Product Review: Briggs & Riley's Expandable Carry-on Suitcase

What Is It: Briggs & Riley's Baseline Domestic Carry On Expandable Upright.

Price and Where to Buy: $449 from Briggs & Riley's website.

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Pros: Ever packed all your stuff to fit perfectly in a carry-on, only to realize you left no room for souvenirs on the return trip? Enter the Baseline CX bag from Briggs & Riley. This upright wheeled suitcase has a special system that lets you pull two levers to expand the bag by 25 percent when you need more space, and compress it again with the push of a hand when you don't. Even when it's expanded to full capacity, the 8" x 14" x 21" bag fits within most airlines' carry-on limits. The four-wheeled bag glides easily and stays upright no matter how unevenly you pack it, and the retractable handle easily slides to three different heights.

Inside the suitcase are a seemingly unending number of pockets and compartments to keep everything organized. Plus, there are a number of features to keep everything wrinkle-free, including a built-in garment folder with a foam roll bar to keep suits crisp, a mesh panel to compress clothing and stop them from moving around, and a specially designed flat bottom surface (the handle retracts into its own compartment).

Cons: At 8.9 lbs, this bag starts your luggage off at almost 10 lbs. This is something to consider if you're flying an airline that weighs hand luggage. I used this bag on United and Air New Zealand: It passed as a carry-on for the domestic United flights and the international Air New Zealand flight, but it was weighed and gate-checked for a domestic Air New Zealand flight, and I was chastised for trying to sneak on a bag that weighed more than twice the carry-on allowance. (Okay, yes, that's partly because of what I packed, but the bag's weight is not insignificant!)

Also, $449 price tag is definitely a con. However, you get what you pay for. The luggage line comes with a lifetime guarantee, and Briggs & Riley will repair the bag forever even if it is damaged by an airline.

How it Rates:

  • Usefulness: 10/10. I can't imagine ever using another suitcase again. The expandable and retractable part of this bag is very handy, and the pockets keep everything well organized.
  • Portability: 8/10. Wheel this bag everywhere, from a plane to a train, and it will glide along smoothly without tipping over. However, when it's time to heft it up stairs or into an overhead compartment, you can feel that 8.9 lbs.
  • Value: 9/10. Pricey, but there's a lifetime guarantee. The bag will probably pay for itself over a lifetime—plus, you'll be saving on checked bag fees since this carry-on really holds all you'll ever need.
  • Durability: 10/10. Every part of this bag, from the aircraft-grade aluminum handle to the self-healing zippers, fiberglass frame, and stain-resistant fabric, seems built to last. And if it doesn't? There's always that lifetime guarantee!
  • Cool Factor: 10/10. My travel companions were impressed by my magical expanding bag!

Final Verdict: Worth every penny.

Editor's Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and "cool factor." Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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