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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner Review

A high-end, super durable bag with plenty of smart features and a surprising amount of space with a premium price tag to match
briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review
Credit: Briggs and Riley
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $699 List | $699.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Sophisticated design, innovative compression, stable and durable
Cons:  Expensive, heavy
Manufacturer:   Briggs & Riley
By Myrha Colt & Maggie Nichols  ⋅  Sep 26, 2022
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Ease of Use - 35% 8.7
  • Design - 25% 7.0
  • Packability - 25% 9.7
  • Durability - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

Premium is the name of the game with the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner as there was no metric for which this top-ranked carry on luggage didn't deliver superior performance. Understated yet luxe in design, aesthetic, and functionality, this clever yet pricey case is built to meet the same U.S. domestic airline overhead bin dimension requirements as all the rest, yet it comes with an innovative compression system that allows you to squeeze in so much more than any other — all while still maintaining its original size! There is no question that this high-end suitcase deserves our Top Pick Award among premium softshell carry-ons.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $699 List
$699.00 at Amazon
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$170 List
$152.87 at Amazon
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Pros Sophisticated design, innovative compression, stable and durableWheels magnetically align, excellent organization, deceptively large capacity, stable and durablePolished, modern design, thoughtful organizational tools, easy to lift and maneuverMany useful extras, impressive capacity, accessible priceSmooth and stable, impressive capacity, variety of colors, lightweight
Cons Expensive, heavyDimensions exceed airline standards, heavyProne to tipping, scuffs easily, expensiveHeavy, exceeds airline size requirements, frontside bulkDurability concerns, minimal organizational features
Bottom Line A high-end, super durable bag with plenty of smart features and a surprising amount of space with a premium price tag to matchA super versatile and functional bag that is durably built and makes travel easyA minimalist’s dream bag with a sleek modern appearance and commendable performance across all metricsAn accessible price point and a slew of useful features make this carry-on a good option for those who want a solid performer without breaking the bankA simple, lightweight yet solid hardshell spinner that outshines other bags at a similar price point
Rating Categories Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Away The Carry-On SwissGear Sion Soft... Samsonite Omni PC H...
Ease of Use (35%)
8.7
8.5
7.1
8.2
7.5
Design (25%)
7.0
7.8
8.9
6.1
8.0
Packability (25%)
9.7
8.3
8.1
8.7
7.0
Durability (15%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.2
Specs Briggs & Riley Base... Travelpro Platinum... Away The Carry-On SwissGear Sion Soft... Samsonite Omni PC H...
Measured Dimensions 22.1" x 14.3" x 9.1" 23.5" x 14.3" x 9" 21.7" x 13.5" x 8.5" 23" x 14.1" x 10" 21.5" x 14" x 9.5"
Handle Height Options (where it locks) 5 (27", 29", 32", 34", 43") 5 (28", 36", 38", 40", 42.5") 4 (27", 34", 37.5", 41.5") 3 (28", 34.5", 43") 5 (25", 30.5", 33", 36", 41.5")
Number of Wheels 4 4 4 4 4
Number of Exterior Pockets 3 3 0 2 0
Interior Opening Style Top lid Top lid Half shell Top lid Half shell
Locking? Yes Main compartment zipper has a loop for a lock but does not come with lock Yes No Yes
Exterior Material Ballistic nylon with leather details High density nylon Polycarbonate hardshell with leather details Polyester Micro-diamond polycarbonate
Colors 3 - black, blue, brown 7 - vintage gray, shadow black, bordeaux, coastal blue, intrigue black, rich espresso, true navy 9 - black, navy, ocean, green, asphalt, petal, white, sand, lavender 8 - black, blue, burgandy, dark gray, navy lime, pewter, purple, teal 11 - black, carribean blue, red, white, silver, teal, navy, purple, bronze, burnt orange, radiant pink

Our Analysis and Test Results

Boasting a remarkably deceptive capacity and classically understated good looks, the high-end Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner knows its priorities — core strength, innovative and reliable design, and thoughtful, highly effective features. Polished, smart, and hyper-responsive, it's sure to reduce the pains of packing and might just introduce a dash of joy back into those long travel days. Naming it our Top Pick among premium softshell carry-ons was an easy call.

Performance Comparison


briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - a little bag with a big bag secret - the briggs & riley baseline...
A little bag with a big bag secret - the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner holds so much!
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


What makes the Baseline Essential Spinner rollaboard so compelling is just how well every aspect of the design, construction, and functionality was considered. Large shock-absorbing wheels with 360-degree maneuverability glide effortlessly beside you as you run between hotel lobbies and busy city streets or airport security lines. Strong protective wheel housings and high clearance mean the double-spinners won't flinch in the face of thresholds, curbs, or gravel. And an ergonomic telescoping handle (complete with five locking heights and one of the sturdiest we tested!) makes maneuvering long distances and tight spaces nearly effortless. Whenever a stairwell or overhead bin does appear, the two cushioned carry handles and a smaller bottom hand grip are available to make it easy to lift and lower your case smoothly into position.


