Briggs & Riley™ Baseline Luggage Review
Luggage, for some people, is all about quality and dependable performance. Knowing that each and every time they leave home on a trip, that bag will perform as needed. If that’s you, Briggs & Riley products are worth taking a serious look at.
As a company, Briggs & Riley™ is very focused on providing luggage, and luggage only, that meets the needs of their customers. You’ll find no belts, key chains, purses or other travel-related products for sale at B&R. Their corporate mission is focused – to provide the best luggage experience for their customers, continually updating their lines as customer needs evolve. To quote, ‘We listen and then we innovate’.
As a result, you will find great attention to functional detail and quality with Briggs & Riley luggage. That quality comes at a price, though and you can expect to pay more. The B&R customer, however, is one who tends to ‘invest’ in their luggage, demands more from it and probably looks at the return on their investment in terms of durability, function and cost-per-use over the life of the bag.
Pack more with less hassle
Briggs & Riley Baseline luggage has a really innovative feature that provides maximum packing capacity while still meeting the airline’s carry-on restrictions for size. They came up with a neat expansion-compression feature that allows you to pack more, and then very easily compress it back down to carry-on size restrictions.
The Briggs & Riley Baseline CX function works like this: replacing the full wrap-around zipper that is found on most bags that allows the bag to expand, is a cool ratchet-up type of handle that instantly gives the bag about one-third more packing space. After packing, you reverse the process by easily popping-down the same mechanism – the bag automatically compresses itself back down to the original size, one that meets airline size restrictions. It saves you the hassle of sitting on your luggage in order to zip it up.
I was a little concerned that being able to jam so much into one bag would flatten the contents beyond recognition, but what I found was this: the compression mechanism was so efficient, that it acted much like a vacuum, pushing the excess air out, and neatly holding all contents firmly in place.
What type of traveler is Briggs & Riley Baseline luggage best for?
– Quality and dependability are the most important factors in your purchasing decision
– Or, you’ve purchased less-expensive luggage in the past that’s not performed well and would like to ‘invest’ in a good bag that will last.
– Appreciates luggage with a classic, minimalist look and design that is not trendy.
– Needs to be absolutely sure the bag will fit on the overhead compartment on most aircraft types (any of their luggage models with ‘carry-on’ in the name will do the job here)
– Looking for quality luggage to give as a gift
– Relies heavily on reputation and the overall positive reviews of other customers
– Willing to pay for the most comprehensive luggage warranty out there
Lifetime Repair Warranty
This is where Briggs &Riley luggage shines – a lifetime guarantee, aptly named ‘Simple as that’. Billed as the most consumer-friendly product guarantee in the travel ware industry, this warranty states:
“If your Briggs & Riley bag is ever broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline, we will repair it free of charge – Simple as that!”
The Briggs & Riley warranty covers the repair on all functional parts of your luggage for life. You can either take it to an authorized B&R repair facility or mail your bag to an official B&R repair center. What is does not cover is cosmetic wear, cleaning, lost or stolen bags or contents. You are also responsible for the mailing costs.
I spend lots of time lurking in travel forums and reading product reviews. I can tell you that I have yet to find a consumer who has actually had to use the warranty services. The luggage is that sturdy. And other than the annoyance of another job on the to-do list, the few folks that appear to have received a lemon, seemed satisfied with the treatment they received from Briggs & Riley resolving their issue.
Extreme Quality and most important features
The main story with Briggs & Riley luggage is the extreme attention to quality and functional engineering. As I mentioned earlier in this review, these guys do nothing but luggage, and give lots of attention to constantly improving the design and functionality of their bags.
Here are the most important functional features, as well as the pros and the cons, in my opinion that are important if you are taking a look at the Briggs & Riley Baseline series:
Lightweight – weighing in at a bit less than 9lbs, the B&R Expandable carry-on sits close to the top of what is considered the acceptable range of ‘lightweight’ carry-on luggage – somewhere between 6 and 9 lbs. It’s not the most lightweight carry-on out there, but it just might be the well-engineered carry-on that is still considered lightweight. The news is the useful features that they’ve been able to load this bag with and still keep it respectably lightweight.
The larger bags weigh in anywhere from 10-13 lbs, still a light weight and pretty standard for that size luggage. Try a 4-wheel (spinner) version of the bag if maneuverability or shoulder/wrist strain is an issue for you
Outside Telescoping Handle – Briggs & Riley bags, unlike most other brands, have the entire telescoping handle mechanism on the outside of the bag, allowing for a totally flat packing surface in the main compartment. Some people like this, others, not so much, saying that it adds to the overall dimensions of the bag. I happen to like that my clothes can lay flat and wrinkle-free.
