– Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer
It’s travel season. And there’s something extremely satisfying about having the ability to pack up and go on a moment’s notice. Weekender bags help facilitate that. But what makes for a good weekender? A couple of things. It should have ample space (2000 cubic inches is a bare minimum), look good when new (travel & vacations should feel like a luxury, not a chore), and yet should look better after getting dinged up. They’ve got to be easy enough to carry. Bonus points if they sneak perfectly into the trunk of a fast car or in the overhead bin of regional jet, since these things were made for the glory that is the 3 or 4 day weekend. Here’s a few that fit that bill… for not so many bills. Travel safe.
A dead simple, stonemason-bag-style, made from canvas w/ leather accents and a metal framed top. While that metal frame adds a bit of stability, it does make it a little less maneuverable than a completely soft sided bag. Just a hair over 2000 cubic inches, so not the biggest thing. This is the 2nd generation of these bags, and you can see a full review of the first over here. Bonus points if you go through the mess of waxing it. Does tend to come and go in terms of availability.
The risk here is gonna be the zipper. Haven’t caught this thing in store yet, but H&M’s quality can get sideways in a hurry. And while the handles look to be well anchored with rivets, and the shoulder strap attaches to more faux-leather that’s been riveted to the canvas… it’s the zipper that you gotta worry about on a sixty dollar H&M bag. Jamming up might be a possibility. BUT… it’s not small at 3633 cubic inches of space, and has classic good looks.
Sold via Nordstrom Rack, which can be a great place to find decent luggage at big discounts. A bit more style forward with that flap-over + d-ring and clip closure. 16 x 24 x 9 = 3,456 cubic inches, so most will be good with that amount of space for a weekend away. The description claims the accents are leather, but don’t be shocked if it’s polyurethane.
A terrific deal at this price. Made in Oregon and stunningly inexpensive. Not a lot of frills, but still a handsome bag. Made in four different colors. Leather reinforcements at stress points. Know that if you want the shoulder strap, you need to shell out an extra $12. It’s not quite the same exact bag, but Primer has a great in-person with their “Possibilities” bag.
If memory serves, one of the first products the uber-transparent brand Everlane came out with was their weekender collection. Years later, and they’re still going strong. The newest incarnation is dipped (or, screen-printed 11 times) for extra durability as well as adding a jolt of color. Leather straps. Reverse denim (look inside your jeans… that’s what they mean) twill exterior. Now, there’s no shoulder strap with these, but the straps are long enough to sling it over your shoulder. As long as you’re secure enough to not be afraid of any… European Carry-All jokes.
They might call it a “small” pack, but it’s nearing 3,000 cubic inches of space. So it’s not dinky. Part rucksack, part top loading barrel-duffel. Tear resistant nylon with a re-inforced, water-resistant, rugged twill base. Closes at the top by way of a cinch cord. Made in the USA. Even comes with a removable wool pouch that snaps to the interior of the bag. Looks like the “rusted red” option is temporarily sold out.
J. Crew Abingdon Waxed Canvas Duffel – $148.50 w/ SUMMER ($198)
Not small. 4,208 cubic inches of space means it should do the trick for even heavy packers (depending on the length of trip, of course). Waxed canvas too, and currently 25% off with the SUMMER code which runs through 5/20. A lot of bag for less than $150.
Been on lists like these for years, and for really good reason. Made in the USA from incredibly durable feeling waxed canvas and super-soft leather. The “carry on” size is getting close to three thousand cubic inches (2800″ to be exact) and has plenty of room inside. Full review over here.
This is about the price point you start getting into all-leather bags that won’t be too sketchy in terms of quality. And while Cole Haan isn’t known for dynamite leather goods, they do make some decent stuff, and you can find em’ on sale more often than not. This one is sourced from Nordstrom Rack, and the 11.5″ H x 23″ W x 10.5″ D dimensions get you almost 2800 cubic inches of space. And if you’re desperate for a leather bag? It won’t kill your 401k. Are there cheaper “leather” bags out there? Of course. Just be warned that you go cheap, you might have to air it out due to a chemical smell (that might linger, and linger…) and/or the build quality overall might end up disappointing.
Not cheap, but a real looker. That, and it’s guaranteed for life. Made in the USA, a boatload of different color options to choose from, and has a classic design that’s been used for a century if not more. Full review here.
“Might as well have the best” is Filson’s slogan, but if you can wait, you might as well (get it?) hang out for a sale at Brooks Brothers. BB doesn’t always exclude their 3rd party stuff, so their sales are a good time to land a piece from Filson. If memory serves, a few of these were available during the F&F 25% off sale from not that far back. Pretty good deal if you can get it on this Made in the USA duffel. Sizeable at over 4500 cubic inches.
Almost half a grand, but it’s something. Made in the USA. As supple as leather gets, and it still has a nice, subtle pebble to it. Solid brass hardware. Not the biggest thing, just around 2,000 cubic inches… but it feels bigger? The leather is so flexible and soft that in conforms to whatever you put inside. So the bag works with you, not against your gear.
Great. Zeus. Gustin’s latest drool-worthy project. Made in Horween’s Chromexcel color #8 dark burgundy no less. When they teased this project, I honestly thought it was going to cost more. Still, if it’s too spendy for your wallet? (I’m with you.) They’re currently running a campaign for their very well respected waxed canvas duffel, in olive, for $135.
What might be most impressive about this thing is that there’s nothing buried in there to add structure. No wood or plastic to give it shape. Just super-thick, but still soft leather.
The Reminder: Go check your local Army/Navy surplus store
Lots of good stuff there… for real cheap. Bags are almost certainly one of those items.