I've never bought a suitcase before. Haven't travelled in ~10 years.
What should I be looking for? What are the things I'm probably forgetting to think about while buying one, since I've barely ever travelled? How much should I be paying?
I do plan to pack a decent amount of clothes. Few pairs of shoes.
I much prefer backpacks, you can run for a flight with a backpack and it's vaguely easy. Suitcases are awkward, if you're tall then they always bash your legs and you have to stoop to pull them.
The security issues in soft-sided ones are valid (they can also sometimes just be slashed with knives) but hard ones can usually be forced with a crowbar or any length of metal etc.
Really you just don't valuable things in a suitcase, even in flights. Don't travel with guns and diamond-encrusted knives and you'll be able to carry your valuables in your carry-on.
OP, there is no one correct answer, even for you. It depends on how you travel, where you go, socio-economic style of travel, and your actual style while you travel.
Hardsides suck for carry-ons, as do anything without 4 wheels, and without outside pockets, if you actually want an easy access to a zippered scarf, or something, sucks. Hardsides are great if you travel places with bedbugs, or you want your bag to double as a zero haliburton to prevent opportunistic pilfering or, even worse, placement of items in your luggage. Rain? Dirt?
If you head to Europe and you stay 4stars, you might want something entirely different. If you take trains, you want a certain size you can easily handle alone over your head onto a rack. If you cruise, you can unpack that sucker and never look back, but if you do a different hotel everynight, you might hate clamshell requiring a bed to open up, and prefer a fliptop lid or segmented duffel you can simply live out of, never unpacking once. If you actually backpack, but somewhere that doesn't make you a tourist-scam-target, you buy something that feels good, but if you need discreet, not so much.
Are you driving? Different bag, usually soft, something that definitely fits hidden into a trunk with all your passengers together.
I plan to fly and not move around much. and probably not move around a lot once I get there.
you can take some stuff with you in the plane in a smaller bag right?
so I think I'll get one of those big hardside bulky ones unless they're really expensive.
>big hardside bulky ones
They're totally not necessary unless you plan to do a lot of travelling through African airports. They're heavy and expensive and you'll stand out like a sore thumb with one of those things in most places.
I did some work relating to baggage systems in a major airport, and the handlers there told me that the suitcases they saw failing most regularly were hard-sided ones. Ever since then I've gone for normal soft-sided bags. Some of the shit your suitcase goes through is almost comedic - having a bit of give is a good thing.
Okay, so you're not moving around after arrival.
But, where are you going specifically, and staying at what kind of hotel/residence? And from where? And for how long? For what purpose? Need 2 seasons, or sports gear or resort stuff or will you wash during your stay? Are you looking to shop like on a mainland, and you're from the islands? From Brazil and intend to fill up your bag at the outlet mall for instance?
Quality-hardside are more expensive than a softside bag that has some structure. Cheap hardside has no organization inside, and flimsy frame and locks. Soft offers the same protection aside from rain, at an equivalent price for far more perks. Flight crew? They use softside, as do most intelligent frequent travelers (for a reason).
I also suggest if you get over a 27" and you aren't in first class or some business premium, you will overweight and oversize your bag and pay some fee beyond what a 2nd checked bag would cost. You want the largest of the not-largest (29-32) size to avoid that.
On the plane sized bags vary from underseat to overhead sized (and varies by carrier). If you are going somewhere, coach, or somewhere commuting in a smaller equipment, and you don't want your bag out of your sight or checked against your approval last minute, you want an underseat bag. Women are okay with this, as are business travelers which have the "personal item" underseat and a second bag with no valuables as the overhead, and the overhead bag has 4 wheels so you don't destroy your shoulders and feets during layovers and concourse walking.
good response thanks. made me think about a lot of stuff.
>I also suggest if you get over a 27" and you aren't in first class or some business premium, you will overweight and oversize your bag and pay some fee beyond what a 2nd checked bag would cost. You want the largest of the not-largest (29-32) size to avoid that.
So "27" is the largest of the "not-largest"? the biggest where you're still avoiding extra fees for the most part? the fees are usually based on the size or the weight or both? i'll have to read on this
Hey OP, the three main considerations for luggage are weight, durability and reasonable price. Now, choose two.
Other considerations include:
Security - Does it come with a lock? Is it a TSA lock? Can you lock every zipper?
