If you’re like a lot of travelers, you may find it difficult to pack lightly enough to avoid checking bags at the airport. The good news? More airlines these days are getting onboard with offering free checked baggage, so you don’t necessarily have to feel guilty about your inability to pare down what you pack.
And of course, if you’re packing for a longer trek, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be able to avoid checking at least a bag or two, anyway. Still, having the best checked luggage can ensure that you’re able to comfortably pack and organize all your essentials—and then some! If you’re in the market for some new checked luggage for an upcoming trip, there are a few top brands you’ll want to check out. As you shop, we also have some helpful tips and tricks that can make your decision easier.
Best Checked Luggage Brands
Below are our picks for the top luggage brands for checked baggage on the market today. “Check” them out for yourself (see what we did there?) and see which best suits your travel needs and budget!
CHESTER is an up-and-coming luggage brand that currently offers both a carry-on spinner suitcase (the Minima) and a full-size medium checked spinner suitcase (the Regula). Their checked luggage is designed with global travelers in mind and has been made to conform with TSA and IATA checked baggage requirements to save you money on baggage fees. This, combined with CHESTER’s free 100-day trial period, makes it easy to buy your checked luggage with confidence.
Samsonite has been a top-rated luggage brand for more than 100 years, and they offer a wide range of checked luggage options. Whether you’re looking for a four-wheel spinner bag, a simple two-wheel design, or even a checked duffel bag/tote with no wheels, Samsonite has you covered. They’re also frequently holding special sales and promotions, so you can find a great deal on your next luggage set.
You can find just about everything on Amazon these days, and checked luggage is no exception. The AmazonBasic brand now makes its own checked luggage, ranging from hard-sided to soft-sided options to suit your needs and budget. They’re also one of the most affordable brands on the market—and of course, if you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can get your luggage in as little as one day.
4. American Tourister
When it comes to variety and value, American Tourister is a great choice. They offer an incredible selection of checked luggage in just about any color, pattern, and material you can imagine. This makes it easy for you to find luggage that reflects your own personality and sense of style. They also have a great selection of kids’ luggage, making this a great place to find checked baggage for the entire family.
5. L.L. Bean
L.L. Bean also offers a nice range of checked bags, including rolling duffel bags that are surprisingly spacious and ideal for longer trips. Their luggage is made of durable materials that can withstand the test of time, and they come in a wide range of color options. Many of their checked bags are also designed with water-resistant fabric for additional protection of your belongings no matter where your travels may take you.
Pros and Cons of Using Checked Luggage
As with any type of luggage, there are some possible pros and cons to think about before you make your next checked luggage purchase. While most travelers would agree that the advantages of owning checked luggage far outweigh the cons, these are all points worth considering nonetheless.
Advantages of Checked Luggage
Checked luggage can make your trip through the airport go more smoothly by allowing you to drop your bags off at the airline check-in desk and pick them up at the baggage carousel once you reach your destination. And with many airlines these days offering free checked bags (at least for the first one or two), you may be able to check your luggage at no additional fee (depending on the fare you booked and which airline you’re flying).
Having checked luggage also means you’re able to pack more for your trip and/or bring more souvenirs home with you. Since you’re not limited to packing your belongings to your carry-on bags and checked luggage is designed with all kinds of clever storage compartments in place, having a great checked bag can help you stress less about getting your essentials to and from your destination.
The right checked luggage can also help to protect your items as you travel. Many checked bags are designed with durable hard-shell exteriors made of lightweight materials, such as polycarbonate. These materials can help absorb impact (which comes in handy when your bags are being tossed in and out of the plane’s cargo hold) and protect your belongings even on turbulent flights.
Potential Drawbacks of Checked Luggage
Of course, there are some possible disadvantages to buying checked luggage—starting with the price. You can generally expect to spend about $100 or more on a piece of quality checked luggage, but the good news is that quality luggage should easily last you for many years before needing to be replaced. Some brands even offer a lifetime guarantee or other type of warranty on their luggage for additional peace of mind.
Still, not all airlines have gotten on-board with offering free checked bags. Some still require travelers to pay for each checked bag, whereas others may include checked luggage only with certain fares. Either way, if you’re flying with an airline where your checked luggage isn’t included, this means you’ll end up paying more to check your bags each way. That’s money you could be spending on other aspects of your adventure (or saving altogether).
