Types of Luggage
This is by far the most popular type. These wheels can spin 360 degrees, so bags can be smoothly scooted along beside you (as well as pulled behind you or pushed in front of you), which makes it easier to transport two suitcases. Spinner wheels used to get panned for durability because they had an annoying tendency to buckle and/or snap off, but manufacturers are solving that problem and spinner wheels are more durable than in the past.
The original rolling luggage featured inline-skate-type wheels, also called fixed wheels or roller wheels. Many frequent fliers prefer these fixed wheels to spinner wheels, saying they're more stable, and make a suitcase lighter, roomier and easier to pull. This type of wheel also tends to be more durable.
While many hard-core travelers eschew luggage sets, preferring instead to own a specific selection of bags for their various travel needs, luggage sets are still a great choice for those who either need to pack a lot of stuff and want their bags to match, or for less-frequent travelers who want to own a good variety of bags -- and want the discount that usually comes with buying them as a set.
A word about carry-on bags
world is pretty much divided into "carry-on" and "checked"
bags. The reason is clear: many airlines charge $25 per bag and up (and way up
in some cases for a second or, especially, third bag) to check it, so you can
save some money if your bag fits into the overhead bin. "If" being
the operative word. In addition, some airlines now even charge for carry-on bags, so you may not be able to avoid baggage fees unless you sign up for an
airline's loyalty credit card, a topic that we cover in more detail in our buying guide.
a carry-on bag should be no longer than about 21 or 22 inches; although a very
few airlines will allow a bag as large as 24 inches in an overhead bin --
usually on longer flights with larger planes. Check the airlines' website for
their carry-on size restrictions. And be aware that their "official"
guideline may not apply to your particular flight. Study your ticket carefully,
if it says your flight is "operated by" another airline that is
"doing business as" (DBA) your airline, that means you are likely to
be flying on a regional jet and your otherwise "regulation" bag may
not fit in the overhead bin. If that's the case, the airline will generally
gate-check your bag at no charge and you can pick it up in the jetway after you
What else you need to
know about the world of luggage
Luggage is frequently discontinued and updated, almost as
often as electronics are, but there are still names that are standouts in any
iteration: Samsonite, Travelpro, Briggs & Riley, Victorinox, Delsey and American
Tourister, to name just a few. Although we focus mostly on specific, individual
bags in this report, keep in mind that all of these bags come in smaller and
larger sizes as well, and have the same quality as the size we recommend. Don't
hesitate to choose the size that best fits your needs. Just be aware that the
bigger the bag, the less likely it can be used as a carry on.
We also have some bad news: If you travel frequently you will
probably need to replace your luggage frequently. Travel is tough on your bags
and even the best bags will fray, get beat up, the wheels will wear out and the
zippers will stick or split. Even the cheapest suitcases usually come with a
10-year limited warranty, but good luck getting anything out of it. The list of
restrictions is longer than a security line during the holidays. These
warranties typically don't cover normal wear and tear (and who defines
"normal" anyway?), damage caused by the airlines (which is the cause
of most luggage breakage), or most anything else that actually damages your
bag. The only thing most do cover is manufacturing defects, but most warranties
don't specify what that means. Also, the comments we see from those who do try
to get their bags repaired is that it's a huge hassle. There are exceptions to
this -- most notably Briggs & Riley who even cover damage caused by the
airline -- but not many. Also, you'll need to hang on to your receipt. Many
luggage manufacturers won't even talk to you about your broken bag without it.
You'll notice that we don't make any specific recommendations
for "lightweight" luggage. That's because virtually all luggage made
today is lightweight. Still, it's easy to make some mistakes when looking for
bags that shave their weight down to the bare minimum, so be sure to take a
look at what we have to say about that in our detailed discussion of lightweight luggage elsewhere in this report.
Finding The Best Luggage
"The Best Carry-On Luggage"
"The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2017"
The editors of ConsumerSearch are very experienced
travelers, so we drew on our own knowledge to explain how airlines deal with baggage
and offer some tips for how to avoid baggage fees. Then, for our specific
luggage picks, we turned to the professional testers at sites like TheWirecutter.com,
GoodHousekeeping.com and OutdoorGearLab.com. They put bags through their paces,
sometimes for weeks, then report on durability and convenience.
Even more important are the actual travelers who can tell us
how those recommended bags hold up in real-world use. To determine that, we
combed through hundreds of owner reviews at sites like Amazon.com and eBags.com
to definitely narrow down the best bags for any travel need.