This is the best hard-side luggage to take on your next trip. These suitcases range in price from low to mid-range and remain under $400. If you’ve already determined that you want hard-side luggage, we share ten of our favorite models for any budget.
We cover the basics and share models from several of the most popular luggage brands on the market for hard-side luggage.
The Best Hardside Luggage
For most of the hard-side luggage, I’ve selected the sizes and weights of the mid-sized luggage. The largest versions at 29″ are too much for airline restrictions, as they can often weigh 15 lbs. Then with all that additional space, it’s easy to pack a bag that weighs over 60 lbs or 28 kgs, well over most airlines’ allowances.
Level 8 – Voyageur
I just got my hands on the Voyageur check-in luggage and can already tell I am in love. This will be more go-to check-in luggage moving forward. Coming in sizes 24″, 26″, and 28″, there is certainly enough space to fit everything you could need for even a one-month trip or longer.
The Voyageur is beautifully designed with Bayer Makrolon material, ensuring it is lightweight and scratch resistant. I’ve made multiple long-haul trips with the bag, and it is showing no sign of wear and tear.
The hardshell bag has a large handle design, making it extremely seamless to navigate all airports. This wide trolley system is one of the first I have seen. The design allows extra packing space and offers stability and wheeling luggage.
Of course, there is a TSA-approved lock and durable 360° Spinner Wheels with an anti-shock design.
The interior allows for quite a bit of luggage and has one fully lined interior with two large clothing compartments. There are two zippered areas that I use for a few toiletries. If you’re a surfer or going on a beach vacation, you’ll love that there is one dry/wet separation pocked.
Like all items from Level 8, there is a lifetime warranty covering functional damage that impairs the use of your luggage. Perhaps what I love the most about this hard-side luggage is that it looks ultra sharp and comes in various colors.
Away — The Large
You’ve probably seen this bag on social media and across the internet, as they’ve marketed heavily over the last couple of years. We even ran an ad with the bag several years ago on @theworldpursuit. After years of use on our travels, we can now confirm the bags live up to the hype.
Away has designed a lightweight and sleek bag that feels modern yet robust. It even comes with a lifetime guarantee that we believe will last. Like the rest of the luggage on this list, they use a polycarbonate shell that should stand up to most airfare and the rigors of travel. The exterior uses a textured shell to avoid scratches, has a sturdy telescopic handle and a TSA-approved lock. It comes in 9 attractive colors so you’ll find your own unique
The bag falls into a mid-level bag with luxury touches such as leather embellishment, leather luggage tag, compression system, multiple zippered compartments, and a hidden laundry bag. A laundry bag that detaches and unfolds when needed is one of our favorite features as it keeps dirty and clean clothes separated. (Laundry bags are one of our favorite packing hacks)
Above all, it’s a stylish bag that can deliver essential features for your everyday travels. If you’re okay with spending around $300 on a bag, this is a great choice you’ll be more than happy with your purchase (Away offers 100-day return policy). My one complaint would be the small wheels that feel a little small for the bag on rough surfaces.
eBags — EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner
The EXO has been one of our daily drivers, and we’ve taken it on close to 100 flights, and it’s still in fantastic shape. We’re not sure why eBags doesn’t make more lists with their self designed luggage that comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Exo 2.0 Hardside Spinner features a 100% polycarbonate shell and diamond finish that holds up well against scratches and blemishes. Four double wheels are reinforced and roll smoothly on uneven surfaces and are built to last. A side handle is robust and comfortable, while the TSA Approved lock protects valuables.
The interior features a divided nylon mesh lining and a clothes strap to keep things organized. We recommend picking up the complimentary eBags packing cubes. It comes in four attractive color options and three luggage sizes. The sizes range from a carry-on to a 29″ luggage. If I had to ding the bag it is the lack of style; however, you do receive tremendous value for a bag that performs well.
Samsonite — Winfield 2
Winfield has become a staple in the Samsonite line, and one of their best-selling products. Winfield 2 delivers good looks with an excellent range of features in a polycarbonate case.
Most hard-side luggage is transitioning to polycarbonate exteriors as it effectively absorbs impact and can pop back into its original state. Samsonite offers the Winfield in darker colors with a brushed texture designed to hide the inevitable dings and scratches that air travel brings.
Other exterior features include a robust telescopic handle, comfortable rubber side handle, and a TSA Approved lock. When it comes to the wheels, they work on smooth surfaces, but leave a lot to be desired on rough or uneven surfaces. It is not great for city travel or public transport.
With the inside of the bag, you have full use of your space with a zippered divider and an elastic cross-strap to secure your items. If you’re souvenir happy, there is also an expandable zipper providing an extra 1.5 inches of storage.
The Winfield series comes in three sizes that range from 19″ to 28″. We love the Samsonite brand as they’ve been in the business for over a century and aim to deliver high-quality bags at an affordable price.
