I have a helluva time finding good luggage.
Stylish bags tend to be too stodgy and “executive.” Functional bags tend to be too backpacker-esque and … functional. Finding a balance is difficult. I prefer timeless and well-made with whiffs of sophistication and ruggedness. I never realized that most military gear checks all the above boxes.
Which is how I stumbled upon Duluth Trading. If you’ve not heard of the company, you’ve no doubt seen their commercials. Their latest Buck Naked Underwear ad sums up the company’s entire ethos in 30 seconds:
Honest, no-nonsense, and built for people who care more about how their gear works rather than just how it looks. I’ve been looking for a weekender/overnight bag to replace my ratty old duffel for years. So, when the kind Duluthian Traders at Duluth Trading offered to send me their AWOL Bag, I jumped at the chance.
Like most of Duluth Trading’s gear, this is a bag boiled down to its bare essentials (that’s a good thing). The company describes it like this:
The Leather AWOL Bag is like the one your Dad carried when the Army shipped him overseas in 1943. Most servicemen had a similar bag to hold their “necessaries.” They jokingly called it their “AWOL bag,” and kept it packed for sudden deployments and weekend liberties.
Dad loved the tough-as-nails cowhide and the functional design of that bag, and even after the war he carried it with him for years, until it completely wore out.
Stash your own AWOL Bag behind the office door or the driver’s seat, packed with a change of clothes, beach trunks, sunglasses, a fake beard, or some travel money. Whenever life gets too complicated, you’ll have an escape at the ready.
The Traveler’s Take
The AWOL Bag is no-nonsense luggage at its finest. The smooth exterior is beautiful, well-oiled leather with two antique brass buckles to secure the single, wide YKK zipper. It’s a simple, timeless look reminiscent of a 19th-century doctor’s handbag. The inside is awash in cloth and features only a single document pocket — it’s made to organize just what you need. Leave the rest at home, thank you.
In practice, the bag feels like a distinct throwback to a bygone era of travel. An era where gentlemen donned three-piece suits and peacoats and bowler caps before boarding a flight. There are no cell phone pockets, zero-weight, 360-degree spinner wheels, or built-in Bluetooth technology. In fact, the AWOL Bag is the very antithesis of most modern luggage — a true, vintage-inspired travel accessory.
If I have one beef with the AWOL Bag, it’s the handles. They’re a bit square and “chunky” which can get uncomfortable after an hour or two. Turns out I’m not the only one with this gripe as the bag’s reviews will attest. But that’s a minor point.
For me, this is a simple weekender bag for when I only need two changes of clothes, a bottle of bourbon, and a Dopp kit. And it’s small enough to keep always packed in the back of my 4Runner for impromptu weekend trips to … anywhere I damn well please.
Pricing + Availability
Available now in any color you want (as long as that color is brown) for just under $300 USD.
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