The Duffel

There was a gap in my travel arsenal between the 90L Patagonia black hole duffel my parents had bought me as a high school graduation present and a 30L gym duffel I’d bought with my own hard-earned ice cream scooping money.

The duffel after the hard work was done but before it started looking like a duffel.

I really don’t like checking bags when I travel, mostly because I hate standing at the luggage carousel waiting waiting for my things to come out. If I can stash all my stuff in the overhead and get right from the airport to the train or a car, I prefer it. Of course, sometimes this is not possible and you have to wait for skis to show up in the oversized baggage area or you’re going on a trip that demands you check luggage. For all other occasions, I thought something in the 50L-ish range would do me nicely.

I started by looking up the maximum allowable dimensions for a carry on, with the thought that maximizing space would be ideal. In the end, it’s a smidge taller and wider than the maximum allowable carry-on, because I decided to round the corners instead of make it another box bag. I don’t like the wasted space of tubular bags, but I don’t like the looks of pure boxes, either. This was a nice compromise.

  • Key features:
    • 1600D ballistics nylon bag fabric. I considered doing a double layer of fabric on the bottom, but since this bag will probably not be seeing HEAVY, rugged use, I’m happy to let the ballistics fabric take the beating it was designed to.
    • Small zippered envelope pocket on the outside for boarding passes, masks, etc.
    • 2 zippered mesh pockets at either end of the interior (not pictured). I had to use some non-ideal mesh, so it’s quite stiff, but both pockets still hold 3-4 pairs of socks without issue.
    • Silnylon lining to prevent fluid/goop ingress through plain ballistics outer.
    • Full wrap-around seatbelt webbing forming the handles. This removes any tension points or possible failure areas where the webbing meets the fabric, since the webbing is effectively supporting the full load anyway.
Please ignore the crazy mess in the background. The weight bench that looks like it’s never been used is not mine.
  • Lessons learned:
    • A more intricate pattern is probably necessary to both maximize usable interior space and aesthetic appeal.
    • Expanding the interior pockets might be nice, to allow for more segmented storage.

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