The Best Checked Luggage – Top Suitcases & the Best Luggage Sets

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

Hardside vs softside luggage. Four wheels vs two. Rolling backpacks vs rolling duffels. These are just a few of the questions we tackle in our rundown of the best checked luggage on the market today. 

Best checked luggage - Best Luggage sets COVER

Choosing the Best Checked Luggage

Have a flight soon? Unless you plan to go carry-on only, get the best checked luggage or best luggage sets for your travels. We love traveling carry-on only, but we still use large spinner luggage sets when we move from country to country. After all, we travel with everything we own, so we all own at least one checked luggage each. Whether you’re looking for the best rolling backpack or the best hard shell luggage sets for an entire family, this post should give you some ideas.

The best luggage sets and checked luggage for international travel make journeys easier. We used to be all about our backpacks, and we still use them. Yet as we get older and spend more years on the road, our traveling style has mostly moved to spinner suitcases and rolling duffels. After 20+ years of travel, we’ve used backpacks, hard shell luggage, soft shell spinner suitcases, and other combinations.

We even travel carry-on only, but that’s just for short trips of a week or two. It all depends on where we’re going and how long we’ll be there. Yet we always rely on large checked luggage when we move from place to place. For example, when we left Spain after two years and moved to Mexico, we used large suitcases and rolling duffel bags to carry everything. Before, a lot of that was in backpacks, but after 20 years of traveling, my back and shoulders want a rest! Large rolling bags make it easier. 

Finding the Best Luggage Sets

Through rigorous research, personal experience and the insight of fellow travelers, we’ve written up our tips for choosing the best checked suitcase sets, rolling backpacks and other large luggage for travel. We’ll keep updating this post, as checked baggage rules are changing constantly. With many airlines, the checked baggage weight limit is dropping. And it’s not just the check-in baggage weight limit. Now checked luggage sizes and dimensions are changing as well! That’s why choosing the best luggage sets has never been more important. Fortunately, the best suitcase brands are designing lighter, stronger and more versatile hardside and soft sided luggage to meet the needs of today’s travelers.

Other Travel Gear

** Save & Share with Pinterest! **

Best checked luggage - Best Luggage sets PIN 2

Table of Contents

What’s the Best Checked Luggage for You?

When it comes to the best luggage for travel, everyone’s needs are different. Are you looking for the best spinner luggage? Do you want to find one of the best hardside suitcase? Or perhaps you need one of the best luggage sets for an entire family? Are you looking for checked luggage for international travel, or will these suitcases sit in the back of a camper van? Before you go buy a new check-in suitcase or suitcase set, there are a number of factors to think about. We recommend that you consider a number of factors, including size, weight, material, design, and more. Read more about that here. 

Best Checked Luggage By Category

Below we run through some of the best check-in suitcases and the best checked luggage sets for sale today. To make it easier to navigate, I’ve divided the checked luggage recommendations into categories:

  • Soft Sided Luggage
  • Hardside Luggage
  • Rolling Duffel Bags
  • Rolling Backpacks
  • Top Soft Sided Luggage Sets
  • Best Hardside Luggage Sets

Best Soft Sided Luggage

Soft sided luggage is a great option for many types of travel. It’s tough and lightweight, but have enough give that it can fit into spaces that some hardside suitcases can’t. Hardside luggage tends to protect fragile items better but often doesn’t have the versatility and added pockets and storage that can be found in the best soft sided luggage. Here are a few of our top picks. 

Coolife Expandable Spinner Softshell Spinner Suitcase

Coolife Expandable Spinner Softshell Spinner Suitcase - best spinner suitcase

On the budget end, Coolife makes some of the most reputable soft sided luggage with spinner wheels. This soft shell suitcase comes in three sizes: 20″, 24″ and 28″. The 20″ has a dedicated laptop pocket, but all three sizes come with a TSA-approved lock, several front zipper pockets and a set of four multidirectional silent spinner wheels. It also comes with a 2-year warranty. A great soft shell suitcase for the budget-minded. 

