The 11 Best Lightweight Luggage Items of 2021

Avoid excess baggage fees with these high-quality options

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Everlane The Twill Weekender at Everlane

"It fits snugly inside any overhead compartment."

Best Budget: AmazonBasics Softside Spinner Luggage at Amazon

"Surprisingly affordable considering how functional it is."

Best Carry-On: Away The Carry-On at Away

"360-degree spinner wheels make navigating this carry-on through the airport a total breeze."

Best Underseat Bag: Samsonite Eco-Nu Wheeled Underseater at Walmart

"It's undoubtedly a space-saver."

Best Backpack: Herschel Supply Co. Dawson Backpack at Amazon

"Sturdy, on-trend, and remarkably lightweight while still providing plenty of storage."

Best Checked: Lipault Paris Plume Spinner at Amazon

"Roomy enough for all your belongings, but it isn't too bulky."

Best for Adventures: Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack at Cotopaxi

"Designed to withstand years and years of rugged travel."

Best Expandable: Briggs & Riley Travelware Expandable Suitcase at Briggs & Riley

"The Briggs & Riley Expandable Upright utilizes CX technology to expand up to 25 percent."

Best Splurge: Tumi Latitude International Carry-On at Bloomingdales

"The brand boasts the bag as its most durable, lightweight case."

Best Softshell: Victorinox Swiss Army Connex Medium Softside Case at Amazon

"This sleek softside suitcase makes optimal use of space and comes with an integrated multi-tool."

With most airlines charging hefty baggage fees for overweight bags, traveling light has become a necessity. Often, the luggage itself can weigh 10 or more pounds, therefore limiting the number of items travelers can bring, or requiring them to check a second bag—at a cost. Luckily, many luggage companies have developed lightweight bags that remain durable enough to withstand wear and tear.

Determining the best lightweight luggage depends on a few factors. Frequent airport travelers might appreciate a wheeled bag that breezes from terminal to terminal. However, those who enjoy short weekend trips or who travel via trains and buses might want a compact backpack. And of course there's the option between a hardside and softside case.

Here are the best lightweight luggage options available online. 

Best Overall: Everlane The Twill Weekender

Everlane The Twill Weekender

Everlane

4
What We Like
  • Durable fabric

  • Minimalist design

  • Ample size

What We Don't Like
  • No laptop pocket

  • Potential to snag

Lightweight luggage bags are easy to travel with and help avoid overpacking. If you're looking for a sleek option, Everlane's Twill Weekender will do just the trick. Crafted from extremely durable water-resistant cotton twill and ethically sourced from Ho Chi Minh City, the classic carry-on comes with zero bells and whistles (just an exterior slip pocket and interior zip pocket)—and that’s just the way we like it. It’s available in five color combos, including reverse denim and black leather and dark green and black, and at 22 x 8.5 x 12 inches (with a 12-inch shoulder drop), it fits snugly inside any overhead compartment. For minimalist-leaning travelers, it doesn’t get much better—especially considering the bag's sub-$100 price tag.

Though our tester would have preferred a longer strap, it was comfortable to carry and the weight was evenly distributed.

Size: 22 x 8.5 x 12 in. | Material: Cotton and leather

“The size of the bag is quite large for a carry-on, but it didn't feel that bulky when I was toting it around.”Erika Owen, Product Tester

Best Budget: AmazonBasics 29-Inch Softside Spinner Luggage

What We LIke
  • Compression straps

  • Flexible fabric

  • Below airlines' luggage weight requirements

  • Fits most carry-on size requirements

What We Don't Like
  • Shows wear and tear

Easy to hoist into overhead bins and very easy on your wallet, the AmazonBasics Softside Spinner Luggage is a great pick all around. Its soft exterior means you can maneuver it into tight spaces, but it’s also expandable, offering up to 25 percent additional packing capacity. Lightweight and durable, the spinner has a 150D-polyester interior organizer with three zippered pockets, so there’s ample storage, along with solid, secure-closing zippers and four 360-degree spinner wheels for easy mobility and comfy maneuvering virtually anywhere. The fabric lining also effectively helps protect your items from scratches. Weighing less than eight pounds, the bag is light and surprisingly affordable considering how functional it is.

Size: 30.9 x 17.5 x 12.9 in. | Weight: 7.9 lbs. | Material: Polyester

Best Carry-On: Away The Carry-On

Away The Carry-On

 Away

4.2
What We Like
  • Ejectible battery

  • Laundry bag

  • Glides smoothly over most surfaces

What We Don't Like
  • Overly flexible shell

  • Charging compartment is hard to open

The Away Carry-On offers a staggering array of smart features, from an ejectable battery that charges your phone to a TSA-approved combination lock for extra security. And, while it’s undoubtedly convenient to be able to charge your phone on the go, even if the Away Carry-On didn’t boast such tech-savvy features, we’d still love it all the same. The shell is made of durable polycarbonate and the 360-degree spinner wheels are smooth, which means that navigating this bad boy through the airport is a total breeze. Our tester appreciated the telescopic handle that extends to almost three and a half feet, making it ideal for taller travelers.

