The Travel Goods Association recently showcased the latest gear from luggage manufacturers, big and small. While the industry-only event is not open to the public, we went behind the scenes to check out the big innovations. Contributor Lily J. Kosner looks at the new travel gear and picks the trends that are designed to make your travels a little easier.
It’s no surprise that every booth I visited this year at the Travel Goods Show had a new innovation—an updated handle, new wheels, pocket design changes. Independently all these changes are small improvements, but when you look at the whole you can see an overall focus on improving the usability of luggage and thereby improving the travel experience.
Among the many gadgets and new luggage, the major improvements were lightweight luggage, improved wheel design, new handle technology, convertible options and gadget pockets, and storage.
Here’s a sampling of what’s out there:
When it comes to lightweight, IT Luggage has built its reputation as the category leader. The aptly named “World’s Lightest” collection starts at 2.8 pounds for a two wheel suitcase and is just 3.6 pounds for the four wheel spinner option. On this design, there is a wide-handle system that allows you to pack flat. ($206-$240)
Hardshell luggage continues to grow in popularity and this year we’ve seen evolutions in design and weight. Antler specializes in lightweight hardshell technology that’s just 4.8 pounds and remains durable. The Liquis uses the polycarbonate in a design that is supposed to resemble a waterfall. The design builds in strength that can bend, but won’t crack. ($800 MSRP)
Lightweight bags are growing in popularity no doubt due to baggage fees and overweight charges. Helping you avoid the awkward moment at check in, Delsey has pioneered an Over-Weight Indicator handle on its Helium Fusion Light. Now in its third generation, the handle indicator turns red if your luggage weighs more than 50 pounds. ($180)
Rimowa‘s Salsa Deluxe has improved the handle experience. Unlike normal handles, that have one or two heights, this bag has a Telescopic handle, that stops wherever you like so that it works for any height. Another perk of this line is the Salsa Deluxe Hybrid that has a front pocket that upgrades the typical hardcase to add secure front pocket made out of Kevlar, the same material as bulletproof vests. ($649)
Heys’ Crown Edition has a patent pending for its new handle that fits to the curvature of your hand, making it more comfortable and ergonomic for long journeys through the airport. ($167)
New Wheel Technology
Travelpro, the original inventor of the Rollaboard, took home first place in Travel Goods Shows’ Innovation Awards with its Platinum Magna. The standout improvement in this bag is “magnatrack,” a new technology that uses magnets to align the wheels, so they always go straight. ($319.99)
Briggs & Riley‘s new hardcase TORQ hits the market this spring with an extra-wide wheelbase, designed to prevent tipping – even when you’ve overpacked. Proprietary to this design are recessed spinner wheels, providing for smooth and dependable motion and gliding and allowing the bag to be tilted and carried on two wheels or glided on four. ($479-$569)
Sometimes a bag is not just a bag, it can combine from one bag into two or more, each with different functions.
Eagle Creek did something cool earlier this year – they have a new bag called Morphus. The name tells you everything: This bag offers two bags in one. You can zip off the front of the bag for another full-size bag that pulls out from the back. ($395)
It’s not always about making one bag into two. Instead, sometimes it’s about making two bags into one. The “Link2Go” luggage system on Atlantic Compass Unite lets you connect luggage back to back with Velcro straps to easily roll two pieces with just one hand. It’s must-have gear for parents juggling multiple suitcases along with children. ($119-$159 per item)
Visionair has one feature that we haven’t seen on any other bag: Its Podpal turns your luggage into a tablet stand so you can have a hands-free experience with your tablet.
Eagle Creek offers a solution for business travelers tired of taking out their laptops for TSA with a line of checkpoint friendly luggage. You can zip open the briefcase or backpacks and your tablet or laptop lays flat to go through security. ($135-$231)
Genius Pack offers suitcase a travel cases designed for the gear head with OCD when it comes to their gadgets. Everything on the bag is labeled. There are so many different compartments, so you know where everything is going to be at all times. ($298)
For more luggage reviews and news you can use, check out:
- The Best Luggage Innovations of 2013
- 5 New Gadgets to Make Your Luggage Travels Better
- Luggage Trends: The One Bag Solution
- The Best Luggage for 2013
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com