Amazonbasics — Hardside Spinner Suitcase
If you’re looking to save some money for your travels, then the Amazonbasics delivers one of the cheapest pieces of luggage on this list. The Hardside Spinner Suitcase delivers a hard side suitcase for those on a budget.
It may be cheap luggage, but it still comes with some attractive features you can find in much higher-priced pieces of luggage. The exterior is a hard case with decent wheels and a reasonably robust handle. The luggage has a polyester expandable interior with plenty of room for your clothes. A zippered divider with three pockets helps organize your checked baggage.
Don’t expect any fancy features like a guarantee, TSA Lock, polycarbonate exterior, or robust wheels. However, Amazon has delivered a reliable and cheap checked bag for under $100. They offer a range of color and three size choices that should be able to fit your luggage needs.
Delsey — Helium Aero
This suitcase from Delsey is a 100% polycarbonate and has terrific features from on the top bag companies, Delsey. We own several bags from Delsey love them for their quality and style.
Helium Aero is one of Delsey’s most popular checked luggage choices due to its price point with a tough shell and a high-gloss finish in various colors. The four wheels are substantial and roll with ease on most surfaces. An aluminum handle with an ergonomic grip and multiple levels feel comfortable in your hand. On the exterior are essential features like a TSA approved lock, expandable side zip, and rubber side handle.
As a clamshell, the zippered divider keeps your items inside organized and elastic straps work well to keep packing cubes in place. The Helium comes in nine colors and three sizes that range from carry-on to a large checked bag. On top of all this Delsey delivers a ten-year warranty on all of their products at a reasonable price.
Briggs & Riley — TORQ Spinner
One look at this suitcase and you know that it was built to last. Brigs & Riley is known for their high quality and top of the line suitcases that they deliver a lifetime guarantee to customers. TORQ offers a three-layer 100% Makrolon polycarbonate. The result is an exterior that supplies superior strength in a lightweight and futuristic package.
Its futuristic look sets apart from the rest of the wheeled checked luggage options. The shell serves more than just good looks, but supplies handholds that will keep your luggage safely in your hands or those of an airline employee, thus reducing risk of damage. A flared base is designed to keep the bag upright and resist the urge to tip over.
Other exterior features to note is a robust handle that can lift the suitcase, a TSA approved lock, sturdy wheels, and a rubber side handle. The interior operates differently than most bags on this list as it is not a strict clamshell. One side offers a massive interior with a compression strap and a small zippered compartment. On the reverse are a built-in garment bag, hanger for suits or blouses, and more organization.
Mia Toro — Designer Hard Side Spinner
For those who want more style to their luggage and travel, I would highly recommend checking out Mia Toro. Mia Toro curates Italian-designed luggage pieces. Check out their website, and you’ll see all the fantastic artwork there to choose for your luggage. I recently went with their Joao Wood Zebra hard side spinner, because we have a deep connection to Africa.
What arrived in the mail far exceeded my expectations. This beautiful piece of handcrafted luggage not only looked elegant and built to withstand tough travel.
This piece is extremely lightweight, features an Ergonomic Gel Grip Handle, 360-degree dual wheel, zippered divider, and compression straps. This luggage is a split book style open, which I prefer for ease.
Victorinox — Spectra 2.0 Luggage
Another stand-out with a polycarbonate shell is the Victorinox Spectra. The gorgeous bag is by the same company responsible for the Swiss Army Knife, and they deliver a quality product.
The durability of the construction, components, and materials are all top-notch built to last. On top of the durable construction comes a ten-year guarantee that brings down the price of the bag when you consider the short lifespan of cheaper suitcases. The wheels roll smoothly on both rough and smooth surfaces to the point where you can push or pull the spinner wheels. Following along with the exterior is a comfortable rubber side handle, sturdy telescopic handle, and TSA approved lock.
The interior has a lining of a water-resistant ripstop material that adds an extra level of protection to your valuables. It’s divided with organization compartments and includes a compression strap to secure your clothes when you travel.
Altogether it’s a design that is stylish and professional perfect for business travelers no matter the environment. The only draws back is the price point that borders on the luxury category, but the baseline of the Spectra line falls in around $300, similar to the Away Large.
American Tourister — Moonlight
If you’re looking to save some money for your travels, then the American Tourister delivers one the cheapest suitcases on this list. The moonlight is a hard side suitcase that comes in a massive selection of colors and prints from $60 – $160. It all depends on the print and size, which ranges from 21″ to 28″.
It may be cheap luggage, but it still comes with some attractive features you can find in much higher priced pieces of luggage. The exterior is a hard case of ABS plastic that should sustain most but the hardest of impact. It has four single spinner wheels that roll well, but I do prefer the double wheels. The zipper comes with locking loops where you can use a third-party lock.
The suitcase has a polyester expandable interior with plenty of room for your clothes. A zippered divider with three pockets helps organize your checked baggage. Don’t expect any fancy features like a guarantee, TSA Lock, polycarbonate exterior, or robust wheels. However, the moonlight has is reliable and comes in a wide variety of colors and prints.
