I used to use the more basic L.L. Bean equivalent (more)

by Bill

left over from when L.L. Bean was still, well, L.L. Bean. Very practical, great look. But the canvas abraids pretty quickly with air-travel, so you get wabi fast, which results in a more rustic look than I wanted in some situations. Also they are pretty distinctive in certain surroundings (you look like you're arriving from a duck blind) and anonymity is a definite security plus in luggage. Boring luggage is a very good thing, sometimes! (Also, note, no way to lock buckles!)

But mainly I got tired of lugging them on shoulder straps while businessmen and flight attendants rapidly wheeled their dull-looking bags effortlessly past me down airport corridors. Switched to a Dutch-made minimalist one-suiter that looked like a matte gray plastic ZH, super-light, primitive wheels, a non-extending spring-loaded pull-handle. That was fine til I really started having to travel on business, and then Darwinian forces took over.

I'd have to go out for over a month at a time, constant one-nighters, and have to look as though I had my shit together at every stop. I started asking other constant travellers, and the result was the combo as described earlier. I could now do with a more evolved, lighter, wheeled carry-on, but the Sharper Image bag has in-line skate wheels, a serious plus.

The compression envelopes, though, wheels, and an extending pull-handle are the ticket.

I love the look of a small duffle, though, and in Tokyo found a great one, gunmetal-colored PVC-coated canvas with heavy cotton straps. The ends unzip and telescope to provide an extra foot of length, if needed. But this is basically a "style" bag, as is another mini-duffle I use around town, a black cotton about a 16" long, also Tokyo-made, what the Japanese call a "business" bag.

But if you have to tote the damned things all over the world, you eventually discover the wheel. It's the low-drag option. Looks in luggage are very unimportant when you've been on the road for two weeks, feel like your ass is dying, and know you have to get to the next stop with pressed trousers and shirt, do the gig, then get up at 4AM to get the plane to the next one.

Posted on Jun 4, 2001, 6:14 AM
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