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I’m a chronic over-packer, and this lightweight duffel completely changed how I travel

The Calpak Luka duffel is my own personal Mary Poppins bag — but a lot chicer.

As someone who loves pretty things, I’ve always insisted on having aesthetically pleasing luggage. The inside of said luggage, however, has tended to be waaay less than pretty. That's because, until recently, I was a terrible packer with a habit of chaotically cramming my possessions into my bags, the result being a wrinkled, disordered, inpenetrable mess. Then I discovered the greatest weekend bag in existence: Calpak's Luka Duffel. Reminder: Every airline allows you one personal item along with the carry-on you stow up top, and the Luka is the personal item of your dreams.

Quick overview

A stow-all to make Mary Poppins proud: When paired with packing cubes and a hard-shell carry-on suitcase, I was able to fit everything I needed — including sweaters and presents for two different families — for a two-week, two-state trip over the holidays .

$128 at Calpak

In case you're wondering (and I know that you are): Yes, at 16" × 12" × 7", the Luka fits under the seat in front of you even if you’re flying basic, basic, basic economy.

It's water-resistant too and feels (and looks) like your favorite puffer jacket. My fellow chronic overpackers will be happy to know that the quilted polyester fabric is super flexible, allowing for a ton of wiggle room. It features a classic detachable, adjustable center strap and two long shoulder straps made of the same plush padding, meaning it won't dig into the shoulders. And, of course, there’s a handy trolley sleeve that secures to the top of a carry-on suitcase, so you can zip around the terminal.

The main reason that this bag changes the packing game, though, is the built-in organizers — nine to be exact. It has five interior pockets, including one that can comfortably hold my laptop and a small, mesh-zippered one that’s great for my AirPods and chargers. Meanwhile, the exterior has a water bottle holder and a zippered shoe compartment.

A model carrying a black duffel next to a model opening a pink duffel and another model stuffing shoes into a teal duffel on top of a suitcase.
Who said you had to choose between functionality and style when it comes to traveling? (Calpak)

With all of those in-flight necessities and one pair of shoes squared away in easy-to-reach pockets, I can easily slip a packing cube or two inside, maximize the space — and minimizing the chaos — in my suitcase.

Oh, and about those aesthetics: The Luka comes in 20 fashion-forward colors — everything from good ol' Matte Black and Navy to understated Sage and Gunmetal to vivid Dragonfruit and Cobalt. As for me, I’m in love with the lime-green Celery. Seriously, there's a hue here for everyone.

Do you know who else thinks this is a traveler's dream? More than 3,000 five-star reviewers ... and Oprah. The lifestyle queen named the Luka, along with its matching suitcase, one of her Favorite Things back in 2019.

The author with the Luka lime green duffel bag and matching belt bag at the airport.
Please see this photo of a (very) sleepy me about to board a 6. a.m. flight, armed with my Luka duffel in Celery and the matching belt bag. Yes, I would much rather be in bed — but at least my outfit is coordinated! (Sarah Weldon/Yahoo)

As for those reviewers, check out this list of items one five-star traveler has stored in her Luka: “[It has] tons of compartments, zipper and non-zipper. I can fit all of my toiletries, makeup, snacks, meds, supplements, tech and chargers, change of clothes, water bottle and shoes.”

“I have two laptops for work (Microsoft Surface and Lenovo ThinkPad), and both fit!” explained another Luka lover. “I usually put one in the interior zipper pocket and one in the exterior pocket. Holds so much stuff and is super comfortable even when full. I got the Oatmeal, and it is easy to clean.”

Oh, and have I mentioned that the Luka isn't just for traveling? It's not just for traveling! Reviewers have used it as a gym bag, school tote and diaper holder. 

$128 at Calpak

Oh, and if you really want to optimize your space — and get a little sneaky with the TSA — you can add the matching Luka belt bag to your travel arsenal. Because it's made of the same soft polyester material, I can slyly slip it off my body and squeeze it in the duffel just in case a persnickety TSA agent or flight attendant wants to count it as a personal item.

I normally like to stuff it with my phone, phone charger, wallet, sunglasses and trusty tube of Aquaphor. On more than one occasion, I've also squeezed in a pair of socks and a packet of peanut M&Ms (which is, by the way, the ultimate airplane snack).

Like its duffel counterpart, the spacious belt bag comes in a variety of matching colors, but you can never go wrong with this timeless navy. 

$58 at Calpak

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.