Which lightweight luggage set is best?
Traveling means packing suitcases and getting them from the house to the car to the airport and finally to the hotel. Lightweight luggage is popular because it is easy to handle and maneuver. Wheels can make a big difference too. For many years, luggage only had two wheels. Now, most lightweight luggage has wheels at all four corners for even easier handling.
If you are looking for a three-piece hard-sided luggage set that rides on four 360 degree spinner wheels and has side-mounted, TSA-compatible locks, then take a look at the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage.
What to know before you buy a lightweight luggage set
How many pieces?
A great place to get started when looking for a lightweight luggage set is by figuring out how many pieces you need. You will find luggage sets that have anywhere from two to five pieces. Most of the lightweight luggage sets sold today come in sets of three or four.
FAA and TSA compliance
All luggage sets come with an FAA-certified and airline-approved rollaboard suitcase you can stow in an overhead compartment. The standard maximum height of rollaboard luggage is 20 inches. All other pieces in a luggage set are for checked baggage only. Typically, each successive piece of luggage in a set is 4 inches taller than the next. This means most three-piece sets have a 20-inch rollaboard as well as 24-inch and 28-inch suitcases in the same design and color.
Hard or soft sides
Soft sides are lighter in weight. They have some give to them and can stretch to accommodate those extra things you bought while away. Fabrics are subject to rips and snags and do not keep your contents dry when caught in the rain. Soft-sided luggage may be slightly lighter and cheaper, but usually not enough to offset the downsides.
Hard sides provide protection for what’s inside your luggage. Your contents are more secure and will stay dry in all conditions. Hard sides are more durable and thus capable of standing up to careless or abusive baggage handlers. Hard sides also offer more choices of colors and styles.
Two or four wheels
The first wheeled luggage had two wheels and a handle to pull with. Two-wheeled luggage was a real breakthrough that has since become the industry standard. Now you see more and more luggage with four wheels. One advantage is greater maneuverability. Another is you can push it or pull it at any angle.
What to look for in a quality lightweight luggage set
Whether you choose hard-sided or soft-sided luggage, choose the one that is made of the material that has the characteristics you value most.
Hard-sided luggage sets are made of three different materials.
- ABS: This thermoplastic material makes the lightest weight luggage. The trade-off is that it is the least durable of the hard-sided luggage types.
- Polycarbonate: This synthetic resin is a little heavier than ABS plastic but is far more durable.
- Aluminum: This is the most durable material that provides the greatest protection. The trade-off is that luggage made from aluminum weighs more than luggage made from plastics.
Soft-sided luggage sets are also made of three different materials.
- Cordura: This is a woven nylon that is fairly resistant to abrasion.
- Ballistic: This is another woven nylon that is stronger and more durable than cordura.
- Ripstop: This is the material they make parachutes out of. It shows up a lot in unconstructed luggage sets that do not hold a shape when empty.
Handles on soft-sided luggage are usually straps that go over the shoulder or hand grips that meet at the top, above the zippered closure. They need to be sturdy, comfortably padded and firmly attached to the bag itself. Handles on hard-sided luggage are all collapsible, usually telescoping their full length down into the body of the luggage. They should be sturdy and the mechanism should operate smoothly when opening and closing.
There is little you can do about security with soft-sided luggage. Luggage with hard exterior shells should come with locks. The best locks are those that are TSA-compatible for more hassle-free traveling.
How much you can expect to spend on a lightweight luggage set
A few soft-sided luggage sets can be found for under $100. From $100-$200, you can find hard-shelled luggage with wheels. Premium luggage sets with more features can run anywhere from $300 upwards.
Lightweight luggage set FAQ
How do I find the luggage limits for airline travel?
A. You can check the TSA website and read their travel checklist. Better yet, check with the specific airline you’ll be flying with because you never know what changes they may have made.
What happens if one of my wheels breaks?
A. It depends on which manufacturer and product you chose. Some sell replacement wheels, but not all, meaning you may need to take it to someone who can get parts and make repairs for you.
What are the best lightweight luggage sets to buy?
Top lightweight luggage set
What you need to know: This three-piece hard-sided luggage set rides on oversized spinner wheels.
What you’ll love: This set includes 28-inch and 24-inch check-in suitcases and a 20-inch airline-compliant rollaboard available in 10 colors. All three bags have the same polycarbonate hard shell exteriors that are lightweight, durable and scratch-resistant. Each has four 360 degree spinner wheels, a retractable pull handle and side-mounted, TSA-compatible locks.
What you should consider: This luggage set is a bit pricey.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top lightweight luggage set for the money
What you need to know: This set is for those who want a brightly colored set of luggage that really stands out.
What you’ll love: These 20-inch, 24-inch and 28-inch bags store inside each other to save space when not in use. They are made of lightweight, durable ABS plastic and have silent 360-degree spinner wheels, and the ergonomic telescoping handle is made of aluminum. Choose from 17 different colors of this squared, full-capacity design.
What you should consider: The few complaints about quality were quickly handled by the company.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Steve Madden’s lifestyle designs are at the forefront of fashion.
What you’ll love: Style is only one of the stories with this 20-inch, 24-inch and 28-inch luggage set that allows you to travel lighter than ever. The spinner wheels at each corner are dual wheels for more support, maneuverability and longer life. The shell is made of an extra-durable composite polycarbonate shell and the top and side handles make for easy handling.
What you should consider: This luggage set does not have a TSA lock.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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