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Luggage: Size, Material and Brands

Hi all,

I am taking Sunbaked’s advice and starting a new thread about luggage preferences.

With travel ramping back up and sales everywhere, we are replacing a 17-year old soft side Samsonite set. It has held up great but is heavy.

My husband and I each want to take one checked bag on 2-4 week trips to Europe. I also take a tote bag on the plane as I travel with my laptop (Can’t get away from work yet.) We tend to move cities 2-3 times per trip and travel by train or plane between destinations.

Would love to hear thoughts on:
Sizes
Soft-side vs hard
Brands for durability and warranty

Thank you!

Posted by
4683 posts

I have a Travelpro Maxlite Rollaboard (version 1 ... they are now up to v5) that I bought more than 10 years ago. The first couple of years it got heavy use for business travel. I have been very happy with it and it has held up well with no problems. One nice thing about travelpro is that they sell replacement parts. I had an earlier bag (different brand) where wheels could not be replaced. The travelpro wheels are good quality and I have not needed to replace them, but it is nice to know that I could order a replacement if needed.

Posted by
11213 posts

What's your budget? The are bags on the market for under $100 and bags that sell for $1000 and more.

What size bag are you comfortable with? (Remember, many people on this board take carry on only rather than checking a bag ) But if you are taking trains, and transporting the bags yourself, the smaller the better.

Soft sided vs hard sided is really a personal preference. However, for checking you are probably better off with soft sided as there will be less of a possibility of damage.

Posted by
1298 posts

Yeah, everybody has their own idea of what works for them.
I'm 66, and mainly travel alone, so my main objective is to be able to handle my luggage by myself when needed. Since I use a CPAP, and like to bring trekking poles it's a bit of a challenge.

I'm a fan of EagleCreek especially since they replaced a suitcase they weren't able to fix. So, I check an EC 22" 2-wheel soft-sider with my collapsible trekking poles, and carry on a smaller rolling backpack with my CPAP inside. I only use the backpack feature when I need to carry everything at once. This has worked perfectly on a number of trips.

Because you and your husband are each checking one bag - I recommend a 25” rolling bag, unless you are a minimalist like myself. 26” and larger is getting into the “family” size. (There is a place for larger luggage.)

Plus, 25” will help to keep your bag weight under the 45 lb. mark unless you are packing cans of salmon from Alaska or other heavy materials. Because you are checking your bag, you may as well go with larger than a carry on size. Easier to carry larger bottles of shampoo, extra shoes, minimize laundry trips, etc..
25” is still manageable for trains.

My personal preference is for soft, but durable fabric. Delsey is a standard brand. We have a couple of those. They work just fine. But, it is not “bomb-proof” durability. Moderate durability. Will last for a number of years. But, expect faster rate of wear and tear. (We are still using ours.)
There are a number of good brands like eagle creek, ll bean, Eddie Bauer (recently taken over by another company), ebags.com, osprey, Deuter. Others will mention other brands that I can’t think of at this time.
This will get you started. (Patagonia is pricey.). Have Fun!

Posted by
5242 posts

I've been using a 22" Travelpro Maxlite the last few years. It's a little heavier than I'd like but seems to hold up well, and I like the setup for shirts inside the lid. I usually check it on flights even though I wouldn't have to. It's easy enough to manage on trains, sidewalks, etc. I had a Delsey for years before, but the zipper handles came off one by one so I replaced it. Lasted a long time though. I'd recommend soft-sided for flexibility and, I'd assume, lighter weight.

Posted by
8599 posts

Wife and I have TravelPro 21" carry-on bags. ( Hers the Maxlite; mine the Platinum) "Lifetime" warranty on both models.

Not seen their larger pieces, which presumably is what you are looking to get, but have been well satisfied with ours.

Posted by
83 posts

Travel Pro Crew 11 Rollaboard - carry-on; 22 inch; weighs under 9 lbs; easy to handle even when fully loaded. This is slightly expandable and can navigate through European streets with ease.
Bought this model in 2019 after the original Travel Pro wore out- had it for almost 15 years. Use it with cubes.
Amazon carries them in various colors.

