Call it the “Goldilocks of Bags” if you like, though sometimes it seems like more of a “Unicorn of Bags”: the perfectly sized and properly priced duffel can be elusive (hell, brands can’t even decide one way to spell it). When the occasion calls for light packing in something that’ll easily fit in the back seat or sling comfortably over your shoulder there are myriad options, but how many of them can be considered worth a buy? What follows are 30 of the best duffel bags to fit every budget. These represent a vast array of materials, styles, colors and purposes, but suffice it to say each of these duffels is just right.
Getting attached to GORUCK's Weekend Bag
On my first night with the GORUCK GR2 ($395) we slept together in a bus station — and we’ve been going steady since. Specifically, after a flight from Cancun to Havana and midnight bus from Havana to Santa Clara, in the geographical center of Cuba, I looped a carabiner through the side webbing of the GR2, clipped it to my jacket’s pit vents, rested my head gently against her rugged 1000D cordura, and knocked off for six hours in a metal row chair.
The good kind of shady
Finally the brightness of summer is on its way. Now, for the harsh reality: you’ve had plenty of time during the last five months of gray to forget where you left your last set of sunglasses. If you’re in need of a new pair, the beloved aviator never goes out of style, pairs well with everything from a suit to board shorts, and just looks damn good. Read on for the five best aviators for summer 2013.
Integral travel companion
I have terrible luck checking luggage, and the list of destinations where I’ve arrived with only the clothes on my back spans the globe: Iceland, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Germany. The problem is, most carry-on bags are unwieldy, anonymous “roll-aboards” or lumpy backpacks that are better suited for campus or the trail. The TUMI Tegra-Lite ($595) bucks those trends and has quickly become my second favorite travel companion, behind my wife.
Old School, High Quality, No BS
In the constant pursuit of a high-quality, stylish lifestyle, it’s understandable that we men may stray from the path a time or two — a truck stop frozen burrito here, a discount-grade pair of white socks there. Most times, though, we regret purchasing shoddy products. Owen & Fred, The Store For Men is a response to just such disappointing gimmickry, providing the superbly crafted choice for everything from dopp kits to ties to kitchen accessories and all the rest.
Men’s accessory master Alexander Olch has stepped out of the box with a woven “in-the-round” wool-twill pocket companion ($60). It’ll even spruce up drab winter attire and transition to spring if you’re the type to live dangerously by taunting the sun in a blazer. More importantly, origami skills aren’t required. In fact for best results, a certain sloppy swagger is desired. Just pinch from the middle and tuck it into your blazer. Matchey mates will want to grab this companion tie, too.
Ring belts are the saving grace for casual types who can’t stand the sight of belt loops in the raw. These Archival Webbing Belts ($28) are a restrained alternative to the preppy stripes and bright colors you’ll soon see crowding retailers’ spring shelves. They’re made in Portland, OR, from British mil-spec cotton webbing and feature a Horween leather tab and red bar tack stitching. For proper sizing, measure your waist and add 6 inches, then compare this number to Archival’s “Finished Length of Belt”. Remember to leave slack for those porterhouse binges.
Stiff in any size
Tie wearers know that material, pattern and the cut of neckwear goes a long way; indeed, perhaps more important is the knot. But what good is the perfectly done tie without a properly crisp collar to cinch it around? Dedicated to maintaining a gentleman’s good form in over 20 common collar styles, Swiss Stays ($8-$125) has given the sometimes frustrating behind-the-scenes champion of men’s formal fashion, collar stays, a shot of much needed one-size-fits-most juice.
A Real Guitar Hero
It may not house the firepower needed to take down a Mexican drug lord, but the Mono Vertigo Top Loading Guitar Case ($205) will keep any mariachi’s six-
shooter string safe, sound and ready to rock. Unlike other soft-shells, which fold faster than a limp bizkit without an axe on board, the Vertigo was built to stand up (literally) to something all strummers do: grabbing that baby by the neck and getting onstage in a hurry.
