The 10 Best Luggage
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Being on vacation is a pleasure, but getting there can be a headache, especially when it comes to packing and carrying your luggage. These cases were designed with the inconveniences and hassles of travel in mind, and can make it a bit easier to take all the essentials on your next sojourn. We've included a good range of styles and sizes to suit every type of traveler. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 21, 2021:
As the Tommy Bahama Expandable Spinner was no longer available in any size, we've removed it and reintroduced the American Tourister 4 Kix. It's not terribly fancy, but it's also not very expensive, and still built to last for years. Its spinner wheels and various zippered pockets make it easy to move and easy to organize.
The remainder of our selections haven't really changed. We did upgrade to a refined model of the mid-size Briggs & Riley BRX-Explore, which is still one of the best-looking and most durable models we've found. Otherwise, the Samsonite Winfield 2 and Delsey Paris Helium Aero are still our favorite hard-sided options, while the Osprey Packs Sojourn is an interesting and versatile blend of suitcase and backpack.
March 04, 2020:
Everybody travels a bit differently. Some like to pack a lot of stuff, while others adventure lightly. Meanwhile, certain travelers need to be able to access their belongings while en route, while some can do without touching their stuff until they reach their destination. And of course, many head out with fragile and valuable belongings that require a little extra care. We made sure each of these types of travelers would find something on this list.
For those who need a suitcase that can move as quickly as they must when catching a connecting flight, we added the Tommy Bahama Expandable Spinner, with its wheels that rotate 360 degrees, and the Delsey Paris Helium Aero, which rolls quite smoothly over most terrain. We removed the It Luggage as many people find it hard to maneuver, which is a big inconvenience when rushing to catch a plane.
Adding items with style was important, too. While the American Tourister Marvel was certainly charming in its aesthetic, we removed it to make room for the Enkloze X1 Carbon, which offers a more universally-appealing design, with the added benefit of an easy-access front compartment where you can grab your travel laptop in a hurry. The Rockland Safari Hardside caught our attention for its vibrant prints and patterns, which should make it easy to differentiate your bag from the others on the carousel.
We added some fabric options, for those who prefer that, like the highly-stable Steve Madden Designer Softside and the Osprey Packs Sojourn (which doubles as a backpack). Though the Samsonite Sphere 2 was a fine soft model, it lost its spot to the Briggs & Riley BRX-Explore, which has water-resistant tarpaulin plus a rugged construction to protect your belongings.
Michael Kors Logo Suitcase If you like to show brand loyalty wherever you go, this piece of luggage could be for you. Timeless and simple in design, it has the iconic "MK" initials all over it, and has attractive leather accents at the corners paired with gold-tone hardware. It also features multiple organizational pockets, a wide clip-in panel, and sits on 360-degree rotating wheels to help you swiftly get from point A to point B. michaelkors.com
Tumi International Carry-On With an aluminum frame and strategically-contoured shell, this suitcase should survive most abuse, and will hide scratches and scuffs well. In addition to being visually striking, it has some useful features, like a hanger bracket and an external card pocket. There are five colors to choose from, each of which will, as its name suggests, probably get you out of those checked baggage fees. tumi.com
Picking The Perfect Travel Companion
If you aren’t the type to travel often, you can prioritize the needs of your next journey over those you imagine you might take in the future.
When you’re traveling, whether it’s a short weekend drive up the coast or a grueling, 14-hour flight half-way around the world, you want to have something secure in which you can transport all of your clothes, toiletries, and, if you love your family and friends, your souvenirs. Of course, that weekend vacation is going to require far fewer changes of underwear than a month-long trip to Japan, but if you have the right bag (or bags) at your disposal, you’ll be able to pack just the right amount for your needs.
Size, then, is likely the most important consideration you can make when investing in a new piece of luggage. If you aren’t the type to travel often, you can prioritize the needs of your next journey over those you imagine you might take in the future. More frequent travelers should think about the length of their average trip, and make a selection that begins there. And remember that when it comes to size, airlines have very specific regulations about the shape and size of bags allowed into overhead compartments. If you’re the type who likes to skip baggage claim and get out of the airport as quickly as possible, make sure your selection is rated for such use.
