Hello everyone, we meet again for a new article, just a matter of traveling a little bit!
It has already been 2 months since I flew out to expatriate myself, usually a very patriotic guy, to a (not so) distant country: England. So I set out to find a plan for all those who travel more than I do, who need to trust their gear and who will not regret spending their pennies on such.
I am addressing myself to the "city rat" whose destination is a developed city or who travels for business, studies, etc... but also to the "field mouse", changing environments every 2 days, confronted with different climates and who will trudge through a forest one day and find himself in a luxurious capital the next. Did I make a dreamer out of more than one of you? Perfect.
Today, I will not introduce you to some obscure brand unearthed in a newcomers’ show. We also must trust more important, established labels for what they bring regarding experience, quality and technical knowledge to their products.
So why do we talk about bags?
For latecomers: bags are not only for females anymore and men can now wear something other than sports bags or cement bags. Unfortunately, this sudden trend has led many men to choose the bag that accompanies them every day a little bit hastily or without realizing the importance it might have in an outfit.
Far be it for me to advocate elitism when referring to travel accessories (they are, after all, much less important than the elements of an outfit). But if you travel a lot, you will see why it is more interesting to invest in a bag that you like, that is practical, that offers useful and original features... and that does not trash your look.
Here, the bag does not trash anything at all.
Tumi? Sounds like a tea brand
It became a leader in the business and travel accessories premium category ever since Barack Obama acquired a Tumi bag from its black leather Alpha range, which draws inspiration from the aerospace and motorsports realms. Executed with several very handy compartments, in tooled leather, this bag encompasses by itself Tumi’s will to embody the image of practical, beautiful and strong luggage.
Therefore, if I had to choose between a monogrammed bag without any special values and a simple bag with a few tricks under its sleeve, I will have no hesitation. I will explain to you why later.
In 1975, in Colombia, South America, Charlie Clifford was literally amazed by the quality of rawhide produced there. He decided to import it to America to implement his business leather bag project.
Sold in 140 countries, Tumi is now present in all major cities of the world: Paris, Tokyo, New York, Milan or Hong Kong.
Tumi has partnered with companies such as Ducati and Japan Airlines to design special luggage lines. Lexus also called upon the brand to design custom-made bags that fit the trunk of their LFA supercar. Mastery of materials is tested and approved in each of its partnerships as Tumi uses leather, aluminum, nylon, carbon fiber, (...) to the best of their abilities to respond to the image and design requirements of its partners.
And what’s the difference compared to other brands?
Quite honestly, I've never seen such out-there advances in a brand of luggage. See for yourself:
• Tumi T-Pass®: a technology which allows one no need to get the laptop out the bag for X-rays and body search (hahem) before boarding a plane.
• Tegris®: an apparently revolutionary thermoplastic used for bulletproof vests, rally cars and american football body shielding. Thus, the bags are very lightweight, but all the while very resistant to shocks as suggested by the material’s military and sports uses.
• Tumi Vapor: a range which strives for the lowest size/lightness ratio. The result is quite impressive; I'll let you alone be the judges.
• Antibacterial lining: don’t ask me how, but there is even a treatment or a material that prevents the growth of mold and fungi, used for toiletry pouches.
• Rib-Tech padding: The part of luggage designed to accommodate the computer is enhanced by high density shock absorbing material.
And so on…
The Tumi Vapor range
What really makes Tumi stand out is also and especially the Tumi Tracer. Yes, it sounds like the name of the latest Action Man toy, but it’s not.
It is a unique code figuring on each bag Tumi which can help find your baggage in case of loss (if someone honest does find it). You will be informed of where your luggage ended up getting lost. It is not a geo-location thing either, so no conspiracy theories this time.
To conclude, I trumpet their 5-year warranty. The first year, any minor problem with the bag and it can be refunded in full. After the first year, Tumi undertakes to cover all repair costs due to a manufacturing defect or to even replace the bag.
Well, all of this is all good and well, but now we'll examine them together.
A bag is an extension of oneself and thus it can just as easily destroy as well as elevate its "carrier’s" outfit. If you are hesitant, go for a simple design that will not clash with your outfits. No need to go hit high end bags, which you do not understand very well anyway, for which you will pay a fortune and will remain in your closet because you never know what to do with them.
As for colors, a beautiful black / brown for business use (or dark blue), brown, khaki, sand or even gray for something to go with everything. Try something more extravagant form-wise but no crazy colors. In fact, it is better to keep reds and yellows for your mid-low socks :)
What good is a bag if it is impossible to store anything correctly in it, and if everything is all over the place when you open it?
Like if your city map is wedged between your bathing trunks and the office paperwork? We must be vigilant on this point. Again, it’s the use that will determine whether or not you need 18 pockets on your bag. One can also like "sport"-type bags for quickly stuffing clothes before catching the next train.
Spacious interior equipped with deep internal pockets, practical for not mixing certain belongings; classic nylon lining, nothing to report in this respect.
