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Duffel Bag vs Suitcase: How to Choose for Your Next Trip

Published: 2021-07-27T17:56:22+0000 Author: Abby Helgeson

Traveling without the proper luggage can make or break your trip. Different places call for different types of luggage. Which is the right fit for you? We have put together a list of pros and cons of duffel bags vs suitcases to help you decide which will be best for you and your travel needs. Read on to make sure you are informed properly before coming to a decision on the best type of luggage for you.

Duffel Bag Pros and Cons


It may seem pretty obvious, but duffel bags are a lot lighter than suitcases since they are smaller and more compact. This could be both a pro and a con for you. The pro is you can bring it with you, pretty much anywhere, from busses to trains, even hiking, without lugging around a huge suitcase. But your duffel is only as light as you pack it. If you like to jam-pack your duffle, odds are you won’t want to bring it with you on longer trips. The con, evidently less storage space compared to suitcases.


Most duffel bags are not made with security in mind; however, some models come with locking zippers, or you can always buy an extra lock to attach to your bag. Some duffel bag users even use a zip tie to lock their bag shut. This is a fast but not very effective alternative to securing your duffel bag. That being said, even if you have a lockable duffel, they can still be easily cut through to reveal your valuables, and become some thief’s new favorite items. Compared to suitcases that are usually made with more durable material, duffels are not a very good choice if security is a big concern for you.


Transporting a duffel bag long distances can be very uncomfortable. Whether you carry it with the handles or use the shoulder strap, it can become a painful endeavor fairly quickly. That is why duffel bags are best for carrying short distances, like on camping trips or sporting events, where you will more than likely only be carrying it from the car/bus to the location of the event. 

Many manufacturers started to realize how inconvenient duffels were for carrying on longer trips so they came out with what they call, “travel duffels” to counteract that problem”. Travel duffel bags usually have rolling wheels on the bottom or a handle attached to the back. These types of duffels can make things a whole lot easier for traveling long distances. If you pack light enough, a travel duffel may be perfect for you since they are pretty versatile and can be used as a rolling bag and duffel, all in one.


Duffel bags are made with a wide variety of material types. A well-made duffel will hold up for a long time but is not anywhere near the durability of suitcases, especially hard shell suitcases. If you are using a duffel as a carry-on and your bag gets knocked around, it is highly likely that some of your belongings may be damaged due to the lightweight materials used in manufacturing duffels. If you want your duffel bag to last, it is best to look for a duffel that has metal zippers that will hold up over time and has heavily stitched handles that can carry the weight of your belongings.

Suitcase Pros and Cons


The main advantage of using suitcases for travel is the security aspect of things. All suitcases are built to accommodate a lock. There are many different types of locks to add to your suitcase if for some reason yours did not come with one. Although, it is smart to first see if the lock is TSA-approved, though nowadays most suitcase locks meet the TSA guidelines. If not, the agents will have no problem cutting the lock off of your suitcase to get you through their line quicker. Suitcases are more secure compared to duffels since most are made with a more durable material that is very hard to cut through. There are even hardshell suitcase options for extra protection.


Durability is not an issue when it comes to suitcases, especially hard-shell cases. Suitcases are designed to last you a long time and will hold up through lots of abuse. However, wheels and handles are usually the first thing to go on your suitcase. It is best to find one that has metal wheels and handles, and to check reviews for the suitcase you have in mind before clicking the checkout button.


Suitcases are super easy to transport and they work best on hard surfaces like airports, sidewalks, etc. But, it is important to keep in mind what places you will be traveling to and from. If you are going to be going up a huge flight of stairs, walking on dirt roads, or sand, suitcases will likely not be the right fit for you.

Storage Capacity

The rectangular shape and construction of suitcases is what makes them great for cramming in all of your necessities and any extra items that you may need. There are extra pockets on the inside and outside of most suitcases as well, allowing for even more storage space. Unlike duffel bags, suitcases will not fit well in smaller spaces like under a bed, in a shared room or inside lockers. Depending on where you are staying, it is a smart move to double check that you will have enough room to store your luggage.

The Best Duffels and Suitcases for Travel

Best Duffel for Business Travel

Work from around the world? This stylish duffel bag made from real leather is the perfect fit for you. This bag features a padded 15” laptop sleeve, two front pockets, a zippered pocket and two large zipper compartments to keep you organized while on the go. There is even an adjustable shoulder strap that is removable, and a top handle for carrying without the shoulder strap. This bag is sure to hold up for a long period of time and make you look sharp and snazzy while traveling around the world!

Best Hardside Suitcase

Looking for a suitcase that will last for years on end? The Kenneth Cole rolling bag is a great option! With a hardshell construction, this bag can take a lot of abuse and still last you a long time. The four wheels on the suitcase allow you to roll the bag in any direction and it has a locking handle system. Did I mention it has a ton of storage capacity as well? Don’t miss out on this durable rolling bag that is sure to be a favorite for travel.

Best Rolling Duffel

This Samsonite custom rolling duffel bag is the best wheeled duffel bag, in our opinion. With a lightweight design, durable rolling wheels, and a split bottom compartment, this bag has a lot to offer! This duffel has multiple interior pockets for extra organization, an integrated ID tag and two zippered pockets on the side for extra storage space. You decide how you like to travel with this rolling bag, by using the multiple carry handles or the wheels for a more convenient commute.

Best Carry On Suitcase

A suitcase that is the perfect size for using as a carry-on. This Thule rolling bag has a durable exoskeleton and molded polycarbonate back panel for extra protection, complies with carry-on guidelines for most airlines, and has three handles for lifting and rearranging in overhead bins. It also has a divided main compartment to keep clean and dirty clothes separate, and is made from water-resistant materials. What’s not to love?!

We hope you find this blog helpful in deciding which is best for your travel needs, a duffel bag or suitcase. If you are looking to personalize your ideal custom suitcase or custom duffel bag, feel free to send a live chat or call us at 888-515-1026 for extra guidance.


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