Hartmann Intensity Collection, 22" Expandable Mobile Traveler
Weight 11.5 lbs. Price $595
Warranty Length of bag's life
Design A plain-Jane bag, but smartly laid out, except for the perplexing lack of a
bottom handle—important for placing bags in overhead compartments—and the faulty
zipper of the removable interior lining. Once unzipped, the lining is impossible to zip back
into place. Our testers also found the main handle particularly short; it forced all but the
most petite of them into a hunched position.
Resistance Nearly bone-dry after the water test: only about a teaspoon of liquid leaked into the front pocket and main compartment. The Hartmann passed the scratching and puncture tests with flying colors, and the interior fabric proved highly resistant to our simulated toiletry leak.
Packability A slim, wide handle casing means that nearly all of the interior space can be used. Though the main compartment is only six inches deep (the depth of most bags in our test was about 81/2 inches), the suiter's three-inch pouch offers additional space, if you don't mind dividing your clothes between the two areas. There are also two decent-sized front pockets.
Maneuverability Wonderful balance and functionality in challenging situations: the bag was very stable. But the handle's short length meant our testers had to roll the case at a lower angle, leading to extra wear and tear on the back of the case.
Durability Although the frame was undamaged, the handle took a beating and disconcertingly popped up (twice) on impact. However, the bag's appearance suffered less than that of any other in our test.
OVERALL An especially well-rounded bag—good for anyone who appreciates simplicity. Tall travelers may want to look elsewhere, though.
Tumi Generation 4, Wheeled, 22" Expandable Frequent Traveler
Weight 13.5 lbs. Price $595
Warranty Five years
Design Sleek and attractive, but our testers had problems with its handles. The main
handle has a locking lower position that's tricky to bypass, and the unobtrusive side handle
is hard to grip. Alone among the bags we tested, the Tumi expands using an interior pop-up
mechanism; though useful for packing, this means the interior lining is difficult to remove,
making cleaning a challenge. Tumi's tracking system for lost bags (each case is assigned a
special bar-coded ID) is a definite plus.
Resistance The main compartment stayed dry during the water trial, but a front pocket took on water. The fabric suffered only mild scratching from the serrated-knife test and survived the puncture test. Toiletries posed no threat to the water-resistant interior, but its lining's light color means you can't hide stains.
Packability The main compartment is hampered by a thick handle casing, which reduces the usable depth of the case by an inch. And the interior strap that holds items in place is too short to use when the bag is fully packed. The front pockets are fantastic, however: there's a roomy one running the bag's length, as well as a shorter, shallower one in front.
Maneuverability Felt a little less smooth than the others when simply rolled in a straight line, but was excellent on turns and exceptionally stable, thanks to a bottom-heavy design (though that did make it more of a challenge on stairs).
Durability During the impact test, the interior plastic mechanism that expands the bag broke, and the fabric at the corners split, exposing the frame. After the water test, the pop-up function of the bag's handle became impossible to work without extreme wrangling, rendering the bag unusable at times.
OVERALL The most aesthetically appealing of the cases, but a little bit fragile. We recommend it for business travelers, who often carry on their luggage and who will appreciate the bag's looks and maneuverability.
Victorinox Medium Mobilizer, 22" Expandable Upright
Dimensions 22" x 14" x 10"
Weight 12.5 lbs. Price $490
Warranty Length of bag's life
Design Cheers for the sturdy case and its easy-to-grip, spring-loaded main handle
and side handle that pulls out and locks into place. But where's the bottom handle?Victorinox's
coded bag-tracking system, like Tumi's, provides peace of mind.
Resistance Suffered only mild scratches during the knife test, but flunked before the watering can. The interior of the bag's front pocket was soaked, the main section was drenched, and, to make matters worse, water flowed between the two. The fabric proved more resistant to toiletries, but the shiny material stained easily.
Packability An especially spacious interior means that the prominent handle casing is still easy to pack around. The suiter, which comes with a special mesh shirt pocket and a hook for multiple hangers, won high marks.
Maneuverability Great shock absorbency, but felt sluggish compared with others, which made sprinting difficult. Also, though it was stable in most of the tests, the case was prone to toppling once off-balance.
Durability A couple of hard tosses left a small indentation in the bag's back, but the fabric held up remarkably well, and the wheels, which received the brunt of impact several times, were unharmed. After the test, however, the handle became more difficult to extend and retract—a cause for concern.
OVERALL Though not quite as tough as we would have liked, the Victorinox is a good choice for leisure travelers looking for extra packing space and an easy-to-use design.