Garment bags for the 21st-century dad

Old-school versions of this luggage have gone the way of the flip phone

Published: June 10, 2015 06:00 AM
This ECBC Sparrow Wheeled Garment Bag offers a few extras.

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Lay it out on the bed longways. Insert suits on the hang bar. Zip closed, fold in half, sling it over the shoulder, and head out. That's how travelers used to use garment bags, those heavy, bulky carriers that were designed to keep a suit wrinkle-free.

Today, newer garment-bag designs that are light and wheeled are making the old-school garment go the way of smoking cabins on airplanes. Indeed, many types of luggage designed for packing suits are not even “garment bags.”

With Father's Day approaching—it's June 21 this year—take a look at these garment bags for the dad on the go.

Read our luggage buying guide and survey results before you shop for luggage. 

Wheeled suiters

It’s a carry on! It’s a garment bag! It’s a carry-on and a garment bag! Often called a suiter, wheeled luggage with integrated garment-bag-type sections are abundant on the market. From the outside, suiters look no different from the typical 22-inch-high x 9-inch-deep x 14-inch-wide carry-on bag. On the inside, though, they include a section designed to keep a suit or two unwrinkled.

For example, the two-wheeled Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry On Upright Garment Bag* includes a garment section and a well for additional clothes, plus interior and exterior pockets. Same idea but less pricey are the Traveler's Choice Sienna 21” Hybrid Rolling Carry-On Garment Bag and the Travelpro Crew 10 Rolling Carry-on Garment Bag.

For a suiter with additional capabilities, look at the ECBC Sparrow Wheeled Garment Bag (shown at top), which includes a padded laptop compartment that can be unzipped to lie flat for scanning at the airport security line, as well as an integrated portable battery pack for recharging your devices.

Of course, unlike a traditional hanging garment bag, you can’t hang these wheeled suiters in a closet; you have to unpack the suits for hanging. So the Samsonite Silhouette Sphere Spinner Garment Bag has a solution. Like the others, it’s on wheels, but it also stands autonomously in the open position, like a self-contained wardrobe, so your suits are upright.

The SkyRoll puts a twist on the garment bag.

Traditional, with a twist

For the more traditional garment bag devotee who needs an update, look at the Briggs & Riley Baseline Compact Tri-Fold Garment Bag, which folds into carry-on size and unfurls into a full-size hanging garment bag. The Tumi Alpha Tri-Fold Carry-On Garment Bag satisfies the traditionalist and also provides a back-side slip pocket to enable you to piggyback it onto the handle of your wheeled suitcase.

Untraditional, but practical

Finally, for a garment bag that’s in a category of its own, there’s the SkyRoll (shown right). The suit is packed into a traditional-looking garment section, then is rolled around a center cylinder that holds the rest of your essentials. All packed, the SkyRoll is the right size for a domestic carry-on. The system doesn’t hang, so you still have to unpack the suit and hang it in the closet.

—Susan Feinstein


Consumer Reports has not tested any of these garment bags.

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