Travel horror stories invariably include memorable snippets about disasters involving airports, airlines and checked-in luggage. Indeed, once your bag is handed over to the airline staff, it disappears into the cavernous bowels of the airport for a rather tumultuous journey. This includes a roller coaster ride on automated belts and being tossed around roughly by baggage handlers. It is therefore not surprising that the luggage you receive at the end of the journey sometimes looks a bit worse for wear. Nicks here, a dent there, a torn zip – most of us have been through such distressing experiences at some time or the other. Having the right checked luggage plays a very important role in making your travel hassle-free. Just imagine the horror of having half your luggage spilling out due to a torn zip or having to lug around a suitcase whose handle has been wrenched out by some rough handling! That would be a sure-fire way to take the pleasure out of your travelling. The importance of investing in the best checked luggage possible should not be underestimated.
But it is not just toughness that is important. Good looking travel accessories are a must for the savvy traveller. Your luggage has to make a fashion statement. The industry has risen to the challenge and today luggage comes in all forms. This includes elegant classics, bold designs, conservative colours, vibrant hues, specialised handles, modern materials, patterned pockets and much more. The wide range and varied features make choosing the right luggage a difficult task.
So the next time you go shopping for luggage, be sure to keep the following tips in mind.
The 10 Best Checked Luggage
Made of top-quality ballistic nylon, Travelpro Luggage Crew 11 is extremely hardy. The addition of a DuraGuard coating increases its resistance to stains and scratches. Given its durable nature, it is a great pick for people who are in and out of airports very often.
Manoeuvring the luggage is a breeze as it comes equipped with eight dual spinner wheels and a PowerScope extension handle with a patented grip. The zips are tough and damage-resistant. The top and side handles are made of premium leather enhancing its elegant look. Packing your clothes and accessories in the Luggage Crew is also easy. The inside of the suitcase has a side mesh, a suiter pocket, a wet pocket and adjustable straps to ensure that your clothes do not end up crushed and creased. The Luggage Crew ranks high if you are looking for a tough but classy travel accessory.
Interior space well organised
Extremely hardy and travels well
Cushioned touchpoints on the handle
Issues with the warranty
Performance of the wheels could be better
This is a winning combination of good looks and functionality. If you are a big packer, this is your go-to suitcase. It is spacious with plenty of pockets, making it a dream come true for those who like to be organised in their packing. The interior packing space is large. Added packing conveniences include a blouse pocket, shoe pocket, front panel interior pocket and a modesty pocket!
The smooth fabric finish with nylon lining gives the Tourister a sleek look. But the icing on the cake as far as its fashion quotient is concerned is the stunning rose gold accents on the logo, zipper and handle. It simply makes the luggage stand apart and – even more convenient – makes it easy to identify on the baggage carousel. The Tourister glides along smoothly with multi-direction spinner wheels. Durable zippers and a push-button locking handle are added pluses. This fashionable, functional bag will easily make it to any bestseller luggage list.
Great price for the features offered
Lots of pockets for the organised packer
Elegant denim and rose gold-accented finish
Deep main storage gives more packing space
Stability issue with reports of bag tipping over
Feedback suggests handles are wobbly
The Paris Chatelet has a luxurious finish that will please style connoisseurs. The exterior is made of virgin polycarbonate to provide tough durability. The faux leather accents on the rims and the middle give the bag a sophisticated look. The interior’s soft lining is plush to touch. The packing space is well organised with two packing compartments and a zippered divider. The removable hanger makes sure your best outfit reaches your destination in great shape. Other thoughtful additions include laundry and shoe bags.
The bag’s security and safety features are top-notch. The TSA lock is located on the side in a recess; the zip is extra secure; and there is a tracking plate at the back to help trace lost bags. The Paris Chatelet is a smooth mover with double spinner wheels. An additional safety feature is the unique brake system. Activated by a button, the brake locks the two front wheels of the luggage to prevent it from drifting away. Given these features, this model is a definite inclusion in the best checked luggage category.
Luxurious fully lined interior
Award-winning brake system
Made to withstand extreme temperature
Two bags and hanger in storage space for better packing
Scratches and dents reported
Lock susceptible to getting jammed
If you love going on extended vacations with your family, the Samsonite Englewood might just be the perfect choice for you. It has super-sized storage space to accommodate the packing whims of every member of your family. The extension feature allows you to expand capacity by a good 1.5 inches, enabling you to indulge in some guilt-free shopping at your holiday destination!
The storage space is aesthetically lined and the pockets are strategically placed for added convenience. The Englewood is also a good buy for long international flights. Made of a durable textured polycarbonate it can take many hard knocks without a scratch or a dent on its handsome exterior. It is also water-resistant. Though large, the Englewood is easy to handle with a multi-stage telescope handle and smoothly efficient spinner wheels. Large but manoeuvrable; light but tough – it’s easy to understand why the Englewood gets a thumbs up from its users.
Huge storage space
Difficult for one person to lift if needed
The Filament from IT Luggage is a smart piece of luggage that combines both style and storage. As airways become more and more weight conscious, this softshell, lightweight luggage might just be the ideal choice. A heavier suitcase would mean that you have to reduce your packed items by at least two to three pounds!
The interior is spacious and the semi expander system adds further space if required. In a thoughtful design innovation, the expander has been positioned at the base to prevent any negative impact on the stability of the suitcase. Fully lined, the packing area is well organised and includes a zippered mesh pocket. Tie-down straps keep packed items in place. The Filament glides along beautifully on eight multidirectional spinner wheels. The product is competitively priced, making it one of the more attractive choices among top-rated luggage models.
Light and spacious
Design innovation for improved stability
Stains show up easily on the body
The overall look is a bit flimsy
Comfortable, convenient and colourful, the Lily Bloom Luggage is aimed at a female audience. However, its aesthetics will appeal to everybody! Interestingly, the fabric used to make the luggage is made from recycled plastic bottles. So buying Lily Bloom luggage will also mean a contribution to the Green Earth movement.
This quirky travel companion has a storage capacity of 69 litres, with the expansion facility adding yet another 6 litres. Four spinner wheels and a reinforced handle make it easy to cart along. The platform of the suitcase case has been specially designed for extra stability. The wheels are positioned at a wide-angle to prevent the suitcase from toppling over. And of course, there is the advantage of high visibility. The vibrant colours and print will make your suitcase stand out among the other more staid models! The Lily Bloom’s unique look, as well as the high level of comfort and convenience in usage, makes it a very attractive buy indeed.
Beautiful standout look
Green luggage made of recycled plastic bottles
Extra reinforcement in handles for extra strength
Very roomy interior space
The fabric used appears flimsy
The zips need reinforcement
If you are on the lookout for a sleek, durable, high capacity model, then the Briggs & Riley Transcend is worth checking out. The light and handy suitcase has enough storage capacity for a week-long trip. It has a handsome exterior with a proprietary finely woven two-tone nylon twill fabric. Areas prone to wear and tear are reinforced with an ultra-durable fabric. This additional feature gives the Transcend the extra toughness needed for rough trips. The suitcase has been designed with convenience and functionality in mind.
For example, it has pockets with easy access, a variable expansion feature which adds 2.5 inches of extra packing space, a garment panel and an ID tag with a closure mechanism to conceal personal information. The top lid pocket has dual compartments for wet and dry storage. Nylon panels keep garments in place in the main storage space. The Transcend with its convenient features is the perfect travel accessory.
Proprietory twill gives a sleek, non-bulky look
Abrasion prone areas protected with Permasquare fabric
Hybrid fibreglass frame ensures luggage retains its shape
Variable expansion system allows customization of packing space
Slightly unstable at times
Too many compartments make packing difficult
Coolife Luggage goes through some tough quality tests to make it impact-proof before it reaches the retail shelves. Made of ABS+PC exterior, this is a strong, sturdy and durable product that is resistant to abrasion, stains and scratches. Smooth spinner wheels and an adjustable telescoping handle make it easy to transport it through airports across the globe. It has comfortable soft handles at the top and side making it easy to carry the suitcase when required. The interior is spacious and fully lined.
Since it is a very light suitcase, you can pack more into it without worrying about weight constraints. Organised into multi-use pockets, it keeps your packed items well segregated and free of creases. It is a handy piece of luggage to have when embarking on a week-long holiday. Available in very attractive colours, the Coolife is a visual delight.
Extra tough exterior with beveled edge design
A smooth mover with an ergonomic handle system
Worldwide two-year warranty
TSA combination lock
Interior space pretty limited
The finish could have been better
A vibrant paisley pattern makes the Ricardo Beverly Hills Mar Vista an eye-catching travel accessory. But it is not just its looks that make this suitcase stand out among the rest of the competition. The model is chock full of convenient and functional features that makes travelling that much easier. The soft exterior has several pockets for easy access and storage. The durable fabric used for the exterior is easy on the eye but is extremely tough and durable. The interior has enough space to pack lavishly for a week-long trip. Spinner wheels make it easy to manoeuvre. Other features include soft padded carry handles, adjustable ergonomically designed handle system and hidden ID tags.
Handles reinforced for strength and padded for comfort
Beautiful colour and pattern
Wheels move smoothly even in very rough surfaces
Lightweight and easy to handle
Zippers are not very durable
Travelpro’s Expandable Rollaboard Luggage is a rugged high-level performer. The softshell is made of water repellent coated polyester to keep stains at bay. The suitcase is easy to use with a telescoping aluminium handle made of aircraft-grade aluminium and highly effective ball bearing wheels.
The lightweight body and well-designed wheels check the right boxes for high-frequency travellers. Reinforced wheel housings, moulded corner guards and skid guards protect against damage caused by long term use. The interior is spacious enough to pack comfortably for a two-week trip. An interior mesh pocket built into the lid, exterior padded tablet sleeve and an expandable portion are some of the other conveniences that the luggage offers. If you are looking for a durable and robust travel companion, then the Bold Expandable Rollaboard Luggage is a winner.
Equipped with multiple carry handles of cushioned neoprene
High wear points well protected with reinforcements
Great set of wheels
High-density polyester fabric is water and stain resistant
The wraparound straps obstruct the zipper making it difficult to open/close the bag
How to Choose the Best Checked Luggage
Size & Weight Matter
Select the size depending on the duration and purpose of your trip. Of course, your taste will also determine your choice. If you are prone to packing at least six sets of clothes and three pairs of shoes for a weekend break, then the best option would be the larger sized bags. Families going for long annual breaks and shopaholics will obviously opt for suitcases with a larger capacity. However, do remember that most airlines have weight restrictions. Therefore, the bigger and heavier your suitcase, the less you can pack into it.
Clever Design Equals Greater Convenience
Check out the various designs before making your choice. Small design innovations can add a great deal to your comfort level. For example, some brands have more pockets or compartments than others. They are a dream come true for the highly organised packers who like to segregate their clothes, toiletries and special outfits in different compartments.
Spinner wheels are now a common feature. They rotate 360 degrees and allow you to manoeuvre the luggage easily in crowded airports. You can also stroll along with your luggage or push it in front of you instead of dragging it behind you. In-line wheels have the convenience of being lighter and reducing the weight of your suitcase. Handles also make a significant difference to the ease of carting your suitcase around. Check out the kind of handle the suitcase has before putting down your money. A suitcase with a dodgy handle and stiff wheels can make traversing the airport a nightmare.
Luggage Durability & Travel Habits
There are two distinct camps in the best checked luggage debate. The first lot swears by the softshell luggage and the second are fans of hardtop suitcases. The ideal way to make a decision is to take into account the kind of travelling that you do. It is better to select a hardtop if long, international flights are a regular feature of your life.
On the other hand, softshell luggage works well for domestic travel or shorter trips. It is wiser to go in for the better quality material, even if it is more expensive. Cheaper varieties of material can tear or crack. Of course, personal tastes, the weight factor (hardtops are heavier) and costs are also key to decision making.
Climate Proof is Important
This is a no brainer. Do not take the risk of rainwater or any kind of moisture seeping into your suitcase and ruining your clothes. Select a suitcase made with water-resistant material. You could opt for a model that comes with a moisture-resistant sealant. The zips in the softshell suitcases are also vulnerable to moisture. Check the zips and make sure that they are made of metal or good quality durable plastic. A bit of research and asking the right questions can help you to pick the right kind of luggage.
What is the maximum weight allowed for checked luggage?
Different airlines have different rules. Also, some airlines are quite happy to relax their rules while others are extremely rigid. It, therefore, makes sense to contact the airlines or read up the rules on their websites before actually selecting your bags for the trip. You can then make an informed decision on which would be the ideal luggage for your trip. It is best to select a sturdy but lightweight bag so that you can pack more into it.
What are the right dimensions for checked luggage?
In the United States, the checked baggage dimension is restricted to 62 inches. This would mean that the length, breadth and height of your luggage should add up to 62 inches. It is a good idea to use a tape measure to check the dimensions of your suitcase before you start packing. Airlines measure the dimensions of the luggage from the wheelbase. Since many brands of luggage have spinner wheels nowadays, be sure to measure correctly. However, a bit of research is important before travelling to any destination as the norms may be different in other countries.
What kind of lock should I buy for my checked bag?
With strict screening protocols for security reasons in most airports across the world, there is some degree of confusion regarding the use of locks. It is wiser to use TSA approved locks in the United States. In case there is some doubt during the baggage screening process, TSA officials can open your luggage and search. If they are unable to open it, they are permitted to break open the luggage. Conveniently, many luggage models come with integrated TSA locks. Several countries do allow you to use other kinds of locks too. Of course, it is always advisable to use a lock and keep your belongings safe.
There are so many options in checked luggage vis-a-vis exterior shell, wheels, handles. How do I make my choice?
Durability and storage capacity are important parameters when deciding which kind of luggage to buy. You do not want a suitcase that looks beaten up after being used for a couple of trips. Luckily with invention and discoveries of new kinds of material, most kinds of luggage have extremely hardy exteriors irrespective of whether they are hardshell/softshell/fabric. Storage is, of course, the very raison d’être for buying luggage. This has two aspects. The inside storage space has to be well designed to accommodate as much as possible in an organised manner. Secondly, the suitcase must be light so that you can store more. Luckily, you can find several brands that meet the above two criteria as well as meet your personal preferences regarding wheels, exterior and more.
Investing time and effort before buying your luggage to weigh the pros and cons can enhance your travel experience. There are a bewildering number of choices. Appraise them based on your personal preference, durability, functionality and budget. You are sure to find the perfect suitcase for your needs. Buy it and bon voyage!