Travel Destinations

Monday, August 17, 2015

Packing Tips and Travel Style: The Ultimate Duffel Bag

My new Incase EO Duffel making its debut at Denver's the ART hotel.
We learned the hard way that while traveling, a rolling checked bag and a rolling carry-on bag are just not the way to go.  You can get away with it if you have a rental car or will be traveling from the airport to your hotel's front door without relying on public transportation.  However, that rarely happens and those rolling pieces of luggage become more of a hindrance than a luxury.  This lesson changed our travel style and we now travel with a rolling checked bag and a carry-on duffel bag which we can strap over our shoulders or rest on top of our rolling bag.

Our lesson was learned on a trip to Italy many years ago.  We started by visiting Rome, then traveled by train to explore the five towns of Cinque Terre, and finished in the romantic city of Venice.  Our problems first began when we decided to travel by train from the airport into the heart of Rome, and then walk from the train station to our hotel.  As per usual we made a few wrong turns and it was just uncomfortable to pull two bags.  When we arrived in Vernazza, one of the towns of Cinque Terre, things got worse as we not only had to pull our luggage from the train station through the main street, we then had to carry them up countless flights of steps to our room, as the streets of Vernazza are staircases.

All packed up and ready to go.
Backpackers we are not.  I like to have all my toiletries and a few pairs of shoes to choose from. Rome likes to have clean undershirts, boxers, and socks for every day of a trip and doesn't want to have to take time out of our travels to do laundry.  Our solution was to start traveling with our lightweight Samsonite spinners and a travel duffel bag.  Rome had one he started using, but it was so big he'd have to be careful not to fill it too full or it wouldn't fit in the overhead.  I then bought us some lightweight duffels that were the perfect size, but they didn't have shoulder straps, so they could get heavy and cumbersome.

The quality of the materials stand out.
We'd been thinking about finding new and improved duffel bags when Incase approached me, asking if I'd be interesting in reviewing one of their products.  When I found their EO Duffel, part of their EO travel collection, I immediately replied that I would be very interested, as it appeared to be exactly what I was looking for.

My first impression of the bag is that it is well-made.  I love the materials they've used, which include a thick denim type material for the bottom, top, and sides and triple coated weather-resistant back and front panels.  The zippers are heavy duty and easy to open and close, even when I'm zipping and unzipping while holding the bag with one handle.  

The handles snap together for ease and comfort.
The shoulder strap is adjustable and padded and the buckles that attach the strap to the bag are metal and substantial.  I found that I carried the bag cross-shoulder but also with my arm through the handles, which helped distribute the weight of all my stuff as I am a bit of a weakling.  Based on some reviews that said the cross-shoulder strap isn't the strongest, this is probably a wise way of holding the bag if it is packed heavily.  I like that the handles can be connected with a snapping cover that aids in the comfort if slinging the bag on your shoulder with the handles.

The inside of the bag is one spacious main compartment with a small inside pocket for pens, eyedrops, or any small items you want to be able to get at quickly.  On the outside is a small pocket into which you can slip your phone, boarding pass, and passport.  On the other side is a pocket that is padded and furry to hold your tablet or small laptop in luxury and make it easy to access.

Everything I like to pack in a carry-on fits easily into the Incase EO Duffel.
We use our duffel bags in two ways.  The first is for long trips where we each use one suitcase and one duffel bag.  We use our duffel bags as our carry-ons to bring anything we don't want to check, like our camera equipment, tablets, charging cords, and travel itinerary as well as a change of clothes in case our checked luggage gets delayed.  The EO Duffel fits all of these items with ease and can easily slide into the overhead bin or even under the seat ahead if not stuffed to the gills.  

The Incase EO Duffel flattens to fit in a standard checked luggage size suitcase.
Ideally, we like to leave room in our checked luggage so once we are traveling around, we can put everything into our rolling bags, including the duffel, so it is good this duffel also flattens easily and takes up minimal space.

The other way we use our duffel bags is for weekend getaways.  The EO Duffel fits a weekend's worth of clothing, shoes, toiletries, camera, and more easily.

All of this, enough for a weekend getaway, fits into the Incase EO Duffel with room to spare.
The only improvement I would make is adding a loop that could be used to easily slide the bag onto the pull handle of my suitcase.  When I've got both bags I like to put my duffel on top of my rolling suitcase, secured to the expanding handle so it doesn't slide off.  I can use the handles of the bag for this purpose, but a back strap that allows the bag to slip over the pull handle would be ideal.

When I was looking at the bag online I was concerned by the listed measurements: 22" x 13" x 4.50".  It was the 4.50" depth that worried me.  That seemed awfully narrow.  The measurements on the website are incorrect.  The bag actually measures 21" x 12" x 9", though I can see how it could reach the 22" x 13" numbers if completely full.

Ready for takeoff.
I tested the EO Duffel on a recent weekend getaway to Denver.  My verdict is that I am extremely happy with this bag so far.  It fit everything I put into it and kept it in place so I could easily find and pull things out.  It's also stylish and works for either men or women.  I also love that you can see and feel the quality.  The only real problem is that I accepted this bag with the idea of letting Romeo have it, but now it might stay mine!

Thank you to Incase for providing us with this awesome duffel bag.  As always, all opinions are my own.  Incase also makes travel backpacks, messenger bags, shoulder bags, travel rollers, and more.

Travel the World: Review of the Incase EO Duffel travel bag.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.