Briggs & Riley and Tumi make some of the most durable suitcases out there, which are perfect for airline crews, frequent flyers, and business travelers. But which brand is better? Is getting a more expensive bag from Tumi really worth it?
Don’t worry because we’ll answer all of this down below. In this article, we’ll compare Briggs & Riley with Tumi in durability, average weight, price, materials used in their products, customer reviews, warranty policies, and also tell you which are the best suitcases from each brand.
A Brief Summary of Briggs & Riley
Briggs and Riley is an American luggage brand, which was founded in 1993. They make high-end travel products, which are especially popular among frequent flyers, airline crews, and business travelers. Although their main sales come from suitcases, they also offer a selection of backpacks, totes, duffels, garment bags, and other travel accessories.
Their travel products are known to be extremely durable and come with their signature “Simple as that” lifetime guarantee, which is one of the best warranties from all luggage manufacturers. Another thing worth noting about their suitcases is that they also have excellent packing features, including packing organizers, suiter compartments, improved compression systems, toiletry pouches, and more.
A Brief Summary of Tumi
Tumi is a very similar luggage brand to Briggs & Riley. It was also founded in the late 20th century (although a bit earlier, in 1975), and they also make travel products aimed at people in the airline industry and frequent travelers. What makes Tumi different from Briggs & Riley, is that their products are considered to be a bit more luxurious, and also cost more.
Having said that, Tumi didn’t start out as a luxurious brand. In the beginning, they were more focused on the durability of their products and they also offered an unconditional lifetime warranty. They changed owners in 2004 and then again in 2016 to Samsonite. After that, their lifetime warranty got cut. They aren’t lacking in durability though – their suitcases are still some of the most durable ones out there.
Key Differences Between Briggs & Riley and Tumi
Does Briggs & Riley Make Lighter Luggage Than Tumi?
On average, Tumi suitcases are 17% heavier than Briggs & Riley’s. To determine this, we gathered data for the most popular suitcases from 31 different luggage brands. In the grand scheme of things, both of these brands make very heavy suitcases. Of all 31 brands we compared, Tumi took the last, 31st place in luggage weight, and Briggs & Riley 28’th, showing slight improvements from Rimowa (29th) and Away Travels (30th).
They’re so heavy because both of them make extremely durable suitcases from premium materials, which obviously weigh more. If you want to have this level of durability, you have to be ready to make some compromises in weight.
However, not all models from these brands are equally heavy. For Tumi, the lightest carry-on that we found was the Latitude hardside, which weighs 6.3 lbs (2.85 kg) and actually is 0.63 lbs below the average weight of similar hardside carry-ons. For Briggs & Riley, the lightest one was the Torq carry-on, which weighs 6.82 lbs (3.09 kg) and is just 0.11 lbs below the average weight.
Are Tumi Suitcases More Durable Than Briggs & Riley?
We’d say that Tumi and Briggs & Riley make equally durable suitcases. We’ve seen reports of people using them for over a decade, and sometimes even multiple decades without any major issues. Having said that, Tumi suitcases seem to be a bit more durable.
As their main choice of material for hardside luggage, Briggs & Riley uses polycarbonate, which is the most durable plastic used in luggage. Instead of regular polycarbonate, their cases are made from a slight composite, which consists of 3 layers and provides a bit more durability. For softside bags, they most commonly use ballistic nylon, which is the most durable fabric used in suitcases. However, on some cheaper and lighter suitcases, such as the Briggs & Riley ZDX, they’ve used regular nylon, and on some backpacks, they even went with polyester. Both of these fabrics are less durable.
Tumi uses very similar materials to Briggs & Riley, except they also offer aluminum suitcases and several patented materials. Their Tegris and SRPP Ballistic hardside composites are actually made from 100% polypropylene, which is a lighter, but less durable material than polycarbonate. They’re just weaved and layered to increase durability while keeping the weight low. For softside bags, they mainly use Ballistic Nylon. They’ve named it FXT Ballistic Nylon, but from what we can tell, it’s pretty much identical to regular ballistic nylon, just sounds cooler.
