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Briggs & Riley Luggage Reviews

High quality luggage and the industry's best guarantee

Briggs & Riley, established in
1993, now make a broad line of
luggage items. It comprises two
padded

Their most distinctive feature is
their 'simple as that' warranty
that covers all damage to their
bags. This broad warranty
obviously encourages them to
make their bags as robustly as
possible.

This makes purchasers doubly
winners - they get high quality
bags to start with, and the
comfort of knowing that any
damage or defects will be
repaired with no hassle at any
time in the future.

Briggs & Riley say they like to
get luggage returned for repair
because this gives them
real-world feedback about how
their bags are lasting and
which items are wearing first.

Scroll down or click these links to jump to the review you wish to read

U-22S Superlight Upright Carry-On
U-21NX Expandable Upright Carry-On
TD-UR522 Transcend Transformable

 

Superlight Upright Carry-On

U-22S

This is Briggs & Riley's lead full size wheeled carry-on bag.

It is well made, but strangely lacking in the clever extra features that distinguish the Travelpro bag from most others.

Although described as superlight, with an empty weight of at least 10.5 lbs it is hard to use the word light as an accurate descriptor.

Price and availability

$269

With a 110% low price matching guarantee, comprehensive product range, and excellent service, we recommend eBags.com for purchasing this suitcase.

Special Note :  eBags are now giving Travel Insider readers 10% discounts off many products and free shipping too.

Warranty

Lifetime, no questions asked, repair/replacement for any reason at any time, including airline damage.

Official size

22 x 14 x 8 (44" total)

Measured maximum external size

24.5" x 14.5" x 9" (48" total)

The bag significantly exceeds the common 22" maximum length dimension, slightly exceeds the 14" maximum, and meets the 9" maximum.

Measured internal size

21.75" x 14" x 7.25".  The bag has tightly radiused corners making best use of space.

Note that with the externally mounted handle, all the internal space is available for packing.

Expandability

No

Weight

10.5 lbs claimed.  Tests to about that weight or maybe very slightly more.

Construction

The exterior of the bag is covered in 2520 denier ballistic water repellent nylon.  Inside there is a foam material with plastic honeycomb reinforcing and extra reinforcing on the corners.

Most components are screwed, but the handles are riveted.

It has a fairly rigid top and bottom, semi-rigid narrow sides, and soft from and back.  Corners have good extra protection on them.

The main pair of zips to open up the bag have locking eyelets on them through which you can pass a padlock hasp if you wish.  The front compartment zips can not be locked.

All compartments are lined.

Color choices

Black  Burgundy  Olive

Handles

Three handles.

There are no feet opposite the long side carry handle, meaning the bag should rest on the ground only with the narrow base down.

Towing Handle

Extends to 36½" and 42" from floor to bottom of handle.

Telescoping design with three sections.  Appears very strong and doesn't wiggle.

Mounted externally.

Wheels

Two wheels, freely spinning, about one quarter recessed into the body of the bag.  They measure about 3.5" in diameter and 1" wide, with a flat cross-section on the tire.

Wheels are easily user-replaceable due to a spring loaded unlocking axle assembly.  I always travel with a spare wheel for my wheeled luggage, and with a Briggs & Riley bag, it is practical to do emergency repairs anywhere if needed.

Stair skids

Can use the frame of the external handle as skids.

Outside compartments

None on the back.

On the front, a double zip running across the width of the bag's lid, about four fifth's of the way up, reveals a compartment spanning the entire interior of the lid, both above and below the zip line.

Inside this compartment is a second zipped mesh compartment, about 12.5" wide and 6" deep.

Neither compartment has any gusseting so can't store much.

Inside compartments in base

There are no compartments built in to the base of the bag.

There is however a removable waterproof pouch, measuring 10.75" x 6.25", with a zip running along its long side.

Inside compartments in lid

The lid is very slim - only about 1" in thickness, although it can swell a bit when overpacking.

There is an open unzipped mesh sleeve in the lid, inside of which is held the suit carrier.  A short tab loops over the middle of the sleeve and snaps shut to hold everything in place.

When you place a single suit in the holder, and the holder in the lid, it is a tight fit.

There are no other compartments in the lid.

Suit carrier included

Yes.  A tri-fold carrier has a hanger to allow it to be stored in a wardrobe, and a loop inside for hangers to be held internally.

There is an external pouch 18" x 5" with a single zip running along its long edge built in to the holder.

A wire rectangle in one of the thirds of the carrier gives some rigidity and form to the carrier.

