How to Choose Luggage That Withstands the Rigors of Travel
Understanding how UL tests suitcases can help you make better purchasing decisions
Whether you’re packing your bags to fly to Europe, Grandma’s, Disneyland or some other exciting destination this summer, it pays to have the right luggage that stands up to the stress of the trip.
If you’re purchasing luggage for your summer travels, focus
first on durability, the number one determinant of overall satisfaction with a
piece of luggage for 57 percent of respondents in a Consumer Reports survey. Understanding how UL tests luggage can
help you make a better buying decision.
Pay Attention to Wheels
Arguably, wheels might be the biggest innovation in modern luggage, freeing travelers from the need to carry heavy suitcases. Wheels, though, prove to be vulnerable to damage, as they endure much abuse going over bumpy sidewalks, rolling off/up curbs, moving across debris-strewn parking lots, etc.
According to an article for Inside UL, to simulate these real-world conditions
during luggage tests, UL uses a giant rubber walkway that includes a
one-quarter inch bump every 15 feet. Tested suitcases are loaded with weights
as if packed with clothing and other items, and then hooked up to cables and
cords that automatically roll the bag down the walkway. Several hours later, UL
technicians examine the wheels for wear, cracks and breaks to see how the
wheels held up.
Although you won’t be
able to duplicate this rigorous test, wheels are an area that you’ll want to examine
carefully when considering luggage. Look for wheels that roll smoothly,
advises Consumer Reports, and pick
up the suitcase and jiggle the wheels to make sure they feel firmly attached.
UL spends considerable time testing suitcase handles, using a simulated drop and jerk test on both the top and side handles. First, a UL technician adds the right amount of weight to the bag to simulate real-world conditions, then anchors the suitcase to a machine and properly balances it. Once the test begins, the machine drops the suitcase 4.5 inches, then pulls it back up – and repeats this 500 times per luggage handle.
Later, the technician examines the
suitcases, checking for rips and other signs of damage, particularly around the
handle seams. The technician also tests whether the handle still works well.
won’t be able to conduct this drop test in the store either, but you’ll want to
look closely at luggage handles. The handle should have little
to no wiggling or rattling as you pull the bag around the store, Consumer Reports advises. Also, pull the
handle out and retract it several times to check for smooth, easy movement.
Zippers are another potentially weak area in luggage. Try the zipper to make sure it runs smoothly and feels strong and durable. Next, examine the stitching around the zipper to make sure it’s reinforced. Also, look for a big zipper with big zipper tabs, as these are stronger and more durable.
With these tips, you can choose more durable luggage, which will help make your travels easier and more relaxing.