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thermalstrike suitcaseWhen I arrived at my hotel on a recent trip to Toronto, I did my usual bed check, pulling back the duvet and casting a careful eye over the mattress and box spring. Fortunately, I saw no telltale reddish brown spots, so there didn’t seem to be any bed bugs lurking between my sheets. But if there had been, I had a line of defense: a 20-inch carry-on suitcase from ThermalStrike.

The suitcase (also available in a 24-inch size) uses infrared technology to heat its contents to a temperature of 140 degrees — hot enough to kill bed bugs and their eggs. To start the heating process, you must load both sides of the suitcase evenly, stand it up, raise the telescoping handle and plug the bag into the wall. The heating process shuts off automatically once the treatment is over. (The company’s Web site offers an estimate of 2.5 hours for the “fatal temperature” to be reached, but in two different tests my carry-on shut itself off within 45 to 60 minutes.)

The suitcase gets hot to the touch during the process, but not to the point of danger; kids or pets touching the case by accident shouldn’t be harmed. Of course, you’ll want to take out anything that might be damaged by heat, such as cosmetics, sensitive electronics and that chocolate bar you’re bringing home for Mom.

Read on for a few of my favorite and least favorite things about the suitcase — and to see how to win it for yourself.

The Good
Bed bug concerns aside, the ThermalStrike is a solid carry-on bag. The materials are sturdy and high-quality (with the possible exception of the telescoping handle, which felt a tad flimsy), and it’s an attractive bag inside and out. A built-in TSA-approved lock allows for a little extra security, and the spinner wheels were an upgrade over the rolling upright I’ve been traveling with for the last decade.

Though I don’t believe I was in any danger from bed bugs on this particular trip, treating my clothes and other belongings with the suitcase gave me a little extra peace of mind.

How to Find a Clean Hotel Room

The Bad
I’m used to traveling with a soft-sided carry-on, which has a couple of external pockets where I can stow things like my quart-size bag of liquids and gels for easy access at security. The hard-sided ThermalStrike carry-on was less convenient on that front; to get my toiletry bag out, I had to lay the suitcase on its side and unzip the main compartment to get to the “quick-access pocket” inside — not ideal in a crowded security line.

The pivoting wheels occasionally seemed to get a little stuck when I tried to turn the suitcase, both in the airport and on a few uneven sidewalks in Toronto.

To run the heating process in countries outside of North America, you’ll need both an adapter for the plug and a converter with a voltage of at least 300 watts. (See Electricity Overseas for more info on this topic.)

At $349 for the carry-on and $399 for the 24-inch suitcase, the price may be beyond the reach of many travelers.

33 Ways to Sleep Better at a Hotel

The Verdict
If you can afford the price tag, the peace of mind may be worth it, especially for an otherwise sturdy bag.

Editor’s Note: For those who are asking, the 20-inch carry-on weighs eight pounds, according to the product specs on Amazon.com. The 24-inch suitcase weighs 10.5 pounds.

Want to try it out for yourself? We’re giving away our (gently used) suitcase! Just leave us a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 11, 2013. We’ll pick one winner at random to win the ThermalStrike carry-on. This giveaway is open only to residents of the lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner of the suitcase is Susan Dalpe. Congratulations, Susan!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

182 Responses to “The Suitcase That Beats Bed Bugs”

  1. Jo says:

    I would love to win this war on the little suckers and if this helps I’m for it.

  2. Kathy says:

    Hope I win!
    Frequent travel has become increasingly more tan travel arrangements. I hate thinking what I might be exposed to or even worse, bring home with me! It used to be, visit the doc and get vaccines prior to traveling now, it is so much more. If this really works, I would figure a way around the “plug” and also pack lighter to allow for the weight of the unit.

  3. Harvey Damaser says:

    sounds like a winner

  4. Janet Cartwright says:

    I would love to try it out and won it! I appreciate the opportunity!

  5. Barbara says:

    Worth the peace of mind.

  6. Sarah says:

    Thanks for tips on bedbugs . So far, so good with no bites. As a senior, I’d like to see them make a lighter bag.

  7. Marvin Simon says:

    Seems ideal for hotel travelling. These pesky critters are difficult to remove when you get home . Great to have a simple way to remove them without pesticides .

  8. Robert Kratz says:

    Sounds like a great idea. You never know when you’ll pick up some of the critters. Even in the best hotels.


  9. adele sy says:

    a must for all frequent travellers like me!

  10. Paula says:

    I’d love to win the ThermanStrike suitcase that eliminates bed bugs. I generally use drier sheets to “discourage” bugs, but this suitcase would be a lot better.

  11. Corinna says:

    I would really love to win this suitcase. It sounds like a wonderful idea. Thanks for the useful information.

  12. Diane Pirlot says:

    How much does it weigh?

  13. Amy says:

    Does all that heat make the wrinkles in your clothes harder to get out? I guess I’d take that over bedbugs, but it sure would be annoying to have such wrinkled clothes

  14. Kristin says:

    Hope I win!

  15. Susan Brandt says:

    I travel for work in a bag like this would be a LIFESAVER Thanks for a chance to win it!

  16. I am a grand mother who frequently travels to see my grand children. We were a military family so all my children live in different states. I am so afraid of those bed bugs. They are disgusting. I really do not like saying in hotels because of those awful bugs. Thank you for considering me for this contest. I hope I win!!!!!

