Best Luggage /Suitcases & Bags in 2020 – 2021 Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Luggage /Suitcases & Bags 2020 Leading an adventurous and well-traveled life comes with baggage. Well,  at least.Best Luggage ,Suitcases, Carry On Bags  If your kit and kaboodle has seen some mileage, buying new gear can be a money-saver in the long run. And toting the right type of luggage to fit current-day airline luggage rules will help you avoid extra fees and enable you to comply with carry-on restrictions and check-in weight limits.

Best Luggage ,Suitcases, Carry On Bags 2020 But figuring out which luggage to buy isn’t easy. With countless styles, sizes, and prices to compare, the task can be overwhelming. To help you arrive at your luggage decision destination, Consumer Reports reviewed a variety of luggage types. Consider these factors before you shop.

Best Luggage /Suitcases & Bags  A suitcase is a form of luggage. It is often a somewhat flat, rectangular-shaped bag with rounded square corners, either metal, hard plastic or made of cloth, vinyl or leather that more or less retains its shape. It has a carrying handle on one side and is used mainly for transporting clothes and other possessions during trips. It opens on hinges like a door. Suitcases lock with keys or a combination.

Best Luggage /Suitcases & Bags 2020 When you’re traveling for longer periods of time and carry-on bags won’t cut it, a good quality checked bag is a necessity. Which is the best luggage .Some checked bags offer plenty of pockets to keep wayfarers organized, while other have spacious main compartments to load all your gear – just keep in mind that airlines have varying weight limits. Checked luggage comes in both hard and soft shell cases and many also include TSA-friendly locking systems to keep items safe


Best Luggage and Bags Reviews 2020-2021

Best Overall: Travelpro Crew 10 Expandable Rollaboard Suiter


Best Luggage /Suitcases & Bags

2018-19-20 Measuring 26 x 11.5 x 18 inches, the Travelpro Crew 10 Expandable Rollaboard Suiter is a moderately priced piece of checked luggage with the essentials most travelers require. The well-designed soft-shell bag has several features to help avoid wear-and-tear such as support guards built into the back and sides of the luggage to prevent scraping, reinforced corners and durable zippers. This bag does not have spinner wheels – instead it has one set of standard wheels and resting “feet,” so that it does not fall over. A built-in garment bag, three exterior pouches and a spacious main compartment can hold about two weeks’ worth of essentials. The Travelpro bag weighs 9.5 pounds and comes in black or red.

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For a checked bag that’s extremely durable, the aluminum-framed Merax Travelhouse provides extra strength that can take anything the baggage handlers throw at it. Made of strong ABS and polycarbonate, the bag measures 26 x 17.5 x 10.2 inches (with wheels included), but at 10.6 pounds, it is a bit heavier than some of the soft-shell options. The bag comes with a three-step telescoping handle, sleek, German-designed spinner wheels, reinforced aluminum corners and two TSA-approved locks that keep the bag snapped closed (in lieu of zippers). The interior features two crisscrossed straps on the top and bottom for securing clothes, separation dividers that can be tucked away and a hanger to keep garments wrinkle-free.

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The “American Tourister Softside 25-Inch Ilite Max Spinner” is a solid choice for those seeking a medium-sized, affordable bag that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Spinner wheels allow the soft-shell bag to easily roll upright, while side, top and bottom handles make the 9.2-pound bag easy to lift in the car without straining your arms. The interior has a clear toiletries bag built right into the top flap, as well as a zipped pouch and security straps to hold clothes in place. The bag measures 26 x 18 x 10.75 inches and comes in five bright colors. Amazon buyers felt that the suitcase was made of quality materials and was just roomy enough for most week-long trips.

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Best Lightweight:Travelers Choice Travel


For an extremely lightweight bag that can hold a lot of gear, the IT Megalite is a good buy at an affordable price. Considering the fairly-large bag measures 10 x 27.4 x 17.3 inches, it weighs just 6.1 pounds, meaning you can pack more and keep it under the airline weight restrictions. Smooth spinner wheels make it easy to pull upright through the terminals. The IT Megalite is available in pink, red, black, blue or grey. Some Amazon users noted that there isn’t any padding between the interior lining and the retractable handle, so avoid storing any items that can easily rip the lining.

