Briggs & Riley Compression Suitcase: The Next Best Thing to Mary Poppins’ Magic Bag

I recently travelled with a woman who claimed she could pack for a week’s skiing holiday in a handbag. Not the skis themselves, mind you, but she insisted she could fit every other essential in one average-sized, over-the-shoulder satchel.

Okay, so this isn’t her…and this isn’t the magic bag, but it wasn’t much bigger than the one carried by Duane Hanson’s remarkably lifelike sculpture at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

My comrade had already proven her mysterious superpowers, having employed said sack for a trip we shared to Edinburgh.

But…how?

Did she possess some sort of pret-a-portable TARDIS, equipped with entire wardrobes instead of zip pockets?

When she went camping, could she crawl in there to sleep at night?

Given that every handbag is legally obligated to devote at least half its capacity to crumpled receipts, wadded tissues and lint-covered breath mints, did the thing require its own household staff to tidy unfathomable mounds of worthless detritus?

As our train chugged back to London, I longed to ask her to turn her bag inside out so that I could explore its enigmatic dimensions. But somehow, it didn’t seem right to request that she dump her unmentionables on the tray table.

Nor did I wish to risk being sucked in by the gravitational pull of what I can only assume was her pocketbook’s fifth dimension.

Fortunately, given my own everything-but-the-kitchen-sink penchant for disaster packing, I have recently discovered the next best thing to Mary Poppins’ magic carpet bag.

Behold, my friends: Briggs & Riley’s patented CX™ Expansion-Compression Technology.

With the help of a pair of ladder-like gizmos, which retract when you zip your suitcase and press down at each end, Briggs & Riley has figured out a way for you to wriggle 25 to 34 percent more stuff into their Baseline and Sympatico luggage collections.

Briggs & Riley patented CM Expansion-Compression Technology

You can see it in action here.

I decided to test the system myself, using the Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner. In its unexpanded, deflated state, this little gem measures just 56 x 35.5 x 23 cm, including the handle and wheels. That’s slightly too large for RyanAir’s carry-on bag limit, which is basically the size of an anemic lunch box, but small enough for EasyJet and British Airways.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expansion Spinner

In addition to being super-squeezy, this suitcase has a few other nifty features, including a built-in trifold garment bag to help prevent suits from wrinkling. You’ll find a full list of amenities here, but some of my favourites are:

  • four spinner wheels, in case you want to take your suitcase dancing
  • a handle located on the outside, rather than the interior, so that it takes up less space inside
  • extractable name tag, so your personal details can stay tucked away, with less chance of the tag being torn off
  • zip pocket on the back of suitcase between the handle frame; it’s just big enough for a glasses case or a small umbrella

    Briggs & Riley suitcase features

    Special features: outside handle, extractable luggage tag, rear zip pocket

Now, here’s what I planned to pack. (There might actually be a kitchen sink under that pile of clothes somewhere). 

So then, how did the suitcase fare? As I piled my stuff into the bag, with the little ladders fully extended on each end, I admit I didn’t hold out much hope, unless I could wrangle a baby elephant to sit on it while I zipped it.

But miracle of miracles, it worked, without employing any undue assistance from an affable pachyderm.

Granted, in its impregnated state, my valise would technically be a bit too deep for most carry-on restrictions. Of course, I’ve been known to go into full-on “ugly stepsister trying on Cinderella’s glass slipper” mode, shoehorning even fatter bags into the metal “your suitcase must be no larger than this” cage with smug glee. If the airline staff have the look of surly, sleep-deprived, under-caffeinated prison guards, however, I would not advise testing their patience.

That being said, I was well-chuffed with this surprisingly stuffable bag. I believe Mary Poppins would approve.

Briggs & Riley collections can be found in North America, the UK, Japan and China at more than 600 specialty retailers, including Selfridges, Harrods and John Lewis, and online at www.briggs-riley.com.

Prices from £389 for a Briggs & Riley Commuter Expandable Upright Bag with CXTM Technology in the Baseline Collection.

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