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Suitcase choices

Hi
I would love a recommendation for a hard suitcase that is light and easy to use. I plan on being in Europe for almost three weeks but wish to pack as light as possible. I hope to check one bag only and need advice on a good lightweight suitcase and size, pls
thank you

Posted by
982 posts

I LOVE the EagleCreek soft side suitcases, like the Tarmac and GearWarrior. Ours have held up for YEARS!! You can often find them cheaper on Amazon. Or, with BlackFriday & CyberMonday approaching - there will be a good sale then if you can wait.

If you are looking for hard side, we like our 'Away' suitcases too - but they are pricey.

Ebags and Amazon also have a good selection. As does TJ Maxx.

Know that the larger 2 wheeled suitcases do better on cobblestone than the 4 wheels (they are miserable in EU). So def get the 2 wheeled, NOT the 4 wheeled spinners.

For 'checked' luggage - we tend to go with 26in - no larger as any bigger is tough off and on trains. Our 26in is perfect as a checked bag.

Posted by
1587 posts

I love my husband's Lojel suitcase. Lojel is a Japanese brand which really stands for its quality and design. It's not cheap but well worth it. The Lojel has been with us for years and still as good as new (except for outside dirt). It's lightweight (for a hardsided case) and opens in 80-20 style (vs the 50-50 or book style), and so it's easy to pack. The largest size packs a ton.

The newest Cubo line is hardsided but opens up exactly like a softsided case. My next luggage will be of this line.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you so much for your suggestions because there are such a variety of suitcases out there.
Appreciate the advice

Posted by
8632 posts

buddy7, I dont use or like hardshell luggage, but I understand the brand with a big current following is Away. My wife likes her Heys hardshell spinner, but I cant say why.

Posted by
7618 posts

My Delsey Helium International Carry-On hard shell spinner is the lightest case out there, and has lots of handy pockets and compartments for organizing. Expandable with zippered feature. Without expanding, it’s actually smaller than a full international carry-on, although it has worked fine for several 2-week European trips as my carry-on only luggage (along with taking a small lumbar pack to supplement).

Really good price, too. If price is no object, look at a Briggs and Riley Simpatico.

Posted by
1259 posts

Selecting a bag is a discussion that approaches religious fervor around here. Once you decide on a hardshell, you must select two or four wheels. Budget. Color. Internal organization. Expandable?

You ca look back over a few months' worth of posts to this Packing forum and find a dozen recommendations. Don't forget Costco and power shopping the clearance sales at your mall.

Editorial notes: 1. "Packing light" and "check one bag only" are mutually exclusive events. 2. If you have not ever packed lightly for three weeks before, and you have a few weeks before you leave on your trip, spend a few hours researching "packing light". Could change your life.

Happy and safe adventures. Drop by after you get home and file a report. Many of us are traveling through the experiences of others these days.

Posted by
15666 posts

It's a very broad topic. If you could answer the following questions, we could probably narrow it down.

What is your budget?? You can get them for under $100 (walmart specials) to well over $1000.

What size--checked is ambiguous. Amything over 22" is for checking. Will you be moving around much? Via car? Trains?

Two or four wheels? (There aren't a lot of two wheeled made anymore.)

Reason you want hard sided vs soft sided. Unless you have extremely fragile items, soft suitcases today hold up very well. In fact, baggage handlers report more damage with hard sided cases than soft.

Posted by
26 posts

To answer some of the questions:

I was interested in a hard suitcase because they appear much lighter and when I mentioned checked bag, I am thinking 24".
My budget is around $150 to $200. Traveling through Europe from Milan to Tuscany and so I will be on a train probably
three times. Will only be traveling with luggage to move from one hotel to another. Will not have luggage for excursions and just want to be able to lift the luggage on train so light is important.
thanks so much

Posted by
1587 posts

These days, I won't travel with a soft sided case with woven fabric materials. They trap dust and even bed bugs! If you have a hard sided case, then wiping it down is all you need to clean it.

Talking about bed bugs--pick hotels that don't have carpeted rooms.

BTW, my Eagle Creek soft sided case (with non-woven fabric materials) just failed two weeks ago. Now that the company has been sold, I will see if they still honor their "No Matter What" warranty.

Posted by
15666 posts

For your requirements, I suggest:

If you have a discount store like TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Ross, they carry a large amount of discounted luggage. Take a tape measure and a luggage scale. For 24", you will probably be able to find a bag between 5 and 10 lbs.

Samsonite and Delsey make good quality bags in your price and weight range. Amazon's own brand, Amazon Basics, also have a series of bags that fit your requirements but I have no experience with them.

Don't rule out soft sided regarding weight. There are some that are very lightweight.

Buddy7,
You are going to receive a deluge of responses to your question - particularly because many of us are somewhat stuck dithering due to the pandemic and love “connecting” on this forum.

First - check the baggage requirements of the airline you will use. Then, develop your own set of criteria based on those requirements. The luggage industry and designs available are always changing. So, you just have to check out what is available at the time you are buying. For international carry-on, here are some basic criteria: 38 - 45 liters (38 for semi-minimalists), 4 - 7 lb.s weight empty, dimensions 20 - 21” x 14” x 9.” Note - it is very important to measure the case (wheels on the ground) from the floor to the top handle (not extended). Use a tape measure. Here are some good brands to check out: osprey.com, Deuter, delsey. This will get you started. (I prefer soft sided luggage, in case it needs to be squished into a compartment.)
I see you are interested in checked luggage. Again, learn the airline’s criteria first - then select your case in a similar fashion to above. Try to stay with a 25” bag or shorter. The smaller your case, the easier to handle. There is a place for large luggage, but that’s a different topic.

