Just roll with it: 5 of the best rolling duffel bags

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 29 July 2015

Rolling duffel bags are practical for packing and as useful and easy to get around as your classic travel trolleys. From compact carry-ons to larger two-week luggers, here are our favourites.

Cellini-Xpress-large-trolley-duffle-bag

 

Test conditions

We judged each duffel on the following criteria:

  1. Quality and hardiness: We checked fabric type and colour, zipper strength and glide as well as features such as plastic protective bottoms and other longevity measures.
  2. Ease of packing: Each bag was opened and packed with a set number of goods to see if it was easy to keep clothing, toiletries and other necessities organised. We factored in the number of pockets, compartments and mesh organisers and then checked how difficult is was to search for items inside (because who doesn’t hate unpacking an entire bag to find a swimming costume or rogue pair of socks?).
  3. Comfort: We pulled and carried each fully packed bag to test the comfort of the trolley grip and grab handle.
  4. Special features: We noted which bags had extras such as waterproof exteriors and zip-off components.
  5. Value: We compared price and warranty and did a rands per litre calculation to determine value for money.

 

Glossary

  • Denier (D): A rough indicator of an individual fibre’s density. 10D is less dense (and subsequently lighter) than 50D.
  • R/Litre: Not an industry standard, we worked out how much each bag costs per litre to create a clearer price comparison guide between the bags despite the range of sizes.

 

Best check-in cases

1. Burton 90L Fleet Roller Travel Bag

R3 249, superbalist.com

Burton 90L Fleet Roller Travel Bag
  1. Quality: It’s fit for Chuck Norris. The hardy, plastic-feeling 600D exterior will stand up to airport carousel abuse and is easy to wipe down. The big, robust zips are built for lifetime use and it has serious plastic protective back panels.
  2. Ease of packing: Three interior compartments keep goods separate and the stretchy neoprene zipper edge means the compartments can extend beyond capacity. It’s wide and shallow which makes it easy to find things.
  3. Comfort: At 4,7kg it’s incredibly lightweight for its size. The carry handles are well padded so it’s easy to haul, but if it’s full, the rollers are a must.
  4. Special features: Volume-enhancing CRAM Zone and a built-in name and info tag.
  5. Value: It costs R36,10/litre, has a lifetime warranty and outstanding quality features – good buy, especially considering it’s an import.

 

Verdict

Best for packing the kitchen sink, this two-week duffel has plenty of room, awesome durability, a lifetime warranty and looks striking. The sliders form a lock loop that can accommodate a thin padlock.

 

2. Thule Crossover 56L Rolling Duffel

R4 499, thule.com

Thule Crossover 56L Rolling Duffel

 

  1. Quality: The hardy fabric exterior and black colour will keep this baby looking as good as new. It’s also water-resistant and features tough plastic edging for protection.
  2. Ease of packing: There is plenty of room and the divided main compartment separates clean clothes from dirty ones. The wide opening makes it easy to pack bigger items such as winter boots, and there’s room to dig around to find wayward underwear. There are no internal pockets. The external compression straps are great for adjusting packing size.
  3. Comfort: This 3,5kg duffel is very comfortable to transport. It is ideal when you have to walk for miles in big airports.
  4. Special features: Protective heat-molded, crush-proof compartment to protect sunglasses or portable electronics, water-resistant and smart exterior compression straps.
  5. Value: At R80/litre it’s pricey, but the high-quality exterior and 25-year guarantee make it a durable travel companion.

 

Verdict

Great for regular airport runs and more abusive travel, this is a trendy bag for travellers who value hi-tech specs. Sliders form a generous loop through which to thread a thick lock.

 

3. Samsonite 61L Pop Fresh Duffel

R2 995, samsonite.co.za

Samsonite 61L Pop Fresh Duffel

 

  1. Quality: It has a durable 400D polyamide fabric exterior, smooth zippers, and there’s protective plastic cornering near the wheels. Colours such as aqua blue and red make the bag distinctive but could quickly show signs of wear. Luckily the duffel also comes in grey/green and black.
  2. Ease of packing: It’s straightforward to pack your clothes; the bag flap opens like a butterfly revealing two zippered meshed packing compartments. There is one internal pocket and one slim outer pocket to stash essentials like your passport.
  3. Comfort: AT 2,5kg it’s the lightest we tested in the check-in range, which makes it comfortable to carry and tow, and gives you more weight for actual gear.
  4. Special features: Handy combination luggage lock, a slim profile for compact storage, and distinctive colouring.
  5. Value: It costs R49/litre and only has a five-year warranty.

 

Verdict

It’s a classic: bright, roomy and comfortable to handle. The bag comes with its own small combination lock, but it’s not the most sturdy.

 

Best compact carry-ons

4. K-Way Altitude 40L Roller Duffel

R1799, capeunionmart.co.za

K-Way Altitude 40L Roller Duffel

 

  1. Quality: This sturdy carry-on features tough 600D fabric, beefy rolling wheels, good ground clearance, big rugged zippers and a hardy rubberised underside complemented with plastic piping that will stand up to adventure.
  2. Ease of packing: Two main compartments make for good organisation. Exterior straps allow the load to be compressed, and the top outer pocket is handy for stowing wallets, phones and passports.
  3. Comfort: A rubberised trolley handle makes this an easy duffel to transport, and although the hardy features make this a heavier bag (3,47kg) it doesn’t compromise comfort.
  4. Special features: Rugged exterior, well-designed packing compartments, and water-resistant.
  5. Value: At R45/litre it’s competitively priced, but only offers a one year warranty.

 

Verdict

Best for rugged adventure and camping. Big sliders fit together to form a lock loop, but the lock must be thin to fit through it.

 

5. Osprey 46L Ozone

R1 999, takealot.com

Osprey 46L Ozone

 

  1. Quality: Unlike the other bags featured here the Osprey pack is made from nylon tent-like fabric so it feels less hardy than bags like the K-Way roller, but it’s the most lightweight here. It’s also water-resistant, has a sturdy steel frame and lots of plastic bits to prevent fabric wear and tear.
  2. Ease of packing: One main compartment holds the bulk of goods and it zips open fully so you can easily find your undies. It’s also got the most organiser pockets – four internal and four external – of the carry-ons featured here.
  3. Comfort: It’s a breeze to travel with weighing only 1,98kg but the t-shaped trolley handle is not my favourite. The grab handles are comfortably cushioned though.
  4. Special features: A convenient bag to store as the fabric is soft and doesn’t take much room. Lots of pockets with an easy-access back-stash compartment.
  5. Value: R43/litre is a good price for the included features especially as it comes with a lifetime warranty.

 

Verdict

Best for organised travellers who like pockets. The sliders close together to form a lock loop, but the lock needs to be thin to fit through.

 

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