Choosing the Best Suitcase for Travel – 2017 Suitcase Reviews

Best Suitcases for travel

Travel luggage is an investment for anyone who travels even just a few times per year, so choosing the best suitcase for travel is an important decision. You need something that’s sturdy, but also reasonably priced. The quickest way to put a damper on your vacation is to get to the baggage claim and find that your bag is torn to pieces.

Ugh!

While we always try to avoid checking a bag, it isn’t always possible, especially for families. Longer trips or trips with very young children will often require a checked bag, and that’s where we’re here to help!

With so many choices on the market, it’s a challenge to narrow it down. Size, color, wheels, materials – they’re all considerations. We’ve done the research for you by putting together this guide on how to buy a great suitcase and what to look for when you’re shopping.

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Suitcase Comparison – The Best Suitcases for Travel

Model Best For: Dimensions
(inches)
Weight Features Price
travel luggageSamsonite Tru-Frame Hardside Spinner 29″ Families looking for a good mid-range option that straddles performance and price. 27.5″ x 19″ x 11.5″ 11 lbs, 1 oz Integrated TSA combination lock
Delsey Helium Aero 29″ Expandable Spinner Trolley Families looking for a great, all-around spinner. 29″ x 19.5″ x 12.5″ 12 lbs Expands an extra 2″
SwissGear Travel Gear Expandable Spinner 28″ An affordable option that comes in several colors and is also lightweight. 28″ x 18″ x 9″ 10 lbs, 4 oz Expands an additional 1.5″.
Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Hardside Spinner 28″ For those who like bright colors instead of plain black or silver. 28″ x 19.75″ x 12.5″ 11 lbs, 8 oz Comes in bright colors so it won’t get lost on the baggage belt.
Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner If you’re looking for the best warranty in the business and budget isn’t a concern, this is the bag for you. We own this one. 28″ x 20″ x 11″ 11 lbs, 14 oz Priciest option, but unbeatable lifetime warranty, even for airline negligence.
travel gear luggageeBags eTech 2.0 Mother Lode 29″ Wheeled Duffel For the more adventurous, it comes with lots of compartments for gear. Awesome for family ski trips! 29″ x 17.5″ x 15.5″ 12 lbs, 2 oz Awesome interior organization with plenty of compartments.
lightweight suitcaseTravelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 29″ Spinner Suitcase A good mid-range spinner that is extremely lightweight. 29″ x 20.25″ x 12″ 8 lbs, 9 oz Best lightweight suitcase for those trying to avoid baggage fees.
Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29″ Those looking for something on the higher end of the budget with high performance and lower weight. 31″ x 19″ x 11″ 9 lbs Very lightweight for hard case luggage.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 28″ ABS Expandable Upright Families looking for maximum capacity on a budget. 31.7″ x 21.65″ x 13.75″ 12 lbs, 5 oz Excellent reviews coupled with a lower price makes this a strong option.
Samsonite Inova Hardside 30″ Spinner Families looking for a straightforward design with high capacity and performance. 29″ x 22.6″ x 12.4″ 11 lbs, 2 oz High-impact resistance, lighter weight, and large capacity.

What to Look For When Buying a New Suitcase

Don’t Go Larger Than You Really Need

When we’re talking about a suitcase, we generally mean something that you’ll have to check because it is too large to work as a carry-on. This means anything larger than ~22″ for US domestic flights or ~21″ for international flights. Suitcases generally start at around 25″ in height and can get to ~32″.

Each family’s needs will be different, but we generally recommend not going any larger than ~29″ if you can help it. Bags bigger than that can get heavy and unwieldy in a hurry. Also, you’ll tend to fill all the space whether you meant to or not. This might cause you to panic at the check-in counter when the agent informs you that your bag is overweight, and it’s going to cost you – big time. Like I’ve said before, you don’t want to be the family at the airport with your clothes strewn all over because your bags are too heavy.

