11 Luggage Buying Tips How To Buy Quality Travel Bags
Best Luggage Brands For International Travel. I’m the founder of Real Men Real Style. Today, I’m going to be giving you 11 tips on how to buy quality luggage, how to go out there and make a smart purchasing decision when you’re looking to buy a bag, a briefcase, a duffel bag, those things out there that you travel with, you use a lot. And I can tell you that this is a pretty darn good gift. Personal story, I had a briefcase gifted to me a number of years ago.
Every time I use that — and Brett McKay over at The Art of Manliness gave it to me — every time I use that briefcase, I’m thinking what an awesome gift from him and Kate and his family to me, and isn’t that the point of a gift? So that the person thinks of you and says, “Wow! That person cared enough to look at what I would use and to give me something that I’m going to be able to use.” This is sponsored by JW Hulme.
Gentlemen, if you are looking to give a gift or to buy a bag for yourself that’s going to last a lifetime that’s going to be useful, it’s handsomely made. This is made in Saint Paul, Minnesota, just a few hours from my house here. I have to say this company, I’ve got a number of their pieces here I’m going to be using as examples. Gentlemen, some of the best luggage I’ve ever seen, I mean, the most beautiful luggage — I’ll just say it, the most beautiful luggage I’ve ever had in my office. I’m going to keep a couple of these bags and these things are beautiful. The point is if you’re looking to give a quality gift, if you want something that’s going to last a lifetime, these have a lifetime guarantee. If you have a problem, you just send it back and they’ll fix it for you.
You want something that you’re going to get compliments on or the person you’d give it to is going to have people say, “Wow! Where did you get that?” And every time they think about that, they’re going to think about you and they’re pretty cool. All right, so let’s get into the 11 tips. The 11 tips are — and I’m going to go through these quick. I have a support article. It’s going to be at Real Men Real Style.
I’m going to link to it down below, but the 11 tips, let me get into them. Number one is buy the right bag for the right occasion. I know that sounds simple, but so many times, a guy is in a hurry, he’s out there purchasing things, he says, “Okay. This is good enough. I’m going to go with this.” Unfortunately, if you buy the wrong bag, you’re going to end up either overstuffing it. Another story, I had a gentleman, he went out and bought a very nice briefcase. Unfortunately, he didn’t look at the measurements and he got one that was way oversized. He liked the bag, high quality. He never had the heart to return it, but when it comes down to it, it was too big for his needs and it was just too big to lug around, so it sits in his office and yeah, he’ll probably eventually give it maybe to somebody, but make sure you buy the right bag for your needs.
I’ll get into in the other tips why this is important. Tip number two is customer service. Now, many people put this off as something that’s not really that important. If you go buy a $10 duffel over at Walmart, you’re probably not going to get much in terms of customer service, except maybe for Walmart. I think you can return things like up to a year afterwards. The point is though is if you’re going to go with a company like JW Hulme that’s making amazing bags, then what you want to make sure is, is their customer service up to snuff? So I call JW Hulme, boom, a human answered the phone.
Make sure any company you’re going to buy it from that somebody actually picks up the phone or at least they have an email that they get back to you in a reasonable amount of time. In addition, how long have they been in business? JW Hulme, they were making bags and tents during World War I. They’ve been in business since 1905. Now, I’m not saying a company has to be in business a hundred years for you to want to work with them, but make sure they’ve been around long enough that they’re not just going to disappear.
I really like some of the companies I’m seeing like Kickstarter. One of the problems is that hey, are they really going to follow through? Are they going to be around in a year or are they just going to take your money and run? So be careful of things like that. Now, guarantee, I like companies that stand behind what they put out. What I’m looking out here is a lifetime guarantee with JW Hulme. You want to make sure whatever company you go with that they stand behind their product. They at least have a one-year guarantee. I know there are some companies and some people are really rough on their luggage, but make sure the company or where you buy it from will stand behind what they send you. Repairing luggage, luggage gets treated — they get slapped around, thrown around especially by those airport handlers.
