11 of the Best Suitcases for Travel (plus how to choose a suitcase size)

Looking for the best suitcases for travel? And how to choose the best travel suitcase size for you?

We are here to help!

In case you don’t know, we travel a lot and like to share our best travel tips. On our list for 2020 is more domestic travel in the USA, and international travel to Europe and resort vacations, like to The Bahamas!

And since we were LONG overdue for new travel suitcases ourselves, we did a ton of research online to discover what are the best suitcase brands and which is the best suitcase for international travel (or domestic travel).

11 of the best suitcases for travel

I searched via Google, read blog posts and digesting endless Amazon reviews. Fun, fun.

So if you are planning a trip and are also in the market for some new travel luggage, or new travel clothes, then this article is written to help you choose the best suitcase.

From my research, I created a short list to help you narrow down your own list and to save you some valuable time.

Our old travel suitcases were American Tourister, but were at the end of their lifespan!

None of the handles retracted without wrestling with them, and Savannah’s suitcase was falling apart at the seams – four-year-olds tend to care less about looking after things, lol.

What are the best suitcases for travel? Read today's blog post to find out
At the airport ready for our flight to Singapore

How to Choose a Suitcase for Travel

Because we travel in so many different ways – road trips, flights, weekend getaways, cruises – I wanted a quality luggage brand that’s practical for a family of four, durable and good value for money!

I wanted to know the best suitcase brands in regards to:

  • weight
  • hard shell or soft shell
  • two wheels or four wheels
  • style and price point

I’m not looking for a $2,000+ Louis Vitton suitcase. And I’m not looking for a cheap one trip throw away either – I do that with cheap sunglasses – but it’s time we got some quality luggage!

So when I’m talking about the best suitcases for travel, I’m talking about a reputable brand that will stand the test of our lifestyle of constant travel – at a fair price!

Of course, we all have our own travel style, and there is no perfect suitcase for everyone.

Researching the best suitcases for overseas travel is time-consuming.

With so many options between different brands, price points, and features it’s hard to know where to start and what are the good suitcases from the bad.

What Type of Travel Will You Use Your Suitcase For?

Before we get into my list of suitcases (see point 14 below in table of contents), let’s consider a few things you need to keep in mind when deciding which suitcase brand is right for you.

But I do recommend you read this entire post so you don’t miss any important tips!

Is your suitcase is for flying?

Then know the weight limits for your airlines of choice.

Make sure you can handle the size and weight of your luggage getting to and from your home to the airport – lifting it into your car, upstairs, at check-in etc.

Is your luggage for road trips?

Make sure your suitcase will fit comfortably into the storage compartment of your vehicle.

Is your suitcase is for cruising?

Keep in mind they typically stack your luggage in the boat’s belly before departure so a flat, rigid suitcase may be best.

And make sure the size will fit comfortably in your cabin if you don’t like to unpack.

What are the Best Suitcase Sizes?

Just so you know, I’m not looking to purchase a carry-on suitcase but a CHECK-IN suitcase so this blog post and research focus on that type of luggage.

But I still want to get a size that’s most suitable for us without going too big!

And I’m not looking for a duffel bag!

Update – we have published a post on the best best carry-on suitcases.

If you’re like us and your style of travel fluctuates between flights, road trips, staycations, and the odd cruise, then you want to get one that’s most practical for all occasions – I don’t want to buy four different suitcases!

We also have young kids so we want suitcase sizes that they can manage comfortably and grow into over the years.

And I don’t need to tell you that airlines are getting tougher these days on size restrictions and weight limits, and we could all do without the excess baggage fees!

So you want to make sure your suitcase sizes can hold everything you need safely and securely and under the weight limit!

If you go too big on luggage size, the tendency will be to fill the space, just like the bigger the house, the more stuff you tend to fill it with.

Because we’re a family of four we want to cut back on the amount we carry around – I’m tired of lugging too much stuff around the world – thankfully we are done with strollers and portable cots!

There is the option of buying two large suitcases and splitting them between the four of us – as this would mean maneuvering less total luggage.

But there are occasions when we don’t always travel as a family of four with our travel blog business, and our kids like to be individual and pull their own kids suitcase around so we’re going to forget about that idea!

So we will get a checked-bag size for us, and probably a check-in size for the kids.

So what size do you need for your suitcase?

The best travel suitcase size for you really comes down to factors such as:

  • Type of trips you take (flights, road trips, cruises)
  • Length of your trips
  • Packing habits – some people can pack for a month in a carry-on.
  • Destinations and seasons
  • and of course, your travel budget

How Do You Measure the Size of luggage?

Let’s talk about carry-on luggage sizes quickly.

Most U.S. airlines have carry-on restrictions of 22 inches (22”x 14″ x 9″) and must not exceed 45 linear inches.

That means combined length + width + height (including any handles and wheels) e.g. 22” + 14” + 9” = 45 linear (or 115 centimeters: 23 x 36 x 56 cm).

Let’s be clear, we’re talking about the actual size of your carry on bag, not weight! Please refer to each individual airline for their own size and weight limits!

