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 as they had an annoying tendency to buckle and/or snap off, but manufacturers are solving that problem and spinner wheels are lighter and 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.
These are a very popular option for travel -- and not just for outdoor adventurers. Many people love the roomy yet minimalist packing style that duffle bags allow, and appreciate the durability and the softer construction that helps them to fit in places where a traditional suitcase won't. We found duffel bags that are stylish and chic, as well as top choices for the backcountry hiker that will last a lifetime.
Our increasingly casual world has made garment bags less common than they used to be, but there are still plenty of people -- male and female -- who need to take a suit or dress with them when they travel. While many suitcases have built-in options for handling dressy clothes without wrinkling or creasing them, none do it quite as well as a dedicated garment bag.
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. However, some airlines now even charge for carry-on bags,
so you may not be able to avoid baggage fees unless you sign up for a dedicated
travel card, which 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 it 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, The
North Face, 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. They
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 "
"Fodor's Approved: Best Checked Luggage for 2015"
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,
Fodor's, GoodHousekeeping.com and OutdoorGearLab.com. They put bags through
their paces, sometimes for weeks, then report on durability and convenience. We
also looked at roundups by travel experts at places like Forbes.com and SmarterTravel.com.
They don't always test the bags, but they're knowledgeable about travel and the
needs of various types of travelers. We also combed through hundreds of owner
reviews at sites like Amazon.com and eBags.com to find out how all of these
bags hold up under real world use.