HOW TO BUY LUGGAGE

Durability satisfaction is the greatest predictor of overall luggage satisfaction

By Caitlyn Callahan

AAA World Article

When was the last time you bought new luggage? While suitcases, carry-on bags, and other types of luggage are similar in many ways, they’re also very different. If you need to buy new luggage for an upcoming trip, or you’re simply considering an upgrade, consider these tips to help you have a smooth shopping experience.

The most important factors to consider when purchasing luggage are wheelability and durability, according to a 2018 Consumer Reports study. In fact, according to many respondents, durability satisfaction was the greatest predictor of overall satisfaction.

WHEELABLITY
Most luggage today comes with one of two options: two wheels or four wheels. Many travelers prefer four-wheeled suitcases due to their ability to spin 360 degrees, making them easier to maneuver in front of, beside, or behind you.

Two-wheelers only go forward and backward, but tend to be better for rolling on sidewalks, streets, and other uneven surfaces. 

Before purchasing, check that the wheels roll smoothly. Jiggle them with your hands to make sure they are firmly attached. Wheels attached with screws typically are sturdier than those attached with rivets.

DURABILITY
First, you should decide if you want a hard side or soft side. Soft side luggage is generally more lightweight, and more flexible to fit more items. If you choose soft side, make sure to pick one with high-denier material (which is a measurement of fabric weight) as it’s more durable.

If protection from rips and your packed items is more important, you may want to opt for a hard side. They’re the most difficult to rip or tear. Aluminum luggage provides the best protection, but they are also the heaviest, so if you’re planning to check the bag, airline weight limits may restrict you from packing all of your desired belongings.

Next, check the zippers. There are two types of luggage zippers: chain and coil. A chain zipper has two sets of interlocking teeth, generally made of metal. These are stronger and more difficult to break into than a coil zipper. Zipper brand YKK is generally thought to be the most reliable and durable zipper brand.

Also make sure to test the handle. It should have little to no wiggling as you pull the bag. Check to see it moves smoothly as you pull it up and retract it.

MORE TIPS

  • Depending on whether you’re shopping for a carry-on bag or suitcase you would check, one thing to keep in mind is the size of the luggage. The maximum allowed dimensions for carry-on luggage varies by airline, and includes the bag’s wheels, retracted handles and compartments. Check your airline’s restrictions and know what size you need before you shop.
  • Don’t forget the inside of the luggage is just as important as the outside. Square corners, outer compartments that are integrated into the bag, and straps or organizers can help maximize packing space.
  • One final thing to keep in mind: most of the weight of the bag should be your packed belongings, not the bag itself. This is especially important when you’ll be checking a bag as airline carriers have strict weight restrictions. Consumer Reports experts recommend a wheeled bag weighs no more than 7.5 pounds when empty.