Pick your perfect luggage

Here are tips on how to choose the right luggage for your needs

The best luggage is the sort you never have to worry about. You know it will arrive intact on the baggage carousel, protect fragile items on a long-haul flight and trundle along smoothly through crowded subways and busy pavements.

Whether you are planning a round-the-world trip or going for a weekend getaway, The Sunday Times shares tips on how to buy the luggage that best suits your needs.

Size

Cabin-sized luggage works well for those on weekend jaunts, short business trips or who just want to save on checked baggage fees.

Airlines vary slightly in cabin baggage restrictions, but a general guide, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which represents about 290 airlines or 82 per cent of total air traffic worldwide, is a maximum length of 56cm, width of 46cm and depth of 25cm. These dimensions include wheels, handles and side pockets.

The average traveller should be able to pack five to seven days of clothing into a cabin-sized suitcase, says Ms Ada Yuen, deputy merchandising director at Seager. The Singapore-based company distributes a host of travel brands and owns travel concept stores The Planet Traveller and Boarding Gate.

For those on longer trips, a medium-sized checked suitcase with a length of about 61cm is good for one- to two-week trips and should weigh 15 to 18kg when fully packed. This is well within the 20 to 23kg weight limit per baggage of most airlines.

Those who prefer larger suitcases should note Iata guidelines, which state that the sum of the length, width and height of each checked baggage should not measure more than 158cm.

MATERIAL

Soft cases weigh less and can expand to a certain degree. But they are more vulnerable to being cut, pierced or abraded on rough surfaces.

Hard cases made of polycarbonate or aluminium are more durable and offer better protection for your belongings, especially if you are buying fragile items such as wine or condiments in glass jars.

If you are buying a hard case, look for material that is flexible, rather than rigid, as it will absorb shocks better.

When it comes to zippers, look for those with two layers of interlocking teeth, which are more difficult to prise apart with a pen or penknife. Large zippers are usually more durable than smaller ones.

WHEELS

Two-wheeled luggage is lighter and manoeuvres better over uneven ground, such as dirt paths or cobbled streets. The wheels are usually recessed, which offers some protection.

Luggage with four wheels, also known as spinners because the wheels rotate 360 degrees, makes it easier to change direction and navigate through small spaces such as plane aisles. Spinner luggage usually does not have recessed wheels, so look for large and sturdy ones instead.

Most luggage wheels are made of rubber. Ms Yuen recommends cleaning and air-drying them after each trip and storing the luggage with a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture and prevent mould. “Treat your luggage as you would a favourite pair of shoes,” she says.

WARRANTY

Consider the length of your warranty, what it covers and where you can get help for repairs or a replacement. Most brands offer a two- to five-year warranty for manufacturing defects, but do not cover wear and tear such as damage to the wheels or zips.

Brands such as Eagle Creek and Briggs & Riley, both of which are American, cost more, but offer a lifetime warranty and more extensive coverage. For instance, Briggs & Riley guarantees that it will repair luggage if it is broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline.

Meanwhile, Australian luggage start-up July says it will repair or replace luggage defects no matter where in the world they take place.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Every additional feature adds weight to a suitcase, so go for only the ones you need.

If you are bringing both heels and flats on your trip, consider multi-stop handles which work at any height, rather than conventional two- or three-stage ones.

Travelling with a laptop or tablet? Get a suitcase with a zippered external compartment for easy retrieval when going through airport security. And power banks built into your suitcase will ensure that your devices never run out of juice during long layovers.


What to buy

CROSSING HARD CASE EXPANDABLE UPRIGHT SPINNER LUGGAGE SET

This in-house brand from The Planet Traveller offers reliable features at an affordable price. The expandable suitcase means you have more room for shopping and interlocking zips help prevent theft.

Price: Promotional bundles cost $169 for a pair of suitcases with lengths of 28 and 24 inches (71 and 61cm) or $149 for a pair with lengths of 28 and 20 inches(71 and 51cm). The promotion is valid while stocks last.

Where to buy: All The Planet Traveller outlets, including at Paragon and Marina Square


BRIC’S X-TRAVEL SPINNER

Made of satin nylon and leather trim, this suitcase suits the stylish traveller. External compartments make it easy to access your boarding pass and laptop.

The Bric’s X-Travel collection comes in lengths of 22, 26 and 30 inches (56, 66 and 76cm) and a variety of colours such as red, olive, rust and navy.

Price: $265.30 to $335.30

Where to buy: All Boarding Gate outlets, including at Paragon and Plaza Singapura


JULY CARRY-ON

Australian start-up July’s carry-on luggage includes an ejectable 10,000mAh power bank that can charge up to three devices at once. A multi-stop telescopic handle lets you roll it along at varying heights.

The brand is offering free monogramming until Dec 31, with five fonts and 19 colours to personalise your luggage.

Price: $295

Where to buy: july.com/sg 


ECHOLAC CELESTRA UPRIGHT

The Japanese spinner features a front-opening, rather than clamshell, design, which means you can store taller items such as boots in one deep compartment instead of two shallow ones. It comes in lengths of 20, 24 and 28 inches (51, 61 and 71cm).

Price: From $259 to $359

Where to buy: All Boarding Gate outlets, including at Paragon and Plaza Singapura


BRIGGS & RILEY INTERNATIONAL CARRY-ON EXPANDABLE WIDE-BODY SPINNER

This carry-on luggage may look small, but an internal mechanism allows you to expand the bag by up to 34 per cent.

The handle is outside the suitcase rather than embedded to allow for more packing room and a built-in garment bag lets you transport formal wear with minimal creasing.

It comes with a life-time warranty.

Price: $849

Where to buy: All The Planet Traveller outlets, including at Paragon and Marina Square