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Expensive vs. Cheap Luggage

Expensive vs. Cheap Luggage

Old Oct 8, 09, 3:57 am
  #1  
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Expensive vs. Cheap Luggage

Hi,

Apologies if this has been addressed before, but what makes your decision towards expensive / premium Luggage (Rimowa, Samsonite etc) vs. some cheapo supermarket stuff?

While I can see that certain professions require "decent" luggage simply as an accessory / part of the outfit (The average CEO of a billion Dollar company probably won't travel with the latest Tesco or Wal-Mart bags), I have the feeling that people here (and possibly even many 1 flight every 2 year travellers) tend to buy overexpensive bags.

As for myself, I always consider price/value and amount of use. Like:
- I sit in front of my Computer for 8+ hrs / day, I need decent Laptop.
- I drive 30k+ mls per year, I need a decent car.
- I am on 50+ flights per year, I need... oh - wait!

Ever since I started extensive travel, I used relatively cheap luggage. I have a 15 carry-on that has been on countless flights with me. No problem.
Also my checked bags are probably well below 100 and always did their job.

I do see the added style on some bags, and I can see that it's sometimes practical to have 1lbs less of bag weight, but I just never recognized a 200 carry-on or a 500 checked bag as worth it.

Quite the opposite possibly: If I need a new bag, I go to the nearest supermarket and buy the cheapest that does the job. At least I don't have to worry about dents in my Rimowa Aluminium, or lost bags being more expensive than their content.

What do you think? Pros / Cons?
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Old Oct 8, 09, 5:00 am
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Well, I think we discussed this before. As a luggage junkie only the high powered stuff will do it for me.

Price doesn't equal price. When you can wait and you know the market a little, you can find some amazing bargains. See the Andiamo affair.

Also, the luggage should be the right thing for the task with the right design features. How far you want to go with that is a huge factor in how much you will need to spend.

I am a very big believer in the "Buy the best you can afford" method. It will be most likely cheaper in the end and you will get more use and more prestige out of it while it lasts. There is a lot of luggage that is cheap and cheaply made. But there is also a lot of luggage that is cheap but well made. Kirkland made by Pathfinder is an example. Or was because Pathfinder is down now.

To a large extent whether your luggage will be good after a great number of trips depends on luck. My friend had the wheel of a $300+ Victorinox case bent out of shape after the very first trip. I saw the wheel axle. That thing was massive hardware. They must have put in excess of 200lb of force on that in just the right angle. Bad luck. In the reverse case, yours for instance, somebody travels a lot and never gets his cheap bags damaged.

Then there is the environmental factor. If we suppose you buy a cheap bag and it really doesn't last as long. The thing just ends in the landfill and you get a new one. The more expensive bag will last longer in general. When it does break it might be fixed under warranty. If it cannot be fixed you get a new bag for free. Still less waste all things equal.

Expensive luggage:

Pros:
- better functionality
- better design/ looks
- better materials
- environmentally friendlier
- more prestige / exclusivity
- more durable
- better warranty
- higher pride of ownership
- easier to spot on the belt cause there aren't too many around
- cheaper in the long run

Cons:
- more likely to be stolen or stolen from
- greater loss when damaged or lost
- often heavier due to more durable materials and more elaborate construction

For cheap bags inverse the list! What matters is how you weight the criteria. If the stuff in the pro list is unimportant for you, then a cheap bag is the better choice. If on top of it, you are lucky and your cheap bag actually provides good service for a long time, you might come out ahead.

It's as if you are comparing a cheap ETA movement or even a Japanese Miyota with a JLC movement (watches for the non-aficionados). They will all tell you the time but the JLC will do it with more style. The analogy is not quite fitting because in my eyes the ETA movement will actually be less failure prone than the more complicated JLC. For bags, the added functionality and durability of a higher priced bag are more palpable benefits.

A better analogy might be shoes.

You can buy a good $300 pair of handmade men's shoes. Let's be generous, make that $500. If you treat them well, these shoes can be worn and re-soled for at least ten years. I have pairs that are 20 years old and that I have worn very often. Re-soled three times but never factory restored. That means the sole has never been completely taken off from the upper leather and never been completely replaced. I will do that soon. So ten years is realistic. Factor in another $50 for the cobbler. So $550 over ten years.

