We all like our luggage to be invincible against the elements, but never more so than when it comes to packing up for camping. Whether we’re trekking up rocky terrain, splashing across a stream or spying the ever-lurking threat of rain-clouds creeping closer to our camp-site, we need bags which are going to hold their own and protect our clothes, gear and other belongings without showing any signs of wear themselves. And while technically it is possible to lug a heavy-duty suitcase with us, it doesn’t really help with the logistics.
The answer? Duffel bags. Roomy, stretchy and resilient, the right duffel bag makes packing everything you need a breeze, and endures getting shoved into car boots and dumped on bumpy ground with undue grace. Let’s take a look at our picks for the best camping duffel bags.
Ledmark Heavyweight Cotton Canvas Duffle Bag
This bag is gigantic – it’s not an exaggeration to say you can fit a full-sized person in there. Perfectly spaced for stocking in all your clothing, food, gear and still leave room to spare, the bag is built for endurance, constructed out of heavy-duty cotton canvas, making it ideal for rough use. The material is both strong and lightweight, the weave of the fabric likely to last you several years and making the job of lugging a ton of heavy camping gear around much easier than having to opt for heavy-sided luggage. Canvas is also an eco-friendly alternative to other synthetic fabrics and plastics found in some luggage options.
The bag comes fitted with No. 10 zippers to enclose your valuables safely, with sturdy carry-handles which can be strapped together with a Velcro band, and adjustable straps with shoulder pads to aid ease of carrying.
STAR BUDGET PICK
Gonex Foldable Travel Duffel Bag
This massive 80 liter bag is the perfect size to take on a camping trip. Made of highly durable, water-resistant 210 denier nylon, the honeycomb weave of the material ensures that the bag is rip- and tear-resistant, letting you chuck it into the back of your car or by your campsite without the fear of it coming apart. As lightweight as it is robust, the bag weighs about 80% less than your average heavy-sided suitcase, equipped with two carry handles and an adjustable, detachable shoulder strap to make it easy to carry.
Decked out with multiple external pockets to let you categorize your belongings, this bag is also designed to let you use packing cubes should you choose, letting you organize your packing rather than dumping everything into a single compartment. The bag also comes with a handy, odor-proof shoe-compartment you can slip your mud-caked or sweaty shoes into, without risking getting that mess into your clothes or other items.
Convenient to fold up and stow away when not in use and with plenty of space to offer when it is, these bags are available in 10 colors ranging from neutral to statement blues and pinks.
Outdoor Products Mountain Duffel
A classic cargo duffel, this square shaped bag comes with a large main compartment lined with mesh pockets, and two external zip-up panel pockets to either side to let you stow away your shoes and toiletries. There are zippered pockets to the front as well to let you slip in any items you want handy, like your phone or charger. With the various compartments available, you get to keep your valuables somewhat clutter-free, cataloguing items into specific pockets so you know exactly where to look should you require something.
The bag, as the name implies, is made of tough, highly durable polyester, boasting a denier rating of 600, falling within the range of thickness recommended for soft-sided, heavy-duty luggage. Polyester itself is a great, highly durable, weather- and water-resistant material which manages to resist wear and tear while at the same time remaining lightweight enough to make it easy to carry around with you at and around your camp-site. The material also makes clean-up a simple matter of wiping the bag down with a damp cloth and some soapy water.
The bag comes with diverse carry options, with grab handles at the sides, a sturdy carry handle strapped together with Velcro to let you carry it horizontally, as well as an adjustable, detachable shoulder strap.
Stansport Deluxe Duffel Bag with Shoulder Strap
A military style duffel constructed out of 100% cotton canvas, this bag promises to last you many years. The stress points of the bag are reinforced with extra stitches to keep the edges coming apart at the seams, with a snap hook closure system to ensure all the contents of your bag stay locked into place without the risk of falling out. The roomy interior of the bag with its dimensions of 13” x 10” x 2” are plenty of space to fit in a sleeping bag with room left over for more, letting you pack up all your heavy-duty gear and camping equipment in one place without needing to lug several items separately. The bag has a carry handle to let you carry it by hand, as well as a cotton webbed shoulder strap to let you snag it on for hands-free manoeuvrability.
Choosing the Best Camping Duffel Bag
There are a couple of keywords to look out for when it comes to duffel bags you want to take camping, and durability is definitely one of them. Look out for water- and weather-resistant options if you’re likely to run into a little rainfall or might get water splashed on your bags when you’re out in the great outdoors. If you’re going somewhere with trickier weather, though, look into options guaranteed to be completely water- and/or weather-proof – these will keep any moisture or rogue elements out of your bag even if you accidentally drop it into a stream.
Durability also factors in longevity, and how well your bag is going to be able to withstand the strains of being hauled unceremoniously in and out of vehicles and all over your trekking or camping grounds. Nylon and polyester, again, are usually very resistant to rips and tears, especially if they have a decent denier rating, ideally above 500. Cotton canvas is another highly durable, eco-friendly material, likely to last you several years and possible to re-use, simple to toss into your washing-machine to clean up and air-dry.
The flip side of the coin is convenience. The best duffels are both roomy and lightweight, with oodles of space inside to let you pack everything you need and then some. We’re always particularly pleased to find an option which comes with internal compartments and external pockets to let you organize your belongings and cut down the clutter, without getting your toiletries, dirty clothes and clean towels mixed up.