Some say that Briggs & Riley makes the best luggage out there, especially for pilots, airline crews, and frequent travelers. But is that really true? Isn’t Travelpro, Tumi, or Chester a better choice? In this article, we’ll find out.
We’ll discover what their durability is like, is their ‘no matter what’ lifetime warranty any good, do they have useful packing features, and a lot more. We’ll also compare them with similar alternatives and find out which one is better.
Down below, you can see how we came up with 92 points. Based on our research, we rated them in six different categories. We’ll go into more detail on each further down into the review.
- Durable. Out of all the luggage brands we’ve looked at, Briggs & Riley and Travelpro make the most durable suitcases. With Briggs & Riley, you can count on your suitcase lasting at least 10-20 years. Most of their softside suitcases are made from high-quality nylon, while the hardside ones are usually made from layers of pure polycarbonate.
- A lifetime warranty. Briggs & Riley offers the best luggage warranty out there. It’s pretty simple, really – they’ll cover any physical defects for a lifetime with no hidden rocks in the policy. Most other lifetime warranties cover only manufacturing defects. So, you’ll always get a replacement, no questions asked.
- Great Value. Despite its high prices, Briggs & Riley actually isn’t overpriced. They offer the most value at this price point because of their “no-matter-what” lifetime warranty. When you think about it, $400-$700 for a suitcase that will last a few decades is actually a pretty good deal.
- Innovative Features. From packing features to high-quality zippers and innovations in the retractable handle to having the first hardside suitcase with a front pocket, Briggs & Riley and innovation go together hand in hand.
- Expensive. Unfortunately, some people just can’t afford to spend several hundred bucks on a single suitcase, even if it is a good deal in the long run. If you’re that person, you can get a suitcase from Travelpro or Chester at roughly half the price, which are currently the best brands in the middle-class luggage category.
- Modest looks. Briggs & Riley’s minimalistic, down-to-earth looks might not be for everyone. If you’re looking for better-looking alternatives in the same price range, Tumi would be a solid choice.
We’ve reviewed 16 different luggage brands on Clever Journey, and no other brand has gotten a higher rating than Briggs & Riley.
In durability, features, prices, and customer reviews, Briggs & Riley is very similar to Tumi, Travelpro, and Rimowa. However, these brands offer only 5-year warranties, while Tumi covers any physical defects for a lifetime. Because of their warranty, there is no better alternative than Briggs & Riley in the premium price range.
Although Briggs & Riley is costly, in the long run, they’re the best deal for business travelers and people who travel five or more times per year.
Top-Rated Briggs & Riley Suitcases
|Best softside carry-on (rolling): Baseline 2-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.9|
|Best softside carry-on (spinner): Baseline 4-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.9|
|Best hardside carry-on: Sympatico 4-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.8|
|Best-looking hardside: Torq Hardside Carry-On||Editors rating: 4.8|
|Best checked: Transcend 29-Inch||Editors rating: 4.8|
|Best affordable carry-on: Rhapsody Softside||Editors rating: 4.7|
|Best underseater: Baseline Softside||Editors rating: 4.7|
Key Facts About Briggs & Riley
Briggs & Riley Travelware was founded in 1993, New York by Richard Costa. Right from the get-go, the company was focused on revolutionizing the luggage market. They did that with their famous ‘Simple as that’ lifetime warranty, which covered even airline damage.
A few years later, it was successful enough to be purchased by U.S. Luggage LLC, which is still their parent company. Aside from Briggs & Riley, U.S. Luggage LLC also owns Solo New York – a company that makes bags and tablet cases in the medium price range.
Their closest competitors are Tumi, Bric’s, Rimowa, and Victorinox. Compared to Tumi and Rimowa, Briggs & Riley’s sales numbers are at least ten times smaller. Right now, they’re still in ‘the hidden gem’ phase.
During the last three decades, they’ve expanded their selection quite a bit. In their shop, you’ll find high-end suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags, toiletry items, and other premium travel accessories.
Briggs & Riley’s luggage is usually rated between 4.2-4.8 stars. Usually, pricier products tend to have lower reviews just because people expect more from them. So an average rating this high is nothing short of impressive.
If you were to do research on forums and discussion boards on which luggage brand is the best, you’d likely end up with these candidates: Tumi, Briggs & Riley, Travelpro, or Rimowa. And out of all five, Briggs & Riley tends to come up as the winner most of the time.
