9 Tips for Choosing the Best Luggage

Checklist to choose the best luggage for your needs

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Before purchasing luggage, make sure you’re getting the best luggage for your needs. The best travel luggage depends on what you’re carrying. The best wheeled luggage depends heavily on the type of wheels the bag comes with. Use the following helpful checklist to learn more about what goes into making the best case for you.  

1. The Outer Shell: You have three choices: soft side, hard side, and semi soft side.

Softside luggage is lighter weight and expandable. You are also able to compress the luggage to fit into tight spaces. On the down side, your contents are not protected from moisture and can be easily crushed. Think about what you are packing and this will help determine your needs. If you carry items such as cameras, electronics, jewelry, fine clothing or breakable accessories this type is not for you.

Hardside luggage is great for protecting your items from water damage and/or compression hazards. While hardside luggage weigh a bit more than softside bags, the ultra lightweight polycarbonate material is a great option. One challenge with hardside luggage is their flexibility, you can’t scrunch them into tight spots as their frame is not flexible. But when it come to protecting anything remotely breakable, hardside is the right choice.

Semi softside luggage provides you with a partial frame, lighter weight and is semi crush proof. This may be a good option for you;  however, these bags are still vulnerable to moisture damage and have flexibility issues.

2. Wheeled Luggage:  Make sure at least one piece of luggage, preferable the largest one,  has wheels.

You need wheels to help navigate and pull your luggage through your transportation venue. You can use your wheeled luggage as your cart to stack other bags on. Look for luggage with rubberized ball bearing wheels, like the ones used on in-line skates. The larger the wheel, the better the ride. Recessed wheels are less likely to break off in rough terrain or when being loaded into luggage terminals or trunks of cars. You also need to think about 2 wheels or 4 wheels, now commonly referred to as spinners. The new revolutionary “4 wheel drive” spinner cases can move in any direction and glide along effortlessly. You will no longer drag luggage behind you.

3. Handles:  If you are purchasing luggage with wheels, make sure you have a sturdy locking extendable handle.

The handle must be long enough to easily pull the case and any added on luggage you may have. It’s also nice for the handle to have some padding for shock resistance as you pull over rough terrain. It’s also important for your bag to have grip handles. These are used for loading and unloading your bags. You never want to load or unload a bag with the pull handle extended as it may bend or break the retracting mechanism. Most cases have at least one grip handle on the top of the bag. It’s best if you can find luggage with two grip handles, one on the top and one on the side of the case. Also, if one breaks, you have a back up.

4. Zippers:  Closure is important in any relationship, especially with your luggage.

Do not purchase luggage with metal zippers. Find luggage with large synthetic zippers that are “self repairing”. You may pay a little more but it’s well worth it. Try not to overstuff your suitcase, as that will place undue stress on the zipper and may cause separation.

5. “Add a Bag” Straps:  These straps are a really nice feature.

 These straps are used to connect bags on top of each other to work like a cart. The “add a bag” straps help work like a counter balance to keep stacked luggage stable so it doesn’t fall over when released.

6. Luggage Tags:  Help keeps your luggage from getting lost in the crowd.

You need to make sure your luggage has your personal information attached to the outside of the bag. This helps you easily identify your luggage at baggage claim and also aids in tracking lost luggage. Make sure your information is always current. If your bag doesn’t come with a luggage tag, go out and purchase an eye catching tag that will help make your luggage easily identifiable.

7. Locks:  Bags with the new TSA locks are terrific.

These bags are durable and secure plus they can be opened by TSA agents so your bag will not have to be compromised. If you don’t have a TSA lock, make sure you purchase either a key lock or a combination lock for security while in transit. Place your lock through each zipper pull so the luggage can not be opened without you being present.

8. Inside Compartments: The inside is just as important as the outside

Look for bags that offer inside waterproof compartments, zippered dividers, tie down straps and organizer inserts for toiletries, shoes, accessories, etc. These compartments are helpful in keeping your contents dry, safe and secure.

9. Warranty:  This tells you a lot about the quality and durability of your luggage.

A longer warranty means the manufacturer has confidence in and will stand by their product. Some manufacturers even have a lifetime warranty. Be sure to check warranty limitations and always read the fine print.

Also note that quality and functionality are more important than designer name brands. The best luggage is not always the best marketed.