Briggs And Riley celebrate forty years of their most famous invention – rolling luggage

October 1970 was a special month for the luggage industry, and for the parent company of Briggs And Riley – it was the month they released the world’s first rolling suitcase.

The original design (pictured above) featured four wheels and a piece of rope to pull it along, but for the first time, it meant not having to carry your heave cases through the airport.

The bag was designed by U.S. Luggage president Bernard Sadow, who got his inspiration when he returned from a vacation in Aruba with a bunch of heavy bags. Of course, the four wheeled rope pulled bags of the past are relics of air travel history, and the current generation wheeled bags from Briggs And Riley don’t look anything like the old ones.

Like many innovative products, the road from idea to store shelves was not an easy one – when Sadow took his new bag to buyers at the major department stores, none of them were interested. Macy’s and Gimbels both showed him the door.

Thankfully, a vice president at Macy’s wasn’t so short sighted, and instructed his buyers to place orders – making Macy’s the first store in the world to sell the first rolling luggage in the world. And the rest is history.


Briggs & Riley luggage executives offer their travel packing tips

Last week, our very own Heather Poole was interviewed by the New York Times asking for her packing tips, and this week, we’ve got some tips from the team of executives behind popular luggage brand Briggs & Riley. There are some pretty handy tips in the list, and as always, it shows that everyone has their own method of packing.

What about you? Got any tips you’d like to share with us? Leave them in the comments section below! With enough tips, we may feature you in an upcoming article with reader submitted packing tips.Richard Krulik (CEO, Briggs & Riley)

Bans bulk and sticks with a central color scheme

Be careful not to over fold, it’s what bulks things up, taking up unnecessary space. I spread things out as widely as I can, laying my slacks on the bottom of the luggage with the “legs” hanging over the sides. I pack on top of the slacks and then fold the part that’s hanging outside back in – it makes a nice gentle fold instead of a hard crease in the legs. It saves space and prevents wrinkles at the same time. With sweaters, I take thin cashmere instead of cable knit. I’ll limit the variation of colors to bring only two pairs of black shoes, which I alternate wearing.

Carole Schnall (VP Administration, Briggs & Riley)

Her clothing arrives in perfect shape every time

My clothes always arrive in perfect shape and wrinkle free – I start by folding neatly like they do in a department store, and I put plastic in between each item. I use either dry cleaner plastic or polyethylene bags which you can buy at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. I use them over and over again. I roll my underwear into my shoes and take each shoe and put it into a supermarket plastic bag and tie them up to avoid dirt, which then get placed along the edges of my bag.

Jim Lahren (VP Marketing, Briggs and Riley)

High tech app junkie

Before I pack, I check the weather for where I am going. In fact, there are many great travel apps that I use for weather forecasts and to consolidate my travel itineraries. Think about what you are going to need on that business trip. Split items among your laptop bag and luggage to save space and be prepared in case your checked luggage is delayed. I like to pack my socks and important items in my shoes to save space. As soon as I get to the hotel room I steam my shirts and pants in the shower. This gives them a clean, fresh appearance.

Chris Delgado (VP Sales, Briggs & Riley)

If the shoe fits…stuff your jacket

My packing strategy starts with “working around the shoes” and looking at what coordinates with a single pair of dress shoes. I make sure to select light weight materials and ones that don’t wrinkle. I confess to wearing workout clothes more than once. I fold slacks on the bottom and build from there, with the largest and heaviest items on the bottom. Socks and smaller garments get stuffed around the edges. I use shirts on my own hangers and use the hanging section in our Baseline or Transcend bags – then hang them up right when I arrive at my accommodation.

I love travelling with a jacket – I stuff the pockets with accessories, power cords and anything I can get in. The jacket goes through the security belt, and I don’t need to remove the electronics from my bag. No bling or big belt buckles are a cardinal rule. I’ve learned the system of what seats typically board first and aim to be one of the first to board to get good overhead space. I keep my briefcase under my seat, and am very careful to not overstuff it or take too much so that it absolutely fits under the seat. If you are going to overstuff, pick a bag that is softer like BRX or Transcend for the extra space.

