Holidays, business trips, round-the-world adventures… whatever kind of journey you're about to embark on, it pays to have the right kit… and the right kitbag to stow your stuff in.
To help you we’ve rounded up 10 of our favourite items of luggage — from duffel cases so big you could almost sleep in them, to carry-on cases for those times when you really must get on and off the plane as fast as possible. Oh, and we've also includes a couple of cases for your little ones… they deserve a holiday too.
Our favourite suitcase is the Samsonite Flux 75cm - but what suitcase is right for you and your needs?
There are all kinds of considerations here: budget, size, how long you’re going away for, security, longevity (how long you expect the case to last). In essence though you have three main choices: 1) A hard or soft case; 2) Two wheels or four; 3) A cabin-size case or larger.
Let’s take a look at all of these choices in turn...
How to buy the best suitcase for you
1. Hard or soft case
Hard or rigid cases — like the kind that Samsonite is famous for — are usually made from polycarbonate or ABS plastic. In theory, they offer better protection for fragile items and can withstand a reasonable level of abuse without damage, although some glossy-finished cases can get scratched all too easily. Hard cases are also said to be more waterproof and secure than soft cases, although that obviously depends on the quality of the seals / locks / zips located around the case. Some of the better soft cases are waterproof too.
The downside is that hard cases don't offer much in the way of flexibility — bringing back holiday souvenirs along with all the stuff you took on holiday in the first place? The rigid nature of hard cases means you may not be able to fit your purchases inside. Having said that, some cases now — including the Samsonite Flux — do include some level of expandability, but even then they don’t have the flexibility that a soft case does.
Soft cases, on the other hand, are flexible by their very nature — the sides of the case will bulge out to accommodate the extra items you’re trying to stow inside. They are also more likely to have external pockets for stowing additional items in and the best examples — such as the Eastpak Tranverz L — are also made from waterproof materials with waterproof zips, helping to keep the stuff inside dry. The flip-side is soft cases are more vulnerable to having their contents stolen, since they often rely on zip fastenings. However suitcases of either type often include 3-digit combination locks so you don't have to worry about losing an extra set of keys, and most are TSA-compliant — that is they are able to be opened easily by security at US airports should the need arise.
2-wheels or 4-wheels
Most suitcases come with either two sets of wheels on the base, or four. Which one you choose is largely down to personal preference. Two-wheel ‘dragger’ cases are easier to manoeuvre in the real world of pavements and staircases where you can just tilt the bag and pull; Four-wheel ‘spinner’ cases are ideally suited to places with smooth floors, like hotel lobbies and airports where they get to glide around on all four sets of wheels — come across trickier terrain though, and you’ll have to drag them along on two wheels just like the others. Tricky.
Of more concern, potentially, is how robust and smooth-running the wheels are: ideally, they needed to be screwed (rather than riveted) to the case so they can easily be replaced if one does break, it also helps if they're recessed into the case corners a little — this makes them less vulnerable when they’re being tossed around by baggage handlers and have the advantage of making the footprint of the case slightly smaller.
3. Cabin-size or larger
When you’re buying a case, you obviously need to think about why you're buying it, and what you’re going to use it for — you’re clearly not going to want to take a massive case with you if you’re going on an overnight business trip or a weekend away; but likewise you won’t want a tiny case when you’re off for a month in Kathmandu. For many travellers though, the most important thing is that they buy a case that can be stowed either in an overhead locker or under the seat in an aeroplane cabin — that means they don't have to hang around for ages in baggage reclaim, they can just grab their bag and go.
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules on what constitutes a carry-on case; different airlines have different size and weight limits and what might be acceptable on one airline won’t be on another. It pays to do some research — and make sure any case you buy complies with size limits for your favourite carrier, otherwise you may find your suitcase ends up in the hold after all.
Now get packing! The plane is waiting...
The best suitcases to buy today
1. Samsonite Flux 75cm
Expandable hard case in variety of sizes and colours
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: 100% polypropylene | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: Yes | Dimensions: 75x52x31cm (normal) 75x52x32cm (expanded) | Volume: 102/121L | Weight: 3.9kg
Ideal for longer trips away, the Samsonite Flux 75cm is a medium-sized suitcase with a hard polypropylene shell and TSA-ready combi locks. The big draw here is that, rather unusually for a hard case, it is expandable on all sides, allowing for that extra bit of wriggle room when returning home with those holiday souvenirs.
As this is a spinner case, it comes with four double wheels on the bottom as well as a double-tube handle for easy manoeuvrability. Internally, it comes with a bottom compartment with elastic cross ribbons for storing clothes, etc., plus a top compartment with divider pad for other items.
Samsonite Flux cases are available in five different colours (Black, White, Navy Blue, Ocean Blue and Tangerine Red) as well as three different sizes: 55cm, 75cm and 81cm, so there’s bound to be one that meets your needs.
