Different types of luggage bags: How to Choose the Right Luggage for Your Next Trip


How to Choose the Right Luggage for Your Next Trip

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You’re standing in the airport terminal, watching a line of luggage move toward you on the conveyor belt. You eye each bag carefully, searching for your own and dreading two distinct and disappointing outcomes: Your bag could either appear dented and mauled with your underwear hanging out of a gaping tear, or, like a blind date gone horribly wrong, it could simply fail to show.

Choosing the right luggage can help prevent these minor tragedies, in addition to other inconveniences like pesky baggage fees for an oversized piece or the embarrassment of trying to squeeze your massive nylon duffel into the overhead compartment as impatient passengers struggle to get by. Pick the right hand luggage and experience the freedom of traveling with only a carry-on—you won’t have to worry about lost luggage or extra fees if you can pack what you need in a good-sized carry-on. If you do check a bag, you’ll feel confident that it will remain intact if you select a sturdy, reliable brand. Here’s how to choose luggage that’s right for you.

Q. What are the most common types of luggage?

A. Travel luggage comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, from backpacks to rolling suitcases. Below are three of the most common types of suitcases.

Rolling Suitcases

Traditional luggage, which has wheels for easy transport, comes in two models: hardside and softside. Hardside bags are molded from difficult-to-pronounce materials like polypropylene and polycarbonate. Soft bags can be made out of fabrics such as microfiber, leather, nylon, PVC, or polyester.

Some soft bags are expandable and can accommodate up to 25 percent more if you need the space. (For more information on the difference between hard and soft luggage, see below.)


Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, both with and without frames. They are a good option for anyone planning to camp, hike, or do other outdoor activities. Some backpacks include wheels, while others do not. Even large luggage pieces can become backpacks when they have padded back straps. These bags can be great—but make sure to tape down any wayward straps if you check your backpack to keep them from getting entangled in the baggage carousel.

Duffel Bags

Duffel bags are no longer just a sack to cart your sweats to and from the gym. Many modern duffels have accessories like wheels and a retractable handle; these bags are often sold as “travel duffels.” While a traditional small or medium duffel bag will fit nicely in the overhead compartment, it may strain your arm or shoulder if you have to carry it for long distances. For extensive travel, always go for a piece that has wheels or back straps.

Q. Hard vs. soft luggage: Which should I choose?

A. Many travelers have a strong preference when it comes to hardside vs. softside luggage, but either one can work well depending on your personal travel and packing style. Below are some of the pros and cons of each type.

Softside Luggage

If you want flexibility, softside luggage is the way to go. Soft bags are more common than hard-shell luggage, especially for carry-on luggage, and are easier to squeeze into tight overhead compartments. These bags may also absorb shock better than their molded counterparts.

These bags are lightweight—generally lighter than hardside bags—which makes them easier to sling into overhead bins and the like. Be discriminating about fabrics, though. Look for a bag made from ballistic nylon (or another durable nylon), which provides the best protection against wear and tear. And make sure the fabric is waterproof and stain-proof.

Soft bags are available in a wide variety of models; for example, you can purchase a carry-on with a zippered backpack attachment, or a duffel that can be either strapped to your back or wheeled through the airport.

If you like having exterior pockets to store items such as a book or your clear plastic bag of liquids and gels, you’re much more likely to find them on a softside bag. Soft suitcases also tend to have a single large interior compartment, with the front of the bag acting as a sort of “lid,” while most hardside suitcases are designed in a clamshell style, with two equal halves that fold together.

Hardside Luggage

It seems like hard-shell suitcases are being upgraded and improved upon almost daily. Companies are now using ultra-lightweight materials, such as polycarbonate and special plastics, to make hardside bags that are featherweight but also extremely durable and strong.

Hardside suitcases tend to protect fragile items better than soft bags, which makes them increasingly popular for bags large enough to check. But because they’re stiff, they might not be able to squeeze into that last bit of space in the overhead bin—and when packing, you might not be able to cram in that one last outfit.

Hardside bags are easier to clean than soft suitcases, though they are also prone to scuffs. Travelers who like to stay organized may prefer the aforementioned clamshell packing design, which forces you to divide your items into two compartments.

Q. Two wheels or four?

A. There are a few things to factor in before making a choice—and note that the quality of the bag can make a difference: Some four-wheeled spinners roll like a dream while others feel difficult to control, and the same goes for two-wheeled bags.

Two-Wheeled Luggage

Two-wheeled luggage, also known as rollaboard luggage, rolls forward and backward on wheels that are recessed into the case; this saves a bit of packing space and also protects the wheels from damage.

The design of two-wheelers generally means they are easier to maneuver on uneven surfaces. The main drawback of this style of bag is that you must drag it behind you. This pulling motion can cause strain to wrists and shoulders. Anyone prone to pain in these areas should go with a four-wheeled spinner instead.

Spinner Suitcases

Four-wheeled bags, or spinners, have wheels that rotate 360 degrees, which means you can turn the bag in any direction. This provides improved mobility and gives you options: You can roll the bag next to you, push it, or pull it. But those protruding wheels take up space in the overhead bin and are more likely to snap off or suffer damage; it’s wise to check the warranty before purchasing this type of bag.

In addition, if you’re considering a carry-on, make sure the dimensions listed are wheel-inclusive. Airlines will include the wheels when they measure your carry-on, so you should, too.

Q. What size luggage do I need?

A. As a general rule, go for a carry-on no larger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and a checked bag no larger than 62 inches (length plus width plus height), which are the standard for most major airlines in the U.S. Note that many bags marketed as “carry-ons” are a little larger than the above measurements, especially once you count the wheels—which could lead to unpleasant surprises at the airport if you’re forced to gate-check.

Although you may want to bring as large a bag as you can on the plane, remember that if you can’t lift your carry-on bag above your head, you will not be able to place it in the overhead bin.

Check the websites of the airlines you fly most frequently for information on what size bags you can check or bring onboard, and keep in mind that many airlines have different size requirements for international vs. domestic flights. If your new suitcase pushes the limits of the airline’s size restrictions, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences (read: fees).

What you want in a suitcase is best summed up by the Goldilocks principle: a bag that is not too big, not too small, but just right (for you).

When flying on a smaller airline in a foreign country, acceptable baggage weight and size requirements can be a crapshoot. You don’t want to discover that you have to leave behind one of your bags or pay extra fees when you attempt to board a 20-seat plane for a domestic flight in Costa Rica. Check baggage requirements for each flight on your itinerary.

In addition to airline requirements, think about your own requirements: your lifestyle, health, and particular needs. Do you have a bad back? You’ll want to look for an ultralight suitcase, such as Samsonite’s Lite-Box 20″ Spinner, which weighs less than five pounds.

Q. What’s the best place to buy luggage?

A. You can buy just about anything at Amazon.com, and luggage is no exception, with suitcases available from reputable brands such as Delsey, Eagle Creek, and Travelpro. You’ll also want to check out luggage retailer eBags.com, which carries a full line of luggage, garment bags, briefcases, duffel bags, carry-ons, and more.

You might also want to buy directly from the manufacturer; popular luggage brands to consider include Away, Briggs & Riley, Samsonite, and Tumi.

It’s sometimes better to shop in a real store instead of online, as that will allow you to test the bag before purchasing. Pretty much any department store or big-box store (like Target or Kohl’s) will have a selection of luggage, though quality can vary widely.

Thoroughly read the warranty policy before purchasing a bag. Ideally, you want to buy from a company that provides lifetime warranties on its luggage. Companies with some of the most comprehensive warranties out there include Victorinox, Briggs & Riley, and Eagle Creek. See this list of luggage brands with great return policies and warranties.

Before you decide to keep a new bag, test, test, test. Walk around for a bit and see if the handle is long enough for you, if you like the feel of the fabric, if the back straps are comfortable, and if the suitcase feels sturdy and durable. If you shop for a bag online, order it at least a month before your trip so you can send it back if it doesn’t feel right for you.

Q. How much should I pay for a suitcase?

A. Consider investing a little more to get the most out of your suitcase, especially if you travel frequently. The cost of replacing a cheap bag every couple of years will add up eventually, so spend a little more up front to get a suitcase that will be with you for the long haul.

Whether you opt for a hardside suitcase or a soft one, be discerning about materials and construction. Think of your suitcase as your forever friend. You want this relationship to last a lifetime, right?

That said, designer luggage is a more a fashion symbol than a travel tool and is not the choice of most experienced travelers. A $1,000 piece of luggage isn’t likely to be that much more useful than a good-quality $200 or $300 bag.

Q. What’s the best color for luggage?

A. Luggage is available in just about every conceivable color and pattern, from metallic solids to leopard prints. Classic black generally shows the least amount of wear and tear, but it’s also the most common luggage color—as evidenced by the never-ending sea of black bags shuffling by on the luggage carousel after just about every flight. Choosing a brighter color for your checked bag will make it much easier to spot.

If you do opt for black, tie some colored ribbon or a scarf to the handle or strap on a bright luggage belt.

