Packing for a conference in Palo Alto? Or maybe you’re off for a restorative weekend in The Cotswolds? In this day and age, there’s every chance you’re travelling abroad several times a year. Which means you’ll need something to cart your kit in.
But it’s not a case of any old rucksack will do: “Luggage is becoming more of a fashion and lifestyle accessory, as consumers demand both comfort and style,” says Victor Sanz, Vice President of Men’s Design at US luggage brand Tumi. “It’s more than ‘just a bag’ in which to transport personal belongings; it’s becoming an extension of the journey.”
So, if you want to minimise hassle and maximise style (not to mention space) while on the go, then you’ll need to find the right tools for the job. This is your guide to what to buy and where to find it. Safe travels, sir.
The Dopp Kit
Better known on these shores as a wash bag, we prefer the original American slightly-more-sophisticated-sounding moniker. Named after Chicago-based leather craftsman Charles Doppelt, who invented the bag in 1919, it’s ideal for storing your toiletries while travelling, keeping the rest of your stuff dry and spill-free.
Steer clear of cheaper polyester and polyurethane options and opt for something in leather with a nylon lining, which will perform on both form and function counts.
Good For: Keeping your clothes free of shaving cream.
Mr Porter Journal
Key Brands: Symthson, Mulberry, ASOS, Ted Baker, Reiss, John Lewis, Dunhill.
- John Lewis Made In Italy Wash Bag
- Ted Baker Tweed Clobber Bag
- Asos Leather Wash Bag In Black
- Reiss Grant Fossil Leather Wash Bag Brown
- Barbour Leather Washbag
- Wash Case Oak Natural Leather
- Penhaligons Gladstone Wash Bag In Nero
- Smythson Textured-leather Wash Bag
- Dunhill Chassis Leather-trimmed Wash Bag
Garment & Shoe Bags
Regrettably underused, garment and shoe bags might seem superfluous to the frequent business traveller – but those who’ve turned up to client or board meetings looking like a well-thumbed broadsheet know they’re anything but.
Designed to transport items of clothing you’d usually hang, rather than fold, a good soft-sided garment bag is essential for keeping your workwear crease-free. Meanwhile, shoe bags ensure your freshly shined brogues don’t emerge subpar after several hours in a suitcase.
Good For: Ensuring your suits and smart shoes stay in shipshape.
Burberry Travel Tailoring
Key Brands: Briggs & Riley, Muji, Tumi, Tripp, John Lewis, Samsonite.
- Muji Garment Case
- Briggs & Riley Classic Suit And Garment Bag
- John Lewis Commute Garment Carrier
- Tripp Essentials Business Suit Carrier Black
- Tumi Trifold Carry-on Garment Bag
- Samsonite Xblade 2.0 Garment Bag
- Shoe Bag Navy
- City Set Of 6 Nylon Travel Shoe Bags
- Shoe Bags With Drawstring Closure
The Carry-On Bag
No, your gym bag won’t do. Even if it’s an hour-long domestic flight you’re boarding, a nylon barrel bag won’t cut the mustard.
“Compact carry-on luggage is essential when flying, while classic holdalls and weekend bags – particularly in leather – will never date,” says Annalise Fard, Director of Homes at Harrods.
As Fard suggests, there are two main options when it comes to carry-on luggage: soft shell and hard shell. Soft shell styles – a classic weekender or tote in black or brown leather – work well if travelling for pleasure, when you don’t need all of the practical features of a wheeled hard shell suitcase, or you haven’t got as much stuff to shift.
A hard shell, wheeled carry-on suitcase, however, will allow you to pack a couple of days’ worth of wardrobe and toiletry essentials neatly and securely. You’ll also – provided you ensure the case is manufactured to airline carry-on size specifications – save yourself the embarrassment of having to check-in a bulging weekender, and pay handsomely for the privilege too.
Good For: Short trips or storing your in-flight essentials.
Massimo Dutti September 2013
Key Brands: Briggs & Riley, Tumi, Tripp, Rimowa, Samsonite, Antler, John Lewis, Mulberry, Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Reiss, ASOS, Ted Baker, M&S.
- Ted Baker Igoola Exotic Leather Holdall
- Asos Leather Holdall In Brown
- Reiss Lever Leather Weekend Holdall Black
- Mulberry Clipper Travel Holdall
- Dunhill Textured-leather Holdall
- John Lewis Made In Italy Leather Holdall
- Rimowa Limbo Spinner Trolley
- Samsonite Lite Cube Dlx 43cm Suitcase
- Ted Baker Onroute Herringbone Cabin Suitcase
The big daddy of travel bags. The linchpin of luggage. This is the piece you need to think long and hard about before coughing up. Why? Because if you buy right, this one’s for life.
Whether it’s a lightweight curved design you’re looking for, or something that’s closer to an old-school trunk, take some time not only to decide what you’d rather be seen with, but also what won’t emerge in pieces at baggage collection.
Remember to buy the smallest bag that meets your needs. While it’s good to be prepared for all occasions, there’s no point splurging on a suitcase you’ll rarely – if ever – fill.
