The Best Hardside Luggage of 2022, According to Tests

Our Travel experts say the Samsonite Freeform Carry-on checks all the boxes.

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Best Hardside Luggage of 2022

TRAVEL AND LEISURE / VICKY WASIK

Whether you're a frequent flier or an occasional jet-setter, you'll always be glad to have sturdy, dependable luggage that safeguards your belongings. With a rigid frame, the hardside variety helps prevent things from breaking or crushing. It can also be easier to wipe clean than a softside design and has a sleek, modern appeal.

If you want the crème de la crème of hard-shell suitcases, you've come to the right place. But what makes a top-notch model? Besides a high-strength exterior that protects your stuff and withstands wear and tear, it's about maneuverability, capacity, standout features, and yes, style.

The Travel + Leisure team tested nearly 70 pieces of hardside luggage, including checked bags and carry-ons, to see which ones stack up. We packed the suitcases with clothes, shoes, and toiletries, took them around for a spin, lifted them overhead, shoved them off tables, and gave them a few good whacks with a baseball bat. (Get more details about our testing process below.)

Our favorite hardside suitcase is the smooth-rolling Samsonite Freeform Hardside Spinner. Earning perfect scores all around, this carry-on is compact yet spacious, with an exceptionally durable shell and an expandable design.

Here's the best hardside luggage we tested:

Best Overall

Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable Spinner

5
Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: Earning perfect scores across the board, this standout suitcase is compact yet spacious, with a high-strength thermoplastic shell and smooth-gliding wheels.

What to Consider: It doesn't have a laundry bag or any smart features.

We tried dozens of suitcases, and while many are worth considering, the Freeform Spinner was an all-around favorite. Earning perfect ratings in every testing category, this hardside carry-on is lightweight and compact but also spacious enough to fit everything you need for a four-day getaway. It expands if you need extra wiggle room, though our testers were able to pack everything on our packing test list without this feature. While there are multiple pockets in the main compartment and a separator for dirty shoes, we wish it had a removable laundry bag.

We're big fans of the minimalist-modern design, which is available in 12 colors ranging from sage to lilac to everyday neutrals. After smacking the Freeform Spinner with a bat, the polycarbonate (high-strength thermoplastic) exterior was free of scuffs, scratches, and dents. We wouldn't worry about spilling a drink on it or accidentally dragging it through a puddle either.

Our testers said this suitcase is a breeze to maneuver on two wheels or four, and it glides smoothly on both hard floors and carpets. The expandable, lockable aluminum handle feels sturdy too. Considering the accessible price point, reliable construction, and smooth-rolling wheels, we'd recommend Samsonite’s Freeform Spinner to frequent fliers and anyone in the market for a durable carry-on.

Price at time of publish: $180

Weight: 5.6 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 10 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Samsonite Freeform Hardside 21-Inch Mint Green

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best Overall, Runner-up

Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-on Expandable Hardside Spinner

4.8
travelpro-platinum-elite-carry-on-expandable-hardside-spinner

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4.7/5
  • Design
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: The Travelpro Platinum Elite is thoughtfully designed with a durable shell, an expandable capacity, and self-aligning spinner wheels.

What to Consider: It's not as smooth on carpets and could use a few more zipper pockets.

The Platinum Elite Hardside Spinner from Travelpro gave the Samsonite Freeform a run for its money. Its polycarbonate shell is designed to flex on impact to protect your belongings while preventing cracks. Sure enough, it handled being pushed off a table and hit with a bat like a champ — no scratches or dents in sight.

Thanks to the expandable design, our testers had no problem fitting everything on our packing list. But bear in mind it might be harder to fit into an overhead compartment when fully expanded. Aside from that, we think a few more zipper pockets would have been nice. This suitcase rolls smoothly on the self-aligning wheels, though it takes a little more effort on carpet. And while it's not the most affordable carry-on, we think it's worth the investment.

Price at time of publish: $370

Weight: 8.5 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: Yes

Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Expandable Hardside Spinner

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Budget

Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

5
Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: This affordable carry-on is lightweight yet sturdy, with a scratch-resistant exterior and an unexpectedly spacious capacity.

What to Consider: There are limited color options, and it doesn't have any smart features or a TSA lock.

For something a little easier on your wallet, look no further than Amazon. The Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner has an extra-thick thermoplastic shell that promises to protect your belongings and resist scratches. We're pleased to report it showed no signs of damage from our bat hits and drop tests. Our testers also said it's easy to maneuver, even on carpeted flooring and over bumps.

We could fit every last item on our packing list, including shoes, clothes, jackets, and toiletries. There's also an expander that increases the capacity by 15 percent. This wasn't necessary for our test, but we appreciate that there's room to spare. Although this affordable carry-on suitcase doesn't have smart features or a TSA lock, it really exceeded our expectations. We'd love a few more color options but like the pared-down appearance.

Price at time of publish: $89

Weight: 6.3 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 10 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Amazon Basics 21-inch Hardside Spinner

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best Carry-on

Away The Bigger Carry-On Flex

4.8
The Bigger Carry-On Flex

Away

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: This generously sized carry-on is lightweight with a sturdy shell, dual main compartments, and a compression system to boot.

What to Consider: The shell could scratch with heavy use, and it may not meet carry-on requirements with the expander.

