KIDS' LUGGAGE 101

All Packed And Ready To Roll

Our luggage critics after their test-drives, from left: Phylicia Childs, 5, with a Miquelrius trolley and vanity case; Anna Reachmack, 9, with Like Dots Mine rolling upright; Zoe Childs, 7, with JanSport's wheeled backpack/upright; Nicki Childs, 4, with Samsonite's animal-shape luggage; Cassia Childs, 1, on a Trunki; Grace Reachmack, 7, with Timberland's upright for kids; and Vivienne Childs, 3, with a Skyway rolling bag featuring Mickey.
Our luggage critics after their test-drives, from left: Phylicia Childs, 5, with a Miquelrius trolley and vanity case; Anna Reachmack, 9, with Like Dots Mine rolling upright; Zoe Childs, 7, with JanSport's wheeled backpack/upright; Nicki Childs, 4, with Samsonite's animal-shape luggage; Cassia Childs, 1, on a Trunki; Grace Reachmack, 7, with Timberland's upright for kids; and Vivienne Childs, 3, with a Skyway rolling bag featuring Mickey. (By Elaine Childs)

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kids carry the darnedest things. For mini-travelers, adult-size backpacks often fit like giant tortoise shells, and big upright bags can overwhelm tiny arms. But kid-size carry-ons have to be more than cute: Space is of the utmost importance, with enough room for favorite blankets, books and stuffed animals. Young travelers should be responsible for their own bags, but not crushed by them. We tested seven child-friendly models with a group of kids who wheeled, carried, zipped and even rode the pieces around the house and driveway.

-- Marty Barrick

* Like Dots Mine 21-Inch Rolling Carry-On Upright

(888-487-5453, http://www.likeluggage.com; $99.99)

KIDS SAY: "I like the dots and colors," Roxanna Voeller said. But upon lifting it, the 10-year-old grunted, "Oh, jeez, it's heavy! This would be for, like, a teenager." Fitting, since the company's slogan is, "Like . . . Totally Cool Luggage for Teens."

PARENTS SAY: This attractive bag is large enough to hold clothing for a week or more, and we were pleased with the two large outside pockets and the side and top handles. At eight pounds, the bag feels heavy but thankfully rolls easily.

OVERALL GRADE: B+ . . . for stylish looks and large capacity, but be prepared for heavy lifting.

* JanSport 19-inch Wheeled Superbreak

( http://www.jansport.com; $60 at BagKing, 888-655-2247, http://www.bagking.com)

KIDS SAY:"Wow! It's a backpack-suitcase!" said Zoe Childs, 7, of the 5-pound-12-ounce bag. "I would stick my toothbrush and toothpaste in a pocket so I would be organized." Its design received top marks as well. "I think the blue, brown and white polka dots look really cool," she said. Indeed, the pattern appealed to everyone, even before they learned its name: Chocolate Chip Bubbles. Roxanna liked its retractable three-stage handle and would put a CD player in the outside pocket. One tester packed five days' worth of clothes inside.

PARENTS SAY:"It's comfortable as a backpack," said Barbara Pitts of Sykesville, Md., who prefers to keep her hands free to carry a kid or pull other luggage. "The straps don't dig into your back." The mother of two's only concern is that the opening doesn't fully unzip, so it might be hard to see items on the bottom. On the other hand, she said, "Stuff won't unexpectedly spill out."

OVERALL GRADE: A+ . . . for design and multi-generational appeal.

* Sammies Funnyface 18-Inch Upright by Samsonite Dinky

(800-262-8282, http://samsonitecompanystores.com; $65 at Luggage Pros, 800-595-5456, www.luggagepros.com)

Note: Cute as it is, the penguin -- which is still in stock in some spots -- is being discontinued, but the luggage still comes in the turtle, ladybug and tiger shapes.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company


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