Investing in a sturdy, lightweight carry on suitcase is just about the best money you can spend in travel. Sure, you could buy that $49.99 special at the discount store, but you’ll be sorry when you find yourself with a broken wheel as you’re rushing to make that tight connection at the airport. These carryons from Ricardo of Beverly Hills have stayed strong through hundreds of airport runs, thousands of miles flown and some pretty rough baggage handlers.
Disclosure: Brands mentioned provided consideration.
Ricardo of Beverly Hills Carry-Ons
When I first got serious about traveling—taking a minimum of two trips each month, generally with one or more kids in tow—I failed to heed the advice of a friend who traveled regularly.
“Buy a sturdy, light-weight bag,” she said.
Instead, I figured I would keep nursing along the ancient suitcases we owned until they could travel no more. Sadly, that moment arrived as I was rushing across the insanely crowded Mexico City airport, urging my then 8- and 10-year-old kids to “hurry up” in the hope we would make our connecting flight. Just then, the extended handle of my suitcase broke in two. My choices: Carry the heavy thing as I raced through the airport, or attempt to hang onto the metal pole that once supported the handle and try to wheel the case on its two wheels.
It’s a long and exhausting story. The good news is that we made our flight. The bad news is that when we arrived in Cancun, I paid inflated airport prices for a new carry on suitcase and repacked on the floor of an airport, my undies in full view of all of the other travelers.
Sturdy, Lightweight Carry On Luggage by Ricardo
That was 10 years ago. I ended up getting a Ricardo Elite Roxbury 2.0 with EZ Access Mobile Office. I love that suitcase and still use it! It’s incredibly light and has all the benefits of a hard-sided suitcase with the convenience of the pockets that come with a soft-sided bag. That means that no matter how rough the baggage handler gets, the stuff inside my suitcase stays safe. However, I still can slide my travel laptop in the front zip pocket where it’s easily reachable before I store my bag in the overhead bin.
Ricardo sent me this bag to try and I would never give it back! It’s been 10+ years and, hundreds of airport runs, thousands of miles flown and some pretty rough baggage handlers. The suitcase is starting to slow down a bit. The handle wobbles sometimes when it’s fully extended.
I’m sad to say that I sometimes leave it home now, haunted as I am by the memory of that dash through the Mexico City airport.
Ricardo now offers these same features in the Ricardo Cupertino collection, along with one serious upgrade: a place for a removable battery pack that connects to an external USB port for charging up while you wait to board your flight.
Ricardo Roxbury 2.0 Review
Being so loyal to my first Ricardo carry-on meant I was a little skeptical when Ricardo offered to send me one of its light-weight hard-sided 21-inch Elite Roxbury 2.0. It has since become my go-to bag.
Sadly, it lacks my favorite feature, that laptop-and-iPad-sized front zippered pocket. That means I either have to carry a shoulder bag big enough to hold the electronics or I have to open up the suitcase to retrieve them before storing the bag overhead or, if I have to gate check it, sending it through security. Neither option works well for me.
Still there are some features of this fully hard-sided bag that I love.
What’s Great About Hard-Sided Ricardo Bags
- Easy to pull or push
- Elegant looking
- TSA locking feature
This lightweight carry-on is made from something called Makrolon Polycarbonate. Apparently that is some super material because the carry-on luggage weighs just 8.6 pounds but seems as durable as my parents’ old Samsonite. Those were the ones they used to drop from buildings on the TV commercials. I swear it weighed more empty than this Roxbury weighs fully packed.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t pick up that old Samsonite even when it was empty. But this lightweight Ricardo Roxbury and its smoothly gliding wheels made it so easy to maneuver that even a small child would be able to push this bag through an airport.
Ricardo’s San Clemente Line
Ricardo has since improved upon my suitcase with its San Clemente line. Unlike my shiny hard-sided bag that looked it had been through World War III after one flight as checked baggage, the San Clemente line features a scratch-resistant diamond-texture finish.
It also has a more comfortable grip on the extendable handle. But best of all, ir also has the external USB port. Ricardo sells a Power Bank Quick-Charge Battery that connects to the plug on the top of the bag. No more searching for an available USB charging port at the airport. Just plug into your suitcase!
Plus, the company offers free Lost and Found Coverage when you register your San Clemente bag.