Travel is changing, and so are our needs as globetrotters, and the demands on our suitcases and cabin travel bags have never been greater. So, we decided it was time to look for the best suitcases out there, whether you’re a fan of city breaks and are in need of a budget-airline-friendly case, or a lover of long-haul adventures looking for something a little more substantial.
For hard-sided cases, you can’t go wrong with polypropylene, a material that is tough, light and scratch-resistant. For soft-sided cases, we recommend looking for cases made with polyamide, which has similar qualities.
Bonus points go to cases with areas of reinforcement over wheels, or so-called compression zips, which allow you to cram more into your suitcase without risking damaging key components.
When it comes to wheels, hollow ones can mean your suitcase makes significantly more noise when you’re rolling it along, while rubber wheels are generally quieter than plastic ones. And while four wheels will make rolling your suitcase along smooth surfaces much easier, two-wheeled suitcases can be easier to manoeuvre on rough ground.
Finally, if keeping your suitcase in top condition is a priority, hard-sided cases are likely to be the best option. They’re low maintenance and can be wiped clean, and a growing number of hard-sided suitcases have scratch-resistant coatings.
We rolled, dragged and heaved our suitcases across various destinations, squeezed them into cramped cars and overhead luggage cabins, and filled them way past their recommended capacity. After all of this, they didn’t just survive unscathed, they emerged triumphant, protecting our travel essentials, gliding smoothly through the most crowded of airports and helping us stay organised on multi-destination trips.
Upgrade your explorations with this stylish suitcase from Ted Baker. Its sides feel incredibly rigid (much more so than the average hard-sided case) and we’re bowled over by the gold accents – more specifically, a tiny gold bow on the front, gold zips and gold tips on the side handles.
The suitcase opens clamshell-style to reveal two mesh-covered compartments, and Ted Baker has maxed out the capacity by incorporating two pockets into the material covering the left half (we found this especially useful for separating dirty laundry from the rest of the suitcase’s contents).
Add a simple but secure lock, spinner wheels that glide ridiculously smoothly, and internal compression straps with just the right amount of elasticity (trust us, the right compression straps make a world of difference) and we reckon this might just be one of the best suitcases on the market right now.
We’ve always thought Kipling’s suitcases are seriously underestimated, and the spontaneous S is a case (excuse the pun) in point. This soft-sided case’s low weight (2.8kg) stems largely from the use of polyamide – a material that is tough yet light.
An oversized side handle made it easy to haul out of cramped overhead luggage compartments, and the large zippered pocket on the front was perfect for important items (such as boarding passes and passports) that we needed quick access to.
Inside, things get even better. A funky map-inspired design adorns the material that zips over the case’s two halves, and we’re fully in favour of Kipling’s decision to ditch traditional X-shaped compression straps, opting instead for two adjustable straps that span the width of one side of the suitcase.
We’re very aware colourways are probably the least important factor when it comes to suitcases, but we can’t help but be impressed by the choice of 10 shades when it comes to this hard-sided case.
Prone to overpacking? You’ll appreciate the expander zip, as well as the extra-sturdy compression straps you’ll find inside the case.
There’s a sense that no expense has been spared on materials with this bag – the telescopic handle glides out incredibly smoothly and feels wonderfully tactile, and there’s a reassuring sturdiness to every single component, whether it’s the zips, the wheels or the TSA-compliant padlock.
Burton’s fight deck case has gone through several reincarnations, although the interior has remained pretty much the same, as has the emphasis on toughness and sturdiness. This isn’t the lightest suitcase you’ll come across, but it will stand up to a serious amount of wear and tear, thanks partly to its extra-thick side walls and the various areas of reinforcement – whether it’s the plastic corner caps or the reinforced handle.
We were sceptical about Burton’s so-called “volume-enhancing stretch CRAM zones”, but we were proved wrong – as notorious over-packers, we loved the way the zippered covers for the respective halves had a huge amount of elasticity, unlike standard covers.
Spinner wheels don’t get smoother than the ones you’ll find on the Samsonite proxis, although that’s far from the only reason we love this lightweight suitcase, which weighs just 3.6kg.
Made with roxkin (Samsonite’s very own, ultra-tough version of polypropylene), it’s a suitcase that isn’t just incredibly tough but has clearly been designed by frequent travellers. Added extras – such as the retractable, integrated ID tag, and the presence of multiple internal compartments – haven’t simply been added without thought, but because they’re genuinely useful add-ons.
There are lots of things we love about this suitcase, starting with the fact it’s nigh on impossible to miss it on the luggage carousel, thanks to its banana-yellow hue.
It lacks the rigidity we’d expect from more expensive suitcases but, as a cabin bag, it’s more than up to the job. It also comes with various features that aren’t always guaranteed on suitcases at this price point. These include the TSA-compliant lock and the reinforcements above the four wheels.
This stylish suitcase, made from ultra-tough polypropylene, is perfect for anyone who struggles with the concept of travelling light. The simplicity of the interior – which comprises two compartments, one of which has X-shaped compression straps – allowed us to make full use of its size, and the brilliant expander zip meant we could create a little more space for some unplanned purchases.
The spinner wheels are double ones, which makes them less prone to wear and tear, due to the weight being spread more evenly, and we loved the fact the case comes with an impressive 15-year warranty.
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