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The Best Hardside Luggage: 10 Bags That’ll Stand Up to Travel

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Updated February 5, 2024

If you’re making plans for a long-awaited vacation or you’ve got some business travel coming up, you need reliable luggage that can withstand being tossed in the trunk of a car, hauled up and down stairs, and raced across the airport floor. And that’s just you handling your luggage—imagine what happens to your bag once it’s landed on a luggage carousel.

Seasoned travelers often opt for hardside suitcases because the sturdy design ensures their personal items stay safe and sound until they arrive at their destination. “While soft construction allows some flexibility for additional packing space, hardside cases provide impact resistance, and molded shells tend to glide easier over uneven surfaces during handling,” says Timm Fenton, Vice President of Design and Development Ricardo Beverly Hills.

If you’re in the market for new luggage and you’re looking for the perfect hardside suitcase for your next trip, read on to learn more about our favorite picks.

How to Choose Hardside Luggage

  • Key features: Not all bags are created equal, especially hardside luggage. “Consumers should look for well-thought-out design features when selecting a bag for their travels,” says Fenton. “TSA combination locks, recessed wheels, and adjustable telescoping handles all make traveling with a hard shell bag preferable.”
  • Material: Consider the type of material used in the luggage, especially the hard shell. Many hardside suitcases are made from Polycarbonate. While lightweight and durable, it can scratch easily. Some brands of suitcases use a mixture of Polycarbonate and other hard plastics, like ABS, to form the outer shell. Aluminum is the most durable material for hardside luggage, but using aluminum also increases the price of the luggage.
  • Compartments: Inside compartments like zippered pockets, mesh liners, dividers, and compression systems can help travelers stay organized and ensure that all of their belongings fit neatly inside the suitcase.

Best carry-on hardside luggage: Away The Bigger Carry On

Away The Bigger Carry On

The Bigger Carry-On from Away Luggage is a fan favorite of travelers for all the features that are wrapped up in this hardside suitcase. Even though this is a larger carry-on, it’s lightweight and easy to stow in overhead compartments. The bag has two deep compartments—one designed for clothes and the other for your toiletries—and an interior compression system that allows you to pack more in the carry-on and keeps your items secure.

This carry-on even has a hidden, water-resistant laundry bag to keep dirty clothing separate when you travel home. If you want to pay more for extras like personalization, an outside pocket, or aluminum construction, that’s an option with this carry-on. Plus, Away’s bags all come with a lifetime warranty and free returns for 100 days after purchase. Choose from eight different colors—some even come with a built-in USB port for charging your phone.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14.7 inches (width) x 9.6 inches (depth) x 22.7 (height)
  • Weight: 7.4 pounds
  • Expandable: No
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinner wheels (4)

What we like:

  • Select colors have a USB charger port.
  • The larger bag allows you to pack more in your carry-on.
  • Upgrades like pockets, aluminum, and personalization available.

What we don’t like:

  • While this larger carry-on meets most airline requirements, check with international flights before packing.
Best checked suitcase
The Bigger Carry-On

The Bigger Carry-On



Best lightweight carry-on hardside luggage: Rollink Flex VEGA Hardside Collapsible Carry-On Plus

Rollink Flex VEGA Hardside Collapsible Carry-On Plus

If your home is short on storage space, but you’re still looking to invest in a great carry-on, the Flex Vega is the perfect pick. Called the “the world’s slimmest collapsible luggage,” this carry-on folds up to around 2 inches thick and takes up minimum space in your home or hotel room. At just five pounds, it’s also the lightest hardside luggage on our list.

When you aren’t using the bag, just slide it under the bed or, using the hook on the top of the bag, hang it in the closet. The bag quickly and easily expands when you’re ready to travel and is surprisingly spacious. However, this carry-on does lack interior pockets. If you are a fan of packing cubes, there’s no need to worry about pockets.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14 inches (width) x 9 inches (depth) x 22 inches (height)
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Expandable: No
  • Wheels: Non-spinning wheels (2)

What we like:

  • The collapsible bag is perfect for small spaces and storage.
  • Comes in a variety of bright colors.

What do don’t like:

  • Doesn’t have interior pockets.
  • Only has two wheels that don’t rotate.


Best hardside luggage with organization features: Solgaard Carry On Closet

Solgaard Carry On Closet

If keeping the inside of your suitcase organized seems like an impossible task, or you love any system that helps you stay on top of your organization game, the Carry-On Closet will quickly become your favorite bag. The suitcase is designed with a six-shelf unit inside the bag. The top shelves have a mesh liner, so it’s perfect for toiletries. The bottom sections have mesh zippers on the shelves so your clothes can be stacked inside the shelves.

