travel in style: case studies

Lipault Paris, Briggs & Riley Transcend

The Contenders: Lipault Paris 22″ Trolley (similar) vs. Briggs & Riley “International 20” Widebody Spinner (similar). Shake, uh…wheels and come out fighting!

I’ve been traveling for a few years now with a two-wheeled carry-on bag that is tilted and pulled along behind me. While it’s served me pretty well, I do notice some strain and tension on my shoulder and wrist especially when I’ve walked any distance, or with another “personal item” resting on top. After my back and shoulder issues the last few months, I’ve decided that reducing strain wherever possible is prudent, and so began researching 4-wheeled bags, also known as “spinners” (as they can spin 360 degrees). These bags can be pushed in front or alongside, taking all of the weight on the wheels. (They can also be tilted and pulled like 2-wheelers for going up and down curbs or on uneven surfaces if necessary.)

When contemplating a major purchase like this, I do a lot of research online first. I searched through discussion forums on travel sites, and read reviews of bags at online retailers like zapposamazon.com and Nordstrom, before narrowing my search down to the two bags above, the Lipault Paris 22″ Trolley  (similar) and the Briggs & Riley “International” Wide Body spinner.

The first consideration when choosing any carry-on bag is size. Different airlines have different limitations for carry-on luggage, and what may be fine on a domestic airline could be too large for international carriers. It’s best to check with your particular airline(s) regarding their restrictions. Be sure to take into account the wheels and any protruding handles in a bag’s measurements. Some airlines have fairly stringent weight as well as size limits for carry-on bags, so weight was my second consideration (also thinking about hoisting the bag up into the overhead bin, as well as carrying up and down stairs, etc.).

I looked first at the hard-sided “clamshell” luggage, and while it was very light and very pretty, I didn’t like the interior configuration or the lack of an exterior pocket. I prefer a single large cavity in which to pack, which seems most versatile.

So let’s get on with this luggage showdown!

Both of these bags above had advantages regarding functionality: spinner wheels, an outside pocket and soft padded handles for carrying. The Briggs & Riley bag has a lifetime guarantee, double wheels, and the telescoping handle is mounted on the outside, which means that the interior has a flat packing surface (no ridges from the handle). The hard sides would provide protection if I wanted to check the bag with fragile items inside. There’s good ground clearance, and it maneuvers beautifully. It’s a bit on the heavy side, at somewhere between 8.6 and 9 pounds (depending on which website you reference). The only other downside is the bag’s appearance; it’s rather squat and generic. This was the more expensive of the two bags.

The Lipault bag (similar) is lighter at 6 pounds. Many reviewers noted that the soft-sided configuration made it easy to pack as well as easy to fit into overhead bins. Though it looks a bit deflated in the picture above, once packed it has more shape. While the handle is mounted inside which leaves ridges, I usually pack in soft packing cubes or place rolled items in the hollows, so this isn’t an issue for me. And it’s a prettier piece. It doesn’t have as much clearance as the B&R, which means I’d have to be more careful rolling on uneven surfaces.

Capacity, listed in cubic inches, is harder to get a bead on. From what I can tell, some websites list the cu in as exterior dimensions not actual packing capacity. So I did a test run.

clothing rolled for packing

While this isn’t my actual travel wardrobe for our upcoming trip, it’s representative of the types of items I’ll probably pack (dress/heels still a big maybe). This certainly isn’t a complete packing list; haven’t included underpinnings, accessories or toiletries. What I’ve shown here are 3 pairs of pants, 3 lightweight tops, 3 sweaters, 1 dress and 2 pairs of shoes. (I intentionally left off items I’d wear in transit.)  Normally I’d pack in cubes to organize and compress the volume a bit, but for this quick test I just rolled everything. I also didn’t pack as strategically and efficiently as I normally would, wanting to push the limits of the bags’ capacities.

packing with rolled clothing

The Briggs & Riley bag seemed to have ample room. With primary travel wardrobe pieces packed, the case is only about 2/3 full. There are also zippered compartments in the lid, interior and exterior.

rolling luggage exterior handle

Here’s a shot of the back of the bag with the exterior telescoping handle. There’s another small pouch between the shafts of the handle which would be perfect for electronics chargers. The gadgety part of me LOVES this little feature.

rolled clothing for carry-on packing

The Lipault bag, while not being filled anywhere near to capacity, doesn’t seem to have quite as much volume. But having read what reviewers of this bag claim to have been able to pack (one reviewer describes it as the “clown car” of suitcases), I’m certain I’d have no trouble packing my usual amount.

