An essential piece of rolling luggage that is reliable and durable is what every true traveller needs. However, one person’s favourite suitcase may be another’s worst nightmare. Everybody wants something durable, but whether you prefer soft-shell or hard-shell is debatable. Do you want four wheels? Are you looking for luxury or something more affordable? Are you looking for something stylish or practical? Your luggage should be a combination of both style and practicality. We asked the world’s most experienced travellers about their favourite suitcases. Below, we have a list of their top picks.
What we are looking for
Soft-side vs hard-shell: According to the suggestions we have received, our experts prefer hard-shell luggage. It is durable, easy to clean, protects clothes from the rain, and makes it harder for bedbugs and other pests to get in if they happen to be present on your trip. These hard shells are made of ABS, which is a cheaper but less durable material, or polycarbonate, which is a stronger but lighter material. Aluminium, however, is the strongest and most durable. The majority of the items on this list are made from polycarbonate. However, there are also a few soft-sided pieces for those who haven’t yet switched. Although they may not be as durable, they can still be repaired. Tony Pecorella is the president and CEO of Modern Leather Goods in Manhattan. He is an authorized repairman for many luggage brands and can fix broken hard shells.
Compression Dividers: A common feature in all suitcases is the buckled straps. These straps go over your clothes and help to keep them in place. The newer hard shells have doubled this feature with full dividers. These encase your clothes and make it easy to close your suitcase. The dividers are more secure than the straps and cover the entire section. They also have a zippered pocket, which addresses the common complaint that polycarbonate bags don’t have enough compartments.
Wheels Our experts continue to rave about the wheels on their favourite suitcases. They describe them as sturdy and smooth. The four spinner wheels make it much easier to move the suitcase around as it can go in any direction. Four wheels are the best for comfort and ease of movement. However, Pecorella warns that it is not the best option from a repair perspective. He says it is always better to have a suitcase with two wheels. “Those wheels are enclosed, so they can wear out like tires on your vehicle.” He says the downside to the four spinners, which Pecorella admits to using, is that they don’t have an encasement and are just attached to the bottom. This increases the chance of them getting banged on. He says, “If you roll off the curb or hit the escalator hard enough, it will just snap the wheel off.” “That’s one the most important repairs we do every day.”
Warranty Nearly all of the suitcases in this list are soft-side or have two wheels. This is because their warranties are very good, which Pecorella believes is the most important aspect. He says, “This is what our customers tell us all the time: If your regular traveler, really check into the luggage brand’s warranty to see what they cover and what they don’t cover.” There is a wide range of quality warranties; some are better than others. He believes that most airlines offer a lifetime warranty. Others will claim they have a limited lifetime warranty. This means that it is only valid for a certain number of years and has restrictions on what it applies. Pecorella’s bottom line is to do your research. That way, you will know exactly what you are getting.