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My Kind Of Hand Luggage


I make no secret of the fact that I love luggage. Whenever I see luggage in a shop I imagine standing in some far-flung country waiting for it to come off the plane. Or slinging it over my shoulder as I check into a 5 star hotel. It’s not just the luggage, it’s the potential I see in it for adventure. While you’re travelling you’re relying on this thing to carry everything you need with you, that it won’t abandon you or let you down, that it’ll be a constant companion and even though it’s an inanimate object, it’s shared your adventure with you and lived to tell the tale.

I wrote a while ago about my current strategy of flying with hand luggage only in a bid to avoid queueing to checking it in, waiting for it at the other end only to discover it ended up in Bora Bora while you’re in Stockholm and that it’s Winter and you packed your warm clothes in it. I spoke about the bare essentials you need to survive up to a week with just that one bag but I didn’t really go into much detail of the actual bag itself. Anyway, since that article I’ve been using a Briggs & Riley 17″ expandable rolling brief – which is just a fancy way of saying one of those cases that has a telescopic handle, wheels, fits in an overhead compartment on a plane and can carry enough kit for a week-long trip. The case itself looks like this (click on the pictures below to read some details):

The case rocks and I’d heartily recommend it. What’s particularly impressed me about the case is that it’s clear every detail has been carefully thought through. I’ve travelled enough that I’ve noticed various things that have bugged me about previous cases – however this one is pretty much perfect.

First of all, it’s expandable – something that’s much more useful than I realised before I got this case. It must be some strange law about travelling that when you pack your bag you think to yourself “it’s a bit of a squeeze, but don’t worry, when I come back there’ll be less in it and therefore much more space for a couple of presents”. However what actually happens is that no matter what you do, you can’t fit everything in as you pack to come home and you end up having to crush everything in hoping it won’t burst. Cue the expandable case. If you keep it in its smaller size when packing on the way out, then coming back you can expand it and you have a very useful extra bit of space to pack in those new Hawaiian shirts. If you’re not flying but are going to stay with friends for a few days then instead you can use that extra space to fit in your dancing shoes (something you probably won’t bring on a business trip). So the expandable clothes section makes the case an absolute winner.

I always take my laptop and an assortment of cables and chargers with me wherever I go (such is the enslavement technology brings). So having a stiffened storage compartment is essential to stop those 3 pin plugs from stabbing through your shirts. Also, since I travel with hand luggage only that means bringing bottles with shower gel, shampoo and toothpaste with me. I know from experience that if you put your toiletries into a compressible bag then you find the first thing you do when arriving in the hotel is wash the shampoo out of all your clothes (it’s amazing how much damage one small bottle of shampoo can do). So the fact that my case has a stiffened compartment means I can put my laptop, cables, plugs and toilet bag in without worrying about damage or spillage caused by bottles being crushed no matter how rough someone is throwing their bag into the overhead luggage compartment.

One thing that’s ticked me off about previous cases is the way the designers decide what you should put where. You’ll find a perfectly good sized section that’s ruined by having a bunch of separators sewn into the case that effectively means you can’t neatly fit things in unless they’re a specific size. Normally I get the scissors out and remove the separators! However my current case doesn’t enforce that organisation on you – there are separators, but you don’t have to use them and they don’t compromise the raw size of each section. And when you think you might be attending an ambassador’s reception you’ll need that extra bit of space to fit in your bow tie and cummerbund.

Some of the other cool features my case has include a very useful magnetic pocket right on the front. This is ideal for putting travel documents or newspapers into for easy recovery (handy when standing in a queue or at passport control). Likewise there’s another useful zip pocket right on the front that’s ideal for putting your passport into that you can get at quickly. It comes with a detachable laptop pouch that you can quickly remove to pass through an airport scanner separately without having to fiddle around fishing it out of the case – it’s designed to come out quickly and go back in the same manner. It even comes with a shoulder strap – something very rare in cases like this and makes life easier when you’re forced to walk up long flights of stairs. Finally, the material the case is made of it seems very hard wearing but not too hard, so it looks like it’ll last me many years and can be compressed somewhat to fit into whatever space it needs to (very useful when you’re travelling on certain low cost airlines).

