The 12 Best Hardside Luggage Bags of 2021

Durable bags for adventurous jetsetters

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Away The Bigger Carry-On at Away

"Ideal for travelers who have a tendency to overpack."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Delsey Aero Expandable Carry-On at Amazon

"One of the best features on this case is the roomy front compartment."

Best Budget: Samsonite Winfield 2 at Amazon

"This budget-friendly 20-inch hard case meets many domestic airline’s carry-on restrictions."

Best Checked: Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch Hardside Spinner at Amazon

"Built with a lightweight, 100 percent polycarbonate shell for scratch resistance."

Best Set: Away Set of Three at Away

"At home, this set fits neatly inside each other so they don't take up your entire closet."

Best Splurge: Briggs & Riley Sympatico Domestic Carry-On at Briggs & Riley

"Combining CX technology with a quality hardside build, this is an investment piece that’s worth the splurge."

Best Carry-On: Victorinox Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside Carry-On at Victorinox

"The butterfly-opening system makes packing and accessing your items in this carry-on a breeze."

Best Lightweight: Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin at Bloomingdales

"Weighs only 4.5 pounds."

Most Versatile: The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner at Amazon

"Has added features that make it a more versatile travel bag."

Best for Durability: Tumi Latitude Packing Case at Amazon

"From the brand's most durable, lightweight suitcase collection yet."

When traveling by plane, carry-on suitcases come in two basic types: hard shell with a durable exterior or soft shell suitcases made of fabric. Hardside suitcases provide added protection for valuables, but are less malleable than luggage made from fabric. Travelers who prefer the hard shell for their carry-on bag have a variety options that come with TSA-approved locks, unique designs, and spacious interiors.

Read on for our picks of the best hardside luggage bags available.

Our Top Picks

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Best Overall: Away The Bigger Carry-On

Away The Bigger Carry-On

Away

4.2

Instagram-adored Away makes some of the highest-quality suitcases on the market — and the Bigger Carry-On is no exception. Measuring a very spacious 22.7 x 14.7 x 9.6 inches (and with a capacity of 47.9 liters), this top-notch carry-on is ideal for travelers who have a tendency to overpack. Its durable polycarbonate shell is both sleek and highly functional; you won’t have to worry about it getting scuffed up or damaged during a bumpy plane or cab ride. Conveniently, the hardshell luggage comes with an ejectable battery that charges your phone while you’re on the go, as well as a TSA-approved combo lock for extra security purposes. On the inside, you’ll find a compression system and hidden-away laundry bag that’s ideal for keeping your clothes neat and organized. Plus, for your peace of mind, Away offers a 100-day trial and lifetime warranty. You can snag one in more than ten shades, including black, white, green, pink, and purple.

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Runner-Up, Best Overall: Delsey Aero Expandable Carry-On

4

Made of 100 percent polycarbonate, the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry-On has a durable build and a sleek compact look with a glossy, metallic finish. One of the best features on this hard case luggage is the roomy front compartment that has a built-in padded sleeve for up to 15.6-inch laptops (which is easily accessible when going through security), as well as two zippered mesh pockets for toiletries, phone chargers, and other small items. The interior of the suitcase is lined with fabric and has two compartments, as well as elastic straps and a buckle for making sure clothes stay in place. Keeping all your valuables safe are self-repairing zippers and a three-dial TSA-approved combination lock, while the double spinner wheels make navigating the airport easy. Colors come in black, brick red, brushed charcoal, cobalt blue, pink, teal, and titanium.

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Best Budget: Samsonite Winfield 2

This budget-friendly 20-inch hard case meets many domestic airline’s carry-on restrictions, including United, American, Delta, Southwest, and Allegiant. It offers four, multi-directional spinner wheels so maneuvering through the airport is easy. Side-mounted TSA-friendly locks deter theft, but they are easily accessible if agents need to look in your luggage. A re-engineered case offers a lightweight solution (though, at 6.7 pounds, it is heavier than other products reviewed here) for hefting into overhead bins. It comes with a 10-year warranty.

