Packing for an overnight or short trip needn’t be stressful with our pick of the best weekend bags for style, durability and portability
You might not regard a weekend bag as an essential piece of kit, until you discover a brilliant one that makes packing a cinch and travelling a breeze. The reality is that on too many of our short adventures we end up journeying with bulging “bags for life”, too-small rucksacks or too-big suitcases, when we could invest in a dedicated weekend bag that could elevate the entire experience by leaving us stress-free.
The good news is that there are plenty of styles available, from sleek leather holdalls to retro duffles, with options available at various price points too. So, whether you’re looking for a bag with a simple, minimalist design into which you can sling the bits you need, or one with various compartments and pockets for more organised packing, below you’ll find our selection of the best weekend bags currently available, plus we offer guidance on how you can pick the best option for your needs.
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How to choose the best weekend bag for you
What size of bag do I need?
Of course, this will depend on how you’re travelling. But in essence, your bag should be no bigger than you’d be allowed for a flight carry-on. You want to be able to lift and carry it easily when full.
What features make for a great weekend bag?
Aside from being the right size for your needs, a good weekend bag will be one that closes properly and securely; so you can dismiss an open tote, for example. In addition, any zips should be sturdy and strong, because a busted zip will not make for a carefree weekend away.
A variety of compartments is always super handy, too, ensuring items can be packed and located easily. Lastly, a variety of handles and straps is always a bonus: the ability to alternate between carrying a bag on your back, over your shoulder or in one hand is an underrated benefit of a weekend bag, allowing you flexibility.
What material would be best?
Of course, this is a personal choice, but leather looks luxurious and is long lasting. Waterproofing might not be necessary; however, it will be a bonus if you find yourself waiting for buses or taxis in the pouring rain.
How we test weekend bags
At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we personally test every bag we review. When it comes to weekend bags, we start by looking closely at the quality of the material and a bag’s general construction. We examine seams, zips, buckles, straps for any signs of fault or weakness, and we note those models that are particularly well made, sturdy or innovative.
Next, we evaluate how much we can pack into a bag, plus the internal compartment and pocket options available in order to keep your clothes neat and tidy. Our standard set of contents, which we consider a reasonable selection for a weekend away, include a pair of jeans, toiletries bag, a chunky jumper, some underwear, a pair of PJs and a couple of t-shirts, plus a pair of shoes.
We note the weight of the bag when at capacity and whether it comes with an option to increase space, if need be, plus factors such as whether it’s waterproof or if there are multiple ways to carry it. Finally, we take the bag away for the weekend and report on our experience.
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The best weekend bags you can buy in 2023
1. Antler Chelsea Weekender: Best weekend bag for organisation
Price when reviewed: £160 | Check price at Antler
What a little beauty this is! As sleek as silk and yet nice and sturdy and featuring a wealth of practical compartments – this could very well be the perfect weekend bag. Although fundamentally soft and malleable, there is a distinct structure: it stands up even when empty. The navy blue is perhaps the chicest choice, but other colours are available.
This bag holds plenty: we got in two pairs of jeans, a sizable cosmetics bag, a jumper, a handful of underwear, a pair of PJs and three t-shirts, as well as a pair of trainers and a paperback with room to spare. And, at the risk of sounding like we don’t get out much, one of the best features of this bag was its special shoe pocket. No more having to wrap shoes in carrier bags, this roomy hidden compartment is integral to the design but keeps shoes completely separate from your clean clothes.
There’s a slot for a laptop, too, which is spacious, padded and easy to access – perfect, if you’ll be using the bag as carry-on luggage, as you won’t need to wade through clothes to access your machine.
Key specs – Dimensions: 53 x 32 x 23cm; Capacity: 37l; Wheels: No; Colourways: 2
2. Hoggs of Fife Carryon holdall: Best leather weekend bag
Price when reviewed: £129 | Check price at Hollands Country Clothing
The first thing you’ll notice about this bag is the lush smell of new leather – it’s a heady, grown-up fragrance that speaks to luxury. Plus, the more you use it, the softer it will get.
The bag itself is the smallest in the roundup, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it will stop the urge to over pack and makes it a doddle to carry. We love the tartan interior, too; it’s classic and smart.
You can expect plenty of compliments carrying this bag – and, for less than £130, it’s an absolute steal, because it looks like it’s worth four times this much.
Key specs – Dimensions: 25 x 24 x 47cm; Wheels: No; Colourways: 2
3. Next Waxed Holdall: Best budget weekend bag
Price when reviewed: £65 | Check price at Next
This holdall comes sporting a very “weekend in the countryside” aesthetic, with its waxed cotton exterior and brass detailing. It has a removable strap as well as handles, plus a generous interior and outer pockets, too. It isn’t at all heavy when empty, and it’s on the smaller side in this company – which is perfect if you like to “travel light”. When empty, it flattens down neatly, making it easy to store under beds or in other small narrow spaces, for example. In fact, this proved a huge benefit in a small hotel room.
Key specs – Dimensions: 59 x 40 x 7cm; Wheels: 0; Colourways: 1
4. Fjallraven Vardag Duffel: Best weekend bag for retro styling
Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at Fjallraven
The Vardag duffel bag by Fjallraven is a classic cylindrical duffle made from a mix of heavy-duty polyester and cotton.
Featuring a big main compartment, it has a discreet inner pocket made from mesh plus a small outer pocket that’s perfect for tickets, chewing gum, sunglasses or any other items you might want quick and easy access to on your travels. Meanwhile, the base is padded for extra protection from any rough surfaces it might encounter when in transit.
In our experience, the Vardag is best for an overnight stay; its comparative lack of structure means it isn’t the best choice for keeping smart clothes crease-free. Nevertheless, for a relaxed short stay, this a cool, laidback option.
Key specs – Dimensions: 50 x 24 x 26cm; Weight: 0.4kg; Capacity: 30l; Wheels: 0; Colourways: 5
5. Antler Stamford: Best weekend bag with wheels
Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at AntlerPrepare for plenty of compliments when you wheel this little beauty about. It’s small enough to be considered a weekend bag, and the ideal carry-on for a few days abroad.
It has a hard polycarbonate shell casing in a matte finish (available in Khaki, Putty and Black), plus four 360-degree Hinomoto spinner wheels for super-quiet gliding across floors. Inside, you’ll find numerous compartments, straps to keep clothes in place, and even a removable packing divider. It’s a proper suitcase, but weekend-sized.
Whether you’re travelling through stations or airports – why carry when you could lighten the load and wheel instead?
Key specs – Dimensions: 54 x 40 x 20cm; Weight: 2.7kg; Capacity: 37l; Wheels: 4; Colourways: 3