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Cool new luggage rolled out at Travel Goods Show

By Kathy Witt
McClatchy-Tribune

The 2013 Travel Goods Show packed up its show floor at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on March 1. And the new luggage unveiled there will have vacationers coveting and clamoring for the latest pieces.

One-bag wonders tricked out with assorted pockets and capabilities to take you from the office to the conference room to the gym. Custom-made bags (and pockets) to accommodate our need for 24/7 connectivity and the attendant devices we carry with us – laptops, tablets, smartphones, iPods. Sizing on demand: luggage compression and expandability that addresses the individual traveler and trip in its ability to shrink via technology or grow through add-ons.

“Compressibility made its grand entrance in the world of carry-ons last year, and has since splashed across the entire market,” noted Michele Marini Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association and editor-in-chief of the industry publication, Travel Goods Showcase magazine. “Grow-as-you-go suitcases that increase in size with attachments to meet varied space requirements are all de rigueur.”

Luggage system for traveling families

Ideal for family travel, Travelpro’s Atlantic Compass Unite Expandable Spinner bags in 21-, 25- and 29-inch sizes ($120/$280/$320) have a built-in zippered wet pocket and a removable hanging laundry or shoe bag for organizational cleanliness. Each bag also sports an accessory clip near the top handle for hanging a shopping bag, purse or last minute souvenir purchase, keeping you hands-free.

But even more helpful to traveling families is this collection’s unique Link2Go design feature; it joins two cases back-to-back with integrated Velcro brand straps to create one smooth-rolling unit. Talk about “grow-as-you-go.” Mom or Dad can effortlessly maneuver the cases through the airport with one hand while holding onto a child with their other hand. And if the whole family is traveling together, one parent can corral the kids while the other moves a linked set of two cases in each hand smoothly through the airport. Details: www.Travelpro.com.

A bag that’s thought of everything

New luggage brand Genius Pack ($198, 22-inch carry-on) lives up to its name with smart, patent-pending features, including an exterior laundry chute that keeps soiled clothing in a designated compartment within the luggage, squashing it via Laundry Compression Technology to free up more space. Bonus: The laundry bag zips out so you can dispatch it straight to the cleaners. A Portable Mobile Charger integrates into the luggage so you can recharge directly from your carry-on no matter where you are. No more stalking outlets.

Other innovations: A designated umbrella compartment pops out your umbrella as needed; a special compartment stores a mini speaker so you can rock your tunes while unpacking; an included toiletry kit with mesh-lined pockets can be removed for packing; designated pockets for socks, chargers and unmentionables; a “jacket wrap” – an exterior clip that pulls out and clips to a ring on the bag’s top for stowing a jacket; a pocket for your water bottle; and an outer pocket to hold reading material.

Genius Pack basically idiot-proofs any trip, business or pleasure, with an uber functional bag – one that even includes a packing checklist. Details: www.GeniusPack.com.

Business or leisure? Why not both?

Another bag that thinks on its feet, er wheels, is Delsey’s Helium Breeze 4.0 Carry-on Expandable Spinner Suiter Trolley ($149.99). A padded computer sleeve built into the front pocket of the case, with a separate zipper pocket for fast retrieval of your 3-1-1 bag; an easy-access compartment for stowing a pair of shoes or a sweater for those chilly airplanes or for holding soiled laundry; a suiter in the case’s lid to keep clothing wrinkle-free and organized; and an interior with mesh pockets tucked into its sides for chargers, cables and other travel essentials – all in a lightweight, expandable and sophisticated package.

The Helium Breeze 4.0 collection works as hard as the business and frequent traveler and stands up to whatever demands a leisure trip throws its way. Highly functional, pieces are crafted from durable ballistic nylon with reinforced corners and roll smoothly along on double spinner wheels that eliminate arm fatigue. Details: www.Delsey.com.

Lightweight still reigns

“Lightweight luggage may not be brand new, but each year, innovation in material and design continually lessens weight and increases comfort,” Marini Pittenger said. “Large spinners which once weighed in between 9 and 10 pounds are now down to four or six, and ergonomic soft-grip or fabric handles make handling more comfortable than ever before.”

Case in point: The 19-inch carry-on from Skyway’s Mirage Superlight collection ($180) weighs just 5.5 pounds yet it is loaded with features that make packing – and carrying it – a breeze. The wheel system maneuvers easily without adding weight to your arm; a retractable handle system with multiple locking stages adjusts to the height best suited to the individual traveler; an integrated fabric soft grab handle is comfy to grip and gets a boost from a side carry handle when hefting the case into the overhead bin.

The case interior is designed to keep you organized: a full-length mesh pocket holds belts, ties or scanties; built-in elastic shoe pockets separate footwear from clothing; elastic tie-down straps keep packed items from shifting about, minimizing wrinkles. The bag is expandable at the pull of a zipper and is up to the task at hand, whether travel is business or leisure. Details: http://www.SkywayLuggage.com.

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