One of my favorite movies is Joe Versus the Volcano. It’s one of those movies you either love or hate. For me there is a scene when Joe Banks meets a luggage salesman who explains that luggage, “It's the central preoccupation of my life.”
As a person who has traveled extensively it’s a common topic of my fellow traveler in executive lounge and waiting areas by the gate. What qualities are best to look for in luggage and who makes the best?
In “Peter in Flight” I wrote about a taxi driver who does a “hard drop” on a carry on bag, which basically breaks the wheels of Peter’s luggage. It has happen twice to me personally, if the taxi driver did it intentionally or not is unknown, but the results were real. The first time it happened on a roller bag made by Samsonite and the second by Travel Pro. The difference between the two was the price to repair it. My experience was that Travel Pro was easier to work with and provided better service.
Luggage, keep in mind, is very personal. Your type of travel style can dictate your needs from a carry on to a steamer trunk. The luggage salesman tells us, “You travel the world, you’re away from home, perhaps away from your family, all you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage.” For today’s frequent flier, you need to get through the TSA station, fit your belongings in the prescribed space, or plan to pay a premium. If brought on the plane or checked, it needs to be ready for extreme temperatures and handing.
For some time I used a backpack made of ballistics fabrics so I would not injure my back from the extra pounds carried. It is a great alternative to a briefcase or computer bag. There have been years that I’ve carried a leather computer bag, which was more business appropriate, but not as durable or light weight. Recently I’ve returned to a laptop bag by Tom Bihn, who I personally believe makes the best travel gear available today. Tom Bihn meets all my list of requirements for the construction of quality luggage:
1) Superior construction quality – durability, choice materials, extra strong stitching on seams, and as a bonus made in the USA in Seattle.
2) Large unbreakable zippers – zippers that I can feel from under the seat, that won’t fail, and aren’t misaligned.
3) Pockets – there are apparent pockets, hidden pockets, big and small pockets.
4) Identifiable – because not many know of how great Tom Bihn products are, and the unique look of their design, they are easy to pick out of a line up. You know that’s your bag and don’t question it.
5) Weight – for the miles you travel, extra ounces can slow you down. Lightweight materials are used in production so you feel like you are carrying the items inside and not the bag.
In the parable of Joe Versus the Volcano we learn in the end that your luggage just might save your life. So choose wisely before your adventure begins and “May you live to be a 1,000 years old.”