffels fold up easily when empty, requiring little storage space. Additional features include shoulder straps and wheels that keep them feeling light, and external and internal pockets that keep smaller items from getting lost in the bag.

Recommended Duffel:

Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel, $150

This water-resistant, large duffel is sturdy and easy to lug around: It has wheels, a removable shoulder strap that’s padded and adjustable, an external pocket and lockable zippers. And, it folds compactly into the accompanying pouch.

​How Big Should Your Bag Be?

Check-in bags tend to range in size from 24 to 30 inches. Mr. Saltzman encourages travelers to choose a design that’s 28 inches or less because some airlines may consider a 29- to 30-inch suitcase oversized, which could mean paying a fee to check the bag.

​Best High-Tech Accessories

There are bags (almost always hard-cased bags) with GPS tracking, phone chargers, built-in scales, biometric fingerprint locks and other tech features. But both Mr. Saltzman and Mr. Bettinger say you should not necessarily buy one of these yet; the category is new, so kinks in these bags are sometimes still being worked out. They’re also pricey.

You could also turn your current piece of luggage into something more high-tech with minimal effort, and at a lower cost. For ideas on how to do this, read The Wirecutter’s guide to smart accessories for your luggage. The most useful add-on is a Bluetooth tracker to improve your chances of finding lost luggage.

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