One of the more stressful parts of air travel can be found in trying to make sure that all of your gear makes it on and off the plane in one piece. And while there’s not much you can do to keep airlines from losing your bags, you can at least have some say in how your stuff travels. What we mean to say is, you control how protected your stuff is by choosing the luggage in which you store it all.
If you can get away with it, we always suggest sticking to carry-on bags, as you can make sure they’re with you at all times, even in the plane cabin. We understand, of course, that is sometimes an impossibility — especially if you’re taking an extended trip, be it for work, vacation, or otherwise. In that case, checked luggage is going to be a necessity. But rather than haul an unwieldy bag by hand, picking up one with wheels can make your experience a whole lot easier. That’s why we’ve put together the following collection of the 12 best rolling luggage bags you can buy right now.
How To Pick A Suitable Suitcase
A Quick Primer
While choosing your checked luggage is hardly as crucial as, say, figuring out what motor vehicle you want to buy next, it definitely warrants a bit of close consideration — especially if you are a frequent traveler. With that in mind, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider while shopping that can make or break your choice of bag, besides (obviously) its overall carry capacity. We’ve put those factors together in the following short primer.
Hardshell vs. Soft-Sided: With carry-on bags, deciding between hardshell and soft-sided is far less important, as you’ll have the bag alongside you the entire time you travel. With checked luggage, however, the bag is taken out of your hands and given to the baggage handlers — an often brutish and inelegant bunch whose top priority is getting the bags on the plane in a timely manner (meaning they take very little care of individual bags). A hardshell rolling bag will help mitigate the risks by being more impact-resistant — but that’s also almost always at the expense of greater weight. Soft-sided bags are most often lighter and can stretch to fit more inside, but they come with the possibility that they’ll be crushed (along with all you have inside of them). You’ll have to weight the risks and benefits yourself when choosing your bag.
Wheel Types: While wheels on luggage are certainly commonplace nowadays, there are some variations therein that are worth taking into consideration. For instance, a wheeled duffel bag might only have two wheels and a carry handle — good pretty much exclusively for single-direction travel. That makes them plenty robust, but it also makes navigating more of a chore. Many bags now, especially those with four wheels, offer unidirectional rolling — meaning the bag can roll forward, backward, sideways, and even spin without having to reorient the bag. The biggest downside to these types of wheels is that they can, in some cases, break off during travel. They’re definitely more convenient, but the risk exists.
Internal Organization: Probably the least crucial factor when considering your checked luggage, internal organization is still something you’ll want to take into consideration, at least to some degree. Most bags offer up some measure of compartmentalization, though that can be as simple as adding in a mesh divider or even just compression straps. Some bags feature comprehensive compartmentalization — sometimes with removable modules you can customize to your trip. Others, however, are woefully ill-equipped for the organized traveler. The good news is, even if you find a bag that has no organization whatsoever, you can buy aftermarket packing additions. The downside: that adds weight to the overall bag, limiting your ability to load it up with clothes and the like.
Bag Weight: This might actually be the most important factor to keep in mind when searching for proper checked luggage, especially if saving money is high on your list of priorities. The reason for this is fairly straightforward: almost all airlines will charge you a baggage fee if your bag exceeds the 50-pound mark. That’s not to say that they won’t take it if it weighs more, but the cost can be considerable, especially if you’re flying more than just once during your travels. Paying attention to the weight of the bag itself will give you an idea of exactly how much you can pack before it starts costing you extra. For some folks (those with deep pockets), this may be less important than the other factors, but it’s still definitely an essential metric.
Get To Packing
The Best Rolling Check-In Bags
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage
Samsonite has been a staple luggage brand for decades now — evidenced by their existence in our common pop culture lexicon courtesy of ’90s comedy film, Dumb & Dumber. But they’re a lot more than just a punchline; their bags were first well known for being excellent travel gear, which hasn’t changed a bit. Just take a look at their Winfield 2, a hardshell bag that’s spacious, relatively lightweight, offers excellent durability, has a set of unidirectional wheels with an easy telescoping carry handle, and even comes with its own TSA-approved locking system. It can even expand, in case you find yourself needing some more room for souvenirs prior to your return trip.
Weight: 11.5 Lbs
Delsey Luggage Helium Aero
For those not in the know, polycarbonate is a non-metallic material used in the creation of bulletproof glass. On top of being remarkably tough, it’s also fairly lightweight. And that makes it an excellent material for things like, say, wheeled luggage. Take, for instance, the Delsey Helium Aero. This spacious bag is impact-resistant, weighs under 13 pounds, can be expanded on the fly to fit more inside of it, and has a handy internal organizational system. Of course, it also boasts a complement of unidirectional wheels for easy hauling mated to a telescoping handle.
Weight: 12.54 Lbs
Away Travel The Large Checked Bag
Our one issue with the Delsey above is that its expandability lessens its durability, as the cloth used to expand it isn’t nearly as durable as the surrounding polycarbonate. If you also find issue with that, but you like the rest of what it has to offer, then the Away Travel Large Checked Bag is certainly worth considering. It isn’t hurt, either, by how many colorway options the brand has for sale or the fact that its low-profile 360-degree wheels are also a bit more protected from the dangers of luggage handlers. It also boasts an internal compression system to help you pack a bit more efficiently and a removable laundry bag, so you can keep your dirty clothes separate and isolated from your clean ones.
