• luggage, maple leaf, canadian collection

    A piece from Atlantic Luggage's Red Leaf Collection, part of the brand's new series of hardshell suitcases. (Photo: Canadian Geographic)

Like many Canadians, I used to have a small maple leaf sewn on my backpack when I ventured out of the country. But somewhere along the way, as I got older, I made the switch from a backpack to more conventional luggage, and my former badge of national identity disappeared.

Happily, I was once again able to assert my Canadian pride on a recent international trip, thanks to a new series of hardshell suitcases from Atlantic Luggage. To celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, the company has created four all-Canadian lines — the Red Leaf Collection, the Canadiana Collection, the Iconic Collection and the Buffalo Plaid Collection. Each one boasts a distinctively Canadian design.

Design

I travelled to Europe with the large (28-inch) version of the Red Leaf Collection. As the name suggests, this suitcase sports a large red maple leaf, against a black backdrop featuring other national icons (think beavers, hockey players, polar bears, inukshuks, etc.). It’s a bold declaration of patriotism — a little more in-your-face than a small flag on a backpack —and I was thrilled to be using it to advertise my home-and-native-land.

As I discovered, the striking design also has one other significant benefit. Like many other travellers, I’ve used all-black luggage for a number of years now, which means I’ve sometimes found it difficult to identify my suitcases when they come down the conveyor at the baggage pickup. But when I was recently standing in a crowd at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, watching a jumble of bags approaching on the carousel, I spotted my Red Leaf bag immediately. And I think everyone else standing there probably saw it too.

Functionality

I must admit that I don’t consider myself a luggage expert. Until the Red Leaf bag, I’d only ever used soft-sided suitcases that had two wheels. So for me, the step up to four-wheel-drive—Atlantic’s Spin 360-degree system—was a definite improvement. I didn’t realize it could be so easy to navigate a suitcase through a crowded terminal. And the hardshell case was, as advertised, lightweight (4.71 kgs) and tough. It survived its first trip without any damage.

My only initial concern with the suitcase was that, instead of having a lid on one side the way my other bags have, this suitcase opens up into two more or less equal compartments. So you have to pack in two different piles. But once I got used to the idea, it was no big deal.