All five brands have somewhat of a cult-like following, and the discussions between “which one is the best” can get pretty heated. But in the end, the main reason why Briggs & Riley comes up as the winner is their ‘Simple as that’ warranty. While others cover only some defects or limit the warranty period, Briggs & Riley covers everything for a lifetime. It’s hard to argue against that.
For instance, in this forum, their customer told how Briggs & Riley replaced a handle on his 15-year-old bag for free, no questions asked:
Recently took my 15-year old Briggs cabin bag to one of their authorized service dealers. The handle was worn down after 15 years of heavy use. They replaced it in a week, no questions asked and good as new.
Briggs & Riley is really focusing only on two things: Their luggage has to be durable and practical.
And to meet the necessary quality standards, their bags have to be made from the best possible materials. They commonly use 1680D ballistic nylon for fabric luggage and polycarbonate for hardside luggage. Both materials are considered the most durable options on the market (apart from aluminum for hardside luggage, but it comes at the cost of weight).
Some say that Tumi’s fabric luggage is more durable than Briggs & Riley’s because it uses the patented FXT Ballistic Nylon instead of the regular one. However, we haven’t found any real studies that prove that FXT is actually better. It’s weaved in a different pattern and has a protective layer, which supposedly makes it stronger. Still, because of the lack of supporting studies, it’s best to assume Tumi’s outer fabric is as durable as Briggs & Riley’s.
What’s Their Durability Really Like?
To find out how durable Briggs & Riley’s bags really are, we researched every customer review that we could get our hands on. Most people had only good things to say about their suitcases – no problems with zippers, the fabric doesn’t tear or get scratched too easily, the wheels roll smoothly, e.t.c.
In all the 1-3 star reviews we found, people had problems with design flaws or improper dimensions. Bad reviews where people were complaining about quality issues were almost non-existent, but we still managed to find some. The only common quality issues we found were related to fragile handles and spinner wheels getting jammed.
That said, we’ve reviewed dozens of different suitcases, and Briggs & Riley seems to make the most durable ones out there, which is why we’ve rated the durability at 20 out of 20 points.
Briggs & Riley mainly focuses on making their bags simpler, rather than adding new stuff just to get ahead of their competitors.
Here’s a quote from their site that explains just that:
In fact, we have multiple patents designed to make travel, well, easier. It’s innovative thinking like this – never for innovation’s sake – that sets Briggs & Riley apart.
Patented CX Compression-Expansion System
We’re huge fans of their CX compression system, which replaces the need for expansion zippers and compression cubes. You won’t find anything similar in other suitcases. Essentially, it works with the help of two interior clips. When you open the suitcase and unclip both clips, the bag extends in width. You’re free to pack all your stuff in there, and when you finally finish packing, just close the main compartment and push the top part of it down. The clips will lock in place, like zip ties, and hold all your stuff firmly compressed.
A better way to explain the system is just to show it:
The YKK zippers are known to be one of the strongest zippers out there. They’re made in Japan and are especially popular among high-end travel products. They’re also pretty expensive, so you can understand why Briggs & Riley is priced so highly.
Built-In Suiter Compartments
In the Baseline and Sympatico models, you’ll find built-in suiter compartments. These are especially handy for business travelers who need to keep their suits, shirts, and dresses wrinkle-free. Essentially, the system works by hanging your suit on a hanger, attaching the hanger to the handle clip, and then carefully folding the suit around a padded foam roll.
I’ve noticed that these systems usually result in some wrinkles, but nothing that is seen from a far distance. I’d say that they remove around 80% of the wrinkles compared to folding the suit normally. For the best results, try adding sheets of tissue paper right between the fold lines.
Handle Attached Outside for More Space
On the Briggs & Riley Baseline, the retractable handle is attached from the outside instead of keeping it inside the main compartment. This system is better because it results in a flat and rectangular main compartment, which is easier to pack into and results in fewer wrinkles.
Replaceable zipper heads
I’m sure you’re familiar with broken-off zipper heads. It doesn’t completely ruin the whole zipper, but it’s annoying nevertheless. If this happens to Briggs & Riley’s bags, you can get zipper head replacements easily and change them in seconds. You won’t even have to send the bag to a repair center.
