TUMI’s brand new Merge collection launched in January 2018, billed as “a relaxed, lightweight luggage collection for adventures big and small”.
The soft-shell Merge range includes a Wheeled Backpack, Wheeled Duffel, Continental Expandable Carry-On, International Expandable Carry-On, Short Trip Expandable Packing Case and Extended Trip Expandable Packing Case.
The collection is aimed at both business and leisure travellers – in keeping with the brand’s mission to capture the growing “bleisure” traveller, and has been inspired by the Californian landscape, cities and laid-back vibe.
Colour options include “Coffee”, “Ocean Blue”, “Reflective Silver” “Green Camo” and “Sunset Red”, the latter of which would definitely be easy to spot on the conveyer belt..!
The Merge Carry-On isn’t as eye-catching as some of TUMI’s other brands (the beautiful 19 Degrees collection for example), however as it intends, it’s smart enough for a business trip but relaxed enough for leisure travel too. Of the five colour options – Ocean Blue, Reflective Silver or Coffee are the most business-appropriate choices. The Ocean Blue is a lovely tone, with some design detail added with numerous zips.
It’s a neat, stylish case without being too ostentatious, or obviously “branded”.
The International Carry-on and the Continental Carry-on offer slightly different measurements, with the International version being slightly narrower (at 14 inches) and slightly lighter (at 3.7kg).
The top-down case offers a depth of nine inches, normally, but a very useful expandable zip increases this by about two inches to 11 inches, with an overall capacity of 38 litres.
One of the pros of this soft-shell case is that it is quite lightweight – at 3.7kg.
Despite its unassuming appearance, the TUMI bag still radiates good quality. It has been created with durability in mind, as the primary material is Ballistic Nylon – a thick, sturdy form of woven nylon that was originally used as a form of body armour in WWII before the creation of Kevlar.
After a return journey to Seoul – with one leg being put in the hold, the bag still looks as good as new – the material is hard to scratch. Being material though, it may not fair well in the rain.
Hard plastic pads offer protection for the top corners and back of the case.
The inside of the case is lined with a silver, diamond-pattered fabric.
It felt extremely roomy and the top-down style (rather than clam-style) I found very efficient and easy to pack and coordinate.
Inside also features compression straps, two mesh detail zip pockets on the lid, plus a neat hanging zip pocket with two separate compartments in the base.
The standout feature of this bag, for me, was it’s fantastic manoeuvrability thanks to the four sets of dual-swivel wheels. Even when fully expanded and packed to the brim, I could twirl the case like a ballerina with the tiniest exertion. It also handled itself extremely well over rougher terrain, such as uneven pavements. Balance was equally good – with no hint that the case would topple if I packed too many heavy items on one side.
The bag also featured a three-stage telescoping handle, with the tubing made from aircraft-grade aluminium, which makes it both lightweight and sturdy. There are also retractable top and side carry handles, plus a bottom grab handle – particularly useful for yanking your bag off a crowded carousel.
The front of the case has three additional pockets: front vertical zip pocket, top quick-grab pocket and a front lid zip pocket. This is part of the collections functional/lifestyle mindset, as it gives travellers the flexibility to add important documents within easy reach, or alternatively an easy-to-reach swimsuit to jump immediately into the pool.
Tumi offers a patented Omega Closure System, which means the zips are designed to break off if they become caught, rather than risk damaging the entire zipper. During my road test I was pulling on the zipper harder than usual (OK, I had gone overboard on shopping and was struggling to close the case) and the zip came off in my hand – which shows the technology works, but perhaps it works a little too well!
My main quibble with this case was the loose TSA-combination lock. On the one hand, this offers flexibility in terms of which pouch/compartment the traveller wants to lock, on the other – it isn’t possible to secure all of the exterior pockets. It’s also easier to lose as it’s not attached to the bag.
A neat identity tag is buckled onto one side as well, allowing travellers to subtly add their contact details to the bag.
The bag does also have a TUMI Tracer – with a barcode and QR code to identify the case.
Overall, this is an excellent choice. The case is a dream to manoeuvre, can hold plenty of clothes – particularly if utilising the expander, it offers options to travellers to prioritise important items making them easy to reach and it looks good for both business and leisure.
DIMENSIONS 22 x 14 x 9 inches
VOLUME 38 litres
COLOUR Ocean Blue
WARRANTY Five years limited warranty
PRICE HK$4,990 (US$635)