Best Checked Luggage for Travelers in 2018 reviewed
We’ve all been there… it’s a couple of days before a vacation or an important business trip. You’re really looking forward to unwinding and for everything to go smoothly.
Fast forward to the day you start traveling, and your luggage seems to have other ideas. Some suitcases shed zippers, some a wheel, and others fail to adequately protect what’s inside.
You’re feeling irritated during an otherwise great trip. (If you haven’t had that happen, lucky you!)
Preventing such scenarios is the main reason you need a checked bag you can trust. Carry-on luggage generally doesn’t get the job done if you are thinking of traveling for more than a week, which is why it’s great to have a specific check-in luggage.
Many of y’all have different needs based on travel frequency, how you use your suitcase, price, etc. There are many considerations that go into buying a suitcase that lasts, be it for international or domestic travel. We’ve taken all of this into account and chosen the ten best checked suitcases on the market today.
Our 10 Best Checked Luggage picks
Most of the suitcases on the list are available in larger or smaller variants in addition to the ones we’ve researched, tested and picked. Some of them have matching carry-ons that complete the set, too.
1. Travelpro - Maxlite 5, 25"
- Super lightweight
- Rolls very well on different surfaces
- Upgraded warranty
- Very good overall durability
- Water-repellent and stain-resistant exterior
- Low protection for fragile items against strong impact
The perfect combination of lightweight, durability, utility, and price is why the Travelpro Maxlite 5 is our top pick for the best checked luggage. The Maxlite 5 replaces the Maxlite 4 on our list and is even lighter than its predecessor.
Size: 25” x 18” x 11”
Weight: 7.3 lbs
First up, this luggage is extremely light. How light, you might ask? Well, it's lighter than the majority of carry-on suitcases available in the market. Its 0.5 lbs lighter than its predecessor in the same series. This is a huge plus considering that the Maxlite 5 also feels quite sturdy. You also have padding at the base that gives you some crash protection.
The wheels on this model are not as good as the MagnaTrac wheels on the Platinum series, but they still roll quite well on a variety of surfaces. No durability issues with respect to the wheels were reported, but replacement parts can also be found with relative ease, which is a pro for us.
The main telescopic handle, or the Powerscope Lite handle as Travelpro calls it, is another difference between the current model and its predecessor. The Powerscope Lite has multiple stop points at 38" and 42.5," making it more comfortable to use. The handle also features a contoured design with rubberized touch points, which give you much better grip when you maneuver.
The outside is made from a polyester fabric that offers good stain-resistance and water-repellency. The interiors are pretty basic but provide plenty of packing space and two tie-down straps. There is a large mesh pocket and a smaller pouch inside for organizing your belongings, as well as an easy-access pouch outside for items you need to grab quickly. The only downside with the Maxlite 5 is that it offers very little protection against violent impact if you happen to have fragile items. The overall structure is not as sturdy as some bags, like the B&R or hardside cases.
The available warranty is also a bit better with Travelpro with their limited lifetime warranty, covering defects in materials and workmanship and a one-year trusted companion promise that even covers damage caused by airlines. As part of the companion promise, the company also takes care of shipping costs in case the luggage needs to be shipped to a Travelpro facility for repair.
Finally, the reason we chose the 25" over the 29" option is that you can still pack a substantial amount for a 1-2 week trip in the 25". The packing volume ensures that you won't exceed standard airline weight limits, even when you expand it. The 29" variant is just as good if you require more space or would like to travel for longer.
2. Delsey Luggage - Helium Aero 29"
- Lightweight for its size
- Wheels are well built
- Plenty of room for two people’s stuff
- Prone to scratches & scrapes
- Possible to go overweight easily
The Delsey Helium Aero expandable spinner is our pick for the best hardside checked luggage, and it closely beats out the Samsonite Winfield 2 for us. Let’s delve into why.
100% Polycarbonate make with Nylon lining
Size: 29” x 19.5 x 12.5 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
3-dial combination lock
Available in 6 colours
It’s not often a hardside suitcase is expandable, and the Delsey is one of the few that are. It can be expanded by two inches. It also comes with numerous helpful features, like locks, a zippered divider, and more. The Delsey looks stunning aesthetically and its excellent build quality makes it a durable option, too.
The things we didn’t like are pretty common to most hardsides, particularly their tendency to accumulate scratches on the surface. The build quality of the wheels is very good and can handle some rough conditions. Size wise, you should have no issues passing airline requirements, despite the suitcase not being the lightest option around. This model also comes with a 10-year limited warranty, which is a plus.
3. Briggs & Riley - Baseline Upright 28"
- Clever CX compression-expansion system
- Stylish and sleek aesthetics
- Has a garment folder and many mesh pockets.
