The life-changing magic of great luggage

Remember when some things just had to be bought in extensive sets that had every piece you could ever possibly need for the rest of your life? Probably because you’d get them once (likely as a wedding gift) and that’d be it.

Now? Well, for a variety of reasons, those sets just aren’t worth it anymore.

That 17-piece cookware set might be just a tad overzealous (who’s using that crepe pan, anyway?).

Knife sets almost always mean a crappy set of knives (and thanks to our knife skills class we know that you only really need three knives anyway – Chef’s, paring, long serrated).

Two sets of dishes make no sense at all – every day is special enough for our “good” set!

Just like the antiquated ideal of having an “everyday” and “good” set of dishes, gone are the days of buying a multi-piece set of luggage configured for the good ole days of transatlantic voyages or air travel when limits for things like baggage and patience were not such a thing.

Instead, we prefer to tailor our purchases to our exact needs and specifications (not to mention storage space!) and that’s especially true for our luggage!

Since we’re incessant, and often somewhat intrepid, travellers we’ve spent a good amount of time experimenting with rollerboards, carry-ons, backpacks, day bags, and duffles to figure out exactly what works best for hassle-free travel. We’ve discovered that there are some common qualities we can’t live without, which are present in all of our picks:

  • Four spinner wheels, to enable you to glide from gate to gate and through the aisles of the aircraft
  • Lightweight, durable, with as much internal space as possible,
  • Handy-dandy compartments that help organize clean from dirty, hanging from folded, accessories/intimates from clothing gen pop,
  • Ability hang together so you can maneuver through crowds with ease,
  • Removable charger blocks and cables (they can only be carried on if batteries are removed!)
  • TSA-approved carry-on sizing and locks for most airlines and routes,

These baseline qualities are great, but ya gotta know we need luggage to be both functional and attractive. After all, your luggage is an investment – one you’ll travel with for years to come! So, ideally it should be reflective of your personal style & brand! Besides, you never know what unexpected connections you might make at the airport….

CALPAK

TRNK Carry-On

We found it! The lightest, smallest vintage-style steamer trunk around! The steamer trunk trend is huge – and for good reason. It’s classic good looks and durability can’t be matched But, until this piece came along, the price tag for those qualities made it a tough investment. Calpak’s version gets full marks for all hitting of our requirements – including that it’s compartments organize our things without taking up valuable packing space.

Kaya Laptop Backpack

Travel – but make it fashion! This bag is a perfect companion for both. With padded pockets your most precious tech, compartments for documents, and our favourite ‘add-a-bag’ sleeve on the back, this bag has all of the bases covered while remaining sleek. The fact that it’s vegan and has the added style factor of braided edge styling pretty much guarantees that it’ll be in your everyday bag rotation.

TUMI

We know you know about Tumi! This brand has earned its impeccable reputation for craftsmanship and quality. That’s what you get from a company that puts all of their products through 30 different tests, many of which they pioneered! There’s lots of options in this brand, too, but one of our favourite collections is the Larkin, both for its slim profile and contemporary features. If your style is elegant, professional, and modern, this collection will be a perfect – and compact – reflection of you!

Sutter International Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-On

With more compartments and pockets than we can count, there’s lots of ways to organize your packing in this case and still sneak into the carry-on guidelines.

This case also comes with smart features like: a built-in USB port and interior cable, which can be removed for customs and to carry onto the aircraft, zippers that fit into built-in low-profile TSA combination lock (capable of locking both split case and front lid zippers), and TUMI Tracer® so you can always find your baggage if you should be separated from it. Oh and you can also have this piece monogrammed – gratis!

Santos Compact Carry-On

Made of the same Ballistic nylon as the Sutter, this bag is way more than it initially appears (and you can get your initials embossed on it, too). With zipped sections for your laptop, tablet, pens, cords, plus large sections for clothing and even a velvet lined jewelry pouch, this piece is perfect for an overnight business trip, or for use as your ‘personal item’ along with your rollerboard. And, of course, it has an open-ended sleeve to loop over the handle of your carry-on luggage, enabling you to scoot through the airport with ease. Matching monograms? You bet.

Bric’s

Italian made luggage since 1952, we think Bric’s is one of the best combinations of style and value. With 17 different collections, we can’t imagine that you won’t find one that suits your aesthetic from ‘classic vintage’ to ‘modern minimalist.’

We’re partial to the X-Collection for its lightweight, durable, luxurious looking leather accented, waterproof treated, polyamide pieces. There’s about 30 different pieces in the collection but for us it comes down to these essentials:

X-Bag 21” Spinner

We own this one and it’s served us well on all kinds of trips whether international or domestic, roadtrip or air travel. It’s super lightweight, water resistant, and mobile so it’s been great running through the airport for gate changes and we’ve never had an issue fitting it into overhead compartments. They say the 21” carry-on version is perfect for short trips, but we’ve found it roomy enough to pack for up to 2 weeks worth of well-planned outfits.

X-Bag Montagne Backpack

With multiple strap and handle options for carrying upright, on it’s side, or as a backpack, and a tonne of pockets to keep your materials organized, this backpack is one of our favourites. Possibly our favourite feature? the open ended sleeve on the back lets you slide it over the handle of your roller bag keeping two bags together and the weight off your back if you want it to be!

X-Bag 22” Folding Duffle Bag

Look, you always need a ‘just in case’ fold-away bag. What happens if you have time go shopping!? That’s what we love about this piece. It’s a hefty-sized duffle with straps long enough to hoist over your shoulder without worry, but it folds up flat into a pretty teeny tiny bag to keep it tucked away.

AWAY

You have to have seen the AWAY hard case online and wondered if it’s as great as the Instagrammers and Bloggers who are ubiquitous in their campaigns. We’d have to say that if you’re hardcore about a hard case, this is a great one. Their values are a bold part of their offering: access over aspiration, exploration over escape. They boldly proclaim their ‘give back’ culture – social enterprise as core instead of social responsibility as a later thought. Their aim? To make everything you need for travel and nothing you don’t.

The Carry-On

Smart sectioning within means that you’ve got an internal compression system area for clean clothes and a hidden laundry bag for worn items. It’s also got a TSA approved combination lock, ejectable battery block for charging your phone, and 360° spinner wheels.  

Oh! And remember to check out their at home personalization! Who doesn’t want puffy leather stickers to dress up their bags?

The Daypack

Such a thoughtfully designed pack! Super trim, and yet with tonnes of organized pockets to keep everything easy to get to, you might even give up your handbag (or at least put it inside the pack while you’re on the move). We’re not even just talking about pockets for things like your laptop, phone, and documents – this bag has compartments for little things too like a key clip, slip pockets for tablets and batteries, too!

And, as with all of our favourite travel backpacks, this one has an add-a-bag sleeve that lets you attach it to your rollerboard with ease. We’d use this in the city too though – it’s perfect for those days when you’re kickin’ it in a café doing a little light remote work.

The Signature Garment Bag

This garment bag is a little extra somethin’ somethin’ you didn’t know you needed. Sure it holds garments on hangers, as you’d expect, but it can also attach to AWAY carry-ons via its handles, and has a removable shoulder strap if you prefer. Even better? There’s zipped pockets along the inside where you can store the accessories and small leather pieces that complete your outfit – all in one place!

Briggs & Riley

Celebrating its 25th anniversary of creating premier quality luggage pieces, they’re still the only company that boasts a lifetime warranty on their products. They don’t only stand by that claim – they use it to inform every stage of their process from design to execution to customer care. How do we know for sure? In addition to their baggage, they feature Self-Repair Kits on their website that range from replacement zipper pulls, spinner wheel sets, handles, foot repairs, and replacement bumpers – all of which have a big ole price tag of FREE.

Now, we know this isn’t the prettiest of the options, but we think its features are so impressive that we’re willing to make the trade-off for this iconic, workhorse collection.

International Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Spinner

This bag fits into an overhead compartment feet first, and has a very special feature we think you’ll love. It uses Briggs & Riley’s patented CX™ Compression-Expansion Technology which allows you to physically expand and overfill the case by 34% and then compress it back down again to its carry-on dimensions! Between the compression, hanging garment and mesh zipped compartments, It’s like having packing cubes built right in!

Suiter Duffle Bag

A duffle to beat all duffles!! We’ve never seen another like it. This bag can be used in whichever configuration you prefer and is fantastic for overnights, weekenders, or as an add-on to your rollerboard – because obviously it has our required add-a-bag sleeve. But whether you need the wrinkle-free convenience of a garment bag or the stuff-it-all-in quality of a traditional duffle, this bag will do it all with style.

Deluxe Wheeled Garment Bag

This one is purely a bonus because we love it so much! A highly specialized bag for suit- or dress-heavy trips, this fold-up, spinner garment bag is a wardrobe case on crack! It can hold 4-8 suits plus shoes and accessories, in pockets of their own – and it’s still carry-on sized!

What are your favourite bag combos for travel?

cover image courtesy of away travel.com

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