Tumi. In forums and discussion boards talked about as ‘the holy grail’ of suitcases.
But is that really true? Is Tumi really that good?
Well, in this Tumi luggage review, we’ll find out just that. We’ll get into every little detail: how they’re made, what’s the reliability like, are their features any good, what’s the warranty like, and are they priced accordingly.
On CleverJourney’s Best Luggage Brands, Tumi got 88 out of 100 points, which is one of the highest results we’ve gotten.
You can see how we calculated the 88 points down below, but we’ll go into more detail on every section further down into the review.
- Durable. Tumi’s suitcases are built from the best materials on the market, like aluminum, ballistic nylon, and tegris, which makes them incredibly durable. You shouldn’t experience the usual ‘cheap-luggage’ issues, like broken wheels, handles, and zippers.
- Packed with useful features. Their bags are usually built with the business traveler in mind and come with suiters, organizers, laptop pockets, and other useful features (like the Tumi Tracer, which helps with finding lost luggage.)
- Good looking and well-reviewed. Most Tumi suitcases are reviewed at 4-4.5 stars, and a large portion of their customers are repeat buyers, who have stayed loyal for decades.
- Overpriced. We believe that Tumi doesn’t offer as much value as, let’s say, Travelpro, Chester, Rimowa, or Briggs & Riley. We think that $100-$300 of the total price is made just by slapping a Tumi logo on the case. It’s like getting Apple over Android – nothing wrong with that, just know that you’re overpaying solely for the brand.
- No lifetime warranty. Tumi offered a lifetime warranty up to 2004, but a change of owners reduced the term to just five years. For the first five years, their warranty is actually really decent (In fact, one of the best warranties we’ve seen.) However, after that, you’ll have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.
If your primary concern isn’t price, Tumi will be an excellent choice. Their suitcases are built to last, and for the first five years, you’ll be covered by one of the best warranties on the market.
Plus, if you’re a business traveler, you’ll find their bags especially useful. You’ll find suit hangers, luggage locators, smart packing features, USB ports, and many other useful features. On our site, no other brand has gotten more points in features & innovations.
That said, we think that their similarly-priced competitors Rimowa and Briggs & Riley offer more value. They’re both more durable, have better warranty terms, but are only slightly behind in features.
Top-Rated Tumi Suitcases
|Best overall: 19 Degree Continential||Editors rating: 4.7|
|Best softside: Alpha 3 International||Editors rating: 4.5|
|Best hardside: Tegra-Lite Max Continental||Editors rating: 4.6|
Key Facts About Tumi
Tumi Holdings Inc. was founded in 1975, United States. Since then it’s been bought several times, with the latest transfer being back in 2016 when Samsonite bought Tumi for $1.8 Billion (If you didn’t know, Samsonite also owns many other luggage brands, like American Tourister, Hartmann, Tumi, eBags, High Sierra, and Lipault.)
Right now, the company makes high-quality travel gear for business travelers, and its main competitors are Rimowa, Briggs & Riley, and Bric’s. Out of all the brands mentioned, Tumi is arguably the most expensive one.
They differentiate themselves by focusing on extremely helpful support and innovative features. And it looks like it’s working because back in 2015 their market share was just a few points below Rimowa (More info in the graph down below.)
Tumi is highly appraised by their long-term customers. Their suitcases receive an average rating of 4 – 4.5, which is reasonably high. Their customer reviews aren’t as good as Travelpro’s, Chester’s, or Briggs & Riley’s, but they’re fairly high nevertheless.
They have a cult-like following of people that have stayed loyal for decades. And the main reason why they’ve been so loyal is because of the durability.
BUT, we noticed a trend in the most recent reviews – some people said that they’re not as good as they were before.
And here’s the reason why.
In 2004 Tumi was sold to Doughty Hanson & Co for $256M. The new strategy was to make everything cheaper at the cost of the warranty. Before that, Tumi offered a lifetime warranty, but after the purchase, they slashed the term to five years. This strategy was successful, as the sales boomed, but the quality was slightly decreased alongside warranty.