Posted by
838 posts

Calimom: You could make this thread a lot shorter if you also stated whether you want wheeled, spinner, or no wheels. Otherwise you can get a n nearly endless discussion on these pros and cons that approaches religious zeal. Myself, I am a carry-on-only guy so I get to sit this one out.

Posted by
3336 posts

Calimom, Another fan of Travelpro. We have the Maxlight 5-Softside 22 inch, lightweight Expandable, upright. We prefer the two wheels vs. spinner style in Travelpro. It has withstood cobblestones and rough terrain for many years. It's stain resistant, water repellent and ergonomic. Limited lifetime coverage. It covers the cost of repair for damage from airline for 1 year. That said we've never incurred any damage. We like to pack light (under 20 lbs). We have black bags and use a colorful bag strap for easy identification. As far as a tote bag, I have the Hedgren, Nylon, Swing large Tote. It is perfect to carry a tablet or laptop. Exterior back pocket unzips to slide over luggage handle. It's lightweight and durable. I bought mine a couple years ago at AAA. Amazon has them as well.

Posted by
3680 posts

Quick answers:
Carry-on only.
Soft-sided.
Eagle Creek for both durability and warranty.

Another Eagle Creek fan here, but I usually take 4+ week trips, pack for a week, do laundry along the way and only check a bag when the plane is too small for the bag I'm using.

Eagle Creek does make some larger soft-sided roller bags, but the bigger the bag, the heavier it is before anything goes in it and the more likely it will be packed with things that aren't really necessary.

My largest bag is an expandable soft-sided 2-wheeled Eagle Creek Load Warrior. The last time I used it was on a 4+ week trip to Italy in 2017.

As you can see from these measurements and volume, the depth is what expands: 22x14x9-11 in.  41-45L.  5.5 lbs.  The unexpanded interior is 14x7, all but the top which is 14x6. It's no longer made, but similar to this 4-wheeled, heavier, smaller capacity one.

I love this bag, but I've since switched to a smaller, expandable, international one. The last time I used it was on a 5+ week trip to Portugal and Spain in 2019.

It's the Eagle Creek International carry-on.  20.25 x 14 x 8-9.25 in., 36-39L, 4.5 lbs.  Interior bottom 13x6, middle 14x6, top 14x5. It's also no longer made. The updated version is made slightly differently and is a bit heavier.

My bigger challenge is the personal item or tote, especially on European airlines. For example, if I fly Aer Lingus next year, their personal item limit is 13x10x8.

Due to shoulder issues, I'd hoped to use a backpack for my personal item, but the two I own are both a bit too big, as is the other one I was considering getting. So I have a little shopping to do, too. It seems like nothing is perfect.

Good luck with your shopping and decision-making.

Lo,
I realize I am high jacking this thread with this response. 13” x 10” x 8” is too small for a backpack. Torso length is important to me. My daughter has one of these tiny packs because that was the size allowed for a school field trip due to tiny lockers at the location.
Consider a simple duffle or large packing cube with a strap. (Even Rick Steve’s packable small duffle is too big.). An Ameribag purse may work.

Posted by
659 posts

What an impressive group that almost everyone travels with one carry-on. I know we can't do that but I am inspired to cut down on my packing! ;-)

I am leaning toward two medium-sized expandable bags for me and my husband -- a 25" or 26" depending on the brand.

My college daughter is headed to Florence for study abroad at the end of August and thinks she wants a medium and a large checked bag -- partially for any shopping she might do. Given she will be in Italy through December 19th, she will need a winter coat, a couple of sweaters and boots, so I also am shopping for a set for her.

I've read a lot about Victorinox soft side and hard side. It has a decent 11-year warranty. The Delsey St. Tropex set she likes has a 5-year warranty. And, of course, the Briggs and Riley has a lifetime warranty.

I didn't realize good luggage was so expensive!

