Between dodgy weather, overbooking, and long lines, holiday air travel can feel like a game of Russian Roulette. Choosing your travel kit wisely will help eliminate some of the uncertainty. Whether you're flying to British Columbia for a backcountry hut trip, jetting home to Chicago to see family, or sneaking off to Mexico with your SUP, these five stalwart, versatile bags won't guarantee your gear will make it to your final destination, but they will ensure that when it does, it'll still be in one piece.
Patagonia Black Hole ($159)
When you stack all your gear on your bed and the pile is taller than you, and the idea of canceling the trip feels easier than cramming it all in, you need the Black Hole. Patagonia's high-quality, low-cost, weather resistant, 120-liter duffel is so big it takes the panic out of packing. Made from burly denier polyester with a padded, protective bottom, it can swallow clothes for three for a week and an inflatable paddle board (and weather that bumpy, wet boat ride down the coast). Zippered mesh interior pockets, and a long exterior pocket aid organization of little necessities like headlamps and med kits, daisy chains allow easy lashing-on of extra gear, and bonus backpack straps make the overland journey from baggage claim to rental car a little less arduous.
Lululemon Weekend Warrior ($148)
The sleek, roomy Weekend Warrior nylon duffel does double-duty as a carry-on for on short-haul flights and tote bag for day trips to the gym or pool. Interior pockets galore store wet bathing suits, a pair of shoes, and your laptop (yes, it's padded). An exterior sleeve stashes—natch—your yoga mat; and a hefty zippered opening keep everything in place. But more than just a sporty duffle, it's stylish and ample enough to stow a weekend's worth of goodies and gear on your next urban adventure, even if you've never done downward dog.
Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Wheeled Duffel 32 ($285)
Osprey Ozone 22 Wheeled Carryon ($230)
When carrying is the last thing you want to do with your carry-on, roll with the Ozone 22, a savvy, wheeled companion that's ideally sized for tight squeezes in the overhead bin or beneath the seat in front of you. Osprey makes some bomber gear, but at 4 pounds, seven ounces, the 46-liter Ozone is one of its lightest, most streamlined bags, with a brushed aluminum ergonomic retractable handle and three grab loops for slinging overhead. Six interior and exterior pockets help you pack smarter so you can move faster—proof that you don't have to skimp on perks to shave weight.
Chums Latitude Accessory Cases (from $16)
Though diminutive, the Latitude Accessory Cases are well-designed mini organizers that deserve a berth on every trip. Made from sturdy, ballistic nylon, with waterproof YKK zippers and see-through rear window pocket, the they're a handy trapper keeper for cords and chargers, first aid kits, and small electronics. Inside, a zippered pocket-within-the-pocket holds your tiniest trinkets, from ear plugs and Chapstick to energy gels, herbal tinctures, and good luck charms. Available in three sizes, the largest of which—at 9 inches long—is generous enough to hold a midsize digital camera on the fly. Don't leave home without.