The History of the Duffel Bag
The duffel bag got its name from the Belgian town Duffel, which produced the thick, heavy fabric used in the original design. They became popular fashion statements in America after World War II, thanks to the number of military personnel who used the lightweight yet durable bags to carry their belongings from one site to the next.
However, in the 1940s and 1950s the duffel bag was adopted by surfers in California who spotted ex-Navy sailors carrying them around and decided to get in on the action. They found the bags to be perfect for storing towels and non-waterproof personal belongings while catching waves, and decorated them in bright colors so they stood out against the sand. This is probably where the craze for customizing duffel bags originated.
Why do I need a Duffel Bag?
It’s true that the duffel bag has become something of an everyday item rather than the fashion piece it once was, but its potential should never be underestimated. A medium sized duffel with a shoulder strap is the perfect accessory for the busy but fashionable college student to be able to read on the go – especially if a cute buckle fastening on top of a floral pattern is used to stay on trend this summer. It can also double up as a beach bag for spontaneous parties because, let’s face it, a pretty bag should be used for more than carrying around textbooks! After college, the duffel bag can once again become your best friend if you want to travel. Saving money on airplane baggage checking by cramming everything into a standard sized duffel means you have more to spend at your destination and also means no dragging a heavy wheeled suitcase around the plains of Africa or European capital cities.
Bags for Specific Needs
Of course, the versatility and reputation of the duffel bag as an “outdoors” accessory has made it hugely popular with sportsmen and women. Snowboarders, scuba divers and fishermen tend to prefer waterproofed canvas with enough space for a lot of equipment, while Yoga practitioners prefer a light weight material in a pastel shade.
When going on a camping trip the duffel bag can carry everything you need to set up comfortably, from folding chairs and extra clothes to matches and firewood. An added bonus is the strength of the fabric being able to take the weight of a sleeping bag and tent attached.
However, the true proof that these bags great value is the fact that, to this day, serving forces in the United States Military use them. The Army duffel has soft sides which allow for expansion, while the tough canvas exterior protects a soldier’s possessions in even the toughest conditions. Because of the need to travel light, these bags usually contain essentials which can help feed, clothe and treat injuries for several days. US Army standard duffels are top-loading with a drawstring or heavy duty zipper, and have a long strap for slinging the bag across your back. Guides now exist explaining how to properly pack a duffel bag in military style, which will certainly be useful for budding travelers!
So no matter whether you want to carry your school books around stylishly or need something reliable to protect your possessions while hitting the slopes on a ski trip, the duffel bag will never let you down. Spending a few bucks customizing your own may be one of the best investments you ever make.
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