The 10 Best Lightweight Luggage
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in June of 2016. When you are going to be toting a bunch of heavy stuff already, why burden yourself further with an old-fashioned, cumbersome suitcase? Our selection includes ultra-light luggage, bags, and packs that are manufactured from stylish and durable materials, so you can rely on them for years to come. They can help you breeze through airports and even avoid dreaded overweight baggage fees. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 10, 2020:
For this update, we've added the ultra-light Cotopaxi Allpa, which is half the weight of any comparably sized rolling luggage that you'll find. It's great for adventurers and unlike most backpacks, it has a suitcase-style, horizontal opening. Another newcomer is the AmazonBasics Hardside, a highly-rated yet affordable case that is simple yet effective.
For an upgraded option, the Briggs & Riley Baseline-Softside is built to last and has clever features, like a folding compartment that helps to keep the wrinkles out of hanging clothes. We've kept the Travelpro Maxlite 5 at the top of our list; all three sizes consistently receive great reviews.
We've removed the Delsey Helium Aero because its relatively high price and relatively low ratings just didn't add up for us. Plus, some reviewers complained that its exterior didn't stand up well to abuse at the hands of luggage handlers. The Biaggi Zipsak and the Skyway Luggage Mirage are no longer available.
November 08, 2019:
We know that good luggage has to last longer than just a few trips, which is why we are disappointed by the long-term quality of the Samsonite Winfield 2, especially considering the brand's reputation. So we've decided to replace it with the Lipault Plume, a durable choice that offers sleeker styling than you'll find on many fabric choices. We also like the wide range of bright colors offered. And speaking of fun color choices, we've also opted to add the newer American Tourister Stratum XLT in place of the brand's iLite Max Softside Spinner. Although it's a good suitcase, this latter model is becoming harder to find. The Stratum XLT is a fine choice, too, but it does seem to dent more easily than some comparable hard-sided spinners.
Fans of Travelpro bags will be happy to note the addition of the updated Travelpro Maxlite 5, which takes the place of the Travelpro Maxlite 4. This newer model is around a half a pound lighter than the previous iteration; while this sounds like a paltry amount of weight, it could be enough for one more souvenir or outfit. Finally, we added one rolling duffel bag thanks to its low weight and easy-to-fill shape. This bag, the Olympia Rolling, isn't as bomb-proof as some other choices, though, so you might consider it if you're an occasional traveler rather than a globe-trotting road warrior.
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Offered in several sizes from 40 to 100 liters, the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel is an exceedingly lightweight alternative to a standard suitcase. Each boasts weather-resistant ripstop polyester that can take just about anything you (or a baggage handler) can throw at it, and this fabric is made from 100 percent recycled materials, to boot. patagonia.com
The Large by Away A quick glance at The Large by Away can be deceiving, as it has a simple appearance but many features packed within its unassuming frame. These include a TSA-approved combination lock, a removable laundry bag, a compression system, and leather details, including a sleek luggage tag. awaytravel.com
Tumi Latitude Collection Many travelers have come to rely on the Tumi Latitude Collection, and for good reason. These pieces are robust and rugged yet attractive, with an outer shell that can bend and flex in response to stress. Each one costs a pretty penny, though. tumi.com
Choosing The Right Lightweight Luggage
Even travel undertaken for pleasure can still come with its share of stresses, as travel by its very nature takes you out of your established comfort zone of home.
When you are traveling, the last thing you want is to be inconvenienced. Even travel undertaken for pleasure can still come with its share of stresses, as travel by its very nature takes you out of your established comfort zone of home. To reduce the stress of travel, plan ahead by checking and confirming all your itineraries thoroughly, and lay out everything you will pack at least a few days before it's actually time to head out.
And when you do pack, it's a wise idea to do so in the lightest weight luggage you can find. When you choose a bag that is light in weight to begin with, you help ensure that your luggage won't end up heavier than you can comfortably manage to lift into an overhead compartment on a plane or pull along through the airport or down the street.
As with any luggage you are considering, first, make sure you find a bag (or a set) that can properly accommodate the type and amount of clothing and sundries that you will need to bring along for your travels. Next look for the right features for your needs and preferences. Some people love spinner wheels, for example, which allow a bag to be easily moved in any direction. Other people prefer a set of parallel wheels that keep the bag on a straighter path when being pulled and which prevent it from rolling about when it is sitting upright.
Look for the arrangement and size of exterior pockets a given bag features, note the shape and height of its handle, and consider the bag's material. A hard-shelled suitcase can best protect its contents, but a suitcase with a softer fabric exterior can flex to accommodate more items and can also be more easily fit into a storage compartment.
Remember that a lightweight suitcase is not only a convenience thanks to your comfort, but that it will help you conform to an airline's weight limit policies as well. Some airlines have no limits for carry-on luggage weights, while others may limit your bag weight to as little as twenty pounds for some destinations. Check the specific policies regarding any flights you will be taking and plan accordingly.
A Few Ideas For Proper Packing
Once you have found a great lightweight suitcase or luggage set, part of the hassle of packing is over. Now all you have to do is actually pack. A few smart ideas, a couple of great products, and a little patience are all that's needed to make packing easy and efficient.
This means stuffing socks into shoes, shirts into hats, and so forth.
First and foremost, dedicate an open space you can use to lay out and arrange all of the items you wish to pack. A bed or a dining room table each work well for this purpose. When you can see everything in one place before you pack it away into the bag, you can help prevent accidentally forgetting a necessity, and you can allow yourself to reduce the number of items you'll bring by eliminating needless redundancies. (Can your swim shorts be used for jogging, for example?)
When possible, pack items into other items before you pack them into your suitcase. This means stuffing socks into shoes, shirts into hats, and so forth. There should be no empty cavities in your suitcase (unless you don't even need to fill the whole bag) and that includes the spaces inside packed items.
You should consider the modest investment in a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approved toiletry bag for storing and organizing your liquids such as shampoo and moisturizers. Using one of these will not only make it easy for you to organize your toiletry items, but will also make passing through the security checkpoint at the airport easy and efficient. Most such bags are also leak-proof, which the rest of your luggage will appreciate should the cap come off a bottle of conditioner or mouthwash.
The Ever-Increasing Cost Of Travel
Over the past few years, more and more people have complained about the diminished quality and higher costs of travel. The airline industry is the chief target of most ire, and indeed the quality of service and the amenities offered have depreciated in tangible multiple ways. To name two prominent examples, while meals used to be a regular component of any air travel lasting more than three or four hours, today food is only available for purchase in most economy class seats. And on most flights, you will find more seats, in general, filling a plane: seats have been moved closer together, diminishing personal space in the name of maximized ticket sales.
The airline industry is the chief target of most ire, and indeed the quality of service and the amenities offered have depreciated in tangible multiple ways.
New fees have also been attached to many aspects of air travel, with none so odious as the fee for checked luggage. Thus it is that these days traveling light is not only a convenience for the passenger, but can also be a good way to save money on expensive baggage fees.
With the weight of a carry-on bag also subject to certain limitations, a traveler must pack with great care indeed if he or she wants to bring along all the clothing at items they need for their trip without being subject to exorbitant extra charges. As for the "up sale" for extra legroom, an earlier boarding time, and a seat near the front of the plane that allows a hastier exit, those are all decisions left to individual discretion.