Here’s how you’d do that:
Briggs & Riley’s bags are all made in the same minimalistic, down-to-earth style. Their customers like it, and so do we. The minimalistic looks fit in perfectly for business travelers. We especially like the Briggs & Riley Sympatico, which looks sleek and professional. It’s offered in many unique colors, like onyx, bronze, fire, or matte navy, which will definitely pop out between all the similar bags on the conveyor belts.
Nevertheless, we’d still like to see some more color and selection. Compared to Tumi or Rimowa, Briggs & Riley could do better design-wise, which is why we’ve only given them 11 points out of 15.
Briggs & Riley offers the best warranty terms on the market. They offer a single ‘no matter what’ lifetime warranty for all of their suitcases. You don’t need proof of purchase for the warranty to be valid, and the warranty is transferable to others.
The warranty covers: Airline and transfer damage, accidents, damage from wear and tear, manufacturing defects, and ANY other physical defects that affect the performance.
The warranty doesn’t cover: Cosmetic damage and cleaning, lost or stolen bags, damaged or lost contents.
Additional terms: Their warranty is valid for a lifetime (or until they go out of business). The client has to cover the shipping costs to the repair center, and Briggs & Riley will cover the return shipping costs. They also offer self-repair kits for the zippers, wheels, handles, and corner guards, which are free of charge but have a $10 handling fee. This means that for minor repairs, you don’t even have to ship the bag to the repair center.
The only warranty that’s somewhat similar to this one is from Travelpro. On the Platinum Elite model, you get a ‘Worry-Free Lifetime Warranty,’ which covers airline damages and manufacturing defects for a lifetime. That said, their warranty terms are quite poorly worded compared to Briggs & Riley, which leaves some room for speculation.
Here’s a screenshot from Briggs & Riley’s website, where they do an excellent job at comparing the most popular luggage warranties.
Although Briggs & Riley is one of the most expensive brands on the market, they aren’t overpriced. Actually, they’re valued quite reasonably given what you get in return.
When you buy a suitcase from Briggs & Riley, you know that you’ll be using it for at least 10-20 years. There aren’t any shady warranty policies or hidden rocks. In fact, countless people have been using their bags for decades, and they have nothing bad to say about them.
Compared to Rimowa or Tumi (which are in the same price range), Briggs & Riley provides the best value. Although both of their competitors are similarly well made, they don’t offer lifetime warranties. And if you’re planning on using the suitcase for more than five years, a lifetime warranty will be quite useful down the road.
How Does Briggs & Riley Compare to Other Luggage Brands?
Briggs & Riley is, in our opinion, the best luggage brand on the market. We really can’t directly compare it with other brands because they’d beat them in almost every aspect. So, let’s compare our top 5 brands (Briggs & Riley, Chester, Travelpro, Tumi, Samsonite) to find where and how Briggs & Riley excels over the rest.
Chester is the only brand that manages to beat Briggs & Riley on some aspects without sacrificing points on other elements. Chester’s reviews and design rank higher than Briggs & Riley’s. From what we found, despite Chester being a newer brand, people love it more than Briggs & Riley, and the minimalistic design of Chester’s models beats the professional look of Briggs & Riley’s hardside models.
When it comes to price, every brand we mentioned above ranks similarly, apart from Tumi, which has overpriced products. Tumi manages to beat Briggs & Riley in terms of their design and features, but that’s not enough. That’s because Briggs & Riley’s durability is the best we’ve found, with only Travelpro and Rimowa offering similar quality. And, the icing on the cake is Briggs & Riley’s warranty which is undoubtedly the best on the market.
So, overall, there’s really not much that Briggs & Riley can do to improve their ranking. If they decided to release a more stylish collection, they’d accumulate more points than what we gave them now. And, if they added a few more features to their bags, they’d be the best luggage brand in the world by a mile. With Briggs & Riley, you’re guaranteed to get a suitcase that will last you a very long time.
Individual Briggs & Riley Suitcase Reviews
Best Softside Carry-On (Rolling): Briggs & Riley Baseline 2-Wheeled Carry-On
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 36 x 23 cm)|
|- 8.9 lbs (4.0 kg)|
|- 1680D ballistic nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.9|
The Briggs & Riley Baseline 2-wheeled carry-on is currently the best-rated carry-on on our site. It’s incredibly durable, has received stellar customer reviews, and offers great value, considering the price it’s retailing at. Its design isn’t anything to write home about, but the colors that it comes in (black, olive, navy) are really sleek, albeit being a bit generic.
