The Best Checked Luggage for Every Type of Traveler
These are the suitcases, duffels, and backpacks you’ll want to take on your next long trip.
Checking luggage hasn't exactly been trending recently. Why wait in line at the baggage counter and pay an extra fee when you could breeze through security with just your carry-on roller and satchel in tow?
But consider the alternative — why agonize over what you have to remove from your suitcase so that it finally zips, then drag all of your heavy possessions behind you for hours or while you run between terminals on a layover, when you could be doing this with just your stylish mini backpack as your only companion?
Most international flights departing out of the U.S. include a free checked bag, as do many airline status programs and affiliated credit cards when you're traveling domestic. And sometimes you really do need that extra pair of shoes, full-sized bottle of shampoo, or space for those souvenir bottles of wine.
There isn't one standardized size limit for checked luggage; it's up to the individual airlines. The most common restriction is 62 total inches (length + width + height), though your airline may have provisions for oversized baggage (how else would people take their skis on vacation, after all). What you should be more concerned about is weight. Most airlines will cut you off at 50 pounds, which will creep up on you faster than you think, especially when the weight of the bag itself is taken into account.
Another thing to keep an eye out for: Any locking mechanism needs to be TSA-approved. And you can't check lithium ion batteries, so make sure any of those attached battery packs are popped out of the bag and into your carry-on.
Best Softside Checked Luggage
Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Spinner
Wirecutter's favorite in their checked luggage testing won its place with its nimble maneuvering, high capacity, and a durable and luxurious feel that belies its affordable price tag.
Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Spinner
As the extremely satisfied owner of a Briggs & Riley Baseline carry-on that I feel excited to use every time I pack it, I see no reason to doubt that its larger sibling would perform just as well. You can shop 25 and 28-inch versions based on how much packing space you need.
Tumi Alpha 3 Expandables
This bestselling line on the Tumi site includes these two expandable four-wheelers that will fit whatever you may be carrying in classic Tumi style.
Best Hardside Checked Luggage
This polycarbonate gets a mention in Wirecutter as an alternative hardside pick, and it's also impressively affordable for the quality. Paris-based luggage brand Delsey is known for its solid products and durability.
Away The Large
Cult favorite carry-on maker Away has also garnered praise from reviewers for their checked model. No battery pack here, just the lightweight polycarbonate construction and interior features that made their carry-ons famous. The Large suitcase is currently sold out, but until it's restocked, check out the brand's Medium suitcase (which measures 26 inches) and the new Large Flex suitcase (which measures 29 inches).
To buy: awaytravel.com, $325
Arlo Skye The Polycarbonate Check-in
Want to go zipperless? Similar to their sleek carry-ons, Arlo Skye's Check-in swaps out zippers for two TSA-approved locks holding together its impact-resistant shell.
To buy: arloskye.com, $495
Rimowa Original Check-In
If you really can't have your contents damaged, the original anodized aluminum Rimowa models will make sure that even your Murano glass makes it home safely. (Or if they don't, at least it won't be your suitcase's fault.)
Best Checked-size Duffels
Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel
Patagonia's classic Black Hole duffel also comes in a wheeled version for those heavier load trips. It ranked highly in OutdoorGearLab's ratings in the overall duffel bag category for its solid construction, ease of packing, good maneuverability, and water resistance.
eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel
This is one of the most popular bags at eBags, winning a 4.6-star average across more than 1,400 reviews. It's got multiple organizational pockets along with adjustable built-in shelf dividers to customize just how you want to arrange your contents.
To buy: ebags.com, $200
The North Face Base Camp
OutdoorGearLab's Top Pick duffel is a classic in the duffel bag scene for its durability, ease of packing, and comfortable straps. Take your pick of three sizes depending on how much you think you'll need to stash.
Best Checked-size Backpacks
Maybe someday we'll stop singing the praises of this Osprey line, but today is not that day. In this case, their durable fabric and tuck-away straps make them one of our favorites for when you're checking a backpack. Just zip off the detachable daypack for your carry-on if you haven't already, zip the straps into the back cover flap so they won't get caught anywhere, and hand off the main bag. The primary difference between these two bags is that the Fairview is designed for travelers with smaller torsos and tops out at 70 liters, but that should be plenty.
Osprey Sojourn Convertible 80L
Osprey has made their backpack tech a little easier on the shoulders with this convertible wheeled option, which OGL gave high marks in their suitcase testing, especially for ease of transport. Even some of the most backpack-focused journeys still likely have somewhere you'll want to take a break and use the wheels.
To buy: ems.com, $340
Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we'll send you our favorite travel products each week.