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The GO Outdoors Guide To Travel Bags and Bumbags

Travel bags need to be functional and durable to cope with being taken on long adventures.  A cross between a backpack and a suitcase, travel bags should be capable of storing all your gear safely, and being easy to carry for long periods. Sizes and styles of travel bags vary, dependent on where you are travelling to. Cargo bags are typically held via side handles, whereas travel rucksacks fit on the back and are secured to fit. 

At the other end of the scale are very slim bumbags, which are secure on the hips and are able to carry the bare essentials. 

For many trips, it is wise to take a variety of bags so you can be prepared for any eventuality. 



Best for day trips and excursions or use during activities


Cargo Bags/Duffle Bags

Ideal for medium to heavy amounts of luggage and general trips such as weekend travel, Cargo bags can be carried by hand, making them ideal for long periods of travel over rocky terrain. 


Rucksacks/Backpacking Bags

Ideal for frequent travel, for example use in hostels, these hold large amounts of weight and vary in litre sizes, from 35 to 70 plus!

Wheeled luggage/Trolley bags

These are ideal for short periods of travel when you need plenty of storage. These are fore mostly designed to be pulled along, so require flat surfaces and don't work well, or can be damaged on rough terrain. 

Trolley Bags/Wheeled Luggage

Trolley bags have the highest capacity from weight from all the travel bags. Designed to hold 100 litres or more comfortably, the wheeled case if protected with a ripstop fabric, or a thick outer layer that prevents abrasion.

 The inner liner of a trolley bag is typically lined with padded foam that protects your valuables, whilst wheels combine with both a grab handle and a telescopic (retractable) handle that allows you to steer with ease. 

 Typically trolley bags are designed with one major compartment, as well as additional zip pockets for essentials such as documents. Trolley bags are able to hold more weight, but in turn, are more cumbersome. 

Suitable for luxury travel as opposed to budget travel, trolley bags are ideal for periods of short use, when you don't need constant access to your belongings.


Travel Cargo Bags/Travel Duffle Bags

Usually made from a very lightweight ripstop fabric, duffle bags are designed to be carried via two straps, in hand, or using one main shoulder strap. 

Duffle bags can vary in litre sizes, usually up to 70 litres, but should not be overpacked as they can become to heavy to carry. 

 Duffle bags are designed to spend a lot of time on the floor, as well as in hand, so a design with a reinforced base is key. 

Duffle bags usually incorporate a shoulder strap, but if your bag is very heavilt weighted, this can cause joint strain, so a rucksack is advised. Many duffle bags pack down into and included pouch for easy packing and combine one, large main (usually zipped) compartment with additional side zipped pockets for easy access to your travel gear. 

Cargo bags are ideal for travel use due to their large capacity. Created to be hardwearing and durable, cargo bags use grab handles for carrying, usually situated either side of the bag. Usually cargo bags come with an inbuilt harness system that can be zipped away for airport use. Carrying via hand is particularly useful in busy environments such as airports and market places. 

However, cargo bags do not carry as well as a conventional rucksack so will be less comfortable if worn for prolonged periods. To counteract this, some cargo bags can also be carried on the back like a rucksack, with inbuilt straps. 

The overall benefit of cargo bags are their huge capacity and easy accessibility. Usually designed with one main storage compartment, cargo bags are easy to access on the move, as well as being easily secured with a lock.


Travel Bumbags / Fanny Packs

Bumbags, or ‘fanny packs’ as they are termed in America are small pouches that go round the waist, usually secured at the back and worn on the hips at the front of your body. I

Bumbags can be worn by travellers for safe carrying of valuables, documents etc. As well as being ideal for travel are also useful for runners wanting to carry the bare essentials.

Ideal for keeping valuables close by, bumbags are suitable for travelling with, and are ideal for small amounts of gear. 

 Usually made from a tough ripstop fabric with double stitched seams to ensure durability, bumbags are created with one main (usually zipped) compartment and on ocassion, multiple hidden pockets. 

A bum bag is ideal for travelling and short excursions when you don't need your daypack or anything bigger. 

 Bumbags come in sizes between 2 and 10 litres. Bumbags are designed to be light and easy to use and usually have a range of pockets and key rings for organisation. Bumbags are useful for people travelling light, wanting valuables close by. 

Travel Rucksacks/Backpacking Bags

Travel Rucksacks designed specifically for backpacking are covered in more depth in our Guide To Backpacking.

Rucksacks for travel are bags designed to be worn on the shoulders for long periods of time. Typically, rucksacks also include grab handles and abrasion resistant bases so they can be rested safely when not in use. 

Adjustability is the key feature of travel rucksacks, and because you are reliant on your h Hip belts and waist belts are usually inbuilt into travel rucksacks to offer the maximum comfort and support. 

 Many packs come with an additional daysack usually zipped to the front of the rucksack, or with a zip that allows your rucksack to turn into a holdall. If you do have an additional daypack, a 'clamshell' pouch is usually included. This allows you to attach it to the main body of the rucksack for extra space. 

 For durability, a travel rucksack has protective features such as webbing free areas that wont snag, as well as protective buckles to ensure the safety of your gear. Travel rucksacks are designed to take abuse whilst travelling, and are typically designed with tough, abrasion resistant fabrics such as nylon in a thick denier, or hardwearing polyester. 

 Safety and security is incredibly important for a travel bag. Rucksacks designed for travel typically include locks attached to zipped areas, and the main body of the bag. Side compartments are also usually secured, or offer areas to attach your own lock systems.


Fitting Your Travel Rucksack/Backpacking Bag

  • The main thing to look for in your travel rucksack is comfort and support so you can comfortably carry it for long periods. 
  • Straps should include padding so they sit on your shoulders without digging in. 
  • Waist straps make sure the bag sits centrally on your back. 
  • Adjustable straps help you to move the bag to achieve an ergonomic, personal fit. 
  •  The closer the bag fits to you and the more centrally aligned it is, the better the weight distribution and overall balance.
  •  Ensure that your day pack is not overloaded and can zip shut with ease. You should place heavier items at the bottom of the pack. 
  • Chest straps should fit below the breast bone, resting in alignment with the arm pits.  You should be carrying your weight via your legs and thighs, rather than taking the strain on your upper back.

See an instore GO Outdoors expert if you need more advice before you GO on how to fit your rucksack.