The Hunt: One for the Road

With airlines charging half the price of a coach ticket for a second suitcase, and baggage handlers hell-bent on sending your St. Barts–bound belongings to St. Louis, packing for a trip can be a real downer. Which is why you’d better make that first bag count. You’ll find the right one at these retailers, whose wares marry roominess, durability, and a sleek aesthetic. Even if your luggage gets lost, at least your necessities will travel in style—and eventually (one hopes) make it home in one piece.

[sidebar]

1. SAMSONITE BLACK LABEL

The brand’s much-hyped Alexander McQueen collection ($575–$900) returns for spring, but SBL’s new floral fabric–lined trunks ($675–$745) steal the show. Based on a Samsonite design from 1910, they’re updated with an aluminum frame. (Still heavy, however, these cases are best when you’re checking baggage, or traveling by car or train.) More-modern options like sporty-chic nylon duffels (about $300) and X’Lite roller bags (up to $770) are available, too.

Copley Place, Boston, 617-236-0429, samsoniteblacklabel.com.

2. LONDON HARNESS COMPANY

This trio of stores is deliciously old-school—not surprising, as its roots date back to 1776 in Boston. It carries Tumi (in fact, the Wellesley outpost has a whole Tumi store attached) as well as Ghurka and Bric’s, two timeless, functional brands. Ghurka’s supremely covetable $1,600 chestnut leather Express carry-on is almost too handsome to stow in an overhead bin; for those seeking something more utilitarian, there are classic rolling suitcases and garment bags from Hartmann ($400 and up) and Victorinox ($300 and up).

60 Franklin St., Boston, 617-542-9234; Derby Street Shoppes, Hingham, 781-740-7848; 45 Central St., Wellesley, 781-237-5950; londonharness.com.

3. TUMI

A go-to for business travelers, Tumi’s all about efficiency—specifically, well-designed, clean-lined efficiency. Its customers are no doubt as finicky about their clothing as their carry-ons, so the upscale line includes an impressive array of garment bags and cases in leather ($275–$850) and synthetics ($200 for a travel tote; $1,600 for a large roll-aboard) built to get suits, shirts, and dresses to their destination sans scrunching and wrinkling.

Copley Place, Boston, 617-385-3002, tumi.com.

4. L. L. BEAN

This stalwart New England retailer carries a surprisingly cool line of Adventure duffels, which come in a wide range of colors (and are dirt-cheap, starting at just $30), plus no-frills rolling bags ($90–$290). There’s an even bigger selection of luggage on the company’s website, including the waxed-canvas-and-leather Maine Guide collection ($149–$199), which has vintage-prep appeal to spare.

6 Wayside Rd., Burlington, 781-505-1460, llbean.com.

5. PASSPORT

Harvard Square’s new travel-centric boutique features pieces from hard-to-find German luggage brand Bree ($145–$330), colorful hard-shell cases ($290–$330) from Bric’s, and lots of suitcase inserts and accessories, from jewelry rolls ($25–$55) to travel pillows ($36–$120). Handy fabric totes like Bric’s nylon X-Bags ($130–$150) and Hayden-Harnett’s nylon-and-leather Maldives bag ($185) are easy to stash in a suitcase but are still large enough to hold all of your vacation finds.

43 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-576-0900, passportboutique.com.

6. MARSHALLS

Inside the Back Bay branch of this discount retailer, you’ll often discover piles of overstock luggage, scored from department stores across New England. Among recent sightings were pieces of all sizes from Samsonite, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Fursten-berg, and Kenneth Cole, with almost every one priced at less than $100. Pulling together a matching set is a lot to hope for, but chances of getting an admirable bargain are high.

500 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-6066, marshallsonline.com.

  • June

    My son is getting married thanksgiving weekend 2010 in Boston. I purchased your Spring/Summer 2010 magazine as a grooms mom I am hunting for a rehearsal dinner venue in northend? Looking at grooms outfits? Grooms cakes? so disapointed.Do they have magazines for grooms and there moms?