Because it has only two wheels, the main compartment contains almost four liters more than the spinner version. The wheels are also less likely to break under stress, as they’re integrated into the frame. The handles are incredibly sturdy, so you should have no issues carrying it or rolling it around. It’s also made from ballistic nylon, which is the most durable luggage fabric. On the outside, it’s fitted with a large front pocket for tablets, books, and other gadgets and two smaller pockets for organization. Although it doesn’t have spinner wheels, people have said that they’re happy with the way the bag handles. The weight is appropriately distributed, and it doesn’t tip over when packed full.
The interior is quite roomy because the retractable handle is mounted outside of the main compartment. Inside, you’ll find a suiter compartment, compression straps, and several smaller pockets for organization. It also features the CX compression system, which we talked about earlier (compresses the main compartment with two integrated clips).
The Baseline isn’t a new model. In fact, people have used the previous versions of the Baseline for 10+ years, and the bag still looks as good as new. When they had minor issues with zippers, handles, or wheels, they were quickly replaced, free of charge (excluding shipping). So if you got enough to spend, the Baseline 2-wheeled model would probably be the best carry-on that you can get. The only one that comes close is the Travelpro Platinum Elite or the Tumi Alpha 3.
Best Softside Carry-On (Spinner): Briggs & Riley Baseline 4-Wheeled Carry-On
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 36 x 23 cm)|
|- 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg)|
|- 1680D ballistic nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.9|
If you really, really like spinner wheels, your best bet is to get the Briggs & Riley Baseline 4-wheeled spinner. In features and specifications, it’s very similar to the 2-wheeled version with some minor differences. The main compartment fits 3.6 l less than the 2-wheeled version to meet the carry-on size restrictions. It’s also slightly more expensive, and some people reported that the spinner version tends to tip over when packed full.
Because of these reasons, it hasn’t received as good customer ratings as the 2-wheeled version. But other than that, it’s basically identical to the 2-wheeled version, just easier to move around. We adore spinner wheels, so including this one is a must. That being said, between the two models, the 2-wheeled one is better in terms of capacity, while this one is better in terms of maneuverability.
Best Hardside Carry-On: Briggs & Riley Sympatico Carry-On
|- 21 x 14 x 9 in (54 x 36 x 23 cm)|
|- 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.8|
The Briggs & Riley Sympatico 4-wheeled spinner is basically a hardside version of the Baseline. The features, specifications, and price are very similar to the Baseline, with only slight variations. It’s been around for a bit more than a year, but it’s managed to become one of the best hardside suitcases in the process. Its design is pretty nice, considering that it’s a professional suitcase, and it comes in two colors – black and plum.
The outer frame is made from high-quality polycarbonate, which is the most durable hardside plastic for luggage on the market. It’s pretty flexible but will return to the original form once released, and it’s fitted with four Hinomoto spinner wheels, which are positioned widely so that the bag is less likely to tip when packed full. The main compartment is protected with a TSA-approved combination lock instead of their fabric models, which is nice.
The interior is quite roomy (1.3 liters more than the Baseline 4-wheeled carry-on) and is split into 70/30, with the suiter garment folder occupying 30% of the total space. It’s also fitted with the CX expansion system, which provides 22% more space when extended.
As with all Briggs & Riley suitcases, this one is also protected by their lifetime warranty. So if at any point down the line you get any cracks in the hard case (which are actually really, really common in hardside luggage) or manage to snap a wheel off, you’ll get your bag fixed or get a replacement for free. The lifetime warranty is especially useful because hardside suitcases are more likely to break eventually.
So if you’re a business traveler who’s looking for a classy and reliable hardside suitcase, the Sympatico will be an excellent choice when it comes to hardside luggage. Quality-wise, it’s really similar to the Chester Minima, with the latter costing much less since Briggs & Riley’s warranty is unmatchable.
Best-Looking Hardside Carry-On: Briggs & Riley Torq Hardside Carry-On
|- 21 x 14 x 9 in (54 x 36 x 23 cm)|
|- 6.9 lbs (3.1 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.8|
The Briggs & Riley Torq carry-on is easily the most beautiful suitcase that Briggs & Riley offers. The design looks really beautiful, and it comes in three different colors – olive green, black, and silver.