Other Removable holders inside

Just the waterproof pouch mentioned above.

Waterproof compartment

One in the waterproof pouch.

Packing Straps

Yes - a wide mesh two piece unit acts as a divider/packing strap in the base of the unit.  It runs from the top to the bottom of the unit with elastic and two clips to connect the two halves together.

External carry hook/strap

Yes - An adjustable webbing loop clips onto the top of the bag and then clips onto itself.

ID holder

Yes - a traditional type holder with buckle and belt are attached to the top carry handle.

Other features

The bag comes with a small combination lock, but this is not TSA approved and so should not be used.

 

Expandable Upright Carry-On

U-21NX

A clever internal expansion system is the main distinguishing feature of this bag.

It also has slightly more in the way of compartments than the U-22S above, but the bag suffers from a measurable weight penalty in return for its extra features.

sdsdsdsds
 

Since getting one of these bags for myself, I've been torture testing one of these bags.

Rather than just carefully carry it on planes, I've checked it and entrusted it to baggage handlers and machines, and in total this bag has been on 31 flights, 46 car rides of more than 100 miles, 5 coach journeys, in and out of 33 hotels, 3 trains and 2 ships in the course of 89,000 miles of travel. Plus it was lost once (by Alitalia) so who knows what else happened to it.

I've overloaded it with as much as 60lbs of packing, I've hung a 20+lb bag off the top of it, I've bumped it up and down hundreds of steps and curbs, rolled it over all sorts of uneven surfaces and generally done all I can to destroy it.

The net result? Apart from some scratches on the skid pads from dragging it up rough concrete steps, the bag still looks like new. There is no sign of wear, and everything works perfectly. I'm astonished.

To make a positive story even better, even if I had destroyed the bag, it wouldn't matter, because Briggs & Riley's lifetime no-questions asked warranty would repair/replace it for free. These truly are bags you can buy with confidence.

Price and availability

$345

With a 110% low price matching guarantee, comprehensive product range, and excellent service, we recommend eBags.com for purchasing this suitcase.

Special Note : eBags are now giving Travel Insider readers 10% discounts off many products and free shipping too.

Warranty

Lifetime, no questions asked, repair/replacement for any reason at any time, including airline damage.

Official size

21" x 14" x 8" (43" total)

Measured maximum external size

23.75" x 14.5" x 9" (47.25" total)

Slightly larger than commonly accepted airline maximums

Measured internal size

20.75" x 13.75" x 7".  The bag has tightly radiused corners making best use of space.

Note that with the externally mounted handle, all the internal space is available for packing.

Expandability

Yes.  Unlike other bags with an expansion gusset that you unzip to open, this has two sliders inside the bag that lock in either a fully open or a fully closed position.    The bag, when fully open, adds a massive 3" of extra space.

Having these structural sliders rather than just a gusset means that the bag can have one set of supports on the expanded side of the slider, making it more stable.  Other bags have to have both parts of legs on the fixed part of the bag, making them more prone to falling over and typically causing the expanding gusset to be slightly smaller that the main box body of the bag.

The slider system allows for a 'hidden' expansion - there isn't another zip run on the outside of the bag, and when unexpanded, the bag looks like a normal bag.

However, this design adds to the weight of the bag, and two sliders are a more complicated system than one zip in terms of maintenance in the future.  Of course, with Briggs & Riley's no questions asked guarantee, maintenance is merely an inconvenience, rather than also a costly experience.

Weight

12.2 lbs claimed.  Tests to about that weight

Construction

The exterior of the bag is covered in 2520 denier ballistic water repellent nylon.  Inside there is a foam material with plastic honeycomb reinforcing and extra reinforcing on the corners.

Most components are screwed, but the handles are riveted.

It has a fairly rigid top and bottom, semi-rigid narrow sides, and soft from and back.  Corners have good extra protection on them.

The 3" expansion is made from strong exterior fabric.

The main pair of zips to open up the bag have locking eyelets on them through which you can pass a padlock hasp if you wish.  The front compartment zips can not be locked.

All compartments are lined.

Color choices

Black  Burgundy  Olive

Handles

Three handles.

There are no feet opposite the long side carry handle, meaning the bag should rest on the ground only with the narrow base down.

Towing Handle

Extends to 34½" and 39.5" from floor to bottom of handle.

Telescoping design with three sections.  Appears very strong and doesn't wiggle.

Mounted externally.

