We sailors know a thing or two about soft luggage. The best duffel bag though is really a matter of functional practicality fused with personal taste. I've picked out a range of the best duffel bags for sailors from 30L to 130L in this sailing luggage buyers guide.
Packing our bags to go sailing requires a bit of creative space saving and calls into action our best duffel bag for the occasion.
Are we going for a long time offshore or around the cans? Are we carrying a full set of foul weather gear a lifejacket, sailing boots and safety gear? Or are we packing light and carrying some smart clothes for drinks and prize giving at the club after bashing around a regatta course all day? All of these require a different duffel choice.
There’s luggage for every eventuality. Researching it can take hours to trawl through to find the right size and features you want. This buyers guide has a range of duffels starting at 30l and increasing in size to a whopping 130l.
I’ve collated this line-up of top duffels to help you find the best duffel bag for you. Some are classed as waterproof; most are classed as water resistant. There’s always a trade-off. If you want waterproof, it will have fewer pockets and a simpler style to facilitate welded seams. If you go for water resistant, you get plenty more features and facilities because the additional sewn seams allow for more pockets. Most likely a combination of the two will work best.
At a glance:
Our top 4 at a glance:
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|£36||Best small waterproof duffel||5|
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|£73||Best mid-sized waterproof duffel||4.8|
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|£84.99||Best large water-resistant duffel||4.6|
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|£140||Best extra-large versatile duffel||4.8|
Best Duffel bag for sailors – 30L – 40L
Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 30L, Essential Yellow
The Helly Hansen 30L duffel is made from a sturdy plastic canvas. so it is water resistant to a degree. Though the seams aren’t waterproofed, so it isn’t advisable to dunk this bag for any length of time.
The rucksack straps neatly stow away into the zip flap on top, though this makes it a bit stiff to handle, it does get those straps out of the way, especially when you’re onboard and you want them flailing around. Under the top flap there’s a mesh pocket too. I find this useful to stow my sailing gloves, buff and hat.
In the cold the material on this bag can get quite stiff. But, mine has stood the test of time so far, as can be seen in the pics at the top of this buyer’s guide. The purple bag is the earlier model to this one. They’ve improved the bag by adding webbing straps and handles on each end which is handy for strapping it down to stop it flying off a bunk.
Dimensions: L 50 H 27 W 27 cm
Buy Helly Hansen 30l Duffel from Amazon
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Lomo 30L White Holdall Duffel Waterproof Rolltop Dry Bag
This 30L dry bag duffel from Lomo is incredibly good value for money. You get fully welded seams and a roll top closure. This gives all the advantages of the wide mouthed duffel with waterproof submergibility.
I personally love a white bag when I’m heading into dark spaces, such as yacht cabins. It means you can see the contents inside your bag more easily. Whilst this duffel doesn’t have the practical additional pockets of the other non-waterproof duffels, the trade-off is worth it if you are planning on going for a wet ride or need to put your luggage where it will get wet. Those of you sailing smaller J boats, I’m looking at you…
The other trade-off with this type of waterproof bag is that by its very nature, to enable toughness and strong welded seams, the material must be a certain thickness. This can make the bag feel quite stiff. Particularly in colder weather. This duffel doesn’t have rucksack style shoulder straps but does have a removable single shoulder strap and plenty of webbing to cinch it tighter and places you can tether it to your bunk to keep it in place. Some folks have used this as a pillow by trapping air inside.
Dimensions: L 52cm H 28cm W 31cm
Gill 30L Team Bag
This small holdall from Gill is made from PVC with welded seams and roll top to give a waterproof duffel.
It has a removable shoulder strap, but as with the other waterproof bag in this size, it doesn’t have rucksack straps. The roll top keeps a watertight seal and can be used to trap air inside the bag making it buoyant or useful as a pillow.
It features some handy webbing loop handles on each end plus additional webbing loops to attach other bits of kit to. On one side it also had a label window so that you can put your name on it to identify its owner.