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Best Checked: Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch Hardside Spinner

This sleek, hardside spinner is for those who need to check in a bag. Built with a lightweight, 100 percent polycarbonate shell for scratch resistance, the Travelpro Maxlite comes with an aluminum PowerScope handle, four spinner wheels, and low grab handles for extreme durability. Fit all of your belongings in the spacious interior, which includes a divider pocket and elastic hold-down straps to keep all the contents in place during your journey. Plus, its precision glide system offers breezy mobility throughout the airport. The 25 x 16.25 x 11.5-inch hardshell luggage bag also has a TSA-compliant lock to protect your items. It's available in six stylish colors including azure blue, dusty rose, and imperial purple.

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Best Set: Away Set of Three

Away Set of Three

Courtesy of Away

With this set, you’re fully equipped from a carry-on to two checked bags. At home, they fit neatly inside each other so they don’t take up your entire closet. They’re a favorite of content creator Glo Atanmo, who blogs at TheBlogAbroad.com, thanks to their durability and lifetime warranty. “It’s survived over 50 countries in the past three years,” she says. “If you're an over-packer like me, get hard-sided luggage because it'll last longer and also force you to better arrange your items inside. And though we all love a cheap price, it's worth the investment to get a more expensive suitcase that will last you for life!”

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Best Splurge: Briggs & Riley Sympatico Domestic Carry-On

Briggs & Riley Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

 Briggs & Riley 

It’s no secret that Briggs & Riley churns out incredibly high-caliber luggage, and the Sympatico Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner is easily one of their best pieces. Combining CX technology with a quality hardside build, the Sympatico Carry-On is an investment piece that’s worth the splurge. Over-packers, especially, should take note: though the carry-on measures just 22 x 14 x 9 inches, it expands, offering you up to 22 percent more space to stow your belongings before zippering it back to its original size. The hardshell suitcase's double spinner wheels and ultra-comfy carrying grips make handling a total cinch, and the onyx color is a smart choice for any traveler.

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Best Carry-On: Victorinox Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside Carry-On

Victorinox Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside Carry-On

Courtesy of Victorinox

At 5 pounds, this carry-on is among the lightest in its class. Although it’s lightweight, it’s sturdy. It’s crafted of 100 percent pure virgin polycarbonate that’s incredibly strong and break resistant. The butterfly-opening system makes packing and accessing your items a breeze, and dual-caster wheels provide 360-degree maneuverability.

Travel and wellness blogger Olivia Christine Perez, of O. Christine recommends the carry-on, which she says fits the smaller global carry-on size requirements that airlines are enforcing more strictly. “Consider your luggage size requirements and what that means in terms of weight. Sometimes they can get quite heavy,” she says. The Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside carry-on is the perfect lightweight solution.

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Best Lightweight: Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin

Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin

Courtesy of Bloomingdales

Weighing only 4.5 pounds, Rimowa boasts the Essential Lite Cabin as its lightest suitcase ever. Even more, it weighs 30 percent less than the Rimowa Essential cases. The polycarbonate case is still stable, thanks to multi-stage, telescopic handles that can easily adjust to your desired height. Smooth-rolling spinner wheels offer seamless traveling, while a TSA-approved lock will give you peace of mind. Inside, there's a flex-divider system for organized packing. The 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1-inch hardshell suitcase also comes in a glossy finish with colors like Red, Black, or Blue.

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Most Versatile: The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner

The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner has a slightly different design than the standard hardshell luggage bags with added features that make it a more versatile travel bag. The center of the bag has a hidden compartment that allows travelers to tuck away items such as laptop computers, briefcases, and other business necessities (as well as headphones or a neck pillow) while the bag is upright. The lined interior has two zipped pouches for organizing, and the exterior is constructed from sturdy ABS with four spinner wheels. The expandable bag measures 9 x 14 x 21 inches and comes in solid black with lime, orange, red, blue or purple straps, stitching, and wheels. 

