- Check and change ABS and wheel speed sensors
- Step 2: Components
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Not really. It is almost identical in design and layout to the corresponding Platinum model. It has the same pocket and interior layout, the same excellent handle, and MagnaTrac wheels. The most apparent drawback of the Crew 11 is that it uses plain straps instead of mesh compression panels for tightening down your clothes inside the carry-on suitcase.
Furthermore, the Crew 11 appears to have a weaker internal frame that feels less supportive than that on the Platinum Elite. This means a hard drop on a corner has the potential to jab farther into your bag than it might on the Platinum Elite. The Crew 11 is protected by a three-year warranty against airline damage, as long as you register the luggage within days of purchase. Both models perform just as admirably as each other.
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The two-wheeled version has the same internal layout as the spinner model, but it offers a bit more usable space. The most ingenious part of the Baseline Domestic bag is its CX expansion and compression system. Load the bag as full as you need to, and zip it closed. Then you push down on the bag, which compresses it as a clip mechanism secures it in place. Unlike other expansion systems, which are either open or closed, this one locks into incremental positions.
Another significant difference: The tracks for the handles are on the outside of the bag, which allows for a flat surface in the interior of the bag, with no small crevices to work around for simple packing. And in our tests, after packing 10 bags trying to figure out strategies for each nook and cranny, packing on a broad flat surface felt like a luxury.
According to our measurements, the bag, unexpanded, offers 1, cubic inches of storage room and that accounts for the space occupied by the wheel wells and such. Expanded, it can stow 2, cubic inches—or nearly 77 percent of its conceivable available space. All of these features add up to a carry-on that is easier to pack than any other bag we tested. A wide, wrinkle-free tie-down system completes the package. On the outside, the Baseline Domestic is pretty unremarkable. We also noticed a robust feel to the zippers, which are a self-repairing type made by YKK. Or you can drop off the bag at one of the many repair centers.
One last long-term testing note for this luggage review: Wirecutter founder Brian Lam has carried a two-wheeled Baseline while traveling , miles and farther over the past four years. Sometimes I carry it. It always fits. Despite the plastic shielding, the exposed rails on the exterior could use some more protection. In practice, this is very helpful for scaling stairs and could save you some hassle in tight quarters, such as in the aisle of an airplane. We noticed, however, that even with this feature the handle sometimes requires gentle guiding to retract all the way.
However, the Baseline series handle has held up well over four years now with no jams. If you travel often for one- or two-day business trips, nothing will keep your office wear as pressed and protected as this bag. We concluded the C38 is marginally better at preventing wrinkles, but the Road Warrior is the better bag overall thanks to its superior zipper and more usable design. In our tests, it had only enough space for a day or two of clothes.
Check and change ABS and wheel speed sensors
We suggest our top picks if you travel for longer periods of time. But the Road Warrior does heavily pad the folding board where creases would otherwise develop, which makes wrinkles highly unlikely. On the exterior, your clothes are protected by a hybrid, pliable outer cover that offers the look of a hard shell, but is much more scuff resistant than stiff polycarbonate. The Road Warrior features oversize 3-inch inline-skate wheels made of polyurethane, which glided across every surface we tested.
It also comes with 6 inches of plastic curb protection, so it was plenty protected going over edges. Its large diameter and soft cushioning made it the easiest to carry over long distances without complaint. Lacking the expanding capabilities of all our other picks, the Road Warrior has the shallowest depth of any bag we tested, which makes it light a little less than 7 pounds , maneuverable, and just the right amount of bag for a quick trip with nothing extra. Should anything go wrong, the Road Warrior is backed by a five-year warranty that does not cover airline damage.
Away now also offers a version of The Carry-On that does not include a battery, or a place to put one; it costs the same as the one that comes with a built-in battery.
Step 2: Components
This is particularly attractive for anyone who travels a lot but lives in a small space like a city apartment. Readers often ask us for separate picks that are compliant with international carry-on requirements. While we would love to provide you with one, there is unfortunately no standard for what that means. If you want to play it safe, there is a non-insignificant number of airlines that restrict depth to less than 8 inches.