Q. Which extra features should I consider?

A. Compare different luggage interiors and exteriors to see what suits your style. Lots of compartments and pockets are great for the super-organized packer, and features like a plastic waterproof pouch can hold wet swimsuits or leaky shampoo bottles. Think about where and how you travel and what you tend to pack when considering these suitcase features.


Look for a sturdy handle that feels comfortable and is ergonomically designed. A handle system that is built into the inside of the bag is best because the handle is protected from damage. Test out the handle: Extend it to its full length, make sure it locks (and stays locked), and take the bag for a spin. If the suitcase is jabbing you in the backs of the legs, that means the handle isn’t long enough for your height.

Bags with a detachable piggyback clip, a looped clip on the top of the bag near the handle, allow you to clip a second bag onto a larger one. When you pick up your checked bag, clip on your carry-on or personal item, and presto—you have a free hand.


The bigger and sturdier the zipper, the longer it will last and the better it will stand up to the abuses of travel. Go for metal over plastic, and look for self-repairing zippers—so called because in the event of a snag in the zipper’s teeth, pulling the zipper back down and over the snag fixes the problem and reseals the teeth.

TSA-Approved Locks

If you want extra security, choose a bag that includes a TSA-approved lock. While you can also purchase a lock separately, many travelers find it more convenient if the lock is built into the suitcase.

Pockets and Organizational Systems

When it comes to pockets, softside bags generally win. (The construction of hardside suitcases doesn’t allow for many extra pockets and outer compartments.) If you love organization—a place for everything and everything in its place—there are lots of bags on the market for you. One great example is GeniusPack’s innovative Supercharged carry-on, which features everything from a hidden laundry bag to “genius pack” compartments for every imaginable clothing category.

USB Charging Ports

Many newer carry-on models include built-in USB charging ports so you can power up your phone on the go.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Julianne Lowell, Margaret Leahy, and Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

6 Different Types of Luggage

From the steamer trunks to the suit case to the rolling luggage and to the spinner-style case, the luggage has evolved throughout the years.

The luggage was the solution for carrying supplies and food during travel. In the 19th century, people traveled through steamships and stagecoaches so they carried sturdy and heavy steamer trunks. Then when commercial flights became a trend, people carried the suit-case or suit case, so-called because their luggage carried suits.

The 20th century saw the practicality of the wheeled luggage but not everyone was keen on it. Men who carried them were called “sissies” or “women.” Another practical innovation is the lightweight luggage in 2000 when the first luggage made of polycarbonate was introduced.

Wheeled Duffels

Design Elements

Let’s face it, most people overpack when going on vacation, and if you have a lot of items to pack and/or some oddly shaped items that would fit awkwardly in a suitcase, a duffel bag is the perfect solution. Duffel bags are designed to carry all sorts of gear, particularly if you carry gear for more than one type of sports.

The wheeled duffel bag is even better, because since you are likely going to pack it full before you leave, it is simply easier to use. If you pack light, there are small wheeled duffels for your convenience, and with these bags, you can carry them right onto the plane with you without having to check it.


Most duffels offer advantages that include oversized, heavy-duty wheels and a sturdy chassis that allow you to pull the bag over almost any type of surface without damaging it, even cobblestone and concrete. They usually have side and front handles that are durable and won’t break; clips that allow you to attach other small bags to them to make your load easier to manage; sturdy zippers that are made for a lot of usage and meant to last a very long time; and straps that allow you to make the duffel a little more compact and therefore easier to maneuver.


Because they are intended for outings such as camping and fishing trips, duffels have a more rugged look and are made with an extra sturdiness so they can withstand whatever you do to them. Originally made for the armed forces, duffels are made tough because they are usually purchased and used by people who tend to put them through a lot.


Duffel sizes are similar to the sizes of other luggage types, ranging from 30 inches to approximately 36 inches in height. Often, their interiors are measured according to how many cubic inches of materials they hold, and that number can range from 5,300 cubic inches to over 6,700 cubic inches, meaning it is easy to find something perfect for your needs.


Duffels are usually made of a very strong ripstop nylon or ballistic nylon, and the internal pockets are usually made of mesh and readily accommodate extra items, especially small items that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle and items that need to “breathe” a little, or even items you just need to access easily and quickly. They are extra sturdy and designed to get banged up a little without ripping or tearing, which is perhaps their best feature.

Wheeled Luggage

Design Elements

Wheeled luggage is used primarily by traditional travelers, those who are traveling for personal reasons or on business. They usually have a lot of pockets to hold toiletries, medications, etc., and they are designed to handle any type of luggage transport system at the airport. Good for travel to urban areas and road trips, wheeled luggage is a convenient, easy way to get your personal items and clothing from Point A to Point B.


Most wheeled luggage consists of one or more of the following features:

  • D-rings and compression straps to make the luggage more manageable
  • Treaded wheels that maneuver easily even on rough terrain
  • Reflective straps that increase visibility when it’s dark
  • Extra-sturdy handles made to be grabbed thousands of times without breaking
  • Extra features such as bumpers, runner rails, wheel housings, and corner guards to make the luggage sturdier


Wheeled luggage is perfect regardless of the type of trip you’re planning, whether long or short, casual or formal, and whether you’re traveling by plane or automobile. It is a good, strong, multi-purpose type of luggage that can be used and appreciated by personal and business travelers alike.


There as just as many sizes of wheeled luggage as there are companies that make this product, but as a general rule, the sizes range from 18 to 32 inches high, and the internal sizes range from 2,200 cubic inches to over 6,300 cubic inches, making them perfect both for those who want to check in the bag and those who intend to carry it on the plane with them.


Wheeled luggage usually is made of tarpaulin that is weatherproof and PVC-free. This makes the bag easy to clean both inside and out, and they usually contain mesh compartments on the inside for your smaller items. Even the zippers are usually sealed so that they will last a very long time, meaning you can use the bag for years — even decades — without it breaking.

Carry-On Luggage

Design Elements

Carry-on luggage is designed for one purpose and one purpose only – convenience. If you are traveling and don’t wish to check your baggage, a carry-on piece of luggage is your smartest option. Since most airlines limit the size of carry-on bags to 22” x 14” x 9” at the largest, carry-on luggage is manufactured within this size range to make it more convenient for you. They are also designed for travelers who tend to pack light, don’t wish to pay baggage fees, or those who are very mobile.


Features on a typical carry-on bag include oversized, heavy-duty wheels that can roll over everything from concrete to cobblestone; internal storage pockets for smaller items; external pockets that can fit items such as magazines and snacks; and compression straps on the inside to help secure your belongings so they don’t shift around as much. Most also have ID windows for your identification information and extra-strong grab handles that won’t tear off at the drop of a hat.


Carry-on luggage comes in various sizes and colors and with many different features, but they are specifically designed for the light traveler in mind. Their style types are made with these aspects in mind, and most people find this type of luggage is perfect for both short-term and long-term trips. It makes traveling a lot easier and time at the check-out counter a lot shorter, which is a win-win situation for everyone. Overall, carry-on luggage is the simplest type of luggage to travel with for most travelers, regardless of your final destination.


Since carry-on luggage cannot get above a certain size, most of it can be found from 18 to 22 inches high, and most of it holds between 2,200 and 6,300 cubic inches of items. Many people find a size that’s perfect for every trip they take, while others use this type of luggage only on short trips where they aren’t packing too many clothes or other personal items.


Like other types of luggage, carry-on luggage is usually made of a polyester-nylon combination that is made to withstand anything you put it through, and it is sturdy and weather-proof as well. Some carry-on luggage is made with a hard, shell-like ABS plastic, making it nearly impossible to break or damage. Also like other luggage, carry-on luggage is made in a variety of colors to suit anyone’s preferences and tastes, including hues such as red, purple, and teal.

Wheeled Backpacks

Design Elements

Made especially for basic road trips or more adventurous travel, wheeled backpacks combine the convenience of a wheeled bag with the functionality of being able to throw it over your shoulders whenever necessary. If you’re in the airport and suddenly come across an escalator, just throw it on and step onto the escalator for easier movements up and down the stairs. They are also perfect when you have a long way to walk or you’re in the middle of heavy foot traffic, because they can be lifted off of the ground and allow you to maneuver through the crowds without a problem.


Much like regular luggage, rolling backpacks come with features that include inside straps to hold your items in place, heavy-duty zippers that are made to last, and mesh pockets to carry smaller items and items you wish to access once you get to the airport. They can also include special pockets for cell phones and music devices, as well as a sturdy telescoping handle that is reinforced with a rubber grip. Wheeled backpacks are made for convenience, but their mobile size doesn’t take away from the fact that they are sturdy and reliable.


Wheeled backpacks come in a wide variety of styles, and because they are often used by children, they can even come in bright, colorful designs, as well as a variety of kid-friendly patterns that can include graphics such as animals, sports, school-related items, hearts, flowers, and geometric designs. They are aesthetically pleasing and useful at the same time, making them valuable regardless of your age.


As most people are aware, wheeled backpacks are perfect for people who wish to pack lightly but still be able to carry their luggage around like a regular backpack. They are easy to use and extremely convenient, made to last and very attractive, not to mention more reasonably priced than many other types of luggage, which is yet another advantage to choosing a rolling backpack.