All the other elements on Briggs & Riley and Tumi suitcases, such as the zippers, wheels, and handles are also really durable, and we’d say that both of them are equally durable although Briggs & Riley is slightly better. For their spinner wheels, Briggs & Riley uses polycarbonate in combination with rubber, which rolls a bit smoother compared to regular polycarbonate plastic wheels from Tumi. Briggs & Riley also uses YKK zippers, which are known in the industry as the brand that makes the most durable zippers.
Which Brand Is Better at Staying Within the Airline Size Restrictions?
Briggs and Riley and Tumi both make carry-ons that are within the most common carry-on size restriction of 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
That said, both of them have slightly different meanings of what “international/global” means. Briggs and Riley offer most of their carry-ons in essential/domestic sizes, which measure 22 x 14 x 9 inches, and international ones, which are slightly shorter and wider – 21 x 15 x 9 inches. Tumi also offers most of their carry-ons in two sizes – continental (domestic), which measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches, and international, which is two inches wider – 22 x 16 x 9 inches.
In reality, a lot of international and European airlines have a different size restriction of 21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9 inches or 55 x 40 x 20 cm. So both of these brands have their international measurements slightly off because they should be 1 inch shorter in depth. That said, the size restrictions vary heavily from airline to airline. You’ll most likely be allowed to use their international sizes on most international flights because they’re just one inch over, and not on all airlines.
For checked luggage, the only size restriction that you should worry about is 62 linear inches (157.5 cm), which is the sum of the height, width, and depth of your checked bag. Almost all Briggs & Riley and Tumi bags that are advertised as checked-large are below 62 linear inches. We only found two exceptions, the Briggs & Riley Torq, which measures 63.1 linear inches, and the Tumi Alpha 3, which measures 66 linear inches.
So to sum up, both of them do a fairly good job at staying within the airline restrictions for hand and checked luggage.
Which Brand Has Better Reviews – Briggs & Riley or Tumi?
In customer reviews, Briggs & Riley does a much better job than Tumi. From all the reviews on which we collected data, on average, Tumi had 4.29 stars from 5, and Briggs & Riley 4.65. For context, we collected data on 31 different luggage brands, and in the customer reviews Briggs & Riley scored 11th and Tumi only 29th place.
You would expect both brands to have better rankings in customer reviews since both of them make extremely durable bags. However, we noticed a clear correlation between the cost of luggage and customer reviews – the more expensive brand, the worse reviews. That’s because when people buy something expensive, they have much higher expectations, so they’re more likely to find minor flaws and rate them lower. So in reality, you shouldn’t take the fact that Briggs & Riley ranked only 11th as a bad sign.
Do Briggs & Riley Suitcases Come With Better Features?
Compared to other luggage brands, both Briggs & Riley and Tumi offer superior features. However, Briggs & Riley offers slightly better ones, which help with packing, space-saving, security, winkle-reduction, ease of access, and more.
Briggs & Riley Suitcase Features
- CX expansion system. Most Briggs & Riley suitcases come with this expansion system which replaces regular expandable zippers. When you’re packing the suitcase, you can release two hinges to make it higher in-depth and add up to 30% more capacity. When you’re done, you just need to close the suitcase and push it down with both hands, which returns it to its original size. This system is an improvement from regular expandable zippers because it’s better at compression, it’s easier to use, and results in fewer wrinkles.
- Suiter compartments. Most of their bags come with dedicated, unfoldable suiter garment compartments, which hold 1-2 suits and reduce wrinkles.
- Lots of pockets. Their bags come with a lot of interior and exterior pockets, which help with organizing all the smaller items.
- Rubber wheels. The spinner wheels on Briggs & Riley bags are usually made from double-wheel construction (8 wheels in total), and they have a rubberized finish, which improves traction, reduces noise, and has a smoother roll.
- The Retractable handle is attached to the exterior. Usually, the retractable handle is placed in the interior of the bag, underneath the lining. But on Briggs & Riley bags, it’s attached to the outside, which means that the interior is perfectly rectangular to reduce wrinkles.
- Corner guards. Their fabric suitcases come with plastic guards that protect them from normal wear and tear.