Check Prices: Coolife Expandable Softshell Spinner Suitcase with TSA Lock

Lily Bloom Large Suitcase With Spinner Wheels 

Lily Bloom Large Suitcase With Spinner Wheels - best checked luggage

My daughter loves her Lily Bloom products. They come in funky designs and are made from a super-sturdy material derived from recycled plastic bottles. They also boast lightweight construction which means you can pack more and still stay under maximum weight. There are four 360º wheels and a nice telescopic handle to make it easy to navigate the terminal without straining your arm. We like Lily Bloom so much that we recommend this travel brand in our best luggage sets below. A great rolling suitcase for women. 

Check Prices: Lily Bloom Suitcase With Spinner Wheels for Women

DELSEY Paris Helium Sky 2.0 Spinner Suitcase

DELSEY Paris Helium Sky 2.0 Spinner Suitcase - best checked luggage

This soft shell wheeled suitcase is one of our picks for best checked luggage. It boasts 100% micro-ballistic fabric, four spinner wheels and three exterior pockets for those who need access to smaller items while on the move. One of those pockets has soft-touch lining, which is recommended when storing devices and other electronics. Like several of the other best travel suitcases listed here, the Helium Sky spinner suitcase can expand its interior by two inches. In addition to the usual 2-zipped pockets in its interior, there is also a wet pocket to store bathroom essentials or damp clothes. I also like that it has a bottom handle near the wheels for when you need to yank it out of a car trunk or the bottom of a bus.

Check Prices: DELSEY Paris Luggage Helium Sky 2.0 Spinner Suitcase

Eagle Creek Tarmac Wheeled Luggage – Softside 4-Wheel Spinner Suitcase

Eagle Creek Tarmac Wheeled Luggage - Softside 4-Wheel Spinner Suitcase - best checked luggage

This 2-wheeler is one of the best rolling suitcases for going off the beaten path. Its two back wheels are chunky and rugged for when the pavement stops, and the zipper pulls are lockable, reflective and large enough to manipulate with gloves on. Good sturdy handles on the top, bottom and sides. The polycarbonate shell is tough but light. Exterior pockets give you quick and easy access to passports, electronics, and other small items. Pull the expansion zipper and get 15% more room. Great soft sided luggage from the airport to the cabin. 

Check Prices: Eagle Creek Tarmac Wheeled Luggage

American Tourister 4 Kix  Soft Sided Luggage with Spinner Wheels

American Tourister 4 Kix  Soft Sided Luggage with Spinner Wheels - best checked luggage

Another great wheeled suitcase in a funky color. The poly-nylon material is tough and doesn’t stain easily. Four solid multi-directional wheels make moving through the airport a breeze. The carry handles on the top, bottom, and side are sturdy but sit close to the sides so you may need an extra second to get a good grip. Push-button, dual pole in the telescopic handle. 

Check Prices: American Tourister 4 Kix Softside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Best Hardside Luggage

Some people prefer hardside luggage because it can withstand more punishment and keep fragile items safer. If you’re interested in the best hardside luggage, then check out our suggestions below. 

Samsonite Omni Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Samsonite Omni Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels - most durable luggage

The Samsonite Omni hardside spinner makes our list for its significant volume-to-weight ratio. This is a large hard-sided suitcase, and you can fit a lot in it. Just be aware that it is very easy to go over 50 pounds with a suitcase this size. Fully multi-directional wheels mean that you won’t have to lift this while on the move — let the wheels carry the weight. Zipper dividers and straps help you keep all of your stuff organized and secure.

Check Prices: Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

SWISSGEAR Energie Hardside Spinner Luggage 

SWISSGEAR Energie Hardside Spinner Luggage - most durable luggage

A rugged polycarbonate shell and a 10-year warranty help make this one of the best checked luggage you can buy. You also get TSA-compliant locks and eight multidirectional spinner wheels to ensure smooth sailing through arrivals and departures. The carry-on version of this bag has a USB charging feature, but not in the checked luggage versions. Still one of the best hardside spinner suitcases on the market. 

