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Airline Mismanagement

The TSA no longer allow you to carry bottles onto flights, meaning you now risk having fragile bottles break in your checked suitcases.

The BottleWise bottle carrier is an easy way to protect your bottles from most types of impact and potential breakage.

 
 
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BottleWise Bottle Carrier

Protects bottles and their contents in your suitcase
 

The BottleWise Bottle Carrier is available in black and two other colors, and you pay $10 extra if you don't want black.

It comprises two padded waterproof bags, both of which can then be fastened inside an outer padded carrier for further protection and carrying convenience.

 

 

If you've ever had a bottle break in your suitcase, and its liquid contents soak all over your clothes, your work papers, your souvenirs and everything, you'll agree that there's no price too high to pay to prevent this happening again.

Fortunately the BottleWise Bottle Carrier isn't unduly expensive, and provides both impact protection for the bottles inside and a waterproof compartment so that if the bottles do break (and if you've seen some of the mistreatment the airlines inflict on the bags they handle, you'll agree that sometimes nothing short of 1" armor plate will guarantee the safety of fragile items), the liquid will be contained rather than spill all over your belongings.

Each unit has two individual bottle carriers, which can be used separately, or snapped into an outer carrier and carried together.  It is moderately - but unavoidably - bulky, and not too unduly heavy.

The Growing Need for a BottleWise Type Product

There's nothing worse than having a bottle break inside your suitcase, is there.  At best, it is disappointing - you've got a mess of liquid and broken glass to take care of, and have lost the opportunity to enjoy some type of libation that you'd treated yourself to.  If it is red wine or some other liquid that stains, you have major problems cleaning the clothes that have soaked up the liquid.  And if you had important documents or other items, they may also be ruined.

There's another problem - the broken glass can end up being ground to a fine powder during a long and bumpy journey, and can infiltrate all your clothes.  I've found it easier to just throw away perfectly good clothing rather than to try and pick fine glass shavings out of them.

It seems that such losses are more common these days - at least for me - for two reasons.  Firstly, with TSA security, you can't now take bottles of wine on flights with you as carry-on - you have to check them in your suitcases.

Secondly, although you might carefully pack bottles in your suitcase, surrounding them with clothes and other protection, if the TSA open your suitcase and rummage around in it, your bottles could end up anywhere at all.  I know that I've sometimes opened my bag to find what I'd thought to be carefully placed bottles with lots of clothes around them now lying loose in the bag.

I used to sometimes travel with bubble wrap to wrap around bottles, but that is only a partial solution - if the TSA open your suitcase, they're for sure going to take the bottles out of the bubble wrap to see what they are, and they may or may not put the bubble wrap properly back over the bottles again.

Something else is required.

Two travelers, returning anxiously from Australia, worrying about the fate of the wine in their suitcase, decided to do something about it.  Their solution is the new and patented BottleWise padded carrier system, proudly made in the US and available for sale through their website.

What the BottleWise Is

The BottleWise system has three components - two carry bags, each for a single bottle of something, and a third wrap around piece to hold the two bags together and give you something to carry them in/with if you're wishing to use the BottleWise as a transport/carrier as well as a packing system for your suitcase.

The two carry bags each measure about 16" x 9", and are about an inch or two thick when empty.  Inside the bag is sewn a " thick sheet of rubberised foam which is the main form of protection for the bottle that is placed inside. The foam is sandwiched between a thick durable Cordura outside fabric and a soft lining on the inside.

There is a zip that runs the full length of one of the long sides of the bag, and down 3" on each of the two sides.

The bag has a heavy gauge plastic liner inside it with a ziplock type opening near the top.  The idea is you put your bottle inside the plastic liner, squeeze the air out, seal the ziplock, then zip up the carry bag.  The bottle inside is therefore protected by the " foam blanket, and even if something should happen to the bag, the sealed plastic liner inside should keep the liquid from escaping.

The bag protects not just the bottle but also the heavy duty plastic lining as well, so hopefully if a bottle does break, the broken glass won't puncture through the plastic lining.

Each bag weighs 10.3 oz.

