Posts Tagged luggage
The new Eagle Creek FlipSwitch is a very fun and useful hybrid wheeled carry-on / backpack. It does, however, take some playing around with and trial and error to fully ‘get’ it. Before I tried it out, I wondered whether it was going to score high on novelty points in the double duty gear category, but low on practicality points. I’m happy to say that’s not the case.
First, here’s what it is and how it works: At first glance, the FlipSwitch looks like your standard wheeled carry-on. It comes in two sizes, 22″ for the carry-on version and 28″ for the larger or checked bag version. It’s soft-sized with ripstop fabric under a lifetime warranty, has reinforced sections where bags are subject to the most abuse, and two-sided, lockable zippers in two compartments. There’s also a zippered water bottle holder, two reinforced handles (one on the side and one at the top), and nice, easy to roll wheels (with a pull handle, of course).
However, unzip the outside compartment, and you’ll find a full suspension backpack system. This includes a fully padded, vented back, padded shoulder straps, a fully adjustable waist belt, and even a chest strap. Within the back pad is a small zippered compartment, and behind the whole system is an extra, roomy pocket. It takes about one minute for a newbie to switch the bag from carry-on to backpack and be on the go again, but I imagine I’ll get my time down to under 30 seconds as I get more familiar with the bag.
Do you need it? This was my first question once I’d become familiar with how the FlipSwitch works. The fact is, the backpack system does take a substantial amount of space in the bag, and we all know how precious space is in our wheeled carry-ons. That said, the backpack system is removable. You could absolutely leave it at home and use the space for more storage. Of course, I know the minute I do that, I’ll encounter a situation in which I need the backpack.
Whether having this nifty backpack option is worth the space it takes depends entirely on your mode of travel and preferred method of carrying your bag. For standard air travel, I’ve found I haven’t used the backpack once. The next time I’m flying, I’ll remove it from the pack before leaving. However, for road trip travel and trips when I need to carry my bag long distances in cities, I have used the backpack every time.
If you opt to keep the backpack system attached, but not used, you basically lose the storage space of the outer compartment. This leaves you with the interior compartment, which is small by carry-on standards (35L). You do also have a small zippered pocket on the lid of the inner compartment, good for storage smaller items, toiletries, or power cords. There’s also reflective striping and an ID pocket.
What it comes down to: is the FlipSwitch a quality bag? Yes. And I’m not surprised; I’ve always been able to trust the Eagle Creek name. But for $275 for the 22″ model, you’re paying for both a bag and a backpack. If you need both, this is a great value. If not, the FlipSwitch is probably more than you need. Pick one up in light blue or black at Eagle Creek or Backcountry for $275, or find one for around $250 at Amazon.
As these bags tend to be, this is a durable and solid contender for best bag out there from luggage expert Delsey. Its sturdy hard wheels spin in all directions making it easy to twirl around any airport or train station no matter how heavy.
It comes in a variety of colors to match one’s personal style, but the spacious interior remains the same in all. With a separate compartment to keep items wrinkle-free, the bag can be used for storing business suits while also keeping souvenirs and workout gear free from irritating one’s formal clothes. There is also a strap that locks certain items into place in the larger compartment, which is another measure for keeping things separated. Zippered pockets hold smaller items and keep them in place.
A sturdy top and side handle make the bag easy to lift no matter how heavy, and the retractable handle is strong allowing you to pull heavy weight. The similarly priced Brookstone model of this bag features a cheap handle with screws that loosen the second you pack the bag full of clothing and gear.
Another commendable feature of this bag is the excellent wheel casing that protects the rollers from getting stopped up with mud or dirt, which is a common problem with some of these bags that can affect their wheels. Most unique to some versions of this bag is the exterior pocket that zips open from to store paperwork, laptops, or other devices. This is not something typically available in hardside luggage giving this bag a significant edge. The lack of an exterior pocket on other bags is one of my biggest gripes, but it depends on which version of the Helium Shadow you buy.
Style-wise, this bag wins with attractive corner patches that protect it from the bumps and bruises of baggage handlers while also serving an aesthetic purpose. It is lightweight, which is important for international travelers often subjected to weighing their carry-ons, but also expands with the addition of a zipper as needed. A TSA-approved lock keeps contents safe and secure.
It is available from a variety of retail outlets including Macy’s or on Amazon for a very competitive price of less than $120, which is a nice surprise for a bag of this high quality. It’s also available at eBags or LuggagePoint.
A year ago when a lot of people left the Outdoor Retailer show raving about some new technical fleece or stay-dry sleeping bag, one thing that really grabbed me was a new line of luggage Eagle Creek was putting out that could be stored in a tiny corner of a closet. It wasn’t even on the floor or a shelf—it was hanging on a display rack. Yeah I know, for most Americans living in oversized houses filled with overflowing stuff, finding a place in the garage for suitcases isn’t a big deal. But if you live in a small apartment in New York, San Francisco, or Europe, space is at a premium.
I recently got my hands on one of these No Matter What rolling duffel bags from Eagle Creek and if I still lived in my old 480-square-foot condo across the river from Manhattan, I’d be ready to give some designer at the company a kiss.
The first photo you see here is what this large capacity 105-liter rolling bag looks like when it’s full. And believe me, it’s hard for a guy like me to even make this thing full. I packed it with anything and everything I thought I would need for a one-week vacation and still had plenty of room to spare. Even with three pairs of shoes, a couple books, a sweater, and a coat. I wasn’t too worried about the weight though because I was in my own car and hey, it has wheels! As with all Eagle Creek bags, they’re good wheels too—ones that aren’t going to blow out on you at just the wrong time.