- Extremely durable and lightweight
- Structurally sound with reinforced corner guards
- Large packing capacity
- Two-wheel system (while it doesn’t tip over, it can be hard to push the suitcase sideways)
The Briggs & Riley Baseline is another ideal suitcase for frequent flyers and business travelers who are looking for a one-and-done kind of purchase. The Baseline, while on the expensive side, has a host of premium features backed by a lifetime warranty that covers airline damage. It's almost impossible to go wrong with a B&R.
Size: 20 x 10.5 x 28 inches
Weight: 10.9 lbs
While the CX compression-expansion system gets all the attention with the Baseline series, the construction quality is what really makes this suitcase one of the best (if not THE best) on the market. The 1600D ballistic nylon exterior with a lightweight fiberglass frame makes this an impressively durable product. The Baseline will last you many years---it’s built to resist wear and abrasion and to maintain structural integrity.
The CX compression-expansion system is very unique, allowing you to expand your luggage by 26%, pack more stuff in, and then compress it back to its original size. The interiors are even more impressive with a lot of packing space and a garment bag that can hold 1-2 suits easily. You can easily pack many weeks’ worth of clothing with ease. The handle’s location on the outside rather than the inside of the case facilitates the Baseline’s packing space.
The handle is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, a top-of-the-line variety, and you can really feel the difference when you move around with this suitcase. It can also be adjusted to four different heights, making it comfortable for both taller and smaller travelers. Despite being a two-wheeled model, it doesn’t tip over at all. It does roll well but can be hard to move sideways around tight corners at times.
So, why isn’t everyone owning the Baseline? It’s a bit on the pricier side, for one, but it is built to last you a decade and much more.
4. Travel Pro - Magna 2 25"
- Great price for a suitcase that has a lifetime warranty covering airline damage
- Construction of zips, handles, and exterior feels luxurious and solid
- Very light
- Water-resistant exterior
- Rolls extremely well in all situations
- Users reported a tedious waiting process to receive their TSA locks
- Sides marginally lack the same level of reinforcement as previous Travelpro models.
If you are in need of a suitcase that withstands abuse from frequent business and leisure travel and still lasts many years, then we highly recommend the Magna 2. You get a superbly well-constructed suitcase for a great price, and it comes with a lifetime warranty that covers airline damage, too!
Size: 27.5" x 18" x 11.25" (external dimensions)
Weight: 9 pounds
Available in 5 colors (we recommend the navy!)
The Magna 2 is an ideal choice for people who love to travel frequently and may have variable trip durations. The dimensions of the bag are well within allowable limits of the airlines and you can still pack A LOT inside this suitcase. A week's worth of clothes can easily fit into the Magna 2, which has many interior and exterior pockets. The quick-access pockets were really helpful for us. This case is made from ballistic nylon, which is very durable and water-resistant, too. The suiter is quite good and we didn’t see any issues with crumpled clothing during travel.
This suitcase is a cool bargain if you want something for the long haul. The handle can be extended to different lengths, which we really liked since it aids different people who vary in height. It’s quite light, though not as light as the Maxlite 4, which is our top pick. The patented magnetic wheels are a delight; you can twist and turn with supreme ease. However, they don't do too well on bad surfaces.
Wear and tear is barely visible on this suitcase, as reported by many users, but there are some concerns with the Magna 2. We found that the top and sides are not quite as sturdy as the older Travelpros. The zips are well-made but can have issues in the long run, since they are probably the most used part of your luggage over time. Users also reported an issue with obtaining this suitcase’s TSA locks: a tedious process of emailing and then waiting for several weeks to receive the locks.
5. Samsonite - Winfield2 Fashion 28"
- Rolls super smooth
- Pockets for organization
- Very sturdy and durable
- Aesthetics show wear and tear after a few trips
- Some reviewers noted the handle to be flimsy
Samsonite is almost synonymous with great suitcases, and this hard-sided suitcase is no exception. The Winfield2 is a close second only to the Delsey, in our opinion (as far as hardsides are concerned), and is certainly one of the best suitcases out there.
Size: 19.8” x 12.5” x 28”
Weight: ~11 lbs
Available in 10 colors
What separates the Winfield2 from most luggage is its superior build quality. The fabulous aesthetics might wear down a bit, as is common with most hard-sided luggage, but the lining, locks, and wheels are of extremely high quality. The design and quality of the zippers is good too, which means they don’t tear off easily.
