Read the feature: Luggage Makes the Man
There are road warriors out there who swear that the subtle differences between a good bag and a great one are worth $500. But many of those changes are so subtle that even luggage fanatics have a tough time pointing out the benefits of slightly better features.
So we asked Brett Mosher, a 16-year veteran of the luggage industry and the president of the San Jose-based Luggage Center — the third largest specialty-luggage store in the country — to give a high-level overview of what makes a good bag a great one. Specifically, we wanted to know what to look for in a top-flight trolley case, the upright bag on wheels that’s the bag of choice for most business travelers.
“Nothing we do in the luggage industry is going to revolutionize the lives of business travelers,” says Mosher, 37. “We simply make their lives incrementally easier — trip by trip. Particularly for road warriors, those trips add up.” So the real question is this: How much do you value the benefits — no matter how subtle — of better design, functionality, organization, and durability? Mosher suggests you consider those four areas before buying your next bag.
Design to Go
Think of the bag as an extension of your persona. It’s part of your image, and it’s no different than spending money on a suit. Ultimately, you’re going to pay more for any bag that makes you look better than the next guy.
Walk ‘n’ Roll
Luggage is pretty straightforward. Functionality starts with how smoothly the bag rolls. The bigger the wheels, the better. Wheels with a larger diameter can glide over gaps in the sidewalk, on the floor, in and out of the elevator, and so forth. Minor obstacles can trip up wheels with a small diameter, which means you have to work harder. The wheels also should be as wide as possible to give you a better center of gravity. That way, your bag is less likely to tip over. You’ll also want a handle that’s long enough — at least 38 and a half inches — so that the bag won’t hit your heels as you walk.
Easy access is everything. Some bags hold lots of stuff, but you can’t readily get to things when you need them. If accessing your gear means fussing with a jumble of buckles and straps, it’s not worth the trouble. The best bags are designed to give you what you want when you want it. In other words, every pocket has a clear purpose. If you have to read a manual to figure out how to use each pocket, then its purpose isn’t clear enough.
Built to Last
Durability means dependability. It means your bag won’t let you down when you’re on the road. That may mean spending a little more on luggage that will stand up to the punishing demands of air travel. “A road warrior will continue to purchase any product that will make the travel experience easier,” Mosher says. “Luggage is no exception. It’s a tool. So it’s worth it to spend more on a bag that you’re confident will work for you.”
Christine Canabou (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Fast Company staff writer.