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Have you ever thought about the evolution of the humble suitcase? I hadn’t given it much thought myself either until recently, when I received a suitcase (the company kindly gifted me one to review) that I found so brilliant, it made me stop and wonder: Why hadn’t anyone thought of this until now? It’s sort of like when suitcases made the switch from two wheels to four wheels. HOW did it take us so long to figure out that this was the far superior design? No matter. Innovation continues and this latest idea is truly brilliant. RELATED: The Brilliant Travel Gadget That Has Saved Me a Small Fortune
But first: In a fascinating read, Smithsonian Magazine reported on The Humble History of the Suitcase. In the article, the author takes readers on a 120-year journey, from the suitcase’s early beginnings. In fact, the story begins even before that – think: Phileas Fogg, who, as he begins his journey in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, says: “We’ll have no trunks,” he says to his servant Passepartout, “only a carpet bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way.”
The article explains, “At the time, the suitcase as we know it today hardly existed. In Verne’s day, proper travel required a hefty trunk built of wood, leather, and often a heavy iron base. The best trunks were waterproofed with canvas or tree sap, as steamships were a reigning mode of travel. Without this protection, a suitcase in the hold of a heaving, leaky ship would probably have been wet within a few hours, and crushed by sliding trunks within a few more.”
In light of this, the complaints we have as modern-day travelers seem small. We’ve got it pretty good, I’d say, being able to travel by air and to cross the globe in mere hours, less than a day for even the most far-flung destinations. Yes, airports are crowded, passengers are unruly and airlines are losing our bags but … it’s still better than spending two weeks trying to get somewhere on a leaky ship. Right?
Airlines losing luggage was a leading story for months as they struggled to keep up during post-pandemic labor shortages and unprecedented passenger demand, which, incidentally, is why we always recommend using Apple AirTags to track your checked luggage (at this point, it’s foolish not to) or better yet, travel with carry-on only if possible.
And do I have a carry-on suitcase to tell you about. PROPS suitcases ($349.99) represent one of the most significant innovations in suitcase design of late and meet a need we all, well, need. These sleek and stylish carry-on suitcases have all the features you’d expect from a premium brand. They’re lightweight yet durable (made with a polycarbonate outer hard shell), and have 360-degree, dual-spinner wheels for easy handling, an interior compression packing system, a telescopic handle and an integrated TSA-approved combination lock.
But what sets this suitcase apart from the rest is that it’s got the world’s first patent-pending PROPS leg system. A suitcase with legs? It’s honestly just so brilliant. When at the airport, you can pop the legs out to prop up your suitcase and create a work surface for your laptop or a table to have a coffee or a meal during a layover.
At your hotel, you’ll have your own built-in luggage rack to keep your suitcase off the ground. And with all the recent talk about bed bugs in hotels (and despite their name, they can often be found in carpeting), it’s best to always keep your suitcase elevated and off the ground where bed bugs can get in.
Yes, most hotels have luggage racks stashed in the closet but according to The Kitchn, who interviewed Brittany Campbell, Ph.D., staff entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), “Avoid using racks with hollow legs, since bed bugs can hide within the legs.”
While the built-in, pop-out legs are the stand-out (pun intended!) feature of this truly innovative suitcase, it’s worth mentioning another design choice I love. The suitcase has a unique top-lid opening that makes it super easy to pack and unpack. Opening from the top means that everything fits into one main compartment, as opposed to the two sides, like traditional clamshell suitcases, where there’s a zipper around the middle and the compartments are divided into a 50/50 split. It can be hard to close those suitcases; this is much easier.
PROPS suitcases come in four colors (graphite, ice, ivory and midnight) but Maggie Gerth, the company’s founder and CEO, told Forbes that they hope to add one or two more colors and that designs have been started for a larger checked bag that they hope to launch in the future.
All in all, I give the PROPS suitcase a solid 10/10 if you’re looking for a stylish suitcase that offers more form and function than most other options on the market. This is certainly a brand to watch.
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