The Army duffel bag, as we know it today, was first released in the beginning of World War 2. After the army realized the previously issued “barracks bag” would not hold all that would be needed in a soldiers day to day life. The name “Duffel” refers to the Belgium town of Duffel, where the strong, durable fabric was manufactured for the allied war effort.
Fixed with grummets and rings for closing, the standard issue army duffel bag is cylindrical in shape, 36 ¾ inches tall and 40 inches in circumference. Usually “Olive Drab green” in color, the duffel is also known as a “Sea bag” in the U.S. Naval Forces and Coast Guard. Military officials because of its camouflaging ability, chose the color. The first duffels were OD- #3 olive drab; as the war progressed the color was changes to OD-#7 olive drab, which is a slightly darker tone than before. Today however, the olive drab color is being replaced with a pixilated camouflage to decrease long-range visibility of the bag.
The duffel is made to carry every thing a soldier would need to survive. Things like clothes, equipment, mess kit and first aid kit. Most have a pocket fixed to the side for paper and map storage. In the event a soldier finds themselves in a large body of water the duffel can also be used as a short-term flotation device due to its tightly woven textile fabric.
Typically the duffel is issued to a new recruit during basic training. Their names and ranks are stenciled on the side of the bag just under the holding strap’s or on the bottom of the duffel. They were also marked on the inside flap between the closing rings. After World War 2 the soldiers were typically allowed to keep their duffel bag, and they quickly became the most widely found army surplus item. Today however, in an effort to reduce military spending, the Duffel bag is commonly recycled, retackled and re issued to newer recruits.