From being tossed around on airport carousels to being dragged through cobblestone streets, suitcases are the MVPs of any vacation, and it’s important to make sure the luggage you’re bringing on your trip is best suited to your needs. Whether you’re in the market for carry-on luggage, larger checked bags or a solid weekender for a quick getaway, the best luggage always checks three boxes: ease, maneuverability and functionality. There are several reliable luggage brands out there that fit that bill, including some of our top picks from Samsonite, Travelpro, Monos and American Tourister.
Whether or not you plan to travel in the near future, purchasing durable luggage serves as a lifetime investment, fulfilling your travel needs for years to come and saving you the pain of having to hunt down new luggage every year. But with so many luggage brands out there, finding the perfect fit can get stressful—fast. That’s why we rolled up our sleeves and researched the myriad types of suitcases out there—as well as asked our editors to share thoughts on bags they’ve personally used on trips—to narrow down the very best of the bunch. Below, we’ve selected the best luggage brands of 2023 for every type of traveler.
- Best Luggage Overall: Samsonite
- Best Value Luggage: American Tourister
- Best Carry-On Luggage: Travelpro
- Best Checked Luggage: SwissGear
- Best Hardside Luggage: Monos
- Best Softside Luggage: Briggs & Riley
- Best Luggage For New Travelers: Away
- Best Investment Luggage For Frequent Flyers: Rimowa
- Best Underseat Luggage: Calpak
- Best Luggage Set: July
- Best Luggage For Business Travel: Carl Friedrik
- Best Travel Backpack For Active Travel: Matador
- Best Travel Backpack For Long-Haul Travel: Dagne Dover
- Best Travel Backpack For Business Travel: Lo & Sons
- Best Weekender Bag: Béis
- Best Duffel Bag: Patagonia
Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner
A favorite of Forbes Vetted’s senior deals editor, Kara Cuzzone, Samsonite’s Freeform Spinner is an excellent place to start if you’re thinking of revamping your luggage set-up. This carry-on won’t take up too much space in your closet, but will magically expand when you pack it for that much-needed extra room. Its crisp wheels make it feel smooth when you’re toting it around, and it comes with a comfortable handle that both pulls out and retracts. We particularly enjoy its interior pockets and divider for that extra bit of organization.
The Freeform Carry-On Spinner features a TSA-approved lock, a built-in ID tag and a modern color palette that includes amethyst purple, sky blue and this sleek all-black number. The best part? For those looking to snag a new suitcase without breaking the bank, it comes in at under $200, making it one of the best value purchases on our list.
American Tourister 4 Kix 2.0 Softside Expandable Luggage
American Tourister makes solid luggage pieces at a reasonable price, and their Kix 2.0 softside suitcase is no exception. The 20-inch version of the spinner is the perfect size for a trip under one week and is also carry-on compliant so that you won’t have to check it at the airport. It comes with smooth wheels, a trolley grip that adjusts to your size, and large zipper pulls that won’t rip if you grab them in a rush. Most durable softside luggage clocks in at above $100, so we think this is a great deal for a carry-on on the more affordable side. We also think its subtle and sophisticated finish makes it look more expensive than it is.
Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Spinner
Travelpro is a favorite brand of airline professionals, so you know their solid, sturdy bags are ones you can rely on. For those looking to fly with a carry-on bag that will easily fit into any overhead compartment, the Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Spinner is our favorite choice. Its well-built set of wheels and cemented handle will allow you to maneuver around tight spaces on the plane with ease. It also features plenty of thoughtful features, including an ergonomic handle, external USB ports and a TSA-approved lock. It’s a favorite of Forbes Vetted’s senior updates editor Karen Tietjen, who says “the textured exterior shell is very durable and lightweight, and the four wheels are built for smooth gliding.”
SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Roller
For those who have too many belongings to squeeze into a carry-on, SwissGear is a great choice for checked luggage that is durable and reliable. We love the Sion Softside Expandable Roller, which is high-quality, durable and scuff-proof, meaning you won’t have to worry about its exteriors being damaged when you pass your precious belongings over to the strangers handling your suitcase. With two exterior zippers, it’s perfect for organization, and its interior features adjustable tie-down along with three zippered compartments. For serious shoppers, the suitcase offers an expandable feature that helps make your bag even larger, so none of those souvenirs will get left behind.
Thanks to its unbreakable polycarbonate shell, you won’t have to worry about scuffing the beautiful design when you tote Monos’ great selection of suitcases to your final destination. One of our favorites is the Carry-On Pro, which features a built-in front compartment for easy access to your essentials. The Carry-On Pro is outfitted with room for a 15-inch laptop, TSA-approved locks, quiet wheels and vegan leather accents, and it still fits in overhead bin of almost any flight in the world. While many carry-ons come in the same muted colors, we appreciate Monos’ commitment to keeping things fresh with fun hues like Terrazzo and Terracotta.
