The Evolution of Luggage: A Modern Trunk

The Lab,  
Taylor Coil

UPDATE: the Homebase collection is now available for purchase.

There’s undeniable sentiment wrapped up in a vintage trunk.

I, myself, have two of them in my apartment. They house my off-season clothes and look beautiful, propped next to the radiator and under the window. One of the trunks was my grandfather’s from his years in the army. The other, I found at Goodwill for $10. I have to pry the lock open with a crowbar to dig out my sweaters when the temperature drops.

I love the concept of traveling with a trunk. I can see myself setting up tent in Australia, perhaps, and unbuckling the latches of my trunk to pull out a hand-woven blanket and leather-bound novel. I don’t own a single leather-bound novel, but it feels like a more fitting accessory to the luggage choice than my trusty Kindle. I’d start a fire and read until the embers died. The next morning, I’d pack everything back inside and be on my merry way.

The “be on my merry way” is where problems arise, because trunks are horribly impractical to carry. Hauling both of mine up to my 4th-floor walkup in New York City is all the traveling I’d like to do with a classic trunk, thank you very much. Cumbersome luggage is not suited for a modern traveler.

But… I haven’t quite given up on a grand tour with a trunk in tow. A modern trunk. Not a classic trunk.

Designing A Modern Trunk

In the process of testing, iterating, and positioning the Homebase collection, our team found ourselves using the word “storage” a lot.

Nomads use one bag for the essentials, and one bag for “storage.” The latter houses the extra contents of their lives. Less essential, but certainly still valuable. The first bag was easy for us to wrap our heads around. It’s a travel backpack, the definition of what we do extraordinarily well.

The second bag, the one for storage, was a little bit more complicated for us (okay, me) to understand. Is it a rectangular duffle? A soft-sided suitcase?

The truth is that it’s both. The Homebase duffle case is a soft sided-suitcase that you carry like a duffle (hence the name). Not until I saw the prototype in-person did I realize there was also an underlying throwback to the beloved pieces of vintage nostalgia next to my radiator. It’s a modern, updated trunk. Today, we use different words (suitcase and duffle) to describe the same thing.

 

What’s Great About Trunks

There’s a reason travelers carried trunks for centuries. We borrowed the best qualities of classic trunks and integrated them into a modern version.

Rectangular Shape

Whenever you add curves to luggage, you reduce the internal packing space. Part of the trunk’s appeal is that they feel infititely roomy and able to store anything. The roomy insides are thanks to the rectangular shape.

Top opening

Trunks are easy to pack, easy to reach into, and easy to use. Since they open from the top, and not the side or the middle, you can stack lots of sweaters, jeans, or whatever else you want in the depths of your trunk.

Minimal organization

Sometimes, lots of compartments and pockets are a good thing. In a trunk, however, they’re a detriment. Minimal organization means even more packing space, and the option for a more flexible, modular system.

What Needed Updating

There’s also a good reason that travelers stopped carrying trunks on adventures. Travel has only gotten more agile and luggage has shifted necessarily. We needed to inject agility into something that had good bones, but was cumbersome and impractical for 21-st century travel.

Materials

The hard-sided cases of yore might be protective, but also result in a heavy, cumbersome trunk. We swapped bulky materials for ultralight, abraison-resistant, waterproof sailcloth. A fabric rigid enough to hold its shape while you pack (which is crucial for a trunk), waterproof to protect your stuff, and extremely lightweight.

Closures

Buckles and latches add flair and style to a trunk. They might look nice, but they’re far from ideal in a travel context. A modern trunk uses weatherproof YKK zippers to keep your stuff protected. The zipper runs the length of the top edge, so you open the bag just like you would if it had a metal latch.

Carrying method

One tiny handle on the top of a trunk is not practical for sprints through airports or long walks from the train station to your Airbnb. We added a padded, crossbody strap and hideaway top handles so that you can carry the modern trunk just like a duffle.

A long haul trip isn’t a vacation; it’s your life. While your short-trip packing list might be minimal, your life comes with a few extra objects. The Homebase duffle case addresses the need for a modern trunk for travel-friendly storage. In transit, it’s a spacious (45L), soft-sided suitcase that’s carried over your shoulder. Between trips, use it to store everything that doesn’t fit in your go bag. 

You don’t even have to unpack it.