  17. Arlene says:

    Living in NYC, what has become one of the bedbug capitals of the world, maybe I could use this for all of my clothes if I ever get infested!

  18. Lyn says:

    Sounds like the perfect suitcase for anyone that travels. Would love to win! And have peaceful and restful hotel stays not worrying about bugs!

  19. Phyliss says:

    Sounds like it would provide peace of mind. I prefer the hard-sided suitcases to the soft sided, and this one has the added benefit. Anything that would work would be wonderful!

  20. Gabrielle Koch says:

    Thank you for testing this bag out and giving such honest options of both “Good” & “Bad”. It does sound like a great bag (hate the thought of Bedbugs) especially with all the traveling (both work and leisure) I will do throughout this next year, I only wish I had had this case for my prior travels earlier this year.

  21. Pat Koko says:

    We’ve been fighting the bed bug problem for some seniors in our town through our Emergency/crisis funding. NO FUN. Would love a way to be protected when travelling.

  22. Lori says:

    Being that my suitcase has just fallen apart and I am so paranoid about bedbugs, I would really appreciate receiving the ThermalStrike suitcase

  23. quichi minujin says:

    I want it! What an incredible idea,never gave bed bugs a thought,but,it seems I should!! Maybe I will be the lucky person to win this suitcase.

  24. sheila says:

    I think this is an excellent idea! A friend of mine brought home the nasty things fro a recent trip. she stayed in a high end hotel and thought she was safe.

  25. Don Deixel says:

    In considering this, it has to be viewed as a form of self-insurance. That means weighing the considerable cost against the likelihood of exposure. Are there any useful statistics on the frequency of exposure, i.e. out of a thousand hotel check-ins, how many guests bring home bugs? Sure, the consequences of even a single exposure can be extreme, but all travelers take calculated risks and all factors have to be taken into account.

  26. Fran Mamich says:

    One bedbug event is more costly than the price of this case! Counting doctor, sprays, special cleaning of cases and clothes, I’d say $400 for ONE contact with bedbugs!

  27. Lisa Evans says:

    What a great idea! I would be very grateful to win this special suitcase and be worry-free from bringing home bed bugs. Thank for the opportunity!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Would love to win this suitcase to have peace of mind!

  29. KayPierce says:

    Anything to give me more peace of mind when I’m traveling is worth it’s weight in gold!

  30. Pam Cooper says:

    A bit out of my price range.

  31. brenda says:

    great idea.Can you but these anywhere?

  32. Lenora Mitchell says:

    Thank you for the introduction to this bag. I would love to have a chance to win it.

  33. Candida Delarosa says:

    I am a career nanny. The only critters I want in my life are 2 legged small children !

  34. great idea! I think the cost is reasonable for the peace of mind!

  35. Amy Huerta says:

    I hate bugs. I practically kill my family with bug spray when we stay away. The extra peace of mind would truly be worth it!

  36. E K Chamberlain says:

    Thank you for the opportunity!

  37. Cedaroma says:

    I would like to win this suitcase and give it a try. We have been innkeepers for 10 years and haven’t had an outbreak and hope never to experience one either.

  38. M WILEY says:

    The article does not mention how much this bag weighs. Weight is more important to me than price. I just bought a new carryon and the deciding factor was how much it weighed, which was 4 lbs less than my old carryon that finally died.

    • Hi M WILEY,

      According to the product specs on Amazon, the 24-inch suitcase weighs 10.5 pounds and the 20-inch carry-on weighs 8 pounds. I’ve edited the story to include this information.

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor

  39. Walt says:

    I fure wish I had thought about this. What a great product in today’s environment.

  40. Aurora Tyas says:

    I have never ever checked for bed bugs…..thinking back at all these hostels and dodgy hotels on my RTW maybe I should have done….?!

  41. Ingrid says:

    Would love to try this out though I’ve never yet encountered bed bugs.

  42. jackie cope says:

    I would love to have this suitcase to foil those guys.

  43. Pat Reynolds says:

    What a great idea! Bet the Shark Tank guys would have jumped on this invention! I want one!!!

  44. KateZ says:

    Really!!! I’m curious about this war on bugs, and would like to win and try it on a trip. Does it come with adaptors for Europe? Is this the best use we can make of electricity?

  45. Patricia says:

    I love to travel and this would sure give me peace of mind.
    Thanks for the giving us a chance to win one.

  46. Roberta Gelt says:

    Sounds great. Would love a chance to try it

  47. Thomas says:

    It’s sad that thses critters have made a global comeback. Count me in for this suitcase opportunity.

    If anyone knows of a suitcase with no zippers and with an airtight seal … that might be a good alternative to this.X

  48. Paul Roos says:

    I’d really love to try your bag. We’re headed to England, Holland, Germany, Victoria B.B., Seattle, and Denmark the end of June for 6 weeks. But, apparently you guys are unwilling to pay the “postage” to send the bag to our beautiful home on Maui. WHADDUP wit dat??

  49. Rtchie Perkins says:

    Too expensive for me, yet not as much as I thought it would be. I can see this working for lots of people ..

  50. Cindy Kahle says:

    I have a BIG trip planned to Tuscany and Greece this fall. Sure could use a reliable suitcase and not have to worry about the bedbug epidemic with the many hotels we will be staying!!! My fingers are crossed that I will be notified as a winner!!! Thank you!!!!

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