The welded PVC is a little stiffer in the cold and can be tougher to handle, but when warm it’s handles very nicely.
Dimensions H 31cm W 52cm D 27cm
Buy Gill 30l race holdall from Amazon
Victorinox Touring 2.0 Travel 2in1 Duffel
Victorinox don’t shout very loudly about their luggage. Indeed, if you go to their website, they don’t smother you with sales guff. They let their products talk for themselves.
This premium priced duffel from this Swiss knife maker is every bit as innovative and full of hidden handy bits. You can read what I think about their Skippers knife here
There’s a shoe pocket, lots of organised side pockets, pull out hidden rucksack straps, or a detachable shoulder strap. There’s a waterproof internal document pocket. And, if you’re into personalisation, there’s a little plastic thingyme-jig that can be customised with your own name or message on it that is attached to the bag.
Dimensions H 28 cm L 32 cm W 57 cm
Buy Victorinox 38l Duffel from Victorinox
Overboard 100% Waterproof Classic Duffel Bag
A 100% waterproof welded seam duffel bag with roll top closure. Overboard have this rated to IP66 so you can be confident that if you’re luggage is sitting a pool of water in the wet locker of a boat, your kit will still be dry inside. Equally if it gets repeatedly dripped on by a leaking hatch, as long as the top is rolled over correctly and fastened, then your kit will remain dry.
It’s been designed for a bit of rough handling and should stand up well to the rigours of frequent use in wet conditions. Ideal for carrying wet gear back with you too, so if you go open water swimming, surfing, or kayaking and find yourself needing to pack a wetsuit and wet gear, then shove them in this for the journey home and your car will remain dry.
The attachment points on this bag also enable you to strap it down, so it either won’t fly out of a bunk or it will remain strapped to your touring kayak or paddleboard.
Dimensions L 52.07cm H 32cm W 23.11cm
Buy Overboard 40l drybag duffel from Amazon
Best Duffel Bag for Sailors 40L – 65L
Helly Hansen Offshore Waterproof Duffel bag, 50L
Helly Hansen do a fair range of waterproof kit bags. This middle of the size range duffel is a waterproof version with welded seams and a roll top.
It can sit in pools of water all day and your kit will stay dry.
They suggest it can be strapped to a car top and it remain waterproof too, though I haven’t tried this so can’t verify whether kit will stray dry with rain pelting it at 70mph on a motorway.
As per other welded waterproof bags, this one isn’t designed to be fully submersible but it is as waterproof as you can get without full dunking.
It has end handles which are useful for strapping the bag down, but very few other bells or whistles.
There’s no rucksack straps with this, but there is a removable shoulder strap.
Buy 50l Helly Hansen offshore Duffel from Helly Hansen
Red WATERPROOF KIT BAG 60L
If you watch the Red marketing hype you’d think this bag will make you a paddleboard, camping and hiking expert and all round wilderness guru.
In this bag we are given a waterproof zip closure rather than the roll top of other 100% waterproof bags. It has welded seams as the others do, but it is made from a slightly lighter weight material.
It has a waterproof padded mat inside it which can be removed and used as a changing mat to stand on.
The Red Equipment bag has a range of strap options, including rucksack straps and shoulder strap.
There’s some mild eco credentials on this as it is made from recycled TPU. Though I guess those credentials need thoroughly scrutinising as who knows where this bag was made and how many air miles it took to get to you.
The bag does pack some seriously good organisation and innovation though, with high quality components used and sturdy long lasting fasteners.
Dimensions L76.5cm W33cm H29.5cm.
Buy Red Equipment waterproof bag from Red Original
Typhoon Osea 60L Dry Duffel Bag – Graphite Black – Waterproof Sprayproof
The Typhoon Osea Dry Duffel is made from 500D tarp which is 100% waterproof.
This roll top bag is 100% waterproof and comes with removable rucksack straps as well as waist straps, which is very handy in any rucksack with a larger capacity.
This duffel also comes with an unusual buckle attached to a chest strap that has a built-in whistle. This is a nod towards Typhoons origins as a commercial safety gear manufacturer.
