From the desk of Highsnobiety Editor-in-Chief Thom Bettridge, The Materialist is an editor’s letter in the form of a treasure hunt for the objects that change the way we perceive our world. This week, Thom dives into accessories for the traveler in all of us: big boy bags.
While early pandemic was a time of panic, late pandemic has been a time of lifestyle re-engineering. A major topic in mine has been my relationship to travel. In 2019, I logged a personal record of airline miles. But with the proliferation of Zoom and the further escalation of the global climate crisis, it became clear that I somehow needed to slow my roll while still managing to visit the places that gave me inspiration.
Enter long hauling, a travel philosophy I’ve been developing and experimenting with for the last six months. So far, there are four main tenets:
1. Avoid flying anywhere unless compelled by collaboration, culture, or love.
2. If you can’t go for more than a week, just don’t go.
3. Double or triple dip various plans into one visit, rather than taking multiple trips to the same part of the world.
4. Never get on a plane if it feels like a chore.
Like any true Materialist, a big joy in this re-engineered approach to travel has been relishing in the gear that goes with it. I’ve long been an advocate for Big Boy Bags... why bother checking something if you’re not going to go full freight? Some XL luggage might ask its toters to sacrifice style or practicality for volume, but the reality is there are other large and glorious bags out there waiting to be yours. Here are five I highly recommend.
Rimowa Original Trunk XL
Rimowa’s aluminum trunk has always been the King of the Jungle in the brand’s product line. And it’s a suitcase that will always be close to my heart. It was one of those items you buy with the hopes of one day becoming the kind of person you imagine owning it. About half a million SkyMiles later, Rimowa came out with this even more mondo XL version of the trunk, and I knew immediately it was time to expand.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Pack
Backpacks are normally the bane of a long-hauler’s existence. Sure, you can schlep a lot of stuff. But if you need that sweater at the bottom of your ruck, you’ll find yourself dumping all of your belongings onto the cold floor of an airport. This is very much not the case with the Beartooth 80, from genius Montana-based backpack company Mystery Ranch. Its plethora of compartments and zipped entry points allow you to access your belongings on the go.
TUMI Tall 4 Wheeled Duffel Packing Case
I’ve become hell-bent on saving TUMI from the dustbin of dad style. But why do I love this signature bag of the White Collar Warrior so much? Because their signature black ballistic material looks awesome. Because they were the ones who realized, “Hey, duffels are great, they just need wheels.” And because their wheeled duffel has interior compartments that would make you think you died and went to Big Boy Bag heaven.
Ortlieb Dry-Bag PD350 79L
Ortlieb is one of those secret weapon brands that I will stan until the day I die. They make an amazingly huge waterproof duffel, which comes in a range of safety colors, but their ginormous wet bags are the mark of a truly hardcore long-hauler. Sure, this bag is probably made more for storing canoe equipment than it is for taking an Airbus to Milan. But there’s a certain beauty to having a big ole waterproof tube that makes you look like you’re traveling with a giant buoy.
Burton Wheelie Sub 116L Travel Bag
Consulting experts is an important practice for any Materialist. And in the case of long haul luggage, Burton’s Wheelie Sub 116L is the weapon of choice for fashion editors and their teams. Made originally for bulky snowboarding gear, the amply sized bag has a semi-soft exterior and fillets perfectly in half, allowing each of its main compartments to lie flush against the floor when opened.
If you’re not trying to go fully supersized, here are some other bags I really like:
No Iraq War Truthers, not quite that Halliburton. Zero Halliburton’s travel cases are some of the most high quality I’ve ever seen: from the riveting, to the meticulously designed interior panels to secure your stuff. Plus I have a thing for Black Aluminum.
When traveling by car rather than plane, I’m a big fan of the ease and accessibility of what I call the “mega-tote.” Ikea made the Platonic ideal, but if you’re looking for something slightly more polished, Hervé Chapelier’s polyethylene bags come in awesome colors.
I like how practical Roam’s semi-hard polycarbonate luggage is, and since they let you fully customize the colors of every panel, your case won’t get lost in a sea of gray and silver cargo.
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