What constitutes the BEST luggage?

Talking about a favorite luggage,  be it brand or style, is kind of like talking about a favorite breed of dog. So much of it is personal preference and what aligns with your individual likes, dislikes, needs and values. We’ve talked about the shoes to pack when you travel and about what to wear to the airport. And this week we’re talking about what luggage to pack in. There are a few features like roller wheels and weight that are basically required for a bag to be user friendly while traveling. But other than that, what makes a piece of luggage great??

Pass on the “Iconic” Luggage

Let’s not even talk about luggage like Louis Vuitton or Goyard. They are certainly iconic and lovely to look at. And very recognizable, like you might as well paint the price tag on the outside of your suitcase.  But those pieces are not meant for the way most of us travel today. If I lived in the 1900’s, traveled by steamer ship and had a butler and ladies in waiting traveling with me, I’d be all over those logo happy brands. But, alas, I don’t…

I’m usually traveling by myself or with my family and schlepping my luggage thru multiple airports to get to my destination (that was a little bit of a dig at the airlines that have pulled out of Cleveland as a hub, meaning it’s dang hard to find a direct flight anymore!!) Bottom line, light weight roller bags are a need not just a want.

All roller bags are not created equal.

What’s better? Soft Sided? Hard Sided? 2 wheels? 4 wheels? The list could go on… We did a little recap from the many, many clients we’ve packed for and picked their brains about what they look for in luggage.Then we did a reader round up (and you guys were AMAZING!!) to find out what luggage you all think is best and why.

The Top 5 Roller Luggage Brands 

Away Luggage

What we makeHands down this is the brand that has the most buzz. And while I personally have not tried it, many people I know and trust swear by Away. Basically, these two dope a** women that worked at Warby Parker started Away to meet the market need for GREAT luggage at a fair price.

What sets it apart?

  • 100 day use it and love it guarantee – if not, get your $ back
  • Lifetime warranty – this is HUGE and our readers talked a lot about how great the customer service was when there was an issue
  • Eject-able battery that can charge your I Phone 5 times or I Pad once
  • It’s not sold in stores. Only direct to consumer. That keeps the prices waaay down.  $225 for the 21″.
  • To save $20 off your Away purchase email me at Hallie@TheWardrobeConsultant.com and I can send you a direct link for the savings.

Reader reviews: “I love my Away Bigger Carry On. The wheels are awesome, there’s a battery pack built into it for charging on the go and I spent a week in Italy with just that bag. It’s an awesome bag! – Amy

“Away has had by far the best customer service – I had a ruined luggage tag when my bag came and they immediately sent me a new one for free and expedited it. Just can’t say enough great things.” Fabiola

Tumi Luggage

Tumi International Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-OnMy husband is a big Tumi guy (his uncle used to work for them) so this is what we use.  On it’s own this case is great for a 4-7 day trip. But when combined with this handy satchel (that expands), it could take you on a 14+ day trip with ease. This case is not quite as light weight as the hard sided version,  but it is still pretty light. I like that it has an exterior pocket for my laptop and kindle and the hard side doesn’t have that option.

What sets it apart?

  • The company has been around since 1975 and is an industry leader in quality and innovation.
  • They have a nice warranty that takes care of repairs. we had an issue with our handle and they fixed it, no issues.
  • The pieces are made from ballistic nylon which is ultra durable.
  • If you order thru ebags, you’ll get free shipping and see reviews from other travelers.
  • Tumi is one of those brands you’ll rarely find on sale, and will typically be excluded from promotions. The price is the price.

Reader reviews:   Tumi, soft with 4 wheels and the Tumi large bag that attaches to the pulled up handle. Fits in overhead and so much fits in the attached bag” – Kristen

Lipault Paris Luggage

Lipault Paris Original Plume Spinner 72/26 Luggage

Our clients LOVE their Lipault Luggage. Most have the soft sided spinners and swear by them. They’re very lightweight (especially important for a bigger bag if you’re trying to stay under 50 lbs.) The one gripe we’ve heard is that because of the soft side, items don’t always stay in place unless it’s packed pretty full. Our clients that love this brand also happen to be those that pack with cubes (like these) and then the stay in place thing becomes less of an issue.

What sets it apart?

  • Made from nylon twill
  • Pride themselves on 0% –  meaning the luggage takes up no excess weight or space
  • Socially conscious – Through its Social Compliance Program (SCP) and its agreements with suppliers, Lipault seeks to prevent all instances of child labor, forced labor and human trafficking and to ensure compliance with all local laws.
  • 30 day refund policy

Reader reviews: “I love when we go on the boat the Lipault folds right down and fits under the bed, out of the way. And it’s super light weight too!” – Jamie

Samsonite

sampsonite spinner luggage

This brand has been around forever (remember those tv ads with the gorilla jumping on the Samsonite luggage? Funny enough, those ads were for American Tourister not Samsonite – but we are not alone in that false recollection – click here) Anyway, back to the topic at hand… Samsonite has a loyal following.  And, if you’re lucky, you can score them at discount stores like TJ Max and Marshalls.

What sets it apart?

  • Weighs under 5 lbs.
  • 10 year global warranty
  • Extra corner protection prevents damage

Reader reviews: “Top of the line Sampsonite, Very lightweight, Have actually had hinges and wheels fixed and they mail it back to you” -Vicki

 

CalPakImage of CALPAK LUGGAGE Cyprus 20" Carry-On Spinner

IMHO CalPak is like the Zara or Forever 21 of luggage. It offers stylish luggage at a reasonable price. I have had a few pieces and they work well but you have to treat them gently. At least for me, they do not seem to stand up to my traveling wear and tear. I hate the term, but I might call it  “disposable” luggage. Meaning you can buy it for under $100 and use it for a year (maybe two if your lucky) and then it’s time to get a new one.

What sets it apart?

  • Looks good, light weight, easy to roll
  • Can score a case for under $100 at places like Nordstrom Rack
  • They do offer warranty and repair, but in my experience paying for the repair cost almost as much as buying a new case.

Reader reviews: CalPack is great! Lightweight, pretty sturdy and inexpensive (especially if you get it at an outlet/discount store) and if it gets ruined by the airlines you don’t feel awful. – Beth

 

EBags Private Label

I know this makes the list 6 not 5. I’m endorsing this particular bag not the whole brand – so consider it more of a bonus. If you’re going on a long trip and going to check only one bag, this is my favorite... This rolling duffel holds a boatload, but in a suitcase kinda way. It actually holds so much, efficiently, you need to be mindful of weight restrictions… All 3 of my kids and I have used it for long overseas trips and it has held up for years. And it only costs $155!  This style comes in a 21″ size that could be carried on, however, it only has 2 wheels and I’m a big proponent of a 4 wheel spinner when taking a carry on thru the airport.

eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel

eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel

 

 

Thank you to all the readers that participated in the round up, you guys rock! Curious about how to participate next time? Follow me on Instagram, I’ll pop over to Instagram stories and ask you guys to DM me your recommendations on things that we all love and want to learn more about! It was really well received and majorly helpful. So I am already planning how to tap in to the brain-trust we have here in the TWC community again.

BTW, I am working hard to resist the urge to buy an Away bag now, you all made them sound soooo good! Happy travels people!

 

 

 

 

 

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Author

Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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