PackingLight.com's Top Five Things to Look for When Buying Luggage
1. Hardside versus Softside Luggage: Which is better? In terms of durability, the answer is both types of luggage fair the same against airline mis-handlers. The best way to approach which choice is best is to look at the pro's and con's of both. Generally, hardside luggage made of 100% virgin polycarbonate material are about two pounds lighter than the average softside bag. You'll pay more for high-end, lightweight hardsides with premium shells, but you'll lose exterior and interior pockets, and you can't get that extra winter sweater packed in when your hardside bag is packed to the max. With softside baggage you get that little extra gusset when stuffing in the extra pair of shoes as you head to the airport.
2. Four-wheel luggage versus Two-Wheel: Don't those travelers walking along side their four-wheel "spinners" look like they're on a Sunday stroll? Four-wheel luggage is the fastest growing variety and the reason is they're easier to maneuver in tight spaces like crowded airport ticket lines and elevators, down the aisle of an airplane cabin, and they are slightly better for your back since you don't have to twist as when pulling traditional two-wheel luggage. And if you're worried those four wheels are sticking out and waiting to get knocked off, we've found four-wheelers hold up just as well as the two-wheel type that are recessed and protected. The reason seems to be that the four-wheel luggage is capable of spinning away from impact. The only negative to spinners capable of rotating 360 degrees is they don't roll on carpet as well as two-wheel uprights.
3. Luggage Features: Does your luggage have the features and added accessories travelers need? Business travelers whose meetings require formal attire often prefer a bag equipped with a removable garment fixture so they can pack a few suits without wrinkles. If you don't need it, this accessory can take up space and add precious ounces to your bag. Other features such as exterior and interior pockets can add more ounces so if your gift recipient is a true Packing Light traveler, they'll count every ounce to stay under those dreaded airline weight maximums. Sum toll, most travelers prefer less pockets and choose to pack small items like undergarments, socks, toiletries, and jewelry in packing cubes and hanging organizers which add organization and order to your world on the road.
4. Luggage Manufacturer's Warranties: How do luggage manufacturer warranties really work? Be careful with warranties. First, understand lifetime warranties are actually covering bags for the life of the bag-not the life of the traveler. This means luggage brands have the discretion to determine if that bag's lifetime is up. Second, ask your luggage outfitter if airline damage is covered by the luggage brand manufacturer. 95% of the time the fine print on the luggage hang tag says airline abuse is NOT covered, and the luggage company suggests when you discover your bag has been beaten up, report it to the airlines immediately. After a 15-hour flight back home from Europe, the last thing a passenger wants to do is wage a battle with the airlines before going home. Nevertheless, airline passengers must report damage before leaving the airport or they'll have no hope of getting compensation. Even when airlines damage your bag they are getting more resistant to repair or replace bags. To avoid these problems, find the few luggage lines such as Eagle Creek and Briggs and Riley, which cover any kind of damage or defect. In this day of extra fees for service warranties, to receive all-encompassing warranties such as these are priceless. Finally, by purchasing either carry-on luggage that doesn't endure airline abuse or smaller, quality check-in size bags, you'll strengthen your odds against having damaged luggage.
5. How to put a price tag on quality? Quality luggage is defined by two words, durability and reliability. If you only travel two or three times a year by air, you don't need a bag priced above $150.00. Over five years of life, you would pay about $10 a trip for that bag. If you look at luggage as a disposable product they replace every year, then bags equipped with polyester material from a flea market or box store will do. On the other hand, if you travel afar, perceive your luggage as a travel companion, and don't want to have your baggage go south while out at your destination, you should have luggage reliable enough to not break down on the cobblestone streets of Europe.
And if you are a frequent flyer who looks upon their luggage as a tool of the trade and travels twenty times a year, you should have a quality bag priced above $200 or more. That luggage would cost merely $2.00 a trip over five years. We suggest purchasing a bag with a longer warranty covering airline damage and purchasing from a dealer whose luggage brands have authorized repair shops. Luggage with lightweight, durable components such as wheels, frames, zippers, telescoping handles, and thick nylon fabric that is abrasion and tear resistant will surely last beyond lesser lines, and at the very least, are capable of repair. Keep in mind when buying for a traveler, luggage is the only product placed into the care of people notorious for trashing your possession-look at your gift as an investment.