A feature I really like on this duffel is a compression valve, which means you can sit on this bag and squash the air out of it, close off the valve and you’ve saved a ton of space in the cabin.
I like the understated functionality of this bag and whilst it doesn’t shout style appeal, it really is a great duffel for keeping your kit dry, or for keeping your wet kit from leaking all over the place.
Capacity 40L or 60L
Buy Typhoon Osea 60l duffel from Amazon
Lomo Blaze 60L Expedition Holdall Duffel Rucksack Bag with Zip Orange
This Lomo orange duffel is made from waterproof material with welded seams on the sides. This means the bag can sit in a pool of water without letting any in.
It isn’t submersible though as this has a zipped closure on a large top flap. There’s a mesh pocket inside and some useful webbing loops externally mounted for clipping on gear.
The duffel is fitted with a strong D shaped dual zip closure and bungee loops for strapping the bag down.
Excellent value for money this bag has decent capacity and there’s a huge range of complimentary other dry bags and pouches available from this Scottish based manufacturer.
They keep their prices lower by cutting out the middle-seller and they sell direct to customer using popular platforms such as Amazon and Ebay and their own website.
Dimensions L 64 x H 34 x W 34 cm;
Buy Lomo 60l duffel from Amazon
Lomo Dry Bag Roll Top Holdall 60L – Yellow
This 60L dry bag duffel from Lomo is incredibly good value for money. You get fully welded seams and a roll top closure. This gives all the advantages of the wide mouthed duffel with waterproof submergibility. It’s the larger version of the one I featured at the top of this buyer’s guide.
I love a brightly coloured bag, as they cheer up dark spaces, such as windless yacht cabins. they also allow you to see the contents within your bag more easily.
Whilst this duffel doesn’t have the practical additional pockets of the other non-waterproof duffels, the trade-off is worth it if you are planning on going for a wet ride or need to put your luggage where it will get wet.
The other trade-off with this type of waterproof bag is that by its very nature, to enable toughness and strong welded seams, the material must be a certain thickness. his can make the bag feel quite stiff. Particularly in colder weather. This duffel doesn’t have rucksack style shoulder straps but does have a removable single shoulder strap and plenty of webbing to cinch it tighter and places you can tether it to your bunk to keep it in place.
Dimensions L 78cm H 37cm W 30xm
Buy Lomo 60l drybag duffel from Amazon
Zhik 65L Holdall Carry on Bag or Luggage – Grey – Waterproof Sprayproof
You can trust Zhik to make something that looks sporty even when it’s designed to hold your sweaty salt encrusted clothes.
Made from 600 denier fabric, this bag has a softer handle or feel than the PVC welded waterproof bags I’ve featured elsewhere in this buyer’s guide.
If ever I have the choice, if I am sailing on a less sporty, less dunking wet boat, I will always choose the softer feeling bag as it’s nicer to deal with in my cabin.
This duffel from Zhik has those stowable rucksack straps as many others have in this best duffel bag buyers guide making it easy to schlepp your gear from shore to ship and back again.
Due to its construction this bag can be described as water resistant but not waterproof. It can deal with a bit of spray and a bit of errant water, but you won’t want to leave it in a pool of water festering away.
The base has anti slip, which is great if you have this resting on a bunk or other dry surface and want it to stay put.
There’s also organisational pockets and zipped areas to help keep smaller things where you can find them easily.
Dimensions L 59cm H 31cm W 31cm
Buy Zhik holdall 65l from Amazon
Best Duffel Bag for sailors 90L -130L
HH Duffel Bag 2, 90L
This Helly Hansen 90 Litre duffel offers versatility and conversion between bag and backpack as per the smaller model I introduced at the top of this buyer’s guide,
The material is hardwearing and waterproof, though as per the others in this range, it isn’t 100% waterproof as the seams aren’t welded.
This allows for an internal and external pocket and this model also comes with a pack away bag that can be used for other things when the bag is out.
