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.
While we always try to avoid checked luggage, 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!
Table of Contents
1.) Delsey Helium Aero 29" Expandable Spinner Trolley Suitcase Review
2.) Travelpro Maxlite 5 29″ Expandable Spinner Review
3.) Samsonite Winfield 3 DLX 28″ Spinner
4.) Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 28″ Hardside Spinner Suitcase Review
5.) Travelpro Crew 11 Expandable 29″ Spinner Suitcase Review
6.) Samsonite Omni PC Hardside 29" Spinner Suitcase Review
7.) eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel Suitcase Review
8.) Briggs & Riley Baseline 28″ Large Expandable Spinner Suitcase Review
9.) Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 28″ Spinner Suitcase Review
10.) American Tourister Curio 29" Hardside Spinner Review
11.) Victorinox 29″ Spectra 2.0 Suitcase Review
12.) SwissGear Travel Gear 6283 29" Spinner Review
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 – all updated for 2021!
Suitcase Comparison and – The Best Suitcases for Travel (Updated for 2021!)
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2021 Luggage Comparison Chart
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 and you have to repack.
Looking for smaller bag?
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 spinner 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:
- Very maneuverable
- Stable and won't tip over
- Can roll away on a slope if you're not paying attention
- Wheels protrude and can be damaged more easily
Two Wheel Rollers:
- Wheels tend to be sturdier because they don't rotate
- Wheels are less apt to get damaged on rougher terrain
- 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 shell offers the best protection against damage
- Get scratched easily and show wear quickly
- Don't offer as much forgiveness towards overpacking (unless they have an expansion feature)
- Are usually lighter than hard-sided suitcases
- Are more forgiving to airline abuse
- Can flex to provide a bit more packing space
- 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.
Don’t forget a portable travel charger!
Reviews of the Best Suitcases for 2021
27.5″ x 19″ x 11.5″
Winner – Best Overall Value
Cheap luggage doesn’t have to mean inferior, and it’s why the Delsey Helium Aero is back on our list for 2021. Delsey is one of the biggest names in luggage, and they deliver quality suitcases and luggage at a great price. Just take a look at the glowing online reviews and you’ll know.
This hardside luggage 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.
31″ x 21″ x 19″
The TravelPro Maxlite 5 makes it's debut this year replacing our previous favorite the Maxlite 4. Like it's predecessor, the Maxlite 5 is super-light at 8.5 lbs, 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. Their PowerScope Lite handle locks at 38” and 42.5” making it comfortable to handle for nearly everyone.
This lightweight Travelpro luggage now comes in five different colors, has an affordable price, and is made from rugged polyester which will make this a great choice for any traveling family. Travelpro also stands behind what they sell with one of the best warranties around.
Check here for the latest prices on the TravelPro Maxlite 5 29" Expandable Spinner.
30.5″ x 20.5″ x 13.25″
While Samsonite's Winfield 2 continues to be a good seller and garners great reviews, their newest Winfield 3 DLX series improves on it in several ways and makes our list for this year. The DLX series is hard-sided like the series 2 collection, but adds a unique 2-sided, 4-pocket divider panel that helps with organizing. It still includes an integrated TSA lock, 4 wheels, and a brushed finished that minimizes scratches.
Perhaps the best upgrade over the Winfield 2 is it's lighter weight. This 28" spinner comes in at just under 11 pounds - almost a half pound lighter than before which we love. Factor in the 10-year Samsonite warranty, eight color options, and the excellent reviews, we think that the new Winfield 3 DLX is a good piece of Samsonite luggage and deserves a spot on our list.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Winfield 3 DLX 28" Spinner.
31.0″ x 20.0″ x 12.75″
Winner: Best Suitcase to Stand Out From the Crowd
Nearly 9,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6 star rating can't be wrong which is why the Samsonite Winfield 2 hardside spinner is back on our list for 2021. The price is right also and we think it's a great value for a hardside. We love all the awesome colors it comes in and also the fact that you can get something that stands out from the crowd without getting something ‘designer’ or gaudy. The 'brushed' finish also helps hide scratches. This Samsonite comes with a 10 year warranty, which adds value and peace of mind.
Features include 4 wheels for easy maneuverability, interior pockets with a full-zip divider to keep everything organized, over-sized 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 has 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 Hardside Spinner.
