Review: I Cut Down on Baggage Fees Thanks to This Family-Sized Suitcase
Stop paying to check multiple bags and invest in one large suitcase for the whole family with the Briggs & Riley Large Expandable Spinner.
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As a frequent traveler, I’ve been a longtime loyal user of my favorite hard-shell carry-on bag. I love it for many reasons, including that I easily fit it in the airplane’s overhead bin without breaking a sweat. But this past summer, I was heading out on an eight-night family vacation to Yellowstone with my family.
Because of the length of the trip and the range of weather we would encounter, I knew that even as an expert packer, I would not be able to manage this trip with only a carry-on. Besides, the airline we were flying charged $25 per bag for carry-on luggage. That meant we would need to check at least one if not more pieces of luggage at $30 a pop, adding to the cost of our already expensive airplane tickets.
I decided it was time to invest in a large suitcase that would fit clothing for my two elementary school-aged kids and me—and because I didn’t want to risk fees for excess baggage weight, I switched my allegiance from a hard-side to a soft-side suitcase. After researching, I opted for a Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner. Here’s how it worked out for me.
What is the Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner?
The Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner is a sophisticated piece of luggage with many thoughtful and innovative touches designed for longer trips. The exterior is made of tough-as-nails 800D ballistic nylon. The 360-degree spinner wheels have metal ball bearings that easily wheel over all terrain. Its patented Outsider handle leaves more space on the inside for clothes. The Briggs & Riley brand is known for its “Simple as That” lifetime guarantee and will repair bags at no cost to you even if the airline caused the damage and even if you no longer have the receipt.
WE TRIED IT
Briggs & Riley Spinner
The large spinner has many innovative touches designed for longer trips.
Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner features
This luggage is expensive, but rest assured, it’s worth it. In addition to the lifetime guarantee of all Briggs & Riley bags, the ZDX Large Expandable Spinner contains many cool and practical features to make packing and traveling a breeze.
At 29 x 12 x 20” there was more than enough room in the interior for clothes for one adult and two kids for a week, including six pairs of shoes between us. I appreciated the ability to divide the large section with a snap-lock garment panel with a see-through mesh pocket. The flap on the suitcase features a second mesh see-through pocket and a large, heavy-duty opaque pocket. If that’s still not enough room, unzip the extendable feature to create another two inches.
The exterior is where the ZDX rises above other large bags. I loved the top SpeedThru pocket, created for quick and accessible storage of those last-minute necessities, such as laptop chargers. Plus it’s lined with bright orange fabric, so it’s easy to spot exactly what you’re looking for. There’s also a gusseted zip front compartment with an interior slip pocket that runs ¾ the length of the bag to keep shoes or a jacket handy—a definite perk when traveling from a warm destination to a colder one like we were.
Other smart features include a detachable SmartLink strap for easy toting of a carry-on, a Hideaway ID tag, which comes with free monogramming, double YKK zippers and corner guards. Furthermore, the ZDX is available in three colorways: black, hunter and the recently launched ocean.
How I tested it
As I mentioned, I took the Briggs & Riley Large Expandable Spinner on our family vacation to Yellowstone this past summer. I packed clothes for myself and my two children while my husband took his carry-on. Our trip involved overnights in four different styles of lodging from four-start to rustic in areas with temps ranging from the low-50s to the mid-80s and activities including horseback riding, hiking, bicycling and swimming.
Because I was packing the cavernous bag for three people and we would constantly be on the move in our rented minivan, I opted to use luggage cubes. Each of us would have our own cube packed, then re-packed for each destination along the way.
I quickly experienced two cautionary tales with the expandable spinner when we got to the airport. First, after the shuttle driver from long-term parking removed my fully packed luggage from the van and placed it on a slight downhill on the sidewalk at the airport entrance, it started rolling back toward him. My fast-acting daughter caught the heavy bag before it could knock him over, but I wondered if it shouldn’t come with safety breaks.
Then, as I went to check the bag at the airline’s counter, the red bell on the luggage scale went off—the packed bag weighed 53 pounds, three pounds over the limit. I either had to remove those extra pounds or pay a $100 overage fee. I stepped to the side of the check-in counter, unzipped the main compartment and quickly removed binoculars and the new flannel shacket I had bought for the trip. That did the trick.
Ease of use
Throughout the trip, I unpacked and repacked the bag several times. Even with my rushed, haphazard efforts on our way to the next stop, I could easily zip the Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner. As the trip progressed—and our dirty laundry multiplied—I started to use the garment panel to separate the dirty clothes from the clean. I used the large opaque pocket in the top flap to store dirty socks, underwear and any stained clothing.
It was easy to maneuver the bag over dirt or gravel roads even fully packed, thanks to its sturdy wheels.
- Lifetime, no-questions-asked guarantee
- Exterior is made of sturdy 800D ballistic nylon
- Patented Outsider handle leaves more room on the inside
- Hideaway ID tag with free monogramming
- Thoughtful interior and exterior pockets
- Corner guards to prevent damage
- 360-degree wheels
- High-quality YKK zippers
- Easy to overpack and exceed airlines’ weight limit
- Rolls away if on an incline
What other reviewers had to say
Verified Briggs & Riley shopper Shari loves this bag, sharing, “This luggage piece is lightweight. It holds an impressive amount, and it’s still easy to roll through the airport. Even with the weight of items inside the bag, it is not heavy. This is hands down one of my best investments of luggage.”
“A traditional style suitcase that doesn’t take up half the floor when you open it,” boasts verified Briggs & Riley purchaser Mark B. “It has several features that I haven’t even fully begun to explore but looking forward to. On the one trip I’ve been on last month, the capacity was so amazing that I had room to spare. Not used to having handsome-looking luggage after years of plastic-looking luggage. It appears to be of high quality—time will tell. Looking forward to years of usage.”
Verified five-star Amazon reviewer Austin Baker says, “I did too much research before finally buying this bag for three months of travel. It is amazing. High construction quality, lightweight, durable, easy to roll, fit more than I expected and still works as a carry-on.”
If you’re looking for a large back for a family trip or a solo extended journey, it’s hard to do better than the Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner. The roomy bag features several interior and exterior pockets and a built-in divider. This makes it easy to keep clothing, shoes and other personal items organized. The sturdy 360-degree wheels make even a fully packed bag easy to maneuver on many different types of terrain.
The only downside is the cost of the bag. If you don’t plan on using it regularly for years to come, you may want to check out Briggs & Riley’s more affordable sister brand, Solo.
Where to buy the Briggs & Riley ZDX Large Expandable Spinner
WE TRIED IT
Briggs & Riley Spinner
This suitcase for overpackers has zippered expansion depth and plenty of pockets.
Ready to pack your bag for your bucket list or family vacation? The expandable spinner is available on the Briggs & Riley website, Amazon and other retailers for $619 and in three different colors. Happy travels!