5 best suitcases for kids and teens for $100 or less

It’s hard to say whether these suitcases are meant for the kids or the parents. Adorable enough to entertain kids and stylish enough to appeal preteens, and teens, these five affordable carry-ons may be just the thing to encourage children to roll their own gear through the airport.

Isabella Fiore
Italian designer Isabella Fiore launched a hard-shell suitcase this fall that proves that suitcases don’t have to come in boring black. The floral pattern is sophisticated enough for preteens, teens, and adults alike. Bonus: The 20-inch polycarbonate wheelie bag weighs a mere 6.5 pounds — and with a stylish bag like this, your precocious child may even start looking forward to packing.
Cost: $100 for a 20-inch suitcase; available in white, pink, and blue floral prints
Where to Buy: Dillard’s stores

Beatrix New York
With whimsical designs such as a robot, an owl, a monkey, a ladybug, and a dinosaur, I only wish that these 16-inch wheelie bags also came in grown-up sizes. Bonus: The handle is perfectly sized for kids, but the height cleverly extends a bit longer for adults who may need to take over wheeling the bag through the airport.
Cost: $94
Where to Buy: www.dantebeatrix.com

Ecozoo Rolling Series by Ecogear
Ecogear’s Rolling Monkey is the latest animal to join the Ecozoo menagerie, which already includes a panda, puppy, pig, and frog. Padded shoulder straps transform the rolling bag into an easy-to-carry backpack.
Cost: $50
Where to Buy: www.ecogear-products.com

I recently spotted a pair of the tiger-shaped Trunki suitcases at San Francisco International Airport. The pint-size wheelie suitcases can be filled with toys, games, and other distractions — and best of all, kids can hitch a free ride by sitting on the hard-case suitcases. And when your flight is delayed, the suitcase is certainly a cleaner place to sit than the airport floor.
Cost: $39.99
Where to Buy: www.melissaanddoug.com

Hello Kitty by FAB NY
The beloved Sanrio character is still going strong after 35 years. And even if your little one eventually outgrows her Hello Kitty obsession or decides that pink isn’t for her, the 16-inch wheelie bag is one of the most affordable suitcases of the bunch.
Cost: $39.99
Where to Buy: www.toysrus.com


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.


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.

Gadling gear review – Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G ultralight rolling luggage

In this Gadling gear review I’m going to introduce you to the Sub-0-G luggage by Landor & Hawa. By now you’ll know that I don’t review just any old luggage, with so many bags out there, any bag that passes through Gadling better be special.

The Sub-0-G bag may look like a normal rolling suitcase, but read on to see what makes this bag anything but normal. (Kudos to the fantastic OBOW Blog for first posting about this product).
The Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G luggage is quite simply the lightest rolling bag I have ever seen. In fact, I’ll call it “silly light”. The rolling suitcase in this review weighs just under 5 pounds and offers 2759 cubic inches of storage space.

When I opened the box, I lifted the bag out with one finger, and spent my first 10 minutes just playing around with it in amazement.

Light luggage is perfect for those of us that carry far too much stuff. Some of my rolling suitcases weigh 15lbs when they are empty. In fact, I have several backpacks that weigh more than the Sub-0-G rolling suitcase!

Despite weighing next to nothing, the bag still offers everything you’d expect to find on a piece of rolling luggage – retractable handle, smooth/silent rolling wheels, and plenty of storage compartments.

The inner structure of the bag is designed around a fiberglass frame, not unlike the kind of stuff used in an ultralight tent (in this photo I have unzipped the inner cover). Thanks to this design, the weight is kept to a minimum, and the bag still has plenty of strength.

The fiberglass also provides a bit of “bend”, which means over-packers will still be able to bring all their stuff along with them.

On the outside of the bag is where you’ll find 2 zippered pockets, large enough for a couple of magazines, books or other items. On the inside is of course the main compartment, with 2 elastic packing straps. Behind the flap are 4 elastic pouches, perfect for socks, underwear or other small items.

Going back to the outside – the top of the bag features a very comfortable aluminum tube handle for carrying, and a very wide retractable aluminum handle for dragging the bag through the airport.

Sadly, there are two small things that I found lacking on the bag – there is no handle on the side of the bag, and the retractable handle does not lock. Having a handle on the side makes it easier to pull a bag out of the baggage compartment, or off the luggage belt at the airport.