I use this bag for flying with a lot of kit, as seen in the image at the top, in the white version. I’m not sure if they sell white ones anymore. I’ve manged to get most of my foul weather gear plus a very neatly folded asymmetrical spinnaker for a 36 foot yacht in this bag.
My back did not approve of the weight though. Beware of overloading large bags and doing your back in.
Buy 90l Helly Hansen duffel from Helly Hansen
Gill Rolling Cargo Bag 90L
I had to include on wheeled duffel in this buyer’s guide, but I have to confess to you, that if someone turns up to my boat with a duffel on wheels, I will make them sleep with it in their bunk. I have a personal apoplexy every time I head wheeled bags being pulled along a pontoon and the noise they make is particularly unsociable when flying in or out during the small hours.
Having got that off my chest, I will contradict myself entirely by saying this is an excellent bag!
It has a padded shoulder strap, some sturdy handles and a huge zip opening to access kit through. There are webbing loops on the sides and all manner of organisational pockets internally and at one end externally.
Whilst the material is waterproof, the construction is not, so it will withstand a bit of rain and spray, but it shouldn’t be left sitting in pools of water.
It has good handles on each end too, so passing this bag up and over a rail to a fellow crew mate or skipper is easy.
Buy Gill rolling 90l cargo from Amazon
Musto ESSENTIAL 90L DUFFEL BAG
Made from water resistant and durable nylon diamond ripstop shell with 600D TPU base, this extra-large bag will fit a fair amount of bulky kit and still squash down quite small when it’s empty.
It has stowable backpack straps to help you haul this beast around too.
The end pocket is a zipped section where you can shove some wet shoes or kit.
There’s an additional zipped exterior pocket to the side.
The structured ends help the bag to maintain its shape as with some of the larger bags they can go wildly misshapen when half filled, making them hard to zip and unzip.
Buy Musto 90l holdall from Musto
Crewsaver Crew Holdall
The Crewsaver holdall or duffel is made from an abrasion resistant nylon type of material. Unlike so many of the others in this best duffel bag buyers guide, this one doesn’t have the cold plastic outer feel.
It isn’t 100% waterproof but it is water resistant so you can get rained on or place it on a wet deck while you transfer it from shore to ship or ship to shore.
This holdall is a simple but functional design that packs down very small when empty.
The end pocket is semi translucent so you can see the outline of stuff in there. It comes a range of sizes too.
Capacity and dimensions
55 Ltr L61 H30 W30cm
75 Ltr L61.5 H35 W35cm
100 Ltr L62 H40 W40cm
Price £42.99 – 53.99
Buy Crewsaver 55L holdall from Amazon
Buy Crewsaver 75L Holdall from Pacer Marine
Buy Crewsaver 100l holdall from Pacer Marina
Thule Chasm Sport Duffel Bag
Seriously huge, they named this bag Chasm. I can’t help but snigger at that name, but I’m a puerile eejit. So, Thule, they do luggage for the top of cars and roof racks right? Yes, and they do some great duffels too.
The top flap on this is huge. It not only opens the top, but down the side too. This makes fitting and finding bulky sailing gear a doddle.
As with most of the duffels I’ve chosen to show you, this one also converts to a rucksack. Though given the size of it, if you really do stuff this thing full to capacity, your spine might need a bit of a decompression after hauling this load around.
Internally it has mesh pockets to help with organisation and externally it has compression straps to help keep the bag snuggly fastened and not flopping around if it is only half filled.
The bag has a carry case pouch which it folds down to fit into for storage, but the pouch can be used too, such as for your dirty undies or other kit.
The bottom of the bag is padded and there’s a lockable zip which means this bag is a good candidate for flying with your gear and will withstand being handled and thrown into and out of plane holds.
The mag isn’t 100% waterproof, but it is made from waterproof material. You might not want to go laying this around in pools of water all day long, but it will slide into a bunk space easily and compress down once you’ve removed all of your bulky sailing gear to hang up.
Dimensions L 86cm W47cm