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Update: This article was revised and updated in September 2020.
It does not matter if you are traveling domestically or internationally, durable luggage should be able to stand up to both. Large or small, a high-quality piece of luggage should be well-made, have smart storage, and be easy to move.
Of course, there are some things to take into account when you are traveling. A business trip to China is going to need very different luggage from a backpacking trip around Europe. You also need to be aware of check-in and carry-on sizes of different airlines to take advantage of the space.
If you can find a piece of luggage that can work for any trip, then all the better. To help you on your luggage-finding journey, we have compiled a list of the best and most durable luggage out there.
Check out your options and find the best durable luggage for your next trip.
Our Top Picks
When it comes to luggage, there are endless options out there. Here are some of the most robust, functional, and beautiful.
Pelican Air 1535 Travel Case – Carry On Luggage
When you first lay eyes on this carry-on luggage, you may mistake it for a toolbox. When it comes to durable luggage, being compared to a tool chest is not a bad thing. Take a closer look and you will see that it is one of the most rugged cases out there.
There are many colors, styles, and options to choose from. This carry-on case is rated at the maximum for carry-on. The dimensions are 21.96” x 13.97” x 8.98”. The walls of the case are thick enough to protect your belongings but not so thick that they limit the interior room.
The super-light case uses HPX polymer and has an automatic purge valve, keeping water and dust out while balancing the air pressure inside. You can pack it full and take advantage of the stainless steel bearing wheels and retractable handle.
Inside, you will find lid organizers with zippered compartments for the larger items and see-through mesh pockets for the belongings that you need to access quickly. The packing cubes allow you to organize your gear, but you can remove them for more space too.
The cases are all made in the USA and come with pull latches and TSA key locks. The silicone O-ring lid is watertight, and the rubber handles and stainless steel hardware add extra durability.
Never worry about over-zealous baggage handlers again with this extremely rugged case that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Pelican Air 1615 Travel Case – Suitcase Luggage
This travel case from Pelican Air is a step up from their carry-on luggage, but still showcases all of the great features that make the carry-on great. The toolbox design is still there, adding durability to the exterior of the case, and there are optional foam cubes for the interior to help you organize your trip. It may not look like it, but this case is excellent for business travel as well as vacations.
The chest measures in at 32.58” x 18.40” x 11.02”, the maximum check-in size, and there is a lot of room inside for all of your belongings. The HPX polymer is lightweight and tough. Being maximum check-in size, you need a way to transport the case when it is full, and you have that in the stainless steel quiet-rolling wheels. The over-molded rubber handles also mean that you can carry this case around without worrying about straining the handles.
The valve keeps water and dust out while maintaining the interior air pressure, and, inside, you will find lots of pockets and compartments to store all of your travel items. The press and pull latches secure the case when closed and there are TSA-approved locks too.
The case comes with a lifetime guarantee, showing that Pelican Air has trust in their product. They are made in the USA and perfect for traveling anywhere in the world.
Away Travel – The Carry-On: Aluminum Edition
Another case that you only have to look at to see that it is durable. This carry-on case is designed to fit into almost any overhead bin, as well as being compact enough for rail, bus, and car travel too. The case measures in at 21.5” x 13.6” x 9” with ample interior space, and a 35L capacity.
The lightweight aluminum hard shell helps the case to retain its shape and protect your belongings, and the 360-degree spinner wheels allow you full range of motion when you are on the move. With the interior compression system, you can pack this case full and still move effortlessly through the airport.
An added bonus is the integrated removable battery. The battery is TSA approved, bringing some welcome convenience when you are flying, and you can use it to charge almost any of your smart devices.
There is a hidden laundry bag for your worn clothes, leather details to add style and durability, dual TSA-approved combination locks, and slow-release handles. A wonderful case for when you have to pack for a long trip.
