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Hands-on Gear Review
Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic Review
Cons: Expensive, heavy, not as maneuverable as a four-wheeled bag.
Bottom line: A high-end bag that will last a lifetime, and then some.
We've awarded the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic carry-on bag our Top Pick for Business Travel for several reasons. Firstly, this bag is well-constructed with sturdy materials that are sure to last through thousands of miles flown. Its unique "Outsider" handle (the telescoping handle is on the outside of the bag) provides a flat interior packing surface and maximizes internal space. Plus, its equally unique "CX" internal expansion system provides 25% more volume in case you return home with more items than you left with. Its built-in garment bag keeps your work attire wrinkle free, and ensures that you never forget it hanging in a hotel closet. It has a classic, professional look to it suitable for any business environment. Finally, all this is backed by their "Simple as That" guarantee. Briggs and Riley will repair any damage to your bag, be it a manufacturer defect or something that was caused by an airline, for life. While you'll pay twice as much for this bag as most of the other models in this review, if you are a frequent flyer (or notoriously hard on your luggage) we think the Baseline Domestic expandable carry-on is a solid investment. If you are looking for a more casual bag that has lots of its own unique features, our Editors' Choice winning Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On is a great choice as well.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic expandable carry-on bag measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches and weighs 9 lbs 3 oz. It is made with a heavy duty ballistic nylon. It has four exterior compartments (one of which can hold a 17" laptop) and two interior pockets, including a built-in garment bag section. It currently comes in Black and Olive color choices.
Check out how the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic bag performed next to the rest of the bags in our carry-on review.
Ease of Transport
The Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic did not score very high in this metric. Our testers found that this bag was not as maneuverable in an airport or on the plane as a four-wheeled bag. In fact, it is so wide that it kept hitting the arm rests down the aisle of the plane unless we pulled it perfectly centered. That said, the large, wide wheels on the Domestic do make it easier to roll on uneven surfaces, like a parking lot, and the three carrying handles made removing it from overhead bins or the trunk of a car easier. This is one of the heaviest bags in the review; we especially noticed the weight when it was loaded up with a laptop and clothes for a four day trip while dragging it through miles of airport corridors. While some travelers still swear by two-wheeled bags, there is no question that a four-wheeled bag that you can push is much easier on your arms and shoulders.
If you love all the features of this bag but prefer a four-wheeled model, Briggs and Riley has you covered with the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Spinner. The Spinner version has a slightly smaller internal volume (42.5L) but is otherwise identical to this bag.
We did run into an issue with this bag not completely fitting in one airline's test bin. A first we couldn't fit it at all, then we removed our computer from the exterior pocket and it almost fit all the way in, but not quite. While this bag still easily fit in the overhead storage bin on the plane, a gate agent would be able to require you to check this bag if it didn't fit in their test bin. Considering that there is usually a fee associated with checked bags these days, not to mention the hassle of dealing with this when trying to board a plane, we recommend that you not over-stuff the Domestic if using it as a carry-on to avoid this issue.
The Baseline Domestic scored a 10/10 in the Storage metric, outshining all the other carry-on bags we tested! Check out the chart below to see how the other bags stacked up.
This carry-on wowed us in this metric — this bag can hold a lot of stuff. First, we tried it with our wintertime long weekend pack test, and it easily held everything that we might need for a three-day trip, including a change of business attire or a nice dress and heels.
Then the Delsey Shadow 3.0 21's manufacturers threw down a challenge, stating that it could (and did) hold four pairs of pants, ten shirts, four pairs of shoes, two jackets and two toiletry bags without having to expand the bag. We tried this ultimate pack-for-a-week-in-a-carry-on test with this model, and it also easily held all of the above, including a suit!
This carry-on has such a large internal volume thanks to its unique design - the telescoping handle tubes are placed on the outside of the bag. This creates a flat surface on the inside for maximum packing capacity (44.6 L according to the manufacturer), without those annoying ridges found in most other bags. This bag can also expand from the inside. It's unique "CX" expansion system lifts the sides of the bag up an additional 2 inches, much more than the typical 1 to 1.5 inches created by expandable zippers, and increases the carrying volume by 25%. This system also alleviates the problem of trying to get into your bag only to discover that you've undone the expanding zipper (again!) and not the main zipper.
This bag is loaded with features to make packing and traveling a breeze. It scored a 9 out of 10 in the Features metric, coming in second place just behind the Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On.
The internal mesh/elastic compression straps are almost as wide as the bag, which means they will keep all of your items securely in place should you need to open the bag mid-journey. The zipper tabs are lockable on both the main compartment and the exterior padded laptop sleeve, so you can lock whatever is important to you.
