From luggage to organizers, starting off with the right bag makes any trip easier. You want something sturdy, lightweight, and just the right size for the trip.
Over the years we’ve been through our fair share of bags, and have developed quite the collection. Some have withstood the test of time, while others left us trying to balance 50 lbs on the last remaining good wheel. Far from fun!
These are the various types of bags we routinely use; what they work best for, and the specific bags we can recommend.
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We’ve found Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel 55 Liter perfect for just about every trip.
At 55 liters it’s a mid-size bag. Big enough for both of us to share on short trips, but we need a second bag for longer adventures. We love that it flattens, making it easier to store on trips where we have less space.
What we love about the bag:
- At 3.2 lbs, including the straps, it’s one of the lightest checked bags we’ve found.
- Shoulder straps convert it from a duffel to a backpack.
- Flexible and can be flattened. Easy to stuff into the car on road trips.
- Rugged, durable, and water resistant. We dragged this around South America, Iceland, the U.S. and the U.K., and it still looks new.
- Folds up small. We’ve kept it as a spare bag on trips where we plan on coming back with more than we left with.
- We use the 55 liter, but they also have a 40, 70 and 100 liter bags.
- The bag doesn’t come with a roller, which is what keeps the weight down. The larger version of this bag does come with a roller attached.
- As it is an open space, we find it works best with packing cubes to give organization and structure.
Carry On Bags
Picking the right carry-on bag is probably one of the more challenging of luggage choices. Different airline carriers have different size requirements, especially when traveling internationally.
The most important factor for us in a carry-on is weight. Ideally, we want them 7 lbs or less. Both Travelpro and IT Luggage make lightweight bags that hit our value point between quality and cost.
We look for roller bags with some protection around the wheels, though these are becoming increasingly harder to find.
Max-out Your Carry-On
Likely to be abused in baggage handling, checked luggage will eventually break in some way. It’s not unusual to see cracked hard cases, missing handles, or broken wheels. Sadly, this is true of cheap and expensive bags alike.
We bring a camera bag everywhere we go. It has to be strong, but also ideally not look like a camera bag.
For short trips, we slim down our camera gear and bring Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack 20L as it nicely doubles as a day pack. It keeps our gear safe while being stylish enough for a city trip, yet rugged and compact enough for hiking. We’ve had ours for over three years now and used it on countless trips; it still looks new.
The 20-liter fits all this, but there is also a 30-liter version.
- Full-frame DSLR camera with Nikon 80-400mm attached
- DSLR with Nikon 35mm attached
- Nikon 50mm
- Memory cards, cleaning clothes, etc.
Bags That Keep You Organized
Packing cubes save space, keep you organized, and make repacking a cinch. We have three sets, but my favorite is the Eagle Creek’s Original Starter set, especially the Garment Folder. The other two are more budget friendly options, but they have still held up well over the years.
We hope you find these items useful, we certainly do. For more recommendations on travel gear visit more in our Travel Shop.
If you have questions for us or suggestions for other readers, please leave a message in the comments below.