For the longest time I was a ‘whatever bag I can buy for $35’ guy. But I travel enough that a quality bag isn’t really that expensive — it’s one thing to spend a few hundred dollars on a bag that you’ll use once or twice a year, but on a per-trip basis the extra cost for a quality bag isn’t all that much when you’re using it every week.
I’ve been using my 19-inch Briggs & Riley Baseline for several years. It’s the old two wheel kind, and I’ve finally been converted to preferring four wheels.
I picked up a 17″ spinner bag a year ago on sale for ~ $50, and I just love it although it’s not really great quality. I can even manage to stick it under the seat in front of me in domestic first if I board late an the overhead bin space is gone.
I find that I like to have three bag sizes:
- 16″ – 17″ for 3-4 day trips. (1-2 day trips I like to just carry my laptop bag, it gets heavy but I’ve got a Tom Bihn Absolute Shoulder Strap and with that thing I can carry almost anything.)
- Cabin bag less than 21 inches wheels inclusive for 5-7 day trips. I don’t need a full 21 or 22 inches for a 5 day trip. And I like to be safely within bag sizer guidelines.
- ~ 26″ bag to check for 10-14 day trips.
And I want to have all three with four wheels.
- I don’t want a separate laptop pocket, I’d rather not give up flexible packing space and I always carry my laptop bag.
- I want a bag that’s going to last. I don’t want the zippers breaking off, and I don’t the handle breaking either. Quality construction is far more important to me than warranty, since I don’t want to spend time dealing with getting the bag fixed (and that’s time without the bag as well). In other words, I want a bag that doesn’t need to get fixed — not one that will be free to fix.
- It shouldn’t push the envelope on domestic carry on sizes by even half an inch.
I think TSA locks are silly, they don’t protect anything from anyone.
I don’t mind buying a nice bag, but I don’t really want to spend big money on a bag either. I don’t want to spend $500 for a Rimowa carryon, let alone more for a checked bag, for instance.
What should I buy?