Because I’m interested in buying checked luggage, we’ll be looking at a large suitcase, well, bags bigger than 22 inches!

For us as adults, 24 inches will be too small.

So we’ll be looking at a big suitcase in the 27-29 inch range – these sizes are the most popular size of luggage to check-in with a large capacity without breaking our backs and have room for multiple outfits, shoes, and toiletries.

And I don’t want to go over 29 inches.

29 inches were popular when airlines used to allow 70 LB per bag (32kg) which is probably fine if you’re a rewards traveler flying business or first class internationally.

Suitcase Features

Delsey suitcase review.
Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner Trolley

After you choose your size, the next things to consider when researching the best suitcases for overseas travel are what specific features are best for your traveling style.

Two-wheels vs. Four-wheel suitcases

Who wants to carry a suitcase these days?

Because we have young kids, and I’ve had back issues in the past, I’m looking for a four-wheel suitcase that will be easier to manage, for me and them. Let’s look at the reasons why:

Two Wheels suitcases (rolling suitcase)

Pros:

  • The wheels are recessed into the case which helps prevent from snapping off.
  • For getting around town, two wheels are better than four wheels for clearing curbs and rolling on uneven surfaces.

Cons:

  • Two wheel suitcases utilize wheels like on skateboards meaning they only roll forward and backward, so you either pull or push the suitcase with the extended handle.

Four wheel suitcases (spinners)

Pros: 

  • Spinner suitcases are more ergonomic and don’t put as much stress on your shoulders or back like rollers.
  • They’re easier to maneuver in tight spaces such as on trains, down aisles of planes, in lifts etc. 

Cons:

  • Because the wheels are externally mounted they’re more vulnerable to snapping off.
  • External wheels steal some of your valuable packing space as the length of the wheels is included in the overall allowable dimensions.
  • Your bag won’t remain stationary on an incline without laying it down or bracing it.

Hard Shell vs. Soft Shell suitcases

Travel can take its toll on your gear so the make and build or your suitcase is important for longevity.

These days when we think about the best suitcases for travel we have a choice between a hard sided or soft sided suitcase. Thinking about exterior quality these are your two main considerations. 

Soft shell suitcase

Pros: 

  • Typically lighter in weight and can conform to tight spaces such as the back of your car.
  • They enable you to squeeze in just one more item of clothing (a con if you tend to overpack).
  • If you love shopping an expanding suitcase could be what you need.
  • Can absorb shock better than hard shells.

Cons: 

  • Not as protective as hard-shell.
  • Are vulnerable to ripping if the material is not of high quality.
  • Not waterproof.

Hard shell suitcase

Pros: 

  • Better for protecting your contents from breakage.
  • Better security from thieves – can’t be quickly be ripped open with a blade.
  • Can act as a seat while you wait.
  • Stack easily on top of each other.
  • Typically waterproof.
  • Not expandable like a soft shell, so if you tend to overpack this can prevent you from stuffing more in.

Cons:

  • Can’t compress or expand a hard suitcase
  • Can scratch easily and cheap hard cases can crack. 
  • Can’t squeeze into tight storage spaces at home or in your car.
  • Few have outside pockets.

Suitcase Handles

Delsey Helium Aero Luggage - one of the best travel suitcases for style, ease, and durability.
Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner Trolley

You know those retractable handles that come with wheeled suitcases?

Make sure you consider getting one with an adjustable length, is long enough for your height, is sturdy, and retracts completely inside the bag!

Also, get one with two posts. 

Our current suitcase has a two-post handle and we always use it to support either our laptop bag, camera bag, or our kids small day pack when moving through airports.

Two-posts provide more balance and support for this!

And get a suitcase with top and side handles that are durable and can withstand the weight of your belongings which will make lifting your travel suitcase easier.

Suitcase Weights

Traveling as light as possible is the way to go for us, not only to keep our backs from getting injured but for avoiding those baggage fees!

And if you’re like us and dragging young kids around airports as well as dragging your luggage, how much your bag weighs is an issue.

So not only should we consider how much we pack inside, but the actual weight of our suitcases.

Experts suggest that an empty wheeled suitcase should not weigh greater than 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms).

If your bag is heavy when it’s empty, then that limits you from the start when packing a suitcase. A lightweight suitcase can be the difference in paying hefty excess fees!

Warranty

If I’m going to invest a decent amount of money in one of the best suitcases for travel, I not only want it to last, but I want one with a decent manufacturer’s warranty to repair or replace the bag. 

I’ve already talked about what happens in the cargo hold, and kids being kids sometimes things get mishandled. 

The top suitcases – the more expensive luggage brands – often have warranties or guarantees versus the cheaper generic brands that typically don’t. 

Suitcase Colors

I want a suitcase that’s easily recognizable and spotted on the luggage belt and not mistaken for someone else’s bag or vice versa – especially handy if we are rushing between connecting flights!

I’m talking about you BLACK suitcase. It’s time to go alternative to black, and white or cream which can get dirty quick – never buy white furniture or luggage with kids, lol.

Luggage Compartments

Different compartments and pockets can be useful for separating your gear, especially any liquids or toiletries. Something to keep in mind.

We’ve had liquid spills in our luggage before, even red wine spills, never fun especially if it’s over your cherished dress or pants.

Waterproof Luggage

I’ve seen luggage sitting in the rain on the tarmac before getting loaded onto the plane whilst working for Delta. I’ve seen luggage in the belly of a plane that has had something broken inside and it’s affected other bags underneath it.

And I’ve been caught in rainstorms getting to and from the airport to our accommodation.

I want a bag with material that protects it from the rain and from spills from other bags.

Suitcase Durability

I’ve already mentioned what can go on behind the scenes with your luggage being loaded onto a plane.

You don’t need to pay top dollar, but a well-made suitcase that can withstand the test of time should be a consideration.

I’ve been rushing to catch a flight with our kids in the past and had wheels fall off and handles break – not much fun having to lug heavy suitcases (and kids whose legs can’t move fast enough).

Luggage Prices

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

If you want good suitcases that are durable, you’re going to have to spend more than a few bucks, although the quality of even the top brand products these days seems to be slipping whether we’re talking electronics, cars, whatever.

Designer luggage can be more about fashion and looks than quality construction and can be more of a target for thieves.

But most of us have budget constraints and you should only spend what you can afford.

But, if you travel a lot like us a suitcase becomes a serious part of your lifestyle and you want something you can count on to transport and protect your belongings, just like you want a trustworthy car transporting you!

I’ve searched around for the best suitcases for travel based on reviews on Amazon, features and value for money.

From my research, the same brands seem to get mentioned over and over.

Best Suitcases for Travels

In no particular order, here is my short list of the 11 best suitcases for international travel (or domestic) and best suitcase brands.

For budget reasons, I’ve decided to keep the list to suitcases under the $500 price tag and above $100 for quality of choice.

Remember, if you buy any of those cheap large suitcases, you get what you paid for!

And “Best” is a relative term, of course.

I’m sure there’s one on my list you disagree with, and I’m sure I’ve left a couple of top suitcases off the list (please share in the comments section down below).

Samsonite Luggage Fiero HS Spinner 28

One of the best suitcases for travel - Samsonite Luggage Fiero HS Spinner 28

Features:

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • Micro diamond texture is scratch resistant
  • Four light weight wheels for effortless mobility
  • Expands for extra capacity
  • Hard case suitcase
  • Full-zip interior divider and cross straps for increased packing organization
  • Side mounted TSA approved lock ensures security while traveling

Delsey Helium Aero 29″ Exp. Spinner Trolley

One of the best suitcases for travel - the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero Expandable Spinner Trolley (29'')

Features:

  • 100% polycarbonate
  • lightweight and durable. 
  • Large front compartment with integrated padded sleeve for up to 15.6 inch laptop
  • 2 zippered mesh pockets for computer accessories, toiletries
  • Double spinner wheels assure exceptional maneuverability
  • Integrated 3 dial TSA combination lock, self-repairing zippers
  • Recessed “one-button” locking handle system with industrial grade aluminum tubes 

Read the reviews and buy the Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner on Amazon

Travelpro Maxlite 3 Expandable Spinner (25″)

One of the best suitcases for travel - Travelpro Maxlite3 Expandable Spinner (25")

Features:

  • 100% Polyester
  • 4-wheel spinners rotate 360 degrees
  • Airline-grade aluminum handle locks in 2 positions 
  • Honeycomb frame system provides lightweight durability
  • Full length interior lid pocket, side accessory pocket, and adjustable hold down straps 
  • Manufacturer defects warranty

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29 Luggage

One of the best suitcases for travel - Victorinox Spectra

Features:

  • 100% Bayer Polycarbonate
  • Global 10-year limited warranty
Read the reviews and buy the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29 Luggage on Amazon.

Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage Montecito Micro-Light 28 Inch

One of the best suitcases for travel - Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage Montecito Micro Light 28 Inch

Features:

  • 100% Polyester 
  • Lightweight yet durable and tear-resistant
  • Glide rite spinner wheel system
  • Expand for additional packing capacity
  • Ergonomically designed locking handle system
  • Cushioned top and side carry handles
Read the reviews and buy the Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage Montecito Micro Light on Amazon

Briggs and Riley Luggage 27 Inch Expandable Upright Bag

One of the best suitcases for travel - Briggs & Riley Luggage 27 Inch Expandable Upright Bag

Features:

  • Tuff-lite Nylon fabric/polyester Blend
  • Zip expansion increases packing capacity by 26%
  • speed thru pocket allows for quick storage of items at security checkpoints
  • tilt-resistant front feet for optimal stability
Read the reviews and buy the Briggs & Riley on Amazon

Ricardo Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive 29-Inch

One of the best suitcases for travel - Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage Rodeo Drive 29-Inch 4-Wheel Expandable Upright

Features:

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • scratch and wear resistant
  • Protective polypropylene corner guards at key stress points
  • Effortlessly push your spinner upright with the curved handle 
  • Silent spinner wheels specially engineered to be smooth and silent
Read the reviews and buy the Ricardo Beverly Hills on Amazon

Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Hardside Spinner 26

One of the best suitcases for travel - Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Hardside Spinner 26

Features:

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • Push-button locking handle provides a comfortable grip
  • Flush-mounted TSA lock
  • Ultra sleek, protective rails near the base for extra protection
  • Lightweight corrugated tube handle
  • Integrated wet-pack pocket.
  • Two full zip divider panel
  • 3 large organizational pockets inside and modesty pocket for valuables
Read the reviews and buy the Samsonite Silhouette Sphere on Amazon

Luggage Sets

Samsonite Fiero 3 Piece Hardside Nested Spinner Set

One of the best suitcases for travel - Samsonite Fiero 3 Piece Hardside Nested Spinner Set

Features:

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • Sets contains 1 x 20, 24, 28 inch spinners
  • Micro diamond texture is extremely scratch resistant
  • Four light weight wheels for effortless mobility
  • Expands for extra capacity
  • Full-zip interior divider and cross straps for increased packing organization
Read the reviews and buy the Samsonite Fiero on Amazon

Traveler’s Choice Tasmania Three-Piece Luggage Set

One of the best suitcases for travel - Traveler's Choice Tasmania Three Piece Luggage Set
  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • Dual spinner wheels provide smooth and quiet rolling
  • Expansion gusset offers 25% more packing capacity
  • Two interior zippered mesh pockets and a center zippered pouch for easy organization
  • Durable top and side carry handles 
  • Built-in TSA recognized 3-dial combination lock
  • Convenient add-a-bag strap for carrying additional bags
Read the reviews and buy the Traveler’s Choice Tasmania on Amazon

Samsonite 2 Piece Luggage suitcase Set 27″check in and 21″carry-on Spinner 4 Wheel

One of the best suitcases for travel - Samsonite 2-pc Spinner Luggage Set
  • 27″ Spinner and 21″ Carry-On 
  • Sizes (approx.) – Checkable: 27″ x 19 x 11; Carry On: 21 x 15 x 8
Read the reviews and buy the Samsonite 2-pc Spinner Luggage Set on Amazon

I hope you’ve found this article helpful in narrowing down your choice and saving you time doing your own research?

Yes, the Amazon links are affiliate links if you purchase via our links we will receive a small commission!

Can you add to this list of the best travel suitcases?

Help us choose one of these brands on my hit list. At this moment, I’m still unsure which suitcase to buy.

  • Should we go hard shell or soft shell suitcase?
  • Four wheels or two wheels suitcases?
  • And what size luggage would you buy?

Pin Below To Save On Pinterest:

What are the best suitcases for travel? After my extensive research, I've come up with this short list of 11 suitcases you should consider for your travels.

Do you own any of these brands? Can you recommend others? You can share in the comments at the bottom.

I’m almost certain we’ll go with four wheels but undecided on the exterior make.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on what you consider to be the best suitcases for travel?

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We earn a small commission when readers make a purchase from Amazon after clicking on our links (including those above). 

134 thoughts on “11 of the Best Suitcases for Travel (plus how to choose a suitcase size)”

  1. I think the last one is better. 4 wheels, 27″ Spinner with 21″ Carry-On also looking so smarty. Definitely perfect for long tours.
    Thanks for share such a useful post with the travelers.

  2. This post was really helpful! I needed a new suitcase for my study abroad and this post really helped me make my decision. I’m so glad I found it again and was able to say thank you!

    1. Paulette sarro

      Saw a post of you committed on a suit case choice.. I need to find a great suitcase for my daughter who will be going to Ireland for a month for school.. which suitcase did you choose? Do you still like that suitcase? Thank you for your response.. paulette

  3. I have a Samsonite hardshell, one size larger than carry-on and similar to the #1 above except it doesn’t expand. I love it! The only thing that would make it more perfect would be if it came in orange.

  4. Diana Rayfield

    I’m looking for a wheeled bag with backstraps so that I can carry it like a rucksack in crowded places. I travelled once with some Americans who had such bags. Did you come across anything like this in your research?

      1. My husband and I each have the Eaglecreek Doubleback carry-on. We use them constantly. Originally bought for a 6 week tour in Europe. The small pack on them we used daily as daypacks. we were able to pack everything we needed for the entire trip. We cannot say enough good things about them. They are fabulous!

    1. I believe you can find this on Rick Steves’ (the famous travel expert) website. It is highly recommended for his group tour participants.

  5. As sales person for specialty luggage I would put that Briggs and Riley Transcend at the top of your list. As a repair standpoint you can’t beat their lifetime warranty against everything but cosmetic. Their customer service is spot on. Victorinox is also good. The rest of the bags though if they break they can’t be fixed because they don’t manufacture parts. Delsey is pretty good but since they don’t make new parts they just replace your bag as long as it is under warranty. So if you are a heavy traveler you’re going to want to the Briggs. It is the best seller in our store.

  6. The biggest consideration for me when I’m looking for new luggage is how to store it when I’m not travelling. I always end up going for backpacks (even if I think a suitcase would be more appropriate for the trip) because I can really flatten them down to store them when they’re empty. I just don’t have the space for a suitcase. On a slightly different note, you mentioned having a suitcase each – when travelling as a family/group rather than each having your own suitcase, consider splitting your stuff between all four suitcases. That way if one goes astray you’ll still have 3/4 of your gear with you.

