Review: Tumi T-Tech Continental Carry-on

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The new Tumi

The new Tumi

I got a Tumi T-Tech Continental Carry-on as a Christmas present this year. It was a sweet and thoughtful gift, and broke it in on my recent trip to Memphis.

After I opened the box and set up the TSA security lock, I read some comparative reviews, and man, people are really into carry-on bags! Before this, I was using a Herschel duffel bag (this one, actually), which was fine for a while. To carry it to the airport, I put the strap over my head and carried it on one shoulder or the other. The downside to that was obvious – my shoulder would start to ache before I got to the airport. But everything else was great: the size and durability, mostly. I also liked out it was made of nylon – I could always squeeze in one more item.

So now I have a hard-sided rolling carry-on, which is already a world of difference.

Fully opened

Fully opened

The zippered side, with a pen thrown in for scale

The zippered side, with a pen thrown in for scale

Time for a pros and cons list. Cons first, so I can end on a good note because I really do like it so far.

Cons

It has no give. Once it’s full, that’s it. If you shove in more crap, you’re gonna damage your items.

The wheels don’t lock. I carried this sucker on the subway and there were a couple of moments where it started to roll away. I had to keep one hand on it at all times. With the duffel, I could plop it on the ground and ride.

It sucks for TSA. If you have a bag of liquids inside, the only way to get it out is to completely open the entire suitcase. And if you have it in the zipper enclosure, that’s another layer to undo. It opens like a folder – you have to set it down on its back and completely unzip the entire side. With the duffel, I could get something out within seconds by unzipping and sticking my hand in real quick.

There are no organizational compartments, except the large zippered one. No extra hooks, little pouches, protective sleeves, place for toiletries. Just two broad compartments (not that the duffel bag had any extra compartments – simply noting).

Pros

WHEELS. My shoulders love it already. And it has a very smooth 360 glide. You can “push” it or pull it.

The hard side protects my stuff better. I no longer cringe when another passenger knocks it around.

I love the simplicity. Once it’s open, all my things are displayed nicely. I can always get other little bags if I really want separation.

The telescoping handle is great. I like that I can prop another bag on top of the T-Tech and loop it around. Makes it easy to carry a laptop case or extra bag.

With the handle up

With the handle up

Another surface for another bag, just in case

Another surface for another bag, just in case

The color and materials. I love the steel blue and the outside has an almost “stippled” quality – it doesn’t scratch easily, and can take some tossing around.

Texture of the outside

Texture of the outside

It holds a lot. I fit in four pairs of pants, four shirts, socks, undies, and toiletries and still had some room left over. I had to use the zippered side but liked how the extra room didn’t send the items bumping around – everything felt really “in there.” The size is great for trips of 3-5 days. I bet I could stretch it to 7-10 if I was super judicious and rolled everything up.

Four pairs of pants and four t-shirts with room to spare

Four pairs of pants and four t-shirts with room to spare

On the fence

The size. It’s 22 inches long/tall and is branded as a “continental” carry-on. International carry-ons are 20 inches. Those 2 inches are the difference between gate checking and fitting in the bins, especially on airlines that really enforce the rules (*ahem* Qantas and British Airways). So that makes me nervous.

United took it from me at the gate from EWR-MEM, but US Airways let me carry it on to two regional jets (MEM-CLT and CLT-LGA). I think it’d be fine on larger aircraft/longer routes. I could also see it being 50/50 depending on how much of a stickler the airlines are and what class of service I’m flying. Now that I have the 22-inch model, I’m already thinking about getting a 20-inch version just to compare.

The brand. This is my first Tumi product. It was a gift, so I didn’t have the chance to shop around, which is good. I have the darn thing now, and by god I’m gonna use it.

I saw that Lucky had the same bag and was disappointed with it at one point. The commenters mentioned Rimowa, Briggs & Riley, and even Swiss Gear as alternatives. And still others professed undying love for Tumi. It seems like everyone has a favorite. I think the bag is fine. There are lots of reviews on the Amazon page, too. I’ll give it a year to see how it holds up, as I have no other bag to compare it to as of yet.

Tumi T-Tech TSA lock

Tumi T-Tech TSA lock

Since it’s kind of same-ish looking as other carry-ons, I plan on putting some little extras on it so I know this one is mine – maybe some stickers and my Etihad Guest luggage tag.

Ireland stickers and luggage tag from Etihad

Ireland stickers and luggage tag from Etihad

Bottom line

I’m pleased I have this. It’s certainly better overall than the bag I’d been using. I feel like I’ve entered into a whole new world of carry-ons. Since this is my first, I’ll give it some time to grow on me. I can certainly see how a few design changes could change my whole outlook on it, though – maybe that’s what the other brands offer. It seems like a great “first” rolling carry-on, though. I’d give it a solid 7/10 to start off with.

Does anyone else have this carry-on, or have a brand that they really love?

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site.

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