Best Travel Garment Bag
When attorney Robert Kardashian died in 2003, his legacy included three daughters destined to re-define reality TV and a carry on garment bag mystery that exemplifies America’s fascination with celebrity scandals. A member of the O.J. Simpson defense team, Kardashian was seen “carrying away a garment bag from Mr. Simpson's Rockingham Avenue home the day after the double killing,” reported the Associated Press. Was there evidence inside? We’ll never know--but we do know that the invention of the garment bag or suit travel bag has saved many travelers from showing up at business meetings looking like they had slept in their suits!
Our Top Garment Bag Picks:
The evolution of the travel garment bag
Ever troll the U.S. Patent Office archives searching for pioneering designs that transcend the traditional suitcase? It’s a fascinating journey and one that can take some time, but the effort pays off, as it did when we tried to find the original patent for the first suit luggage or official suit carrier.
As it turns out, Roy C. Jones and Herbert B. Marbury filed one of the earliest patent applications for a “convertible wardrobe handbag” in 1937. Jones and Marbury enjoyed exclusivity for almost a decade until additional patents were filed by both individuals and corporations who put their own spin on these designs. Early brands included Phoenix Closet Accessories, American Guard It Manufacturing Company, Totes and the Samsonite Corporation.
Over time, the suit travel bag became a multi-purpose product and some twists were added to the design that show America's flair for creativity. For example, William T. Jordan invented a clothes-drying garment bag in 1984 that features a “flexible, foldable enclosure with a top gusset adapted to admit the neck of a portable blower-type hair dryer.” This bag is vented at the bottom to disburse the heat, but for some reason, Jordan's dryer/garment bag never caught on.
10 questions to ask yourself before you shop for a travel garment bag
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when perusing travel garment bags on today’s market, but if you prioritize criteria that meet your needs, the task will be more manageable. To help, we’ve come up with a basic list of questions to ask yourself. Use it to eliminate garment bags that don’t fit your lifestyle, budget or needs.
- Do you need a suitcase for suit for business or pleasure trips?
- Do you have any physical issues that may prevent you from carrying a heavy bag?
- Do your budget constraints require you to stay under a certain retail price?
- Are you a trendsetter—as worried about the look of your luggage as you are about your reputation?
- Do you customarily check your suitcase for suit or must it be sized to fit into an overhead airplane bin?
- Are you seeking a garment bag that can be rolled or pulled?
- Is there a construction material you prefer over others—leather, textile, plastic, etc.?
- Are you concerned about meeting domestic or international airline suit luggage regulations?
- Do you want a specific brand, either because it’s a favorite or because you’re impressed with its reputation?
- Are you always on the lookout for mark-downs, closeouts and bargains?
Types of garment bags
Given the diversity and innovation associated with today’s garment bag mix, it helps to divide this niche into categories that match your needs with specific styles.
Traditional flat garment bags
This style is based on the old-school garment bag: an elongated bag with or without an access zipper and/or exterior pockets that can be folded over the arm once filled with clothing. The objective of this bag is to keep clothing clean, neat and wrinkle free. Prices on these basic bags—with or without plastic lining or waterproofing—-are often under $10. Some come with built-in hangers. Others have open necks so a traveler can poke their own hangers through the top.
Wheeled garment bags
These are becoming more and more popular. Some fold in half, are secured by tabs, snaps or even zippers and these bags are propelled around via a telescoping handle. They are propelled by either regular wheels or spinners that increase mobility because they roll in all directions. These are fast becoming the most practical and purchased type of suit travel bag on the market.
Business garment bags
This is another niche that is growing in popularity because these bags are designed for dual purposes, acting as a suit carrier and dedicated storage for the accoutrements business travelers can’t live without, like electronics, files and office supplies. These come in both wheeled and non-wheeled models though most have rugged shoulder straps and handles to carry the load. Exterior pockets are essential for quick access to travel documents and cell phones.
Electronic garment bags
Yes, the baggage industry is beginning to build circuitry into garment bags that turn them into mobile charging stations and offer exterior and interior pockets designed specifically for all sorts of electronics. These may also feature wheels and telescoping handles.
Garment bag Carry on
To meet airline regulations, there’s a segment of garment bags designed specifically to fit into overhead bins on airliners and under seats in buses and trains. That stated, exacting dimensions must be met once your bag is folded down to its smallest size (these are usually tri-folds). Most airlines limit the size of garment bags to a total of 45-inches.
