Best Luggage Sets

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best luggage sets

Last Updated May 2019

Long trips and extended traveling can be easier to handle with the right luggage set. A high-quality luggage set makes it easy to bring along the clothing and  accessories you need to have an enjoyable trip. You will find luggage sets in configurations of two, three, four, and sometimes even five pieces. Because the pieces are sold as a bundle, you may be able to save money on a luggage set as opposed to buying suitcases individually.

How much luggage space do you need? How often do you travel? The answers to these questions will help you determine what kind of luggage set you should buy. Large suitcases offer ample storage space, but they may be a pain to take along — and it's unlikely you'd be able to claim a larger piece of luggage as a carry-on. Smaller pieces are easier to carry, and you might even be able to keep a smaller piece of luggage with you on a plane — but you'd first need to make sure the smaller piece had enough space for your belongings.

Types of luggage

You may find several different types of luggage in a luggage set. Some of the most common pieces are carry-on bags, garment bags, toiletry bags, duffel bags, and traditional suitcases.

Carry-on bags

Most airlines limit carry-on bags to 22 x 14 x 9 inches. These small suitcases can usually be stowed in the overhead bin above your plane seat, although unfortunately, you may still be asked to part with your carry-on if space is tight. Pro tip: the smaller your carry-on is, the less likely you will be asked to hand it over to baggage in the event of a cramped flight.

Many travelers like to bring a carry-on because they can avoid paying a fee to stow at least part of their belongings. Some travelers travel only with a carry-on because they like the peace of mind of knowing exactly where their things are.

Garment bags

Designed to carry clothing on hangers, a garment bag is useful if you are traveling with a dress, suit, or coat that you don’t want to wrinkle. You won't see these quite as often as part of a luggage set; if you do, it's likely to be a larger set that already includes three or four other pieces.

Many garment bags can be folded in half or into thirds for easy carrying. In fact, some light travelers contend that a garment bag is the only bag you need when taking a trip. If you agree with this, you may want to make sure that the garment bag you use has wheels and a handle for easy carrying. 

Toiletry bags

These are small cases for holding toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, deodorant, shaving supplies, hair styling tools, and so on. Having a place for your toiletries is essential in modern-day travel since airlines allow passengers to have very little liquid in their carry-ons. In fact, any liquid item that weighs more than 3.4 ounces must be checked in your suitcase rather than carried with you on the plane. Look for a toiletry bag that's sturdy enough to avoid tears and spills and easily fits inside your suitcase.

Duffel bags

A duffel bag is a soft, roomy bag that comes in a wide range of sizes. Duffel bags are great for weekend trips, car trips, train travel, or for carrying bulky items that don't easily fit in your suitcase. You can sling a duffel bag over your shoulder or carry it by the handles; the best duffel bags are made of a sturdy canvas or another material that allows you to transport irregularly shaped and bulky items as well as clothing and other soft contents without worrying about punctures or tears in the fabric.

Traditional suitcases

Most luggage sets consist of at least one "traditional" suitcase: a rectangular piece in which you can fold clothing and tuck other essentials. These traditional bags may be hard-sided or soft-sided, and they may have spinner wheels that move in multiple directions or inline wheels that glide in only one direction. Most will have a pull-out handle that you can use to drag the suitcase behind you or push in front of you.

Whereas a duffel bag and carry-on might not have wheels, most traditional suitcases do. Since you'll probably use these pieces to carry the bulk of your belongings, this is advantageous. Some luggage sets include only one traditional suitcase. Others include two, three, or even four, usually of varying sizes. You'll want to make your selection based on the number of people traveling and how long you'll be away. For example, a family of four might be able to pack everything in a three-piece or four-piece luggage set for a weekend getaway.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most luggage sets are sized so that you can easily fit the smaller suitcase into the larger one when not in use. If storage space is tight at home, this is an especially appealing option.

Which bag should I bring?

How will you be traveling?

If you’ll be flying, your main consideration may be size. A bag small enough to carry on — rather than check — saves you time and aggravation at the airport. Check with the airline before you go, however, because size restrictions can vary from airline to airline and sometimes even from flight to flight.

Trains and cruise ships also have luggage restrictions. However, they are generally more liberal than airlines.

If you’re planning a road trip, size isn’t so much of an issue. But you’ll optimize your trunk space with bags that are somewhat flexible or soft-sided.

How much weight are you carrying?

Whether you're boarding a plane, a train, or a ship, it pays — literally — to know how much weight you are carrying. If the baggage weight limit on an airline is, say, 50 pounds — and your suitcase weighs 51 pounds — you may have to pay a significant fee. For this reason, we recommend you invest in a luggage scale and use it before you even leave home. A luggage scale lets you know exactly how much your packed suitcase weighs.

Many luggage manufacturers claim that their products are lightweight because they are well aware of airline restrictions. However, one manufacturer may consider an eight-pound suitcase to be "lightweight" while another considers a three-pound bag to be "lightweight." Be sure to factor in the weight of your luggage both when purchasing it and when packing it for a trip.

Are you traveling for business or pleasure?

The type of traveling you're engaging in impacts the type of luggage you need. If you're traveling on business, it very well may be a short trip. If so, you likely don’t want any more inconvenience than necessary. A carry-on bag or garment bag may be sufficient in this case.

If you're going on a family vacation, however, a large luggage set may be exactly what you need. The larger pieces will provide enough room for the whole family's belongings, as well as souvenirs you pick up on the trip.

