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Briggs & Riley Expandable Spinner 28" Review

This bag is expensive but promises a lifetime of organized packing and happy rolling
Briggs & Riley Expandable Spinner 28"
Photo: Briggs and Riley
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $715 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Well-made, innovative compression, rolls beautifully, hanging clothes compartment
Cons:  Expensive, questionable durability on the compression tech
Manufacturer:   Briggs and Riley
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 27, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 9
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9
  • Reliability - 25% 9
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Style - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Briggs & Riley Expandable Spinner makes it easy to pack, stay organized, and keep wrinkles to a minimum. It also uses an innovative compression system to let you pack pretty much anything you want without worrying about your suitcase exploding at the seams. We're impressed with the tri-fold hanging clothes compartment and large, unobstructed main compartment with garment panels for additional organization and compression. It's also our favorite four-wheeled roller in the test, running smoothly alongside you in the airport and admirably taking on cobblestones and curbs. It comes with a SmartLink strap to quickly hang a personal item from your bag as well. As long as it holds up as well as the company claims it will, we think this expensive bag is an excellent investment.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $715 ListCheck Price at Backcountry
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$239.85 at Backcountry$299.95 at Backcountry$85 List
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Pros Well-made, innovative compression, rolls beautifully, hanging clothes compartmentSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleAmple storage, water-resistant, durable, heavily featuredLarge wheels roll well, stable, convenient external organizationInexpensive, smooth travel, great storage
Cons Expensive, questionable durability on the compression techZippers could be smootherMany features that aren't that useful, bulky designNot much in the way of interior organizationTips over, lacks durable materials
Bottom Line This bag is expensive but promises a lifetime of organized packing and happy rollingA durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travelA tactical and durable adventure suitcase that excels at packing bulky gearA rough and tumble option that could work for anything from gear hauls to business tripsA very low priced suitcase with great storage capacity but a propensity to be tippy
Rating Categories Briggs & Riley Expa... Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... Rolling Thunder 30" AmazonBasics Expand...
Storage & Organization (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Ease Of Transport (25%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Reliability (25%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
4.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Style (10%)
8.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
4.0
Specs Briggs & Riley Expa... Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... Rolling Thunder 30" AmazonBasics Expand...
Measured Weight 12.2 lbs 9.4 lbs 9.1 lbs 10.2 lbs 9.9 lbs
Measured Volume Claimed 104.5L 80L 98L Claimed 80L 105L
Liters per pound 8.6 8.5 10.8 7.8 10.6
Construction Zip open, softshell Clamshell & peek-a-boo access, softshell Zip open, softshell Roller-duffel Clamshell, softshell
Measured Packed Dimensions 28" x 20" x 11.5" 25" x 14" x 10" 30" x 17" x 15" 28.5" x 15" x 16" 20" x 11" x 29"
Expansion Zippers? Yes No No No Yes
Number of Wheels 4 2 2 2 4
Number of Large Interior Compartments 1 2 1 1 1
Interior Storage Features Tri-fold hanging compartment with mesh toiletries pocket, garment compresssion panels 2 Mesh dividers with organizational pockets. Three smaller organizational pockets 1 mesh organizational pockets on lid of duffel Smaller organizational compartment with mesh organizer
Number of Exterior Pockets 2 pockets, 1 large sleeve, 1 small zipper pocket 1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve 2 large pockets, top and bottom. Several gear loops on the exterior. 3 pockets, top and middle. Several gear loops on the exterior. 1 large pocket
Compression System CX compression / expansioin system, garmet panels Internal compression straps Removable gear holder keeps items in place, but not compression. Compression buckles on the outside. Expandable boot pocket on the interior of the backpack. Internal and exterior compression straps Internal compression straps
Handle Height from Ground Low: 35"
Mid: 40"
High: 43"
40.75" 42" 42.5" Low: 38"
High: 42"
Built-In Lock No None None No Yes
Main Exterior Material Ballistic nylon Nylon and polyester Bi-Tech Heather, 1000D Helix Polyester Twill 1,000-denier polyester with TPE laminate/1,680-denier nylon 150D-polyester
Unique Features Compression / Expansion system Peek-a-boo front pocket, padded front pocket for a 13" laptop. Gear specific storage Duffel on wheels None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Briggs & Riley tout the longevity of their luggage, pushing their worry-free lifetime guarantee. While we haven't put in a decade of testing on the Expandable Spinner just yet, it 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


We appreciate the classic looks and impeccable function of the...
We appreciate the classic looks and impeccable function of the Expandable Spinner.
Photo: Clark Tate

Storage & Organization


In our pack test, we were able to fit our lead tester's entire wardrobe in this bag. It has a unique expansion/compression feature that lets you pack more in the same amount of space. This feature, the trademarked CX system, uses two ratcheting plastic handles in the main compartment to expand its depth by 3.5 inches (adding about 30% more space), stretching out a fold of the bag's ballistic nylon outer fabric. From there, you just pack all your clothes in, zip up the case, and press the plastic expanders back to their original position. Viola, the suitcase is back to its original size.


