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Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner Review

This bag is expensive but promises a lifetime of organized packing and happy urban rolling
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Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner Review
Credit: Jason Wanlass
Price:  $869 List
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Manufacturer:   Briggs and Riley
By Myrha Colt and Jason Wanlass  ⋅  Nov 14, 2023
83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 17
  • Capacity - 35% 6.0
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9.0
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9.8
  • Design and Functionality - 20% 9.8

Our Verdict

The Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner is our favorite premium softshell in our luggage review because of its undeniable top-tier craftsmanship. Its unique design turns packing into an art form and makes it easy to keep things organized and relatively wrinkle-free. Its innovative expansion system allows you to increase and decrease the bag's volume without having to wind or unwind zippers. One of our favorite four-wheeled rollers we tested, it runs smoothly through airports and admirably tackles cobblestones and curbs outside. Although expensive, this case continues to be an excellent investment, and we are confident you will be able to rely on it for years to come.
REASONS TO BUY
Well-made
Innovative compression
Rolls beautifully
Tri-fold hanging garment folder
REASONS TO AVOID
Very expensive
Heavy
Difficult to roll on mixed terrain
Editor's Note: We revised this article on November 14, 2023, to include additional information on and comparisons to other models in our updated lineup.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $869 List
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Bottom Line You get what you pay for with this expensive and innovative city suitcaseThis well-organized bag works admirably and has good organization features, but it's hugeOne big bag (probably too big for most) of quality build, limited organizational features, and high transport performance over smooth urban terrainA solid enough bag with a reputable namesake, ample space, a few convenient accessories, and an appealing price tagLarge in size and great in value for short-term needs
Rating Categories Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 30" H...
Capacity (35%)
6.0
8.8
9.0
7.0
6.7
Ease of Transport (25%)
9.0
9.0
5.9
6.0
6.2
Construction Quality (20%)
9.8
9.0
6.0
6.5
5.0
Design and Functionality (20%)
9.8
9.5
6.0
6.8
5.0
Specs Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 30" H...
Weight (Measured) 13.7 lb 12.2 lb 10.3 lb 11.1 lb 11.6 lb
Exterior Dimensions 29.0" x 20.25" x 12.5" 29.5" x 20.0." x 12.75" 30.5" x 20.5" x 13.0" 28.5" x 17.25" x 12.5" 30.75" x 21.0" x 12.0
Main Compartment Volume (Measured) 92.5 L 117 L 108 L 87 L 84 L
Exterior Material 1680D ballistic nylonD High-density nylon fabric with DuraGuard Polycarbonate Polyester Extra-thick ABS, hard shell
Number of Wheels 4 4 4 4 4
Pull Handle Heights 4 (37", 40”, 42", 44") 1 (42") 2 36", 41") 2 (37", 41") 3 (32", 36", 40")
Opening Style Top lid Top lid Half shell Top lid Half shell
Locking System Zipper loop Combination/TSA lock Combination/TSA lock Zipper loop None
Number of Exterior Pockets 2 2 None 2 None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Briggs & Riley tout the longevity of their luggage via a Simple As That Guarantee. While we haven't put this guarantee to the test, the Baseline Expandable Spinner is very well made, and we expect it to last. The innovative CX compression system, which we'll describe in more detail below, also lets you pack way more than an average bag this size.

Performance Comparison


briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - just as classically good-looking as its predecessor, the newest...
Just as classically good-looking as its predecessor, the newest version of the Baseline Expandable Spinner won't jump out at you from the carousel but it will serve as a loyal companion on business and leisure trips for years to come.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Capacity


In our pack test, we were able to fit one tester's entire wardrobe in this bag. It has a unique expansion/compression feature that lets you pack more than seems possible within the same limited space.


The Briggs & Riley trademarked CX system uses two ratcheting plastic slide handles in the main compartment, each released with the simple press of a button, to expand the bag's depth by 2.5 inches (adding about 30% more space by stretching out a fold of the bag's structured ballistic nylon exterior). From there, you just pack in all your clothes, zip up the case, and press down on the outer edges of the bag. This pressure engages the expansion handles and sets them back to their original position. Viola, the suitcase is back to its original size.


