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TUMI Review

Friday, February 23rd

2024 Luggage Reviews

TUMI Review 2 Star Rating


2 Star Rating
  • Several product lines to choose from
  • Worry-free warranty in first year covers all damage, including wear and tear or airline handling
  • Warranty in years 2-5 covers normal wear and tear (but not airline damage)
  • Tracer product recovery program can help recover lost/stolen items

TUMI is a luxury luggage brand, one of several acquired by industry giant Samsonite over the last few years. The company aims for sustainability in its production methods and materials, as well as impacting communities through philanthropy.

Several collections offered

When considering TUMI luggage, there are several collections to keep in mind:

  • Alpha: TUMI's biggest line, ranging from an electronic cord pouch for $35 to a two-wheeled ski/snowboard duffel for $1475, these pieces "merge innovation, performance and functionality" . One of their best-sellers in this collection is the Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On, priced at $975. Key features include a built-in USB port, dual spinner wheels, removable garment sleeve, and built-in TSA combination lock.And, if that doesn't fit your needs, chances are good you'll find something else among the nearly 100 Alpha items that does. Most Alpha luggage pieces come in several color options, from black-on-black to navy/grey with gunmetal hardware.
  • Alpha Bravo: the 30+ items in this collection are even more utilitarian than the plain Alpha line. You'll find waist packs, briefcases, backpacks and duffle bags, but nothing like a traditional carry-on or spinner suitcase. Everything in the Alpha Bravo series is made to be no-frills when you're on-the-go - in the airport or the Amazon. The Voyageur collection is similar - a little more stylish but still nothing that goes much beyond backpacks and tote bags.
  • 19 Degree Aluminum: this is TUMI's iconic hardsided luggage, made of (you guessed it) contoured aluminum. You won't find anything in this collection under $1,000: the international carry-on is priced at $1,095 and the rolling trunk (the largest in the series) sells for $1,695. This collection lacks some of the higher-end features we'd expect when paying that kind of money for luggage: you'll get TSA locks and not much more with your carry-on, unless you're impressed by the "vintage-inspired destination stickers" that are included. The colors do stand out though: venture beyond basic black and choose truffle/saffron, blush, or silver instead.
  • 19 Degree: if you like hardsided luggage without the price tag of aluminum, TUMI also has a 19 Degree line made with a polycarbonate shell, recycled if you prefer. You'll pay $595 for a small compact 4-wheeled brief to $895 for a 4-wheeled packing case: a little easier on the wallet than its aluminum counterpart line.
  • Arrive: this collection features "premium and automotive-inspired travel pieces with chrome details and sleek lines" , with just 19 items to choose from spanning backpacks to wheeled cases (finally, a carry-on with a USB port). The packing case has a built-in TSA combination lock, but we didn't see any other features that justify a price tag of $1,895. This collection definitely feels like you're paying for the brand name and not necessarily the style or features.

Tracer recovery program

A novel feature included with some TUMI luggage is the Tracer product recovery program. Similar to the VIN number on your car, your Tracer number can help identify your bag or business case if it gets lost or stolen. Just make sure to register your TUMI product on the website after you receive it.

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Better than average warranty

Another plus for TUMI is their better-than-average warranty coverage. Most luggage brands don't cover any wear-and-tear - ever. Your TUMI bags will be covered for just about everything in the first year, even if your not-so-favorite airline tosses it around like a sack of trash and something breaks or tears. Then, through year five, the airline damage warranty stops but the rest is still covered. You can bring your luggage into any TUMI location for repair or send it in; you'll pay the shipping costs to the facility after the first year of warranty protection, but in-warranty repairs will always be returned to you at TUMI's expense.

Problems with repairs

Given that TUMI is a high-end luggage brand, we didn't expect to see the "F" rating they've been given by the Better Business Bureau for failing to respond to over 85% of the complaints filed there (though it's worth noting that only 15 were registered over the last three years). Looking outside of the BBB to customer reviews elsewhere, we found a similar story: if your TUMI bag lasts as expected, fantastic, but if you need repairs under warranty you could have a tough time. Some customers say when their bag was deemed unfixable, they were offered a store credit of about half of their original purchase price - and even less than half of the luggage's then-current price. You might have more luck if there's a TUMI retail store near you, where your repair could be performed in-person or sent along to an authorized service center, instead of trying to initiate the repair online.

