Luggage is constructed of 100% polycarbonate to be lightweight yet durable, and exterior is designed to be scratch- resistant. Quality-engineered, 360° spinner wheels allow luggage to move with you. Full-capacity interior with zippered divider and cross-straps to help you organize items. Lock on side of cases is TSA-approved. Five color options.
Set is at the high end price range among models compared.
Hard yet lightweight exterior shell gives this set durability. Lined interior is spacious with a mesh, zip-pocket divider. Wheels spin 360° with ease. Comfortable to grip and an adjustable aluminum handle. Pieces nest inside each other to save space when storing. Great color choices. Also available in "family set" of four pieces.
A few complaints regarding wheels, zippers, and handles not holding up as expected.
Flashy and functional set comes in four unique color patterns. Shell made of durable, protective ABS with polycarbonate film. Unique eight-spinner-wheel feature makes this luggage glide easily. Handle conveniently telescopes with push of a button; top and side handles allow for easy transport.
No exterior pockets.
Constructed with lightweight polyester. Retractable handles and smooth rolling skate wheels that allow for effortless mobility. Can be rolled in an upright position to relieve stress from your arms and shoulders. Includes multiple interior and exterior pockets that keep you well organized. Available in four colors and in three- and five-piece sets.
The duffel bag piece does not come with an extendable handle. A few reports of zippers being flimsy.
Each luggage comes with multi-directional eight-wheel spinners that provide smooth, 360-degree movement on any terrain. Includes top- and bottom-grab handles and a retractable trolley handle for easy rolling and lifting. Features multiple fully-lined interior compartments with durable zippers that offer extra security. Hard exterior protects luggage from damage.
Handle feels flimsy when fully extended. Stains and scratches easily.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, a lightweight luggage set can make your trip easier (and lighter). But exactly what type of luggage do you need? Hard? Soft? Four wheels or two? The options multiply as luggage manufacturers come up with new ways to enhance the travel experience.
Lightweight luggage sets have anywhere from two to five pieces, and some have even more. The size of each piece in a set varies by make and model. All the pieces in a set may have wheels and a handle while other sets may include one or two pieces that rely on a shoulder strap instead of wheels and a handle for transport. In general, each set has at least one piece that’s designed to meet airline regulations for carry-ons. However, each airline has its own specifications and regulations, so all sets won’t meet the standards for all airlines.
The capacity depends on a number of factors, including the material used to make the shell, built-in storage and organization features, and the expandability of the design. For example, the capacity of a soft-shell suitcase may be much larger than a hard-shell suitcase of the same size because the soft-shell model expands more. Keep in mind that hard-shell sets are limited to the dimensions of the shell while soft-shell models can expand beyond their dimensions.
A complete lightweight luggage set can weigh anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds – empty. Certain features like wheels, handles, and built-in locks add weight, so carefully consider the worth of each feature before buying a set.
You have some options when it comes to hard, soft, wheel type, durability, and other features of lightweight luggage.
Hard-shell luggage has many advantages: it resists water and rips, so it does an excellent job of protecting breakable items. The integrated locks can provide better security, too.
On the downside, the dimensions are fixed, so you won’t be able to cram more last-minute items inside the way you can with soft-shell luggage. Hard cases show scuffs and scratches. And these cases take up more storage space than soft luggage.
Hard-shell suitcases are made of polycarbonate, ABS, or aluminum.
Polycarbonate: This synthetic resin isn’t the lightest option, but it’s incredibly durable.
ABS: If you want the lightest of lightweight luggage, a thermoplastic known as ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) is the material for you. However, it’s not quite as durable as polycarbonate or aluminum.
Aluminum: Aluminum provides the best protection and durability of any option. It’s also the heaviest, so you’ll have to decide if the extra weight is worth it.
Soft luggage expands for greater capacity than hard-shell luggage. It often has more interior and exterior storage options, too. It’s also easier to store both at home and while traveling.
On the downside, soft luggage doesn’t provide as much protection or security for your belongings. It can rip and may not resist water as well as hard-shell luggage.
Soft-shell luggage is made of one of three types of nylon.
Cordura: This type of woven nylon produces a soft outer shell that’s fairly resistant to abrasion.
Ballistic: This is also woven nylon, but it’s smoother than Cordura and shows wear and tear more easily. However, even if it gets scuffed, it maintains its strength and integrity.
Ripstop: Ripstop nylon is best known as the fabric used to make parachutes. In luggage, it’s most often used for unstructured bags and may be used for one or several pieces in a set.
You’re going to love having luggage with wheels when you’re sprinting through the airport to your gate. When it comes to wheels, spinners and inline are your two options.
Spinners: A suitcase with spinner wheels has a wheel or set of wheels on each corner that can spin in any direction. Push, pull, left, right – it doesn’t matter. These wheels keep rolling in any direction. You have to keep a hand on a case with these wheels because it could roll away when you’re not looking.
Inline: A suitcase with inline wheels usually only has two, though some have three, and these wheels only work when the suitcase is tipped and being pulled or pushed. When the case is upright, a stopper prevents the wheels from rolling. These wheels tend to work better than spinners on rough and uneven surfaces.
