The Best Lightweight Luggage of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Best Lightweight Luggage

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

As the price of fuel and, therefore, air travel increases, one way to cut down on costs is to avoid overweight fees by investing in some quality lightweight luggage. Whether you’re in the market for a carry-on, a checked bag, or an adventure-ready backpack, lightweight materials to look out for range from weather-resistant nylon or polyester to hard shells made out of polypropylene or polycarbonate. Lightweight luggage can vary hugely in price and features, with possible options including smart compression systems, integrated TSA-approved locks and weight indicators,  and USB charge ports.

To help you find the perfect bag, we tested dozens of lightweight suitcases in the TripSavvy testing lab. We scored each for capacity, design, durability, maneuverability, and value—and reviewed the results to choose winners for each category below. Our overall winner was the Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner, a light yet sturdy suitcase that impressed us with its looks and effortless performance. We also picked favorites in niche classes such as Best Backpack and Best Duffel.

Read on for the complete list of TripSavvy-approved lightweight luggage.

Best Overall

Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner

Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner


What We Like
  • Durable polypropylene construction

  • Handles well on two wheels or four

  • Eye-catching design and colors

What We Don't Like
  • Limited interior organization

The Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner was a clear winner for us, representing the next generation of lightweight suitcases while remaining surprisingly affordable. The streamlined shell is constructed of polypropylene, the lightest possible material for hardside suitcases, while the ridged design helps to deflect scuffs and scratches. Indeed, after our repeated drop and bat tests, it showed hardly any wear and tear—so much so that we would feel completely confident if we had to check it in.

Samsonite claims this suitcase offers more space than other Samsonite carry-on models. We could fit everything on our packing list without using the expansion feature. We liked that there was a zippered pocket for delicates and a separate section for shoes or dirty laundry; however, we wished we didn't have to choose between the two. Compression straps help to keep your belongings secure during transit, while a TSA-approved lock allows security staff to open the suitcase without damaging it.

Finally, the bag's double spinner wheels afforded good maneuverability at various speeds. We felt it had the best glide of any suitcase we tested, and we particularly liked how easy it was to transition from two to four wheels or adjust the handle's height for better control. The suitcase comes in various colors, from Sky Blue to Black, and has a limited 10-year warranty.

Price at time of publication: $190

Dimensions: 21.25 x 15.25 x 10 inches | Weight: 6.5 pounds | Materials: Polypropylene

Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best Budget

Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner


What We Like
  • Simple yet effective design

  • Plenty of interior organization

  • Maneuvers well over uneven terrain

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color choices

Retailing for roughly half the price of our overall winner (and even less than many of the other suitcases on this list), the AmazonBasics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner is a worthy budget buy that exceeded our expectations on every single test. We loved the simple sleekness of its design, although color choices are limited to Black, Navy Blue, Blue, or Orange. The ABS hard plastic shell also features a scratch-resistant finish, which stood up well to our drop and bat tests with no visible damage.

We could fit everything in without using the expansion feature (which provides up to 15 percent more space). The interior is fully lined and includes compression straps, a divider, and three zippered pockets. Four double-spinner wheels give the suitcase 360-degree maneuverability, while the adjustable telescoping handle offers different heights. We found that the bag performed equally well over bumps, carpet, and around the kind of sharp turns one might expect in a crowded airport.

Price at time of publication: $89

Dimensions: 22 x 14.9 x 10 inches | Weight: 6.3 pounds | Materials: ABS

Amazon Basics 21-Inch Spinner

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best Budget Backpack

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack


What We Like
  • Integrated laptop sleeve

  • Spacious, well-designed interior

  • Multiple carrying methods

What We Don't Like
  • Uninspiring aesthetic

If you’re looking for a convenient travel backpack that won’t break the bank, the Asenlin 40L comes in at under $50 and receives consistently good reviews. Designed to adhere to airline carry-on size restrictions, it features water-resistant polyester Oxford cloth and survived our durability tests with no internal or external damage. The interior is roomy, with helpful compression straps and multiple packing cubes that allowed us to load everything with space left over.