- Exterior power bank pouch. At the back of their carry-ons, between the retractable handle, they’ve attached a dedicated pouch, which is meant for storing your power bank. It also has a built-in luggage tag. This makes it easy to charge your phone while pulling the suitcase.
- TSA-approved combination locks. Most of their suitcases will have a combination lock attached to the zipper of the main compartment, which the TSA agents can open with a special key.
- YKK zippers. Briggs & Riley doesn’t use their own zippers. Instead, they go with the industry leader, YKK, which makes some of the most durable zippers out there.
Tumi Suitcase Features
- Tumi Tracer. All Tumi bags come with a permanently attached plate that contains a 20-digit number. This number is associated with each one of their customers. So if any of their bags get lost, anyone can call up Tumi, tell the 20-digit number, and Tumi will get in touch with you. It’s essentially an encrypted luggage tag, which doesn’t directly have your contact details on it.
- Omega Closure system. Tumi uses their own zippers, which are more durable than regular ones, and the zipper heads are meant to attach/detach very easily. The reasoning behind this is that most commonly, zipper heads get lost when stuck on the conveyor belts, and by losing just the zipper head, the whole zipper isn’t ruined.
- Dual access to the main compartment. Some of Tumi’s suitcases have another zipper opening on the front, which gives easier access to the main compartment.
- Plastic guard rails and corners. Tumi’s softside and hardside suitcases usually have some kind of additional protection, like guard rails, reinforced seams on the corners, skid plates, or plastic/metal corners.
- Hanger fittings and garment sleeves. Some of their suitcases have a dedicated attachment point to hangers, so they’re kept in place, and they come with a garment sleeve. Although this system isn’t as good as on Briggs & Riley, it reduces some wrinkles on suits and dresses.
- Expandable zippers. Most suitcases in the high, medium, and sometimes even affordable class have this, so it isn’t anything proprietary. With expandable zippers, you usually get 15-20% additional width if needed, and they don’t compress much.
- Double spinner wheels. It’s worth noting that the spinner wheels on Tumi are usually made from polycarbonate and they don’t have a rubberized finish, which means that they’re a slight downgrade from Briggs & Riley.
- Lots of pockets and compartments for organizing all the smaller items.
- TSA-approved locks.
Which Brand Offers More Value?
On average, Tumi suitcases are 65% more expensive than Briggs & Riley’s. This is a really high price difference for two brands that make very similar products. Although Tumi suitcases are by no means bad, they’re definitely overpriced compared to Briggs & Riley. That’s why we consider them to be more of a “luxury” product, instead of a practical one, at least when compared to Briggs & Riley.
Briggs & Riley Warranty Terms vs Tumi
Although Tumi warranty terms aren’t bad, Briggs & Riley offers much better ones. Tumi used to offer an unconditional lifetime warranty when they just started out. They continued offering it until 2004 when they were bought by another company. Since then, their suitcases only offer a 5-year warranty. And by the way, you need to register it online during the first two years, otherwise, the term will be lowered to only two years. During the first year, everything’s covered – airline damage, normal wear and tear, manufacturing defects, and even all the shipping costs. In years 2-5, only manufacturing costs are covered, and you’ll have to pay for the shipping costs to their repair centers.
Briggs & Riley has the best warranty terms of any luggage manufacturer. It’s actually the main reason why they’re so popular. Briggs & Riley’s warranty terms are simple – they’ll cover any defect for the lifetime of the product, except cosmetic damages and normal wear and tear. This includes transportation damage, accidents, manufacturing damage, and other defects that affect the functionality of the bag. You’ll only have to cover the shipping costs to their repair centers.
By the way, a lifetime doesn’t mean a literal lifetime – not for Briggs & Riley, and not for any other brand. It means the lifetime of the product – when you can clearly see that the bag is falling apart due to normal wear and tear. Obviously, it’s a subjective term and it depends on how often you use it. For some, it may be after 3 years and for others after 20.
Conclusion: Should You Get a Suitcase From Briggs & Riley or Tumi?
We would recommend getting a suitcase from Briggs & Riley over Tumi. There are many reasons that make Briggs & Riley better, but the most important one is price – Tumi suitcases cost 65% more on average.
