The Best Dive Bags And Duffel Dive Bags Review

Diving gear

Once you begin accumulating dive equipment, getting a dive bag is unavoidable. You need to be able to carry your equipment through airports, on boats, and when walking around. Easier said than done when bringing a full regulator set, mask and snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit, and BCD. Plus, all the smaller pieces of equipment. The weight can add up fast.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best dive bags for you to bring on your next trip. We’ll examine what you should look for in a dive bag and list the four best bags for you to consider.

Best Dive Bags

What should I look for in a dive bag?

As with most other scuba equipment. Not all dive bags are created equal. There is good and bad and everything between and, to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell which is which.

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can look for when selecting a dive bag to separate the good from bad. Pay attention to these factors:

  • Empty weight of the dive bag
  • Materials used to make the dive bag
  • Features such as padded compartments for regulators
  • Rollers and backpack straps

Weight- you want to minimize the total empty weight of the bag as much as possible. This one is obvious but the more the bag weighs the less you can put into it before hitting the point you will be paying fees.

There is no one size fits all answer for what a good weight is. Different materials are going to vary in weight. Also, the more features there are such as extra compartments the more the bag will weigh.

A good rule of thumb is that you want to find the total weight of your dive equipment and anything else you will pack. Then, subtract that from fifty, and that’s how much weight you have to work with. This is in lbs, if you are working with kilos then subtract the total weight from 23. This is the average weight across air carriers for checked baggage.

If the total weight of the scuba equipment exceeds numbers listed above, you have more room to work with. In this case, you know ahead of time that you will be paying extra fees for baggage. So, you are usually going to have quite a bit of extra weight to work with after fees are paid.

Materials- the best dive bags are made from durable and quick drying materials. Some examples of this include heavy duty nylon, PVC coated fabrics, or newer hard shells. Also, all the stitching on the bag should be reinforced.

Most bags are made from materials fitting this description. So, this isn’t a major issue you will have to worry about. The main thing is you want the bag to be lightweight. A lighter but durable material can help accomplish this.

Extra Features- this is where the good bags separate themselves from the just okay ones. You want a bag that has extra features which can make packing your equipment easier. Examples of this include:

  • Separate fin compartment
  • Padded regulator compartment or seperate bag
  • At least one waterproof section for wetsuits
  • Separators to keep your dive equipment and clothing seperate
  • Vented chambers to help damp equipment dry

The most important things are waterproof compartments and a regulator pouch. The last thing you want is to have to pack your wetsuit next to your dry and clean clothes. Having a waterproof section will allow you to store anything still a bit wet and keep your other gear dry.

As far as regulators, they aren’t cheap. Even if you’ve bought a used one you probably dropped a few hundred dollars on it. You want to keep it in great shape. Buy a bag that has a separate pouch for storing your regulator set, or an integrated pouch with padding.

Rollers and Back Straps- rollers on bags are a lifesaver. They make it easy to drag your bag around the airport and any towns or cities you find yourself in. But, they have serious limitations. When you get to dirt roads or uneven sidewalks or beach, they become useless.

You want a dive bag that has both rollers and backpack straps for those times you’ve got to go offroad. Carrying a large bag full of scuba equipment on your back isn’t the most comfortable thing. But, it beats dragging rollers over a sandy coral beach for long distances.

Best Dive Bags Reviews

#1 Stahlsac Steel 34”

Stahlsac 34" Steel Wheeled Checked Luggage (Black)
  • Water resistant compartment AND breathable wet...
  • Quick-access zippers and multi-purpose changing...
  • Optional battery pack in designated compartment
  • Low profile frame allows for easy storage
  • "Add-a-bag" strap to attach a backpack or carry-on

Stahlsac is a leading manufacturer of dive bags. You can make a safe bet when buying one of their bags that it is going to stand the test of time. The Steel 34” is a great option for divers looking to pack a complete dive setup. The bag has many compartments for carrying equipment plus clothes and other necessities. Stahlsac has smaller sizes for shorter trips including 22” and 27”.