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Outdoor company, Eagle Creek, has designed a top-notch bag for travelers who carry a lot of gear and need something durable. The 32-inch “No Matter What” flatbed luggage is a hybrid between a durable duffel and a standard rolling luggage. Featuring a hard bottom frame with heavy-duty wheels, runners, reinforced corners, plus water-resistant, Bi-Tech material on top, the oversized bag has the best of both worlds (duffel and rolling luggage). A retractable handle makes it easy to tote along and several quick-access pockets can be located on the front of the bag. Measuring 15.2 x 32.1 x 12.2 inches, it falls within most airlines’ requirements for checked baggage.

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The problem with most checked luggage is that your clothes wind up smashed into the main compartment causing them to wrinkle. Victorinox has a brilliant solution by adding a “Pack More” removable divider that allows you to layer your clothes for easy organization (like a set of shelves inside the luggage). The double spinner wheels make the 10-pound bag glide with ease and sturdy zippers are easy to grip. For suits or evening wear, a removable mesh “suiter” prevents them from wrinkling. The premium-quality bag is loaded with “hidden” pockets for smaller clothing items and also features an exterior strap to secure a carry-on to the suitcase. The “Werks Traveler 5.0 27-inch Dual Caster Spinner Suitcase” measures 12.5 x 27 x 20 inches.


The Nostalgic Chatelet Hard by Delsey

Vintage inspired trolley

No fashionista’s summer essentials list would be complete without a chic suitcase that really gets you in the holiday mood. With the feminine, vintage inspired Chatelet, you will be the envy of all ladies around the baggage carousel!

This French beauty brings to mind glamorous Parisian breaks and sunny French Riviera getaways while also providing functionality and durability. Aside from 4 quiet, easy-running double wheels and an inbuilt TSA lock, the cabin trolley case has a patented integrated brake that locks your wheels, preventing it from rolling away on the steep, cobbled streets of Montmartre.

Eye Candy Pink Suitcase


Created in collaboration with the trendy accessories brand Pop & Suki, this pastel pink luggage from Away is not just impossibly pretty, but also packed with lots of smart features. These include an interior compression system which allows you to make the most of the space inside, TSA-approved lock, removable laundry bag, and premium 360° wheels for a smooth, easy roll.

Nevertheless, its chic and durable polycarbonate shell ensures both your suitcase and contents stay intact during the trip, while also keeping the weight down. In a nutshell, this midsize checked bag is sleek, sturdy, and excellent value for money – a must have for any traveling fashionista!

Tip: If you use this link, you’ll get $20 off your first suitcase.

Hartmann’s Timeless Tweed Spinner


Part of Hartmann’s Tweed Collection, the 30’’ Long Journey Expandable Spinner is the perfect accessory for the stylish jetsetter. With its classic design, leather trimmed handles, and smooth rolling wheels, this beautiful piece of luggage oozes timeless quality and elegance.

Glossy Light Blue A22 Carry by Raden


Stylishly designed and equipped with the latest in travel technology, Raden’s A22 carry-on luggage answers the needs of connected, style-conscious travelers with an in-built weighing scale handle and two micro USB ports – perfect for charging your devices while out and about. When paired with the Raden app, you can weigh the bag just by lifting it or find out its approximate location if lost.

The interior is just as neat, with two zippered, equally sized compartments, pockets for small items, and amenities such as earplugs, eye mask, and a USB cable for charging the suitcase battery.

Sweet Retro Trolley Case


Part of Globe-Trotter’s spring/summer 2017 collection, the Centenary 20″ Trolley Case pays tribute to the Golden Age of Flying, mixing contemporary functionality with sixties glamour. The suitcase is handcrafted in England by highly skilled artisans and features a light & durable vulcanized fiberboard shell finished in timeless ivory and trimmed with beautiful antique-rose leather.

The bag has a luxurious vintage feel on the outside, but what really stands out is its characterful interior, decked out in travel stickers from around the world. The designers’ muse was a very special suitcase found in the Globe-Trotter archives. This belonged to BOAC air stewardess Hilary Farish, who collected these particular hotel labels as she flew around the globe in the 1960s.

Stylish Mobile Home for the Gentleman on the Go


Designed especially for him, the Quartermaster Homme is the ultimate blend of style and practicality. Equipped with seven carry-all bags for travel essentials, it helps you pack like a pro and stay organized while on the road. This elegant, lightweight carry-on in jet black comes with 360 degree wheels, water resistant zipper, and TSA-approved lock, being suitable for everything from yachting to business trips.