    1. Yeah I think we’ll buy a new suitcase for each of us. That’s the way we currently travel and the kids like their independence of packing and pulling their own gear, which is cute!

  7. I have been using some 2 wheel Eagle Creek bags for years. Seriously indestructible, heavy duty wheels and not too heavy. Not the prettiest looking suitcases, but they do the job whether it is smooth airport floors or dirt roads in Africa.

  8. I have both the hard shell and soft Samsonite Sillouette. The wheels are great. I just dragged one of them all across Portland, a couple miles, and bad roadsides. BUT, after a few years, both bags are trashed. The hard shell lost its logo plate, and now there is a one-ince open hole where that was. The lock doesn’t work anymore, either, but I suspect it might have been screwdrivered. The soft bag looks really ragged and frayed and the wire frame has popped out in a couple spots. I’m looking for alternatives for my next bag, which is what brought me to your site. Thanks!

  9. This is such a useful post. I’m in the market for another suitcase but I’m still tossing up between a hardshell case or a soft case. I do like the hard cases as they tend to have better wheels and are easier to drag around airports. The Delsey Helium Aero 29″ Exp. Spinner Trolley looks pretty cool to me!

    1. Christina, having traveled with both hard and soft sided bags (all 7 continents and 105 countries), my vote goes to soft sided bags. The wheels can be comparable if you purchase a quality brand (famous names are not aways most durable). Hard sided bags from some brands have a greater tendency to crack at the bottom (from airline handling) – near the wheels, and it’s impossible to fix WHILE you are traveling. Craig is correct … you get what you pay for. Just don’t be fooled by ‘famous’ names. They don’t always represent top quality.

      1. Appreciate your thoughts Marcy, that’s a lot of traveling you’ve done. Yeah, unfortunately brand quality isn’t what it used to be for the most part, and that’s across all industries.

      2. I cannot make a decisions, hard case vs soft. My last set was Pierre Cardin and lasted over 15 years. Now, i’m in the market, I am going to South Africa, but I also cruise a LOT. My husband insist on hard luggage ( due to wheels and durability), however, I’m concerned about bruises, cracks and stuff. I DO want the easy wheels–but also want to avoid having to replace it in two years. I am so lost. I needed someone to make a compelling argument for soft side vs. hard side.

  10. You covered a lot of really good information. You mentioned many good brands. You left off Pathfinder Luggage and Andiamo Luggage. Both have collections made of nylon fabric (much more durable than polyester). Both have collections with an Extra Mile Warranty … that extends to include airline baggage mishandling. All available on Amazon.

      1. Pathfinder Revolution Plus … remember there is direct correlation between weight and durability (lighter is not always better – depends on your travel style). Andiamo Avanti … more luxurious, but both with warranties that extend to airline abuse.

  11. I just came across your blog and this post while searching online about suitcases for my upcoming trip home from college. Since I have outgrown my 25″ suitcase that I have had since I was 12, I am in the need for something larger. Today I actually had purchased a 31″ suitcase, but learned that it would be too big to travel with so I am looking now to return it for a smaller one. Your post is causing me to lean toward a 28″ suitcase for domestic US usage currently, mainly for flights between college and home but also for the occasional flight for vacation purposes. One thing you said that sort of woke me up, was that high end brands are essentially treated the same and to go for something with the best reviews. This is making me want to get a Samsonite which is a good name, but also a lot different from the Burberry bag I have had my eye on. I want something that will last and that will not cause me to panic because of being damaged by baggage handlers.

  12. Thanks for this – very useful for my next luggage purchase – just a note about the pros and cons – the shell suitcases (those that open in half) are really difficult to use in some of the European rooms which tend to be small – you need lots of space, compared to the older style of a ‘top’ opening.

  13. I’d go for a Briggs & Riley bag any day of the year. Their warranty is outstanding, which also says a lot about the quality as I see it. They’re prizy, but they’re so worth it! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

  14. The Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage listed at number five should be ranked higher in my opinion. That was one of the best pieces of luggage ive gotten the pleasure to own.

  15. Wow, Fantastic reviews of luggage.
    I live in Dubai and travel to US often to see family. I do a lot of travelling in airports now, not really backpacking/sportsbagging around as I did when I was younger. I’m ready for a real suitcase. I definitely want one that is 4 wheels, spinney, 27″. I wasn’t sure before, but after reading the pros and cons, I’ve made those decisions.
    I’m wondering though should I get a hard shell or a soft shell. Since I do travel to south africa sometimes, I like the hardshell for security.

    These pros and cons list are great. I came across your blog doing some preliminary online shopping before I go to the store. I was wondering if you could do a US review of some of the big stores. I heard Macy’s does a lifetime guarantee of all of their products…so I’ll go to their website to shop what they have, then i’ll go to JCP and then to sears website. If you are looking for ways to improve the list, possibly you could add which brands are typically carried at big department stores.