A downside with the Winfield 2 is that the handle can be flimsy, which is not great, especially considering that hardshells can get very heavy when full. This suitcase isn’t expandable, unlike the Delsey we touched on earlier, but it is spacious nonetheless. A positive is that it’s lighter than most other hard-sided suitcases. Overall, the Samsonite Winfield2 is one of the most fashionable and functional suitcases on the market today.
6. Eagle Creek - Load Warrior 26"
- Perfect for extended travel and versatile use
- You can conveniently store gear like helmets, jackets, etc.
- One of the lightest cases on the list at just over 5 lbs
- Covered by Eagle Creek's No Matter What lifetime warranty
- Built really well and durable even in tough environments
- Not many exterior pockets
Love backpacking for long trips? The Eagle Creek Load Warrior is a wheeled duffel option that gives you sufficient packing space and caters to your gear. Add the lifetime warranty to the mix and you have yourself a great bag to accompany you on your adventures.
Size: 26.5" x 15.5" x 11"
Weight: 5 lbs 6 oz
Capacity: 63 - 67 Litres
If you like spending 2-3 weeks exploring the Outback, backpacking through Europe, or going on a safari in Africa, this would be a great choice. The first question most users have is whether or not it tips over when fully packed---and it sure doesn't! The 450D Helix polyester exterior makes for a really tough surface that handles rough environments easily. The large, rugged wheels were a huge plus for us as well.
In terms of price, it’s mid-ranged, and it outperforms many in the same category in our eyes. The handles are also extremely well-built and don't rip. There is a cover that protects the main handle as well. With packing space, we found it ideal for two-week trips or longer when expanded. Some users did mention that they would like to see external pockets and even a bit more space. We’d recommend taking a look at the 32" option as well!
7. Werks Traveler 5.0, 27"
- Packing features and suiter design are extremely good
- The ballistic nylon exterior is very durable
- The front bag strap is super useful for attaching your tote, backpack or briefcase to your suitcase
- Global lifetime and limited warranty
- Quite easy to go overweight when expanded & packed fully
Victorinox has become known for producing spacious and durable suitcases over the years, and the Werks 5.0 sure fits that bill. With plenty of pockets and a well-designed removable suiter, this suitcase will serve you well.
Size: 27 x 20 x 12.5 inches
Weight: 10.1 lbs
Available in 3 colors
Traveling as a family? Like to minimize the amount of luggage you take? The Werks 5.0 is one way to do that. You can easily pack a week’s worth of clothing into this bag with its ample packing space and removable suiter. Its wide-body design is similar to the Briggs & Riley Baseline series at first glance, but this option is a tad more economical than the B&R. The handle does lock in at different heights as well (similar to the Magna 2).
The suitcase expands by a whole two inches, which is way more than most suitcases on the market. This also makes the Victorinox a great choice for international travel. The feature we liked the most was the front strap, which you can pull out to attach your backpack, briefcase, or even your travel pillow. This really lightens the load for most travelers. Couple that with the four wheels which roll effortlessly and you’ve got a truly light transit experience.
This is quite a pricey suitcase, though, especially when you consider that the warranty only covers airline damage for the first five years, after which it becomes a limited warranty. While its sheer size can be a bonus for some, we found that it's pretty easy to go over the weight limit after expansion when it’s fully packed.
Despite the complicated warranty, the ballistic nylon build is extremely good and should be perfect for frequent and extended international travel.
8. Briggs & Riley - BRX Explore 29"
- Excellent overall quality
- Lifetime warranty (covers airline damage)
- Abrasion-resistant exterior
- Water-resistant lining to store toiletries
- A bit expensive
- Flimsy feel to certain parts of the suitcase
The BRX Explore is the second option from Briggs & Riley on our list, and it offers a bit more packing space at a much lower price than the Baseline series.
Size: 19.5” x 11.5” x 29”
Weight: 11 pounds
Nylon and polyester material
The biggest plus about the BRX is that it has a lifetime warranty; it’s not often that warranties cover airline damage, but this one sure does. When you factor in the price, for a frequent flyer, this could turn out to be quite a bargain in the long run. It is quite feature-packed on the inside with high-quality interiors and compartments for papers, toiletries, and more. Not many suitcases out there are as roomy as the Briggs & Riley BRX, with a whopping 100L capacity. This is facilitated by the handle’s location on the outside of the bag.
The expansion system on this suitcase is much more straightforward and does not employ the CX system found on other B&Rs. Another difference from the Baseline is that, while it is also abrasion-resistant, it does not have the same fiberglass structure to help maintain its shape. Despite the frame differences, the zipper and handle quality is as impressive as that of the Baseline series and it certainly is built to last.
