Searching for the best Briggs & Riley luggage in 2018? Check out our in-depth reviews, read our pros & cons, factors to consider and pick the perfect Briggs & Riley carry-on, underseater or checked option for you.
20 years ago, buying a new suitcase was pretty straightforward because if it had a decent zip, a handle and a couple of brass buckles, you’d be fairly satisfied.
It’s 2018 now, luggage has come a long way and picking the right case for your travels can feel like a heck of a task.
Fortunately, when it comes to modern luggage solutions New York-based Company, Briggs and Riley, have been at the sharp end of the game since 1993.
If you’re eager to opt for a Briggs and Riley suitcase or would like to switch brands but don’t know which to choose, then keep reading.
Our top 6 Briggs & Riley Luggage
1. Baseline 22"
- Suiter is not removable
- Luggage expansion mechanism cannot be locked to a specific size
This neat little package manages to combine practicality and functionality in a convenient carry on sized suitcase which will fit into overhead lockers on the majority of US and international airlines. The bag is a step up from its predecessor with a hybrid fiberglass fame which makes it light relative to other B&R options.
- Size: 22 x 9 x 14 Inches
- Weight: 8.9 lbs
Perfect for frequent travelers. The outer case is made from a water and abrasion resistant 1680D ballistic nylon so if you do decide to check the back then you won’t need to worry too much about damages.
Like most Briggs and Riley suitcases, the Baseline Expandable Upright has the retractable handle built on the outside for extra space and wrinkle-free packing. There’s certainly plenty of storage space inside this compact carry-on and multiple users have confirmed that the suitcase can easily hold a weeks’ worth of clothes.
The case features B&R’s famous CX (compression-expansion) system. Unlike older models, it is not possible to lock the case to a particular size which may be preferable if you’ve got something delicate inside your case. Despite this, we think that that the Baseline Expandable Upright is a great choice if you prefer to travel without checking stuff in.
2. Brx Explore 29"
- Zip expansion-compression system
- Some parts can have a flimsy feel
Perhaps a little less glamorous than other models on our list, the BRX Explore has a more rugged and durable design. Made from two hard wearing fabrics this is a case is built to survive long-term travel or lengthy vacations. It’s made from 600D polyester with water-resistant tarpaulin and 420D nylon which is both durable and lightweight.
- Size: 19.5 x 11.5 x 29 Inches
- Weight: 10.3 Pounds
Note# The price of the Brx explore is low when compared to other Brx models only. This option also features on our checked luggage list and on that list it is one of the higher end options available. Similar conclusions can be drawn for other aspects too.
In a way, this case resembles a backpack on wheels, which is actually what we like about it. The case has a far simpler design than other B&R models and, aside from outer zip pockets for your documents, interior lining and mesh bag dividers, there’s very few extra features. You may see this as a downside, but we think a simple design is actually beneficial to long-term travelers as there are fewer features which can break.
The expansion-compression system is, however, a little old-school compared to the Baseline CX or Transcend VX systems. With the BRX Explore Large Expandable Spinner, B&R have opted for a zipper extension which should provide you with up to 2” of extra packing space and side compression straps to streamline the bag. In exchange for clever compression technology, you get a lower price tag which still includes an aircraft-grade aluminum retractable handle system and, of course, the B&R lifetime guarantee. A small con is that the handle does have a marginally flimsier feel (but still lasts) to it when compared to other B&R models.
3. Transcend VX Wide 21"
- Not many colors to choose from
- Heavier than most carry-ons
The Transcend is another one of our carry-on favorites. It’s not just the slightly friendlier price tag that makes the Transcend Wide a great product. It’s also the dual-design 4-wheels which rotate a full 360 degrees. Ideal for navigating through busy airports or sliding your case into narrow spaces.
- Size: 9 x 25 x 21 Inches
- Weight: 8.6 Pounds
What we really like about this case is that Briggs and Riley have clearly set out to make a durable ‘lifetime’ suitcase which meets the needs of solo travelers. With a lightweight hybrid fiberglass in the frame, it will be considerably easier to lift your luggage into an overhead compartment on your own. The case also has a convenient gusset pocket on the front which you can slip your passport or other useful items into without having to mess about with zips and clips.
