Courtesy of Cotopaxi
Courtesy of Cotopaxi, Lo & Sons, and Hamilton Perkins Collection
Whether you're a backpack, tote bag, or duffel person, there's a weekend bag for you.
Save yourself the trouble of trying to squeeze all your necessities into a too-small gym bag or lugging around a large rolling suitcase—on your next short trip, opt for these perfect weekender bags instead.
All frequent travelers should consider adding a weekend bag—or “weekender bag”—to their luggage collection. The best weekender bag is both practical and versatile; it should be sturdy enough that you can use it to pack for a rugged mountain trip but stylish enough that you’d bring it along to a bustling city. Not all bags are built the same. Depending on your preferences, a weekender can be a large tote, a backpack, or duffel bag and made from leather and canvas, sturdy weather-resistant polyester, or even recycled plastic bottles.
In terms of size, it’s not quite a gym bag, not exactly an overnight bag, and nowhere near a large roller suitcase. The ideal pick shouldn’t be too big (you don’t need that many belongings for a few days), but it also shouldn’t be too small (for sufficient room to pack the necessities). In general, you’ll want to look for a bag with a capacity somewhere between 30 and 50 liters to fit everything you’ll need for a short trip. Anything over 50 liters is likely to be larger than the 22 x 14 x 9 inches most domestic airlines allow for carry-ons placed in overhead bins. Anything smaller than 30 liters is generally left to the lightest packers or for overnight trips. If you’d like your weekender bag to double as a personal item on an airplane, keep in mind that underseat space varies widely by airline, but is generally limited to around 18 x 14 x 8 inches, for reference.
With those factors in mind, here are the best weekend bags for a quick two- or three-day trip.
There’s a reason the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack is popular for getaways: a carry-on, duffel, and backpack all in one, the bag is an organized packer’s dream, with zippered compartments for laptops, passports, keys, and clothes. Other notable design features include exterior shortcuts to main internal compartments—like the padded laptop sleeve—and “theft-proof webbing,” which lets you tuck in the bag’s zippers so it can’t be opened without you noticing. The bag’s shell is coated with thermoplastic polyurethane, rendering it completely waterproof, but the Allpa also comes with a removable rain cover for an extra layer of protection. —Katherine LaGrave, digital features editor
The Catalina Deluxe may look like a straightforward tote bag, but it comes with plenty of options to suit your personal preferences. You can choose from three materials (canvas, organic canvas, and recycled polyester) as well as 11 different colors. While both the Catalina Deluxe Small and Large weekender bags are carry-on approved, we prefer the small version for two- to four-day trips. Both bags come with a bottom pocket separate from the main interior for storing shoes (it even comes with an insert that gives the bag more structure and can be removed and wiped down). —Lyndsey Matthews, destination news editor
The Arcane Duffel Pack from Osprey is a tough little tote made with a twill-like recycled polyester fabric, but its clean lines and simple shape feel classy enough to carry just about anywhere—from the office to the tarmac to the great outdoors. And unlike many convertible duffels, it actually looks like a backpack when you’re wearing it as a backpack and it looks like a duffel when you’ve tucked away the backpack straps in favor of the longer, clip-in shoulder strap. It also features a clamshell opening, so you can pack and unpack it like a suitcase. And while some people like lots of bells, whistles, and built-in storage options, I am a minimalist. I like that the Arcane has one large pouch stored beneath an external zipper on the bag’s top. There’s an additional large, mesh pocket under the lid, great for socks or dirty T-shirts, and a padded laptop sleeve for a 15-inch computer against the back of the bag. It’s easy and low-maintenance, but makes me look a lot more put-together than I usually am. —Maggie Fuller, associate digital editor
Herschel Supply Co.’s secret to success is simple design, as evidenced by the Herschel Novel Duffle. The 42.5-liter bag is built with one large internal compartment, plus an external zip shoe compartment so you can keep the rest of your belongings separate and fresh. It features removable padded shoulder straps that can easily be hidden or tightened along the side and fits most airline carry-on size requirements. (The bag is also made from a durable waterproof polyester with a waterproof zip.) —Sarah Buder, assistant digital editor
Baboon’s Go-Bags are as fun to travel with as they are to look at. The design-forward duffels, which are released in limited-run batches, feature vibrant colorways with custom internal prints that are unique to each specific product “drop.” (When one particular Go-Bag color combination is sold out, it’s sold out for good.) With “a 3+ day packing volume designed for weekend getaways,” a waterproof shell, internal and external pockets, plus adjustable straps that can be used to carry the duffel like a backpack, Baboon’s 40-liter Go-Bags aren’t just trendy, they’re practical, too. Oh, and the bags are designed to meet TSA guidelines and fit in airline overhead bins. —S.B.
Paravel’s timeless and stylish designs make this cotton canvas weekender bag with leather details a worthwhile investment. Spacious enough to fit two to three days of clothes, a dopp kit, and a 15-inch laptop, this bag comes with a detachable shoulder strap so you can go hands free on the weekends. For longer trips, this bag also includes leather straps that slip over the handle of your rolling suitcase, making it ideal to use as a personal item, too. —L.M.
If you’re looking for a weekend travel bag that is big enough to pack extra gear in for the great outdoors, go with Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel. The 55-liter bag features a durable water-repellent finish with weather-resistant laminate, padded shoulder straps for easy carrying, plus multiple internal and external pockets with a thick base to protect the bag’s contents. Made by environmentally conscious outdoor gear company Patagonia, the duffel bag is also ecofriendly: It is made from 100 percent recycled polyester fabric, 100 percent recycled polyester lining, and 100 percent recycled nylon webbing. (The same duffel bag is available in a slightly smaller carry-on friendly 40-liter size, too, if you won’t be packing extra gear.) —S.B.
