Where is the "just right" luggage?
December 4, 2017 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I have one suitcase that's too big and one that's too small. I used to have one that was just right, but I gave it to my son. I'm losing my mind trying to find something in between.

My too big suitcase is 26 x 18 x11. My too small one is 19 x 13 x11. I'm finding some small ones that are 21 x 14, which doesn't seem enough bigger to make a difference (if I'm wrong, please tell me). Going through Amazon and ebags, it just seems impossible to narrow the search enough that I don't end up having to click on a thousand different suitcases to look at the size - even when I use what they have to narrow the search by size. Is there an easier way to do this that doesn't involve going to a store? Do you have a suitcase in between that you love? I've looked at previous asks, and Travelpro and Briggs and Riley seem like great brands, but I can't find anything that's the size I want. I'm going to be traveling for a week, and my too big suitcase is just too heavy and unwieldy for me to manage.
Please assume that I've already read every online guide to suitcases imaginable and that the link to wirecutter's page on luggage will not be helpful.
posted by FencingGal to Shopping (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you looking for a bag to check, or a carry on?
posted by primethyme at 9:05 AM on December 4, 2017


Are you specifically trying to find a suitcase that will be allowed as a carryon? On most airlines that'll restrict you to about 21x14 (including wheels), so that limit is what a lot of luggage size points are built around. That may not seem any bigger than your current one, or it might; my main caution is that any design with the 4 external spinny wheels underneath is sacrificing interior space for those wheels, so be sure what the "length" dimension includes.
I do feel that my 20"x14" Delsey is much larger than my husband's 18.5" x13.5" bag, so it's possible that 21x14 you mentioned would still be interesting to you.
posted by aimedwander at 9:06 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm going to check it whether it's carry on size or not, so it doesn't really matter to me.
posted by FencingGal at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2017


Do you want a wheeled bag or are you okay with a convertible backpack?
posted by praemunire at 9:24 AM on December 4, 2017


Wheeled.
Great questions here - I clearly forgot all kinds of details. Also, strong preference for colors besides black so the bag will be easy to spot.
posted by FencingGal at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2017


I think the magic word for you is "Carryon" when you're searching; that's about the carryon size (even if you're going to check it).

I have no recommendations, since I actually use a regular gym bag for this purpose. I pack light enough to fit everything into such a bag, and it is soft-sided so it can be squished into whatever shape the overhead compartment is; also, it's more likely that it comes in different colors.

Consider looking at sports/camping outlets like EMS or REI as well. It's not all backpacks, they also have duffel bags in their luggage selection. You're likely to find well-made things, along with a variety of colors; you can also filter for wheeled/not wheeled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2017


I think the problem you're running into is that the 21" size is getting fairly close to the max carryon size. I suspect for anything slightly bigger, the luggage companies are going to shrink them down enough to be an allowed carryon because it opens up a lot more market. And if people want bigger than a carryon, they want a substantial jump in size to be worth the reduced flexibility.

I think aimedwander has an important point. You really can't go just by the stated dimensions to determine how much it will hold. I have a (larger than you want) Briggs & Riley which is externally smaller than an old Samsonite I have, but it holds substantially more because the design is better. Also, bags can vary drastically in weight, so it's possible that you could get a bag similar in size to your 26" that is much lighter and easier to handle. The aforementioned Briggs & Riley large suitcase is lighter than the next size down in my Samsonite set. It might even be lighter than the smallest one, I'm not completely sure.

So, I know it's not the answer you're looking for, but I think it will be a great use of your time to find a store where you can go look at this stuff in person.
posted by primethyme at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think aimedwander has an important point. You really can't go just by the stated dimensions to determine how much it will hold. I have a (larger than you want) Briggs & Riley which is externally smaller than an old Samsonite I have, but it holds substantially more because the design is better.

This raises a good point - wheeled luggage with a retractable handle actually has a smaller storage capacity, I've found, because some of the space inside is taken up by the housing for the handle. If you're looking for something small but can still store a lot, that's yet another argument for the soft-sided, non-wheeled duffel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I recently bought a TravelPro that is 22.5 x 14 x 9. Very good quality, and I saw that they had it in purple and bright blue.
posted by wryly at 10:01 AM on December 4, 2017


On the Briggs and Riley site, the magic word for that in-between size seems to be 'Domestic carry on,' since US airlines tend to allow bigger bags than non-US airlines. That will get you something that's around 22-23", which will feel much bigger than 19". You said that you can't find anything from them in the right size - are you looking for bigger or smaller than that? I've had one of their bags for the last 10 years, including years of weekly travel, and it's in great shape.

I also have a (smaller) Swissgear that has held up well, and it looks like you can both filter for that in-between size and see the height without clicking through.
posted by oryelle at 10:07 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I used to have one that was just right, but I gave it to my son.

Can he measure that bag, or can you just buy that model again?
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2017


^or if it's an older model, the dimensions and capacity might still be listed online somewhere and you can use that info to find a similar one.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:11 PM on December 4, 2017


On Zappos, you can search by luggage size (if not exact dimension).
posted by oceano at 7:19 PM on December 4, 2017


I had the same problem last year and found the right sized bag at Target.
posted by raisingsand at 6:31 AM on December 5, 2017


eBags has the same search-by-luggage-size feature, and there are sales now.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:31 PM on December 5, 2017


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