Oh I forgot! This is a tangent - I highly recommend packing cubes, shirt folders, etc.. Really helps. Bright colors are easier to see and less likely to get left behind.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you so much for the reply. I am trying to take a suitcase as small as possible for checking but three weeks is a long time and I am presently in the process of figuring it all out. I will be on the train three times with a suitcase just traveling from destination to destination yet I remember years ago going not the train in Europe and my suitcase was too big - I am hoping to stay 24" because I can' seem to get everything in 22".

appreciate all the responses.

Posted by
230 posts

I don't have a recommendation for a hard sided case but my wife and I check one bag each and have never used larger than a two wheel 21 x 14 x 9 bag. Though we only travel from late May to early October so heavy clothing is not an issue. We do laundry in our room or at a laundromat if pants or shirts require it. We have been in Europe as long as three weeks and using this size bag has not been an issue. I take a 28L 19 x 13 x 10 backpack as my carry-on which fits under the seat. I pack a small crossbody bag that fits 2 umbrellas, water, light raincoats, and maps/book for a daily out and about bag. I also use packing cubes of assorted sizes.

Posted by
995 posts

What is the advantage of a hard suitcase versus a soft-sided one?

On 4 solo trips to Europe all my stuff fit on the plane. I took 1 to 2 changes of clothes in a 22-24 inch long travel-bag bag without wheels, with a straight-zipper closure; made of flexible woven nylon, maybe ballistic nylon, with one shoulder strap. It car be stuffed into tight spaces in overhead storage bins. I carried everything that was not clothes in a Jansport backpack with a leather bottom, the rest of the material wove nylon. and padded back and straps. Maybe when I need to replace my luggage I will look for a cylinder or 3-dimensional rectangle shaped backpack that I can put everything in instead of grappling around with the 2 pieces. If after I pack my travel-bag at home, I fine it too heavy, I know I have over-packed and I need to take something out. Taking wheel-free luggage forces you to really pack lightly.

Posted by
630 posts

@ Cyn: thanks for your input. I've been looking for an international (Swiss air) carry-on and was happy to see your post. Can you tell me what size your carry-on is that is less than a full international carry-on? I googled Delsey international carry-on and was directed to Amazon where I found DELSEY Paris Helium Aero carry-on 19 inch. I'm assuming that is the interior dimension is that seems to be the case with pretty much all advertised luggage. It seems to be difficult to find the full exterior dimensions. The requirements for Swiss air carry-on are 21.7 X 15.7 X9 inches.

Posted by
26 posts

Wow, so nice of everyone to respond with such great advice. I plan on traveling to Europe (Italy) either in April/May or September of 2022. Working on all the details over the next few months -thanks. Learning to travel light has been a challenge for me over the years and after taking too large a suitcase years ago with my daughter, I realized how hard it is to lift luggage on trains. My goal this time is to have a soft carry on bag that goes over my shoulder packed with small iPad/change of clothes, chargers/make up so its not heavy and when I get my checked bag I won't need to add a bag on top of that to move around- With everyone's kind response, I am realizing so many of you travel with the 22" and I was thinking 24" as checked luggage due to only taking something small on the plane - getting closer to working through this thanks to all of you - appreciate your advice.

Posted by
764 posts

My partner and I have always done super lightweight carry-on backpack/hand held bags. We've always measured and weighed them carefully to put as much weight in them as airlines allowed but they've become increasingly a burden on us when we have to carry them for any length of time. My partner is especially determined to go back to wheeled carry-on luggage but I'm hesitant. We'll be traveling for much longer periods of time next year and I really don't like the idea of reducing the amount I can store in the luggage. Easier maneuvering comes at the cost of maximum available storage and I need every square inch!

Buddy7,
I don’t know how big and strong you are. For most men, I recommend a 45 liter bag that is 20 - 22” long. There are many. There is a brand called Tortuga that you may want to check out online or osprey. I recommend one that has both backpack straps as well as “over the shoulder” strap. I am short and NEED backpack straps, not over the shoulder. I just physically cannot carry over the shoulder travel bags. So, get a bag that is flexible and gives you both options. You may find that backpack straps work better for you. I believe Osprey has such a bag.
The packing cubes and shirt folder, mesh bags, etc. will make a big difference.

Posted by
3259 posts

I usually check my allegedly internationally sized carryon 21.5 x14 x (I am not sure :)) carryon. This two wheeled soft sided bag is expandable in case I purchase too much on my trip, but I have never expanded it. I hate schlepping bags so I always have one set of wheels. Even a 10 lb minimalist bag gets heavy walking around the airport. Wheels were invented for a reason. LOL. So I use a carryon sized bag so I can carry it on if a flight or change of plans calls for it. If a bag is larger than this, one must check always. Soft sided bags are are more moldable to the bins as well. My personal item is 12 x 16 x 6, specifically because I fly BA. This bag can hold everything I need to continue my trip: paperwork specific to the trip, documents, financial items, meds, change of clothes, electronics and accessories including camera (which has gotten smaller). This size also makes it easily manageable and, IMO, makes my solo traveling, gray haired self look like less of a target…I think. I aim my suitcase at 20-22 lbs, and my personal item to about 6 lbs. Oh, and I travel September thru May, never in the summer, so I do wear heavier clothes…especially during winter travels, but the same suitcases work.

That being said, a family member used the 22” Away bag and a heavy crossbody computer bag…but it was their honeymoon so I suspect my nephew helped her regardless of weight. She was happy with it. I don’t like Away’s treatment of their employees, but that is just my hang up.

There is no right or wrong way. It is just nice (and fun) to evaluate other people’s systems. I have used the 21.75 Rick Steves bag for years…still looks new. I have the Eagle creel Tarmac international, but due to Covid it has yet to be tested overseas yet. Can’t wait!