The duffel bag difference

The duffel bag difference

Why I use a duffel bag for travel …….

The story of my duffel bag obsession starts in a very strange way….laying prostrate on the living room floor after a particularly bad back spasm. Whilst the thoughts of how to carry stuff around wasn’t immediately at the forefront of my mind , it was from here it became obvious that I had to do 2 things. Get fitter and get less heavy ( that’s the positive way of saying I was fat!!) Principally these 2 things would help me to get my unstable spine under control and therefore reduce the amount of time I would spend laying on various floors and sofas (in not inconsiderable pain) remembering why it was a terrible idea to bend over and twist at the same time (especially in a dehydrated state after drinking to excess)

There are a number of specific events or learnings that stay with you , and have some positive influence on your life. One of my most important ones was 6 hours spent with Dave Brailsford, the then head of GB Cycling. Dave was incredibly generous to share his thoughts on the aggregation of marginal gain with me , after he had already been so kind as to give up some of his time to consider acting as my mentor. How on earth does this have anything to do with duffel bags ??

The theory of aggregated marginal gain is basically (apologies for the simplicity Dave) adding up lots of small changes to make a significant one ( one factor why GB Cycling and Team Sky have risen to the top of their respective professions) so I looked at every way that I could burn extra calories during my normal working day. ( I will post on weight loss whilst being on the road later ) One of the best ways I have adopted is to ditch that trolley bag, and get something you can carry ( then start to use the stairs !!!). If you do some basic calculations , carrying x kg’s more than usual, over y metres ( horizontally and vertically ) will burn your normal calories +Z% ( this is free exercise and free calorie burning, with no additional effort)

In terms of my initial choice of carrying bag I tried a number of variations.  A messenger bag ( too small for more than 1-2 nights ) a ruck sack ( everything falls to the bottom and you look like a student !!) then I came across the Mandarina Duck Duffel on sale in an airport luggage shop. Suffice to say , I was hooked.

Not only does a duffel carry easily (and hence get the exercise benefits) but here are a number of other duffel benefits.

  1. You can use all of the interior of the bag for storage as there is no frame, no handle and no wheels to carry.
  2. They are usually very light, so either light to carry or carry a lot of things, without the extra weight of the bag itself.
  3. Airlines, almost without exception, DO NOT weigh or measure duffel bags (this includes Ryanair) so you can take way over the cabin bag weight limit without fear of any issues.
  4. When you are tired, simply lay down and put your head on a soft part of your bag…..ideal for a tired traveller (especially one with a bulging disc)
  5. If the overhead locker is full, the duffel slips easily under the airline seat, and is a lovely soft footrest.

So from here, my love of duffel bags was ignited……..

So now the old Delsey roller bag has been resigned to the loft !! ( the loft is the old bag museum where along with the Jerry Maguire style suit carrier , several rucksacks and the only suitcase that is over the weight limit before you put anything in it (yes you Samsonite!!) the rest of the ex bags reside.

There are many different sizes, styles and materials, and I couldn’t possibly advise you, as its such a personal thing, however what I can say is that at the moment I have been drawn to the new style of the skater duffel. The usual duffel benefits are all there, super light ballistic nylon, shoulder and carry handles, end pocket (this one folds all the way down so you can easily access this from the overhead locker on the plane) and ample interior space. What the HUF duffel has is built in (hidden when necessary) shoulder straps to turn this bag into a rucksack……whilst this isn’t a feature I use regularly it does take all the strain out of a long terminal to terminal transfer.

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