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Norrona Trolley Bag ($329)
The problem with most giant rolling duffels is that the internal frame takes up almost as much room as the gear you're packing. But Norrona's Trolley duffel offers a cavernous 120 liters of storage space, thanks to a simple yet smart design feature that nixes the telescoping handle--and therefore the internal frame--in favor of flat-lying handles sewn into the top. This keeps the bag's weight low, making it easier to stay under an airline's 50-pound limit. Half-inch-thick, cushy trekking-style backpack straps make carrying this thick-skinned, 450-denier recycled nylon duffel over rough terrain more comfortable--even when it's fully loaded.
STM Goods Dux 30L Backpack ($250)
STM stands for "smarter than most," which sounds pretentious until you try the Australian brand's Dux backpack. With 360 degrees of foam padding within the casing, our tester felt comfortable lugging around delicate cameras, lenses, and audio equipment. Flexible and adjustable polyethylene foam shelves form up to three protective compartments in the main body of the bag and are accessible through a zippered, butterfly-wing panel on each side. Plus, the laptop and tablet compartments are suspended above the bottom of the pack with a thick EVA foam cushion adding an extra buffer against dings and drops.
Gregory Quadro Pro Hardcase Carry-On ($230)
Many rolling carry-on bags now have a specific storage compartment for laundry or shoes. But Gregory ups the ante with a removable 22-inch sleeve that features an antimicrobial coating to prevent even the gnarliest items from permeating the luggage with their smell--a refinement that came in handy for our tester during a two-week trip without a way to do laundry. We also appreciated the external USB charging port (just zip your power bank into the interior pocket and plug it in) and compression straps with zippered storage for small items. The four wheels are buttery smooth rolling over all sorts of surfaces, from city streets to gravel.
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