Travel is starting back up and whether you’re eager to travel for fun or get back into the frequent flier grind, it’s a good time to re-examine your luggage collection and upgrade. The right travel gear can elevate any trip, from well-designed pockets that make it easy to find important documents to quality wheels that make navigating a crowded airport a breeze.
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Here are our top picks for the best suitcases and luggage to get you back to traveling in style.
Best Duffel Bags
The Davis Weekender is a classic piece of luggage with surprisingly soft pebble leather. It has a refined, classic look that looks professional without looking stuffy. The craftsmanship is immediately obvious from the individually locked stitched edges which will not unravel even if the heavy-duty thread breaks. Their leather is sourced from a Gold-Rated tannery in Italy with a strong commitment to mitigating its environmental impact. Beckett Simonon also takes pride in ethical working conditions for its craftspeople so you can buy with a clear conscience.
Some extra perks are large pockets both inside and outside the bag to keep you organized, a reinforced bottom, and a structure that maintains the bag’s shape so it doesn’t sag. A great bag for people who travel for work and need a professional-looking duffel bag. It’s an understated bag for anyone who appreciates classic style and quality workmanship.
If you’re looking for bag with a bit more edge, WP Standard creates high-quality full-grain leather travel gear designed to get better over time. The Weekender bag is a classic travel piece for shorter trips. The first thing I noticed is the weight — it’s 6 lbs and just feels sturdy. It’s a very versatile bag that you can use as an airplane carry-on or for bringing your workout clothes to the gym.
That said, there are a lot of thought-out details that elevate from your average bag like two small end pockets, an ID tag, as well as an optional over-the-shoulder strap. The copper rivets give it a subtle rugged style. What I appreciate most is that WP Standard makes their products to last, giving them a lifetime guarantee and encouraging you to embrace the patina that develops on leather goods over time. Would recommend this for someone looking for an all-purpose bag that they can use for a lifetime.
Best Classic Carry-on: Carry-on Classic by Nomatic
The carry-on is the workhorse of modern luggage. Carry-on Classic by Nomatic is a great bag for business travelers and frequent fliers. At first glance, it appears to be a standard carry-on with all the usual features: hard shell, four wheels, and an extendable handle. Its secret power is that each of these is well crafted and thought through for a busy traveler. From the strong Makrolon Polycarbonate shell that won’t crack even if you end up having to check your bag to seamless swiveling Hinomoto wheels that can be used 4 at a time straight up or 2 at a time tilted.
The zipper, handle and straps also function seamlessly with no tugging or pulling. The internal design is also set up to help you pack more efficiently and fit even more into your bag which is ideal for anyone hoping to avoid checking a suitcase on longer trips. It’s sized to fit meet both domestic and international carry-on standards. If you’re looking to upgrade your basic carry-on to one with style and functionality, this is a great pick.
Best Upgrade Carry-On: Zipper Carry-on Max by Arlo Skye
Perfect for frequent fliers who needs a lightweight carry-on, Arlo Skye’s Zipper Carry-on Max is sized to fit in airline overheads. It has a professional appearance perfect for business trips and comes in five different colors if you want to get away from basic black. Inside its sleek polycarbonate shell, there is a range of things designed to make traveling easier from an anti-microbial interior lining to a tamper-proof zipper that will keep your packed items safe.
For navigating your travels, there are 4 wheels that make it very maneuverable in airports or at your destination and a built-in TSA safe lock. At 45 liters, it fits up to a week’s worth of clothes depending on how heavily you pack. Plus it comes with a bunch of extra goodies including a leather name tag, two shoe bags, a laundry bag, and a storage cover. However, the most notable goodie is the built-in removable phone charger. Lifesaving when you’ve just gotten off a 16-hour flight with a dead phone and need to look up where your hotel is. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a sleek suitcase and extra charging power.
Best Professional Backpack: 2 in 1 Expandable Backpack by Knack
The computer backpack is here to stay. Practical for students, techies, or anyone that needs to carry around a laptop. With its sleek styling, Knack’s 2 in 1 Expandable Backpack manages to look professional while also being practical and comfortable to use. The padded computer pocket fits up to a 15″ laptop and the colorfully printed lining not only gives a touch of whimsy but also is RFID-blocking to prevent malicious RFID chip skimming.
What’s most unique about this backpack is it has an expandable packing compartment which you can use to hold 2-3 days of clothes. So you can use it as a one-bag-fits-all for a short trip or use the trolley sleeve to stack it securely over the handle of your wheeled suitcase. It also has a number of discrete pockets for tucking away things like water bottles and valuables. If you’re looking to upgrade your laptop backpack that has thought through all the details, give this one a try.
Best Backpack for a Good Cause: Save Our Oceans Recycled Backpack by Ocean Apparel Company
Everyone knows that ocean plastic is a problem and Save the Ocean Apparel Company is doing something about it. This sturdy backpack is made with recycled water bottles. It has a fold-over top for a classic look and built-in details that make it highly functional as well.
For the techies schlepping around a laptop (almost everyone), it comes with an interior laptop area, USB port, and cable. For comfort, it has padded straps, a lightly padded back with vents, and compression straps. Plus the backpack has several external pockets for storing smaller items you need to access quickly. Overall a very handy backpack that supports a good cause.
Best Checked Suitcase
Sterling Pacific comes with a rich history — it was originally formed by the Herz family, some of Nevada’s first pioneers who founded the company in 1907. Now the brand is being revitalized by the brand developer Galton Voysey through a line of high-quality aluminum luggage. Inspired by the legacy of the Herz family, the suitcases have a certain timeless grace to them — looking modern and classic at the same.
The Sterling Pacific 80L Check-in is luxury in the best sense of the word — use of plastics has been minimized, patented impact-bearing ridges on the front and back, full-grain handcrafted Italian leather handles, reinforced aluminum corners, and dual thru-axle wheels. I also liked that they included a small amenities bag and a care kit for the leather.
They are built to the maximum allowable check-in size on major American airlines so if you’re going on an international trip, it would be wise to double-check their sizing requirements. This is a good investment for anyone taking longer trips, who value style, heritage, and craftsmanship.
Best Toiletry Case
A great toiletry kit is perhaps the most underappreciated travel accessory. Unlike a lot of Dopp kits where you toss everything in together, this Hanging Toiletry Case from The Wright Brothers features 3 mesh pockets that keep everything organized and make your morning routine run like clockwork, no matter where in the world you are. You can hang it up for easy access, use it clamshell-style, and zip it closed for compact packing. They use full-grain leather that has soft, rugged touch. Each case comes with a certificate of authenticity document as well. If you’re looking to upgrade your travel mornings, I highly recommend it.