Briar Burley


Since you’re statistically likely to buy luggage only 1.7 times in a lifetime, go for the most expensive bag you can comfortably afford, advises Mike Fisher of The Briar & the Burley, a luggage store in Fountain Square Mall.

“The more you pay, the better you get. When people say they don’t want to spend money on luggage because it will get torn up, I tell them that good luggage will take wear and tear,” Fisher says.

“With most airlines today imposing a charge for luggage over 50 pounds, everyone’s concerned about weight, but don’t make your decision based on weight alone,” he cautions. Comparing empty bags, you might be swayed by a difference in heft that represents only two or three pounds, but the lighter bag may be less durable. And it’s what you put inside, not the luggage, that determines the ultimate weight. Filled with clothing, a 36-inch duffle weighs less than 40 pounds and a full suitcase will be under 50 pounds unless you’re carrying books and other heavy items.

The most durable fabric is ballistic nylon—light and strong, like leather, and very resistant to abrasion—with a denier of 1050. (Denier refers to the weight of fabric. A denier of l850 is less strong than 1050.)

For carry-on luggage, most airlines restrict you to one personal item (handbag or briefcase) plus a bag no larger than 9” by 14” by 22”—a size that fits in the overhead bin. For checked luggage, Fisher advises buying a bag slightly larger than you need, the better to hold items you may purchase on your trip.

Look for inline-skate wheels that make maneuvering easy, and ball-bearing wheels that are unlikely to break. Zippers, he says,  should be “beefy, with big teeth,” and telescoping handles should feel sturdy, not wobbly, and are ideally mounted inside the bag.

Ensuring the security of your bag is another issue. Many travelers are opting for brightly colored luggage, which is easier to spot on the carousel. When Fisher first offered hot pink suitcases, he thought they wouldn’t sell, but he has since gone through seven shipments. “Now, we’re seeing bright green and other vibrant colors.”

Marcus Moir at 1st Stop Travel Store carries various styles of luggage tags as well as Transportation Security Administration-approved locks, which the TSA can open with master keys. Airline security may have to break open any other kind of lock.

Both luggage stores are located on West Kirkwood and carry other product lines. The Briar & the Burley offers pipes, writing instr-uments, and briefcases, and 1st Stop Travel Store,

which does much of its business in travel-related items online at, specializes in globes.