Prince Charming and I both have a love affair with finding the perfect luggage. Of course, the perfect bag doesn't exist, which makes the pursuit an endless one. There's always a better bag out there, and that makes it fun to keep looking. It also means we love our almost-perfect bags because, well, they are almost perfect. Here are the best bags of 2014 as recommended by me, Prince Charming, and two other expert travelers:
In a phrase: Classic, affordable, and dependable.
This is my go-anywhere bag. I've been traveling with it for about two years. I own it in graphite (a dark grey) but wish I'd purchased the same bag in a lighter color - something easier to notice on a luggage carousel on the rare occasions I need to check it. Something like this color would have been nice:
I love this bag. It seems indestructible. I've never had an airline tell me to check it due to luggage size restrictions. Things I love about it:
- It has a easy-access mesh water bottle holder on the side.
- It has back back straps and a waist belt that offer lots of support but can fold away if I want to carry it like a suitcase.
- I can easily put it in most overhead bins.
- It has lots of roomy exterior pockets.
- It can expand past carry-on size when necessary.
- The bag has very no frame or wheels, so it's very lightweight.
- It's affordable, making it the only thing on this list good for travelers with a luggage budget of less that $150.
My only major issue with this bag is that it doesn't have wheels. Sometimes it would be nice to roll in airports. I do feel that carrying backpack style is safer than rolling with less risk of the bag being stolen. Also, the bag is just a little too big, making it too easy for me to over stuff it. (Yes, sometimes I'm guilty of over packing despite writing a blog about living with less baggage.)
In a phrase: The toughest, ruggedest, manliest, locally handcrafted luggage money can buy.
You guessed it, this is Prince Charming's preferred luggage. He has an entire set. It was one of the first things he introduced me to when he was wooing me.
He loves how these bags are made to last. They will probably outlive our great great grandchildren, unless by then we are all traveling with only Replicators - that's the thing that instantly makes whatever you need in Star Trek, right? Anyway, Red Oxx bags are made by hand in the U.S.A. They have really big zippers and these wonderful shoulder straps that are thick rubber so they never slip off your shoulder even if you lean over to give someone a hug goodbye at the airport.
Here's Prince Charming with the shoulder strap of one of his Red Oxx bag's visible. Even though it's twisted and definitely not centered on top of his shoulder it's not slipping around.
Personally, I prefer backpacks or rolling bags to one-shoulder carry bags. I sense that carrying weight evenly will prevent back and shoulder injuries. Many Red Oxx bags, including those Prince Charming owns, are one-shoulder carry, but the company does make some back packs. No rolling bags though, obviously because rolling a bag creates a loss of manliness points. Seriously. Picture a man rolling a bag in the airport. Now picture the same guy carrying a sturdy shoulder bag like it's nothing. See what I mean? Just for the record, Prince Charming has a racked up such an abundance of manliness points that he could roll a bag for the rest of his life and still keep his man card.
In a phrase: Ready for any adventure.
Here's a bag that withstood a cat peeing on it in a closet in North Carolina and the multiple washings that followed (which did get the smell out). And then it happily traveled South America. This is the bag my friend Kimberly owns and used as a weekend pack during her trip to Colombia. She loves its "Airspeed Suspension," which I think refers to a lightweight frame and special features that make carrying it less sweaty and more fun than other, less air speedy packs.
Other features of the bag include:
- Hip belt
- Hydration Sleeve
- Sleeping pad straps
- Loops and ties for holding tools (such as an ice pick for those icy climbs).
In a phrase: So pretty, can I touch it?
For non-vegans, there's nothing quite like smooth, buttery Italian leather. This bag is a splurge, and a favorite with my stylish sister who got it on sale on Bottica.com. She carried this bag when she visited us in December and it was amazing how much warm winter gear she was able to fit in it while still looking like a free-spirited bohemian sprite. The term "schlepping" could never apply here.
Things I ooh and aah-ed over:
- It's not just pretty, but strong and practical.
- It can carry as a shoulder bag, suitcase, or bacpack.
- Okay, back to the pretty. There's a colorful cotton lining that's like a special party for your eyes only in the bag.
Okay, those are my top four bags for 2014.
Have you found your almost perfect bag?
If you have a tripped planned, which bag will you be traveling with? Let me know in the comments please.