Help me find a good piece of luggage for ~$100.
July 25, 2007 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a good-looking, durable piece of luggage for ~$100.

So I'm going to start my MBA soon, and will need to do a lot of traveling to and from home, and I'll need some durable luggage. I'm going to get a Tom Bihn Ego messenger bag for my laptop, but I need a good check-in piece of luggage that needs to be able to hold the 50lb weight limit for flights.

I've spent many hours going through, and came up with a few candidates. If you have any experience with any of them and can recommend one, or just recommend one that I don't have on my list that would be great. Oh, it also has to be about $100, not a lot more.

Skyway Decade 26" Expandable Vertical Packing Case

Claiborne Luggage Avenue X 28" Expandable Quattro 4-Wheel Suitcase

Samsonite Aspire Lite 26 Expandable Spinner Upright

Skyway Flair 6 26" Expandable Upright

This is a set for $100, it looks to be pretty ok, I wouldn't mind opinions:

Traveler's Choice US Traveler San Marino 4-Piece Luggage Set

Thanks a lot guys.
posted by althanis to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Tuesday Morning offer several good brands for much less than the "regular" price. I've also had good luck with buying luggage on eBay; I got a really nice Kenneth Cole rolling hanger bag for a great price.

All of these options make it possible for getting something more durable and with better features than you might find for full price at a retail store.
posted by Madamina at 11:14 AM on July 25, 2007

The ultimate AskMe luggage thread, with lots of suggestions for all kinds of bags, is here.

At least for me, the best place to check out luggage are places like outlet stores, as well as places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls and Ross - I was in TJ Maxx last week and saw Tumi bags that were originally $300 or $400 in there marked down 60% or 70%, and the vast majority of the other luggage wasn't over $100 and was from brands you've mentioned above and others that you've heard of.

Also keep in mind that flights operating within, to and from North America operate under the "piece concept", but nearly everywhere else operates under the "weight concept" - so if you anticipate doing a lot of international traveling, check out this link from the IATA which explains what the difference is.

And a question for you: where are you? People might have more localized solutions ("Big Al's Luggage Emporium", etc.) if they know where you are.
posted by mdonley at 11:17 AM on July 25, 2007

My dad swears by Travel Pro. I've had an Atlantic carry-on size bag that has remained perfectly intact through several years of shuttling back and forth from college and home. For my larger bag, I use a Delsey Helium 250 GX, which hasn't held up as well as I would have liked. However, Delsey have a decent warranty and are fairly reputable (on par with Samsonite?).

You really should go out and look at bags in person. You'll get a better idea of the differences in construction and design. Check out the reinforcements on the corners, the quality of the wheels (the inline skate style wheels wear well) and zippers.

FWIW, I think the prices on eBags are a tad high. If you have a TJ Maxx or Marshalls near you, go check out the luggage they have for sale there.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:18 AM on July 25, 2007

I was also coming in to recommend Marshalls, Filenes Basement, and other discount stores.
posted by occhiblu at 11:18 AM on July 25, 2007

Well, for durable L. L. Beans is always a good match since the majority of the merchandise is tested in the wilderness of Maine (I'm not joking). I bought their upright duffel for a trip to the Netherlands, crammed it full, and by the time got back it had no scratches at all. It's ultra light, which helps with that 50 lb limit, and oh... everything from Beans is satisfaction guaranteed. Everything. For ever.

Wish I could say I work for them, but I don't. I grew up in Maine and learnt to trust them as I made my way through the afore mentioned wilderness.
posted by jwells at 11:19 AM on July 25, 2007

I travel quite a bit for business, and I swear by Costco's house brand ("Kirkland Signature") luggage. It's beatifully engineered, tough, reasonably priced, and (especially in the latest generation) quite light.

