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Wherever you're headed—be it a bucket list trip across the globe or a lowkey staycation in your own city—you're going to need luggage. Minimalists and overpackers alike need durable and easy-to-carry suitcases and bags to safely transport clothes, travel accessories, and any souvenirs picked up along the way. As travel editors, we have high expectations for our gear—requiring that reliable, long-lasting bags accompany us on every journey.
This often sparks debate among our team: What is the best luggage for travelers? Who are the top brands in the industry? Checked bags or carry-ons? Soft-sided or hard-shell? To help us hone in on the absolute best luggage to recommend to our readers, we decided to put the most talked-about checked suitcases, carry-ons, weekenders, and backpacks from best-selling travel brands to the test. More than a dozen Condé Nast Traveler editors and contributors spent months testing out luggage to determine the best of the best. We packed these bags to the brim, lifted them into overhead bins, rolled them down cobblestone streets, and inspected every bump and scuff they endured. With this, we bring you our first-ever Luggage Week: An honest review of the best checked suitcases, carry-ons, weekenders, and backpacks in the biz.
The testing process:
Over a dozen editors and contributors tested a variety of suitcases, backpacks, and duffels over a period of several months (and in some cases, several years), taking them for a spin as much as possible. These bags have gone on planes, trains, and buses, taking weekend trips to upstate New York and coming onboard for 10-day European cruises. We considered how heavy each bag is when empty, how much it can hold, how well it holds up or shows wear and tear, and how well-designed it is (looks matter, sometimes). And while some travelers are willing to splurge on a luxe piece of luggage, we know that's not always necessary to find great-quality bags that are built to last. Our favorite pieces vary in price, from budget-friendly Amazon finds to designer luggage you'll travel with for a lifetime.
After traveling with each bag, we carefully reviewed each one, keeping this criteria in mind while also identifying standout features to whittle down which ones are worthy of a spot in our Luggage Week lineup.
Below, the tried-and-true bags we highly recommend—well-made and absolutely-worth-it pieces we're taking on our next big adventure (and you should, too). —Meaghan Kenny
Luggage Week table of contents
- Checked luggage
- Carry-on suitcases
- Hard-shell suitcases
- Soft-sided bags
- Kids luggage
- Travel experts' favorite brands
- The best of Béis
- The best of Calpak
- The best of Away
Checked bags are a staple for longer trips (anywhere from 10 to 14 days) and for anyone who wants or needs more room in their suitcase.
Carry-ons are arguably the piece of luggage travelers pull out most often—these are the ones we turn to time and time again.
Our favorite duffels, expandable totes, and garment bags to take on overnighters or use as a personal item.
The great debate: hard-shell or soft-sided?
Hard-shell cases that will last for years to come, from trunks to lightweight spinners.
They may not be as popular these days, but they sure can fit a lot.
More luggage to consider
The bags frequent travelers trust for their little ones.
Travel experts' favorite brands
We've found our favorites, but we also wanted to know which luggage brands industry experts swear by.
Our favorites from Béis
This relative newcomer has turned out tons of stellar pieces, from its weekender bag to water bottle slings and suitcases.
Our favorites from Calpak
Calpak designs durable and practical luggage for frequent travelers—here are our editors' most-used pieces.
Our favorites from Away
Mixing durability, dependability, and style, Away changed the way we look at packing.