Nonetheless, do note the leather reinforcements on the edges of pockets and closures, it's cleaner, it gives out a certain look and I admit that I like that. Now, let's be honest, the bag insides are clearly not its strongest point (even if the storage compartments are satisfactory) and at the same time, it's not what I am truly asking of it. One should note here the bag’s overall functionality as it comes pretty well equipped with many pockets and storage nooks for smartphone, passport, etc...
By structure, I mean how your bag will behave when you hand-carry it, or sling it on your shoulder or when you lay it on the floor...
The base. When laying a bag, it can slouch either on the side, or squarely fall in onto itself, depending on the bag and what's in it. On this one, the bottom is wide and relatively rigid (it can bend a little). It keeps the structure of the bag intact and allows for ease of use. No matter, be it put on the floor, be it dragged... it will remain stable.
Although solid, the seams are clean and the material is suited for intensive wear. I won’t have any worries for a while. The material used for the rest of the bag is rather rigid and does not overly settle when the bag is laid. There is no special reinforcement except on the bottom. It can therefore slip around without it being too cumbersome (in a luggage compartment, for example, or a car trunk).
If your bag were made out of linen and bamboo fiber, don’t come crying if it became tattered at the slightest snag. Certainly, it would be lightweight but could only be used well for a particular purpose. The bag you’ll take a trip with will necessarily have to be beefier. Different fabric thicknesses, leather, nylon and so on. Here’s a comparison, on a London street corner, of my bag with other bags of the same style offered by Tumi. I show you just the classic "weekender" type but do not hesitate to go to their website where there is a very wide choice to suit all purposes.
It is the same model, but the material has changed. The color too, as you cansubtly notice.
For this black-on-black model, Tumi uses "ballistic nylon" whose technical name is "FXT Ballistic Nylon". This fabric, covering bulletproof vests was used for most of this bag. It has been, of course, worked on to be adapted to a more refined use. It can be found in the ALPHA collection, TUMI’s bestseller.
The material used for the gray/brown bag is a kind of coated fabric which gives the visual impression that the bag is covered with felt or even a more fragile fabric. Nothing of the sort. Tumi has blown me away.
One also has a choice of noble materials, which will weather like the leather bag below.
"But they are expensive." Yes, indeed, I also sprang to the ceiling when I saw the price of those bags (about 800 euros). Rest assured, my friends, Tumi also offers very nice luggage pieces at more attractive prices. Nothing obligates you to go for one of the more expensive models, but you could very well not regret it should that happen.
Arch brief – 165/185£
For a regular use, to go on week-end or to take some stuff to class. Label notwithstanding, something easily dealt with. It comes in khaki. And in messenger bag size.
Small Soft Travel Satchel – Alpha – 295£
A very strong bag as it is made out of their famous ballistic nylon. It is supple, relatively small. It comes in black but I find this color nicer.
Soft Carry-On – 245£
A more consequential bag, adapted to travel, not bulky and very functional.
A "field" color is available, seems it can age well. With a lot of space since it has less pockets.
Of course, all of this is on account of a certain budget. Don’t make the mistake of putting a large sum in a bag. If you have not yet had the experienced a bag with cracks everywhere, parts falling off or becoming unsewn, it is because you have not travelled intensely enough to recognize the comfort of one of these bags.
The accessories’ range
As with any brand of self-respecting luggage, Tumi offers a selection of accessories to complement its range. Except that here, we’re far from just a lock or a luggage tag.
Wireless computer keyboard, phone accessories, auto-folding umbrella and so on. I had the chance to test the power adaptor, extremely practical as well.
Allows plugging-in in any of 150 countries. Simply drag a small button on the side to select the type of plug. This charger is surge-protected, can be plugged into grounded outlets, it's tough. No risk of blowing out the device connected to it. A more "light" version exists provided you’re not extravagant with electricity use.
The anti-bacterial toiletry pouch. I find the concept so awesome it deserves its place here. No more mold on your toothbrush! (And don’t say I'm the only one to whom this happens... Ok?). More seriously, while traveling, heat helps bacteria grow and humidity not helping either, you can imagine the wide range of viruses that have developed since you arrived in Ghana for your vacation.
I could also have taken a pouch assorted to my bag... but let’s not overdo it. Even if having a toiletry pouch in ballistic nylon is another fantasy. One never knows.
There is also a choice of card holders, passport-protectors, and some other seemingly far-out electrical gadgets which actually become useful when traveling.
In conclusion, I really like this brand that I recommend to all those who want to equip themselves properly and be surprised every day to discover something new about their piece of luggage. I found the price fair given the proposed innovations and all additional services included in the bag’s purchase price: finding your bag gone to Guatemala, a no-questions-asked full refund in the first year as well as manufacturing defects covered for 5 years. For me, it’s worth to try a travel experience that stands out.
I hope that with this everyone is ready to go. Tomorrow, meeting in the yard at 7am. No latecomers. And don’t wait for me, I'm already gone.