Storage-wise, the featherlight carry-on is equipped with an interior compression system and hidden laundry bag. The bag is available in more than ten colors including white, violet, black, blush pink, and navy.

Size: 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 in. | Weight: 8.1 lbs. | Material: Polycarbonate

"Since 2018, this bag has been my constant travel companion—and helped me skip baggage claim entirely. Whether I'm packing for a weekend getaway or a 10 day trip, the compressive straps, full zip side, and laundry bag, keep me organized. The battery is a must-have—I've banked on the plugs working in flight, only to have nothing work, and an almost dead cell phone or Airpods. The ejectable battery goes everywhere you need it.”Meg Lappe, Senior Commerce Editor

Best Underseat Bag: Samsonite Eco-Nu Wheeled Underseater

Samsonite Eco-Nu Wheeled Underseater

Courtesy of Walmart 

What We Like
  • Made from sustainable materials

  • Lightweight

  • Accessory sleeves

What We Don't Like
  • Only good for short trips

When it comes to compact, lightweight underseaters, Samsonite's offering is hard to beat. Handcrafted from a high-strength polyester made from recycled bottles, this durable, scuff-resistant bag is built to last. Measuring 18 x 14 x 8 inches and weighing 5 pounds, it's undoubtedly a space-saver. Thanks to a push-button locking handle and smooth-rolling in-line skate wheels, lugging it around the airport isn't a chore, either. In terms of storage capabilities, the lightweight luggage bag features a spacious interior compartment, internal laptop and tablet sleeves, tie-down straps, shoe compartments, as well as a large external zippered pocket. The Samsonite Eco-Nu Wheeled Underseater is available in three attractive shades: black, deep teal, and hot pink.

Size: 18 x 14 x 8 in. | Weight: 5.3 lbs. | Material: Recyclex polyester

Best Backpack: Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover

What We Like
  • Has a 20L capacity

  • Easy to clean material

  • Has a luggage sleeve

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Sometimes a good backpack is all you need when you're packing light or just want to free up your hands. Dagne Dover's backpack comes in three sizes, small, medium, or large, and the latter is perfect for traveling. The exterior has secure side pockets (great for a water bottle or umbrella) and open the main compartment to reveal a secure laptop sleeve and zip pockets for smaller items.

Also, the neoprene material is water-resistant and easily washable. This is a bag that's functional, but also quite fashionable with a range of colors, including blue, dark moss, heather gray, and a blush pink.

Size: 13.25 x 5.25 x 17.5 in. | Weight: 2.6 lbs. | Material: Neoprene

Best Checked: Lipault Paris Plume Spinner

3.8
What We Like
  • Durable

  • Easy to maneuver

  • Waterproof shell

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Lacks organizational pockets

Lipault Paris doesn’t skimp on cutting-edge style or functional features—just take a look at the Plum Spinner to see for yourself. With its water-resistant nylon exterior and spacious interior, this is a darn good suitcase. Our tester has owned several Lipault bags and marvels at how they withstand the test of time.

Plus, the four spinner wheels mean you won't have to work any harder to transport it from the baggage claim to your cab. Its lightweight construction is, of course, what landed it on this list, though. It's roomy enough for all your belongings, but at just 6.6 pounds, it isn't too bulky. The checked luggage bag comes with a three-year limited warranty and is available in six lovely colors: black, cherry red, taupe, khaki, navy, and plum.

Size: 28.3 x 19.7 x 11 in. | Weight: 6.6 lbs. | Material: Nylon and PVC

“It can stand upright, even when it is packed to the brim. I was able to check in at the counter and wait for a cab without having to worry about it tipping over.”Charlene Petitjean-Barkulis, Product Tester

Best for Adventures: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

 Cotopaxi

What We Like
  • Spacious interior

  • Versatile

  • Distributes weight evenly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The sporty-chic Allpa Travel Pack from Cotopaxi is our pick for any outdoor adventure. The carry-on compatible pack has a 35-liter interior, plus a weight-distributing harness system that includes contoured shoulder straps, an adjustable sternum strap, and a padded hip belt for true comfort, balance, and ease. Crafted from 1608D ballistic nylon paneling and TPU-coated 1000D polyester, the Allpa Travel Pack is designed to withstand years and years of rugged travel. There’s plenty of storage space, too, including spacious mesh compartments on the inside, a suitcase-style zipper opening on the main compartment, two zippered pockets on the top, and padded laptop and tablet sleeves. Four reinforced grab handles provide multiple carry points when you’re not using the shoulder straps. Not to mention, the lightweight pack comes with several travel accessories including mesh laundry bags, a snap-on water bottle sleeve, and a nylon shoe bag. You can pick one up in royal blue, Caribbean blue, spruce green, or black.

