Getting new luggage for upcoming travels or a Christmas gift? Read this!

The pandemic is abating and people are traveling again. And people are filling out their Christmas wish lists, so it may be a good time to take a close look at the luggage you will either be using or giving as a gift. But which luggage brand is best, and which are best avoided?

The multitude of choices on the market coupled with differing priorities make choosing the “right” luggage a bit more complicated than just picking out a brand. So how do you choose the luggage that is best for you?

First and foremost, keep in mind that the function of luggage is to securely hold and protect your clothes, shoes and other belongings as you make your way from Point A to Point B. A friend and colleague, who served as spokesperson for a major U.S. airport, says baggage handlers recommend people buy the least expensive, hard-sided luggage they can find, which will do that job quite nicely. That's great from a practicality standpoint, but many people want a little style and panache.

While issues can arise with any brand, some of the more upmarket brands are more likely to provide that necessary protection over the long term. But that does not necessarily mean the more you spend, the better.

Swiss Gear suitcase

Case in point: Tumi. Very stylish, very popular among the status-conscious … and very expensive. The company’s website offers carry-ons from $625 for a compact bag to $1,695. Larger pieces are commensurately more expensive. Despite those stratospheric prices, Consumer Reports (CR) rates Tumi luggage only seventh-best overall among the luggage brands it reviewed.

CR rates luggage on four criteria: Ease of Carrying, Wheelability, Ease of Packing and Durability.

The number-one brand heading in to 2023? Briggs and Riley, which scored five out of five in each of the four criteria and an overall satisfaction score of 91 out of 100.

Among my current mishmash of luggage pieces, I reach for a Briggs & Riley carry-on more often than any other piece. Briggs & Riley offers carry-ons in the (slightly) more modest range of $449 to $779. Checked luggage prices were similar.

The manufacturers ranked next in CR's current ratings are Rimowa and and Eagle Creek, which scored 90 and 89 points, respectively. Eagel Creek scored four out of five for Ease of Carrying. All other categories for both were five out of five. 

With carry-ons starting at $299 and available in a variety of colors, Eagle Creek is surprisingly affordable.

The No. 4 entry on CR’s list is L.L. Bean followed by TravelPro. Hartmann, Tumi and ebags tied for No. 6 while Victorinox, Eddie Bauer and Lands End tied for No. 9. 

Kirkland luggage, which has earned accolades from frequent travelers in the past and is backed by Costco’s “satisfaction guaranteed” policy and excellent customer service does not appear on the current list. While luggage is considered an item with a “limited useful life expectancy” under Costco’s return policy, a customer service rep told TheTravelPro that it would be covered by the policy for at least two years.

Victorinox barely made the Top 10 this year, tying for No. 9. I have a Victorinox messengerbag-style case for my laptop and a 26-inch checked bag that I purchased to replace my Travelpro 26-inch checked bag when it was damaged beyond repair in 2016. Both do the job admirably.

Victorinox is a brand name for products by Wenger, the company that manufactures Swiss Army knives. The company also manufactures luggage under the name “Swiss Gear,” which also sports the company’s familiar red logo.

Over the years, I have owned many pieces of luggage – both expensive and, frankly, cheap – that performed their function well and others – again, both expensive and cheap – that did not. While the Travelpro luggage boasts a durable shell and robust zippers that keep the bags securely closed, I have had the extendable handles fail on two different suitcases. On one occasion the handle stuck in the open position and on the other, it stuck in the closed position.

In both instances, they were repaired under the cases’ warranty without cost to me – except for the aggravation and, on one occasion, the challenge of finding a luggage repair shop in a strange city in which I was traveling and prevailing upon them to give my bag priority, as I headed home in just a couple of days.

Although admittedly newer than my Travelpro, I have never had any trouble with the Briggs & Riley case, nor with the much more humble Samsonite cases we purchased for our daughter's trip abroad when she graduated high school about 30 years ago.

Consider your personality as well as your travel style

The right luggage for you will depend on a number of factors including your travel style and your personality.

If you travel a great deal and are status-conscious with the wherewithal to back that up, then Tumi may be right for you. Are you fastidious? Then you may want to choose luggage in a darker color as lighter shades show dirt and scuff marks more easily. Do you insist upon having the latest fashion? If you don’t travel much or plan to replace your luggage every year or two to keep up with the most current style, then whatever manufacturer appeals at the moment will probably do nicely.

Travelpro suitcase

Shop around. A brick and mortar store that specializes in luggage will have experts on hand to discuss the features of the various bags. Visiting such a store will also enable you to make a hands-on assessment of the luggage you are considering.

When it comes time to purchase your new luggage, online sources like,, and even may have better prices than your local luggage retailer but remember to add the cost of shipping and consider the benefits of supporting a local businessperson.

Finally, if you are willing to take on a possible quest for your chosen style and color, discount retailers like Home Goods, T.J. Maxx, Ross and Marshall's carry luggage and have been known to carry some well-regarded brands in addition to less expensive offerings.

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
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