Best carry-on bag that looks professional and FITS
December 17, 2011 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Trying to buy a rolling carry-on that will reliably fit in overheads and look professional when I take it to work/clients. Right now tempted by Tumi Alpha Continental 20" ($$$) but wonder if TravelPro Walkabout 4 ($) would be just as good.

I'm used to the amazing quality and lifetime warranties of Eagle Creek (none of their current line work for me, for various reasons- I will be giving my current Eagle Creek bag to a family member once I replace it) and a little put off by Tumi and TravelPro's much more parsimonious 5 year warranties.

Any opinions? I travel extremely frequently for work (essentially 15 days a month right now) and am sick of having carry-ons that I have to put in sideways or jam into overheads. 99% of my travel is domestic U.S., I frequently use public transport to get to and from airports. If you have other suggestions for high quality bags that will look professional and won't break (or any thoughts about 2 wheels vs 4...), I'd be grateful for them!

posted by stewiethegreat to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a great little 2-4 day bag from REI that I love. It is super lightweight and wheels very easily. It cost something less than $200, but I don't remember exactly how much. It is the REI brand, and the smallest size wheeled carry on. I took a quick look through their website and they don't seem to have that exact model right now, but others that might work.
posted by ohio at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2011

little put off by Tumi and TravelPro's much more parsimonious 5 year warranties.

You might consider Briggs and Riley. They have a lifetime warranty that even includes fixing damage caused by airlines. You might also consider buying something from REI or Costco due to their generous return policies.
posted by grouse at 10:58 AM on December 17, 2011

Rimowa Classic Flight Cabin Trolley 976.52
Aluminium being a soft metal will gain a patina of wear over time which you will either love or hate, but it does give you a hard shell case thats super-light.
(these may be hard to find in the USA, they are hand made in Germany)
posted by Lanark at 11:54 AM on December 17, 2011

Best answer: I have the Travelpro Walkabout Lite 4. It's one of my favorite purchases and looks very nice. I got the green color to distinguish from other's.

It probably is slightly big for your tastes, so the 20-inch version is probably a better call.
posted by sandmanwv at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend who travels often for work uses and loves the Briggs and Riley recommended by grouse. We went on vacation last month and it fit into the overhead bin of a very full flight with no difficulty. The warranty is really good.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2011

Yep. Tumi is actually pretty crappy: it's heavy, and in my experience it doesn't wear well. It's good for broadcasting status messages, but it's not actually very good luggage.

Briggs & Riley is luggage for precise neatniks: it's all crisp edges, perfect angles and beautiful details. I've had my B&R rollerboard for two years and it isn't showing any signs of wear. From a status perspective I'd say Tumi=Burberry and B&R=Brooks Brothers. (That's not exactly right, but close enough. What I mean is that they are both high-status, but Tumi is more for people who want to be impressive, and B&R is more for people who want things to work well.)

Travelpro is the line most used by airline staff. It's rugged and good value and well-designed, but nothing particularly special.

I've used all three lines: they are all totally fine from a professionalism standpoint.

There's good information here on ConsumerSearch. Also, a million miles of obsessive luggage comparisons here on FlyerTalk.
posted by Susan PG at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a very frequent business traveler. Tumi used to have a great reputation, but the company was acquired a few years back and their quality has gone in the toilet since. They're a half-step up from walmart quality, but still charging super premium prices for the name.

I personally own a Travelpro max-legal rollaboard, and after 4 years I still have nothing but good things to say about it. I've needed one repair in that time - the second-bag attachment point on the top of the bag snapped a couple of years ago.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2011

I finally settled for this british one.. It is not pretty. I saw it in real in Paris and it is AMAZINGLY light. It is also a european brand, so it is actually 21" (therefore really fits in domestic carriers) not 21" and quite some more once you got stuff in there.
It has a 10 year warranty. Granted it does not look the best, but at less than 5lbs, and such a warranty I am fine with it.
It is called it-0-1 (or the newest version it-0-2) in the states from international traveler. IN the UK, it is called sub-zero from Landor and Hawa

Cheap here but red only :)

Green set :

An old review:
posted by kirikara at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use the Patagonia MLC (Maximum Legal CarryOn) and am very happy. It doubles as a backpack if you have to run.
posted by k8t at 4:27 PM on December 17, 2011

I also like Rimowa but recommend the Cabin Multiwheel IATA. Expensive, like the Tumi, but a far better product.

Travelpros, IME, do not hold up well. Zippers break, side stitching comes apart. The other brand I like is Samsonite.
posted by grounded at 4:58 PM on December 17, 2011

I also travel a lot for work. My 6 year old TravelPro still looks almost new. My wife also borrows it since her Samsonite is falling apart.
posted by NailsTheCat at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2011

I just came in here to recommend Eagle Creek, who provide a lifetime warranty on all of their bags and whose design is just brilliant. They always have just enough pockets, but not in places that stick out or snag on things. The quality is excellent - I note that they are recommended as #1 on ConsumerSearch.
I have the Ramble 22, which is sufficiently capacious for a week's trip, using the packing cubes (also from Eagle Creek). I am always amazed at how much I can pack into this bag. It's soft on top, so it would probably not stand up to rough check-in handlers. But it squishes really well into the overhead locker.
posted by Susurration at 5:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

This 'Tumi vs. Travelpro vs. Briggs & Riley Quality' discussion on the forum that Susan PG linked to seems pertinent.
posted by NailsTheCat at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2011

I needed a luggage upgrade this year since I've been hanging out in classier airports. I still check my indestructible Pelican 1610, and I defy those monkeys to break it, but for something a bit prettier to be seen with, I went with Rinowa, like Lanark and Grounded.

(In my case, I chose the (tasty chocolate color) Salsa Deluxe Cabin.)

It's not quite as indestructible as the Pelican, but it's definitely better-built than any other carryons I have used, and it does get admiring looks and occasional compliments.

I'm so stylin'.
posted by rokusan at 6:43 PM on December 17, 2011

I travel for work three or four nights a week and have for about 25 years. Ive owned cheap, mid-level and expensive bags. IMHO you should avoid the expensive ones because you'll just suffer when they get banged up. Avoid the real cheapies because they offer no pleasure, break and fail to measure up to whatever your colleagues carry. The solution is to view the bags as quasi- disposable. Buy them from sonewhere like SteinMart or TJ Maxx so you're not paying full price. Spend no more than $100. That way you can experiment with different layouts (e.g., the outside pocket configuration, how to get your toiletries out for TSA, whether you like a top tray for suits or papers, etc. When they fail, even if you're on the road, just get another and dump its predecessor. My current bag replaced one that had a pen explode in it, putting my clothes at risk. It suffered a tear recently so it's not long for this world. It's really fun to buy a new bag while on the road, move in and toss the old one. With time you'll get better at choosing bags that works for you... then, and only then, consider laying out the big bucks for a high end bag
posted by carmicha at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2011

This 'Tumi vs. Travelpro vs. Briggs & Riley Quality' discussion on the forum that Susan PG linked to seems pertinent.

I like how some commenters refer to Tumi as the "douche" bag.
posted by grouse at 11:08 PM on December 17, 2011

my Victorinox baggage, which has a lifetime warranty, is fantastic. (Not sure if they make domestic cabin size though)
posted by jannw at 2:04 AM on December 18, 2011

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