As I said at the start, I love luggage and could talk about it all day – I think my ideal job would be as a luggage designer! Anyway, if you’re looking to cut down on travel time and go hand luggage only, I’d definitely recommend my Briggs & Riley 17″ expandable rolling case. As with most things in life you get what you pay for and if you want to own a piece of luggage you can rely on that you can take to the edge of the earth and back and still have room for a packet lunch knowing that it’ll take everything you can throw at it, then go get yourself one! Alternatively they have a host of other cool cases. Although I’d better not look or I’ll spend hours staring at them imagining taking them to far off lands! πŸ˜‰

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

12 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. If I keep buying based on your bad recommendations I’ll go bust and the shares you have in the company you’re plugging will most certainly go up.

    Sounds like a great case but since I’ve only done one business trip in the last 2 years (as opposed to every 2 weeks) I’ll be passing on this recommendation and sticking with my Tumi bag for day to day usage and my Wenger when off somewhere interesting (which doesn’t include Cincinnati) πŸ˜‰


    • Haha, would that be some sort of insider trading if I had shares in the manufacturers?!

      Yeah, I reckon you’ll be alright with that kit! It’s lucky I’m not rich or I’d spend it all on luggage for all occassions! πŸ˜‰


  2. John, I never met anyone who loves luggage as much as you do! You made me smile. πŸ™‚


  3. (disclamer: I hate to travel and was doing that for the last 10 years, suffering in first class and 5 stars hotels :))

    It indeed looks like a great luggage. The only problem I have (but it’s me) with these “one bag for everything” is that I had, let’s be generous, 5 opportunities in my life to actually make good use of them:
    – I travel for 7-15 days in a row
    – or I travel for 3 days but I have to wear a suit and do not want to spend 10 hours in a plane wearing it so I have to pack it
    – or I travel for 3 days, no need for a suit and (the tension is unbearable) I have to buy stuff for my family who thinks I am some kind of cargo who can transport a 90″ TV from overseas.
    – or I have to take food & drink with me to survive the stay (this is the case for one single country among the ones I visited – at the exact moment we land I have to take some Imodium just in case :))

    One big thing I like in this luggage is the fact that it fits in the overhead locker. It is slightly unnerving to see people bringing on board huge suitcases, then blocking everyone as they look around for the sign which says “PUT YOUR BIG SUITCASE YOU DID NOT FANCY TO CHECK IN HERE” and then ask if I would be somehow uncomfortable sharing my leg space with his suitcase as it could not fit anywhere.


    • Having to travel with a suit definitely complicates things and fortunately that’s not something I’ve had to do. You’d be hard pushed to fit one in hand luggage and it come out looking presentable and wearing a suit on a plane for 10+ hours (even in first class) can’t exactly be ideal!

      I know what you mean about people putting huge cases in hand luggage. I’ve seen people allowed to bring cases on that are larger than the case I brought for a month’s holiday to New Zealand (which was big)! I’d never even think to bring one on the plane and inconvenience everybody else. Some people eh?

      And I always travel with imodium too – very handy stuff when you need it!


  4. Hey John, I think this bag may be the answer to my work travelling and reduce checked in need. I can’t believe you are so keen on bags and I can’t believe I am interested too. Just so you know it looks like they are selling well As I went to try and buy one and they are sold out! Didn’t think your blog had so many followers. Cheers Keith


    • Hi Keith! Haha, watch out, luggage obsession is a tough addiction to deal with – once it gets you there’s no escape!

      And yeah, there’s nowt as queer as folk (as they say round these parts)! πŸ˜‰


  5. IATA hand luggage recommended size is 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm. However, many airlines restrict one to 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.

    Bearing this in mind this bag’s dimensions are a curious choice: 34.3 x 20.3 x 45.2 cm.

    You’ll have to squash one dimension in by 3mm into the airport baggage size checker. One would have thought that the manufacturer would have worked within the basic allowance dimensions.


    • In reality 3mm is not a problem as the bag isn’t made of steel, it’s somewhat compressible and easily fits within the confines of even the strictest bag size checker.


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