Guys, I’ve got friends that do that type of work and these guys are cold. They’re just grabbing the bags and they don’t want that handle to rip off. If that handle rips off, is that company going to repair it for you? Tip number three — I know that customer service one was a long one, but it’s important. Tip number three, reviews, so you’re going to go out there and you’re going to see reviews on Amazon. You’re going to see reviews maybe on the company’s website. Take reviews with a grain of salt because there was a study done at EL and they looked at how does a one-star review affect this versus a five-star, and I’m assuming that five is the highest.
The thing is they’re not one for one. It often takes five or more five stars to offset a single one star, but I’ve seen people tear up a company just because of some third party that was delivering that the UPS man got lost and delivered to the wrong house, so I’m giving the company a one-star. [0:05:05] Make sure to read the reviews and understand that reviews are left usually by people that are either extremely upset, normally by people that are extremely upset, or people that are just blown away by the service.
Oftentimes, people in the middle, which is most of us, we’re just not going to leave reviews, so take it with a grain of salt and try to realize you’re going to be biased towards negative reviews. Instead, try to look for the positive and see if it’s a good deal based off of all the other tips I’m getting into. Tip number four, country of manufacturer. Guys, JW Hulme, made in the United States, now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best in the world.
I’m an American. I love my country. But Germans, in Solingen, you go to that city right there, they’re making some of the finest cutlery and manicure sets. The point is sometimes people say, “Oh, it’s made in China. I’m discounted.” That is BS because if you go over there and you actually look at some of these factories that are being run in China, amazing. I know that companies, very high-end Italian companies are sending over their best tailors to actually supervise what’s going over in China with some of their manufacturing. However, what you should pay attention to is are they actually managing that and are true artists actually working with the product? At JW Hulme, one thing I really like about it is they share actually the stories of the artisans they’re using, so pay attention to that and be able to make an informed decision. Fifty years ago, Japan, it was considered junk anything coming out of Japan. Nowadays, we consider it one of the top manufacturing locations in the world, so understand that shifts and that changes.
Number five, weight and number six, size. I’m going to put those together, but weight and size, they’re different, but both are important, so you want to make sure that the weight is — and let me go ahead and bring an example. This is their rolling suitcase at JW Hulme. I really like the telescopic handle and the wheels that you’ve got with the rolling suitcase, but understand this adds a couple of pounds. So if you’re just going to be doing a one-night overnight traveling, that’s perfectly fine. You may not need to put a whole lot in there and you can afford 5% to 10% of your actual weight that you’re allowed to take on is taken by the luggage. However, if you want to go with something that has a lot more room and doesn’t have that, then look at a duffel. Duffel, even this one by JW Hulme, is relatively light because it doesn’t have all of those other — it doesn’t have the telescopic handle, doesn’t have the wheels.
Again, this gets back to point number one. Buy the right bag for what you need. Obviously, if you have a health condition, if you can’t be lugging around a 30-pound bag through an airport, you’re not just strong enough to do that, then of course you want to go for something that’s going to be wheeled and easy to move around, but understand you’re sacrificing some of the stuff that you’ll be able to take because of the weight. There are weight restrictions. Pay attention to that. I’ve heard of airports even on the carry-on charging people right on the spot. The airlines, they’re trying to make extra money. I’ve heard about this with especially people that are over in — I’ve heard about it in New Zealand, Australia, and here in the United States. They’re really clapping down on that. Now, the size, I’m in the article going to give you more details on the size.
It’s going to go — that changes a bit and I want to check with the latest restrictions. It depends on country to country. My advice is to go with the smallest bag that you feel comfortable with, the reason being — think of it like a plate. If you have a small plate and you fill it up, you’re going to feel full after eating. If you have a big plate and you fill it up, you’re going to try to eat everything and you’re going to have the same effect.
They’ve shown this again and again in studies. It’s the same thing. If you’ve got smaller bags on average, you’re going to find a way to get what you need in that bag and you’re going to pack lighter. That’s my advice on size. Now, let’s get to material. Normally, bags — and that’s point number seven, material — we’re going to see leather, nylon, ballistic nylon, plastic, metal. There are two types of bags normally that’s out there.
