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What Is A Duffel Bag?

What Is A Duffel Bag?

What Is A Duffel Bag?

A duffel bag is a cylindrical, top-entry bag. A tough and thick natural fabric such as leather or woolen cloth made up the original design. Typically, a drawstring closes off the bag's opening. Today, while most are still cylindrical in shape, some duffel bags are no longer top-entry bags. The modern design of the duffel bag has a zipper that closes off at the side.

Duffel Bag/Duffle Bag
Dagny Weekender

A Gym Bag or A Duffel Bag?

Many, however, confuse the duffel bag with a gym bag. While both bags are similar in shape, a gym bag is not as adaptable in storing bulkier objects as compared to duffel bags. The determining factor lies in the structure of the two bags. A gym bag is typically hard-bottomed and sometimes has a rectangular base. A duffel bag on the other hand has an open structure. The lack of rigidity in their design differentiates the two when it comes to storing and carrying bulkier objects.

Origins of the Duffel Bag

The origins of the duffel bag dates back to the early mid-17th century. Named after a town in Belgium called Duffel, near Antwerp. The town originally produced the bag’s thick coarse woolen cloth. The duffel bag’s original design was cylindrical in shape with a drawstring that closes off the top. Its design however changed over time. It is still however referred to as any large bag that is made of thick fabric design to store and transport bulky objects with ease.

The duffel bag is known to be versatile therefore has many applications. History shows that the thick coarse woolen cloth were used by Spanish and Portuguese sailors to fashion crude bags, somewhat like duffel bags to store their belongings.

The Duffel Bag During The Wartime era

The term “duffel bag” however was made known only during the wartime era. Letters of the poet E.E. Cummings who served as an ambulance driver in Europe during the First World War evidenced its early use. In his letters, he documented that the application of the duffel bag was primarily rooted within the military. During the era of the First World War, the duffel bag’s design were shorter and resembled more of a knapsack that what it is now. Its first design proved to be difficult to handle for soldiers, especially whenever the duffel bags were fully packed. It was noted to have used a crude fabric with brass eyelets and a rope as a drawstring to close it off. Consequently, the inconvenience caused by its design made soldiers leave the bags in the trenches rather than taking them into the field.

It was around the Second World War where we see improvements in the design of the duffel bags. It now had a longer and wider design with sturdier straps built to increase its function and durability in the field. The “doughboy”, as it was called at that time, served as an important tool for transporting and moving weaponry, equipment and arms. It carried equipment essential to the survival of soldiers on the field. Equipment such as military kits, and medical aid were often found inside a soldier’s duffel bag.

Due to the improvements made in its design, function and durability the bag’s use became widely popular even outside the military.

Leather Duffel Bag
The Endre Weekender

Different uses of the Duffle

As time progressed so did the popularity and use of the duffel bag. Because of its adaptive structure, the duffel bag is used in different ways. Here are some of its modern-day uses


Used by military men in the field during the First and Second World War. Marching from one point to another it is no surprise that one of the modern uses of the duffel bag is for travel. Duffel bags are necessary to have for travelers whether they are traveling light or packing extra. Due to its lack of rigidity, duffel bags are easy to store on overhead bins and other luggage compartments making them easy to travel. They are convenient for those who are traveling light because they easy to carry and access, perfect for road trips, weekend getaways, or overnighters

Sports and Recreation

From professional athletes to spots amateurs, duffel bags are necessary in sports and recreation. Because of its size and versatility in shape and form, duffel bags are able to fit and carry heavy and/or bulky equipment for sports like volleyball, basketball, tennis and football. Not to mention that duffel bags are portable and easy to travel, perfect for those away games.


Since they are often confused with another and often similar in shape and form duffel bags are great alternatives to gym bags. One advantage of using the duffel bag in the gym is its portability. With its free structure, duffel bags can easily be stored inside gym lockers together with all your things for safekeeping.


It is of no surprise that one of the modern uses of the duffel bag is for hunting. Like its predecessor, the duffel bag is easy to travel and store equipment used for hunting. Hunting duffel bags usually have an arm strap for carrying. They are also equipped with an extra layer of padding or lining to protect any hunting equipment from damage. Another great feature with hunting duffel bags are its extra zipper compartments used for storing ammo and cleaning supplies. Hunting duffel bags are made usually with camouflage fabric perfect for blending in with the hunter’s surroundings.


Having a more modern design, some duffel bags are made to fit laptops and files essential for business people on the go.

Best Seller
The Dagny Weekender

Best Quality Duffle Bags

Duffel bags are made either of natural fabric such as leather or of synthetic fabric such as canvas. If you are looking for a compromise in terms of affordability and quality, a canvas-made duffel bag is your choice. It offers a degree of toughness and durability equal to what you are paying for.

However, if what you desire is a duffel that will stand the test of time and abuse full grain leather made duffel bags are the perfect choice. It offers the highest degree of toughness and durability. An item definitely worth investing on.

Handmade Leather Bags

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