The Essentials: The Duffel Bag

It feels a little silly telling you about the necessity of a duffel bag. After all, it’s purpose is one of function. A means of getting your gym gear from home to office to gym and home again. What is not inherent however, is the bag's look, construction, or quality.

It feels a little silly telling you about the necessity of a duffel bag. After all, it’s purpose is one of function. A means of getting your gym gear from home to office to gym and home again.

What is not inherent however, is the bag's look, construction, or quality.

It seems like every year we get older it gets that much harder to get to the gym in between our busy work schedule and personal obligations. It’s not uncommon to see a man carrying his gym essentials into the office with him along with his messenger bag or briefcase.

It is surprising though, how these men will spend a small fortune on their messenger bag because it’s a part of their professional image, but use the same duffel bag from high school gym class.

What’s the point of the nice suit if you have an ugly plastic bag with a big logo on it draped over your back?

A duffel bag needs to not only serve as a carryall, but it must be maintainable. It doesn’t take long for gym shoes and a wet towel to wreak havoc on a synthetic bag, and Febreeze can only do its magic for so long. Opting for a canvas bag like the one seen here by Beckel Canvas, allows for easy cleaning and maintenance. When it starts getting funky, drop it in the washer.

Beckel Canvas should get an entire article for themselves. A small, proud, family owned American company from Portland started as, and continues to be, a canvas tent manufacturer. A large portion of their products are built for camping, and they’re proud of their heritage. Unlike many brands that started as rugged outdoor outfitters and turned into a fashionable soft goods store (read: Abercrombie & Fitch, Sears & Roebuck, many, many more) Beckel has never steered from their mission of providing the best outdoor goods they can produce. They have, however, taken their knowledge of creating durable canvas products and produce some beautiful bags sure to last you a lifetime.

On top of all this? Beckel Canvas’s Possibilities Bag shown here is only $63.95. Made in Portland. For a high quality bag. $63.95.  Pardon my dramatics, but that’s only $15 more than most plastic ‘sneaker brand’ duffel bags you’d pick up at a sporting goods store. And hundreds less than one you could pick up at J.Crew or similar that’s imported from God knows where.

As I always say, there’s no easier way for a product to be Primer Approved than by being well-made, affordable and built right here in America. In this day and age, it’s hard to “Buy American” for everything. Especially for guys like us who are in a time in our lives where we have to be budget conscious. So when a brand comes along like this and slaps you in the face with it, there is absolutely no reason to buy from someone else.

Beckel guarantees to fix it free for life, if you manage to tear one of these up.

Beckel Canvas Possibilites Bag Duffel

Why do you need a $63 dollar duffel to carry your gym clothes in? If you’re asking that, you’re right, you probably don’t, other than the reasons I already listed. You can definitely use a plastic grocery bag to carry gym clothes in, if you’re only carrying them from your car to the locker room.

But a guy should have a duffel for more than the gym.  Every man should have a weekend bag, as we’ve discussed before, and the Possibilities Bag would be a great candidate for short trips. It’s the perfect size for a soft carry-on.

The uses are endless. Think about anytime you go anywhere that you need to carry stuff. Going to the beach with your girlfriend and her friends? A canvas duffel is the perfect choice to carry all your stuff. Surprising your significant other with a picnic? A canvas duffel will stylishly, and functionally, carry your blanket, wine and food.

I hope I’m beating the point to death, and you’re already like, “Yeah, a guy needs a good looking bag to carry shit in from time to time.”

If you opt for the bag from Beckel, please note the shoulder strap comes separately, so decide if you think you’ll need it.

Here are some alternate options, though I think I’ve made my first choice clear.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.