There’s nothing novel about the A.P.C. Leather and Canvas Holdall ($370) in terms of shape or size. It’s the versatile combination of black washed leather and brown canvas detailing that caught our eye. The 18″ (W) x 10″ (H) x 10″ (D) bag features an internal pocket, detachable shoulder strap and has more than enough room for gym clothes or even an overnight stay, granted you don’t pack like Kanye. An included luggage tag should keep confused (envious) travelers from “mistakenly” grabbing it.
Toting around an über-expensive camera and loads requisite gear can be stressful — rain cares about your $7,000 DSLR about as much as it cares that you didn’t pack an umbrella. Hope is not lost. Chrome’s Niko Camera Pack ($180) is made of weatherproof nylon and is a multi-tasking, multi-pocketed beast.
It's what's underneath that counts
“Daily wear” is right; we’re not promoters of commando in the least. Mack Weldon socks, underwear and undershirts ($13-$32) hit the nail on the skivvies head. They’re simple, reasonably priced and comfortable as hell.
Riding your vintage hipster fixie might be cool. The tattered velcro handlebar bag that looks like you stole it from your sister when you were eight? Not cool. Detroit Cargo bails out ill-fitted cyclists with their Jefferson Handlebar Bag ($84). More English saddlebag than beats by Dre, the bag can hold tools, phones or even…
Tire, shoulder, what's the difference?
The daily commute biker in you wants a pannier, but your stylish professional side yearns for a good-looking courier bag. Property Of… (yes, the ellipsis is included in their name) says you can have your bag and ride with it, too. Their wax-treated canvas Tommy Pannier bag ($339) looks perfectly comfortable carried by its heavy…
Ties disappeared from the office faster than fax machines once the silicon valley teens-turned-CEOs labeled them as “fun workplace” enemy number one. But if Etro’s combination of classic American colors and Italian knit work doesn’t add pop to your typical uniform of oxfords and jeans, nothing will. Combine the strong stripes with a solid shirt in lighter colors and be the one uomo in a room full of boys.
“Smooth and supple” may not make you think of an iPhone case. Snap out of your depraved daydream, sicko, and feast your eyes on the Apogee Folded iPhone Case ($45). That’s one sweet, sweet piece of stone-oiled leather; no stitches here, just folds and tucks. Beating it up just creates a personalized patina. The case is handmade in Vancouver and fits both the iPhone 4S and 5. For this price, you should probably get it in both black and umber.
The folks at MR. PORTER know a fair thing or two about living the good life. Subsequently, adding The MR. PORTER Manual For a Stylish Life Volume 1 ($35) to your ever-evolving style library is an easy recommendation. The new paperback is compiled by the site’s editor-in-chief, Jeremy Langmead, and provides detailed analysis of timeless…
While we love a good baseball cap, we don’t always want to be advertising our favorite sports teams. Maybe it’s that we’re getting a little older and a little more refined, or maybe our team is just bottom of the barrel this year (if you ask us which one it is, you’re as likely to get a straight answer from Manti Te’o). That said, one of our favorite places for minimally branded ball caps, Fair Ends, just launched some additions to their already stellar range. The new set is offered in both camp (5-panel) and ball cap configurations, in either waxed cotton or flannel. Waxed cotton will shed the worst winter can throw at it, just like your favorite Barbour; flannel will help keep that dome a little warmer. The choice is up to you. We know which one is our favorite…
East Coast, meet West Coast
East meets West — Coast, that is — with Gorjana & Griffin. Offering wares for men on the move (women too) that speak to a bi-coastal lifestyle, Griffin & Gorjana strikes a balance between city and beach, polished and casual, offering up iPad cases, handsome weekenders and everything in between. Spearheaded by husband and wife pair Gorjana and Jason Griffin Reidel, Gorjana & Griffin designs and hand produces offerings entirely in their 6,000-square foot studio based in Laguna Beach, California. Further evidence of good intentions? Gorjana & Griffin backs its social commitment with a charitable foundation to aid a variety of causes, including Southern California’s first Food Truck Festival, which benefits children with cancer. Now that’s something we can get behind — and wear.
