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Gear & Gadgets

Roll That Luggage

April 05, 1998|JUDI DASH

It seems all luggage these days, both carry-on and check-through, is on wheels. Wheels clearly are the darling of the luggage industry and new products have taken these handy contraptions to even more helpful heights. The following items may be available in area stores. Prices do not include shipping and handling unless noted.

Four-wheel-drive bags: Atlantic, makers of high-quality luggage, has introduced a new wrinkle to its line of wheeled bags--an extra set of retractable wheels. The 4X4 Four Wheel Drive system is designed to make wheeled bags steadier and easier to maneuver. To release the extra set of wheels, you simply unfasten a lock at the base of the bag, lift up the foot latch with your toe and lean the luggage toward you until the two extra wheels snap into position. The bag stays sturdier, since it rests on four wheels. To stash the wheels, you place your foot under the folding plate and push up; the wheels retract and a safety latch locks the mechanism in place. The extra wheels add some weight, but also stability.

Four-Wheel-Drive models are available in a garment carrier, and a 26-inch and 29-inch Pullman in black, teal, espresso and a Bordeaux tapestry pattern. Atlantic 4x4 Four-Wheel-Drive 29-inch Infinity Garment Carrier is $200, 26-inch Pullman is $190 and 29-inch Pullman is about $200 at luggage stores. For a nearby store, call (800) 523-5029.

Best of luggage wheels: For hauling multiple bags, a set of sturdy luggage wheels still is the best way to go. Remin, which long has made the best of the bunch, has redesigned its well-known Kart-a-Bag, making it even sturdier and smoother to maneuver. The squeeze mechanism for expanding and retracting the telescoping handle has been replaced by an even easier to operate button mechanism. When fully extended, the curtain-rod-like aluminum parts lock in place. The button is depressed again to collapse the handle. The base folds upward and is held in place by two elastic cords that wrap around the cart and can be hooked onto the base. The Kart-a-Bag comes in a dozen sizes and weights. Balancing sturdiness and compactness, my top choice is the Concorde III, a 7 1/2-pound model that accommodates a 175-pound load and collapses down to 18 3/4 inches high by 13 inches wide by 4 3/4 inches deep.

Kart-a-Bag Concorde III is $89 at luggage stores or from Remin; telephone (800) 423-9328.

Mega rolling duffel: Duffel bags have come a long way since the standard-issue Army Navy top-loading models. They are still unsurpassed for packing huge loads into a big unstructured space. Now Eagle Creek has put its biggest duffels on large sturdy recessed wheels and added a two-position locking handle, vertical frame and padded back wall. The Big Wheel Duffels have outside lockable zippered pockets for easy-reach items and snap-close compression straps for extra support. These are the best wheeled duffels I've seen for big loads.

Eagle Creek Big Wheel rolling duffel is $195 in X-Large (36-by-18-by-15 inches); $180 in Large (30-by-16-by-15 inches) at stores. For a nearby source, call (800) 874-9925.

Rolling photo op: While a good camera bag can hold ample lenses and filters for most amateur photographers, sometimes the gear outgrows the bag or gets heavy. The Porter Wheeled Photo Case looks like a hard-sided version of your basic roll-aboard bag with telescoping handle. Inside are a slew of padded compartments and foam insulation for keeping camera gear protected. The compartments can be reconfigured to accommodate different sizes of gear via Velcro tab attachments and the dividers can be removed to convert the case into a standard wheeled clothing bag. A built-in combination lock makes for handy security.

Porter Wheeled Photo Case is $339. To order from the manufacturer or find an area store, call (800) 356-8348.

Softening the pull: Wheeled luggage can get quite heavy, and those hard plastic handles can dig into hands. To soften the pull, consider an innovative sheepskin handle cover called the Wooly-Pully. The thick furry cover wraps around any handle style, fastening to itself via Velcro strips. It provides welcome padding between the handle and your fingers.

Wooly-Pully suitcase handle cover is $14.95 including shipping from Julia's Creations, P.O. Box 9576, Marina del Rey, CA 90292; or call (310) 821-9921. Send check or money order.

Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.

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