What I Learned About Luggage from Working at a Luggage Store

6 years ago I worked at two separate luggage company stores in New York state for over a year. It was a random job I picked up to just fill in the gap while I found my “real job”. I knew zero about luggages and didn’t care before then either. It turns out purchasing luggage can get complicated and expensive.

This was before I discovered that I wanted to travel long-term. At the store, I met people from all over the world coming in wanting to know if certain pieces would fit as a carry-on, weight restrictions for airlines, and liquid restrictions. Little did I know I was learning all of this for a much bigger plan years later.

Many of you are backpackers but at some point you might need actual luggage. Maybe for a business meeting, family travel, or weekend trips. Whatever the case may be, these are some tips on choose the best luggage from what I learned working at the stores.

Weight Is Everything

Most of my decisions in choosing a good piece of luggage is dependable on weight. I want my luggage to be as light and as small as possible. I don’t want to have to pay an extra $50 because of the extra weight and I don’t want to have to lug around a heavy bag since I’m constantly moving around. In the luggage industry, weight and durability are probably the single most important factors in terms of competition. Many of the top quality luggages pride themselves in light weight and durability.

4 Wheels

Personally, I hate four wheeled luggages. The added weight of two extra wheels isn’t worth it for me. If any one of those wheels break off, the whole thing becomes useless. Each of those four wheels are dependable on each other and if one breaks off then it becomes impossible to balance. While you might be taking good care of your luggage, you have no idea what’s happening to it on the outside once you check it in. They can be pretty rough with the bags so you never really know if your bag might come out with a missing wheel.

Luggage handling

Hardside Luggage

Hardside luggage is typically heavier than fabric luggage so you’ll never find me with one of these. They do however have a bit more durability than fabric. I found though that most people who use hardside, don’t need it at all and end up just putting clothes in their luggage and put their delicate stuff in their carry-on. Polycarbonate shells or ABS would be your best bet. They are normally very prone to cracks and scratches and in the long run may require more repair services.

I recommend checking out Rimowa.

Casing

I found most of the cheaper luggages have a soft backside. This might be something you never thought about but next time you buy a set, check the backside. I prefer a hard backside for durability but it does add on some extra weight.

Briggs and Riley Bag - Photo by Robert S. Donovan on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Briggs and Riley Bag – Photo by Robert S. Donovan on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Quality. Not Style.

There’s a lot of brands to choose from. Pretty colors should be the last thing you should be looking at but it’s what many customers look at first.

Size

I had a lot of customers come in complaining that their luggage was not carry-on despite the bag saying it’s for carry-ons. International and domestic flights have different regulations and in most cases, international flights have a smaller allowance for carry-ons. Check with your airline before you go purchasing a bag that says carry-on when it’s not for your particular airline or flight.

My Recommendations

Briggs and Riley is by far my favorite brand in luggage. It’s quality luggage and their warranty is top notch. In second I’d say Travelpro is good and cheaper. Victorinox Swiss Army (which I currently own) is pretty good but I feel so much of it you’re paying for the brand name than the actual quality. I’m not really huge fans of Samsonite or Tumi.

There’s some affiliate links in there. Everything mentioned is my real personal opinion.
Support me by purchasing here if you’d like but know that you’re not being tricked and never will be.

26 Comments

  1. Jeff Broman on June 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm
  2. Jeff Broman on June 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm
  3. Durant Imboden on June 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm
  4. Durant Imboden on June 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm
  5. roy marvelous ϟ on June 11, 2012 at 8:01 am
  6. Florine on June 14, 2012 at 9:06 am
  7. Florine on June 14, 2012 at 10:06 am
  8. Kenyatalii on June 25, 2012 at 2:16 am
  9. Kenyatalii on June 25, 2012 at 3:16 am
  10. Ashish Bhardwaj on April 27, 2013 at 2:03 am
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  12. Kevin Thomas on June 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm
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  14. mandaj812 on March 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm
  15. Cruz Peinado on August 19, 2015 at 10:53 pm
  16. Amirah Mari on October 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm
  17. bigim on May 15, 2016 at 12:44 am
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