The best cheap lightweight suitcases: take your baggage allowance in clothes not case weight

Cut out some of the hassle of travelling with our list of the best cheap lightweight suitcases in the shops right now

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While the dream might be to travel the globe with an impossibly glamorous and enormously heavy wardrobe trunk, helpfully caddied by a loveable manservant à la Phileas Fogg and Passepartout, you don’t need us to tell you that the realities of travel today are quite different. 

But while your next foray may be less Around the World in Eighty Days and more Around Budapest in a Weekend, at least the suitcases have moved on a bit.

If you’ve got a short-haul trip on the horizon, cast your eye over our list of the best cheap lightweight suitcases to make packing a breeze and take the pain out of navigating narrow pavements, and even – dare we say it – make that last-minute dash for the boarding gate ever-so-slightly less stressful.

It used to be that in the choice between soft and hard shell luggage, hard was the inferior choice, prone to cracks and scratches and generally looking very worn, very quickly, but that’s no longer necessarily the case. 

If you’re taking delicate valuables like tech items away with you, you might want to consider a hard shell for extra impact resistance and weatherproofing. Meanwhile soft luggage, while not as resistant to rain or puddles, tends to stay looking newer for longer than hard-shell suitcases, and is generally lighter and often more affordable too. We’ve included both types in our list.

Once you’ve decided on the material, there are a few other features you might want to keep an eye out for when buying a suitcase. Four wheels are better than two as they can move in any direction, and mean you don’t have to judge the perfect 45 degree angle at which to drag your case when you’ve been delayed for 12 hours. 

Locks are preferable if you’re a little bit nervy about what happens to your luggage when it’s out of your hands, with TSA approved locks being the best, although there’s always the option to buy a separate lock for a cheaper suitcase where one might not be included.

Read on for our selection of the best cheap lightweight suitcases.

1. Samsonite Base Boost Upright Hand Luggage

Give your luggage collection a boost with our number one suitcase

Best for: Quality
Weight: 2kg
Capacity: 41L
Dimensions: H55 x W40 x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+High quality+TSA Lock
Reasons to avoid
-Only two wheels

It’s right at the top end of our roughly £50 to £100 range and this Samsonite suitcase is our best cheap lightweight suitcase. Why? Simply put, it offers unrivalled quality and reassurance, realistically everything you want from a suitcase. 

With a TSA lock for stressless security fly-throughs and peace of mind at your destination, an expandable front pocket for stuffing with Duty Free Toblerones, and, according to reviewers, a light but incredibly strong construction, it looks to be a reliable and spacious option. The only thing keeping it from perfection is the two-wheeled design.

2. Aerolite Super Lightweight Hard Shell Travel Suitcase

Inexpensive and neat, this hard shell suitcase is our best carry-on bag

Reasons to buy
+Great value+Good range of colours
Reasons to avoid
-Some reported they came scratched

This Aerolite hard shell carry on case is made from ABS, an ultra-light alternative to the already easy-to-lift polycarbonate most cases are made of. Approved for a whole host of British airlines, it’s automatically the best cabin bag on our list for sheer peace of mind against sneaky baggage levies. Incredibly inexpensive, it’s good in any colour for the price, but go for the ultra-trendy rose gold shade and you definitely won’t lose it on the carousel, good news for bleary-eyed late-night arrivals. 

When it comes to the basics, its four swivel wheels and telescopic handle have left reviewers impressed, as well as its surprising sturdiness. Pretty much faultless for such a budget-friendly bag.

3. it Luggage Worlds Lightest Tritex Spinner Cabin Case

An incredibly light suitcase to make the most out of that 10kg cut off weight

Best for: Value
Weight: 2kg
Capacity: 31L
Dimensions: H56 x W36.5 x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+Easy to manoeuvre+Handy external pocket
Reasons to avoid
-Only red available

Reviewers have found this case to be quick, nimble and light as a feather, ideal for trips where you might find yourself dodging people on narrow pavements or sprinting across the airport for a last-minute gate change. While inexpensive, its design is surprisingly high-end. 

The four wheels reportedly turn on a dime for easy manoeuvring; its two-handled exterior is sure to be appreciated by anyone who’s ever struggled to pull a packed suitcase off the baggage carousel by a single straining strap; and the roomy external pockets, two rather than the standard one, keep things separated for easy unpacking later on.

