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A brief weekend getaway, however lovely, always presents a packing conundrum. Even the smallest luggage is too large while most weekender bags are proportioned in such a way that they must be packed just so or you’ll find yourself in a heave-ho battle with the zipper on both ends of your journey.
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The ideal bag for quick trips should be compact but leave plenty of room for all the essentials, made with hardy materials that can be knocked around in the trunk or overhead bin and a soft construction that can be stuffed in any number of ways—oh, and look as good as the rest of your ensemble. Too good to be true? Meet Ghurka’s Cavalier duffel.
Inspired by British military gear of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Cavalier range’s classic good looks are what first catch the eye. It’s a textbook duffel silhouette, hand-cut and hand-stitched at Ghurka’s Connecticut headquarters, simply adorned with leather trim and solid brass hardware. While it’s available in a full leather version, I opted for a new, seasonal variation in khaki cotton twill trimmed with pale gray leather. And in the hopes of finding a small but mighty weekender, I went for the range’s most petite model, the Cavalier I.
It is definitely on the smaller end of the average duffel bag, clocking in at 18 inches wide by 10 inches deep and approximately 9 inches tall. Upon its arrival, my first thought was: No, this is far too small. But given that Ghurka’s return policy allows one to test its bags on the road and, if they disappoint, return them within 45 days, I figured I’d give it a chance.
Much to my surprise, it held everything I needed for a two-night trip: one pair of jeans, one pair of trousers, two shirts, two sweaters, a couple of tees, socks, underwear, toiletries and a footlong laptop, chargers and a notebook. The bag’s capacity is of Mary Poppins proportions. That being said, my destination was sunny and tailoring and a change of shoes weren’t on the itinerary.
The roomier Cavalier II would be well-equipped to handle a larger load while the even bigger Cavalier III could ferry enough for a week or longer. But for brief leisure trips, the Cavalier I’s modest size is ideal—lightweight and comfortable enough to toss over a shoulder even when hiking to the very last gate of the airport terminal. And until my next getaway, it’s found a new purpose as the smartest looking gym bag I’ve seen in any locker room.
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