Although the travel landscape has changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, vacationing is coming back and people are being creative about finding ways to get out and explore the world again safely. Whether you’re seeking inspiration on new places to visit or looking for some often-overlooked spots for your next road trip, one thing is certain: you need to have the right luggage for your next trip.
When shopping for suitcases you’ve really got two basic styles to choose from — hard-shell suitcases or soft suitcases. While both options have their pros and cons, increasingly hard-case suitcases are becoming a popular choice for travelers. Hardside suitcases, like the Away suitcase, are so popular because they offer users added protection for packed items as well as easy-to-maneuver, 360-degree wheels and handles that make hauling your luggage through hotels, airports, or parking lots a breeze.
What Are Hard-Shell Suitcases?
True to their name, hard shell suitcases are designed with a static, non-flexible hard casing. Materials used today are high-tech and offer protection while also being lightweight. You’ll find hard-case suitcases made from ABS, polycarbonate and occasionally aluminum. Typically, hard suitcases feature a 50/50 split opening with zippered pouches and straps to keep items securely fastened to either side of the luggage. While most better hard shell bags are designed with this clamshell-style design, some simply zipper open-lid style. If properly packed, hard-shell suitcases can offer a higher level of protection for delicate items, as well as provide more weather protection to items inside.
Best Hard Case Suitcases Available Now
1. Ben Sherman Norwich Luggage Collection
What Makes It Worth It: This luggage set offers 20- and 28-inch pieces with 2-inch expansion, as well as multidirectional eight-wheel spinners for easy rolling on varied terrain. The trolley handles lock into position and extends to 41 inches which should make it easier for one-handed rolling. The inside offers garment straps as well as a large U-shaped zipper pocket as well as a mesh zipper pocket. The exteriors are tough (self-described as practically indestructible) and the interiors are fully lined. We appreciate the reinforced molded corner guards that should help increase overall durability.
Promising Review: “I got this for my son for Christmas because he was going to be traveling abroad for the first time in March. I have to say, I was a little jealous and wished that I had it for my own luggage set. Super sturdy and rolled smoothly. Totally worth the money and he loved it.” — AmazonAnnie
Price: $138.06 at Amazon
2. Rockland Melbourne Hardside Expandable Spinner Wheel Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: This carry-on bag comes in a rainbow of colors making spotting your luggage at baggage claim easier. We love that the center zipper allows for baggage expansion in case you find yourself coming home from a trip with a few extra items. To help you further organize inside, you’ll find a mesh zip and elastic pocket. While you should always double-check with airlines, this carry-on meets the size restrictions for United, American, Delta, Southwest, and Allegiant Air.
Positive Review: “The outer shell is rugged, the zippers performed as [one] would expect a zipper to perform. While I didn’t expand the sides for additional room, I played with it to see if it worked right, and it did … All in all, this carry-on exceeded my expectations.” — Yvonne
Price: $134.29 at Amazon
3. Samsonite Omni 2 Hardside Expandable Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: For charging on the go, this suitcase offers a USB charging port that can be connected inside a battery pack. The 100% polycarbonate construction makes this bag both lightweight and durable. There is also a TSA lock for added protection, as well as a zipper to expand the bag size by 1.5 inches. The luggage uses the clamshell style for organizing your items with a full-zip interior divider and cross straps.
Promising Review: “Love this suitcase. The rollers are wonderful. Your clothing/items are held nice. The added place for your phone to be charged is a plus! Light, yet strong.” — M. Beechy
Price: $111.49 at Amazon
4. Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner Luggage Collection
What Makes It Worth It: This unique design is “dent proof” allowing for impact absorption with the hard shell able to pop back into its original shape. The 100% polycarbonate construction offers four 360-degree-spinner wheels as well as a telescopic handle. The interior is divided with cross straps and zippered organization pockets. The luggage offers a TSA-approved combination lock.
Promising Review: “Absolutely love this piece. It is lightweight and holds more than expected. It is a must-have medium-size travel bag if you want one piece of luggage to travel with you.” — Traveler 49
Price: $209.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond
5. Kenneth Cole Reaction Renegade Hardside Expandable Spinner Luggage Set
What Makes It Worth It: If you need a full set of luggage, this set is a good value. You get a 20-inch carry-on, 24-inch medium and 28-inch larger-sized hard-shell luggage, all of these pieces include expansion zippers and locking retractable trolley handles. Eight-wheel spinners offer 360-degree movement. The luggage is constructed from ABS and is fully lined. For organization, you will find accessory pockets, garment restraints, and zipper pockets. In addition, under the lid, you have an organizer for shoes.
Promising Review: “Held up fantastic on 2 international trips with multiple flight changes and cruise ship security. Easy to roll through the airports. Packed winter clothes for 2 people for 12 days. Cilantro color is easy to identify w/o being too flashy.” — Beverly
Price: $349.99 at Macy’s
6. American Tourister Burst Max Printed Hardside Spinner Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: The fun bright print puts a smile on your face, and it’s easy to find at baggage claims. This bag offers a 1.5-inch expansion and has single spinner wheels with a telescoping handle. It’s constructed with ABS and polyester and offers multiple organizing pockets, like a zipper mesh pocket, modesty pocket as well as cross straps.
Promising Review: “Great suitcase. Best one I’ve owned.” — Caren W.
Price: $83.19 at Kohls
7. Samsonite Ziplite 5 Hardside Spinner Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: Not your grandma’s suitcase, this bag has an interesting futuristic look with its polycarbonate mesh texture design. For added security, this bag offers a TSA lock. The interior follows a simple clamshell design, with one side fully zipped and a mesh pocket and the other side secured with flexible cross straps.
Promising Review: “Great suitcase. It held up really well with my recent trip and the lock was easy to use.” — Drea
Price: $134.39 at Kohls
8. Made By Design Hardshell 20-Inch Carry-on Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: The smart, simple modern look of this carry-on is stylish and attractive, and so are the colorways offered. This lightweight carry-on is less than 10 pounds and can hold up to 50 pounds worth of gear. It’s constructed from polycarbonate and ABS with an expandable zipper. Interior organization includes zippered compartments, a mesh pocket and cross straps. Included as well is an exterior luggage lock.
Promising Review: “My mom recommended this bag for an upcoming trip and it is SO spacious! Also, it rolls so smoothly and I love the deep compartments that give me so much more space to spread out and organize my things. I just wish they had a medium-size option to have with the carry-on for longer trips. Highly recommend this bag!” — Monica1995
Price: $89.99 at Target
9. DELSEY Paris Titanium Hardside Expandable Luggage
What Makes It Worth It: If you are looking to invest in a bag from a brand that has a reputation for durability and quality, you should consider investing in Delsey luggage. We love the easy-access pocket which is a unique addition to this style bag. Instead of unzipping the entire bag, you can unzip a small portion (near the top) and access a few important small items easily. This bag is made from 100% polycarbonate with a cool metallic finish.
Promising Review: “Holding up nicely. I’ve taken this little bag to Europe and on several domestic trips. It’s holding up very nicely. The wheels are good quality and the handle is durable. I am using this as a personal travel bag, but I am a flight attendant in my professional life. I wish I could use this bag for work, (I have specific luggage that I must use) because I really like this bag. I do consider myself a luggage expert as I have basically been living out of suitcases and hotels for 28 years, so, please trust me when I tell you that Delsey makes a great bag. If you’re considering purchasing, go ahead. You won’t be disappointed.” — Wawa
Price: $108.81 at Amazon
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