Searching for the best luggage for travelers in 2017? Check out our pros & cons and aspects you need to give importance to when buying the best suitcase.
Buying a new luggage used to be such an easy thing when I started my travels (Or so I thought!). Little did I know at the time that my 6-month-old suitcase was about to shed a zipper and put all of my belongings on display for the amusement of the passengers in Kingsford Smith.
The timing said luggage chose was impeccable as I was the next one to go forward at the check-in counter. I was fortunate enough to have a friend help me tape the zipper partially in place. (you’re probably thinking “what are the odds of someone traveling with tape!” Well, so did I!)
Anyway, whilst I was lucky many are not. Which is why it’s quite important you pick the right checked luggage that doesn’t pull a fast one on you like mine did.
Our top 10 travel luggage picks
We’ve researched, tested and compiled a list of 10 of the best travel luggage out there that can suit anyone’s needs. So without further ado let’s delve into our picks!
1. Travelpro Maxlite 4, 25 Inch Spinner
- The easy access pouch can’t be locked
The travelpro Maxlite 4 is our choice for the best travel luggage today. Some of the traits it has are right up our alley in terms of its utility, weight and much more.
Size: 25” x 18” x 11”
Weight: 7.5 pounds~
Firstly, the size makes it a great option for most trips. One can easily pack for 2-5 days’ worth of items into the Maxlite 4. The volume ensures than even when expanded you don’t exceed the airline limits. What we were really impressed about was its weight, this model would give most 22 inchers a run for their money in terms of how light it is. The build quality is not far away either with this version bringing better zippers and much better durability as reported by other users too.
The sides are pretty standard with a few pockets to store your travel documents and other items. The manoeuvrability is quite good and the wheels are durable unlike other suitcases in the market which are only held together by a small screw. There is an easy access pouch in the front which is handy but one cannot lock this which can be a turn off for some folks. If you are looking for the perfect checked baggage for your next trip then we certainly feel that the travelpro comes the closest to fulfilling your needs.
2. Briggs & Riley BRX Explore 29"
- A bit expensive
- Flimsy feel to certain parts of the luggage
If you are in need of a spacious yet feature-packed luggage with a lifetime warranty for your frequent travels then the Briggs & Riley is the one for you.
Size: 19.5” x 11.5” x 29”
Weight: 11 pounds
Nylon & polyester material
The biggest positive about the BRX is that it has a lifetime warranty and it’s not often, warranties cover airline damage but this one sure does. When you factor in the pricing aspects 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 the likes. Not many suitcases out there are as roomy as the Briggs & Riley BRX.
Whilst for a check-in baggage it is feature packed, it does come at a price. Another con is that it has a rather flimsy feel to it. B&R’s need to make the luggage as light as possible probably resulted in some parts like the wheels & the handle being a bit flimsy. Aesthetically, not a lot of 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.
3. Delsey Luggage Helium Aero Spinner 29"
- Prone to scratches & scrapes
- Possible to go overweight easily
The Delsey Helium Aero expandable spinner is our pick for the best hardside luggage and it closely beats out the Samsonite Winfield 2 in our opinion. 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 luggage is expandable and the Delsey is one of the few that have this trait. It also comes with numerous features like locks, a zippered divider etc. It can be expanded by a further 2 inches. The build quality is excellent with the Delsey looking quite stunning aesthetically as well as being a durable option too.
The things we didn’t like are pretty common to most hardside options and their likeliness to accumulate scratches on the surface. The build quality of the wheels are very good and can handle some rough conditions as well. Size wise you should have no issues passing airline requirements despite the suitcase itself not being the lightest option around. This model also comes with a 10 year limited warranty which is a plus.
4. Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner 25"
- The outer material can get dirty at times
- Not the lightest 25 incher out there
The Samsonite Aspire Xlite 25 is another luggage that has a lot of the right features coupled with great build quality.
Size: 24.5 x 16.3 x 9 inches (body)
Weight: 9.5 pounds
Available in 8 colours
The interiors are quite thoughtfully designed with small pockets for stashing your tickets and papers. The interior is similar to the American tourister we saw earlier in some ways. This 25 incher is not one of the lightest ones out there but its expansion capability makes it a great option for those weekly or biweekly trips that often come about during vacation time.
The wheels do roll upright meaning you don’t experience too much pressure on your shoulder or arms. The wheels are a bit small however so one has to be careful when the luggage is fully packed. Running it roughly over pavements can damage it quickly. The outer material is of course made of Polyester just like almost every other soft sided option out there but the design on the Aspire makes it slightly prone to dust. Nonetheless, not a major issue by any stretch of the imagination.
5. Samsonite Winfield2 Fashion 28"
- Aesthetics will not remain the same after a few trips
- Other reviewers noted the handle to be flimsy
Samsonite is almost synonymous with great suitcases and this hardside suitcase is no exception. The Winfield2 in our opinion is a close second only to the Delsey and is most certainly one of the better suitcases out there.
