I just finished a trip to Belgium and Germany - a lot of fun despite the awful bombing that took place after I left Brussels. I took my Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30, which is a very nice soft-sided bag that I carried on my shoulder. But it was heavy enough, even with all my efforts to pack light, that I'm now considering a small roller for trips like these. I noticed that in the European airports, so many people had very small, light rollers; maybe 18" or 19"? That would be perfect for me. But after doing some research, it seems that some of the hard-sided cases can crack if they are gate-checked or handled roughly, and there are reports of the zippers getting stuck. I'm a bit paranoid of spending $100-$200 and getting something that breaks after a few trips, and don't think I'd go for the more expensive Rimowa's or Tumi's that are $300 plus... Does anyone have a brand they recommend? Whether it is hard- or soft-sided, I am looking for something very compact and sleek, NOT expandable and not shaped like a duffel. I'm more interested in having it fit in the smallest overheads than in extra space. THANKS!
I use the RS 20" rolling carryon, fits evey plane compartment so far. It's expandable but yiu don't have to use that feature. I gate-checked it once and it looked like a miniature coming off the carousel.
My dream is to go even smaller, I hope you post again if you find something.
Thanks, @Zoe! I looked at that one just now. It made me realize one of the reasons I have shied away from suitcases in the past, but get interested by the ones I saw people using in Europe. I think I am looking for something that is simple on the outside, by which I mean having no pockets or bulges, whether it is hard shell or ballistic nylon. I'm sort of kicking myself for not picking up something in the Munich Airport on the way back, since they were all like that, but it is a big purchase and I didn't want to make the decision that quickly.
I took this REI bag to Europe last summer. We also took 2 REI rolling duffel bags which were great too, but they no longer sale them. This bag is on discount and if you're an REI member you can get an additional 20% off. They also make a great matching shoulder bag. It's perfect for an under the seat bag.
Thanks, @jehb2. Yeah, I guess I'm really looking for something smaller, though - definitely not over 19". I shop at REI a lot, and noticed that they only tend to sell the larger bags now. It's too bad, as I would like to take advantage of the discount! I have a 22" Osprey Ozone roller which I have used in the past (though only for domestic trips), and they used to sell the 18" version of that, but no longer do.
And after seeing how they look, I'd prefer something without any pockets on the outside, just simple and unadorned with nothing extraneous.
The February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports has an article on carry-on luggage. They measured 11 bags advertised as carry-on. Only two of the bags were small enough to fit into the airline sizer boxes. They discovered that some manufacturers measure the inside rather than the outside of bags. It is common that the advertised size dimensions are not accurate and they frequently don't include the handle or wheels. The article provides the manufacturers measurements and the CR measurements.
Of the two legal bags I'm quite interested in the Lipault Paris Foldable 2-wheeled 22 inch carry-on. It measures 22x14x8 by the manufacturer and 21x14x8 by CR. The reviews I've read state the bag is good and the exterior fabric quite strong. Definitely worth investigating.
I hope you can find the article, it's quite informative. FlyerTalk forums are another source of info about luggage.
We have bags from Kmart. We just bought another one last week. They are tiny, nothing fancy. But mine is about to make its 3rd trip to Europe and it's in fine shape. I never check it so it's not subject to much abuse. Last week they were for sale for $25. We looked at all sorts of other places - REI, TJ Maxx etc. These are the smallest. If you go, look carefully. They have two "smallest" size suitcase types. One has 20" on the tag and one has 19". We bought the smaller one.
Thanks again. I'll check out all the options! I'll definitely make the rounds to KMart, etc.
One thing I was impressed by in general, in the part of Europe I visited, was how much less "stuff" people seemed to carry. While traveling, and in every-day life as well. It's something I want to emulate. I figure that a smaller carry on is a good way to start.
And thanks, @jehb2. I do spend a lot of time at REI - will take a look on my next visit!
I use the Rick Steves' 20" rolling carry on as well. It fits in all the overhead bins in planes and trains and I've gate checked it in Copenhagen as well. Enough room to live out of for weeks but small enough to take anywhere. I used to have Rick Steves' Duffel without wheels (lost 15 lbs lugging that thing around Europe) but the rolling carry-on suits me perfectly. I find Rick Steves' luggage to be really good quality, well thought out and functional, and I like the extras included. I sound like a commercial, but the current sale with the free packing cubes is a pretty good deal.
...the part of Europe I visited, was how much less "stuff" people seemed to carry.
I've observed the same, most of the train travelers seem to travel with much less stuff than we do. Perhaps dressing in basic dark (a lot of black) cut down on the pieces of clothing. Dress in black every day and not only will not show dirt and stains, but no one will know its the same outfit.
