We evaluated these bags from different angles.
Is it compatible with airline carry-on size limits? While a weekender bag can often be deployed on car-powered weekend trips, a good weekender bag should do double duty as carry-on luggage, which means it must accommodate particular airline sizing parameters. While maximum carry-on dimensions may vary from airline to airline, generally speaking most airlines require carry-on baggage to be no larger than 9 x 14 x 22 inches, a total of 45 inches added. Weekend bags are flexible, so they can be squashed to fit airline dimensions, assuming they’re not completely full. To play it safe, our top picks stay within this range, and if not, we want to point it out.
Does it seem well made and durable? Luggage wears out a lot. A good weekend bag should have quality construction, with sturdy hardware and straight, flawless seams. It should be made from a tear-resistant fabric that can withstand some moisture, in case you get caught in the rain or spill inside the bag. “At the high end, leather is the best choice,” says Ellen Lynch, professor of accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “It’s soft, supple and conforms well to the items inside. Canvas and nylon ripstop are both very good materials, both durable and easy to handle. Cotton offers less support and doesn’t shrink. not well, she said.
“The zipper is also essential and is often the thing that breaks first,” says Susan Sokolowski, professor of product design at the University of Oregon.
Plastic zippers are durable and flexible, so they can stretch and bounce with an expandable or padded bag. However, when a plastic zipper tooth breaks, the zipper usually needs to be completely replaced. Metal zippers are less flexible but also easier to fix in a pinch by threading the broken tooth to shorten the zipper.
Is it comfortable to hold and carry? In addition to handles, weekend bags should also be designed to hang from the shoulder or chest, so you can move quickly and comfortably through a sprawling airport terminal, and also carry it quickly on your shoulder for shorter distances, like running the bag to your car or a taxi. The straps shouldn’t dig uncomfortably into the shoulders, nor should carrying the bag cause back pain (unless you plan to carry bricks or potatoes, which I advise you to invest in up front in adjustable dumbbells). It shouldn’t press uncomfortably into your back or hips, and you should be able to lift it into an airplane cabin overhead bin (or other large shelf) without it falling all over the place, which can happen with longer travel bags with soft bottoms. .
Does it have good organizational characteristics? Packing cubes are great, but ideally a good weekend bag should make it easy to pack and organize your stuff without them. “Nothing is superfluous” when it comes to pockets, says Lynch. Look for “places to put your phone and other things you need right outside the bag. An interior pocket for your laptop or other items and enough space to store your clothes and toiletries without fear of spillage. Our favorite weekender bags have several nifty and useful pockets for storing shoes, a smartphone, a water bottle, dirty laundry, and more.
Does it have a good warranty, return policy or repair policy? When you spend over $150 on a bag, it should last for years – and if it doesn’t, the company that made it should do something about it. A high-quality bag should come with some sort of promise that if the bag craps on you after six months of ownership, the company should step in and replace or repair the bag.