The compression system works pretty seamlessly. We loved this unique expansion/compression system much more than the approach used by the other expandable bags we tested. Most just use a zipper to unleash an extra band of flexible fabric, which works well enough to increase space but provides little structure to protect items inside while simultaneously exposing the zippers to extra strain. The CX system tucks the extra fabric back into place, protecting the bag and its contents by using the hard shell to hold the entire package together.

Engaging the CX system on each side of the bag is easier than ever...
Engaging the CX system on each side of the bag is easier than ever with the new orange one-touch release buttons.
When you are ready to compress the bag, just zip it closed and push...
When you are ready to compress the bag, just zip it closed and push it down on the outer edges of either side.
The integrated compression system is cleverly hidden in the sides, yet works better than most to adequately shrink the contents to a more manageable size without straining zippers to the same degree as most soft-sided suitcases.

Aside from the ample storage you get with this suitcase, you'll also enjoy a smart and intuitive organizational system. There is one small, external zippered pouch for day-of-travel necessities, like your ticket and ID, sitting up top at the front side of the case. This is a slight repositioning from its location in previous versions, where it was embedded into the larger external pocket. We love having the option to keep such important items close at hand. A large, shallow U-shaped pocket runs across nearly the entire front side of the suitcase just below, providing an easy access option for storing thin layers, books, or entertainment options on the go.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - one of the key changes in the most recent update to the briggs &...
One of the key changes in the most recent update to the Briggs & Riley Large Expandable Spinner is the location of the small front side pocket (now placing it slightly higher up on the bag, embedded into the body versus the larger sleeve pocket below).
Credit: Myrha Colt

The main compartment is spacious even without the expander in play. But it doesn't unzip right down the center in clamshell form. Instead, the large top zip-panel opening reveals a tri-fold hanging compartment on the flip side (now with a soft, more flexible fabric strap "hook"). If you're traveling with a dress or suit, laying it out here using the thick bolsters to lock it in will help keep wrinkles at bay. Once you've zipped those items away, you'll also find two zip-mesh pockets on the inside of that main entrance flap for toiletries or accessories (a change from the single mesh pocket included in earlier iterations of the case).

There are now two mesh pockets lining the inside of the opening lid...
There are now two mesh pockets lining the inside of the opening lid (with the tri-fold garment envelope contained below). But the smart design of the garment panel design at the base of the main compartment has not changed and remains a great way to restrain and compress items inside.
A built-in tri-fold garment envelope makes this the perfect case for...
A built-in tri-fold garment envelope makes this the perfect case for business travel when you might need to have nicer dresses or a suit along for the journey. A foam roll bar at the base helps you to neatly holds the items in place and prevent wrinkling.
Since hangers come in varying degrees of thickness, the hook in the...
Since hangers come in varying degrees of thickness, the hook in the tri-fold garment envelope has been now been updated with a cinching strap instead (to make it easier to adjust when packing your items).
If you tend to travel with clothing you would rather not fold, this is a great option.

From here, organize the large, open compartment as you like. You can use the two smart garment panels to affix loose items toward the back. This works great for storing clothing you are less likely to use upfront — the just-in-case jacket, for example -— and any pieces that have less immediacy for your travels. Just cinch them down over those belongings, and there's still plenty more space to add in the things you'll need first or most often.


If you decide to throw in even more, simply expand the main compartment, stuff it in, and compress the whole bag down again. Then add your contact information to the luggage tag tucked away on the backside of the case and attach your purse or laptop using the SmartLink strap at the front, and you're quickly ready to roll.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - once compressed, the expansion "panel" disappears back inside the...
Once compressed, the expansion “panel” disappears back inside the hard structure of the case.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Ease of Transport


The Baseline Spinner suitcase is our favorite four-wheeled roller. Larger wheels with a new proprietary shock-absorbing design (an update on this new model) make for smoother rolling. And four settings on the telescoping handle (up from three in the last version) mean it's even easier to find a comfortable height for your body no matter what situation you're forging through. Double-swivel wheels keep up with instant directional changes, and the internal restraint and compression systems ensure the bag never topples unbalanced.


