Three best suitcases

Kyle Schurman

Because today’ s hard-sided suitcases tend to be made of lightweight materials, they have gained recent popularity with travelers.

Suitcases come in all shapes and sizes, and it's true that a unique suitcase may be easier to spot on an airport carousel. But outward appearance isn't the only factor to consider when shopping for a new suitcase. Think about how you like to travel. Do you prefer a small bag that's easy to carry and doesn't weigh much? Or do you prefer a larger suitcase, so you don't have to carry more than one bag with you while traveling? Following are some important features to watch for as you shop for a new suitcase.

Considerations when choosing suitcases

Suitcase features

Compartments: If you travel with small items, you'll want a suitcase with separate compartments. You can sort your items and keep them from bouncing around during travel with these compartments.

Expandable: Some suitcases have expandable panels. This gives you some flexibility when trying to fit items of various sizes in your suitcase.

Exterior materials: You'll need to choose between a hard-sided and soft-sided suitcase. The best modern hard-sided suitcases are lightweight yet protective. Soft-sided suitcases can be a little easier on your budget, and there are many good ones, but the flexible materials could tear when placed under stress. If you go for a soft suitcase, make sure you buy one of good construction.

Wheels: Some suitcases have two wheels; others have four. Four-wheel suitcases can spin in any direction, making them easier to move. Two-wheel suitcases move in one direction only, but they generally cost less than four-wheel options.

Suitcase prices

The materials used on the exterior of a suitcase play a big role in determining cost. Budget-priced suitcases -- those that cost $50 or less -- typically have a polyester exterior, and the wheels and handles may not be as durable as those found on pricier cases. If you spend a little more, between $50 and $150, you will find many soft-sided and hard-sided suitcases of good quality.

You could spend up to $500 for a suitcase if desired. The "upper-crust" of suitcases carry all of the style and high-end materials you could possibly want. Often, these suitcases are made by well-known luxury brand names and come with lifetime warranties. However, the overall build quality of these high-end suitcases isn't always significantly better than that of mid-priced suitcases. In short, it pays to do a little research before spending your money.


Q. How important is a telescoping handle?

A. If you'd like to roll the suitcase out to your car or through the airport, a telescoping handle is nice to have. You can extend the handle to make it easier to tow at a natural arm's length. The handle needs to be of a high-quality, so it will lock in place properly.

Q. How can I be sure my suitcase meets airline requirements?

A. Always check with the airline before flying to learn about suitcase size and weight restrictions. One nice option with some suitcases is an expandable panel. This allows the suitcase to be made larger or smaller to accommodate any limitations you may encounter.

Suitcases we recommend

Best of the best: Delsey Paris Helium Aero 29-Inch Expandable Suitcase 

Our take: Hard shell made from polycarbonate will protect the gear on the interior of the suitcase. It's pricey, but this is a high-quality case that's perfect for frequent travelers.

What we like: The sturdy wheels ensure it will last a long time. Large enough to handle all of the items you need while traveling.

What we dislike: Will be too large for some people. Expensive.

Best bang for your buck: Traveler's Choice Travel Select Amsterdam 25-Inch Expandable Suitcase 

Our take: Excellent price point for a rolling suitcase. Expandable panels may increase the capacity of the suitcase by 30%, which isn't typical in low-priced models.

What we like: Quality of the wheels is better than you'd expect for the money. Straps allow you to securely attach an extra bag, so you can carry both at once.

What we dislike: Durability could be better, especially if stitches are placed under stress.

Choice 3: American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 29 

Our take: Trustworthy brand name in suitcases, but it's expensive. Has more interior space than you'd think in a lightweight suitcase.

What we like: Large enough to hold plenty of items for a long trip. Attractive suitcase with multiple color options available.

What we dislike: Expensive.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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