When you arrive at your location, you can hang the shelving system in a closet or turn your suitcase into a wardrobe by attaching the shelving unit to the fully extended handle. If you still have items to pack and they don’t fit into the shelving unit, you can tuck them on the sides of the suitcase and still use the compression system on the shelving unit to make everything fit inside the suitcase.

Another interesting feature: The bag has no zippers. Instead, it has a touch system to unlock the bag. It also comes with a USB port so you can charge your devices.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14.6 inches (width) x 9.6 inches (depth) x 22.4 inches (height)
  • Weight: 8.1 pounds
  • Expandable: Yes
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinner wheels (4)

What we like:

  • Built-in shelving units.
  • USB charging port.

What we don’t like:

  • The large size may be too big for international budget airlines.
Best with organization features
Solgaard Carry On Closet

Solgaard Carry On Closet



Best expandable hardside luggage: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage

For the times you need to add just one more pair of shoes to your already full luggage, having an expandable suitcase is a nice option to have. The Samsonite Omni PC has plenty of reviews from happy travelers who have taken this suitcase on weekend excursions and long European vacations. To use the expander, just unzip the second zipper on the outside of the bag to gain several inches of packing space inside the bag.

Because of the micro-diamond polycarbonate texture, scratches and dents are less noticeable. Plus the luggage comes in a variety of colors. The brand stands behind their suitcases and offers a 10-year limited warranty against defects in the materials and workmanship. However, the warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear on the suitcase.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 17.75 inches (width) x 11.75 inches (depth) x 26.5 inches (height)
  • Weight: 8.34 pounds
  • Expandable: Yes
  • Wheels: 360 spinning 4 weels

What we liked:

  • Comes with a 10 year limited warranty.
  • Expander adds inches to the inside of the bag.

What we didn’t like:

  • Can be difficult to push on certain surfaces.
Best expandable
Samsonite Outline Pro 24" Hardside Expandable Spinner - Emerald Green

Samsonite Outline Pro 24" Hardside Expandable Spinner - Emerald Green



Most stylish hardside luggage: Beis The Carry-On Roller

Beis The Carry-On Roller

Gorgeous colors and a sleek design, it’s no wonder the Beis hard-sided luggage has caught the eye of celebs and influencers. The Carry-On Roller has a feature that’s even better than its fabulous color: a built-in weight indicator. Toss your portable luggage scale because the button on the side handle will turn red if this suitcase weighs more than 50 pounds: the limit for checked luggage. So no need for surprise fees at the airline counter.

Beis luggage comes with a TSA-approved combination lock, and inside is a laundry bag. All sizes of this bag are expandable and offer two extra inches of expansion.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 20 inches (width) x 12 inches (depth) x 30 inches (height)
  • Weight: 17.4 pounds
  • Expandable: Yes
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinning wheels (4)

What we liked:

  • The fun pops of color.
  • The built in scale.

What we didn’t like:

  • Some colors have a waitlist.
Most stylish
Beis The Carry-On Roller

Beis The Carry-On Roller



Most durable hardside luggage: Away The Medium Aluminum Edition

Away The Medium Aluminum Edition

For some frequent travelers, aluminum suitcases are a status symbol. The sleek look of the aluminum is often dotted with dents and scratches that actually make the bag more appealing to some. However, while these bags often come with a hefty price tag, the durability of aluminum bags can be worth it for travelers who need a reliable and durable piece of luggage.

Inside, the Away suitcase is super roomy and gives you plenty of space to pack your items and compression straps to hold it all down. Other appealing features include a separate laundry bag, TSA-approved locks, and smooth 360-degree spinner wheels.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18.5 inches (width) x 11 inches (depth) x 26 inches (height)
  • Weight: 13.3 pounds
  • Expandable: No
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinner wheels [4]
  • Price: $725

What we like:

  • Spacious inside.
  • Durable aluminum construction.

What we don’t like:

  • Can be loud.
Most durable
The Medium: Aluminum Edition in Onyx Black

The Medium: Aluminum Edition in Onyx Black



Best hardside luggage for business travel: July Carry-On Pro

July Carry-On Pro

Designed with the business traveler in mind, the July Carry-On Pro offers more than just a place to store your clothes and toiletries. In the front of the suitcase is a detachable sleeve with a padded 16" laptop compartment that also holds tablets and other electronic devices safely while you travel. It has space for documents and folders and a zippered outside pocket for smaller items like pens and notebooks. Stow the suitcase and remove the sleeve so you can work at your seat while you travel.

One of the best features of this suitcase is a cleverly designed ejectable battery charger with standard USB and USB-C docks that charges both your phone and your laptop. Now you’ll never have to worry where you will charge your phone and electronics while you travel.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 15 inches (width) x 8.5 inches (depth) x 21.5 inches (height)
  • Weight: 7.9 pounds
  • Expandable: No
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinning wheels (4)
  • Price on publish: $345

What we like:

  • Extra pocket for laptops and tablets.
  • Ejectable battery with USB and FastCharge USB-C.

What we don’t like:

  • The bag doesn’t offer as much packing space as some large carry-ons.
for business travel
July Carry On Pro

July Carry On Pro



Best large hardside luggage: Monos Check In Large

Monos Check In Large

If you’re traveling with family and need plenty of space in your luggage, the Monos Check In Large is our pick for the best large luggage. The bag has a sleek design and is made from high-quality material, and the brand has really put thought into all parts of this suitcase. From the design of the aluminum telescopic handle to the Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run wheel, inside and out, this is a fantastic piece of luggage.

On the Monos’ website there are plenty of color options, but if you purchase this bag from another retailer, you won’t find all of the selections. However, Monos’ offers free shipping on all their products and a lifetime limited warranty no matter where you purchase the suitcase.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 21 inches (width) × 11 inches (depth) x 30 inches (height)
  • Weight: 10.58 pounds
  • Expandable: No
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinner wheels [4]

What we like:

  • Sleek design.
  • Aluminum handle.

What we don’t like:

  • Limited colors unless you order from their website.
Best large
Monos 30-Inch Large Check-In Spinner Luggage in Rose Quartz at Nordstrom

Monos 30-Inch Large Check-In Spinner Luggage in Rose Quartz at Nordstrom



Best budget hardside luggage: Made By Design Hardside Large Spinner Bag

If you’re looking for a luggage option that won’t break the bank, Made by Design is a great choice. Not only are there a variety of colors to choose from, but this expandable bag gives you an extra 2.5 inches when you’re packing. The retractable and locking handle and the spinner wheels make navigating airports a breeze. Made from Polycarbonate, this suitcase can withstand plenty of travel on planes, trains, and cars, no matter the destination

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.75 inches (width) x 12 inches (depth) x 30.25 inches (height)
  • Weight: 12.8 pounds
  • Expandable: Yes
  • Wheels: 360-degree spinner wheels (4)

What we like:

  • Comes in a variety of colors.
  • Surprisingly spacious.
  • Easy to move.

What we don’t like:

  • Over 12 pounds when empty.

How we chose the best hardside luggage

We researched the most popular brands of hardside luggage and selected suitcases and carry-ons based on durability and features. We also received expert tips from Fenton about choosing luggage that fits your needs. He suggested when you start your research, don’t be overwhelmed by all of the options. “There are so many choices available in the market, consumers should look for a brand that has had longevity in the category when selecting a hard-sided case,” he says.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Does hardshell luggage crack?

Most hardshell luggage is made of high-impact and sturdy materials that may scratch or dent. However, hardshell luggage usually doesn’t crack. If a hardshell suitcase does crack, it may be because the suitcase is made from aweaker material like ABS, or the suitcase hasn’t been cared for properly.

Is hardside luggage better than soft?

The choice between hardside luggage and softside luggage really comes down to the traveler's preference. Some people prefer the flexibility of the softside suitcases, especially if they tend to overpack. With softside luggage, often you can squeeze in a few more items. With a hardside suitcase, when the bag is full, the outer shell prevents you from adding more to the bag. Also, travelers may not like the look of scratches on the hardside luggage and opt for softside instead.

However, other travelers prefer hardside luggage for the durability, variety of colors, and the protection the hardshell offers to your belongings inside. When it comes to security, hardshell suitcases are better options because they cannot be sliced or cut like softside luggage.

What is the most durable material for hardshell luggage?

The most durable material for hardshell luggage is aluminum. However, it tends to make the luggage a bit heavier and more expensive.

Do airlines prefer hard or soft luggage?

Because your luggage will be exposed to the elements as it is being loaded and unloaded on the plane, airlines prefer hardside luggage. Not only is it more durable than soft luggage, but if the bags get wet, hardside luggage dries quicker and protects your belongings inside.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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