The days where it was acceptable to lug your beaten, fifteen-year-old Samsonite bag into the overhead locker are gone. Luggage is now an important part of any trip, for business or leisure. If you have already invested in that slick new travelling suit or superb noise-cancelling headphones, but are accompanied by some ghastly bag, it is time to change.
A good carry-on bag can make or break your travelling experience. Get it wrong and you’ll be searching through your entire bag to get your boarding pass, pulled up by security without knowing where your laptop is or looking like a fool trying to lug around a week’s worth of clothing in a bag made for an overnight trip. Getting your luggage right will make travel far more enjoyable and impress not only your colleagues or partner, but you’ll be the envy of other travellers, too.
It can be overwhelming to decide what kind of luggage you want (or need), to simplify your choice, we have selected rolling, duffels and backpacks to enhance the heck out of your next trip.
If your spending a little longer abroad or need to carry a lot of kit (we all like to have options) your best bet is rolling luggage. They tend to be bigger than their soft shell cousins and will allow you to pack more and carry it easier. These are perfect for business trips as you’ll be able to roll through the airport into the board room with ease, as well as looking badass.
You might have a bad perception of the rolling carry on, but, brands like Rimowa, Away, Valextra and Brics have proved that you can roll in style for any budget and taste. There are a range of hard and soft shell options that you can carry onto the plane, here is our pick of the bunch:
Away luggage has been developed to be the perfect companion for when you go, away. The brand started out creating what it believes to be the perfect suitcase and has since expanded into other areas of travel bags, designed based on the feedback from friends and other travellers.
The Carry-On is a no-nonsense suitcase that will fit into the overhead compartment of most major airlines. A slightly bigger version that’s also overhead cabin compliant is also available. Inside you’ll find two sections for storing clothes and shoes, along with a hidden laundry bag for worn clothing. Outside, you get this suitcase’s main feature, a zipped pocket, to store the essentials when travelling such as boarding pass, passport and headphones. You also get 360-degree spinning wheels and the optional of speccing a built-in battery to charge your portable devices.
Away The Carry On with Pocket $275
Horizn Studios is a Berlin-based luggage brand that manufactures ‘smart’ suitcases and bags for modern travellers. The company has previously collaborated with BMW and NASA for limited edition suitcases, and the company’s current lineup can be personalised via its ID service.
The M5 Smart Hardshell Cabin Suitcase is dinky enough to fit into overhead lockers, but large enough inside to gobble up a week’s worth of clothing. A built-in removable charging station will keep your electronic devices fully-juiced, while the German-engineered aerospace-grade polycarbonate shell keeps your belongings safe and secure. An external zipped pocket will take your laptop, documents and any other essentials you need to breeze through security.
Horizn Studios M5 Smart Hardshell Cabin Suitcase $349
Brics Milano has been producing luggage for luxury travellers since 1952. Founded in Como, Italy, the brand started life handcrafting its bags and using genuine Tuscan leather. Its now instantly recognisable design quickly caught on, allowing Brics to become an internationally-renowned brand.
The Spinner Trunk is available in a range of sizes and colours, but the 21-inch Carry On is ideal for a weekend getaway. Now in its second-generation, this latest model benefits from larger Hinomoto wheels to help you glide through the terminal, a revised handle design for better comfort and the interior lining now matches the exterior. That exterior, by the way, still gets the leather treatment, allowing you to let other travellers know you’re better than them.
Bellagio 2.0 21″ Carry On Spinner Trunk Black $420
Rimowa is a true heavyweight in the luggage sector, having been producing high-quality wares since its induction in 1898 in Cologne, Germany. The company’s chosen aesthetic of aluminium-grooved outer shells is a mainstay in airport terminals around the world and is responsible for introducing a number of ‘firsts’ into the luggage segment, replicated or mimicked by other brands since.
The Essential Lite Cabin S is the company’s lightest ever model, shaving 30 per cent off the weight of the Essential range. That doesn’t mean Rimowa has scrimped on quality, it has a reputation to uphold after all. It does substitute the classic aluminium build in favour of a polycarbonate shell (saving you money) but retains the iconic groove design.
Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin S Luggage $520
Zero Halliburton is a force to be reckoned with in the world of luggage. Founded by Erle P. Halliburton in the late 1930s, the company was conceived to produce travel cases and briefcases made predominantly from aluminium, making them some of the durable and rugged around. The briefcase that the President of the United States can use to order a nuclear strike is a modified Zero Halliburton, so you’d be in esteemed company if you invest in your own.
The Pursuit Aluminium International Carry-On Case not only looks great with its anodised aluminium shell, but that shell also provides a tough barrier for the contents within. The company’s patented Concave Edging helps deflect any bumps and knocks, while the lined interior complete with airflow mesh will cradle your clothes in supreme comfort.
Zero Halliburton Geo Aluminum 3.0 International Carry On $895
What feature about best carry-on luggage would be complete without an entry from Tumi? The American company is popular for business travellers around the globe, and is known for its black-on-black designs and use of hard-wearing ballistic nylon. Tumi bags come with an individual serial number that can be entered into a database to help owners find their bags if they’re lost.
The International Expandable 4-Wheeled carry-on bag does exactly what it says: it’s both expandable by way of a zipper and has four recessed dual spinner wheels to help you transition from security to your seat with ease. Handles on virtually all sides allow you to fling it into the back of your car or a taxi, or into an overhead locker without having to bend to contortionist like levels.
Tumi International Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry On $595
Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano
This Italian brand has been making high-quality leather goods since 1946. While it has now expanded into using other materials, its products are still handmade, ensuring you receive something that little bit extra special, and one worth paying top dollar for.
The Bank S collection is a sportier take on the company’s already-established Bank series. Bank S cases are made from 100 per cent aluminium to provide extraordinary protection to whatever you have inside. An integrated TSA-approved lock only adds to the security. The interior lining can be completely removed to aid with cleaning, and elastic straps on both sides keep everything in place during your journey.
Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano Bank S Spinner 53cm Aluminium Carry On Suitcase $785
Duffel and Weekender Bags
The duffel bag has long been a staple for men. Their versatility, practicality and aesthetic appeal leave them unrivalled in the bag department. There is a vast array of materials, sizes and styles available today ranging from the waterproof Rains weekender bag to the iconic Mulberry Clipper Leather Holdall. No doubt, there is a bag for you.
A great leather duffel bag is a good investment, care for it properly and it could outlast you. An heirloom if you will.
If you didn’t know anything about the Rains brand, we’d imagine you would only need three guesses to work out where it hails from. With an aesthetic that screams minimalist Scandinavian, Rains hails from Denmark. The name has been chosen deliberately too, as all products are designed to withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at them.
The Rains Weekend Bag is made from the company’s iconic matte, waterproof fabric – up to 8,000mm pressure – and finished with water-resistant zippers. You only get one large main compartment, so no external pockets, but the lack of them helps to refine the design and provide something that can easily accompany you from the boardroom to the aeroplane.
Rains Weekend Duffel Bag $95
Another Scandinavian brand, Sandqvist was formed in 2004 with the sole aim to produce functional, yet well-made and good-looking bags. Sustainability plays a key role in everything Sandqvist does too, with many of its products making use of recyclable materials.
The Damien Weekend Bag is made from 100 per cent organic cotton, with handles and other subtle accents finished in fine grain leather. You’re given a large 35-litre main compartment with an inner laptop compartment that will cradle up to 15-inch laptops. An adjustable shoulder strap can be completely removed if you so wish.
Sandqvist Damien Weekend Bag Black $249
Want Les Essentials
A Canadian brand founded in 2007, WANT Les Essentiels is a sister brand to WANT Apothecary. The Les Essentials arm is more fashion-orientated, with a heavy focus on accessories, including wallets and other leather goods. The brand does, however, have an extensive range of bags.
The Hartsfield Weekender Tote is made from organic cotton and provides just enough space to carry everything you need for a few days away. The large internal compartment has an integrated slip pocket to keep essentials to one side. A simple bag for sure, but one that exudes a premium look and feel.
Want Les Essentiels Hartsfield Neoprene Weekender Tote $425
Barbour has been in business since way back in 1894, setting up its first factory in South Shields, a small town just outside Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North East of England. The company is known globally for its wax jackets, which while they may have initially catered for those out in the countryside, have since become a cult phenomenon.
Barbour’s expertise with high-quality materials has been carried over to this leather Travel Explorer bag. A soft and supple chocolate brown leather covers the entire exterior, which will wear over time to give a unique look, while the interior is lined with Barbour’s iconic tartan print.
