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Briggs & Riley Sympatico vs. Victorinox Spectra

Expandable Luggage Showdown: Briggs & Riley Sympatico vs. Victorinox Spectra

Hardsided luggage is light and aesthetically-pleasing, but it has long had a distinct disadvantage for travelers: the same rigidity that gives a hardsided packing case its attractive shape also limits the amount you can physically pack in it. This means even creative packers may have to leave some things behind.

Now two of our most popular brands have released luggage collections that rise to this challenge: The Sympatico CX by Briggs & Riley and Spectra 2.0 Expandable from Victorinox Swiss Army both try to combine optimal capacity and rugged protection. Read on to learn more about the merits of both lines.

Briggs & Riley Sympatico Victorinox Spectra
Briggs & Riley Sympatico Victorinox Spectra
Expansion Pack more while saving space Double the volume of the case
Mechanisms on the inside Nylon partition between the hard shells and outside straps
Packing Garment pocket on one side, 2 tie-down panels on the other, bracket for a hangar Small inside pockets, mesh-protected main compartment with tie-down straps
Outside Zipper dividing the two sides of the shell down the middle Hatch on the front, with two optional straps
Collection Briggs&Riley Sympatico Victorinox Spectra
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Expansion System

Let's start with the most significant feature of these pieces of luggage: their expansion capability. Here we compare the pros and cons of both systems:

  • Expandable Spectra luggage has a nylon partition between the hard shells that allows you to nearly double the volume of the case. This lets you squeeze in much more when you are packing, then compress the bag to as tight a radius as possible using straps on the exterior. Additionally, when it's empty, the Spectra is the lighter of the two bags thanks to its innovative design.
  • The Sympatico's expansion-compression system works a little differently. Mechanisms on the inside of the bag allow you to expand the bag upward for deeper packing; when you're finished, push down on the bag to compress air out of your clothes. This lets you pack more while saving space, as well as leaving less of the nylon partition between shells exposed. This has the advantage of keeping the Sympatico Expandable more stable when using the expansion-compression system, making it look and feel more like a traditional suitcase when you're using it.

Internal Features

Internal features help you keep your belongings organized and secure when traveling, and both bags in our comparison offer a variety of options when it comes to internal storage. Here, we take a look at what each has to offer:

  • Both the Spectra and the Sympatico retain the internal features of their non-expandable counterparts. The Spectra Expandable has small pockets on the inside of the front hatch that vary depending on the size of bag, and a mesh-protected main compartment with tie-down straps below the expandable partition.
  • The Sympatico Expandable has a large mesh garment pocket on one side of the shell and two tie-down panels on the other, plus a bracket for a hangar on the checked bags. Either way, it is important to assess the interior features of a bag when making a decision on a purchase.

On the Outside

External features help you access your belongings when traveling. Put simply the more convenient the external features of any case, the easier it is to open and close it. Here then, we look at how the two compare:

  • The most prominent physical difference between Spectra and Sympatico is the way the bag is accessed. The Sympatico Expandable is very traditional, with a zipper dividing the two sides of the shell down the middle. This makes it simple to pack when at home or in the hotel.
  • The Spectra Expandable is actually accessed from a hatch on the front, with two optional straps to hold the hatch open. Top-loading makes it easier to access a Spectra in the airport if necessary, and travelers who have difficulty with heavy loads will appreciate hatch access

The Bottom Line

Briggs & Riley's Sympatico Expandable luggage both looks and behaves more like an ordinary multiwheel suitcase when in use, and comes with the company's signature Simple-As-That lifetime warranty. These factors, alongside its timeless design, mean that it rivals any non-expandable luggage in its class. However, the expansion system on Victorinox's Spectra 2.0 does allow for packing more items and offers a slightly higher weight allowance.

In both collections, the expansion features give you a piece of luggage that can transform to fit the size of your trip, making them both extremely versatile. Your choice then, should come down to which extra features will make your travels easier, and we hope our guide can help you distinguish between them. However, if you require more information on either bag then please feel free to contact the Kaehler team.