On busy streets, it tracts right alongside you, staying out of your way and everyone else's. We even like this spinner bag's rolling action on cobbled streets and appreciate how its external handle-housing doubles as bumper protection when dragged over curbs. While gravel and rough roads were less maneuverable — more like a hard drag on two wheels versus a roll — and the fully-weighted case proved challenging to roll uphill when relying on one hand alone. Overall, the large Baseline Spinner performed no worse under these circumstances than other spinners in our test group, and it was exceptionally easy to control on smooth terrain. The Baseline Spinner also proved itself well in our more controlled studies. During our rolling tests, it tracked as well or better than most of the bags we examined.

Walking the line. We rolled each of our suitcases along a 10-foot line of tape to see how well they tracked and maintained direction.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

The telescoping handle has subtle V-indentations that Briggs & Riley claims make it stronger and less prone to jamming. Given the sturdy feel, we buy the stronger bit, and we never ran into jams. The handle extends and contracts easily with a press of the center button on the handle. We also like that the handle's housing is built outside the suitcase, maintaining perfectly flat packing space inside to ensure maximum flexibility and capacity when storing your items. The externally mounted design also pulls double duty as a well-fortified, full-length bumper rail that effectively protects the back side of the suitcase from slamming into stairs and curbs. This is a very simple design tweak that is a relatively unnoticed, silent warrior that provides an impressive amount of added value to the Baseline Spinner.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - when dragging a large suitcase like this up the stairs, we...
When dragging a large suitcase like this up the stairs, we appreciate the protective bumpers on the back side, making our lives easier and keeping our belongings safer.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

When you need to pick the bag up to tackle a shuttle bus or load it in a car, you have three handles to grip, increasing the chances that one will be within reach. There's a large, plush hand-hold up top, a fabric grab handle at the bottom (an upgrade from the slip-pocket found in the last version), and a streamlined grip to one side. We like these low-profile options as they help you manipulate the bag without protruding enough to catch or get in the way while in motion.

The finger sleeve that once appeared at the bottom of the Baseline...
The finger sleeve that once appeared at the bottom of the Baseline Spinner is gone now, replaced with a sturdy full-size for even easier loading.
One of the newest updates to the Baseline Spinner is the addition of...
One of the newest updates to the Baseline Spinner is the addition of a full grab handle at the bottom of the suitcase (rather than the sleeve that used to exist in its place).
Having good quality handles in all the right places helps to easily load and unload this suitcase.

We also really appreciate this bag's SmartLink system. It's essentially an extra strap that quickly hooks on the top of the bag in a loop to hold another small duffel or purse. It snaps and unsnaps quickly, letting you stow your personal item as you make your way through hotels or airports.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - the smartlink strap makes a handy edition for day-of travel. just...
The SmartLink strap makes a handy edition for day-of travel. Just strap your purse, laptop, or any other personal item to the outside and you can roll the whole set of bags together at your side.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Construction Quality


Briggs & Riley isn't shy about advertising their guarantee — they'll repair any functional piece of the bag for its lifetime. That guarantee goes a long way to justifying this bag's price tag, and we're pleased to report its ease of use has been confirmed directly to us by travelers who've taken advantage of the resource successfully in the past.


This bag does seem very well made, with thick ballistic nylon outer fabric, full-length bumpers, and low-profile (now even larger) edge guards to protect it from excessive wear and tear.

