How This $200 Duffel Bag Helped Me Stay Organized While Traveling Abroad

I tested the Monos Metro Duffel bag and here’s my honest review.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
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Last month, I crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever. I went on vacation for ten days to Barcelona and made a stop at Palma de Mallorca for a wedding. As an overpacker and fashion enthusiast, I knew it was going to be a nightmare to pack for so many days, particularly when I expected to encounter inconsistent weather. To make the situation more challenging, I decided to avoid checking a bag by packing everything in a carry-on and taking a duffel bag as my personal item in case I wanted to bring stuff back from Spain.

Luckily, Monos sent me a sample of its sleek Metro duffel bag just in time to test out on my trip. Spoiler alert: it was the best travel companion. I was able to take it as a personal item on both a large and small plane, and it fit perfectly under the seat. Keep reading to find out more about the brand, my experience with the bag, and if it’s worth the buy for you.

The Snapshot

What it is: The Metro duffel from Monos is a stylish multi-purpose bag designed with a spacious interior and multiple compartments to accommodate your belongings in an organized fashion.

What it costs: $205-$225, depending on the material (it comes in your choice of vegan leather or nylon)

Why it’s great: It has lots of storage space and pockets to keep big and small items in place and easy to reach. The most unique part of this bag is that it comes with a detachable magnetic pouch that you can clip to the back, which is great for toiletries or any items you want to keep accessible and separated from the rest of your clothes.

What would make it even better: As a 5’4” short girl, I found the removable shoulder strap to be a bit too long. While the strap is adjustable, I couldn’t adjust it to be short enough to sit at my hip instead of my thigh, making it a bit less comfortable to carry on my shoulder. If the strap could be made even shorter, the bag would be basically perfect.

About the brand

Monos was launched in 2018 by longtime friends Victor Tam, Hubert Chan, and Daniel Shin. The idea came when they were looking for travel bags that met their criteria when it came to design, quality, and accessibility. They noticed that while it was possible to find great, high-quality luggage, those bags were too expensive for the average traveler. They created Monos in an effort to change that.

Today, Monos is a direct-to-consumer brand that offers a robust collection of suitcases, bags, and other travel essentials, all featuring beautiful design, high quality materials, and accessible prices. The brand is also committed to sustainability — it’s the first luggage brand to be Climate Neutral Certified (which means it measures, offsets, and reduces carbon emissions in every aspect of the business), plus Monos is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means it donates 1% of revenue to non-profit organizations dedicated to helping the environment.

Quality Check

My Metro duffel bag came with a big dust bag, which I’m keeping to avoid possible scratches when storing it away. I chose the vegan leather version in the color Mahogany, since I liked how unique and elegant it looked. The first thing I noticed was that the material had a brighter color and shinier finish than I’d expected based on the photos from the website. I don’t mind, but I would’ve preferred a matte texture. However, I was really impressed by the sleek design and sturdy feel of the bag.

Inside the duffel, there’s tons of room for all the essentials. Two side pockets with magnetic snap closures are great for stashing your water bottle and umbrella, plus the bag also offers a front zippered pocket and felt-lined pocket that fits a 15 inch laptop — in addition to the larger main compartment. The bag also has two exterior pockets: one that’s zippered, and one that can be turned into a trolley sleeve to secure it to your suitcase handle. Finally, the Metro also comes with a small bag called the Classic Kit, which you can conveniently stick on the back of the duffel using its magnetic snaps. This prevents these items from taking up space inside the bag and keeps any items you may need within reach.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist

My Experience

I didn’t stuff the bag when I was initially packing for the trip, since I knew I wanted space to bring home anything I bought while abroad. However, it was still easy to fit all my chargers, a camera, a book, K95 masks, AirPods, and a small pouch with medicine — and still have plenty of space left over. I also added all my documents, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and cash to the Classic Kit so I could access them quickly while in the airport and on the plane.

Packing all these small essentials in the Metro really helped me stay organized during my trip. I knew where to find my medicine right away, I never lost my chargers, and I had my hand sanitizer accessible at all times. I also loved how the bag stood upright on its own when I needed to put it down, plus the cleverly-designed pockets were a game-changer. The trolley sleeve was also super helpful to keep the duffel secured on top of my suitcase while walking through the airport.

On my way home, I made space in my suitcase for the clothes I bought during my trip by putting my toiletry bags and souvenirs in my Metro duffel bag. I always struggle when packing everything at the end of a trip, especially when I find I’ve bought more than my suitcase will fit, so this made things so much easier.

The Verdict

Overall, this bag is an excellent travel companion. While I found it made a great personal bag to take along with my suitcase on a longer trip, it could also be perfect as your primary piece of luggage for a weekend getaway. Duffel bags tend to be flimsy when they’re empty, but this one keeps its shape even when it’s not full of stuff, which is convenient for packing or going through your belongings during a trip.

Beyond the fact that the shoulder strap was a bit too long for me, there’s really just one potential flaw to point out. If you opt for the vegan leather version of the bag, it weighs a heavier 3.53 pounds. If you prefer a lighter bag, I would recommend choosing the nylon version, since it’s about 1 pound lighter (and $20 cheaper). That said, this $225 duffel bag is worth the money, no matter which material you choose. It fits everything you need for at least a weekend, keeps your stuff organized, and it looks stylish, too.

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