Learning Curve

Ted Stedman

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IN THE STORE Destination Mogadishu? Then a black-gray color scheme might be appropriate. But more casual hub hoppers are opting for brighter colors, which help your stuff stand out on the carousel. Compression-molded foam—as opposed to heavy ABS plastic—represents a quantum leap for framing and holds up better than the latter. Molded bags have fewer weak points than cut-and-sewn ones and offer unique shapes and more features.

IN THE FIELD Don’t let big loads get unwieldy. Think like a backpacker and position the heavier stuff—boots, camera equipment, that souvenir six-pack of German beer—low and toward the center of an upright bag. Buy small see-through packing cubes and sacks to organize and separate city duds from grubby trail and aqua apparel.

IN THE FUTURE Look for continued integration of technology into travel and lifestyle luggage: hydration, music, embedded wiring, audio ports, and modular components like removable daypacks. Since more weight spells more jet fuel, cash-starved airlines will continue turning the screws on how much your bag can weigh before you have to pay extra—leading to more demand for compact convertibles.

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