Rockland Luggage — Melbourne
Rockland is another budget-friendly suitcase brand that offers a semi-reliable hard-side suitcase good enough for your next trip. It uses ABS Plastic like the American Tourister Moonlight, but there are reports of defective bags.
Unlike American Tourister, Rockland is a generic brand that may not stand behind there bags. However, with all that in mind, they offer three pieces for around $100 — that comes to about $30 for a decent bag.
For that price, you get locking telescopic handle, four double spinner wheels, side handle, and a clamshell suitcase with a divided nylon interior. These bags are by no means the best suitcases for travel, but they are some of the cheapest with a massive variety of colors and sizes.
TravelPro — Maxlite Expandable Hardside
Travelpro is a reliable name in the luggage industry known for delivering great luggage at an affordable price. Airline employees love it, and a former pilot created the first versions of the bags. After developing some of the first rollaboard suitcases, they’ve continued to create an extensive line of suitcases. Their Maxlite Expandable Hardside is a tremendous hard side option that mixes quality and affordability well.
The bag features dual wheel spinners that glide well across most surfaces. It also is one has one of the most substantial expandable sections on this list at 2 inches; however, don’t expect the bag to feel stable fully expanded. It has a custom form fit handle that is telescopic and locks at two different levels.
With the inside of the bag, you have full use of your space with a zippered divider and an elastic cross-strap to secure your items. If you’re souvenir happy, there is also an expandable zipper providing an extra two inches of storage.
Elements of the Best Hardside Luggage
There are two measurements to look at regarding size for best hard-side checked luggage. Almost all brands make medium and large ranges from 23″ to 30″. In my opinion, the best size is around 24″ or a medium, but that depends on the brand (Away is large). 29″ pieces of luggage are often heavy, weighing 10-15lbs which reduces a lot of your total weight allowance. Then, you have more space on top of the more substantial bag, resulting in an overpacked or overweight suitcase. If you adhere to the weight allowance, the result is a loosely packed bag that can result in movement and damage to your valuables.
There is a lot of subtle design changes; in each type of luggage sees these days. Features I love on a traditional rolling suitcase are four wheels, reinforced padding, and divided storage. Four wheels instead of two are incredibly useful because you can rotate the bag and roll down an aisle on public transport, like the train. You also can conveniently walk with the luggage upright instead of on a slant, which is much easier. Or you can even push instead of pulling the suitcase. One feature that will make most business travelers drool is a large fold-out suit compartment offered by our favorite suitcases.
Polycarbonate vs. ABS Plastic
Polycarbonate is an amorphous polymer that makes it the ideal material for hard-side luggage. It does an excellent job at retaining colors and resisting abrasions, so your suitcase maintains its style. The plastic is hard and does a superb job at impact resistance as it can flex before breaking. Those properties allow the suitcase material to take a hit and return to its original state. It’s the best material for hard-side luggage and will likely last longer than its plastic counterparts.
The other common material in cheap luggage is ABS, a blend of three different kinds of plastic, acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. It’s a good material used in many applications outside of luggage manufacturing. However, it is inferior to polycarbonate and known for cracking under stress. It is much cheaper, so ABS will get the job done if you’re not a frequent traveler.
We like a suitcase with a telescopic handle and a side handle for lifting. These are also aspects to look for in great hard-side luggage. Even if you aren’t lifting your suitcase much, airline employees will handle your bags a lot, and good handles ensure they won’t drop your luggage.
Then there is the A to B ergonomics. A handle should be long and strong enough to keep the luggage off the back of your heels when you walk.
4 Wheels vs. 2 Wheels
It’s essential to look at the wheels before buying any carry-on luggage. The standard two wheels are a bit outdated and are for people who want to pull their suitcase behind them. These bags are typically cheaper for the inconvenience.
Four wheels are called “spinners” because they can be spun in all directions and give you full control. I love spinners because I can easily walk upright with them and don’t have to drag anything behind me. It can get very heavy on your arm if you pull a bag behind you for too long! All of the hard-side suitcases we recommend are spinners.
Double Wheels Vs. Single Wheels
Another factor to consider with spinner wheels is the type of wheel. They come in two basic models: single and double wheels. From there, each makes their own model of wheel to varying degrees. However, the basic principle of two versus one makes a big difference in quality. Double wheels are far more robust, reliable, and smooth in function.
Wheels are often the weakest point on cheap bags and can become difficult to maneuver as they age if they do not outright snap off. Eight out of ten of these bags feature double wheels for a good reason. They are the best for hard-side luggage. One of the single-wheeled bags is the American Tourister Moonlight, the cheapest hard-side luggage on this list. One of my biggest tips in luggage shopping is to look at the wheels. They are easy to overlook.
Plan For Your Trip
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- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
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