- Buyer's Guide
The Best Rolling ‘Checked Luggage’ Right Now
Traveling with just carry-on luggage can save you time and hassle. It helps you avoid check-in queues and baggage carousel waits, while keeping you nimble on the move. But it does require a honed approach to packing that may not be feasible for every trip. For longer trips or when you need to carry more, using checked luggage is a necessity. Perhaps you’re going on an extended holiday, need to pack a lot for a family trip, or plan to bring back gifts for friends and family. Alternatively you may need to transport necessary business trip supplies or bulky sports equipment. Whatever your reason for checked luggage, choosing a piece with wheels can make traveling a lot easier. But what makes for a good piece of rolling luggage? Here are a few considerations to bear in mind.
Whether you opt for two wheels or four wheels, rolling luggage will help take the strain off your shoulders and arms. However, four spinner wheels will give you the ultimate wheeled maneuverability, helping you move smoothly and quickly in a variety of directions with minimal effort on your part. Two wheels on the other hand, while requiring more pulling and pushing power, will offer more stability on angled terrain and will tend to be less exposed than a four-wheel design, thereby reducing the risk of potential damage.
Hardside vs softside luggage
Hardside and softside luggage both have their pros and cons. Hardside luggage offers better impact protection and is a good choice if you’ll be carrying fragile or valuable items. Additionally, it offers greater theft protection by resisting slashing from knives, scissors or other sharp objects. In addition to offering better protection for your gear, you may find it stands up to demanding travel environments better as well, resisting over-enthusiastic baggage handlers, snags and inclement weather. Hardside cases will also be easier to keep clean, often requiring a simple wipe to remove dust, mud, liquid spills and the like. However, it’s worth being aware that hardside luggage may show up scuffs relatively quickly.
Softside luggage on the other hand gives you greater flexibility to compress it in tighter spaces (such as cars, storage lockers and so forth). Plus you may find it easier to store softside luggage at home if it is at least partly collapsible or allows other items to be squeezed in next to it for storage (such as within a cupboard or wardrobe). Also bear in mind that there are plenty of durable materials out there, so if you want the compression flexibility while still enjoying durability, make sure to pick a quality material known for its resistance to wear and tear.
While checked luggage offers a far more generous baggage weight allowance than carry-on luggage, there will still be an upper limit to stick within. You don’t want your checked luggage taking a solid bite out of that limit, so consider picking a piece that offers the features, size and durability you’re after while still keeping weight down. Material and size choices will play a role here, so consider whether packing space, durability or baggage weight is your key priority when picking a piece.
Getting checked luggage to your destination is often a rough-and-tumble journey, so having a degree of internal organization will help greatly in keeping your gear secure and tidy. Options such as internal pockets, dividers and compression straps will help keep your belongings neat. However, you may also want some form of quick-access organization as well, so if this is the case then keep an eye out for external pockets and the like.
So with the above in mind, we’ve wheeled out the best rolling checked luggage for your perusal. Each particularly suited to a certain need to help you make the most of your trips.
Sometimes you need to carry a lot, sometimes you don’t. The Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Expandable Large Case easily adjusts to your needs through exterior compression straps that allow the case to expand up to 45% more capacity. The case features a durable polycarbonate build, spinner wheels for convenient maneuverability, and an integrated TSA lock.
The Osprey Sojourn 80 delivers rolling and backpack carry in one. The stowable shoulder straps and hip belt are useful for navigating steps and rougher terrain, while the retractable ErgoGrip™ handle and HighRoad™ chassis keep you moving in durable, convenient style over smoother terrain. And with its handy panel access to the main compartment and StraightJacket™ compression you can easily pack and access gear and adjust to larger or smaller loads as required.
Checked luggage is great for getting large loads to your destination. But you don’t want to have to haul it once you’re there exploring. The Osprey Meridian 75 keeps you agile by combining a checked bag with a removable 16L daypack. Keep the two together while traveling, then separate them and leave the larger bag at your accommodation while exploring with the daypack. Alternatively you can check the larger bag and use the daypack as your carry-on to keep essentials nearby. The larger bag also features a stowable backpack harness so you aren’t scuppered when the going gets tough for wheels.
Black is a fairly standard colorway for travel luggage. And with good reason. It blends more easily into formal and informal settings alike, makes scuffs and scratches appear less noticeable, and goes with pretty much any travel attire. But sometimes you want to add a splash of color to your travels. Perhaps to suit your personal tastes, or alternatively to help your luggage stand out on the baggage carousel of countless black bags. And if options are what you’re after, look to Away’s luggage line. Available in two checked sizes and a host of attractive colorways, the cases feature burly polycarbonate construction, interior organization and a removable laundry bag.
Hardside luggage is a great option when you want that extra protection peace of mind for your belongings. But while hardside luggage is good at providing improved shock and impact protection, it often involves a weight penalty. Not so with Samsonite’s Lite-Box 28″ Spinner. The case is made with injection molded polyproplyene that offers great strength and impact resistance while remaining lightweight. Elegantly eye-catching in style, the case includes convenient spinner wheels and internal dividers for organization.