Away Travel – The Large: Aluminum Edition
If you are the type of person who likes to go big or go home, then this is the case for you. Measuring in at 29” x 20.5” x 12.5”, this durable hardshell case has enough space for all of your traveling needs.
The interior has enough space for everything that you want to pack, and the hard aluminum shell is lightweight and protective, taking whatever travel can throw at it. With a 95.1L capacity, you can take more outfits than you will ever need, perfect for long-term travel (and short-term too).
The 360-degree spinner wheels allow you to move effortlessly with this case, be it in the airport, or along the beaten track. There are also slow-release handles, so you can move from one to the other depending on the terrain.
The dual TSA-approved locks keep you secure when you are away, and the leather luggage tag gives you a place to put your details, should your luggage get lost.
The interior compression system that helps you pack more and the hidden laundry bag both give you something that other cases do not. A solid bag that comes with lots of extra features.
Briggs & Riley Torq Hardside Luggage
This compact luggage is lighter than a sturdy trunk and bigger than a suitcase, bringing you the best of both worlds with this checked luggage. Measuring 15.55” x 16.54” x 28.54”, this case is big enough to pack in a lot.
The 3-layer Makrolon polycarbonate material sounds futuristic and gives fantastic strength while remaining lightweight and flexible. The case is tough and solid but still has some give in it. The material is also resilient, lasting for a long time, and taking impacts well.
The case is scratch-resistant, maintaining a great look. The outer handle does not take up any interior room, giving you more space, and the telescoping handle has three stop heights, allowing you to customize how you pull the case behind you. The v-groove handle also means less jamming, and the handle has an ergonomic grip for long-term traveling.
A spacious case that is perfect for any type of travel.
Briggs & Riley Baseline-Softside CX Expandable Medium Checked Spinner Luggage
We love the look of this case, and there are three colors to choose from. The case measures in at 25” x 18” x 11”, but you can also expand the case up to 13.5” in depth, giving you options when you travel. The dimensions of the case give it a low center of gravity, making it easy to carry and roll.
The patented CX system allows you to change the depth, and the compression straps hold everything in place, no matter what you are taking with you.
The luggage comes with a lifetime warranty and is rated highly in many lists, surpassing most cases on the market, and it can be repaired for free if it is ever damaged, even by an airline.
The high-grade rubber spinner wheels give you an excellent range of motion and the telescoping handle with 4 stopping heights adds an ergonomic feel when you are on the move. There are also reinforced corner guards and self-repairing zippers.
The included TSA lock adds security to your belongings, and you can lock the double zipper pulls. TSA agents can look inside your bag without damaging the locks.
A solid bag that has extra room should you need it.
Samsonite S’Cure Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
Measuring in at 21.7” x 13.8” x 31.9”, this is a large case that will accompany you on all of your travels. It is one of the biggest cases on our list and still remains extremely durable. There are also multiple colors to choose from, allowing you to match your traveling aesthetic.
The revolutionary semi-processed Polypropylene mix has an increased flow length, allowing for thinner molded shells without sacrificing the strength. This means a solid case that has maximized space on the inside.
If you do pack it full, the four spinner wheels allow you to move the case with almost zero effort and full range of motion. You can spin the case easily, and change direction quickly, perfect if you are running for that connecting flight.
The retractable handle adds to that maneuverability, extending and locking when in use, and locking in the suitcase when not, giving more security when the baggage is being transported.
The TSA lock also allows TSA agents to access your bag without breaking any locks. A perfect case if you need to transport a lot of are on the road for a long time.
What To Know Before Buying Luggage for International Travel
There is no one way to pack your clothes and other travel belongings, and that is why there is no standard piece of luggage. Your luggage options are as unique and varied as you are compared to the next traveler.
But, that does not mean that there are not some commonalities between travelers.
No matter where you are going, you want a piece of luggage that can last, that helps you to stay organized, and that keeps your belongings secure. If you can find some luggage that features all three, you are on your way to finding the perfect luggage. Of course, a warranty does not go amiss either.
