Postage and Packing is free on orders for £60 or more

Do you know what a Duffel Bag is? (or is it Duffle?)

What is Duffel?

When your writer was a lad, a Duffel was a coat. It was thick woollen, with a hood, check lining and had faux ivory type toggle and leather loop fasteners in place of buttons. Do you remember them?
 An iconic overcoat with a true European heritage, the duffle coat has remained a staple of cold-weather wear for well over a century. After making its mark as a utilitarian garment in the military, the duffle coat has navigated its way into all corners of popular culture, worn by everyone from Paul McCartney to Paddington Bear.
The word Duffel actually means a coarse woollen cloth with a thick nap. It is named after the town where the cloth was originally made. The town of Duffel is in Belgium, near Antwerp, and its production of the coarse, woollen cloth dates back to the mid-17th century.

Traditional Duffel Bag

The Duffel Bag has its origins in the same place and was made from the same cloth. Historically, the term duffel bag referred to one specific type of bag: large, cylindrical, and closed at the top with a drawstring or zipper. This is why we still make the Havasak this way. Over time, however, the term duffel (or duffle) bag has grown to include any large “holdall” bag made of thick fabric.

The application of the duffel bag itself also has its roots in the military, and its first mention was found in letters written in WWI. At that time, the bags were shorter and looked similar to a rucksack. When fully packed, they were difficult to handle, and many soldiers left them in the trenches. After WWII, they flooded into the shores of east-coast America, Australia and carried by other Naval personnel further on throughout the world. The now heavy canvas surplus sacks were picked up by whoever wanted them. Handed down or purchased at an Army surplus store in surrounding towns and cities. Adopted by different countries and slowly over time molded into their own variations of this ever iconic versatile bag.


The duffel bag acquired considerable status in the surfer sub-cultures of post-WW II California and east coast Australia. In Australia its use became popular in the early 1960s. Carrying a duffel bag was synonymous to being (or pretending to be) a surfie. Australian duffel bags of the early 1960s were made of canvas and were usually light khaki or faded color. They looked just like this


Dispensing with the use of rope to pull the eyelets of the top together, the surfie would simply hold the throat of the duffel bag—containing towel, swimming trunks and other personal belongings in one hand and sling it over his shoulder.

The Duffel Bag today

The Duffle Bag lives on and if our numbers are anything to go by, it is going strong. Whether you like the traditional military style which evolved into the Aussie Surfer Bag, such as our brilliant Havasak, or the modern evolution duffle bag which is more like a sports kit bag. Marathon offer a wide range of these also, such as our also Kitbag or the ever classic Olympic and many more
So whether you require a traditional style or a more conventional duffle bag, Marathon is sure to have one to suit your needs.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published