Travel and need to pack bulky stuff or just want a kickass bag for clothes and everything else? It's the 5.11 Tactical SOMS. This is a website that deals with hardcore military travel items and tactical gear, not known as a baggage store. These are deployment bags, meant to take the hard knocks of military travel. But that's the secret.
When you look at the specs of their bags, you'll be blown away. I have two of their bags, basically rolling duffels on steroids. I'd been looking for bags like this for two years and last year finally found them during a Google search for luggage that would stand up to hard knocks such as travel photography.
The material is heavy 1600D ballistic nylon, the weight is just that of any other suitcase, and the same as the now popular and supposedly lightweight plastic-sided rollers if you compare the same volumes. All corners are covered with hard rubber bumpers, the wheels are more sturdy than I've seen on any other bag, and there are side zip pockets on both long sides. Measurements of the SOMS are exactly 62 inches, the max for a checked in bag that's normal size, so you won't pay for oversized. There's a plastic see through zip case on the top for customs declaration papers when you travel with a lot of gear. It has hard rubber ribs on the bottom to strengthen the length of the bag.
The rolling handle is really beefy and well made. One of the best features is that when empty, the short sides collapse and the height of the bag is minimal for storage. When open, there are two included long aluminum rubber ended rods that hold the bag open to full height. They fit into internal rubber grommets, and you simply remove the rods and collapse the bag for storage.
I have never seen such a well made bag, the older, better Tumi's included. I bought the oversized longer version of this bag for my last trip; it holds tripods and lightstands without an issue. You pay the oversized fee, but it's worth it for the space. It got beat around during a month of travel, but still looks new. All the bags have a lifetime warranty.
The kicker is that the price is exactly the same as for an Eagle Creek duffel, and cheaper than a Tumi or Briggs and Riley of the same size, and infinitely better made. I just got the SOMS this week, as I wanted a standard sized bag for travel. My highest recommendation.
This is a real sleeper, so don't tell your friends until you're sure you have one on order.
Photos courtesy 5.11 Tactical