Here are some things to consider when you are looking for luggage.
Some brands dominate the industry, and some of that is down to clever marketing but there are many who have created staying power because they have a great product that has stood the test of time.
Related: The 9 Most Durable Luggage Brands
If you want to be sure of a product, you can choose one of the respected brands that have been in the industry for years. Of course, that does not mean that up and coming brands cannot have good products too.
The best way to know what you are getting is to check the reviews and receive feedback from real customers.
Hard vs. Soft Shell
You have two main options when it comes to the outer shell of your luggage; you can opt for a soft shell (softside) or a hard shell (hardside). Both come with their advantages and disadvantages.
A soft shell (softside) is more flexible and gives you the option to pack in slightly more if you need to add one more shirt. That flexibility also means that you have less possibility of having to check your bag if you are taking it as a carry-on. If you can squeeze it into the slot (and the overhead compartment), then you are fine. With a hard shell, you may not have the option. The same goes for packing your luggage into a car (or anywhere else). A soft shell will give you a little more flexibility.
With a hard shell (hardside), you are opting for more protection. They may not have the flexibility of soft shells, but they will give your belongings ultimate protection. They cannot be ripped or torn (accidentally or intentionally) and will protect what is inside should the luggage take a blow. They generally feature good locks that will hold everything together and prevent anyone from getting into your stuff.
Because hard shells are made from durable materials, they are usually heavier than their soft-shell counterparts. If you are going to be wheeling around or carrying your luggage a lot, then you may want to trade a little security for a lighter bag and a more flexible one.
Are you packing your bag with a lot of stuff? Do you need help carrying that stuff? Wheels are your answer. A set of wheels on the bottom of your luggage can save you from having to carry your bag (and save your back too).
You will find that there are two types of wheel at your disposal. You can choose between spinner wheels and skate wheels.
Spinner wheels usually come in a set of four, with one wheel at each corner of your case. These wheels can move freely in any direction by being able to spin. They are larger than skate wheels and make it extremely easy to move your case around without having to take any of its weight. On the downside, being large, they stick out from the bottom of your suitcase. They may make it easier to move your suitcase around, but they are easier to break too.
Skate wheels usually come in pairs and are partially hidden in your suitcase. Think about the wheels on a skateboard. As they are hidden and less flexible than spinner wheels, they have less chance of breaking with any impacts. They still work to take the brunt of the weight of your suitcase, but you will have to drag the luggage behind you, taking a little of the weight.
Zippers vs. Latches
For the longest time, you only had latches on a suitcase. Then we had zippers. Now, latches are becoming common again (but not the old and flimsy ones). As with the shells and wheels, you are compromising when you choose between a zipper and a latch.
Zippers are easy to use but can run into problems if mistreated. The puller can break off (so make sure to look for a durable zipper when choosing your bag), the teeth can get crooked, and the zipper can get stuck. Problems with zippers are more common than problems with latches, but they are also easier and cheaper to fix. Having the zipper repaired or replaced entirely is cheap to do.
Latches are more durable and secure. They have less chance to become stuck or broken when compared to zippers, but they are more difficult and costly to fix. Latched luggage is definitely more durable in the long run but may end up costing you more money over time and can be a headache.
The more that you travel, the more you realize just how important luggage weight is. With baggage restrictions being tightened, it has never been more important to invest in lightweight luggage, especially if you want to pack in as much as possible.
With advances in technology, a lightweight piece of luggage does not mean that durability is sacrificed. Lighter materials can be more expensive, but they are as durable as the heavier materials and make traveling a lot easier.
When a product comes with a lengthy warranty, it shows that a company has faith in its product. A piece of luggage is also an item that you want for the long haul (excuse the pun), so it should come with a decent warranty.
Always check the fine print of the warranty before buying a product, looking for any exclusions that could affect your future travel plans.
Generally, the better the warranty, the more durable the product.