Smartphone-Controlled Bluesmart One


With a nifty accompanying app and a built-in charger for gadgets, Bluesmart One will make you feel like George Clooney in Up in the Air. Complementing its weather-resistant hardshell polycarbonate body are a number of smart features designed to enhance your travel experience. Each bag is a true all-in-one travel product, complete with a useful built-in scale, a digital lock, and GPS tracking which lets you locate your suitcase anywhere the world. The easy-access front compartment is a nice touch, too.

Ready’s Smart & Sleek Roller


Travel the world in style with this classy and smart carry-on by Ready. Exquisitely designed and equipped with lots of clever functions, it protects your valuables, charges your phone, and helps you avoid paying extra airline luggage fees, thanks to its integrated weight sensor.

A glossy hardshell exterior along with smooth wheels, built-in proximity sensors, and an intuitive (free) iOS/Android app make the Ready bag a reliable travel companion for frequent tech-savvy flyers.

The 21st Century Travel Trunk


If you really want a high-end luggage that blends sophisticated design with extraordinary quality, you can never go wrong with Louis Vuitton, a brand inexorably tied to the art of luxury travel.

Envisioned by famous industrial designer Marc Newson, Louis Vuitton’s new Horizon 50 is a modern take on their classic travel trunk, and the first ever rolling cabin bag with completely flat interior surfaces. At 2.7 kilos, the product is one of the lightest on the market, without compromising on interior capacity.

World’s First Motorized Carry-On

Lots of carry-ons on the market promise to make navigating busy airports easier, but none of them gets the job done quite like Modobag – the world’s first rideable, motorized luggage.

A smart solution for busy professionals on the go, the bag comes equipped with advanced motorized technology, being able to get you through the airport terminal three times faster than walking. Besides wheels, pedals, and a cushioned seat, Modobag includes dual USB ports, easy-access laptop and tablet pockets, as well as a Lithium Smart Charger to fully charge the suitcase when traveling.Luggage

World’s First Rolltop Suitcase

Another revolutionary piece of luggage, Trunkster stands out for its minimalist zipperless design, with an innovative sliding door that lets you access your belongings in no time. In addition, the world’s first and only rolltop suitcase is highly durable, surprisingly lightweight, and packed with intelligent features such as the built-in digital scale and the removable power bank, which allows you to charge your devices anywhere, anytime.

Tip: Use this link and you’ll get $20 off your first purchase.

Pre-Damaged Baggage


Travel frequently? Here’s a suitcase you can use as often as you please, without worrying about it being damaged during the journey. Made from 100% sustainable materials, this cool hardshell case on wheels sports a creative worn-looking design with a beautiful matte finishing.

Crash Baggage comes in various sizes and colors, but this sugar blue cabin trolley is sure to compliment any short trip or weekend adventure.

Foldable Luggage by Neit


Thanks to a revolutionary collapsible design, this hard-shelled luggage by Neit takes just 10 seconds to fold flat. How cool is that? Not only is this bag great for carrying your possessions when traveling, but it also makes your life easier by saving you tons of space when not in use.

Marvel Themed Spinner by American Tourister


Calling all Marvel Comics fans out there! This 28″ spinner suitcase by American Tourister comes in your favorite Team Cap colors, with character branded inside lining and a prominent Captain America logo on the front of its sturdy polycarbonate textured shell.

Roomy, lightweight, and easy to spot on the carousel, this vibrant hardside luggage adds a bit of fun to any travel plans.

Samsonite’s Lightweight Freeform

Samsonite Freeform

Freeform, Samsonite’s newest carry-on spinner, combines strength and maneuverability with a unique futuristic design. Appointed with multiple pockets as well as interior cross-ribbon and divider, the 21″ hardshell luggage makes for easy, effective packing and organizing.

Needless to say, this sleek piece is extremely lightweight and made from strong, high-quality materials to provide long lasting durability. Further characteristics include four multi-directional double spinner wheels, telescopic handle, expandable capacity, TSA Lock, and built-in ID tag.