A concrete staircase is no match for the Briggs & Riley's ballistic-nylon exterior, full-length bumper rails, and reinforced corners. It breezed through several rounds of tumble tests.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

The wheels are wobble-free, the handles sturdy, and the zippers not only thick but supposedly self-repairing. Even the zipper pulls seem thoughtfully constructed, with a divot for your fingertip to make them more ergonomically comfortable in your hand. The bag doesn't come with an integrated lock, but they do send a TSA-compliant loop lock with the bag. It runs between the main zippers to secure your belongings. A hide-away leather ID tag lives discreetly on the other side as a convenient tracking feature.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - ergonomic zipper pulls, a tsa cable combination lock (included), and...
Ergonomic zipper pulls, a TSA cable combination lock (included), and the option for monogram leather detailing are among the many extras that make this high-end suitcase stand out among the crowd.
Credit: Myrha Colt

During our water tests, the protective ballistic nylon shell performed well overall, repelling water from all surfaces during consistent showers, with top-side beading as the only exterior sign of impact.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - though this suitcase doesn't entirely repel water - particularly...
Though this suitcase doesn't entirely repel water - particularly around its zippers - it still beads effectively on the fabric, helping to protect your clothing while you head to the hotel.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

After dousing our Baseline Spinner from all angles for several minutes, we turned off the hose and inspected it more closely for signs of water seepage. The exterior pockets were mildly damp on the inside, while the main compartment was relatively dry. Prior to our self-made rainstorm, we placed a strip of blue paper towel inside the bag to show signs of any moisture. It was dry. However, upon closure inspection, we did find signs of mild moisture along the interior perimeter walls. Although only slightly damp, this seepage was quite prominent and widespread. We feel this was in part due to the lighter-colored interior fabric's natural ability to show moisture. So, while not perfectly water-resistant, the Baseline Spinner does an excellent job at keeping rain or spills from making their way to your valuables.

Water was able to seep in around the edges of the compression space, as you can see on the light-colored interior fabric.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Despite its impeccable construction quality, we do question the practical lifespan of the plastic in the CX expansion/compression system. Although it seems well-made, and we recognize it won't be exposed to much sunlight or wear and tear, we also know plastic can fail. We'll just have to trust the company's warranty policy on this one. But for a case of this price, we think it's important to consider where and how that feature will be used so you can weigh the pros and potential cons accordingly.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - the new one-touch cx expansion button is a recent upgrade to the...
The new one-touch CX expansion button is a recent upgrade to the Baseline Spinner. Just a quick press of each button and you can easily pull up both sides of the bag to expand.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Design and Functionality


The Expandable Spinner doesn't jump out as the most fashionable bag available today. We're going to call it a classic. It looks nice because it's well made, uses durable fabric that doesn't easily show wear and tear, and nothing about it is edgy or offensive.


This also means the style is unlikely to fade out of fashion completely. We really appreciate this since buying less means a smaller impact on your wallet in the long term. It's also better for the planet.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - arriving at the hotel in style. the baseline spinner's high-quality...
Arriving at the hotel in style. The Baseline Spinner's high-quality wheels are absolute pros on any flat surface. They can turn on a dime, and can glide over concrete or tile like a hot knife through butter.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Should You Buy the Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner?


Briggs & Riley offers a lifetime guarantee on their products. But remember, those always refer to the reasonable lifetime of the product, not your lifetime. And rarely do companies define what they think is reasonable. But Briggs & Riley promises to repair all functional components of your bag for free without any proof of purchase — this just doesn't apply to simple cosmetic damage.

To us, this warranty and how well-built and sturdy this suitcase proved itself during testing is key. It's expensive for sure, but if it lasts a decade or two, its cost per use drops sharply. If it is as durable as our testing indicates, and you're someone who values packing flexibility with the option to keep fancy clothes relatively wrinkle-free, we see this bag as a solid investment.

briggs & riley baseline large expandable spinner - heading on vacation with the understated style and high quality of...
Heading on vacation with the understated style and high quality of the Briggs & Riley Baseline.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

What Other Suitcases Should You Consider?


For a suitcase offering more organizational features and a classic soft-sided look, check out the less expensive Travelpro Platinum Elite 29". It has many similar features to those of the Briggs & Riley but with less damage to your wallet and a lower number on the scale. Into the premium look and lifestyle? The Rimowa Essential Check-In L and Tumi 19 Degree Extended Trip Expandable are some of our favorite high-class hard-sided luggages. If you're not ready to spend the big bucks, the SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Roller 29" could be just what you're looking for. This soft-sided suitcase is far more affordable and has just enough functionality for the infrequent traveler.

Myrha Colt and Jason Wanlass