The outer fabric features ultra-durable permasquare fabric in areas prone to abrasion while hardy nylon fabric is resistant to dirt, moisture, scratches, as well as general wear and tear so you won’t be sending it back to B&R after each use. In terms of space; we felt that this is the right size for a 3-5-day trip, depending on how light you pack. The case has a clever VX (variable expansion) system which you can set you your preferred size to gain up to 2.5” of extra space. Taking a peek inside we see that the Transcend is fully lined and comes with a built mesh divider, a garment holder which can be clipped out of the way for easy packing and straps for securing your belongings. Now that’s a lot of nifty features to pack into a carry-on.
4. Baseline Large Upright 28"
- Two-wheel system (cant be pushed sideways easily)
- One of B&R’s more expensive cases
- Available in 2 colors
A larger version of the Baseline Carry-On Expandable Upright, this case is for those trips when you can’t cram everything into your hand luggage.
- Size: 20 x 10.5 x 28 Inches
- Weight: 10.9 lbs
Like the smaller version, the case has a CX system which increases packing space by 26% and compresses simply by applying pressure to the front panel once the case is closed. The flat interior is perfect for storing your clothes wrinkle free and there’s plenty of straps, mesh panels and dividers to keep the clean clothes from the dirty and prevent your accessories from rattling around whilst in transport.
The outer fabric is a scratch, dirt and water resistant 1660D ballistic nylon which should be enough to withstand even the brutalist of baggage handlers, and don’t forget, it comes with a lifetime warranty just in case. The baseline collection is, in our opinion the most stylish of the B&R luggage ranges. This particular case has a modern streamline design which comes in black or olive so you can match it with the Baseline carry-on version is desired. What we like is that B&R have not substituted practicality for elegance and the aircraft-grade aluminium handle which can be adjusted to 4 heights is proof of that.
5. Propel Rolling Case
- Interior lining is black which makes finding dark items difficult
For those busy professionals who regularly commute to work with a laptop shoved under their arm and multiple folders trying to break free of their bindings, Briggs and Riley bring you the Propel Rolling Case. Essentially a briefcase on wheels the lightweight nylon fabric and compact design make it perfect for taking on the subway or popping in the footwell of a car.
- Size: 15.5 x 9 x 14.5 Inches
- Weight: 6 Pounds
- Fits a laptop up to 15.6 Inches
The Propel Rolling Case has all the features that a modern briefcase should have including an RFID protection pocket, lockable U-Zip, elasticated compartments for chargers and cables, plus a practical file divider. The front pocket is large enough to store mobile device and the padded compartments mean that there’s no need to carry a bulky case for your laptop or tablet. As usual with B&R cases, the retractable handle is of aircraft-grade aluminum and fitted to the exterior for extra space easy packing.
Briggs and Riley have put quite a high price tag on what is arguably a glorified laptop bag, but for the security and convenience it provides commuters, we think it may be worth the investment.
6. Baseline Upright Duffel Bag
- A bit on the heavier side
- Lacks the ease of movement a spinner can give you
This modern cross between a classic duffel bag and a convenient suitcase is useful for long vacations or family holidays because you can certainly fit a lot of sun hats and bikini’s inside this roomy case. While the Upright Duffle Bag doesn’t have as many frills attached as its Baseline brothers, it is arguably the easiest to pack.
- Size: 29 x 16 x 18 Inches
- Weight: 11 Pounds
The bag is split into two sections which provide 4” of space for flat packing, so there’s no need to force an inning board into your luggage. The section zips closed on both sides too so your bits and pieces won’t come flying out when you open the bag. The top section is a large duffle compartment which is great for packing oddly shaped items. This section also features mesh side pockets and a garment carrier for your best shirts and jackets and the zip can be secured with a small padlock.
Aside from easy packing the Upright Duffle Bag also features an adjustable aircraft-grade aluminum handle which has 4 settings. Again, this is great for family trips or if you’re sharing the bag with another traveler. The outer fabric is 100% abrasion resistant ballistic nylon and the lightweight honeycomb frame is highly durable, flexible and retains its shape so it can be manhandled on and off of luggage carousels multiple times. The bag also has a convenient top handle and duffle handle for easy lifting.
This bag is little on the large size compared with other items on our list, so for solo travelers, we would only recommend this bag for trips of at least 1 week. It’s quite heavy despite it being a duffel option too which can put off those who like to drag their duffel through the rugged outdoors & through airports.