Even though they are made to be carry-ons and conveniently carried around, wheeled backpacks are still able to hold a lot of items. They usually have interiors that are 40 to 42 linear inches in size, and they can range from 17 to 21 inches in height, making them the perfect receptacle to carry almost anything you need packed for your next trip.


Although wheeled backpacks can be made of various materials, they are almost always constructed of a soft but strong material such as nylon or polyester, or a combination of several different materials. Because of their size, they are rarely made of a hard material, although if you look around you may be able to find one like this..

Bags and Sleeves for Tablets and Laptop Computers

Design Elements

The amazing part about shopping for sleeves and bags for tablets and laptops is the selection that is available, which is much greater than most people realize. Luggage-type bags that are made to protect laptops and tablets are made of various types of materials, and they come in designs that include sleeves of various sizes, bags, backpacks, rolling laptop bags, and cases and bags made specifically for various sizes of tablets. Whatever you’re looking for to protect your laptop or tablet, you can easily find it, especially if you search online, and they come in a variety of colors as well.


Perhaps the thing that makes these items stand out some is the fact that each one seems to be a little different than the last, and they can include straps to place the bags across your shoulder and therefore make them easier to carry, handles that make it simple to hold the bag like a purse or small suitcase, zippers that make it easy to get in and out of the bag, pockets that allow you to carry items such as pens and business cards, and sometimes extra features such as flaps that allow you to store pens and pencils on the outside of the bag so that you can easily get to them when you need them. Whatever convenience you are looking for, chances are good you’ll find it when you’re searching for a laptop or tablet bag, especially if you shop at the more reputable stores.


The styles of these items include:

  • Laptop bags: these come in sizes that range from 10 inches to over 17 inches and come with or without handles, as well as in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and designs.
  • Laptop backpacks: made slightly larger than regular backpacks, these items have extra pockets for paper and anything else that you might need once you set up your laptop to use.
  • Laptop sleeves: these are flat cases that come with or without handles, pockets, zippers, and straps, so you can purchase them as standard or as fancy as you like.
  • Rolling laptop cases: a little larger than laptop bags, these have plenty of room for your laptop and the accessories that go along with it, making them very valuable especially if you travel a lot.
  • Tablet cases and bags: a variety of products made specifically for your tablet; they almost always have the capability of being folded out to produce a stand so that you can set it up on a flat surface and view it without having to hold it in your hands.


Of course, the main purpose of these bags is to keep your tablet or laptop both safe and separate from the other items you’ve packed, making it easier to access them while you’re waiting to board your plane or once you get in your seat. This is likely the main reason they come in so many sizes and styles, because each user is going to have different needs and different reasons why the bag was purchased in the first place.

Many of them are also small enough to carry with you even if you have additional luggage, and because they are made specifically to protect electronic devices, even if you drop it you’ll know your laptop or tablet is going to be protected. They are especially useful for business travelers who need to be on their device while in the air, because the cases are usually the perfect size for unpacking and repacking your device with ease.


Because laptops and tablets come in so many different sizes, the bags that protect and carry them are also available in numerous sizes. From cases that just hold the device itself to those that hold other items as well, they can be thick or thin, small or large, plain or containing straps and pockets. In short, you can get whatever size you need and make it as standard or as fancy as you like when shopping for these cases. More than most other types of luggage, bags for tablets and laptops come in so many different sizes that it is impossible not to find something that is just right for the device you own.


Laptop and tablet containers can be made of vinyl, polyester, or some type of blend, but many are also made of neoprene. Their materials are always strong and sturdy but lightweight, because the bags need to be made of something versatile that makes them easy to carry around and easy to open and shut numerous times during each trip.

Duffel Bags

Design Elements

Duffel bags come in a wide variety of designs, but they do not have the pull handle or wheels that their rolling counterparts do. They are designed to be very easy to carry around, which is why they normally have handles attached to them, and they are also easier to store and have no rigid parts, folding up very small so you can stow them in an area with limited space. They are designed not only for climbers and college students but also for those on a budget, since duffel bags of all sizes tend to be very inexpensive.


There are dozens of types of duffel bags, but most of them have one or more of the following: strong straps to make it easy to carry, heavy-duty zippers that are meant to last, outside pockets that allow you to store even semi-large objects in them, and reinforced insides so they are even more difficult to destroy.


Duffel bags come in many different styles because they are used for so many different purposes. They can be long and tubular-shaped, tall and fat, or shaped just like a regular backpack or luggage piece. Since they are often used by members of the armed forces, they come in enough styles to suit all of their needs, and this is another reason they are so well-made and strong.


The main purpose of a duffel bag is ease of use and the assurance that you can put it through almost anything and it is going to last. If you tend to be rough on your luggage, a duffel bag could be the perfect solution, and because they’re available in so many design, color, and size options, you can also easily get something you find attractive.


Since duffel bags come in so many shapes, their size dimensions often look similar, but the larger duffel bags can have up to 8,000 cubic inches of space on the inside. They can be tall or short, round or rectangle in shape, and come in so many sizes and shapes that it is impossible not to find something just right for your needs. Duffel bags are also made in sizes that make it convenient to carry them around regardless of the length of the trip or even how easily you want to get around the airport or other location you’re in.

If you need to move quickly through the crowds, the last thing you want is a big, bulky, heavy bag that you have to carry with you the entire time, because it can definitely slow you down. A duffel bag is the easiest way to pack everything you’ll need for your trip and have a piece of luggage that is the exact size you need without being too large or cumbersome.


Like most other types of luggage, the material used in duffel bags can include polyester, vinyl, and many types of blends, but duffel bags can also be made in canvas. Canvas is sturdy and reliable, and it is nearly impossible to rip or tear. Canvas also comes in a wide variety of colors, and even if you drag around a duffel bag made of canvas, including hauling it across the floor, it should last just fine throughout your trip. It is a very thick material, so it does an excellent job of protecting everything on the inside of the bag, and it is practically impossible to destroy, making it the perfect material for duffel bags.

10 Types of Travel Bags That Conquered the World

Traveling just isn’t traveling without packing your bags. There are numerous choices when it comes to choosing your travel bag companion. In this post I’ve compiled the ultimate guide to choosing the right travel bag with 10 types of travel bags that conquered the world.

10) The Briefcase



Pros: briefcases typically have hard sides both inside and out, which protect your important documents from crinkling, thus protecting your professional image as well.

Cons: can be easily stolen if you’re not careful. It is also highly advisable to have a combination lock that will only open to a combination that only you know to protect your valuables.

Ideal for: professionals who wish to carry important documents out of the office when on business travels.

Brand Picks: Kenneth Cole, Samsonite, McKlein USA.

9) The Backpack



Pros: can walk up stairs without having to haul luggage up the steps. Even weight distribution on both shoulders. Hands aren’t used for carrying the luggage.

Cons: can put strain on your back and shoulders and can affect your posture if you have a lot of items in it. You may also sweat a lot on your back if you’re wearing a backpack in hot weather.

Ideal for: travelers who have a lot of things to pack and don’t want to strain their arms carrying a heavy bag. Rolling suitcases are also ideal for children so they don’t have to struggle with heavy luggage.

Brand Picks: JanSport, Herschel, L.L.Bean, Nike, Quiksilver, Osprey, Magellan’s.

8) The Rolling Backpack



Pros: can adapt to stair flights by using shoulder and waist straps, which allow you to carry your items on your back.

Cons: rolling backpacks tend to be heavy, not only because of what’s inside, but also due to the added weight of wheels and an extending handle. Plus, most rolling backpacks may not be comfortable enough for long periods of trekking.

Ideal for: adventurous travelers or people going on road trips who want to combine the multiple compartments of a backpack with the carry-on ease of wheeled luggage.

Brand Picks: High Sierra, J World New York, Victorinox, Osprey, Eagle Creek, Gregory, Kelty.

7) The Duffel Bag



Pros: has the largest middle compartment of almost any wearable luggage. Duffel bags are also flexible, and most small or middle-sized bags can fit into an overhead compartment with ease.

Cons: as with most wearable luggage, duffel bags can put strain on the shoulder or arm carrying it. Not ideal for long periods of hauling around.

Ideal for: travelers who usually bring sports equipment and/or want versatility in carrying luggage.

Brand Picks: L.L.Bean, Piel, Tumi, Magellan’s, eBags, Briggs & Riley, Eagle Creek.

6) The Rolling Duffel Bag



Pros: can carry large, oddly shaped gear with ease. As with regular duffel bags, rolling duffel bags also have a lot of spacious compartments, and have little trouble fitting into an overhead compartment.

Cons: as with other rolling luggage, rolling them along up stairs or through rough terrain may be difficult.

Ideal for: adventurers who wish to carry gear of varying shapes and sizes with them

Brand Picks: L.L.Bean, Magellan’s, eBags, Athalon, Timberland, DAKINE, Eagle Creek.

