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TRAVEL SHOULD always be on the table, no matter what time of year it is; and whether you're gearing up for a family road trip, a quick weekend getaway, or finally taking that overseas vacation you've been saving your precious PTO for, making sure you have the proper luggage is the vital first step at setting yourself up for smooth sailing. But choosing the best luggage is not always as easy as it seems. The variety of options on the market can make shopping for a new large suitcase or carry-on feel like driving through a dark tunnel without a navigation system. This guide here on the best luggage brands will help shine a little light on your trek, aiding you in choosing the right luggage for you and your budget.
We at Men's Health are constantly on the go, and so we make it a point to test all the best luggage to grace the market when going from point A to point B. Over the past three years alone, our editors and writers have tested well over 40 different luggage brands in order to find the perfect piece. Here, we bring you the 17 best luggage brands in one clean list, with Samsonite commanding our top spot of the best luggage brand overall due to the brand's outstanding durability, stylish design, and wallet-friendly price point.
No matter if you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all carry-on or an entire stylish luggage set, these are the best luggage brands on the market that will get you cruising without the hassle or stress of schlepping that raggedy old case in the back of your closet. What's great is many of them contain travel accessories and laptop bags to keep you moving and organized during all facets of your trip too. Ready to see the list?
Why Trust Us
In order to keep up with new innovations and product releases, the Men's Health editors and writers are continually testing the latest travel gear. Aside from covering travel gear in our evergreen roundups, we also highlight the best new travel gear in our gift guides and annual Travel Awards.
When it comes to luggage, we make sure to line up real-world testing opportunities anytime we're on assignment or traveling for pleasure. Then, we bring the luggage back to our office to thoroughly inspect each bag to determine what design notes surprised us, and what could use more work. Lastly, we considered what luggage brand would appeal to each type of traveler, so readers can understand better what to decide on when stuck on what brand to choose. The list above reflects all types of luggage, from checked bags to carry-ons, to duffel bags and travel backpacks.
How to Find the Right Luggage
Like your favorite pair of jeans, your favorite piece of luggage is going to come from a brand that fits your lifestyle. When looking for the best suitcase brand, you're going to want to write down what quantities you desire in your luggage. Here's what you should look for.
Frequency of Travel: The right luggage is going to fit with how you travel. If you're only going out of town a handful times a year, then you don't necessarily need to splurge on a super expensive suitcase or suitcase set. In fact, we'd recommend going for a wallet-friendly suitcase or set from brands like Samsonite or Coolife if you're not traveling that often, as these brands will hold up for years with light to medium use and not cost you very much upfront. If you're traveling a lot (for pleasure, business, or both) then you're going to probably want to lean towards making an investment in a piece of luggage that's made to handle continuous wear and tear. "When it comes to buying the right piece for your travel needs, my advice is always to opt for something that fits your lifestyle and budget," says Justin Crabbe.
How You Travel: After estimating how much you will be traveling throughout the year, you can start to write down your travel habits, or how you travel. Do you pack heavy or pack light? What features do you want or need? This is where features like TSA locks, 360-degree wheels, special laptop compartments, built-in portable chargers, and more are to be considered. "Look for ways to elevate your internal organization, like dividers, pockets, and sections that will help you keep your belongings organized and easily accessible during your travels," says Sean Oblizalo. Another note: if you're into adventure traveling, look for a bag that's more flexible, lightweight, and made with weather-resistant materials is your best option. "Look for sturdy fabrics such as nylon or polyester, reinforced stitching, and strong zippers to ensure your luggage can handle the demands of outdoor adventures," says Jackson Groves.
Price: You also want to consider how much you are willing to pay for your suitcase. Some suitcase brands are expensive because they get grouped into high fashion, but suitcases can also be expensive because they're known to last a long time (it's worth mentioning the best luggage brands have a kind of timeless style attributed to them). A few of the best suitcase brands that require a significant investment include RIMOWA, Tumi, and Filson. If you're looking for suitcase brands that provide the best overall value (for the price you pay), consider makers like Samsonite, TravelPro, and CooLife.
Warranty: Lastly, take note of each luggage brand's warranty. A warranty will help get your suitcase replaced or fixed should it have any issues (like a broken off wheel or damaged handle). Most luggage brands have pretty good warranties these days (usually 5-10 years) but the best warranty you can get on a suitcase is a lifetime warranty. Warranties can be huge for frequent travelers, as your suitcase will wear down with high usage. If you are a frequent traveler, or if you're someone who simply wants the best warranty you can get, go with a suitcase that has a lifetime policy. Premium luggage brands are more likely to have lifetime warranties, so this can be another benefit to going up and investing in an expensive suitcase.
Is Hardside or Softside Luggage Better?
The most popular luggage comes in either a hard-sided or soft-sided structured bag. Like mentioned earlier, the pros and cons of both depend on what you prioritize when you pack. Soft-sided luggage typically has more room for movement, more organizational pockets, and can compress to fit into tight spaces (like the overhead of an airplane). They open with a top flap zip, placing the bulk of storage at the bottom. Softside luggage offers more packing room, but it can throw off the balance of your goods when it’s tossed around and stowed away by airline employees. Basically, soft-sided luggage does not provide as much protection as hard-sided bags—but they are roomier.
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Due to advances in making polycarbonate more durable and lighter, hard-sided bags started gaining popularity in the past few years Hardside luggage features a 50/50 split opening (also called a book opening), making each side an equal stabilizer with an outer shell of hard protection. Polycarbonate shells are typically better for business travel. They stack easily but are usually rigid with zero room to expand like a soft-sided bag. The latest hard-sided bags look sleeker and are easier to clean and move—but they require you to be more strategic in your packing.
Other features that you’ll want to consider are weight and wheelability. Many modern suitcases are designed in the lightest possible form, along with four spinner wheels that can swivel 360 degrees to make rolling around the airport, pavement, or hotel floor a breeze.
As Men's Health's Deputy Editor, Commerce, Christian Gollayan oversees all shopping content on menshealth.com. He relocated back to New York by way of Portland, where he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian's work has also been featured in InStyle, Food & Wine, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.
John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology. He was previously the Style & Gear Editor at BroBible.com, and a commerce writer for TheManual.com. His interests include shopping for rare vintage clothes and following his favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals.
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