I’ve been on the hunt for a more ‘adult’ weekender duffle bag for some time. Something classic, one that would stand the test of time. My wardrobe can be considered a mish-mesh of things, so I needed a bag that would go with a lot of different style. Again and again, my eye kept wandering towards Madewell’s “The Essential Overnight Bag” in supple brown leather.
The price is on the steep side, retailing at $258, but knowing the company, I knew it would be made well (I’m sure they haven’t heard that before). I was not disappointed in the quality of the bag. The leather is beautifully made, though a shade darker than pictured on their website. The zippers feel significant, if that makes sense, and they added details such as gold feet at the bottom, a leather tag attached to the handle, and a few pockets inside to make organization a little easier.
I’ve read reviewers complaining that the strap is canvas and not leather, but I found it a relief. Too much leather is too heavy.
I brought this bag for the first time on my Japan trip and was able to fit three outfits, an extra pair of shoes, and my beauty bag. Perfect for a weekend trip. It’s spacious, especially if you’re packing for a summer getaway where nothing is too bulky.
I did try to overstuff the bag and the zipper did not agree with it, misaligning itself, and let me tell you, it’s a pain to realign. In fact, I doubt it would ever be the same. So be warned – do not overstuff.
As for the leather, after one week of being as careful as I could while stuffing it on overhead bins, transporting it in the trunks of cars, and just sitting it on top of rolling suitcases, it still managed to get scratches that seems irreparable. The leather is beautiful and soft, but it is prone to scratches. Because of this, I may only take the bag on relaxing weekend trips rather than rugged weeks-long adventures where it gets transferred to many locations.
If you fancy the structure of the bag but not the sensitivity of the leather, Madewell has canvas options that are built for a more carefree traveler.
Final verdict: this leather weekender bag is a great addition to a traveler’s luggage arsenal who appreciates beautiful aesthetics.