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Sometimes you need carry-on luggage with wheels and a handle and laptop compartments, and sometimes, you simply need a tough, no-nonsense duffel. This is where the Fjallraven Duffel No.6 comes in. Bar none, this bag is the most rugged, sturdy, and strong I’ve ever used. The Duffel No.6 has joined me on several outdoor adventure trips, perfect to toss into the back of a car or truck, carry to a base camp, and pack for a week-long outdoor experience.
The duffel comes in three sizes: a 50 liter (carry-on compatible), 70 liter (still carry-on compatible) and 110 liters (check-in luggage). I tried out the medium version at 70 liters, and trust me, this bag is roomy. It folds down beautifully, but once expanded, a lot can fit inside. For a recent weekend trip, my teen son fit all his clothing, hiking boots, and compact sleeping bag. There are multiple ways to customize the shape and fit of the bag with compression straps and buckles galore, and padded backpack straps stow in the top panel to be broken out when needed.
I won’t lie to you: when full, the Duffel No.6 is heavy to carry via backpack straps. I carried it from the car to a distant hotel room and actually had to stop several times to chill. But I had it well-stuffed with ski gear at the time. Using the backpack straps would be the way to go in airports if carrying the bag on a plane, but I found I much preferred to use this bag for train, bus, and car travel, where I never had to worry about the material ripping or anything getting damaged.
Speaking of material, the Duffel No.6 is pretty unique in this regard. It’s made with outdoor fabric, with a base of waterproof laminated nylon. The result is a waxy feel that repels dirt and dust, water, and snow.
When not being carried as a backpack, the duffel is carried via handles with grips in natural-toned leather. Both these duffel handles and the backpack straps tuck away when checked as luggage, a thoughtful touch. The main compartment of the bag has an extra large zippered opening at top and a mesh pocket inside to keep small items in place. Don’t misunderstand: there are not a lot of side compartments or organizational panels…just the one. This means the vast majority of the bag is an open cavern waiting for you to fill. I actually prefer this. On the outside there are two open side pockets, one with a zippered pocket for items needed close at hand.
At 70 liters, the duffel resembles the size and shape of a hardcore backpacking pack when full. On our most recent trip, we nicknamed it the ‘monster’. This was an affectionate nickname, as we appreciated that it held so much. But because it can take on so many items, beware of weight!
Pick up a Fjallraven Duffel No.6 in the medium, 70 liter size for $250, or opt for a size smaller or large for $200 or $300 respectively. Choose between navy, black, or green (the green is a nice, muted moss color). We also found it on Amazon for the same price, or on Moosejaw.