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Lightweight yet solid construction with a resilient polycarbonate shell. Built-in TSA-approved lock. One-button telescoping handle. High level of internal organization.
It's pricey, so it's considered a better investment for travelers willing to spend extra on a premium suitcase.
Highly expandable and adds up to 30% more space. Strong piggy-back strap for toting additional bag. Smooth-moving wheels. Made of durable polyester with water-resistant PVC lining. Available in five colors.
Some reports of poor exterior stitching and tears of the interior fabric after regular use.
A rugged, lightweight hard-shell suitcase with a spacious interior. Equipped with corner bumper guards. Meets carry-on size standards for many airlines. Main compartment is designed with double-sided packing. Comes in several colors.
The quality of the wheels is not as good as the quality of the case, resulting in wobbling and/or breakage.
Expands by 1.5 inches. Has a built-in TSA-approved lock. Multidirectional wheels have a smooth range of motion. Telescoping handle is wobble-free. Holds up well through frequent travel. Available in over a dozen colors.
A few reports that the outer shell sustains scratches easily.
Dent-resistant polycarbonate shell. TSA-approved combination lock. Multiple color choices available. Two handle positions accommodate user preferences. Two intuitive compartments for organizing luggage and souvenir items.
Expensive. Easily carries more than 50 pounds, which could result in an additional baggage fee.
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.
When purchasing a suitcase, there is a lot more to consider than first meets the eye. You obviously want to buy a quality item that holds up through the years and serves you well, but there are a number of other factors that should influence which suitcase you purchase.
You need a suitcase that is sized for your needs, whether you prefer to use it as a carry-on or checked baggage. If you fly frequently, a suitcase with a TSA-approved lock is essential. A telescoping handle, four wheels, and a variety of compartments and dividers are desirable features as well.
The outer shell of a suitcase impacts the user experience, too. A hard-shell suitcase that is cut-resistant offers the best theft protection. That said, a soft suitcase is helpful if you need to squeeze your bag into a tight space.
To check or not to check? One of the biggest questions facing airline travelers when they make plans to get away is whether to carry on their suitcase and cram it into the overhead bin or to check it at the start of their trip.
Each airline has its own set of rules for what constitutes a carry-on versus a checked piece of luggage. In addition, airlines may impose rules on the following:
Are you looking to save money by carrying on your luggage? Newer carry-ons are expandable and built to hold more — especially with expert packing.
If you choose to carry on your luggage, your bag stays with you the entire trip and is less likely to get lost.
In addition, you enjoy the following perks:
However, if you choose to carry on your luggage, you must be aware of the following:
If you choose to check your baggage, you don’t have to worry about fitting everything you need into a small carry-on.
However, if you check your baggage, you should be aware of the following:
Hard-sided luggage was popular decades ago, when people donned their best formalwear just to ride a plane. Today, with the advent of new lightweight composite materials, hard-sided luggage is making a comeback.
How many wheels do you want your suitcase to have? Consider the characteristics of two-wheelers versus spinner wheels if you need rolling luggage.
Smaller suitcases generally have just one compartment for the bulk of your clothes, toiletries, and other items. There may be a mesh or plastic section within that compartment to hold delicates or items that could leak. Some suitcases include an elastic belt to help secure items.
Common to suitcases large and small is a feature that allows the bag to expand. Depending on the model, expansion mode is set by opening a zipper compartment or, in higher-end luggage, a plastic bar that facilitates expansion or contraction.
For those who frequently embark on business travel, the garment section of the suitcase is important. This is the part of the case where you would place a suit or other workwear. The garment compartment can be as simple as a removable section that accommodates hanging clothing or as fancy as a suitcase that serves primarily as a garment bag.
Not all suitcase handles are the same, as some are not adjustable. The best handles are the ones that telescope to various heights. The ability to adjust the handle to suit your arm length provides an extra bit of “pull power” that makes traveling that much more comfortable.
Primarily found on soft-sided luggage, outside zippered pockets add packing space and are convenient for travelers who like to add things at the last minute or store items that must be easily retrieved. Outside pockets are especially useful for carry-ons; owners appreciate not having to open their main suitcase simply to find a book, snack, or travel itinerary.
If you get a suitcase with a lock, make sure it is TSA-compliant. Otherwise, airport inspectors may have to damage your suitcase in order to get inside.
Generally made of a nylon variant such as cordura, ballistic, or ripstop, soft-sided luggage is noted for its light weight and relative durability. The nylon material is measured in denier counts, which indicate its weight.
One of the biggest advantages of soft-sided luggage is its ability to squeeze into a tight spot on a plane, namely the overhead compartment.
On the downside, soft luggage is often made of lower-quality materials that could rip or tear.
Soft-sided luggage is more flexible than hard-sided luggage, but the material may be less durable and more prone to rips and tears.
Much of today’s hard-sided luggage is made from ABS or polycarbonate. However, some suitcases are made of aluminum, which was also popular decades ago. The current crop of these sturdy suitcases is remarkably lightweight and sturdy.
Hard-sided suitcases are beneficial if you’re packing breakable items and want extra security for your luggage. Hard-sided spinner bags move with ease through an airport terminal.
Unlike their soft-sided counterparts, the hard shell of these suitcases cannot be easily slashed and opened. Additionally, not all hard-side material is scratch-resistant, and it may show the wear of frequent travels.
In this budget-friendly price range, there are some good suitcases, most of which are made of a lower-quality fabric like polyester.
These suitcases will likely not last more than a few years, and they may incur a few rips and tears along the way.
You can expect to find such goodies as expandability and a telescoping handle for under $50. However, most of the suitcases in this price range only have two wheels.
With an increase in price comes an increase in quality and number of features provided. Over the $50 price point, your choices expand to include hard-sided and soft-sided suitcases made of premium materials and, in some cases, TSA-approved locks for greater security.
Interested in buying the last suitcase you’ll ever need? Luggage from top brands use top-of-the-line materials, and their price tags reflect as much. In most cases, these high-end suitcases include manufacturer protection against all potential damage, including airline mishaps and broken zippers.