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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner Review

A high-end, super durable bag with plenty of smart features and a surprising amount of space with a premium price tag to match
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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner Review
Credit: Jason Wanlass
Price:  $699 List
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Manufacturer:   Briggs & Riley
By Myrha Colt, Maggie Nichols, and Jason Wanlass  ⋅  Nov 15, 2023

#4 of 14
  • Capacity - 35% 6.8
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9.0
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9.2
  • Design and Functionality - 20% 9.5

Our Verdict

Premium is the name of the game with the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner as there was no metric for which this bag didn't deliver top-tier performance. Understated yet luxe in design, aesthetic, and functionality, this clever but pricey case is built to meet the same U.S. domestic airline overhead bin dimension requirements as all the rest. Yet, it comes with an innovative compression system that allows you to squeeze in so much more than any other —- all while still maintaining its original size. There is no question that this high-end suitcase is one of the best premium softshell carry ons around. See how it ranked next to the competition in our carry on luggage review.
Sophisticated design
Innovative compression
Stable and durable
Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 15, 2023, after retesting the most current version.

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Bottom Line A pricey yet extremely durable option with impressive features and functionalityWith its thoughtful details, strong performance, and quality construction, this bag is a frequent traveler’s dreamAn affordable four-wheel roller with impressive storage space and numerous color optionsA host of useful features combined with a durable foundation and solid functionality make this reasonably priced softshell an easy choice to meet your carry-on needsA great bargain bag perfect for shorter jaunts and basic travel
Rating Categories Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 20-In...
Capacity (35%)
Ease of Transport (25%)
Construction Quality (20%)
Design and Functionality (20%)
Specs Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 20-In...
Weight (Measured) 10.1 lb 8.1 lb 6.8 lb 7.3 lb 6.6 lb
Exterior Dimensions 22.1" x 14.3" x 9.1" 23.5" x 14.3" x 9.0" 21.5" x 14.0" x 9.5" 23.0" x 14.1" x 10.0" 22.0" x 14.8" x 10.0"
Main Compartment Volume (Measured) 36 L 40 L 39 L 40.5 L 36 L
Exterior Material High-density nylon Polycarbonate Polycarbonate Polyester Polycarbonate
Number of Wheels 4 4 4 4 4
Pull Handle Heights 5 (27", 29", 32", 34", 43") 5 (28", 36", 38", 40", 42.5") 5 (25", 30.5", 33", 36", 41.5") 3 (28", 34.5", 43") 2 (33", 41")
Opening Style Top lid Top lid Half shell Top lid Half shell
Locking System Zipper loop Zipper loop Combination/TSA lock Zipper loop None
Number of Exterior Pockets 3 3 None 2 None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Boasting a remarkably deceptive capacity and classically understated good looks, the high-end Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner knows its priorities — core strength, innovative and reliable design, and thoughtful, highly effective features. Polished, smart, and hyper-responsive, it's sure to reduce the pains of packing and might just introduce a dash of joy back into those long travel days.

Performance Comparison

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner - grabbing a last minute boarding pass in style.
Grabbing a last minute boarding pass in style.
Credit: Jason Wanlass


There is a fine line between a collection of smart and useful extras that can make packing and travel easier and a bunch of potentially burdensome features that may get in the way and slow your prep and movements down. Briggs & Riley manages to master this line with aplomb.

A large flip-lid delivers a wide front-side opening to the 36-liter main compartment, offering immediate access to two interior mesh zip pockets sized just large enough to separate one's undergarments or other small necessities from the core contents of the bag. Upon closer inspection, you'll notice a much more elaborate storage feature hidden just behind: a tri-fold garment envelope nested subtly into the structure of the opening lid. To access it, just unzip and unfold the suiter down into the central storage area below. Then, once you've laid out and secured your delicate attire into place, just fold the envelope back up into the lid for closure to help minimize wrinkles in transit. Business and wedding travelers alike will rejoice at the simplicity and effectiveness of this design.

You'll also quickly notice that the Baseline Essential Spinner's main compartment has a perfectly flat base. This is with intention, as they've opted to attach their aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle -– a core structural feature that is typically found within the interior of a carry on to reduce the overall exterior dimensions –- onto the outside of the case, instantly upgrading the bag's storage capacity by removing what can become an awkward obstacle and replacing it with a flat packable surface.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner - rico suave. features like the tri-folding suiter impede on packing...
Rico Suave. Features like the tri-folding suiter impede on packing volume, but make up the difference by being a great way to keep your business or wedding attire neatly pressed and stowed away from the rest of your items.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

That said, the Baseline Essential Spinner's 36-liter main compartment offers less packing volume than many of the bags in our lineup. Likewise, it's the heaviest member of our flight crew, weighing in at 10.1 pounds. We attribute this to its comprehensive packing system accessories.