We liked that there is a padded sleeve for a 17-inch laptop and that the side water bottle holder has a zippered expansion feature. There’s also a pocket on the front of the backpack for keeping your passport or wallet handy. We found the backpack comfortable and relatively lightweight even when packed full. In particular, we appreciated that there are multiple ways to carry it—including hooked over your suitcase trolley system or using the top and side grab handles.

Price at time of publication: $45

Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.5 x 9 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Materials: Polyester Oxford cloth

Asenlin Carry-On Backpack

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

Best Checked

July Checked Suitcase

July Checked Suitcase


What We Like
  • Beautiful, unique design

  • Interior compression system

  • Soft handle with multiple height settings

What We Don't Like
  • Light colors mark easily

This 26-inch checked bag from July offers 80 liters of space protected by an aerospace-grade German polycarbonate shell. We loved that it felt strong but smooth at the same time and didn’t suffer any structural damage during our testing process. However, we found light colors marked easily and would only recommend purchasing darker versions of this suitcase. There are many to choose from, from Moss Green to Magenta, with options for personalization as well.

The well-designed interior features several zippered pockets, a Y-strap compression system, and a secret laundry bag that’s both smell- and stain-resistant. We were able to pack all of our prescribed list with ease. The suitcase includes July’s proprietary SilentMoveTM wheels, which glide noiselessly over all surfaces. However, we found that it performed much better on hard floors than on carpet or gravel. With its ultra-soft grip and 20-plus height settings, the telescoping handle is a highlight—as is the included lifetime warranty.

Price at time of publication: $325

Dimensions: 26 x 18.75 x 11 inches | Weight: 8.3 pounds | Materials: Polycarbonate

July Checked Luggage

TripSavvy / Vicky Wasik

Best Backpack

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack


What We Like
  • Rugged yet stylish aesthetic

  • Well-organized interior

  • Choice of carrying styles

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively expensive for a backpack

Stylish, comfortable, and infinitely versatile, the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack impressed our testers on many fronts. First, its rugged TPU-coated polyester and ballistic nylon construction survived our durability tests completely unscathed. Second, we loved that the main compartment opens suitcase-style, making access much more accessible than a conventional backpack. Although the pack is relatively unstructured, it has enough shape to allow neat packing and plenty of convenient, different-sized zippered pockets.

It also has a padded laptop and tablet sleeve, a top zippered pocket for stashing your essentials, and carabiner lash loops for attaching your coat. The weight-distributing harness system makes the backpack super comfortable (we especially loved how the straps contoured to the shape of our chest and shoulders). All straps tuck away, too, so you can use the reinforced grab handles on the top and side to carry it briefcase-style. Finally, it comes in colors ranging from Raspberry to River with a contrasting rain cover.

Price at time of publication: $250

Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 8 inches | Weight: 3.8 pounds | Materials: TPU-coated polyester

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L lab testing

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

Best Duffel

Kipling Bori Duffle Bag

Kipling Bori Duffle Bag


What We Like
  • Spacious, adjustable interior

  • Simple, fuss-free design

  • Sturdy carry handles and strap

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks separate shoe compartment

If you’re looking for a simple yet spacious duffel, the Bori Duffel from Kipling is a classic crowd-pleaser. Made from tough, water-resistant nylon, it emerged scuff- and scratch-free from our durability tests. We appreciated the minimalist design and the fact that the interior was deceptively spacious. We could easily fit everything on our packing list and liked that the carabiner clips on both sides of the bag made it possible to adjust its size as needed. It has an exterior sheath pocket and an internal zippered pocket for essentials.

The only downside is the lack of a separate compartment for isolating shoes, toiletries, or dirty laundry. However, the bag’s featherlight construction meant it was effortless to lift into the overhead compartment, even fully loaded. The handles are sturdy, and simply remove the adjustable shoulder strap if you prefer to carry it briefcase-style or use the trolley sleeve to transport it on top of your suitcase.

