best in class

The 8 Very Best Weekend Bags

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

An impromptu Friday-to-Sunday getaway shouldn’t be derailed by less-than-perfect luggage, nor should a quick trip to your parents’ house mean a hodgepodge of backpacks and Trader Joe’s bags. That’s where a well-designed weekender comes in.

The ideal bag should be lightweight with plenty of space for all your essentials (toiletry kit, underclothes, sleepwear), while also being durable enough to survive years of overhead-bin manhandling. But with options from totes to duffels to compact suitcases (for the overpackers), it may be overwhelming to decide which makes most sense for your travel habits. To help you discover a bag you’ll count on for years, we spoke to travel journalists and bloggers and more experts about their favorites.

Best overall weekend bag | Best less expensive weekend bag | Best weekend bag for light packers | Best weatherproof weekend bag | Best suitcase for weekend trips | Best weekend bag for camping | Best weekend bag for organized packers | Best monogrammable weekend bag

What we’re looking for

Materials: A weekend bag may go straight from a car to a hotel room, or it may be put through its paces on a multiday hiking trip. Depending on your destination, a weather-resistant bag could be a smart choice, whereas for more rough-and-tumble travel like camping, a ripstop fabric will make sure that any damage stays contained. We’ve included professional-looking nylon bags, polycarbonate suitcases, and durable synthetic leather that have lasted through years of travel.

Capacity: Packing one pair of jeans for a whole trip or multiple outfit changes per day is a personal choice, but you should know your tendencies before selecting a bag. We’ve noted the volume of each bag, below, which ranges from 25 to 60 liters, so there’s a size for everyone, from minimalists to shameless overpackers.

Weight: Since most of these bags are not on wheels — meaning you’ll be lugging them around on your shoulder or back most of the time — their unfilled weight is an important consideration.

Method of carry: Sometimes a backpack is the most comfortable way to carry your belongings; other times a cross-body strap makes more sense. Many of our picks have multiple carry options (and some are removable), so you’ll be sure to find a bag that won’t weigh you down even when it’s filled to bursting.

Best overall weekend bag

Recycled polyester ripstop with weather-resistant TPU-film laminate | 40 liters | 2.5 pounds | Top handles, backpack straps, and sling strap

This soft-side duffel has won the endorsement of multiple Strategist editors, thanks to its durability, impressive capacity, and lifetime guarantee. Laminated fabric and a water-repellent coating protect the duffel from the elements and any damage that may occur in transit, while keeping it lightweight (under three pounds). Senior editor Simone Kitchens has the larger 55-liter version and loves the “zillion separate little pockets and perfectly sized compartments for things like chargers and night guards and passports and AirPods, as well as slim sleeves for a laptop and magazines.” If you plan to take your Black Hole hiking, you can trade the cushioned sling strap for padded backpack straps, which is associate editor Louis Cheslaw’s favorite way to carry the Black Hole. Bonus: Patagonia will repair, replace, or refund your damaged bag, even if you purchase it from other retailers.

[Editor’s note: This bag is currently out of stock, but the Patagonia website expects a restock on June 23.]

Best less expensive weekend bag

$40

High-density cotton canvas | 43 liters | 2.45 pounds| Top handles, detachable shoulder strap

At $45, you won’t beat this Strategist best seller first recommended by P​​hil Dengler, co-founder of travel journal the The Vacationer, in a previous version of this story. Today, he still stands by his pick, calling the canvas duffel absolutely comparable, if not better, than its more expensive counterparts, and citing durability as one of its best qualities. After several years of use that includes many instances in which it was forced into tight compartments between other bags, the duffel remains in great shape, Dengler says. He also appreciates that the bag is roomy, lightweight, and comfortable to carry, making it a serious upgrade from the heavy, bulky carry-on he used to use. “While not the fanciest bag, it still looks great and is built for the long haul,” Dengler concludes.

Best weekend bag for light packers

Nylon | 25 liters | 2.6 pounds| Shoulder strap, removable messenger strap

Travel journalist Maggie Espinosa recommends this sleek, well-made nylon bag that she has used for eight years as both a carry-on and a weekend bag. With a capacity of 25 liters, it’s best for light packers, but on a recent trip, it managed to fit a handmade pottery planter from Oaxaca comfortably. Espinosa praises the bag’s abundant compartments — one for shoes, another for a laptop, and an outer pocket for toiletries — that help keep her belongings organized. She adds that it’s a suitable choice for business travel with polished accents like nappa leather and gold hardware.

