Norrøna Roller Bag ($329)
The problem with most jumbo roller bags is that the internal frame takes up almost as much space as the gear you’re packing. But Norrøna’s Duffel Trolley offers a cavernous 120 liters of storage space, thanks to a simple but clever design feature that does away with the telescoping handle – and therefore the internal frame – in favor of sewn-in flat handles at the top. This keeps the bag’s weight low, making it easier to stay under an airline’s 50-pound limit. Half-inch-thick trekking-style backpack straps make carrying this heavyweight 450-denier recycled nylon duffle bag more comfortable over rough terrain, even when fully loaded.
STM Goods Dux 30L Backpack ($250)
STM stands for “smarter than most”, which sounds pretentious until you try the Australian brand’s Dux backpack. With 360-degree foam padding in the case, our tester felt comfortable lugging around delicate cameras, lenses, and audio gear. Flexible, adjustable polyethylene foam shelves form up to three protective compartments in the main body of the bag and are accessed via a zippered butterfly wing panel on either side. Plus, the laptop and tablet compartments hang above the bottom of the bag with a thick EVA foam cushion adding extra buffer against knocks and drops.
Gregory Quadro Pro Hardcase Carry-On ($230)
Many wheeled luggage now have a specific storage compartment for laundry or shoes. But Gregory ups the ante with a removable 22-inch pouch that features an antimicrobial coating to prevent even the most noxious items from impregnating the luggage with their odor – a refinement that proved useful for our tester during a two-week trip with no way to do laundry. We also liked the external USB charging port (just zip your power bank into the interior pocket and plug it in) and the compression straps with zippered storage for small items. All four wheels roll smoothly over all kinds of surfaces, from city streets to gravel.