Luggage - How Gentleman Travel

I was walking through Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris a few years ago when my carry-on bag split down the middle dumping the entire contents on the terminal floor. For onlookers it was surely a comedic does a bag split right down the middle?

The TSA may still be the bane of your travels but here are some bags that can stand up to the punishment of a guy on the go. A good bag should (1) last you a long time #lifetime (2) look good and (3) be realistic for your own travels.

Rimowa - Founded in 1898 they certainly have been around a long time. They were one of the first to launch a waterproof aluminum case in the 60s and in 2000 they debuted the industry's first polycarbonate luggage. I can attest from personal experience and expert reviews that polycarbonate is the holy grail of indestructible luggage. This will last you a long time and is nondescript enough to avoid attention in an airport yet classy enough to roll in any hotel. Plus it will stand up to baggage handlers and bellhops alike.

Tumi - A very popular brand in modern travel, Tumi has successfully aligned themselves with the frequent flyer. They are the entry luggage for people that want durability and style. And with a broad range of leather and polycarbonate they can meet almost any need from daily carry messenger bags to train cases that match your private jet decor.

Saddleback - If your path isn't always paved, you may require something a little more rugged like a handcrafted bag from Saddleback Leather. I've mentioned these guys before in Blog: The Basics of Leather. Their bags are unique because they focus on using as few individual pieces as possible, which leaves less room for weak points in seams and closures. In addition to their meticulous design, they only use full grain leather so you'll have a bag that can go pretty much everywhere. While these bags aren't necessarily as convenient as the wheeled versions from Tumi and Rimowa, they do come with a 100 year warranty so you'll only have to buy it once.

Those are my top three picks for quality luggage. There are a few other brands that, while nice, don't meet all 3 criteria (longevity, aesthetics, and realistic). They are listed below:

  • Titan - A real competitor to RIMOWA in the polycarbonate hardshell luggage but increasingly difficult to find as their USA division recently closed and is no longer honoring their warranties. You can still find these in Germany from the original manufacturer.
  • Hermès - We all know the Birkin and the Kelly but Hermès also makes some very attractive luggage for both men and women. Unfortunately it fails the 'realistic' test at $10,000 per bag.
  • Hartmann - I used to love Hartmann and saw them as every bit the competitor to Tumi, but they were recently acquired by Samsonite and now I'm holding my breath to see how that will affect the brand. I do have one of their older pieces and love it.
  • Ghurka - These bags are beautiful in their own right but were displaced on my list by Saddleback. The quality level of Ghurka is probably comparable but their higher price point and lackluster warranty demoted them to this lesser list.
  • Bosca - I admit that I don't have much hands-on time with Bosca and I included them on this list solely because of their overwhelming popularity in the marketplace. From my limited exposure I've always found the brand to feel cheap and overpriced, especially when compared to some of the other options in this post. My advise--if you're looking for bags and you're looking at Bosca, keep looking. You may find something else you like a whole lot more.

Joshua Davis is a full time image and lifestyle coach helping clients take control of their image as a tool for good communication.

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