The Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textile Lab tests luggage of all kinds, from carry-ons, to checked bags, and more. We evaluate in them in the Lab by measuring things like abrasion and scratch resistance, water resistance, weight and size, ease of use, and durability in our drop tests. We also perform packing tests to compare compartments and see how much each can hold. Then we bring in consumer testers to use the luggage in an obstacle course and give feedback on aspects like handle comfort, wheel performance, and maneuverability.
One thing we’re always asked: Is soft or hardside luggage better? The answer: It’s a personal preference. For hard shell luggage, we recommend going with polycarbonate because it’s both durable and lightweight. Aluminum is heavier and ABS plastic is less durable. For softer fabric luggage that’s more flexible to stuff into tight spaces (e.g. car trunks or overhead bins), nylon's your best bet because it's strong and water resistant.
After combing through the past 10 years of test data and researching new styles, we’ve selected the best luggage brands based on top-performing cases from our tests, our expert favorites that we use when we travel, and newer styles with unique features. Read on to learn more about our top picks, but in summary the best luggage brands to shop in 2019 are:
Best Overall: AwayBest Value: AmazonBasicsBest Variety: DelseyBest for Infrequent Flyers: American TouristerBest for Frequent Flyers: HartmannBest for Business Travel: SamsoniteBest for Adventure Travel: Eagle CreekBest for Flight Crews: TravelProBest for Long Trips: L.L.BeanBest Luxury: Bric’sBest Classic Hardside: RimowaBest Prints: HeysBest Customer Service: Tumi
This direct-to-consumer brand makes suitcase shopping a whole lot easier: It offers one top-quality bag in a variety of sizes and colors. The luggage is made of 100% polycarbonate, so it’s durable yet lightweight — even lighter than some fabric bags we’ve tested. It’s also surprisingly spacious and has an easily removable battery so you can charge your phone or other devices, while still complying with airline regulations. The company offers a 100-day any-reason return policy, so you can send it back for a refund even after you've used it.
It’s hard to find luggage for under $100, but Amazon’s brand does not disappoint. There are soft and hardside styles to choose from, plus travel backpacks, duffels, and more. We recently reviewed the underseat luggage and found it was a total steal. Amazon also boasts extensive testing to make sure it’ll hold up and though it might not be the absolute best quality out there, the price can’t be beat.
No matter what you're looking for, this brand has it all: With hard or softside options available, plus garment bags, underseat luggage, and more. It even has a smart suitcase called Pluggage that runs on AAA batteries (no need to remove them like lithium ion ones!) and connects to your phone so you can weigh your load, unlock it with your fingerprint, and track its location. We’ve tested this style and several others over the years, and we’ve always been impressed by Delsey’s performance and durability.
Samsonite’s another brand that has proven high quality as we’ve tested it over the years, including both hard and soft styles. It has specifically stood out for durability and ease of use: There’s been no struggling to open and close the cases, and packing them has been a breeze thanks to the functional compartments, making them perfect for someone who is constantly on the go. We also love the designs, including the Stryde Glider which turns the luggage on the side so it’s wide (not tall), making it more stable and less likely to tip if you stack another bag on top.
Samsonite’s sister brand is slightly pricier, but has timeless designs — like tweed fabric — that never go out of style. In fact, the brand’s marketing and aesthetics are focused heavily on its heritage. On top of that, it’s hardsided Vigor case had the highest performance score in a recent test: Not only was it was spacious and easy to pack, but both the wheels and handles made for smooth and comfortable towing. It outperformed even pricier styles, so you know you’re getting good bang for your buck.
This company was founded by a pilot and it makes luggage specifically for airline personnel who travel for a living. It’s primarily soft fabric luggage (though it does have some hardside available). There’s excellent attention to detail that makes frequent flying easier in collections like the Crew 11, with cushioning around the handles, self-aligning wheels that let you roll the luggage in any direction, and abrasion-resistant nylon fabric.
If you’re going away for weeks or just have lots to pack, L.L.Bean’s duffels are roomy enough to stuff in everything you need. There are options with or without wheels and lots of sizes to choose from (the extra-large bag has a whopping 36-gallon capacity!). The flexible shape also allows it to store easily under your bed, so it’s perfect for college students or summer camp goers. It’s also made of a durable, water-resistant nylon fabric to last no matter where your travels take you.
Rolling TUMI luggage through the airport is like a status symbol; the brand is highly recognized for its luxury products for both business and leisure travelers. In addition to its luggage, it makes accessories like briefcases and backpacks and has components that make traveling easier, like an anti-slip strap on carrying bags and an extra hook on rolling bags so you can wheel multiple items at once. On top of that, the brand stands out for its unique service offerings, like repairs and luggage registration to help you find lost bags.
If you’re willing splurge, Bric’s luggage is both high quality and super chic. The Italian brand is best known for its leather, which it even uses as trim on non-leather cases. The Bellagio spinner was a top performer in a recent luggage test: It was lightweight yet held a lot inside and proved to be durable. And if you’re on a budget, check out the brand’s sale section — it has some of its bestselling styles in last season’s colors.
Whether you’re backpacking through foreign countries or exploring a national park, Eagle Creek gives you both the convenience and durability you need in a bag. There are various compartments so you can stay organized (or store dirty laundry separately), and some bags have straps so you can wear it as a backpack if you need to be hands-free. We especially love the Cargo Hauler Duffel: It’s affordable, spacious, lightweight, and folds up into a small pouch for easy storage.
This brand has always been at the cutting edge of luggage materials and made the first polycarbonate suitcase in 2000. It only makes hardside luggage, but has several different collections ranging from the Essential Lite, which is the lightest and least expensive, to the Original, which is made of durable aluminum and clever packing compartments. It’s super pricey — the cheapest case is over $500! – but its polycarbonate spinner was among the best in our test based on its weight, packing space, durability, and maneuverability.
If you don’t use luggage regularly — i.e. it doesn’t need to be the most durable and you don’t need all the bells and whistles —American Tourister offers good value and lots of options to choose from. The Pops nested set in particular is a great option if you need multiple pieces: you get three cases (small, medium, and large) for less than the cost of other individual bags. The brand also has options available for the entire family, including kids.
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This brand increases the fun factor and makes it easier to spot your luggage in a sea of dark, solid colors. It has adorable animal sets for young kids, fashionable marble designs for adults, and even a printed world map so you can keep track of your travel wish list. Even cooler is its Smart Luggage, which uses airline-approved AAA batteries instead of lithium-ion to weigh your load via the handle and let you lock and unlock it with your phone.
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