Good For: Trips longer than a few days.
Reiss Spring/Summer 2015
The Luggage Buying Checklist
“It’s all about quality,” says Simon Spiteri, Accessories Buyer at Mr Porter. “You can have the most beautiful case in the world but if it breaks after two trips, that’s kind of a false economy.”
Materials, then, are key: “A hard-wearing outer shell constructed from durable leather, nylon, canvas or aluminium will age well and stand the test of time as it gets bashed around by even the most enthusiastic baggage handler.”
As with your clothing, craftsmanship makes all the difference. A quick way to gauge quality is to check the item’s stitching, specifically how close the stitches are sewn together. You’re looking for consistency in spacing here, as consistent stitching balances tension and strengthens the bag’s overall structure.
Reinforced stitching at stress points (e.g. where a strap or handle joins the body of the bag or case) is also a must for luggage you want to last, as is hardware that’s made from high-quality metal rather than easily obliterated plastic.
Don’t Forget the Details
“Look for a case that has plenty of inside pockets, compartments and zipper dividers so that you can really maximise the space you have,” adds Spiteri.
Lock It Down
“Security is also extremely important,” says Fard. “[Opt for] pieces which boast locks and other features which keep belongings safe and secure.”
Make It Your Own
Worth considering for investment pieces like carry-on and check-in suitcases, personalisation and monogramming lends your luggage an inimitable edge.
“This is a service which many of our customers take advantage of,” says Fard. “They feel it makes a piece truly theirs.”
The Very Best Luggage Brands
Launched in 1910, this Luxembourg-based label is the market leader in luggage – and it’s easy to see why. Combining innovative materials with modern design, Samsonite’s wares offer exceptional value for money.
Add to that exclusive collaborations with fashion’s finest – the likes of Alexander McQueen and Thom Browne, for example – and it’s no wonder this (relatively) young brand has won both Red Dot design awards and legions of fans worldwide.
- Samsonite Neopulse 81cm Spinner 4-wheel Extra Large Suitcase
- Samsonite Lite-shock 75cm 4-wheel Large Suitcase Petrol Blue
- Samsonite B-lite 3 4-wheel 78cm Large Spinner Suitcase Walnut
- Samsonite Lite-cube Dlx 76cm Suitcase
- Samsonite Scure Spinner 75cm Suitcase
- Samsonite Lite-cube Dlx Spinner 82 Suitcase
Upholding the Germans’ world-renowned reputation for innovation, Rimowa makes some of the lightest, sturdiest luggage around. Founded in 1898, the pioneering label has made its name on aluminium and polycarbonate cases featuring its signature grooved shells.
A lot stronger than they look, Rimowa cases are built to last, but if yours does come a cropper, you can take advantage of the company’s hotel repair service – simply leave your worse-for-wear suitcase at any partnering hotel’s reception and repairs will be carried out while you’re out exploring museums or cutting deals.
- Rimowa Topas Stealth Aluminium Multiwheel 78cm Suitcase
- Rimowa Limbo Multiwheel 68cm Case
- Rimowa Salsa Air Multiwheel 68cm Trolley Case
- Rimowa Limbo 67cm Suitcase
- Rimowa Salsa Air Four-wheel Suitcase 78cm
- Rimowa Topas Four-wheel Titanium Suitcase 68cm
First Class: Globe-Trotter
A British institution (via Germany), 1897-founded Globe-Trotter has gone to great lengths to cultivate its status as one of the world’s leading luxury luggage makers – including having Hamburg Zoo elephants stand on its cases to prove their strength.
“Handmade in Hertfordshire with leather handles that take five days to make on a Victorian press, Globe-Trotter has a rich history that everyone wants to buy into,” says Spiteri. “Their luggage is durable and hard-wearing but it’s their sheer beauty and craftsmanship that makes them such covetable cases.”
- Globe-trotter 30 Wheeled Suitcase
- Globe-trotter Centenary 30 Wheeled Suitcase
- Globe-trotter Centenary 30 Wheeled Suitcase
- Globe-trotter Centenary 33 Trunk Suitcase
- Globe-trotter Cocoa 26 Trolley Case
- Globe-trotter Cruise 33 Extra Deep Trolley Case
Honourable mentions also go to Tumi, Eastpak, Victorinox, Briggs and Riley, and Antler, all of which boast wide collections at prices that won’t mean you’ll need to cut your holiday short.
- Briggs & Riley Sympatico 4-wheel Large Suitcase
- Tumi Vapor Lite Continental 4-wheel Cabin Suitcase
- Antler Juno 4-wheel 79cm Large Suitcase
- Eastpak Transfer Large Two-wheel Suitcase 77cm
- Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Eight-wheel Suitcase
- Herschel Supply Co Wheelie Outfitter Two-wheel Suitcase Trolley 60cm
Like a timeless winter coat or a solid pair of brogues, luggage is an investment that’s not to be taken lightly. Prioritise quality materials and solid construction and remember to take your time when shopping around to land the best luggage for you.
What do you carry when travelling? Are there any luggage brands you love that we’ve missed out on?
Let us know in the comments section.