8 best women’s overnight bags for a weekend escape
Whichever kind of short trip you’re planning, pack your essentials in one of these stylish holdalls
With more and more of us travelling overnight for work, and taking weekend staycations or overseas city breaks, having the right overnight bag can make a travel-filled lifestyle easier to navigate.
Whether it’s something simple and stylish to sling over-the-shoulder, a smart wheeled-number with in-built tech to keep you connected, something with masses of space or a backpack for more of an outdoorsy adventure, we’ve put this bunch – all large enough to contain the essentials for at least one night away – through their paces on trains, planes and automobiles on mini breaks across the UK and further afield.
Here are our favourites for the perfect getaway.
Duncan Stewart personalised weekend holdall: £55, Not On The High Street
Channeling serious retro-glam, this holdall from family-run British brand Duncan Stewart is an all-round winner. Available in tan or black leather-look Nu-Hide with brass-coloured fittings, not only does it ramp up the luxe-look whilst travelling (we were complimented several times on the way to the airport) but it also offers no-fuss storage and can be hung over the shoulder or held by your side.
Packing light? Use the snap-fastening sides to keep things neat, or open them up to increase the space. Inside there’s enough room (30 litres) to comfortably house a change of clothes and toiletries, plus a sturdy bottom supports a pair of shoes nicely.
The interior is lined with classic pinstripe material and has a small zipped-pocket to pop valuables or change into. A rather nice extra touch is that personalisation (up to six hand-embroidered characters) in either gold, silver, white or cream thread comes at no extra cost.
Elephbo long trip green tiger bag: £166, MAMOQ
Another smart holdall, this roomy 37-litre number is an excellent pick for ethical travellers trying to shop more sustainably. Its eye-catching cream and green exterior, adorned with a snarling tiger, is made from cement sacks in Cambodia (which would otherwise be left as litter) collected by locals who are paid a fair wage, before being upcycled in Portugal by eco-brand Elephbo.
Given their previous life as cement carriers, the material is hard-wearing and durable, and withstands day-to-day wear well. Inside, a forest green wipe-clean interior has two open-top pouches (the perfect size to slip a passport into) as well as a medium-size zipped pocket. It’s carried using sturdy brown leather handles, with elegant white stitching detail, or a longer extendable shoulder strap (useful if you’ve crammed it to the brim) and there’s a discreet outer zip pocket too, ideal for an Oyster card, house keys or wallet.
Briggs & Riley Sympatico international carry-on: £429, John Lewis & Partners
If you’re one of those travellers who always returns with more than they left with, and has to resort to sitting atop your stuffed-to-the-brim suitcase to get the zip to shut, this newbie hard-cased offering from Briggs & Riley is a good pick. An overstuffers’ dream, it has interior straps to help cinch clothes down, plus an easy-to-use click-to-expand interior portion, which expands to give 25 per cent more room.
Once shut, however, press on the suitcase’s exterior, and clever patented compression technology (a bit like a concertina) will click the suitcase back down to carry-on size, as if by magic (we actually managed to fit two people’s overnight gear inside when expanded). Inside there’s also a zipped mesh compartment on one side with a garment hook, useful for keeping outfits sharp when on business.
The wheels were an absolute dream, gliding with no stickiness at all along airport travelators, plus we liked the fact there’s both a smaller on-bag, and longer adjustable telescope aluminium handle. The combination of beautiful design, TSA-approved locks, and innovative tech means it’s got a substantial price tag, but it does come with a lifetime guarantee, making it a good investment for die-hard shopaholics and globetrotters alike.
Matalan bright stripe weekend bag: £12, Matalan
This budget weekend bag from high street favourite Matalan is made from lightweight polyester, and comes in a bright psychedelic stripe print, which will jazz up any weekend-away outfit. A no-frills interior features two open-top pouches and a small zipped pocket, as well as one external side pocket (ideal to tuck a smartphone into) and the bag can be easily cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth.
