Holidays, business trips, round-the-world adventures… whatever kind of journey you’re about to embark on, it pays to have the right kit… and the right kitbag to stow your stuff in.
To help you we’ve rounded up 24 of our favourite items of Luggage sets — from duffel cases so big you could almost sleep in them, to carry-on cases for those times when you really must get on and off the plane as fast as possible.
Our favourite suitcase is the incredibly stylish Globe-Trotter – but what suitcase is right for you and your needs?
There are all kinds of considerations here: budget, size, how long you’re going away for, security, longevity (how long you expect the case to last).
How to buy the best suitcase for you
Hard or soft case?
Hard or rigid cases – like the kind that Samsonite is famous for – are usually made from polycarbonate or ABS plastic. In theory, they offer better protection for fragile items and can withstand a reasonable level of abuse without damage, although some glossy-finished cases can get scratched all too easily.
Hard cases are also generally more waterproof and secure than soft cases, although that obviously depends on the quality of the seals / locks / zips located around the case. Some of the better soft cases are waterproof too.
The downside is that hard cases don’t offer much in the way of flexibility bringing back holiday souvenirs along with all the stuff you took on holiday in the first place?
The rigid nature of hard cases means you may not be able to fit your purchases inside. Having said that, some cases now – including the Samsonite Flux – do include some level of expandability, but even then they don’t have the flexibility that a soft case does.
Soft cases, on the other hand, are flexible by their very nature – the sides of the case will bulge out to accommodate the extra items you’re trying to stow inside. They are also more likely to have external pockets for stowing additional items in and the best examples – such as the Eastpak Tranverz L – are also made from waterproof materials with waterproof zips, helping to keep the stuff inside dry.
The flip-side is soft cases are more vulnerable to having their contents stolen, since they often rely on zip fastenings. However suitcases of either type often include 3-digit combination locks so you don’t have to worry about losing an extra set of keys, and most are TSA-compliant – that is they are able to be opened easily by security at US airports should the need arise.
2-wheels or 4-wheels?
Most suitcases come with either two sets of wheels on the base, or four. Which one you choose is largely down to personal preference.
Two-wheel ‘puller’ cases are easier to manoeuvre in the real world of pavements and staircases where you can just tilt the bag and pull; Four-wheel ‘spinner’ cases are ideally suited to places with smooth floors, like hotel lobbies and airports where they get to glide around on all four sets of wheels – come across trickier terrain though, and you’ll have to drag them along on two wheels just like the others.
Of more concern, potentially, is how robust and smooth-running the wheels are: ideally, they needed to be bolted (rather than riveted) to the case so they can easily be replaced if one does break, it also helps if they’re recessed into the case corners a little – this makes them less vulnerable when they’re being tossed around by baggage handlers and have the advantage of making the footprint of the case slightly smaller.
Suitcase sizes explained
When you’re buying a case, you obviously need to think about why you’re buying it, and what you’re going to use it for – you’re clearly not going to want to take a massive case with you if you’re going on an overnight business trip or a weekend away; but likewise you won’t want a tiny case when you’re off for a month in Kathmandu.
For many travellers though, the most important thing is that they buy a case that can be stowed either in an overhead locker or under the seat in an aeroplane cabin – that means they don’t have to hang around for ages in baggage reclaim, they can just grab their bag and go.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on what constitutes a carry-on case; different airlines have different size and weight limits and what might be acceptable on one airline won’t be on another.
It pays to do some research – and make sure any case you buy complies with size limits for your favourite carrier, otherwise you may find your suitcase ends up in the hold after all.