Traditionally, a high quality canvas duffel bag does not contain any zippers but instead features a flapped enclosure with metal rings for no frills access and is easily compressible for compacted storage. The early drab canvas military duffel bags focused on durability, simplicity and functionality above all else. Unlike today when people choose and buy new duffel bags, to top military brass a soldiers’ style was of no concern.
Provided the rugged aesthetic and often burdensome load, the duffel bag never gained much popularity among women. Traditionally men have tended to gravitate towards the simple styling and personage associated with it. Currently military style duffel bags enjoy a nostalgic popularity. You can find vintage duffel bags online and even military inspired bags by designers such as Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren. Today’s popularity is essentially for the same reasons that made duffel bags famous when used by military men years ago. They get the job done and work without hassle.
Today, people sometimes mistake another other military bag as a duffel bag, but it is in fact a barrack bag or more properly a barracks bag. Older bags are denim but later versions are also canvas like the duffel. After the introduction of the duffel bag during WWII, this second bag became a laundry bag primarily. However, in form and function, the denim barracks bag was the predecessor to the then new, duffel bag.