The Best Rolling Duffels (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
These are the best rolling duffels for light, effortless travel.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON July 13, 2021
Are you tired of carrying your luggage on your shoulders or back? Whether you’re heading out of town for the weekend or packing for a lengthy vacation, your bags can weigh you down, even if you’re filling them with only the essentials. And if you need a lot of gear from day to day, carrying around a duffel bag can get bulky and uncomfortable. But there’s an easy solution — a travel-ready bag on wheels, better known as a rolling duffel.
Rolling duffels take the weight of whatever you’re carrying and put it on easy-to-maneuver wheels, eliminating the physical stress and strain of having to carry your stuff. Available in different sizes, materials, and even shapes for different needs, there are plenty of rolling duffels that can meet your needs. Find the best rolling duffel for you by browsing our picks for the top products below.
A highly versatile rolling duffel with plenty of storage solutions.
- Extra tough fabric
- Eight pockets for organized storage
- Telescoping handle
- Handle doesn’t lock
- Bag can tip over easily
An affordable rolling duffel with a surprisingly roomy interior that’ll hold a lot.
- Can fit a week or more worth of clothing
- Easily maneuverable wheels
- Plenty of pockets
- Fabric tears with wear
- Not very durable
A heavy-duty, high-quality bag built with tough, top-tier material.
- Material is resistant to weather and wear
- Designed for heavy items
- Large, organized interior storage space
- Bag’s large size can be tough to maneuver
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Rolling Duffels
- Versatility. A rolling duffel is just a duffel bag on wheels — and that means these convenient bags can be used in two different ways: you can use the built-in wheels and handles to pull your stuff with ease, or you can carry it like a traditional wheel-less duffel when needed.
- Roomy interior. With plenty of storage pockets and a soft, flexible exterior made of fabric, rolling duffels allow you enough space to store items for a few days or a week or longer. They can compress and shift slightly in space to accommodate whatever you’re packing, which gives you more room.
- Work as a carry-on. Traveling by plane? Most rolling duffels are sized like traditional duffel bags, which means you can easily carry them onto a plane as a piece of carry-on luggage. They fit right into most airlines’ overhead bins, so you’re never too far from your belongings.
- Lightweight. Because duffels are made to be carried, rolling duffels aren’t much heavier than a traditional duffel bag. They can easily be carried whether they’re half full or completely packed, and they don’t add too much weight. Their fabric exteriors help lessen the weight of the bag itself.
- Durability. Built for everyday carry or travel far and near, rolling duffels are highly durable. They’re constructed with tough materials meant to survive abrasions, rough handling, drops, and more. They can withstand the wear and tear of travel, whether it’s by car or by plane.
Types of Rolling Duffels
Basic Rolling Duffels
A basic rolling duffel bag, also known as a wheeled duffel, looks just like any other duffel bag. However, it’s equipped with a set of wheels at one end — typically two wheels — and a pull-out handle at the other end. If you don’t want to carry your duffel, you can set it down and pull it along with ease, taking the weight off your shoulders and back. You’ll enjoy all the perks and storage space of a duffel bag, plus even more convenience and flexibility.
Drop-Bottom Rolling Duffels
A drop-bottom rolling duffel takes your basic rolling duffel and adds a specialized bottom compartment. Instead of just one big open bag with smaller storage pockets, a drop-bottom duffel features a separate compartment at the bottom of the bag that’s accessed with a zipper. It’s designed to store some items separately, like shoes or boots. The drop-bottom compartment also unzips and lays flat, much more like a suitcase. However, drop-bottom rolling duffels tend to tip over easily, so they won’t stand up on their own.
With a history that dates back more than 100 years, Samsonite is one of the best-known luggage companies around. As a leader in durable, convenient, and innovative travel products, its product lineup includes luggage sets, laptop bags, wheeled briefcases, and more.
Rockland is a brand that creates durable yet affordable luggage you can find at many popular retailers. Whether you’re looking for a complete set of suitcases for air travel or convenient rolling duffels, you’ll get good value and plenty of room for whatever you need to carry.
