Air travel has rebounded since 9/11, and the increased handling due to extra security measures borders on abuse. Manufacturers are responding with molded corner protectors, curb plates, and other wear-point reinforcementsas well as cleaner designs that reduce straps and webbing that can snag on carousels.
Stop losing half your weight allowance to lead-bottom luggage. Taking a cue from the outdoor industry, designers have shaved pounds off old-school duffels with lighter handles, wheels, and chassis systems.
High-tech weatherproofingbetter fabrics and welded seamsis migrating to luggage. Now, the best of these duffels can ride out a rainstorm. The technology jacks up the price, but as popularity grows, look for the cost to drop below the current $300 base.
The best new all-conditions wheels go way beyond curb-to-gate duty: They're a boon to travelers who like to drag their duffels to spots normally reserved for mountain bikes.