The Business Traveller team takes a range of check-in bags on the road to find out how they fare
Pro-DLX 3 Upright Expandable 74cm
Part of Samsonite’s Pro-DLX range, this two-wheel case is made of armoured nylon with nappa leather trim. In black only, with small red detailing in the logo, zips and stitching, it’s a smart bag and feels strong. A shiny metal handle glides in and out smoothly by pressing a button, and there is another handle on the side. The wheels are a good size and sturdy-looking. A pocket takes up most of the front of the case and has two compartments, one deep and one shallow.
Inside, it doesn’t feel all that spacious, especially as two sizeable bars run the length of the case under the lining. Still, there was more than ample room for what I needed for my three-day trip and I didn’t travel lightly, packing changes of clothes for each evening and documentation. I imagine I could have got enough in for a week. There is also an expandable section – I found the zips quite confusing, though, and kept opening the expandable one instead of the main one.
Fold-over mesh flaps with straps keep everything secure, and in the lid is a mesh pocket handy for underwear, and a see-through plastic wet pocket. This part of the bag zips open to reveal a section underneath for suits. A full-length garment carrier is kept in place by stretchy crisscross straps – it also has a hanger so you can put it straight into the wardrobe on arrival. Other handy features include a TSA lock and a concealed pull-out address label. The case held up well, although I found the plastic around the wheels got a little scratched.
Verdict A stylish, well-designed bag with plenty of handy features and compartments. MM
- Pro-DLX 3 Upright Expandable
- Size 74cm x 48.5cm x 28.5-31cm
- Capacity 95-106 litres
- Weight 5.3kg
- Price £265
- Guarantee Five years
Vapor Medium Trip Packing Case (28025)
Very different from Tumi’s traditional look, the Vapor range is modern and sleek, with a choice of six colours for this case – silver, blackberry, slate, bronze, black and glacier. The bag can be wheeled behind you using the telescoping handle, or pushed in front or wheeled alongside you using all four of the extremely responsive 360-degree swivel wheels – although be aware that this can be hard work on your wrist if the bag is full or the surface bumpy.
The shell is made of a tough, lightweight, triple-layer ABS (thermoplastic) and polycarbonate with moulded protective bumpers. The printed graphic exterior is said to reduce surface marks, but on one long-haul return trip it picked up a long, thick go-faster stripe from somewhere. In addition, the protective rubber strip covering the “Omega 2010 zipper system” had started to come away on the hinge of the case, which was a little concerning.
In terms of size, I used it for a five-day business trip and it held everything without trouble. There are two main compartments inside, along with a removable garment sleeve, zip pockets and tie-down straps. The bag also has a TSA surface-mounted lock and retractable carry handles.
Verdict Expensive but impressive. From my experience of owning other Tumi products, the five-year warranty is superb. TO
- Vapor Medium Trip Packing Case (28025)
- Size 63.5cm x 43cm x 29cm
- Capacity 53 litres
- Weight 4.6kg
- Price £485
- Guarantee Five years
Werks Traveller Hardside Trolley 24 Four-Wheel
From the makers of Swiss Army Knife, this four-wheel trolley case is part of the Werks Traveller range and comes in two colours – burgundy red or black. It is made from hard polycarbonate with a pleasing “nylony” finish.
The case looks slick and manoeuvres well, either when being pulled behind you on two wheels or pushed beside you on four. The retractable T-shaped handle – made from “aircraft grade aluminium” – jiggles a little, but the slightly rubbery, 360-degree rotating grip, which turns at the press of a button, is a nice touch and means you can adjust it to make it easier to wheel.
Inside, there are two main sectioned-off spaces behind panels that can be released by unclipping a couple of chunky poppers. There is also a removable mesh suiter to help keep jackets and trousers flat between the two main compartments, a small zip pocket inside the top for small items, and compression straps that clip together across your belongings. As it’s not expandable, you have to pack quite carefully, but it held enough clothes for one week.
For those who like the peace of mind of being able to secure their luggage before checking it in, there is a TSA-approved combination lock, into which the exterior zips clip on the side. (You need to press the buttons on each end of the lock to release them.) There were a few scratches on the body after the trip.
Verdict A smart, secure case with a protective hard body. Quite pricey. JS
- Werks Traveller Hardside Trolley 24 Four-Wheel
- Size 66cm x 43cm x 27cm
- Capacity 79 litres
- Weight 6kg
- Price £339
- Guarantee Five years
Green Days 77cm Four-Wheel Expandable Trolley
This Delsey case looks impressive, both in terms of its size and its masculine aesthetics. The anthracite grey and brick outer casing is understated and tasteful, with lines that at first seem only for show but actually disguise an array of outer pockets that are discreet yet surprisingly large.
Designed using durable, eco-friendly materials – 45 per cent of it is made from recycled PET bottles – it feels sturdy. Any scuffs and dust picked up during transit were easily brushed off, and the more stubborn marks didn’t show too badly against the grey. It also comes in brick red and beige, and blue and yellow.
The trolley’s 89-litre capacity, expandable by a further five litres, could easily accommodate ten days’ worth of clothing. Two netted inner pockets provide storage for a suit and one or two pairs of shoes. The case also has two elongated outer pockets good for bulky items such as running shoes.