Thankfully, some—but not all—of our picks are available in slimmed-down and shorter versions for major international carriers:. However, after extensive testing and industry improvements in design and materials, we reversed our stance. The bulk of luggage brands and travelers have moved in this direction as well. According to Jason Gifford, design manager for eBags, spinner models made up almost 90 percent of luggage sales in You can push a spinner bag ahead of you, run it along your side, or drag it behind you like a two-wheeled bag if you prefer; the point being, you get to choose what works best in a given situation, and this is often the difference between a stress-free day of travel and a stressed-out day of agitation, caught corners, and annoyed strangers.
Meanwhile, the only maneuverability benefits of two-wheeled luggage are better ground clearance over rough terrain, such as cobblestones, and easier rolling over carpets. If you prefer extra space or wheel durability over maneuverability, then two-wheeled bags are perfect for you. Frequent flyers especially should place a premium on wheel durability and capacity. But we think most people who travel fewer than, say, six times a year will have an easier time navigating crowded terminals and narrow airplane aisles with a spinner suitcase.
We made the conscious decision not to recommend any hard-sided luggage. All of our experts agreed that the benefits of soft-sided luggage—exterior pockets, more packing space, and better organizational features—are too important to pass up in a carry-on bag.
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The only truly noticeable scuff is on the zipper. Photo: Michael Zhao. The issues for hard-sided luggage begin with their clamshell design. Instead of having a single compartment accessed by a single main zipper, hard-sided cases split in half, leaving two individual compartments, each with its own internal zippers and mesh linings to keep things in place; this means more bits to break or tear.
The main concern is the zipper. The metal gets worn down across the nose from the abrasion and inevitably that single piece will fail, more often than not. Because hard-shell suitcases need rounded corners to maintain structural integrity, they have less overall interior packing space.
And none of the hard-sided pieces we tested came with a built-in suiter, a necessity for most frequent business travelers. Hard-shell bags also lose out on a lot of features that are particularly important for a carry-on. They typically lack expansion zippers, for example.
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And very few offer external pockets for storing things like a battery pack or sleep mask. But this comes at the cost of a large amount of packing space for a small amount of convenience. Wirecutter editor Michael Zhao took a weeklong cross-country trip with a matte black Raden A28 checked bag, and it came back showing more wear than our soft-sided picks have accumulated in over a year of long-term testing. Darren Orf, writing at Gizmodo , had even worse results using a glossy black Raden A22 as a carry-on. That being said, there are some advantages to hard-shell luggage.
One could argue that every pound matters when carry-on weight limits can often, in the US, be as low as 30 pounds, but in practice, airlines rarely check the weight of carry-ons. So we called up experts to help us narrow the field. Among them were:. Conversations with these experts helped us understand things such as the function behind nylon and polyester, the difference in wheel-bearing designs, why alloys in telescoping handles matter, and more. With the collected intelligence from these luggage reviewers, builders, and professional travelers, we zeroed in on some top brands.
Besides the suggestions from our experts, we researched editorial and user reviews of luggage, making sure to include popular brands like Samsonite and Tumi as well as esoteric names like Filson and Hideo Wakamatsu. In addition to the expert interviews, we spoke with assorted salespeople, brand engineers, and media-relations folks to make sure we found the best models from each brand.
We measured these components and subtracted each from the total volume as well as we could. From there, we analyzed the bags and put every data point into a spreadsheet. In addition to the measurements, we looked at features. Did the wheels have sealed bearings? How big were the wheels? How many pockets did the bag have? How good were the pockets?
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Was the garment bag big enough, or would it crumple finery? How many stages did the handle extend to?
How comprehensive was the warranty? How user-repairable was the bag? We asked all of that and more. We also tried to look at subjective and less-quantifiable factors. For example, did this bag appear bulkier and more likely to get a person gate-checked? Was it a good-looking bag, or an eyesore? How protected is the bag on the outside?