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Our globetrotting experts have tested 37 of the best suitcases on the market over the last 4 years, with the top 14 in this year's update. We tested this luggage head-to-head for months, stacking each suitcase into all kinds of vehicles and packing them with everything from business casual clothes to backcountry gear. We tested every packing feature, bumped them over steps, traveled over cobbled pathways, and even sprayed each one down with a hose. Whether you're seeking a budget bag, a gear locker, or looking for a forever suitcase, we've discovered some great options for you.
For avid travelers who prefer to skip the checked baggage lines and instead lean on something a little smaller and more portable, be sure to have a look at our favorite carry-on bags and top travel backpacks. And for those days when you've got time and muscle to carry your gear into the backcountry, we've got all the information you'll need to narrow down the options on all kinds of backpacks.
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 7, 2022, to explore design changes on the award-winning Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Spinner and add two new contenders from Eagle Creek and Dakine to our comparative review.
Balances simplicity with adventure-friendly design
Useful organizational and compression features
Substantial carrying capacity for its weight
REASONS TO AVOID
Water-resistant but not waterproof
When simple, reliable, multi-purpose functionality top the list of demands, the REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel 34" reigns supreme. Built out of durable, water-resistant recycled ripstop nylon (a combination of 400-denier with 1,680-denier reinforcements) and complemented by a solid retractable pull-handle, protective zipper flaps, four lift-holds, and a set of burly treaded inline wheels, this long-haul roller duffel is ready to handle any road you can throw it at. The large, easy-access main compartment makes toss-and-go packing a breeze, while several handy organizational features — interior and exterior compression straps, a small side-access outside pocket, multiple daisy-chain lash points, two mesh organizational pockets inside the entrance flap, and a tuck-away piggyback clip for smaller bags while in transit — ensure you've got all the tools you'll need to stay on track whether you're jet-setting around the busy streets of New York or wandering between the cobbled alleys of Nepal and the mountainous sand dunes of Morocco.
Although this adventure-ready bag isn't likely to win many style points among urbanists, it's still pretty eye-catching for anyone with a proclivity toward the outdoors or a mixed-use travel lifestyle. And its substantial size-to-weight volume (one of the best in the test series) means you'll have plenty of room to carry and vary your look from beachside trails to neon city nights, with room to pick up a few new pieces on the go. This is one of the main downsides to the bag — it's so big it would be easy to overpack well over the 50-pound weight limit for most checked bags if not careful. But if durability and flexibility at a great price are a priority, this bag should be at the top of your list.
Thanks to its super-smooth rolling action and durable softshell case, the two-wheeled Timbuk 2 Copilot is one of our favorite models, and it sells for a very reasonable price. The compact size and good mobility work well for posh adventures via plane and train or on rougher road trip destinations. The suitcase offers some of the most robust and well-laid-out organizational features in our lineup, including a mesh panel on either side of its clamshell design with an inlaid set of smaller mesh pockets for odds and ends. It even has a unique peek-a-boo u-zip opening to allow access to items in the front half of the bag without having to unzip the entire suitcase, which is a huge bonus. We also love the easy-access storage pocket up top and the fact that there's a haul handle on all four sides.
We had a hard time finding much wrong with this reliable bag under most conditions. Sometimes the main zipper gets held up on corners which is a bit frustrating. And, while there's plenty of room to pack what you need for most weeklong trips, this bag isn't great for bulkier items or a lot of gear. If you need more space but like this bag's style, check out its bigger 108-liter cousin. Or, if you want a similar carry-on bag, there are also two smaller options. But take note: while the suitcase is aesthetically and functionally well suited to urban or off-road adventures alike, it is not weather-proof (like nearly all bags we tested), and moisture could find its way into zippered seams under heavy downpour conditions. So maybe don't plan to pack a laptop and leave it out back in a storm. But otherwise, whether you're heading off to wine country for the weekend or planning a long vacation, this case is ready to go anywhere with you.
With a brand reputation built on quality and reliability that has spanned more than a century, it may come as no surprise that the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable 28" was among the top-performing suitcases across nearly all metrics in our test suite. Although the suitcase appears absolutely massive out of the box — a friend offered to hop inside to prove the point — and is oversized for basic travel needs, its simple, attractive, and oh-so-practical design should place this well-priced clamshell spinner up for consideration on any urban traveler's checked luggage list. Constructed of an extra-sturdy and scratch-resistant micro-diamond polycarbonate, the four-wheeled hulk of a bag delivers fairly effortless mobility across smooth surfaces, even when weighted to the airlines' maximum (50 pounds), and shows little wear for use after the harsh conditions in testing. Among all the bags in the series, it was also the only suitcase to show no signs of interior moisture from water exposure nor lasting scuff marks from our toss-test. A comfortable telescoping handle, strong zippers, embedded TSA-approved lock, and an extra expandability option seal the deal: this bag is ready to pull its weight (and yours) between luxe hotels, airport lounges, family homes, or any city roadway in between.
Although internal organizational features are limited to a single mesh panel enclosure, cross-straps (without compression), and one hanging zip pocket, the remarkably light weight-to-volume ratio of the Omni PC delivers a mighty impressive carrying capacity for any long-haul journey. But as with other bags in the series, the gift of size can also be its greatest flaw as one can squeeze a whole heck of a lot into this 145L suitcase, easily exceeding the checked luggage weight restrictions of most airlines. And while all load and pull handles feel sturdy under average use, an overweight bag could put additional strain on such key features. Self-policing is a necessity unless you are prepared to potentially absorb all risks and fees. Also, as with every other four-wheeled suitcase tested, this Samsonite spinner is not built for mixed or off-road terrain. So, what muscle and energy you save in cruising through the airport and town with ease will now need to be channeled into an awkward two-wheeled drag wherever pavement disappears. But for urban flyers, this seems a small price to pay for a winner of a hard-sided bag in all other categories.
The Amazon Basics 30" Hardside Spinner is a solid utilitarian option for the price-conscious. Though it performed reasonably well across all our tests, its biggest selling point is the low price tag. Four large, rubberized double-spinner wheels won't guarantee the sharpest of turns when navigating busy airports, but they will make for a relatively smooth and stable experience under most flat-surfaced conditions. In comparison, rocky and off-road landscapes prove substantially more challenging, similar to the drag of any of the four-wheel bags we tested. Fortunately, a telescoping rolling handle and two top and side grab options are available to help you load and carry the suitcase through varied environments. And the clamshell design offers substantial storage for large loads, including a couple of bonus organizational extras: two mesh pockets inlaid into one half-clam panel enclosure and a smaller accessory pocket hung on the opposing side. Plus, if you're a shopper, a single zipper expands the bag by another 15% to accommodate bulky souvenirs.
Unfortunately, like most four-wheeled spinners, no stopper mechanism exists to keep the suitcase from escaping when left unrestrained, a particular issue when fully weighted or on a slope. You can also expect the bag to rotate outward on a vertical axis when walking uphill (rather than walking with you in parallel). And like many hard-sided bags, the zipper sometimes sticks a bit when coming around corners. So, there are some minor inconveniences to consider. However, the most pressing consideration has to be durability. Both interior and exterior materials appear underwhelming in quality and online reviews call out problems of all kinds (broken handles, lost wheels, and denting even in the very early days of use, along with concerns about an underperforming warranty. But the bag stood up to the rigors of our testing well enough to win notice. So, if a shorter life span is acceptable for your needs, this strikingly affordable and well-sized four-wheel suitcase will do the trick.
Built like a beast, the Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 30 has a distinctly technical look and offers a wealth of organizational features. Although it's advertised with roughly 100 liters of storage, you can fit so much inside it feels like more. And that's just internal storage. It also features external pockets, a tuck-away equipment keeper, and daisy-chain loops to carry anything you need while on the go — well-padded cameras, tripods, adventure gear, the works. You can even separate your stinky adventure boots from your nightlife outfits using an expandable internal compartment meant for wet/dirty gear or yesterday's clothes. Made of 900D Bi-Tech Heather and 1000D Helix Poly Twill reinforced by Bi-Tech Armor (for maximum abrasion and weather resistance), this bag is meant for long days on rough roads with all the stuff.
A workhorse of a bag, the ORV Trunk is notably tailored to the outdoor enthusiast, not a generalist. It's an ideal bag for those engaging in expeditionary style travel or hauling gear for sports or trip activities and anyone not bothered by a tactical or heavy-adventure look. While you could certainly use it for a business trip or beach vacation, it may feel like overkill on more mellow journeys to visit family or shorter escapes. Plus, the bulky dimensions and technical design can be somewhat difficult to navigate when not packed to capacity (as the compression options only really kick in once full). But the massive treaded wheels ensure it's easy enough to maneuver at an airport or hotel, even if its untamed look isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea. Active travelers and those seeking a utilitarian suitcase with gear capacity and management features will appreciate it best.