The charitable and on-trend team at Warby Parker have partnered with The Standard hotel to create a limited edition pair of their Winston shades in a classic striped ale colorway. Blending 60s styling with a dose of modern confidence, they’re a steal for $95, even if your days by the pool are still months away. Plus, they ship with a special orange lens cloth designed by artist Jeff Canham that we know you’ll lose in a week. Like all Warby specs, purchasing this pair will also send a pair of optical glasses to someone in need. Look for them at The Standard hotels in the company’s new “Readery” kiosks (also developed in collaboration with Warby Parker) or purchase them directly online via the link below.
Give the grocery bag a rest
Even if your daily commute doesn’t vary with job sites, the Kaufmann Mercantile Nickel-Plated Aluminum Lunch Box ($79) should make you envious as a hungry kid in a cafeteria. The box is built to protect your kelp chips
bag of cool ranch Doritos and alfalfa sprouts beef & cheese sandwich in a large bottom compartment, while your beverage of choice (Highlife?) stays secure in an upper mesh wire.
Baggage for a lifetime
It’s no secret that it’s boom time for American-made heritage products, and companies as diverse as Stormy Kromer, LL Bean and Randolph Engineering are making the most of it. Even within this resurgence of handmade Americana, there is a further niche: Minnesota-made. Maybe it’s the popularity of the urban lumberjack aesthetic or a just a fondness for Midwestern honesty, but there’s no denying that brands from America’s icebox are hotter than ever.
We’ve highlighted some Minnesota companies before — Red Wing Shoes, Duluth Pack and Faribault Woolen Mills — but we recently got a chance to visit another venerable company nestled right in the gritty urban heart of Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul: J.W. Hulme. We stopped in, hoping to see what this bespoke baggage maker is all about.
Drop subtle, or not so subtle hints of your inner taste and personality with Mid-Calf Socks ($60). Made in Italy from 30/1 Italian combed cotton with a perfect toe seaming — they’re a luxury your feet and style commentators are bound to appreciate. At $20 a pop, though, we’d suggest letting them loose only on special occasions. You’re upcoming Tough Mudder run doesn’t count.
C.C. Filson outfitted the Klondike Gold Rush fortune seekers in 1897; though holiday travel nowadays sends us to much tamer locations, using the sloppy disheveled gym bag in the closet to avoid extra fees is the kind of boorish move that would elicit a slap in the face from Filson himself. Filson’s updated medium duffle…
12 gifts for the traveler
These guys seem to have racked up a bigger airline status than Clooney and more time on the road than Kerouac. They call ports of call home and know how to navigate the TSA, border checkpoints and a nasty comped bar hangover with ease. Whether a job takes them to exotic first-world destinations or their…
The watch experts at Hodinkee have teamed up with the esteemed English clothier Drakes to create a pair of limited edition Drakes for Hodinkee knit ties inspired by two unique vintage Rolexes. Like all Drake ties, both are hand made and feature hand-sewn silk spots. Only 50 of each will be sold, and all are…
What sets a notebook apart? Most of the time, what’s in it. But even filled with bad doodles, Word Notebooks ($10 per three-pack) are excellent receptacles for ink. From the minds behind Cool Material comes this deceptively clever spin on an everyday tool. The notebooks are perfectly sized for a pocket tote, but they’re also…
36 gift ideas for the stylish man
Nothing sets the teeth to rattling like the task of gift buying for a style zealot (except maybe an in-law’s icy glare). Rolled or cuffed? four-in-hand or windsor? Double breasted or single? Brown or black? Personal style is, well, personal; a faux pas can have lasting consequences. That’s why we’re throwing you a life line:…
It seems like everyone traveling has the same black roller bag. Herb Lester Luggage Tags (~$7) stand out and dress up that carry-on with more panache than the “Big Tag” or a random scrap of fabric, saving you from opening your luggage only to find the outsized garments of the lady who filled Row 32….