Best Rated Suitcases & Luggage Brand: Samsonite
As the best rated suitcase and luggage brand for ease of use, durability and design, Samsonite took out this year's award.
Quick facts about suitcases and luggage
- Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a decent suitcase.
- Backpacks and duffle bags are the most lightweight options.
- Make sure to check airline regulations before buying any new luggage for a trip.
Types of luggage
Whether you are backpacking around South East Asia, heading out of town for an overnight trip or taking a luxury cruise from Dubai, finding the right type of luggage for your trip is important. You don't want something that's too big or too small, and you need to be able to carry it or wheel it around without too much hassle.
Suitcases come in a range of different sizes, materials and wheel options.
- Cabin size. Cabin suitcases are suitable for carrying a few belongings for a weekend or short trip. They fit in the overhead compartment on an aeroplane.
- Check-in size. If you need to check your luggage in for a longer holiday, you'll want to look at a larger suitcase. You can find these in medium, large or extra-large sizes.
- Soft shell. Made from soft material rather than plastic, soft shell suitcases give more flexibility when packing and usually have exterior pockets.
- Hard shell. Hard shell suitcases are made from plastic and are more durable than soft shell suitcases. They don't have pockets on the outside.
- 2-wheel. 2-wheel suitcases are able to be pulled along behind you.
- 4-wheel. When a suitcase has four wheels on the bottom, you can push it alongside you, reducing the strain on your body.
Backpacks are worn on your back and are suitable for journeys where you want to keep your hands free. There are smaller options for quick trips or for using as cabin luggage, and larger models that hold 60-70 litres and can be used for backpacking trips to hold all your gear.
Duffel bags are soft bags with a zip down their length. They have handles for carrying with your hands and sometimes a shoulder strap as well. You can find duffle bags in sizes ranging from small to large, and some models have wheels built in so you can wheel them along.
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How to compare luggage
With many luggage options to choose from, there are many points to consider before shopping. As well as taking out travel insurance and booking your tickets, this is one of the most important purchases a traveller can make.
What are you using the luggage for?
Even though you may like the look of one piece of luggage, it may not be practical for what you want to use it for. There's no point in investing in a wheeled suitcase that will be a nightmare to pull over cobbled streets in Europe when you would be much more comfortable with a backpack. It's worth considering buying a few different pieces of luggage so that you have options for the various trips you will take.
While larger suitcases allow you you pack more, they can be awkward to carry. Also, the more you fill them up, the heavier they will be. If you're going to be taking your luggage on a plane, you need to stay within the size regulations of the airline. Check out the different carry-on luggage regulations for Australian airlines.
Airlines seem to be getting more and more strict with the weight of your luggage. In fact, every Australian airline now weighs your carry-on luggage too. Suitcases weigh more than duffel bags and backpacks, sometimes 3-5 kg, so that's a good chunk of your weight allowance gone. Plus, extra wheels and pockets can add on extra weight. Some suitcase models are advertised as being lightweight, but make sure to double-check the actual weight.
The cost of luggage varies depending on the type that you choose, the size and any bells and whistles that come with it. Suitcases can range from around $50 to over $1,000, but you should expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a decent product.
Many brands have brightly coloured and patterned options. Even though black shows dirt less easily, your suitcase can blend in with everyone else's, so it may be hard to spot it when it comes out on the conveyor belt. A unique looking bag can also be helpful if your luggage is lost and you are trying to describe it to the airport staff.
Compartments and pockets
The main body of your bag is where you will keep the majority of your things, but compartments to separate your items can make it easier to grab what you need. Pockets on the outside of your luggage are handy for things that you need easy access to like snacks, documents, your camera or toiletries.
Material and durability
The quality of the material and workmanship is important, especially since baggage handlers at the airport are known to be less than gentle. Oftentimes, the more you pay for your luggage, the more durable it will be, so consider buying luggage from a brand that has a solid reputation if your budget allows it. Some brands even offer a 10-year or even a lifetime guarantee on workmanship, which means that they will replace your luggage if it starts falling apart. Hardshell bags are generally more durable and waterproof.
Handles and straps
Make sure the luggage that you choose has suitable handles. Suitcases should have a handle at the end and at the side, and backpacks should have a handle at the top. If you are tall, check how long the telescopic handle is on a suitcase is to ensure that it will be comfortable for you to manoeuvre. For backpacks, make sure that there are adjustable shoulder, chest and waist straps so that you can carry it without hurting yourself.
Keeping your belongings safe and secure while travelling is crucial, so your luggage should be able to be locked. Some suitcases come with their own built-in lock, while for others you will need to use your own personal lock with a key or number pad. Duffel bags and backpacks can also be secured with a lock, but this may not include all compartments. For added security, you may want to invest in a bike lock so you can attach your bag to something to reduce the risk of theft.
Airline and other transport carrier regulations
If you are traveling by plane, you will need to comply with the size and weight allowances that the airline provides on its website, otherwise you will be charged extra fees. However, do keep in mind that airlines have different weight and measurement allowances, so you may be faced with varying regulations if you use your luggage on a number of different airlines.
Although some airlines differ in their allowances, you can still get a sense of what sizes and weights are acceptable for checked and cabin luggage. To do this, visit the websites of three or four different airlines and find the smallest allowance, then make your purchase based on that. It's also a good idea to carry a set of luggage scales with you so that you can ensure you are not overweight when you get to the airport.
Trains and buses may be more lenient with the size and weight of your luggage, but check their allowances first to understand what you can take.
Best rated suitcases and luggage brand award breakdown
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