Quirky Transparent Trunk by Crumpler


Designed especially for the confident, exhibitionist traveler with nothing to hide, the Vis-à-Vis clear rolling suitcase flaunts a transparent hardshell design, letting everyone see what’s inside. It comes with an innovative clothes compression system, a built-in TSA lock, and smooth glide wheels for maximum movability. And don’t worry about your dirty lingerie, expensive gadgets, or jewelry – these can be discretely stored within the complimentary Volume Rebates private packing cubes.

Sexy Denim Spinner by SteamLine


Finished in blue Japanese denim with elegant brown leather straps and corner trims, the Voyageur Spinner merges chic vintage inspired aesthetics with modern convenience. Good looks aside, this fashionable SteamLine suitcase features a sturdy retractable handle and 4 wheels for seamless rolling over most surfaces. Two TSA-approved locks keep your belongings safe, while the removable door-hanger washbag and zippered lid compartments inside make it easy to stay organized on the go.

If you’re looking to make a fashion statement when traveling, this is the bag for you.

The Revolutionary Bugaboo Boxer Luggage System

Bugaboo Boxer fully loaded

Envisioned by Amsterdam-based company Bugaboo, the Boxer fuses classy high-end design and groundbreaking interlocking technology into a revolutionary luggage system. Inspired by the brand’s luxury baby strollers, the product comprises a foldable four-wheeled chassis, a large travel suitcase, and smaller cabin case. Depending on your travel plans, you can buy the whole package or each piece (in the color you like) individually.

One thing’s for sure: what this ingenious system of interlocking suitcases lacks in high tech features, more than makes up for it with its unsurpassed mobility.

Military Themed Leather Rolling Trunk


If you’re looking to invest in a fabulous piece of luggage that’s sure to make an impact wherever it lands, go for the Trolley, Ghurka’s military themed leather rolling trunk.

Celebrating the brand’s 40th anniversary, this hard-sided carry-on is handcrafted by Florentine artisans from luxury calfskin leather and lined with 100-percent-cotton twill. Its parescoping top-handle and smooth, dual wheel system make travel a breeze, while the polished nickel hardware and bold colored stripes, reminiscent of Ghurka fighters’ military ribbons, give this classic trunk a cool, modern edge.

Yes, this bag may cost more than your entire vacation, but can we really put a price tag on traveling in style?

The Ultimate Business Luggage

Vocier F38 Luggage

Neit Collapsible Smart Luggage feat

Luggage, Suitcase and Carry-On Spinner Reviews

Hey there! My name is Eliza, and I’m super glad you’ve stopped by. I have been trying to navigate my way through some of the differences between good quality luggage and good quality hype, so with that in mind I’ve decided to share my thoughts with you in the form of this handy dandy website.

If my research has taught me anything, it’s that more times than not, a luggage purchase is a “get what you pay for” scenario. There are a few low cost standouts, but the highest reviews are consistently found in the $200-$300 range. Although, some lines have options at around $120 and they don’t compromise on durability and style.

Luggage Comparison

That being said, you may not be looking for a forever set. You may just need a “for now” case or a “for this year” case. You may even need a “for a camping trip I don’t want to go on so I don’t care what happens to the bag because I’m going to abandon it in the woods among the mosquitoes” bag! I don’t specifically know what you’re after, but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find it here. If you don’t, it may not exist!

Roll On By if You Don’t Have the Time

To get a good idea of what’s out there without going through each page, feel free to take a shortcut. I have compiled an easy to use comparison table that addresses the most basic questions.

You can get quick details and then a link to each case once you’re done scrolling through the basic information. You can see the luggage based on a number of different features, but they’ll be separated by type of bag. The three categories are suitcases & carryons, luggage sets and duffle bags (for more information on the difference between categories check out my buying guide).

Sort through The Baggage of Luggage Reviews

The most important question to answer is what you NEED in a bag. If you aren’t sure what’s important to you yet, scroll on over to some of these helpful pages so you can decide for yourself.

Hardside versus Softside Luggage

When you’re looking at exterior quality, these are the two biggest distinctions to try and decide between. I looked at the pros and cons of rigid exteriors and soft options, so you can go through what the differences are ranging from how to save your back the extra strain, and how to protect your belongings.

Weight and Looks

How much a bag weighs when you’re racing across the airport to catch a flight is a big deal for some people (especially me since I’m a pretty small build). For others, the amount of dings and dents a suitcase (or two) can suffer after just a few uses are an even bigger consideration. I looked at both how weight affects the look and how look affects your desire to want to buy the thing at all.