Looking for the best carry-on luggage? Check out our in-depth comparison right here.

Weight Matters

Weight is an important factor because it can mean the difference between smooth sailing at the airport and a nightmare that costs you way more than you thought. If you purchase a larger suitcase, it will be heavier when full. This can mean big trouble on your way home from vacation with all of your kids’ extra souvenirs and goodies.

Be realistic about how much space you’ll require. We recommend skewing towards a smaller size. Not only will this be easier to manage overall when you get out of the airport and are on your way, but it could also save you a lot of money in baggage fees.

Wheeled Luggage – Four Wheels vs. Two

Large suitcases come with either two or four wheels. The models with four wheels – or spinners – are able to stand upright on all four wheels and are extremely maneuverable. Drawbacks to this design are that the smaller wheels can be more fragile than other types, and your bag can roll away from you if you leave it on a slope or hill. Two-wheeled suitcases  – rollers – are easier to keep stationary, but are less maneuverable. Again, this is a personal preference.

Four Wheel Spinners:

  • Pros Very maneuverable
  • Stable and won't tip over

Cons

  • Can roll away on a slope if you're not paying attention
  • Wheels protrude and can be damaged more easily

Two Wheel Rollers:

Pros

  • Wheels tend to be sturdier because they don't rotate
  • Wheels are less apt to get damaged on rougher terrain

Cons

  • Not as easy to maneuver as spinners
  • Can sometimes tip over, especially if overpacked or heavy
  • Rolling luggage can be tricky in tight spaces like subways and public transit

Hardside Luggage vs. Soft Sided Suitcases

Suitcases are made from different materials, and there are pros and cons to each. Generally, the hard-sided polycarbonate suitcases will be heavier than their soft-sided counterparts. Many people don’t mind the extra weight of the hard-sided cases because it offers better protection. It’s a personal choice, and you should make the one that feels right for you. We have a soft-sided spinner and are fine with it. Let’s compare:

Hard-Sided Suitcases

Pros

  • Offer the best protection against damage

Cons

  • Get scratched easily and show wear quickly
  • Don't offer as much forgiveness towards overpacking (unless they have an expansion feature)

Soft-Sided Suitcases

Pros

  • Are usually lighter than hard-sided suitcases
  • Are more forgiving to airline abuse

Cons

  • The material can rip
  • Not waterproof so it's vulnerable to sitting on a rainy tarmac before it's loaded.

Does Spending More Money Get You a Better Suitcase? Reviews vs. Price.

With our reviews, we’ve tried to find a good balance between quality and budget. We believe that you do get what you pay for, but we also believe in spending money on experiences rather than lots of stuff. Do you need the best luggage? No, but luggage is not a cheap item, and it’s important to get what you can reasonably afford.

As we were researching this article, we found that across most sites, there was a correlation between good reviews and suitcases in the $125-$350. However, we’ve included some outliers in our review because we think they represent an excellent value based on the amount of good reviews from Amazon, eBags, and other sites, or because of personal experience with luggage that we’ve owned.

 

Reviews of the 10 Best Suitcases

Samsonite 29″ Tru-Frame Spinner

The Samsonite 29″ Tru-Frame Spinner is a handsome travel suitcase that falls on the upper end of our $300 budget. It is 100% polycarbonate, offering great protection from all the bumps and knocks of travel. With four wheels, you’ll have great mobility, and at 29″, it’s not overly large so it’s easy to handle.

Weighing in at just over 11 lbs, it won’t add too much overhead to the weight. On the inside you’ll find some nice compartments and dividers to keep everything organized. This Samsonite carries a 10 year warranty against manufacturer defects. The two recessed locks keep everything locked down, and the integrated TSA locks make sure that it gets through security with minimal fuss.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Tru-Frame Spinner 29.