Out of all the other reasons, the next important one is that Briggs & Riley’s suitcases come with an unconditional lifetime warranty, while Tumi offers an unconditional 1-year warranty, and a very limited one for the years 2-5. Briggs & Riley also offers a bit better features, their suitcases are lighter, and they’re much better reviewed by their customers (an average rating of 4.65 vs 4.29).
The one thing that Tumi has going for it is its exceptional durability. Although Briggs & Riley’s durability is very similar, Tumi suitcases are a bit more durable due to their beefiness. Another pro for Tumi is that it’s owned by Samsonite, which means that you can probably find a Tumi suitcase at most Samsonite dealers. There are a lot of them, so you can test them out for yourself in real life. Briggs & Riley is a much smaller luggage brand, so it’s much harder to get your hands on them in retail stores.
Best Suitcases From Briggs & Riley and Tumi
Best Softside Suitcase From Briggs & Riley: Baseline Spinner
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)|
|- 10 lbs (4.53 kg)|
|- Ballistic nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.8|
We consider the Briggs & Riley Baseline carry-on to be the best softide carry-on currently offered from any brand. It’s very durable, it comes with a ton of useful features, it isn’t overpriced, and it comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
It’s 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm) in size with wheels and handles included, which means that it’s just in the right size to be within the size requirements for most airlines.
Its largest drawback is that it’s very heavy, weighing 10 lbs (4.53 kg). For context, this is 3.45 lbs over the average weight of similarly-sized fabric suitcases. The Baseline is so heavy because it’s built from ballistic nylon, which is the most durable fabric used in softside luggage, and because it has protective plastic corners and a lot of added features.
From the exterior, it’s fitted with top, side, and bottom handles for easy lifting to the overhead compartments. It also has a retractable handle, that’s fitted on the backside, which means that the interior is completely flat and won’t wrinkle your clothes. On the front, you’ll find two pockets for storing all the smaller items. On the back, you’ll find a pouch, which is meant for storing your power bank and it also has a built-in luggage tag. And on the bottom, it’s fitted with four double spinner wheels, which roll very smoothly and quietly because they’re coated with a rubberized finish.
The main compartment of the Briggs & Riley Baseline is protected with a TSA-approved combination lock, which lets you keep your stuff secure. When you open it up, you’ll find its suiter garment compartment on one side and a large main compartment on the other. The whole main compartment is also fitted with its feature CX compression system, which lets you pack everything inside and then compress it to save some space while keeping the wrinkles at a minimum.
The Briggs & Riley Baseline is perfect for frequent travelers. Even though it’s somewhat expensive, it’s actually priced very accordingly compared to its competitors, and it should be able to withstand frequent travel at least for 10-20 years.
Best Softside Suitcase From Tumi: Alpha 3 Dual Access
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)|
|- 10.07 lbs (4.56 kg)|
|- Ballistic nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.7|
Although the Tumi Alpha 3 is really expensive, it’s worth it if you’re flying extensively. We think that it’s currently the most durable softside carry-on out there, even more durable than the Briggs & Riley Baseline.
Similar to the Briggs & Riley Baseline, it’s also built from ballistic nylon, but it’s more rigid due to all the protective features and thicker materials. The Alpha 3 has two plastic rails that run across the whole suitcase to prevent it from getting damaged. It also has protective, beefy plastic sticking out around the wheels and the retractable handle.
Because of this, the Tumi Alpha 3 is really heavy. In fact, it’s the heaviest softside suitcase that we’ve found up to this date. The carry-on weighs 10.07 lbs (4.56 kg), which is 3.52 lbs over the average weight of similarly-sized softside suitcases. In size, it’s 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm), which means that it should fit the size requirements of most airlines.
From the exterior, it’s fitted with four double spinner wheels, top, side, and bottom handles, and a retractable handle on top. From the front, it’s also fitted with two pockets for storing all the smaller items. You’ll also find a baggage tag attached near the TSA-approved combination lock.