A half-way decent pair of dress shoes with a leather sole will still set you back $80. They will last 1.5 years max. Over ten years you thus need six pairs. That's $480. If you need seven pairs you are already over the $550 from the expensive pair. So for ten years you will be wearing cheap shoes, that look and feel cheap and you will have to go and look for new shoes at least five times. It's just not efficient in my eyes.

When you get the expensive shoes you will have ten years (possibly more) of walking around with well-made, beautiful shoes. No bother picking new ones every year. No waste created. Pride of ownership guaranteed. A good craftsman supported. Much better solution in my book.

The problem is that not everyone can afford that method and not everyone is lucid enough to use it. The other thing is that there is most likely a point of diminishing returns that needs to be optimized. Between a pair of $500 Aldens and a pair of custom $5000 John Lobbs the Alden probably have objectively the better price/value relation.

So you have to see the Rimowa and Tumi as the Alden, and Hermes as the John Lobb. Even if I did have the money, I would not buy a $20,000 Hermes suitcase but I'd have no problem spending 1000 on a Rimowa. For others, they say they would not buy the 1k Rimowa if a $100 Kirkland also does the trick.

Till
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Old Oct 8, 09, 5:28 am
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Personal experience with Samsonite is the quality has deteriorated over the last five years. We have had hinges separate for the shell, interior closures break and zipper pulls fall off. Having to send the luggage to Samsonite for repair is a PITA and an inconvenience. We are in the market for one or two new pieces and Samsonite will not be considered.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 5:34 am
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I own a Rimowa Aluminium suitcase. For me, buying it was about two things:

I insist on hard-shell luggage for one thing - it keeps out spills, takes a lot of beating, you can put bottles of wine in your luggage without having to worry, etc. In this market, even the "cheap" luggage isn't all that cheap, so it makes sense to spend more to get a much studier bag.

Secondly, there's the hassle factor. I don't want to have to run out and buy a new bag every couple of months. I want something dependable that will last a long time and will work as I expect it to. I don't want the hassle of fighting the airlines for compensation when they've wrecked my luggage yet again.

As for dents or scratches on the suitcase - as long as they don't affect the bag's stability, I don't have a problem with them. In fact, I think they add character. As Rimowa says "Every case tells a story." Mine is still reasonably new, but I have seen some Rimowa suitcases that look like their story would be longer than War and Peace.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 6:44 am
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vs.

I think it must have the right quality and a spicial loog. and, quality is always expensive!
sorry for my english ;-)
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Old Oct 8, 09, 6:46 am
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For me, durability is the key factor, particularly since I travel to some fairly rough places. My Eagle Creek duffel bag is made of good enough material to handle being tossed around in the back of various modes of third world transport, while the $20 Walmart special would tear.

I've spent enough time in my life sewing up holes in a backpack (I recommend using dental floss for this, by the way).
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Old Oct 8, 09, 7:13 am
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I'd go for a cheap (but branded) luggage as they get trashed the first time it's checked in. The way they are handled you'll probably need to get a new one every year or so anyway so there's not much point going for the top end stuff. It used to be the case where the airline will cover for damages and replace the luggage so it was worthwhile getting a good one (so they can replace it with the same brand) but these days they do everything they can to get out of any liabilities.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 7:17 am
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I researched my last bag purchase to death before settling on my Plat5 22". With a coupon posted here last year, I picked my bag up for a song: $275 before S+H.

I do not consider this a "cheap" bag, compared to the Costco/Wal-Mart type bags. However, durability and reliability are a big selling point for me. I want to spend this money once, for the next 10 years, and not have to think about it until the bag is falling apart from years of use.

With my briefcase, I purchased a $200 custom messenger bag. The bag is waterproof, has exceptional organization options, and is extremely durable. It's quite comfortable with 30# of stuff in it (Laptop, netbook, notebook, bric-a-brac, overnight clothes, books, magazines, work files) and quite versatile: I've used it as my day bag on urban vacations many times, as an overnight bag for a weekend with the guys, or as a tote when riding to and from the store on my bicycle.

Like tfar, I buy things once, ride them until they fall apart, and expect them to last many years in the process. The dress shoes on my feet were a $350 pair 6 years ago; they have been resoled once since then. I expect another 3 - 4 years out of them before they will go the way of the dust bin. I used to abhor expensive shoes, but I found myself going through a pair of shoes every 9 months or so before I started buying "better built" shoes.