    I give you this feed back because your blog is 3rd listed on google search for “lightweight suitcases 27″ hard shell”. Good job getting ranked so high.

    Great stuff. Maybe a hardshell is best because it’s always better to be over prepared for security from outside dangers as well as protecting any contents inside.

  16. Hi,
    Many thanks for the very informative article.

    For what’s worth, our Family of four has been travelling for over 3 decade, myself more extensively on business in Europe – West and East, Middle East, North Africa, Iran, India and Pakistan, with a yearly trip back home to Australia (I was based in the UK).
    Many airports in various regions have given our luggage the roughest treatment imaginable. Generally speaking, we have had good experience with the way our luggage has stood up to all the handling.
    – Delsey Hardshells have been our main-stay – still in quite good condition after countless flights over the years.
    – Got a large Samsonite Hardshell about 5 years ago – doing quite well. A part of the external pull-out handle was damaged recently, could have broken off the whole handle system on the next flight. Samsonite Istanbul/Turkey fixed that free-of-charge – yes, Samsonite stand by their product – but it took 3 weeks until we had our suitcase back. Could have been a problem, but in our case, we could wait.

    We definitely go for 2-wheelers – integrated. We find the modern 4-wheel spinners get their wheels knocked off far too easily – several retailers have confirmed that to us when we asked them. Just imagine, you have a long walk from the arrival hall to your car or train – without a trolley – and the wheels had been knocked off.
    We prefer Hard Shell over Soft – the former tend to give better protection to any breakable items inside.
    Clamp-down ones with locks are safer than the current ones with zips – once the zip tears the contents spreads all over the place.
    Cheers.

    1. My 4 wheel spinner lost a wheel on a cobblestone path in Greece – I just flipped it around to the other side and kept going on those 2 wheels!

  17. Just bought the TravelPro MaxLite 4 25″ Spinner and came back to this entry to check if it was on your list. Not sure the difference between the MaxLite 3 and 4 but this seems lightweight and easy to maneuver… two of our highest priorities. Haven’t ever spent more than $100 on a suitcase but hoping these will last for a few years of international travel. We have reservations on JetStar this Nov while in Australia and only allotted ~44 lbs for checked bags. Hoping this bag will help us stay under that limit!

  18. Toss-up between Kenneth Cole Reaction – hard case with protected corners, notched grip on bottom for lifting, both sides of inside have zippered covers (instead of X-straps) to secure belongings, expandable, 10 year warranty. I found it at TJMaxx for $69 (25″) also available in 20″ and 28″.
    Samsonite Charlestown DLX hard case back, soft case in front – with several pockets so I can tuck my passport and flight papers in one, and easily access kindle, phone, etc in others. Expandable, 10 year warranty. Ross for $99.99 for 25″.

    My problem is that I want a free carry-on for domestic flights, but 20″ is just too small for 2 1/2 weeks in Europe, which I try to do 2X’s a year…

  19. One of the criteria listed is the suitcase should not weigh more than 7.5 lbs, but none of the reviews list weight and the links to Amazon also do not list weights.

  20. When I decided I wanted to travel the world with carry-on only, I did massive suitcase investigation. It had to be small, light as possible, very strong and affordable. 3 months in, I am very happy with my choice – the Samsonite 72hr small suitcase weighing 1.5kg. It was AUD $179 and worth every cent. I opted for red, which was a bit different and hides the dirt.

  21. can’t decide based on the Incomplete information provided. I think information like water-proof or not, (empty) weight are also very important. Some 100% poly-carbonate shell bags (as claimed) are not even water resistant.

  22. Sandy and I bought an inexpensive 3 piece (I think, Melbourne based company) set at Harbourtown. It was a large suitcase, which Sandy uses, a medium which I use, and a cabin size, which we share. (We both have a small back pack as well.) It was $199 for the set. They are olive green in colour (although maroon was another option) hard shell, …. easy to spot with my hot-pink address tags, expandable, and four wheel, with at least 2 different length handles. We have used them for New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, Finland. India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Vanuatu, Melbourne and Sydney. Apart from a few scratches, they are in excellent shape.
    We are not at home at the moment, but if you are interested, I’ll try to find the manufacturer, as I truly believe in using local manufacturers.
    I cannot fault these suitcases, which I bought after watching our soft sided cases sit on a rain sodden tarmac in Brisbane, in which our clothes were soaked through.
    Our very best wishes, Sandy and Gail.

  23. For years I have sworn by Samsonite Hard sided luggage. Quality is great. BUT, the airlines have “sprung” the hinges on all of them. I can still use them, but have to work at closing them, work best if I can lock them, but TSA does not like that. If I put a strap on, and I do and I attach the strap to the handle, the strap never makes it to the destination. So I would go softsided. Like you say, all have their pros and cons. I am just getting tired of the air lines springing all the hinges.

  24. Has anyone tried the hard-sided suitcases from Amazon Basics? I just got one myself and love the large skateboard type wheels. Definitely will be useful for not getting rocks and stuff getting stuck in them. I’m just not sure about the durability long term.

