I used to have this massive suitcase that would expand, via zippers, up to about four feet high. This thing was a monstera pain in the ass, too, especially when it ripped, the zipper broke, and I was forced to duct-tape the thing shut to get it back across the country. Oh, and it was a roller. And by "roller" I mean that it had four wheels on its base and you were forced to push the thing along like a freakin' ottoman. It was like a massive black hole, too. There were no exterior or interior pockets and, when you opened it from the top, all you could see was the inky blackness of the inside. Frankly, it sucked.
eBags' Mother Lode, on the other hand, doesn't suck. And there's an obvious reason they call it the Mother Lode. I recently loaded this thing on a cross-country trip back east where I hauled it from Syracuse, New York, down to Binghamton, up to Skaneateles, then on to the Thousand Islands, over to Massachusetts, up to Maine, and back again. In its confines and myriad pockets I stored a pair of scuba fins, a buoyancy-control device, a scuba mask (in its rectangular case), a dive knife, two pairs of trail runners (size 12), and a week's worth of clothes, including sweatshirts, jeans, etc. On the way back, I even had room to load up with some souvenirs and six loaves of bread from Syracuse's Columbus Bakery, the best little hidden bakery on the east coast. That stuff's hard to get in Santa Fe.
Thanks to a slew of solid and mesh pockets, I was able to get every piece of gear I could possibly need for a week into the Mother Lode's various compartments without worrying that it was going to burst at the seams, thanks to what the company calls a "2-Tone Ballistic Nylon." Whatever it is, it works, because I packed that thing so tight Stewart Little couldn't have weaseled his way inside. The entire contraption weighs in at 14 pounds 2 ounces and measures 29 by 17.25 by 15.5 inches. Suffice to say, it's no carry-on. What I really like about the bag is the fact that it gives you a bunch of little nooks and crannies to store your stuff - put your smaller transportables like cards, gadgets, and so on in one of the side pockets and stow your clean and dirty clothes separately. Without those, forget it. I'll lose anything you toss my way. Also, with its duffel-bag-like construction, you can access big items from a main top hatch or unzip the bag top from the rectangular base casing via a zipper system and swing the entire bag open. You can also unzip the wall that separates the top bag compartment from the more solid base area to accommodate even larger items. Oh, and did I mention that it really rolls! And none of this merry-go-round "which way do I push or pull it?" stuff. Pop the telescopic handle (it extends to 45.5 inches) and go, and if you need to drop it, full-length skid rails prevent the bag from scuffing up. Next up, bowling balls. I'm sure I can fit about a dozen in this thing. $130; www.ebags.com