The compression system works pretty seamlessly, though it is a little alarming to think about how much you've actually just packed away. It's also hard to keep the bag's weight under 50 pounds at that point. Still, we like it much more than the other expandable bags we tested. Most just use a zipper to unleash an extra band of flexible fabric, which works well but exposes your zippers to extra strain as the top and bottom of the bag are no longer tightly secured. The CX system tucks the extra fabric back in, protecting it and holding the hard shell of the bag together.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Aside from the massive amount of 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. We love having those close at hand. A large, shallow U-shaped pocket behind that gives you easy access to layers or entertainment options like books and magazines.

The main compartment is spacious even without the expander. It doesn't unzip right down the center. Instead, a top panel zips open. It contains a tri-fold hanging compartment. If you're bringing a dress or suit, laying it out in the front panel and using the thick bolsters provided does help keep wrinkles at bay. Once you've zipped those away, you'll find a small toiletry compartment on the inside of the main entrance flap.

The trifold hanging compartment can't perform miracles, but it does...
The trifold hanging compartment can't perform miracles, but it does a lot to reduce fold-induced wrinkles.
Photo: Clark Tate

Then you have a large, open space to organize as you'd like. There are two garment panels with an additional cinching mechanism. We like to pack items for later in the trip or those we're less likely to use (the just-in-case jacket) in the back. We cinched those down with the panels and then packed in the things we knew we'd need first or most often. If you decide to throw in even more, simply expand the main compartment, stuff it in, and compress it down again.

This bag packed away our lead tester's entire wardrobe.
This bag packed away our lead tester's entire wardrobe.
Photo: Clark Tate

Ease of Transport


The Expandable Spinner suitcase is our favorite four-wheeled roller. Larger wheels make for smoother rolling, and three settings on the telescoping handle mean that it's easy to find a comfortable height for your body and the situation you're forging through. Double-swivel wheels keep up with on-a-dime direction changes, and we never found it challenging to keep this bag balanced. On busy streets, it tracts right alongside you, staying out of your way and everyone else's. We like this bag's rolling action, even on rough streets and over gravel and curbs.


The telescoping handle has subtle V-indentations that Briggs & Riley claims makes it stronger and less prone to jamming. We buy the stronger bit given the sturdy feel, 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 outside the suitcase, keeping the inside of the suitcase perfectly flat and making it easier to take advantage of interior space.

The big, sturdy, endlessly rotating wheels work great.
The big, sturdy, endlessly rotating wheels work great.
Photo: Clark Tate

When you need to pick the bag up to tackle an escalator 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 one up top, a tuck of fabric at the bottom, and a streamlined hand grip on one side. We like the low-profile options that help you manipulate the bag without protruding enough to catch or get in the way.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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

We never hesitated to forge ahead with this bag.
We never hesitated to forge ahead with this bag.
Photo: Clark Tate

Reliability


Briggs & Riley aren't shy about advertising their worry-free warranty. 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 this bag does seem very well made, with thick ballistic nylon outer fabric and low profile edge guards to protect it from excessive wear and tear. The wheels are wobble-free, the handles sturdy, and the zippers are thick and, supposedly, self-repairing. Even the zipper pulls seem thoughtfully constructed, with a divet for your fingertip, helping them feel 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.

While the bag doesn't have an integrated TSA-approved lock, it does...
While the bag doesn't have an integrated TSA-approved lock, it does come with a loop lock.
Photo: Clark Tate

The one concern we have about the longevity of this bag is the plastic in the CX expansion/compression system. It seems well-made and won't be exposed to much sunlight or wear and tear, but plastic can fail. We'll just have to trust the company's warranty policy on that one.

Here you can see the fold of fabric in the middle of the bag that...
Here you can see the fold of fabric in the middle of the bag that supports the CX expansion/contraction system.
Photo: Clark Tate

Weight


Durable products are rarely the lightest ones available. Weighing in at 12.2 pounds, the Expandable Spinner certainly weighs enough to last a long time. It's not the heaviest option in our review, but it's on that side of the scale.


You can still pack around 38 pounds worth of gear if you're planning to check this bag. If you're road, boat, or train tripping, we're confident that you can fit in a lot more than that. Since this bag rolls so well, we're not that concerned about how hard it is to pick up, especially with those three exterior handles.

This spinner isn't the heaviest bag in our test, but it's not far off.
This spinner isn't the heaviest bag in our test, but it's not far off.
Photo: Clark Tate

Style


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 because 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.

Quality bags usually look nice, and the Briggs & Riley is no...
Quality bags usually look nice, and the Briggs & Riley is no exception.
Photo: Clark Tate

Value


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 companies rarely define what they think is reasonable. Briggs & Riley promises to repair all functional components of your bag for free without any proof of purchase. That doesn't apply to 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 we think and you're someone who values packing flexibility and the ability to keep fancy clothes relatively wrinkle-free, we see this bag as a solid investment.

The bag's solid construction seems made to last. We appreciate that...
The bag's solid construction seems made to last. We appreciate that the telescoping handle is built outside the bag, keeping the compartments inside wide open.
Photo: Clark Tate

Conclusion


It's easy to see how thoughtfully constructed the Briggs & Riley Expandable Spinner is when comparing it to the rest of the lineup. From the smoothly pivoting wheels to the three-level telescoping handle, we're impressed. Its one-of-a-kind compression system will let you pack with abandon, and its organizational system will help keep your stuff from driving you crazy.

Despite some impressive competition, we reached for this suitcase...
Despite some impressive competition, we reached for this suitcase the most.
Photo: Clark Tate

Clark Tate