When Seth Kugel, Frugal Travel writer for the New York Times went out shopping for a new carry-on bag, he decided to share the results of his search with his readers. Here are highlights of his findings:
My pricing sweet spot was at about $150. You can find plenty of bags for under $100, but most are blatantly shabby. That may be fine for infrequent travelers or those whose luggage travels exclusively by taxi and elevator, not city streets and stairways. Above $200, things begin to get unnecessarily stylish for my needs, or the needs of any traveler who wants to blend in at hostels or on buses (though I could hardly tear myself away from the Tumi section at Macy’s).
Instead of wading into different standards for domestic and international carriers, I wanted something that worked everywhere, which means a maximum length of 21 inches and a linear total of 45 inches (that is, length plus width plus depth).
A sturdy handle was a top priority. I lift up the whole suitcase with it even when it’s telescoped all the way out. You’re not supposed to do that, but I’m not going to stop.
The lighter the better. I travel with books and electronic equipment, and need every last ounce.
The appeal of spinner wheels is lost on me. I get that they make the bag easier to maneuver on airport floors, but I can’t see them bouncing along rutted sidewalks very smoothly, at least in their low-end versions. If I ever enter a figure-skating-with-luggage competition, I’ll give in, but for now, it’s old-fashioned bulky two-wheeled rollers.
I liked the idea of hard-shell carry-ons, and if I traveled on (real) business, I’d probably get one: the two shallow compartments look perfect for ironed shirts and fine shoes, but not the bulky items I sometimes carry: hiking shoes and a telephoto lens that needs to be wrapped in layers of T-shirts. (I lost the case, O.K.?)
Between soft-sided regular suitcases and wheeled duffels, I thought I’d definitely want the standard look. But aesthetically, I was torn: the suitcases in my range — lower-end models from dependable brands like Samsonite and TravelPro — were squatter and uglier than the one I was replacing. And the duffels looked better than I thought they would. I was torn …
… But with the duffels, I definitely didn’t want to give up space for hidden backstraps. That’s a younger traveler’s game.
And the winner: REI Wheely Beast 21-inch wheeled duffel, $149.
I wasn’t going to go for the duffel, I really wasn’t. But it had everything I wanted and still managed to look good, and in just the shape I wanted. It has a big, deep main pocket — no divisions, although there are two small interior pockets and one huge mesh one under the top flap (my new underwear drawer!). There’s an exterior one, too, for easy access, and a pocket underneath that is perfect for papers or tablets (but not big enough for a laptop, fine with me since I carry a small bike messenger bag for that).
To read the complete article, please go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/travel/hunting-for-the-best-carry-on-bag.html?_r=0