Briggs & Riley Essential 22-inch Carry-On Expandable Spinner
Timeless and versatile, Briggs & Riley is known for its durability, reliability, and excellent warranties on luggage. If you’re looking for a classic softshell bag, this brand has consistently been named a favorite of flight attendants, pilots, and travel professionals. With a spring loaded handle, a flat interior, and built-in compartment configuration, every feature of a Briggs & Riley suitcase is carefully thought out to make its use as seamless as possible.
Away The Bigger Carry-On
Away’s lightweight polycarbonate-shell suitcases are some of the most accessible bags on the market: they’re lightweight, easy to use, and come in a wide variety of fun colors while also being relatively well-priced. For the traveler who is just beginning to expand their travel arsenal, we recommend starting with the brand’s Bigger Carry-On, which is sized correctly for airport overhead bins but offers that much-needed bit of extra space. The bag comes with great features like quiet, easy-to-use wheels, an underside grab handle, a TSA-approved lock and even a laundry bag perfect for storing dirty clothes on the road. You can also select from a number of thoughtful upgrades, like personalized monogramming.
Rimowa Original Cabin Aluminum Spinner
Designed in Germany, the Rimowa Original Cabin is a calling card in the world of modern luggage brands. Durable and lightweight, the brand is known globally for craftsmanship and innovation, and their classic design is instantly recognizable in any airport. The stunning design details, like the high-end anodized aluminum exterior, is timeless, with the ability to transport one back in time to the golden age of travel. Yes, this brand is an investment, but the included lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee will cover any damage to your suitcase, meaning you can breathe easy.
Calpak Mini Carry-On
For underseat luggage that is easy to tow along and can easily slide into the airplane seat in front of you, it’s hard to top Calpak’s Mini Carry-On. With 31 liters of total space, it’s roomy enough to squeeze in a pair of shoes along with an outfit for an overnight trip while also being lightweight and taking up very little space. We love the brand’s Ambeur color scheme, which is fun and poppy but also elegant-looking. Its sparkly metallic will ensure that it stands out in any airport carousel if you ever need to check it.
July Classic Family Luggage Set
Investing in a solid luggage set simplifies your shopping list and can actually save you money, given that many luggage bundles clock in at a lower price than buying each suitcase individually. Stylish and durable, Australian brand July’s Classic Family Set is the perfect place to begin if you’re looking to rebuild your luggage set-up. The trio of the brand’s Carry-On, Checked bag and Checked Plus bag will have you ready to go for any type of future trip, from a weekend getaway to a medium-length vacation and serious long-haul travel. The suitcases’ spinner wheels offer a buttery smooth glide across the airport floor, allowing you to get to your gate with ease. Use all three for yourself or share with your family or partner.
Carl Friedrik The Carry-On
For those who frequently travel for work, it’s imperative to have a suitcase that is professional-looking enough to hop off the plane and into a board meeting with. Our current favorite is Carl Friedrik’s The Carry-On, which features whisper quiet Hinomoto wheels, a luscious cognac trimming and a stylish pattern that will make any scuff hard to spot. It also comes with a password-protected TSA lock and multiple interior zipped pockets for your laptop and documents. The brand also has excellent options in check-in sizes as well as sets of two.
GlobeRider45 Travel Backpack
One of our favorite travel backpacks on the market, the Matador GlobeRider45 is an incredibly versatile option for any type of trip. Along with an external laptop pocket, the bag can be used as a carry-on and has top-notch interior organization, including an “admin” pocket that is suitable for small items you need easy access to. The backpack is one of those hard-to-find options that can be used for both a city break and an outdoor adventure. It can also be trusted to remain functional and roomy the more you stuff it, making it perfect for overpackers.
Dagne Dover Neoprene Backpack
Lugging around your laptop? Dagne Dover’s Neoprene Backpack is well-suited for travelers who want to pack a lot into their backpack without having to lug around something clunky. If you prefer to be hands-free when navigating the terminal, Dagne Dover’s super soft shoulder straps will allow you to travel comfortably. Spacious enough to fit all of your necessities, this backpack is designed with durable materials and features a reliable zipper. If you’re looking for more pockets, we also love Dagne’s large Indi Diaper Backpack (yes, it works for more than just diapers) for travel.
Lo & Sons Rowledge Bag
A good convertible travel backpack is hard to find, especially for business travel, when you need a bag that’s durable enough to lug your laptop around from meeting to meeting but also stylish and professional-looking enough to be seen carrying around. Lo & Sons has cracked the code with their Rowledge bag, which easily transforms into a briefcase or tote, but can also be used as a sleek backpack large enough to hold a 13-inch or 16-inch laptop (or both) in one of its many pockets. Its padded straps are comfortable enough to forget just how many tech products and chargers you need to get through the average day, and its multiple compartments, all of which lay flat when not in use, make being organized look easy. It’s a favorite of Vetted’s senior travel editor, Astrid Taran, who says it’s “perfect for days when I know I’m seeing friends or going to a nice dinner after a work event or meeting.”
A weekender bag is essential to have for those quick getaways that don’t warrant bringing anything bulky. Béis has nailed the art of the chic and sophisticated go bag with The Weekender, which features a trusted zip top and full bottom compartment to separate your shoes and toiletries from your clothes. Its neutral color palette makes it perfect for just about any type of trip, from beach to business, and it also comes with one large zip pocket, two slip pockets, a key leash, and a removable shoulder strap.
