The following L.L.Bean rolling duffle review has been submitted by Leah Buckman.
Hi, I’m Leah. At the tender age of 13 the travel bug bit me and I haven’t ever recovered. I’ve traveled to destinations on five continents and am itching to put my feet on the last two (South America and Antarctica). I currently live on the island of Oahu in tropical Hawaii, where I work in the hospitality industry. Since I most often travel with nonprofit organizations and am usually interacting with children or needing to keep within a dress code, I don’t pack like a tourist. (On my own time, I pack a lot lighter and usually in a backpack.) As a volunteer, I tend to bring those “just in case” kind of items, as well as supplies necessary to the trip.
For these trips, I’ve found the perfect bag: the L.L.Bean Quickload Upright Rolling Duffle ($179 US).
>> Check it out on the L.L.Bean website.
I have a lot of experience with L.L.Bean products, and my favorite thing about the company is their lifetime guarantee. When choosing luggage, I went with this company because of that guarantee, knowing that if I took the bag on a trip (or ten) and didn’t like the way it performed, I could return it, no questions asked. I also knew if the bag didn’t hold up in any way (unlikely, given the rigorous testing of all L.L.Bean bags) I could have it repaired or return it without any hassle.
Why a Rolling Duffle?
Having traveled with every bag style from military duffle to hiking backpack to traditional, old-fashioned suitcase, I picked this hybrid style, hoping it would be the best of all worlds. It hasn’t disappointed! The wheels are great, as is the wide opening and soft construction. It weighs just under 8 lbs (3.5kg) which is really light for its size. I initially bought the bag to take to Kenya for a two-year term in the Peace Corps, so I purchased two of the extra large size. (There’s also a medium size option, which would be a shorter trip or a more minimalist packer.) The bag comes in a variety of colors, and while it may not be the most polished look, it definitely stands out on a luggage carousel!
The bag has been perfect for my move to Hawaii and most recently for a five week stay in Thailand. It’s been durable and easy to maneuver through airports, city streets, and African soil. As a bonus, it does double duty once at my destination. With the packing cubes, it’s easy to stay organized throughout my trip and keep all my belongings in the same place. The U-shaped opening makes it easy to see everything in the bag and get to the item I want without digging around for it. I’ve found myself using the bag during my trip like a drawer or chest, in lieu of an actual dresser. It’s a great size for storing under a bed and rolling out as needed.
My favorite thing about this bag is that, it’s almost impossible to pack it overweight. It provides the perfect quantity to weight ratio. Most airlines limit each bag to 50lbs (23kgs), so filling the bag to capacity, I’ve gotten to that limit, but never over. The bag is very easy to pull, even fully stuffed. (It also has a handle at the top and two straps that Velcro together across the body to assist with lifting/carrying.)
My least favorite thing about this bag is its tendency to tip over when standing upright. I’ve never had anything damaged because of it tipping, but it’s a little bit of a nuisance to have to find a place to prop it up or deal with picking it back up every time it tips. (Ideally I would prefer it to have four spinner wheels rather than two roller wheels.) However, I’ve finally found a solution to this by using packing cubes and putting a little more thought into how I arrange what’s inside the bag. Keeping heavier items toward the back/bottom eliminates the issue and the bag stands up beautifully on its own.
To give you an idea what this bag holds, here’s what went into it on my recent five week volunteer trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Pic 1: Small cube
2 sports bras
Rash guard top
2 small quick-dry towels
Pic 2: Medium cube
Raincoat in stuff sack
Long sleeve blouse
3 tank tops
Pic 3: Large cube
Undies/bras in organizer
Pic 4: Extras
Running shoes (with a pair of socks stuffed in each shoe)
Deck of cards
Tin w/ battery charger/ batteries
First aid kit
Pic 5: The bag easily fits everything in the main section. There are two side pockets, but for this trip, security was an issue and I didn’t want to risk losing things in the outside pockets to anyone’s sticky fingers. (I used a TSA approved combination lock on the two zippers to the main compartment to secure my bag.)
Pic 6: If I were on a road trip, or not worried about anyone digging in my bag, I would take advantage of the organization the side pocket offer and pack this way. (One pair of shoes in the right side pocket; cards, jewelry pouch, flashlight, adaptor, and sewing kit in the left.)
Pic 7: My final step is to help everything stay in place with a bandana across the top, then buckling the internal straps in an “X” over the bandana.
Pic 8: The finished product, with my tote bag tucked into the top outside pocket. I like having an extra bag on the slight chance I’m overweight when I check it, in which case I can pull out a cube, stick it in the tote, and call it my “personal item” to carry-on.
I wholeheartedly recommend this bag as a great travel companion, especially for the not-so-light packer or a long trip. It has been a faithful companion to me over many continents and countless great adventures.
About the Author: Leah is a single girl on the cusp of 30, active, curious, and never settled. She grew up in rural Upstate New York, but has called Hawaii home for almost seven years. Coffee is her favorite souvenir from anyplace she travels, whether it’s across the dateline or just to a new city.