Handle is on the outside of the bag, leaving more room for packing
Tri-fold panel for hanging suits and dresses
Slightly heavier than the competition
Four-wheel design can be potentially unstable
The Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner is one of several soft-sided carry-on bags within the well-respected luggage brand’s flagship Baseline collection. Based in Long Island, New York, Briggs & Riley has been making luggage since 1993, and the company’s bags are known for being attractive but not flashy. They’re also incredibly well-crafted and boast one of the best warranties in the business.
The brand’s Baseline collection, which is available in just a few colors (black, olive, and sometimes navy), is made from durable ballistic nylon. Just like the rest of the line, the carry-on roller bag we tested was simple and elegant and full of thoughtful design touches. But would the packing space and maneuverability justify the steep price tag? Read on for our review.
Design: Lots of little extras
The first thing we noticed is that this bag features oodles of useful pockets. A large exterior pocket on the front easily holds a hardcover book and an iPad or magazine. A second shallow pocket atop the bigger one is roughly as big as a business envelope, making it ideal for storing documents. The retractable handle is affixed to the outside of the bag—a Briggs & Riley staple—allowing for more room inside.
There’s a long, thin pocket nestled between the handle rails that could fit a small travel umbrella. In addition to the retractable handle, there are three smaller handles—one on each of the short edges of the bag and a third on the longer edge, which made it really easy for us to pick up and cart around. The bag’s corners have ample guards for protection, which told us it’s in for the long haul.
Inside, a fairly roomy main compartment can be expanded using Briggs & Riley’s CX, or “Compression Expansion,” technology. All we had to do was pull up on both sides of the case to expand it—there’s nothing to unzip. Once we had it packed and zipped, we simply pushed down and in on the sides, and it compressed down with a satisfying click. According to the company, this feature helps increase capacity by more than 25 percent; sure enough, it allowed us to squeeze in an extra pair of sandals and a small cosmetics case.
The first thing we noticed is that this bag features oodles of useful pockets.
Organized travelers will appreciate the two mesh panels, which can be buckled over the top of packed clothing to keep things tidy. A large interior pocket beneath the lid has a hook and a removable suit panel with a foam bar to fold garments over. However, only the one panel can be removed, so it doesn’t function as a removable garment bag. There is also a long, small pocket running on the top of the outside of the bigger pocket.
Ergonomic, self-repairing YKK zippers make fastening the bag comfortable and easy, and the ones on the main compartment are lockable. The outside of the bag is constructed of extremely durable, abrasion-resistant and water-repellent 1680D ballistic nylon, while the interior is a softer, lighter-colored twill fabric. For reference, Tumi’s Merge carry-ons are also made with ballistic nylon, but Victorinox’s Werks Traveler 6.0 carry-ons just have standard nylon.
Portability: The size is a stretch for some airlines
At 22 x 14 x 9 inches deep (including the wheels and retracted handle), the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner is as large as is allowed in the overhead compartment on most domestic airlines and bit too big for some international carriers.
At 9.3 pounds, it’s a bit heavier than some competitors, but since it’s a carry-on and we didn’t have to worry about paying fees, it wasn’t really an issue for us, as it might be with a heavier piece of checked baggage. When fully packed, the bag was still very easy to lift and move about.
If you travel often and prioritize a great warranty—Briggs’ lifetime guarantee easily bests the competition—this bag might be worth the investment.
Capacity is 35.4 to 46.4 liters, depending on how much you expand it. The bag features four double-swivel spinner wheels that make zipping around the airport easy.
Warranty: Incredibly comprehensive
All Briggs & Riley luggage bags feature a lifetime guarantee. The company handles any needed repairs, even those caused by airlines, at any point in a bag’s life—and you don’t even have to dig a proof of purchase out of your desk drawer. Customers can either bring the luggage to a repair center in their area or mail it to the official Birggs & Riley repair center.
A third option, for less intensive fixes, is having the company send you a do-it-yourself repair kit. If you choose to mail your damaged bag to the company, you must cover the “to” shipping costs, but the company will send it back for free. (There’s also a way to get a FedEx discount via Briggs & Riley.)
This warranty easily bests the competition. TUMI’s warranty covers everything for the bag’s first year of life, though a proof of purchase is required. After that, the company only covers manufacturing defects, and then only through the bag’s fifth year. Victorinox’s warranties are different across different luggage collections, but they also offer less coverage and a proof of purchase is needed.
Price: Expensive but still a good deal
At $599, this carry-on will cost you big bucks, but that doesn’t make it a bad value. Tumi’s best-selling Merge carry-on is priced similarly at $595. Briggs & Riley’s two-wheel version of the same big is slightly less, at $569. Victorinox’s equivalent, the Werks Traveler 6.0 carry-on is priced at $379. But, if you travel often and prioritize a great warranty—Briggs’ lifetime guarantee easily bests the competition—this bag might be worth the investment.
At $599, this carry-on will cost you big bucks, but that doesn’t make it a bad value.
Competition: Tried and true but not trendy
Tumi Merge International Expandable Carry-On: Tumi’s bestselling carry-on is priced similarly, and the Tumi name tends to have more cachet and recognition for those who think of luggage as a status item. It has the same dimensions as the bag we tested and weighs 8.6 pounds, but it has less capacity—43 liters—which is significant at this size. Briggs & Riley also has the superior warranty, making it a compelling option for those who don’t care about the Tumi cachet.
Victorinox Werks Traveler 6.0 Softside Frequent Flyer Carry-On: For those who don’t want to drop $600 on a carry-on but still want a high-quality in-cabin bag, Victorinox is a reliable choice. The brand’s Frequent Flyer Carry-On has slightly bigger dimensions (9.1 x 13.8 x 21.7 inches) and weighs less (just 7.6 pounds), but it offers less capacity (only 32 liters). It is significantly cheaper, with a pricetag of $379, and it has a padded compartment for a laptop. It also boasts a USB port, though the power pack must be purchased separately. As with the Tumi, the Briggs & Riley warranty is superior.
Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright: If you know you want a Briggs & Riley carry-on, it’s worth considering this two-wheel option within the flagship Baseline collection, which we also tested. It has the same overall dimensions, but it’s $30 cheaper, a little lighter (by .4 pound), and has a bit more capacity (up to 50 liters). Plus, while four-wheel spinner models have become all the rage, two-wheel versions do have some advantages. They’re more stable and not as likely to tip over. They’re also better on uneven ground—worth considering if you’re the sort of traveler who will be wheeling the bag over city sidewalks and onto public transportation, but less of an issue if you always take a car to and from the airport.
The Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner is durable, big, and stylish. However, it’s not cheap but it’s hard to beat Briggs & Riley’s no-hassle, lifetime guarantee, which—along with the build quality and good design—more than justifies the price.
- Product Name Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable
- Product Brand Briggs & Riley
- Price $679
- Weight 9.3 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 22 x 14 x 9 in.
- Color Black, navy, or olive
- Material 1680D ballistic nylon outer fabric, interior twill lining
- Expanded Depth 11.5 in.
- Capacity 35.4-46.4 L
- Warranty Lifetime guarantee