Hard cover and soft cover bags. Now, all the ones I have here are leather and this — there’s a reason why leather — they used to use leather in armor. They still do in some parts of the world. Leather is tough. Leather is durable. Leather is specifically — it’s evolved by nature. It’s skin made to be tough and protective. However, leather can be expensive. Because of that, we’ve got man-made materials like nylon, ballistic nylon, which is basically nylon reinforced and made a lot thicker and it’s exponentially stronger. Things like that is a good substitute. They’re going to bring down the price. However, the luxury and sometimes the longevity of the product will go down especially if you’re using something that’s really cheap. Just understand that the price of the luggage is oftentimes directly reflected by what goes into it, unless you’re buying a really high-end name brand. Now, I talked about metal. I talked about plastic. Those are going to be more in the hard luggage and you don’t go cheap on hard luggage, by the way, because oftentimes in cold weather, you can get that to crack if you go cheap.
Metal, you’re going to see that in some luggage and that’s if you’re really moving around high-end photography equipment or something like that. Maybe you want to go metal. Also, I’ve seen metal used to reinforce parts of luggage. All of this, when using higher quality products, the price is going to go up, so expect that. [0:10:09] Point number eight, stitching. Stitching is very important and that’s one of the things when I was looking at JW Hulme. I look at the stitching, the detail, how many stitches per inch, similar to a shirt, right? Also, all these other details in here such as the rivets, all of that. Stitching is nice. I like it to be reinforced double stitch especially on tension points. Also, look for rivets at the tension points. Now, let’s talk about hardware. Hardware, usually you’re going to see three types. You’re going to see zippers. The most common zippers are normally cheap. Now, that’s something that you want to look at. I’ve got this nice briefcase here again by JW Hulme and when I look at the zipper on this, very nice, very strong, nice and reinforced.
I also look at the zipper here. This one is a bit heavier duty on the duffel. Now, another thing that I like — because zippers, one of the problems with them is that they can, if they’re not — they don’t use a good material like they do here at JW Hulme. One of the problems with zippers is that they can break. Another problem with zippers is that water can leak in, and that’s where I like seeing this overlap and they’re using buckles, which are the second type of hardware, so look at the buckles. But by having this over there and using a combination of two, we avoid the whole thing. If it were to rain on this, it would still be waterproof. The final and probably one of the best waterproof is actually on a solid case and that’s where you’ve got actually clamps. We’ve talked about stitching, hardware.
Guys, let’s get into point number ten, which is personalization. The nice thing about high-end leather bags, oftentimes you can get your monogram in there. Do you guys remember Spider-Man, the latest one? Maybe it wasn’t the latest. I think it was part one. He’s going through this bag that his father had left like 20 or 30 years before and he finds the initials on it. It’s little things like that which really — see if you can personalize the bag. I think that this is worth having on the bag. It’s something that your son will find this bag maybe 30 to 40 years later. Your grandson will find this bag 50 years later. He will see your initials on it and realize, “Wow! Those are my same initials because I was named after my grandfather,” or something. I like little stories like that. In addition, look for can they get bags in a variety of colors. Some people I know have chosen very bright colored luggage because they want to stand out especially if they don’t want their stuff to get lost. Okay. The final thing I’m going to recommend you look at when you’re buying a quality piece of luggage is price.
I know for many of you guys, that’s the most important thing, but it shouldn’t be. What you should look at is how many times you’re going to use this quality piece of luggage and how much is it going to cost per use. If you get a bag that you use for 50 years and you love it every time you use it, isn’t that a much better deal? Yeah, you may pay a thousand bucks for it. You may have to save for that bag, but if you buy a bag for a hundred dollars and the first time you use it, it rips in half and basically you see the luggage coming through and your stuff is all over the place taped together with plastic, what was a better deal? Or if you buy a bag — so pay attention to quality.
It is important. I think when you’re traveling — I’ve had people stop me in hotel lobbies to ask, “Where did you get that bag?” or “That looks really good.” They start a conversation. I think it’s worth it especially if you’re looking to get this holiday season investing in it. Now, take care of it. If you are traveling in airlines — I’ve actually heard a few people talk about how they’ve never had high-quality luggage stolen. Now, these people weren’t maybe traveling to areas that are a little bit unsecure. I personally find that most airports are pretty darn secure, so I haven’t had any issues losing any of my luggage as well. Best Luggage Brands For International Travel