Criteria We Used to Evaluate
Picking the right piece of luggage may feel a bit like a lucky dip, but if you’re ready to pay premium prices for a suitcase then it goes without saying that you should receive a premium product. Granted suitcases that have many organizational elements, and aesthetic appeal are great but what we were looking for is practicality to go hand in hand with that. These 6 picks we feel satisfied that among the other criteria listed below…
Life Time Warranty:
A problem with many luggage brands is that often it costs more to repair a product than it does to replace it, hence why we often opt for a cheap case assuming that we will have to replace an expensive one at some point anyway. This is where Briggs and Riley differ from many offerings by brands like Delsey, Samsonite, American Tourister etc etc. All their cases come with a lifetime warranty which covers more than just personal damage. Their warranty also covers airline damage. This is a major positive for us and even gets one over other luxury brands like TUMI something for you to seriously consider.
Q: Does the lifetime warranty include wear and tear caused by frequent use?
A: The lifetime warranty does not cover cosmetic wear (e.g. stains or odors) so if your shampoo burst open while you’re on the road, you’ll have to clean up the mess yourself. It does, however, cover general wear and tear, which means that if you use the case so frequently that a wheel falls off, they’ll pop it back together free of charge.
Instead of just being a fashion statement, we expect cases in this price range to be functional, durable and meet the demands of real travelers and real situations. As a minimum, cases need to have a few inside pockets and dividers for toiletry storage and organized packing, a convenient outer pocket for your passport, and lockable zips for safeguarding your luggage while traveling. The cases on our list include all of the above, and some, such as the Baseline’s and Transcend are also fitted with garment carriers. Briggs and Riley keep their designs simple and provide exactly what you need without unnecessary frills attached.
Quality Materials (Zippers, Handles, Wheels, etc.)
Softshell cases are made typically made from ballistic nylon or a two-tone nylon blend which is resistant to dirt, moisture, scratches, and wear. The cases also need to be flexible for easy packing but at the same time hold their shape so you won’t be greeted by a squashed suitcase at the other end of a 12-hour flight. That’s not all.
Premium cases tend to make use of military-grade zippers and aircraft-grade aluminum handles which are strong and built to last. Suitcases with these features tend to be on the heavier side but Briggs and Riley counter that issue by making their frames from lightweight hybrid fiberglass. The durability of wheels, handles & especially zippers was of prime importance to us. Even though the warranty is top notch, it can be painstaking to fix a broken zipper on the go.
Q: Can I repair the suitcase myself?
A: If your suitcase needs a minimal repair then Briggs and Riley will send repair kits to customers within the US so you can fix the bag yourself. They cover the ground postage and only charge a basic handling fee.
If you’re travelling with a budget airline like Spirit or Easyjet then luggage dimensions are very important if you want to avoid the extra cost of checking your luggage at the airport, so, for ease of transport, this is one of the reasons we haven’t opted for too many widebody variants of the Baselines series especially. That includes carry on size restrictions for all main International, European and US airlines. Ideally, we also look for companies who produce their cases in a range of sizes which can be purchased as a set as it saves travelers from needing to shop about.
Other Features & Factors
Luggage Compression System
Something unique to Briggs and Riley is their clever expansion and compression system. While some of their models still feature an expanding zipper, the newest models are fitted with CX or VX compression-expansion systems. These are quick to expand while the case is open to give extra packing space and compress with just a little pressure when the case is closed. It’s certainly a lot easier than recruiting a volunteer to sit on top of your suitcase while you tug the zipper shut.
A key feature of Briggs and Riley cases is the pull-out handle and frame which is mounted externally instead of internally like the majority of suitcases. This may seem like a minor detail but it’s one that makes a lot of difference in terms of space. It also means that the bed of the case is flat so you can pack your clothes without too many creases because nobody wants to start their vacation by ironing their clothes.
There’s no wasted space either. On some models, such as the Transcend and Baseline, Briggs and Riley have added an extra pocket between the bars of the frame for storing small bits and pieces so that you can get to them quickly.
Retractable ID Tag
If airlines lost a dollar for every tag that was ruthlessly torn from its case during transit we’d probably see a few companies going out of business. For this reason, Briggs and Riley cases feature retractable ID tags and they’ve even considered your privacy. Instead of flaunting your name and address behind clear plastic, the luggage tag hides inside a discrete plastic case which keeps your personal details safe from nosy spectators.
Are Briggs and Riley Worth the Money?
When you purchase a Briggs and Riley suitcase you’re not splashing out a lot of cash for a fancy designer name, you’re actually investing in a suitcase which will last for life. People who swear by Briggs and Riley do so because their cases are top quality and their lifetime warranty is the real deal. Admittedly if you don’t travel often enough to take advantage of the warranty then a mid-range or budget luggage brand may be a better option. For frequent or long-term travelers, we think that a Briggs and Riley suitcase is defiantly worth its price tag.