The luggage-buying process used to be something of a crapshoot — usually a very pricey crapshoot. Designer brands were stylish but exorbitantly overpriced (we’re looking at you, Rimowa) while “off” brands were inexpensive but bland and prone to falling apart after a few trips. Now, though, there are options for every type of traveler that are both reliable and affordable. From carry-all backpacks to compact hard-sided carry-ons to wheeled duffel bags designed for adventure gear, here are the best luggage brands.
For the Gentleman Traveler
We’ve long been fans of Arlo Skye. Every bag in the lineup is deceptively sleek and polished with an aesthetic that’s industrial and contemporary, yet timeless. Under the hood, the luggage features forward-thinking features perfect for the modern traveler. The carry-ons, for example, feature a removable 10,050mAh battery pack with multiple USB ports, while their checked bags are generously sized and cleverly laid out to divide up several weeks worth of goods. All are engineered with an antimicrobial liner and wrapped in a near-bulletproof polycarbonate (or aluminum) shell that’s zipper-less and unbreakable. Plus, they all roll effortlessly on ultra-quiet spinner wheels, so no one will ever hear you coming.
For the Urban Explorer
If you’re an expert packer, you’ve experienced the joy of traveling without checking a bag. Tortuga’s line of backpacks allows modern minimalist travelers to pack everything they might need in a single carry-on-friendly bag. Their lineup consists of just three bags and, frankly, there’s hardly need for any more. Their bestselling Outbreaker and Setout Backpacks are each available in 35L or 45L capacities. The latter is maximum carry-on sized with enough room for a long weekend — or even a full week — away. The interiors are cleverly designed to keep all your gear, including a 17-inch laptop and all your travel essentials, in check. The exterior of every bag is streamlined, but sophisticated — perfect for travelers who prefer stealthy urban exploration with the occasional day hike outside the city.
For the Flashy Sophisticate
At first blush, Away’s luggage lineup bears a striking resemblance to Arlo Skye’s. Both offer carry-on and ” bigger carry-on bags” with ejectable TSA-friendly batteries plus larger checked versions — all with lockable zipper-less closures and near-indestructible exteriors. Likewise, both boast striking, beautiful designs. For pure aesthetic points, however, we tip our cap to Away. Their core lineup is available in 10 colors, but for our money, theis the best way to ensure everyone at the airport knows you’ve arrived. The bold look confidently affirms, “I have many Italian suits, fine scotches, and fancy watches in here.” Even if you don’t, at least you can fake it before you make it, right?
For the Budget-Conscious Minimalist
For decades, “budget” luggage was synonymous with “cheap.” Most sub-$100 bags lacked durability or any semblance of style. In addition to a deep catalog of thousands of travel-related products, eBags has quietly made a name for itself with self-branded luggage that’s stylish, affordable, and extremely functional. The eBags TLS Mother Lode soft-sided line runs the gamut from ultra-packable weekender backpacks to carry-on-friendly wheeled duffel bags designed for a week or more away. The best part is that most bags in the lineup are priced at $150 or less — lifetime warranty included.
eBags TLS Mother Lode
The North Face
For the Modern Expeditioner
If you’re the adventurous sort who needs to pack heavy, a carry-on isn’t going to cut it. You need a wheeled duffel bag. We’ve long been fans of The North Face bags for their reliability (backed by a lifetime guarantee), versatility, and rugged looks. The company’s wheeled adventure bags like the aptly namedstow plenty of outdoor gear (whether for hiking, skiing, diving, BASE jumping — whatever you’re into) in a versatile, durable, easy-to-roll form factor. Smart design elements like external zippered dirty clothes compartments, Sherpa straps (for piggybacking your backpack to the duffel’s exterior), and foot pegs to make sure the bag always stands upright, are all welcome touches.
Briggs and Riley
For the Classic Vagabond
Briggs and Riley has mastered the art of understated elegance. Every product in their catalog feels timeless and sophisticated with equal doses of contemporary and classic design. It’s a look that’s infinitely more impressive in person than on the computer screen. We love their clever design features like luggage with an “outside” handle that guarantees a completely flat interior for better packing (something that most other brands fail to get right). The proprietary CX Compression-Expansion system cleverly expands the bag by up to 25%, so you have plenty of room to bring those extra bottles of duty-free cognac home. What’s more: the brand stands firmly behind its travel products with one of the best warranties in the business. They’ll repair any damaged or broken bag free of charge with no proof of purchase necessary.
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