5) The Travel Tote



Pros: fashionable and easy to carry. You will also have enough room to put in essentials like cosmetics, clothing, or electronics. Any tote can be used for travel, but a travel tote has the advantage of wheels or shoulder straps if you don’t want to have to carry it all the time while traveling.

Cons: if you use a tote as your sole means of bringing clothes along, you may have to wear the same things multiple times in a week. The bag is best used as a carry-on for your laptop, accessories, and other small essentials.

Ideal for: travelers who want to pack just the essentials without having to compromise a fashionable bag.

Brand Picks: L.L.Bean, Steve Madden, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors.

4) The Designer Luggage



Pros: comes in a variety of functions, such as wheeled suitcases and totes, with added fashionable flair from the world’s top designers. Some designer luggage even comes with a warranty that will grant you a repair or replacement if your luggage is damaged or defective. Designer luggage tends to also have excellent overall quality.

Cons: as is the case with top fashion, designer luggage can be very expensive. Having expensive travel luggage can also make you a target for thieves.

Ideal for: mainly travelers who want to travel in style and quality.

Brand Picks: Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tumi, Alfred Dunhill, Bottega Veneta.

3) The Messenger Bag



Pros: messenger bags can be worn easily on one shoulder with a long strap. Is also more secure than carrying around a tote bag.

Cons: depending on how much stuff you have in the bag, it may put strain on the wearing shoulder.

Ideal for: people who want to bring a suitable amount of items with them wherever they go.

Brand Picks: ClaireChase, Gregory, J World New York, JanSport, Travelpro.

2) The Travel Laptop Case



Pros: a good laptop bag will have at least one compartment to store a laptop charger in. Travel laptop cases are like rolling suitcases made specifically for laptops and other small essentials. The best part is the ability to place your duffel bag or tote on top of the case for easy transport.

Cons: not large enough to fit clothing or other larger items. Must be rolled around making it difficult to carry up and down stairs.

Ideal for: travelers who need a dedicated laptop compartment in their carry-on bag.

Brand Picks: Cenzo, JanSport, Mobile Edge, Samsonite.

1) The Rolling Suitcase



Pros: if you plan to shop and bring things back home, you will need this. In addition, you will not have to carry the weight yourself; you just roll the suitcase along using the retractable handle.

Cons: you may have baggage fees depending on your airline. In addition, carrying a rolling suitcase up stairs, over rough surfaces, or through snow may be a hassle.

Ideal for: travelers who have a lot of things to pack and don’t want to strain their arms carrying a heavy bag. Rolling suitcases are also ideal for children so they don’t have to struggle with heavy luggage.

Brand Picks: Travelpro, eBags, Samsonite, Travelon, Nautica, SwissGear, Magellan’s.

These are the 10 of the most common bags used to travel the world. Which of these bags do you use most often for your travels?

7 Different Types of Luggage

Many of us love to travel. I know I do. There is nothing better than planning a trip and getting away from the hustle of regular everyday life. I have found the worst part of traveling is packing. I never know just how much to pack or even what type of luggage to use to pack.

It never fails, I always pack way too much and my luggage ends up being too heavy. If you are anything like me, you should read this article about the different types of luggage. I cannot promise it will help you pack less, but at least you will know more about the luggage options you have.

Hardside Luggage

Hardside luggage has a waterproof shell and durable, long-lasting material. It will protect whatever is inside of it from water and damage. Hardside luggage is made of different types of materials, but all of them provide a hard shell to protect whatever you are carrying inside. Hardside luggage allows items to be put into both sides of the suitcase and then it closes like a clamshell. The most lightweight and durable material is polycarbonate.

This material can take a lot of stress because it is flexible and resilient to damage. This material does not scratch easily, but when it does, they tend to blend in with the color of the suitcase. A polycarbonate composite material is less expensive than 100 percent polycarbonate. It does crack and scratches much more easily. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, better known as ABS, is a solid plastic that is not quite as strong as polycarbonate. This plastic is typically painted and can scratch easily.


Protects everything inside the suitcase

Resists scratches and dents


May not fit in the overhead bin

Usually the heaviest of the suitcase options

Softside Luggage

Softside luggage is flexible and made of a soft material. They are the most common type of luggage and are easier to squeeze into smaller spaces. They are lightweight and much lighter than their hard side counterparts. These bags are great shock absorbers. Similar to hard side luggage, these bags can be made of different materials. Not all the softside material is intended to be waterproof, so it is important to know the quality of the fabric.

Not all of the material is stain proof. Softside luggage has exterior pockets for easy access to important paperwork or books. The top of the soft side luggage acts as the lid to the suitcase. Some of them may have a pocket where items can be stored in the lid, but not all of them do. Softside luggage can be made of nylon or polyester. Ballistic nylon is incredibly durable and has a finish that resists abrasions. Polyester is lightweight and incredibly resilient.


Exterior pockets


Can be squeezed into small spaces


May not be waterproof

Carry On Luggage

Carry on luggage is most often carried on to a plane. Therefore, it must meet certain size requirements, as it must fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. The size requirements are 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches. Most manufacturers of carry on luggage stay within these size requirements so that you can take it on the plane.

Carry on luggage can be various forms from a backpack, small rolling suitcase, and duffel bags. The most common carry on luggage has oversized wheels that are heavy-duty and can roll over most things. They have a larger compartment inside to store items, and external pockets to hold smaller items. They often have straps on the inside that allows items to stay in place.

Travelers like to use this type of luggage when they do not want to check bags and move through the airport easier and faster. This type of luggage is weatherproof and sturdy and typically made of some type of combination of polyester nylon. There are other types of carry on luggage that are made of a hard plastic that is difficult to damage. Carry on luggage comes in all types of colors and styles to suit all preferences.


Meet airline requirements

Can help avoid baggage fees

Various sizes and colors


May not be large enough to hold everything

Rolling Spinner Luggage

Much of the luggage travelers use has wheels to make it much easier to move them around. It does not matter if the luggage is a hard side or a soft side, they both can have wheels. Luggage that has four wheels are also called spinners. This is one of the most common and loved types of luggage. It is often recommended by seasoned travelers.

These wheels rotate 360 degrees making it simple to move and turn the luggage in any direction. These bags can easily turn corners. This gives travelers better mobility and many options. The bag can be pushed, pulled, or rolled. The spinner wheels stick out from the suitcase and may be easily broken off the bag.

These bags can be rolled over just about any surface but they may break easily, so care should be taken with them. Or at a minimum, the spinner should be durable so it can hold up to some abuse. Some spinner luggage has the ability to lock the wheels in place so they do not spin. Often the handles on rolling spinners are telescopic, so they will pull out as far as is comfortable.


Easy to move

Can be moved in many different directions


Wheels take up a lot of space

Wheels can easily be broken

Duffel Bags

Just about all travelers can benefit from having a duffel bag. These bags have multiple compartments to carry all the essentials. Some duffel bags have wheels and shoulder straps. There are some that even have back straps, so you can carry it on your back.

Duffel bags have been used to carry around sweaty gym clothes, but their purpose has changed drastically over the years. Duffel bags have become more modern and possess features such as a retractable handle and wheels. A more traditional size duffel bag is small or medium and can fit under the seat or in the overhead bin.

Duffel bags have strong zippers and heavy-duty straps to make sure they always close. They are intended to be easy to carry and last for a long time. Duffel bags come in different shapes, sizes, and materials.

Larger duffel bags are harder to move around with because they tend to bulky. Smaller bags are easy to carry but may not be able to hold everything. The duffel bags come in many different shapes. Some are long and tube-like, while others are tall and fat, and some look more like backpacks. A duffel bag may be good for someone that is rough on luggage and tends to destroy it.

Duffel bags are made out of different materials, such as polyester, vinyl, canvas, or some type of blend. Canvas is the most sturdy and reliable material and is almost impossible to tear. Canvas can be pulled across the floor without any wear and comes in many different colors.




Various shapes and sizes


May be bulky and hard to maneuver

Garment Bags

Garment bags are perfect for the person who travels for business or is traveling for a special event. This type of bag protects clothes that require extra care. They have a hook or a hanger inside the bag so a suit can be hung for it to remain wrinkle-free, or at least more wrinkle-free than if it was stuffed in a suitcase.

If it is a hanger, it can be hung directly in the closet without removing it from the bag. These bags also offer special compartments for shoes, ties, and other small items. Some garment bags have wheels on them to make them easier to move around. Garment bags come in various materials, sizes, and shapes to fit the need.


Carry clothes so they will not wrinkle

Some come with wheels


May not hold all the items needed

Travel Totes

The travel tote is a fashionable bag to carry all the items that are needed. They are easy to carry and provide extra room for essential items like makeup, electronics, and some clothes. Any tote can be used for travel purposes, but a travel tote typically has shoulder straps or wheels. These bags allow you to carry a few clothing items and other essentials one may need. These bags are great for a weekend trip. They provide easy access to items that may be needed on a regular basis.


Easy to carry



Does not hold many items

May not be able to take everything that is needed

FAQ section

What is Luggage?