Best weatherproof weekend bag

Herschel Novel Duffel Bag
From $74
From $74

Synthetic leather | 42.5 liters | 2.23 pounds | Top handles, removable shoulder strap

This duffel is the constant companion of Dymphe Mensink, who runs the blog Dymabroad, on her frequent one- to three-day trips. Mensink says the synthetic leather fabric is very durable, and despite the amount of travel it has endured, it has yet to see any noticeable damage. The waterproof zipper and weather-resistant exterior are also huge pluses for Mensink, who has been caught in the rain several times and happily discovered her items never got damp. When traveling to Paris, Pisa, and London, Mensink says she has- consistently been surprised by how much she can fit into this bag — including chargers, headphones, cash, and a few outfit changes. She adds that even when it’s packed to the gills, the duffel is comfortable to carry, thanks to the padded shoulder strap.

Best suitcase for weekend trips

Germany Makrolon® polycarbonate hard-shell material | 41 liters | 10.6 pounds | 3-step aluminum telescopic handle

When a suitcase feels more appropriate for her travels, Mensink prefers this scratch-resistant carry-on. She has no problem fitting her collapsible tripod, camera lenses, external hard drive, and tablet, and she takes advantage of the internal mesh dividers to organize her tech on one side and clothes on the other. Even when fully loaded, the well-balanced suitcase won’t fall over, which hasn’t always been the case with luggage Mensink has used in the past. The 360-degree spinner wheels are supersmooth (and quiet), so Mensink also has no problem dragging this carry-on over inconsistent city sidewalks. She notes that she hasn’t “seen a more expensive suitcase that would be better than this one” and even influenced a friend to pick up the same model.

Best weekend bag for camping

Double-line ripstop nylon | 60 liters | 4 pounds | Backpack-style harness and waist belt

Chyla Anderson, founder of Outdoorism, an apparel brand geared toward Black women and other underrepresented communities in the outdoor-recreation space, relies on this backpack that has served her well on multiday backpacking trips as well as camping weekends. Even though she has had the same one for seven years, it still looks brand-new and outshines a lot of the other bigger-name brands Anderson was considering, which often run up to $200. On excursions to Kilimanjaro, Joshua Tree, and Sequoia, she uses the numerous compartments to keep everything organized and easily accessible. Since you’ll likely be trekking with this pack, comfort is key, and Anderson is quick to assure that you can customize the fit with the adjustable torso and waist belts that accommodate small to XXL sizes.

Best weekend bag for organized packers

PVC-coated tarpaulin, kodra | 60 liters | 2.5 pounds | Stowaway backpack straps, removable shoulder strap, top handles

I’m such a fan of this uniquely designed bag that I sang its praises in last month’s Strategist Haul. Similar to the Patagonia Black Hole, you can carry it several different ways, and the backpack straps stow away so they’re not dangling when you don’t need them. It diverges from the Black Hole in its interior storage, however, which is divided into four equally sized compartments. While these segments were designed with caretakers in mind (allotting each child their own compartment to keep, say, toddler snacks separate from infant formula), I’ve found this setup to be an excellent, much-easier-to-access alternative to packing cubes in that I don’t have to unzip and rezip each time I add something.

I recently took this bag on a trip to Rancho Valencia and was able to fit tennis shoes and gear in one section, pajamas and toiletries in a second, three voluminous maxi dresses in the third, and my tennis clothes in the last one. Unlike some delicate zippers that are difficult to grasp, the oversized pulls make it much easier to find something quickly or open an overstuffed compartment. Finally, the mess- and/or accident-prone traveler will appreciate the slick, weather-resistant tarpaulin that wipes down easily and the base’s puncture-resistant kodra, which was originally developed for WWII equipment.

Best monogrammable weekend bag

Ecocraft canvas | 29.4 liters | 2.4 pounds | Trolley handle straps, removable shoulder strap

For a structured bag with an especially stylish silhouette, consider this weekender that Robert Khederian, a former Curbed staffer and current Compass broker, recommends. Stain-repellent silicone coats the canvas exterior (and keeps your stuff dry), which is accented with recycled vegan leather for a “classic yet distinctive” profile. For a trip length of two to three days, Khederian finds this weekend bag “roomy without being cumbersome,” but expects that an exceptionally light packer might be able to squeeze a few more nights out of it. On longer trips when you use this bag as a carry-on, a pass-through panel allows you to slip it over your suitcase handle. If you really want yours to stand out from the crowd, you can get it monogrammed, starting at $25 for embroidered letters and $75 for hand-painted emojis.