Condition 1 Series 300 Cases

Mr. Black

Every man should have at least one piece of high-quality luggage. It reeks of class and sophistication. It’s for people who appreciate fine craftsmanship. But most importantly it is a status symbol that reminds other travelers that you are just a bit better than them. canvas Bennett Winch, leather J.W. Hulme or aluminum Zero Halliburton all say something about the owner and are works to behold. 

Luxury luggage does have a time and place—a train trip to Cape Town, a G-wagon through Prague, a private plane to the quail plantation. Think form doesn’t beat the shit out of function? Wheel one up next to the lounge bar and notice the glance of appreciation the drop-dead well-heeled blonde gives as she wistfully wonders if you are heading to Monaco for the weekend or an expedition to the wilds of Africa. Even if you are only going to Cleveland, you will appreciate the convo starter.

But when it comes to modern, commercial air travel you must reevaluate your options.

First, don’t check these luxury bags because everyone has seen what baggage gorillas can do.  Reserve them for carry on, where you keep control of them, and load them into the spacious first-class overhead bin yourself.

As much as I like high-quality luggage, there is a time and place for function over form. Small planes with limited overhead storage, or when you know upon arrival there will be more dirt backroads than Bond Street. Watch an African PH throw your full-grain leather luggage into the back of a bakkie coated with congealed blood from the last client’s trophies and you will wish for function.

For trips where I know when the plane ride ends, the serious adventure begins, I have been using Condition 1 series 300 cases. These cases are made from roto molded plastic which is tougher than a Gypo bare-knuckler. They are rollable and lockable, but best of all the 300 is sized to exactly fit the overhead requirements of most airlines. Even if they don’t fit on small regional planes or you arrive at your plane late after enjoying “one more” martini at the airport bar and all overhead is full you can gate check it and not give a tinker’s damn what happens to it by the baggage handlers. Pro move: I keep a couple of Condition 1 combo locks inside just in case I have to gate check it because I have a penchant for airport martinis.

The 300 series case has a rubber-coated retractable handle, that is stout enough to also hang your briefcase on and not worry about bending or breaking it dragging it through the airport.  The wheels are rubberized, wideset and in a large diameter for uneven terrain and stability.  The hinge pin is steel, and the latches are stout, but easy to operate without pinching your fingers or palm. The Gore-Tex automatic valve system is TSA approved and the case can be had in a multitude of colors.

The 300 can be purchased with or without foam inserts. For sensitive equipment like guns and cameras, go with foam, but for use as general luggage, get the no foam option. Place layers of clothes on the bottom, put anything fragile like cameras or binoculars next, then layer on top with more rolled up clothes. On the lid purchase the Condition 1 lid organizer system.  It is easy to install the Velcro back panel with a few screws into predrilled holes. The bags are Velcro backed and are easily positioned as well as removed. I keep them pre-loaded loaded with various items I need for different trips.  One is a shaving bag, one holds batteries and electronic gear like chargers, international adapters, SD cards and cords. Another hold multiple tins of Zyn, and another has a few mini alcohol bottles for when the stews get lazy somewhere over the Atlantic. When they shed their orthopedic shoes to rest their bunions in the back, you can pour your own cocktail.

Long forgotten is the admonishment of “not consuming your own personal alcohol aboard a flight,” so you might as well.

Price $150 (starting)

Pros—Indestructible, affordable—perfect adventure luggage

Cons—doesn’t look nearly as cool as a Haliburton Zero

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