Luggage, also known as baggage, can be containers, cases, or containers of varying shapes and sizes that hold the personal possessions of a traveler. The intention of luggage is to securely hold these items while the traveler is in transit. Luggage is made of various materials and constructed in different ways. Some have hard cases, while others have soft cases. These items make it easier for a traveler to carry their items around. Luggage may have wheels or handles to make it easier to move the luggage around.

Brief History of Luggage

Luggage has been used by those in transit for thousands of years. It goes all the way back to the nomads who carried their items around with them. Travel and luggage have come a long way since then. Back in the Roman Empire, luggage was carts carried around by servants or animals. Those who traveled were wealthy and their luggage was reflective of their wealth.

In the mid 19th century, luggage became more popular and was sturdy to handle long journeys. At that time, luggage was heavy trunks and boxes. Louis Vuitton was among the first to make traveling trunks. In the late 19th century, the bags that we currently think of as luggage gained popularity. Initially, they were intended to carry suits and were made of wood and leather.

They looked like mini trunks with latches, hinges, and a handle. By the 1920s and 1930s, suitcases were changed so that they could be carried with one hand. In the 1950s, wood was replaced with material that was durable and lighter. They were first made of metal and plastic so they outside remained hard but the inside was softer. Towards the 1980s, softer luggage made its way on the scene and advanced to the luggage available today, which is lighter weight, but stronger and more durable.

Where to Buy Luggage

You can buy luggage just about anywhere. There are many reputable luggage retailers online that carry a varied line of suitcases. There are many retail stores that sell luggage. Any department store sells luggage. You may even be able to find a store that specializes just in luggage, but those are harder to find. Depending on where you buy your luggage, the quality of the bag changes, so you want to verify the quality of the bag. Make sure you know what kind of warranty is available with the bag, no matter where you buy it.

14 Types of Travel Bags | How to Choose the Right One

I’m fortunate enough that I get to travel a ton for my job. And, I’ve learned a thing or two about the importance of a sturdy, easy-to-carry, trip appropriate travel bag. Sometimes that means packing a rolling suitcase, and sometimes it means relying on a backpack. There are many different types of travel bags and the best one you choose depends on your trip.

Here’s why: If you’re traveling to NYC, you’ll quickly discover there’s nothing worse than lugging a 50-pound suitcase up and down subway steps, only to realize you’re on the wrong side of the tracks and have to do it all over again. How are you supposed to take hot pics of yourself in front of an old church looking like you just fell into a swamp?

Below, I’ll share with you the 14 different types of luggage you could bring with you so you can pick the best travel companion for your journey. We’ll never let you be that girl lugging a travel trunk up that charming hostel with a six-story walkup again.

Types of Travel Bags
  1. Travel pack (Backpack)
  2. Wheeled Backpack
  3. Travel Totes
  4. Duffel Bags / Weekender
  5. Rolling Duffel Bags
  6. Rolling Luggage
  7. Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
  8. Messenger Bag
  9. Laptop Bag
  10. Dopp Kitt
  11. Garment Bag
  12. Fanny Pack
  13. Vintage Suitcase
  14. Travel Trunk


Travel Pack / Backpack

Think of a travel pack like your school backpack… if your school was in the Himalayas and you had to hike ten miles then catch two planes to make first period.

Pros: They’re durable, easy to carry, and fit in the overhead compartment so you don’t have to worry about checking a bag. 

Cons: When full, a backpack can be tough on your shoulders, so make sure you find one with padded shoulder straps. It can also be harder to find items in a backpack, which is why I prefer built-in organized backpacks like this one from Tortuga. It’ll help prevent you from pulling out your dirty underwear in the middle of the airport to find your flip flops.

Best for: Backpacking, camping, road trips, and places without roads.



Wheeled Backpack

If you’re like me, backpacks make you feel like a sad turtle.

Pros: A wheeled backpack, on the other hand, gives you the compact ease of a traditional backpack but you get the option to roll it around like a suitcase. (You can also throw a rolling backpack on your back if you’re on a dirt road or roaming around the forest like some kind of wanderlust meerkat).

Cons: Rolling backpacks are not as flexible as a traditional backpack. It can feel uncomfortable if you’re lugging it up a cliff or mountain.

Best for: A trip where you’ll be mostly in the city but you might spend a few days in the country discovering yourself.



Travel Tote

A travel tote is the perfect carryall for your essentials. It’s like a sexy shopping bag you can customize for your daily needs.

Pros: They’re oversized enough to take all your necessities (wallet, change of clothes, sunscreen, snacks, snacks, snacks), but small enough that you’re not rolling up to your out-of-town work meeting holding a small horse.

Cons: Most totes lack internal organization, so you might be doing a lot of digging for treasure. Ooh look, a mint!

Best for: Short trips, the gym, a day trip, or even a weekend trip if you’re a light packer.



Duffel Bag / Weekender

Duffel bags are typically made of leather or canvas, and are large, cylinder shaped bags with zip closures and carrying straps. — They’re sometimes called Weekender bags when they’re on the smaller side because they’re essentially a stylish gym bag you can use for your weekend getaway.

Pros: As a carry-on, duffel bags are a lot more convenient than lugging around a clunky suitcase (especially if you’re going to be walking on uneven surfaces like cobblestone).

Cons: Many don’t lock, which can be a downside if you’re going to be staying in public places like a hostel. They can easily become disorganized, and they’re also a bit difficult to carry for long distances.

Best for: A weekend trip, day trip, short trip, or a type of trip rolling luggage would be a pain to use. They’re also spacious and open if you have oddly shaped belongings to transport, like shoes, sports equipment, or a dead body.



Rolling Duffel Bags

Rolling duffel bags are great for people who like the sizing and spaciousness of a duffel, but hate carrying bags by hand and want the convenience of wheeled luggage. Plus, they look way more stylish than a traditional duffel, and being pretty is all that matters.

Pros: Rolling duffel bags are more spacious than duffel bags and you can roll them all over town. Particularly so if “town” is really an airport.

Cons: They’re more expensive than traditional duffels, and can be annoying to transport up and down stairs.

Best for: People who hate carrying things! Or if you have tense shoulders, a bad back, or strained anything.



Rolling Luggage

These wheeled travel bags are the most traditional form of luggage. Most rolling luggage has two fixed wheels and is pulled by a telescoping top handle that’s guaranteed to work at all times except when you want it to.

Pros: They come in all sizes, are pretty durable, and are designed for the basic traveler. Here, we mean basic like a good pair of jeans, not dating a DJ from Croatia basic.

Cons: Pulling a bag behind you can put pressure on your joints and wrists, and be pretty uncomfortable if you’ve got to haul it a long distance.

Best for: Rugged trips and different types of terrain. Because the wheels are fixed, it’s probably not going to get caught on rocks or cracks. You can practically pull a roller bag over anything.



Hardside Bags with Spinner Wheels

Hardside bags have a hard shell made from polycarbonate and four spinner wheels. They’re known for being more rigid, durable, and weather-resistant than almost any other type of bag.

Pros: The spinner wheels are great for easy transport that’s softer on your joints and muscles, and usually feel way lighter than pulling soft luggage. No, that’s not a euphemism.

Cons: Hardside bags aren’t as flexible as soft luggage, and some people don’t like that you have to pack the two halves individually. They also don’t stack easily or squish into small spaces.

Best for: Staying organized, protecting sensitive and fragile items, and rainy and snowy weather!



Messenger Bag

Messenger bags (also called courier bags) are satchels with a cross body strap meant to carry work or school-related items, though many people wear them as a fashion purse. It’s a look that says, “yeah, I read.”

Pros: Messenger bags are great for easily accessing your items since they lay across your lower back or side, and are usually secured with a buckle, clasp, or zipper.

Cons: They don’t distribute weight across your body as well as traditional backpacks, which can be tiresome if you’re shlepping a bunch of textbooks.

Best for: People who bike or want a less pretentious briefcase. They’re also great if you work on the Pony Express and like to drink out of old glass milk bottles.



Laptop Bags

Laptop bags are bags to keep your laptop, iPads, and other electronic devices safe and scratch-free. You can sometimes use a messenger bag for the same purpose. But, designated laptop bags usually include a zippered inner compartment for your laptop and additional interior compartments for your phone or computer accessories.

Pros: Laptop bags make it easy to carry all your necessities and your laptop to the coffeeshop so you can get away from your roommates and get some work done.

Cons: It’s another thing to carry if you’re also traveling with a suitcase. If you need a travel bag with a protective laptop sleeve, I like the Away Bigger Carry-On with Pocket.

Best for: Work trips or taking your computer around town.



Dopp Kit

A Dopp kit is a portable case for your toiletry items. It’s usually a soft pouch with an open compartment, though it can include  internal compartments for things like your toothbrush, soap, mini shampoo, or whatever else you need so you don’t smell like a bridge troll.

Pros: It looks a lot slicker than that quart-sized plastic bag you’ve been using.

Cons: Sometimes things can leak or spill everywhere. (We’re looking at you, glitter eyeshadow.) Make sure you choose a waterproof Dopp kit like this one.

Best for: All types of travel. You need to floss wherever you go. Your dentist always knows when you haven’t been flossing and she is scary and has access to sharp tools.