Barbour Leather Medium Travel Explorer Dark Brown $545
Montblanc is closely associated with luxury. The German company started out manufacturing pens in 1906 and quickly expanded into other segments including travel, jewellery watches. Their products may cost a little more than some other brands in this list, but you’re rewarded with something made to the highest quality using the finest materials.
The Sartorial duffel bag is part of Montblanc’s Sartorial collection – so you can match it with other bags and accessories – and is the perfect bag for the luxury traveller who wants to go away for a few days. The corners are finished with cross-grain leather, while the main shell is both water and scratch-resistant. You’re not just paying for a name here.
Montblanc Sartorial Jet Cross Grain Leather Trimmed Shell Duffle Bag $750
Smythson was founded on London’s Bond Street in 1887 and in the 130+ years since has continued to release products at the very height of British luxury fashion. Smythson products have been favoured by many a famous name in the past including Grace Kelly and Sir Winston Churchill.
The Ludlow Zip Guard Travel Bag utilises calf grain leather and a crossgrain textured design, not only provide a more premium look but for its hardwearing benefits too. Handles are finished in smooth calf leather, and internal and external pockets let you keep the essentials close.
Smythson Ludlow Travel Bag $1,995
If it’s the absolute finest leather duffel bag you’re after, look no further than Mulberry. The British luxury goods brand is synonymous with high-quality leather goods, which are made in England at two factories in Somerset.
The Clipper Leather Holdall is finished in a naturally vegetable-tanned leather, meaning it will patina with age to leave you with a unique-looking holdall as the years go by. The large main compartment houses a second inner slip pocket, and the external leather pouch holds a padlock for keeping the bag locked and secure.
Mulberry Clipper Leather Holdall $2,300
If you’re the kind of guy who considers himself more of a ‘traveller’ or ‘adventurer’ than someone just going on holidays, a backpack is likely to be your weapon of choice when it comes to carry on luggage. You might not look like Steve McQueen with a duffel bag slung over your shoulder, but at least you’re saving your back. Function over form, right? It can be easy to get the humble backpack wrong and end up looking like you’re a thirty-year-old who’s still travelling with his parents, but get it right and you could look cooler that McQueen himself.
Luckily for you, we have combed through many a backpack and have created a distilled list of simply the coolest backpacks for men.
Realising that there was a gap in the market between high performance and classy everyday purpose outerwear, Rains entered the market with confidence in 2012. Scandanavians get hit with a lot of rainy, sleety conditions so you could say that the brand was perfectly placed to put their product to the test. Their collections are simple, stylish and above all practical.
The standard Rains Backpack is, as expected, made from the company’s matte, waterproof fabric. Its 13-litre volume is surprisingly spacious, and you get the addition of an integrated laptop compartment, as well as a hidden phone pocket on the back.
Rains Backpack Stone $119
Herschel Supply Co.
It’s fair to say that Lyndon and Jamie Cormack could only have dreamed of their instant success when launching Herschel back in 2009. The two Canadians targeted a younger 18-35 year old market and before they knew it their designs were popping up on the back and shoulders of bearded hipsters everywhere.
The Studio HS6 backpack takes an already established Herschel design and gives it updated design features, such as oversized zippers, bold colours and seatbelt webbing details. You also get a laptop compartment, two water bottle pockets and a small storage pocket on the front complete with integrated key clip.
Herschel Supply Co Studio City Pack HS6 Camouflage-Print Ripstop Backpack $130
Candian retailer of all things outdoor-orientated Arc-teryx knows a thing or two about designing high-quality, durable goods. While you may think of the brand more for its range of all-weather clothing for hiking up mountains or tackling ski slopes, it has a comprehensive range of bags to boot, too.
The Blade 6 backpack is more for the city-slicker than the snow-bomber, rocking a slim profile design that won’t bump into other commuters on the train. Quick access to the main compartment paves the way to the integrated laptop and tablet pockets, and when it’s on your back, a thermoformed back panel offers supreme comfort.
Arc’teryx Blade 6L Backpack $150
Producers of altogether more elegant accessories, the group of designers at Aussie label Bellroy have become renowned for their stylish, modern take on everything from wallets and bags to passport holders and laptop cases. Not to mention its use of sustainable materials in many of its products, too.
The Shift Backpack sports a rollover top design, but once you open it up you’re presented with an array of organisational pockets instead of one large main compartment. Hidden side pockets make accessing items such as your phone or wallet a cinch when the bag is on your back, and a padded back panel with sternum strap ensures you can carry your stuff with ease.