If you travel frequently for work or for leisure, you probably understand the importance of having quality luggage. When traveling by plane, especially in the situation where you have to check your baggage, the luggage is not handled delicately. If you use luggage that is not made of durable materials it will often be damaged and can lead to a loss of your personal items. Sturdy luggage doesn’t have to be heavy. There are many lightweight luggage pieces that are made of durable materials and are designed to last, even through airport travel.
Top 5 Suitcases
- Upright: 21" x 13" x 7.5" (with wheels)
- Tote bag: 14"x 11" x 5.5"
- Multi-directional 4-wheel spinners for smooth, 360-degree movement
- Durable, lightweight hardside ABS exterior with molded corner guard reinforcements and a...
- Lightweight durable ABS material
- 28" SPINNER LUGGAGE maximizes your packing power and is the ideal checked bag for longer trips
- PACKING Dimensions: 27.6" x 20.0" x 13.0", OVERALL Dimensions: 31.1" x 20.95" x 13.78", 9.5 lbs.
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 under seat personal item.
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 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.
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.
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.