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Old Aug 20, 09, 2:57 am   #1
 
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Arrow Volume/Weight Ratio as a Luggage Criterion

With rolling bags we had almost forgotten about the burdens of heavy luggage. That lasted just about until the weigh restrictions hit us. Why carry a heavy bag if all that tare weight is just subtracted from your actual packing capacity?

What one would want is a bag that is light but still packs a lot of stuff. Therefore I advocate the introduction of an important criterion in luggage selection: the volume to weight ratio. How much volume does the bag pack per pound or kg of bag weight. The higher the number, the better.

No wheels usually are better than wheels. The more wheels the worse.

Duffels usually fare better than suitcases because they have less framing material.

In the same sense soft materials are better than hard materials.

Nylon is better than leather.

Basically, this puts a soft, unstructured nylon duffel without wheels at the top of the list and a four-wheeler (spinner) hardcase on the bottom.

Here are some numbers as a reference:

is maximum size of luggage enforced?

NB: You have to keep in mind the use of the particular bag. Some bags get so big that you cannot fill them with an ordinary mix of stuff (mostly clothes). The weight will have reached 50lbs before the bag is even full. This means that you are carrying literally "empty weight" around. My experience indicates that the balance point for the standard 50lb load can be reached best with a 24-26" suitcase. If you get much bigger e.g. 28-31 inch suitcase the bag will not be full when 50lb are reached. If you go below 24" you cannot fill it to 50lb unless you pack books or heavy things in it.

For duffels this has to be calibrated accordingly.

This means that you can play with the v/w ratio. In principle a high number is better because it allows you to pack more weight and it means that even if you don't pack it fully, you carry less dead weight. So ideally you'd have to determine what your typical load looks like and then find the smallest and lightest case where it will fit well.

As another reference point let's look at a fairly standard 22" rollerboard with the standard 22x14x9 measures adding up to 45 linear inches. The packing volume of such a bag is around 2700 cubic inches or 45 liters. This is unfortunately not a linear relation. A 62 linear inch bag will have a volume of more than 100 liters. Said rollerboard usually weighs between 9 and 10lb.

Let's say 10lb for the sake of simplicity. 2700:10=270 or in metric 45:4.5=10. Somehow, once again, metric turns out to be the easier system.

The very lightest rollerboard (Travelite) has a volume of around 42 liters and a weight of 1.9kg for a v/w factor of about 22.

Something on the really heavy side like the Valoroso 22SAX model has a v/w of 7.6.

Now, if we use the famous A. Saks 21" expandable carry-on, it has a volume of 43l in normal mode and about 62l expanded. It weighs 545 gram. This gives us a v/w of 78.8 in normal mode and 113 expanded. That's what I call light weight luggage.

Check for list of lightest luggage here:
Lightest carry-on bag

EDIT: In general, as brunotattaglia says below, you can figure that if you want to fully load a bag with a standard assortment of items that you can fill a 25-26" bag with the check-in limit of 50lbs (23kg). If the bag is bigger there will be empty space. Your belongings will shift, unless you use some voluminous but lightweight "stuffing". If the bag is smaller, you won't be able to put 50lbs worth of stuff in there, unless you transport bricks or books.

Till

Last edited by tfar; Apr 6, 12 at 4:41 am.. Reason: added lightest luggage link
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Old Aug 20, 09, 8:08 am   #2
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In all honesty, the volume to weight ratio would have no meaning at all to me.

Or at least very little meaning for most common luggage.

And I would never, ever, consider a full size bag without wheels.

I hardly ever have the need to pack a suitcase to a few ounces under the weight limit. If a bag weighs an extra pound or two, it doesn't matter to me. I also don't usually need the most volume I can get in a bag, so again the largest size is no longer important. Indeed, we just got a new car and now the most important size measurement may become does it fit in the smaller trunk or not?

I would never trade weight for durability or ease of use, and in most cases, both of those mean some extra added weight.
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Old Aug 20, 09, 9:00 am   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfar View Post
What one would want is a bag that is light but still packs a lot of stuff. Therefore I advocate the introduction of an important criterion in luggage selection: the volume to weight ratio. How much volume does the bag pack per pound or kg of bag weight. The higher the number, the better.
For clothing, Glad Force-Flex trash bags (double bagged, if necessary) win! They weigh next to nothing, yet can easily hold 50lbs of clothing. They can be squeezed into almost any arbitrary shape and are water resistant (when sealed properly).

