Help Me Try Something New, What Luggage Should I Buy?

For the longest time I was a ‘whatever bag I can buy for $35’ guy. But I travel enough that a quality bag isn’t really that expensive — it’s one thing to spend a few hundred dollars on a bag that you’ll use once or twice a year, but on a per-trip basis the extra cost for a quality bag isn’t all that much when you’re using it every week.

I’ve been using my 19-inch Briggs & Riley Baseline for several years. It’s the old two wheel kind, and I’ve finally been converted to preferring four wheels.

I picked up a 17″ spinner bag a year ago on sale for ~ $50, and I just love it although it’s not really great quality. I can even manage to stick it under the seat in front of me in domestic first if I board late an the overhead bin space is gone.

I find that I like to have three bag sizes:

  • 16″ – 17″ for 3-4 day trips. (1-2 day trips I like to just carry my laptop bag, it gets heavy but I’ve got a Tom Bihn Absolute Shoulder Strap and with that thing I can carry almost anything.)

  • Cabin bag less than 21 inches wheels inclusive for 5-7 day trips. I don’t need a full 21 or 22 inches for a 5 day trip. And I like to be safely within bag sizer guidelines.
  • ~ 26″ bag to check for 10-14 day trips.

And I want to have all three with four wheels.

  • I don’t want a separate laptop pocket, I’d rather not give up flexible packing space and I always carry my laptop bag.

  • I want a bag that’s going to last. I don’t want the zippers breaking off, and I don’t the handle breaking either. Quality construction is far more important to me than warranty, since I don’t want to spend time dealing with getting the bag fixed (and that’s time without the bag as well). In other words, I want a bag that doesn’t need to get fixed — not one that will be free to fix.

  • It shouldn’t push the envelope on domestic carry on sizes by even half an inch.

I think TSA locks are silly, they don’t protect anything from anyone.

I don’t mind buying a nice bag, but I don’t really want to spend big money on a bag either. I don’t want to spend $500 for a Rimowa carryon, let alone more for a checked bag, for instance.

What should I buy?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, I try to read all your posts, but have not seen which bag you decided to buy. Have you bought a new bag yet or decided which bag to buy? Thanks. Don

  2. @Don in ATL I do intend a followup, but I need to actually buy the bag and use it to have an opinion to report, sorry it takes awhile, and thanks for everyone for the recommends!

  3. As a frequent traveler i would recommend a bag from because they have bed bug protection, helping you bring home your things and not little bugs that can overrun and infest your home costing you thousands of dollars. was worth it for me.

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