Comfort and Durability

You should know whether you’re buying a forever bag or a “for now” bag because if you don’t, you might well be surprised that your bag isn’t going to last beyond a few months. More so, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a piece of luggage just to find out it’s uncomfortable to use. In this section, I discuss both issues so you don’t end up feeling like you’ve wasted your money.

The Best Things On Wheels… And Off

During my luggage “journey”, I have come across a number of options I think really deserve to be on the “front page”! Below, you will find my favorites.

Travelpro Maxlite 3

Best Overall Piece of Spinner Luggage
My gut feeling is that if people who fly on planes for a living are happy with it, there is some merit to it.
Flight attendants and pilots can be seen toting the Travelpro Maxlite around because it’s lightweight AND sturdy, and they’re available in sizes from carry on to 29 inches.

Briggs Riley Transcend Carry On

Best Softside Rollaboard Carry-On
If you’re prone to sticker shock I’d advise MaxLite’s spinner carry-on, but as far as carry-ons go you can’t really be upset with something from Briggs & Riley. There’s a reason they’ve represented quality luggage for so long. The Transcend Domestic has all the bells and whistles you can expect in modern carry-ons, with sturdiness and durability thrown in for good measure.

Samsonite Fiero HS

Best Lightweight Hardcase Carry-On
(Also as 24″ and 28″ Suitcase, or as a Set)
Ok, the Samsonite Fiero HS isn’t 100% scratch resistant, but it’s better in this respect than most of the other suitcases I’ve reviewed. The expandable zipper is a winning formula I haven’t seen it in too many hardcases, it’s a great feature that allows you to change the capacity to your needs.

American Tourister Fieldbrook II

Best Value Luggage Set Under $100
It may not be the perfect set, but the American Tourister Luggage Fieldbrook II is definitely the best value. The price point is incredibly good, and while there might be some issues with long-term durability, at just about $80 you’re not losing a lot if one of the pieces goes down for the count. It comes in several colors and it has plenty of options for traveling.

Traveler's Choice Tasmania

Most Sturdy Hardside Luggage Set
Unlike the option above, the Traveler’s Choice Tasmania IS a set that gives you the durability checked baggage needs. Each of the pieces expands two inches
so you get 25% more capacity when needed, plus you get double spinner wheels for added stability. What more do you want?


Best 4-Piece Design Set
The Pierre Cardin Signature Spinner Four Piece Set wins the Best Set Price for me. It is gorgeous, durable and classy. It has the old world look while still having new world features. Need I say more?


Best Garment Bag for Suits and Dresses
The Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Deluxe Voyager Spinner Garment Bag looks like it’s straight out of the future. You don’t have to carry it like a standard garment bag, you can just carry it with you, leave the hard work to the spinning wheels and use it as your main suitcase – SOLD!


Best Hardside Suitcase Overall
Hardside cases don’t have to be a “drag”. In fact, the Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Luggage Trolley is a hardside case with a lightweight frame and comes with expandable options. It even has the exterior pocket so many people want but can’t find. It gives you all the things that are missing in a lot of hardside cases.


Best Duffle Bag
This is a tie for two reasons. First of all, I think there are two different kinds of travelers who could be looking for duffles, and I want to give both of you the best option. Second, these two bags are so different I don’t know that they should even be in the same class.

First, the Cenzo Leather Weekender Bag: This bag is everything that style should be. It’s versatile, beautiful to look at and well-made. The leather will last a lifetime, and there is little to complain about with the construction. Duffle swoooooon!


Second, is the Samsonite Tote-A-Ton. The Tote-A-Ton does exactly what its name suggests, and I like it because it isn’t only for travel. You can use it for moving or just for keeping possessions packed up and out of the way. It’s not expensive, so it doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly protected. It just has to hold your things which in my opinion, it does!


Best 2-Piece Budget Set for Colors and Patterns
Now I know there is a market for some crazy colors and patterns in luggage, I’m keeping my eyes open. The best selection of interesting fabrics is the Rockland 2 Piece Luggage set. There are polka dot designs, animal prints and camouflage to name just a few. If exterior design is your “bag”, this 2 piece is well worth checking out!


More Wheely Good Info

There are more things to consider if you’re trying to decide what to purchase. Here are some additional issues to wander through so you can make a good decision.