The interior can be accessed by opening the main zipper or the front one, which gives you another opening to the main compartment. This is useful for quickly grabbing something out of the suitcase while it’s still standing on the wheels – there’s no need to open it up fully. The main compartment is divided into two parts, and on one side you’ll find a hanger attachment point, where you can attach your garment sleeve and store 1 or 2 suits. The other side has adjustable tie-down panels to keep everything in place. The main compartment is also expandable by additional 2 inches to get an additional 15-20% of packing space.
If you can afford to pay close to, and sometimes even over 1000$ (depending on if it’s on a sale or not), then the Alpha 3 is a really good choice for business travelers, airline crews, and extra frequent travelers.
Full review: Tumi Alpha 3 22-Inch Carry-On Review
Best Hardside Suitcase From Briggs & Riley: Sympatico
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)|
|- 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.7|
The Briggs & Riley Sympatico is basically a hardside version of the Briggs & Riley Baseline, with only minor differences. You essentially get all the same features and functionality at a lower weight.
It weighs 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg), which is still pretty heavy for a plastic hardside suitcase, but it’s only 2.27 lbs heavier than similarly-sized plastic hardside carry-ons. It’s heavier than typical polycarbonate suitcases because it’s made from a 3-layer composite, it has more rugged hardware (handles, zippers, wheels, e.t.c.), and it comes with a lot of features.
From the exterior, it’s fitted with top, side, and bottom handles and four smooth-rolling, rubber-coated double spinner wheels. Similar to the Baseline, it also has the power bank pouch with the integrated luggage tag at the back. For securing the main compartment, it comes with an integrated TSA-approved combination lock.
Usually, hardside suitcases open up in a split-book style, with 50/50 openings. Some people find them useful, but I personally don’t because you can’t use packing cubes there. The Sympatico is split into a 70/30 ratio, with a large main compartment on one side, and a smaller one on the other one, where you can keep your garment sleeve and smaller items. It also has the CX compression system, but unfortunately, a garment compartment isn’t included.
The Briggs & Riley Sympatico provides a bit more protection to fragile items, it’s more water-resistant, and it’s also a bit lighter than the Baseline. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a suiter compartment.
Best Hardside Suitcase From Tumi: Latitude
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)|
|- 6.22 lbs (2.82 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.6|
The Tumi Latitude is pretty much the only lightweight option that Tumi has to offer. It’s much lighter than the Briggs & Riley Sympatico, very similar in durability, and it also doesn’t cost that much more. That’s why we think that it’s actually a really good alternative to the Briggs & Riley Sympatico.
It’s so light because it isn’t built from polycarbonate. Instead, Tumi went with their proprietary material SRPP Ballistic. It’s a composite that consists of 100% polypropylene. Virgin polypropylene isn’t as durable as polycarbonate, but it’s weaved into yarns to make a fabric and then layered and molded to improve its durability while still keeping the lightweight properties of polypropylene. In reality, it’s almost as durable as polycarbonate.
The Tumi Latitude weighs 6.22 lbs (2.82 kg), which is 0.71 lbs lighter than similar plastic suitcases in the same price range. For Tumi, that’s especially light, because it’s one of the heaviest luggage brands. It’s sized at 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm) with wheels and handles included, which means that it’s just in the right size to be accepted on most airlines.
One downside of the Latitude is that it’s made in a pretty glossy finish, which scratches really easily. The Briggs & Riley Sympatico is colored in a matte finish, which is much better at hiding scratches.
For maximum moveability, Tumi has added four double spinner wheels, which roll really smoothly. It also has handles fitted to the top and side, and another retractable handle. To open the main compartment, you’ll need to open the TSA-approved combination lock. You’ll also find the Tumi tracer at the back of the suitcase.
The interior of the Tumi Latitude is split into two equal parts. One side is completely divided with a fabric sheet, and inside, it’s fitted with a hanger lock, to keep your garment sleeve in place. The other side is open, but it has adjustable panels, with which you can keep the rest of your clothing from moving around. Another downside is that the Latitude isn’t expandable, so you’re limited by the 9-inch width.
The Tumi Latitude is a really solid suitcase, and it’s more than durable enough for frequent traveling.