Delsey 29″ Helium Aero Expandable Spinner

Winner – Best Overall Value

Cheap luggage doesn’t have to mean inferior, and the Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner is a great example in our opinion. Delsey is one of the biggest names in luggage, and they deliver quality suitcases and luggage at a great price. And the glowing online reviews back them up. 

This suitcase is 100% polycarbonate, but can expand by 2 inches which is really nice to have when you realize you’ve picked up too many souvenirs from your epic family vacation. The Delsey also has a sleek design with a finish that helps protect it from scratches and wear. The integrated TSA luggage locks help keep things safe and secure while the fully lined interior is equipped with dividers and web straps to help you stay organized and keep everything in place. With a great price and solid features, the Delsey is our pick for overall best travel suitcase.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner Trolley – 29″

SwissGear Travel Gear 28″ Expandable Spinner

SwissGear is a very popular brand for the budget conscience traveler, and the reviews for this particular suitcase are very good. At just over 10 lbs, this is a lightweight bag relative to the others. It’s soft-sided which will offer a bit of flex when packing, but it also expands 1.5 inches to give you a little bit of extra room.

Inside, this bag is nice and roomy, and the detachable toiletry bag is a convenient feature that goes straight from the bathroom to your bag with just a couple of snaps. If you don’t want to use it, just remove it for a bit of extra space. The SwissGear also comes in a few different colors to pick from. With a very reasonable price, this bag is a solid pick for the budget traveler who needs a quality bag at a great price.

 Check here for the latest prices on the SwissGear Travel Gear 28″ Expandable Spinner

Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 28″ Hardside Spinner

Samsonite - best checked luggage

Winner: Best Suitcase to Stand Out From the Crowd

The first thing that really stands out about this hardside suite case is all the awesome colors it comes in! We love the fact that you can get something that stands out from the crowd without getting something ‘designer’ or gaudy. This Samsonite comes with a 10 year warranty, which is awesome, and is about half the price of the Samsonite Tru-Frame Spinner listed above.

Features include 4 wheels for easy maneuverability, interior pockets with a full-zip divider to keep everything organized, oversized zippers, and a TSA-approved lock. If you’re looking for a great value from a brand that you trust and are looking for something more fun than just another black suitcase, then give this one a shot. It’s got great reviews (and a lot of them) and will be a great addition to your gear.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 28″ Hardside Spinner.

Briggs & Riley 28″ Baseline Large Expandable Spinner

Winner: Absolute Best Warranty Out There

This suitcase is our exception on the high end, as this is not a cheap piece of luggage. The reason? Briggs & Riley has the best warranty out there. It’s good for as long you own it and even covers damage caused by the airline.

Check out the warranty for yourself.

This is a bag that we own, and we love it. We decided to treat it as an investment, saved our pennies, and never looked back. We love the double wheels that roll just as smooth now as the day we bought it. The handle has four adjustable heights so you get it just where you need it. The aluminum frame saves weight and the reinforced corners and top-quality fabric make sure this bag lasts. This is a great piece of luggage, and if your budget allows, we highly recommend it.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner.

eBags eTech 2.0 Mother Lode 29″ Wheeled Duffel

Winner: Best Suitcase for the Gear Junkie

We love eBags and own several of their bags. One of the reasons is their incredible attention to detail and the innovative designs in their luggage. The eTech is no different and offers some really great features like the signature orange interior making things easy to see and find, as well as the adjustable compartments that keep your gear from sliding down toward the wheels.

This rolling suitcase has pockets everywhere which is great when you’re on the move. This bag also features the longest telescoping handle in the industry – 46″ – and is great if you’re tired of running over your own heels all the time. The wheels on the eBags duffels and bags are awesome and roll true and smooth. Great zippers, a great size, and quality construction round out this bag. We think it’s an excellent choice.

 Check here for the latest prices on the eBags eTech 2.0 Mother Lode 29″ Wheeled Duffel.