  25. First thing, awesome article, wish I found it before purchasing new luggage! I do have a question for you or anyone else, for that matter. We are preparing to move to Europe from the States and I was a little worried about the 29 inch suitcases. Have you had any experience with traveling abroad with that size suit case? I’m trying to stay within the 62-inch max, but it seems everything is an inch or two over that. Any thoughts?

  26. A challenge with most hard side is clamshell design. Hard to use on hotel luggage rack. Must open completely to get inside. Most hard side luggage loses side pockets too.
    Avoid cheaper ABS hard shell. Does not absorb impact and can shatter.

    A handy tip is luggage straps with custom color for check in luggage.
    Why no mention of wheeled duffles?? Try ebags for their line too. Lifetime warranty .

  27. What type and dimensions of suitcase I should prefer when I am traveling to Vietnam?

    And please suggest me what extra care I should take while traveling to Vietnam?

    Thanks for your help.

  28. I found lovetravelbags.com to be super helpful when choosing my suitcases. After travelling through Europe with my girlfriend, there were two things I was sure of:

    1. Oh my god the food in Spain is incredible.
    2. Suitcases will make or break your trip.

    Having a Samsonite Spinner set made our lives SO much easier – and so much more enjoyable. Lightweight and compact – carrying two of these at once (yes, I’m a gentleman) was no trouble at all.

    I love using this site for reviews and recommendations – I’ll be digging deep over the next couple of months – bring on Japan!

  29. Hello and thanks for all your info. Just wanted to add, I’ve had a Travelpro Rollaboard 22″ (2 wheels – one of the earliest models I think!) and it has served me well for ~30+ years of mostly US domestic travel. I found it did not fit the dimensions for Norwegian Air requirements for carryon to the UK last summer and checked it, so I’m now looking for a 21″ for carryon and a larger size for longer trips. Not knocking the other brands, but my experience with Travelpro’s durability has been great. Happy travels!

  30. What suitcases are you pictured with: size, manufacturer,model. What suitcase precisely do you use to carry your Blendtec Blender? Does it have room then for everything else a solo traveler needs.(I don’ have advantage of family to divide up gear.

    Thanks

  31. I travel with two 25” Tumi suitcases (one w/ 2 wheels, one w/ 4 wheels) and find it very difficult to ‘push/steer’ the spinner as I ‘pull’ the 2-wheeled bag. I’m ready to buy Brigs and Riley Transcend suitcases to replace my tired Tumi’s and need advice about the best sizes and wheel types to purchase as well how to navigate them:

    1) Is it feasible to stack a carry-on bag on top of (or in front of) a 25” or 28” suitcase? If so, is it best for the smaller bag to have 2 wheels?

    2) Do you recommend a 2 or 4-wheeled carry-on? Is it hard to get a spinner bag onto a plane and into the overhead bin?

    3) When traveling with two 25″-28″ suitcases, should they both have 2-wheels, 4-wheels, or one of each? And what’s the best way navigate two such suitcases at the same time!?

  32. Hey Craig,

    I’ve bought Eagle Creek 2 wheels 2 years ago and it still working fine for me. I’m looking for one to my daughter and I found useful these you showed us!

    Thank you very much

  33. Thank you, great article. I travel a lot and have found the suitcases that open in the middle to take up a lot of room in motels etc. Do you have any suggestions to overcome this. It is making me consider buying a soft case that has more of a lid style opening.

  34. Have you looked at IT Lugguage.? Lightest 8 Wheels suitcase available and they seem to get good mileage. The one I am looking at is only 4.5lbs for a 29.4″ suitcase.

    1. Eileen, did you go with the IT suitcase? (I just bought one for my stepson, who will be flying iternally). I’d love to hear how it worked out for you. Thanks.

  35. Craig,

    What luggage did you find for you and your family?
    Is the luggage pictured in the photo of you and your family on your way to Singapore what you chose?

  36. You don’t need to spend that much money. Wife & I bought from TJ Maxx (hard shells, 4 wheels) and we take about 4 big trips a year and after 2 years….same condition. We purchases both for $50 each.

  37. So many tips, thanks guys!! We always just used cheap suitcases and it wasn’t till we parents decent suitcases from the parents that we realized what we were missing out on! argh! Decent suitcases just roll around so much smoother and easier and we are loving dividers as we mostly share suitcases in our household! Just ended up buying some lovely American Tourister suitcases and cannot wait to use them on our next trip! 🙂

  38. Sherry valentine

    You lost all credibility when you said you buy cheap disposable sunglasses. I am an ophthalmologist, and that’s the worse thing you can do health wise. This is the only pair of eyes you’ll ever have in your life. And you keep saying “you get what you pay for”. No credibility for you, my dear. Doc Sherry

    1. Sorry Doc Sherry. I have two young children who get their hands on everything. I’m not buying expensive sunglasses until they’re older and I won’t need to replace them several times a year. I hear what you are saying, but there are reasons why people make their choices and I can think of many other things that are worse for your health that take priority above this.

  39. every one of the zipper bags are useless for security, you can break into any of them in under 5 seconds with a pencil.

