The most annoying companion you can have while traveling is unmanageable luggage. The bigger the bag is, the more difficult it becomes to navigate them through airports, stations, and city streets. You probably think that large duffel bags are the worst for this reason because they have to be carried in your hand or over your shoulder. Not if they come with wheels and are designed to be easily rolled about! In this article, we help you find the best rolling duffel bag for checked luggage.
While soft and hard shell suitcases with wheels are easier to manage because of their rigid structure, they’re not the best for when you need to travel with a lot of belongings. That’s where duffel bags shine since their soft and unstructured shells allow you to squeeze in quite a lot. Large duffel bags can be stuffed to their gills and still pass for checked luggage because they’re lighter than similarly sized suitcases when empty, allowing you to pack more while keeping under airline baggage weight restrictions. However, unlike smaller duffels that are good as carry on luggage, large rolling duffel bags are difficult to wheel about if they sag in the middle or have small wheels. If there’s absolutely no structure to them, they have to be completely packed in order to maintain some rigidity when you lean them over to be rolled.
Table of Contents
- 1 Are Duffle Bags Allowed as Checked Luggage?
- 2 How to Choose the Best Travel Duffel Bag with Wheels
- 3 Best Rated Wheeled Duffle Bags for Check In
Osprey Shuttle 30 inch 100L Wheeled Luggage
Thule Chasm 32 inch Wheeled Duffel
Travelers Club Xpedition 30 Inch Rolling Duffel Bag
Are Duffle Bags Allowed as Checked Luggage?
You can use duffel bags instead of suitcases as your checked luggage on most airlines. Most airlines have a restriction on the total dimensions of the bag that can be checked in, instead of individual dimensions like for carry on bags. The maximum total linear length for checked baggage is 62 inches on most airlines, although this can vary depending on the airline. The standard maximum weight limit is 50 pounds for most domestic airlines, but this can also vary especially for international airlines.
Since most duffel bags are almost cylindrical, the width may be equal to the height and the length is the largest dimension. As long as all three dimensions together equal around 62 inches, you’re good to go. A few duffel bags may go over this limit slightly but you can usually get away with it if you don’t pack it too fully. Most airlines care more about the weight limit anyway, so may sure that you weigh it once it’s packed. It can be very easy to go over if the duffel is really roomy inside.
It’s good to note that you’re not totally banned from checking in a duffel that’s over these limits. Many sportspersons and musicians have to travel with oversized equipment regularly and may need something bigger than this. In these cases, you can either pay for excess baggage or check them in as special equipment, which has a higher weight and dimensions limit. For packing these, you should probably choose a rolling duffel with a drop bottom compartment to separate clothes from the equipment.
How to Choose the Best Travel Duffel Bag with Wheels
There are a few considerations that you should take into account before you buy a large rolling duffle bag for air travel.
Dimensions and Weight
The first consideration is the dimensions and weight of the duffel bag when it’s empty. Duffel bags come in many sizes but if you’re planning to check it at the airport, you have to choose one that most airlines will allow every time. Check out the simple rules for checked luggage allowances above.
Since you’re going to be checking a duffel bag, the zippers need to be lockable just like for suitcases. However, unlike some suitcases that have in-built TSA-approved lockable zippers, duffel bags can’t have them and the most you can hope for is that the zipper heads allow you to use your own TSA-approved luggage locks.
Structure and Sturdiness
You should look for a sturdy base on the duffel if it needs to be wheeled around a lot at the airport or while traveling. That way, the wheels will work better even on less than ideal surfaces, and the bottom of the bag won’t get scuffed and torn after just a few uses. It also helps if the long base of the bag has a little structure to it otherwise it will sag right around the middle of its length and be difficult to wheel along.
Being lighter than suitcases is a big advantage that duffel bags have but because baggage handlers can be quite rough with checked luggage, you should choose a bit of a heavy-duty rolling duffel bag, especially if you travel a lot. Nylon and Ballistic nylon bags are some of the most durable kinds.
In addition to the main compartment of the bag, you also should consider if you like having lots of internal and/or external organizational pockets. Organizational pockets are great for keeping your toiletries and accessories tidy and easy to find but they should not come at the cost of space in the main compartment. Duffel bags are known for being very simple in organizational design, so consider using packing cubes to keep your belongings separate from each other. A few duffel bags come with external bungee cords that you can use to attach a jacket, or an add-a-bag strap that allows you to piggyback a carry on bag or personal item on it.
