All luggage manufacturers have their quirks, I’ve discovered, and perhaps none more so than Briggs and Riley. None of these are negative, and some are overwhelmingly positive.
To start with the most notable one – this privately-owned company has a lifetime guarantee on its luggage. For some, this doesn’t justify the high price of the luggage, since they would rather use a less expensive bag to destruction. Having watched the handle come off my wheelie bag in Hamburg airport, and then having to carry it to the gate, onto the aircraft, off at the other end and through Luton to the airport bus, I’ve sworn not to make that mistake again.
The lifetime guarantee means just that, and ranges from posting you parts if it is an easy repair (the wheels, for instance) to full repair facilities in the various territories where the bags are sold. This endurance quality to the bags does add weight – having wheels that can be replaced via bolts which can be loosened by an Allen key, for instance, is not the lightest solution, but it certainly puts the price of the cases into perspective, since they potentially last for life and almost certainly will outlast me.
There are various ranges in the Briggs and Riley family. Confusingly, the top range is called Baseline (that’s another of the quirks). I’ve had the Baseline International Carry-on expandable for about five years.
It has been an excellent case, and has enough room for a five day trip. It does, however, have only two wheels, so I was interested in trying the four-wheel version in the Transcend range, which is slightly less expensive, though with many of the same features – including the ability to expand.
There are three sizes, which are effectively small, medium and large. I went for the medium which is a check-in bag rather than a carry on, but the bag is very similar (if slightly larger) than the check-in version. Like many of the bags, this ability to expand is clever, but to be clear about this, the point of it expanding isn’t so it becomes a bigger bag for the duration of your travel.
Most bags unzip to expand so you have the flexibility of using them for longer trips, or just fitting in shopping you bought while you were away. This expandable feature (on the Briggs and Riley) isn’t really for that. Instead it’s so you can more easily pack your items and then once the case is closed, press down the bag to its condensed size, so you have a smaller bag, but everything is neatly packed inside. This is obviously useful for carry-on, though for a checked bag like this it just means you have a bag that isn’t as large as a competing bag would be, but with the same amount of belongings in it, but more neatly packed, or that’s the idea anyway. As I said, it’s a quirky brand.
The bag has a front pocket for putting in documents or anything you might need to access while travelling, and to give you an idea of how clever the bag is, the variable expansion allows the bag to be expanded by up to 2.5 inches without zips and the wheels move with it so it doesn’t get front heavy and fall over in that annoying way (normally at check-in or hotel reception).
The other great aspect of the bag is that it has a flat bottom because the handle is on the outside of the bag, so that makes packing easy.
The bag is constructed from a two-tone nylon twill outer fabric and is available in three colours, termed by them as merlot, rainforest and slate. The inside of the bag has a separate compartment where you can hang a suit, though I tend to just fold my suit in this at the end of the trip since it gets less creased that way, and also for when you have less in the bag some straps keeping everything in place.
I’ve used this for trips up to five days without having to worry about fitting everything in, although I was at around 24kg at one point, which is worrying when some airlines restrict checked baggage to 23kg per item.
A very high-quality bag, not the most expensive of the Briggs and Riley range but still with a lifetime guarantee. Well-built, heavy, but worth the extra effort and easy to roll around on its four wheels.
- Height 26 inches / 66cm
- Width 19 inches / 48.5cm
- Depth 12 inches / 30.5cm
- Case dimensions 24.5 x 19 x 11 inches / 62 x 48.5 x 28cm
- Outside expanded depth 14.5 inches /37 cm
- Weight 10.8lbs / 4.9kg
- Capacity 5235.8 – 6206.1 cubic inches (expanded) /85.8 – 101.7 litres (expanded)
- Price £419 (John Lewis)
- Contact briggsandriley.com