As a final test, I lifted each suitcase packed with the clothing shown above over my head, where the difference between the two bags was apparent. Ultimately, it came down to weight, though I’ll admit that pretty purple color didn’t hurt either. The winner: Lipault by a neck (and shoulder). Ultimately I think if I were to pack the B&R bag to capacity, which I’d be tempted to do, it would be too heavy for me to lift or carry easily. A little less volume translates to a little less weight to lug around. (This post at Seventeenth & Irving also has made me re-think my “personal item,” which I could utilize more efficiently…more on that later.)

If you’re interested in the Lipault bag, it’s available in several colors and the Chocolate color seems to be on sale everywhere now. The Briggs & Riley bag is available in olive green and a deep red as well as black.

Do you have favorite luggage? What were your criteria when choosing it?

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42 Comments

  1. February 12, 2014 / 3:38 am

    I had to return a similar bag to the Lipault because it didn’t support my full tote, and have ended up with a super light hard shell, light and small enough for all the inter Europe airlines. But, like you, I would really prefer an outside pocket (oh how I miss that!) And a different interior configuration. Your Lipault can support a full tote or large purse?

  2. February 12, 2014 / 4:17 am

    Thank you for the rolling bag suggestions. You’ve help eliminate the problem of what to choose. I’ve pinned them for our next purchase. Somewhere along the way I missed the “roll instead of fold” method of packing. What a great idea. Is there a post devoted to it and I didn’t see it?
    Sam

  3. Susan
    February 12, 2014 / 4:34 am

    My carry on bag is a Tumi. A few years ago I packed for an 8 day winter trip to England in it with no difficulty (and without doing any laundry while there). I also pack in cubes and like that method. My Tumi is just a regular roller bag, not a spinner. I will be interested in hearing how the spinner works for you on your trip.

  4. February 12, 2014 / 5:06 am

    Good choice. I always find packing a soft sided bag easier and weight I agree is paramount. Perhaps I should check if it conforms to Ryanair’s stringent rules.

  5. Louise
    February 12, 2014 / 5:23 am

    I take a small non-wheeled carry-on that meets Ryanair’s restrictions. Empty, it weights 1.2 pounds. Fully packed for a 2-week vacation, it weighs 13 lbs. I don’t take what I can’t carry — and I really have to limit my shoes to those that I wear on the plane and one pair in the bag. No jeans — too heavy.

    • Jane
      February 13, 2014 / 8:17 pm

      Wow, Louise…what is the make of the bag?

  6. February 12, 2014 / 5:52 am

    Thanks for these posts on the spinner luggage. We are travelling in two weeks and until I read your first post on this, I had totally forgotten that our last trip pretty much destroyed our large suitcase. I’m happy to say that we are now the new owners of American Tourister Smart luggage. I bought the 20 ” for myself when I travel alone; it is very light at a little over 5 lbs. And the 24″ for when we travel as a couple on long trips and will check our bags.They both have “squashy” outside pockets, which I like very much. So thanks for the reminder!
    Btw…what do you mean by “packing in cubes?”

    • une femme
      February 12, 2014 / 6:00 am

      Sue, I’ll post on those next week. I’ve also included in the scroll-through items at the bottom of this post if you want to have a look.

    • yumyummoany
      February 12, 2014 / 7:20 am

      Cubes are the cat’s PJs! Google ‘packing cubes’ or look on Amazon. The Seventeenth and Irving link is where I learned about cubes.

    • Louise
      February 13, 2014 / 5:18 pm

      Packing aids include lightweight cubes — generally a mesh cube with a zipper running almost all the way around — and folders. I use a folder for pants, tops, blouses, etc. I have use one cube for knit tops and undies and one for scarves and/or sox. These packing aids keep your clothes organized and stable. My packing folder also adds some stiffness to my soft-sided carry-on. You can find similar on by looking up “packing cubes” on the Internet.

  7. Christina
    February 12, 2014 / 6:08 am

    My mother uses the Lipault bag and loves it, specifically because it is lightweight and seems to expand to fit just about anything. She has had it for only two years, but it seems to be holding up well. She purchased it for her around-the-world trip (which she did without a travel agent or tour company) to celebrate her 70th birthday. She was gone a month in that bag – She is a minimalist packer. Go mom!

  8. Suzanne
    February 12, 2014 / 6:44 am

    I too am traveling in the next few weeks and am in need of a new spinner. My question with the Lipault is this: Can it support another bag on top slung onto the handle? I want to put my Longchamp tote bag (short handled one) over the handles of the spinner. WIll this work? Also, did you consider the Delsey line? I have had good luck with them in the past. Has their quality gone down?

