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Typical contemporary duffel bag

A duffel bag, duffle bag,[1][2] or kit bag is a large bag made of either natural or synthetic fabric (typically canvas), historically with a top closure using a drawstring.[3] Generally a duffel bag is used by non-commissioned personnel in the military, and for travel, sports and recreation by civilians.[4] When used by a sailor or marines a duffel is known as a seabag. A duffel's open structure and lack of rigidity makes it adaptable to carrying sports gear and similar bulky objects.

A duffel bag is often confused with a hoop-handled hard-bottomed zippered bag, generically also known as a gym bag.


US military-issued duffel bags

The origin of the name is disputed. Most sources maintain the name comes from Duffel,[5] a town in Flanders, Belgium, where the thick duffel cloth used to make the bag originated in the 17th century.[6]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word dates back to 1649, used to describe ‘a coarse woollen cloth having a thick nap or frieze’. The earliest reference of the word specifically referring to a duffel bag is 1768.[7]

In most of the 20th century, a duffel bag typically referred to a specific style of cylindrical, top-entry bag.[citation needed] During the latter part, the term began to be applied to a generic hoop-handled, hard-bottomed fabric holdall more commonly known as a "gym bag".[citation needed] It is to this bag that additional features such as wheels, zippers, internal structure, and small organizing pockets are often added.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Meaning of duffel bag in English". Retrieved 2021-11-27.
  2. ^ "Definition of 'duffle bag'". Retrieved 2021-11-27.
  3. ^ "Definition of DUFFEL BAG". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  4. ^ "Top 5 Best Ways to Use Duffel Bags". Tips & Ideas. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  5. ^ "Duffel". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  6. ^ "Soldiers' Duffel Bags"
  7. ^ "duffel, n. and adj". Online Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. March 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.((cite encyclopedia)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)