Wheels

Two wheels, freely spinning, about one quarter recessed into the body of the bag.  They measure about 3.5" in diameter and 1" wide, with a flat cross-section on the tire.

Wheels are easily user-replaceable due to a spring loaded unlocking axle assembly.  I always travel with a spare wheel for my wheeled luggage, and with a Briggs & Riley bag, it is practical to do emergency repairs anywhere if needed.

Stair skids

Can use the frame of the external handle as skids.

Outside compartments

One pouch on the back, between the two rods of the extending handle.  Measures 10.5" x 4.5", and is gusseted so it can handle reasonably thick things.  Two zips open around the top and half of the sides.  Has flaps to stop items inside from falling out when opened.

On the front, a double zip running across the width of the bag's lid, about four fifth's of the way up, reveals a compartment spanning the entire interior of the lid, both above and below the zip line.

Inside this compartment is a second zipped mesh compartment, about 12.5" wide and 6" deep.

Neither compartment has any gusseting so can't store much.

Inside compartments in base

There are no compartments built in to the base of the bag.

There is however a removable waterproof pouch, measuring 10.75" x 6.25", with a zip running along its long side.

Inside compartments in lid

The lid is very slim - only about 1" in thickness, although it can swell a bit when overpacking.

There is an open unzipped sleeve in the lid, inside of which is held the suit carrier.  A short tab loops over the middle of the sleeve and snaps shut to hold everything in place.

When you place a single suit in the holder, and the holder in the lid, it is a tight fit.

On the outside of the sleeve there are two open pouches, with elastic around the open tops.  These look like they might be used for putting shoes in.

Suit carrier included

Yes.  A tri-fold carrier has a hanger to allow it to be stored in a wardrobe, and a loop inside for hangers to be held internally.

There is an external pouch 18" x 5" with a single zip running along its long edge built in to the holder.

A wire rectangle in one of the thirds of the carrier gives some rigidity and form to the carrier.

Other Removable holders inside

Just the waterproof pouch mentioned above.

Waterproof compartment

One in the waterproof pouch.

Packing Straps

Yes - a wide mesh two piece unit acts as a divider/packing strap in the base of the unit.  It runs from the top to the bottom of the unit with elastic and two clips to connect the two halves together.

External carry hook/strap

Yes - An adjustable webbing loop clips onto the top of the bag and then clips onto itself.

ID holder

Yes - a traditional type holder with buckle and belt are attached to the top carry handle.

Other features

The bag comes with a small combination lock, but this is not TSA approved and so should not be used.

 

Transcend Transformable

TD-UR522

The Briggs & Riley Transcend Transportable represents a good idea in theory, but in practice, does not seem quite as practical as hoped for.

This is a dual purpose bag which can unzip into two separate bags - a regular wheeled carry-on plus a duffle/pack you can either carry by hand, shoulder strap, or as a backpack with two backpack straps.

Altogether, the bag is oversized, and at slightly over 11lbs is heavy (but not the heaviest by any means).

The removable duffle bag has a regular carry handle, a detachable shoulder strap, two backpack straps and also a mysterious double handle that goes over the front of the bag as well.  I don't know when or why you'd ever carry the bag by this double handle, and unfortunately the presence of this double carry handle blocks easy access to the main storage compartments of the bag.

It seems that when the two pieces are zipped together, their carrying capacity is less than a regular full size wheel aboard bag, and with awkward access to the storage compartments.  Separated into two bags, carrying capacity probably grows to something greater than that offered by their impressive 21" U-21NX expandable unit, but you then have two bags, one of which will almost certainly need to be checked (that is not to suggest that you'll manage to wheel a fully expanded U-21NX onto the plane without problems either!).

Briggs & Riley are to be commended for thinking outside the box and trying to come up with an innovative solution to how best to have expandable and multi-purpose luggage.  But I'm not sure this represents as the best approach in its present form.

 

Price and availability

$319

With a 110% low price matching guarantee, comprehensive product range, and excellent service, we recommend eBags.com for purchasing this suitcase.

Special Note : eBags are now giving Travel Insider readers 10% discounts off many products and free shipping too.

Warranty

Lifetime, no questions asked, repair/replacement for any reason at any time

Official size

22" x 14" x 9" (45" total)

Measured maximum external size

24" x 15" x 9" (48" total)

This is larger than the allowable maximum dimensions for many airlines.

Measured internal size

This was hard to measure due to the soft sided duffle part of the bag.  The wheeled part is about 22" x 14" x 6".  The duffle is about 22" x 14" x 6" at the edges, and more in the middle, where it can squish out.