A proprietary one-touch compression system not only stores far more gear than meets the eye, but also keeps your case from developing a tipping problem. The Essential Spinner's impressive durability in the face of rugged field testing showcases its well-reinforced corners, sophisticated ballistic nylon construction, and large, heavily protected spinner wheels. These features inspire confidence that this bag is made to last and will barely show any wear and tear in the process. Plus, while there are several handy pockets and organizational features inside and out (including a built-in garment "envelope" to minimize the risk of wrinkles in your business or event attire), this carry-on isn't so overburdened by an embedded organizational system that it doesn't allow for flexibility in use. A benefit those who travel between business and pleasure on the regular will much appreciate.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - the clever incorporation of a garment "envelope" into the lid of the...
The clever incorporation of a garment "envelope" into the lid of the Briggs & Riley carry-on makes for easy packing when traveling for work, weddings, or other special events.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The Baseline Essential Spinner also boasts some of the best zippers from the test group, with pulls that glide like butter around the edges of the bag, even at full capacity. Not once did we have to fight with them nor worry they'd get caught up on closure or give out when the bag became overstuffed. Meanwhile, each of the three exterior pockets is well thought-out in terms of placement and size, allowing us to organize and access all day-of incidentals easily while on the move. The large front sleeve pocket stowed a 17-inch laptop with no problem, while a smaller, brightly-lined pocket just above was perfect for tossing in our phone, tickets, or keys. An inconspicuous power pocket nested on the backside within the external telescoping handle mount is a perfect spot to stash a power charger and cords so they are easy to grab for a boost while on the move.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - the three exterior pockets on the briggs & riley baseline...
The three exterior pockets on the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner all sized perfectly to handle typical day-of travel items you'll need access to on the go: keys, phones, chargers, cords, books, and even a laptop.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Packability


There is a fine line between a collection of smart and useful extras that can make packing and travel easier and a bunch of potentially burdensome features that may get in the way and slow your prep and movements down. Briggs & Riley manages to master this line with aplomb. A large flip-lid delivers a wide front-side opening to the main compartment, offering immediate access to two interior mesh zip pockets sized just large enough to separate one's undergarments or other small necessities from the core contents of the bag. Upon closer inspection, you'll notice a much more elaborate storage feature hidden just behind: a tri-fold garment envelope nested subtly into the structure of the opening lid. To access it, just unzip and unfold the suiter down into the central storage area below. Then, once you've laid out and secured your delicate attire into place, just fold the envelope back up into the lid for closure to help minimize wrinkles in transit. Business and wedding travelers alike will rejoice at the simplicity and effectiveness of this design.


You'll also quickly notice that the Baseline Essential Spinner's main compartment has a perfectly flat base. This is with intention, as they've opted to attach their aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle – a core structural feature that is typically found within the interior of a carry-on to reduce the overall exterior dimensions – onto the outside of the case, instantly upgrading the bag's storage capacity by removing what can become an awkward obstacle and replacing it with a flat packable surface. We easily packed for a 7-day summer getaway (complete with different outfits for each day of the trip) during testing and found the Briggs & Riley to be the most "packable" of all carry-ons tested, leaving room to spare even without ever employing the expansion tool or having to rely on its exterior pockets. Our second packability test involved far bulkier items, including the things we'd need for a multi-day rock climbing trip, including a helmet, grigri, shoes, ropes, clothing, and so much more. And once again, even considering the highly irregular shapes and densities of the items involved, we had no problem squeezing everything in. At least once we employed the expansion feature. We even had room to spare! What's better? Once compressed the bag reduces right back down to nearly its original airline-compliant size. We were and continue to be impressed.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - briggs & riley's ingenious one-touch compression/expansion...
Briggs & Riley's ingenious one-touch compression/expansion system works like magic, allowing you to fill the bag full of far more than might ever seem possible.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Part of the magic of the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner is the proprietary mechanism they've created for case compression and expansion. Instead of the old unzip-it trick as found on most expandable carry-ons, this bag's system is two-fold, with both compression and expansion elements built right into the main compartment. The first step requires releasing the expansion feature by pulling gently up on two tabs found embedded into the side of the bag's interior. Next, you'll make use of its two well-crafted compression panels, each set wide across the length of the bag. These work wonders on their own, adding a great deal of capacity to the bag without any further expansion. Just cinch the panels down over your belongings and watch as nearly everything in your suitcase compress neatly below. Then just re-zipper your bag closed and press down on its outer edges. This will engage the expansion tool, compressing everything down as your suitcase reduces in size yet again. A nifty party trick and an even better travel tool.

You can fit a lot into the Baseline Essential Spinner from the...
You can fit a lot into the Baseline Essential Spinner from the get-go, without the need for overstuffing.
The well-designed compression panels make easy work out of reducing...
The well-designed compression panels make easy work out of reducing the size of the contents in your bag, before you've even touched the compression/expansion feature. They also work well for locking in loose bulky items for transit.
Use the tri-fold garment envelope incorporated into the lid of the...
Use the tri-fold garment envelope incorporated into the lid of the Baseline Essential Spinner to keep your delicate clothing items separated from the bulk of your compressed belongings below to minimize wrinkles.

