The exterior is maple or cherry wood, paired with a coat of young bull leather. It almost looks like a billionaire’s bespoke speaker, until you look a little bit closer, and notice the pop-out wheels and aluminum handle.
This is the Bonaventure, a $29,850 carry-on roller bag by the Canadian luggage studio Charles Simon. Weighing in at 12 pounds, or about 50% heavier than a cloth equivalent, the Bonaventure is meant to evoke the feeling of a 19th-century wooden traveling trunk that might accompany you on a voyage across the sea. In turn, it has a weighty, premium facade atop what we’re told is a carefully engineered aluminum and carbon fiber frame.
And yes, that all makes a lot of sense—until you, for a single moment, consider the tormented hellscape a bag must traverse in modern travel. When is the last time you saw a flight attendant slam a door, over and over again, on a bag while trying to get it to fit in the overhead compartment? Or what about that moment when, minutes late to your full flight, you realize that your $30,000 travel companion has to be checked—checked!—which will whisk your heirloom through the greasy bowels of an airport, only to be excreted onto the conveyor belt in who knows what condition.
I’ve seen my bag scratched and covered in dirt in my travels. One outer zipper was opened in transit and will, inexplicably, never close again. And this thing is basically made of kevlar. What would I do if I were traveling with the equivalent of my great-grandmother’s tea set?
“As any luggage, ours can scratch,” says the studio’s co-founder Charles Tremblay to this point. “This being said, wood is durable. Think about a hardwood floor that lasts for more than a century. Our pieces are engineered and built to last a lifetime and are fully serviceable, if ever needed.” On Charles Simon’s own site, the firm admits that dents and scratches could happen, but that “this would not be a sign of poor quality or maintenance but rather the signs of multiple trips, memories and experiences.”
It’s certainly a nice thought. But something about the desperate manhandling of a baggage handler who is behind schedule on the tarmac in 20-degree weather doesn’t evoke the warm, fuzzy nostalgia of an old, oiled baseball glove. Then again, I am most certainly not a $30,000 roller bag’s target demographic, unless it also comes with a car.