31.5″ x 20.25″ x 12.5″
Stain resistant ballistic nylon.
Trusted by flight crews and consumers alike, the Travelpro Crew collections brings smart design and durability that earn top reviews year after year. The Maxlite collection was on our list for the past several years, and this year we're adding the Crew collection because of their stellar reviews and the limited lifetime warranty against defects that's rare in the industry these days.
Features include a locking handle with three stops, 2 inches of extra expansion, magnetic locking wheels that keep it rolling straight in any direction, and or course an excellent warranty. Interior pockets for wet items and full length zippered doors with straps will keep things tidy.
If you pay attention, there's a lot of Travelpro gear moving around the airports these days. With 5-star Amazon reviews and a company that stands behind what they sell, it's no surprise - Travelpro makes some of the best luggage out on the market today.
30.5″ x 21.5″ x 13.5″
There are two things that stand out about the Samsonite Omni - its rugged good looks and all the great colors that it comes in. It's a nice change of pace from the ho-hum black and silver options out there.
It's is a 100% polycarbonate design that also has Samsonite's "Micro-diamond" texture which supposed to help minimize the appearance of scratches and will keep your suitcase looking newer longer. It also comes with a full-zip interior, a side-mounted TSA lock, and will expand a bit in case you end up with too many souvenirs. Hundreds of Amazon buyers love this hardside luggage, so it makes our list for 2021.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner.
29″ x 17″ x 15″
Twisted polyester fabric
Winner: Best Suitcase for the Gear Junkie
We love eBags and own several pieces of their luggage. One of the reasons is their incredible attention to detail and the innovative designs. The TLS series 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 - especially the lifetime limited warranty that comes with it.
Check here for the latest prices on the eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel.
28″ x 20″ x 11″
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.
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.
Update: We still own it and it's still awesome!
Check here for the latest prices on the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner.
29.5″ x 20.5″ x 11.75″
Kenneth Cole earned a spot on last year's list with their Reverb model, but we've replaced it this year with the Out of Bounds spinner. It's lighter at only 9.6 lbs, stylish, and comes in a cool array of colors (hot pink anyone?) to fit every personality. With over 6,000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.5 stars, we think this is one to consider for sure.
We like the sleek, simple design which seems to be a hallmark of Kenneth Cole luggage. The outside is durable with reinforced corners which is a nice touch. Inside, you'll find the usual suspects - cross straps to keep everything in place and a full zip garment closure. Small molded feet on the side are handy if you want to set it down and not have it roll away from you. While there is a lot of value here, note that there isn't much in the way of warranty information we could find but it does seem to come with a limited lifetime warranty like most other manufacturers.
29.25″ x 20.6″ x 12″
This suitcase is more than just pretty looks though. The scratch-resistant polypropylene construction is lightweight and stylish. At 10.7 pounds, the Curio is one of the lightest suitcases in our roundup. Inside, you'll find a zippered divider with mesh pocket along with cross straps to keep everything in place. The wheels are 360-degree spinners that are doubled up for durability. Recessed TSA combination lock and color-matched external handles and zippers round out the eye-catching Curio.
31″ x 19″ x 11″
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".
29″ x 18″ x 10.5″
For 2021, the SwissGear 6283 is back, and with 4 stars and over 1,200 Amazon reviews, we think it deserves a spot. SwissGear is a very popular brand for the budget conscience traveler, and the reviews for this particular suitcase are very good. At around 10 lbs, this is a lightweight bag relative to some others. It’s soft-sided which will offer a bit of flex when packing, but it also expands 2 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. With a very reasonable price, this bag is a solid pick for the budget traveler who is looking for good spinner luggage at a great price. With a 5-year limited warranty, we give this bag a Swiss Gear luggage rating of 4/5.
Check here for the latest prices on the SwissGear 6283 29" Suitcase.
Best bags 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 luggage is known for. Now the Disney magic can start before you even get to the airport!
Check out the entire line of Disney-themed luggage from American Tourister here.
Don't Forget the Packing Cubes!
Packing cubes are essential travel accessories to our family's packing success! Each member of our family gets a set in their own color, and we pack a few empty ones to keep dirty clothes in. Here are some popular ones to choose from.
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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