If you're traveling internationally, whether for business or pleasure, you'll likely be taking multiple forms of transportation: plane, train, bus, taxi, to name a few. A large suitcase with wheels may be the easiest to tote from place to place in this scenario.

If you're just heading out for the weekend, a duffel bag or small roller suitcase is a good choice for an overnight escape. If you're in the process of choosing a luggage set, consider one with a smaller piece like this so you're covered during shorter getaways and don't have to purchase yet another piece of luggage.

Security

All three pieces included in the Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion HS set are spinners, which means they have four corner wheels that spin and move in any direction. An extendable metal handle makes the commute from baggage claim to ground transportation (or the trip from car to hotel room) much easier. Strong zippers and TSA-approved locks hold together the two halves of each spinner suitcase in the set. The interior of each suitcase is fully lined and a separate privacy curtain holds smaller items securely in place during travel.

What to look for when buying a luggage set

Wheels

Most luggage sets sold today have wheels — at least on the larger pieces. The question is, do you want suitcases with two wheels or four?

Roller Suitcases

Two-wheel suitcases are called rollers. They have recessed wheels, which are less likely to snap off if handled roughly. Rollers are good for urban travel, as they easily clear curbs, sidewalks, and rough pavement. However, the wheels only move in one direction, so you don't get as much flexibility if you'll be changing directions frequently. If you just need to pull the suitcase behind you, however, a roller suitcase may be ideal.

Spinner Suitcases

Four-wheel suitcases are called spinners because each wheel can spin 360 degrees. They are easy to maneuver in tight spaces but not so good at traversing rough pavement or curbs. If a person who is frail or lacks coordination will be manning one of the suitcases on your trip, consider giving that person a spinner suitcase, as it will likely be easier to maneuver and require less physical strength. However, you should be aware that the external wheels of a spinner are more vulnerable to snapping off, and they also take up valuable packing space.

Body

You'll need to decide whether you prefer hard-sided or soft-sided luggage. Trends vary over time; the popularity of the hard-sided suitcase has waxed and waned, as has the popularity of the soft-sided suitcase. Both have pros and cons.

Soft-sided luggage:

  • Lightweight
  • More flexible in tight quarters
  • Mrone to rips
  • May not protect your belongings as well as a harder material

 

Hard-sided luggage:

  • Generally made of polycarbonate, ABS plastic, or heavier aluminum
  • Somewhat heavier than soft-sided luggage
  • Prone to dings and scratches
  • May protect your belongings more effectively

Hardware

Zippers: Sturdy zippers are crucial. We would argue that you should spare no expense on a durable suitcase zipper, because if the zipper doesn't work, you cannot securely use the suitcase at all. There are two general types of zipper: coil zippers and chain zippers. Coil zippers are made of a material like nylon and have the ability to "self heal"; they can take quite a bit of wear and tear. Chain zippers have metal or plastic teeth that are very secure but also very prone to disfigurement with use.

Locks: Some pieces of luggage come with a locking mechanism so you can secure the contents. If you fly often, you'll either want to purchase luggage that includes TSA-approved locks or puchase TSA-approved locks separately for your suitcases. A TSA-approved lock can be opened with a universal key. A TSA official who needs to inspect the inside of your bag will not have to destroy your lock if it is TSA-approved.

Handles: Most of today’s wheeled luggage has two handles: the telescopic handle — or extendable handle — on the top of the suitcase and the grab-on strap on the side. You will want to make sure both are sturdy and securely attached to the body of the suitcase. Some handles have push-button activation for even more convenience. You may prefer this type of activation, particularly if you have issues with arthritis or hand strength.

Pockets

Generally speaking, the more compartments a suitcase has, the more organized your travel will be. For eample, it’s handy to have an outer pocket or two for passports, tickets, maps, and other necessities you will need to grab while on the go. Generally, hard-shell luggage does not have outer pockets, but most soft-sided pieces do.

For some people, inner pockets are even more valuable than the external ones. Some suitcases have multiple inner pockets, some have none, and some have just a single separate compartment. The ideal number of inner compartments is mostly a matter of personal preference. If your luggage does not have as many interior pockets as you wish it did, consider investing in a set of packing cubes to help organize your belongings.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hard-shell suitcases are a good choice for people who frequently travel to rainy or snowy climates, as the materials with which these shells are made — polycarbonate, ABS plastic, aluminum — do the best job protecting their contents.

Color

The color of your luggage is, of course, a highly personal preference. However, it's noteworthy that neutral colors like black and gray and brown may be more likely to disappear into a sea of similar bags on an airport luggage carousel. You could always attach something to your luggage to make it stand out, though, like a hot pink ribbon.

Another option is to choose luggage with a bright color or distinctive pattern. You'll find lots of unique options if that's your desire.

Luggage set prices

How much you'll spend on a set of luggage depends largely on two major factors: how many pieces you want and the degree of quality you want.

You can find a two-piece set of soft-sided luggage for as low as $30. This luggage could be perfect for a single person who travels infrequently, but it's not the best investment for a businessperson who travels every other week for work.

There are two-piece sets that cost quite a bit more, too. If you're looking for a top-notch pair of luggage pieces from a big name like Samsonite or Coolife, you could easily spend $100 or more for these pieces.

If you opt for a luggage set that contains three, four, or five pieces, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $500. On the higher end of the spectrum, you will find larger luggage sets from reputable brands that include lots of creature comforts: extra pockets, expandable storage, TSA-approved locks, spinner wheels. Though the price tag on these sets is large, it may pay to do some price comparisons. Often, you save money when buying expensive luggage in a set as opposed to buying individual pieces.

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