We easily packed for a 7-day summer getaway (complete with different outfits for each day of the trip) during testing and found the Briggs & Riley to be one of the most “packable” of all carry ons we tested, leaving room to spare even without ever employing the expansion tool or having to rely on its exterior pockets. Our second packability test involved far bulkier items, including the things we'd need for a multi-day rock climbing trip, including a helmet, grigri, shoes, ropes, clothing, and so much more. And once again, even considering the highly irregular shapes and densities of the items involved, we had no problem squeezing everything in — at least once we employed the expansion feature. We even had room to spare! Once compressed the bag reduces right back down to nearly its original airline-compliant size. We were and continue to be impressed.

Briggs & Riley's ingenious one-touch compression/expansion system is placed on the inside, allowing for quick and easy deployment without the need for strained zippers.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Part of the magic of the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner is the proprietary mechanism they've created for case compression and expansion. Instead of the old unzip-it trick as found on most expandable carry ons, this bag's system is two-fold, with both compression and expansion elements built right into the main compartment. The first step requires releasing the expansion feature by pulling gently up on two tabs found embedded into the side of the bag's interior. Next, you'll make use of its two well-crafted compression panels, each set wide across the length of the bag. These work wonders on their own, adding a great deal of capacity to the bag without any further expansion. Cinch the panels down over your belongings and watch as nearly everything in your suitcase compresses neatly below. Then just re-zipper your bag closed and press down on its outer edges. This will engage the expansion tool, compressing everything down as your suitcase reduces in size yet again. A nifty party trick and an even better travel tool.

You can fit a lot into the Baseline Essential Spinner from the...
You can fit a lot into the Baseline Essential Spinner from the get-go, without the need for overstuffing.
The well-designed compression panels make easy work out of reducing...
The well-designed compression panels make easy work out of reducing the size of the contents in your bag, before you've even touched the compression/expansion feature. They also work well for locking in loose bulky items for transit.
Use the tri-fold garment envelope incorporated into the lid of the...
Use the tri-fold garment envelope incorporated into the lid of the Baseline Essential Spinner to keep your delicate clothing items separated from the bulk of your compressed belongings below to minimize wrinkles.
This bag's ample space and creative packing amenities make it fun to get ready for a trip.

Ease of Transport

What makes the Baseline Essential Spinner rollaboard so compelling is just how well every aspect of the design, construction, and functionality was considered. Large shock-absorbing wheels with 360-degree maneuverability glide effortlessly beside you as you run between hotel lobbies and busy city streets or airport security lines. Strong protective wheel housings and high clearance mean the double-spinners won't flinch in the face of thresholds, curbs, or gravel.

One of the Baseline Essential Spinner's key transport features is its ergonomic telescoping handle, complete with five locking heights and one of the sturdiest we tested. It makes maneuvering long distances and tight spaces nearly effortless. Whenever a stairwell or overhead bin does appear, the two cushioned carry handles and a smaller, bottom hand grip are available to make it easy to lift and lower your case smoothly into position. As mentioned, the entire trolley handle system is located on the outside of the bag. In addition to freeing up internal space, it also doubles as a full-length bumper rail — one of the most robust we've tested.

Riding the rails. Stairs are no match for the Briggs and Riley. Its exterior-mounted trolley handle also doubles as the ultimate bumper rail, allowing the bag to slide untouched up stairs, curbs, and escalators.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

In addition to being very adaptive to a wide variety of terrain and obstacles, the Baseline Essential Spinner's wheels roll with zero vibration, and most importantly, they stay the course. Throughout our rolling tests, this bag towed the line every time, producing consistent results and proving that its spinners are built for the long haul.

Riding the line, like a gymnast on a balance beam. We were impressed with this bag's smooth ride, and its ability to taxi the runway with precision.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Construction Quality

Although surprising to some, the soft ballistic nylon exterior of the Baseline Essential is actually quite durable and well-equipped to match the regular traumas and pitfalls of life on the road. With substantial corner-guard protection and heavy reinforcement along vulnerable outer edges, the core structure of the bag is built to match the harsh demands of transit. Matched by an aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle, big hefty zippers, and a set of large, road-ready shock-absorbing spinner wheels. Every feature on this carry on is built to serve and last.

Equally impressive is how the Baseline Essential Spinner stood up to testing, looking just as good on day one as it did coming out the other side, surviving hauls up and down stairwells, long walks across rough gravel, dubious hours in airline care, and multiple drop tests onto rock-solid concrete. In each case, this rugged carry on was nearly unphased. And on the few occasions when tiny scuffs or scrapes did appear, we were impressed with how well those minor blemishes blended easily into the bag's understated softshell. We were specifically impressed with how our Baseline Essential responded to being dropped from three feet in the air and pushed down concrete stairs. In both tests, its exterior-mounted trolley handle proved to be an exceptional construction component that protects and offers added packing space.