Patagonia Black Hole® Wheeled Duffel Bag 100L
Patagonia is an excellent brand for the active traveler seeking a dependable duffel, and their beloved Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bag is a great place to start. This weather-resistant bag can withstand all of the elements, and its built-in internal compression system will allow you to pack enough clothing for several weeks. If your travels are a bit shorter, the bag is also available in smaller sizes, but those embarking on a long-term active trip can rest assured that their gear will travel safe thanks to the Black Hole’s durable, oversized wheels and study handles.
Why Trust Forbes Vetted
The Forbes Vetted travel team has researched, written and published dozens of luggage guides, ranging from the best hardside luggage to the best underseat luggage and the best luggage sets. This story was written by Vetted’s senior travel editor, Astrid Taran, a 7-year travel industry veteran who’s visited over 35 countries and traveled with all types of bags, totes and suitcases on planes, trains, buses and boats. Further, this story is regularly checked to ensure that all prices and information are as current as possible. It was last updated in November 2023.
How We Chose The Best Luggage
When the time comes to invest in new luggage, we rely on expert advice, independent reviews and personal experience before making any recommendations. We also take into consideration the factors that separate one piece of luggage from the next. This includes not only common variables such as size, weight, build quality and features, but also how you intend to use the luggage and what you’ll be carrying. We’ve taken the time to compare luggage options, examining their features to determine which pieces are well-suited for travel, and which ones you can do without.
As a fully remote company, we tapped Forbes Vetted editors, including the Forbes Vetted travel team, what they look for in new luggage and what’s most important to them when they’re on the go. We also asked all of our editors to share their thoughts on bags they’ve personally traveled with and used. Then, after compiling this information, we broke down a robust range of options for your specific needs.
What to Consider When Buying Luggage
The best luggage for you depends on your trip and travel style. Here are some things to consider when you’re researching.
The size of the luggage you buy needs to be compliant with airline rules, so if you’re looking for an investment piece, check out the guidelines of whichever airline you usually fly. If it varies, it may be smarter to go with a smaller option that’s likely to work across the board. Some airlines have different size rules for domestic versus international, so make sure to research them before you purchase.
Are you an overpacker? If you’re looking to get the most of a suitcase without having to sit on it to get it to close, look for expandable pieces.
If you’re an avid traveler and/or plan on investing in expensive luggage, make sure it comes with a good warranty. Some brands, like Briggs & Riley, offer lifetime warranties, which can give you peace of mind. If you plan on purchasing from a third-party retailer like Amazon, double-check with the brand directly to make sure the warranty still applies.
For extra security, look for a carry-on with a built-in TSA-approved lock. These are usually combination locks that TSA agents can open with a master key so they don’t have to damage your luggage if it must be inspected.
While a bright color will make your bag stand out at the airport carousel, keep in mind that lighter shades are more likely to show scuffs and spots.
If black feels too generic, opt for another dark shade—the Away Carry-On comes in several deep hues. That said, sleek all-black styles like the Samsonite Freeform in Blackout can still stand out from a crowd.
While wheeled suitcases dominate this list, backpacks are a great choice if you want to be completely hands-free. If you’re looking for something slimmer than the Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack, the Away F.A.R. Convertible Backpack is also a great choice. Duffle or crossbody bags can also work but may not be the best option if you have a lot of walking to do between terminals, as they can feel cumbersome and cause shoulder and neck strain if they’re too heavy.
Which Suitcase Brand Is Best?
The luggage landscape, for lack of better phrasing, has drastically evolved in recent years. As a result, we find ourselves with more brands to choose from than ever before, which makes it all the more difficult when the time comes to invest in new luggage. With that in mind, some of the best suitcase brands include classic labels like Samsonite and Travelpro, as well as newcomers like Monos and Away. Choose from these brands, and others in our roundup, to discover luggage that’s durable, capable and stylish.
What’s Better: Softside Or Hardside Luggage?
While luggage carousels around the world are still overflowing with softside luggage, hardside luggage has quickly been gaining popularity. When deciding which type of bag you’ll need, consider what you’re carrying and where you’re going. Soft-sided bags are great because they flex and compress, making them a suitable option for the overhead bin or the storage space on a bus, though the material wears over time and might rip. Hardside luggage, on the other hand, protects fragile contents that could break or become damaged in transit, but the material could scratch or scuff easily. What’s right for you is simply a matter of personal preference.
Which Luggage Is Best For International Travel?
The best luggage for international travel should take into consideration where you’re going and what you’re doing before packing your bags. Hardside luggage maintains its shape and often embraces a set of wheels, making it a suitable option for urban travel to cities. Softside luggage comes in handy when you’re exploring more remote destinations where space is limited and rolling luggage won’t always function as it should.
If you really want to master international travel, consider investing in carry-on luggage to avoid luggage fees and eliminate the risk of losing your bag in transit. Doing so will force you to evaluate what you’re packing in greater detail, but it will also reduce any hassles or headaches when you’re far away from home and only looking after one bag.