Georgene Rada (VP Product Development and Design, Briggs & Riley)

Says 40% of what she originally lays out, gets scrapped as a “non-essential item”

I really do have a no- over packing philosophy, even though we make some very large bags to fit it all. I lay out everything in advance that I want to bring on a given trip, and then I look, think and cut out 40% of the stuff that isn’t essential at the last minute. I design my outfits around pieces that can work in multiple outfits and no one is really surprised when the designer from New York is wearing all black.

I make sure to have the right accent colors and in general, I stick to thin and lightweight clothing, wearing the bulkiest items while traveling to cut back on space. For toiletry items, I stick to travel-size and sample-size everything. I don’t know what I’d do without my specially designated “travel shoes” because they are easy to slip on and off at security, they are lightweight, and versatile.

Mike Scully (VP of Operations, Briggs & Riley)

Packs light with just enough

I’m a one bag; carry on kind of guy, though I recently converted to a rolling bag for the first time. It’s made me neater, perhaps because I now fold and am more conscious of space.

Organizing and compartmentalizing keeps my packing to a minimum. I pack neatly, stacking and laying items, putting socks in shoes to use all available space and separate shoes from clothing. A minimalistic and bare essential type of packer, I allow myself only one extra pair of pants and only one shirt for each day while I’m away. For shoes, unless I plan to hit the gym or beach, I stick to what’s on my feet; what can I say, I travel light. I get everything I need in, and I don’t mind an iron, that’s what they’re there for. I’m always glad I packed as lightly as possible.

Peter Mack (Director of Procurement, Briggs & Riley)

Layers like he’s heading to Alaska

The last time I traveled to Asia I swapped my old bag for a new one, downsizing from 24″ to a 22″ and got all my stuff in! The four straps on the side allow you to cinch down the bag and compress everything. Since most people tend to overstuff their carry on, they bulge out and then it’s not a carry on anymore. The straps saved me – any additional space is pulled right in.

I don’t carry that much – I prefer to do laundry on the road rather than carrying more or heavier luggage. When I have side-trips on a trip, I stay at one main hotel and leave my bag there for day trips, only taking exactly what I need for the smaller overnights. I roll because its wrinkle free – it really works. I’ve rolled sport coats starting inside out with the lining on the outside, place sleeves on inside, and start at the top by the collar and roll down to the bottom. The result: one fold line only, right down the back. I nest one shoe inside the other – flip them so they’re face to face or top to top with the openings on alternate sides. I always travel with a lot of layers on – a couple of smaller jackets and a sweater instead of a larger jacket which won’t fit into one suitcase and then I shed my layers on board.

Michael Siemank (Controller, Briggs & Riley)

Is not at all ashamed about over packing

I have a tendency to over pack. On a recent weekend trip, my adult kids got away with an overnighter, Transcend 22″, while I took a rolling duffle. I don’t care about the cost, I prefer having my stuff. I hate the hassle of trying to make sure to get on the plane early to get my carry on in the overhead bin. I hate that stress. Folding properly is the key to packing; as is planning ahead. I lay stuff out on the bed and take inventory. If I need it, it comes, if not, it stays.

Since Jet Blue is first bag free – I make a deal with my wife to stay under the 50 lb. limit – my wife is usually touching the edge, so we’ll switch things from bag to bag. If I have to pay, I pay, though I’m not thrilled about the new rules. I think it’s criminal that airlines are trying to dictate what I can bring with me. And Spirit…forget about it.

Andy Radcliffe (IT Director, Briggs & Riley)

Steals space from his kids

When traveling with my whole family, I make sure each member, including my two kids, has a regulation carry-on. I spread the same amount of clothing across all four bags instead of the two grown-up bags.