PS Wife's RS 20 roller works well and is easy to handle. It's also relatively light for a roller.
Take a look at the Lipault (French company) Paris Plume 19" 2-wheeled roller. Measurements (19x13x6) are exterior and include wheels and handle. It weighs 5 pounds. It does not expand and is a very plain soft-sided rectangle. The Lipault website has it on sale now for $130. The usual online luggage vendors also carry Lipault.
I love my 22" (21.6x14.2x7.9) Lipault spinner. It fits easily in the sizer and overhead bin in all but the smallest planes.
Both bags have a single large pocket on the outside. That's convenient, but I never use mine.
Beth...I have the Lipault 22 foldable mentioned above. I will probably take it on my next trip in a few weeks. Very lightweight and seems well made.
They make smaller models but seem to be discontinuing most of their two wheeled ones for spinners. You may have to shop around but they can be found.
For smaller wheeled bags also look at the Rick Steves Rolling Backpack.
Very few 18 or 19" wheeled bags are sold in the U.S. because the market isn't there. Most Americans want the maximum size carry on and nothing smaller. As you noticed, Europeans want the smaller bags because their airlines have more restrictions.
Have you thought about getting a small rolling tote bag and laying the Aeronaut 30 on top of that?
Just wondering if the roller part is essential to your needs. A small sub-20" bag enforces packing limits and will likely also meet the 8 kg/18 pound weight limited imposed by some carriers like Lufthansa. If you are a reasonably fit traveler you may not need wheels. A back pack bag is in my opinion easier to transport over cobble pavements and walk-up B&B's without lifts.
A soft-sided pack is also easier to squeeze under airline seats if your flight is full and you can't find overhead space.
IKEA sells some luggage that might fit your needs. Some of it is only available in stores, not online, so if you don't live close to an IKEA, that might be a show-stopper for you. But check out the web site. I like that they are soft sided but not made of floppy material. And they are definitely simple and minimalistic in design.
For years I used a RS convertible bag. Then I switched to an Essential Carry-on because it was smaller and lighter. Together, they've made 10 round trips (21 weeks) to Europe and another dozen domestic flights. I've never had any trouble with either bag. I think the trick is to 1) always carry it on (which means buying one that is less than the maximum dimensions, and 2) don't pack it so full that you put stress on the zippers. By the way, one of my domestic flights was on a small regional jet. I was able to take my convertible pack on board, but they made everyone with a roller bag gate-check them.
I recently got an eBags eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr bag, and I'm anxious to try it out. I bought it for the cinch straps (because I don't fill it completely) and for the sternum strap, but I found that the waist belt to be very effective. I can loosen the shoulder straps so that there is no load on my shoulders, and it's all on my hips. It's very comfortable that way. It also has YKK zippers.
I will only add that if you go shopping to brick and mortar stores to take a tape measure with you and if you have a luggage scale, take that along as well.
If you want small and cheap and rolling, look at the kids' luggage at Target etc. As long as you don't mind traveling with Hello Kitty or Transformers.
Some of these posts are making me laugh out loud. I wish I could "like" or "thank" individual posts like on other forums. The idea of the "Hello Kitty" suitcase is really funny!
I agree that the warranty is important. Not so much if I get a $25 case, but if I buy a more expensive one, of course.
I'll keep looking and take all these ideas into consideration. I did notice that Moosejaw offers the same 20% discount REI has right now, and they have some options that REI does not.
My other thought is to purchase a suitcase next time I go to Europe (which is hopefully soon). The airport shops in Munich had a lot of options, and in fact that's what got me started on this idea. I wonder if the dollar will be as strong against the euro next year as this one...
I'm also a big fan of TB products, but the problems you experienced with the Aeronaut 30 aren't surprising. That style of bag (and this includes the RS and Red Oxx bags as well) aren't as well suited to carrying heavier loads for any distance, as all the weight rests on the shoulders. A properly fitted Backpack having a waist belt and torso range adjustment will always be better, as most of the weight rests on the hips. I use a Tri-Star for shorter domestic trips and find that it works well, even when using it as a Backpack (I may be ordering more TB gear after the big debut tomorrow).
"I noticed that in the European airports, so many people had very small, light rollers; maybe 18" or 19"?"
I've noticed that too. Quite possibly many of those people are taking shorter domestic trips and therefore don't need to pack as much gear as if they were travelling abroad. I have to wonder if they'd be using the same luggage if they were heading abroad for a month or two.
You might have a look at these Osprey and Eagle Creek wheeled luggage as they both have a good selection and you might find something that fits your needs.....
Good luck with your choice!
