Some say that Briggs & Riley makes the best luggage on the market.
But is that really true? Isn’t Travelpro, Tumi, or Rimowa a better choice?
In this Briggs & Riley luggage review, we’ll find out.
We’ll discover what’s the durability like, is their ‘no matter what’ lifetime warranty any good, are they good for packing, and a lot more. We’ll also compare them with similar alternatives, and find out which one is better.
On CleverJourney’s Best Luggage Brands, Briggs & Riley gained 92 out of 100 points, which is currently the best result.
Down below, you can see how we came up with the 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 Rimowa take the first place in the durability. With Briggs & Riley, you can count on your suitcase lasting at least 10-20 years.
- 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.
- Great Value. Despite the high prices, Briggs & Riley actually isn’t overpriced. In this price point, they offer the most value because of the 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.
- Expensive. Unfortunately, they’re not for everyone. Some people just can’t afford to drop 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 Travelpro or Chester suitcase at 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 (92 out of 100.)
In durability, features, prices, and customer reviews, Briggs & Riley is very similar to Tumi and Rimowa. However, both 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 really expensive, 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 overall (Rolling): Baseline 2-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.8|
|Best overall (Spinner): Baseline 4-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.6|
|Best hardside: Sympatico 4-wheeled||Editors rating: 4.6|
Key Facts About Briggs & Riley
Briggs & Riley Travelware was funded 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 damages.
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. On 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 four, most of the times Briggs & Riley tends to come up as the winner.
All four bands 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.
We haven’t seen a better review profile on any other luggage brand, which is why we’ve rated their ‘Reviews’ at 29 out of 30 points.
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. Most commonly, they’re using 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, but 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.
Here’s a short video from a Briggs & Riley owner, who used the Baseline carry-on for ten years / 1.5 million miles. Even after ten years, the suitcase still looks in good shape.
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 especially big 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 given them only 11 points out of 15.
Briggs & Riley offers THE BEST warranty terms on the market.
There, we said it. And we’re not even kidding, they really do.
They offer a single ‘Simple as that’ lifetime warranty for all of their suitcases. For the warranty to be valid, you don’t need proof of purchase, and the warranty is transferable to others.
The warranty covers: Airline and transfer damages, accidents, damages from wear and tear, manufacturing defects, any 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 a good 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.
Individual Briggs & Riley Suitcase Reviews
|22 x 14 x 9 inches|
|8.9 lbs (4.03 kg)|
|Material: 1680D ballistic nylon|
|Editors rating: 4.8 / 5|
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.
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 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.)
From 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 properly distributed, and it doesn’t tip over when packed full.
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.
|22 x 14 x 9 inches|
|9.3 lbs (4.21 kg)|
|Material: 1680D ballistic nylon|
|Editors rating: 4.6 / 5|
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.
To meet the carry-on size restrictions, the main compartment fits 3.6 l less than the 2-wheeled version. 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.
|21 x 14 x 9 inches|
|8 lbs (3.62 kg)|
|Editors rating: 4.6 / 5|
The Briggs & Riley Sympatico 4-wheeled spinner is basically a hardside version of the Baseline. In features, specifications, and price, it’s very similar to the Baseline, with only slight variations.
The outer frame is made from polycarbonate, which is the most durable hardside plastic for luggage on the market. It’s quite flexible but will return to the original form once released.
From outside, 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, as opposed to 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. Because hardside suitcases are more likely to break eventually, the lifetime warranty is especially useful.
So if you’re a business traveler who’s looking for a classy and reliable hardside suitcase, the Sympatico will be an excellent choice.