Two Wheels. Four Wheels. Eight Wheels

Luggage has evolved to the point where two-wheel suitcases seem like old technology. I wanted to know if older meant they are less useful now that there are four and eight wheel spinners on the market. Find out what I discovered on this page.

How to Size Luggage so It Goes On A Plane

As air travel gets more restrictive, you have to keep in mind that the size of your bag does matter. It could be the difference between storing it in an overhead, paying to check it or even having it refused! Read here to learn how you can size your luggage so you don’t end up in a sticky situation at the airport.

Pros and Cons Of Duffles

If you’re trying to decide if a duffle is going to be substantial enough, I have the answer here. Duffles don’t look like gym bags anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to take one on a business trip (unless you plan on taking your squash racquet)! In this section, you’ll find information I have found on what the good and the bad is with this type of bag.

What’s In a Brand? What You Should Know about Manufacturers.

Check here for a rundown on all the different things you should know about luggage manufacturers at a glance. Who makes expensive luggage? Who makes stuff that’s suitable for kids? Everything you need is on this page.

Thanks for Rolling In

After you’re done with everything I’ve put together, I hope you have a better idea of what you want to get and how much you want to spend. I know that I do (now that I’ve gotten it all organized). I’m not an expert in luggage, and I’m certainly not a travel expert, but that’s why I decided to do this. You don’t have to be an expert to buy the right thing for your needs.

I hope you enjoy my little creation and that you finally find the right luggage for you.

More Wheely Good Info

There are more things to consider if you’re trying to decide what to purchase. Here are some additional issues to wander through so you can make a good decision.

Two Wheels. Four Wheels. Eight Wheels

Luggage has evolved to the point where two-wheel suitcases seem like old technology. I wanted to know if older meant they are less useful now that there are four and eight wheel spinners on the market. Find out what I discovered on this page.

How to Size Luggage so It Goes On A Plane

As air travel gets more restrictive, you have to keep in mind that the size of your bag does matter. It could be the difference between storing it in an overhead, paying to check it or even having it refused! Read here to learn how you can size your luggage so you don’t end up in a sticky situation at the airport.

Pros and Cons Of Duffles

If you’re trying to decide if a duffle is going to be substantial enough, I have the answer here. Duffles don’t look like gym bags anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to take one on a business trip (unless you plan on taking your squash racquet)! In this section, you’ll find information I have found on what the good and the bad is with this type of bag.

What’s In a Brand? What You Should Know about Manufacturers.

Check here for a rundown on all the different things you should know about luggage manufacturers at a glance. Who makes expensive luggage? Who makes stuff that’s suitable for kids? Everything you need is on this page.

Solving the Case: Luggage Basics

Decide How You’ll Use It
Is it for flying, driving, cruising, or some other purpose? For airplane travel, familiarize yourself with the luggage rules of the airlines you plan to patronize. If it’s for road trips, look for bags that are pliable enough to maximize your trunk space. For cruise ships—which stack baggage in the boat’s belly before departure—flat, rigid luggage is optimal.

Consider How You’ll Store It
Once the luggage gets home, where will you put it? Hard-sided bags are the most unforgiving; you can’t squeeze them into a storage space. Soft-sided, structured bags have a little forgiveness on the front and back, but the footprint is fixed. If you have no place to store a stand-up suitcase, you may have to limit yourself to unstructured duffels or new collapsible bags.

Know Which Size You Need
This will depend mainly on the length of your trip and, if you are flying, airline luggage restrictions. It also depends on your own habits. Some people can pack for two weeks in their carry-on and an underseat personal item.

Variations on the Valise

Ask yourself this: How many bags do you really need, and what sizes will cover all your needs?


Carry-On Luggage

A carry-on bag is one you can take aboard the airplane and stow in the overhead bin. To avoid being forced to check your suitcase for later retrieval on the conveyor belt, buy a bag that conforms to the strictest rules in the industry.

Currently, for U.S. carriers the rules are the ones set by the big three—American, Delta, and United—at 22 inches high by 14 inches wide by 9 inches deep. (The maximum linear size is 45 inches, but none of the dimensions can exceed the aforementioned measurements.)

Height is the measurement from the floor, including wheels, to the top of the handle in its lowered position. Depth is the measurement from front to back. Width is the measurement from side to side.

