Carry on luggage review: Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L

I recently returned from a two week trip to New York City with my trusty Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L. Suffice to say, it was a big success. This is officially one of my favourite duffel-style bags for taking on a plane as a carry-on. Add to that the fact that Peak Design is one of the very best industrial designers in the bag industry and you’ll see why we have rated the Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L so high.


9 Total Score
A duffel bag for the ages

In terms of just pure value, I can't think of a better duffel bag out there. Thoughtful design from the Peak Design team and ridiculously durable materials make for a bag that you will consistently reach for when you pack for shorter trips.

Overall Quality
10
Durability
9.5
Design features
8
Storage space
8
Warranty
10
Value
10
PROS
  • Amazing quality of materials
  • Thoughtful and innovative design
  • Multiple carry options
  • Enough space for most people during shorter trips
  • Great warranty
  • Reasonable price for what you are getting
CONS
  • Magnets aren't strong enough on handles
  • Fiddly handle placement
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Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L Review

Premium design with a reasonable price tag

I have wanted a Peak Design bag for a very long time. Once a brand only known for their kickass camera bags for photographers, Peak Design is now one of the very best travel bag manufacturers out there. The Peak Design Travel Duffel is one of their second generation bags, taking a lot of what they learned from their travel backpack and applying it to a more simple form factor. After all, duffel bags are intentionally supposed to be large one pocket designs where you just dump all of your stuff. And they succeeded with flying colors here.

At 35 litres, this won’t be the bag for long several week trips in Europe (although for some minimalists it could be). Instead, I see this as a perfect bag for overnight trips, weekend trips and even single week expeditions. Because it is just 35 litres, and is fairly malleable, you won’t have any trouble fitting the Travel Duffel in the overhead bin of even the stingiest airline.

It’s a utilitarian bag, yes, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have style where it is needed. The bag comes in two colours, black and sage. The black one is an almost rubbery material built with 600D nylon canvas. The sage feels a little more “fabric-like” to the touch and features leather accents on the zipper pulls and for the very nondescript Peak Design logo. That is one thing I love about this bag. It is unassuming. You won’t find gaudy advertisements for the company on it and it just blends in. Both colors are weatherproof (not waterproof) so you will be fine if you get caught in a storm while trekking to your AirBnB. It is also rip-proof so you won’t notice tears forming after using it for a while.

Size-wise the bag is 10.2 x 24 x 13.6 inches and weighs 1.98 pounds. I find this to be a pretty nice weight. Its not the lightest on the market, but it also features fabrics that are heads and shoulders better quality than most of the competition.

The Peak Design Travel Duffel features a fairly unique silouette. Each end of the bag swoops up with little triangular ears that attach to the shoulder strap. This allows the bag to feel quite a bit more ergonomic than other traditional duffels. It also enables the more innovative carry stules that we cover below. Both of these “ears” have magnets on them so they can be latched down then the bag is not in shoulder strap mode, making the bag even more compact and out of the way.

 

Capacity and carry styles

At 35 litres you will be fine on most small trips. I also bought the medium and small size Peak Design packing cubes which fit this bag like a glove, leaving a little bit of room for the requisite sweater, jacket, dopp kit and some electronics. I definitely recommend packing cubes for this bag though since it is essentially just one large cavernous pocket.

There are some small organization pockets around though. On each side of the outside of the bag there are two pockets. These are perfect for your phone, passport or anything else you need quick access to. They do get a little tight if you overpack the bag though, so be careful. On the inside of the bag there are two organizational pockets that feature a sort of netting material for keeping additional items from bouncing around in there.

One of the major draws of this bag for me was the different carry styles. First, it has two small carry handles made of leather. They connect together via a small magnet when you are carrying but I did find this a little fiddly. I didn’t always have the handle in the right orientation when clicking them together. After a while I did figure it out but it isn’t the most elegant solution and the magnet could be stronger. Second, you have a detachable shoulder strap. This can be added to the several “cord hook straps” on the outside of the bag. This allows you to configure the carry for different scenarios (whether you want it riding closer on your back or more horizontal hanging off you shoulder). I recommend checking out Peak Design’s video on this to get a sense of the different options.  Back to the carry handles for a second. These can be reconfigured to act as shoulder straps for the duffel, making it a backpack in a pinch. I actually used this a few times when dashing between subway platforms in NYC. I wouldn’t say it is the main carry mode for most people, but it is helpful to free up your hands when needed. Overall, the versatitlity of these carry styles is a major draw for those of us that sometimes need a few different ways to carry.

Looking for a packable duffel? Look no further than the Eagle Creek packable duffel which can easily be thrown into any bag until it is needed.

In terms of basic design and versatility, this bag should be at the top of your list. We’ll go over a few more factors below that might just put you over the edge when considering a new duffel bag.

Warranty and value

Peak Design has a real lifetime warranty. Under normal use, if you ever have any issues, they will fix the bag to the “same or better condition” than it was previously. Take a look at their website where they outline their lifetime warranty. They use terms that actual humans can understand and aren’t trying to fool anyone. I personally appreciate this kind of candor. I have heard that the Peak Design team is very easy to deal with if anything ever goes wrong with a bag so you are protected here. But to be honest, this bag is so well-made that I’m not sure you will ever have to find out…

In terms of value, I think this bag is a very underrated. You are getting a tonne of features that would generally only be seen in bags that cost twice as much. And you aren’t shelling out as much as for their travel backpack. If 35 litres is big enough for you, this is one of the best back for buck duffels on the planet currently.

We highly recommend picking up some Peak Design packing cubes for this bag. It was designed to fit them perfectly!

Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L review round-up: Is this bag for me?

If you are in the market for a modestly size duffel bag and really value quality materials, worksmanship and organization, then this is the bag for you. Sure, you can find simpler and cheaper duffels out there. But none of them would have the reputation that Peak Design has built up as a premium camera bag company this past decade. I wouldn’t buy this bag if you intend to use it like a backpack for long periods of time though. This is first and foremost a greta duffel bag. Two thumbs up to the Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L!

Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L (Black)

$129.95  in stock
1 new from $129.95
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as of October 28, 2020 4:55 pm

Features

  • Classic, carry-on sized 35L duffel bag works perfectly as a weekender, gym bag, or luggage sidekick.
  • Rip-proof and weatherproof 100% recycled 600D nylon canvas shell provides protection and durability.
  • Configure to sling, shoulder, hand, and backpack carry style via removable padded straps.
  • Easily pack items using the extra-wide opening which provides complete visibility and access.
  • All Peak Design gear has a lifetime warranty.

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