Thanks, @Ken. Yeah, I carry the Aeronaut 30 on my shoulder or by the hand, alternating, as I can't deal with it on my back at all. On the way there it weighed about 16 pounds, maybe 18 going home because I purchased some items. I'm also out of shape. Wheel-less travel would probably be easier if I went to the gym more. (Or, honestly, at all.) But either way, I think that all the contents of my A30 would fit into an 18 inch suitcase, because the volumes are supposed to be about the same.
I like your explanation about the Europeans having smaller bags because they are doing short hops! Could be.
I have the Lipault Paris Foldable 22" and it doesn't meet international (not sure about domestic) regulations on any flights I've taken. Definitely too large, but it is lighter weight than some others I have. The foldable feature only really helps if you're unpacking everything, which I only do if the trip includes only 1-2 overnight destinations. Personally, I think that the wheels/rolling mechanisms are always going to add weight and take away packing space, so I've been using non-wheeled lightweight luggage lately. Works better for me.
Glad you had a good trip!
"I like your explanation about the Europeans having smaller bags because they are doing short hops! Could be."
That's certainly the case when I'm taking domestic trips. Those trips are typically only for a few days or at most a week, so I don't need to pack the same gear as for my 1-2 month Europe trips.
We've switched off to ultra lightweight Travel Pro rolling bags, and they're just great.
Many, many perpetual traveler also use Travel Pro--we have noticed. There are many other great brands, but not at Travel Pro's price point on Amazon.com. We found them at Tuesday Morning even cheaper.
I had been looking for a decent carry on and liked the looks of the Eagle Creek No matter What Flatbed series. There is a 20" model that looked good in person and Frank II did a review of it. I did wind up choosing the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 22, though my wife does pack in one bag I will never talk her out of her 22 inch roller so we check our bags. Ken has included the link to the Eagle Creek page showing both these bags and I am including a link to just the Flatbed 20 and also Frank's review of the same.
Thanks for all the ideas. I decided to take one of each...
OK, I realized that while REI did not offer it any longer, Moosejaw had the Osprey Ozone 18", which at least satisfies the criteria of being ultra-lightweight, as I know from using the 22" version. They were matching the REI coupon of 20% off.
Not exactly a European-style hardside, but it is compact. I am SO tempted by a lot of the other ideas as well, but at least I will have a choice of wheels versus soft-sided bags on my next trip, and I shouldn't have any trouble lifting it up stairs.
Check out Gate 8 products http://www.gate8-luggage.com/
They specialize in carry on only luggage. I have their trifold and am very happy with it.
Beth, so glad you're safe after being in Brussels just before the attacks. There was a thread long ago on FlyerTalk, about a woman (Megan?) who used a rolling tote in combination with a soft-side case. I think she used a Tristar with a B&R small rolling tote, and this combo worked for CRJs.
I got a Magellans rolling tote, which I really like. Of course the totes can weigh as much (or more!) than a 20" roller. However, the tote holds a lot. Not as much capacity as an 18" but perhaps your load could be split with a decent-sized personal item. Those totes now have a spinner option --not sure what that does to packing volume.
I'm tall, and can't surrender the leg space for the roller tote, which goes in th overhead bin. So ultimately I'm not sure this plan works for me. But I liked the freedom of that small tote (which can be carried onboard by the handle so it looks like a personal item) in combination with my Bihn S19 backpack. It's really easy to maneuver. Also liked the idea of both pieces being so small, the risk of having to check them was less.
My RS 20" roller weighs less than the tote, and it's my go-to bag. That 20" might seem bigger than you want, but if under packed, the bag would be be quite small (narrow). If you could see the RS bag in person, that statement would make more sense. :-) -- Sherry
"The February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports has an article on carry-on luggage. They measured 11 bags advertised as carry-on. Only two of the bags were small enough to fit into the airline sizer boxes."
No, I got the article. It said, "Nine of the model were larger than claimed." One of the models (Tumi Alpha 2 Frequent Traveler), was the size it claimed, but the claimed size was already too big. Only one of the models (Lipault Paris Foldable) would actually have fit in an airline's sizer.
It should be noted that all 11 bags were rollers.
One other thought that occurred to me is that soft-side luggage is more likely to fit the airport sizing frames, as it can be "molded-to-fit" to some extent, especially if it's not fully packed. Hard sided luggage doesn't have that capability whether fully packed or not. If the airlines decide to change the sizing regulations again, it's possible that some hard-sided luggage will be excluded for carry-on.
@Ken, very true. Oddly enough, though, in my flights over the past two years or so, which have involved Delta, American, TAM, British Air, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Swiss, no one has ever, for whatever reason, asked me to put my bag in a sizer. I'm a little surprised by this every time. Admittedly, I've never flown a budget airline.