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Best for Durability: Tumi Latitude Short Trip Packing Case

Tumi Latitude Short Trip Packing Case

 ebags

Tumi's luggage bags may come with a hefty price tag, but you get a well-constructed, long-lasting hardside suitcase in return. From the brand's most durable, lightweight suitcase collection yet, this Latitude case is constructed out of ballistic material for flexibility. This checked bag clocks in at 26.8 x 17.8 x 11 inches, but it's extremely light at eight pounds. With enough space for a weeklong trip, the case includes two packing compartments with a hanger bracket, mesh tie-down straps, and zip pockets for convenient packing. The four, lightweight wheels and three-stage telescoping handle makes the case easy to maneuver, too. Better yet, its streamlined design is easy on the eyes, with color options like Navy, Silver, or Black.

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Best for Storage: Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb Carry-On

For a quality carry-on that looks great, has plenty of space, ample organizational features, and a reasonable price, the Kenneth Cole Reaction is an excellent purchase. While the main compartments of most luggage have standard crisscrossed straps to secure items, the Kenneth Cole Reaction has the added benefit of two-winged pouches attached to the sides of the straps, so smaller items can rest atop of clothing without sliding around – a thoughtful touch. The top flap also has two pouches for shoes and toiletry items. The hardshell suitcase weighs 7.5 pounds and measures 22.44 x 15.16 x 8.5 inches (with wheels) and has added structural features such as reinforced corners and expandable sides, plus incredibly smooth-gliding spinner wheels.

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Best Scratch-Resistant: Samsonite Inova 20-Inch Spinner

Samsonite Inova 20-Inch Spinner

Courtesy of Samsonite

The Samsonite Inova 20 is a great option if you’re looking for a hardshell carry-on that stays looking new after many uses. Made of high-tech, Makrolon polycarbonate, the bag is a worthwhile splurge, thanks to its high-impact resistance material and textured finish that reduces the visibility of scratches. The sleek-looking, metallic carry-on measures 15 x 7.5 x 20 inches and weighs just over six pounds, allowing it to travel with ease on spinner wheels with little effort. The bag features a built-in, TSA-approved lock, and a split interior design that’s fully lined with straps on one side and a large zippered compartment on the other; however, there are no small pockets for cell phones or other quick-grab items.

Final Verdict

Away’s Bigger Carry-On (view on Away) on isn’t an Instagram favorite for no reason. We love it for it’s slightly oversized dimensions and solid polycarbonate shell that makes it both attractive and durable.

What to Look for in Hardside Luggage Bags

Size

Travel and wellness blogger Olivia Christine Perez, of O. Christine, reminds shoppers to “Always check that the dimensions of the carry-on fits that of your favorite airlines!” The same is also true of checked bags. Check your bag's dimensions to see that it won't be considered oversized by airlines or you'll need to pay an extra fee.

Material

If you’re opting for a hardside case, you’ll want a material that’s unbreakable. However, durability often adds weight, so you’ll need to balance these qualities.

Weight

Your luggage is only going to get heavier once full, so if it feels hard to lift or maneuver when empty look for a lighter design. You should also make sure your bag isn't too heavy so you can be sure it won't be considered overweight once it's packed and at the airport.

Features

Qualities such as wheels that don’t squeak and move smoothly, pockets, working zippers, locks, and interior pockets and dividers all add to the luggage’s functionality and appeal. Think about how you travel and what items you like to bring. If organization is important to you, consider bags with multiple pockets and dividers. Overpackers should consider getting an expandable suitcase or one that comes with compression straps.

FAQs

Is it better to get hard or soft luggage?

This is a personal choice. If you’re packing breakable items, you may choose to use hardside luggage which is more difficult to rip open and usually has integrated locks. However, hardside luggage is also heavier than soft luggage. Many people believe it’s also easier to pack more into soft luggage.

How can you protect hardside luggage?

A few scuff marks are inevitable during travel; however, you can minimize damage with a few precautions. First, choose a bag made of durable material, like polycarbonate. Second, you could purchase a bag protector. Or third, you could wrap your bag in plastic.

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