Some U.S. carriers permit larger carry-ons. For international flights, defined as those originating and ending outside the U.S.—the size limit is generally smaller than for U.S. domestic flights.

If you are a frequent flyer on different carriers, you’ll have to decide whether you want to buy several carry-on bags to conform to the various size restrictions or if you’ll use one carry-on that meets the most restrictive rules. But even rule-abiding luggage isn’t a guarantee that your bags won’t be relegated to the plane’s underbelly, because the flight crew can impose further restrictions, even after boarding has begun.


Personal Item

A personal item is a bag that you stow underneath the seat in front of you on a plane. It includes briefcases, tote bags, camera bags, laptop bags, and small backpacks. But you can get the most out of your allowed personal item if you buy a bag specifically designed for this purpose.

Often they contain compartments for your passport, phone, pen, and wallet, as well as a padded section for a laptop and a main section for clothes and overnight essentials. Many of these underseat personal items can serve you well for a one- to two-day jaunt. Paired, the personal item and carry-on can get many people through a weeklong trip.

There is no standard size for the personal item. For U.S. domestic flights the measurement rules range from a generous 16x12x14 (Spirit) to a meager 17x9x10 (United), and some airlines (American, Delta) don’t even specify dimensions.

Whether it fits under the seat or not can vary even within the same aircraft. Aisle seats are notorious for having the least wiggle room underneath. Before you shop, review the specifications for various airlines. You can also check the aircraft’s guidelines for onboard pet carriers—a reasonable proxy for the floor-to-underseat clearance.


Large Luggage

Any suitcase larger than carry-on size must be checked. The most common size options are 24 to 30 inches in height. You can find suitcases as large as 36 inches, but check with your carrier for size limits. There’s usually a weight limit, with extra fees applied for excess weight per bag. Outside the U.S., restrictions on total cumulative weight of your checked luggage might apply.

Video Buying Guide

Watch our video below for top luggage brands and what to do in the store before you purchase new luggage—especially carry-on luggage.

Soft-Sided or Ironsides?

Soft-sided luggage continues to dominate the market, but hard-sided is quickly gaining popularity because of newer, lightweight materials.

Soft-Sided Luggage
Soft-sided luggage is made of fabrics that move and yield, usually a woven nylon fabric, such as Cordura or ballistic nylon. Ballistic is the shinier of the two and over time can abrade, but abrasions will not compromise the strength of the fabric. Cordura is a little softer and abrasion-resistant, preferable for an over-the-shoulder bag. If you consider a suitcase made of ripstop nylon, or “parachute material,” make sure that it is a high-denier (pronounced duh-NEER) fabric. Fabric denier is a measurement of weight, not quality.

Pros: Usually lighter in weight and can flex and compress to conform to tight spaces. This flexibility also enables you to squeeze in an extra outfit, (which could be a con if you tend to overpack). Also, a yielding material might be the difference between keeping the bag onboard and having it relegated to gate-check. Fabric flexibility also comes in handy when packing a car trunk and storing the bag at home.

Cons: Not as protective as hard-sided and vulnerable to ripping (accidental or intentional) if not high quality.

Hard-Sided Luggage
Today’s hard-shell or hard-sided luggage is made with high-tech plastics such as ABS and polycarbonate, which are both lightweight and durable. ABS is the lightest, but polycarbonate is more durable. The most durable, but also the heaviest, is aluminum. Hard-sided luggage sometimes features a 50/50-split opening, allowing you to pack two sides equally and stabilize the contents with an X-strap or middle divider. Note: Because they close like a clamshell, you need double the surface space to open these. Most hard-sides are built this way, but some on the market have a top-lid opening.

Pros: Best for protecting breakable contents, and offer better security because of integrated locks. They can’t be ripped open with a blade. Most composite plastic hard-sides close with a zipper, which can be vulnerable—aluminum luggage often has metal draw-bolt latches instead of zippers. Hard-sided luggage stacks easily, making it ideal for cruise ships, which stack the baggage in the belly of the boat before departure. If you tend to overpack, a hard-sided piece will rein you in. There’s no chance of overstuffing it. For carry-on, this guarantees that the piece will fit easily in your airline’s luggage-sizer.

Cons: They scuff and scratch easily and are inflexible, so you can’t squeeze in extras; and you need a fixed storage space for it. Also, few hard-sided suitcases have outside pockets.