Now that they’re owned by Samsonite though, we’ve seen improvements in the customer reviews and warranty. That is, in the last two years, the reviews have become better, so it looks like Samsonite is finally fixing the issues.
As you’d expect from suitcases priced so highly, they’re made quite well. Right from the get-go, their strategy has been to prioritize quality over price, design, features, and anything else.
The Tumi Difference
Essentially “The Tumi difference” is their company slogan. What this means, is that no other luggage brand goes over every detail to perfection as much as they do (Thus, the difference).
Before their suitcases leave the factory, they’re put through 30 different quality tests, like oil resistance, stiffness, product safety, stability, drop tests, handle jerks, e.t.c. It’s similar to what Rimowa and Travelpro do – their products are put through rigorous durability tests before leaving the factory.
How Durable Tumi Luggage Really is?
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to test a Tumi suitcase for ourselves. So we went online and researched every review of Tumi on what we could get our hands on.
And to be frank, most people actually say that their luggage is incredibly well built. We found a ton of reviews where people have used their bags and suitcases for years, even decades, and if anything got broken, Tumi quickly fixed the issue.
That said, we still found quite a few unsatisfied customers, so here we’ll break down the most common issues:
- Some people find their handles quite wobbly and too fragile for the premium price tag.
- Some experienced issues with the TSA locks, where they malfunctioned and had to be sent to the repairs.
- People aren’t that happy that the warranty is only valid for five years. Once that time passes, the repairs get quite expensive.
- People say that in comparison to Rimowa or Briggs & Riley, Tumi seems to be less durable.
But these were just a few rotten apples in an overall satisfied customer base. Tumi is spectacularly well built, regardless of the price, so we’ve rated the quality at 19 out of 20.
Given the high price tag, you’d expect Tumi’s suitcases to be innovative and packed with high-tech features. And they really are, compared to other brands, like Rimowa or Samsonite.
Down below, we’ll tell a little more about the most important ones.
Patented FXT Ballistic Nylon for Fabric Bags
Regular ballistic nylon is the toughest fabric for luggage. It was developed in WW2 when the army tried to make a bullet-proof fabric. Although the result was unsuccessful, the newfound fabric was more abrasion-proof and tear-resistant than anything else, due to the thick fabric fibers.
Tumi’s patented FXT ballistic nylon is a slight modification of the regular ballistic nylon. Essentially, it’s coated with a protective layer and weaved in a different pattern, which supposedly makes it even more durable.
Patented Tegris Material for Hardside Luggage
For hardside luggage, Tumi is using another innovative material, called Tegris (for instance, the Tegra Lite Continental 22-inch carry-on)
Although tegris wasn’t developed by Tumi, they’re the first ones who started using it in luggage. In fact, they’ve purchased a license for being the only brand allowed to use it in luggage manufacturing.
The Tegris material is an improved form of polypropylene with increased stiffness, impact resistance, and reduced weight. It’s also used by the U.S. military in protective armor, and by other companies for a wide variety of applications: helmets, NASCAR vehicles, football gear, and outdoor furniture.
In addition to Tegris being more durable, it’s also very good-looking. Due to its esthetic weave, it resembles carbon-fiber composites (You know, the ones used in Lamborghinis and tuned cars.)
The Tumi Tracer Helps With Lost Luggage
Tumi’s suitcases come with a tiny built-in plate that contains a 20-digit number, and Tumi’s customer service number. Essentially, with this system, you won’t have to use luggage tags anymore.
Every 20-digit number is unique and contains your information in Tumi’s database. If the suitcase is lost and someone sees the integrated plate, they’ll call Tumi’s customer service, and Tumi will arrange the retrieval of your bag without giving out any sensitive data.
A simple but clever way to replace luggage tags.
