Suitcases and Luggage Sets
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Best Check-in Suitcase for Your Needs
This page breaks down a big question: Which is the best suitcase for your personal needs in 2023?
There is a lot to consider!
Budget, frequency of your travel and personal preferences are a starting point. After that we have size, style and security.
This page breaks down your suitcase options in an easy to follow way. You will also find discounts on many of the leading brands linked from here. The main focus here is on the larger size cases, the type that you check in. I have covered the (equally broad) topic of the best hand luggage and looked at luggage brands in those linked pages.
Best Suitcase: Features – What to Look Out For?
For me, the fastest way to narrow a search for the best suitcase is to decide on my ‘must have’ features. This works brilliantly for suitcases. You can narrow down what you are looking for quickly – then pick a case from what is left based on brand, style and price.
This best suitcase features checklist starts at the broad category level, then drills down into some of the smaller details.
#1 Wheels / Spinners:
These days it is not just a case of wheels or no wheels, you need to decide how many! The first generation of wheeled cases had just 2 wheels, on the opposite side to the handle. These days, 4 wheels which can move in all directions are popular. These are known as ‘Spinners’ (you can literally spin them around). The benefit is that you can push a spinner as well as pull it. This is great for weaving your way through a busy airport.
You don’t have to have wheeled luggage. Holdalls, backpacks and retro style suitcases are all still available.
#2 Hard Shell or Soft?
There are both practical elements and style choices here. Hard shell cases are usually heavier. The exception to this is the new generation ‘ultra light’ type cases – though these are more expensive. Soft shell cases are easier to store, better value and will often have more external pockets / pouches.
From a style perspective, the hard shell cases usually win out – especially if you get away from the regulation dark colours and go for something bright!
#3 Sizes / Sets:
For most airlines, your check in bag will need to be between 20kgs and 23kgs. This puts a cap on the size, if you have ever tried weighing an extra large suitcase when full you’ll find it hard to keep under the limit. Cases come in stepped sizes. What many of us think of as a full sized case is really a medium.
Suitcases look great in sets – and you will get discounts when buying them all at the same time. I have covered options for suitcase sets separately here at luggage review.
This suitcase features list continues after the grid below.
LATEST SUITCASE REVIEWS
Best Suitcase Features List Continued…
#4 Luggage Security Options
Unless you are one of those types who happily pay through the nose to cover your cases in cling-film at the airport – suitcase security should be on your checklist.
This need not be too elaborate. Thefts from cases in airports are rare, and usually opportunistic. Combination locks are standard these days – a 3-digit combination is not unbreakable, though will deter a casual thief. You will also find cases with padlocks. If your favourite case does not come with one – make sure you can add one yourself. The hoops at the end of the zips need a closer look.
Some cases come with ‘TSA’ locks. This is a special key held by the US airport security people. The idea is that if they need to look at your case, and can’t find you, then they can open it without breaking the lock.
#5 Best Suitcase Brands (and which names to avoid!)
You’ll pay more for a named brand. The question is whether this represents good value? I like to divide brands into ‘practical’ and ‘fashion’. With a practical brand like Samsonite, you are paying for the guarantee – and the innovation / robustness of the cases. You are paying a little extra for the name too! Many fashion houses (Guess, Porsche for example) have luggage ranges too. Here you are paying for the style aspect. While the cases might be high-quality, you’ll need to be more careful to ensure you have a long lasting case.
At the other end of the scale are ‘knock off’ types, which might mimic the look and features of the known brands. Some of these are perfectly good, others not. This is where paying attention to feedback from previous buyers at places like amazon becomes important.
#6 Price Point / Value
When it comes to buying a suitcase, you should be thinking in terms of years. You’ll find the same message over and over here at luggage review – cheap luggage is way more expensive than you think!
Durability will save you money in the long run, as cheap ‘knock off’ type cases fall apart / look terrible very quickly. Of course, not everyone has cash to burn. The message is to think in terms of years, and get luggage which will look good a few years from now if you can.
Best Suitcase 2023: Top Picks in Different Categories
Now that you have the key criteria, it is time to delve into the different options. You will find the selections below come from the best-seller lists at amazon. I have left out any cases with feedback of less than 4 stars. The types listed are: Spinners, Wheeled hard-shell, wheeled soft shell and alternatives. The table repeats at the end of the page. By the time you get to this again, my picks there will make a lot more sense!
Best Spinner Suitcase
I’m a big fan of spinners, pushing your luggage and steering through crowded airports (or city streets) is a huge step up from pulling them behind you. The secret is swivelling wheels. These need to be tough enough to survive being checked in – which is why it pays to go for quality.
Many brands have spinners these days, though the first brand to make this style popular was Samsonite. Their cases come with a lifetime guarantee and in my own experience can survive almost anything.
One small observation with spinners is that it is hard to push 2 at the same time! Luckily, they do work as pull-along cases too.
Recommended Spinner: The Samsonite Lite-Shock Range
These spinners are made with ultra-light materials. This is light enough that you get a ‘wow’ moment the first time you pick an empty one up. These cases tick all the boxes in terms of designs (there are 12+ colours to choose from), security (combo locks) and sizes. If you want a spinner suitcase that you’ll be proud to be pulling or pushing, then this is a great pick.
See the colours and sizes (plus the feedback from previous buyers) for yourself on the dedicated amazon.co.uk product page.
Best Wheeled Suitcase
I’m going for the soft -shell types here, as the spinners above are almost all the best hard shell suitcase models. For me the brand leading the way with soft wheeled cases are ‘IT’. These turn heads. Not only are the fabrics and styles smart, the extra-wide handles are very distinctive too.
As well as security features, you should check for external pockets on softer cases. This is a big advantage compared to harder cases – which lack that extra option. I would recommend looking closely at the material used. Is it waterproof? Wipe-clean? Will it scuff up easily while your bags are checked in? Will you end up with those hard to shift sticker marks?
On a positive note, you’ll get an even bigger choice of colours and styles than you would with the hard shell cases.