Since 1986, Travelers Club has been a staple in the travel world. With an array of different luggage lines and suitcases and bags in every style, you can find everything you need for a weekend away or a long trip.
Rolling Duffel Pricing
- Under $50: There are several affordable rolling duffels that feature straightforward, simple storage and the convenience of wheels.
- $50 to $100: Most wheeled duffel bags fall within this price range. It covers streamline duffels as well as heavier-duty and more feature-filled options.
- $100 and up: If you’re looking for a premium rolling duffel, you’ll find one in this price range. It’s reserved for the fanciest, most durable, and highest-quality choices.
A rolling duffel bag needs to have durable material. There's little between whatever's inside and all of the dirt, debris, and grime of the outside world — the only thing protecting your items is your duffel's material. So, you want to choose a rolling duffel that's made with material that can withstand both wear and tear and potential damage like abrasions, rips, and tears. Look for bags made with multiple layers of material or reinforced areas like corners and seams.
Telescoping, Locking Handle
The handle of a rolling duffel is just as important as the structure of the bag. Without a good handle, it’s going to be tough to pull and maneuver your duffel. Look for a bag with a telescoping handle or a handle that extends smoothly and easily. You want to be able to adjust the handle to the right height for your hands. Additionally, the handle should lock; the best rolling duffels feature handles that can lock at multiple heights.
Storage Compartments and Pockets
In a bag as open and roomy as a duffel, pockets and various storage compartments come in handy. The more compartments and pockets you have available, the better you’ll be able to maximize your duffel’s storage space. These compartments can help you organize while you pack too, and they provide valuable space for small items like cords, tech gadgets, and more. Drop bottom duffels offer even more flexibility with a compartment designed just for shoes or other things you want to keep separate.
- Larger Isn’t Always Better. While you want a rolling duffel that’s big enough to carry all of the items you plan to stash inside, be careful about choosing one that’s too large. Bigger duffel bags are hard to carry and lift — going too large could leave you with less flexibility, as you’ll only be able to wheel your bag around.
- Check Travel Requirements Before Buying. While most wheeled duffels can be used as carry-on luggage with airlines, it’s important to consider the airlines you travel with most often before buying. You’ll want to check their requirements and luggage sizes to ensure you don’t run into problems trying to use your duffel for flights.
- Zippers Make a Big Difference. When duffel bag zippers break or get stuck easily, they make using the bag frustrating and inconvenient. To avoid these problems, look for bags that are constructed with self-repairing zippers. These tend to operate more smoothly, last longer, and avoid problems.
Best Rolling Duffel Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Even the most durable duffel bags can be prone to rips and tears when handled aggressively. Avoid sending your bag through airlines’ checked baggage process, as many wheeled duffels aren’t tough enough for that kind of handling.
- Two wheels are standard for rolling duffels, but three wheels can offer even more maneuverability—you may want a three-wheel model if you opt for a larger or heavier bag.
- Keep in mind that rolling duffels don’t have 360-degree rotating wheels like your average suitcase. They’re typically equipped with inline wheels, which are simpler and identical to rollerblade wheels.
Q: What is the best rolling duffel bag?
Our top pick for the best rolling duffel bag is the Olympia 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag, which offers excellent storage and maneuverability.
Q: What is the difference between duffle and duffel?
Duffle and duffel are exactly the same. A duffel bag is the same as a duffle bag and vice versa. The first spelling (-le) was popular before World War II, and the second (-el) became the standard form from the 1940s on.
Q: Can you use a rolling duffel bag for a carry-on?
For most airlines, rolling duffels do work as carry-on luggage. Many of these bags are just the right size to fit in overhead bins or underneath seats, but the measurements and requirements vary from airline to airline.
The Olympia 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag is our favorite, with plenty of room and the right amount of durability. If you’re looking for a bag that’ll offer excellent value, the Rockland Rolling Duffel Bag is another great choice.