Need an expandable, traditional, multi-functional garment bag with an adjustable strap and multiple pockets that won’t cost as much as the taxi tab you’ll generate once you reach your destination? This sleek no-frills luggage could tick off all of your shopping boxes. Sized 22-inches by 40-inches (total capacity when it’s expanded is 52-inches), this roomy Univent carrier invites as many outfits as you need for your trip and when it’s not on the road, you can use it store out-of-season wardrobe items.
That adjustable strap does double duty depending upon how you like to tote your garment bag. Sling it across your shoulder or carry it by hand; the adjustable-length buckle is the transformation feature that gives you options. A trio of outer pocks and 4 inner compartments are large enough to hold shoes, business supplies and whatever items you can’t leave home without. If you get stuck in a downpour, everything will stay dry and neat courtesy of an advanced nylon material that’s been waterproofed. Use the sturdy metal hook to stow the bag in a closet, on a valet or over a door.
- Retrieve packed items easily using the oversize zipper to secure garments.
- You’re going to love the price and the leather detail.
- Lightweight and roomy; perfect for clothes you don’t want to fold.
- Works for both business trips and vacations thanks to all of those handy pockets.
- Probably not the most fashion-forward garment bag you’ve seen.
- Stitching could be problematic if the bag is pushed to capacity.
- There aren’t very many color choices available.
- The carry strap could separate over time if you tend to carry heavy clothing.
You can buy two of the aforementioned Univent bags for the same amount of cash this Prottoni will set you back, but unique interior organizational features could make buying this black, Italian garment bag a better choice for your lifestyle. Interior zippered pockets hold lots of accessories and a three-tier garment tie-down security system is designed to hold your outfits like a vice, so your chances of arriving without wrinkles are much more likely.
Suit hangers won’t slip out because loops secure them in place. Simply pull the metal D-ring for fast access to garments. Exterior pockets are anything but wimpy in size; you can carry magazines, snacks, notebooks and more in the two deep pockets or stuff these sleeves with a couple of pair of shoes to keep them from dirtying garments inside. The two front pockets are ideal for your electronics. Yes, you can put your IPad and laptop into this bag and still have room for travel documents and other possessions.
Fabricated of polyester that’s lined with PVC for double waterproofing benefits, Prottoni says it’s fixation on zippers that keep working long after others have broken are one of the reasons shoppers prefer their brand. A sturdy pass-through strap serves as an all-purpose handle and shoulder strap and there’s even an embellishment on the bag exterior where you can slide in your personal information just in case it travels to a destination that doesn’t happen to be yours.
- Larger and more exterior and interior pockets allow travelers to make this their only travel bag.
- The harness system that keeps clothing secured means you won’t have to scurry for the iron in your hotel closet.
- Italian craftsmanship down to that industrial strength zipper offer years of use.
- There’s an extended warranty in place should you decide this bag doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Defective seam stitching has been reported to the manufacturer.
- Despite that interior restraint system, travelers have arrived at destinations with wrinkled garments.
- If putting this bag into the overhead bin for airline flights is your objective, choose a different garment bag.
- There is a limited to the company’s return policy, but you must contact them to find out what it is.
Are you willing to part with four times the amount of the Prottoni for a rolling garment bag that does everything but pack itself? If you travel so often, your dog doesn’t recognize you, this could be a non-issue once you discover the many bonuses that come with this bag. Sewn of 100-percent, high-quality polyester, the Maxlite 4 rolls like a pro thanks to a telescoping handle that nests when it’s not in use. The ball-bearing in-line wheels are safeguarded by crash-guard housings and the bag folds down to an efficient 21.5-inch by 15-inch by 9-inches, so sequestering this bag in an overhead bin or under a train seat probably won’t be a problem.
Both the outer and inner surfaces of this carry-on garment bag have been treated with a water-repellent agent so neither interior nor exterior assaults by damaging liquids will ruin your trip. But it’s the little extras that may convince you to fork over a larger amount of cash, like adjustable hold-down straps with Duraflex anti-break buckles that could mean the difference between getting to your first business meeting of the day on time rather than arriving late.
- If the ability to roll your garment bag is at the head of your wish list, this bag should be your first pick.
- A favorite of travelers who want to put their garment bag into the overhead compartment.
- The wheels with protective covers can help you get to your gate in a hurry.
- Holds enough to get a business travelers through around 3-days’ worth of meetings.
