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7 Brilliant Collapsible Bags for the Space-Challenged Traveler

By Adrienne Jordan and Lyndsey Matthews

Jul 14, 2021

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The lightweight Paravel Fold-Up Bag expands from a small pouch into a duffle that fits all your essentials for a weekend—and it only costs $65.

Courtesy of Paravel

The lightweight Paravel Fold-Up Bag expands from a small pouch into a duffle that fits all your essentials for a weekend—and it only costs $65.

The smartest thing you bring on vacation could be an empty suitcase. We’ve picked our favorite foldable travel bags so you can bring home more souvenirs.

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That spontaneous vacation shopping spree boosted your wardrobe significantly, but it dramatically shrunk the free space in your suitcase. How can you avoid lugging home your new treasures in the paper sack they came in? By packing foldable travel bags, of course. These are our seven favorite packable travel bags—totes, duffles, backpacks, and even roller suitcases—that collapse and fold down, ready for an afternoon of souvenir-hunting.

The Away Packable Backpack comes in navy and black.

The Away Packable Backpack

  • Buy Now: $75, awaytravel.com
  • Style: Packable backpack
  • Dimensions: 11 x 18.1 x 5.9 inches (4.7 x 7.1 x 2.4 inches packed)
  • Weight: 8 oz.

Just launched on July 13, 2021, Away’s new line of packable bags includes an extra-large carry-all, a small sling bag, and our choice: the Packable Backpack. Constructed with 100 percent recycled water-resistant nylon, this backpack comes with lightly padded shoulder straps for comfort, a zippered interior pocket for organization, and buckle closures to keep your belongings secure. When you’re done, it folds up into a removable zip pouch and stashes away easily.

This packable bag folds down to the size of a book.

Paravel Fold-Up Bag

  • Buy Now: $65, tourparavel.com
  • Style: Foldable duffle bag
  • Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 11.5 inches (9.75 x 8 x 2.75 inches packed)
  • Weight: 16 oz.

Paravel’s ultra-light duffle bag can pack into your big luggage for those gotta-have-it souvenir emergencies. The tear- and water-resistant duffle is feather-light and zips neatly into a small pouch when you’re not using it. It’s also AFAR digital content director Laura Dannen Redman’s go-to weekend bag. She calls it the “Trojan horse of weekend bags” since it holds so much more inside than you’d expect. She can easily fit two pairs of shoes, two toiletry bags, and three days of winter clothing in it. An added bonus—the sustainable nylon material is made from 22 recycled plastic water bottles.

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Paravel’s Negative Nylon Collection also comes with packable backpacks, dopp kits, and belt bags that all fold up just like this duffle.

This packable backpack is also waterproof.

Matador On-Grid Packable Backpack

  • Buy Now: $65, matadorup.com
  • Style: Packable backpack
  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 17.5 x 8.5 inches (6.5 x 6 x 2.5 inches packed)
  • Weight: 7.5 oz.

Keep the Matador On-Grid packable backpack tucked into your carry-on for impromptu hikes or spontaneous trips to the local farmers’ market. Made from a durable and waterproof Robic nylon fabric, the 16-liter backpack squishes down to the size of a soda can and weighs only 7.5 ounces, or the equivalent of a few Snickers bars. Despite its minimalist design, it comes with pockets for your laptop, water bottle, and more.

This lightweight duffle bag is made of 100 percent recycled materials.

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Duffel 30L

  • Buy now: $69, patagonia.com; backcountry.com
  • Style: Packable duffle
  • Dimensions: 10 x 18 x 10 inches (packed dimensions unavailable)
  • Weight: 8.1 oz.

Weighing in at roughly half a pound, this duffel bag can be worn over the shoulder or as a backpack and stuffs into its own pocket for storage. A wide zipper opening allows easy access to belongings, and a single interior stash pocket provides just enough space for valuables. Nylon ripstop fabric—made with 100 percent recycled materials—makes the bag tear-resistant, and a special finish means it’s water-repellent, too.

This foldable duffle is lightweight and easy on the wallet.

Eagle Creek Packable Duffle Bag 

  • Buy Now: $36, eaglecreek.com
  • Style: Foldable duffle bag
  • Dimensions: 21.75 x 9.75 x 10.75 inches (9.5 x 6.25 x 2.75 inches packed)
  • Weight: 8 oz.

Your boss called to nag you about something insignificant while you were enjoying a piña colada on the beach 3,000 miles away, but instead of heading home, you decide to extend your trip and buy a few more days’ worth of clothing. The Eagle Creek Packable Duffle stuffs easily into an included pouch and fits snuggly in your carry-on or checked bag, so you’ll be able to save your newly acquired goods without issue. Your job, however? That might require slightly more maneuvering.

Eagle Creek also makes a great packable backpack that is ideal for casual day hikes—it even has a side water bottle pocket.

This packable tote weighs less than a pound.

Baggu Cloud Bag

  • Buy Now: $56, baggu.com
  • Style: Packable tote bag
  • Dimensions: 12.75 x 13.75 x 8 inches (9 x 7.5 x 2 inches packed)
  • Weight: 8.65 oz.

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This lightweight packable tote—which comes in a fun leopard print or basic black—folds up into an included pouch and expands to a roomy carry-all. Use it as an overnight bag, beach tote, or gym bag—or in emergencies when your clothes just don’t seem to fit into your carry-on the same way they did when you arrived.

Yes, even wheeled luggage can be packable.

Biaggi Zipsak Luggage 

  • Buy Now: $100 (was $210), biaggi.com
  • Style: Collapsible suitcase
  • Dimensions: 17 x 18.5 x 9.5 inches (18.5 x 9.5 x 4.5 inches packed)
  • Weight: 4.9 lbs.

Depending on how long you plan to vacation (or if you need to extend), the water- and tear-resistant nylon fabric Zipsak Boost Max Carry-On by Biaggi can go from overhead luggage size to checked bagged capacity with an easy pull of a zipper. The Biaggi Zipsak is a great way to save the checked bag fee one way when you want to load up on souvenirs on the way back.

This article originally appeared online on February 6, 2018; it was updated in January 2020 and again on July 14, 2021, to include current information.

>>Next: The Packing Hack That Will Solve All Your Suitcase Woes

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