A funny think happened as I began packing my new Briggs and Riley 20-inch Carry-on Expandable Wide-body Upright for a recent multi-week, winter into spring trip to Europe: I became convinced that its designer had been reading my mind. I had long harbored the fantasy of one versatile suitcase that would be the only piece of luggage I would need; a suitcase that would, as circumstances required, instantly morph from carry-on to checked baggage and vice-versa. Now, there it was, sized to meet most major airlines current carry-on requirements for domestic as well as international travel. Yet it was wide enough to accommodate side-by-side two neat stacks of sweaters, shirts and other travel necessities, plus a mesh and nylon side pocket to keep small items within easy sight.
With airlines issuing ever more restrictive luggage regulations in recent years, I had gradually adopted a rolling duffle bag as my checked baggage for long trips; but I yearned for the stable, tidily organized suitcases of earlier times. Until the recent demise of my latest duffle led me to consider the Eagle Creek Hovercraft 25. Its firm, heavy gauge Cordura nylon shell, coupled with the packing convenience of a hard-sided suitcase and the reduced weight of a duffle made it especially attractive. The broad wheelbase, sturdy knurled wheels (four inches or ten centimeters in diameter) and adjustable height telescopic top handle made it a breeze to steer.
The base also featured a long front stabilizing bar to keep the case upright even when it was heavily loaded. This efficient stabilizer doubled as a grab-bar, which in addition to the large padded top and side handles facilitated retrieval from the most chaotic airport luggage carousel. The front flap of the suitcase had two external high-capacity front pockets with three-sided U-shaped zippers for easy access. The exterior of the Hovercraft 25 was designed to avoid handling damage. It included thoughtful details such as a streamlined shape with no sharp angles or visible seams, deep wheel wells and a rear kick-plate that provided extra protection to the base of the suitcase.
The Eagle Creek ORV (Off Road Vacation) Gear Bag was everything I ever hoped for in a duffle bag! Compact enough to meet airline carry-on requirements, it also managed to hold everything I needed to take along on two-week African safari. Its oversized, three-sided top opening and its two internal zip-up divider panels made packing a breeze. Contents were neatly stowed, readily visible and accessible. It stayed put even when the bag was tossed from the hold of a small airplane into the back of a land cruiser, and then taken on an hour-long rocky ride. The exterior organizer front panel kept my travel documents and reading material close at hand. Two interior zipped pockets were fitted into the top flap of the bag. One was lined with heavy plastic, making it an ideal place to store toiletries. The bag was lightly padded for optimum contents protection.
This little bag, boasting of being 30 percent lighter than the competition, won our hearts. The sturdy frame protected the inner contents from being crushed by other bags. Even when loaded with heavy items, the unique shape prevented the bag from tipping over and allowed it to roll easily. We carried our electronic equipment for our traveling office and laptop inside ours and found it secure, spacious and easy to organize. Its combination light weight, durability, design, manageability and warranty features made this one the best carry-on suitcases I’ve ever traveled with.
We chose the RedOxx Safari-Beanos Bag PR6 because it was spacious enough to be used as a main check in luggage bag, yet narrow enough and tall enough to still fit into a charter plane luggage space for our trip to Africa. It is a soft sided bag made of durable 1000 weight urethane coated Dupont certified Cordura nylon. We particularly liked that all zippers are self-locking and the seams are double stitched. Our khaki colored bag was easy to carry and to handle.
One of the risks we often take as travelers is dehydration. It’s subtle and slow and not always noticeable. We realize we may be dehydrated when we start feeling tired. By then, we’re probably in sore need of liquid replenishment. In these days of complicated and time consuming travel with less food and drink offered in flight, we loved the light weight and easy to carry Liquid Luggage ™ sleeve. We used the pilot designed devices successfully to carry 24 oz and one and a half liter (our favorite size) bottles of mineral water in domestic and international flights. Other than one airport security employee who wanted to make sure the bottle was unopened, it passed through security checks without a second glance.