11. Garment Bag

Garment bags are made from soft material with a long zipper down the middle. They’re used to transport nicer clothing, suits, jackets, and dresses so they don’t get wrinkled or dirty. They’re great if you’re bougie and only travel in style, or if you won’t have time to iron your clothes before your work conference.

Pros: Using a garment bag is also a lot classier than holding up your meeting because you’re trying to get the wrinkles out of your pencil skirt using the shower steam in the hotel bathroom.

Cons: They can be quite annoying to carry around, and often aren’t long enough for long dresses or coats. Make sure it fits the airline’s carry-on requirements so you don’t risk having the bag guy throwing your wedding dress under Fido’s cage.

Best for: Work trips, event trips like weddings or reunions, and protecting finer clothes from wrinkling, dust, dirt, and odors.


12. Fanny Pack

A fanny pack is a small, lightweight pouch connected to a belt that you wear around your waist or hips like it’s 1999! They are used to store money and other small items.

Pros: Fanny packs are awesome and anyone who tells you otherwise hates joy.

Drawbacks: Some people think they look stupid and to those people I say, “who hurt you?”

Best for: Protecting your valuables. That thief is gonna have to come awfully close to your nether region in order to steal your wallet, so they’re a lot more reliable than pockets or even purses. They also leave your hands free so you can enjoy all the street food snacks you want.


13. Vintage Suitcase

Want to feel like some kind of rich European poet? Get a vintage suitcase like a steamer trunk, hatbox, or a luxe leather briefcase.

Pros: They look cool and they’re a great gift if you’re dating a dude who has a handlebar mustache and shaves with a knife.

Cons: They’re easier to damage (and usually already come with some damage, which I’m sure you can’t relate to at all). You probably wouldn’t want to take this suitcase with you on long trips or up, like, Mount Fuji.

Best for: Those more interested in style, looks, and fashion over durability and functionality. It’s like having a portable antique that’ll make your journey feel a little extra special. Oh, who are we kidding? This is really just best for your Instagram.


14. Travel Trunk

A travel trunk is a rectangular container designed for extended stays like college, long trips abroad, or moving. They’re hard-shelled and durable, and can withstand some banging around.

Pros: It looks like you’re opening up a treasure chest full of riches every time you use it. Only in this case your riches are your old 7th grade journals and a retainer.

Cons: Some trunks can be quite large, bulky, and clunky to move on your own. You might need help carrying it.

Best for: If you’re studying or working abroad for a while, a travel trunk is one way to transport all your valuables and clothes with ease. Plus, many can be padlocked shut if need to protect your valuables or are obsessed with Houdini.

Chelsea Frank is a comedy and travel writer born and bullied in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not flying to tropical islands for “work” or trying to get pregnant by hot Israelis, she’s writing for places like Uproxx, TripSavvy, Thrillist, The Daily Beast, Reductress, and and for other comedians.

Chelsea has traveled to over 50 countries and has had every major third-world disease (but like, in a hot way). Follow her on Instagram and Twitter!

Latest posts by Chelsea Frank (see all)

The Ultimate Guide to All the Types of Luggage |

What is a Carry-On Bag?

A carry-on bag is built to fit inside the overhead compartment on an airplane, hence the name—it’s the luggage you carry on the plane—though, in reality you’ll probably be rolling it on, bumping a few armrests along the way. (Your “carry-on” bag is not to be confused with your “personal item,” a smaller item like a backpack or purse, which should be small enough to slide under the seat in front of you.) While carry-on bag guidelines vary slightly by airline, 22 by 9 by 14 inches is about standard, and those measurements include handles and wheels. Of course, carry-ons are just as handy on the ground for road trips or train travel, because they also fit well in the train’s overhead area and in car trunks. Hard cases tend to be more durable, but if you’re an over-packer or souvenir junkie, the soft-side varieties with exterior pockets give a bit more leeway for just one more snow globe.

Our Pick: Travelpro Platinum Elite 22” Expandable Carry-On Rollaboard, $254.99 at eBags

RELATED: The Best Carry-On Luggage

What is Spinner Luggage?

If you’ve ever tried to change direction quickly while dragging two-wheeled luggage behind you, you’ll understand the beauty of a spinner. Spinner luggage has four wheels, which all turn 360 degrees, meaning the luggage can glide at your side nearly weightlessness as you whizz around tight corners and sprint toward your gate (or the nearest airport Cinnabon). But there are some caveats to this gravity-free bliss: Spinners tend to be less durable on rough terrain and more prone to damage than their more locked-in two-wheeled counterparts, so expect to shell out more money for a sturdy version. Also, the wheels tend to add weight and stick out, so you’ll lose a little interior packing space since wheels are included in baggage dimensions. Spinners come in both carry-on and checked sizes, with soft and hard shell options.

Our Pick: Fortis Pro Traveler Hardside Spinner Carry-On, $219.99 at eBags

What’s a Travel Pack?

The darling of backpackers everywhere, a travel pack is basically what you’d get if a hiker’s backpack and a suitcase had a baby. Travel packs tend to be lightweight and durable with an ergonomic design (think metal frames and hip-belts), and a slew of practical details geared toward comfort and access while traveling. While travel packs are usually bulkier than the typical hiker’s backpacks, they can also be easier to pack with lots of front-loading styles. Some even offer detachable day packs, essentially a mini breakaway backpack for excursions. Plus, their straps tuck in so they don’t get caught in airline conveyor belts. The top-rated options tend to come from high-end outdoor manufacturers.

Our Pick: Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack, from $158. 36 at Amazon

What is a Weekender Bag?

A weekender bag is designed to hold just enough items for a weekend trip (though heavy packers might be tempted to call it an “overnighter”). Size-wise, weekenders tend to lie in the sweet spot between a tote and a duffel bag. They’re usually oblong with two handles and sometimes a crossbody strap. Because they’re wheel-less, they’re not ideal if you’re packing heavy, but they’re great for weaving through crowded terminals or for throwing in the trunk of a car. Practicality sometimes plays second fiddle to style—with a slew of leather, canvas, and monogrammed options from upmarket retailers like J.Crew, Madewell, and Kate Spade. And even if they weigh on our shoulder, we can’t help but love a weekender for being for a sophisticated statement piece.

Our Pick: Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Canvas Weekender, $128 at Lo & Sons

What is a Duffel Bag?

Duffel bags are soft-sided cylindrical bags that run the gamut from handsome weekender-sized pieces in canvas and leather to sturdy camping gear options made from durable nylon. While most have two handles and a crossbody strap, there are also a slew of rolling varieties—a shoulder-saving option for over-packers. The main benefit of a duffel is that it has a wide opening that offers one roomy compartment. This makes it ideal for packing larger items, like sleeping bags, camping gear, helmets, or odd-shaped sporting equipment. And while many a meticulous traveler has carefully folded clothes into a duffel, they’re also a favorite of “throw-and-go” packers.

Our Pick: North Face Base Camp Duffel, $180.90 at Amazon

What is a Satchel?

A grandfather to the messenger bag and a brother to the briefcase, the quintessential satchel is a structured bag made of leather, with a history as old English school bags. (Picture the square, flap-buckled leather bags seen in prep schools. ) That said, the satchel’s parameters are flexible to the point of being stretchy. A variety of backpacks, purses, and messenger bags can all be considered satchels. Though sometimes sold as weekenders, they do tend to be smaller, and are more likely to be used for work, a day trip, or as an airline’s “personal item” than for a weekend trip. As with the weekender, satchels tend to be fashionable and sophisticated, with loads of luxe models available.

Our Pick: Madewell’s The Prague Satchel, $198 at Madewell

What is a Dopp Kit?

A Dopp kit is essentially a structured toiletry bag, traditionally made of leather. Originally, they were issued to soldiers in both World Wars, and they still have a bit of a “military man” look about them, especially when they’re paired with shaving gear. While they’re classically marketed toward men, women can make use of them, too, and often find their ridged sides do a great job of protecting bottles or makeup compacts. Modern varieties tend to be dapper, simple, and moderately sized with an easy zippered closure. Those who prefer more frills or space should consider going with a standard toiletry bag instead.

Our Pick: Chapter Travel Kit from Hershel Supply, $29.99 at Amazon

What is a Messenger Bag?

A messenger bag is a soft-sided crossbody bag with a flap closure, traditionally used by, well, messengers. They’re especially popular in urban areas, and wholeheartedly embraced by many commuters and cyclists. (Bike messengers are evangelical about their favorite brands.) They’re ideal for work or everyday use. Men in particular seem to be big messenger bag boosters as they offer up a more casual alternative to the briefcase, yet they’re still a bit more business-appropriate than a backpack. Many of them fit standard laptops, too, perfect for the digital workforce that’s always carting their office with them to the local coffee shop. There’s a huge range of options, from durable canvas or nylon varieties to sophisticated pieces in worn leather.

Our Pick: Moleskine Nomad Messenger Bag, $99.95 at Urban Outfitters

What is a Garment Bag?