Made with lightweight, hand-washable, and quick-drying neoprene, the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall can take whatever you throw at it each weekend without weighing you down. You can choose from six core colors, including basic black and gray, or more trendy hues of “ash blue” and dusty pink “dune” (look for limited edition color releases each season, too). This bag comes in five different sizes, but the “large” is sized to fit underneath most airplane seats as a personal item and also comes with a dedicated laptop sleeve, exterior phone pocket, and an interior big enough to pack essentials for a two- or three-day trip. If you’re looking for something slightly larger for long weekends, the 42-liter “extra large” bag is also carry-on compliant. —L.M.
Designed with urban adventures and digital nomads in mind, the Setout collection by Tortuga Backpacks combines the portability of a backpack with the practicality of a suitcase. Unlike a traditional top-opening backpack, the Setout (and all backpacks by Tortuga) unzips on three sides to allow for easy access. Inside, you’ll find dedicated pockets for stashing small travel accessories, separating clothes, and ready access to your laptop to help you keep everything organized. The Setout also stands out for its quality and durability. Its polyester fabric, made from recycled water bottles, is protected with water-resistant, Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating and made to last years of adventures. Breathable, injection-molded foam and air mesh padding, and removable hip belts allow for comfortable carrying. The line includes two size options, 35 liters and 45 liters (we love the 35-liter as a weekend bag, but both are carry-on friendly), as well as a men’s and women’s fit to ensure the backpack fits comfortably on your hips. —Jessie Beck, SEO manager
Away’s the Weekender has a 38.7-liter capacity, which is about the same as the company’s small roller suitcase (but significantly more than the Everywhere Bag, which is made to be a personal item that fits underneath your seat instead of a true carry-on). Choose from either a water-resistant nylon or textured cotton canvas material. Both styles come with a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop, a fully lined exterior shoe compartment to keep footwear separate, as well as a detachable padded shoulder strap, and two zippered exterior pockets to keep your phone and other essentials handy. It’s sized to fit in an airplane’s overhead bin, but the bag is also well-suited for road trips, train rides, and other situations where a wheeled suitcase can be inconvenient. —S.B.
For photographers who don’t want to bring a second gear bag on short three- to five-day trips, Wandrd built this carry-on-sized duffel pack with both layflat, clamshell, and side packing access. On one side you’ll find an open compartment for clothes, while the other side has two side-access compartments so you can grab your camera quickly without unzipping the entire bag. (When you don’t need your camera, the padded camera cubes are removable to make more room for other essentials.) Other highly functional details include a laptop sleeve that fits up to a 16-inch Macbook Pro, an RFID secure pocket for your passport, and an expandable shoe pocket to keep the rest of your gear and clothes clean. —L.M.
Eagle Creek’s carry-on sized Migrate Duffel 40L is truly a bag of all trades. You can carry it like a backpack, a classic duffel, or even an oversized tote thanks to its easily convertible handles. In addition to being made with water-repellent coating that was developed using plastics sourced from landfills in Asia, an internal “storm flap” makes the 40-liter weekend travel bag extra water-resistant—because summertime camping trips sometimes involve toughing those sudden, unexpected rainstorms. —S.B.
For those who prefer to support small businesses, ForestBound’s Escape Canvas Weekender bag is a very attractive option. (All ForestBound products are designed, cut, sewn, and shipped from one Massachusetts-based studio.) The Escape bag is built with a large interior pocket for easy storage of essential small items—just enough room to pack for a quick weekend on the road. A lightweight aluminum frame gives the bag structure, while its vegetable-tanned leather exterior base and water-resistant interior bottom panel keep your belongings safe. You can even personalize the cute canvas bag with a custom monogram for $20 extra. —S.B.
This two-in-one duffel and backpack is sustainably made using recycled plastic water bottles and pineapple leaf fiber for the exteriors, and repurposed billboard vinyls for the interior lining. The thoughtful travel bags come in different colors from the yellow seen here to bright red and seafoam green as well as subtle shades of olive and white. If you’re an extremely light packer—or looking for a new gym or overnight bag—the 27-liter Earth Bag Lite is made from the same materials and costs only $95. —L.M.
If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t scream “adventure traveler,” this chic water-resistant weekender by Copenhagen-based Rains is ideal for city getaways to drizzly destinations. Made with a waterproof matte outer material in seven different colors, the water-resistant zippers will protect your belongings from a downpour (but won’t keep water out if it’s fully submerged). With one large main compartment and a detachable shoulder strap, this bag is best for minimalists who don’t want to fuss with extra pockets and straps. —L.M.
We fully agree with The North Face’s statement that just because you’re taking a quick trip, it “doesn’t mean that you should settle for luggage that’s going to fall apart.” Its Base Camp 50L Duffel is built with a durable laminate material to protect your belongings from rough luggage carousels at the airport and weather in the wilderness. The bag features a water-resistant top flap to keep elements out, plus exterior mesh pockets and four compression straps to help optimize packing space. The bag also has convertible handles so you can carry it as a duffel or a backpack. —S.B.
For travelers who want maximum organization but minimal bulk, the Matador SEG30 beckons. The lightweight, 30-liter backpack includes four segmented compartments that act like built-in packing cubes. As your trip unfolds, use the full-access clamshell zipper to stash larger items like dirty laundry and shoes. Better yet, there’s also a dedicated laptop compartment and zippered water bottle pocket. Another bonus? It’s waterproof (yes, even the zippers are sealed for water resistance). —L.M.
This article originally appeared online in July 2019; it was updated on July 17, 2020, to include current information.
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