4. Linea Airlite Soft Suitcase

Lightweight meets super strong in this Linea luggage

Best for: A larger suitcase
Weight: 2.3kg
Capacity: : 54L
Dimensions: : H72 x W40 x D23cm
Reasons to buy
+Light but strong polyester construction+Practical packing options
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most inspiring colour choice

While the reasonably plain exterior of these suitcases sort of belies the higher price, the interior is surprisingly featured-packed: fully lined, with packing straps and a mesh pocket that’s ideal for stowing dirty clothes mid-trip. They’re brilliant at the basics too, with four spinner wheels making for easy gliding, and a combination lock for security. 

The main selling point of the Airlite, however, is its woven polyester construction - intended to create a super-duper strength-to-weight ratio, this would make a great first foray into soft luggage for those who aren’t sure about its durability.

5. Tripp Lite Cabin Suitcase

Good-looking and impenetrable, this Tripp suitcase is one fancy fortress

Best for: Security
Weight: 2.5kg
Capacity: 33L
Dimensions: H55 x W38 x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+Looks great+Lots of practical features
Reasons to avoid
-Small handle not the most comfortable

With its textured exterior, subtle branding and sculpted, decidedly un-boxy shell, this Tripp Lite cabin suitcase is mid-range luggage with a luxury look, and definitely the best-looking luggage on our list despite some admirable competition from Antler’s Amalfi case, below. 

It packs quite a lot of functionality into a minimal looking design, with four wheels for navigating twists, turns and crowds, a top and side handle for lugging, and, most importantly, an integrated TSA lock. 

Reviewers were impressed that these cases were, TARDIS-like, bigger than they appear on the outside, and we’re particularly taken with the idea of the removable interior pocket that could double up as a toiletry bag in a pinch.

6. Eastpak Tranverz Cabin Case

Though it be but little, it is fierce

Best for: Durable cabin bag
Weight: 2.23kg
Capacity: 28.5L
Dimensions: H48 x W32 x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+Can take a bashing+Double-decker design
Reasons to avoid
-Very small capacity

If you’re in the habit of slinging your bags around all over the place, you’ll need a suitcase that can stand up to a bit of tough love – or, more realistically, to unrelenting punishment. 

That suitcase looks to be the Eastpak Tranverz: small enough to act as a carry-on case, but by no means dainty. Some have found its 28L capacity a little unforgiving, but for a long weekend it seems to be ample, with reviewers particularly commending the split-level design for separating sundries, and of course, that robust construction. If you find yourself on and off trains a lot and don’t want something that you’ll have to be too precious about, this is a solid choice.

7. Antler Amalfi Revelation Cabin Case

Stylish, strong, and super-light

Best for: Style
Weight: 2.8kg
Capacity: 4L
Dimensions: H55 x W40 x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+Light, sturdy and strong+Standout design
Reasons to avoid
-Only grey design

It’s cheap, but it doesn’t look or feel cheap - is this the holy grail of budget luggage? Well, quite possibly. From the luggage brand’s Revelation collection, the Antler Amalfi four-wheel suitcase comes highly recommended from travel-happy reviewers across the web, with the words “sturdy”, “strong”, “light” and “manoeuvrable” being thrown around all over the place, proving that it if there’s that little extra wiggle room in the budget, it often pays to go for a recognised name. Oh, and it looks great too: not outlandish, but a standout.

8. Karabar Monaco Hard Suitcase

A bit of a wildcard offering surprising reliability

Best for: Reliable budget option
Weight: 2.2kg
Capacity: 31L
Dimensions: H54 x W34 x D20 cm
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight but durable+10-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Handle a bit flimsy

One reviewer said of this suitcase “this has literally been my favourite purchase of the year” which, for something so squarely in the realm of begrudging essential as a suitcase, is pretty high praise. 

While small enough to act as a cabin bag on most airlines without punishment, it goes pretty big on the fundamentals: light but impact-resistant ABS shell, four multi-directional spinner wheels, telescopic handle, and, perhaps most exciting of all, a whopping 10-year warranty. Some found the handle a little flimsy when fully extended, but at the price point currently offered, it can’t really be faulted.