How to Shop for High Quality Luggage


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High-quality luggage is an investment. A piece of good-quality luggage will last long after less well-made bags fall apart or require expensive repairs.

At Travelpro®, we know how to build a suitcase or bag that withstands the rigours of regular travel. Join us as we outline what to look for in good luggage, the durability tests we put our luggage through, and what goes into making good quality bags.

How Does Travelpro Test Our Luggage?

Travel is hard on luggage. Jarring impacts, collisions with sharp objects, rough terrain, and the pressure of being the bottom suitcase in a cargo hold all have the potential to damage bags. Cheaper luggage rarely has the strength and durability to handle these pressures for long, leading to scuffs, scratches, damaged wheels, broken handles, and ruptured zippers and seams.

All the durable luggage in the Travelpro collection is subjected to a series of demanding stress tests to ensure your bags  can stand up to the rigours of travel:

Rolling Tests

Wheeled bags and suitcases are rolled over 25 miles on various terrain surfaces. To pass this test, there must be no visible damage or deterioration to the wheels or luggage, and luggage wheels must still operate smoothly and quietly.

Cold Drop Test

The cold drop test subjects luggage to temperatures below zero Fahrenheit. The luggage is then dropped 24 times at various angles on all eight corners. The luggage must pass the test without visible damage or deterioration to all major components, exterior materials, or luggage construction.

Handle Strength Test

To ensure luggage handles stand up to extended use, all handles are subjected to over 2,500 jerk cycles while fully weighted at over 50 pounds. By the end of the test, there should be no visible damage or deterioration to the handle or luggage constriction.

Fabric Seam Strength Test

To pass the fabric seam strength test, luggage seams must withstand over 50 pounds of tensile resistance force without fraying or seam separation.

 

Check out our Well-Tested video for a look at the rigorous tests we use to ensure our luggage is tough enough for your travel needs.

What to Look For When Buying Luggage

Knowing how to choose a suitcase or bag that fits your needs is essential when buying luggage: you don’t want to purchase an expensive luggage collection only to discover you’d be better off with a study carry-on backpack. Here’s a list of what to look for in good luggage.

Size Considerations

Choosing the right sized luggage is important, as you’ll be the one carrying or wheeling your bags through the airport. Look for luggage that’s the right size for what you need to pack, so the bag is firmly packed without space that can cause packed items to shift in transport. At the same time, you don't want a bag that’s too small, as overstuffing luggage puts pressure on seams and zippers. Our guide to luggage size will help you choose which bags meet your travel needs.

Hardshell or Softshell Suitcases?

Should you choose hardshell or softshell suitcases? Well-made suitcases of both types are durable and resist damage. If you transport fragile items, a hard case suitcase might be your best choice. On the other hand, opt for a softshell if you need a suitcase that can expand for extra space. Softshell suitcases often tend to be lightweight luggage, which should also be considered.

Storage Options

When it comes to storage, cheap luggage offers little more than an internal pocket on the inside of the lid. Higher-quality luggage offers a wider range of storage options. In addition to the internal pocket found in most suitcases, expensive luggage may provide small packets, removable laundry bags, garment storage sections to prevent creasing, and padded pouches for laptops and tablets.

Softshell luggage storage options are slightly better than hardshell suitcases, as soft-sided bags often include external pockets for items you need to access quickly. Softshell luggage often include an expandable panel, which unzips for extra storage space. Travelpro also offers hardside bags with expansion options.

Quality Fabrics and Materials

Why is luggage so expensive? The answer lies, in part, in the materials used for different Why is luggage so expensive? The answer lies, in part, in the materials used for different types of luggage. For softshell bags, look for an outer shell made from abrasion-resistant high-density nylon or polyester with a water-repellent coating, and check if the manufacturer conducts seam strength testing. 

Quality hardshell luggage should have a rigid polycarbonate shell with enough flexibility to absorb impacts. Check if the manufacturer conducts cold drop tests and handle jerk tests. Textured external shells reduce the visibility of minor scuffs and scratches.

Impact protection

Often, the little extras determine how to choose a suitcase. Impact protection options help protect high-wear points on your bags, such as handle bezel protection, cover guards, wheel housing protection, and skid guards.

Reliable, Sturdy Handle

Anyone who has dealt with a broken bag handle in the middle of an airport can attest to how important good quality handles are to luggage. Carry handles should be made from leather or a high-density nylon/polyester, and integrated into the bag’s construction with internal reinforcements. Suitcases with handles on the top and side make lifting bags on and off baggage carousels and check-in scales easier.

Extension handle tubes should be sturdy and function smoothly with minimal wobble back and forth. To ensure extension handles are well-made, the manufacturer should conduct handle open/close tests, a handle lift cycle test, and a rolling wheel test to ensure the handle can handle a fully-weighted bag.

Warranty Options

Luggage can often be judged by its warranty. Low-quality luggage will have extremely limited warranties, if it has any at all. At Travelpro, we believe in the durability and quality of our luggage, and stand behind it. Our exceptional luggage warranties guarantee your luggage against defects in materials and workmanship for wheels, zippers, extension handles, and carrying handles.

TSA-Approved Padlocks

Luggage locks are vital when you travel, but if your padlock isn’t TSA-approved, you risk damage to your bags if security has to examine its contents. High-quality, TSA-approved locks are often included in high-quality luggage. Opened with a universal master key, these locks make security checks easy and protect your bags from damage. Remember, the TSA has the right to damage bags if they need to gain access to its contents.

Choosing High-Quality Luggage

Take the time to do your research when choosing high-quality luggage. Read online reviews and comparisons, find out which stress tests the manufacturer uses, and read the manufacturer’s warranties carefully. While exceptionally cheap luggage is often of lower quality, don’t make your decision based solely on how expensive luggage is. High-quality luggage comes in a range of affordable prices.

We hope this guide helps clarify the importance of shopping for quality and not simply choosing the cheapest (or most expensive) option. Browse our bag collection to find high-quality, durable luggage that will serve you trip after trip for years.

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