What We like
  • The steel 34” has both a dry compartment and a waterproof compartment. This is perfect for storing wetsuits, swimsuits, towels, etc. between travel. You won’t have to worry anymore about damp clothing in tropical heat.
  • The empty weight for this bag is around 3.69kg (8.15lbs). This isn’t the lightest bag around but certainly not the heaviest. You should look into this bag if you want to keep your total weight down for air travel.
  • This an extremely durable bag. All the parts are high quality including the wheels, telescoping handle, and compartments. You can expect this bag to last you for many years if taken care of properly.
What we don't like
  • The way the front pouch is configured makes the bag prone to tipping over if not packed properly. This can be a bit of an annoyance when storing your bag in the hotel room or on the boat. You need to be conscious of this when packing this bag.
  • The two main compartments are great. But, it would be nice to have more. There is no dedicated fins section or separate padded regulator section.
  • The bag has three handles to help lift it which is great. But, there are no backpack straps for alternative carrying. This can be a bit of a pain if you have to drag the bag over rough terrain.

Here is a great video the company has maid showing an example of what can be carried in this bag.

Bonus: For carrying your equipment on the boat, combine the Stahlsac 34” with the Stahlsac 40” Mesh Bag. This will help your equipment dry faster after diving.

#2 Cressi Vuelo

Cressi Strong Large Capacity Trolley Bag 115L with...
  • Large trolley bag that can be used also as a...
  • The main compartment opens on three sides allowing...
  • There are also two adjustable, padded, straps for...
  • The reinforced pull handle is telescopic and fully...
  • The wheels have a large diameter and can be...

If you are looking for something a bit smaller than the 34” Stahlsac, the Cressi Vuelo is the perfect option. This is a carry on bag so it’s a great option if you are planning on a short weekend trip. Depending on what you carry, you may or may not be able to pack your complete dive set up. If you’ve got a lot of clothes and other equipment then you may not be able to pack your BCD. But, if you are traveling light you should have no trouble packing your gear plus a few days worth of clothing.

What We like
  • The Cressi Vuelo comes in at an empty weight of 2.8kg (6.2lbs). This is awesome as it leaves you plenty of room to work with when packing your bag. It is also sized to fit in overhead compartments so you should have no problem using it as a carry on.
  • All the materials from the zipper to the telescoping handles to the bag are high quality. You should be able to get plenty of wear out of the Vuello before it starts to break down.
  • This is one of the cheapest bags on this list and on the market altogether. If you are looking for your first bag and are on a budget this is a great option.
What we don't like
  • There are no backpack straps for the Vuelo. Since this is a smaller bag than the Stahlsac 34”, you will be able to more easily carry it in rough terrain. But, having back straps would make it more comfortable.
  • There are no fin compartments nor is there a dedicated padded regulator section. You will still be able to pack all your gear with no troubles. But, it would be more convenient and add extra protection for your gear having these things.
  • This is a carry on bag. Unless you are an extremely light packer, this is only going to be good for shorter trips. If you plan on going on a longer trip and need to pack enough extra clothes and equipment, you will want a bigger bag.

Bonus: For bringing your equipment on the boat, use the Mares Cruise Mesh Backpack.

#3 Aqua Lung Explorer II

Aqualung Explorer II Folder Bag
  • Extra Durable 1680D Polyester with PVC coating
  • #10 locking corrosion resistant zippers with...
  • Folded Dimensions: 83.8 x 43 x 7.5 cm / 33"x17"x3"
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 83.3 x 43 x 43 cm /...
  • Weight: 4.5 Kilo / 10 lbs

Aqua Lung is a leading name when it comes to scuba diving equipment. Their equipment is used by dive schools around the world. You can rest easy knowing that their dive bags meet the same standard as their other dive gear. The Explorer II, one of their larger bags, is excellent for long term travel. It has everything you need in terms of features, durability, and ease of use.