What’s in a Wheel?

Wheeled suitcases make up at least two-thirds of all luggage sales today. If you plan on rolling your own luggage, your first decision is whether to buy a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler.


Two-Wheeler Luggage

Suitcases with two wheels, also called rollers, utilize the same type of wheels found on in-line skates—they roll only forward and backward, not side to side. The suitcase rolls behind you as you pull it from the extending handle.

Pros: Wheels are recessed, which protects them from snapping off during rough handling. For urban journeyers, two-wheelers are better than four-wheelers for clearing curbs and rolling on uneven surfaces such as sidewalks or cobblestones.

Cons: Some travelers complain that the dragging position causes shoulder, wrist, or back pain. Also, it can be cumbersome to drag a two-wheeler in a crowded space because you need clearance between yourself and the bag. Recessed wheels intrude into the bag’s interior packing area.


Four-Wheeler Luggage

Also known as spinners because each wheel swivels 360 degrees, as on a shopping cart. You can push them, pull them, wheel them alongside yourself, and turn them in any direction.

Pros: Easier to navigate in tight spaces. A heavy or large suitcase may be easier to manage with four wheels. Ergonomically, the spinner is a better choice than the roller because it does not put stress on your shoulder.

Cons: Wheels are externally mounted, not recessed, so they are vulnerable to snapping off. (Wheels attached with screws are more secure than those with rivets, according to experts.) Spinner wheels also take up valuable overhead-bin space because the length of the wheels is included in the overall allowable dimensions. A spinner won’t remain stationary on an incline; you have to lay it on its side if the floor is on even a slight gradient.


No-Wheel Luggage

You might want to forgo wheels under these circumstances:

• To ensure the maximum possible interior volume. The wheels and the handle structure use up space.

• You expect to take your bag on bumpy, rough, sandy, or icy surfaces, where wheels are difficult to manage.

• You won’t have to ever handle your own luggage, as on a luxury tour.

Time to Upgrade? Some Shopping Tips.

Take a Tape Measure
Don’t pay attention to tags, labels, or promotions that proclaim “official carry-on luggage.” There’s no regulation that dictates carry-on size—airlines impose their own restrictions, and the limits can vary among airlines and even among aircraft. Know the rules of the airlines you plan to fly. Measure the dimensions yourself and make sure the measurements account for all parts, including outer pouches, wheels, and handles.

Hold That Handle
Check the wrist angle and the feel of the grip. For maximum durability, the handle should have little to no wiggling or rattling as you pull the bag. Also check for smooth movement as you pull it up and retract it.

Wheel It Around
The wheels should roll smoothly and stay in place. Gently jiggle the wheels with your hands to make sure they are firmly attached.

Check the Interior Capacity
The outside measurements are important, but don’t forget to consider how roomy the inside is. This can be difficult to do because many manufacturers do not disclose the interior volume. Look for the features that maximize interior space. These include:

Squared edges: Interior volume is sacrificed with curved corners.
Integrated outer compartments: Outside zip compartments should be on the same geometric plane as the main part of the bag—protrusions waste space.
No wheels or handles: If you really need to make the most of every interior inch, forgo wheels and handles. They impinge on total packable space.

Check the Warranty
If you want your bag for the long haul, get the one with the best manufacturer’s warranty. A lifetime warranty to repair or replace the bag is, of course, the best option. Some examples of manufacturers offering the best warranties include:

Briggs & Riley
Boyt (on some product lines only)
Eagle Creek (some product lines)
eBags (house brand)
Lands’ End
Travelpro (Platinum 7 Collection)
Victorinox (some collections)

Always make sure to check the warranty statement for specific requirements, such as exclusions for airline damage.

Shopping Online
If you don’t shop for luggage often and stumble across an online deal, try to find the item in a walk-in store first so that you can handle it, wheel it, and lift it to make sure the bag is suitable for you.

Photo of three different sizes of luggage all piled together.

Thanks for Rolling In

After you’re done with everything I’ve put together, I hope you have a better idea of what you want to get and how much you want to spend. I know that I do (now that I’ve gotten it all organized). I’m not an expert in luggage, and I’m certainly not a travel expert, but that’s why I decided to do this. You don’t have to be an expert to buy the right thing for your needs.

I hope you enjoy my little creation and that you finally find the right luggage for you.

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