YMMV, HTH, usual disclaimers.

Cheers,

-Andrew
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Old Oct 8, 09, 7:46 am
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A better analogy might be shoes.

You can buy a good $300 pair of handmade men's shoes. Let's be generous, make that $500. If you treat them well, these shoes can be worn and re-soled for at least ten years. I have pairs that are 20 years old and that I have worn very often. Re-soled three times but never factory restored. That means the sole has never been completely taken off from the upper leather and never been completely replaced. I will do that soon. So ten years is realistic. Factor in another $50 for the cobbler. So $550 over ten years.

A half-way decent pair of dress shoes with a leather sole will still set you back $80. They will last 1.5 years max. Over ten years you thus need six pairs. That's $480. If you need seven pairs you are already over the $550 from the expensive pair. So for ten years you will be wearing cheap shoes, that look and feel cheap and you will have to go and look for new shoes at least five times. It's just not efficient in my eyes.
This analogy might work if you only needed one pair of dress shoes. Most people need more than one (say, 3ish?). Plus I'd get sick of wearing the same shoes for more than 3 years. Wardrobe's gotta move with the times, you know.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:07 am
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The airlines seem equally efficient at destroying both cheap and expensive luggage so for me a guaranty makes a big difference. I use RedOxx which is guaranteed for my lifetime plus.

I am just home from a car trip. I pack well to fly but for car trips it is often a situation where everything goes as I had to take along plenty of our booth materials and supplies. Used a cheapie bag that someone gave me for the purpose of carrying some of the booth supplies and the handle broke.

A cardboard box would have been better.

I threw away the broken bag and certainly won't buy another cheapie bag.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:12 am
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I buy my luggage from Target
I started with the $18 roller carry on. I went through 3 in 2 years (pegs that stand the bag up kept breaking)
I upgraded to the $30 roller carry on. It lasted me about a year (the metal reinforcing the top handle broke)
Now i'm using the $70 swiss gear roller carry on. I've only had it for 6 months.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by stupidhead View Post
This analogy might work if you only needed one pair of dress shoes. Most people need more than one (say, 3ish?). Plus I'd get sick of wearing the same shoes for more than 3 years. Wardrobe's gotta move with the times, you know.
I have four pairs of resole, two that are not. Two oxfords (brown|black), two monk strap (brown|black). I rotate through a more modern pair every other year or so. I tend to buy British, and thread the line between "modern" and "classic". Works for me.

Cheers,

-Andrew
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:42 am
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15 years ago, at a store closing, I bought half a dozen rollaboards of modest quality, the sort that probably then sold for $49.95 at full retail, for a $100. I still have 2 left in the original cartons, a 3rd is in use (but beginning to show its miles, and 3 have bitten the dust, a broken handle, a bad wheel, zipper-crash, over time.

Other than good boots, I don't buy shoes to last forever, and with TSA, wearing boots to travel is time-consuming. Even the most expensive clothing succumbs to wear and tear (almost as quickly as many cheap items carefully selected for durability. I don't find leather seat covers comfortable, and long ago decided that an Expedition was as good as a Navigator, and Suburbans rode just like Escalades, both at far lower prices.

Whether I'm sitting up front on my way to vacation in Europe or in back, visiting an old client a commuter flight away, travel has become among the most utilitarian of pursuits, and family purchases/gifts of fancy luggage (or prizes/gifts from others in lieu of outright bribery) haven't made the "fancy" stuff any more useful than the plain vanilla varieties, sometimes less so, heavier and too many bells, whistles, gizmos and zippers. The snazzy handmade goatskin suit bag I had made in Malta over 40 years ago only comes out for car trips and the nice over-sized Halliburton brief case, long ago a gift from an affluent and grateful client gathers dust in the closet, clumsy, awkward and inconvenient.

Form follows function.
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:47 am
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Originally Posted by don34 View Post
Good tip to save luggage from damages is to not overload it with heavy things.!
I dunno, I use luggage to protect the contents rather than managing the contents to protect the luggage
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Old Oct 8, 09, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by gleff View Post
I dunno, I use luggage to protect the contents rather than managing the contents to protect the luggage
And I think lighter bags get tossed around more than heavy bags.
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