What’s the best luggage to buy for a trip? At one time or another we have all had to face the luggage question. And the answer always depends on what kind of a trip we are taking, for how long and what kinds of items we will need to bring.
Regardless of the variables, however, there are a few standards in luggage that we need to address with some kind of knowledge as to why whatever features they offer are important to the functions that the luggage will serve.
When it comes to luggage, not all bags are equal. Here is a quick guide to the basics of buying luggage.
Are you looking for something with wheels?
Then you would want to look at the advantages between two wheels or four.
As most luggage today comes with wheels there are plenty of brands and configurations out there to make this decision all the more complex.
Two wheels are more difficult to maneuver on some surfaces but if you are walking long distances and if you are moving along uneven or carpeted terrain, then two wheels might be the right choice. And then there is the question of carry-on space. Fitting a medium-sized two-wheel bag into the storage compartment of a plane can be a lot easier than trying to close the compartment door on a four-wheel bag.
A four-wheel bag, or spinner, can be easier to manage than a two-wheeled rollie on even, hard surfaces. They take little effort to move and control; they can be heavy in weight but still feel light at they roll along, unlike a two-wheeled rollie that distributes weight to the handle when in rolling motion at the forward angle.
It is possible to place items atop either a two wheeled carryon or a spinner, attaching to the handle and keep all items balanced as you move forward.
When choosing a spinner, be sure to inspect the wheels. If they are mounted externally they may be vulnerable to snapping off during rough handling. Make sure the wheels are attached with screws, rather than rivets.
The wheels on two-wheel rollies are rarely in danger of snapping off as they are usually constructed as recessed wheels. Plus they roll only forward and backward, so you can expect less wear and tear on these.
Do you want a hard or soft case? Both options have their pros and cons. A soft case bag is usually made of strong, water resistant material with zippers locking many of the compartments. That means it’s all about the zipper and these can be coil or chain.
Coil zippers are made from molded polyester sewn onto the zipper tape. They are less expensive to craft and more flexible for the bag, and also easier (and cheaper) to install. And they are also easier to break into: Coil zippers can be pulled apart with a ballpoint pen. You can try this test at home.
Chain zippers, on the other hand, can be metal or made from injection-molded resins that are fused directly onto the zipper tape for an incredibly strong construction. They are more resistant to dirt, and more secure for bag usage, protecting against breakage and intrusion. The industry gold standard for chain zippers is the YKK brand, which also may a statement about the quality of the bag.
Soft luggage is usually favored over hard luggage, if only because it is flexible enough and strong enough to stuff and stuff yet again. When you have to wedge in that one last thing you want to be wedging it into a soft case. In addition, these materials are usually lighter and can take a lot of abuse. But if you have delicate items in your bag and you do not want to risk thieves in the baggage holds at remote international airports, a lightweight but durable aluminum bag will be the answer. They cannot be torn through with a blade but they may also weigh more than a soft-sided case.
How’s the handle? Does it expand easily? Does it retract easily? Does it wobble? Is it long enough? The handle makes all the difference for both easy maneuvering and endurance in a choice of luggage. A handle should retract inside the bag, if possible, rather than along an exterior frame. It should have no wobbling effect and should be comfortable to the hand. It should retract smoothly into a well at the top of a bag (there should be a secondary attached handle for grabbing the bag in a hurry) and be easy to pull out in an instant without having to depress added buttons along the stem. And it should be long enough at its fullest extension to be comfortable for a tall person to roll (usually these have strong, unmoving segments to fit different heights). There is nothing so uncomfortable as having to stoop or lean as you walk to pull your luggage.
Traveling with luggage is like traveling with a friend. Make sure it fits your needs, fits your size, fits your requirements for accessibility and fits your aesthetics. Where are the pockets? Does it have outer and inner compartments that correspond with your electronics and work materials for easy access? Does it have a secret pocket for keys? A special place for beauty supplies? Or a special charging compartment for computer and electronics, such as is found with the FastPass™ easy-zip fold available on several models of ecbc bags? Is it small enough to run with you and spacious enough to accommodate you? Is it handsome enough to sit at your side and durable enough to withstand your lifestyle? Every bag tells a story: your story. It should be a tale of energy and vigor.
Finally, is your bag good for a year? Five years? Life? Check the warranty and consider how long you may want to have this piece of luggage at your side. Some companies offer a lifetime warranty – and that can be a great benefit against the many trials that will befall a bag, such as wheel replacements, zipper repairs, even rips and tears. However, luggage will get thrown, beaten, abused in its lifetime and begins to look its age eventually, no matter how many repairs you give it. A lifetime warranty sounds nice but are you paying for it in some other way? And do you really need it? The warranty, like the bag itself, should fit your lifestyle and the expected life of the bag under general use.
When it comes to how to buy luggage the options are as varied as travel destinations and purpose. But these questions should help make the journey as sweet as the destination.