I'm only half sarcastic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tfar View Post
No wheels usually are better than wheels. The more wheels the worse.
Tell that to your back in a decade. A small backpack, a 21" wheeled rollaboard (not something like this) and a 26" spinner bag (on the rare occasions when I check a bag) allow me to easily lug 100lb+ of stuff around for miles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tfar View Post
Duffels usually fare better than suitcases because they have less framing material.

In the same sense soft materials are better than hard materials.
Now everything fragile has to be framed and/or waterproofed. A good framed hard-sided bag is water resistant (watching your bags get soaked on the tarmac is not fun) and only requires that you cushion the fragile stuff.

Sure, protecting small things is often easy (e.g. use shoes), but what does one do for larger items (e.g. wine bottles)?

Of course the water resistance can be accomplished, with.... trash bags!
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Old Aug 20, 09, 9:04 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by cordelli View Post
I hardly ever have the need to pack a suitcase to a few ounces under the weight limit.
You haven't developed a 50-lb (or 23kg) detector arm (or 70lb for elites)? It can be quite the useful skill, both in saving yourself trouble, as well has helping out others when carrying their bags ("Hey, are you aware that your bag might be over 50lbs?").

I've gotten accurate to within a kilo or so.
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Old Apr 24, 10, 8:59 pm   #5
 
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Tfar, i really like your theory.
And since i have to move back to Europe i have decided to follow your suggestion and buy some duffel.

But i have some questions. i was considering to buy something like :
a SIDE ZIPPER HEAVYWEIGHT CANVAS MILITARY DUFFLE BAGS (21" x 36") (18$)
or High Sierra Cordura Sport X-Large Travel Duffel Bag (36" H x 18" W x 18" D) (40$)
I need maximum load capacity for a minimum expense i probably will never need 4 bags again in my life .


Do you have better suggestions? do you know if they are good bags. I like the army one because is cheap and hope to be very resistant

Officially they are both bigger than the 62in limit but will USairways give me problems for that?I will check in probably several bags and i can not risk too much to be considered oversize.

Will I be able to load them with 50lb of cloths?

And do you have an idea on how much is 50lb of clothes? how many jeans and sweaters?


Sorry if i look very unexperienced and do stupid questions but i am used to travel very light (only carry on) and have no idea or practice about check in bags.


Thank you
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Old Apr 25, 10, 10:54 am   #6
 
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in practice I find I can fill any 25" bag to 50 lbs, so it becomes less of an issue for me. All I pay attention to is what the tare weight of said 25" bag is. Even slightly smaller, say 23", I cannot get to 50 lbs.
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Old Apr 26, 10, 10:21 pm   #7
 
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Checco, I don't know the bags you are talking off but I would go the military route. Just don't stuff them super full so they don't look humongous. Also try to pack them in a way that they don't bulge and have nice clean outlines. That looks less bulky to the eye so you are less likely to raise a red flag at the check-in. And make sure you pre-check and pre-pay for the luggage. It's cheaper and they will be much less likely to bother and make you pay extra fees.

One of my jeans weighs 730 grams. We are talking Levi's 501 in 33x32 size. This should give you a pointer. Sweaters weigh around 500g. So 10 sweaters shouldn't be more than 6kg and 10 jeans shouldn't be more than 8kg in those sizes. As you see you can pack quite a lot. Read the packing sticky on top of the forum for info on packing techniques. For your endeavor I clearly advise to go with bundle packing.

Hope that helps. Have a safe trip!

Bruno, the 25-26" suitcase are indeed about as big as one can get in general for the 50lb limit with a normal combination of packed items. When we still had the 70lb limit bigger suitcases made sense. Now not so much anymore since it would take light but bulky items to fill them to capacity but not go over the weight limit.

Till
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Old Jul 8, 10, 12:47 am   #8
 
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Unfortunately that Pathfinder 32" duffle is no longer being sold. Which luggage, with wheels, is the best deal now? I need to buy two of them for moving from the US to China.
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Old Jul 8, 10, 5:45 am   #9
 
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Originally Posted by Kent Wang View Post
Unfortunately that Pathfinder 32" duffle is no longer being sold. Which luggage, with wheels, is the best deal now? I need to buy two of them for moving from the US to China.
Kent, your query is off topic for this particular thread subject. To answer your question briefly it would be best to just go to a discounter store close to you and buy the cheapest, biggest and lightest rolling duffel you can find. Maybe take a portable luggage scale with you so you can assess some numbers.

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Old Apr 6, 12, 4:43 am   #10
 
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I made a little EDIT to the original post and wanted to bring the thread up to the top since the question has been resurfacing as of lately and some don't read the sticky.

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