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Why Is It Called a Duffel Bag?

BY Buffalo Jackson Insight
BY Alex Via

Revised 10/6

Duffel Bag Origins

Duffel bags (also called duffle bags) are named after the town where their thick cloth was originally made. The town of Duffel is in Belgium, near Antwerp, and its production of the bag’s coarse, woolen cloth dates back to the mid-17th century. Historically, the term duffel bag referred to one specific type of bag: large, cylindrical, and closed at the top with a drawstring or zipper. Over time, however, the term duffel (or duffle) bag has grown to include any large “holdall” bag made of thick fabric.

How Duffel Bags Spread in Popularity

The application of the duffel bag itself has its roots in the military, and its first mention was found in letters written in WWI. At that time, the bags were shorter and looked similar to a knapsack. When fully packed, they were difficult to handle, and many soldiers left them in the trenches. WWII brought few changes to the design or usability of the bags, but in the early 1940’s, duffel bags saw great improvements in both sturdiness and function. Longer and wider, with sturdy straps for carrying heavier loads, duffel bags finally resembled the bags we still love today.

The popularity of duffel bags spread widely outside of military applications after WWII, presumably due in part to the aforementioned functional improvements, but also because they could finally be picked up by anyone who wanted one, whether handed down from a soldier or sailor, or found in Army and Navy surplus stores all over Europe and the United States.

Over time, the duffel bag has continued to evolve, becoming ever more stylish and functional, while maintaining its iconic rugged versatility. Learn more about the different types of duffel bags and which one is right for you to invest in.

Waxed Canvas Duffel Bags for Adventures 

Every great adventure begins with a waxed canvas duffle bag. Military-grade and made of top grain leather, these duffel bags are tough and made for the grit and grind of travel. Whether climbing to the top of a mountain or sitting in your weekend cabin, waxed canvas is a versatile material that is right for laid-back travel in the outdoors. With colors like khaki, saddle tan, and navy charcoal, discover the color that will best match your travel gear. And don’t forget to clean your waxed canvas bag after every trip to keep it durable for years to come.

Leather Duffel Bags for Travel

If you’re looking for a duffel bag for those last-minute business trips, our collection of leather duffle bags is up your alley. Offering the storage a duffel bag is known for, our full grain leather provides a clean silhouette and sharp appearance. Don’t be surprised if the guy next to you on the plane asks where you found your leather duffle bag. Between your travels, take the time to properly care for your leather bag by cleaning and conditioning. After all, a leather duffel bag is an investment and you want to use it for many years.

Interested in learning more about the history of other popular materials and bags? Read about waxed canvas, one of the oldest materials in the world or backpacks, and how they began as knapsacks.

   

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