No one really likes flying. Rushing to the airport on time, pretending to make small talk with an odorous stranger you’ll never see again, and trying to determine if it’s acceptable to flirt with the cute air stewardess (it’s not, champ).
Not to mention the underlying terror of losing your luggage on the flight over. Checking in luggage has slowly lost favour with the travelling class, thanks to ballooning fees and the frustration of waiting to check in 35kg of superfluous crap you don’t really need. Flying lean with carry-on luggage has subsequently gained momentum – and with damn good reason.
Increasingly, airlines are imposing punitive fees to check in anything bigger than a purse. Plus, you’ve probably heard stories about a highly-anticipated holiday being wrecked because someone’s luggage found its way to Auckland instead of the Maldives.
Carry-on luggage can stay in your lap, wallet intact, and gets you into your seat quicker – no more lining up at the check in carousel. It’s not a hard sell. Carry-on luggage takes (some of) the headache out of air travel, whether it’s a cheeky weekend to the big city, or a boozy week on the beach in the Caribbean.
Taking advantage of this list will ensure your priceless belongings won’t be jettisoned into the Atlantic Ocean, regardless of whether you fly economy or first class. You might even look cool in the process.
It’s not controversial to say that Zegna is the supreme leader of understated masculine elegance. The brand’s tradition for equipping men with discreetly stylish garments doesn’t fall apart in their new luggage collection. Made in Italy, this canvas holdall has all of Zegna’s characteristic quiet confidence. It doesn’t leap out at anyone, but that’s because it doesn’t have to. In a grey herringbone weave with black leather detailing, it’ll give you minimalist cool even if the rest of your travel outfit leaves a lot to be desired. Its measurements are plentiful for overnight or weekend adventures, and compacted enough for peace of mind when you’re fighting for space in the overhead luggage compartment.
Step into the average department store and you’ll often be greeted with men’s carry goods that are just that. Average. Oppermann seized this tarnished image in the leather accessories market to launch their own line of products which are fastidiously controlled from the leather supplier right through to the retailer. This ensures that every Oppermann piece exudes both the exacting craftsmanship, aesthetics and durability that the Oppermann brothers demand. Their first attempt at a leather weekend bag is the Hanbury, a sleek minimalist piece which provides enough space for a few nights away in style. There’s also four different finishes to choose from with cool contrast inner lining to suit any man’s tastes.
Not everyone wants discreet travel accessories. Alexander McQueen’s answer to this is dramatic, Gothic design that the bad guy in Lord of the Rings would probably carry. They’ve produced a leather hold-all that will inject some menace into your travel repertoire. Made in the UK with 100% leather, you will enjoy years of travel with a bag that won’t fall to pieces even after strenuous punishment. The black leather is unassuming in contrast to its bright red shoulder strap, but it’s subtle enough not to clash with other pieces in your outfit. The bag is bigger than a standard messenger, but smaller than some of the other holdalls on this list; easily adapted to different travel requirements. The addition of skull embellishments on the strap is a nice touch for travellers who like to frighten other commuters while waiting for an overpriced coffee at an airport lounge.
Ports 1961 is a relaunched iteration of a 50-year-old brand that began as a luxury destination for accessories. This large holdall combines time-tested traditional design with an audacious pattern likely to turn sleepy heads at the boarding station.
Although designed with camouflage, it’s unlikely to be lost in the urban mess of concrete, thanks to its bold star print and contrasting colours. The bag is constructed from calf-leather, the benefits of which are well known – long-term enjoyment, structured shape, and durability against the elements. This will set you back a couple grand, so save it for that time in your career where frequent flyer miles and a first-name-basis with aircrew has become a thing.
Fred Perry bags have accessorised the shoulders of tennis players and skinheads for longer than most of the D’Marge team have been alive. In navy, this bag has Fred Perry’s distinctive branding, in a barrel shape for travelling light and fast. It’s made from PVC, so a couple spills and scuffs here and there won’t torpedo your overnight trip. One of the smaller options on the list, this bag is a definite weekender – you won’t be cramming a laptop, sports jacket, and eight skincare products inside its singular compartment (but if you can, be a lad, share with the team). Either way, it’s not a bad option for a last-minute flight where you only need the essentials, and a splash of streetwear credentials along the way.
Raden are a traveller-first brand. Their mission is to alleviate the nuisances of modern travel by merging inconspicuous design with innovative tech accessories – whether that’s in-built phone chargers for Instagram junkies, or proximity sensors for that ruthless 6am rush to the tarmac. This matte-green rolling suitcase, made from robust polycarbonate, is an easy choice. At 3.8kg, it’s doesn’t take an athlete to handle. It also has double-spinning wheels, to keep you out of those awkward moments where you trip over your luggage in front of everybody in the waiting area. Those of you afflicted by phone battery anxiety can rest easy. Raden have got you covered with not one, but two plugs for your smartphone. It’s got plenty of room for a weekend on your own, and the right constitution to survive a rough exit from any airport. Also, it comes in blue, if matte-green screams too much off-duty Army to you.
Mulberry’s lineage as the guardians of luxury leatherwear for men is no secret. Although established in 1971, they haven’t lost time consistently updating their offerings for men who appreciate sturdy, retro-inspired leather accessories. This leather messenger bag is finished in a vintage tan brown with a zip and lock option. At 34.5 litres, she’s roomy enough to give you flexibility for both a weekend away from the in-laws, or a more concerted business-and-play expedition overseas. It’s lined with suede leather, too, which is desirable for the fact that the bag will retain its shape and avoid looking like a shrunken cushion after a few months of use. A long-term investment piece, it’s something you can pass on to your kids, along with the filthy stories that accompany young men and debauched weekend travel.
Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano
Some guys want the comfort of knowing their luggage will survive the next world war. Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano heard the riots in the streets, and have built a series of monochromatic, masculine carry-on cases for airborne gentlemen who need the nuclear option of men’s luggage. Forged from tough as nails aluminium, these military-esque cases are built with the tumult of air travel in mind. Caveat emptor: you could buy a first-class ticket for the price of one of these, so get your chequebook in order beforehand. This is of secondary importance, though, because FPM offers the bonus of travelling in sleek, understated luxury, with the comfort of knowing that your luggage would make it through if Independence Dayever became a real thing.