We travel a lot. So a top-notch suitcase is absolutely essential for us. The Market for these cases is huge and recently flooded with cheap import cases from China and the like. Getting the right case has never been so challenging. The Good news is there are many top-quality cases available and the competition has driven priced right down so you can get a top-quality case for a few hundred dollars that can last a lifetime of travel.
We took a look at all the best Lightweight Suitcases available in 2021 to bring you the best available Suitcases for any type of traveler or budget. We pulled together a great selection of top cases from the best brands in the world so there will definitely be something here to suit your needs whether you are looking for an Ultra-light, Top-Quality case to last a lifetime or a cheap budget case to get you on your way.
What to Look For?
The Problem with most suitcases is the airline baggage limits are so strict that every lb of baggage is essential and with a poor case weighing up to 15lbs which is a huge lump of your 50lb weight limit eaten up by just the case. While it would be easy to make a really light case it still has to be strong and robust enough to survive the infamous baggage handlers’ rough treatment!
Hard Case or Soft-Sided?
Surprisingly, soft-sided cases are usually the lighter of the two types. The Hard cases look like they would be lighter but actually often weigh in slightly heavier. The exception being the ultra-light cases of Samsonite that use the woven hardshell design to get down to seriously low weights.
Soft Shells also usually have lots of handy side pockets and more nooks and crannies to store loose items. But they are looked at as more old school and not as trendy, which for some will not matter a jot but others really want a cool looking case.
But the Hardshell cases are more than just good looking. The Impact resistance casings allow for some really rough treatment by baggage handlers without failing. We have had our cases bashed about and deformed hideously coming off the plane but the contents have always been safe and sound with even bottles of alcohol surviving intact.
Really it is down to preference. Both types are reliable and tried and tested methods of getting your stuff across the world in one piece.
First, we only choose Spinner Case’s now. The days of dragging your luggage behind you are gone. The advent of the 4 Wheel Spinner cases changed everything. You can now zip through an airport with 100lbs of luggage, one case in each arm, with next to no hassle or effort. They really changed the game.
The Quality of the wheels is very important however and free-rolling wheels preferably with internal bearings are essential and dual wheels really help spread the load. Cheap cases come with all plastic wheels that barely move once loaded up with a full 50lbs of luggage. They are also a regular point of failure and losing a wheel or two on a trip seriously hinders your progress.
All wheeler cases come with extendable handles. These extend out to around waist height and allow you to move the case around with ease. Some of these handles have a real cheap feel about them and flex quite badly making the handling pretty difficult.
Most cases have separate compartments to help organize and pack effectively for your trip. The more compartments and zip pockets you have the less chance you will have of having to empty out the whole case to find a particular item. Trust us that gets annoying for the 17th time on a trip!
As a minimum, the case should be two parts with a zipped pocket at the from and a strapped main compartment with at least one zipped incidental pocket for all your little bit and bobs.
This is the single most likely point of failure. The Zips can bust free of the stitching, fail on the actual zipper or refuse to close when closing ready for the airport. A Zip failure in transit can be catastrophic and mean your belongings are cast all over the conveyor belt. We have seen it plenty of time and alway wince, secretly thinking thank god that is not us.
Ensuring the Zips are solid, robust and firmly attached to the case is one of the key elements of case design. Any case with a flimsy Zipper design will not make our list!
A good warranty not only provides peace of mons it shows how confident the manufacturer is about their product. Offering lifetime or 10-year warranties on cases that are likely to fail after a few flights is a recipe for bankruptcy. Most Warranties only cover the Parts of a case. The wheels, Zips, handles, etc. If the plastic breaks then it is likely the case has been abused beyond reasonable tolerances. usually by an airline!
However, some cases do indeed off airline damage warranties! These warranties mean you really will never need to buy another case again and really show the manufacturers pride and confidence in their product! Biggs and Riley being the notable company to offer this.
It used to be important to make sure your suitcase had an integrated TSA Lock. This means that if Airport Security want’s to look in your case they can use an industry-standard key and pop the case open undamaged. If you didn’t have one, they would bust the locks or worse. If they want to open your case they are going to, so best give them an easy way, but one that still deters real thieves, at least a bit. The Industry answer was the TSA Lock.
