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Duffel Bags

The traditional duffel bag with the hand strap and optional shoulder bag has been an old standby for many years. There are a couple of different types of duffel bags. There is the log, or sausage-type of bag that we usually refer to as a gym bag (although I've seen all sorts of fancy "gym bags" lately). These are tubular, with one long zipper across the top.

Some fancier duffel bag models are now available from companies such as LL Bean. These are designed specifically as carry-ons. Some have C-shaped zippers on the top, making it easy to pack folded clothing into the bag. Many of these types of bags have side pockets that can hold toiletries or important papers. Eagle Creek's "Cargo Voyager" bags have the added feature of zip-away backpack straps on the back of the bag, allowing users to carry the bags hands free.

Advantages: These gym bags are usually very lightweight. Without too many pockets or compartments, you won't forget where you put things. The single compartment will also make it fairly easy to stuff with your clothing. Things like rolled socks will find room fairly easily in this bag.

Disadvantages: Many gym bags are not made of very hefty fabric. Carried for long periods of time, the seams can fray pretty easily. Many of these bags are also long and skinny, making it difficult to place under the seat.

Important features to look for:

  • Make sure the seams seem strong.
  • Make sure the zippers do not seem too flimsy.
  • Look for a little loop at one end, through which you can install a little padlock (and lock it onto the end of your zipper).
  • Look for a separate set of short handles in case you need to pull your bag quickly.
  • Look for detachable shoulder straps.
  • Look to make sure the shoulder straps are adjustable.
  • Shoulder straps should have a pad on it to protect your shoulder.
Next: Shoulder Bags.
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