Hands-on Gear Review

Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Review

Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner
Price:  $649 List | $619.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Lots of storage, trick expansion feature, suit folder, replaceable parts
Cons:  Expensive, heavy
Bottom line:  An all around well-built and thoughtfully designed suitcase.
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight:  12.3 lbs
Dimensions:  25.5 x 20 x 10 in.
# of Wheels:  4
Manufacturer:   Briggs & Riley

Our Verdict

At first, it looked like the Briggs & Riley Baseline was going to run away with the prize. Scoring top marks in almost every category, the Baseline seemed unstoppable. But in the final moments, it faltered in the weight category, leaving it just a half-point shy of the Timbuk2 Copilot and the top spot. The Baseline wowed us with features we never imagined on a suitcase, and the offer of replacement parts for a suitcase was the most far-fetched offering we had imagined. It is plain that the Baseline is the result of a company that wants their bag to be the last bag you purchase.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Dave Eyvazzadeh

Last Updated:
Friday
February 23, 2018

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The Briggs & Riley Baseline has it all: features, storage, looks. This gluttonous bag wanted to pack every feature and every bit of sturdiness into one piece of checked luggage. And that is exactly how it ended up heavier than every other bag in the review. Had the Baseline gone on even the most modest diet, it would have won it all. Even so, the Baseline spared no expense to create one of the best performing suitcases we have laid hands on. A clean, professional look and easy-gliding oversized spinners topped off this well built and easy traveling suitcase. The only real let-down for this suitcase is the high cost of ownership. It wasn't only the heaviest; it was also the most expensive suitcase we tested. And we still love it.

The Baseline offers up one of the highest levels of durability in our fleet.
The Baseline offers up one of the highest levels of durability in our fleet.

Performance Comparison


The Baseline just about took the top-line with a star-studded performance in all but one of our performance comparisons. Losing out by only a half-point, the Baseline belongs in the top ranks beside the Timbuk2 CoPilot and the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2.

Durability


With more features than most, the Baseline made us wonder — How long until something breaks? With suitcases, breaking a wheel or other primary feature equates to the kiss of death. But Briggs & Riley has an answer for that. Not only do they provide a lifetime guarantee, but you can also "purchase" spare parts on the website for no charge. Of course, there is a fee for shipping, but it sure beats throwing out a perfectly good suitcase because a wheel broke in transit.


To be fair, nothing about the Briggs & Riley bag seems ready to break out of the box. But we all know the unpredictability of the trials endured by checked luggage. And Briggs & Riley know too, illustrated by their use of an ultra-durable 2520D ballistic nylon over a hybrid fiberglass frame. And although extra-dense weave results in an extra-durable outer skin, this bag features the collapsible handle on the exterior which protects that skin from excess abrasion. Briggs & Riley want the Baseline to be the last piece of luggage you buy, and it shows.

Only two other suitcases matched with high levels of durability — the Timbuk2 CoPilot and the Burton Wheelie Double Deck.

Ultra-high abrasion resistance  exterior handle stanchions  and amazing replacement part program were persuasive factors for durability. Pictured here is the Briggs & Riley Baseline.
Ultra-high abrasion resistance, exterior handle stanchions, and amazing replacement part program were persuasive factors for durability. Pictured here is the Briggs & Riley Baseline.

Storage


With plenty of storage space, and then some, the Baseline had no problem with storing our massive packing list. Although unnecessary for this packing endeavor, the expansion feature let us know early on that space was of little concern.


On the outside of the bag, you'll find both a small accessory pocket and an extra large pocket for convenience. You'll find both a suit-folding pocket and mesh accessory bag inside the front panel. Where function usurped fashion is the collapsible handle mounted on the exterior of the bag, saving valuable interior storage space. With a similar exterior layout and a suit-folding option, we found the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2 a great alternative if the Baseline is not the right fit.

Clean lines inside and out with plenty of storage options and features to keep everything in place.
Clean lines inside and out with plenty of storage options and features to keep everything in place.

Ease of Transport


Most spinner suitcases struggled in our transportability test in one aspect or another. The Baseline was hands down the most easily transported spinner suitcase we tested and ranked higher than some traditional suitcases.


Larger double-wheeled spinners mounted as close to the back as possible made the Baseline as easy to pull behind as most any other suitcase. With the added benefit of spinner mode on a smoother surface, sturdy handles for lifting, and a bottom handle for laying on a valet rack, the Baseline is ready for any travel situation.

Large double-spinners and a bottom carry handle increased the transportability.
Large double-spinners and a bottom carry handle increased the transportability.

Features


The features found on this bag were each well thought out and executed. The add-a-bag "SmartLink" strap easily keys into the top receiver without any fuss.


The collapsible handle extends to any of 4 extended positions to ensure you have a confident and comfortable grip on the bag whether you're pulling it or pushing it. The tri-fold suit folder practically automates packing a suit for you to prevent wrinkles. And the cinch-down mesh panels are great for keeping your clothes in one place.

The simple-to-use SmartLink strap.
The simple-to-use SmartLink strap.

However, the hands-down most tricked-out feature the Baseline showed up with is the CX compression-expansion system. With the pull of a lever, this already spacious suitcase increases in size by 25%. The ratcheting system even lets you collapse it back down by simply pushing the front of the suitcase, a handy feature for compressing down your bag after it is fully packed and zipped up.

A simple pill of the level expands the CX system  while a push engages the ratchet system to compress your bag.
A simple pill of the level expands the CX system, while a push engages the ratchet system to compress your bag.

The bag that seemed to keep up with Baseline was the same bag that shared some similarity in features — the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2.

The CX compression-expansion system provides a full 2.5" of additional room.
The CX compression-expansion system provides a full 2.5" of additional room.

Weight


The Baseline was one of the largest, most durable and feature rich suitcases of the test. Unfortunately, those extra features equated to pounds — 12.3 of them according to our scales — giving this bag the unofficial title of "heaviest in class."


Style


Everything about the Baseline implies durability with an air of confidence, and the style of this bag coordinates.


Like a ballet-dancing lumberjack, this bag handles just about anything while remaining light on its feet.

Clean  yet sophisticated.
Clean, yet sophisticated.

Best Applications


The Baseline will suit anyone that is willing to pay the price. Certainly a bag for the seasoned and discerning traveler, if you find yourself between long work trips and family vacations, the Baseline will provide the flexibility you want and the durability you need.

Value


Although the Baseline is far and away the most expensive of the review at $649, we think you'll actually get what you pay for. There are certainly better value-priced options and better bang-for-the-buck bags, but no other bag is as much of a long-term investment as this.


Conclusion


Nearly our overall winner, the Baseline showed us what money can buy. And if happiness were a suitcase, this might be it. So If you're willing and able to drop the pretty penny on this bag, you won't be sorry — unless you spent your entire travel budget on it.

Dave Eyvazzadeh

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Most recent review: February 23, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
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