    • une femme
      February 12, 2014 / 7:06 am

      Hi Suzanne, I think whether the bag will support your Longchamp tote depends on how full it’s packed. I saw one recommendation to pack something structured (like a toilet kit) along the top of the bag which creates a bit more “shelf.” You could also bring a bungee cord to strap your bag to the extended handle. There are also many bags now with a strap along the back side to slip over the handle (will show you some of these next week).

      Regarding Delsey, most of their lighter-weight and better reviewed bags are the hard-shelled ones, which wasn’t my preferred style. Some people love that type, though.

  9. February 12, 2014 / 7:30 am

    Thank you! Can I ask, did you consider Hartmann at all? Maybe they don’t have spinners? My 20-year old suiter is really, um, old, and I so loved it I’ll have sorrow at switching brands:)

    • une femme
      February 12, 2014 / 7:34 am

      Hi Lisa, I’m not familiar with Hartmann, will look them up!

  10. February 12, 2014 / 7:36 am

    Suzanne’s is a good question — and your answer is astute! I can be guilty of expecting my poor little Rimowa to hold a Longchamps tote that’s filled to the brim . . . Generally, I’m very happy with my Rimowa but I’ll be envying you those outside pockets on the Lipault. . . . Looks as if you’ve made a good choice and helped many of your readers learn more along the way. . .

  11. anne
    February 12, 2014 / 8:02 am

    I have that exact Lipault bag! Love the purple and that it is SO light. Took it to Europe for two weeks and loved it.

  12. Judy
    February 12, 2014 / 9:34 am

    I am one of those nonminimalist packers. For my 2 week trip to Paris last year, I took the largest size (28 inches, I think) Lipault spinner bag, and on top of that I perched my old Sportsac bag (large but without any shape whatsoever and not fully packed). I could also put the Lipault tote on top of the Lipault suitcase (it slips over handle) and carry the Sportsac on my shoulder. I bought these 2 Lipault pieces for the Paris trip. A couple years before that, I bought the 26 inch size, nonspinner, foldable red Lipault for shorter trips. So far happy with them! Though the red has shown wear and tear/dirt. The newer items are black!

  13. Nicole
    February 12, 2014 / 10:31 am

    This is very helpful information. I like my Samsonite set (regular wheel/non-spinner) that includes a carry-on, however I did experience one occasion when I had trouble lifting it into the overhead bin. When I turned to ask for help, the male (cannot find the proper adjective) flight attendant replied, “If you cannot lift it yourself then maybe you should check it.” It was a mortifying experience, and I pondered it in my seat, feeling that it was not an excessive request to ask for assistance. Still, I would prefer to be self-sufficient and manage on my own. I did need to ask for help one additional time, because of an arm injury. I asked a man near me (and I find that other passengers are very friendly and willing to help). I was gun-shy about asking a flight attendant again. I will consider an even lighter bag for Europe travel so these posts are very educational. I love the aqua one from Lipault.

  14. Marg
    February 12, 2014 / 2:42 pm

    Wow, these are all great comments. I can’t wait till you report back after your trip. I’m trying to figure out a packing strategy for an upcoming trip to Hawaii, Sedona and Phoenix, AZ. I’m a carryon bag traveler, all the way.

  15. amelie
    February 12, 2014 / 3:24 pm

    My carryon of choice is the 20″ Hideo Wakamatsu Tarpaulin. Sized right for international carryon rules, weighs just a tad over 6 pounds and the 4 external straps allow for snugly securing a smallish payload inside or expands and secures if fully packed, as well. The ‘tarp’ fabric is super strong, water resistant and scuffs wipe right off! And I have the white! As I’ve had mine for a few years, it is a 2 wheeler, which was the only way it was available at the time. Now I see. there is a 4 wheel version offered as well.

    For longer trips, my personal item is the Lipault 19″ shoulder bag, which is more like a tote, but I love the strap which slides over a suitcase handle. I did 3 weeks in India with a 23″ 4 wheeler, Travelpro, I think and the tote. On shorter jaunts, I usually use the Hideo carryon together with my Longchamp tote and that sees me through Christmas shopping trips to NYC and many other short trips.

    I like being able to haul my own weight, so to speak, not having to rely on the capricious nature of chivalry or porters! It’s still not fun bumping and grinding over cobblestones, or icy, slushy mounds and ruts, no matter what your luggage situation, though.