Finally, luggage must be stored somewhere when it’s not in use, and checked luggage can take up a fair amount of room in your home. This can become problematic if you live in a home with limited storage space. You may find that your checked luggage takes up a lot of room in your closet when it’s not in use, which can be a pain to work around.
How to Choose the Best Checked Luggage
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of having checked luggage and are leaning towards buying some, we recommend that you begin with the luggage brands on our list above. From there, however, there are some additional considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop that will ultimately help you make the right choice for your needs.
Consider Your Airline’s Restrictions
Do you have an airline that you fly with most frequently? If so, then now would be a good time to familiarize yourself with that airline’s policies and restrictions for checked luggage. If your airline offers a free checked bag, for example, you’ll want to be aware of the size restrictions on that bag so you don’t end up purchasing luggage that’s too large. You can find out your preferred airline’s baggage size and weight limitations by checking out the policies on their website or by contacting them directly.
Decide on the Right Material
When you’re buying checked luggage, you’ll want to choose a material that is not only durable, but that will be easy to clean. After all, your luggage will be spending a lot of time in airplane cargo bays and being tossed around from one luggage carousel to another. It’s easy for soft-sided bags to become stained, torn, and otherwise damaged when they’re used as checked bags. To extend the life of your checked baggage, it is generally recommended that you choose a hard-sided material instead. Polycarbonate is lightweight while remaining durable enough to protect against scuffs, stains, and other damage from routine handling at the airport.
Meanwhile, hard-sided materials also tend to be easier to keep clean. Simply wipe your bag down with a disinfecting wipe after your travels and it should look good as new!
Prioritize Easy Maneuverability
Part of the convenience of checking your bag is not having to lug it around the airport, but remember that you’ll still need to transport your bag from the luggage carousel to your hotel or other destination after your flight lands. With this in mind, you’ll still want to choose a checked bag that can be easily maneuvered. Typically, this means opting for a suitcase or duffel bag that has at least two wheels (and preferably four wheels for added control and convenience). Wheeled bags are easy to maneuver even around crowded airport terminals and busy city streets.
Don’t Forget About Your Sense of Style
Today’s luggage is made not only with practicality in mind but style as well. While some travelers may prefer to keep it simple with a solid-colored bag, more travelers these days are looking for ways to express their unique personalities and sense of style through their luggage. As you shop, you’ll see that you can find checked luggage in just about any color and pattern imaginable, so why not use this opportunity to make a fashion statement? Another benefit of choosing checked luggage that’s less “traditional” in color and style is that doing so can help your bag stand out. This can make it less likely to be lost or mistaken for somebody else’s on the baggage carousel. It can also make it easier for you to identify your bag while you’re waiting at the baggage claim.
Make Sure There’s Enough Storage
Ultimately, the whole point of buying checked luggage is to help you get more of your items from point A to point B when you travel. Make sure the luggage you end up choosing is not only large enough to meet your needs but that there are plenty of storage compartments throughout so you can keep your belongings easily organized while you travel. Ideally, you’ll want to have at least one waterproof storage compartment to protect things like your electronics and charging cables. Some travelers will even use these compartments to store wet swimsuits or other soiled clothing so it doesn’t come into contact with other items in their bag.
Decide on Must-Have Features
Today’s luggage has more available features than ever. For example, you can even find luggage that comes with built-in battery packs so you can charge your devices on-the-go, even if you’re at a crowded airport with no available wall outlets. With checked luggage, there are some restrictions on the use of battery packs, but there are still some great features to consider looking for that can make your life easier. Take some time to explore your options and decide what’s most important to you to have in your next checked bag.
Don’t Overlook Security
Security is always a concern when you’re leaving your bag with an airline; the last thing you want is to arrive at your destination to find some of your items missing from your bag. This is where choosing a bag that comes with TSA-approved locks can give you a little added security and peace of mind. These locks can only be opened by TSA agents with the right key, which also makes them great for protecting you against pick-pockets when you arrive at your destination. Even if the bag you end up choosing doesn’t come with TSA locks, you can always buy them separately and add them to your bag yourself.
The Bottom Line
With so many luggage brands out there offering checked bags, it can be difficult to know which brand is best-suited for your travel needs and budget. This list should help you get your luggage search off to a strong start so you can make a confident purchase. From there, it’s simply a matter of choosing a checked bag that will fit all your essentials, conform to your preferred airline’s size restrictions, and come in the color or style you enjoy. Happy shopping and safe travels!