There are shorter carry straps and a clip-on cross-body strap, but we preferred using the carry handles as the buckle on the longer cross-body was a shade stiff, making adjustment a bit of a faff. Still a good choice for those looking for a cheerful patterned bag which won’t break the bank.
Fjällräven Duffel No. 4: £140, Fjällräven
Outdoor lovers will be familiar with Fjällräven, famed for its Arctic fox branding and durable withstand-all-weather products, and this dapper duffel bag is no exception. Made in the brand’s G-1000 fabric, impregnated with bees’ and paraffin wax, it’s seriously heavy-duty and everything from the smooth zips to the double-lined interiors feels high-quality.
While it’s a 30 litre-bag, we found the compact design means it fit slightly less than the Duncan Stewart holdall, so is better suited to those who pack on the lighter side. For those who like plenty of pockets, there are two on the exterior as well as one meshed on the inside. Our favourite feature is the versatility of the straps, which are, cleverly, exactly the right length to work as hand-held, over-the-shoulder or as a backpack.
Osprey Fairview 40 travel pack: £100, Amazon
This travel pack from Osprey in tropical rainforest green is another solid choice for those who’ll be spending time the great outdoors – say, on an overnight camping trip. At 1.44kg it’s light, and also adaptable, as it can be packed as you would a suitcase and worn as a backpack, with a straps and robust hip-belt; or these can all be neatly tucked underneath a zipped panel, and a side strap clips on to convert it for cross-body carrying.
Those who like to separate bits and pieces will be in heaven, with mesh outer pockets for water bottles, two main compartments (including inside slots to slide a laptop and tablet into and one with compression straps to hold clothes and gear in place if you’re hiking) and a multitude of different pockets (there are so many we actually slightly lost track of where we’d put things).
Another USP is that the fit is tailored specifically for women, with design taking into account shoulder and chest widths, and we found it incredibly comfortable even when it had been on our back for a good few hours on a coastal walk.
Knomo Budapest travelpack: £149, Knomo
If you want to go really ultra-lightweight this new Knomo backpack in bold royal blue with leather details weighs a barely-there 700g. Made from double-padded polyester, it’s water resistant and comfy to wear (honestly, it’s so soft you’ll want to stroke it). Up front is a roomy front pocket with mesh sections, and at the back a separate zipped space to stow your laptop.
The bag zip opens around three of four sides, making it a doddle to pack, and the inner liner is bright orange, offering a fun pop of colour as you open it. Inside, there’s enough space for at least your overnight gear (if not for three days or more) and straps can help to press down clothes or hold in a pair of trainers. Another nice touch is a unique identifying number – if your bag is lost, the finder can go online and get it returned to you. Also, especially useful if you’re travelling in England, there’s a side slot which a compact umbrella can be slid into.
Horizn Studios M5 cabin bag: £350, Amazon
Famed for their high-tech smart suitcases, this hard polycarbonate case from the German luggage whizzes at Horizn Studios is not only completely vegan, but also a game-changer for connected travellers who are forever snapping photographs, making calls or playing with their phone in-flight, and land to find themselves with no battery on arrival.
Pull up the handle on this rather lovely pastel cornflower blue number and it reveals a click-to-remove built-in charger which sits in the case’s spine. Once charged it gives phones juice six times over, and we found it completely took the stress out of travel, as you never have to worry about whether your gadgets are charged. The only thing you do need to remember is – despite being cabin-approved size – if you check your luggage you do need to pop the battery out before it’s put in the hold.
The suitcase has TSA-approved combination locks and inside a range of features to aid organisation, including a colour-coordinated bag in a zipped roll-pocket (ideal for keeping dirty laundry in), a large mesh section and compression straps. We managed to comfortably fit in a pair of shoes, a couple of warm outfits plus some holiday mementoes on a recent Iceland adventure.
The verdict: women’s overnight bags
For those looking for something both simple and stylish, the Duncan Stewart holdall strikes just the right balance, offering covetable design, lovely personalised detail and won’t break the bank. For those looking to spend a little more, the chic and techie Horizn Studios was a revelation, removing a layer of travel-hassle and keeping us connected on the go.
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