best bets

16 Suitcases, Vetted 16 Ways

Something for everyone.

Photo: Henry Leutwyler
Photo: Henry Leutwyler

Despite what targeted advertising might have you believe, there’s more to the luggage-verse these days than baby-pink hard-shells. And as it seems a good time to replace pre-pandemic suitcases, we sought a broader view — sussing out the most durable trunks (like photographer Henry Leutwyler’s much-loved vintage Zero Halliburton travel cases seen here; similar models start at $1,295) and the roomiest, overhead-compartment-compliant carry-ons.

Quick Pick

A Group-Chat-Sourced Hybrid

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

We texted eight friends who travel a whole lot about their favorite luggage and got the most enthusiastic response from our data-journalist pal Linley Sanders, who bought this backpack-suitcase hybrid for a multicountry trip in 2018. She calls it sturdy and roomy, with a surplus of padded pockets.

People’s Choice

The Set With Over 30,000 Five-Star Amazon Reviews

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Online reviewers don’t seem quite as distracted by the current desire among many for hard-shell luggage. Over 30,000 of them, rather, give five stars to this soft, affordable set. One, who took it on an 11-day Euro-trip, says it went “through many airports, into trunks, out of trunks, into overhead bins, then out of overhead bins. Up and down escalators, through Customs. On and off of trains and buses. It survived!”

House Pick

The Ultratough Duffel That Is an Editors’ Favorite

Multiple Strategist editors rely on Patagonia’s cult waterproof, lifetime-guaranteed Black Hole luggage series for their travels. Maxine Builder swears by the 55L carry-on size that can be carried via shoulder straps or duffel handles, has an outer zip pocket for quick access to essentials, and can be folded up entirely when empty. It’s available in other colors and sizes, too.

Travel Editors’ Picks

The Points Guy’s Carry-on

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Brian Kelly (or the Points Guy) likes the extra-long handle on Rimowa’s Cabin Plus, which he says is “awesome for tall people.” The bag ever so slightly exceeds carry-on requirements — a boon, as travelers are rarely asked to measure their bags.

A Condé Nast Traveler Editor’s $220 Go-to

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

“They’re the Goldilocks of luggage,” says Betsy Blumenthal of her Samsonite suitcases. “Sleek but straightforward, hefty but not industrial, and reasonably priced.” She is still using the pair her dad bought her in 2013.

A Travel Writer’s Extra-Light Rimowa

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Rimowa’s Essential is a bit cheaper because it’s made with polycarbonate, which is lighter than aluminum and quite durable. Hillary Eaton flies 80 times a year with it and says it has protected many dozens of bottles of wine.

Snooping

Amal Clooney’s Italian Set

Photo: Paul/Flameflynet.uk.com/splashnews.com

The human-rights lawyer has been photographed in Charles de Gaulle, Heathrow, and various other airports dragging her Bric’s luggage. Specifically: the 70-year-old Italian luggage brand’s Bellagio carry-on, which has four spinner wheels and an ergonomic handle.

The Suitcase Prince Harry Fled to Canada With

$225
Photo: Clint Brewer/Derek Shook/Flightrisk/Backgrid

A month after Prince Harry announced he’d be taking a step back from the British royal family, he was photographed getting off a flight from the U.S. to Canada toting an Away carry-on. The suitcase maintains a solid fan base: Travel writer Nneya Richards likes that it fits in “island-hopper overheads or inter-European airlines like EasyJet.”

[Editor’s note: Away’s Carry-on is currently out of stock, but you can sign up on the product page to get notified when it’s back.]

Logan Roy’s Tough Shell

Photo: HBO

Succession’s latest season began mostly on private planes, and eagle-eyed viewers quickly identified patriarch Logan Roy’s suitcase of choice: a polycarbonate carry-on hard-shell (with leather trim) designed by British brand Carl Friedrik. Afterward, the company confirmed that it expected to see its other pieces — like an all-leather weekender — popping up in later episodes.

The Trunk Tyler, the Creator Brought to the 2021 BET Hip-Hop Awards

Globe-Trotter Paul Smith Carry-on
$1,730
$1,730
Photo: Johnny Nunez/2021 BET Hip Hop Awards/Getty Images for BET

Tyler, the Creator pulled up with a suitcase on at least three different red carpets this year, and while it looked like a prop, it was often fully packed. (At the BET Hip-Hop Awards, he told reporters he would be “literally jetting right out of here” after the show.) According to publicist Nick Dierl, the suitcase is a collaboration between Globe-Trotter, an English luggage brand founded in 1897, and Tyler, the Creator’s own clothing, fragrance, nail-polish, and accessory line, Golf le Fleur.

The Luggage in Which Joan Didion Packed Her Leotards, Cigarettes, and Bourbon

Photo: Courtesy of Dominick Dunne

In The White Album, Joan Didion wrote of the packing list she kept taped to her closet door; it included staples like a nightgown, bourbon, and cigarettes. While there was no mention of what she packed everything into, she was once photographed at the airport with a set of handheld suitcases. This ballistic-nylon suitcase from Tumi, available on eBay, has a similar soft pocket on the outside for extra storage.

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