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Luggage and Gadget Innovations Available Fall 2012

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If you’re looking for to upgrade your travel gear before the end of the year,  expert Phil Baker shares some of his favorite new and improved luggage and accessories. Find out how these three products can improve your carry-on packing, airport efficiency and overseas connectivity.

Improved Capacity Luggage

I’m one of those business travelers who never check my luggage, and am always looking for the best luggage to carry on. What’s the best? Whatever carries the most.

I’ve been using a Brigg’s & Riley International roller bag that’s just 20 inches long to meet cabin standards for most of the worldwide airlines. But it’s wider (15.5” vs. 14”) than the standard domestic 22 inch bag, giving it the same capacity, about 2700 cubic inches. If there’s one disadvantage it’s that it is a little wide to pull down the aisles of some coach cabins.

Now Briggs & Riley had come out with a new series that improves on what’s already one of the best. It’s the CX line of their Baseline series. The best feature is each bag’s ability to expand by about 33 percent and then compress using a built-in mechanism. It replaces the wrap around zipper found on most expandable luggage. Handles at each end inside the bag are pulled to expand the bag to its maximum depth. You then pack your clothes as usual and zip the top closed. Next, just push down on each end of the cover and compress the bag and its contents, one click at a time. The cover ratchets downward, compressing the bag into the smallest possible thickness.

I found this made it easier to pack, as the bag’s sides are fully expanded, enabling me to fit more into the suitcase. Even though it looked like the bag would be too thick to carry on, I was able to easily compress the bag and flatten its contents to its normal size. Think of it as the high-tech version of sitting on your bag while trying to zip it closed.

Other improvements include lightening the bag by about a third and adding a huge outside pocket that opens from top to bottom for dirty clothes, newspapers or even a computer in a sleeve. In addition, the snap-on strap used to carry a second bag is sewn in place and stashes in its own pocket to avoid being lost. The bag comes with a lifetime warranty, but based on my experience with my current bag, taking it around the world a few times and using it nearly every week for 3 years, it has shown little wear.

The CX International Carry-On Expandable Wide-body Upright (Model U121CXW-4) costs $450.

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