Going somewhere fancy? A garment bag is designed to keep your finest clothes dust- and wrinkle-free, and often features an attached hanger so your upscale outfits can go directly in a hotel closet without being unloaded from its carry case. While most garment bags are marketed toward men going on business trips in two-piece suits, last we heard, women also attend business meetings and want to avoid busting out the hotel iron. The most basic garment bags are simple sheaths, much like the type you get gratis with a suit or expensive coat, but some double as luggage, featuring space for multiple ensembles and extra pouches and pockets for all of your essentials.

Our Pick: Zegur Suit Carry-On Garment Bag, $47.95 at Amazon

What is a Wheeled Backpack?

You already know the short answer: It’s a backpack with wheels. (Duh.) But there’s a longer answer—it’s a rolling backpack that can be anything from a kid’s school bag on wheels to luggage you can lift up and cart around on your back, even in carry-on and checked sizes. They can make great alternatives to traditional luggage for those traveling on extended trips or to a variety of destinations—over a variety of terrain. (Those spinner wheels won’t serve you on a rocky riverbed.) The most popular options are related to travel packs, and well-liked among backpackers. It’s usually worth the price to choose a quality wheeled backpack that’s ergonomic, lightweight, and durable. As with travel packs, outdoor companies tend to sell the sturdiest options.

Our Pick: Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, $340 at Amazon

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The Suitcase Guide

A suitcase is so much more than a container for your personal items when you travel; it’s the base of your mobile wardrobe, and it can impact your clothes and travel style greatly. In this guide, we’re going to talk about luggage and suitcases. We’ll delve into the various styles, and talk about which suitcases you should consider owning. Of course, we’ll end with some recommendations.

Types of Suitcases

There are many kinds of suitcases and new styles that seem to be coming out all the time. Here are the most common types of suitcases you’ll find for sale, followed by the styles we recommend.

A weekender can be the perfect companion for short trips

Carry-On Styles

  • Satchel
  • Handbag
  • Messenger Bag
  • Briefcase / Attache Case
  • Weekender
  • Backpack
  • Upright Spinner
  • Garment Bag

A well packed duffle bag

Checked Suitcases

  • Large Spinner
  • Large Garment Bag
  • Duffle Bag
  • Ruck Sack
  • Rolling Bag
  • Trunk

The Essential Carry-On Bags Worth Having for Air Travel

If you are going to be bringing carry-on luggage on a flight, we recommend a firm wheeled upright suitcase and a messenger bag or laptop bag. We do not recommend backpacks unless you are going on a trip in which a backpack is necessary, such as camping or hiking. Otherwise, backpacks are for school boys, no joke; they make you look like one!

As for the other styles of bags, they definitely have their uses, though they aren’t as flexible and often have more drawbacks that a simple upright wheeled suitcase and a messenger/laptop bag. For instance, satchels, weekenders, and garment bags lack the structure that is desirable to keep precious cargo organized and they have the further drawback of being handheld. While this isn’t a dealbreaker for many, carrying a heavy bag in addition to your laptop bag is a drag when walking through miles of airport corridors. If you prefer the look of one of these bags to a messenger or laptop bag, go ahead and substitute it; you can prop it on top of your wheeled luggage to lighten the load.

Make sure your suitcase can move easily around the airport and after you land

The Upright Spinner Carry-On Suitcase

Any seasoned traveler, pilot or airline employee will immediately recommend using this type of bag. It usually has one large pocket that can store a few changes of clothes, an extra pair of shoes and a Dopp kit. On the exterior of the bag are various pockets for mid-flight access that can carry accessories, passports or even a few different gadgets. When you are selecting a bag, it’s important to look for ones that will fit in the overhead compartment of most aircraft. Ideally, it should measure 22 x 14 x 9 inches. It is wise to ensure it has well-constructed telescoping handles, four spinner wheels, and that it is easy to move in all directions and spin on a dime. The only time you should have to lift the bag is to put it in the overhead compartment, the back of your rental car or on the conveyor belt at security. This will be your primary bag, and it beats checking a bag because the chances of the airline losing a carry-on are slim to none.

Vintage luggage without wheels can be heavy but fit lots inside

The Handbag

Whether you choose a satchel, a messenger bag, a briefcase, attache or a backpack, the handbag you opt to carry on should easily hang from your shoulder and be capable of fitting under the seat in front of you. It’s also best to only have one shoulder bag with you at any given time.

The purpose of this bag is to carry items you’ll need regularly mid-flight. It might mean storing your laptop, your tablet, and your phone inside, or it could be paperwork from your office, an important document or random items like breath mints, books or identification. You should also pack your expensive accessories such as rings, cufflinks and watches in this bag so that they are always with you.

How you decide what bag to bring should be based on whether you’ll need to carry it in public outside of the flight or whether it is only being used to transport items from A to B.

The metal corners prevent luggage from wear and tear and the locks prevent unauthorized access to your valuables

Determining What You Need

Often what you want isn’t necessarily what you need. The first step to determining what suitcase to bring with you, is to examine the factors of travel:

  • How are you traveling? (air, land, sea)
  • What is the duration of your travels?
  • Is it for business, pleasure or both?
  • Will you come home with souvenirs or gifts?
  • Are you transporting anything one-way only?
  • Will you have to deal with foreign security, police, or customs agents?
  • What are the weight and size restrictions of the airline?
  • Are there fees for additional luggage?
  • What restrictions and laws does the region(s) you’re traveling to or through have?
  • Will you need access to the luggage during transport?

Depending on how long you’re traveling for and the purpose of your trip, here are some ideal styles of luggage that will get you where you need to go in addition to your laptop bag.

1-3 Days

Weekender Bag or Duffel Bag

A weekender bag is exactly what it sounds like. It is a duffel style bag that can hold enough clothing for a weekend getaway. If you’re traveling by car, rail, bus or boat, the Duffel is a great bag for getting you where you need to be. It also works well as a second carry-on for longer trips or excursions where you need to pack extra clothing or gear.

3+ Days

An upright spinner with a front pocket designed for work essentials is the perfect option for business travel

Carry-On Spinner

The carry-on spinner is the most versatile travel bag intended for carry-on. With one you’ll avoid paying expensive fees to check luggage and you’ll be sure your luggage won’t get lost in the airport shuffle. Carry-ons come in many different forms, but the 4-wheel spinner is arguably the easiest to maneuver in airports.

If you need to bring a suit or a jacket with you, it’s best to wear it to avoid crushing it into a small spinner. If you need more than you can wear, then always choose a larger checked bag, below.

An exquisite Goyard wardrobe trunk is perfect for the most discerning aristocrat who doesnt carry his own bags

Larger Checked Suitcases

If you do check a suitcase, bringing a larger wheeled suitcase is best. They are wide enough that a suit jacket only needs a single fold horizontally across the body of the coat, rather than vertically through the collar. GG founder Sven Raphael Schneider always travels with a large wheeled spinner if a suit jacket needs to be packed. It may or may not be worth it to pay $50 round trip to avoid the hassle of steaming, ironing or dry cleaning at your destination, but on business trips it’s usually ideal to be able to pull a jacket straight from your suitcase with minimal fuss.

A shoe trunk from Goyard was very popular in the early 1900s

How to Buy a Suitcase

For the most part, all luggage looks similar. There are different types and styles, of course. But the ones that fit into the same “spinner” or “carry-on” category tend to look alike. The only noticeable differences to the untrained eye, is the color, the pattern, and, of course, whether it’s hard or soft sided.

The problem is that not all suitcases are as good as others. In fact, some are downright terrible. And the adage “you get what you pay for”, isn’t always true when it comes to luggage.

The two most important factors to consider when purchasing a suitcase are how easy it is to operate and how durable it is.

Avoid bargain sets like this one from Walmart


The operating factor of a suitcase comes down to how easy it is to move around and carry. Most luggage will have wheels. Some will have four and others just two. The benefit of the four-wheeled suitcase is that it’s a spinner and it can be moved in any direction which makes them very easy to operate. The problem, however, is you can run into the situation where your luggage wants to get away from you. This is where two-wheels come into play. Since a suitcase with two wheels only moves back and forth, you can just turn it sideways to prevent it from running down an incline at the airport or the streets of San Francisco. They’re also far easier to walk outside with. They are better on uneven surfaces such as grass, snow, dirt, gravel, or the old streets of Europe.


The Zipper

As far as durability goes, the zipper is the biggest problem most travelers have to deal with. According to ConsumerReports.org, zippers come in two styles: chain and coil. The chain ones are the stronger style since they’re made from metal. Whereas the coil zipper uses polyester to hold the coils. According to their research, you want to look for the YKK branding on your zipper to ensure the most reliable quality.

The Wheels

The next most important aspect worth considering is the wheels. Let’s face it, there isn’t anything more irritating than one wheel that doesn’t work. It’s like getting stuck with the shopping cart that doesn’t want to turn. Spinner suitcases with four wheels attach the wheels externally which can cause them to break easier than the two-wheeled suitcases. The better luggage will use screws to attach them instead of rivets so it’s a good idea to check this and also, to move them around and see how well they spin and roll.