Price at time of publication: $83

Dimensions: 28 x 13.5 x 11.5 inches | Weight: 2.01 pounds | Materials: Nylon

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TripSavvy / Nick Kova

Best Underseat

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Underseat Carry-on Travel Tote Bag

Travelpro Luggage Maxlite 5 18" Lightweight Carry-on Under Seat Tote Travel


What We Like
  • Water- and stain-resistant coating

  • Surprisingly spacious interior

  • Three different methods of transportation

What We Don't Like
  • It may not fit under the seat on smaller planes

Now that some airlines have started charging for overhead compartments, bags that can fit under the seat in front are becoming increasingly popular. Travelpro’s Maxlite 5 Soft Tote is a winner in this category (although it may not fit beneath the seats of some smaller airplanes). It features sturdy polyester with a water- and stain-resistant DuraGuard coating, high-tensile zippers, and a wipe-clean interior with an additive that protects it from moisture.

Despite the bag’s small size, we found it surprisingly spacious and could fit everything with space to spare. There’s a quick-access front flap and built-in pockets on the exterior for stowing last-minute items (although these are pretty small—think spare socks or toiletries). When transporting the tote, you can use the sturdy carry handles or the padded detachable shoulder strap—or slip the rear sleeve over the handle of your larger checked bag. Colors range from Champagne to Orchid.

Price at time of publication: $80

Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 8 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Materials: Polyester

Travelpro Maxlite Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best for Adventure Travel

Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag

Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffle Bag


What We Like
  • Durable, water-resistant material

  • Converts from a duffel to a backpack

  • It packs away into an interior pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Limited choice of colors

The ideal solution for those needing a bag that can go anywhere, anytime, and survive to tell the tale, the Patagonia Black Hole 40L Duffel is made for adventures. It features an extra-durable, 900-denier ripstop polyester exterior with a PU-coated lining for added water resistance. Stranded at your destination in rain or snow? Your belongings won’t suffer for it. The carry-on-sized bag with its padded base also emerged from our durability tests without a scratch or scuff.

We found it comfortable to carry duffel-style, with a Velcro flap holding the reinforced haul handles together. Using the removable padded shoulder straps, you can also convert it into a backpack. External storage includes a zippered side pocket and daisy chains, while the main compartment features a conveniently large opening, several pockets, and a large mesh lid pocket. We also loved that when you’re not using the bag, it collapses in on itself and stows neatly in one of its own pouches.

Price at time of publication: $159

Dimensions: 21 x 13.7 x 10.6 inches | Weight: 2.05 pounds | Materials: Ripstop polyester


TripSavvy / Nick Kova

Best for Business Travel

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L


What We Like
  • Waterproof tarpaulin construction

  • TSA-ready laptop sleeve

  • Converts instantly from duffel to backpack

What We Don't Like
  • Shoulders straps are uncomfortable

The 40L Nomatic Travel Bag offers an all-in-one solution for business travelers, converting from a duffel to a backpack in seconds using the patented strap. We liked that it comes with a detachable hip belt; but weren’t so keen on the shoulder straps, which we felt could have been more comfortable. Nevertheless, the waterproof tarpaulin material stood up to durability tests well, and the bag received top marks for its interior and exterior organization—including designated pockets for just about everything.

These range from a water bottle pocket to an RFID-blocking pocket, a separate laundry bag, and two ventilated shoe compartments. There’s a water-resistant pocket for your toiletries and, perhaps most usefully, a TSA-ready laptop sleeve that allows you to keep your computer in your bag through security. We found the main compartment spacious and loved how the structure made packing easy and kept folded clothes neat. The bag is carry-on compatible and comes in just one color—timeless, professional Black.

Price at time of publication: $290

Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 4.05 pounds | Materials: Not listed

Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

How We Tested

We used a similar testing process for checked and carry-on luggage—the only difference was that we tested carry-on luggage to see how it fit in an overhead compartment and packed with enough clothing and other travel items to simulate a four-day sightseeing trip rather than the seven days stipulated for checked luggage. First, we weighed the luggage to check the accuracy of the manufacturer’s specifications. Then we packed our prescribed list of items, noting how easily everything fit and how effective the bag’s organization options were.

