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.
When deciding on a particular type of luggage, consider your style of travel. The best luggage is available in hard- and soft-sided varieties. Rugged, go-anywhere adventurers who pack light and are constantly on the move might do well with a traditional duffle bag or convertible backpack. Urban explorers who slow travel mainly in cities might want a hard-sided carry-on bag with zero-weight wheels that make for easy rolling. Whatever your flavor of luggage — from carry-all backpacks to compact carry-ons to wheeled duffels — here are the best luggage brands for every type of traveler.
For the Contemporary Urbanite
For the cosmopolitan traveler who appreciates contemporary minimalism, Monos luggage is close to perfect. The aesthetic is sleek and streamlined, bordering on space-age — the perfect accompaniment to take aboard the first space tourist flights. Indeed, the brand takes a “less is more” approach and even the name is inspired by the Japanese concept of mono no aware (a deep appreciation of beauty in fleeting moments). The Carry-On Pro Plus, for example, offers the perfect balance of durability, size, premium features, and price. The polycarbonate shell can take a beating, even for frequent travelers, while the spacious interior is designed to hold everything you’ll need for a week away, plus a front pocket to stash your 15-inch laptop. Yet, it still fits neatly in the overhead bins of most major U.S. airlines. Plus, every piece offers a telescoping handle, ultra-quiet wheels, and vegan leather detailing. Pair yours with a set of compressible packing cubes, and you’re organized and ready to go just about anywhere.
For the Heritage Traveler
Monos nails the space-age look, but Zero Halliburton has legit space-age heritage. The legendary American brand first introduced travelers to aluminum cases more than 80 years ago. It’s a design that’s been copied and imitated ever since because, of course, no look makes a bolder, “I have arrived” statement than brushed aluminum luggage. There’s a reason why, when NASA needed to carry moon rocks back to earth in 1969, it relied on Zero Halliburton’s iconic cases. The brand recently redesigned its lineup with all-new colors, styles, and forward-thinking features. Concave Edging, for example, provides a sturdier, more impact-resistant shell than traditional convex-based designs. Plus, it looks great to boot. The proprietary ZH Chassis now ensures better ground clearance and improves the brand’s already great smooth-rolling wheel system. Though pricier than most options on this list, Zero Halliburton still delivers better value for your money than any other premium luggage maker.
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 a streamlined, nearly indestructible outer shell that’s striking and handsome. 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 travel-related products, eBags has quietly made a name for itself with self-branded luggage that’s stylish, affordable, and extremely functional. Thesoft-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.
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 good looks. The company’s wheeled adventure bags like the aptly named 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.stow plenty of outdoor gear (whether for
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.
For budget-friendly options, check out the best under-$50 luggage available on Amazon right now.
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