2. Antler Atom 55cm
Lightweight cabin case with distinctive design
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: 100% polypropylene | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 55x40x20cm (normal) | Volume: 36/44L | Weight: 1.9kg
This compact hard shell case from British company, Antler, has been designed to be both lightweight and cabin-friendly, weighing in at 1.9kg (empty) and measuring 55x40x20cm. This means you can board on 27 different airlines and stow the bag in an overhead locker or under your seat — making it ideal for quick getaways at the airport or short stays away.
Although it’s compact and lightweight, the Antler Atom 55cm comes with four bottom-mounted wheels and a telescopic handle for easy manoeuvrability. It also comes with 3-digit combi lock which is TSA ready for when you travel to the States.
The Antler Atom 55cm should stand out on the baggage carousel thanks to its unique pyramid design. It’s also available in the different colours: blue, charcoal and silver.
3. Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Upright Duffel
Huge suitcase for extended trips away
Model: Duffel Bag (2 wheels) | Material: Ballistic nylon | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: Yes | Dimensions: 71x45.5x39.5cm | Volume: 125.9L | Weight: 5kg
Sometimes only a huge suitcase will do — and this rolling duffel case from premium luggage maker, Briggs & Riley, fits the bill perfectly.
Ideal for extended trips away, its huge 125.9-litre capacity is roomy enough for all your clothes, toiletries and other travel items. It comes with a removable metal frame to make the bag rigid when in use and comes with two main compartments — a duffel section, which comes with garment panels to minimise wrinkling, and a flat-packing section for other items. It also includes internal and external zipped pockets so you can keep the most important items close to hand.
Despite its size, the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Upright Duffel only weighs 5kg when empty and comes with two sturdy, smooth-running, recessed wheels and an external telescopic handle so you can pull it along. Further handles at the top and sides also make it easy to manoeuvre, while self-healing ballistic nylon and reinforced corners will keep it looking good for years — no wonder it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Having said that the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Upright Duffel is fairly expensive. The zipped main storage compartment, is the only part that is lockable, although a TSA-compatible padlock is supplied.
4. Delsey Belfort Plus 82cm
Stylish hard case in a variety of sizes and colours
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: ABS plastic | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 82x53x33cm (normal) | Volume: 135.55L | Weight: 5.3kg
Fancy a bit of French chic when en vacances? Then this distinctive spinner case from France’s most famous luggage label has that je ne sais quois. For one thing, the Delsey Belfort Plus is available in seven different colours (beige, blue, yellow, black, red, mint and cyan blue) to suit your style. It also comes in five different sizes ranging from 55cm to 86cm, although we’ve chosen the largest model here.
The Delsey Belfort Plus also promises to be tough and long-lasting with a 100% polypropylene hard body, rain-proof seals and four quiet and smooth-spinning wheels on its base. It also comes with a double-tube handle so it's easy to move around.
Inside it's just as smart with adjustable straps and a removable divider. It also includes a lined zipper pocket in the top compartment.
This case is relatively heavy at 5.3kg (as hard cases often are), but for a long holiday or business trip away it’s ideal, especially given its huge 155-litre storage capacity, which — the company says — is big enough to store two toiletry bags, six pairs of shoes, eight pairs of trousers, two coats and 24 shorts.
It also includes system three locking points with an automatic lateral main lock and TSA.
5. Hauptstadtkoffer Sitzkoffer 30cm
Colourful ride-on case that’s just for kids
Model: Ride-on (4 wheels) | Material: 100% polycarbonate and ABS plastic | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 40x30x19cm (normal) | Volume: 22.8L | Weight: 1.8kg
Taking your little ones on holiday? Then they’ll love this colourful, hard case from German brand, Hauptstadtkoffer. Its strong and stable design has recessed wheels at each corner and is especially shaped with a suitable pull handle, so your charge can both pull the case along behind them, or sit on it and ride when they get tired.
The Hauptstadtkoffer Sitzkoffer is also lightweight enough so that an adult can easily carry it using the supplied shoulder trap when needed. It’s fully lined with elastic cross ribbons for your kid’s clothes, oh and its available in three bright, child-friendly colours: yellow, red and pink.
6. Bric’s Bellagio 27
Effortlessly elegant, yet practical
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: polycarbonate and leather | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 70.5x48x27cm (normal) | Volume: not stated | Weight: 4.33kg
Available in grey, cream, olive, red, blue/tobacco and black/brown finishes, the Bric’s Bellagio is an Italian-made and designed spinner case with a distinctive, elegant look. And a price tag to match. Made from glossy polycarbonate plastic with vegetable-tanned leather inserts, the Bric’s Bellagio also includes four near-silent 360-degree wheels in its base, plus a double tube handle for easy manoeuvrability.