What We like
  • The Explorer II has a number of handy compartments including fin pouches on the side. This is helpful for organizing your bag as well as for saving space. The fins pouch especially can help by placing bulky fins on the side instead of in the main compartment.
  • For a bag this size the Explorer comes in at a lower price than similar bags. This makes it an affordable option if you are looking to get a quality bag on a small budget.
  • The bag has a PVC coating which helps to further protect the outside. This also keep the bag more resistant to water and can help prevent the bag from getting that funky smell.
What we don't like
  • Many users have complained about the front zipper. Because it doesn’t open all the way it creates a more narrow opening to put equipment in. This is a minor inconvenience when packing equipment.
  • The compression straps on the sides of the bag are a bit short. If you have too much equipment in the bag they are going to be of little use.
  • There are no backpack straps for this dive bag which means you will be carrying it by hand on rugged terrain. Most of the time this isn’t going to be a major issue as you won’t be going long distances. But, this is a point where the bag can be improved upon.

This video does a great job of showing all of the features of the Explorer II as well as how much you can pack.

Bonus: Couple the Explorer II with the Scuba Max Dive Flag Mesh bag for a great boat bag.

#4 Akona Roller Backpack

Akona Roller Dive Gear Travel Backpack
  • Handles with reinforced box-stitching for...
  • Heavy-duty bronze #10 zipper, slider and pull are...
  • Exterior regulator bag pocket with locking D-ring....
  • Mesh paneling allows air circulation.Two fin...
  • Mesh water bottle holder. Includes AKONA padded...

We’re big fans of Akona products. They are durable, well engineered, and always top-notch in terms of quality. The Akona Roller Backpack is no different. This is probably the most feature rich bag on this list. It has everything which we discussed you want in a good bag. The price is a bit more than others but you certainly get more bang for your buck with this bag.

What We like
  • The Akona Roller has everything you need. There is a compartment for your regulator set as well as side fin pouches. A major bonus for better organization. Inside the main compartment is reinforced on the back and sides for extra support
  • When rolling the bag around becomes tough you can use the added backpack straps. This is extremely beneficial for those times when you need to go over a sandy beach or down a rocky dirt road.
  • This bag is giant. You can fit a full dive set including BCD along with all your clothes and other travel necessities. If you regularly go on longer trips this is the perfect bag to have.
What we don't like
  • With all the extra features and the larger size comes extra weight. The Akona roller comes in at 6.8kg (15lbs) when empty. This makes it the heaviest bag on our list. It will likely put you over the minimum baggage limit depending on what you pack.
  • This is one of the more expensive bags on this list next to the Stahlsac Steel 34”. You are getting much more in terms of features than the average scuba bag gives you. But, this may not be the best option if you are on a tight budget.
  • There is no water proof compartment. You will need to have a way to store wetsuits and other wet clothing so that your clothes don’t get wet. This is a major improvement that can be made to the Akona Roller.

Here is a video demonstrating the different features of the Akona Roller Backpack. It also shows how much the bag can hold.

Bonus: The bag can be a bit large for brining on dive boats. Use the Akona Collapsing Mesh Duffel Bag for transporting equipment onto the boat.

What’s our pick?

Our pick for the best dive bag is the Stahlsac Steel 34”. This is hands down one of the best dive bags on the market today. We’ve been using the Stahlsac Steel for over 2 years with no issues. The bag is incredibly durable and has held up on planes, buses, and liveaboards around the world. The price is at the higher end but this is one dive bag that can’t be beat.

If you are on a tighter budget, the Aqua Lung Explorer II is a great alternative.

In Conclusion

What are your thoughts? Do you have any experience with any of the bags on this list? Or, maybe you have a recommendation that didn’t make the list. Let us know in the comments section what you think. You never know when what you say may help a fellow diver.

Last update on 2019-09-15 at 23:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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