A new class of outdoor luggage has emerged.
A new class of outdoor luggage has emerged. (Photo: Emily Reed)

The Rise of Hybrid Adventure Travel Luggage

They’re the best of all worlds, with the straps of a backpack, the capacity of a duffel, and the features of a suitcase

A new class of outdoor luggage has emerged.

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In the past, adventure travelers have had three luggage families to choose from: duffels, backpacks, or suitcases. Each of these options comes with trade-offs. Classic duffels swallow lots of gear, but they’re awkward to carry; overnight backpacks are great for hauling heavy loads but aren’t great for internal organization; traditional suitcases offer structure for keeping valuables and nice clothes neat, but they are cumbersome and not practical for traveling off pavement.

Recently, however, a new class of outdoor luggage has emerged, with several brands launching hybrids that offer the best of all three worlds. Each combines the suspension of a backpack with the go-anywhere durability and large capacity of a duffel and the organization of a traditional suitcase. Even more of these new bags are on the way in 2019. Here are four we’re excited about.

Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 ($220)

(Courtesy Osprey)

Two packs in one, the Duplex combines a 38-liter duffel with a 22-liter daypack. The former clips to the outside of the latter, so you can wear them as a single unit while dashing through the airport to catch your connecting flight. The pack’s contents are still accessible with the duffel attached, through a back-panel opening. The duffel also has a see-through ID-tag slot, should you decide to check it, but it also meets carry-on size restrictions (only when detached from the pack portion). Internal straps cinch down over your clothes to keep them in place. Meanwhile the backpack is great for long hikes, but the hefty, padded straps and long, wide profile can be overkill for casual commuter use or walks through town.

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Gregory Proxy 45 ($150)

(Courtesy Gregory)

Gregory’s newest adventure duffel has an interior waterproof “active shield” compartment that quarantines dirty clothes and wet bathing suits. The main compartment opens clamshell-style, with small organizational pockets on the lid. A sizable front compartment has sleeves for a laptop, books, notepads, and pens, and a top outside pocket fits a passport or wallet. Hefty grab handles on the top, front, and sides make for easy hauling, while the padded backpack straps tuck into the back panel, streamlining the Proxy for checking at airports. The 65-liter version adds a bottom shoe compartment.

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Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 43L ($185)

(Courtesy Mystery Ranch)

The Mission Rover is the sleekest piece of luggage here. This bag unzips longways around the middle, splaying out into two halves. Internal zippered mesh flaps keep the contents of each half in place, while a smaller, zippered compartment on each side is ideal for socks, belts, or toiletries. A laptop sleeve and small sundries pocket on the front and a shoe compartment make this a great option for short trips when you don’t want to pack a separate work bag.

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Thule Landmark 60L ($200)

(Courtesy Thule)

Of all the models here, Thule’s new Landmark 60 (also available in 40 and 70 liters, all launching February 2019) is the most like a traditional duffel, with a smaller opening flap on top instead of a clamshell entry. Useful features—like buckles to strap in clothes, a hidden passport sleeve, and a hard-sided top pocket for keeping breakables safe—elevate it beyond the basic gear hauler. The 60- and 70-liter versions each have a clip-on daypack, which is smaller than the Osprey’s and clips to the outside of the duffel (rather than having the duffel clip onto the daypack). The removable pack is sleek and compact enough for work or town but plenty large for moderate full-day hikes.

Launching February 2019

Lead Photo: Emily Reed

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