My Pick for the Best Carry-On Going

Over the weekend, Gary Leff posed a question: What suitcase should he get? He technically asked about luggage, but, lets be honest, for those of us that travel more than a hundred thousand miles a year, a carry-on is much more than just luggage, but I digress. I offered my recommendation on Twitter, but, for somethings, 140 characters hardly does it justice.

The Carry-On with a Quarter Million Miles

Ok, I know, its not really all that much, but a quarter million miles so far and my Briggs and Riley Transcend International Carry-On Wide-Body Spinner is still rolling like it was just taken out of the box. It was so good that after a year, I bought my wife a similar one, which she doesn’t take a trip without now. What sold me on Briggs and Riley in the first case? Believe it or not, the larger wheels–they are actually a little larger than some of the cheaper spinners, which makes a big deal in stability–and the warranty. Rimowa is common in saying: “If you need a warranty, then maybe the bag isn’t so good.” My opinion? What did I have to lose, spending what is really decent money, on a bag with a warranty that even covers airline inflicted damage. Here’s how Briggs and Riley describes their Lifetime Guarantee:

At Briggs & Riley we believe our customers are family. When you’re family, you do what’s right. It’s been our philosophy since day one. And in typical family fashion, we believe in looking out for one another. That’s why we’re the only luggage company to offer a no-strings-attached lifetime guarantee on all our bags – simple as that. If your Briggs & Riley bag is ever broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline, we will repair it free of charge. You see, to us, the phrase “lifetime guarantee” is more than just a marketing strategy. It’s a sign of our integrity.

But there’s more. First, here’s some more about the specific suitcases.

2 Versions of the Briggs and Riley Transcend International Carry-On Wide-Body Spinner

So, my version is a few years old, as I mentioned, and unfortunately no longer available. There are slight differences between mine and my wife’s, but overall, the suitcase has remained consistent. I only mention the two different versions, because the photos below may look slightly different if you look at the Black bag (mine) and the Hunter Green bag (my wife’s).


Yes the wife’s bag is a bit smaller and slightly more square.  Top handle lays flat too.

Attached ID card just tug the tab.


First off, the bag has the telescoping handle on the outside of the bag, so you have the entire real estate inside the bag. you’re not sharing or trying to pack around the telescoping handle.


Second, there’s a waterproof pocket, this is good if you happen to have a wet swim suit, or have a pair of slippers or flip-flops that you want to slide in without mingling with the rest of your luggage. It also works for toiletries.


Behind the telescoping handle, there’s a small pocket, I use it to drop the stuff from my pockets just before going through security. It’s especially helpful because it zips up fully, and you can put the bag such that the pocket is inaccessible without flipping the bag over.


I like the Spinner primarily because it balances all on its own. On some surfaces, it just kind’ve rolls without much effort. If you’re having a bad day, or happen to be tired, you can lean on it alittle, just not too much. I find the international wide-body, which measures 21″ high, 15″ wide, and 9″ in depth is generally accepted wherever I travel (although I do get a bit nervous going through London-Heathrow). It fits in every overhead compartment I’ve encountered, and is wide enough for me to be able to pack a pair of shoes parallel to the ground vs. perpendicular, which saves some room (at least for me).

Size 15 dress shoes with room to spare.

Size 15 dress shoes with room to spare.

Wrapping Up

I’d just finish with – when you travel a bunch, you want your carry-on to be as convenient and functional as possible. The bag is expensive. Briggs and Riley’s list price is $379. You can find it slightly less via Amazon. It provides the flexibility for international or domestic trips, although, I will note, as tends to be the case with spinner bags, it is not expandable. Overall, Its the best carry-on I’ve had, and I haven’t looked back.

What is your go-to carry-on bag?


24 thoughts on “My Pick for the Best Carry-On Going

    • @Mike – an excellent question. There have been times when I’ve picked up duty free alcohol and have had to check a bag because security wouldn’t allow the full size bottle. Nowadays, TSA has a seldom known rule that if its a clear bottle, in a duty free bag, you’re ok. I’m not sure that the same rule applies in Europe though, where I’ve had to check a bag last minute. Long story short, you never know when you might have to check a bag… Even just gate checking it, could somehow lead to damage.

      • I don’t know Trevor. You pretty much negate the whole point of a carryon bag when you check it, and if you keep checking that carryon bag you may soon be posting updates about its durability. Anyway, how much money can you save on duty-free compared to the time you lose waiting at the luggage carousel? Those who can choose to spend $379 on a carryon probably think their time is worth a lot of money, and rightly so.

        • @Mike, I don’t check my carry-on often, but sometimes, I have had to because of where I connected through. I only do it when I’m purchasing alcohol that I cannot get in MD, like Sang Sam Thai Whiskey. Believe me, I am not a fan of checking bags, and generally won’t, unless it is something special.

  1. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been traveling domestically with others who bring their entire wardrobe. I’ll check my carry on so I don’t have to bother with it since I’d have to wait with them at baggage claim anyways. Then in the terminal and what not I only have to mess around with my backpack – very freeing.

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  3. Briggs makes one hell of a bag. I have 1.3MM miles on mine and recently had my first significant warranty request. They handled it like a champ and my bag is good as new. Now for the next 1.3MM…..

