Between balancing a full-time job and family duties, a quick weekend getaway is usually easier to pencil into a busy schedule than a long vacation. Embarking on short trips throughout the year is a great way to take a break from the monotony of your daily routine, but how effectively you pack may determine just how stress-free your trip is. A weekender bag, which includes zippered duffels, travel backpacks and large multi-compartment bags, can be an easy way to keep your travel essentials in one place.
To help you choose the best one for your getaway, we asked travel experts how they shop for weekender bags and rounded up some of their favorite options along with Select staff picks.
Our top picks
- Editor’s pick: Lo & Sons The Catalina Deluxe
- Best affordable weekender: Adidas Defender 4 Medium Duffel Bag
- Best multi-purpose weekender: Halfday The Garment Duffel
- Best expandable weekender: Longchamp Le Pliage Expandable Travel Bag
- Best tote: L.L.Bean Boat and Tote Zip-Top
How we picked the best weekender bags
A weekender bag is designed for short trips, typically taking place over a few days or a weekend. Depending on their overall dimensions, you might want to use them as a carry-on or personal item for a flight. When shopping for a quality weekender bag, experts told us to consider the following factors:
- Size: Stick to bags with a capacity of at least 30 liters so they can comfortably fit your travel essentials, according to experts we spoke to. Bags that hold upwards of 40-50 liters may hold more, but keep in mind they’ll be harder to lug around.
- Material: Weekenders come in many different materials including canvas, recycled polyester, nylon and leather. Water-resistant materials like nylon and neoprene are best since they provide some peace of mind when traveling outdoors, according to our experts.
- Straps, comfort and versatility: Look for bags with strong, padded straps that aren’t going to give way when you’re carrying a heavier load. Some options transform into travel backpacks or crossbody bags, which makes it easier to carry heavier items.
- Price: You can expect to spend between $100 to $300 on a quality weekender bag. However, “beyond that point, you’ll be paying a premium for brand recognition or aesthetic features rather than significant improvements in durability or functionality,” says travel blogger Lauren Juliff.
- Organizational features: Consider bags with interior pockets that will keep small items in one place and exterior pockets to keep essentials like your phone and passport in-reach. You should also look for a built-in laptop sleeve or compartment to keep your tech safe and scratch-free.
Best weekender bags of 2023
We compiled expert-recommended options and Select staff favorites to help give you an idea of the best weekender bags for your personal travel preference.
Best weekender bag overall: Lo & Sons
The Catalina Deluxe from Lo & Sons is a frontrunner for durability, space and style. I frequently take quick weekend trips to visit family, and I can always rely on this weekender to store everything I need. It fits comfortably underneath my seat on flights or train rides, and I love that it has a separate, zippered bottom compartment to help keep my shoes and dirty clothes isolated from the rest of my packed items. It comes in various sizes, colors and fabrics, including soft and sturdy canvas, and water-resistant and eco-friendly recycled polyester. It also includes an adjustable messenger strap with removable padding, as well as a backend pass-through sleeve so it can fit comfortably on top of a suitcase.
Capacity: 40 liters (small); 49 liters (large) | Material: Canvas; 600D recycled polyester | Water-resistant: Yes (recycled polyester) | Laptop compartment: No
Best multi-purpose weekender bag: Halfday
This duffel comes recommended by Select’s associate updates editor Zoe Malin and editor James Ellis due to its durability and size. “I like that it's small enough to not make a fuss on the plane, but I can still pack at least one suit if I wanted,” Ellis says. It weighs a little over 2 pounds and has a water-resistant exterior that’s designed to withstand unpredictable weather. The duffel comes with two interior shoe pockets that fit a size-13 shoe in each, and it converts into a hanging garment compartment that holds a suit, tux or multiple dress shirts, according to the brand. It also includes a polyester handle and shoulder strap, as well five plastic feet on the bottom to keep it from touching the ground.
Capacity: 45 liters | Material: Oxford; Taslan polyester lining | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: No
Best weekender bag with removable compartment: Beis
“This bag changed my life — it’s the only weekender I can truly rely on for trips, and it sparks joy when I use it,” Malin says. She loves that it comes with a bottom compartment to keep shoes separate: “I always travel with my running sneakers, and having that dedicated compartment for them keeps their dirty soles away from my clean clothes.” The compartment is also removable if you’re a light packer, so you can convert it to a minimalist tote. Malin also likes the many interior pockets that can help safely store away her phone, wallet, passport and other essentials while traveling, as well as the removable padded laptop sleeve to save time while going through TSA. The brand also offers a mini version, which is small enough to use as a purse or work tote when you remove the bottom compartment.