Check Prices: SWISSGEAR Energie Hardside Spinner Suitcase 

TUMI Latitude Hardside Large Suitcase

TUMI Latitude Hardside Large Suitcase - most durable luggage

For those looking for truly the best hardside luggage on the market, then meet the TUMI Latitude. It has all the features you expect in the best hardside luggage: compression straps, TSA lock smooth, and four pairs of smooth, silent multidirectional wheels. In addition, you also get TUMI’s super-sturdy SRPP ballistic material for the exterior shell, as well as their patented Omega closure system, where a puller comes off if a zipper gets snagged. Then there’s the TUMI Tracer program: each TUMI softside and hardside suitcase has a barcode and 20-digit number permanently fixed to it. If the owner joins the program and provides his/her details, then they can be reunited with lost/stolen suitcases even faster. 

Check Prices: TUMI Latitude Hardside Large Rolling Suitcase

Best Rolling Duffel

Rolling duffel bags are a great way to carry a lot and access them easily. Here are a few of the best rolling duffel bags on the market. 

Eagle Creek Travel Gear X-Large Wheeled, Red Clay

Eagle Creek Travel Gear X-Large Wheeled, Red Clay - best rolling duffel - most durable luggage

Big, tough, and versatile, this is one of the best rolling duffel bags for international travel, but just as good for camping and road trips. It holds up to 128 liters, but solid external compression straps can keep smaller loads secure as well. Both webbing and the rugged main fabric are double stitched where you need it to make sure its tensile strength can handle the weight no matter which handles or strap you grab. Two large wheels roll smoothly on tarmac and off-road. Even better, the whole thing rolls up and fits into a provided stuff sack. Eagle Creek’s “No Matter What” line is also covered with a lifetime guarantee: they’ll repair or replace it if it gets damaged. 

Check Prices: Eagle Creek Travel Gear X-Large Wheeled, Red Clay

Timberland Twin Mountain Rolling Duffle Bags

Timberland Twin Mountain Rolling Duffle Bags - best rolling duffel - most durable luggage

Utilizing 400d and 600d ripstop/poly material, the Timberland Twin Mountain series are some of the best rolling duffel bags for rugged terrain. They have god handles on the top and sides, and two in-line skate wheels to roll it easily to the check-in counter. Plastic-poly bumpers make it an easy standing duffel as well. Outer and inner compression straps keep everything where it’s supposed to be and allow for extra items to be held securely on the sides. Mesh & gusseted pockets on the interior and two zippered pockets on the exterior. Comes in 22″, 26″ and 30″ sizes. Remarkably lightweight luggage for international travel considering its size. 

Check Prices: Timberland Twin Mountain Rolling Duffle Bags

Eagle Creek ORV 2-Wheel Best Rolling Duffel Bags

Eagle Creek ORV 2-Wheel Best Rolling Duffel Bags - Soft sided luggage - most durable luggage

Possibly the best of the best rolling duffel bags on the market today. The Eagle Creek ORV series has everything you want in a checked bag for travel: loads of handles and lash points, plenty of specialized straps and pockets (including an expandable wet pocket), reinforced stitching, corner bumpers and much more. We especially like the one-lock zipper system: all zippers can lock together at one point. Then there are the equipment keeper and cargo net features, which make for easy storage and access to items on the outside of the bag during transit. Using Bi-Tech and 1000d material, this is some of the most durable luggage on the market. 

Check Prices: Eagle Creek ORV 2-Wheel Best Rolling Duffel Bag

Best Wheeled Backpacks

For us, Osprey makes the best rolling backpacks on the market. These are some of the most rugged, most durable luggage, but they’re also the most versatile. Many rolling backpacks are more one than the other: either a good backpack than can awkwardly be rolled or a good rolling suitcase that has usable (but uncomfortable) backpack straps.