Once you’ve got a sense of the size you need, you ought to think about the weather in your home state, as well as the weather of your most common or impending destinations. If you fly out of or into Pittsburgh or Seattle, for example, you’ll want a bag that isn’t susceptible to moisture, as those locations are notorious for their rainy weather.
Along similar lines, depending on what you plan on packing into your suitcase, you might want to consider a piece of luggage with hard sides. Many of these rugged devices are made from lightweight metals and plastics that are not only durable, but are significantly lightweight, as well, so you don’t have to choose between the security of your items and their ease of transport.
Finally, don’t be afraid to make a decision based on the aesthetics of a given bag. Making your way through the airport in style is important, to be sure, but a bag with a little flair will also be much easier to pick out on a carousel, reducing the likelihood that a stranger will mistakenly pick up your belongings and take them home.
Other Useful Luggage Accessories
Once you’ve gotten your hands on an excellent piece of luggage, there are a few other items that will help you round out the unit and give you the most efficient and comfortable traveling experience you could desire. Most of these items cost significantly less than the bags themselves, so if your budget will allow for them, feel free to treat yourself.
Most of these items cost significantly less than the bags themselves, so if your budget will allow for them, feel free to treat yourself.
It’s understandable that you would want to keep your personal belongings safe while in transit, especially if your bag were to find itself in the hands of a stranger. If you use any old lock to secure your luggage, however, the TSA will likely have to break it if they choose to investigate your case, potentially causing irreparable damage your zipper mechanism, which could result in a permanently broken bag. A simple investment in a TSA-approved lock will protect your stuff from the prying hands of anyone unauthorized to search your bag, while allowing vetted employees of the TSA to open the lock with one of their master keys.
If you have a hard time packing light, and you often find yourself sitting on your suitcase just to get it to zip closed, then an investment in some vacuum-sealed bags would do you good. Often called Space Bags, after the most popular brand on the market, these devices will allow you to suck all of the air out of a space filled with anything you decide to pack, drastically reducing the amount of room that your bags take up.
One of the most difficult and potentially hazardous items to pack in your luggage is that extra pair of shoes. Wherever you walk, your shoes pick up a litany of bacteria, and if you don’t have a reasonable way to store those shoes in transit, you risk spreading those bacteria throughout your wardrobe. A quality shoe bag will prevent this, as it effectively separates your footwear from the rest of your clothes, while keeping them tightly packed to maximize the rest of your packing space.
Traveling Through The Ages: A Brief History Of Modern Luggage
Nowadays, when most people hear the word carpetbag, they’re likely to think of an entertainment column in the New York Times that’s notorious for picking the vast majority of Academy Award Winners in the days leading up to the big show. The term carpetbagger, however, is a political one meant to describe a candidate who seeks election in a community where he or she has no connections. The image is one of an outsider coming into a local race with a carpetbag full of clothes on his back.
For the bulk of recent history, if one intended to travel, he or she would do so accompanied by one or more trunks.
For the bulk of recent history, if one intended to travel, he or she would do so accompanied by one or more trunks. These hard-sided devices were large, unwieldy, and the province, principally, of the wealthy. Often, these wealthy travelers paid porters, whose exclusive job was to see to the luggage. If one hadn’t any money, but still needed to get around with more than just the clothes on their back, their go-to item was the carpetbag, a satchel of sorts constructed out of the same materials used in common carpets.
As the 19th century drew to a close, consumers could acquire carpetbags outfitted with iron frames intended to make them easier to carry or to stack alongside trunks. Around the same time, smaller trunks with handles built for their owners to carry became more popular, and travel for leisure expanded throughout a growing middle class.
From that point until the addition of wheels toward the end of the 20th century, little changed in the luggage world. New materials replaced the leather that was ubiquitous for so long, eventually giving way to rugged, lightweight metals and incredibly durable plastics. Today's options represent the pinnacle of such technology, and aren't liekly to change too much until somebody invents self-washing clothes.