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My wife and I bought new luggage last week, after spending far too long researching them. If you’ve ever purchased luggage before, I’m sure you understand how long the search can take. That’s because there are literally thousands of options varying by shape, size, color, brand, and material, which makes it very easy to get lost in a sea of luggage. Here is a collection of tips we learned from our search that will hopefully help you if you’re in the market for new luggage.(Some of the links listed below are affiliate links. I really appreciate when you shop through my links. Thank you for your support!)
Hard shell luggage often seems like the way to go, but that’s not always the case! Hard shells made of plastic crack very easily. A better alternative is Polycarbonate, because it’s lightweight and less likely to crack. The only downside to Polycarbonate luggage is it dents easily. Also, they aren’t very flexible, so stuffing them into a tightly packed overhead bin can be a challenge. In addition to that, if your hard shell case cracks, they are not easy to repair. Soft Nylon on the other hand is very flexible and repairable, yet it also is far more susceptible to rips and broken zippers. Ballistic Nylon is the way to go if you want a softer case. It’s stronger and denser than soft Nylon which protects it from unsightly rips and tears. The other option would be Polyester luggage, which is the “middle-of-the-road” option in terms of durability and price.
Four-wheeled suitcases are very convenient, because they can easily glide down an aisle sideways. However, when there are more wheels there are more things to break. Two-wheeled luggage is the norm, so if you’re worried about parts breaking it’s best to stick with two wheels.
Zippers are the most common part to break on luggage. In fact every single piece of luggage I’ve owned had at least of the zippers break off. The problem is bags are made more cheaply leading to more broken parts. A good alternative to zippers is a hard case that has a latch system. Latch systems are designed to be dust-tight, water-resistant, more likely to handle humidity/temperature changes.
Handles break just as often as zippers, since airline works commonly yank handles when they move them around. That doesn’t mean you need an industrial sized handle made of metal. A good handle should be made from two-bar construction and use a minimal amount of space. You don’t want a handle that takes up all of your packing room. Handles with one-bar construction are much more brittle, so make sure to check the handle situation when shopping for luggage!
Hard cases are great for fragile items, since they won’t be crushed (you’d hope). Soft cases on the other hand are very expandable, meaning you can often get much more storage out of a soft case. Make sure not to over stuff your soft case though, or you will fall victim to broken handles, zippers, or other issues. Also, airline workers don’t want to lift a bag that weighs 100lbs.
Hard shell and Soft shell cases are the way to go when it comes to shape. Hard shells are in a set position, so there’s no worrying about them moving. Soft cases are good at being flexible. They can fit almost anywhere as long as they aren’t overpacked. Suitcases that are soft in the front and hard in the back are never a good option. They are easily crushed on the soft side and not very flexible due to the hard side. It’s all around a bad mix.
It’s important to buy luggage as an investment. Once you hit about $150-$200 per bag, the quality isn’t going to get much better the more you spent. $100 is a happy medium for durable long-lasting luggage. Just make sure it’s highly rated and reviewed. For example, TravelPro is always a good way to go because they make affordable and quality luggage.
Size is important when it comes to luggage. You want to find a size that can hold enough of your clothes and other travel necessities where you won’t miss out on anything. My rule of thumb is I need to be able to fit 2 weeks worth of clothes in my suitcase without overfilling it.
Pockets shouldn’t be your deciding factor when it comes to picking out luggage, but it’s important to have enough pockets and not too many. Make sure you will use all the pockets on your luggage or it ends up being wasted space.
Luggage sets are usually the most cost-effective way to buy luggage. Usually you can get a set that matches for around $200-$300. These are best for families. One word of warning: make sure you will use all the bags in the set, otherwise you will probably be better off pieces you’re set together.
We ended up settling on the Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 25 Inch Expandable Spinner. They are each only $107.43 on Amazon and $135.99 on eBags. We bought them through eBags using the $20 off $100 Amex Sync Offer making each one $115.99. It was a little more expensive than Amazon, but we bought them when the Rapid Rewards portal was 18X points for eBags, meaning we bought 4,896 points at
$0.0017 $0.0035 each. That’s a good deal for points!
Do you have any luggage shopping tips I missed?