Some people travel for pleasure, others, because they have to. But one thing all travelers have in common is this: luggage! Whether it’s for an overnight, a weekend, or weeks away from home, you’ve got to have a place to pack your possessions! These days, with the stress of air travel and ever-rising baggage fees, many travelers opt to just take a carry-on hoping that they can cram enough into it to last for the duration of their trip.
If you’ve ever tried to lift a full loaded, wheeled carry-on into an over-stuffed, overhead bin, you know that the strain it puts on your arms and back, not to mention those waiting to take their seats, in back of you. Lighter luggage is a better choice, these days. Alas, a lot of lightweight luggage won’t stand up to the punishment it will experience. This columnist has, over the years, invested a great deal of money in luggage of all types, hoping it will last. What I have learned is that cost is not always an indicator of performance. In fact, it’s fun to pass the time at airports watching luggage literally roll by. I make mental notes of which look good and appear to have been returned to their owners, intact, and which are busted open, taped temporarily shut, or worse, have missing or deteriorated wheels so they slide around like drunks.
Stylish, Lightweight, Lipault Luggage: Lipault luggageis very lightweight, but also has the clever distinction of folding nearly flat. Lipault is from France (the French know how to make even a seemingly utilitarian item, so chic!) but it is also engineered for strength (yes, you can over-stuff it without fear of failure), Even better, Lipault Luggage stands out in a sea of dreary black, because it comes in a range of fun fashion colors including purple, vibrant orange, and red and if you must, basic black. A luggage tag that matches the color of the case is included, with a privacy panel to keep your personal information “as needed.” There is no need to festoon a Lipault bag with all sorts of tacky ribbons, tags and trinkets to ensure you pick up the right one(s)! These bags stand out as-is, beautifully.
This columnist tested the 0% Foldable 22″ 4-Wheeled Carry-On from Lipault, (mine in bright orange). It is bound to be very popular for business and weekend jaunts, and as carry-on on airplanes. For most airlines, a 22″ bag is the largest sized bag you can take on board the plane. There is also a 2-wheeled model which works equally well, with fixed (not spinner) wheels. Both bags were “road tested” several times, in planes, cars, and even an ocean liner.
Size: You might wonder why this collection from Lipault is called “0%” (seemed a bit negative) but once you see it in person you’ll quickly realize that the 0% Collection adds no excess weight and space to your life and travels. The luggage arrives in a transparent PVC storage case no larger than a small blanket bag. The reason it could fit nearly flat into that plastic bag is that the unique, soft-sided design allows this roller bag to collapse for easy storage at home or after you unpack on the road. Still, it quickly blooms like a flower into a full sized carry-on that held nearly a week’s worth of clothes (and several pairs of shoes and lots more). For those who don’t pack heavy, it could be enough for a longer trip.
Performance: The Lipault carry-on 22″ bag performs, beautifully. The soft bag on a wheeled frame lets you overstuff the bag and the “self-healing” zippers are sturdy. You might think that clothes would probably end up being completely crushed since the bag has a soft top and sides. Happily, the excellent construction keeps your items secure and safe. If you over-stuff the bag clothes still arrive looking fine. That being said, it’s still a soft-sided bag, so it you’re using this 22″ bag as a checked bag, be careful packing that extra bottle of Mexican vanilla or duty free booze in it (unless you could find some protective covering, first). The covered wheels are large and roll smoothly, keeping good control over the bag (essential when you’ve got just minutes to catch a flight and you’re pulling the bag behind you. The two wheeled bag was nearly flawless, but the four wheeled spinner is even easier to control. Each bag was so well balanced (even over-stuffed) that it just refused to tip over, even topped with my heavy tote bag on top of it. It’s the rugged and water resistant PVC-reinforced 420 denier nylon that makes the case so very lightweight . The fabric easily wiped clean with a mild soap and water. The inner pockets held more delicate valuables and the elastic “keepers” kept my clothes from shifting in transit. Additional handles on the top, side, and bottom provide extra hand-holds for lifting it. A large zippered pocket on the front of the bag holds your travel papers, reading material, and/or your “TSA approved” quart bag of liquids. The retractable, aircraft-grade aluminum handle with soft plastic handle cover, extended and contracted smoothly, without a hassle. At home, it folds into the case and zippers shut, like a turtle contracting it’s head into it’s shell.
The “Wow!” Factor: Lipault luggage is a pleasure to carry. If you don’t have a lot of storage space the lack of a rigid frame makes storing it a lot easier, and when you get to your destination you can fold it up and leave it in a closet instead of having to leave it on a stand. You can’t help but enjoy the envious stares you’ll get from others. With Lipault, you’ll feel like a proud parent whose bag stands out stylishly in a sea of boring, black bags!
The Bottom Line: Depending upon how you look at it, the Lipault bag is either inexpensive at $199 or an investment. The carry-on comes in 2 and 4 wheeled versions, the latter being a very easy to navigate, spinner style. And there are larger Lipault-styled bags for larger trips, and also wheeled duffels. These range in price. Lipault luggage also comes in hard-sided styles, but of course, these do not fold flat — they just look good and offer more protection than a soft-sided bag. Lipault delivers beauty, quality and performance.
In Europe, you can find Lipault in department stores including Galleries Lafayette, Au Printemps, andSelfridges. The products are also featured in Lipault’s flagship store on the prestigious Boulevard de Madelaine in Paris But here in the USA you can find Lipault luggage in online luggage shops and fine quality travel shops.
To learn more about all the collections, please visit the new e-commerce U.S. Web site at: http://www.lipault-us.com