How to Choose the Best Gear Bags

Gear Bags

The right gear bag can make all the difference in a race or training session, so find a bag that fits your needs.

Whether you’re an avid biker, triathlete, climber, or just need to haul around your gear for everyday use, it’s essential to have a versatile bag that will help you stay organized and keep your equipment protected from the elements. The best gear bags are designed to offer an ample amount of space for everything you need and also provide easy access to your gear so that you can get it when you need it most.

Travel Packs & Wheeled Backpacks

When traveling by air, it’s important to choose a bag that fits within your airline’s weight restrictions and can easily be packed into the overhead compartment. A travel pack or wheeled backpack is a great option for packing everything you need in one convenient place, and some models are even foldable so that they can be carried as an oversized suitcase.

Durability & Weather Resistant Fabric

Typically, the thicker the fabric, the better it will be for weather resistance and durability. In our rankings, 900D and 1000D materials are sturdy enough for most adventures, but we’ve also seen several durable bags made from lighter, medium-thickness fabrics that perform as well or even better than the thicker versions.

These include the Gregory Alpaca, Mountain Hardwear Expedition, Patagonia Black Hole, Thule Chasm, and Osprey Transporter. These bags all feature robust fabrics with strong reinforced seams, as well as sturdy hardware and ripstop fabrics for additional protection against the elements.

The REI Big Haul, Eagle Creek Migrate, and Mountain Hardwear Camp 4 are the lightest full-size models in our lineup, weighing 3.0 pounds or less for 90 and 95 liter capacities. These are great options for travelers who don’t want to pay extra for heavier, higher-quality gear bags but still need something that will hold up to rough travel.

Small Duffel Bags & Carry-on Sizes

A small duffel bag will hold a weekend’s worth of clothes and will fit inside most carry-on luggage size limits. These lightweight models are ideal for quick trips to the grocery store, beach outings, or picnics that don’t require a lot of gear.

For long-distance travel, a wheeled backpack is an excellent choice as they combine the mobility of a pack with the convenience of a wheeled case, and many models come with an extendable handle that makes them easier to carry when facing heavy foot traffic or a long flight of stairs. They also have an internal divider that helps keep your belongings separated, and some models are also designed with mesh compartments to help your items breathe. These are often the best choices for air travel and are especially popular among adventure travelers.