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August 26, 2014 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I need a bag--something like a duffel bag--that is VERY big. Thoughts?

I'm moving abroad in a few weeks, and need something giant to bring a lot of clothes with me. I'm carrying on a good size backpack, and checking a large rucksack as my check bag. I plan on paying the extra fee for an extra piece of luggage, and would like to find something very large that I can pack with a ton of stuff. I'd like to spend under $40, which after perusing the web seems possible, and it really doesn't need to be durable; it'll only need to make one trip. So, what giant, decent, and affordable bags have you got experience with?
posted by still bill to Shopping (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Look at Hockey Bags, absurdly huge.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:11 PM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do you have an outlet store near you? Sometimes the department stores there have a luggage section where you might find an oversize or very large suitcase.
posted by Mr. Six at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

L.L. Bean's Adventure Duffle, Extra Large is $65, but is massive.
posted by Flamingo at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I bought an absolutely huge, cheap duffel bag at an army navy store once. But when it was packed it was almost too heavy to lift. So you may want to get something with wheels as you'll already be carrying two bags.
posted by emd3737 at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Any reason not to use a large cardboard box? If you'll be moving all this stuff around with a luggage cart, that might be easier than an awkward, floppy bag.

Also, if you haven't - make sure to check the price of a one oversize extra piece of luggage vs two regular size pieces.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2014

Response by poster: Bluedaisy: a box was my first thought, but I think it would likely be too cumbersome to lug something with no straps at all, and so I think I'd prefer something with some sort of flexible handles. Price-wise, it seems like a single bag makes the most sense, when taking into account the (relative) ease of one bag vs. two bags.

Hockey bags look good, but are not too much bigger (maybe 2" longer) than the large duffels on amazon and walmart's websites, which are half the cost (looks like the biggest size readily available is 40"x18"x18", which is big, but I want bigger).

That Bean bag looks great, but I don't know if it's big enough.
posted by still bill at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2014

I haven't been by one for a while, but Gander Mountain may still feature a really big duffel for $20 or so.
posted by mr. digits at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2014

Not sure if you're aware of this but there are additional charges for oversize bags.
posted by sanderman at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend was telling me over the weekend that when competitive cyclists travel with their bike they get a bike box but tell the agents that it is a trade show box and the upcharge is less or none. Perhaps look into trade show boxes? Or bike boxes pretending to be trade show? They would be huge and I think they have straps for the trade show boxes. You may also want to call the airline to verify the maximum size they will accept. There may be a strict limit that may vary by airline.
posted by littlewater at 2:28 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a 36" hockey bag and it is colossal. Some goalie bags are even larger, here's one that's 42"x20"x20"
posted by ghharr at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2014

Response by poster: Sanderman: yep, I'm on board (get it?) with oversize charges. Even considering those, it seems cheapest to do as much as I can in one giant bag.

I'm intrigued by trade show boxes, though, and will investigate.
posted by still bill at 2:36 PM on August 26, 2014

Yeah, watch the weight and size, not just for the airline, but for your ability to get it to/from the airport. When I moved overseas, I had a backpack so overloaded I could barely stand up with it, and was constantly at risk of tipping over. A box (or anything) and a small folding cart might be more practical.
posted by adamrice at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2014

Beyond the weight and size restrictions for air lines, there is the weight and size limitation to what you can carry. If you can strap it to your back, you can lug a lot more, but it's no fun to walk very far with that.

But if you can find a big duffel bag and save on the cost of extra luggage, you may want to think of fitting two smaller bags inside that mega-bag, so you can carry one bag in each hand. Being able to have a balanced load makes carrying heavy weights easier. Of course, if you can get something with wheels (and there are duffel bags with wheels, for what it's worth), that makes everything easier (as long as the paving is decent where you're traveling).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on August 26, 2014

It's a good point: there is a limit to what you can carry. Have you looked into the left luggage/ storage options of your destination airport? Frankfurt, for instance, will store things cheaply for up to 3 months. This would make traveling with a large amount a bit less daunting if you do not need to bring 300 pounds of goods into the street as you immediately get off the plane. Some airlines will also accept cargo (rather than luggage) at a relatively cheap rate.
This will all depend on your airline and destination.
posted by littlewater at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2014

If you go to a neighborhood with a lot of immigrants you should be able to find a "merchandise bag" that's made for pretty much exactly this purpose: like these, but with a zipper on top.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2014

Best answer: You want a military duffel bag. The new style ones have double backpack straps, but I like he older style with one shoulder strap and one handle, as long as you aren't walking more than a mile or so with it.

What makes them great is that they close at the top instead of having a zipper on the side. And it's a very heavy fabric. What's so great about that? You can keep shoving clothing in until you literally can't fit anything else in without having to worry about the zipper bursting.

The downside is that you can't let someone who isn't familiar with them try to help you pack your bag after they have unpacked it, as they will only fit half the clothes back in. It's a very common style of bag though, so if the TSA unpacks it for you they should be able to figure it out.

If you go with a box instead of a bag, recreational cyclists often assemble the bikes before leaving the airport and leave the box behind. Some airports even provide a special area for this where there would be plenty of space to open up the box and distribute the things in it into bags.

I'm not sure what would happen if the airline finds out you don't have a bike in your bike box, but it's probably expensive or inconvenient. It's very likely they would notice as your box of clothes is going to be far heavier than a bike.

Depending on what your travel arrangements are from the airport on it might not matter much that you have more bags than you can carry. Tip extra for heavier bags.
posted by yohko at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Surplus duffels can hold a ton and are dirt cheap for a really tough bag. Can't vouch for that store, it's just the first link that turned up.
posted by contraption at 2:58 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This fencing gear bag is $60. I think some blocker-something on my browser is hiding the dimensions, but it's probably at least 45" long.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the dream time of air travel, before the TSA, on a couple of occasions when I came home with much more stuff than I left with I just put everything inside a large polyester laundry bag I had with me and tied it shut and didn't have problems. I'm big enough and unbothered by looking goofy so that I carried it by just slinging it across my shoulders, though. Maybe there are zippered laundry bags so it could be opened for inspection if necessary, or with access to a sewing machine you could add a zipper quickly?
posted by XMLicious at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm thinking army surplus duffel too. 30" diameter x 50" length and practically indestructible for only $25.
posted by zsazsa at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

N'thing military duffles --- I've still got my father's Navy duffle from around 1950, and the dang thing is still holding together. Looks bad, but all the seams and straps are still strong.
posted by easily confused at 3:39 PM on August 26, 2014

For similar purposes, I bought some great heavy duty fiddles from MEC.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:46 PM on August 26, 2014

Best answer: A tip for checking those duffels -- after receiving it on the luggage carousel with the closure undone, I started putting a large split ring (like a key ring) on the closure. Or you could use a TSA approved lock.

When you are shoving clothes in you want to be shoving them next to, instead of on top of, the clothes you already have in the bag. Even though my bag had come open nothing had fallen out.
posted by yohko at 6:08 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks y'all! I think the one zsazsa posted--or one similar--is the winner. Hopefully, with proper packing technique (thanks yohko!) and maybe a few space saver vacuum bags, I can even eliminate one of my other bags!
posted by still bill at 8:25 PM on August 26, 2014

One of the advantages of a hockey bag is they all have wheels built in so you don't actually have to carry it anywhere. And considering your one and done intended use you can get one relatively cheap at hockey consignment shops.
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 PM on August 26, 2014

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