Zippers Protected With the Omega Closure System
A broken zipper is the most common defect in luggage, right after broken spinner wheels. So it’s nice to hear that Tumi has made improvements to zippers called the ‘Omega Closure System.’
It makes the zippers better in two ways.
Firstly, they’re more durable. So if you overpack the suitcase, the zippers are less likely to break.
Secondly, the zipper heads are built in a way to break off easily in case they get stuck somewhere. Often, they’ll get stuck on the conveyor belts, luggage carts, or while loading in the plane. This system ensures that only the zipper head breaks off, instead of ruining the whole zipper. Later, the zipper head can easily be swapped with a new one.
TSA Locks and Expandable Width
Nowadays, TSA locks and expandable width zippers should come with all suitcases, but sadly, that’s still not the case. It’s nice to see that Tumi has included both features on almost all of their suitcases.
If you don’t know what these features do, the TSA lock ensures that only TSA agents can unlock your suitcase and the expandable zipper expands in width by 1-3 inches, so that you always have enough room for return trips and last-minute purchases.
Heavy-Duty Spinner Wheels
Quite often spinner wheels can break off the suitcase because they’re ‘sticking out’ of the rectangular shape of the bag. If they’re made from fragile plastics and are improperly guarded, it’s just a matter of time.
While reading the reviews, we saw almost no issues with spinner wheels on any of their suitcases. Often, the largest portion of the reviews consist of broken spinner wheels, but it’s not the case with Tumi, which leads us to believe that they’re very well made. Also, it’s worth noting that for the first five years, the spinner wheels are covered by warranty (normal wear and tear), which is nice.
Tumi keeps a non-flashy style across all of their products. Because of all the little details and premium materials, you can definitely tell that their bags are high-end.
Put next to other premium luggage brands, like Rimowa or Briggs & Riley. Their looks are way more sophisticated and thought-out. Tumi is like one of those two-year-old Mercedes, maxed out with all the premium packages.
We’re especially excited about the Tumi 19-degree Aluminum collection, which features the classic Rimowa aluminum style, wrapped up in a new, classier way.
To be honest, we didn’t find a bag from Tumi that we didn’t like, which is why we’ve rated their design & style at 14 out of 15 points. We didn’t give them 15 points because some models lack color selection.
Tumi is owned by Samsonite, and everyone knows Samsonite by how good their warranty is. So, naturally, you’d expect Tumi to offer something even better.
And when both warranties are put side by side, Tumi’s is definitely better.
First-Year Warranty Terms
Tumi will cover any airline damages, transit damages, normal wear and tear, and cover all the shipping costs to and from the repair centers. If the bag is damaged beyond repair, they’ll give a brand-new replacement.
The warranty will not be valid if the damages are cosmetic, or arise from abuse or accidental damages.
Year Four to Five Warranty Terms
Tumi will cover damages caused by normal wear and tear and manufacturing defects. You’ll have to cover the shipping costs to the repair center or take your bag to the nearest dealer for free. If the damages are covered by warranty, Tumi will cover the return shipping costs.
What changes is that in this period Tumi doesn’t cover airline and transit damages.
After the Fifth Year
We researched a lot about how good their repair centers and customer support really are. In their website, they’ve said that even if their products aren’t covered by the warranty, they’ll do the repairs at reasonable prices.
This was backed up by many of their long-term customers, which said that their support and warranty centers have always been fast to respond, polite, and did the repairs well and at somewhat reasonable prices. So even if you run into any issues after the warranty has expired, they’ll do their best to help you.
We believe that Tumi is somewhat overvalued for what they offer. When compared to Rimowa or Briggs & Riley, their prices are identical or even higher. So naturally, you’d expect Tumi to be better built, offer more features, better warranty terms or compensate in other ways.
But we don’t think that’s the case here. Rimowa and Briggs & Riley are both more durable and offer better warranty terms while costing the same or less.
We think that Tumi is closer to Travelpro. Both brands are very similar in features, quality, warranty, and everything else, but Travelpro costs about half the price of Tumi, which is the main reason why we think Tumi is overpriced.