Rolling smoothly alongside you, pivoting on a dime across smooth surfaces, and negotiating gravel and cobblestones using only average strength, the four-wheel Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner is our favorite premium suitcase. Three loading handles give it an edge when your haul includes rough terrain or you're grabbing it off a conveyor belt, but what really sets this bag apart is its spot-on organizational features. There's a small external SpeedThru pocket to keep necessities close at hand, plus a larger front sleeve pocket to stash entertainment or layers on the go. Inside the suitcase's primary zip-flap opening is a tri-fold garment envelope with two zipped pockets that fold out to accommodate delicate fabric items and minimize wrinkles. Meanwhile, compression panels and an innovative CX expansion system inside the main compartment are available to keep your belongings in place while enabling you to pack far more than meets the eye, all without making the bag any bigger.
There are two notable downsides to this high-quality spinner: the cost and its higher-than-average weight. While it scored among the priciest and heaviest of all test cases, it surprisingly did not match those figures with the largest capacity. But given its superior performance across all metrics, we still feel there's a lot to justify the extra investment. Everything we saw during testing indicates it's built to last. Plus, with the company's renowned unconditional lifetime guarantee, you can repair any components or features that may break over time. We did note some vulnerabilities when it comes to water exposure under testing. So, we wouldn't count on this case to provide watertight protection in transit under harsh conditions. But given nearly all bags in the test group showed similar results to some degree, the overall merits of the Baseline far outweigh this single notable risk factor. If you're okay with paying more upfront for travel gear that will outlast the competition, this could be the right option for you.
To test these suitcases, we explored rough mountain roads across the West, from California's Yosemite and Eastern Sierra to Central Oregon and Colorado, with plenty of stops in between. We started by researching over 100 candidates before handpicking the best. We then brought these bags everywhere we went over several months. We rolled them along sidewalks, through the airport, over cobblestone pathways, and deep out onto rocky backcountry roads. We traveled with them in the back of trucks, SUVs, and tucked into vans. At home, we set up obstacle courses, rolling them over and around different objects and hucking them down stairwells and onto concrete. We even hosed them down with water to see which could repel light rain. In total, these bags saw at least 2000 miles of travel and close to 100 hours of testing.
Our comprehensive testing was divided into five testing metrics:
Storage & Organization (25% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Transport (25% weighting)
Reliability (25% weighting)
Weight (15% weighting)
Style (10% weighting)
Myrha Colt and Clark Tate are frequent travelers. It is not uncommon for Myrha to be on the road for nearly half (or more) of any given year, with days spent traveling between mountain hideaways, remote beach villages, city skyscrapers, and all the backcountry roads, trails, museums, waterfalls, and taco stands she can squeeze in between. Clark takes a handful of long trips each year and spends months at a time living out of her van. Both have traveled to five or more continents, exploring big cities, small towns, and rugged high-country destinations. Each of them test gear for a living and know a thing or two about packing their bags and what makes a good one.
Analysis and Test Results
We compared our tested suitcases across five key metrics and evaluated them side-by-side in the field and at home. We packed the same set of clothes and gear in each to compare their storage and organizational capacity. We rolled them around trip after trip to see how easy they were to transport, carry, and load. We pushed them hard to see their reliability, weighed them, and took stock of their style. The winners have the highest overall scores or stand out in a given metric. Read on to learn more about how each performed to help inform your final purchase decision.
Often, you get what you pay for, and we've rarely come across a high-quality, low-cost roller case. If you want well-made luggage that's likely to last, it will likely be expensive. That said, some of these bags are well-made and reasonably priced. The Timbuk2 Copilot isn't the most or least expensive of the roller suitcases we tested, but it scored very well in our tests and has a middle-of-the-road price as well as the multi-terrain functionality of a two-wheeler. It's still an investment, but we think it's a good one. The Samsonite Omni PC Hardside is about the same price and also offers excellent performance and notable durability for a spinner suitcase. The Omni PC is our favorite hard-sided roller in the test and costs considerably less than many other similar options on the market. The Amazon Basics 30" Hardshell Spinner bag is the least expensive in our lineup and still performed quite well in many of our tests. While its composition appears less durable than most of the other options, it still works well, especially if you'll only be traveling occasionally.
It's a good idea to check out the manufacturer's warranty to see if you'll have any options for repair or replacement if your bag breaks.
Storage & Organization
We compared each model's volume, compartments, pockets, compression, and organization straps. To do so, we packed, unpacked, and traveled a lot. We rotated through the selection and assessed which bag would work best for that particular trip, noting how and why. We also ran through packing tests at home, filling each with a standard adventure wardrobe, from low-bulk items like city clothes, dresses, and leisurewear to bulkier stuff like hiking boots, snow pants, camping gear, and trekking equipment. Bags that offered either thoughtful organization or ample storage capacity scored higher in this category.
One of our favorites for this metric is the Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner. It has just over 100 liters of storage and a unique expansion and compression system that lets you grow the main compartment up to 122 liters, pack it full, and then compress the entire bag down again. It works surprisingly well. There's also a trifold hanging compartment, nicely placed external pockets for day-of organization, and an attachable SmartLink strap to help you carry a second bag. This is an excellent option for the frequent flyer who likes to easily see and access what's in their luggage.
A simpler bag that also scored highly in this category is the Timbuk2 Copilot. It has a clam-style design, unzipping down the middle so you can load gear evenly on both sides. But unlike most similar clamshell-style suitcases, this one has both sides covered with a zippered mesh panel, so nothing spills as you open it, along with a couple of additional mesh pockets for interior organization. You can also access your packed items from a u-shaped opening across the topside, which we love. Similarly, the soft-sided Dakine Split Roller 85L is a roller duffel with a clamshell design that includes mesh panels for interior organization. Although it offers ample storage space and organizational options, in the end, the Split Roller scored lower because it lacks the convenience of the top-sided entry that proves so valuable on the Timbuk2 Copilot.
The Travelpro Platinum Elite 29" bag has a very similar setup to the Briggs & Riley, but instead of expanding and compressing, it instead provides an external expansion zipper that reveals a tapered opening along the frontside lid, offering some additional capacity toward the base of the bag. The overall impact on packing space is limited, and this isn't the ideal place to carry such extra weight, as the bag can easily become front-heavy and start to tip when standing. However, the pockets are quite well-organized, and the internal hanging compartment will help keep your nice clothes less wrinkly in transit.
The Eagle Creek ORV Trunk is a great choice for adventure travel, thanks to its many pockets and practical organizational features. This soft-sided case offers a lot of storage, an expandable wet/dry compartment, and easily holds bulky items. This is a great option if you need to bring big boots or camera gear on a long travel mission. It even has a bungee cord and daisy-chain loops to attach a helmet or other gear to the outside of the bag if you run out of space inside.
An immense amount of gear can also be carried in the lightweight but large capacity Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT Wheeled 120L, although it lacks buzz-worthy organizational extras that might catch the eye of strategic packers. Here you'll find just two extra pockets (one outside and one in) plus compression straps for an assist. Likewise, the REI Big Haul is a rugged gear hauler with a simple design, offering just four small pockets, a tuck-away piggyback clip to attach smaller bags, and both internal and external compression straps to keep packed items in place.
The Away Large, Samsonite Omni PC Hardside, Delsey Paris Titanium Hardside, Amazon Basics, and Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 28" are all hard-sided and feature clamshell designs. Of these, we like the Away bag the best for its inclusion of an internal "compression pad" to maximize packing space along with zippered panel enclosures for double-sided packing, a mesh sleeve for laptop storage, and a small storage pocket with a dirty laundry bag. All but the Away case can be expanded for additional storage by unzipping an extra strip of fabric, but the Samsonite Omni PC seems far sturdier than the others. None of the hard-sided bags offer any external organizational features.
All of these suitcases offer enough storage to pack for anywhere from a week to a month. When you're considering storage and organization, make sure you know if you prefer a simple bag that you can throw everything into, like the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled duffel, or if you'd prefer more built-in organization, like a trifold to keep your suits wrinkle-free.
Ease of Transport
Any wheeled luggage should be able to navigate the polished floors of an airport. But, as we all know, your luggage will also come across cracked sidewalks, steep curbs, and gravel-laden pavement. If you're traveling abroad in remote countries or into the outdoors, it's quite possible you'll also encounter dirt roads, cobblestone streets, and rocky trails. To see how our tested products hold up, we rolled each case over all types of terrain, taking note of which provided the smoothest ride.
In general, four-wheeled spinner options are ideal for smooth, hard surfaces since they can pivot and spin around any obstacle. Several of those in our lineup actually have eight wheels, two at every corner connected by an axle. These include the Briggs & Riley, Away, Travelpro, Delsey, and Amazon Basics bags. Several also have grippy rubber around their wheels to help them stay on track reasonably well. The Briggs & Riley is our favorite since it remains compact and well-balanced no matter how much you pack, with the Samsonite coming in next on the list for control, followed by the Amazon Basics and the Away.
The rest work reliably well on smooth ground. And when you tilt them up on two wheels, they can also manage cobblestones and even short gravel stretches. But if you spend any real time on rough surfaces, you should consider the two-wheeled roller bags. They aren't as responsive and nimble as spinners at the airport since they require wider turns, but they tend to have bigger wheels that fare better in rowdy, uneven terrain.
Shining in functionality, the REI Big Haul is an off-road roller dream, with substantial all-terrain wheels and a selection of grab-and-go load handles that make it among the easiest to handle and load under the most varied conditions. The Eagle Creek ORV is similarly outfitted with a variety of well-placed handles to aid in the transition between asphalt, trail, and vehicle or hotel. You can also haul the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT, The North Face Base Camp Voyager, and the Patagonia Black Hole by their multiple handle options, though of course, they will be considerably harder to lift and move when packed to weight. Luckily, they all also feature wheels that work well on the most varied terrain (and the Cargo Hauler XT even offers backpack straps), so the combination should suffice to get travelers through the most common transportation scenarios.
If you're seeking a gentle ride that won't vibrate your arm off when navigating between city sidewalks and cobbled streets, check out the Timbuk2 Copilot. This bag uses skateboard wheels that feature a broad, stable base and a very smooth glide. Also, look for a bag with higher clearance. The Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner is untouchable in this regard, quickly followed by the Samsonite Omni PC and Delsey Paris Titanium among the spinner bags, while the REI Big Haul beats the pack in the rolling duffel category.
Let's face it. There is some terrain that you won't be able to roll any of these bags over. So we also paid attention to how hard they are to carry. We appreciate the spinner bags with at least three haul handles, one on the top, another on the bottom, and one on the side. Only the Briggs & Riley and Delsey bags meet this requirement. Among the soft duffels, the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT has several rugged load handles and lays claim to a set of detachable backpack straps hidden inside a small front zip pocket. While not the most practical method for carrying such a large bag over any distance (especially when packed to capacity), it is a nice feature for those unique occasions when you must navigate tight stairwells or particularly awkward terrain over short distances.
You need reliable luggage. Once you drop it off at the airport, you have no control over how well it's handled. Then you're going to drag it over rough terrain, pull it up and down flights of stairs, and toss it in and out of vehicles. Zippers, handles, and wheels are typically the most vulnerable points where suitcases may break down. We evaluated the craftsmanship of each case in our lineup and tested them with at least two months of travel.
General Wear and Tear
If you're considering dropping hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-line model, you should start by looking at the outer material. In general, suitcases are divided into two categories, hard or soft.
Counterintuitively, hard cases are generally more susceptible to wear and tear than soft-sided options. The five hard cases in this review are the Samsonite, Away, Delsey, the Amazon Basics, and the Kenneth Cole. The first three are made of 100% polycarbonate, a fairly durable plastic, with Samsonite boasting a particularly scratch-resistant micro-diamond hard-shell exterior. The remaining pair are made of less durable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). Though all hard-sided suitcases were scuffed and scratched a bit due to the full testing process, the Away bag was notable in that it showed a significant amount of wear beginning day one, while most others were fairly easy to wipe off and return to their previous un-scuffed state. Remember that color also matters when it comes to showing signs of heavy use, and lighter shades are often not as successful in hiding the evidence of dirt and use, whether you choose a hard or soft-sided bag. If a crisp appearance is a priority, darker colors can be a safer bet.