Travelpro Maxlite 4 29″ Expandable Spinner

best lightweight luggage

Winner: Lightweight Luggage Champion

Travelpro gets a lot of great reviews, and this suitcase is no different. It’s super-light at a tiny 8lbs and 9 oz., making it the lightest luggage of the bunch. This is due to a honeycomb framing system used in its construction. Other features include a water-resistant coating on the fabric, 2 inches of expansion room, and high-tensile zipper pulls designed to last.

This lightweight suitcase comes in three different colors, has an affordable price, and is made from rugged polyester which will make this a great choice for any traveling family.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Travelpro Maxlite 4 29″ Expandable Spinner.

Victorinox 29″ Spectra 2.0

Victorinox is known for making excellent luggage and is one of the best luggage brands out there. This Spectra 2.0 is a sharp spinner with some great features like dual-caster wheels, matte finish polycarbonate that resists scratches and blemishes, corner guards, and zipper bumpers to keep your bag looking its best.

On the inside, this bag has a zippered lining that stretches for easier packing, a removable id tag, and TSA-approved locks, making it easy for security to open and relock your bag. Another great feature of this bag is the Swiss Tracker™ Bag Tracking Program. This allows you to track your bag anywhere in the world and get reunited should you get separated from your bag. Awesome.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29″.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 29″ Expandable Hardside Spinner

best cheap suitcases

Winner: Best Budget Buy

For a long time Kenneth Cole has been making attractive, functional luggage at a nice price point. The Reverb is a great example. It’s expandable, has dual-caster wheels, and a locking retractable handle.

Reviews of this suitcase have been great, and the price is right, which is why we chose it as the best budget buy. At almost 32″, this is a large suitcase that gives families plenty of room. As far as big suitcases go, the Kenneth Cole is a great value at this price point.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 29″ Expandable Hardside Spinner.

Samsonite Inova 30″ Hardside Spinner

Winner: Sleekest Design

The Samsonite Inova is a great looking suitcase and definitely scores points for sleekness and design. The Inova comes highly rated and is made of 100% Makrolon® polycarbonate which is designed to resist impact damage. The unique finish helps hide scratches to keep things looking nice.

Dual-caster wheels, an integrated TSA lock, and a handle that fits flush to the suitcase are nice, well-designed features. The Inova is a smart design by Samsonite and will keep your family traveling in style for many years.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Inova 30″ Hardside Spinner.

Bonus Buys

Best bag for Disney Families

Headed off to an awesome Disney vacation? These Mickey and Minnie suitcases will impress the kids but also offer the same great features and value that American Tourister is known for. Now the Disney magic can start before you even get to the airport!

American Tourister Disney Mickey Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner

 

 

 

 Check here for the latest prices on the American Tourister Disney Mickey Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner.

 

American Tourister Disney Minnie Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner

 

 

 

 Check here for the latest prices on the American Tourister Disney Minnie Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner.

Best Value Luggage Set for Families

eBags TLS Expandable 2pc Set

We own two of the 21″ TLS carry-on bags (review here), and we love them. They have long handles for attaching other backpacks and bags to, roll easily, and are easy for the kids to manage. We think they are one of the best values out there, and their smart design will have you wanting a set for the entire family. For families, consider luggage sets to get a better deal.

 Check here for the latest prices on the eBags TLS Expandable 2pc Set.

 

Don’t Forget the Packing Cubes!

Each member of our family gets a set in their own color. They’re cheap and make things so much easier. The new eBags Ultralight Cubes will keep you organized without adding much extra weight, which is great.

  Check here for the latest prices on the eBags Ultralight Cubes.

Time to Go!

We hope you’ve found what you’re looking for and that we’ve helped you narrow down your choices to get a great piece of luggage! If you have any questions, let us know or drop us a line on our social channels below.

Safe Travels, Everyone!

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Choosing the best suitcase for travel can be time consuming, but with our suitcase comparison, it doesn't have to be! See our 2017 picks to find the best! | Suitcase Review | Best Luggage

 

 

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