Size: 20 x 12 x 8 in. | Weight: 3.8 lbs. | Material: Nylon and polyester

Best Expandable: Briggs & Riley Travelware Suitcase

Briggs & Riley Travelware Medium Expandable Upright Suitcase

Courtesy of Briggs & Riley

What We Like
  • Exterior zippered pockets

  • Garment folder

  • Compression straps

What We Don't Like
  • A little heavy

The Briggs & Riley Expandable Upright utilizes CX technology to expand up to 25 percent, though it’s still relatively lightweight (especially for a hard-sided suitcase), at just 10 pounds. Once you’ve used its expansion properties to pack an extra pair of shoes or blouse, it compresses back down to its original size, to prevent your belongings from shifting around too much. This cult-fave suitcase boasts a ballistic nylon outer exterior that resists the wear-and-tear of travel, and the cushioned top-carry handle and integrated bottom fabric handle combo makes for easy, smooth handling. There are also several organizational compartments: a tri-fold garment folder and panels on the inside, and a large u-zip front pocket, and other small pockets on the outside for easy access.

Size: 25 x 18 x 10.5 in. | Weight: 10.2 lbs. | Material: Nylon

Best Splurge: Tumi Latitude International Carry-On

Tumi Latitude International Carry-on

 Tumi

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • TSA locks

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

Invest in a well-made luggage bag like the Latitude International Carry-On from Tumi, which the brand boasts as its most durable, lightweight case. The 22 x 14 x 9-inch hardside spinner weighs only 6 pounds, yet it's constructed out of ballistic material that bends to maximize its packing capacity. The outer shell is also beautifully designed, with a color selection of navy, silver, or black. Its interior boasts two compartments with tie-down straps, zippered pockets, and a hanger bracket for easy packing. Better yet, a three-stage telescoping handle and four, lightweight spinning wheels offer great mobility, while an integrated TSA lock secures everything inside.

Size: 22 x 14 x 9 in. | Weight: 6.24 lbs. | Material: Polypropylene

Best Softshell: Victorinox Swiss Army Connex Medium Softside Case

What We Like
  • Expandable

  • Extra features

  • Spacious interior

What We Don't Like
  • A little heavy

No more lugging around bulky, heavy suitcases on your next vacation—just get the Connex Medium Softside Case. Though it’s on the lightweight side, 9.5 pounds, this sleek suitcase makes optimal use of space, with a spacious main compartment that expands. The smooth-rolling Lisof wheels are near silent when in use and there’s even an integrated multi-tool (inspired by the Swiss Army Knife) that has an ID tag, pen, and SIM card replacement gadget. 

Size: 11.8 x 17.3 x 25.6 in. | Weight: 9.5 lbs. | Material: Nylon

Best Hard Sided: Calpak Ambeur Carry-On

Calpak Ambeur Carry-On

Courtesy of Calpak

What We Like
  • Interior accessory pocket

  • Durable shell

  • Expandable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

Fitting the Ambeur Carry-On in an overhead bin is easy. This sharp-looking 22-inch suitcase on spinner wheels will get you through the airport with no trouble, and the hard-sided fabric is both fade- and scratch-resistant. The adjustable height trolley comes in handy, and the interior pockets allow for easy access to all your belongings (there’s even a removable mesh accessory pocket on the inside, alongside the main compartment). Ultra-stylish, with clean lines and made from high-quality materials, the Ambeur is great for those who don’t need a ton of packing space.

Size: 22 x 14 x 8.5 in. | Weight: 6 lbs. | Material: Polycarbonate

Final Verdict

It’ll come as no surprise to those who know their luxury luggage brands that Everlane makes the best lightweight suitcase around: the Twill Weekender (view at Everlane). This bag is as sleek as they come, and as with everything Everlane makes, it’s ethically sourced and made from high-quality materials (in this case, water-resistant cotton twill). It fits neatly inside any overhead compartment and is just plain stylish, with rich color options to choose from.

What to Look for in Lightweight Luggage

Material

Soft-sided bags are much lighter and offer travelers a little extra wiggle room. Consider bags made of materials like ballistic nylon, cotton twill, and polyester to save on the bag's overall weight. However, should you be traveling with particularly fragile items, a hardshell case will better protect them because they're made of durable materials such as polycarbonate.

Portability

Let’s face it: for schleps through the airport, roller bags are a lifesaver. But when it comes to mobility on public transit or crowded city streets, it’s great to have your bag off the ground and close to you. Think about what type of travel you’ll be doing most frequently and decide accordingly.

Features

These days, suitcases are getting lighter and lighter without compromising on features. Think about if you'd like a battery pack, organization pockets, or more packing space in your next piece of luggage. While these features may be useful, they could make the bag more expensive. But if you'll use them while traveling, the extra money spent will be worth it.

FAQs

How small does luggage have to be to fit in the overhead compartment on planes?

Typically, carry-on bags must be 9 x 14 x 20 inches (including handles and wheels) or smaller to be able to be placed in the overhead compartment. That being said, you should always check your airline’s specific requirements and size chart before your trip.

Does luggage that’s designed to be lightweight still come with expandable capacity?

Yes, just because a piece of luggage is lightweight doesn’t mean it can’t expand (which is great news for over-packers). Even smaller suitcases can have expandable capacity. 

Why Trust TripSavvy

Justine Harrington is one of those wanderlust-driven weirdos who actually relishes the packing process and she prides herself on being a true minimalist packer, no matter the destination. She pored over hundreds of reviews and dozens of brands to highlight the best lightweight luggage available. Once you pack light, you’ll never go back.

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