Briggs and Riley Torq International Carry-on Review
I have been a long time backback carrier. I’ve put my stuff in one from when I got my first pack in Kindergarden to now where I use it to tote my laptop and sundries around. I even take one to the store to carry my groceries instead of the reusable bags most people prefer. For travel, backpacks are ideal. You can fit in a few days of gear and still be highly mobile. Being malleable, they generally fit under the seat and no one takes notice when someone is walking around with one.
They do have their drawbacks though. They are litterally a pain to carry. My backpack puts stress on the neck and sholders which hurts after a long day of travel. Since they are soft-sided, they don’t protect delicate items like electronics well. Especially when you put it in the overhead compartment and someone comes by and shoves in their oversized carry-on with complete disregard for your posessions.
I decided to purchase a carry-on after a long multi-city international trip where I had to lug my backpack across many flights. I decided to adopt my travel companion’s strategy of putting his backpack in the carry-on for portability during travel. He would leave the carryon at the hotel and load up his backpack with just the essentials when we were at our destination and gotting out and about.
I turned to the Flyertalk travel products forum figuring the seasoned travelers on that board would have good advice. While Red Oxx’s Air Boss and Mini Air Boss where highly recommended, I did not choose one because I was trying to get a way from carrying things around. Tumi came up often but so did their limited warranty. Rimowa was another option but seemed to be too heavy, too pricey, and a bit too big for me. Travelpro came up a few times as a budget brand. They were outed to have bad warranty support and were often mentioned to weasel their way out of fixing their bags even when under warranty.
One brand that the forum consistently praised is Briggs and Riley. Their bags are built like tanks. They have excellent support. Their warranty was simply “lifetime”. I barely saw bad feedback. Some of their product warranties even cover damage that occurs during travel. After some research I settled on the Torq® International Carry-on. It has the aforementioned warranty that covered travel damage, a separate compartment for my laptop, and at 21"x14"x7" sized to fit most domestic and international airline limits. Oh, and it was a hardcase so Mr. Oversized bag would not squish my things again.
Purchasing was easy. I bought a red one during the Briggs and Riley $50 off every $350 spent Christmas sale. I’ve heard further discounts are possible if you use an email sign-up coupon along with a sale at another retailer. I briefly thought about also purchasing a B&R backpack. After looking at the prices, I decided against it. It “shipped” the same day I ordered which means the package information was sent to Fedex and it was scheduled for pick-up. The package was sent from Santa Fe Springs, CA and I received it 4 days later in Northern Oregon.
The suitcase came in a big box and was protected by a white cover. The cover is to be used when the suitcase is in storage.
The B&R Torq® looks very nice and stylish. The black of the laptop section and the zipper curve at the bottom makes it look business-like and sets it apart from the mass-manufactured samsonite flat colors with straight zips. The interior padding is unexpectedly plush and the packing guides fold out as promised. I like how the handle mechanism is heavily padded to keep the inside of the suitcase flat which helps keep my clothes wrinkle free. The base of the case expands down to between the wheels which gives it a low center of gravity. The rolling is light and easy and the suitcase pivots nicely. The small size makes it easy to roll down airplane aisles and you can manuver it overhead without risk of hurting someone. I love the fact that it measures exactly what B&R lists on its site - 21x14x7??.
This carry-on does get some looks. The check-in agent gave it a good look on a recent flight from Portland. The Alaska Airlines Board Room Lounge agent gave me a nice smile and was friendly intead of display the normal business-like demeanor. And the passenger that was one seat up from me was giving it side glances while we were waiting to de-plane. She had a Tumi bag so she probably knew with what I was rolling. I feel like I’m in an exclusive club when I travel with this case. This is the carry-on to get if you want to blend in with the business folks and appear to be in the know.
While it has the aura of sophistication, the Torq® feels moderately flimsy. I think it is because of the tradeoffs to keep the weight low. The sides of the case are not rigid and flex when I put weight on them. While the individual pieces are solid, the joints of the handles click and clack. The zipper looks weak - it does not have anything like the size, feel, or strength of Red Oxx’s #10 zippers. It is a small zipper like one you’d find on a pair of slacks or a clearance bomber jacket from the Men’s Wearhouse. Only time will tell if the suitcase can stand up to the rigors of travel. I am not concerned because of the B&R reputation and their warranty.
As many people have pointed out, the laptop/tablet pocket is on the small side and is more of a tablet and less of a laptop pocket. Having said that, thought, I can fit my Lenovo Yoga 12 ThinkPad in it. It is a tight fit though. The pocket has hard protection on all sides, even on the inside. However, the sides flex under weight and so I wouldn’t check it with my laptop inside.
There isn’t much room for improvement with the Torq®. The sides could be more rigid but I suppose that is a tradeoff with the weight. They could have put a handle on the bottom to make it easier to pull when it arrives wheels first. But that may interfere with the low center of gravity. In that case they could have inset the handle into the bottom, but I guess we are quibbling over small details here.
I have a video review here on Youtube: