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How to Shop for Luggage Plus Some Inspiration For Your Next Trip

If you haven’t traveled in a while, it might be time to shop for luggage. This could mean upgrading an older suitcase or finding a carry-on bag that better accommodates your journey.

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Or, if you’re someone who’s always just thrown a few items into a backpack, it might be time to find an appropriate set of travel bags.

In all cases, start with our guide to ensure that whatever you find meets your needs every step of the way:

When to Purchase New Luggage

To avoid impulse buys and cluttering your closet with bags that you will only use a handful of times, consider purchasing new luggage when:

  • Whatever you own is too small for your current travel needs.
  • Your suitcases and travel bags tend to be heavy and add weight as you’re checking in.
  • Your present luggage is damaged beyond repair.
  • You’re looking for something more unique, so you can more efficiently claim your bag. 

Types of Luggage

man checking in a hotel

Luggage falls into the following types:

  • Carry-ons: This can be a backpack or a tote-style bag. Either way, it needs to be small enough to get on the plane and light enough to not weigh you down as you’re traveling through the airport. Your carry-on might be a secondary bag or something for holding all belongings during a shorter trip. Consider how you travel and select from there.
  • Rolling Duffels: These function more as suitcases but offer better expandability, more internal features, and, in select instances, can also be carried with two attached straps. 
  • Suitcase: A full-size suitcase is intended to be checked in. Today, these have a boxy shape, a nylon, leather, or polycarbonate construction, and more internal organization pockets. For transportation purposes, suitcases include wheels at the base and a retractable, adjustable handle. 
  • Cabin cases: These are smaller suitcases designed to be brought onto the plane and are essentially a wheeled carry-on. 
  • Dopp Kits: While you won’t carry this separately, dopp kits are more of an organizational bag for all shaving supplies and toiletries you intend to bring along, keeping them separate from your clothing and shoes.

What to Look for as You Shop for Luggage

Prioritize the following features as you look for a suitcase, carry-on, or travel bag:

  • Strength: This might seem vague, but strength, in terms of luggage, consists of two attributes. One, you want to look for a sturdy interlocking or chain zipper that can hold up to more extreme conditions – like being tossed around or someone attempting to break into your things. Then, pay attention to the fabric. While nylon is serviceable, leather offers greater longevity. Hard shell suitcases, made of polypropylene, polycarbonate, ABS plastic, or aluminum, take this a step further but offer less flexibility. On the other hand, these materials hold up to the elements better and protect more fragile, delicate items in transport. 
  • The handle: You don’t want your suitcase breaking away from the handle as you’re looking for the airport terminal. A sturdy, reliable handle won’t move around, even as you make adjustments. For anything retractable, make sure the base sits within the bag’s body. 
  • Wheels: Unless you’re purchasing a travel bag or going retro, your luggage will nearly always include wheels. This encompasses two- and four-wheeled designs. Two-wheeled suitcases are ideal for more linear paths, while four wheels offer 360-degree maneuverability. As well, construction matters: See that they roll evenly and smoothly, and will remain securely attached to the base. Specifically, avoid anything attached to the exterior, as the wheels have a higher chance of getting damaged. 
  • Size: Especially if you’re shopping for a carry-on, dimensions are essential. Anything larger than the TSA’s maximum of 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and nine inches high can’t be brought onto the plane and will need to be checked. Because manufacturers might not provide the most accurate figures, be sure to measure the suitcase, duffel, or other bag yourself. 
  • Security: Consider features to prevent having others attempt to access your luggage. Aside from a sturdy YKK zipper, you may also want to look for a TSA-approved padlock, as well as RFID protection for any credit cards. 
  • Organization: Some toss items into their luggage and go, while others aim to keep it all precisely organized. If the latter matters to you, be sure to examine the types of organizational features offered. Common ones for both soft- and hard-shell suitcases include internal pockets, a laptop sleeve, a laundry bag, and a dedicated garment section.
  • Expandability: As already touched on, a hard-shell case won’t offer significant expandability, while you’ll get more square inches from a soft-shell suitcase or a rolling duffel. 

Pack Up for Your Next Trip

Upgrade your luggage with the following:

Gucci GG Supreme Large Suitcase

Gucci GG Supreme Large Suitcase

Canvas with a monochrome logo print looks subtle yet luxurious and offers multiple interior compartments for storage. 

Shop on Farfetch.com


Swiss Luggage Carbon Fiber Luggage Collection

Swiss Luggage Carbon Fiber Luggage Collection

6K twill weave carbon fiber delivers ultra-durable and shockproof yet still lightweight construction that can handle more intense trips. Expanding the possibilities is a wire lanyard for improved theft protection and a TSA-licensed lock. 

Shop on Carbonfibergear.com


Tumi International Expandable 4-Wheeled Carry-On

Tumi International Expandable 4-Wheeled Carry-On

The exterior delivers a gray tonal variation on camouflage, helping this carry case stand out. Tumi packs into the smaller frame an aircraft-grade aluminum handle, a closure system designed to reduce zipper damage, a sturdier X-Brace handle system, and improved luggage tracking. 

Shop on Tumi.com


Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini Hand Luggage

Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini Hand Luggage

This is how you travel in style. Partially rigid construction stands out subtly and expresses your tastes with a tonal monogram print accompanied by calf leather accents and an exterior flap pocket. 

Shop on Modesens.com


Rimowa Cabin S

Rimowa Cabin S Suitcase

A grooved anodized aluminum exterior not only stands out against other luggage pieces, but it’s built to last, offers TSA-approved security, and more stable, maneuverable steering. 

Shop on Rimowa.com


GLOBE-TROTTER + Dr. No

Globe-Trotter + Dr. No Printed Carry-On Leather-Trimmed Trolley Suitcase

Men with an eye for style will appreciate the ‘60s-inspired mod exterior – itself a reference to classic James Bond films. Beyond looks and pop culture, this carry case gets there and back with reinforced vulcanized fiberboard construction and secure chrome locks. 

Shop on Lyst.com


Berluti Scritto Venezia Leather Carry-On Suitcase

Berluti Scritto Venezia Leather Carry-On Suitcase

Leather suitcases might seem very ‘70s, but this Berluti carry-on goes for a stylized upgrade with round edges, a darker-brown hue, and an etched Scritto script. 

Shop on Modesens.com


Brunello Cucinelli Full-Grain Leather Suitcase

Brunello Cucinelli Full-Grain Leather Suitcase

Go in a classic direction with this Brunello Cucinelli full-size suitcase made of full-grain leather and featuring spinner wheels and a telescopic handle. 

Shop on Modesens.com


Patagonia Black Hole® Wheeled Duffel Bag

Patagonia Black Hole® Wheeled Duffel Bag 100L

Bring all that you need with this wheeled duffel designed to hold 100L. A ripstop, laminated exterior made partially with recycled polyester holds up to the elements, while multiple internal compartments assist with organization.

Shop on REI.com

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How to Shop for Luggage
Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born menswear fashion blogger and copywriter. When not writing about men's style he's also an EDM and synthpop enthusiast.