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It’s a small step forward, I know, but I think finding the right carry-on is like finding a lifelong partner – you can go through several before you find the right one for you. Mine turned out to be the Briggs & Riley International Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Spinner. But I had a whole story (with suitcases, that is):
There were the bags without wheels with handles and shoulder straps, with which I started my career as a traveler. I had some in leather; I had some fancy designer fabrics, often with leather details: quite beautiful, some of them, but invariably hard on the arms, shoulders, and back. They looked fancy in the trunk of the car as I left for a long weekend to a driving place. But to maneuver in the terminals (or stations)? A ball and a chain.
Then there was the two-wheeled carry-on baggage that you pull by an extendable handle behind you and that I see in airports some people still hold onto. They seemed like a revelation. (Why, as visionary architect and environmental designer William McDonough once remarked, “did it take mankind 5,000 years to invent wheeled luggage?”) However, the better I knew about it. , the more I realized their limits. Having to pull them behind you invariably meant that you couldn’t safely perch a second personal item (purse, backpack, shopping bag, etc.) on the otherwise horizontal top of the carry-on. Why? Because when you pull such a suitcase, the upper part is always tilted. The second item invariably slides off and you end up with both hands busy: one pulling the suitcase, the other holding your other item. In short: the two-wheeler is a step in the right direction, but with hindsight, clearly below the evolving totem pole of rolling luggage (i.e. travel companions).
My first four-wheeled “spinner” suitcase, as they are called, was a Eureka moment. Maneuvering him around the airport terminals made me feel almost like Fred Astaire. Forward, backward, right, left, diagonally, in a circle, oh! Everywhere I wanted this suitcase to go, it went – smoothly, lightly, with no pressure on my hands or wrists. And still that horizontal top surface I could place on … whatever. Even a big cup of coffee after security. It made me frankly dizzy.
Except for one thing: every wheeled suitcase I’ve tried opened like a book, splitting into two equal halves. (As opposed to the old-fashioned opening, with the top of the suitcase unzipping or just popping off.) Most carry-on luggage these days (and larger suitcases, too) seem to fall into this category of separation for to open. A lot of people seem happy with them, to which I say, each their own. They are my pet peeve. For two reasons.
One: They take up double the floor space when open. I don’t like it in hotel rooms, where the luggage lockers are often not wide enough. And I don’t like it on the road: if I need to pick something up in such hand luggage at the airport, or add something to it, or open the bag for a TSA inspection, it’s just awkward and unwieldy. And such a case is really impossible to open when hidden in the upper compartment of an airplane.
Two: These suitcases don’t contain much, at least the models I’ve used and seen. Why? Partly because the handle mechanism is inside one of those aforementioned halves, eating up a surprising amount of space. I sometimes feel, when I pack one, that I really only have half the suitcase to play with.
Then, about five years ago, I received the Briggs & Riley International Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Spinner as a gift, giving it its full and proper name. Mine is olive green, but it also comes in black and navy. He is 21 inches high, 15 inches wide and 9 inches deep, and he weighs 9 pounds. It was love on the first trip. I gave up all the others and now it’s just me and my Briggs & Riley. (Please note that the National Expandable carry-on is one inch larger than the International, one inch narrower, and 0.3 pounds heavier. I chose the International because it is the preponderance of my travels.)
Here’s why I love it:
Its swivel wheels, of course.
Then, its capacity. It fits more than you might expect, for four good reasons:
One, because the handle mechanism is on the outside of the suitcase, basically – genius. The bottom of this suitcase is apartment.
Two, because of that somewhat short and wide wheel setup, which in my opinion offers more storage capacity than taller and narrower cases. (Please note that the Briggs & Riley website states that “you may need to check [the International] bag on a domestic flight “, because of this setup, but this only happened to me once and had no problem fitting it into the overhead compartments on domestic flights.)
Three, because the case as a whole is expandable. And not just a little. “CX technology,” the Briggs & Riley website says, “widens the bag by up to 34 percent.” I don’t know how to scientifically verify this, but I can attest that when I stretch it out – you do it by pulling on the little handles on the inner sides of the suitcase, which in turn extend the sides and make the suitcase look much larger. deep – I can often fit in enough (tightly edited, of course) for a seven day trip. (With some overflows, depending on the trip, consigned to a backpack balanced on top.)
Four, because the expansion mechanism also has a convenient compression function. Once everything you want is inside and the suitcase is closed you can push down on it, the little handles you just pulled will close and everything will tighten up a bit. Handy, I discovered, to make the suitcase look less square and slimmer, and prevent the eagle-eyed boarding crew from voicing objections.
All this is made possible by the two other characteristics of the suitcase: the fact that it does not open in half, but that it has this old-fashioned zipper which gives the interior compartment a real expandable depth. (Not to mention making the whole thing so much easier to open and less bulky when opened – see bête noire, above). And the fact that this Briggs & Riley is flexible, without that absolute stop in terms of what can be crammed into it, which these sleek metal cases (so beautiful, some of them!) Unfortunately have.
Then there are also the interior and exterior features.
Inside there is a zipped compartment for shirts, skirts, a suit and their hangers, and a zipped pocket for small items (I use it for lingerie). On the outside there are three — that’s right, three — zipped compartments. One, on the front, is only slightly smaller than the dimension of the suitcase itself, with plenty of room for laptops of various sizes, work files, magazines, etc. And there are two small zippered pockets, one also on the front, the other on the back, between the handle mechanism – for anything you want to have easily accessible along the way (documents, pens, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.).
What else? I love the Briggs & Riley aesthetic: Classic, not trendy. Nothing about it attracts undue attention or ages. The material is muted; zippers, sliding handle mechanism and inner liner echo the shadow of the outside of the bag. The coin looks good without screaming expensive (although it doesn’t come cheap – $ 649). It also has nice and subtle luxury touches: the main handle, by which you take the bag, is beige suede and is pleasant to the touch (it’s actually something you opinion); and there’s a surprising but nonetheless understated burst of color where you least expect it – in the lining of the smaller outer pocket on the front of the suitcase, which is bright orange. (The carry-on equivalent of the red stockings of Christian Laboutin shoes.)
What else? The ballistic nylon outer fabric is water repellent and abrasion resistant – there are no scuffs on my carry-on, although I have been using it for almost six years.
And finally, all Briggs & Riley bags are guaranteed for life. This is called “Simple As That”, and it is: the company will repair all functional aspects of your suitcase for the life of the bag, with a few caveats or exceptions. sense. Details are here. So basically it’s really is one thing forever. As I have said.
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