Choosing Luggage

Both of my primary pieces of luggage are dying a slow death.

I have an Eddie Bauer-branded wheeled carry on that is now about 5 years old. It’s been all over the place has has been pretty reliable, but the handle is getting wobbly, I’ve lost a few zipper pulls, and one of the tie-down clips broke. It still works but is showing its age.

I also have a larger American Tourister bag, which is about as simple as a wheeled bag gets. It’s very old (at least 13 years) and is on its way out. There are several rips all the way through the fabric now.

So, two main bags, both dying. With a two-week trip to Iowa planned soon, this seemed like an ideal time to do some shopping.

Phase 1 — Hard Bags / Wheeled Bags

At first I spent a lot of time on eBags looking at fancy hardsided wheeled units. I was looking at the aluminium Rimowa bags, then the Tumi bags, and even some of the eBags sets. I went back and forth for a while trying to make up my mind, because obviously these beautiful bags were ideal.

After a while though I started to wonder about that, and branched out to do some more research on unwheeled, lightweight duffel style bags.

Phase 2 — Duffels

For just a weekend trip in good weather I can actually get by fine with only my Timbuk2 messenger bag. I’ve traveled this way for weddings, family gatherings, and visits to friends. It’s extremely convenient to have your hands free and only one bag to worry about.

Because of this I was curious about similar bags but sized for longer trips. Essentially carry-on sized duffels. A few searches and forum threads later and I was reading all the pages on the One Bag travel site.

Then I went and weighed my current bags. My carry-on weighs 9 lbs. My larger bag weighs at least 10. Unwheeled bags from Tom Bihn, Red Oxx, and MEI generally only weighed around 3 lbs. A huge difference.


A lot of thought brought me to the conclusion that high quality, relatively lightweight luggage would probably be preferrable to cheaper, heavier bags, even if they had wheels.

In the end I ordered a Red Oxx Air Boss for a carry-on sized bag, and a Red Oxx Safari-Beanos PR6 duffel for a larger bag.


Build quality (per reviews on several sites) and U.S. manufacturer were both big selling points for me.

I’m pretty sure the carry-on bag will be quite good. My carry-on is rarely over 25 lbs as is, and 9 of that is the bag itself. 20 pounds on the shoulder shouldn’t be too bad. I’m less certain about the PR6 when it is fully loaded.

I could always pick up a portable luggage cart. There appear to be models out there that when paired with these bags would still weigh less than an integrated roller bag.

Maybe this is just a big experiment, but something new is good.

— Steve

Posted on 22 November 2011