Every serious traveler needs at least one go-to, all-purpose, work horse of a duffel bag. I’ve had the same bright yellow duffel in my closet since heading to college 20+ years ago, and it just recently kicked the bucket. I thought I’d get an Eagle Creek No Matter What duffel to replace it. So far, I’m very pleased.
I got the XL, which has 133 liters of space and weighs 2 pounds, 12 ounces empty. It’s the largest duffel they carry, and I worried it would be too much bag. Not so. In fact, this duffel has not only gone on road trips and camping trips with us, which is what I usually use duffels for, but even accompanied my teen son on a recent flight. Whereas duffels can be cumbersome to fly with, he found it completely manageable, utilizing the padded shoulder strap before checking it.
The No Matter What duffel is made of a water repellent technical fabric that’s incredibly strong without feeling stiff and thick (and therefore heavy). It’s definitely built to travel alongside you instead of being tossed in the back of a pick up (though it could certainly handle that as well). It has quite a few built-in handles for grabbing it either vertically or horizontally, and it features lockable zippers if you need to secure your things when it’s checked. Best of all, a side pocket on the duffel doubles as a stuff pouch, allowing you to compress the duffel to about the size of a small flattened backpack when not in use. Maybe I have too many bags in my closet, but this feature is extremely useful to me.
You won’t find a ton of bells and whistles on the No Matter What…it’s simply a well-constructed bag that will get the job done without fuss. It’s water repellent (not waterproof), and I’ve left it out in drizzle without issue. I don’t know if it could stand an ongoing downpour, but your average poor weather won’t be a problem. You get compression straps on the outside to streamline your gear, and there are seam reinforcement in all high-stress areas. The shoulder strap can be removed, and the stuff sack pocket can double as a contained area for muddy clothes or shoes when you have the duffel in use.
I love it so far, and anticipate using this No Matter What for years to come. The No Matter What XL is an even $100, and comes in tons of fun, bright colors, including cobalt, firebrick (red), strobe green, black, grape, olive, red clay (red-orange), and slate blue. Find it on Amazon, eBags, Backcountry, and more.
Note: you can also get the No Matter What in a variety of sizes. The small is 30 liters for $70, the medium is 59 liters for $80, and the large is 110 liters for $90. There’s also an XL with wheels for $150. The large and XL can be bought in a wheeled version, too. Lots of choice here!