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As travel slowly becomes a part of our lives again, it’s time to take a good, hard look at checked luggage you’re using.
Your checked luggage will hold some of your most valuable belongings, including all of the clothes you’ll wear, for a week or more. It’s also the place you can safely store items, like full-sized bottles of sunscreen, which aren’t permitted in a carry-on.
Modern checked luggage is designed with handy features like rotating wheels, comfortable handle, combination lock, and ample pockets designed to hold specific accessories (especially technology) that have become travel staples.
If you’re just investing in your first set of luggage, all of our picks will have you covered for years of adventures yet to come. If you’ve been using the same checked luggage for decades, our recommendations are worth the upgrade.
What Is The Best Checked Luggage?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right checked luggage; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Weight: Our checked luggage recommendations weigh around 11 pounds, which is standard for hard-shell luggage. Most airlines have a 50 pound weight limit for checked bags, and will charge a nominal fee if it’s over that amount.
Size: The checked luggage we’re recommending in this guide is roughly 30 inches tall and 20 inches wide. You don’t need to worry about fitting any of these bags in an overhead bin, so size isn’t as important as it is when selecting a carry-on. Checked bags of this size should hold enough gear for a two week trip, or longer if you have access to a washing machine.
Style: All of the checked luggage we’re recommending is considered “hard shelled,” which means it’s made from a material like plastic instead of fabric. We prefer hard shelled checked luggage because it offers more protection.
Lock: All of the checked bags we’re recommending have a built-in combination lock, which prevents its zippers from opening up mid-flight. The TSA can get into these bags using a key if necessary.
Wheels: All of the checked luggage in this guide have 360-degree rotating wheels, which makes it easier to navigate through airports, and on public transportation.
1. Paravel Aviator Grand
We’ve taken Paravel’s Aviator Grand on an international trip, and its hands-down the best piece of checked luggage we’ve ever tested.
At 28-inches tall and 19.7 inches wide it’s a little on the small side, but we had no trouble fitting two week’s worth of clothing (including a couple of pairs of shoes) and technology inside. Despite its smaller size, the Aviator Grand is actually the heaviest checked bag in this guide, weighing in at 11.8 pounds.
When it’s open, the Aviator Grand’s main compartments make it easy to pack efficiently. A zipper allows you to completely close off one section, while the other side features a thick divider and a pair of straps. This design prevented our gear from moving around too much in flight, and we were pleasantly surprised at just how well it worked in practice. Everything we packed stayed put.
The main reason checked luggage get worn down is that you’re not in control of it for the majority of your trip. Once a checked bag is out of your hands at the airport, you won’t touch it until you reach your destination. The Aviator Grand held up very well after a day-long multi-leg trip, accumulating only a few scratches. Its wheels even remained smooth after being subjected to a mix of concrete, rocks, and gravel. This checked bag will keep you with you whether you’re traveling to a city or more rural area.
One of our favorite features of the Aviator Grand is its Earth-friendly construction. This luggage is made out of several sustainable materials, including recycled bottles, zippers, and aluminum. Paravel says the materials it used can roughly offset the carbon emissions of your first flight with it. If you’re taking a long trip any time soon, Paravel’s Aviator Grand should be one of your companions.
2. Victorinox Lexicon Hardside Expandable Spinner
Victorinox’s Hardside Expandable Spinner have become our go-to checked bag on trips where we need just a little more space.
It’s 29.5-inches tall, 19.7-inches wide, and 12.6 inches deep. That added depth (and height) allowed us to pack more than we could fit into Paravel’s Aviator Grand, and may be big enough to prevent you from having to take a carry-on. If you’ve traditionally traveled with two carry-on bags, you could definitely replace it with this one.
When it’s opened, Victorinox’s Hardside Expandable Spinner has a zippered divider on one side, and a pair of X-shaped compression straps on the other. This system worked fairly well, but we found ourselves wishing Victorinox included a thick divider in addition to the compression straps. They did include a suiter, though, which can keep your formalware protected when traveling.
At first blush, we thought Victorinox’s checked luggage would be a little too big to handle, but that didn’t end being the case. Its wheels were so smooth that we could maneuver through throngs of fellow travelers leaving the airport with relative ease. Its handle extended and contracted immediately when necessary, which also helped while getting in and out of cars and taxis.
The Lexicon Hardside Expandable Spinner managed to make a piece full-sized checked luggage as travel-friendly as a carry-on, which is no small feat. We even feel comfortable recommending the 31-inch Extra Large model, which has the same friendly design, but can hold even more stuff.
3. Samsonite Outline Pro Large Spinner
Samsonite’s Outline Pro Large Spinner offers a compelling mix of helpful features at an incredibly compelling price point.
The Outline Pro is 31-inches tall, 21-inches wide, and 13.8-inches deep, which makes it the largest piece of checked luggage in this guide. Despite those measurements, the luggage weighs just 10.1 pounds, which makes it the lightest. Samsonite’s use of polypropylene and recycled fabric adds up to a piece of luggage that perfectly balances size and weight.
One side of the Outline Pro is a zippered pocket, which can be fully sealed, while the other features a pair of compression straps and a thick divider on the other. Samsonite’s divider also has two pockets, one designed to hold damp clothes, and another that provides quick access to your most important gear. We recommend using that second pocket to store a clean set of clothes, so you can change once you reach your destination.
Our favorite little touch is that Samsonite used a custom material in this checked luggage’s handles that’s naturally antimicrobial, which can help prevent bacteria from growing. Keeping yourself clean while traveling has never been more important, so we consider this a key feature. These little touches make Samsonite’s Outline Pro Large Spinner easy to recommend, especially at its modest $240 price.
Note: If you tend to pack a lot, we recommend picking up Samsonite’s Electronic Scale, which will help you avoid hitting your airline’s checked bag weight limit.
4. Monos Check-In Large
Monos makes our favorite carry-on, and all of the things we like about that piece can be found on its Check-In Large luggage.
It clocks in at 30-inches tall, 21-inches wide, and 11-inches deep, and weighs just over 10.5 pounds. Monos estimates you should be able to hold enough stuff in its suitcase for trips that last between one and three weeks. The Check-In Large has one zippered pocket, and comes with a divider and straps to keep contents in its other pocket from moving around mid-flight. Monos also includes an anti-microbial laundry bag, two shoe bags, and a vegan leather luggage tag with this piece.
The Check-In Large’s handle has four distinct height settings, which makes it accessible to more travelers than most other luggage. If you’re traveling with multiple people, the ability to hand off your checked bag seamlessly is a big deal. We’re also impressed that the fabric Monos uses on the inside of this bag is anti-microbial, so bacteria has less of a chance of growing on your gear while you travel.
Finally, Monos always offers its luggage in a couple of fun, limited-edition prints that really catch the eye. This is important because it’ll allow you to easily spot your checked luggage at baggage claim. If you want smartly-designed checked luggage that also looks really nice, Monos’ Check-In Large is an excellent pick.