  16. sybes1
    February 12, 2014 / 6:27 pm

    My husband and I have B and R suitcases but all on the larger size: their lifetime guarantee is nice but they are pricey! I like the weight and size of the Lipault. Certainly the 6 lbs (instead of 8.6 lbs of the B and R) would influence me. And the price looks right.
    Unfortunately (for me) I’ve already purchased a Samsonite spinner from Costco (international size and larger size) about a year ago in anticipation of our trip to Amsterdam and France last September. It will have to serve me for a few years.
    Recent trip to Hawaii: I packed WAY too much (again). What I remembered from last visit was that I wanted to change into clean clothes every time I turned around because of the heat and sunscreen. I had trouble lifting my bag overhead (humiliating) AND the Hawaiian Airlines attendant looked at the bag and thought it was too large! (even though it’s an international size!)
    The other problem I have is what facial products to take (face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen). I tried the Fresh packaged make up removers in individual packettes for our Europe trip– they still add weight and take up some room…..

    • February 13, 2014 / 6:56 am

      There is a very nice general-goods shop called HEMA in the Netherlands. They have toiletteries that are not very expensive and surprisingly good for the price: I love their face-cleansing cream (and am sad that I’ve just run out of the last of it) – it is made in Switzerland and has almost no odour. There is a small HEMA shop in Schiphol airport in Amsterdam; you can find their basic toiletteries (though not their wonderful “age-specific” face cleansing cream), tweezers etc there.

      HEMA is found throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, in neighbouring parts of Germany, and now in France (in towns close to the Low Countries, such as Lille, but also in many other cities now, including Paris and its suburbs. There are HEMAs at Gare du Nord, Gare St-Lazare and in Faubourg St-Antoine. hema.nl (in Dutch) hema.fr (in French) hema.be (in both)
      Hema personal care items: http://www.hema.nl/winkel/beauty/persoonlijkeverzorging Many of the items have English on the labels (as well as Dutch, French and German).

      • (Not That) Joan
        February 14, 2014 / 3:19 am

        And in Bordeaux! Yay! A Hema AND a Monoprix. If Marks and Spencers would open up down here my joy would be complete…

  17. Judy
    February 12, 2014 / 6:34 pm

    I understand, because most of the weight of my luggage is non-clothing… toiletries, a few books (fewer since I have an iPad, but still), all sorts of vitamins and medications and miscellaneous. That is what takes up room in my luggage, and I wish someone would address this. It’s not like I am 25 and can travel without all this stuff!

  18. Cara
    February 12, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    I have that bag! I love it and think you will too. An additional aspect of good design is that the handles are thickly padded, which makes it less of a strain to lift.
    I was wondering if you have a recommendation for men’s bags. (This one is very feminine, even in colors other than purple).

    • une femme
      February 13, 2014 / 7:25 am

      Hi Cara,

      Actually I think the B&R bag would be a perfect men’s carry-on, provided he doesn’t need a suit hanger. (Some of the other B&R bags have this option.) Even though it’s slightly heavier than the Lipault, it’s still considered a lightweight bag. If he doesn’t want/need wheels, I can come up with some other suggestions.

      • Cara
        February 13, 2014 / 1:11 pm

        I was thinking of a carry on without wheels for him, and would appreciate your suggestions, thanks.

  19. Susan
    February 12, 2014 / 7:35 pm

    I thought I had posted earlier, but don’t see my post. My bag is a Tumi–rated for international flight carry on. (There are various sizes, so it important to check international regulations). I like it because it is tough and strong–and easy to manipulate. Not inexpensive, but will have a long life.

  20. Linda
    February 13, 2014 / 8:04 am

    I love my samsonsite clamshell fabric 26″ spinner, it folds out to give me one zipped compartment for clothes, and the other for shoes toiletries and bulky items. I check luggage so that I can pack full sized toiletries, and so that I don’t have to struggle a carryon into the overhead compartment.

    I love your blog but the prices for luggage and a lot of the clothes, are way out of my price range. My luggage always comes from stores such as Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls etc., as does 90% of my clothes, shoes and accessories. I do have the odd very precious item received as gifts such as jewelry and Hermes scarves which amp up my bargain outfits.

    • yumyummoany
      February 14, 2014 / 12:07 am

      Linda, I have a great carry on size, hard shell spinner case that I bought from LIDL, a cheap cheap supermarket chain. It works a treat and although I would love to get one of the others they are also out of my price range. I did buy a packing cube to go inside and that was definitely worth the money and I am seriously considering the packing folder.