Osprey Packs Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, Flash Black, 80 L/28″

Osprey Packs Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, Flash Black, 80 L/28" - best wheeled backpack

The Sojourn series has several exterior pockets and lockable zippers for easy access and added security. Compression straps on either side hug everything tightly and keep it in place, also allowing you to hold a jacket or travel pillow easily within reach. There are big treaded wheels and extra clearance underneath to make it easy to roll over rocky terrain. Four zippered mesh pockets and valet compression straps in the interior maintain organization and an even load. I know people who’ve used this pack for years and almost never used the backpack mode. But when they do they love how comfortable and ergonomic it is, with enough ventilation and form-fitting lumbar support to wear for long periods. Hip belt and harness also removable. The best rolling backpack comes in 22″, 25″ and 28″ sizes. 

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, Flash Black, 80 L/28″

Osprey Packs Meridian 75L/28 Wheeled Luggage

Osprey Packs Meridian 75L/28 Wheeled Luggage - best wheeled backpack

The Meridian series is similar to the larger Sojourn series above. Expect many of the same features, such as multiple padded handles, Osprey’s signature “Straightjacket” compression straps practical exterior pockets and big chunky wheels with a high clearance. One difference the Meridian boasts is a removable daypack to use once you drop off the pack at your accommodation. This two-in-one design makes it one of the best rolling backpacks for travel in Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. The daypack has a mesh back for sweaty climates and specialized pockets for sunglasses, devices, and a laptop. 

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Meridian 75L/28 Wheeled Luggage

Best Luggage sets

If you are looking for both a large checked suitcase and a carry-on bag, then buying a 3-piece set can save a lot of money. This can be an economical alternative for couples and families sharing luggage, as well. It can also help you and/or a friend save money by buying a luggage set instead of buying separately. Some of the best travel luggage recommended above also sells as a set of two or three different sized luggage. 

Soft Sided Luggage Sets

Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Set Suitcase Spinner Softshell lightweight

Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Set Suitcase Spinner Softshell lightweight - best luggage sets

This great suitcase set has telescopic handles and silent 360º wheels for a smooth walk even when filled to capacity. This is one of the better luggage sets for the price point thanks to the use of rugged fabrics like 1680D oxford cloth. There are also PVC reinforcements at the corners of the exterior organizational pockets. I also like having a strong top handle — it comes in handy when pulling it off of car racks and crowded bus storage. It can be nested/stored as one.

Check Prices: Coolife Lightweight Luggage 3 Piece Set Suitcase Spinner Softshell

American Tourister Luggage AT Pop 3 Piece Spinner SetAmerican Tourister Luggage AT Pop 3 Piece Spinner Set - best luggage sets

This softside suitcase 3-piece makes our list of best luggage sets thanks to durability, color variety, and versatility. One advantage that softside luggage has over hardside luggage is there are pockets on the outside of the bag. This American Tourister set has good pockets on the front panel for easy access to often-used items without having to unzip the entire bag. All three bags in this suitcase set have spinner wheels for a smooth glide down sidewalks and terminals. I also love the bright colors of these suitcase sets. Nevertheless, as I mentioned, brightly-colored softshell luggage stains easier and shows dirt more prominently. That said, the colors shown on the Amazon page are actually brighter than they are in real life.

Check Prices: American Tourister Luggage AT Pop 3 Piece Spinner Set, Black, 29/25/21

Lily Bloom Luggage 3-Piece Softside Spinner Suitcase Set

Lily Bloom Luggage 3-Piece Softside Spinner Suitcase Set - best luggage sets

This fashionable trio makes our list of best luggage sets thanks to lightweight construction and original design. We’ve been a fan of Lily Bloom ever since we saw their designs and learned about how they use recycled plastic bottles as part of their fabric. These softside spinners are light but rugged, with sturdy aluminum handles. They fit inside of each other for easy storage and the carryon fits well on the medium-sized spinner for an easier roll through the terminal. Good interior/exterior zippered storage and a pattern that no one will mistake is theirs at baggage claim.

