Luggage Buying Guide - Future Shop

January, 2012

Whether you like to take vacations with your family, prefer to trek around the world on your own, or do a lot of travelling for business, your most useful travel companion will be your luggage. With the right luggage you can keep your valuable belongings, like your laptop or Mr. Cuddles the teddy bear, safe and secure as you make your way to your destination.

So how do you find the perfect luggage for your needs? Read on and find out!


What Type of Traveller Are You?

Types of Luggage

Features to Look For


The Future Shop Difference

The Basics

What Type of Traveller Are You?
Choosing the ideal luggage depends a lot on what type of travelling you like to do. If you tend to go on a lot of vacations with the family, a set of matching luggage should serve your needs nicely. You’ll have plenty of space for your clothes, supplies, and toys for the kids, and if you pack light or bring an extra bag you’ll have lots of room for souvenirs on the way back home.

Business travellers might find it useful to pick up smaller specialized bags, like a carry-on, laptop bag, and garment bag. This multiple-bag solution provides more mobility (instead of having to lug one huge, heavy suitcase everywhere), and you can mix and match bags depending on what you need to bring with you. Laptop cases keep your computer and valuable documents protected, while a garment bag does the same for your business attire. Everything else can go into the carry-on, and if it has wheels you can strap the laptop case and garment bag on top for easier transport.

Solo travellers need mobility and reduced weight, so a backpack, rolling duffel bag, or carry-on should fit the bill nicely. There’s a reason why “backpackers” use what they do – when you’re moving from bus to train to plane, with lots of walking in-between, it’s hard to beat a backpack’s ability to hold a lot of stuff, yet still be easy to tote around.

Now let’s go into a bit more detail about the types of luggage that are available, and the main features of each:

These smaller luggage bags are designed to fit under your bus or plane seat, or in the overheard compartment. They’re generally a maximum of 55 cm (21.5 inches) along their longest dimension, and many of them feature wheels and an extendable handle for easier transport. All airlines have size limits for carry-on luggage, so check with your airline to make sure your bags don’t go over the limit.

Travel totes:
These are smaller, all-purpose bags that you carry by hand or sling over your shoulder. They range from simple designs that look like the shopping bags you get at your supermarket to more deluxe models that are equipped with pockets, compartments, and ergonomic shoulder straps.

Most suitcase designs come in three types: hard-sided, soft-sided, and semi-soft. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, while semi-soft suitcases are equipped with a frame, to give them a defined shape, but have soft fabric sides and can usually be expanded along the top and bottom. Hard-sided suitcases are great for protecting your stuff from impacts or damage, and with a combination or key lock they’re also the most secure type of luggage. The advantages of soft-sided bags are they’re lighter, more flexible, and can be expandable.

Many suitcases come with wheels and telescoping handles to help prevent aching shoulders and backs from carrying too much weight. Also, remember to check your airline’s baggage size and weight limits so you don’t end up with luggage that goes over what’s allowed.

Garment bags:
These specialized luggage bags are designed to store and protect your clothes, especially business suits and dresses. Some models are basically like portable closets, with the ability to pack multiple garments on hangers, as well as wheels and a handle to offset the weight.

Duffel bags:
If you’ve got a lot of bulky stuff you need to carry, like thick winter coats or sports equipment, then a duffel bag’s large carrying capacity is right up your alley. Many duffel bags come with wheels and a telescoping handle to make it easier to get around.

Sure, you used a backpack when you were in the 3rd grade, but today’s travel backpacks feature a lot more than just space for your books and lunch box. You can get backpacks with special ergonomic straps that are designed to spread the weight across your shoulders, chest, and waist, to help ease the load during long hikes. Backpacks are great for a variety of uses, whether you’re looking for a smaller bag for a quick weekend trip or a larger model to get you through a months-long trek across Europe

Laptop cases or bags:
Your laptop is a powerful, useful machine, but it doesn’t like to be bounced around too much or exposed to water. A laptop case, bag, or backpack is a great way to protect your valuable computer, and many of them have space for accessories like a mouse, charger, papers, and more. Many of the newer laptop bags are airport checkpoint-friendly so you’ll have less hassle getting through security; they’re designed so your laptop can be easily and clearly scanned by the X-ray machine without having to pull the laptop out of the bag.

What sets a certain piece of luggage apart from any other? When you’re shopping check these features to see which ones are important for your needs.


The most common types of luggage material are polyester, nylon, leather, and plastic.

Polyester is the most popular material used for luggage, mainly because of its lower cost and decent durability. The strength of the fabric is measured on a denier scale, and the higher the rating the stronger the material. Most mid-level priced polyester bags should be around the 1200d (the “d” stands for “denier”) level, and they can go as high as 2400d for more expensive luggage.