For Tumi, you’re paying more for the brand than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re looking to get the best value out of your purchase, we’d suggest choosing Travelpro, Briggs & Riley or Rimowa.
Individual Tumi Suitcase Reviews
|- 22 x 16.5 x 9 inches|
|- 11.7 lbs (5.3 kg)|
|- Material: Aluminum|
|- Editors rating: 4.7 / 5|
If you’re looking for the best that Tumi has to offer, this is it. Essentially, it’s very similar to Rimowa, with its classic parallel aluminum grooves, but it’s designed in a slightly different, cooler way.
The frame is made from airplane-grade aluminum, which means that you won’t get any cracks in the case. In fact, up to this date, aluminum is still the most durable material for hardside suitcases, but it’s also the most expensive one. From outside, it’s reinforced with protective corners, and the four dual spinner wheels are made especially durable.
As you’d expect from its premium price tag, it’s packed with many useful features. Instead of one lock, it has two TSA-approved locks. Inside, you’ll find two mesh pockets, a zippered divider that splits the inner compartment into two parts, a hanger system, and tie-down straps. It’s not expandable, but to be honest, we haven’t ever seen an expandable aluminum case, because they don’t come with zippers.
It looks like the 19-degree collection is made as an answer to the Rimowa’s classic aluminum collection. Both are very similar in looks, performance, price, and reviews. The key difference between both is the looks. Other than that, they’re nearly identical, which is why both ones are great choices.
|- 22 x 14 x 9 inches|
|- 11.2 lbs (5.08 kg)|
|- Material: FXT Ballistic Nylon|
|- Editors rating: 4.5 / 5|
If you’re looking for an indestructible softside suitcase, the Alpha 3 is one of the best candidates.
Other Good options would be the Travelpro Platinum Elite or the Briggs & Riley Domestic, and out of all three, Tumi is the most expensive one. What makes this one unique is that the outer frame is supported with a hard exterior frame, and the corners are protected with Durafold caps, which make the suitcase incredibly rigid. It’s made from FXT Ballistic Nylon, which is supposedly the most durable material out of all three models.
From outside, it’s fitted with double spinner wheels, two front pockets and one straight pocket for a laptop or a tablet, and a USB charger.
The main compartment is quite roomy (essential for those who use packing cubes) and is protected with a TSA-approved lock. Inside, you’ll find a suiter, several tie-down straps, and several smaller pockets for all the smaller items. Essentially, it should be perfect for business travelers. The bag will easily store enough for a week’s worth of clothing.
Although the Alpha 3 carry-on is quite expensive, it’s incredibly rigid and has received many amazing reviews. That said, in many ways, it’s very similar to the Briggs & Riley Domestic carry-on, which is slightly cheaper, and instead of a five-year warranty, offers a lifetime warranty. The Alpha 3 is a solid choice, but we believe that the Briggs & Riley Domestic carry-on offers slightly more value.
|- 22 x 16 x 9 inches|
|- 11.06 lbs (5.01 kg)|
|- Material: Tegris composite|
|- Editors rating: 4.6 / 5|
The Tegra-Lite Max carry-on is another solid choice from Tumi.
Its main difference from the 19-degree carry-on is that it’s made from Tegris – a unique hardside material patented by Tumi. Essentially, it’s an improved form of polypropylene with increased stiffness, impact resistance, and reduced weight. And yes, it looks like carbon-fiber, which is pretty cool.
Compared to the 19-degree aluminum carry-on, it’s also expandable in width, more flexible, more affordable, and has an outer front pocket, which is perfect for storing documents, tablets, and other items that need to be accessed easily.
The Tegra-Like Max is also fitted with a suiter, exterior pockets for organization, and compression straps, which should make packing quicker.
All in all, it’s a very solid choice, and we understand why some would prefer it over the slightly-more-expensive 19-degree aluminum carry-on.