While it is packed with helpful features for a check-in bag, it does come at a high price. Another con is that the case has a rather flimsy feel. B&R’s attempt to make the luggage as light as possible probably resulted in some flimsiness in parts like the wheels and the handle. Aesthetically, hardly any suitcases even come close to the BRX shown here. In short, this is a fabulous suitcase for those who like to travel long-term and would like a warranty that covers airline damage as well.
9. Samsonite - Aspire Xlite 25"
- Good size for 3-10 day trips
- Build quality is very good
- The inside lining and compartments are very well-made
- The outside can get dirty at times
- Not the lightest 25-incher out there
The Samsonite Aspire Xlite 25 is another suitcase that has a lot of the best features coupled with great build quality.
Size: 24.5 x 16.3 x 9 inches (body)
Weight: 9.5 pounds
Available in 8 colors
The interiors are quite thoughtfully designed with small pockets for stashing your tickets and papers. The interior is similar to the American Tourister we reviewed earlier in some ways. This 25-incher is not the lightest one out there, but its expansion capacity makes it a great option for those weekly or bi-weekly trips during vacation time.
The wheels roll upright, meaning you don’t experience too much pressure on your shoulder or arms. The wheels are a bit small, however, so you have to be careful when the bag is fully packed. Rolling it over rough pavement can damage it quickly. The outer material is made of polyester, like almost every other soft-sided option out there, but the design on the Aspire makes it slightly prone to dust. However, this isn’t a major issue by any stretch of the imagination.
10. American Tourister - Ilite Max 25"
- Very spacious
- Good value for money
- Quite sturdy
- Lightweight relative to its size
- The quality of the zippers could be better
We move from a hardside suitcase that is ideal for international travel to a similar soft-sided option, the Ilite Max Spinner 25. The key attribute of this suitcase by American Tourister is its durability.
Size: 25" x 18" x 10"
Weight: 9.2 pounds
This American Tourister has many positive traits we liked, starting with its sturdy feel. The interiors are also lined with Nylon and have multiple storage compartments. The different mesh and covered sections allow you to easily compartmentalize different items. The lower pocket can even negate the need for a separate toiletry bag.
This suitcase definitely rolls better than its 29” predecessor on our list. It's marginally on the heavier side for its class, but this wasn't a major concern. There are handles on every side to make sure you can lift this case with ease. Overall, this is one of the finest and lightest suitcases out there for its size.
The Ilite spinner is made from 600D polyester/nylon, and many users noted its excellent durability. It's also relatively inexpensive when compared to other great ones around. The only downside worth noting for us was the zippers. They can be rather flimsy and break from time to time on the exterior pockets.
Factors & features to consider when buying checked luggage
Picking a suitable suitcase isn’t easy, especially when dealing with checked baggage. Each traveler has different packing needs. When we picked our list, we used a number of criteria to formulate a very accurate review. We also combed through thousands of reviews by buyers to ensure you get the crème de la crème.
Hardside / Softside Luggage Compared
|Variants||ABS, Polycarbonate||Polyester/Nylon Variants (Ballistic, Ripstop)|
|Aesthetics||Brighter & darker color options but can scratch easily||Mainly darker colors with better abrasion resistance|
|Overall Durability||Very good (Model Dependent)||Very good (Model Dependent)|
|Weight||Very Light||Light (feature & brand dependent)|
|Protection||Excellent (Ideal for fragile items)||Good|
|Organizational Features||Very limited||A wide variety|
|Price||Cheaper||Varies based on features|
|Note: When talking about durability we considered the handles, zippers etc., not just the material alone. While the polycarbonate on its own is quite durable, many softside models have sturdier wheels, handles etc. (overall package)|
Aluminum luggage such as the Rimowa models are not so common but are the best in terms of durability.
Tegris by Tumi is a polypropylene thermoplastic composite that has excellent impact resistance but is extremely expensive. Tegris is also 100% recyclable and is certainly one to watch in the future.
Check out a more detailed comparison here.
Size & Weight: The size to weight ratio is something we considered very closely among the luggage brands we picked out. A 25-inch suitcase weighing 13 pounds is not ideal. Typically, 25- or 26-inch suitcase will serve you well on shorter trips that last 1-2 weeks.
What suitcase do you recommend if how I use my bag really varies? As in, if I were to need my luggage to accompany me on a road trip to the Outback or the Alps in addition to city travel…
In this case, opt for a rolling duffel bag. Those are often times water-resistant and can handle outdoor gear much better than regular suitcases. They are also very easy to maneuver, so if your trips happen to consist of rides in planes, trains, and automobiles, a rolling duffel will do well in any of these settings. Brands like Timberland or Eagle Creek are pretty good to explore.