      I don’t fly but travel by train, I have arthritis in my neck and I am getting on in years and lugging big cases around is not for me so I compromise and use the Seventeen and Irving style of packing – link on here somewhere, so everything goes with everything.

      I use one of the no rinse laundry products where you use about a teaspoonful at a time. I find that for me the easier I can make things the more I do. My son is going to be studying in Paris for two years so I am planning loads of trips on the Eurostar with my little case!

  21. Juliewentz.
    February 13, 2014 / 9:42 am

    Honestly I prefer to check a piece of luggage and travel with what I need. I can handle a medium sized wheeled bag no problem wherever I go. I see so many people trying to “carry on” so much more than they should, then augment it with another tote and a purse. Whats the point? It just delays the boarding and unboarding processes. Personallly dont like to wash things out every night either.

    • Ming
      February 13, 2014 / 4:39 pm

      I agree, I routinely check my small bag and carry on my back-pack (with my purse inside). I think it’s because I either travel with my 96 year old mother or my 7 & 10 year old grandchildren – and need my hands free!

  22. DCJ
    February 13, 2014 / 11:59 am

    I travel weekly and have used a spinner for several years now. I really do like it better than the old 2 wheeled roller board. I never check a bag. My first spinner was a Samsonite and I hated it because it would always tip over when I had another bag on top which was always. My current bag is a Victorinox and I love it. It never tips over. I have considered the Lipault at one time but rejected it because I think harder sides are better fr frequent travel or if you end up having to check it for some reason. I would strongly suggest checking for tip over because it will drive you nuts.

  23. February 13, 2014 / 12:52 pm

    Thank you for showing the inside of the piece “packed”. I always pack too much and end up lugging around things I don’t end up wearing. What do you do about items you buy on vacation?

  24. Crystal
    February 13, 2014 / 6:33 pm

    I’m always trying to shave off pounds (and even ounces) from my carry-on bag. I’m curious about how much your fully packed bag usually weighs — and I have the same question for anyone else who might want to chime in. Like you, I want to feel well-dressed; it’s important to me. But I’m a small, short woman and want to feel comfortable hefting my bag into the overhead bin without fear of injury. How low a weight can I reasonably hope to achieve? This is a question that obsesses me! Thanks for all the helpful travel posts!

  25. February 14, 2014 / 4:27 am

    I ame so glad that the LIPAUT won.
    Their suitcases and bags are so pleasant to travel with.
    I have several and I ame very pleased whith them.

    fashion55plus.fr

  26. February 15, 2014 / 11:03 am

    That reminds me – I must buy some packing cubes before my trip back home to New Zealand. I’m hoping to bring a decent amount of stuff back with me in my luggage…

  27. Sharilyn Jones
    February 15, 2014 / 1:26 pm

    I have the Lipault 22 inch spinner that I have had for a couple of years. BTW – if you measure this bag is it actually smaller that 22 inches and fits SOOO easily in every overhead I have tried. The bag does need to be packed pretty full to be able to rest a bag on top. I found that if I slide my toiletries into it horizontally (and in a plastic bag for protection) after I’ve gone through security, it holds its shape nicely. I also have the Lipault 19 inch weekender, although I like the looks of the newer shaped tote, The original one looks unisex and the new one looks more feminine. I love this bag and tote combo and can pack for any type of trip in the two pieces. This is a great bag for when you know you will be traveling on smaller aircraft, boats, etc. Having said that I also have the Biaggi 22 spinner which I also love. I find this better for certain types of trips. I missed having two good outside pockets which the Lipault doesn’t have – only one very large pocket and it doesn’t have that recessed design like the Biaggi. The Biaggi is better when I need to pack more shoes and clothing that I’ve ironed and what to protect while traveling. I kind of love luggage 🙂 I just discovered you blog – it’s fantastic! I’m turning 50 in June and loving it all!

  28. Ronnie
    May 26, 2015 / 3:44 pm

    Very interesting comments! I travel to Europe once or twice a year and my preferred luggage is a well used Samsonite 22″ rolling carry-on ( not spinner) and a matching tote that sits on top of it. I can pack for 3 weeks easily, and usually end up doing laundry once or twice. The main reason I love these pieces is that I can manage them myself and it’s important when you are traveling by train and having to lug your suitcases up and down stairs in Europes railway stations. Another point, my luggage is red and it tends to show soil. so I give it a good wash when I get home, let it dry outdoors in the sun and its fresh and ready for my next adventure.

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