Choosing what type of bag to take on your safari can depend on where you are going, what you are doing (climbing Kilimanjaro or flying in small bush planes) and how long you are staying. Different regions have different luggage requirements and restrictions depending on what type of air transport is being used. Recently rolling duffel bags with a hard bottom frame and wheels have become quite popular. Now while this sort of bag is fine for many safaris, it won’t work on most safaris in Botswana and Zambia where the hard frame and wheels can’t be squeezed into the tiny luggage compartment in the belly of the Cessna. A traditional duffel bag or a completely soft-sided bag with wheels is appropriate in these situations (see the Swissgear bag below).
As frequent travelers to Africa, we’re sharing some of our favorite safari bags below. All of these bags qualify as carry-ons and are about the right size for keeping within the strict weight limits of most small plane flights in Africa (33 or 44 pounds per person and a maximum size of 10 inches wide, 12 inches high and 24 inches long).
Herschel bags are favorites of our Journey Specialists. The Mini is a nice pick for travelers comfortable traveling very light, as it’s only 12.5″ wide. The Classic duffel is 20.5″ wide and holds 42.5L. The Classic duffle also has a removable padded shoulder strap, though you won’t be carrying your own bag while on safari. The Mini currently sells for $65 and the Classic is $90.
Eagle Creek is another staff favorite and one of our most affordable picks, as it currently sells for $80. The medium bag is made of bi-tech fabric, making it extra durable and water-resistant, but only weighs 30 oz. There is also an extra storage pouch that you can use as an internal packing pocket for items you’d like to keep separate.
For those looking for a wheeled duffel bag, we recommend the Swissgear Large Lightweight Rolling Duffel. Kent has bought many of these over the years for his family and himself and takes one every time he goes to Africa. This is a true rolling duffel in that it can be packed down – there’s no frame so this bag is ideal for flying safaris in Southern Africa. This bag is 24 inches wide, but the wheels and handle do add weight compared to the lighter weight duffel options above. This bag is 6.3 pounds empty, which will take away from packing weight for safaris that have luggage weight restrictions. It currently sells for $188.
Our top pick for a higher-end duffle is the Filson Medium 25″ Duffle Bag. This high quality bag is constructed with water resistant rugged twill and durable bridle leather. It also has two interior pockets and a removable shoulder strap. It’s currently priced at $380.
Be sure to check with your Journey Specialist about specific requirements for your safari before purchasing your bag. Also, check out our packing list so you know you’re not overpacking or forgetting something!
Updated March 2022
All products featured are independently selected by the Africa Adventure Consultants team. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.