It still is but quite frankly any case worth even looking at WILL have a TSA lock nowadays. the standard was just so recognized and the concept so obvious almost every suitcase on the market now comes with this as standard. The Exception being Carry-on as you are likely to have these with you so having a lock is not as important as a Hold case. But still, it’s a good idea if it comes down to a deciding factor.
The Latest Buzz word for suitcases. It seems nothing is safe being made smart these days and Suitcases are no exception. However, apart from being exceedingly gimmicky features, the airline industry has taken a hardline in these features. It seems having a Lithium-Ion battery integrated into your suitcases is not conducive to safe flying and a lot of airlines simply banned them. This lead to a few firms going under and any generous warranties simply evaporating.
We say for now until these features are more mainstream and excepted, stick with a dumb suitcase and focus on quality and reliability, not the ability to plug your phone in. The Features are not particularly smart and are mainly just a Battery to charge your phone or a GPS Tracker. We recommend a Power bank stored safely in your carry on will suffice in most circumstances.
There are even Ridealong Suitcases that allow you to hop and scoot along with an electric motor. Seriously try that in a busy airport and we imagine security will ensure you “miss” your flight.
The Best Lightweight Suitcases 2020 – List
We have decided to list our cases by Brand and provide a score based on several factors such as cost, durability, features, warranty weight, and stylishness. But the most important factor is our BEST FOR Rating. No one case suits all kinds of travelers so we picked a case out for every possible type of traveler we can think of.
We have focused on top brands as they rely on a reputation of reliability to keep on thriving. The market has been flooded with a thousand cheap knock-off brands all of which may be fantastic cases or equally incredible disappointments ready to fail as soon a baggage handler gets a bit over-excited with your luggage.
Samsonite is credited with being the inventors of the hard sides spinner luggage that has changed the way we navigate airports. They have been offering these cases since 2004. These lightweight and easily moved cases have hugely simplified the way we get out luggage through the airport and into our hotels. Simply put we would not use another design. However, the concept has been taken on by many manufacturers and 4 wheel Spinner are now the standard case available. However, Samsonite is still the market leader and offers some seriously light high tech cases that will last for years and come with a 10-year warranty!
Samsonite Black Label Cosmolite 3.0
BEST FOR – Saving every last Oz
The third incarnation of Samsonite’s Cosmolite Case. The Curv technology and Woven plastic make for an incredibly light yet still superbly strong case. The First impression on handling this case is this cannot be strong enough! The Build and feel of the Case are so light and flexible it feels it can’t possibly stand up to the rigors of air travel.
The Truth is the case is every bit as tough and durable as its weightier rivals. The wheels are rock solid and roll smoothly. The Single pole design of the main handle makes for an easier and more reliable extension as twin pole designs can stick.
The Interior is No Frill with no lining and only a single top pocket plus an accessories pouch. The bare-bones design intended to keep weight to an absolute minimum. Naturally, it has a TSA Lock and the sturdy zippers are bonded and integrated into the plastic. Meaning the case will not fail.
Overall this is a top of the line case intended to last and backed with a 10-year warranty. However, the Price is also right at the top end and is the 1-1.5 kg saves really worth the high cost?
Samsonite S’Cure Hardside Luggage with Double Spinner Wheels
- Zipperless – Tri-Lock Design
- Weight 10lbs 4.6kg
- Large Volume = 102l
- Price – $199
- SCORE 4 / 5
BEST FOR – Security – Ultra Tough Secure Design
The S’Cure is a different approach to the Suitcase problem and is really clever and secure design. The best Zip in the world is susceptible to very fast access via a sharp box cutter knife. In most cases, the zip is also the first point of Failure. The Cases are flexible so deform rather than break so it is the zipper that usually goes first. This is obviously catastrophic if it goes mid-trip. We have seen many cases come out the conveyer with the contents spilled all over! Nightmare!
The S’Cure solves these issues by throwing the Zipper in the bin! Instead, the cases use a Tri-Lock system where a secure lock clamps down on all three opening sides of the case. The Main lock is securely locked via a three-digit code (TSA Lock) and the two side locks add extra security. All this means that the case is basically failure-proof and very hard to break into. A thief would need to take the case to break-in to it at their leisure whereas with a zip they could be into your case, in seconds and off with your most valuable possessions.