To save space, I rely on packing cubes, which segregate different types of clothing and create a mini-suitcase inside your suitcase. In recent years I’ve started packing less clothing with the thought that I can wash clothes on vacation, while staying at condos or rentals. I always make sure my clothing is wrinkle-free material and unpack immediately upon arrival.

Gadling gear review – Briggs & Riley Baseline collection 20″ upright

In this Gadling gear review, I’m going to introduce you to my newest favorite piece of luggage. The Briggs & Riley Baseline 20″ wide-body expandable upright is a carry-on compatible rolling suitcase filled with some awesome features and brilliant design.

The first thing that stands out, is the color – the bag pictured above is their “chocolate” version, and I have to say, it looks stunning. The bag itself is made of ballistic nylon, and every part of its exterior has been designed with heavy travel in mind – the corners are all protected by heavy plastic bumpers, the YKK zippers are “self repairing” and it has fantastic leather handles on the top and side.

The Outside

One of the best features of the bag (and the part I love the most) is that its handle is on the outside. This Outsider® handle design may sound boring, but anyone who has dealt with a rolling case where the handle mechanism takes up space on the inside of the bag, knows what a hassle this can be. By placing the handle construction on the outside, you reduce wrinkles and gain a couple of inches of extra space.

In addition to this, the wheels are on the outermost corners of the bag, giving you even more space on the inside.

The handle itself feels extremely sturdy, yet opens very smoothly with a single button. The handle has 2 different locking positions, making it perfect for shorter travelers.

On the back of the bag is a pocket large enough for smaller items you want to keep safe, as well as a retractable ID holder. The front of the bag features 2 pockets, including what Briggs & Riley call the SpeedThru™ pocket with an orange lining, to make it obvious if you leave it open.

On the top of the bag is where you can attach the SmartLink™ hanger, which makes it possible to drag one (or more) extra bags with you. The SmartLink™ is nice and compact, and when I tested it with my (insanely heavy) laptop bag, it handled the weight without a problem. The hanger can be extended, which means you can adjust it so your hanging bag sits on the ground when your rolling bag is upright.

Included with the bag is a sturdy combination cable lock, with TSA friendly unlock option and the main zippers have locking eyes.

The Inside

The inside of the bag is where the brilliant design continues – the tri-fold garment sleeve is one of the best I’ve ever come across. It includes a foam “bar” to help neatly fold your clothes, and 2 velcro panels to keep things in place. Even the worst folder in the world will be able to neatly fold their clothes in this bag. On the outside of the garment sleeve is a large pocket.

In the bottom of the bag is a compression net with easy to snap closures, which is perfect if you regularly overpack (like I do). If you find yourself bringing more home than you left with, then you can add about 2″ of space by unzipping a single zipper on the outside of the bag.

The bag weighs 9 lbs and measures 20″ x 8″ x 16″. The expanding feature adds 24% extra storage space to the interior.

Final thoughts, price and retailers

All in all a perfectly designed rolling case. The 20″ Baseline upright looks and feels fantastic, and I loved all the little touches (like the metal inlays around the handles).

At $369 it’ll possibly scare away anyone used to paying no more than $40 for luggage. There is however a very strong case to be made for high quality luggage like this. For starters (and most importantly), the Briggs & Riley warranty is one of the best in the industry. The bag is guaranteed for life, and that includes damage caused by the airlines!

The only exceptions in the warranty are for cosmetic wear and cleaning or for lost or stolen bags. This is a bag you buy for the rest of your life – the build quality and warranty will most certainly make that possible.

PRO’S: Great design, excellent build quality, outer handle/wheel construction.
CON’S: Price could be a deal breaker for some

If you are regularly on the road, dump that cheap luggage and consider investing in something like this bag. If you treat it right, it’ll be the best investment in travel gear you ever made. Of course, this assumes you are not planning on taking it mountain climbing.

You can find the Briggs & Riley Baseline collection 20″ upright on their website, or at your favorite luggage retailer.