Have you ever googled Zernez? Because up until I tried this luggage set, I hadn’t – and that was a mistake. Zernez is an absolutely picturesque village and municipality in Switzerland, right on the Italian border, and its thin churches and scattered houses look beautiful under a layer of snow. The Swiss Gear Zernez II luggage set looks nothing like the village, but … Well, there’d be something special about taking your luggage to go see its namesake.
(You know, because you needed more reasons to visit an idyllic village of barely 1500 people.)
The Zernez II’s namesake
Zernez itself is great for so many beautiful reasons. It lies in the Swiss National Park, Switzerland’s largest nature preserve, right by Italy and Austria. And it’s absolutely gorgeous: nestled between mountains, it’s surrounded on all sides by lush forests and ridges.
Zernez, from MySwitzerland.com
It’s a destination spot for cross-country skiers, and in the summer, the Swiss National Park offers 170 square kilometres of untouched countryside. It’s such a tiny little town that it touts a minigolf course and playground as tourist attractions, and in the summer, it still shows films at an open-air cinema.
In July, Zernez is both the start and finish line of the Engadine Bike Marathon, and in March, at the festival of the Winter Eviction, children celebrate Chaladamarz by “going from house to house in traditional costumes, singing and asking for donations for the Chalandamarz-Ball.”
What makes the Swiss Gear Zernez II collection great
The Swiss Gear Zernez II wasn’t made on a mountainside. It doesn’t look like a scene from a movie. And, perhaps most importantly, it isn’t an idyllic retreat from the rest of the world.
It is, however, a very practical set of luggage. It’s a great intersection of the new (360 degree wheels) and the old (the classic top-bottom outer pocket setup). And the Swiss Gear Zernez II luggage set sits at a slightly lower price point than most 3-piece sets, making it more a more affordable way to transport your belongings securely.
I couldn’t find the Zernez II at any merchants other than Best Buy, even under other names, so it may be an exclusive – or just very new. Its price point was enough to make it stick out for me, although it also comes in an eye-catching cherry red. (I hate buying my luggage in colour, but man, I really need to get into the habit. It’s so much easier to find your bright red luggage than it is to pick out a black needle in a black haystack!)
The Swiss Gear Zernez II luggage set features 28″, 24″, and 20″ pieces of soft side luggage, and each piece is made from durable, lightweight polyester. The design includes four 360˚ spinner wheels (which are really a must in today’s world) and a retractable push-button handle. Each piece has interior tie-down straps (belt-style, not elastic). On the front lid, there are two pockets–one small, one large–on the outside and a full-sized mesh pocket on the inside.
The 24- and 28-inch pieces have the extra benefit of an expandable design, as well as side carry handles.
How the Swiss Gear Zernez II stacks up
I’m picky about my luggage, and one of the things that really bugs me is having non-retractable handles. I’m not just talking the extendable handle that lets you drag your luggage around–I mean the side and bottom carry handles, too.
Non-retractable handles are always either made from stiff, sharp plastic, or they’re cumbersome and stick out from the body of the luggage piece, making it hard to fit into overhead carrying bins and those little luggage skeletons that airlines make you use to make sure your luggage fits the ever-decreasing carry-on requirements.
The handles on the Swiss Gear Zernez II, however, are just divine. The top carry handles are lush and padded, with padding that’s cushy and smooth – not that awful netted stuff. Each Zernez II piece also features a discreet, fabric bottom carry handle. The bottom handle lies flush with the rest of the design when not in use, like a handy little pocket. It’s tight enough to the rest of the design that it shouldn’t get muddy or snowy, but it makes lifting your luggage above your head much easier.
Who the Zernez II is great for
It feels a little silly to recommend an entire range of luggage based almost entirely on its handles, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. The Swiss Gear Zernez II is the perfect luggage set for an older population.
The soft side luggage design is more familiar for older travellers, and the bottom carry handles decrease some of the risk of lifting your luggage into an overhead bin. The lush, padded top carry handles are easy on arthritic hands. And, of course, the smooth-rolling 360˚ wheels and the retractable handle makes rolling your luggage around easy, so you’ll spend less time lifting its weight and more time pulling or pushing it around.
This luggage is also well-padded, which will help keep your belongings safe. So, when you bring souvenirs to the grandkids, or a new set of dishes to your kid’s place, they’re a little more likely to make the trip safely.
The Swiss Gear Zernez II 3-Piece Soft Side 4-Wheeled Expandable Luggage Set isn’t only great for seniors, but it really does excel there. Even the price point (a little less than most sets) helps to accommodate a fixed budget. And the bright colour makes it easy to pick out, even for those with cataracts. (My grandmother always had brightly coloured luggage growing up. As I watch the struggles hat my parents are just now beginning to have, I’m starting to see the logic behind a lot of her choices from when I was a kid!)
And if the Zernez didn’t speak to you at all … Well, for starters, congratulations on making it through this review anyways. But definitely head over to Best Buy’s luggage section to find your perfect match!