Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hard-Sided Trendy Luggage ? No, Thank You!

update January 2010: Hard-sided trendy luggage might not be suitable for travellers but as a friend discovered, it works really well as a computer case for the office! If your laptop and files, etc are getting pretty heavy to tote back and forth to the office or to meetings, this hard--sided Heys bag works a treat - see bottom of page for details. 
New Hard-sided bags

Hard-Sided Luggage - New Style

I saw this style of luggage at a store in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada just before I traveled to Costa Rica. And at the baggage claim at airports during the course of this trip, I saw several suitcases just like this (colors varied but they were just like this in pattern and style) coming down the baggage carousels. And let me tell you, they showed lots of dirt marks - grease? scrapes? - couldn't tell. The sides may have stood up well, but the bags looked really marked up.

now back to the original post :-)
When it comes to luggage and packing for travel, I have very firm opinions and strict requirements. I always travel light, yet carry everything I am likely to need, whether a trip is for one week, or four or more. So my heart sank when I was gifted a shiny new hard-sided Heys carry-on size suitcase.

Oh, at first glance, it would seem to meet my criteria for small, lightweight wheeled bags. With its hard sides, it would have the added advantage of being waterproof. It had the requisite sturdy wheels and a rapid-release button for, and in, the handle, which itself was also sturdy and not given to twisting when being pulled fully loaded. And it is so pretty, in a royal blue color, with a snappy silvery pattern and black accents, with chrome wheels.

But when I went to pull the zipper to open the case for closer inspection, the stiff rubber zipper guards rimming each side of the zipper proved so stiff that opening the bag is a real chore. And with the hard sides, the bag must be fully opened to access anything packed within. With soft-sided fabric bags, you can sneak your hand into a partly opened bag to pull out something you need, or to stuff something else in.

The interior of the bag is very small, since much of the interior space is used for the wheels and handle, and the odd overall shape. The interior pockets are fixed to a divider placed in the center of the bag, thus further restricting the size of 'stuff' you can put in it. In short, although this bag has the same overall dimensions as my trusty soft-sided bag, it only holds a limited number of items.

Ultimately, a bag that holds little and is hard to open does not deserve to go on a trip. But keeping an open mind, I cast about for an alternate use for this bag. Perhaps I could use it to transport papers, brochures etc to local meetings, or my camera equipment for local tramps through the woods or along the lake, I thought. I tested it out with a trial load. This bag will not even hold my very modestly sized camera bag, a camera bag that fits easily into the bottom third of my back pack.

So I now have a smart looking small wheeled suitcase that will only hold a modest sized toiletry bag and a few items needed for an overnight trip. Since said toiletry bag fits into my back pack, on top of the camera bag, with room to spare for a few items of clothing, too, I know in my heart I will never use this bag to go anywhere.

I have just spent some 10 minutes on the Heys web site trying to find the price and a picture of this specific bag, but cannot find this particular model. Odd, since commercials touting this particular bag were shown regularly during the last series of The Amazing Race (whose contestants, incidentally, do NOT use suitcases, but backpacks).

I'm sticking with my present small suitcase, thank you very much. Perhaps I can re-gift this Heys bag to someone who uses a lot of makeup and needs to take same on the road when they travel. (Paris Hilton: Call Me! I have just the bag for your assistant to haul your cosmetics.)

You can see all my luggage tips (and a photo of my bag and backpack) at my travel site,
Snapshot . Happy packing!