On top of this, there are all the features you expect, such as sturdy easy-rolling wheels, Aluminium extendable handle. Secure fold away lift handles and even a nice integrated luggage tag so you know you have the right bag.
The Case is pretty heavy. This weight penalty comes from the rigidity and stiffness of the case. This is by far the most secure feeling case we have had our hands-on and would stand a real kicking before any serious damage befalls it. If the weight penalty is not a huge issue then this is a superb case that will last forever and deter opportunistic thieves if you travel to some of the more insecure parts of the planet!
Shhh, Don’t tell anyone. But this is a Samsonite case! The Budget suitcase market was ripping chunks out of samsonite as the gap between the top end and lower-end narrowed. Samsonite Features were basically now just industry-wide and cheap knock-off flooded the market. To compete Samsung needed to offer a low-cost case. Luxury Brands are often cautious of this and want to maintain their luxury image. So a cut Price Samsonite was out. Instead, they created a new brand, American Tourister.
So the American Tourister brand benefits from all the high-end R&D and product design Samsonite offers, so you can be sure of a top-quality product with a more waller friendly price.
American Tourister Curio Spinner Hardside
- Quality Case at a Budget Price
- Weight 10.7lbs 4.8kg
- Large Volume = 110l
- 3 Year Warranty
- Price – $100
- SCORE – 3.5 / 5
BEST FOR – Budget Travellers who demand a lot!
The Curio Spinner is a funky and cool design that comes in an array of colors and features the sort of hi-end quality you would expect from a samsonite only at a fraction of the cost. The Whole American Tourister focus’s on the younger end of the market providing light bu durable cases that look and perform really well. The Curio is our pick of the bunch and it is a great looking case.
With a $100 case, there is not too much to say as technology and innovation are obviously at a minimum but the case is a recipient of a lot of trickle-down features from more expensive cases. The Inner is lined and split into a main and side pouch with a zipped section for accessories. rally useful for those little bits you need to get to quick.
The Polypropylene case is colored all the way through, not painted so scuffs and scrapes are less pronounced. The Wheels are robust and wheel effortlessly even under load and the TSA lock is very secure and well made with an excellent combination system.
Overall this is the superbly solid case and one that performs well outside of its meager price bracket. The Cheap Price Vibrant looks and colors all appeal to a youth market looking for a case for their first few trips and the Curio will last a good few years giving excellent service till the time comes for a more grown-up suitcase a good few years down the line.
Briggs & Riley
Seriously High End, Seriously well-made Luggage built to last a lifetime with a warranty to match! These cases are an investment and you may well never need to buy another case again. For the very serious travelers.
Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner
- Ultra High End
- Weight 11.6lbs 5.3kg
- Large Volume = 103l
- Lifetime Warranty – Including Airline Damage!
- Price – $715
- SCORE – 4.9 / 5
BEST FOR – Never Buying Another Suitcase Again.
We hope you have been enjoying your Suitcase buying experience. It really is great fun trawling around the shops and the internet trying to find that perfect case! What fun! Imagine all the boring things you could have been doing instead. Dining at fine Reatraunts, Whiling the day away in the garden, hiking some beautiful mountain, Maybe just watching some sport? Whatever it is you are trying to avoid by shopping for suitcases…heck you might even be avoiding doing some work!!!!
Unfortunately, this will soon come to an end and you will have to make your purchase and get back to maybe even going on vacation!!! The Horror! Well, relax. Most cases at best have a 10-year warranty and even then plan on arguing the case and fighting to get a repair. Safe to say in a few years time you will be back to buying another suitcase and the fun can begin again.
Not with a Briggs & Riley. This ultra high-end New York-based Luggage firm offers a genuine, No hassle Lifetime replacement warranty. And this covers everything. Use, Abuse, and even Airline Mistreatment! That’s right, the Airline damage your case and Briggs and Riley will either repair or replace the case!