Check Prices: Lily Bloom 3-Piece Softside Spinner Suitcase Set

SWISSGEAR 3pc Spinner Luggage Set Bundle 

SWISSGEAR 3pc Spinner Luggage Set Bundle - best soft sided luggage sets

This 3-piece soft side luggage set from Swissgear utilizes 360º multidirectional wheels and tough, scuff-resistant fabric to be one of the best spinner luggage sets for all types of traveler. The zippered-front clamshell design is expandable, and interior/exterior zippered pockets keep everything organized. The hardside suitcase sets from Swissgear also have one suitcase with a USB charger, but this softside set is still some of the best checked luggage on the market. 

Check Prices: SWISSGEAR Spinner Luggage Set

Timberland 4 Piece Luggage Set

Timberland 4 Piece Luggage Set - best rolling duffel luggage sets

This soft side spinner luggage set from Timberland is one of the best checked luggage bargains, as it contains four pieces instead of three. In addition to three rolling duffel bags, you also get a stylish messenger bag in the same rugged and fiercely water-resistant 600d and 420 ripstop material. The Amazon description says these are spinner luggage sets but they’re really rolling duffel bags. Two chunky tires and a solid aluminum telescopic handle make them glide through airports and down sidewalks. Multiple handles and compression straps make them easy to pack and easy to maneuver. And like the best rolling duffel bag sets, they fit into each other for easier storage.

Check Prices: Timberland 4 Piece Spinner Luggage Set

Best Hardside Luggage Sets

Rockland Melbourne 3-Piece ABS Luggage Set, Silver

Rockland Melbourne 3-Piece ABS Luggage Set, Silver - best budget luggage sets

For the price, Rockland makes some of the best hard side luggage sets for budget-minded travelers. This 3-piece spinner suitcase set is lightweight and somewhat durable but can crack under extreme pressure. They’re good for normal travel but shouldn’t be expected to withstand hard conditions or too much ill-treatment. Not the best spinner luggage set but worthwhile for light travel and road trips.

Check Prices: Rockland Melbourne 3 Pc Abs Luggage Set, Silver

Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Lightweight Spinner Luggage Set 

Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Lightweight Spinner Luggage Set  - best spinner luggage sets

For little more than the Rockland set above, these stylish Coolife spinner luggage sets are yours. They’re made from ABS thermoplastic, which is light and strong. Each of these hardshell suitcases has a built-in TSA-approved lock for added security, and the largest of the three (the 28″ model) has expansion capability, letting you pack up to 15% more. It also comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty.

Check Prices: Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Lightweight Spinner Luggage Set 

HAUPTSTADTKOFFER Hardside Spinner Luggage Set 

HAUPTSTADTKOFFER Hardside Spinner Luggage Set - best hardcase luggage sets

This 3-piece spinner luggage set uses a mix of ABS plastic and polycarbonate to make the hardside shell. You get a 21-, a 26-, and a 30-inch suitcase, all with multidirectional wheels. There’s also a built-in TSA lock for security. What makes this one of the best luggage sets is the quality for the price, and the fact that they can also be stored inside each other, which saves space when traveling.

Check Prices: HAUPTSTADTKOFFER Hardside Spinner Luggage Set 

Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels - best spinner luggage setsSamsonite offers another 3-piece set of one of their best travel luggage models: the Omni PC Spinner. This lightweight hard-side luggage set comes with the 20″, the 24″ and the 28″ models. When stored, the smaller ones fit nicely into the larger ones so you can save some space at home.

Check Prices: Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Delsey Paris Alexis Lightweight Luggage Set Hardside Spinner Suitcase

Delsey Paris Alexis Lightweight Luggage Set Hardside Spinner Suitcase - best luggage sets

One of the most stylish hardside luggage sets on the market. French luggage manufacturer Delsey molds ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) thermoplastic into some of the best looking checked luggage sets on the market. Also some of the most durable luggage. All three hardside suitcases are expandable. They also have 360º silent wheels and TSA-approved locks. 