Size: 19.8” x 12.5” x 28”
Weight: 11 lbs~
Available in 10 colours
What separates the Winfield2 from most is its superior build quality. The fabulous aesthetics might not stay the same as is the case with most hard sided luggage but the lining, the locks and wheels are of extremely high quality. The quality of the zippers and their design is quite good which means it doesn’t tear off too easily.
A downside of sorts with the Winfield 2 is that the handle can be flimsy which is not great especially considering that hard shells can get very heavy when full. This suitcase isn’t expandable unlike the Delsey we touched on earlier, it is spacious nonetheless. A positive is that it’s a lighter than most other hardsided suitcases as well. Overall, the Samsonite Winfield2 is also one of the most fashionable & functional luggage in the market today.
6. American Tourister Ilite Xtreme Spinner 29
- The quality of the wheels & zippers could be better
We move on from a hardside luggage that is ideal for international travel to the similar soft sided option, the Xtreme spinner 29. This luggage by American Tourister's key attribute is its durability.
Size: 29” x 20” x 11”
Weight: 11.5 pounds
This American tourister has many positive traits which we liked very much starting with its sturdy feel. The interiors are also lined with Nylon and have multiple compartments for storage. The different mesh and covered sections allow you to compartmentalize different items easily.
As far as the wheels are concerned the ratio of the size of the wheels to that of the suitcase sometimes can cause issues. Other users have reported issues regarding their durability as a result. The suitcase rolls quite well though, even when expanded completely. When completely full one would definitely need help to carry & place it in a car when the luggage is being transferred. Overall, one of the finest and lightest suitcases out there for its size.
7. IT luggage World's Lightest Los Angeles 28.9
- It's not a spinner so any damage to the front feet can cause it to tip over
- Handle doesn't lock into position
When we talk about reliable luggage brands we must mention IT luggage. IT has been known for their ability to produce ultra light luggage over the years and this piece is no different.
Size: 29.3" x 17.7" x 10.2" (Exterior + wheels & handles)
Weight: 4.85 pounds
Available in 4 colors
If you've probably been scrolling through our list looking for the lightest option you can find, well, you've found it. At first glance you can tell that its been very thoughtfully designed with a number of pockets and a surprising amount of space in the main section. You are probably wondering just by looking at the exterior if it gathers dust easily. The answer to that is yes but not as quickly as you might think. this luggage holds on quite well during multiple international trips. Another positive we liked is the price which is very economical for the benefits you gain.
As for the things we didn't like, well, the handle for starters does not lock into position it can be quite annoying to keep pulling it out or if you have the habit of tying your travel pillow or hat to it whilst your in transit then you might not be able to.
Another con in our eyes is the fact that it only has 2 wheels. Yes due to its lightweight the amount of pressure it puts on your shoulder is significantly reduced but in our eyes the spinning capability would have made this a near perfect option for many.
8. Mirage Superlight 28" by Skyway Luggage & Co
- Oversized for some airlines
- Build quality issues – zippers tend to come lose
If you are looking for a spacious luggage that is well built and is extremely light then the Skyway Mirage is the one for you. This suitcase weighs roughly the same as some of the 25 & 24 inch luggage in the market.
Size: 30” x 20.5” x 11” (External dimensions)
Weight: 7.7 pounds
Available in 2 colours
The interiors are extremely spacious so you can confidently buy a few extra souvenirs tuck it in and not worry about the overweight charge. The fabric holds up quite well despite picking up some dirt. The suitcase also has very well built wheels which is a great when transitioning from place to place or vehicle to vehicle.
The major flaw with this near perfect piece of luggage is that it can exceed the maximum allowable dimensions on some airlines as reported by many users. Folks also noticed that the zippers do tend to come loose after repeated use. This skyway is also not water repellent like others out there, especially the hard-shell suitcases. Despite some nagging issues for Skyway to iron out, it still is a fine piece of travel luggage.
9. SwissGear Travel Gear 24" Expandable Spinner
- The sides are not well reinforced
Are you after a suitable option for your checked baggage that is durable and is well constructed? Then the SwissGear 24” expandable spinner will not disappoint you. The interiors are pretty standard and the outer pockets do come in handy to store toiletries and other items like papers or even socks.
Size: 25.5 x 16 x 9.5 inches (exterior)
Weight: 9 lbs, 8 oz
Available in 4 colours
Expands 1.5 inches
The luggage also rolls very easily and is a breeze to carry around irrespective of whether you are traveling by plane, trains or even by ship. Another aspect we liked about this expandable spinner is that it doesn’t tend to gather dirt as much as most other soft sided luggage.
The build quality of the zippers, wheels and handles are very good unlike many other suitcases in the market these days. The locking handle mechanism is also useful. The SwissGear is also great option in terms of the price. As it’s even cheaper than some of the hard sided options of a similar size. The only major issue or flaw as it were with this spinner is that the sides are not extremely well reinforced so dropping the suitcase at certain angles can cause issues.
10. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 28"
- Build Quality of the wheels need to be improved
- Zipper tends to rip
The Kenneth Cole Reaction is another major brand in the world of suitcases and is one of the better hard side suitcases out there. This 28incher is available in many easy to spot color options.
Size: 11.2 x 28 x 17.6 inches
Available in 6 colors
This particular suitcase is also one of the most economical ones out there even when compared to other hard-shell options like the Delsey & the Samsonite we spoke about earlier. Another positive is that it’s surprisingly light for a sturdy hard shell suitcase.
The downsides with this luggage is the related to the properties most hard-shells have in the sense that it can scratch easily. Whilst this is a 28 incher it’s not quite as roomy as other options on our list and this is partly due to the fact that the handle is not on the exterior. Many users reported issues with the quality of wheels and their ability to handle regular travel trips. However, one really gets what one pays for with the out of bounds 28 inch luggage.
Hard side vs Soft side luggage
The two main types are hard sided and soft sided luggage. Their key features or differences are as follows:
Soft side luggage is usually made of durable synthetic fabric like Nylon & Polyester. Soft sided luggage are more durable in the long run. They are not very rigid and the flex room offered is great if you want to open your luggage in tight spaces.
Most of them are expandable and come with numerous pockets along the front where you can store items you need quick access to. These are also lighter than their hard sided counterparts. Although some tend to gather dust they can be cleaned and the wear is much lesser too. They cannot protect your items if the luggage is dropped in a violent fashion.
These also tend to come in a range of colors not just patterns and solid colors. All these traits for both types apply to carry on luggage as well.
Hard side luggage is made of ABS or polycarbonate. ABS options are lighter and polycarbonate options last longer. This type of luggage or suitcase is ideal in situations where you are transporting fragile or easily breakable items as they have good shock absorption capabilities.
Most of these also come in with a TSA approved lock. These suitcases are also waterproof, which is a very handy feature to have. They come in solid color options which make them very easy to spot and you might not need a luggage tag at all.
Hard sides ensure you can only pack a fixed amount which stops you from going overweight. The downsides are that they are very rarely expandable and tend to accumulate scratches and minor damage.
Factors to consider when buying the best travel luggage for check-in purposes
Picking a suitable suitcase is not very easy, especially when dealing with checked baggage. There is a range of sizes that suit different travel duration and for most travelers, this tends to vary. When we picked our list, we used a number of criteria to formula a very accurate review. These criteria are ingrained into the list of things one should look for when buying the best travel luggage out there.
Size & Weight: The size to weight ratio is something we considered very closely amongst the luggage brands we picked out. You should do the same too. A 25-inch luggage weighing 11 pounds is not good. Typically, 25inch or 26-inch suitcase will serve you well on shorter trips that last 2-5 days.
If you are looking for a luggage ideally suited for international travel then opt for a 28 or 29-inch luggage. This is a safe bet as it allows you to pack a lot and almost all of these pass airline size requirements. If you are looking for something super light then we would recommend you opt for the IT luggage. A good way for you to keep the weight under check is to buy a luggage weight scale.
What is the international size limit on checked baggage?
62 inches linear, is usually the maximum allowed luggage 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 & handles: The Zippers are probably the most important aspect of any travel luggage or item. A lot can go wrong when the zipper fails. This is an area which we looked at very closely, as 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.
Luggage that has the handle retract inside it reduces packing room but is a lot more durable than options that have the handle outside. We looked for whether handles were sturdy and were able to retract smoothly. Handle height is also something taller folks should consider especially if you have a 25 incher.
Warranty: A lot of brands offer a limited warranty on most suitcases. However, brands like Briggs & Riley, TravelPro (on higher end models) among many others, offer a lifetime warranty. This covers damage caused by the airline as well and is a very handy trait to have on an item that is prone to rough use.
Wheels: Wheels are another essential item that can cause a lot of distress when not well built. We looked for models that have wheels that are big enough relative to the size of the overall luggage. Another aspect is that they need to be fastened well to the base of the luggage and not just be connected by one screw. They also need to roll & turn 360 degrees for your comfort and be able to handle rough terrain found on most pavements around the world.
Why should I opt for a spinner or 4 wheeled luggage?
4 wheeled luggage won’t tip over for starters. 4 wheeled options are quite stable and follow you effortlessly on smooth surfaces. Another benefit is that they can be navigated sideways easily & rotate 360 degrees this 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 it a lucrative option for people across age groups.
So what am I giving up?
A very small amount of packing space. Also not all 2 wheeled options tip over as well so they do have their own upsides too.
TSA locks: Most hard sided options as stated earlier come with these and it 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 causing any tears or breakage.
Smart Features & Compartments: We prefer suitcases that have multiple compartments internally. This way you can separate your items and can 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. Whilst these are great to have the features we listed above are always more important as they represent the core functionality of what’s on offer.
Why are there so few smart luggage options out there?
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 attractiveness rather diminishes.