Capacity: 49 liters | Material: Polyester; vegan leather trim | Water-resistant: Yes (lining) | Laptop compartment: Yes
Best affordable weekender bag: Adidas
In addition to the Lo & Sons option, my partner and I use this affordable duffel from Adidas for quick overnight stays or to haul exercise clothes and fitness equipment to the gym. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of higher-end bags, just a spacious, zip-top interior with two zippered side pockets that allow me to keep track of (and store away) smaller items like earbuds, wallets and keys. It also has a removable shoulder strap, so you can use it as both a true duffel with handles or a crossbody bag to haul heavier items.
Capacity: N/A (Dimensions: 13 inches long, 12 inches high, 24.75 inches wide) | Material: Polyester | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: No
Best high-end weekender bag: ShortyLove
Editorial director Lauren Swanson owns this weekender in Army Green and says that “it's surprisingly spacious and lightweight.” Weighing just under 2 pounds, the bag is made from water-resistant nylon twill and has a flat, structured bottom that lets it stand upright when placed on the floor. It also has internal padding so it maintains its structure when it’s not in use, according to the brand. It comes with multiple interior slip pockets to hold your phone, keys and wallet, as well as a deep, zippered exterior pocket.
Capacity: 60 liters | Material: Nylon twill | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: No
Best convertible weekender bag: Baboon to the Moon
If you can’t decide between a traditional weekender bag and a travel backpack, Baboon to the Moon’s water-resistant Go-Bag solves that issue — it has a handle so you can use it as a duffel, and adjustable shoulder straps to easily convert it into a backpack. It’s also a favorite of NBC Page Mihkaila Archer: “I’ve been telling everyone I possibly can about Baboon to the Moon — it's not super traditional luggage, but I love its wide array of unique colors and bag sizes for any type of trip.” The Go-Bag is available in 12 vibrant colors and comes in three sizes: mini (32-liter capacity), small (40-liter capacity) and big (60-liter capacity). It also comes with an interior mesh compartment and two stash pockets for your phone, passport and wallet.
Capacity: 32 liters, 40 liters and 60 liters | Material: Proprietary OM Stardust Ballistic shell | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: No
Best sustainable weekender bag: Everlane
If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly bag that’s both durable and water-resistant, Everlane’s ReNew Transit Weekender, which is highly rated with a 4.7-star average rating from over 100 reviews on the brand’s website, is made from 100% recycled polyester that comes from renewed plastic bottles. It includes an adjustable shoulder strap, a padded interior laptop sleeve, two water bottle holders and a zip pocket on the outside. It’s available in five colors, too.
Capacity: 25 liters | Material: Recycled polyester | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: Yes
Best carry-on weekender bag: Calpak
This duffel bag from Calpak, which is one of our favorite AAPI-owned businesses, is great for weekend getaways, trips to the gym or last-minute flights. It comes with a large bottom compartment for shoes or any clothes you want to keep separated, as well as interior pockets to keep smaller items like your wallet, cards and keys, organized. It has a trolley sleeve on the back side to securely attach it to your luggage, plus you can remove the shoulder strap to carry it from its handles too. It’s available in one size with 11 colors and patterns.
Capacity: 47 liters | Material: Polyester | Water-resistant: No | Laptop compartment: No
Best expandable weekender bag: Longchamp
A favorite of Select writer Barbara Booth for its size, versatility and sleek design, the Longchamp Le Pliage has a zipper in the middle that allows the water-resistant bag to expand in size, so she can use it for travel or at the beach or pool. For extra portability, the Le Pliage bag folds down flat and fastens with a buttoned flap, so you can easily store it in your suitcase when you travel. Additionally, it has a spacious main interior, a removable crossbody strap and plenty of interior pockets.
