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Travel Season: The Dark Reality of the Duffel Bag

  • Geoff Rynex
Travel Season: The Dark Reality of the Duffel Bag

You’ve seen the photos. They’re probably responsible for a number of your luggage purchases in recent years. A handsome duffel carried effortlessly by an ideal of #menswear, the bag’s arched loops showing no strain under the pressure of the bag’s contents.

But this situation is a fantasy—rarely the glamorous, thousand-yard stare it’s portrayed as in street style and product shots. This is especially the case during journeys to, from and through airports, where you’ll likely find yourself in the next couple weeks.

So we’ve put together this guide to your best-looking, practical travel bag options. Vaya con Dios.

Lovely Luggage, The Hill-side’s GIFbook and the Sartorialist’s Lunch for 25

  • Kempt Staff


Good Baggage: Ryan Plett shows us the proper way to travel: with a spectacular leather duffel bag and equally spectacular company.

Basq’ing: Basquiat was known for turning his apartments into live-in art installations, and it has just been discovered that an ex-girlfriend held on to one, untouched for 30 years.

Hollywood Squares: The Hill-side has just unveiled their latest lookbook in winning fashion: animated GIFs of pocket squares undressing and more cleverness.

Sart and Pepper: The Sartorialist hosts his third epic luncheon for 25 menswear greats. Dapperness and toasting ensue. Cue the video.

The Ultimate Bags for Fall

  • Najib Benouar

Now that fall is around the corner, we’re starting to pine for the feel of heavier, more textured materials instead of summer’s airy cottons and linens.

Case in point: this handsome new line of American alligator bags, briefcases and wallets from Massachusetts’s best-kept secret, Frank Clegg Leatherworks. Frank has been working with the hand-stained hides for years—on a special request basis—but now he’s got an entire line of lustrous gator luggage to choose from. The prices are nothing to scoff at and the production process takes nearly two months, but that should be perfectly timed for your first autumnal getaway. You might want to start looking for your tweed hunting cap now.

Have Bag, Will Road Trip

  • Najib Benouar

The open road calls, gentlemen.

How you’ll answer that call: leather, canvas and grit. Though you’ll also want a full tank of gas, a packed leather duffel and a sexy copilot (seriously, navigation is key). And this Hemingway duffel from the leather and canvas craftsmen at Will Leather Goods is the sort of handsomely rugged weekender bag you should be throwing into the trunk before adventuring into the great wide open. (If its namesake is any indication.) And should you be making your weekend voyage by air, it’s compact enough to not raise any eyebrows at the boarding gate.

Not to mention, you can get it for a steal over at UrbanDaddy Perks right now.

The Importance of the Very Large Pack


The duffel bag is pretty firmly entrenched as the “large and not too pretty” bag in most guy’s luggage pile, but we’d like to make a case for the camper’s backpack.

Like the military duffel, it’s strictly utilitarian—but it does a better job at it, since you’d almost always rather be carrying that weight on your shoulders. There’s also an encouraging crop of stripped-down packs arriving on the market, like this one from Herschel Supply, doing a rough approximation of what Jack Spade did for duffels.

And if, once spring rolls around, you decide to haul a two-person lunch and a bottle of red wine to your nearest scenic mountaintop, you’ll be well-prepared.

Rihanna is Just Really Hungry

rihannagquk_crop.jpgvia GQ UK

At Least It’s Not Beowulf: Does watching The Polar Express over and over constitute torture? We’re going to go with “yes.” [/Film]

Body Snatching is Not Out of the Question: Just a friendly reminder: you are not Johnny Depp. Not to be a downer or anything. [Esquire]

Suddenly Everything is Shiny: Fourteen futuristic retail spaces. If an iceberg storefront can’t convince you to like Richard Chai, then nothing will. [Web Urbanist]

Half In the Bag: A handsome leather duffel from Louis & Clegg. Look upon it in awe. [Unabashedly Prep]

Naomi Watts is not Afraid to be Pulpy


Don’t Call it a Comeback: Naomi Watts drops in for her first magazine profile in quite some time. We’re guessing when she told the interviewer there were naked pictures of her on Perez Hilton, she didn’t think that would make it into copy. [Blackbook]

Bring Out the Drille: A rundown of what Toms has in stock for summer. This is what you should be wearing instead of sandals. [Cool Hunting]

We Have No Idea Either: Apparently Will Ferrell threw out the first pitch of a Houston Astros game in character as disgraced Venezuelan relief man Rojo Johnson. And somehow, it was all for charity. [The Daily What]

Half in the Bag: Perhaps this $30 army duffel bag is the answer to your problems. Anyway, it couldn’t hurt. [Valet]

Packing Up


We’re guessing there are thousands of road trips currently being concocted, so it’s good to have a weekend bag handy. We recommend something that can take a little punishment and won’t take up too much room in the trunk. If you’ve got some spare loot—and enough of a yen for canvas to make it worthwhile—we recommend this one from Aubin and Wills. You’ll have to pack light, but that might not be such a bad idea anyway.

Packing Light


Whether it’s a wedding or a beach trip, odds are you’ll be hitting the road at some point in the next few weeks, with a well-chosen two-day supply of clothing securely in tow. And while your bag options are vast and many-splendored, we’d like to throw this waxed cotton duffel from Jack Spade into the ring.

It’s smaller than the “duffel” tag might lead you to believe—just over two feet from end to end—and the outside is an unbroken swath of the waxed cotton that you may have seen on a jacket or two. There are pockets on the inside for your razor and toothbrush, but the outside is as simple as a beach weekend would suggest.

Bags of the North


The duffel bag has a long way to go if it’s going to come back into style. But this isn’t a bad start…

These particular items come from our friends at Norsea Industries, and we’re ready to call them the beginning of the duffel revival. Trading industrial performance cloth for warm, vintage-looking fabrics and a healthily grungy approach to color, they end up with what the duffel bag always should have been: a casual approach to luggage.

See more of the bags»