Handles are almost a given with luggage sets, although some sets come with one or two soft-sided suitcases that have a shoulder strap rather than a handle and wheels. A suitcase handle can take a beating when traveling, so look for durable ones on each piece in the set.
You don’t want to think about baggage handlers throwing your luggage, but it happens. Durability can’t be an afterthought. Look for luggage that is reinforced at the zipper, corners, handle, and wheels, the most common weak spots. Thick, durable fabric or a tough outer shell will prevent tears or dents.
You’ll want luggage with at least some water resistance in case it ends up in a rainstorm or a puddle on the tarmac. Hard-shell luggage resists water far better than soft luggage, so choose hard-shell if you frequently travel to wet climates. When purchasing luggage, be sure to check the zippers because that’s where water will likely sneak in.
For soft-shell, not all fabrics are water resistant, and of those that are, some are more water resistant than others. Nylon and nylon-blend fabrics have some natural water resistance, while other fabrics may be treated or coated to increase their water resistance. Again, be sure to check the zippers, too.
Organization and capacity
Organization: Soft-shell luggage often has far more options for storage and organization than hardshell. The more pockets you have, the better organized you can be, but pockets aren’t the only way to organize a suitcase. Dividers, built-in garment bags, and cross straps that keep clothes in place all serve to keep your clothes, shoes, and toiletries organized, too.
Capacity: Soft-shell luggage also outperforms hard-shell models when it comes to expandability. Fabric has more flexibility than rigid plastic or metal, so it can expand as you pack. However, both hard- and soft-shell sets may include expandable sides that can be extended or minimized with a zipper. When open, they add an inch or two to the sides and increase the interior square footage.
TSA-approved locks, a feature on more-expensive luggage, have a combination or key for you but can also be opened by a TSA master key. If you find the perfect lightweight luggage set but it doesn’t include built-in TSA-approved locks, you can buy them separately.
Many of these features add convenience, and some also increase security:
GPS locators: If you’ve ever arrived at your destination without your luggage, you might want to consider this feature. Using an app, you can locate your luggage almost anywhere, even if it’s on the baggage claim conveyor belt right in front of you.
USB ports: Battery power flows like water when you travel. Built-in USB ports let you charge your favorite devices like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, eliminating the need to find an outlet or wait for a charging station at your gate.
Solar-powered batteries: Solar-powered batteries keep the luggage battery charged so your devices won’t run out of power. If you want to use the suitcase as a carry-on, be sure the battery can be removed because security measures may require it.
Remote lock system: A remote lock system lets you check the status of your locks while your luggage is out of your sight. You can also open it for the TSA or other security agency from afar.
Lightweight luggage sets that come in under $100 may not be the most durable, but there are many that are built tough enough to last for years. At this price, most luggage sets are made of soft fabric and may include two or three pieces. Retractable and/or telescoping handles, exterior and interior pockets, and inline wheels round out the rest of the features you’re likely to find in this range.
Hard-shell and higher-quality soft-shell lightweight luggage sets start in the $100 to $200 range. Spinner wheels, tougher handle construction, and ABS shells add utility to these sets. Some sets have three or four pieces that all have wheels, while others may include one piece that lacks wheels but has a shoulder strap.
In the $200 to $300 range you’ll still find both hard- and soft-shell luggage sets. Four-piece soft-shell sets are typically made of water-resistant fabrics, with reinforced zippers and perhaps spinner wheels. Hard-shell models at this price may have built-in locks, expandable sides, and better interior organization.
You can find lightweight luggage sets that cost well over $300. This is where you’ll find large sets with five or six pieces that often include premium features like GPS locators, built-in TSA-approved locks, USB ports, and solar-powered batteries.
Know your travel style. Do you drive across your state or fly to other continents? Are monthly flights your norm, or do you take one or two family vacations a year? Frequent travelers might want to invest in premium features like USB ports and GPS locators, while the casual traveler might focus on a balance between cost and durability.
Check luggage specs with your preferred airline. If you often fly with a certain airline, check its specifications and requirements for carry-on and checked baggage to be sure any luggage you buy fits its guidelines.
Q. Do all lightweight luggage sets come with at least one piece that meets airline carry-on standards?
A. The smallest piece (and sometimes larger pieces in a set) is usually designed for use as a carry-on, but that doesn’t mean it will meet every airline’s requirements. Each airline has its own size and weight standards, which means some suitcases will work on one airline but not another.
Q. Are luggage wheels replaceable?
A. The wheels and handle are often the first parts to break, so replaceable wheels will prolong the life of your luggage set. All you need is a screwdriver to replace some wheels, but others don’t have replacement parts available. If you want a lightweight luggage set that will last a long time, opt for one that has readily available replacement parts.
Q. Do suitcases have weak points that I should watch for?
A. Corners take a heavy beating, making reinforced corners a feature worth splurging on. Hardware like handles, wheels, and zippers are other points of weakness where you’ll want extra durability. Manufacturers that offer replacement parts can help you extend the life of your set well beyond the warranty, so long as you’re willing to do the maintenance.