Once in a while the overheads get full, and that could be an issue. I have seen that the people with the tiny rollers don't seem to be having problems fitting them, but those with the larger rollers sometimes have to walk around a lot looking for a space.
The bigger problem for me has been getting tired carrying a soft-sided bag. The Miami airport stands out in that respect; I felt like I was running some kind of endurance marathon.
@tavapeak, thanks for the kind thoughts! I considered the roller as a base for a soft-sided bag. But I think I'll just go with a small roller (for now, the Osprey Ozone 18"), and then carry a personal-size backpack that will go to the seat with me. We'll see how that works.
Except for the number of vitamin/mineral pills I take, I can and do travel for a month in Europe with the same amount of stuff as for a long weekend in the USA. About three complete outfits and some miscellaneous items weigh 17-20 pounds. I usually take a 22" roller bag but sometimes take a smaller one. The 22" bag is ok to carry on with United, but I check it when flying the budget airlines within Europe.
The names of the two carry-ons listed in the Consumer Reports article that I mentioned earlier that are small enough to fit into many airlines' sizer bins (22"x14"x9") are:
Lipault Paris Foldable 2-wheeled 22-inch. CR measured it at 21x14x8
SwissGear 7377 20-inch Carry-On Spinner. CR measured it at 21.75x14x8.5
"and then carry a personal-size backpack that will go to the seat with me."
You could always use one of the TB backpacks such as the Synapse 19, Smart Alec or whatever. Those seem to be very popular.
Not a problem, Ken! I have the Smart Alec too. I've used it as a carryon when I travel for work (where I always check a suitcase), and it's just a terrific bag.
I think I'm about 20% at hitting a sizer request for passengers on a flight- regional jets with their more limited bin space are typically the culprits, though I'll also see them sometimes when the gate agents know that all the flights are going out full. (think Boston in the days before and after the marathon)
When the sizers are out, a largeish shoulder bag or backpack is likely to get just waved past by a gate agent, even as they ask someone with a wheeled bag that's actually smaller to put it in the sizer.
Just received delivery of the black 18" Osprey Ozone roller. Oh my goodness -- it is so small and compact-looking compared to the grey 22" one I have already. Liking the black exterior quite a bit. The bright green inside, not so much! I don't mind bright colors, but don't particularly like this one. But that's ok.
But it does have all the same organizational features as my other Osprey Ozone, including the quick-access pocket for toiletries at the top of the bag, which I have always appreciated, and of course the lightness. It is 4.14 pounds, unpacked. (In comparison, my soft-sided Aeronaut 30 is 2 lbs 14 oz.) To me, it measures just under 20" tall (not 18!), 14" wide, and I would say 8" deep if not overpacked.
They seem to have changed the hardware on the bottom of the suitcase -- hopefully it is more rugged, though I have not yet had issues with the one I already own.
I'll continue to use my soft-sided bags, including the Aeronaut. But I think that for my next trek around Europe, where I don't fly budget airlines to get there, and overhead space isn't usually an issue, I will save my back and try this out. Even if they are weighing and sizing the bags, my guess is that this one would pass.
Thanks for all the suggestions! This was an interesting discussion.
I read the reviews on Amazon and one said the Ozone 18" has a "bumper" to keep the bag from tipping over. I have a Ricardo Beverly Hills bag that tips over constantly when packed. It's one of the reasons I am not bringing it to England this spring.
I'm wondering if the bumper folds up into the bag somehow, or if it is always there. Would it catch or snag on something if checked through? Thanks!
That's a good question. My old 22" Osprey Ozone has a sort of bar or tube that runs along the side and front bottom. It has been redesigned a bit in the newer one I just bought, but is essentially the same thing. If you look at product photos you'll see it.
I guess it is different from a typical suitcase because it is not internal to the bag. I don't think it would get caught on the machinery if it was checked, but it is hard to know.
My plan is to take it on flights where it isn't likely to be checked; if anything, it would just be at the gate if that particular flight doesn't have overhead space. However, my hunch is that it would survive ok.
With many carry-on rollers in the 2.5 to 3.5kg range, but carry-on limits in the 7-8kg range, the theoretically permitted payload of rollers is very small. No wheels (and telescope handle) means 1 to 1.5kg less to carry. Now rethink 3.5 to 5.5kg payload in a sub 1kg backpack.
We bought this 20 inch and love it! Paired with packing cubes it provided so much room. No worry about rain and the shell is supposed to bend and bounce back if crushed. We have used them multiple times since our trip to Europe. We also each took a large personal bag (Hubby backpack and me a Kipling) for stuff that had to be accessible to us (Medicine, books, tablet, wallets, water, electronics, snacks etc).