Inside the classy looks continue with crossed elasticated ribbons for keeping your clothes in place; room for three hangers; plus zipped top and bottom compartments to help keep your personal possessions safe and secure.
Other goodies include a 3-digit combination lock with TSA, and rubberised zips to help keep out water. The Bellagio case is also available in range of other sizes, ranging from 53cm to 81cm — so whether you want a carry-on bag, or something larger for an extended trip away, the Bellagio range has you covered.
7. Eastpak Tranverz L
Large, soft case with plenty of on-board storage
Model: Long haul (2 wheels) | Material: polyester | Lock: Fixed 3 digit combo lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 79x40x33cm | Volume: 121L | Weight: 3.62kg
Eastpak started life making canvas bags for the US military in the 1950s, and in the intervening years since it’s clearly learned a lot about making tough, lightweight, roomy bags for just about any need. The Eastpak Tranverz L is ahem, a case in point.
First up the Tranverz L is a made from flexible, but tough polyester, which enables you to cram in a good deal more stuff than it’s 121-litre volume suggests. It also folds relatively flat when empty, yet can still stand upright when it is thanks to its carcass, which includes a double-tube extensible handle, with two recessed wheels in the base.
One thing we love about this bag is that there are handles everywhere — making it easy to pick up from any side, while also making its bulk easier to handle as you can grab more than one handle at once. It also rolls easily on its big, smooth-running wheels.
The Eastpak Tranverz L is available in 36 different colours — so doing its bit to stand out on airport carousels. It also has an incredibly smartly arranged interior, with zipped compartments top and bottom. It’s also relatively light for a big bag, weighing in at just 3.65kg. The bag's only downside is that it’s not particularly secure — you can make it so by attaching TSA-ready padlocks (not supplied) to its patchwork of zips.
8. Tumi V3 International Slim
High quality carry-on case for luxury travel
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: polycarbonate | Lock: 3-digit combi lock with TSA | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 55x40x20cm | Volume: 37L | Weight: 2.9kg
Available in either Black or Pacific Blue, the Tumi V3 International Slim is the perfect carry-on case for a short trip away. It comes with four double wheels for stability, a telescopic aluminium handle and is lightweight at just 2.9kg. It’s also made from tough polycarbonate so should be able to clock up as many air miles as you do.
The Tumi V3 International Slim contains three zipped compartments for safely stowing all your belongings, as well as straps for keeping clothes in place. The case is secured with a zip fastening too, with TSA-compatible combination locks for security.
Unfortunately, the Tumi V3 International Slim isn’t perfect — there’s no side handle to help make it easier to stow in an overhead locker. That glossy polycarbonate shell also looks prone to scratching. And then there’s the price: £395 feels like a lot of money for a case like this. Rivals offer similar features for less.
9. American Tourister Soundbox 67cm
Funky, fashionable and affordable
Model: Spinner (4 wheels) | Material: polypropylene | Lock: 3-digit combi lock with TSA | Expandable: Yes | Dimensions: 67x46.5x29cm | Volume: 71.5-81L | Weight: 3.4kg
American Tourister is long-established luggage brand whose products come across like a younger, funkier Samsonite, offering a range of stylish suitcases at very affordable prices. You want a Star Wars or Minnie Mouse case? Then American Tourister will heed the call.
This 67cm case, though, is fairly typical. Winner of a Red Dot design award, it’s a hard shell spinner case that nevertheless manages to be expandable too, stretching from 71.5 litres to 81 litres when fully loaded — and it comes in five bright and breezy colours that are guaranteed to make it stand out on an airport carousel, so too will its circular, vinyl record-like design.
Inside the case the top compartment is zipped, with ribbons to keep your possessions in place, while the bottom half features ribbons only.
The American Tourister Soundbox also includes a 3-digital combination lock that's suitable for travel to the USA (it’s TSA-ready), although our main worry would be its wheels, which protrude markedly from the case bottom, making them vulnerable to damage.
10. Trunki Ride-On Suitcase
Fun travel suitcase for children aged 3 years+
Model: Ride-on (4 wheels) | Material: plastic | Lock: Lockable catches | Expandable: No | Dimensions: 46x31x21cm | Volume: 18L | Weight: 1.7kg
We couldn’t possibly do a suitcase round-up without including the incredible kid-friendly cases from Trunki. Available in 22 different designs — including this limited edition Gruffalo one — the hard shell cases are designed to be ridden on and come with lots of neat touches, from 'seat-belts' (read: ribbons) for teddy bears and secret compartments, to ‘horns’ for children to hold on to while they’re pushing or being pulled along when riding the case.
We also love the fact that these cases are affordable and hard-wearing, being made from the same material as adult cases. They're also sized to be able to used as carry-on bags – perfect for when your kids decides they must have their favourite toy at 30,000 feet.