Selecting the perfect hand luggage

Aluminium, polycarbonate or even ballistic nylon?

Choosing cabin bags is not necessarily easy if you have any preferences other than that it should fit perfectly in the cabin shelf – possibly underneath your seat. We spoke to Magnus Nilsson, Sales Manager at TUMI, about the three materials’ advantages and disadvantages.

An aluminium cabin bag is stylish and a material that is attractive in the eyes of many people. Polycarbonate is robust, lightweight, but not as good quality as aluminium. A fabric cabin bag is lightweight, but what can it withstand? We asked these and several other questions to travel bag manufacturer TUMI, which sells high-end cabin bags, and also in the materials mentioned above.

Lifestyle Articles - Aluminium, polycarbonate or even ballistic nylon?
TUMI 19 Degrees Aluminium carry-on

- All materials have their advantages and disadvantages, and it depends on your needs and how you travel, says Nilsson, and continues; Aluminium is very robust, stable, elegant, and exclusive. But dents can be caused during hard handling. And it is also relatively heavy, with an unladen weight exceeding 4 kg. This means that if the cabin bag is checked at the gate, it risks ending up in the aircraft’s luggage compartment – which increases the risks of damages. Additionally, it costs more compared to suitcases in other materials. However, if you travel intercontinental flights in First or Business Class, you will hardly be denied a 9 kg cabin bag on board.

Lifestyle Articles - Aluminium, polycarbonate or even ballistic nylon?
TUMI V4 made from polycarbonate

– How about the polycarbonate

– It is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a solid and lightest suitcase. Tumi’s suitcases in this material can expand. While protecting against bumps, it also extends a bit so that you can fit everything you want in it. The drawback of the polycarbonate material is that it is weaker and may crack at lower temperatures. But then we mean temperatures well below the freezing point, says Nilsson, who also prefers SRPP (Self Reinforced PolyPropylene) as another option. It is incredibly durable, very lightweight, and uses recycled materials. But it costly, mainly because the recycling process is expensive.

Lifestyle Articles - Aluminium, polycarbonate or even ballistic nylon?
TUMI Alpha 3 made from ballistic nylon

– And what about the ballistic nylon variant?

– It is a popular choice because of its lightweight and durability. It is preferred by travellers who want to pack as much as possible without exceeding the cabin weight of usually 8 kg. The drawback is that the material is not as durable as the abovementioned materials, concludes Magnus Nilsson.