Briggs and Riley Sympatico International Carry-on Spinner CX 21″ Review: Finally, a Perfect Carry-on Bag!

When you travel a lot for work and pleasure, you develop certain likes and dislikes with regard to your luggage. I like hard-sided bags that protect my stuff; I like spinner wheels that allow me the versatility to either pull my luggage behind me or roll it alongside me; and, most of all, I like the freedom to travel without a checked bag.

For years, I’ve searched for the perfect carry-on bag that checks all these boxes. A few have come close, but now one has risen to the top: the Briggs and Riley Sympatico International Carry-on Spinner with expansion-compression technology.

Briggs and Riley Sympatico International Carry-on Spinner CX 21″ Review

Price and Where to Buy: This hard-sided carry-on bag retails for $529 from the manufacturer; but is also available at Amazon.

How the Briggs and Riley Sympatico International Carry-on Spinner CX 21″ Rates:

Usefulness: 10/10. This sturdy lightweight carry-on suitcase would be a star simply for its smooth 360-degree maneuverability, attractive design, combo lock security with TSA key access, and nearly indestructible hard shell exterior. But it has a secret super power that puts it into rarified territory: expansion-compression technology.

Its unique CX “expansion-compression system” allows you to increase storage capacity by 22 percent and then compress the suitcase back down to its standard 9x14x21-inch size, which meets carry-on requirements for most domestic and international carriers.

In practical terms, this system allows you to either pack more into your carry-on bag from the outset of your trip, or save extra room for souvenirs and other purchases during your return travels, without having to check a larger bag.

Value: 9/10. Although its MSR price of $529 is hefty, you’re paying for a durable high-quality bag that’s more than meets the eye. If you travel frequently, you’ll make up the cost of the bag in no time with the airline bag fees you avoid.

Portability: 10/10. Most carry-ons these days conform to standard airline size requirements and can boast some degree of lightweight portability. What first attracted me to the Sympatico, though, was its low center of gravity and 360-degree maneuverability. This is a carry-on bag that won’t topple over and won’t fight back while you’re rolling through the airport.

Final Verdict

The Briggs and Riley Sympatico International Carry-on Spinner looks like a carry-on but acts like a full-fledged checked bag. Its impressive compression system is a game changer for hard-sided carry-on bags, and its smooth 360-degree maneuverability puts it at the top of the list for portability, too.

[amazon_native_ad tracking_id=”smartrav-20″]

Editor’s Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, and value. Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at

By Josh Roberts

Josh Roberts believes the best trips involve long hikes and muddy boots. His life goals haven't changed much since he was a kid: He still wants to be Indiana Jones when he grows up.

Follow him on Twitter (@joshwhowrites) and Instagram (@joshwhowrites), and visit his website ( or Goodreads page to learn more about his forthcoming novel.

Josh joined SmarterTravel in 2001, and is an active member in both the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

In addition to SmarterTravel, he has written for USA Today, The Boston Globe, Yahoo! Travel, The Huffington Post, Airfarewatchdog, TripAdvisor, Jetsetter, ABC News, Oyster, and Business Insider. His travel photography can be seen in Britain and Ireland's Best Wild Places, published by Penguin UK.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A lacrosse ball. It's small, lightweight, and works wonders on loosening up tight muscles."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Being the first to discover an ancient lost city. Failing that, visiting as many of the already-discovered ancient ruins as possible."

Travel Motto: "Not all those who wander are lost." -J.R.R. Tolkien

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *