10 Best Hard Shell Luggage Review and Buying Guide 2019

Most travelers admit that they find choosing the right type of luggage to be quite the struggle. The first question you should always ask yourself is whether you would like to buy a hard shell or soft shell luggage. If you are reading this right now, however, chances are that you have already decided on what type of luggage you want to have. We have reviewed for some of the best hard shell luggage types that you can ever find around.

When traveling, you want a type of luggage that will keep your valuables safe and secure. Hardshell pieces of luggage are not only hard and strong enough to resist abrasion and protect your fragile objects from getting damaged, but are also compact looking and stylish.

Best Hard Shell Luggage

Reasons Why You Need a Hard Shell Luggage

There are a lot of luggage options out there to choose from when you are looking to purchase one. First of all, you will have to choose between hard and soft shell types of luggage. However, hard shell pieces of luggage have an edge over their soft shell counterparts.

When traveling with a hard shell carry-on luggage, you can’t get surprised at the bag check since it is impossible to over-stuff your luggage. You will be confident of it fitting neatly in your airline’s overhead compartment.

Whether you are a business traveler or you are just traveling for pleasure, here are the reasons why hard shell luggage would be good for you.

Easy Maintenance

One of the biggest advantage that hard shell luggage has over the soft ones is that keeping them clean is a cinch. Those who have traveled with soft shell cases will tell you about their experience of how hectic it is to clean their case after spilling their takeaway on them. If you don’t clean them, they end up smelling like bogs.

Hard shell cases on the other hand only need a quick wipe to get any dirt off them. Since their interior spaces are not usually lined with fabric, you will have an easy time cleaning your case in case any of your toiletries get spilled inside.

Durability

This is obvious, hardshell luggage is more durable than soft shell ones. Since they have become more popular, their overall quality has also improved. They rarely break apart or crack. They are made of materials that are capable of absorbing impact without getting dented. Hardshell cases are thus suitable for carrying fragile electronics like cameras and laptops when traveling.

Portability

Handling hard shell carry-on cases is notoriously easier. This is exactly what any traveler would want in a busy airport. Since most of these pieces of luggage have four spinner wheels, you will have an easy time moving around with them at the airport. It’s impossible to flip or lose balance on your heavy bag since the wheels are capable of rotating 360 degrees.

Versatility

As compared to soft side luggage, hard shell cases are more versatile. Besides being more spacious, they can help you to express your sense of style due to their bold patterns and bright colors.

Security

Hardside luggage will make you forget about theft. This is because they have integrated locks that can only be opened by a secret combination. Their outer shell is hard enough to withstand any kind of abrasion. Thieves cannot easily slash it.

Best Hard Shell Luggage

How to Choose the Right Hard Shell Luggage

There are a lot of factors you need to look at when deciding on what hard shell luggage you want to purchase.

Material

The first thing you should look at is the type of material that is used to make your hard shell luggage. There are two most common types of materials; Polycarbonate and ABS. When it comes to flexibility and impact resistance, Polycarbonate has the highest rating. ABS suitcases, on the other hand, are quite cheap and aren’t as durable as their Polycarbonate counterparts.

Expandability

Most people think that hard cases aren’t able to fit all their items. Since they are called hard side, people tend to think that they are not expandable. Well, most hard shell cases are built with extra fabric panels so that you can extend their size by unzipping them. Ensure that you go for a piece of hard case luggage that is expandable since extra space can come in handy.

Compartments

Your suitcase should be divided into separate sections to help you stay organized. Most hard case pieces of luggage have main compartments for keeping clothes and a smaller compartment for keeping smaller items. Compartmentalization will save you a lot of time when you want to retrieve an item.

Buy a Set

Every trip requires a different bag. Imagine packing only clothes for two days in a 28-inch suitcase, that’s a big hassle. Buying a set will save you from traveling with cumbersome cases. Some hard side pieces of luggage come in sets so that when you buy them, you can get the best luggage sets.

Best Hard Shell Luggage

10 Best Hard Shell Luggage 2019

ModelBestRating
Samsonite Freeform Hardside SpinnerBest Overall Pick4.6
American Moonlight Spinner TouristerBest Alternative Pick4.8
Hauptstadtkoffer Ostkreuz Luggage Set HardsideBest Luggage Set4.9
Travelpro Maxlite Hardside SpinnerBest Light Luggage4.5
Delsey Luggage Hard 21-Inch Chatelet Carry OnBest Design Option4.9
Unitravel Luggage Rolling Hardside Lightweight SuitcaseBest Durable Option5.0
Coolife Hardshell Luggage 3 Piece Set Suitcase
Best Portable Luggage Option4.7
AmazonBasics Spinner Luggage HardSide Multi-Piece SetBest Strong Hard Shell Luggage4.5
Goplus 20-Inch Carry On Expandable LuggageBest Budget Option4.6
Enkloze Carbon X1 Carry On 21-Inch SpinnerBest Style4.5

1. Samsonite Freeform Hardside Spinner

If your ideal piece of luggage is incredibly sturdy and lightweight at the same time, then you will definitely love Samsonite Freeform Hardside Spinner. Even better, the Samsonite Freeform luggage also packs a lot of other cool and desirable features.

In terms of materials and design, the Samsonite Freeform luggage is made using an incredibly lightweight polypropylene. The material is injection molded. This suitcase only weighs less than 10 pounds, making it one of the lightest options available for its size. It can handle a lot of items without going over the 50lb limit.

The polypropylene material is also moisture resistant. This means that you can confidently travel with your suitcase even if it’s raining without worrying about your items getting wet. The Freeform luggage is designed with a zipper to keep your luggage contents secure. What we also liked about the Freeform luggage is it has a telescopic wheel handle that has a button to lock its position when you press it.

You can lock its handle to different heights depending on the height that suits you. The Freeform also has 2 carry handles. One carry handle is located on the top while the other one is located on the side. The handles are sturdy hence they cannot break off from the luggage even when it’s fully packed.

Another great feature about the Freeform is its double spinner wheels. The wheels are designed to offer superb maneuverability and easy steering of the suitcase no matter how heavy your luggage is. The wheels are capable of 360 degrees rotation. As a result, you can even roll your luggage alongside you or push it in front of you.

You will have an easy time pushing or pulling your suitcase since your arms and shoulders will experience much less strain. Your items will also be secure since the Freeform also comes equipped with a TSA Combination Lock. Its original lock combination is usually 000. However, you can change this combination to a secret combination of our preference to prevent strangers from opening your suitcase.

Pros

Designed with 2 different packing compartments.

The suitcase is expandable.

Extremely lightweight and sturdy.

Interior is designed to keep you organized.

Multidirectional spinner wheels facilitate 360-degree maneuverability.

No keys required to lock your luggage since it has a side-Mounted TSA combination lock.

Excellently comfortable handle.

Its hard plastic exterior is easy to clean.

Cons

Its polypropylene exterior surface scratches quite easily.

Outer shell feels a bit flimsy.

 

2. American Moonlight Spinner Tourister

If you are a trendy and fun loving traveler, then you need a piece of luggage with punchy designs. The American Moonlight Spinner Tourister is known for their edgy designs and fun colors that have made them one of the best luggage brands in the market.

Made of solid and sturdy ABS plastic material, the Tourister Moonlight is large and roomy enough for packing all the items you need to travel with. The Tourister luggage is light since it only weighs 11 pounds. It comes in three different color varieties to choose from which include rose gold, popsicle and marble.

What we loved about it is that you can effortlessly roll and push it thanks to its single spinner wheels. The wheels are four in number and capable of 360-degree rotation. The American Tourister Moonlight Spinner also features a retractable telescoping handle that ensures there is little weight on your arm.

The luggage is also designed with extra handles. One is located at the top section of the luggage while the other one is located on the sides. As a result, you can choose to carry the bag vertically and horizontally. You can also expand the suitcase by up to 1.5 inches so that you can have more storage space.

The only issues that you should be worried about when purchasing this product is the fact that some of its zippers are of low quality. There is also a high likelihood that it may get scratched after several flights which is not good at all. It lacks the TSA combination locks that most other types of hard shell luggage have.

Pros

The luggage is visually impacting and extremely light.

Super-easy maneuverability with its 360 spinner wheels.

Suitcase body is sturdy.

Features a small interior pocket for keeping private items and small gadgets.

Durable hence will last you through many airports travels.

Comes in 8 different funky and attractive patterns.

Reasonably priced.

Cons

The zippers are of low quality.

May get scratched after several flights.

Does not have TSA combination locks.

 

3. Hauptstadtkoffer Ostkreuz Luggage Set Hardside

A frequent traveler needs a piece of luggage set with a full-hard body that will not skimp on style, functionality, and quality. The Hauptstadkoffer luggage set features a sleek design that makes it one of the best modern-looking suitcases. What we loved about the Ostkreuz luggage set is that it is sold in a set. When you buy it, you will get three upright suitcases.

All of the three suitcases feature the same design and have spinner wheels. The largest of them are 28-inch upright length so that you can pack all the items you need for your long vacation. The medium suitcase is 24-inch that is suitable for use when going on weekend trips. The smallest of the set is 20-inch and is suitable for short trips and can be taken on board with you.

The Hauptstadtkoffer luggage set is designed with German precision. You are, therefore, assured that when you buy your set, it will last with you for a long time. You will feel confident when traveling with your cases since they are stylish and sleek. Their interior is divided into large main compartments to store your clothing and mesh zip-lined pockets for keeping loose variables.

The suitcase features four wheels that are capable of spinning 360 degrees so that you can glide through the airport terminals with a lot of ease. You can also easily pick up your luggage since they have convenient carry handles and telescopic handles. You can also expand the capacity of the two larger of the luggage by an extra 2-inches.

You only need to be a little bit worried about the zippers that sometimes tend to break down quite easily. It also lacks interior pockets which makes it not a perfect fit for some customers. The other thing that may upset you regarding this product is that it comes only in block colors and, therefore, locks out those who do not prefer block colors.

Pros

Relatively lightweight to give you the necessary weight allowance for taking all you need.

Strong and durable.

Available in several color choices.

Suitable for use in all situations.

Features TSA approved locks to keep your luggage content safe.

Expandable to create more storage room.

You can store one into the other.

Cons

Does not have exterior pockets.

Available only in block colors.

The zippers may break down.

 

4. Travelpro Maxlite Hardside Spinner

The Travelpro Maxlite Spinner is one of the lightest and the most durable pieces of hard shell luggage in the market. In terms of the design material, it features a polyester outer surface that is coated with DuraGuard. This helps to give the luggage water and stain resistance abilities. It also improves its overall durability.

What makes this luggage desirably lightweight is its Honeycomb frame system. This type of design makes the suitcase very sturdy while still being light. We also loved its spinner wheels. Since the wheels can rotate for 360 degrees, maneuvering the suitcase is excellently easy.

It is also equipped with a top bottom and side carry handles. This gives you a lot of options when you want to carry your suitcase. The Maxlite is also designed with a telescopic and lightweight handle that is lockable into two positions. You can adjust the handle to suit your height.

Another cool thing about the Maxlite’s handle is its Contour Grip technology that features rubberized touch points for easy maneuverability. However, this product has its downside too. Its zippers are not some of the most durable zippers around. This means you will need to handle them with care. It also does not come with instructions to inform you on how to use the lock. And finally, the polycarbonate material used to make it is somehow very thin.

Pros

Spacious compartment.

Features zippers for expansion of up to 2-inches.

Comes in five different color options.

You can smoothly roll it in any direction because of its 360 degrees 4 wheel spinner.

Telescoping handles that are comfortable in the hand.

Comes with TSA compliant locks.

Very lightweight for its size.

Cons

Doesn’t come with instructions on how to use the lock.

The polycarbonate material is very thin.

The zippers are not durable.

 

5. Delsey Luggage Hard 21-Inch Chatelet Carry On

If you are looking for an elegant hard shell piece of luggage with an innovative design, then the Delsey Luggage Hard 21-Inch carry on could be the best choice for you. It is a very timeless suitcase with a classic look. It features a faux leather accent throughout its entire outer surface.

Since it is 21-inch in size, you can bring it on board with you when you are flying. It has been made to fit most airlines’ overhead bins. It has a soft touch lining in its interior that gives it a luxurious feel. The bag has 4-double wheels for easy movement with the bag since you can just roll it on the pavements.

It is designed with a brake function that allows you to lock the two front wheels so you can roll the bag on its back wheels. Its interior is divided into two packaging compartments with a zippered divider and tie-down straps. When traveling with it, you will be at peace since you won’t have to worry about someone opening your suitcase without your permission. This is because it comes with TSA approved locks to keep all your items safe and secure.

The Delsey Chatelet is designed to be durable. The biggest proof of its durability is its 10-year warranty. The company is confident enough to give such a long warranty because they know how durable their products are. However, when it comes to some issues regarding it, you need to know that you can’t pack enough luggage for a long vacation using this product. It is also somehow quite expensive as compare with other types of hard shell luggage.

Pros

Comes in multiple vintage color choices,

Has a classy design.

The front wheels can be locked.

Features an interior divider with tie-down straps to keep your items intact.

Made of high-quality Virgin Polycarbonate that gives it extreme temperature resistance.

360-degree double spinner wheels for awesome maneuverability.

Top and side handle for easy carrying of the luggage.

Cons

Quite pricey as compared to other hard shell luggage.

Cannot pack luggage for a long vacation.

When fully packed, it is not lightweight as compared to the other hard-shell suitcases.

 

6. Unitravel Luggage Rolling Hardside Lightweight Suitcase

Travelers who are unable to efficiently pack their items understand how much of a problem it is to carry a lot of luggage. To avoid this, you need to invest in a piece of lightweight hard shell luggage. With the Unitravel Lightweight Luggage, you will be free from paying extra baggage fees.

In terms of durability, the Unitravel Lightweight Luggage is made of a scratch resistant PC material. Its strong aluminum frame ensures that it can endure heavy weight without getting damaged. You can effortlessly move the luggage even on rough terrains thanks to its dual 360-degree wheels.

Its TSA approved locks ensure that all your items are secured while traveling. It has zipper mesh pockets in its interior to allow you to properly segregate your items. You can adjust its telescoping handle to suit your height. You can then lock the handle into place. The only serious issue with this product is that some travelers seem not to like it because it is a four wheeled hard shell luggage.

Pros

Features a stylish and streamlined design that gives it a sophisticated appearance.

Its durable aluminum frame design ensures that your luggage is safe.

Has different height settings that can fit men and women of any height.

Four spinner wheels for excellent maneuverability.

Has functional straps to secure your packed clothes.

Polyester lining that is environmentally friendly.

Cons

Costs more as compared to other brands.

Some travelers don’t like four-wheeled hard shell luggage.

 

7. Coolife Hardshell Luggage 3 Piece Set Suitcase

We had a lot of reasons for selecting the Coolife Hardshell 3 Piece Set Luggage as one of the best hard shell luggage. It is designed with four caster wheels that are capable of performing 360-degree motions. You can move the luggage with a lot of ease.

The wheels will reduce the strain on your back, hips, and legs as you are pulling or pushing your luggage. Its telescopic handle can extend high enough to fit any user’s height. When you buy one set, you get three pieces of Coolife hardshell luggage. Together, the set gives you a lot of storage space for all your travel items.

Coolife bags employ ABS construction that is both light and hard. This makes the bag’s exterior surface to be hard for durability without making the bag heavy. The Coolife hard shell sets have handles made of sturdy aluminum and are ergonomic. The ergonomic handle design gives you a comfortable grip. Their interior has a lot of space and feature mesh zip pockets to help you keep your items organized. That’s not all, its interior is fully lined with down straps to help keep your items organized.

The only issues you need to worried about regarding this product is that its exterior surface can somehow get scratched after being used for sometime. Like most of the other products, its zippers are less durable and the ABS material used in making it is less stronger than the rest.

Pros

Comes with a two years warranty from the manufacturer.

TSA-accepted lock gives you peace of mind and security.

Reasonably priced for 3-set hard shell luggage.

You can store the pieces one into another.

Lightweight and excellently durable.

Its telescopic handles are tough.

The spinner wheels run quietly and smoothly.

Easily glides when pulled.

Cons

ABS material is not as strong as other materials like PC.

Exterior surface may get scratched after some time.

The zippers are not that durable.

 

8. AmazonBasics Spinner Luggage HardSide Multi-Piece Set

If strength is the first thing you are looking for in your hardshell luggage, then the AmazonBasics Spinner multipiece set is the best choice. The manufacturer understands that your valuable things must stay protected and secured throughout your journey. The set comes with three different luggage. All of them are made of an extra-thick ABS material to give it a hard shell.

However, there is some little difference between the three pieces. One of them has a textured finish to make scratches and scuffs less visible. The other two pieces have a shiny finish that makes them be more aesthetically pleasing. The bags come fitted with double spinner wheels so that you won’t have to tilt your luggage so you can get the wheels rolling. Your arms and shoulders will thus handle less strain.

All the three pieces can be expanded by up to 15%. This ensures that there is enough room for all your items. Their telescopic handles can extend by up to 20-inches. You can lock the handles once you have extended them.

Their interiors are lined with 150D polyester and are divided into 2 different compartments. On the bottom compartment, there are elastic straps for keeping your items in place. The upper compartment has zipper dividers for you to keep your smaller items separate.

Pros

Has 4 double spinner wheels for smooth mobility in all directions.

Its telescoping handles facilitates comfortable maneuvering.

Its outer shell exterior is scratch resistant and can withstand impact.

The wheels run quietly.

The textured ABS exterior ensures that your luggage content stays protected throughout the journey.

Their durable zippers close reliably and securely.

Nice and modern design makes it easy to separate your suitcase from others at the airport.

Relatively lightweight.

Cons

Not as strong as luggage made of PC material.

There are no locks on the luggage.

 

9. Goplus 20-Inch Carry On Expandable Luggage

This sleek and stylish suitcase from Goplus is designed to meet travelers’ needs and is always ready to travel with you. The hard shell suitcase is durable since it is made from ABS and polycarbonate. This combination helps to keep the luggage stylish while saving on weight. Its design shows that it was made with a modern traveler like you in mind.

It comes in several vivid and subtle colors you can choose from. The suitcase features four 360-degree wheels together with a telescopic handle that is ergonomically designed. These two useful features will allow you to travel with a lot of ease. You will get your bags rolling with just a push of your finger. The suitcase also comes with an integrated lock to secure your items all the time.

In terms of storage space, its 20-inch size is enough to carry a week’s clothes. Its interior has a mesh zip pocket to help you stay organized by keeping your important items within easy reach. The interior is divided into two compartments; the main compartment for clothes and a smaller compartment for keeping small items.

However, this product is not expandable and that is something that most people normally complain about. The wheels may also stop moving after being used for sometime and that is also another issue to deal with. The locks of this piece of hard shell luggage is also not TSA approved.

Pros

The hard exterior is durable and will keep your fragile items safe.

Lightweight hence manageable to carry.

The telescoping handle is really nice and handy.

Two more handles for carrying the bag in portrait and landscape positions.

The separating mesh in the interior helps you to stay organized.

Available in an array of colors to choose from.

Cons

Its lock is not TSA approved.

It is not expandable.

The wheels stop moving after some time.

 

10. Enkloze Carbon X1 Carry On 21-Inch Spinner

The Enkloze is the best chic and classy hard shell suitcase in the market. As a result, it is usually the most preferred suitcase for use by business travelers. If you are planning to go on a business trip abroad, then the Enkloze Carbon X1 could be your best travel companion.

In terms of size, the Enkloze X1 measures 21.3 inches in length making it roomy enough for carrying all your travel items. Moving around with it isn’t tedious at all since it only weighs 8.2lbs making it light for its size. Its hard exterior shell is made of 100% polycarbonate. This makes it strong, lightweight and durable.

When flying with your Enkloze X1, you can rest assured that you will be allowed to get on board with it since it can fit most overhead compartments. The bag also has other desirable features that make it a great choice for travelers. One of our favorite features is its organization pocket that is located in the front area. You can store your small important items in it.

Your luggage content is also secured with TSA approved locks. You can pick up your Enkloze X1 in black or white. It has four wheels that can rotate in any direction together with an adjustable handle to let you pull your luggage quietly on its smooth-rolling wheels. The only issue you meed to be worried about is its flimsy handle that might let you down when you least expect it to. It is also quite expensive and, therefore, only affordable to an elite class of members of the society.

Pros

It has superior durability since it is made from 100% polycarbonate.

Features interior pockets and X-bands for keeping your valuables safe and secure.

Has a set of 4 smooth-rolling ultra-quiet wheels for easy mobility.

Its multi-height adjustable pull rod provides maximum comfort when you are moving your luggage around.

The pattern on its hard case is very eye-catching.

Comes with a laptop compartment that is easy to access.

Its locking mechanism works great.

Its main compartment employs a slide locking mechanism that is better than zippers.

Cons

Its main handle is quite flimsy.

Its front flap isn’t deep enough into its interior.

 

Best Hard Shell Luggage

Conclusion

Buying the best hard shell luggage will help you get your things safe while traveling. If you fly frequently, you need a piece of luggage that can handle a lot of heat while being taken through airport security. Hardshell luggage is capable of absorbing shock hence reducing any potential damage to your luggage items.

To make it easier for you to choose the best hard shell luggage, we have reviewed 10 of the best brands. You can buy one that you feel will suit your needs. When coming up with the list, we considered a lot of factors like material type, style and price.

When it comes to our overall pick, we would go with Samsonite Freeform Hardside Spinner. What we loved about it is that it is extremely light weight for its size as compared to other hardshell cases in this list. It is made of injection molded Polypropylene material that makes it lightweight and excellently sturdy at the same time.

Maneuvering with it is also easy due to its four 360 degree spinner wheels that make it easy to roll it in any direction. Its recessed TSA combination locks will keep all your luggage content safe and secure to let you travel with a peace of mind.

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