Capacity: 30 liters; 50 liters (when expanded) | Material: Nylon; leather trim | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: No
Best weekender tote: L.L.Bean
If you prefer a one-shoulder tote bag to store your weekend trip essentials, this option from L.L.Bean comes in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes. Made from heavy-duty cotton canvas, the tote has a reinforced bottom and double-stitched seams, which makes it suitable to carry heavier items like shoes, laptops and other travel accessories (in fact, the handles are sturdy enough to hold up to 500 pounds, according to the brand). Select editor Lindsay Schneider recommends this zip-top option for traveling thanks to its long durable handles and sturdy structure.
Capacity: 8 liters, 17 liters, 35 liters and 56 liters | Material: Cotton canvas | Water-resistant: No | Laptop compartment: No
Best backpack weekender: Osprey
The Osprey Arcane XL Daypack comes recommended by Juliff. “At 30 liters, it’s the perfect size for a couple of nights away, and because it’s a backpack rather than a duffel, it’s easy and comfortable to carry when walking,” she says. It has a laptop compartment that fits a 15-inch laptop, and the external zip pocket is great for keeping small essentials like a passport, credit cards and phone within easy reach. Osprey also offers an “all mighty guarantee,” which means the brand will repair or replace any of its luggage if it gets damaged, for any reason, free of charge. “I’ve successfully taken them up on this offer in the past and had a seven-year-old backpack replaced after an airline tore a hole in it,” Juliff says.
Capacity: 30 liters | Material: 500D recycled polyester | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: Yes
Best lightweight weekender bag: Dagne Dover
Select’s managing editor Leah Ginsberg says she’s “a devotee” of the Landon Carryall Bag from Dagne Dover. It’s made from 100% premium neoprene, a lightweight, water-resistant fabric that’s insulating, shock-absorbent and flexible, according to the brand. “It has so many useful pockets and it's lightweight because of the material,” says Ginsberg, who has the small version of this bag and typically uses it as a purse. “I also always get compliments because it looks cool.” The bag is available in five sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large. The medium size has an interior sleeve that can fit a 13-inch laptop, while the large and extra-large sizes can fit a 16-inch laptop.
Capacity: 5 liters, 11 liters, 18 liters, 29 liters, 35 liters | Material: Neoprene | Water-resistant: Yes | Laptop compartment: Yes (medium, large and extra-large sizes)
Best overnight weekender bag: Vera Bradley
If you’re planning on embarking on an overnight trip, Vera Bradley’s 100% cotton duffle bag has a zip pocket and three slip pockets on the exterior, as well as three additional interior mesh pockets to keep smaller items organized. You can use it as a true duffel bag using its drop handles, or use the detachable shoulder strap to haul heavier items. (It comes with a shoulder pad to make it more comfortable, too.) The spacious, soft weekender is high quality and lasts for years, according to Schneider.
Capacity: 50 liters | Material: Recycled cotton | Water-resistant: No | Laptop compartment: No
Best personalizable weekender bag: Paravel
“The Paravel Weekender is perfect for true weekend getaways — its stylish design and high-quality construction make it a standout choice,” says Nadine Sykora, blogger and host of YouTube travel channel Hey Nadine. The weekender fits up to two days-worth of clothes and a 15-inch laptop (though it doesn’t have a dedicated laptop sleeve), according to the brand. It also comes with a removable and adjustable strap, an interior zip pocket and zip-top closure that makes it easy to unload and reload your essentials. For an additional fee, you can personalize the bag with an embroidered or hand-painted monogram or emoji.
Capacity: 28 liters| Material: Eco-friendly canvas and recycled vegan leather | Water-resistant: No | Laptop compartment: No
What is a weekender bag and what is it used for?
Sized in between a backpack and a carry-on suitcase, a weekender is big enough to hold clothes, toiletries, shoes and other essentials. Many tend to have soft sides, zippers and multiple compartments that give you the convenience and accessibility of a backpack with the capacity of a smaller suitcase sans the bulkiness.
“For getaways lasting a night or two, the main advantage of a weekender bag is the ease at which you can pack and unpack,” Juliff says. “You don’t have to squeeze everything through the narrow entrance of a backpack when packing, and when unpacking, it’s far easier to see where everything is in a duffel.”
Practicality aside, weekender bags are a stylish alternative to basic luggage. They come in a variety of colors and materials, including nylon, faux leather, canvas and polyester. Some weekenders can even “fold flat after unpacking, so you can store them out of sight,” Juliff says. Some also sport customizable features like monograms and patterns to fit your personal style.
