I’m a Style Editor, and This Is the Chic, Spacious Duffel Bag I Recommend to Everyone (It Fits Under an Airplane Seat!)

published Nov 16, 2022
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Up until recently, I’d never owned a good, sizable weekender bag. For quick getaways, I’d either cram as much as I could into the “biggest” purse I owned (not ideal for my habitual overpacking habit), or spread everything out between multiple totes (not ideal for lugging around airports or train stations). But honestly, a new luggage set or duffel bag fell relatively low on my list of shopping priorities — especially because, you know, actual travel expenses are…a lot.

That changed, though, when lifestyle brand Monos reached out about trying their Metro duffel bag, and I learned firsthand that I’d been doing traveling alllll wrong. Let me just say that, after using this for a wedding weekend last month, it can best be described as the luggage equivalent of the wardrobe leading to Narnia — unassuming from the outside, a portal of surprises within. Basically, the more I packed before my trip, the more hidden pockets and smart storage solutions I discovered, both on the inside and outside of the bag.

On the exterior, for starters, there’s a very generously-sized pocket, where I stashed my phone charger, headphones, and some beauty products, with room to spare. Then, the opposite side of the bag has a small removable “Metro Kit” — essentially a built-in toiletry bag with compartments and pockets for makeup, toothpaste, and more. Because this conveniently attaches to the duffel itself via Monos’ modular QuickSnap™  system, it not only clears up valuable packing space inside, but also makes everything super accessible, meaning there’s no digging whatsoever to grab my foundation or deodorant. This mini bag was even a game-changer at the hotel, too, keeping all my essentials organized in one place and the bathroom counter less cluttered.

It gets even better inside the duffel bag itself, though: you’ll find two huge pockets in the main compartment, one with a zipper and one with a velcro closure. The latter’s technically designed as a laptop sleeve for devices 15 inches or smaller, but it actually worked perfectly for separating my shoes and accumulated dirty laundry. It wasn’t until I started adding my clothes that I realized there were two more pockets on the shorter sides of the bag, which I used for my sunglasses and an electric toothbrush (both inside cases), but could hold water bottles or umbrellas, too. And, pockets aside, to give you an idea of how much can really fit in the entire duffel overall, I packed a weekend’s worth of fall outfits (thick sweaters and all), a formal maxi dress, heels, plus a full-sized bed skirt and oversized college sweatshirt I brought to drop off at my parents’ house.

Credit: Monos

There’s another mystical dichotomy to this bag, in the sense that it packs plenty, yet is small enough to fit under a standard airplane seat — let that sink in. Overheard bin stress? Never heard of her. Minus the extra attached kit, the whole duffel measures 16.3″ by 11.2″ by 7.2″ and weighs less than 4 pounds, which feels light-as-air compared to similar styles I’ve tried in the past. But even stuffed to the brim (my packing M.O.), I had no issues carrying it around, especially since I could alternate between using the sturdy handles or the detachable, adjustable shoulder strap.

The minimalist Metro duffel bag comes in a handful of colors, as well as your choice or nylon or vegan leather finishes for $210 and $230, respectively. Yes, it is expensive, but I know that the water- and scratch-resistant construction of my own ivory-hued vegan leather version guarantees a lifelong travel companionship. Plus, thanks to the included exterior kit, it’s essentially two bags in one, both of which can be used separately or even paired with the brand’s equally sleek luggage line. Above all else, it just looks incredibly stylish, high-end, and way more expensive than it actually is — so much so that when my mom picked me up from the airport, she asked about my bag before even saying “hello.”

Basically, if you’re in the market for a new high-quality, practical duffel — either for yourself or a holiday gift for any frequent jetsetters in your life — this is The One, call off the search, case closed. To reiterate, I’ve only used this once, but have already sung its praises to just about anyone who will listen (sorry not sorry, friends and fam!) and genuinely can’t wait until I can pack with it again. It’s clear Monos shoppers feel the same, too, as evidenced by one particularly spot-on review title: “Bloody hell where have you been all my life?” Enough said.

Buy: Metro Duffel, $230