Quiet – this bag received several mentions from users that liked the quiet ride. Important if you’re leaving for on a very early morning flight – you don’t wake up the whole house as you roll your bag out the door.
Good outside pockets – super-important. B&R carry-ons and checked sizes have 2 small zip pockets on the outside of the bag that are easily accessed to stow passport, phone, ID, boarding pass and all the other important items you need to be able to confidently stow somewhere when going through security, etc. Also, on the back, in-between the 2 telescoping handles, there is a zipped pocket and hidden bag tag, good for taller items that you need to keep handy (like travel-size hand cream, cell phone, etc. The larger zippered compartment is good for magazine, files or your laptop/tablet. All-in-all, plenty of pocket space.
Uses the space well – While a big, open rectangular inside compartment might seem rather dull to some, it is a very efficient use of space, allowing the traveler to utilize every inch of interior space to their liking. Great when combined with packing cubes.
Also, when you combine the B&R unique CX feature – the ability for the bag to expand its packing space another 1/3, then compress right back down to the original size, you have a very efficient use of space. This is really useful when packing bulky items, since the compression feature acts almost like a vacuum.
High marks in the space utilization category from over 95% of reviewers.
Clean, Classic Look – Briggs & Riley is quality luggage with a very traditional look. The Baseline models have a classic, minimalist design, and come in either black or olive. This is not a trendy bag. If your design aesthetic is ‘classic’, you’ll appreciate the look and feel of Briggs & Riley luggage. If you want something that makes more of a fashion-forward statement, best to look elsewhere.
Attachment straps other carry bags – There is an attachment mechanism for securing your other carry-ons to the rolling bag. I like 2 things about the Briggs & Riley system: 1) that when not in use, it zips neatly away so it doesn’t catch on anything or otherwise become a nuisance, and 2) that the attachment straps are permanently tethered to the bag so you can’t lose them.
Extreme Quality – Like I said, the quality on B&R bags is their main story – from the military-grade zippers, molded wheels, ballistic nylon fabric (the toughest – period), durable handles, side guard protectors, etc. And, even if you (or more likely the airlines) happen to break something, Briggs & Riley has the lifetime repair warranty – even for airline damage. No risk here. This is luggage built to last.
Are the Briggs & Riley Carry-ons really ‘carry-on-able’?
My made-up word that gets to the question ‘Are you sure I can always carry this bag on board’? For people who absolutely refuse to check luggage, this is a must-know.
Lots of luggage is marketed as carry-on luggage, but it’s never a slam dunk. If you read buyer reviews like I do, you see many bags where the main frustration was that the bag was too frequently confiscated at the gate because it didn’t meet the size restrictions.
And many luggage manufacturers list the dimensions of the interior of their suitcases, not taking into account the handles and wheels.
Airlines have different carry-on size restrictions, and aircrafts have varying overhead bin dimensions. However, a 20” bag will pass carry-on restrictions on virtually all aircraft – including the smaller commuter jets. The standard carry-on total dimensions (including all handles and wheels) for most domestic airlines is 22” x 14” x 9”, or a total of 45 linear inches (22 + 14 + 9).
The Briggs & Riley Expandable carry-ons meet these requirements, even with the telescoping handle affixed to the outside of the bag. The one exception is if you use the expansion feature on the 21” and don’t collapse it back down – you’re pushing the limit here, so no guarantees.
Which of the Briggs & Riley Baseline bags is right for your needs?
Most luggage manufacturers provide 3 levels of capacity (carry-on, medium checked, large checked) as well as a 2-wheel and 4-wheel (spinner) version of each line they make. I’ve broken that down for the Briggs & Riley Baseline below:
I need a Carry-on bag for a 2-5 day trip: Any of the B&R bags names ‘carry-on’ will pass muster at the check-in gate
I need a Medium-sized bag for a 5-10 day trip (must be checked) – The 25″ upright or spinner bags
I want a very large suitcase that holds 7+ days of content (obviously, must be checked) – the 28″ bag is the largest
The Bottom Line – Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Luggage line
The Briggs & Riley Baseline bags are built with quality, attention to detail and excellent functionality in mind. You can certainly find less-expensive bags, but that’s not the customer Briggs & Riley is courting. If the idea of a classic-looking, durable and well-designed carry on with a lifetime repair warranty appeals to you, Briggs & Riley would be a good option to consider.
Best Places Online to buy Briggs & Riley Expandable luggage:
Amazon.com carries all the current Briggs & Riley collections, including Baseline.
If the B&R quality is what you’re reallyafter, check out the ‘outlet center’ page on the Briggs & Riley website. It’s got all the discontinued lines. Why not get 20-30% off?