“I'm definitely somebody who has weekenders that go from a traditional soft duffel in a leather to a canvas duffel to larger totes that stand up on their own,” says Yolanda Edwards, founder of travel magazine Yolo Journal. She says she uses weekender bags for short trips to her house in upstate New York, but she also takes them along on planes as a personal item and in cars during road trips.
How to shop for a weekender bag
Not all weekender bags serve the same function: Your specific needs and type of travel will determine the right bag for you.
“The first thing you want to do is determine what your weekend will look like,” Sykora says. “If you're a minimalist and prefer packing light, a weekender bag can certainly work for longer trips — just make sure it's comfortable to carry, as most weekender bags aren't designed for extended periods of use.”
When shopping, our experts recommended considering the size and material of your weekender, your comfort level while using one and built-in organizational features like pockets and laptop sleeves.
The right size weekender
The size of your weekender will determine what you can (and can’t) take. Some bags are more compact, so you can easily carry it around, while roomier, pocket-filled options offer more space for storing your travel essentials.
Juliff recommends a minimum capacity of 30 liters for a weekender bag. “This should be sufficient to carry clothing, toiletries and other essentials for a short trip,” she says. Plus, “30 liters is typically well within most airlines' carry-on luggage requirements, allowing you to easily stow your bag under the seat when traveling internationally.”
If you’re an experienced traveler, a larger weekender bag may still work well for longer trips. “I traveled continuously for two years with a single 40-liter backpack and didn’t feel as though the amount of space was limiting — anything less than 40 liters and I would have struggled, though,” Juliff says. And though a smaller option may not hold all of your essentials, opting for a bigger weekender can still be limiting: “Typically, weekenders aren’t rolling bags, so you’ll need to physically carry them around,” which can result in some serious heavy lifting if you’re a chronic overpacker, according Sykora. “For most people, I would recommend a 50-liter or 60-liter suitcase or backpack for trips lasting longer than a week,” Juliff says.
Comfort and versatility
“Consider your destination, travel distance and transportation methods — like car versus public transportation — when determining the size and comfort [of your bag],” Sykora says. Padded, removable and adjustable straps are important when it comes to comfort, especially if the bag functions as both a duffel and a backpack. If you’re planning a walking-heavy trip, some weekenders can transform into crossbody bags or travel backpacks that won’t put too much pressure on one shoulder. Carrying a weekender bag with a shoulder strap isn’t ideal for long-haul trips, according to Sykora.
While different materials will determine how your weekender bag looks, you’ll want to avoid materials that won’t hold up in certain travel conditions. If you're an outdoorsman or if you expect unpredictable weather, “you should not be getting a zippered duffel that's [made of] canvas — which is usually heavier — or any with leather details,” Edwards says. She suggested opting for a lightweight, water-resistant nylon, instead.
“Water-resistance for both the fabric and the zippers is a valuable feature if you plan on traveling in all seasons, and will keep your belongings dry in anything that isn’t a torrential downpour,” Juliff says.
While most weekender bags have an open, spacious interior with a few pockets to store miscellaneous items, some offer more functional compartments like laptop sleeves, separate shoe compartments and easily accessible slots for a phone, e-reader or other essentials that you need to keep in reach.
You can expect to spend anywhere between $100 to $300 for a quality weekender bag, depending on materials, brand and design, according to Juliff. “There is a noticeable difference between a $50 bag and a $400 bag in terms of quality and materials, you can both see and feel it,” Sykora says.
Higher-end bags usually come with more durable straps that can withstand wear and tear, and they may utilize premium materials such as full-grain leather or high-quality canvas, according to our experts. Bags priced on the lower-end (typically less than $100) might use more affordable materials like polyester or lower-grade leather, Juliff says. If you don’t travel often, “a more affordable option may suffice, but I always like investing in a long-lasting bag that’ll last me many years,” Sykora says.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Lauren Juliff is a travel blogger who runs the site Never Ending Footsteps.
- Nadine Sykora is a blogger and host of YouTube travel channel Hey Nadine.
- Yolanda Edwards is the founder of travel magazine Yolo Journal.
Why trust Select?
Mili Godio is an editor at Select and has written various travel roundups including the best travel pillows and the best carry-ons. For this article, she interviewed three travel bloggers and writers about how to shop for weekender bags and researched dozens of weekenders on the market to compile a list of the best ones to consider.