Posted by
157 posts

After several trips with Rick's larger house brand wheeled bags (Eagle Creek and useful to tell the airport' it has RIK ST-EV-EZ on the outside' when it did not arrive with us) I have reduced to the smaller Eagle Creek international size wheeled carry on and a backpack (from Swiss) to carry my laptop and headphones etc on the plane. Both black, so as to blend in. I could carry it on, but don't. Less to drag across European airports which seem to get bigger each year. You may have to run to make a connection.
They may not make the exact model I have any more, but I like the rubber rollerblade wheels which can be replaced and are silent. I am not a fan of spinners on cobbled streets and hills. I even like the one piece handle as it leaves more room inside. They have a new model with a stronger less wobbly handle. The solid bottom half and the expandable soft top half work well on buses, trains and ship shelves. And it can be carried like a briefcase or heaved in by top and bottom handles. Very practical design. Lockable zips - bring own locks. A bow of orange flagging tape (I live by forests) helps separate it from all the other identical black bags on the carousel.

Posted by
3680 posts

Sun, I agree, but I was able to find some 7L mini backpack purses that are that size branded as Aotian, Echofun and Fjallraven. The last is supposedly designed to help kids' backs survive carrying books.

My "consideration" backpack is one someone on another discussion linked. It's a basic rectangle and rides high like the Fjallraven, but is a good bit bigger at 16x12x7. My max torso length is 17". The brand is Rangeland. This is the link to it. I'll probably get one of these to try.

I have an embarrassing number of Baggallini cross-body bags that would work if I could still carry the weight of my personal item that way, but these days my neck and shoulders will only handle the lightest of cross-body options. The more balanced distribution of weight and greater stability of a backpack should be better.

I think the choice of personal item is closely connected to the choice of major bag, particularly for those who check bags, because the personal item holds the most essential things we take on a trip.

Posted by
773 posts

In college I traveled for two classes - one in New York, one in Lithuania. I took huge wheeled suitcases and massively overpacked. Then I read rick Steves, got wiser, and started packing lightly. In my 4 solo trips to Europe, I took two pieces of luggage: a jansport backpack meant to be a school bag and mightbe 2,400 cubic inches, its not the cheapest or most expensive kind, the handle is not paded but the back and straps are paded; everything that was not clothes went in that backpack. Additionally I took 1-1/× to 2 changes of clothes in a duffel bag I bought in 2015 at Target for about under $40 + tax?, its woven polyester, about 22 inches long, with a shoulder strap, and better than the cheap kind of bag with an inner vinyl coating - i used to have a duffle bag with a vinyl coating on the inside and woven polyester on the outside. The vinyl layer started cracking apart and flaking off after 3 to 5 uses.

But maybe I would be better off with the kind of backpack that looks like a duffel bag but with straps.

Anyway in theory if you could pack extremely lightly, e-bay and Amazon both seem to have a big selection of luggage that would work as carru-on-only luggage, like what I have, just avoid the cheapest kinds that have the vinyl layer melted onto the inside of a woven polyester layer, because the vinyl layer may crack apart and start flaking off after a certain number of uses. Its hard to say how much good luggage should cost but a good backpack could be $60 to 120 or more, while a good non-wheeled duffle bag roughly like what I bought could be $20 to $40 us dollars or more. You don't need heavy, expensive wheeled luggage.

Posted by
1724 posts

As for a day pack, I use Rick’s Ravenna day pack for carry on. Love all the zipper compartments. So great for organizing all my essential needs including medicatiins, lightweight sweater, tickets and small laptop. Always amazed hiw much I can cram into it. Once I’m at my lodging, I empy out many items and use the pack for sightseeing.

Posted by
1277 posts

Becky, glad that works for you.... I bought the Ravenna back pack and the first rolling Ravenna bag.... have flown w them both domestically a few times..... my laptop is too big, and the opens like a book style of the Ravenna suitcase annoys me. I wanted to use the back pack w my old 30 inch roller bag for car trips, but thr trolley sleeve is too small
Whoe is me. It is a well made bag that holds its shape when empty, but I'd say unless a person is going to travel w a laptop of the correct size, it's kinda overkill

Posted by
773 posts

For a day pack I have been using a vinyl light-duty miniature-backpack - it has a drawstring closure and a zipper so the bag can be folded up and zipped into itself for easy storage. It might have cost $15 US dollars + tax + shipping, from a seller on e-bay, in about 2016.