The Baseline is the ultimate in luxury suitcases. This is no cheap Chinese sweatshop suitcase but a hand made designer piece crafted from the finest materials. It is very clear from handling the case it is built to last. and unlike other cases, if you do notice wear, you can simply send it off to be repaired or replaced free of charge under the phenominal warranty.
We have bought lots of products with “lifetime” warranties that are not worth the paper they are printed on. But with Briggs & Riley, it really is a no-nonsense, if it’s broke we fix it kind of warranty.
Honestly, this is nearly the PERFECT case. There are unfortunately two downsides. It is heavy. All that craftsmanship and quality comes with a weight penalty. at nearly 12 lbs that’s a good chunk of your 50lb (5.6/23kg in metric) allowance eaten up with just the case. Yes, it’s only a few more lbs than an ultra-light case but on a longer trip weight is at a premium at times!
The second issue is the price. It is a lot of money. But it can be viewed as an investment. With the lifetime warranty, you really will never need another suitcase. Thinking in the long term this is possibly the cheapest case you can buy. It only takes 2 mid-priced cases in your lifetime to add up to be more expensive. If you travel a lot, mid-range cases can easily begin to fail after 5-6 years of being bashed about by hapless baggage handlers. You could easily go through 5+ Cases in your lifetime @ $200 that’s over $1000…suddenley you lifetime warranted Briggs and Riley seems good value.
But few of us really think in the long term so a $700+ Cases seem expensive, but you are getting one hell of a quality item for that price!
In the old days, people and traveling were far more refined. Luggage was carried not wheeled and obviously the well-off who traveled via Airplane did not do anything so vulgar as to carry their own luggage. Bel hops and porters took care of that with wheeled trolleys.
However Pilots and air hostesses (We know the term is Cabin Crew now, but back then they were still Ait Hostesses) however, lived a more high tempo and self-sufficient life, and TravelPro Started making cases with wheels on to help facilitate their journeys through the airport. Upon seeing these, more modest travelers started to see the sense in this and the company started supplying wheeled cases to the masses.
Still primarily aimed at travel professionals, who demand exacting Standards the TravelPro Range is built to last and stand up to any rigors of air travel. You don’t need to be a pilot to reap the benefits of a superbly constructed case built to last years!
Travelpro Luggage Crew 11
- Luggage for the Travel Professional
- Weight 10.5lbs 4.7kg
- Large Volume = 143l
- Lifetime Warranty – 3 Years for Airline Damage
- Price – $225
- SCORE – 4.6 / 5
BEST FOR – Those Who Travel for Business.
The Crew is the base model for TravelPro Cases but it is an extremely tried and tested suitcase now in its 11th iteration. Designed for Airline crew this is also the perfect business case. It comes with an integrated Suiter, designed to carry and store a suit so it’s ready straight out of the case and ready to wear.
The Wheels are the most robust we have come across and with magnetic self-aligning, the case wheels along with very little effort even fully loaded and on poor terrain. Coupled with their patented power scope handle that has almost zero wobble and provides sturdy and secure guidance. The large case has the biggest capacity on our list and is very sturdy and robust. Inside there are far more pockets and storage locations than any other case and the suiter really makes business travel a breeze.
The case has a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects and even has a 3-year airline damage warranty. This is a case that will last hundreds of trips and take the kind of use and abuse a professional level case receives. If you travel often and need a case that performs when you need it too the TravelPro Crew 11 is just the ticket. And look at the price, it’s a third of the cost of a Briggs and Riley!
In fact, the only let down is this is the only case on our list that lacks a TSA Approved lock! In fact, it doesn’t have a lock at all and requires a padlock to secure the case which is very old school. The good news is you can just purchase a TSA Approved lock to solve the issue of bag damage in the event of a TSA inspection.
Sometimes you just need a bit of Parisian style and flair in your life. Up until now out list has mainly been “function over form” focusing on robustness and durability, all very important, but some of the cases are pretty agricultural. Unlikely to win any style awards. But that needn’t be the case, and DELSEY Paris luggage brings the style to the party. However, they don’t lose the function and their cases are still well built and will last a long time.
