Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Entering the world of adulthood means making a few necessary investments. A good mattress is one, a reliable suitcase is another. A solid suitcase can prevent crushed luggage and alleviate strain; a wheeled version is a airport gamechanger. When we heard that longtime luggage maker Tumi had crafted a product out of material previously used to protect NFL players and Nascar drivers, we wanted to know more. Racked spoke with Alan Krantzler, the company's svp of brand management, about the company's ultra-durable wares, dealing with the airlines and the advantages of two wheels versus four.
Have airline regulations concerning carry-on size changed?
"Yes, they change every few years. We stay on top of the changes on a regular basis (semi-annually) to ensure our dimensions are in compliance. There is a travel industry standard for USA, Europe, and Asia, and fortunately most all airlines adhere to these industry regulations."
What challenges go into producing a hard-shell suitcase? How do you design bags to prevent damage?
"Travel cases takes a ruthless beating from the airlines and baggage handlers. Our products undergo a significant set of tests to stimulate real-life stress points. From scratch resistance, fabric abrasion testing, drop testing, puncture testing, water-resistance, extreme temperature changes and the ultimate standard "Tumble Testing" to simulate bags being dropped and thrown about. Our standards are the highest in the industry, and while bags may still be susceptible to some aesthetic damage, our quality virtually guarantees that nothing will happen to the structure of your bag to ensure the contents are 100% safe and secure, and that the bag will always work properly, regardless of the abuse it receives along the journey."
The Olsens schlep through Heathrow. Image via Matrix/Flynet.
What tips you can give travelers for packing?
"Always check the weather and itinerary for your trip—this will be key to planning. To avoid being an over packer or an under packer, it's best to go back to the basics: pack tops, blazers, pants, dresses, skirts in neutral tones—it's easier to mix and match. If you know you're headed from a business meeting to a night out, wear a dress with a blazer over. It will be easier to remove layers as your day transitions from work to a night out. A few additional tips:
· Keep your dry cleaning in the plastic wrap to avoid wrinkling when packing in your suitcase
· Roll socks and underwear and use to stuff shoes so they keep its shape, and take up less room in the case
· Lay shoes, and other bulky items like electronics on the bottom
· Lay pants, flat items next with a few folds as possible, to minimize wrinkles
· Next lay down tops folded flat, trying to fold the shirt into the same or near dimensions of the suitcase
· Roll knit shirts and use to stuff around the edges once the bag is filled
· Be sure to save space in a corner for your travel kit
· Pack blazers inside out to avoid wrinkles and to keep its shape when folded
A traveler with a Tumi bag in London. Photo via Tumi/Facebook.
Four wheels vs. two wheels: what are the advantages or disadvantages? Should everyone invest in a four-wheel suitcase?
"Two-wheel and two-wheel suitcases each have their own benefits. We've recognized the four-wheel trend within the travel industry and offer both two and four-wheel cases to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our global citizen. Aside from personal preference, two key differences of two-wheel vs four-wheel are the packing capacity and the maneuverability: Two-wheel packing cases allow for additional packing capacity. This is important when you know that every inch of packing space needs to be utilized.
The advantage of a four-wheel case is the maneuverability, as you are able to maneuver the bag at your side as opposed to behind you. This is particularly important if you travel frequently in very congested areas. Four-wheel cases also are easier on the wrist, instead of having the full weight of the bag torqueing your wrist joint with a two-wheel bag. The four-wheel style lets the bag support its own weight on all four casters.
The only "down-side" of four-wheel bags is that they can "run away" from you when on a ramp or incline. This requires a bit more control than a normal two-wheel bag. At this point in time, yes, I think everyone should have a four-wheel bag—they make travel much easier, especially for a larger carry-on bag you would use on a longer trip."
Can you go into detail about the material used in the bag?
"Protecting one's belongings whether in a travel case or a document case offers the user a sense of security. The Tegra-Lite™ collection [is made of] Tegris, a high impact thermoplastic composite typically found for use in NFL protective gear and NASCAR race cars, and body armor due in part to lightweight material and protective qualities. TUMI has proprietary use of the virtually indestructible Tegris™ material for the travel industry."
· Tumi [Official Site]
· The 12 Wildest Hotel Shops Across the Globe [Racked]
· All Travel Week Coverage [Racked]