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by Leo Jakobson | May 15, 2012
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Luggage-maker Briggs & Riley will release a new version of its high-end Baseline collection of wheeled luggage with several notable new features, chief among them a zipperless expansion and compaction system.

Designed for road warriors, the new Baseline CX expandable bags come in black or olive nylon and have the company’s unconditional, no-questions-asked lifetime warranty. Standard features include the Outsider handle, which has several height settings for taller or shorter users and keeps the handle mechanism on the exterior for a flat packing surface. There is a small, narrow pocket between the handle’s poles that is very convenient for emptying pockets of watch, keys, smartphone, and wallet before going through the security line — one of many convenient pockets throughout the bags. 

New features also include a second-bag tether strap that is now built in. It’s low-profile enough not to take any noticeable room away. In addition, a wide-gusseted front pocket that now has a three-sided, zip-around opening for easier access.

The biggest news, however, is the new expansion feature. Instead of the traditional zipper, the pop-up expansion is controlled by a pair of latches on either side of the bag’s interior. Release the latches and pull up and the bag gains 24 percent more room. The latch mechanism has several steps, allowing the bag’s owner to use the latches as a compression system by pushing down on the bag when it is closed. This lets the user return carry-on sized bags to acceptable dimensions without wrinkling and without sitting on it and struggling to get a zipper back around four sides. And considering the cost of a checked bag these days, that can add up to real money quickly.

From an incentive perspective, another important feature is that Briggs & Riley “does not discount [and] is very serious about MSRP control,” says Laura Ballereau, senior brand manager of the Hauppauge, NY-based luggage maker. That means incentive recipients won’t find it cheaper online and mentally devalue the cost of the award.

The Baseline CX line will be available in August in five sizes, with prices ranging from $399 to $549.