Weight: 11.2 Lbs
Big Agnes Stagecoach Rolling Duffel Bag
It’s widely understood that hardshell bags are almost always tougher than soft-sided ones — almost. The exception to that rule can be found in the Big Agnes Stagecoach rolling duffel bag. Built from a laminated nylon, this beefy pack is completely waterproof (and even has TPU-laminated YKK zippers for extra water-resistance), tear-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and even comes with heavy-duty hardware. What’s even cooler is that, while it boasts dual wheels for easy hauling, it can also be transformed into a backpack, courtesy of a pair of hideaway straps, for when rolling isn’t an option. Big Agnes calls this the ultimate duffel bag, and we’re not sure they’re wrong about that.
Weight: 8.75 Lbs
Crash Luggage Rolling Bags
Buying a fancy set of luggage can easily be sullied by careless luggage handlers, as you might pull it off the carousel to find your brand new bag all banged up. Of course, if you have a set of Crash Luggage, you don’t have to worry about that, because the brand has magnificently worked a pre-dented style into their bags. Remarkably unique and strangely beautiful, this wheeled luggage is still plenty tough — having been built from an impact-resistant polycarbonate — has a quartet of unidirectional wheels and a telescoping handle, and is offered in a wide variety of styles, colorways, and finishes. There’s even a completely transparent version if you’re looking to show off your gear or travel gadgets inside.
Weight: 7.4-13.4 Lbs
Neit The Check-In Rolling Luggage
Smart technology is becoming more and more accessible, especially when it comes to travel gear. Case in point: neit offers a very handy smart rolling checked luggage option in their Check-In bag. Built with protective hardshell panels to increase its impact-resistance and overall durability, this bag also features the option for built-in smart-tracking — meaning, even when the bag is out of your hands, you can keep an eye on where it is and where it’s going. This is especially helpful if the TSA manages to lose track of it … which they have been known to do on occasion. It also features a TSA locking system, a carabiner handle that allows for in-closet hanging, fold-away wheels, and the ability to completely collapse to just 3″ thick for easy storage.
Weight: 13.2 Lbs
Victorinox Spectra 2 Expandable Bag
Victorinox is certainly most well-known for their Swiss Army Knives and Swiss Army Watches, but they also make award-winning luggage. Take, for instance, their Spectra 2 Expandable Bag. This roomy bag has a super-tough polycarbonate hardshell exterior that’s actually flexible and expandable, so you can fit a whopping 46% extra gear inside if you needed to. It also features Hypalon compression straps to adjust the size without sacrificing on durability. And it features unidirectional wheels, so you can haul it without a hassle through the airport or up to your hotel. This bag is proof positive that Victorinox is excellent at everything they do, even building wheeled checked luggage.
Weight: 11 Lbs
Pelican Elite Vacationer Luggage
If sheer capacity and durability are at the top of your list of requirements from a check-in bag, then you should absolutely keep the Pelican Elite Vacationer at the no. 1 position on your roster. Utilizing the same knowledge and tech that makes their adventure coolers some of the toughest in the world, this magnificent gear-hauler can withstand up to 1,500 pounds of pressure without buckling or breaking. It also boasts a watertight seal that can withstand being completely submerged for up to 30 minutes. And it’s still completely TSA-approved, so you don’t have to worry about getting hassled. And if you’re worried about the bold claims Pelican is making, it also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Weight: 15.6 Lbs
Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Luggage
Hardshell cases aren’t for everyone — which is especially true if you need the ability to expand your bag. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice too much on overall durability with the Briggs & Riley Baseline rolling checked luggage because it features an exterior built from ballistic nylon. That also means it’s water-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and even puncture-resistant. And because the hauling handle is built into the exterior of the bag, rather than inside like most competitors, the inside allows for wrinkle-free flat packing. Best of all, the adjustable expandability is built into the frame of the bag, so there’s a bit more structure than just an accordion of cloth.
Weight: 10.9 Lbs
Filson Rolling Check-In Bag
For some folks, style is almost as important as capacity when it comes to rolling checked luggage. For those folks, we submit the Filson Rolling Check-In Bag. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful bags on our list, it’s also built from some very durable materials — including the brand’s Rugged Twill, which is both water-resistant and abrasion-resistant. It also boasts a complement of unidirectional wheels, a 17″ retractable handle, a super-soft cotton lining, exterior small item stow pockets, and bridle leather straps made in the USA by Wicket & Craig.
Weight: 12.6 Lbs
Tumi Latitude Worldwide Trip Packing Case
The exterior of Tumi’s Latitude Worldwide Trip Packing Case is reminiscent of the waves on the ocean — which is appropriate, as the bag is one of the most well-suited to jet-setting around the world. This is not only because it is constructed from Tumi’s proprietary SRPP (Self Reinforced PolyPropylene) Ballistic material, but also because it features dual main interior organizational spaces, unidirectional wheels and a telescoping handle, a low-profile TSA lock, and a number of other internal pockets. There’s no denying that this is one of the best and most handsome wheeled checked bags available.
Weight: 10.13 Lbs
Rimowa Hybrid Check-In Luggage
Rimowa’s Hybrid Check-In bag is the holy grail of rolling checked luggage. Unfortunately, that also means it is well outside of the affordable range for most folks. Still, what you pay is definitely reflected in its overall quality — the outer hardshell is made from a proprietary combination of aluminum-magnesium and polycarbonate, offering insanely good durability paired with a super light weight. It also features dual TSA locks, is available in a number of different finishes and colorways, and is literally built to last through a lifetime of travel.
Weight: 13 Lbs
20 Best Carry-On Backpacks
Since most airlines let you bring a carry-on alongside your checked luggage, free of cost, you should take advantage of that and bring along some in-flight entertainment, snacks, and travel gadgets. You can stash them all in one of the picks on our 20 best carry-on backpacks for men list.
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