Soft cases stand up better to abuse overall since they can flex with impact. They are more prone to break-ins, though, since they are relatively easy to cut or puncture. The soft-sided bags in our test are made of nylon, polyester, or both. To figure out how durable the polyester bags might be, look for the denier, or D, rating.
The Briggs & Riley and North Face bags feature ballistic nylon, which was developed during World War II to make flax jackets for airmen. So, that's pretty tough. The Eagle Creek ORV is suited up in a proprietary and tactically appropriate combination of Helix Poly Twill and Bi-Tech Armor (TPU-coated polyester). And its lighter weight cousin, the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT, is built of similarly same strong Helix Poly Twill and TPU-covered Poly. We know less about the construction of the Timbk2 Copilot, yet we've seen it withstand years of use with very little wear. This leads us to believe all soft-sided cases and roller duffels in the test group are all built to last.
We hosed each contender down on full blast for about three minutes, with another three spent targeting the most vulnerable entry and connection points. The external materials of most test cases were largely impervious to water under testing, but nearly all suffered from moisture infiltrating at handle joints and through zipper teeth or pull connections, leaving various amounts of water pooled toward the back and bottom of each suitcase, and often in the exterior pockets as well. Any that kept water out of critical areas, like the watertight Samsonite Omni PC or the Timbuk2 Copilot, whose padded front sleeve and liquids pocket remained dry through testing, scored the best overall in this category.
Several of the large rolling duffels in our series — the Eagle Creek ORV, Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT, REI Big Haul Rolling Duffel, and The North Face Base Camp Voyager — did relatively well against our simulated downpour. The recessed construction and awning-like fabric flaps help wick water away from vulnerable components, providing the bag with a base amount of protection from the start. But overall, only the Samsonite Omni PC came through testing watertight, and even then, we think it would be a hard sell to claim full waterproof status if challenged against even heavier conditions. The takeaway: none of the bags in this test suite can offer guarantees, but if you need decent water resistance for your travels, the Omni PC is a great choice. Or, for more rugged adventures, set your eye on options with protected zippers and water-wicking materials.
In general, two-wheeled options use larger wheels that are simpler and often more durable. Four-wheeled models often have smaller wheels with more complex construction, which means there's just more to break.
Among our favorite wheels in the test are the skateboard rollers on the Timbuk2 Copilot. If they can stand up to skateboarding, you best believe they can roll your clothes around. They're solid, stable, and easy to change out. But it's the beefy 4-inch diameter inline wheels on the REI Big Haul Recycled that impressed us most, with their mix of smooth yet grippy plastic centerlines and treaded outer rims (5/8 inch thick in total), giving every indication they're up to any road challenge combination you can conjure.
Other two-wheeled options that came close include The North Face Base Camp Voyagerand the Eagle Creek ORV. Both are sturdy, oversized, and move easily up and over obstacles. However, they don't offer quite as smooth a ride as the Copilot and the REI Big Haul due to their more heavily treaded designs and the subsequent vibration they can produce. The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT has larger, treaded wheels as well, but they are built into a protective wheel housing that significantly reduces the bag's clearance, making it harder to navigate varied terrain and leaving the bag susceptible to damage from catching on objects in motion.
Of the spinner cases, we appreciate the well-crafted wheels on the Briggs & Riley, Samsonite, Away, Delsey, Amazon Basics, and Travelpro Platinum, more or less in that order. All but the Samsonite have double wheels on a single axle at each corner and a rubber layer that cushions them from the ground. This helps make them more durable with a better grip. The Samsonite notably takes a different approach, with a solid set of four single 2-inch diameter, hard plastic wheels that provide a surprising amount of grip, mobility, and control in tight spaces.
A good handle should retain its strength and shape even under considerable packed weight and average travel use. In our testing, the handles of nearly all cases proved to be impressively resilient during use tests, even up to 50 pounds. Among the burliest are the REI Big Haul and Eagle Creek ORV. The rest of the handles jiggled and flexed more substantially under pressure, particularly when fully extended, but still delivered where it counts: in motion. Disappointingly, the pull handle on the The North Face Base Camp Voyager, which was initially ranked high for sturdiness and comfort in use, broke outright during extended testing when its track dented so severely the handle could no longer extend and retract for use.
Traveling Up Stairs
One of the worst things you can do to your luggage, and your stairs, is to drag your case up, banging the backside of the case on each step. It's better to just carry your luggage up if you can. If you can't, look for cases with protective plastic rails that run from the wheels up a large length of the case. These also help protect the bag from general wear and tear when laid to rest or shoved across the ground. Cases like the REI Big Haul, Patagonia Black Hole, and The North Face Base Camp Voyager all have this feature. While the Timbuk2 Copilot has an exterior handle housing that is set up to serve this purpose, the metal material quickly becomes scratched when dragged along cement or wooden edges. The Eagle Creek ORV and Cargo Hauler XT cases also do reasonably well, but they primarily rely on their oversized wheels to keep the bag from banging destructively up stairwells in transit.
Overall, we expect the REI Big Haul Recycled and Eagle Creek ORV Trunk to stand up the best over time. They have super burly outer materials with handles and wheels that are durable, well-clearanced, and easy to change out. We also expect the Briggs & Riley to last. If durable and reliable are what you seek, these are our favorites. Other well-built options include the Timbuk2 Copilot, Samsonite, Away, Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT, and Patagonia Black Hole. All sport larger or well-engineered wheels, material reinforcements, beefy zippers, and varying water-resistance properties.
Weight is an important consideration for just about any product we review, but it's particularly critical when it comes to air travel. Airline rules often restrict checked bags to a maximum of 50 pounds, which includes the bag itself. Every pound a bag weighs is thus another pound of gear you'll have to leave behind or pay for. We found that the sweet spot for most bags is right around the 10-pound mark. Any lighter, and you may see a real loss of durability and storage capacity. Any heavier, and you're losing valuable payload capacity. To test this metric, we weighed each contender on our own scale. Then we looked at the bag's volume-to-weight ratio.
The two bags with the best volume per weight ratio were the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside and the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT. When durability and organizational features are factored into the assessment, the REI Big Haul obtained winning marks as well, followed by the Eagle Creek ORV Trunk. When long-term reliability is less of a concern, the Travelpro Platinum Elite, Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner, and North Face Base Camp Voyager will also deliver a reasonable balance between weight and volume to meet most needs.
The lightest piece of luggage in our review is the basic Patagonia Black Hole, which offers bare-bone features and a simplistic traveling experience. It's a great option for those who can't decide between a duffel bag and a roller bag but would still like to maximize the weight available for their packables. However, the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT comes in just a few ounces more and offers nearly double the storage capacity. So if your goal is to maximize packing space while reducing your overall load, this is where we'd suggest you start.
Because of the subjective nature of this category, it isn't as heavily weighted in the overall scores. Since luggage is such an investment, we mostly gave points for looks we thought would last.
When you approach baggage claim at the local airport, you usually spy a sea of black roller bags that look a lot like the Travelpro Platinum Elite or perhaps the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds (though these come in colors other than black). These are popular designs duplicated in a variety of aspects across many brands. But there are others that we think look better and will certainly be easier to pick out at the airport.
The Away bag stands out as one of the most stylish options, appealing to everyone that tested it. Its matte finish and choice of contemporary color palettes allow you to express yourself. The Timbuk2 Copilot is a lot less flashy, but its compact shape and pulled-together style always made us feel polished. The Briggs & Riley bag has a classic, if not somewhat dull, look. We don't love its aesthetic, but it's a time-tested design. You can tell it's a quality case, so we can imagine it traveling under the radar with ease across many years, even as the fashion world catapults fresh trends into the ring with each new season.
Hard cases seem to be a favorite among the fashion-forward, and the Samsonite, Amazon Basics, and Delsey spinner bags don't disappoint, offering striking patterns and bold colors to catch the eye of anyone looking to stand out at baggage claim.
Other contenders in this review offered a more outdoorsy or casual look, such as the REI Big Haul, Dakine Split Roller, or Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT (these last two come in a handful of vibrant colors and striking patterns). The most technical and tactical-looking bag in this review is the Eagle Creek ORV. This soft-sided option isn't fashionable in an urban city sense, looking instead like the bag you'll take on your next big expedition. Whatever your style, be sure to look at the features you want and make sure the performance won't let you down.
There is no end to the suitcase options available to you today. In this review, we take a critical look at some of the best available options. Remember to start by deciding if a roller or a spinner bag will be best for your travel purposes. Then figure out your budget and think about if there are any "must-have" features you need. We hope this review helps you with the rest.
Whether you need a bag for your commute or for your job...
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