The Rise of the Duffle Bag

bags duffle bag leather luggage travel travel bag

Mustang Vintage Leather Duffle Bag

Duffle bags (also spelled Duffel) got their name from Duffel, a small town in Belgium. That's where the cloth of the original duffle bag, originally used for soldiers, is thought to have originated from in the early years of the 20th century. Contemporary duffels are cylindrical or square shaped bags made from a variety of fabrics ranging from canvas to polyester, leather, and microfiber. 

Over the years duffle bags crossed over from strictly utility conveyors in the 60’s, to iconic fashion statements today. From a largely military background, it is now a trendy informal travel bag that still carries out its primary role – a safe and handy repository of luggage.


A rising trend

“Athleisure” is the term connoting the traveling pastime of the worldly man, no longer beholden to just his job. Duffle bags are the epitome of this. The Global Travel Duffel Bags Market report projected that industry would grow by 12.6% between the years 2016 – 2020, functionality being the main driver. People are traveling more than ever, and many take a duffle bag as a carry-on on planes, as it offers large capacity and allows avoiding from paying extra for luggage.

Many people are also going to the gym with duffle bags slung over their shoulder, campers and nature lovers take the bags for outdoor activity, and lastly, students and professionals use them as travel bags or weekender bags for a few days travel for business or leisure.


Leather duffle bag with a mac and a camera


Different types of duffle bags

Most duffle bags are specifically designed for travelers weary of airlines charging more for check-in luggage. Bags designed for the purpose of carry-on luggage typically have more pockets and come in legally mandated restrictions.

Popular types of duffle bags include the following:

Rolling duffel bags: These have wheels and telescopic handles. The outside pockets are also ideal for long distance weary travelers. Rolling duffle bags are very convenient as they save you the pains of carrying the full weight of a heavy bag by the hand or on your shoulder. 

Lightweight duffel bags: Usually made of nylon, polyester or canvas, these are multi-faceted carry-ons for everything from gym equipment to a doctor’s overnight bag. Their light weight is the main consideration.

Leather duffel bag: These travel bags are becoming very trendy nowadays. Aside from their luxurious looks, they are usually very durable and long-lasting, making them a good value for money.

Airport passengers with carry on luggage


How to choose the right bag?
Functionality should always come before fashion – do you need a small or a large capacity travel bag, and how much would it weight, will it be easy to carry by hand or maybe you prefer a bag that's more comfortable to carry using the shoulder strap? This is all the more important should you be traveling far or lands in inhospitable climates. A canvas travel bag trumps polyester anytime in the Kalahari. A leather duffle bag, however, might not be the best option for arid environments, as the leather might dry out and harden.

Water resistant duffle bags would promise to prevent liquids or heavy rains from damaging your belongings and your bag. Many leather duffle bags are treated with wax and different oils to seal them up and protect them from water.



Duffle bags have been enjoying growing popularity in recent years. They can be used as carry-on bags for flights, high capacity bags for the gym or sports equipment, or just for everyday day use. Different designs and materials would serve different purposes. In choosing the right duffle bag for you, you should consider functionality, materials (canvas and leather duffle bags would be most durable but also a bit heavier), and your unique sense of fashion.


Click here to take a look at our duffle bags!

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