The Handle

If you’re buying a carry-on spinner or any luggage with a retractable handle, you want to test it. You should be able to pull it in and out and spin, push and pull the suitcase without it rattling or wiggling, according to ConsumerReports.org. It should retract smoothly and pull out easily, ideally with a few stop points so you can decide how far you want the handle to pull out based on your height and preference.

Gimmicks can be neat but focus on quality first when buying luggage

Hard or Soft Sided Suitcases

The two standards these days are hard and soft-sided suitcases. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Soft Sided

  • More room to expand
  • Familiar
  • Can rip and tear
  • Easy to break into
  • Usually much heavier than polycarbonate spinners

Airlines determine carryon size limits so always be sure your bag will fit before packing it


If you do decide to go with a soft-sided suitcase, be sure to buy one with a high-denier material which measures the weight of the fabric, not the quality. You may find that soft sided works best as carry-on, but it can rapidly expand past the weight and size restrictions imposed by the airline.

Hard Sided

  • Durable but not as long-lasting as soft-sided
  • Doesn’t tear or rip
  • Can’t be cut open with a knife
  • Can be very lightweight
  • Easily scuffs and shows marks and dents
  • Not as much room to expand

If durability is your biggest factor in deciding what suitcase to buy, consider aluminum. Although it’s the heaviest material, it is also the most durable.

Recommended Products

Here are some of the suitcases we recommend for domestic and international travel.

Zero Halliburton Bag

For Durability: Zero Halliburton Carry-On in Aluminum

With expandable pockets and a dedicated sleeve for your laptop, this Zero Halliburton bag is made for the traveling executive who values the durability of an aluminum exterior. Made from Cordura nylon inside with padding for extra protection of your valuables, this is a suitcase that will last many years of regular travel. Buy this Zero Halliburton suitcase for just $775. It’s a great alternative to more expensive Rimowa luggage.

Briggs and Riley Baseline Expandable Carry On

For Expandability: Briggs & Riley Domestic Expandable Carry-On Spinner

One of the top reviewed brands, Briggs & Riley has revolutionized the way travelers pack. It features a main compartment capable of expanding 25%, plus an additional compartment designed for suits or blazers. Made from ballistic nylon, it’s a well-crafted spinner that will keep up with you wherever you go. Get this Briggs & Riley spinner for just $519.

Samsonite Stryde Glider Spinner

For Maneuverability: Samsonite Stryde Hardside Glider

From the classic suitcase maker Samsonite comes this new take on shape and maneuverability. Oriented on the horizontal rather than the vertical, this suitcase offers a wider handle and surface area on which to prop your other luggage. The wheels spin and maneuver like a dream, and unlike vertical bags that need to be tipped on their side and then opened, this suitcase opens like a book from the bottom, for easier opening and closing. Check out the Samsonite Stryde Hardside Glider here.

Samsonite Cosmolite Spinner

For Lightest Weight: Samsonite Black Label Cosmolite Spinner

To strip your luggage to the bare minimum weight, consider the Samsonite Black Label Cosmolite Spinner. Like any product designed to optimize a single feature, this bag is less than 3 kilograms but it is constructed from a new, high-tech thermoplastic that doesn’t have a long track record in the market. It’s also on the pricey side for an otherwise standard looking piece of luggage, but if weight is your priority, this one is about as light as they get.

Suitcase DOs and DON’Ts

DO buy bags that aren’t black or navy so you can distinguish them in a crowd.
DO tie coloured ribbons or place distinguishing markings on black or commonly seen luggage that otherwise may accidentally be grabbed by the wrong person.
DO bring a bag slightly larger than you need to make room for dirty laundry, gifts or souvenirs.
DO test the suitcase before buying to see how easily it moves and spins.
DO test suitcases after purchase on different textural floors like wood, carpet, grass, etc to see how it moves.
DONT listen to labels and promotions when buying luggage, especially regarding carry-on size. There is no “official luggage” and restrictions are imposed by the individual airlines and often change based on the aircraft. A 2015 Consumer Reports investigation found that nine out of eleven models measured were larger than claimed by the manufacturer.
DONT buy suitcases secondhand unless you can confirm it is in excellent working order and does not have any damage.
DONT buy a suitcase based on looks but instead, based on materials and ease of use.
DONT buy suitcases from no-name brands you’ve never heard of; they may be cheap replicas
DONT borrow luggage, if at all possible; they may contain something you don’t want to be found with or smell like an illegal substance, which dogs and technology used by customs and security can detect small traces up to a year old


We hope you’ve enjoyed this primer on suitcases. What brand do you prefer? Any tips when purchasing suitcases?

Types of travel bags

Men’s travel bag

Durable bag in printed polyester with reinforced bottom and two handles. Inside there is a large compartment, outside there is a pocket for small things such as keys, glasses, etc. Ergonomic design, not too pretentious – after all, the bag is intended for men – but not boring either. For easy portability, the handles are equipped with a soft, palm-free connector.There is also a shoulder strap, the length of which is adjustable.

The dimensions of this model, 62 x 37 x 30 cm, fit within the limits of carry-on luggage for a number of airlines. It is versatile and indispensable for men who often travel on business trips, visit a fitness center, and love outings. The reinforced bottom reliably protects the contents of the bag from moisture and dirt. The main material is ZYC polyester, which is quite dense and waterproof. On both sides, the model is decorated with decorative stitching, which “holds” the handles and gives additional attractiveness.Grizzly branded logo on the front. The bag is rightfully called all-weather, so it can be safely taken on short and long trips by any means of transport.

Men’s travel bags >>>

Women’s travel bag

Quite a roomy bag, although you can’t tell right away. And this is a big plus of the model, because women love that practicality and aesthetics go hand in hand.Nice design – cute poppies on a brown field. The reinforced bottom with protective plastic legs allows you to put it on a horizontal surface and calmly rummage through the contents without fear of falling on its side. But this is very important for a woman if she travels with children and her hands are constantly busy. Nylon, from which this model is sewn, has increased wear resistance and does not tear even after prolonged use. Two additional pockets, one on the inside and the other on the outside, keep all your important little things close at hand.Such a bag will be an excellent purchase for a girl who leads an active lifestyle. In between travels, there is always a use for it, you can go to fitness with it.

Convertible bag

It’s good when a woman has a lot of bags in her arsenal for a variety of occasions, only where to get so much money to satisfy her needs. Therefore, the designers took and came up with a transformer bag, which “with a slight movement of the hand” turns into another model by changing the shape and volume.This handbag is a real find for ladies whose life is fast-paced and full of events. When its corners are folded inward, it looks like a fashionable accessory in casual style. One has only to straighten the corners, as additional volume is released, and you can collect things for a trip.

The simplest version of a women’s transformer bag, like this one, expands without additional elements. There are also products with magnetic latches, buttons, zippers. They are more voluminous, they can fit a lot of things, but this bag is universal.Imagine that you flew to a foreign city, settled in a hotel, emptied your bag by hanging things in the closet. And then we folded the corners of the bag inside and went sightseeing!

Women’s travel bags >>>

Leather bag

It looks vintage and aristocratic, but requires an appropriate appearance from the traveler. An expensive suit and genuine leather shoes will be a more suitable addition to a bag than jeans and sneakers.This sleek travel bag is hardly used today because it is impractical and quickly loses its polish once it is in the luggage compartment.

Rolling suitcase

A functional accessory that will last for many years. Spacious main compartment with fixed straps, outer and inner pockets and very light weight, less than 3.5 kg. For a suitcase measuring 72x44x32 cm, this is not much at all. The telescopic handle and four castors are a guarantee of ease of movement, while the combination lock and waterproof travel bag are pleasant bonuses for travelers.

Suitcases >>>


Anatomical back, many pockets inside and outside, comfortable shoulder straps and a reinforced handle – with such a backpack you are not afraid of any scrapes. Made of waterproof polyester, it is not afraid of dampness and the scorching sun. Its dimensions are exactly the same as the carry-on baggage on the plane should have. Therefore, you can fly with it with any low-cost airline, even at No luggage fares.Do not forget that a backpack is a very fashionable accessory that young people of both genders often prefer to all other types of travel bags.

Youth backpacks >>>

Recommendations for choosing a travel bag

Each of the bags above has its own pros and cons. It is better to take a backpack on a hike, on a business trip by car – a bag, on vacation with the whole family – a suitcase on wheels.Sports bags with handles and an adjustable shoulder strap are suitable for any travel.

A few words about materials. Natural leather cannot be called practical, although it looks expensive and noble. Modern synthetic materials polyester and nylon are not only cheaper but also stronger. They do not fade in the sun, are not afraid of water and frost.

The suitcase should be chosen for the expected amount of luggage, then it will be really convenient to travel with it.Models with a retractable handle and castors are considered the most comfortable, with four wheels being better than two. Double zippers are more secure than regular zippers. If you plan to check in your baggage in the hold, it is strongly recommended to secure it with a combination lock.

And one last tip: if you want to make a really cool gift for a good person, but don’t know which one, buy him a travel bag. This is the most desirable thing for a traveler.

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