It’s made from top-quality polycarbonate, which is known as Makrolon polycarbonate. Three layers of that will keep all your belongings safe and sound. The bag comes with four double spinner wheels and a retractable handle, all of which are very durable. However, despite the zippers being YKK zippers, some customers stated that they were broken after the first trip. Thankfully, Briggs & Riley’s warranty will cover that. There’s also a TSA-approved lock on the top part of the suitcase, which is necessary when you’re paying more than $100 on luggage, let alone paying over $400
The interior of the suitcase is precisely what you’d expect from a high-end suitcase. There’s a large main compartment that has enough space for almost a week-trip, and a zippered mesh pocket where you could keep any excess clothing you want. There’s also a suiter, which is a necessity in business suitcases. This suitcase, however, is known for having a front pocket, where you could store your laptop. Along with that comes a USB port, where you could charge your phone or laptop.
Overall, the Torq carry-on is the best-looking suitcase we’ve seen by Briggs & Riley, and it’s also cheaper than most other Briggs & Riley luggage.
Best Checked Suitcase: Briggs & Riley Transcend 29-Inch Large Checked
|- 29 x 21 x 12 in (74 x 53 x 30 cm)|
|- 11.7 lbs (5.3 kg)|
|- Two tone nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.8|
The Briggs & Riley Transcend large checked suitcase is an excellent option for those who want a more spacious suitcase. It’s offered in two minimalistic color options – gray and olive green.
The Transcend is made of two-tone nylon, which is extremely durable. It also adds water-resistant properties along with abrasion resistance and dirt resistance. In other words, this is the epitome of softside luggage. Apart from that, the bag has eight spinner wheels (four pairs of spinner wheels) and a retractable handle. Many customers love this suitcase because of how durable its external parts are.
The interior is excellent. Just like every other Briggs & Riley suitcase, inside, you’ll find the main compartment with lots of space to fit your clothes in, as well as two large mesh pockets where you’ll be able to fit smaller types of clothing or shoes and toiletries.
Overall, the Briggs & Riley Transcend is by far the best large softside suitcase on the market.
Best Affordable Carry-On: Briggs & Riley Rhapsody Softside Carry-On
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 36 x 23 cm)|
|- 6.3 lbs (2.9 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.7|
The Briggs & Riley Rhapsody carry-on is well-built and affordable. It’s very simplistic when it comes to its design, and it comes in three different colors – blue, black, and plum. This might not be the best for those of you who want a bit more character on your luggage, but it’s common to see bland designs in business suitcases like this one.
The Rhapsody is made from micro-weave nylon, which is very durable. Just like most Briggs & Riley softside carry-ons, this one is made to last, so being made of the most durable materials was a must. On the outside, you’ll find a top handle, a retractable handle, and four double spinner wheels. None of the reviews we found mentioned anything about them being less durable than expected, so that’s great to know.
On the inside, the bag has several compartments. The main compartment is spacious, and it’s accompanied by a large pocket where you could fit any other essentials or toiletries. Along with these, there are two front pockets, where you could keep your documents and/or laptop, as well as a wrinkle-free back pocket. So, there’s plenty of space for your clothing, despite some customers mentioning that the bag is too small.
Overall, the Briggs & Riley Rhapsody softside carry-on is an excellent choice. Another more affordable choice would be the Samsonite Solyte DLX 20-inch carry-on.
Best Underseater: Briggs & Riley Baseline Softside Underseater
|- 15.5 x 15.5 x 10 in (40 x 40 x 26 cm)|
|- 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)|
|- Ballistic nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.7|
The Briggs & Riley Baseline underseater is the best underseater on the market. We’ve seen reviews from people who have had it for decades because of Briggs & Riley’s outstanding warranty. It comes in two colors – black and olive green.
The bag is really similar to the two Baseline carry-ons we mentioned above. They have the same double spinner silent wheels and retractable handle. All three bags are made from ballistic nylon, which is the most durable material for softside luggage.
The interior of this one is very spacious. You can easily fit enough clothes for a weekend trip, along with your laptop and any chargers or accessories you need. The front pocket can also fit an Ipad or any other tablet, so you can still stay connected while you’re on your trip.
Overall, the Briggs & Riley Baseline underseater is one of the best underseat suitcases you can get on board.
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