When sent for a ride down the stairs, this case quickly flips onto its back and skis down the steps, thanks to its exterior trolley handle that acts as a bumper rail.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

An occasional rain storm or spilled drink is no match for the Baseline Essential's rugged exterior shell. We drenched it with a five-minute hose-water rainstorm during our water tests and were pleased to find its main compartment virtually dry. However, its exterior pockets were just a tad damp.

Our blue paper towel showed no signs of moisture after our Briggs and Riley was drenched during our self-made rain storm.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Design and Functionality

If you want to stand out in a crowd, this case is probably not going to be the first to draw your eye. Its classically sophisticated softshell exterior is well-designed to transition between professional meetings and leisurely vacation destinations without a hitch, but it won't likely pair well with the bold urban style of today's fashionistas. Then again, what it lacks in color options or blingy accessories, it more than makes up for in quality of design and top-tier functionality. So for those who prefer an aesthetic that's more luxe than trendsetting and have the budget to pay for premium performance, this sleek, understated rollaboard will not disappoint.

The Baseline Essential Spinner embodies a simple, classic design but still includes a number of highly valuable organizational features. A tri-fold garment keeper along the inside of its opening flap minimizes wrinkles on delicate fabrics when needed. When not in use, the envelope's streamlined design keeps it discretely tucked out of the way so you can focus on using the main compartment to pack your essentials. It's also entirely removed from the core compression system below, so cinched panels don't scrunch finer items above. The Baseline Essential Spinner also comes equipped with two good-sized front exterior pockets (including a sleeve large enough to fit a small laptop), a SmartLink strap to secure a second bag to your case, a power pocket nested at the back, and a TSA-approved lock to secure the contents of your bag. So many well-designed yet simple solutions to common needs that will make your travel days brighter. Our only complaint when it comes to this premium case is its heavy weight –- among the heaviest in the entire collection –- which we suppose is the tradeoff necessary to enjoy the wide range of high-quality, valuable features that otherwise make it a reviewer favorite.

Stowing our passport in the top pocket. We loved the ability to...
Stowing our passport in the top pocket. We loved the ability to easily stash boarding docs, itineraries, or other important items quickly and securely.
The Briggs and Riley makes use of every piece of open space. This...
The Briggs and Riley makes use of every piece of open space. This backside phone pouch is a unique accessory, but it does sit in tight quarters, and is a little inconvenient to reach.
Thoughtfully designed pockets make it easy to organize all of your extras.

The Baseline Essential also boasts some of the best zippers from the test group, with pulls that glide like butter around the edges of the bag, even at full capacity. Not once did we have to fight with them nor worry they'd get caught up on closure or give out when the bag became overstuffed. Meanwhile, each of the three exterior pockets is well thought-out in terms of placement and size, allowing us to organize and access all day-of incidentals easily while on the move. The large front sleeve pocket stowed a 17-inch laptop with no problem, while a smaller, brightly-lined pocket just above was perfect for tossing in our phone, tickets, or keys. An inconspicuous power pocket nested on the backside within the external telescoping handle mount is a perfect spot to stash a power charger and cords so they are easy to grab for a boost while on the move.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner - stowing our laptop before wheeling over to the security line. this...
Stowing our laptop before wheeling over to the security line. This exterior pouch makes quick work of storing frequently needed items, like electronic devices, magazines, or work documents.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Should You Buy the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner?

We're pleased to report this suitcase performs so well, given it's a very expensive carry on option in a suitcase category that includes other notably expensive choices. At full price, the purchase could be a tough pill to swallow. But it is undeniably an excellent piece of premium luggage with a variety of valuable features and a structure built to last for years to come. This would be an ideal carry on for someone who travels extensively for work and needs to stay organized while also looking and feeling put together upon landing. And it would no doubt be loved by anyone whose vacation plans include special events requiring fancier, more extravagant attire, as the built-in suiter is a wonderful tool for protecting delicate fabrics of suits and dresses in transit. So while it's not our top choice for average traveler needs, it is well up at the top of our list of favorite carry ons for anyone who has the budget to support such a premium purchase.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner - that's a wrap. heading downstairs to catch an uber.
That's a wrap. Heading downstairs to catch an Uber.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

What Other Carry On Luggage Should You Consider?

If your budget requires a bit more restraint, but you want similar features and functionality, the Travelpro Platinum Elite is a superb option for both looks and usability and costs less. Or, if you want to explore a hardshell option of a similarly premium build and design, check out the Away The Carry-On, Tumi 19 Degree International Expandable, or the very premium Rimowa Original Cabin.

Myrha Colt, Maggie Nichols, and Jason Wanlass