If you are looking for a suitcase ideally suited for international travel, opt for a 28- or 29-inch bag. This is a safe bet since it allows you to pack a lot and pass the airline size requirements of almost any airline. If you are thinking of studying abroad or are planning to travel for a long time, then a 29″-32″ case (which is the extra-large checked luggage size) would be a good option. It’s important to note that it’s very easy to go overweight when you pick this size—-depending on what you pack, of course.
If you are looking for something super light, we would recommend you opt for IT luggage. A good way for you to keep the weight in check is to buy a luggage weighing scale.
What is the international size limit on checked baggage?
62 inches linear is usually the maximum allowed bag size.
What is the weight limit for checked luggage on international flights?
Typically, airlines allow 50 pounds without you having to pay an extra fee.
Zippers: The zippers are probably the most important aspect of any travel suitcase. A lot can go wrong when the zipper fails. This is an area which we looked at very closely, since it can leave you feeling embarrassed and even helpless at the airport. Look for chain zippers that are made of metal; these are highly durable and can handle the stress much better. YKK is a fairly popular brand that is known for its quality.
What suitcase do you recommend for business travelers?
If you travel a lot on business, features like a suiter can be pretty important. Your luggage might also get thrown onto baggage claim belts every couple weeks, or even days, and will pick up some mileage that way. Having a lifetime warranty that covers airline damage would make your travels so much smoother. With that in mind, we would say opting for the Travelpro Magna 2, the Briggs & Riley Baseline, or even the BRX Explore (if you travel abroad a lot) is the way to go.
Handles: Luggage with the handle retract inside has less packing room, but is substantially more durable than options that have the handle outside. We looked for handles that were sturdy and able to retract smoothly. Handle height is also something taller folks should consider, especially if you have a 25-incher. Most handles are telescopic and many that we have chosen can lock in at different heights.
Warranty: If you travel frequently, we highly recommend you get a suitcase with a lifetime warranty. Brands like Briggs & Riley, TravelPro (on higher end models), and others offer a lifetime warranty. This covers most damage caused by airlines and is very handy to have on an item that is prone to rough use. There are many others that offer limited warranties; it is important that you check what exactly those warranties cover before you buy. The upside with limited warranty suitcases is that they are cheaper, but the downside is that they can be a lot more expensive to fix.
Wheels: Wheels are another essential item that can cause a lot of distress when not built well. We looked for models that have big enough wheels relative to the size of the overall case. They also need to be fastened well to the base of the luggage and not just be connected by one screw. They need to roll and turn 360 degrees for your comfort and be able to handle the rough terrain found on most pavements around the world. There are many models that use a standard type which you can find replacements for in shops or online stores, in case they do happen to break.
Why should I opt for a spinner or 4 wheeled luggage?
Four-wheeled luggage won’t tip over, for starters. These options are quite stable and follow you effortlessly on smooth surfaces. They can be navigated sideways easily and rotate 360 degrees, which will help you navigate narrow spaces. Additionally, they don’t put a lot of strain on your joints when you lug it around, even when packed completely. This makes them a lucrative option for people across all age groups.
So what am I giving up?
You sacrifice a very small amount of packing space. Also, not all two-wheeled options tip over, so some of them have a big upside.
TSA locks: Most hard-sided options come with these locks, and they can make life very simple at the airport. When agents need to inspect your baggage, they can simply unlock it using a universal key rather than ripping tags and smaller pad locks open.
Smart Features & Compartments:
We prefer suitcases that have multiple internal compartments. This way, you can separate your items and even make do without packing cubes. Some luggage models have waterproof sections too, which we regard very highly.
Nowadays, there are many suitcases entering the market that come with built-in USB charging, smart locks which can be operated from your phone, etc. While these are great to have, the features we listed above are always more important as they represent the core functionality of your suitcase. For instance, if you have a typical portable charger, you can use it anywhere, not just when you are by your luggage.
We also didn’t give prime importance to aesthetics since this varies based on the material you choose. Visibility can be an important factor for some, but luggage tags are always an option to help you identify your bag quickly without standing around for very long.
Why are there so few smart luggage options on the top lists?
Durability. Durability. Traditional options still have the edge in terms of usage life, and when you throw the price of a smart luggage into the mix, their appeal diminishes.
Additionally, airline rules are still changing to accommodate or rule out certain types of smart luggage. Just a few months earlier (than the time of writing), US airlines decided to ban smart luggage that doesn’t have removable batteries.
How to choose the best luggage for travel abroad, Travel Fashion Girl
Best Luggage Brands for Carry-On and Checked (Survey), Consumer Reports
Luggage buying guide, Consumer Reports
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