Design


If you want to stand out in a crowd, this case is probably not going to be the first to draw your eye. Its classically sophisticated softshell exterior is well-designed to transition between professional meetings and leisurely vacation destinations without a hitch, but it won't likely pair well with the bold urban style of today's fashionistas. Then again, what it lacks in color options or blingy accessories it more than makes up for in quality of design and top-tier functionality. So for those who prefer an aesthetic that's more luxe than trendsetting and have the budget to pay for premium performance, this sleek, understated rollaboard will not disappoint.


What we quite like here is how Briggs & Riley has taken a minimalist approach to their design, while still accounting for a number of highly valuable organizational features. A tri-fold garment keeper along the inside of its opening flap minimizes wrinkles on delicate fabrics when needed. When not in use, the envelope's streamlined design keeps it discretely tucked out of the way so you can focus on using the main compartment to pack your essentials. It's also entirely removed from the core compression system below, so cinched panels don't scrunch finer items above. The Baseline Essential Spinner also comes equipped with two well-sized front exterior pockets (including a sleeve large enough to fit a small laptop), a SmartLink strap to secure a second bag to your case, a power pocket nested at the back, and a TSA-approved lock to secure the contents of your bag at the main zipper opening. So many well-designed yet simple solutions to common needs that will make your travel days brighter. Our only complaint when it comes to this premium case is its heavy weight – among the heaviest in the entire collection – which we suppose is the tradeoff necessary to enjoy the wide range of high-quality, valuable features that otherwise make it a reviewer favorite.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - although the baseline essential spinner is one of the heaviest...
Although the Baseline Essential Spinner is one of the heaviest carry-ons in our test group, it offers a whole lot of amenities to make it easy and comfortable to put to use, day in and day out.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Durability


Although surprising to some, the soft ballistic nylon exterior of the Baseline Essential is actually quite durable and well equipped to match the regular traumas and pitfalls of life on the road. With substantial corner-guard protection and heavy reinforcement along vulnerable outer edges, the core structure of the bag is built to match the harsh demands of transit. Matched by an aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle, big hefty zippers, and a set of road-ready shock-absorbing spinner wheels – among the largest in the test bunch – securely set into strong protective wheel housings, every feature on this carry-on is built to serve and last.


Equally impressive is how the Baseline Essential stood up to testing, looking just as good on day one as it did coming out the other side, surviving hauls up and down stairwells, long walks across rough gravel, dubious hours in airline care, and multiple drop tests onto rock-solid concrete. In each case, this rugged carry-on was nearly unphased. And on the few occasions when tiny scuffs or scrapes did appear, we were impressed with how well those minor blemishes blended easily into the bag's understated softshell.

Integral to the performance of any carry-on is the base on which it...
Integral to the performance of any carry-on is the base on which it sits, and these 2.5-inch two-wheel spinners on the Briggs and Riley Baseline Essential Carry-On more than proved their worth.
Tired travelers will appreciate the many details that make...
Tired travelers will appreciate the many details that make maneuvering the Baseline Essential Spinner so pleasant, like its soft cushioned grab handle at the top.
We run each of our carry-on contenders through rigorous testing to...
We run each of our carry-on contenders through rigorous testing to establish the winners and losers among them, including tossing them from various heights onto concrete floors.

Should You Buy the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner?


We're pleased to report this suitcase performs so well, given it's a very expensive carry-on option in a suitcase category that includes other notably expensive choices. At full price, the purchase could be a tough pill to swallow. But it is undeniably an excellent piece of luggage with a variety of valuable features and a structure that's built to last for years to come. This would be an ideal carry-on for someone who travels extensively for work and needs to stay organized while also looking and feeling put together upon landing. And it would no doubt be loved by anyone whose vacation plans include special events requiring fancier more extravagant attire, as the built-in suiter is a wonderful tool for protecting delicate fabrics of suits and dresses in transit. So while it's not our top choice for average traveler needs, it is well up at the top of our list of favorite carry-ons for anyone who has the budget to support such a premium purchase.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - the power pocket tucked discretely into the back of the baseline...
The power pocket tucked discretely into the back of the Baseline Essential Spinner is a real asset on travel days. Stash a phone, charger, and cords to make it easy to stay powered up on the road.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other Carry-On Should You Consider?


The Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner is a great carry-on in nearly every way. It's durable and classically styled, superbly functional, and fits an unreal amount of stuff into a surprisingly compact space. So, if you want solid organizational options and exceptional versatility paired with easy, reliable maneuverability and solid foundational strength, this spinner case hits that mark. But be warned: you will pay a premium price for premium quality.

If your budget requires a bit more restraint but you want similar features and functionality, we'd point you toward our pick for Editor's Choice, the Travelpro Platinum Elite. Or, if you want to explore a hardshell option of a similarly premium build and design, check out the Away Carry-On.

briggs & riley baseline essential spinner carry-on luggage review - the briggs & riley baseline essential spinner is as solid and...
The Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner is as solid and reliable a travel companion as anyone could ask for.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Myrha Colt & Maggie Nichols
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