Check Prices: Delsey Paris Alexis Lightweight Luggage Set Hardside Spinner Suitcase

Betsey Johnson Hardside Lightweight Spinner Suitcase Set 

Betsey Johnson Hardside Lightweight Spinner Suitcase Set - best hard case luggage sets

One of the best checked luggage sets who want a unique style. These hardside spinner suitcases incorporate cool designs on a rugged textured ABS thermoplastic shell. All three suitcases are expandable and have four pairs of 360º spinner wheels. Inside you have zipper-enclosed storage on one half and valet compression straps on the other. The smallest of the three spinner suitcases can be used as a carry-on. No one will grab your bags by mistake at baggage claim — the designs here are meant to attract attention. Some of the best hardside luggage sets for women or anyone who wants to stand out.

Check Prices: Betsey Johnson Hardside Lightweight Spinner Suitcase Set

Timberland 3 Piece Hardside Spinner Luggage Set

Timberland 3 Piece Hardside Spinner Luggage Set - best hard case luggage sets

Last but not least, we have these sleek hardside spinner luggage sets from Timberland. Best known for sturdy-yet-stylish footwear, Timberland also make some of the best checked luggage sets at reasonable prices. These are made from PCD-free ABS thermoplastic and come in a variety of styles and colors. They’re light on specialized interior pockets but make up for it with durability. 

Check Prices: Timberland 3 Piece Hardside Spinner Luggage Set

Features of the Best Luggage Sets & Check-in Suitcases

Both the best checked suitcases and the best luggage sets all share several characteristics in common. All of the best suitcase brands understand that great luggage for international travel must be light, rugged and versatile. It also but be designed in a way that makes airports easy to manage. Let’s run through what makes the best luggage sets special.

Size & Height: Checked Baggage Dimensions

For most US Airlines, checked baggage dimensions are a maximum of 62 linear inches (157cm). Where does this number come from? That’s where you combine the height, width, and length of your checked luggage. Add these three numbers up and that’s your checked baggage dimensions. If it’s under 62 inches, then your suitcase or luggage set is in the clear with most airplanes and airlines. Of course, these standards are always changing, so make sure to check with your airline about their checked baggage dimensions.

The best checked luggage is able to fit everything you need and still be below the maximum size. Otherwise, you’ll be paying extra fees. Be mindful that airlines measure from the bottom of the wheels. Some of the best luggage sets have great spinner wheels that stick out from the bottom of the suitcase. That counts. If you are a frequent flyer or a business/first class passenger, you may be able to get away with it a little extra luggage space, but be sure to check with your airline first.

Best Checked Luggage Height

Most of the best checked luggage for international travel is between 23-32 inches high. Keep in mind that the 28-32-inch category is a very large suitcase. In fact, when you get into the 31″ to 32″ size, you can easily go over some checked baggage weight limits if you’re not careful. We usually recommend these if you are a large family or plan to share your suitcase with someone. The largest suitcase in many of the best luggage sets we recommend is at 28″, and you are safer on the checked baggage limit on the 28-29″ side. Also, consider the 23- to 27-inch height range. That’s our recommended checked luggage size for most people. If you buy a checked suitcase over 28 inches high, be careful filling it to the max on flight days. And always, confirm your checked baggage weight before you head to the airport.

Checked Baggage Weight Restrictions

As mentioned above, heavier luggage can mean more money spent, so try to go for the best lightweight luggage whenever possible. The best check-in luggage is sturdy but light, which gives you more freedom to pack what you want. The checked baggage weight limit is different depending on the airline, but at the time of writing, most airlines have a 50-pound (23kg) weight limit, but there is some variation. In general, you want to stay under this checked baggage weight limit or you may have to pay extra baggage fees. Especially if this is luggage for international travel.

It doesn’t matter if one suitcase weighs 30 pounds and the other weighs 52 pounds. There’s still a good chance that you’ll have to pay overweight baggage fees. That is unless you do the dreaded luggage shuffle right there at the check-in counter, adjusting your suitcase contents in front of everyone. Budget airlines are the worst for this, so be careful.

Two-Wheels or Four-Wheels?

