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What to look for when buying luggage - Future Shop

Stephen Ludlow

June, 2014




Considering what to pack in your luggage could in fact be the ultimate traveller’s dilemma.

If you’re planning to take off for a family vacation by the beach, you’ll want to bring along a suitable suitcase to accommodate plenty of swimwear. Should you be preparing a trek through historic sights of Europe, you’ll need a backpack that’s lightweight yet lofty enough for your essential must-haves. Even jet-setting away for a business trip will need careful thought, as you’ll want a carry-on that can hold your laptop, tablet, or other integral items.

So how do you find the perfect luggage, travel bag, or suitcase to ‘suit’ for your needs? Consult Future Shop’s Buying Guide below, learn more about what to look for, and peruse an assortment of travel-friendly luggage to find the ideal accompaniment to your next adventure.

Contents:

The Basics: Traveller Type and Security Features


Types of Luggage: Duffle Bags, Travel Totes, Carry-Ons and More


Features to Look For: Why the Make and Materials Matter


Extras: Travel Accessories


The Future Shop Difference



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.


There’s no reason that your kids can’t enjoy all the fun and responsibility of keeping all their favourite belongings close. Future Shop has a collection of kids’ luggage that features vibrant colours, convenient carry handles, and even familiar characters from a range of Disney franchises – including Cars, Monsters Inc., and Disney Princesses.

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.


Leisure travelers need mobility and reduced weight, so a backpack, rolling duffle 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.

RFID: Security for your Suitcase
In 2011, Canadian passports were equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, allowing the passports to be scanned by readers that can be placed up to a few metres away. As this has raised concerns about possible misuse of this scanning data, smaller accessories like passport holders and wallets were designed with RFID-blocking material to guard against any data intrusions.

Future Shop carries a selection of luggage from TUMI, Samsonite, Benetton, Swiss Gear, IT, WestJet, American Tourister, Kenneth Cole, and other well-known manufacturers. Beyond your luggage being noticeably stylish in appearance, you’ll want its function to suit your packing needs.

Discover more detail about the types of luggage that are available, and the main features of each:

Carry-on:
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.

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.

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

Backpacks:
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 messenger 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 (or messenger bag) 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 specifications set a certain piece of luggage apart from any other? When you’re shopping for your next travel bag, check these features to see which ones are important for your needs:


Material:
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 two different categorizations:
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 more affordable.

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.

Frames:
The stronger the frame inside your luggage, the more durable it will be over the years.

Steel frames are strong, durable, and provide good support.

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.


Construction:
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.

Waterproofing:
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 sealing material 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.

Wheels:
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.

Handles:
When it comes to telescoping or extending handles, some people prefer ones that lock into place when they’re extended. In addition, there are a number of features to look for to ensure that the handling is responsive enough to suit your carrying and navigational needs:

The difference between one or two-stage locking handles – The latter can lock even when they’re only partially extended.

Check the shape of the tubes on the extending handles – Square tubing is stronger but generally more expensive than round tubing.

Ensure that the handle feels sturdy and strong – Reduce the possibility of it snapping off while you’re dashing through the airport to catch your flight.

Grab handles should be attached to the frame of your luggage – These are the shorter handles that are directly affixed to the top or side of your bag. When they’re attached to the frame, they help to assure strength and easily access; something you’ll be thankful for when you’re struggling to shove your heavy bag into the overheard compartment.

Expandability:
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.

Weight and Size:
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:

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.


Luggage Tags and Bright Bags:
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. Enhance the level your suitcase stands out by choosing a bright colour or distinguishable pattern, as it’ll be much easier to find when it comes to picking it up on the luggage carousel.


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.


Toiletry Bags:
When you’re in the midst of a relaxing trip, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you packed your toiletry essentials. If you have a stylish toiletry bag that stands out, you’ll be able to pack everything you need inside and easily spot it when going through your luggage. Toiletry bags also make a great companion for long flights, as you can quickly pop into the washroom to freshen up before you land.

Travel Power Adapters:
Your bags are packed and your electronic devices are stowed for takeoff – but you’ll want to make sure that they’re ready to use upon your arrival. Browse through Future Shop’s selection of international adapter plugs to keep your electronics juiced in a variety of locations, ensuring a bon voyage with bountiful voltage.

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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