Duffel bags used to be the sole property of soldiers and sailors who stuffed their whole collection of uniforms and related items into one bag. But now other people are latching onto duffels. With carefully chosen (and packed) items, it's possible to travel for a weekend or weeks with just a duffel. And you'll never need a porter.

The best duffels are made of bantamweight, but sturdy, parachute cloth with shoulder straps or hand straps, plus outside pockets for small items. These bags fit into a small zippered case that can also double as a cosmetic bag.

The simplest way to pack a duffel bag is to fold each item carefully into its narrowest shape, roll and then tuck tightly into the duffel. Make sure shoes, particularly chachas, are at the center of the bag so they don't poke through the outer fabric.

Any wrinkles in most items will hang out. If something needs a touch-up, it should be minor - unless you can't give up starched shirts and taffeta skirts for your vacation.

Clothes for a five-day July Fourth weekend (or longer) all fit into the LeSportsac duffel with shoulder strap and outside pockets. (The clothes and shoes are from Ann Taylor, the duffel, $31, from Neiman-Marcus.) CAPTION: Picture, no caption, by Fred Sweets - The Washington Post