The telescopic handle should extend and retract with ease and preferably extend to more than just one height so that whatever your height, you can comfortably rolling it along behind you without it banging into your heels. It needs to be tough enough to handle the weight of the bag and not wobble too much when in use.
Wheels are another feature you need to pay attention to. Unlike for suitcases where you can choose between two-wheeled and four-wheeled, rolling duffel bags only come with two wheels. You should make sure that these wheels roll well and are large enough to roll well over bumpy terrain or a rough surface. If they come with two wheels they should be set far enough apart to provide a wide base so that the duffel doesn’t flip when you round a corner or go down a slope.
There are times that your luggage needs to stand upright. Because there’s very little structure, this is not always possible without it having to lean against something. For it to be able to stand on its own it has to have feet or a stand. You can make it easier by packing all your heavy items, like shoes, closer to the wheels and all your lighter things closer to the top.
Best Rated Wheeled Duffle Bags for Check In
Osprey Rolling Transporter 90 Duffel Bag
The updated Osprey Rolling Transporter 90 Duffel Bag is ideal for travel as it has ample space to carry your belongings. The bag has YKK lockable Zippers so that you don’t need to worry about your stuff while traveling. These zippers are weather resistant with double flaps to prevent rain from seeping in through.
The bag’s dimensions are 31.5 x 17.3 x 13.8 inches, weighs 7.54 lbs, and can hold up to 90L. It’s one of the sturdiest yet lightest large travel duffels you can find and also one of the easiest to handle for transportation.
The duffel shell is made of recyclable materials and boasts a water resistant coating. It has a light aluminum frame to add a bit of rigidity to its long base so that you can wheel it easily and it doesn’t sag even if it is not completely stuffed. This base has two small feet at the opposite end of the chassis to prevent the bag from getting dirty when placed horizontally on the ground. It has two wheels and two feet so that it can stand upright without any support.
Osprey’s famous HighRoad Chassis on this duffel’s vertical base is what makes maneuvering it so easy. The large and rugged wheels can handle the bag being rolled on less than smooth terrain. The sturdy and wide base prevents it from being flipped when you wheel it behind you. The bag has a telescopic handle with an ergonomical grip that extends and retracts smoothly. Additionally, it has five padded web grab handles that come in handy when it’s time to haul it off the luggage carousel.
The bag has one main compartment with two large internal zippered pockets and two internal compression straps that give you adequate space to pack your stuff while keeping everything neat and secure. There is a large external end pocket where you can keep items that need to be accessed easily.
The bag is equipped with several attachment points and a tuckaway tow strap so that you attach an additional bag that you may have.
Osprey Shuttle 30″/100L Wheeled Luggage
The Osprey Shuttle 30″/100L Wheeled Luggage has many similarities to the Transporter above but this model is a little more suited to regular travel by air, while the transported is geared more towards adventure travels.
The Shuttle 30 is made of nylon and polyurethane. It is furnished with lockable zippers that keep belongings safe while traveling. The dimensions of the bag are 34 x 19 x 12 inches and it weighs 8.18 pounds when empty. Its capacity is 100L. Although the dimensions are slightly higher than the limit, the bag can still be checked in if it is not fully stuffed.
Like the Transporter, this bag is placed over a high 16 inch wide chassis that along with the telescopic handle helps you maneuver the bag easily and efficiently and let it stand upright on its own. The base has several protective bumpers to protect the bag when it is mishandled. You also get a Straightjacket compression system with external straps that secure your load and stabilize the bag when it’s not fully stuffed.
The designers have paid keen attention to the organization of travel belongings. There are several fabric and mesh pockets inside the main compartment that makes organization easier. There is one external compartment at the top of the bag while the other one is at its bottom. The upper one can be used to store toiletries and the bottom one can be used to keep shoes. The back of the bag also has two compartments – one is for magazines and the other for any damp items, as it features drainage holes at the bottom. The duffle bag also has a companion piece strap that can be used to attach additional bags to this main luggage.