Unless you are a surfer, cyclist, or bass player, your luggage will probably be the biggest thing you’ll be carrying with you. Some large suitcases are cumbersome and unwieldy. However, the best checked luggage has wheels to make navigating the airport a breeze. All of the best softshell and hardshell luggage sets listed here have wheels for you to walk and roll easily. Does the best check-in suitcase for you have two wheels or four? There are benefits to two-wheel suitcases and four-wheel suitcases.

Two-Wheel Rolling Luggage 

The best two-wheel suitcases roll smoothly and have wheels built into the suitcase itself. This prevents them from breaking off. They’re also easier to turn at a corner and to roll over bumps and curbs. That said, two-wheeled suitcases only roll one way: forward. They can be awkward to back out of an elevator or other situations. Believe me, I know this from my own experience.

Four-Wheel Spinner Suitcases

We have both 2-wheel and 4-wheel spinner suitcases. Which do we prefer? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Many people like four-wheeled suitcases because they are easier to navigate through crowded spaces. In fact, the best four-wheeled suitcases have spinner wheels with 360º motion. Therefore, you can roll around people or other obstacles with only one hand. This can be invaluable if you’re holding a child or a cup of coffee.

That said, four-wheeled suitcases have a few drawbacks. For one, those spinner wheels stick out, which means that you have less packing space since those inches count in your checked baggage dimensions. In addition, they are more vulnerable to being broken by careless airport staff.

Maneuverability

Another concern with four-wheeled spinner-type suitcases is their very maneuverability. What makes them glide smoothly across a crowded terminal also helps them roll away at the slightest push or incline. For example, never leave them unattended on a hill or any kind of slope. And always hold them when standing on a moving vehicle like a train or subway car. There are two main types of checked suitcases with wheels on the four corners. Some have one wheel on each corner (total: 4 wheels), while others have two wheels on each corner (total: 8 wheels). In general, the 8-wheel constructions suffer fewer breaks. 

Hardside vs Softside Luggage – Hardside Luggage or Soft?

The best checked luggage and the best luggage sets come in two main forms: hard shell and soft shell. Like the 2-wheel vs 4-wheel debate above, hardside vs softside luggage is another point of contention. It’s really a matter of personal preference. Here are a few of their advantages and disadvantages.

Hard Shell/Hardside Luggage

The best hard case luggage sturdier than the best soft-shell suitcases. They break less and are less prone to theft. Also, they better protect your valuables from the elements, such as dirt, mud, and rain. Despite these benefits, even the best hard case luggage has its drawbacks, as well. They can be slightly heavier than soft side suitcases. Yet the difference of even one or two pounds can change how much you can actually pack. This can mean the difference between paying excess luggage fees or not.

For example, when it comes to size, what you see is what you get. Soft side suitcases can sometimes expand or contract for more versatility. In contrast, many hardside suitcases remain the same size even when you need more or less space. This is changing, however. Some of the best hard case luggage can expand up to two inches deeper. Nevertheless, the rigidity of even the best hard case suitcases makes them more challenging to load into tight spaces.

Hard Shell Luggage on the Stand

One final note worth mentioning: most hard case luggage doesn’t work well with the typical luggage stand. You know the stands I’m talking about? At many hotels, you have a small fold-out stand to place your suitcase on so you can pack and unpack without squatting down. I like these. Most of the best hard case luggage has equal storage on both sides. This means they open more like a book than like a can with a lid. Because of this design difference, most hardside luggage doesn’t fit well on these suitcase stands. In this case, you can still use the bed to spread out and pack/unpack.

Soft Shell/Soft Side Luggage

In the past, we only had soft shell suitcases because they were more flexible shoving in and pulling out of tight spaces. However, we recognize the challenges they have, as well. What we like about the best soft shell luggage is the versatility that comes with them. Soft shell bags can often expand when you need to pack more, or contract in on themselves to save space. The challenges should be obvious: soft shell luggage is more prone to damage, theft, and exposure to the elements. In addition, it looks worse over time, too. For example, good hard case luggage looks great after years of use, where a soft shell bag will likely look grimy and faded. In our case, we actually don’t mind shabby looking luggage. Worn-in luggage usually attracts less unwelcome attention.

