Hardsided luggage is light and aesthetically-pleasing, but it has long had a distinct disadvantage for shoppers: the same rigidity that gives a hardsided packing case its attractive shape also limits the amount you can physically pack in it. That means even creative packers may have to leave some things behind, and it puts an upper limit on the size you can get past pesky airline size requirements.
Now two of our most popular brands have released luggage collections that rise to this challenge: The Sympatico CX by Briggs & Riley and Spectra 2.0 Expandable from Victorinox Swiss Army. Read on to learn more about the merits of both lines:
Let’s start with these bags’ most significant feature: their expansion capability. Expandable Spectra luggage has a nylon partition between the hard shells that allows you to increase the bag’s volume by nearly double. This lets your squeeze more in for heavy-duty packing, but does make the Spectra Expandable a little more vulnerable to external damage.
Spectra 2.0 in expanded configuration
The Sympatico’s expansion-compression system works a little differently. Mechanisms on the inside of the bag allow you to expand the bag upward for deeper packing; when you’re all finished, push down on the bag to compress air out of your clothes. This lets you pack more while saving space, as well as leaving as little of the nylon partition between shells exposed as possible.
Briggs & Riley’s Expansion-Compression System
The Spectra Expandable allows for the most additional packing space, almost like having two different-sized bags. When it’s empty, a Spectra is the lighter of the two bags. The Sympatico Expandable is more stable when using the expansion-compression system, making it look and feel more like a traditional suitcase when you’re using it.
Both the Spectra and the Sympatico retain the internal features of their non-expandable counterparts – never disregard the interior features of a bag when making a decision. The Spectra Expandable has small pockets on the inside of the front hatch that vary depending on the size of bag, and a mesh-protected main compartment with tie-down straps below the expandable partition. The Sympatico Expandable has a large mesh garment pocket one one side of the shell and two tie-down panels on the other, plus a bracket for a hangar on the checked bags.
Sympatico Medium Expandable
On The Outside
The most prominent physical difference between Spectra and Sympatico is the way the bag is accessed. The Sympatico Expandable is very traditional, with a zipper dividing the two sides of the shell down the middle. Travelers will also find the Sympatico’s telescoping handle to be the more comfortable of the two.
The Spectra Expandable is actually accessed from a hatch on the front, with two optional straps to hold the hatch open. This makes it easier to access a Spectra in the airport if necessary, and travelers who have difficulty with heavy loads will appreciate hatch access
Spectra 2.0 Expandable Carry-On
The Bottom Line
Briggs & Riley’s Sympatico Expandable luggage both looks and behaves more like an ordinary multiwheel suitcase when in use, and comes with the company’s signature lifetime warranty. These factors and its timeless design make it the rival of any non-expandable luggage in its class. But the expansion system on Victorinox’s Spectra 2.0 does allow for packing more items and more weight so long as you don’t put it through complex maneuvers when it’s expanded to full size. In both collections, the expansion features give you a piece of luggage that can transform to fit the size of your trip.
- Introducing Vocier, Luggage for the Well-Dressed Global Gentleman
- The Bag Style Taking Over Carry-On Travel
- Victorinox Luggage Buyer’s Guide
- Victorinox Lexicon Vs. Briggs & Riley Baseline : Carry-Off