- This unpacked bag weighs 8 pounds, so if you have to lift it a lot, this may not be a good choice.
- The price is in keeping with other rolled garment bags, but if your budget is slim, you may have to settle for a bag without wheels.
- Some owners have had trouble getting the bag down the aisle of a conventional airliner.
- Brand fans complain that the Maxilight 4 doesn’t perform as well as the company's earlier Maxilight models.
This 60-inch WallyBag fits into the same price range as the aforementioned Prottoni, but strength may be the tradeoff for this beefier bag made of solid 660-denier polyester, a fabric that can stand up to luggage handlers and luggage maulers better than it's Italian counterpart. The proprietary WallyLock hanger clamp locks garments in place and while your color choices are limited to black and navy, your objective is getting your clothing to your destination without wrinkles, right?
Because you pack your WallyBag directly from your closet using your own hangers, you cut down on time spent transferring items before you depart and after you leave. How many items can you bring? That clamp holds up to 6 hangers so you won't have to wear items twice because you didn't have enough room to bring more. Fold this bag over to store it on the plane. Here's something you may not have considered: this fabric, while extra-sturdy, is so flexible, you could pack this filled garment bag into a suitcase and still have room left over. The full-length industrial zipper opens to reveal the contents of your WallyBag so there's no tug-of-war when you try to retrieve things.
- Few materials have the life expectancy of 600-denier polyester so you’ll have this bag for a long time.
- If you prefer to use this bag as an organizer, it fits easily into a suitcase so you double your capacity.
- The hanger clamp lock won’t let you down when it comes to holding those hangers tight.
- The manufacturer prides itself on using oversize zippers that stand the test of time.
- Despite the gauge of the fabric, shoppers have expressed disappointment that it’s not stronger.
- May work better for road trips than airline travel say a few unsatisfied fliers.
- Choose another bag if you are tall or anticipate traveling with gowns because length could be problematic.
- Doesn’t have a card-holding feature that allows you to identify your bag.
For travelers who have grown accustomed to converting fold-down garment bags into carry on, the Mercury Executive Tri-fold makes up in versatility what it lacks in flair. This black bag is a respectable 21-inches high and 45-inches wide unfurled, but once it’s compact, this garment bag’s width is just a little over 2-inches. Made of a high-denier polyester (the manufacturer doesn’t mention how high), this luggage garment bag offers travelers a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap and all of the fittings and the zippers are black so this garment bag has a tailored, sophisticated look.
Designed for shorter business trips, Mercury claims this bag will “easily pack two suits, shoes, shirts, with plenty of room for underwear socks and a gig bag.” Further, there are zippered side pockets for extra storage. Expect to fit this bag into the overhead if you decide to spend a little more than the price tag on either the Univent or the Prottoni. Adventurers like the fact that the material feels a lot like textiles used for backpacks.
- One of the top-selling tri-fold garment bags on the market.
- Perfect for conservative travelers needing a carry on for a long weekend.
- Very versatile and sturdy, this bag folds down to a width of 2-inches so it stores in relatively little space.
- The industrial-strength zipper is likely to hold up for the length of this bag’s life.
- Despite claims, folks returning this bag say it won’t hold as much as Mercury claims.
- Proved to be too heavy and bulky for some consumers.
- There is no internal hook from which to hang things; instead a Velcro loop substitutes.
- This garment bag could be outside your price range if you won’t use it often enough to justify the purchase.
Conclusion: The Winner Is…
When it comes to reputation, the Travelpro Maxlite 4 had captured the hearts of legions of travelers, but for those who don't spend much time traveling, the price of this bag can be a turn-off, especially when weighing this bag against comparables. Mercury’s unwillingness to fess up about denier plus a few consumer complaints about the sturdiness of the fabric gave us pause, so we eliminated Mercury from our roundup, too.
The Univent and Prottoni are practically interchangeable in terms of price and features, though the Prottoni does lend this garment bag an air of cosmopolitanism thanks to its Italian roots. But when push came to shove, we had no choice but to name the 60-inch WallyBag as our top pick. And yes, we really like the name because it gives this travel bag a personality.
Finding travelers who had bad things to say about the WallyBags brand was like pulling teeth and it’s hard to ignore that 660-denier fabric made to take a beating no matter how many times WallyBags circle the planet. The price is affordable. The size surpasses competitors. Complaints about the zippers? Couldn't find any. That’s a litmus test for luggage, so what does that say about this brand's workmanship? Plenty.