But when zipped together, most of the depth of the wheeled part is displaced by the depth of the duffle part, with total effective thickness growing only by an inch or so, perhaps to 7" - 8".

It is estimated to be, when joined together, less capacity than full sized single piece bags.

Note that with the externally mounted handle, all the internal space is available for packing.

Expandability

Yes - unzips to become two separate bags - a carry bag that does double duty as a backpack, and a smaller wheelable carry-on.

It is estimated to have greater capacity, as two separate pieces, than an expanded U-21NX above.

Weight

10.5lbs claimed; just over 11lbs on my not very accurate scales (~8lbs for main unit and ~3.5lbs for convertible backpack/bag)

Construction

Dupont Cordura Tuff-lite ballistic nylon exterior.

The inside frame is made from plastic honeycomb material, with a metal rod frame for strengthening.  Additional strong foam material provides cushioning and strength.

Almost everything appears to be screwed rather than riveted, making for easy repair.  The one exception to this, strangely enough, is the top carry handle.

The duffle is entirely made from ballistic nylon on the outside.

The zips could be locked by placing a padlock through their handle loops.

All compartments are lined.

Color choices

Yes - Dark Blue, Olive, Dark Red (no black).  The bag is in two-tone colors and would be distinctive and easy to spot on a luggage carousel if checked.

Handles

Everywhere!  The duffle has handles on the logical carrying top, on its front, a padded shoulder strap and two backpack straps.

The backpack straps can be cleverly folded inside a flap if you're not wanting to use them, keeping them out of the way and safe from getting caught in baggage handling machinery.

The wheel-aboard has the extendable handle on the top plus carry handles on the top, side, and bottom.

The wheelaboard does not have extra feet opposite the long side carry handle.

Towing Handle

Extends to 36½" and 42" from floor to bottom of handle.

Telescoping design with three sections.  Appears sturdy and doesn't wiggle.

Mounted externally.

Wheels

Two solid low friction wheels, mounted one quarter inside the body of the bag.

About 3.25" diameter, 1" thick, with flat profile tire part so entire wheel is on the ground.

Wheels are easily user-replaceable due to a spring loaded unlocking axle assembly.  I always travel with a spare wheel for my wheeled luggage, and with a Briggs & Riley bag, it is practical to do emergency repairs anywhere if needed.

Stair skids

Yes, assisted by the semi-recessed wheels.

Outside compartments

There is one outside compartment on the back of the wheeled piece, between the two parts of the telescoping extendable handle.  This is wide enough to hold a ticket and boarding pass plus passport and other such items, and when you unzip it, there are 'hinges' of material on both sides preventing small items from falling out (a nice touch).

It would have been nice for this to have two zips rather than one (like on the U-21NX), making it easier to partially open.

On the front of the wheeled piece (when the duffle is removed) there is one compartment that covers almost the entire front.

The front of the duffle piece, when zipped onto the wheeled bag also has one compartment.

Inside compartments in base (ie wheeled piece)

The base is fully lined.

It has no additional pockets or compartments, but does have a broad elastic/mesh load restraint that you can snap over your packed items to hold them more or less in place.

Inside compartments in lid (ie duffle)

 The duffle has two main compartments.  A smaller one is in the top or front of the duffle, and this has a gusseted lining enabling you to vary its capacity.

The larger compartment has the smaller compartment within its 'lid' or opening part.

There is also a small compartment by the top carry handle - enough space to put the shoulder strap and not much else.

A nice extra feature is the main compartment zips on the duffle are with the easily replaceable zip pulls, same as on the Costco bag, although in this case, no spare zip pulls are included.

Suit carrier included

No

Other Removable holders inside

No

Waterproof compartment

No

Packing Straps

Yes - wide mesh band in the wheel-aboard, nothing in the duffle.

External carry hook/strap

Yes, adjustable length webbing loop that can be snapped onto the top of the wheel aboard.

ID holder

Yes - on wheel aboard but not on duffle.

Other features

The main special feature of this bag is its ability to convert into two pieces - a regular wheel-aboard bag and a second piece that can be carried as a duffle or as a backpack.

Review methodology

Please note that weights and measurements are approximate.  Measurements in particular are surprisingly subjective, and almost no bag/case has even measurements across every part of the bag.

External measurements are usually taken at the largest possible part - like an airline would do if trying to negatively prove your bag was illegally oversized.

Originally published 17 Sep 2004, last update 15 May 2010
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer
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