Luggage Buying Guide For 2013.

By Posted in - Lifestyle & Travel Blog & Travel Gear & Travel Resources on June 25th, 2013

Luggage is the ultimate travel necessity.

Whether you’re a backpacker or a luxury traveler you still need to put your clothes and socks into some sort of bag. We’ve used pretty much everything from backpacks to wheeled spinners and we’ve discovered some that fail fast and others truly shine. If I’ve learned one thing about luggage it’s that you get what you pay for. Budget luggage from Walmart never holds up for the long haul and if you travel a lot the last thing you want to worry about is whether the wheels on your luggage are going to bust or if the material is going to rip tossing your ExOfficio undies all over the airport. It’s happened.

I decided to highlight some of the world’s best luggage – or at least what I consider to be the best! We own and use all three pieces and give them all the official Beers & Beans stamp of approval!


Tri-Star by Tom BihnBest Handheld Luggage:

Tri-Star by Tom Bihn

Honestly I could’ve picked anything from the Tom Bihn line up to fill this slot because Tom Bihn designs are beyond the pale. The Tri-Star has earned a special place in our hearts due to the handy middle laptop compartment. Do you travel a lot with your laptop? This bag makes airport security a snap! Plus it’s very roomy – last year we spent 3 months in Europe and Randy packed ALL of his clothes in this one bag. Seriously impressive! This year we brought the Aeronaut on our 3 month travel excursion and it held up just as well. All their designs are carry-on friendly and both of these bags also come with hideaway backpack straps so you can turn them into a backpack in just a couple seconds! Be sure to also check out their line of briefcases, backpacks and messenger bags too. Luggage from Tom Bihn is so travel intuitive that any piece will easily become the smartest piece of luggage you’ll ever own. Not only are the bags fantastic but the customer service is stellar – the employees at Tom Bihn take pride in their work and always go above and beyond to help out. Don’t believe me? Read our true Tom Bihn story! You can also check out our review of their luggage!

The Tri-Star is currently priced at for $280.


Best Wheeled Luggage: pc4 spinner from Hartmann

PC4 Spinner from Hartmann Luggage

If you need to get wheeled luggage do yourself a favor and get a spinner, better yet get this one from Hartmann. Honestly it will revolutionize how you travel. Once you use a spinner I guarantee you will never pull a piece of wheeled luggage behind you again. It’s amazing the difference it makes when you don’t have to pull your bag everywhere. I love this bag because it’s a hard case, wheels like a champ over a ton of different surfaces and it fits everything I need for months on the road while still being carry on size. We’ve had it for several months now and it still looks brand new.  Hands down it’s the best wheeled luggage we’ve ever used. Be sure to read our full review of the PC4 spinner or check out our goofy PC4 video.

It’s on sale now at for $269.



RDBEBest Backpack:

Arc’teryx Briza 75 Backpack


I bought this bag a couple years ago at REI when we spent a couple months camping through Europe. I splurged on this bag. It was $399 and definitely well outside the range of our backpacker budget. I had been to REI at least 3 times trying to find the perfect bag and it seemed every one I tried to just hurt my back, shoulders or my hips, except this bag by Arc’teryx. So I went for it and it was one of the best travel decisions I ever made. In my opinion it is the MOST comfortable backpack EVER. It distributes weight well and has held up perfectly after years of travel. It is my trusty cliche backpacking pack and I will always adore it.

Another reason this pack rocks: At this same time Randy purchased a much cheaper Kelty Backpack which was only $199. That Kelty failed on the very first day of our trip! The first day! The hip strap broke and for the remainder of the trip we had to wheel his bag around on a little metal luggage wheelie because it was just too heavy to carry without distributing some of the weight to the hips. Talk about a complete pain in the butt! But we learned a valuable lesson – when it comes to backpacks you get what you pay for so buy one that fits you well and is made of quality material. I did a search online for this particular Arc’teryx and sadly it seems like they no longer make this model but it looks like the new version of this bag is called the Altra which is  looks just like the Briza. It’s worth the money and your back will thank you!

The Altra 65 is currently priced at $449 at REI.

*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

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(10) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Michael W Travels -

    June 25, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Nice list. I travel with a backpack always, either a 60 or 75 liter. Been in the market for a carry-on wheeled bag but the problem is that I want to spend in the $150 range. Do you think it’s possible to find something decent?

    • Randy Kalp -

      June 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I think it is possible, especially if you shop online. I just did a quick search on ebags and it looks like they have quite a few carry on spinners for under $150. Here’s the link: Hope that helps.

    • ozgirl -

      July 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Try searching for a burton wheeliegig. I love mine!

      Can fit a week of stuff in it. And I had a laugh the other week when travelling when the pilot for my flight walked on the plane with one!

  • Kathryn -

    June 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    For checked luggage, I’m a huge fan of spinners as well. I’d never buy two wheeled luggage again. For international travel I think it’s important to consider that the weight limit is often only 5, 7, or 10kg for carry on, so a light bag is super important.

    • Randy Kalp -

      June 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Great point about knowing the carry-on weight limits for your upcoming flight. We’ve been caught off guard a couple times while flying through Europe and have had to scramble to rework our luggage at the last minute which is never fun. I hear you on the love for spinners. Currently, I go between a roller and the Tom Bihn Tri-Star or Aeronaut depending on the trip/destination. However, my next wheeled suitcase will definitely be a spinner. It’s amazing how much easier the spinners make those long airport and train stations treks compared to their two-wheeled counterparts.

  • Jennifer -

    June 26, 2013 at 12:16 am

    I love the picture of the spinner!! I have one similar and I love it because it’s super lightweight and I can literally push it with one finger.

    • Randy Kalp -

      June 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Haha! I know exactly what you mean. The spinners glide really nicely on the airport linoleum. I’ve seen Beth pull the one finger move on multiple occasions too. Personally, I like doing technical spins on the people mover when I’m in control of it.

  • Diane -

    July 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering does the gorgeous pup come with the spinner?


  • Domingo U. Moreno -

    July 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

    We all have travel-related idiosyncrasies, and everyone’s style is just a bit different, which is why the war over suitcases vs backpacks is everlastingly entrenched. On the backpacker circuit it’s a unified front of loyal soldiers in favor of the backpack brigade, whereas the hotel faithful adore their beloved wheels.

  • Linda Bibb -

    February 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I’m 100% in agreement that spinners revolutionize travel. It’s worth buying the best you can afford, because cobbled streets and rough sidewalks will quickly destroy cheap wheels. Thanks for that recommendation. I’m ready for a new carry-on and had never heard of Hartmann before.