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Old Dec 26, 09, 2:41 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3
Going Big: Duffel vs. Upright

Hey FT. Long time lurker, which means long time beneficiary. But I've got a question to throw out to the luggage-minded collective.

I see myself needing three different sets of luggage for three different kids of travel.

1) Short-term, casual travel. These are local weekend trips, quick flights to a friend on the other side of the US, or not so far, etc. For these kinds of trips I envisage myself with an AirBoss for my luggage and a Lowepro Fastpack 250 for photography equipment (vitally important for me while traveling) and enough space for books, magazines, etc.

2) Short-term or medium-term business travel. This is the professional suite of luggage needs. For this I see something like a B&R rollaboard (24" max) and an accompanying laptop briefcase like the Tumi briefcase currently being oggled at OBOW.

3) Here's where my question comes in - I recently took a two and a half week trip to Japan. It was a mix of business and pleasure. It was also a horrible luggage experience. I had a backpack, a messenger bag, a large duffel (no wheels, a sad little hand-me-down) and a beastly garment bag. I decided that, even if no business were involved, this is the kind of trip where an AirBoss would not be enough. It's longer than my traveling style would permit with an AirBoss, and there's a lot more "stuff" involved, including hauling a small trove of souvenirs back across the Pacific.

To that end, I wonder what kind of luggage people use if they have to have something big enough to check-in at the counter. There seem to be two styles of "big bags." Wheeled uprights, which have that large rectangular shape (reminds me of the Thwomp from the Mario games) and large, wheeled duffels. Which do casual, recreational travelers prefer, and why?

And after recommending a style, what brands/models do people prefer? I was looking at eBags and their Mother Lode series, as well as High Sierra in that kind of "young person, metro, not-stuffy look" but I'm willing to keep an open mind.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 26, 09, 5:30 pm   #2
 
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For long, multi-week trips with my wife, it's not a small pack. I used to go all Andiamo (checked: wheeled duffel & wheeled 8 suiter; carry-on: wheeled pullman and bag on top to stack).

Changed that as weight restrictions on some carriers are too low to sacrifice weight for the wheeled checked bags.

Now, I take (for my wife and myself):

Carry-on:
1) Porter case Elite as carry-on (my wife uses it for her things). It's only 18" long so little problem as carry-on to date for intl flights. It swivels open to create a luggage cart that is pretty sturdy
2) BR Executive Expander or a backpack depending on work or pleasure

Checked:
1) REI duffel
2) Andiamo suit bag

Once bags are checked, roll the Porter case with the BR Expander on it. Once I have all the bags, I open the Porter Case and stack the suit bag, duffel and BR case on top. I can wheel all of that around pretty easily and for a fair distance. It also provides for dress clothes, casual clothes and a variety of shoes (not mine). We did that pack for a winter trip to Russia and it worked fine even with a lot of bulky clothes.

Last edited by JMN57; Dec 31, 09 at 1:30 pm.
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Old Dec 26, 09, 11:15 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
Posts: 3,509
Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingDaruma View Post
Hey FT. Long time lurker, which means long time beneficiary. But I've got a question to throw out to the luggage-minded collective.

I see myself needing three different sets of luggage for three different kids of travel.

1) Short-term, casual travel. These are local weekend trips, quick flights to a friend on the other side of the US, or not so far, etc. For these kinds of trips I envisage myself with an AirBoss for my luggage and a Lowepro Fastpack 250 for photography equipment (vitally important for me while traveling) and enough space for books, magazines, etc.

2) Short-term or medium-term business travel. This is the professional suite of luggage needs. For this I see something like a B&R rollaboard (24" max) and an accompanying laptop briefcase like the Tumi briefcase currently being oggled at OBOW.

3) Here's where my question comes in - I recently took a two and a half week trip to Japan. It was a mix of business and pleasure. It was also a horrible luggage experience. I had a backpack, a messenger bag, a large duffel (no wheels, a sad little hand-me-down) and a beastly garment bag. I decided that, even if no business were involved, this is the kind of trip where an AirBoss would not be enough. It's longer than my traveling style would permit with an AirBoss, and there's a lot more "stuff" involved, including hauling a small trove of souvenirs back across the Pacific.

To that end, I wonder what kind of luggage people use if they have to have something big enough to check-in at the counter. There seem to be two styles of "big bags." Wheeled uprights, which have that large rectangular shape (reminds me of the Thwomp from the Mario games) and large, wheeled duffels. Which do casual, recreational travelers prefer, and why?

And after recommending a style, what brands/models do people prefer? I was looking at eBags and their Mother Lode series, as well as High Sierra in that kind of "young person, metro, not-stuffy look" but I'm willing to keep an open mind.

Thanks!
Depending on how light you pack and what kind of trip you are on (destination, weather, terrain, activity) an Airboss is enough for two weeks. I've done it with a similar size (actually less volume) 22" roller. had to expand it on the way back because of extra stuff I bought. If it's a trip that requires suits and several pairs of shoes, the Airboss won't cut it alone.

The main difference between something like a 24-26" roller bag and a similar size duffel is of course the form factor. This influences how you best pack in it and what is best packed in it. A duffel is often deeper but narrower. That makes it usually better for bulky stuff like snow boots or ski boots or helmets. A flatter but wider suitcase is just that: a suit case.