Nylon is a strong, lightweight fabric that’s used for many types of luggage. This material is generally tougher than polyester, so look for nylon bags with a minimum 400d rating and you’ll know it can take a lot of punishment. Nylon can also be bonded with weather-resistant coatings like Teflon® or Scotchguard® to protect the material, and ballistic nylon is an extremely strong and durable fabric that’s similar to the stuff you’ll find in a bulletproof vest.

Leather materials can be broken down into:

Genuine leather - Top grain or full grain leather is the most durable and attractive type, but it can also be pricier.

Split leather - A slightly lower grade of leather, this type is also quite attractive but less durable and less expensive.

Most hard-sided, molded luggage pieces are made of polycarbonate or polypropylene plastic, making them extremely tough and lightweight. These types of luggage can look very sharp and stylish, and are very popular among travellers.


The stronger the frame inside your luggage, the more durable it will be over the years. Steel frames are strong and provide good support, while frames with plastic honeycomb structures are lighter in weight, more flexible, and allow your luggage to bounce back into the proper shape after it’s been dropped or hit by a heavy impact.


If your luggage has a zipper, look for zippers with larger teeth, strong stitching, and taped seams for more durability. Lockstitched seams are a great feature – these seams are individually reinforced, so if one of them breaks it won’t take the rest of the seams with it.


Aside from bathing suits, chances are most of the contents of your luggage don’t like water very much. Look for waterproof materials, coatings, or seals to protect your stuff. Some luggage pieces even come with a wet compartment, so you can place damp garments inside and keep them separate from the rest of your clothes.


Many luggage bags come equipped with wheels so they can scoot along with you like an obedient pet. Larger wheels, including polyurethane ones that are the same as ones you’ll see on inline skates, are more durable and provide a smoother ride. Spinner wheels rotate 360 degrees and make it easy to maneuver your bag in any direction, which can be useful in tight, enclosed spaces.


When it comes to telescoping or extending handles some people prefer ones that lock into place when they’re extended. You can get one- or two-stage locking handles – the latter can lock even when they’re only partially extended. Take a second to notice the shape of the tubes on the extending handles: square tubing is stronger but generally more expensive than round tubing. Check that the handle feels sturdy and strong to reduce the possibility of it snapping off while you’re dashing through the airport to catch your flight. Grab handles (the shorter handles that are directly affixed to the top or side of your bag) should be attached to the frame of your luggage for strength and easily accessible – you’ll be thankful for that when you’re struggling to shove your heavy bag into the overheard compartment.


If you like to pack a lot of stuff, look for a lighter bag so you can fill it with more gear without going over the airline weight limit.


The longer your trip, the more stuff you’ll probably need to bring with you. This handy chart will help you decide what size of luggage will probably work best, depending on how long you’ll be travelling:


Some luggage pieces have sections that can be unzipped and expanded to increase the amount of storage. Just be careful about putting too much stuff in your luggage and going over the weight limit.

Here are a few additional factors to keep in mind when you’re selecting your luggage, or even after you’ve made your purchase.

Matching Luggage Sets:

Not only do they look great, but having a matching set can be useful when you’re waiting to retrieve your bags from an airport luggage carousel. A set of luggage that’s the same colour and design will make it easier to keep track of your bags and make sure you don’t accidentally leave one behind.

Bright Colours or Straps:

Having your bag stand out from all the others will make it much easier to find it in the sea of luggage that goes streaming by on the luggage carousel.

Luggage Tags:

It’s sad but true that luggage can sometimes be misplaced or lost. Add your own personalized luggage tag to your bags and it might help you get them back more quickly if this ever happens to you.

Luggage Locks:

Look for luggage that has a built-in lock, or if your bag doesn’t come with one you can purchase a luggage lock separately. It’s a great way to keep your stuff secure from thieves or accidental openings.

Secure Passport Wallet:

Starting in 2011 Canadian Passports were starting to be equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which allows the passports to be scanned by readers that can be up to a few metres away. This allows the passport to be read more quickly and easily, but concerns have been raised about security and possible mis-use of this scanning data. An easy way to protect yourself is to get a passport wallet made with RFID-blocking material, so your passport will be secured both physically and digitally. Just take your passport out when you need to get it scanned, then keep it inside the wallet at all other times so nobody else can read your valuable information without your knowledge.

Your luggage should be useful, but there’s nothing wrong with it looking stylish and chic as well. Future Shop carries a wide range of luggage pieces that can be both pretty and practical, and our selection is growing all the time.

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