The lack of a retractable handle means you will push the handle in when you push (instead of pull) the bag. Neither of these omissions are that serious, and given how well the rest of the bag performs, I don’t think they are a reason to think negatively about the Sub-0-G bag.

The Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G luggage is available in 3 versions; 20.5″, 24.5″ and 28.5″. The manufacturer is in the process of making some changes to the available sizes, so some online vendors may still stock the previous lineup (19″, 23″, 26″ and 30″).

MSRP for the bags is $205 (20.5″), $235 (24.5″) and $265 (28.5″). A set with all three bags will retail for $600. The bags are covered by a generous 10 year warranty.

Of course, as with all luggage, it pays to shop around, and you’ll easily find some retailers with much lower prices on this fantastic luggage.

Product review – ZUCA Pro rolling luggage

Before I introduce you to the ZÜCA Pro, let me open with an admission – I am a luggage junkie. I have a closet completely devoted to all the various bags I have collected over my many years of traveling.

Now that is out of the way, let me introduce you to something I can only describe as the coolest bag I’ve ever come across – and this is coming from someone who has often spent over $1000 on a set of matching bags.

The ZÜCA Pro is a rolling bag with a twist (several in fact). The bag is built around an aircraft grade aluminum frame, with rollerblade style shock absorbing wheels and a sturdy aluminum retracting handle.

What makes the bag different, is how the frame has been made into an integral part of the design – many bags feature some kind of metal or plastic inner frame, but the ZÜCA Pro has been designed with enough strength that you can actually use the bag as a seat. No longer will you have to battle with your fellow passengers in the departure lounge, you simply roll your bag into a nice corner, and take a seat on it.
The inside of the bag is where the design gets even better – instead of your usual empty cavernous space, the ZÜCA Pro comes complete with 5 color coded packing cubes and a TSA compliant toiletries pouch.

These packing cubes force you to pack wisely. ZÜCA even includes a helpful “how to pack” guide, recommending which garments to pack in each cube. In real life, this works amazingly well.

The largest packing cube is 9.5″x10.5″x5″, making it large enough for 3 pairs of pants or a couple of bulky sweaters. Each pouch is made of durable and nylon mesh and has a handle on the front, making it easy to pull out of the case. To put the space to a real test, I first packed what I normally would inside my usual 22″ rolling suitcase, then I repacked all the items in the ZÜCA Pro.

All my garments and toiletries fit without a hitch, though the bag did not have much space left, and adding an extra pair of shoes would have been tricky. Because of the metal frame, there is not much room for expansion. The toiletries bag fits in an elastic pouch in the top, so once you reach the checkpoint you can pull it out for inspection in a matter of seconds.

Hidden away in the front of the bag is an expandable wet garment storage pocket, which is great if you end up with a lap full of orange juice on your flight and have to make a quick change mid-trip. On the outside of the bag are several zippered pockets, and on the rear are 2 more pockets, and a name tag/business card holder, covered with a Velcro flap, to keep prying eyes off your personal information.

There is one other feature you won’t find on most other rolling cases – the entire bag can be detached from the frame, and washed. Of course, if you are like me, you want your bag to be grimy and dirty, it’s how people can tell you’ve seen some real roadwarrior action.

The bag weighs just 8.75lbs, which means it is the same weight as many other premium rolling cases. The wheels are recessed, making it easy to slide in the overhead compartment without the poor flight attendant having to use all her weight to get the bin door to lock. On the top of the case is a large handle. If the boring black wheels don’t impress you much, you can pick up a set of blinking LED wheels for just $10.

I know luggage is a really personal thing, so I’m not going to try and convince you to go out and order one of these bags, but I feel safe saying that the ZÜCA Pro is the best damn piece of luggage I have ever reviewed.

When put up against my trusty $700 Tumi rolling suitcase, the poor Tumi loses in every battle, and that is a piece of luggage that has traveled close to a million miles with me.

The ZÜCA Pro costs $285, which includes the bag, the 5 packing cubes, the toiletries bag and a nice ballistic nylon cover, which is perfect if you are forced to check the bag and want to give the poor thing a little extra protection. The ZÜCA Pro comes with a lifetime warranty.

You’ll find the ZÜCA Pro at their web site, where you can also learn more about the design. Of course, this is also where you’ll find their online store.