This being a duffel, it’s not all that complicated. One big zipper with two lockable zip tabs runs the length of the bag and inside is a big open space to stuff with your belongings. If you want to be organized, you can use Eagle Creek’s packing cubes, folders, and sacks. There’s a handle on the top where two loops join, a handle on the end opposite the wheels, and a shoulder strap you can take or leave behind. Compression buckles keep everything reigned in. The fabric is tough water-resistant dual ripstop nylon.
The pouch that the bag stuffs into doubles as a laundry bag you can bring along, with mesh on the sides. When you get back home (or when in a tiny hotel room), after unpacking you can stuff this whole shebang into that small pouch, which you can see from this photo next to a size 10 shoe, is not going to be a space hog in your closet or under the bed.
There are not many rolling bags of any kind out there that can compress to this size when not in use, so if your living quarters are nothing like those in sprawling suburbia, this compacting duffel could be the ticket. The one I tried out is the large size, but you can also get one in XL: three feet long and holding 128 liters of capacity (7,800 cubic inches). Both of these weigh less than four pounds, but if you stuff the latter to capacity you might run into a weight limit issue with the airline. Have a luggage scale handy while packing.
These packable rolling duffel bags come in blue or black and retail for $130 (large) and $140 (XL). What takes them from “decent deal” to “great deal!” is Eagle Creek’s No Matter What warranty, the kind of promise you usually have to pay three times this much to receive: whatever happens, they’ll fix it or replace it, for the life of the product. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Lightweight luggage is a prerequisite for me. My travels take me on long two to three week jaunts extending over continents and hemispheres that require multiple styles of clothing. With carry-on only as my travel prerogative, I have no choice but to drag along heavy electronic cords and accessories in my travels. This means that I must limit the rest of my accessories to lightweight gear including clothing and normal purchases.
The benefit of the eBags Mother Lodge wheeled duffel is that I can tack on extra poundage in purchases since the bag weighs less than traditional carry-ons. Its soft-shell exterior is an extreme departure from my normal hard-shell bags, which means I should be careful what I include inside the ebags suitcase (no expensive electronics or liquid duty free items unless very carefully padded).
It is a spacious bag with a soft exterior meaning that I can overstuff it to my heart’s content. One reason why it does not perform to the same standards as hard-shell bags is that it can tend to bulge in corners when full, but it can also squeeze more easily into tight spaces this way since it has more flexibility. Compression straps are a perfect way to constrict the overall volume of the bag so that it can fit into small spaces.
Its exterior pockets are a tremendous benefit since stowing items at a moment’s notice is common for frequent travelers and hard-shell suitcases make it a more cumbersome process. Inside, an adjustable middle divider keeps items separated, which is helpful for dress shirts or blazers that you want to keep wrinkle-free.
As it is, it fits easily into standard airline overhead bins and poses no problems with domestic airlines although international travelers may want to be aware that some foreign airlines will weigh baggage at check-in so remove heavy items before being weighed at the counter (and add them again after you leave the counter since foreign airlines have ridiculously low carry-on limits).
Without a handle to grab it on its side, some bellhops may flinch, but experienced business travelers will find this to be a convenient alternative to the more traditional, heavy carry-ons. The retractable and sturdy handle that pulls from the back and two thick wheels that sit at the bag’s base make this a solid road warrior’s companion. Sure, it may not look like a CEO’s briefcase, but it is flexible and lightweight making it ideal for travelers on a long haul. It is available from eBags’ website for just over $189.
Living out of a suitcase seems to be the norm for a lot of people, but when you come home, it is always great to put it away for at least a few days! This great carryon suitcase from Biaggi folds up to half of its size for easy storage. Inside, it features an excellent wrinkle-protecting system for suits and dress shirts. While this storage feature inside is an excellent addition, perhaps its best feature is the combination of having four spinning, high-quality wheels. Many four-wheeled bags are easy to use, but cheap wheels can easily break or become uneven.
I put the Biaggi bag to the test stuffing it completely full and taking it on a long, whirlwind trip. The exterior pocket was handy for magazines and paperwork, but was also large and sturdy enough for a 17-inch laptop. Inside the bag, separate pockets keep things organized, which is especially handy for electronic cords and medication bottles. There is a trifold garment bag, and straps come together to keep lose items in the padded interior in place.
Corner guards at the bottom of the bag protect the fabric material, which also holds up well in the rain keeping your clothes inside dry. The exterior is scratch and tear-resistant, which is nice when your bag is stacked up or thrown onto the baggage carousel. Both the zippers and the extending handle are of a high quality, evidenced even after the bag was completely full and thrown around by baggage handlers on regional jets where you have to check your bag at the door of the plane. There is even a TSA-approved lock that allows you to protect your bag’s contents while also complying with current security measures.
The Biaggi bag is not cheap; it costs $269 on Biaggi’s website or at eBags, but it comes with its own storage bag. Another strong benefit of this bag is its lightweight nature meaning that it passes the test of many airlines that insist to weigh even carry-on bags. For travelers who like to save space at home and maximize space on the road, the Biaggi Tecno foldable back is the perfect solution. And once you switch to a four wheel spinning bag, you won’t ever go back!