The Duffle Bag

Words by: Andrew Hodges

A number of stylish examples of male clothing and accessories can trace their humble origins to the military. One such item is the useful and ubiquitous duffle bag.

The first recorded use of the term “duffle bag” is credited to the poet E. E. Cummings who used it in a letter he wrote in 1917 while working in France as an ambulance driver during WWI. The bags take their name from Duffel, a town in the Belgian province of Antwerp, where the thick cloth used to make the bags originated.

Many designers have produced their own interpretation of the basic military carryall. Below I will examine a variety of versions, from rugged to lavish, that would be useful for most weekend excursions.


Filson, first opened in 1897 as C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, produces great outdoor clothes and accessories. Their small duffle bag ($225.00) is made of heavy water-repellant cloth available in brown, otter green and tan. The bag sports leather trimming and a brass zipper.


Temple Bags offers the Re-Purposed Canvas Weekend Duffle Bag ($349.00) made from recycled WWII military laundry bags. Temple Bags adds saddle leather handles, a removable strap and khaki twill lining.


The Saddleback Leather Co. duffle bag ($537.00) is offered in four colors of waterproof full grain boot leather: carbon black, chestnut, dark coffee brown and tobacco brown. The bags feature industrial marine-grade thread and hidden nylon reinforcing straps. Saddleback Leather offers a 100 year warranty.


Brooks England offers high quality leather bicycle saddles and bags including the Hampstead Holdall (€320.00) made of water-resistant cotton fabric and vegetable tanned leather. It is designed to be worn over the shoulder or attached to the rear rack of a bicycle.


Ettinger has designed and crafted luxury leather goods since 1934. Their Cotswold Weekend Bag (₤468.00) is made of cotton drill and trimmed in waxy leather. It is available is five color combinations including olive/Havana, sand/Havana, ivory/Havana, navy/black, and black/black.


Glaser Designs sells leather goods directly from their San Francisco, CA, studio. Their week-end size leather duffel ($715.00) is available with many custom options.


The ultimate over-priced duffle bag is the Louis Vuitton Waterproof Keepall 55 ($2,450.00) made of monogrammed waterproof canvas.