Reading all the responses demonstrates the diversity - range of packing. Everyone carries different stuff for different purposes, different periods of time, different places. Also, each person has his/her own physical abilities and/or disabilities.
So, think of packing as a system for transferring goods. Then, develop a system that works for you.
Luggage prices are all over the place. I define “good” as functional and durable. If getting wheeled luggage - go with a brand that has been around for a while.
Your daughter may need a 29” or 30” case for living abroad. The problem with larger cases is avoiding exceeding the airline’s weight per bag allotment. Getting a luggage scale can help. A luggage scale looks like a handle containing a small digital screen attached to a strap. Larger cases can be problematic on some trains as well.

Posted by
3 posts

Except for the time of Coronavirus, I have travelled extensively internationally and domestically every year and have been delighted with the Samsonite Cosmolite medium-large sized check-in suitcase that I bought in 2012. Although it has been through a lot, it is still in great condition, and if my case were lost or damaged I would replace it with the same product.

The suitcase has spinner wheels, so may not be suitable for cobblestones or rough pavements. It is among the lightest hard shell suitcases, with a very plain clamshell design. The Cosmolite is expensive, but is worth the investment for frequent travellers. This Samsonite model may not be easy to find in shops outside of a large city, but is available on line. Look for sales! I chose the medium-large size as I am female, in my 60s, and need a suitcase that is small and light enough that I can competently wrangle, but is larger than carry-on. It also comes in large and carry on sizes.

The proprietor of the shop that sold me the case recommended the silver model as (she said) silver is the base colour and will resist scratching. Have no idea if that’s true, but I have been able to wipe off marks easily. Very happy!

Posted by
659 posts

Yes, lots of sales right now. The new styles are coming in. My husband and I are leaning toward a medium-size Briggs and Riley hard shell. It expands from 87 liters to 102 liters and has a lifetime warranty on anything and everything. It is a hefty investment so we are "thinking" about it.

We each want to take just one checked bag, and we both tend to overdress with shoes, theater clothes, a blazer, etc. I also will take a crossbody computer bag but my husband needs to figure out a carry-on for a book and his passport.

Good carry-on bags for men suggestion: RedOxx gator bag, RedOxx Metro, and Tom Bihn Co-pilot. There are many cheaper options. These two companies make durable, USA made products with good warranties. My husband has the gator bag and likes it. If you need a larger computer bag with a trolley pass-through sleeve, then get the metro.

I don’t have Tom Bihn products, but have read many positives about them.

Posted by
80 posts

Only Tom Bihn for me. Extremely durable products but only useful if you don’t travel with wheels.

Posted by
1814 posts

CaliMom:

Just a suggestion for your daughter's packing.
There are lots of stores such as Zara, H and M, Coin, Rinascente , Benetton etc. in Florence where she can buy winter clothing.
Also, I believe, a mall out of town with more stores to choose from, though I've never been there so don't know its location.
No need to pack heavy stuff over there in a huge suitcase in August!

Posted by
1277 posts

Lo , that packpack you linked from Amazon has a couple of colors on sale for 20 dollars!!!!!

Posted by
659 posts

Bought medium hardshell Briggs and Rileys. Now onto hand-free carry-ons for laptops/books/etc. So fun to travel plan again! :)

OH! My next email thread may be about walking shoes. BOY did I goof in London in 2019. Bought a sneaker but soooo uncomfortable for the 12-15 miles we would do each day.

I've recently bought the American Tourister Moonlight 21-inch, the best hardside suitcase from American Tourister, as for me.

Posted by
437 posts

I have a Delsey 21" wheeled suitcase, so I can use it as a carryon; for our upcoming Paris trip in October, though, that will be checked. I also have a 15" Delsey underseater - also wheeled and with the trolly strap because I don't want haul anything on my back if i don't have to.