Most importantly, if a bag breaks, you don't send it away to get fixed or replaced; you can just stop by any Costco and swap it for a brand-new one.
posted by backupjesus at 11:40 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, swing by Costco. You might even find some Samsonite at a good price.
posted by mendel at 12:15 PM on July 25, 2007

I'm a huge fan of Eagle Creek luggage, and places like REI often have really good sales. I have a piece that United airlines damaged and they sent me a replacement part for free as soon as I e-mailed asking if they had one I could buy.
posted by altcountryman at 1:47 PM on July 25, 2007

I travel almost weekly for work, and can't say enough about the Samsonite Spinner. That thing is awesome.
posted by paleography at 1:47 PM on July 25, 2007

...But I do have a different Samsonite than the one you linked to--the Sahora Spinner. I got it a couple of years ago from Macy's, where they were regularly on sale for a little over $100.
posted by paleography at 1:53 PM on July 25, 2007

Second on the Spinner - I don't travel nearly as often as paleography, but it has stood up to a decent amount of travel over the past couple of years. Actually, I bought 2 - the largest size (for long trips), and the largest carry-on size (for short trips) - and I don't regret it. It has made traveling much easier for me.

Upsides: the 4 wheels means that it doesn't tip over (unlike the suitcases with only 2 wheels), and it's much easier for me to get around with (I often take the city bus to the airport, walk a few blocks to bus stops, etc.).

Downsides: I think it's probably on the heavy side (though I didn't really compare with other suitcases - the 4 wheels sold me!). You might want to check on this if that's a concern. I have gone over the weight limit a couple of times with the large bag (but it is huge, and I had it packed full). Also, the carry-on doesn't fit into all overhead bins - most, but not on small planes. Usually I just take it as a carry-on anyhow, and they tag it at the plane if necessary.

Some of the ebags reviewers say that you cannot pull these behind you as you can with the 2-wheeled bags, but I have not found that to be true.
posted by splendid animal at 2:40 PM on July 25, 2007

Yeah, I haven't had a problem pulling it behind me, either. I think I have the smaller size carry-on, and it fits in the smaller overhead bins without a problem. And really, just being able to kick the thing ahead of you on its four wheels while you're moving through some godawful airport line...priceless.
posted by paleography at 2:54 PM on July 25, 2007

Do you have a chinatown or chinese ethnic mall near you? You can often get really good luggage inexpensively. You can also get crappy luggage inexpensively, but it might be worth taking a look. Hardshell luggage with 4 wheels seems to be the most popular thing out of hong kong recently.
posted by captaincrouton at 2:59 PM on July 25, 2007

I have the Skyway Flair 26" (in orange) and am very, very happy with it. Looks cool, has lotsa storage, is light, and packs in the overhead compartment. Ideal for anything up to, say, 5 days without laundry opportunities.
posted by Miko at 4:15 PM on July 25, 2007

Thirding the Costco recommendation, I really like my Kirkland Signature Executive 22 inch ($110). I googled this series before I bought and found many positive comments on airline employee message boards (pilots & flight attendants).
posted by D.C. at 4:19 PM on July 25, 2007

You didn't ask this, but I wish I'd known this before I started my MBA. I did a lot of traveling for job interviews while getting my MBA. Generally you fly to the interview city the night before, sleep at the hotel and then check out and go to the interview. That means you'll take your carry-on bag with you to the interview and leave it in the recruiters office. This is standard practice and the company will arrange your travel.

Your carry-on bag needs to look very professional. A rolling bag with a suit liner is perfect. Your interview clothing stays mostly pressed while you travel. Plus you'll have your hands free to shake hands when you arrive and leave the interview.

Get the best carry-on that you can afford. I have a black, rolling Timberland carry-on with the rotating handle. Sadly, Timberland discontinued their professional luggage line and most of their stuff is very sporty now. (Because it was discontinued I got it for about 120 bucks at Macy's.) That bag has survived years of Executive Platinum level travel and it still looks perfect. I don't know what I'll do when I need to replace it.
posted by 26.2 at 7:42 PM on July 25, 2007

I also do a lot of traveling, and have used up many suitcases. My current favorite is the FlightCrew line from TravelPro. It's not beautiful luggage, but it is made to last a long time and be repairable. Almost all the pieces screw on and are replaceable when something breaks. The problem is that this range is officially only sold to airline personnel. I've ordered without any problem from, though. They'll even throw in a few CREW tag.

Also nthing the Kirkland Signature luggage. Good quality and reasonable price, as is almost everything from Costco.

Don't buy cheap Chinese luggage. It will start falling apart as soon as you start using it. Buy good Chinese luggage.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 11:58 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I'll be in NY in about a week, and I'll be sure to check out TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
posted by althanis at 6:46 AM on July 26, 2007

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