Expected more

Overall, we feel that TUMI delivers a quality product with a well-stated warranty. But actually using that warranty, if needed, can cause problems and frustration - which makes us question the value of the warranty in the first place. Given that this is supposed to be a high-end luxury luggage brand, we expected more.

Which Luggage Brand is the Best?

When it comes to buying your next set of luggage, your brand choice depends on several factors. Are you looking for the cheapest possible set to get your clothes from here to there? A designer label that conveys luxury and status? A mix of form, function, and value? Your answer to those questions will be a good jumping-off point as you decide which brand of luggage is right for you.

Do you have a preference for hard-sided or soft-sided carry-ons and suitcases? Some luggage brands offer both, while others specialize in one or the other. The same goes for the color and/or design: almost any brand will give you several options in basic black, but if you want your bags to stand out on the claim carousel at the airport - so that you spend as little time as possible trying to figure out which one is yours - your options may be more limited.

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Luggage FAQ

Not necessarily. Every company has to start somewhere, and a new brand might be the next big hit. However, sticking with luggage brands that have lots of customer reviews and a track record of honoring warranties is always a safer bet.
Definitely not. Some brands have limited lifetime coverage of manufacturer defects, while others only extend that protection in the first few years that you own your luggage. A very small number of luggage brands protect you against wear and tear, even airline mishandling, but the majority will only replace or repair your suitcase if something malfunctions (like a zipper breaks).
Unused? Yes, usually. Check the policy of the luggage brand you're considering if you think this is a real possibility.
In our experience, not usually. You're paying for the prestige and the look, but luxury luggage brands rarely match their more affordable counterparts with respect to durability and function. Even the ones that supposedly offer a "lifetime warranty" often fall down when it comes to honoring that promise. You're usually better off going with luggage that mixes form and function: what good is a fancy name if your suitcase busts open the first time it's thrown on an airport conveyor belt?
Very few. Even iconic brands like American Tourister and Samsonite are usually made in China.
Your features wish list depends on the kind of travel you anticipate doing. Adventurous, outdoorsy types might like duffel bags with compartments to separate muddy and wet clothing from dry, clean items. Business travelers or the tech savvy might appreciate a carry-on with a built-in USB port. Other commonly-sought features include spinner wheels, TSA-compatible locks, zippers to expand the packing capacity, and external handles that maximize interior packing space.
No. While most luggage brands do their best to designate their carry-ons as domestic- or international-sized, there are no guarantees. Helpful hint: read through the customer reviews on any piece you're considering and see if any mention your frequently-flown airlines.
That's like asking "Coke or Pepsi" . Soft-sided tends to weigh a little less and be more forgiving of cramming in that one last must-have item. Hard-sided is, well, harder. It can offer greater protection if you tend to travel with fragile belongings, but it also tends to get scuffed up quickly. It's really more a matter of personal preference than anything.
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Continued from above...

Still, almost every luggage brand has something that can catch your eye. Whether it's a bright solid color with contrasting accents, or a crazy pattern that's not likely to be repeated among your fellow passengers, you can usually find a piece that will stand out..

Another factor that will influence your luggage brand choice is your travel purpose. Taking the kids to Disneyland would require a very different assortment of carry-ons and suitcases (and sizes) from a couples' trip to hit the slopes at Vail or a solo backpacker adventure through Europe.

Once you've figured out if you need hard or soft luggage and determined what kind(s) of journeys you expect to put your bags through, what else will you need to consider as you choose a brand? Keep these factors in mind:

  • Warranty. The most expensive suitcase won't be worth much if it falls apart and you can't get it replaced or repaired. Warranty coverage can vary widely, with some luggage brands offering just one or two years of protection and others giving you a limited lifetime plan. Read the fine print, though: some warranties include service on issues related to airline handling, but most don't. Also check to see if the warranty includes both repair and replacement or just one or the other.
  • Durability. Does the luggage hold up under normal use? All luggage will get scuffed over time, but some brands do a better job of concealing it. What do customers say about their experience with the brand, especially after multiple trips?
  • Customer service. Does the company have a reputation for providing helpful, efficient responses when there's a problem? Has the brand responded to any complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau or in other places?

To help you get the right suitcases, carry-ons, and duffels for all of your travels, Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked today's top luggage brands. We're sure that this information will make it easy to find the best gear to take you from Toledo to Tokyo, wherever you may roam. Bon voyage!

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