We’ve all accumulated a lot of baggage these last two years while watching ambitious travel plans fall by the wayside and staying cooped up at home more than we ever imagined. (On top of all the other things COVID-19 threw our way, of course.) But with each passing day, life makes its slow crawl towards normal—and a return to traveling again. With that in mind, ‘tis the perfect season to gift some beautiful, brand-spanking-new luggage for the holidays.
For one, it’s a major investment—something they’ll keep for a decade or more. Secondly, it could provide the inspiration they need to plan that dream trip they’ve been plotting for the last 18 months. Unlike pandemic worries, a shiny new suitcase is the kind of baggage we all want right now, and the high-quality luggage picks below make great gifts for experienced globetrotters and occasional travelers alike.
The 2021 Luggage Gift Guide
1. The Best Luggage Brand to Gift: Rimowa
There’s no contest here: Rimowa runs whisper-quiet laps around the competition and catches the light at every angle while doing so. Its iconic, sturdy, grooved aluminum shell that announces the owner’s taste for quality. We’re partial to the classic silver, but it’s no less stunning in the brand’s array of colorful options. Yes, this piece costs a pretty penny, but it’ll save money on replacements for the next couple decades—these pieces are built to last. Rimowa luggage stands at the crossroads of handmade and high tech. Each piece is touched by 33 craftspeople, and the brand was the first to introduce aluminum and polycarbonate options to the market. There’s a reason you see so many Rimowa dupes out there: Because they’re the best, full stop.
[Original (cabin size): $1,150; rimowa.com]
2. The Best Lightweight Carry-on: Away Bigger Carry-On
Three things that are especially irksome with travel these days: The high costs of checked bags, the small size of carry-on options, and the weight of most carry-on shells. All of these things make it harder and harder to travel light, but Away’s Bigger Carry-On counters all three issues. This lightweight polycarbonate shell means you can really stuff it up (rather than lose half the weight allowance to the suitcase shell itself). In addition, the Bigger Carry-On’s extra inches of space make it much easier to squeeze in a souvenir after the trip or pack an extra change of pants. Best of all, it fits in all overhead luggage compartments except for those in small puddle jumpers—but most airlines will allow a free gate check in that case.
[Starts at $245; awaytravel.com]
3. The Flashiest Set: Floyd
If you’re shopping for someone who appreciates individuality—or if they just hate that all baggage looks the same coming down the baggage-claim conveyor belt—then Floyd is the fix. The company’s luggage comes with cheeky, vibrant colors for shells and wheels. This iconic bag is inspired by the 1970s Venice Beach skateboarding scene, but no matter which option you pick, Floyd’s bags perform a major ollie over the competition. Gift one, and they’ll have the most interesting luggage in the terminal, guaranteed.
[Floyd Cabin $460; floyd.one]
5. The Best Dopp Kit: Filson Ripstop Nylon Travel Pack
When shopping for a Dopp kit, the key is to find something that’s durable, not too structured, and not overly valuable. Sorry to the leather options out there—they’re beautiful, but impractical. Instead, get one that can handle wet sinks or liquid spills without ruining itself or clothes it’s packed with. Filson’s Travel Pack is the perfect pick: It’s made from heavy-duty ripstop nylon, has spill-proof AquaGuard zippers, and features elastic loops to keep small vessels in place. It doesn’t add unnecessary bulk to one’s carry-on, and it’s soft enough to contort into a small crevice in a larger bag.
6. The Best Travel Backpack: Horizn Studios SoFo Backpack
Horizn’s expandable waxed backpack has so many pouches and so much depth that they can use it to pack for an entire three-day weekend (the brand suggests a five-day weekend is possible if they’re especially economical). With its water-resistant canvas fabric, it’s terrific for hikers and campers, too, and if it’s paired with a carry-on bag, it can fit under an airplane seat—no checked bag required. The SoFo can carry a 15-inch laptop in the rear zippered pouch, and the multitude of pockets help this bag swallow all kinds of gear and accessories.
7. The Best Camera Bag: Urth Norite 24L Modular Camera Backpack
If your recipient travels with a camera, they’ll appreciate a backpack that’s built specifically with photography hardware in mind. The Norite 24L provides a separate medium-sized case for the camera itself along with dedicated space for three lenses, batteries, cords, memory cards, a filter kit, and more. Better yet, with the separate camera bag removed, this weatherproof pack doubles as an ideal backpack for everyday use (it even features a built-in laptop sleeve).
8. The Best Garment Bag: Eastpak Garment Bag
This is the piece of luggage most people don’t realize they need. A garment bag will prevent wedding blazers, business suits, or the day’s meeting attire from wrinkling en route. Eastpak’s bag allows for easy carry-on and under-seat storage, and it can even be toted over the shoulder with the detachable strap. This one looks chic without any pretense, and the folding design means they won’t need to check it in when boarding a flight (a must for full-draping bags—and the reason many are forgotten on the plane).
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