Compartments, Compression & Expandability

If you’re carrying a lot of stuff, it’s nice to have specialized pockets and versatility in your suitcase. The best checked luggage and the best luggage sets are designed to give you a place for everything. A place for everything and everything in its place, right? Before buying a new check-in suitcase or rolling duffel bag, consider what you’re carrying and how you might want to pack it. What will you need to reach quickly? Do you have any small items that need special care? Where will your most important items go?

The interior compartments of the best checked luggage give you options in how you can carry it. Some soft cases also let you expand your space or shrink it depending on your needs. Some of the best rolling backpacks too. No matter what type of luggage you decide is best for you, we highly recommended getting some packing cubes to make the most of the space you have. Whether you’re a solo traveler with one suitcase of a large family with a 3-piece luggage set, packing cubes can make travel a lot easier.

Handles

Even the best lightweight luggage becomes cumbersome if there’s no place to hold it. The best checked luggage will have a retractable handle, along with sturdy, well-placed handles on the other sides. That way you can hold and handle your suitcase comfortably, even when managing jet-lagged kids. Sometimes padded, sometimes ergonomically designed, the material is less important than how it feels in your hand.

Moreover, if you are tall, you should give the retractable handle special consideration as some of the best checked suitcase handles raise higher than others. If it’s too short for your body, it’s not comfortable. I personally think that the best luggage sets should have retractable handles that can hold a little weight of their own. Why? So you can use that space to carry stuff as well. For example, I sometimes strap my computer bag to the retracted handle for a more comfortable walk through the airport.

Warranty & Customer Service

The best suitcase brands are confident in their products. Therefore, they often offer a money-back guarantee, a lifetime warranty, or both. However, read through the warranty carefully. Some warranties cover more damage than others. The best luggage sets and other baggage usually has a money-back guarantee with at least a month after purchase. Others have a lifetime guarantee. But it still depends on the type of damage.

Color and/or Identifying Marks

This may not be the most important characteristic of the best checked luggage, but it can be helpful to choose a suitcase with an interesting design or a color other than black. Whatever color or pattern you choose, make sure that your bag has some distinguishing marks on it. For example, my camera bag looks like your typical black 2-wheel roller. So I put lots of bright, dangly things on the handle and taped my business card near the top. Our girl used a bright orange check-in luggage and just started using a rose-pink luggage set for the rest. Now it’s super easy to spot her stuff on the airport carousel.

No Suitcase is Perfect

No matter how strong your suitcase is, there will be someone who had a problem. Look through the best luggage set reviews and there’s always at least one person who had an issue. Look through enough of the best luggage reviews on the web and you’ll find people who are disappointed with their purchase. Maybe a wheel broke. Maybe the bag tore. Airport staff can be cruel to bags. Sometimes it can be helped, and sometimes not. Keep this in mind when you do your research.

Conclusion: What are the Best Luggage Sets for You?

There are so many factors in choosing the best checked luggage for your trip. I hope that I’ve explained them well. Are there any that I’m missing? What are the best check-in suitcases and the best luggage sets in your opinion? Which do you prefer: hardside luggage or softside luggage? Rolling backpacks or rolling duffel bags? What luggage features are important for you?

Further Reading

** PIN THIS! **

Best checked luggage - Best Luggage sets PIN 1

Best checked luggage - Best Luggage sets PIN 3

Best checked luggage - Best Luggage sets PIN 2

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This costs you nothing. However, when you use our links, we might receive a small commission if you book a room or buy one of the best luggage sets recommended here. My opinions are my own and I only recommend items that I believe will genuinely help you find the best, most durable luggage for travel.

Image credits: #1, #28#29 

Comments

  1. thanks for your sharing

  2. This is a very necessary post. In your site, there are many types varieties of luggage for travelers. I have seen your posts regular basis and like it very much.