Despite its large size, the trolley has four spinner wheels that move with very little resistance, making it feel extremely light and manoeuvrable. The only downside is that if it’s standing upright on a train, it’s liable to move around. Other features include a TSA combination lock and Delsey’s Securi Tech self-repairing zips.
Verdict Impressive build quality and efficient design – the four low-friction wheels make it extremely manoeuvrable. AG
- Green Days 77cm Four-Wheel
- Expandable Trolley
- Size 77cm x 46.5cm x 36-39cm
- Capacity 89-94 litres
- Weight 5.9kg
- Price £159 Guarantee Five years
Sintesis 66cm Four-Wheel Trolley
Made by Italian designer Bric’s, this hard-sided case with leather trim is made from a lightweight polycarbonate. Inside it has one shallow zipped compartment in the top, plus elastic clips in the main compartment to hold clothes in place. It is easily large enough for a trip of four or five days. It comes with a leather luggage tag and a combination lock.
The case has both a side and top grip in leather, which makes it easy to grab off a conveyor belt. There is also a black metal handle that glides in and out smoothly and that can be set to any height – a particularly useful feature. There are four multidirectional wheels, so it is easy to roll along the ground, but note that it needs to be secured properly when you get on a train or bus. The wheels are sturdy, and big enough to cope with uneven pavements. The zip is awkward to close, as it has a large rubber lip around it, although this does protect the bag.
I tried out the olive colour case but it’s also available in cream, red or navy. It had a high-gloss finish that scratched easily, so after one trip through an airport it looked a little the worse for wear. Personally, I disliked the light-brown leather handles, label and trim, as I thought it looked gaudy against the dark case, but it does make it easy to identify on the carousel.
Verdict The sturdy multi-directional wheels make it easy to get around with, but the surface scratched easily. ST
- Sintesis Four-Wheel Trolley
- Size 67cm x 47cm x 28cm
- Capacity 75 litres
- Weight 4kg
- Price £235
- Guarantee Two years
HC2 Hovercraft Upright 28
The HC2 looks smart and sturdy, and is surprisingly light. It comes in black with blue detail or Pacific blue with black – I tried the former but think the latter would have been better as it still looks businesslike but would stand out better on the conveyor belt. (There’s also a brash orange with grey for those who really want to make a statement.) It’s made from ballistic fabrics so is very durable.
The main compartment is deep with thick, winged straps to keep everything in place. It also expands to provide 15 per cent more space. I managed to pack a week’s worth of clothes, as well as four pairs of shoes, without having to cram it all in. There are two good-sized zipped sections inside, along with a smaller zipped area.
Although the case does not feel very padded, the exterior pockets give protection – I brought a bottle of wine back and it survived intact. The exterior has three zipped and lockable pockets – a large one and a smaller one above it, which was useful for papers and last-minute items, and a neat section for a passport.
There is a smooth retractable double handle, and the two wheels are large and protected by plastic guards. Going up and down steps was a bit of an effort as it is quite bulky and heavy when full, and the side handle is quite small, though strong. There is a concealed luggage tag and you can add another case using some detachable straps, although might make it difficult to manoeuvre if you do this.
Verdict A strong, smart and spacious suitcase that is great if you want something practical and durable. FC
- HC2 Hovercraft Upright 28
- Size 71cm x 46cm x 36cm-41cm
- Capacity 105-114 litres
- Weight 4.25kg
- Price £235
- Guarantee Lifetime
AG – Andrew Gough
FC – Felicity Cousins
JS – Jenny Southan
MM – Michelle Mannion
ST – Sara Turner
TO – Tom Otley
Organise your bits and pieces with Tintamar’s fun set of five Bag and Co drawstring bags. Designed to carry your hair kit, leads, socks, jewellery and medical supplies, they have a round porthole-style window allowing you to see what’s inside. The bags range from 18cm x 18cm to 34cm x 34cm, with the set costing £30. Visit quirkybags.co.uk
Spot your case easily on the carousel with Tumi’s new “Colorization” service (£50) at its London Piccadilly store. Colour can be added to a variety of bags in the Alpha range by changing parts such as the monogram leather patch, luggage tag, bag guards and zip pullers. Choose from blue, green, brown, magenta, red or silver. Visit tumi.com; tel +44 (0)20 7493 4138
Keep your clothes flat with Eagle Creek’s Pack-it Systems. These folders have a hard plastic sheet inside a water resistant cover – fold your garments around the cardboard and secure them flat inside. They come in three sizes (15/18/20 inches) and cost £18/£20/£25. The largest can hold up to 15 items. Visit eaglecreekluggage.co.uk
The Contura Suit Carrier is a compact, lightweight garment bag ideal for keeping suits flat. It is small enough to fit inside carry-on luggage and comes in two designs – Original and Avantgarde – in medium or large, and in black, grey or brown. From £35. Visit timothytravelgoods.com
The rules on airline baggage allowances used to be simple – economy passengers could check in 20kg, and people in first class 40kg. But over the years the differences have blurred thanks to the arrival of different classes and the advent of loyalty schemes. Here we show what a selection of airlines allow you to carry in different regions. Note that many frequent travellers receive more generous allowances because they have status in loyalty schemes. For example, gold tier members of Star Alliance get an extra 20kg when flying with member carriers, or an extra piece free of charge.
To see a table of airline allowances, click here.