    The warranty does make a difference, no matter what Rimowa (who makes good bags) tells you.

    • @Pizza – That’s awesome! I’ve been quiet happy with my bag over the quarter million-plus miles, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the same way when I get up to more lofty numbers! I think the warranty on paper is great, but to hear that you had a warranty request that was easily taken care of, speaks to just how great the warranty really is. Thanks for sharing!

    • @Marshall, Cool – for me, it was night and day when I made the switch. But I switched from a samsonite roller (not spinner). Happy New Year by the way!

  4. I am a big Tumi fan. I have the small international size which fits within all airlines regulations and it has gone well over half a million miles for me. They do now have a lighter version which a friend has purchased and loves it and I am looking into. The only problem I have a had was of a zipper ( asked about five years of use ) which Tumi fixed at no charge.

  5. I have a 22″ rolling Briggs and Riley Baseline bag, bought as a set with a cabin bag/duffel and a sort of a tote — all bought from a Marshall’s maybe 10 years ago. Those total cost for all three was around $150. Having worked for a couple carriers I was aware of the Briggs warranty and I was doing more of my own travel so I bought the set and have been very happy with the bags.

    I had a zipper replaced on the tote and it got to the point where it was in pretty rough shape from lots of use so I donated it a couple years ago. The rolling bag had a wheel pop off about a year ago when the wheel slammed against a luggage rack on a rental car shuttle. I was able to have the wheel replaced under warranty and the bag works like new again. I appreciate the external handle housing (more interior space as you mentioned) and the duffel has been great for shorter trips or to have as a matching piece for longer trips (when the 22″ gets checked.)

    I don’t anticipate needing a new bag anytime soon, but I do check the stores every so often and try to see if they have anything interesting and continue to recommend their bags whenever someone says they’re in the market. I also like Tom Bihn bags (use a Pilot for my laptop, my significant other has a Tri-Star for a carry-on and a Pilot as a purse/personal item.) These are well designed, highly durable (and USA made) but pretty spendy and they don’t have much of a warranty. If you’re in Seattle I recommend checking out their retail store (located adjacent to the factory.)

    • @Hua, I appreciate your great comments on your experience with Briggs and Riley bags, and will have to look more into Tom Bihn bags, candidly, I haven’t heard much about them in the past, so will have to get smart on them. Thank you for your comment, and I hope you are having an awesome New Year!

      • Sure thing! Happy New Year to you, too. BTW, I re-read my comment and realized I made one mistrake… My girlfriend has the Co-Pilot as her purse/personal item. I was using a Co-Pilot for my laptop but had to get a larger bag (the Pilot) after getting a larger laptop.

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  7. The bag starts off weighing 7.9 lbs. That is way too heavy for a carry on but then again you are not carrying on, you are wheeling on. I use an Eagle Creek Digi hauler 1 lb 11 oz at 22x14x9. I am looking for a lighter bag at 1 lb 5oz and 20×12/14×8. You strap it on and carry it on. Did you get the matching tote with that bag? 😉

    • @John – yeah, I’m a wheeler… and no, I don’t have a matching tote, I still use an old Jeep bag, which stows inside the bag well, and I end up using toward the end of the trip (usually to account for the gratis PJ’s and amenity kits from the flight). I do have a backpack, but its a no-frills LL Bean one I got on sale, I find that I don’t use it nearly as much because it has no support or separate slots for my tablets, and everything just commingles together, which is awkward when going through security in countries that make you take tablets out. But I do see your might, weight can be an issue for some.

      • Trevor, I was just teasing you and other guys in case my humor came out wrong. The Eagle Creek Bag ( I made a mistake it is 1 lb 15 oz) and the believe it or not Rich Steves’ no frills backpack bag (I have this as well 1.95 lbs) all have side compartments that open the length of the bag to put in laptop/IPad. . I put a light sweater and rain jacket in the slot as well and helps cushion the electronics and easy access. These bags like most good bags if you something breaks they will fix it for free.
        You might want to look at Scottevest clothes with an awesome array of pockets for everything! I have a number of their products; a fleece jacket, lightweight travel vest, etc. Depending on the climate you can wear as they all have pockets for my IPAD, Kindle, IPhone, noise cancelling headphones, camera business cards and other pockets. You just take you jacket/vest off and have it go through security.
        As far spinners and wheeler s go the bag you have does look wonderful. I am just curious if the smaller European airlines if it will fit in overhead bin. I am going on 60 as long as I am physically able I will put it on my back and then when that time comes I will join the wheel crowd 🙂
        Here ya go: The Rick Steves’ Bag is only $79 and it is well made. Eagle Creek is more expensive but better made IMO. Check out the Scottevest clothes.

        • @John – I figured the matching tote was a tease. I do have a Scottevest jacket (I think the transformer jacket) that I do enjoy. I just find that more often than not lately, I’ve been wearing sports jackets vs. regular jackets when traveling. But I do appreciate the space and flexibility of the Scottevest. That’s awesome that you’re still in the backpack crowd at nearly 60… I’m alittle more than half your age, but tend to find wheels helpful… But I’ll go 2-3 weeks with just a carry-on as well.

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