Next (where relevant), we tested maneuverability on two and four wheels at different speeds and over various terrains, including concrete, carpet, and gravel. Afterward, we wheeled luggage through an obstacle course of bumps and turns meant to simulate a busy station or airport. Finally, we tested each product’s durability by pushing it from the top of a shelving unit and beating it with a baseball bat. Both tests were repeated multiple times to target different potential weak spots. We scored bags for capacity, design, durability, maneuverability, and value.

Luggage Testing

TripSavvy / Vicky Wasik

What to Look for in Lightweight Luggage


Although design and features play their part, the material is one of the most significant factors affecting the weight of your luggage. Polyester and nylon are typically the two lightest choices if you prefer soft-sided suitcases. For hardside suitcases, polycarbonate, ABS, and polypropylene are popular, with polypropylene being the most lightweight option. Consider the materials used to make your bag’s trolley system, too, if it has one. Aircraft-grade aluminum is a good option since it’s durable and lightweight.


Several luggage designs shave off the pounds by ditching the trolley system (wheels and handle) entirely. Wheel-less bags are a great choice when lightness is your top priority—but you still need to be able to transport them comfortably from A to B. Ways to do this include sturdy, cushioned carry handles; backpack straps and hip belts; or an adjustable cross-body strap for slinging the bag over your shoulder. The best designs often allow you to switch between these carry methods as required. 


Lightness was often synonymous with poor quality in the past, but fortunately, that’s no longer true. Hardside materials such as polypropylene and polycarbonate are stronger than ever, while polyester and nylon come in ripstop versions that are scratch- and tear-proof. Things to look out for include reinforced high-wear areas and abrasion- and weather-resistant coatings (for softside bags), scratch-resistant finishes, texturing, and armored corner guards (for hardside bags). Quality wheels, zippers, and handles are also important.


Some bags keep things light with a simple design and few additional features. Others come with a range of extras that you may find worth the extra weight and expense. Things to consider include organization—will you have enough pockets, compression straps, and/or dividers? A telescoping handle makes maneuvering a wheeled suitcase more comfortable while switching between duffel handles and backpack straps might make life easier when choosing a wheel-less bag. Other extras range from TSA-approved locks to USB charge ports.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you clean and care for your lightweight luggage?

    Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning your luggage. However, as a general rule, you can spot-clean most interior linings and use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away superficial stains, scuffs, and dirt from the exterior. You can also protect your luggage from getting dirty in the first place by investing in a PVC luggage cover or having it plastic-wrapped at the airport. Luggage should be completely dry before being put away and stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

  • What type of luggage is generally the lightest?

    If you want a softside suitcase, the lightest luggage materials are polyester and nylon. If you’re a hardside fan, look for suitcases made of polypropylene, polycarbonate, or ABS (in that order). The design of the bag makes a difference too. Trolley handles and spinner wheels are convenient but add quite a bit of weight, so if lightness is your top priority, consider ditching them in favor of a duffel or backpack that relies on over-the-shoulder or cross-body straps instead. And, of course, size matters, so opt for a carry-on over a checked bag if possible.

  • Should I be concerned about durability for lightweight luggage?

    Not necessarily. Much research has gone into making luggage materials simultaneously lighter and stronger—for example, a polycarbonate suitcase shell may feel thin (and therefore flimsy), but actually, it has been specially developed to flex upon impact and bounce back into shape to prevent cracks or dents. As long as you choose a product from a respected brand that uses quality materials and has consistently good customer reviews, you should be able to find a bag that’s as durable as it is light.

Samsonite Winfield 2 Luggage Testing

TripSavvy / Vicky Wasik

Why Trust TripSavvy

Jessica Macdonald is the Africa Travel expert for TripSavvy and a regular contributor of e-commerce roundups in fields related to adventure and family travel fields. She has plenty of experience choosing and using lightweight luggage, having lived out of a backpack on a seven-month adventure around South East Asia and extended trips across Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

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