    1. Honestly, anyone can break into anything if they want to. I’ve used zipper bags for 20 years now and never had a problem. It’s really not something I worry about.

  40. I was remembering the time i was in hong kong about 30 yrs ago, and watched the guy who was putting my luggage through an x ray machine as it was a material suitcase and was bulging due to being stuffed with to much duty free stuff and wouldn’t fit in the x ray machine, picked it up and slammed it onto the floor as hard as he could to as to make it fit. I was horrified and everyone around me was as well as they knew what was going to happen to there cases, i am wondering if these new polycarbonate cases can really take a beating as i am in the market for something bulletproof , i thought this article was fantastic and of great help

  41. Have you looked into retractable wheels. Have had many instances
    of wheels being damaged in transit and think retractable ones
    would be a plus.

  42. The weak spot is always the same, the wheels. They are too small and weak.
    Only a few 2 wheeled suitcases have large wheels, and they are too expensive.

  43. Craig- did you go with soft sided or hard shell? Just had the airline rip off my lock with zipper pull and slider-thank goodness I had a strap around it! Don’t fly without them on my suitcases. Would have lost everything!

    Any thoughts on London Fog luggage?

  44. My husband and I each have the Eaglecreek Doubleback carry-on. We use them constantly. Originally bought for a 6 week tour in Europe. The small pack on them we used daily as daypacks. we were able to pack everything we needed for the entire trip. We cannot say enough good things about them. They are fabulous!

  45. Question-I am looking for a checked size bag(prefer only 2 wheels)(25-ish inch) that has a handle which is a minimum 15 inches long (four wheel cases seem to have shorter handles due to the extra height the wheels add). I use one of those small laptop bags with two wheels and an expandable handle that has a strap on the back that the larger suitcase handle needs to be long enough to slide through. The suitcases basically will need to stack one on top of the other. The small laptop bag is a Samsonite ( I am really surprised they don’t make a checked size bag that works with their own small bag-all of their handles are short). There are cheaper bags that will work; however, I travel for work and they get demolished every 6-8 months and it is getting old coughing up $60-$80 each time. Do you have any suggestions?

  46. Hi. I can see from the picture you ended up with a soft suitcase. Can I ask you which suitcase brand you ended up getting? Has it held up and are you happy with it?
    Thanks
    Jilli

  47. Thank you so much for sharing your detailed thoughts and experience.

    My indecisiveness choosing luggage makes me want to want to pull my hair out in frustration over this relatively simple choice.

    I use my luggage for mainly 1-month intercontinental business trips by plane and always bring a suit and shirts on hangers with me. I need a 28″-29″ suitcase to fit everything comfortably – great to have the frequent flier perks for the extra few pounds that often ends up in it.

    I was considering getting the Delsey Pilot 4.0 29″ as I’ve been very happy with my old Delsey softside which has lasted almost 10 years/50 trips before I am giving in to the missing zipper handles, dirty nylon, and bag weight. But now I am leaning toward the more expensive Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29″ based on your review. Did you consider the Delsey Pilot 4.0 while making your list?

    Thanks!

  48. I’m looking for a carry-on that I can take on Vueling or Easy Jet and the maximum size is 55 by 40 by 20 centimeters

  49. No matter which carry-on you go with, 2 wheels, or 4 wheels make sure you use the RetraStrap, it makes your luggage feel much lighter and takes the stress off your muscles and joints. hands free and anti-theft. RetraStrap.com

  50. This is a really great and helpful article. I would also add as a pro that 4 wheeled bags are balanced and will stand on their own. And the con for 2 wheelers is that they can become “front-heavy” when packed and unless they have front feet or some other type of compensantion, may fall over unless propped against something. I have the American Tourister Star Wars C3PO 28″ Spinner, which I’ve been satisfied with. It has a lot of the suggestions here and it makes me really happy to look at.

  51. Maureen Jularbal

    Four-wheeled or 2-wheeled luggage is indeed a good companion when travelling. But of course, the best bag to use depends on what kind of trip you decide to have. Because for me, using such bag when going on an adventure is a very big no. Since you will have to walk so much on grounds and unstable paves, the bag you will need will surely not those that have wheels on them. Using such will only give you stress and I bet you will have a worse day out. So, I prefer to use backpacks whenever I travel.

  52. That most good the last one is better. 4 wheels, 27″ Spinner with 21″ Carry-On also looking so smarty. Definitely perfect for long tours.
    useful post with the travelers.
    I’m looking for a wheeled bag with backstraps so that I can carry it like a rucksack in crowded places

    1. WE are so happy we could help you!! Let us know if there are any other travel equipment priorities you’d like us to do the research on for you

  53. I know that this is going to be controversial but I am not a fan of soft-sided suitcases that use zippers to stay closed. I am an airport inspector and I see what happens to our checked luggage and it is shocking. Theft, smuggling and damage from baggage handling equipment are the main problems. My team and I only travel with hard sided luggage like a Samsonite F’lite or S’cure. If you insist one a soft-sided bag with a zipper – please look for one that uses the latest double coil zippers that are much harder to breach. (Like from Pacsafe)

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