Zippers can be opened with a pen and enough time, if you're particularly worried you can get double zippers a la Delsy luggage or clamps like the Samsonite S'Cure.
Bells and whistles - Do you fly business/first class, stay in hotels, have infinite check in weight limit and a personal porter? No? Then don't bother getting the "garment bag + ten billion pockets and organiser" style. Everything adds up in weight. You can buy packing organisers anyway.
Four wheels or two? - Pretty much everything is going to be four wheels nowadays. Many brands however will have a token two wheeler which will (usually) be advertised as a "durable style" and therefore not exceptionally light.
YES four wheels can be broken by baggage handlers/while on the conveyor belt.
NO it's not covered by warranty.
YES you can claim with the airline as long as you don't wait around and make sure you tell the airline while you're still at the airport.
ALSO four wheels are FUN and easy to get around (as long as you actually use the four wheels and not drag it like a doofus).
Waterproof? - Go to and outdoors specialty store if you're planning on waiting in the rain with your luggage for extended periods of time.
Warranty - Many suitcases start at 2 years and the big brands usually have 10 years or sometimes Limited Lifetime warranties. Warranties only cover factory defects. They DO NOT cover wear and tear or airline damage. You have no idea how many people come to me with they're luggage the airlines broke expecting a new one for free. Also, RETAIN YOUR PROOF OF PURCHASE. Photocopy, scan, take a photo, print a backup, send it to your email address, whatever.
"Hey Lifetime Warranty sounds cool, what does it mean?" No one really knows.
Pros - Durable, protects your shit, doesn't fray over time.
Cons - Heavy, more expensive, can crack when under enough pressure, no expanding section(usually), most hardcases have two halves which take up twice as much floor space when open(also this also means it's easier to see everything).
? - No outer pockets means nowhere to put your little bits and pieces you want to grab without having to open everything up OH NO. BUT It also means less zips that need locking and less likelihood that dodgy people are putting incriminating stuff in your luggage.
If you want a hard case look for something flexible. You want one that wont crack and should absorb most of the pressure without transferring it to your shit. The best at the moment in mho are the Samsonite Curv suitcases (Firelite, Cosmolite, Litecube etc) which are hard cases that aren't going to crack and are super light BUT they are also incredibly expensive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svhTFFhS5q0
I would recommend the American Tourister Vivolite if you really want a hardcase but don't have the dough for the Samsonite. It's made from pressed polypropylene at high temperature and pressure which make it fairly light and nice and flexible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrLi0ayEO1s
Pros - Lighter than hardcases(generally), cheaper than hardcases, won't crack (the frame can sometimes bend though), lid you can prop up on a wall rather than two halves so it takes up less floor space, expanding section (this is great if you're like me and can't be bothered packing properly to come back or if you're a jetsetting yuppie on a shopping trip who needs that extra pair of louboutin shoes).
Cons - Fabric can fray over time, less durable, protects your shit a bit less (wrap your fragile shit in bubblewrap or just take your glass dildo on the plane with you).
? - Outer pockets
Assuming you don't have $700-$900 bucks to drop on luggage, what did you choose between durability and weight?
Styles designed to be more durable are made with denser materials/fabrics and multiple layers of stitching. This makes it weigh more.
Lighter styles can still be plenty durable but you will generally get what you pay for.
Antler have a cool one out at the moment called the Aire [pic related]. Medium size (68cm tall inc wheels, 67 Lt packing capacity) is only 2.3kg and the Large is still only 2.7kg. That makes it lighter than any Samsonite suitcase of a comparable size and yet they still managed to reinforce the corners.
Hope this helps!
there's a luggage bag store right next to where i live, i'll probably end up picking some medium size softcase samsonite (that was mostly what they had when i glanced in).
but yeah you gave me a lot to think about, thanks. good shit.
>the fees are usually based on the size or the weight or both
No, 27 is nothing but a random number. Check your websites, and you'll see it works for all, where 28 or 29 only works on some. If you get a 29" you may still be within dimensions, but you can more easily overpack it, too, and therefore go over the maximum allowed weight. When you do overstuff a bag and they weigh it, sometimes they will give you a minute to take a few things out into you carryon, or you can travel with a scale to do the balancing act in the hotel. As you will see when you check an airline website, they allow more for premium passengers. The excess baggage charges are always horrible. It's part of their business model.
The more expensive and newer the bag? You can save like 9lbs of weight sometimes. That's significantly more shoes, more this or that.