Our Luggage Picks

July 12, 2010

Our Luggage Picks

If you’re a regular traveler, it makes a lot of sense to invest in high-quality luggage that will get you where you’re going in style.  Shoddy, mis-matched luggage won’t do.  Luckily, if you don’t know what to buy, we can help you.

You should be looking for luggage with a simple, classic aesthetic, in a practical form factor.  It should also be repairable and replaceable, and you should be able to add to your set as circumstances require, even years after your initial purchase.  Below are our recommendations.

The Practical: Briggs & Riley

Briggs & Riley make simple, durable luggage with an ironclad guarantee.  If you don’t mind the slightly anonymous look of the ubiquitous nylon roller bag, this is the stuff to buy.  Like better-known manufacturers, Briggs & Riley bags are lightweight and made to take any abuse that an airline baggage handler or international trip can dish out.  They’re also covered by the best guarantee in the business.  It is, put simply, unconditional.  If it breaks, they will fix it for you.  You don’t need to provide a receipt, you don’t have to prove that you weren’t negligent, they just fix it.  Surprisingly, their luggage is also affordable – they’ve got standard rolling carry-ons for less than two hundred bucks.

The Rugged: Filson

One of my mother’s best friends quit his banking job in the 80s to become a fly fishing guide.  He swore by Filson, and their motto, “Might as well have the best."  I think of him when I carry my own Filson luggage.

Filson luggage is made of oil-impregnated twill, which is incredibly rugged and mostly water resistant.  Filson also guarantees your satisfaction – if you don’t like how your piece is wearing, they’ll replace it or repair it at cost.  I think their Passage line is homely and I’ve heard reports of compromised quality, so stick with the classic rugged twill.  It’s beautiful and should last a lifetime.

The Luxurious: Globe-Trotter

If money were no object, I would carry Globe-Trotter luggage.  It’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  It’s also fantastically expensive.  So beautiful, though.  So beautiful.  They’re handmade in England of a special resin-coated "vulcan fibre” which was the height of technology when the line debuted in 1897.  “The well-known test of a 1 tonne elephant standing with its full weight upon a Globe-Trotter case took place at the Zoological Gardens in Hamburg and remains a testament to the strength of our cases.”

The Thrifty: Hartmann Tweed

Hartmann luggage has been operating continuously since 1877, and their tweed line has been central to their business for a great portion of that time.  Not only is it distinctive and aesthetically pleasing, it’s also widely available on the second-hand market.  It’s not uncommon to see a full set of Hartmann Tweed go for less than a hundred dollars on eBay, and they pop up regularly on Craigslist and in estates as well.  Their presence in these venues is a testament to their durability and timelessness.  It may be relatively difficult to find contemporary-style rolling carry-on bags, but if you’re willing to carry a suitcase, you can acquire a full matching set for a very reasonable price.