DELSEY Paris Chatelet Hard+ Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
- Weight 12.8lbs 5.8kg
- Large Volume = 112l
- 10 Year Warranty
- Price – $230
- SCORE – 4.0 / 5
BEST FOR – those with Real Style
The DELSEY Paris Chatelet Hard+ is an absolutely stunning case to look at. With this at your side, you will be looking your best as you saunter through any airport or arrive at your 5-Star Hotel. But it’s is not all style over substance and the Hardshell is very durable and the wheels are free rolling and robust. They even have a really clever braking system to stop the case rolling away or breaking loose on a train!
The Case comes with a 10-year warranty which shows how well made the case is and is every bit as sturdy and shockproof as some of the more functional cases on our list. The styling really is stunning and the leather accents and handles really make the case a thing of beauty and a real standout item of luggage. The Matching tote bag slips over the handles and really looks the part.
Open the case up and things get even more stylish and luxurious. The lining is really beautiful and the soft-touch fabric is as good to feel as it is to look with the deep red tones really contrasting with the Champagne exterior. The multiple compartments, Straps, and pockets mean it is as functional as it is wonderful. And the removable Hanger means you can get your best garments from case to hanger as quickly as possible.
Who said luggage can’t be stylish.
- Basic Case at a LOW price
- Weight 12lbs 5.4kg
- 3 Year Warranty
- Price – $89
- SCORE – 3.0 / 5
BEST FOR – Occasional Traveller looking for a bargain
Some things, seem too good to be true and the Amazon Basics Luggage range seems to fit this bill. A full-Size Hardshell case for $89 must be complete garbage? But then would Amazon put their name to something of such poor quality? We have used plenty of Amazon Basic items and always been happy. So what about their cases? We ordered one straight away to take a look.
The Case is nothing to shout about, as you might expect from a basics item. It is simply functional and does the job. The Wheels are pretty basic plastic wheels but seem to roll fine even when weighted. They handled rough terrain reasonably and took some pretty big impacts without failing. But they were a little too flexible and cheap feeling for our liking. And at times it was hard to get the wheels aligned to get the case moving. But really nothing worse than what we have seen on much more expensive cases.
The polycarbonate is quite thick and heavy which gives a feeling of durability and robustness bu does forfeit a fairly big weight penalty. Handles feel incredibly plastical and cheap but the extension was reasonably smooth, had severed levels of adjustment and allowed good control. Inside things are basic again but functional.
That really is the order if the day with this case. Simple, basic, effective and cheap. From the reviews on Amazon, there does seem to be a little issue with quality control as most people love the case but there are alarming reports of several failures on first use. This seems to indicate a Quality control issue rather than a design flaw. But as it is an Amazon product you will have no issue returning it in case of a fault. Our own test case was flawless and we intentionally bashed it around quite severely far more than a Baggage handler would and it suffered no detrimental effects.
Really if you are traveling lots then this is not the case we recommend but for occasional travelers or people just starting out on their traveling adventures with strict budgets, this is a fantastic case at the price. It is little more than a cheap Chinese knock off case, but one that is backed and tested by Amazon so you have peace of mind that it is going to be one of the good ones.
Other Brands –
As we said at the beginning the market for cheap imported Luggage is now huge. Amazon, eBay, and Discount stores are all filled with brightly colored cases from an endless array of brands that you have never heard of, and probably won’t again. Some of these cases may be really good.
However, there are far too many to test, and they can vanish overnight never to be seen again. While some of these are cheap they are not that cheap when you consider the options and is that worth the risk when your zip fails at a foreign airport and your clothes and personal items spill out onto the baggage conveyer!
The top Brands have tried and tested their cases against the real rigors of Baggage handlers so you can be confident they chances of failure are very low. Our Bags have come bag dented, scratched, bruised and looking like they have been through the mill, but have never failed. We just don’t know if we could trust a fly-by-night brand to deliver the goods, time and time again! And when some of the options we have on our list are so affordable, why take the risk?
Have Your Say
Have you got a suitcase that you love, that is lightweight, served you for years, and has traveled faithfully with you wherever you have been? Let us know about it in the comments? Maybe you have had a bad experience with one of our cases on the list? Again we would love to hear your experience. If you have any questions at all about the list or any suitcase on it feel free to fire away in the comments section.