Over the last few weeks, I’ve written a series of blog posts detailing the variables I consider when purchasing a piece of luggage. I strongly consider Price (Blog Post Coming Soon!), Durability, Convenience (Blog Post Coming Soon!), Weight and Style. I also go to lengths to “Accessorize” my luggage with the latest bells and whistle to improve the overall “luggage experience.” Highlights from these previous posts include:
- Style – “Your luggage is an extension of who you are. And it’s one of the first things associated with you when you travel.”
- Size – “A couple of inches here and there determine whether your luggage and valuable belongings will be stored above your seat in an overhead compartment or below you in the underside of the aircraft.”
- Weight – “Weight is the oft-forgotten criteria for luggage selection.”
- Durability – “Most people underestimate the importance of durability when it comes to their luggage, but it is the most important determinant of not only the value of your luggage, but the longevity as well.”
- Accessories – “Accessories and luggage have equal significance, working together to create an luggage ensemble that expresses your style and who you are, as well as provide added functionality to your travel experience.”
- Convenience – Coming Soon
- Price – Coming Soon
But I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling that I was forgetting something, a certain je ne sais quoi (“I don’t know what”). And then it occurred to me, it’s not that I was forgetting something in particular. It’s that I wanted to reiterate how important a couple less obvious “x factors” are before returning to Convenience and Price in future blog posts. I affectionately refer to these factors as “The Luggage X Factors.”
Handles – Regardless of the type or brand of luggage you ultimately decide on, it will come equipped with some kind of handle. It will likely be a fixed or retractable (telescopic) handle. Either way, make sure the handle is sturdy and can withstand significant force. Retractable handles are usually paired with wheeled luggage and that adds to their convenience, but it also contributes to more luggage upkeep. For such telescopic handles, you’ll have to spend additional time ensuring handles retract/extend smoothly. Additionally, the telescopic handle should extend long enough to allow you to comfortably move your luggage around. Telescopic handle construction should also be evaluated – some manufacturers house the mechanical workings of the handle outside the main luggage compartment and others house it on the inside within the main compartment. If given the choice, spring for luggage with mechanical workings housed on the inside of the luggage. This shields the handle from outside forces and ensures a longer shelf life for your luggage handle.
Zippers – Before forming the Luggage Council, I rarely if ever thought about zippers. But I’ve realized that faulty zippers are one of the most common problems people experience with luggage. Cheaper luggage manufacturers utilize lower quality, less durable zippers. Consequently, these zippers can easily break or become misaligned to the zipper track in the luggage. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but what good is a piece of luggage if you can’t open or close it easily? Thankfully, a broken or faulty zipper won’t ruin your luggage and you may well be able to fix it yourself (I personally can’t). But it’s still pretty inconvenient to go about returning your luggage to the manufacturer or taking it to an independent repair shop. Furthermore, a faulty zipper is an excellent way to spot inferior build quality. If you’re looking at a piece of luggage and the zipper feels flimsy, odds are its construction (rivets, screws, and additional parts) will also be inferior.
Layout – The last less obvious “x factor” I wanted to revisit is layout. You see as many pieces of luggage as the Luggage Council has and you begin to understand how much layout and pockets vary from luggage to luggage. Ultimately, the layout of your luggage affects what and how you are able to pack. As with many things luggage, it’s a matter of personal preference. For me, I like different luggage layouts for personal versus professional travel. There are however some standard things that I prioritize when it comes to luggage layout. I look for easily accessible pockets to store more important positions such as my identification, travel documents and electronic chargers. I also ensure that the main compartment has enough space to fit the majority of my belongings. Supplementary pockets and compartments can then be used for dirty clothes at the end of a trip or store new purchases during my travels.
These not so obvious “Luggage X Factors” should not be discounted. I look forward to describing Convenience and Price next!