The third piece of the BottleWise system is the outer carrier for the two carry bags.  It weighs about 12.5 oz, and is very lightly padded.  You can snap the two carry bags into this and then carry them with the provided carry strap.

If you're just using the BottleWise system to pack bottles into your suitcase, it is best to pack the two carry bags separately rather than to join them together with this outer piece.

One of the nicest features of the BottleWise is its unconditional guarantee.  You have to respect any manufacturer that offers a guarantee that says

We stand behind the quality of our products. That’s why every BottleWise bag comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. What do we mean by that? It’s quite simple really. If you are ever dissatisfied the performance of your BottleWise bag, we’ll replace it free of charge, or give you your money back. No exceptions. No questions asked.

There is one small catch with their guarantee, however.  They ask for you to include the packing slip and order number when returning a BottleWise.  There seems no justification for this other than to make the guarantee harder to use.

Using the BottleWise

The BottleWise is very easy to use, as you'd expect.  Put the bottles in the bags, seal the bags, zip them up, and stick them in your suitcase.

I can't think of a circumstance where I'd use the outer carry piece that joins the two bottles together, but it is available in case you have a use for it.

Although the weight of each bag is appreciable, especially when struggling to keep within the ever diminishing luggage weight allowances offered by the airlines, it is not a disproportionate extra weight when considered alongside the weight of the bottles you are packing and protecting.  A regular bottle of wine weighs about 43 oz, so the carry bag (10.3 oz) adds about an extra 25% to the weight of the wine alone.  And if you're putting larger bottles into the bag, the percentage weight penalty for the carry bag gets less and less.  A bottle of champagne or a larger 1L bottle of spirits both typically weight about 60 oz.

Although the BottleWise generally can manage to fit a bottle of champagne or a 1L bottle of spirits, it is a major stretch and struggle to do so.  The product would be made greatly more useful if it were made just one inch longer.  Surely this would add almost nothing to its weight and cost, but it would then make it a comfortable fit with these other products.  With champagne and liquor costing potentially many times the price of a bottle of still wine, BottleWise is even more essential in these cases.

A nice feature of the BottleWise is that when it is empty, it can be folded flat and so takes up less space in your suitcase.

Not just wine

Although described as a carrier for holding 750 ml (26 oz - a standard size wine bottle) bottles of still wine, the carrier can also hold champagne bottles - although champagne bottles hold the same amount of liquid as regular wine bottles, they are appreciably larger in size.

They can also, depending a bit on the shape of the bottle, be used to carry bottles of spirits, including the nice big 1 liter bottles that are commonly sold at Duty Free stores around the world.

Ideally the BottleWise bag would be very slightly bigger so as to make it easier to accommodate large sized and strange sized bottles as readily as it does standard sized still wine bottles.

The BottleWise bags don't need to be used only with wine and other spirits, of course.  You can put anything fragile in them, whether it be intoxicating liquor or something as mild as preserves and jams.  But, because the BottleWise bags have no external structure. you wouldn't use them as a way of packing fragile china.  They provide cushioning for full bottles, jars, and other containers, but don't provide protection for fragile items.

Cost Issues

Alas, the BottleWise isn't bargain priced.  A standard set - the 'BottleWise Duo' is priced at $48.95.  A BottleWise Duo Plus is priced $10 higher, at $58.95.

The major difference between the two products is the color.  The more expensive product is available in red or yellow - or, as they prefer to say, burgundy or cork.  The more expensive one also apparently has some extra padding on the external optional carry piece.

However, being as how we find little use for the external optional carry wrap around piece, we see no value at all in the more expensive version, and so would recommend the standard $48.95 unit.

That's a lot of money for two wine bottle carry bags.  But it only takes one broken bottle in your suitcase to quickly persuade you of the value and sense in such an investment.

Summary

It is a sad commentary on airline baggage handling, but nonetheless realistic, to observe that bottles in our checked baggage may break during their journey.

The BottleWise system provides good protection to minimize the likelihood of this occurring; and - if it does occur - it acts to contain the liquid and broken glass that would otherwise permeate through everything in your suitcase.

$48.95, and currently available only from the manufacturer.

 

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Originally published 30 Nov 2007, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
 

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