If you’ve got cash to splash and want premium quality for your money, look to the Rimowa Hybrid Check-In L. The case is expertly crafted with a combination of polycarbonate and an aluminum-magnesium alloy for lightweight durability. Stable, polycarbonate wheels keep you moving smoothly, while an adjustable Flex Divider lets you tailor interior organization to changing loads. And with its sleek, timeless aesthetics this case glides easily from business to leisure travel.
Mystery Ranch are known for creating carry that can take a beating. Their Mission Wheelie is no exception, embracing demanding travel use with rugged build quality and functionality. The compression-molded shells are sheathed in 1000D CORDURA® and combine a flexible EVA foam exterior and molded polycarbonate interior, providing a thoughtful blend of impact resistance and durability. The case also features large-diameter off-road wheels to tackle a variety of terrains, as well as burly YKK zippers and considered interior and quick-access organization to keep gear tidy and within convenient reach on the go.
Adaptable wheels are key in checked luggage that will be navigating different terrains. And Eagle Creek do a great job in keeping you moving with the Tarmac 29. The over-sized treaded wheels venture on smooth airport corridors, pavements, up curbs, and on more demanding terrain without skipping a beat. The wheels feature tough wheel housings and protection against bumps through skid plates. The case is rounded out with other travel-friendly features such as expandability, a coat keeper, padded tech sleeves and a durable, weather-resistant build.
Thule’s Subterra Luggage 75cm/30″ combines a rolling bag and duffel in one to keep you adaptable on the go. The bags can be used independently or secured together depending on your carry needs. The design’s tough exoskeleton and molded polycarbonate back panel helps protect your gear on the go, while the wide-opening main compartments enable easy packing and access. There’s also top, side and bottom grab handles for convenient maneuverability.
Pacsafe have made a name for themselves as creators of thoughtful, anti-theft carry. The Toursafe AT29 is a great example of their low-key yet effective anti-theft design ethos, featuring a puncture-resistant ToughZip and eXomesh®slashguard for discreet protection. In addition to wheels, the duffel includes grab handles for easy maneuverability. There’s also external compression straps and internal compression on hand to adjust to different loads and keep gear secure.
Best Value: American Tourister Z-Lite DLX 28″ Spinner and Briggs and Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner
The American Tourister Z-Lite DLX 28″ Spinner offers a great mix of style and function, with attractive aesthetics and a durable but lightweight polycarbonate shell. The case also offers spinner wheels for hassle-free movement, a TSA lock, as well as interior organization to keep your gear tidy. All in a design costing just US$104.99.
Yes, the Briggs and Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner costs a lot more (US$649) than the American Tourister above. But you get a lot of value for your money. The case features spinner wheels for easy maneuverability, along with an expandable main compartment that increases the volume by 26% with a simple pull through CX™ Expansion-Compression Technology. The compression technology also enables you to compress the contents with a simple push. The case has quick-access pockets for handy storage on the go and a built-in garment holder to store suits and other clothing items wrinkle-free. And the excellent build quality will embrace countless miles and keep going strong for years to come.
Tough, functional and low-key, the Platinum® Elite 29″ Expandable Spinner suits a variety of travel environments. It’s crafted with high-density nylon fabric featuring a DuraGuard® coating for stain and abrasion resistance. The case’s inbuilt garment holder provides wrinkle-free storage for suits and other items, while interior organization keeps your travel gear tidy and secure on the move. The expandable design offers an added 2″ of expansion if required, includes an integrated TSA lock, and is backed by Travelpro’s Built for a Lifetime Limited Worry Free Warranty for peace of mind.
Timbuk’s Quest Rolling Duffel is a great option if versatility is a priority. With multiple portability options including wheels, top carry handles that can also double as backpack straps, and grab handles on all sides you can easily adapt on the go to suit different settings and terrains. The wide opening makes packing and access convenient, while a floating pocket lets you store shoes or toiletries separately from the rest of your gear. Plus it’s backed by a lifetime warranty so you don’t need to worry about it in demanding environments.
Lightest Weight: Samsonite Lite-Box 28″ Spinner and Timbuk2 Quest Rolling Duffel
If weight is a top priority, look to these two pieces from the choices above to keep that baggage limit in check. The lighter of the two is the Timbuk2 Quest Rolling Duffel, coming in at a mere 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) with a 48L volume. The Samsonite Lite-Box 28″ Spinner is a savvy option if you want a lightweight spinner, weighing just 6.6 lbs. (2.99 kg).
All of the above are quality pieces, but a few stand out when it comes to warranty peace of mind. Briggs and Riley’s simple as that® guarantee is a lifetime guarantee covering functional aspects of the product, with no proof of purchase required.
Mystery Ranch’s legendary durability paired with their lifetime guarantee makes their gear a solid choice in this department too.
Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee makes them a top pick as well, with a nod to their environmentally-conscious efforts to first repair where possible before replacing.
Travelpro’s Built for a Lifetime Warranty in combination with their Trusted Companion Promise also makes the Platinum® Elite 29″ Expandable Spinner worth considering if warranty is key.