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What Luggage Do You Recommend for International Travel? (Hint: It’s High Sierra)

Posted in: Product Reviews, Resources & Gear

We’ve been frequently asked about luggage – and what kind is the best. Going on a trip is one thing – moving all your stuff to your new country is something else. You really don’t want any problems with burst zippers and damaged stuff. While we don’t claim to know the best luggage we can confidently recommend the luggage that we use.

Luggage in Guayaquil

Our Favorite Luggage for International Travel

Our favorite luggage is by High Sierra. We have 3 (one for each of us) carry-on bags that go everywhere we go. Over the past eight years, they have traveled with us everywhere.

Our luggage has traveled:

  • countless trips around Canada (both flights and road trips)
  • numerous trips to the States
  • to the Caribbean
  • to Venezuela
  • moved all our stuff to Ecuador
  • countless trips around Ecuador, including to four of the Galapagos Islands
  • a recent trip to the States, Canada and Aruba
  • and the list will go on and on…
 After all of that traveling the only problem we have with them is that one of the wheels on one of the bags has lost it’s rubber, but it still works fine.

Why We Love High Sierra

Other than how durable the bags are, we really like their size. We can fit a lot (in terms of carry on luggage) in them and they fit will into the overhead compartments on planes.

They also have a zip-off day-pack which is incredibly handy. We usually put snacks, magazines and whatever else we may want during the flight in the day pack, zip it off right before the flight and store it under the seat. It does away with the need for an extra bag. Then when the flight is over we just zip it back on and our hands are free to deal with tickets and travel documents.

The day-packs are great once we get where we are going as well. They are not too big, but big enough for sun block, a snack, a bottle of water and a ball hat. Once those essentials are packed in, there is still a little extra room for the small souvenirs we collect on the way.

They don’t look that bad either. After all the traveling we’ve done there are no dents or rips, they are holding up really well.

What does it all cost? Well, because we bought it in Canada (and were distributing High Sierra at the time) we got a pretty good deal.

When I looked on Amazon to create the links for this post, I was shocked to see them selling it for less than what my wholesale price was in Canada!

Our High Sierra Luggage Set:

  1. 22″ Wheeled Backpack: With Pack N Go Removable Backpack
  2. High Sierra Loop Backpack: Comes in 30 colors. We choose the muted black/grey for our 3.
  3. High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack: This is my favorite laptop backpack – it holds a 15″ with room to spare – and doesn’t look like a laptop pack.
  4. High Sierra Wheeled Duffel: This has a ton of space and functions equally well as a duffel bag or a roller bag. Structured on the bottom and soft on the top and sides.

1. High Sierra 22″ Wheeled Backpack

Part backpack, part wheeled carry-on, the High Sierra 22″ Wheeled Backpack is equally at home in the airport and in the great outdoors. At a compact-yet-roomy 22-inch height, it is small enough to stow and large enough to hold all the gear you need for a walk in the woods or a night away.

It includes removable front day pack with zippered accessory pocket and dual-side water bottle pockets. Padded, S-shaped shoulder straps offer an integrated cell phone pocket on the removable day pack. Or engage the rolling features using the corner-mounted, inline skate-style wheels and recessed, telescoping handle with exclusive Soft-Grip. It also features an adjustable tow strap to attach additional gear.

Check current price on Amazon

Three is the magic number, and our 22-Inch Wheeled Backpack proves it. Use it as a wheeled bag, a backpack or unzip the day pack for a handy carry-on. With a large main storage space and plenty of extras, this bag lets you go from the airport terminal to the city streets to a hike in the hills all with the same smart pack.

  • It is three bags in one! Use it as a wheeled bag, as a backpack, or as a day pack.
  • Corner-mounted, inline skate-style wheels and recessed, telescoping handle
  • Padded backpack straps are stored behind the zippered padded back panel
  • Ergonomic, Sure-Grip molded-rubber grab handles with Vapel mesh padding to wick moisture
  • Adjustable tow-strap to attach additional gear

2. High Sierra Loop Backpack

Offering a sporty, modern style, the High Sierra Loop is a great choice for student athletes or heading to the gym after work.

The large, multi-compartment design offers a zippered CD/MP3 player pocket with headphone port and an interior organizer with zippered mesh pocket, pen pockets, and removable key fob.

Check current price on Amazon

It also includes a hanging accessory pocket, a monster hook with bottom straps for more gear, and two side mesh water bottle pockets. The yoke-style, S-shaped shoulder straps offer thumb ring adjuster pulls and a cell phone pocket, and they feature ventilated Vapel mesh to keep you cool and a suspension strap to take the strain of heavy cargo off your back.

  • Material: Mini-Hexagon Ripstop, Waffle Weave, 600-denier Duralite
  • Overall measurement: 19.5 by 14.5 by 8.25 inches
  • Capacity: 1949 cubic inches
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

3. High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack

With its distinctive swerve design and padded computer sleeve, the large High Sierra Swerve daypack will comfortably carry your gear all day long.

The multi-compartment design offers a padded computer sleeve with back access that accommodates a 15-inch laptop. Storage features include a CD/MP3 player pocket with headphone port, easy-access media pocket that holds a cell phone or PDA, and an organizer compartment with multiple pockets and removable key fob.

Check current price on Amazon

The S-shaped Airflow shoulder straps offer thumb ring adjuster pulls, and they feature ventilated Vapel mesh to keep you cool, a suspension strap to take the strain of heavy cargo off your back, and a tuck-away waist belt.

