Five bags that are ready to take on the world.
Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Duffel ($299)
The best travel bags can’t get by on just style or durability. These days they have to nail both. Call us picky, but we want luggage that can sit on the roof of an Indian tuk tuk in a rainstorm but also look good rolling into a swanky hotel. Case in point: Fishpond’s Thunderhead Submersible duffel. The orange body and climbing-rope handles add visual pop, but the bag is built to take a punch. We dragged the nigh-indestructible, 840-denier Thunderhead behind a car for a mile (just for fun) and barely scratched it. The 39-liter interior remained bone-dry in the face of hot-tub submersion and a power-washer thrashing.
Sitka Gear Rambler Roller ($199)
Should you prefer a travel companion with the same level of steez but with wheels, there’s the Sitka Gear Rambler roller, which perfectly hits the function-style middle ground by applying the company’s hunting heritage to a more urban piece. Built with rugged 210-denier nylon, the 31-liter bag put up with careless luggage handlers and didn’t blink when hit with snow and rain. (It’s not waterproof, but pretty close.) The solid-aluminum roller handle is a thoughtful touch that replaces the cheap plastic you’re used to. City dwellers might balk at the color scheme—hunter green with orange accents—but we prefer to think of it as outdoor chic.
Thule Subterra Carry-On Suitcase ($280)
The 22-inch, 36-liter Thule Subterra Carry-On suitcase offers a more subdued and professional look, but don’t be fooled by the sleek exterior. This bag is made from 800-denier nylon and has a rigid plastic back that didn’t buckle when shoved into cramped overheads. An inner compression panel (instead of just straps) smooshes clothes flat, while smooth wheels handle cobbles and tarmac alike.
Duluth Round Duffel ($155)
For casual adventures, we loved the 20-liter Duluth Round duffel. Its single top zipper and tube design give it an old-school gym-bag feel. Made from thick 15-ounce canvas, this isn’t meant to be waterproof, but we found it to be plenty tough for domestic and international trips.
United by Blue Redwood Pack ($118)
United by Blue also plays to the canvas crowd with its 14-liter Redwood pack. It quickly became our go-to for day trips up mountains or to the local museum. The water-resistant canvas is tough, and we admired the tanned leather pulls and classy brass zippers.