Travel Gear Review: Briggs & Riley Luggage UPDATED

It’s been a full year since Briggs & Riley Travelware supplied a BRX 22″ Explore upright rolling bag for us to use and review and we’ve kept up our end of the bargain, using this piece of travel gear day in and day out.

We reviewed the bag soon after we got it (see below) and we’ve literally used it every single day for the past year. That’s 365 days of being (over) packed and unpacked, being tossed into and pulled out of our truck, being rolled into rooms from the grand (like our two bedroom villa at Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize) to the grotty–often over surfaces an SUV would find challenging.

Yet, if you were to look at our bag today you would swear that it was new even after serving us through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Dirt seems to flee from it. The wheels, zippers and telescoping handle work as smoothly as they did on day one. Nothing is stretched, scratched or scuffed.

Best of all, after a year of use we wouldn’t change a word of the review we did after the first month. We absolutely still love the bag and we absolutely still hate that pocket in the lid with the illogical vertical zipper.

OUR ORIGINAL REVIEW OF THE BRIGGS & RILEY BRX ESCAPE FROM 2010

Some people–traveling salesmen, circus performers, flight attendants–claim that they “live out of a suitcase.” As full-time road trippers who literally have no home we really, actually, truly live out of our suitcase.

Since our Trans-Americas Journey began back in 2006 we’ve been using a tried and true Samsonite rolling bag to cart  necessities from our truck to that night’s guestroom/suite/bungalow/borrowed bedroom and then back to the truck again in the morning. However, after years of constant use the bag was beginning to break down and, frankly, it didn’t smell so good anymore.

That’s when we discovered Briggs & Riley Travelware. This is the company that claims to have invented wheeled luggage 40 years ago (thank you) and their five distinct product lines pretty much have every traveler covered–from business to adventure to leisure to travelers with a lot of technology in tow.

Eric with our brand new Briggs & Riley bag at the Houston Airport before boarding a rare flight.

We snooped around and the Briggs & Riley BRX line, designed specifically with adventure travelers in mind, seemed to be as tough, versatile, easy to organize and good looking as we are. When we got our hands on our new expandable Briggs & Riley BRX Explore 22″ upright rolling bag we immediately put it through its paces. First, we stuffed it. Then we took it along on our journey back to Guatemala City from New York  City where we’d been visiting friends and family. On planes, off planes, into overhead compartments, past the TSA, through customs our B&R made it through the air travel gauntlet with flying colors.

But the real test is out here on the road with us where the bag has been in daily use for a few weeks now. Here’s what we’ve come to love about our Briggs & Riley luggage:

- The bag’s skeleton is on the outside which maximizes the space on the inside.

- Plenty of grip points (including two hand-hold slots cleverly integrated into the lid) make it easy to get into and out of our truck.

- The zippers pull like a dream.

- Weighing in at only 7.5 lbs. the bag is wonderfully light when empty which makes it easier to lift and easier for fliers to stay under airlines’ rigid luggage weight limits.

- The handle extends and retracts with very little effort.

- Four buckles and cinch straps work well to compress the bag.

- The wheels never catch or refuse even on rough terrain.

- It’s so well-balanced that it never tips over.

- It’s a full-size bag yet it fit into the overhead compartment on our recent flights.

We also appreciate that the stylish bag looks like it belongs in the fancy-town hotels we’re sometimes lucky enough to check into during the course of our work.

Our only complaint is that the internal doo-hickey pocket that’s built into interior of the lid of the bag only has one zipper (not two). This means that when the lid of the bag is open and propped up in an upright position against a wall, for example, everything falls out of the doo-hickey pocket when you unzip it since the single zipper only moves in one direction.

 

While you  may think that all toiletries bags are created equal (we sort of  did),  Briggs & Riley does not and their Executive Toiletry Kit made us see the error in never investing in a good bathroom case. Though the Executive Kit looked smaller than the oh-so-classy clear plastic cube we’d been using as a toiletries bag, the kit’s rectangular shape and ingenious range of roomy sections and pockets handled everything from the old toiletries bag and then some, yet it takes up less space in our luggage.

We also have a lot of respect for Briggs & Riley’s “Simple As That®”  lifetime guarantee which states “If your Briggs & Riley bag is ever broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline, we will repair it free of charge” and after four years of daily use through 11 countries we finally had chance to put the Briggs & Riley lifetime warranty to the test.

Briggs & Riley supplied a 22″ BRX Explore upright rolling bag and an Executive Toiletry Kit for us to use and review out here on the road.

 

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