  • Overall measurement: 19 by 13 by 7.75 inches
  • Capacity: 1914.25 cubic inches
  • Duraliter Ripstop, Waffle Weave, 1000D Duraliter
  • Multi-compartment design with side mesh water bottle pockets
  • Padded computer sleeve, with back-access, holds most 15 notebook computers (maximum size: 15.5″ x 10.75″ x 1.8″)
  • Organizer compartment with multiple pockets and removable key fob
  • Easy-access deluxe media pocket holds various sizes of cell phones, pda’s, and mp3 players
  • Cd/mp3 player pocket with headphone port

4. High Sierra Wheeled Duffel

Offering a colossal 6,720 cubic inches of space, the High Sierra Wheeled Duffel has tons of storage options, including a U-shaped main compartment for easy packing, easy-access, top-load end compartments, and a front pocket for keys, tickets and much more.

Check current price on Amazon

For those who want the ultimate in storage and versatility, count on the Wheeled Duffel to turn your next trip a complete adventure.

  • Duralite Tech Weave, 900-denier Duralite, 1200 x 1800-Denier Duralite
  • Large main compartment with U-shaped zippered opening for easy packing.
  • Two top-load end compartments hold clothing, shoes or accessories.
  • Front pocket is perfect for quick-access items.
  • Ergonomic, Sure-Grip molded rubber grab handle with Vapel™ mesh padding to wick moisture.
  • Corner-mounted, inline skate-style wheels and recessed, telescoping handle with exclusive Soft-Grip.

Don’t forget to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport. You’ll hit your max weight faster than you might think. Here’s our guide to choosing the best luggage scale for travel.

Have you come across some really great luggage? Does it taken a lickin’ and keep on tickin’? Tell us about it by commenting on this post.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

15 comments… add one
  • Jennifer Dec 24, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Last year we bought a set of BRX by Briggs & Reilly. Life time warranty for any reason (even if airline is responsible) pieces strap together without extra straps, easy to maneuver, awesome design and structure and is aesthetically pleasing (easy to pick out on a luggage carousel). The pieces stand up to extreme wear and tear and appear to be nearly indestructible. Great for weekend getaways, week long vacations and – I hope – for the family sabbatical we dream of doing someday!

  • NORMA G. Jul 12, 2014, 9:29 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Due to the age of our backs ; – ) we’re looking for ‘spinner’ type 4-wheeled luggage. With so many choices & price ranges it tough to decide. My greatest concern is construction & durability of the wheels. Which to stay clear of & which to consider. Care to share? Thank you

    • Bryan Haines Jul 17, 2014, 4:52 pm

      Great suggestion – we’ll work on a post about that.


  • Steve D Jun 11, 2014, 8:04 pm

    FYI – “American (as well as Delta and United) have fairly new carry on bag limits, including a 14-inch maximum width, was 15” width with those three and still is with most.

    22-inch length limit, and 9-inch depth limit. Here’s an article about it…

    • Bryan Haines Jun 13, 2014, 6:16 pm

      Thanks for the info Steve.

      Americans rules state:

      The maximum dimensions cannot exceed any of the following measurements: 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall or 115cm (56 x 36 x 23 cm). All carry-on items should be stowed in an overhead bin.

      We last traveled internationally in January – it looks like many of the rules changed shortly after.

  • Ken March Mar 15, 2014, 11:54 am

    My favorite piece of luggage is a quality Day Pack. The best I’ve ever owned is a Gregory Z 25. (Video Review)
    I find when traveling around the world that Mobility is the Key. Don’t get owned by too much luggage. A quality trolley-type wheeled carry-on bag plus a Day Pack (your 1 ‘personal item’ on the plane & fits under the seat) and you are good to go for a month or more.
    And if the bus doesn’t show up or you can’t find a taxi it is no problem to walk a mile or more to the airport.

  • Gary A Sisk Mar 15, 2014, 9:10 am

    I was concerned about size and weight limits on luggage, I did visit a luggage store which had some nice pieces but so was the price. After searching several websites I settled on and I found two of their largest bags on sale for $79 each with free delivery. They were hard side bags with zippers, I also picked up a couple of straps for each bag and some vacuum bags in different sizes. I was amazed what I could fit in these two bags, 21″ monitor, sheets, towels, comforter, coffee grinder and electric can opener plus shoes, and lots of clothes! When I weighed them in at the airport they were just a few pounds over the fifty limit but they let them go! I have loaned out the bags to friends here in EC and so far still in good shape!

  • Dede Jan 30, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I have a question. It does not pertain to luggage, but I couldn’t find a way to comment until I opened a discussion.

    Here is my question.
    What about pets. We have a dog that is a member of our family and we are planning a move to Ecuador hopefully by June/July. I have never traveled with a pet, so not sure what to do about that.

    Thanks for any input.

  • Jay Dec 16, 2012, 2:09 pm

    We splurged before we moved to Gabon on Briggs & Riley (Baseline) and we are super happy with them. The lifetime warranty is always a nice backup but we haven’t had any problems. We recently debated moving up to Tumi but couldn’t justify the cost when we were perfectly happy with Briggs.

  • Karen Sep 24, 2012, 1:24 pm

    We hope to last as well as our Eagle Creek luggage. It is light, highly functional and incredibly durable. Over the past 8 years it has been to 40 countries and on over 100 plane rides. Our travelling is not gentle on our bags – they get thrown on buses and in the back of trucks, exposed to dust and the weather. The way I pack it is always full on the return trips! We wouldn’t leave home without them.

  • Andi Rawls Sep 24, 2012, 10:25 am

    We came to Ecuador with hideously over packed luggage, it was our all of our belongings, and we had a mix of luggage. Out of Jeep, American Tourister, Nautica and another one that I don’t remember, most of our luggage came out looking like it had been drug through the desert, had zipper tabs missing, etc., but the Nautica still looks brand new! I would have to say that it definitely fared the best…the others, not so much!

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