10 Best Travel Garment Bags | December 2016
- tie-straps to secure items
- spacious main compartment
- not the most durable construction
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- fits in most overhead compartments
- water-repellent material
- bulky when fully loaded
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- available in cool camo prints
- shoulder strap can be removed
- side zippers tend to undo themselves
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
- available in three leather colors
- heavy-duty hardware and zippers
- somewhat heavy to carry
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- lightweight and easy to carry
- can easily hold 4 suits
- great quality for the price
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- stands upright when open
- easy to access all compartments
- holds enough for a 7-day trip
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
- side opening makes loading easier
- holds up to 8 hanging garments
- handles fasten together for carrying
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
- extension panel for long items
- dedicated mesh pocket for ties
- removable shoulder storage cubes
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- designed for cross-body carrying
- has pen and business card slots
- multiple accessory pockets
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- lifetime guarantee
- removable garment folder
- large front pocket can hold a laptop
|Brand||Briggs & Riley|
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
Dressed To Travel Like An Adult
Almost a decade ago, I was shopping for groceries with my sister. It was Mother’s Day weekend and we were planning a home-cooked meal. At one point, an old man approached my sister to ask her for help finding a tomato sauce that he could simply heat up without needing to know how to cook. His wife had just passed, and he was still adjusting to life on his own.
After she helped him, my sister asked me to take a good look at the man, and see if I noticed anything peculiar or familiar. I didn’t notice anything. She then pointed out to me that the old man and I were dressed more or less identically: boat shoes; baggy tan pants; striped, button-down shirts; and white cardigan sweaters. What’s worse, his sweater was arguably cooler than mine.
This was a turning point in my life, after which I began to dress less like a wily old crone and more like a stylish young man. That meant an investment in some suits, as well as a sweet garment bag for their transportation.
Unlike a suitcase, when you open your garment bag, it hangs long-ways from a reinforced hanger. In that position, the bag works like a thin closet, allowing you to hang however many suits a given model will fit. Most bags will clamp into place the hooks of whatever hangers you use for your suits. Then, they fold in half and zip up.
The result is that your suits fold neatly, safely, and conveniently into a package the size of a flattened carry-on without getting wrinkled. That way, if you’ve got an important meeting right after you check into your room, you can pop into a fresh suit and not look like you slept through the flight scrunched up in the cargo hold.
A Separate Piece
I can’t speak highly enough about the powerful versatility of good suit separates. Or, if your matched suits can exchange pants and jackets among them, that’s even better. With three good, interchangeable suits, you can dress for an entire week with flash and style.
With that in mind, evaluating garment bags based solely on their suit capacity might not be the best place to start. When making a few suits pop, whether or not you separate their components, you want to hit them with some good shirt and tie combinations.
The best garment bags, then, have extra storage for ties, socks, underwear, undershirts, and shoes, hopefully organized into the spaces throughout the bag that the suits affect in the least. From here, you should ask yourself how long your average trip is going to last.
You ought to be able to fit enough of your unmentionables and accessories to accommodate the minimum of suit changes you pack. If you have three good suits you plan to spread across five days or more, your garment bag should have storage for at least five sets of undies.
Finally, and this is as important a consideration as any if we’re talking about high fashion here, you want to grab a garment bag that fits your style. If, for example, you somehow manage to pull off a wardrobe of oversized suits with giant shoulder pads a la David Byrne in Stop Making Sense, that bizarre 80s aesthetic would clash terribly with the more contemporary feel of a soft, sleek bag. You’d do better with something patterned and slightly oversized.
Moving Along In Style
Nobody likes to move. If it could be avoided altogether, the world would be a better place filled with happier, more patient people. The stress and tedium of packing is guaranteed to put a strain on relationships as readily as it puts a strain on the human back.
For hundreds of years, the vast majority of human travel resembled a move more than a vacation. The only people who could afford to travel were the super rich, and they packed heavily, filling trunk after trunk with endlessly complicated outfits. These journeys were often made from one house owned by a rich family to another, either to the country or the city, depending entirely on how a family wished to subvert their usual experience with a new vista.
Of course, they had porters, so stacking trunks didn’t bother them too much. The industrial revolution sped up the growth of a middle class in Europe and the United States, and travel for leisure began its slow trickle down into the lesser classes. These journeys were significantly shorter, and the people undertaking them had neither legions of ensembles to pack nor porters to carry them.
This necessitated a more tenable luggage situation. Up until the late 1800s, most travelers in these lower classes used carpetbags, which were thick satchels made of carpet sections, or of canvas or cotton twill. Around this time, a few makers of such carrying cases began to line their carpetbags with iron bars, creating a frame that reinforced the bags and protected the contents within.
These framed carpetbags resembled the garment bags on our list more than any other modern piece of luggage, but they didn’t become the miniature hanging closets they are today until air travel became the most advantageous option for business travel in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, the bags have gotten stronger and more convenient, featuring TSA-approved locks, pockets for just about everything under the sun, and more.