Thule Chasm 32″ Wheeled Duffel
The Thule Chasm Wheeled Duffel is made of tarpaulin fabric, which makes the bag durable and water-resistant. The most attractive feature of the bag is the space that it offers, that being 110L. The dimensions of the bag (15.4 x 16.9 x 32.0 inches) are perfect for any air travel. It weighs 10.2 lbs, which is slightly higher than the other bags in this category due to its sturdy base. This bag can be used as checked luggage or can be used for an outdoor camping adventure. The lockable zipper system keeps your luggage safe.
The back is made of partially recycled molded polycarbonate, which is known for its sturdiness. This protects the bag from impact and prevents it from sagging while you are wheeling it about anywhere. The bag is equipped with a V-channel telescoping handle that can be easily pulled and retracted with the help of a small push button. It has oversized wheels for effortless rolling and a small front stand on the vertical base to help it stand on its own. You have top and side grab handles to lift the bag out of a car or off a luggage carousel.
The large main compartment is enough to store your belongings, with the inside of the lid divided into two mesh zippered pockets for your dirty linen. The two external compression straps keep your bag from looking and feeling bulky. You also get an outer pocket that makes things easily accessible.
Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel, Large
The Eagle Creek No Matter What Large Rolling Duffel is a water-resistant and tough bag that’s made of Bi-Tech fabric. Cleaning this bag is very easy. The self-repairing zippers are lockable and have a storm flap that protects water from seeping in. The “No Matter What” series comes with a warranty of repair or replacement for the lifetime of the product. Keep in mind that this is water-resistant and not waterproof so it won’t keep out water if it’s exposed to rain for hours. If that’s what you’re after then check out our recommendations for waterproof travel duffel bags.
The bag’s dimensions are 30″ x 15″ x 14″ which matches the limit of most airlines. It weighs 3lbs 14oz, which is extremely light and has a capacity of 104L. There are no interior compartments, which some may not like, but this design makes it very versatile for packing. It is meant to be packed full if you intend to wheel it about because it will sag otherwise and be unwieldy. Packing cubes can be useful not only for the organization but to also give the duffel more structure and prevent your things from sliding down to the wheel section.
Although it is light, it is abrasion-resistant. The bag has bar-tacked reinforcements in the areas that need to bear a lot of stress and are prone to wear and tear. It can be folded into a pretty compact square package by pushing the top down into the wheel frame. It comes with a stuff sack which can be used to store the folded duffel when not in use. This sack can also be used to store dirty linen or shoes separately while traveling.
The bag has two oversized wheels but does not have a telescopic handle, which is what makes it so incredibly light. It can be pulled by its padded hand loop at the opposite end of the wheels. The bag also has an adjustable and removable shoulder strap that helps to carry it on the shoulder, and a pair of grab handles if you just need to haul it for a short distance. The duffel doesn’t have feet or stands and cannot stand upright on its own.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for soft rolling collapsible bags for travel, this Eagle Creek model is a good bet. If you don’t need wheels, then check out a few other duffel bags that can be folded for storage. Its design is for users who need lots of packing space without the extra weight or frills and is perfect for safari-goers and one of the most popular large rolling duffle bags for women.
Travelers Club Xpedition 30 Inch Multi-Pocket Upright Rolling Duffel Bag
The Travelers Club Xpedition 30 Inch Multi-Pocket Upright Rolling Duffel Bag is what you needed if you’re on a budget. This duffel bag is made of sturdy 600D Polyester material and a durable rail on the back to keep the back solid and flat and prevent it from sagging. The dimensions(30” x 12” x 13”) of the bag fall within the prescribed checked baggage limit. This bag weighs just 6.6 pounds and can hold up to 77L.
The main compartment is one large space that’s very roomy with no pockets or dividers. Apart from this, you get 6 external pockets that help you to stay organized while traveling. There are three compartments on one side, one long compartment on the other, and two on the front. All are zippered.
This bag has a top handle and dual front handles that help you to carry it when you don’t want to or can’t roll it. The bag has a front stand on the bottom and so that it can stand upright when stuffed. It has an inline wheel system for rolling the bag. The telescopic handle works well and retracts into its own zippered pocket at the back.
The sturdy nature of the material used for manufacturing the bag not only prevents it from sagging but also flipping when you pull the bag behind you or down a slope. This bag is a good choice for long journeys because of its multiple compartments.