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May 27, 2010

A Guide to Lightweight Luggage by Denise McCluggage

Luggage In the days of steamer trunks, grand tours by rail and an abundance of porters, nobody cared about the weight of the luggage (except perhaps the porters). Rugged durability and good looks were what counted in those days. That meant sturdy leather, brass fittings and locks worthy of a bank vault.

With the norm now being air travel and do-it-yourself toting, weight ranks high on the list of considerations when choosing luggage. Covering long gate-to-gate dashes with your bags is relatively painless when they are on wheels, but lifting is involved when you encounter stairs, a common occurrence if a commuter flight or international travel is involved. And even if you roll your bag directly on board there's that lifting it into the overhead.

What is lightweight?
Don't just see the word in the blurb and believe it; look for the actual weight. I put the top limit to qualify as lightweight at nine or ten pounds for a maximum-sized carry-on (21- 22 inches long).

Although leather is still a favorite for good looks, long life and resistance to damage, we are dealing here with weight. Leather is heavy. So are hard-sided bags whether ABS, aluminum or other material. If you seek lightweight look to nylon and its various manifestations. Nylon and honeycomb frames have helped lean out luggage while retaining ample strength and resiliency for long use.

Lightweight luggage is available in many configurations and means of transporting it from point A to B such as top and/or side handles; over-the-shoulder strap; backpack straps; built-in wheels, and slip back (a wide belt that allows a smaller bag to slip over the pull handle of a larger wheeled bag.) Most bags have a combination of these. (I'm partial to backpacks with a grip handle at least on top that also have a telescoping handle and wheels.)

To meet today's travel needs with its strict limitations I suggest a baggage wardrobe built around a core of two pieces with maybe two others added for those who do a lot of varied traveling. All the pieces are ideally lightweight, expandable and have wheels. (Their pull handles, by the way, should require only one hand to open or close them and should be adjustable in length to accommodate users from short to tall.)

To find out more about lightweight luggae, carry on here.


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