We already mentioned the expansion system and large packing capacity of this bag, which our testers preferred over other models like the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 (it has an external expanding zipper). The internal suiter on the Domestic is well-designed and ensures that you can't lose your garment bag, and the bottom end of it zips off in case you prefer to use that internal pocket for documents or other items instead of a suit. There is also a sunglasses case located on the outside of the bag between the telescoping handles. Finally, the Domestic comes with an add-a-bag strap that is housed in its own pocket (so you can't lose it) should you want to attach a briefcase or boarding bag to your carry-on.
This bag is made with high quality materials and attention to detail. The main fabric of the bag is ballistic nylon to minimize abrasion, wear, moisture and dirt. Even after several flights we still do not see any visible scratches or marks on this bag, unlike all the other models that we tested, including the Samsonite Inova 20 and the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2.
The Baseline Domestic also has protective corner guards on all four corners to minimize wear in those high impact areas. The only part of this bag that we were worried about was the telescoping handle. It does seem to be securely attached to the frame, which was one concern that we initially had about this bag considering that it is on the outside and could potentially be ripped off the bag entirely. We didn't have any durability issues with it though, and if it were to get damaged Briggs and Riley states that they'll replace or repair it, free of charge.
At 9 lbs 3 oz on our scale, this is the heaviest bag that we tested.
The hefty weight comes in part from the use of ballistic nylon, which is a heavy material, and some of the extra features like the reinforced corners. The Travelpro Magna 2 is similar in style to this bag but a whole pound lighter. If you prefer a lighter weight (and much less expensive) bag, then the 6 lbs 5 oz Travelpro Maxlite 4 22 or 6 lbs 5 oz Samsonite Inova 20 are good options.
This bag has a classic, well-made look to it. It is more formal than some of the colorful bags like the Rockland Melbourne 20, and classier than the Travelpro Maxlite 4. It only comes in Black and Olive colors, as ballistic nylon is difficult to dye in lighter shades.
The Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic has business written all over it, and if you believe that your luggage makes a personal statement about your values, then this bag says you are about quality, high-end products.
This bag is best suited to general airline travel, including business trips. You can easily pack for a week in this bag, and if you like to bring souvenirs home from your trips you can expand it, pack it full, and check it for the flight home. If you are only the occasional traveler, you might not need as heavy duty a bag as this one. Check out our Editors' Choice pick, the Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On.
There is no question that the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic is an expensive bag. It retails for $499 dollars, both on the manufacturer's website and popular online retailers (unlike other bags which have a high list price but then are always "on sale" for half that amount). However, if you want to purchase only one bag that will last you for years, or even decades, then this model is clearly the way to go. And should something break or get damaged, whether it was due to a defect or the airline, Briggs and Riley will repair it for you, for free. This type of all-inclusive, lifetime warranty is rare in the industry, and worth it if you find your luggage regularly gets damaged.
The Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic is the Rolls Royce of carry-on luggage. Loaded with features, well-constructed, and fairly expensive. If you want to purchase only one piece that will last a lifetime, then this bag is the one for you.
The Baseline Domestic collection offers this bag in multiple sizes. We reviewed the carry-on size (21") but it is also available in a medium (24") and a large (27").
Baseline Medium Expandable Upright
• Body dimensions: 24 x 18 x 9
• Capacity - 72.5L (28L larger than the Baseline Domestic carry-on)
• Cost - $550.00 ($50 more than the 21" carry-on)
• Weight - 10.2 lbs. (1.3 lbs heavier than the 21" carry on)
Baseline Large Expandable Upright
• Body dimensions: 27 x 20 x 9.2
• Capacity - 94.3L (50L larger than the Baseline Domestic carry-on)
• Cost - $600.00 ($100 more than the 21" carry on)
• Weight - 10.9 lbs. (2 lbs heavier than the 21" carry on)
The Baseline collection also has many other shapes and designs to fit other specific needs.
• Body dimensions: 19 x 15.5 x 8
• Capacity - 40.6L (4L smaller than the 21" Domestic carry-on)
• Cost - $520.00 ($20 more than the 21" Domestic carry on)
• Weight - 8.6 lbs. (.3 lbs lighter than the 21" carry on)
• 4 double swivel wheels for easy navigation
• Body dimensions: 26 x 14 x 15.2
• Capacity - 91.2L (46.5L larger than the 21" Domestic carry-on)
• Cost - $450.00 ($50 less than the 21" Domestic carry on)
• Weight - 9.7 lbs. (.8 lbs heavier than the 21" carry on)
• Has a two separate sections: one large duffel section and a flat packing section underneath.
Wheeled Garment Bag
• Body dimensions: 14 x 21 x 8
• Capacity - 37.7L (7L smaller than the 21" Domestic carry-on)
• Cost - $530.00 ($30 more than the 21" Domestic carry on)
• Weight - 9.9 lbs. (1 lb heavier than the 21" carry on)
• Has many features to keep garment neat including: a removable extender panel, wally clamp to hang garments and a foam centered garment panel.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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