The duffel will usually have a better volume to weight ratio, meaning it is the lighter bag but can pack the same or more volume. It will also have less exterior linear inches for the same volume. The suitcase will usually have the better protection.

I don't know what you did in Japan but my hunch is you seriously overpacked. Use the photo backpack as your personal item. Take a checked bag with wheels around 25", for example an extendable 24" bag. If ever you feel the need take an Airboss as carry-on. Pack the most important and most valuable clothes in the AB, the rest gets checked. If you buy more stuff along the road expand the suitcase. Airboss rides on top of 24 incher, photo bag hangs on front of 24 incher with a hook/loop. You can effectively maneuver three bags with one hand this way.

One thing that I have noticed about my rather wide 24" Andiamo duffel now that I used it is that the bag is so wide (16") that it throws me a bit off balance when I have to carry it. At 180cm/74kg I am not scrawny but not the Hulk, either. Carrying such a wide bag with the center of gravity shifted so far out from the body is not easy.

Forgot to say: Welcome to FT!

Till
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Old Dec 29, 09, 12:32 am   #4
 
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You should never need more than the equivalent volume of a 26" roller bag and a 20" roller bag for a trip. Personally I choose the following config: 25" rolling duffel (around 8 lbs) and a convertible backpack (about 3 lbs but holds as much as a 22" roller). I go about a month with this.

I check the 25" and carry the convertible. You should definitely be able to put suits/business clothes into the 25".
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Old Dec 30, 09, 10:59 am   #5
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 298
Hi there,

I'm not going to pronounce on what you should or shouldn't do - having moved myself internationally with 'all I could pack in my bag' I know that there are situations when you just want to pack whatever you can

Ok, Duffel vs. Upright? I say it depends. I love a Duffel if you just ned to pack all winter coats, the snowboard shoes, all 50 T-Shirts you have and move it. I like it when you have a somewhat realiable ground transportation and don't have to drag it through, let's say the NYC subway system.

The Upright (I use a standard Samsonite) comes into play when you need to transport your suits without a wrinkle, have some bottles or other fragile things in your package (I know you can transport both in a duffel but that requires a bit more care and sometimes I'm lazy ). Travelling to a summerhouse oversea's I also transported a little computer incl. webcam to setup an "I'm on vacation in my summerhouse even if I'm at my desk at work system". Such a device is obviously better protected in an upright (hardcase - nope, not going to comment on TSA & airportworkers and their stealing habits).

I also sometimes fell that the Upright is a bit easier to handle. If you need to travel with 4 suitcases you can use two uprights per hand (yep, not really recommended) which I find very hard with two duffels.

Just my 2 cts,
Sebastian
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Old Dec 30, 09, 2:04 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: ORD
Posts: 56
When I need to travel "big," I use a rolling 30" inch Tumi duffle for both business and casual. The bottom half is a separate compartment, which is good for stowing heavy items like boots or segregating dirty laundry from clean clothes. When I need to carry suits, I pack them in a large EagleCreek packing folder and place it in the top compartment. They emerge with few wrinkles -- nothing that doesn't shake out after hanging them on the back of the door in a steamy bathroom.

I much prefer the duffle to my old 26" upright. The duffle weighs less and has greater capacity. It's also easier to handle and to wrestle into the trunk or backseat of my car.

I took a quick look at the Tumi site to see if I could find it, but didn't see the exact same bag that I have. I think it's from the T-Tech line. I bought it on sale at Bloomie's during a trip to NY a few years ago, and it's been one of my best luggage buys ever.
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Old Dec 30, 09, 4:57 pm   #7
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I go for the big rolling duffel when I need to transport a lot of equipment. Usually, this means trips to places where I need large bulky clothing and clunky boots, in addition to other equipment. For me, these have been trips to Antarctica, Arctic Norway, rafting trips in ANWR. I use a 30" Eagle Creek ORV Rolling Duffel. The weight to space ratio is excellent, and I like the little features like locking zippers, outside pockets, and separate internal compartments. What's nice about the duffel is that I can collapse it far more than an upright, it's generally lighter, and it accommodates strangely shaped items. I usually have enough clothing or other soft-sided gear to provide protection for fragile items. I've also got the Eagle Creek packing cubes and other things to organize things.

When I was younger, I would just use a large or extra-large size North Face expedition duffel. Bear in mind that when I was younger, I had no problem lifting a 50 pound duffel on to my shoulder and running through an airport with it.

One of the considerations is what you intend to do with your luggage at your destination. Wheel-less duffel bags are very easy to compress and store, whereas an upgright or rolling duffel is less so. If your travel is in urban destinations or via car, then it doesn't really matter what you take - as long as it fits whatever size and weight restrictions you need to deal with. If you're wandering cobblestone streets or hopping buses or pangas in third-world countries, then a backpack is really the way to go.

For simply urban destinations, I tend to go with a good size daypack, my rolling 22" carry-on, and a collapsible duffel bag. My carry-on carries a week's worth of clothing and whatnot, which is all I need. My daypack carries camera equipment (which is considerable) and laptop, as well as other electronics. The collapsible duffel is there to carry back any souvenirs I may have picked up along the way.
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