The Bigger Carry-on Flex from Away was also a hit in the lab. This hard-shell suitcase has a light yet durable exterior that's easy to wipe clean. Upon being hit with a baseball bat, the impressively strong polycarbonate didn't dent. However, we noticed a few scratches after shoving it off a table.

The expandable design has dual main compartments, plus a compression system. This allows you to fit lots of clothes and more voluminous items like jackets while keeping everything organized. There's also a hidden satchel for dirty laundry. Our testers said it rolls smoothly and turns sharply on its 360-degree spinner wheels. Lifting it overhead was a piece of cake, too, thanks to the grab handles. This carry-on is a little pricey, but you can usually count on quality with Away.

Price at time of publish: $345

Weight: 7.2 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Away Luggage Tested

Travel and Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Checked

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

4.8
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Charcoal

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: The Winfield 2 seems nearly impossible to damage, plus it's spacious and super easy to maneuver on various surfaces — even gravel.

What to Consider: It doesn't have any smart features and weighs 11.5 pounds when empty.

If you're in the market for checked luggage, the Samsonite Winfield 2 might be your best bet. The polycarbonate shell took our hits, shoves, and drops like a pro, looking just as glossy and scratch-free after the test as when we pulled it out of the packaging. Our testers were big fans of the expandable design, compression system, and zippered divider, which you can use to separate your shoes or clean and dirty clothes. Even when stuffed full, this hardside suitcase maintained its shape and size.

Winfield 2 was easy to maneuver on two or four wheels and even performed well on carpet and gravel. The handles will also come in handy when grabbing it from baggage claim or lifting it into a car. All things considered, this "no-nonsense spinner bag" is an excellent choice for overpackers and international trips.

Price at time of publish: $310

Weight: 11.5 pounds | Dimensions: 31.5 x 20.5 x 13 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Charcoal

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Lightweight Carry-on

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Carry-on

4.7
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Carry-on Spinner

Samsonite

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4.5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.8/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5

Why We Love It: The Samsonite Omni PC is just over 6 pounds, with an expandable capacity and a rigid exterior that won't dent or scratch.

What to Consider: The wheels can get caught in ruts, and it rolls a little better on two wheels than on four.

Our testers were big fans of the Omni PC. This lightweight carry-on weighed in at just 6.1 pounds and fit snugly into an overhead compartment. The dual compartments, pockets, and cross straps make it easy to pack and organize your stuff. There's also an expander if you need extra space. According to Samsonite, the polycarbonate will look "as great on the 100th trip as it does on the first." After whacking it with a bat, we can confirm its scratch-resistant, dent-defying durability.

This suitcase rolls smoothly and turns on a dime. And stuffing it full doesn't seem to make it any harder to maneuver. Having said that, the small wheels sometimes get stuck in grooves, and it's not as easy to push as most spinners. "It's almost like it wants to be on two wheels more than it wants to be on four," one tester explained. Still, we think the price is sharp and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to overpackers, frequent fliers, and anyone who doesn't want to worry about premature wear and tear.

Price at time of publish: $160

Weight: 6.1 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

carry on luggage test samsonite silhouette

Travel and Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Best Lightweight Checked

July Checked Suitcase

4.1
July Checked Suitcase

July

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    3.5/5
  • Value
    4.3/5

Why We Love It: This sturdy checked suitcase is the perfect mid-sized luggage option and weighs only 8.3 pounds.

What to Consider: It doesn't roll as smoothly on carpet, and the matte exterior is prone to scuffing.

The July Checked Suitcase is just 8.3 pounds with a crush-proof polycarbonate shell and exceptionally durable anodized aluminum bumpers. Our testers said the smooth yet strong matte exterior stands up to scratches and dents, but each bat swing left a noticeable scuff. However, we tested a lighter color, so this may not be an issue with the darker options.

This checked bag maneuvers well on hard flooring but takes a little more gusto on carpet. While it doesn't expand, it's a perfect mid-size suitcase with a spacious interior. The various pockets and compartments are great for organization, and the compression pad allowed us to fit everything on our list. "I imagine it would fit up to 50 pounds for international travel," said one tester.

Price at time of publish: $325

Weight: 8.3 pounds | Dimensions: 26 x 19 x 11 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

July Checked Suitcase

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best for Staying Organized

Paravel Aviator Carry-On Plus

4.7
Paravel Aviator Carry-On Plus

Paravel

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: The Paravel Aviator is notably durable with various organizational features, like dual compartments, a compression panel, and a laundry bag.

What to Consider: Though it doesn't expand, it's one of the larger carry-ons we tried.

If you're a Type A traveler, the Paravel Aviator has your name on it. Our testers said it has "awesome capacity and organization" and raved about how well everything fit. While this carry-on doesn't have an expander, the zippered compartments and compression pad made packing it up a cinch. We also like that it comes with a laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes separate.

The durable polycarbonate shell sustained only a few scuffs during our tests, which might not be as noticeable on the darker colors. We also found it easy to maneuver — not to mention stylish. The Aviator isn't cheap, but it might be a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize durability and organizational features.

Price at time of publish: $375

Weight: 8.5 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

Paravel Aviator Carry-on Plus

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Expandable

Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Expandable Hardside Spinner

4.7
Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Carry-On Spinner (21-inch)

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5

Why We Love It: This checked suitcase has a crack-resistant shell and a spacious capacity with an expander that adds 2 inches to the depth.

What to Consider: It weighs a little over 12 pounds, and the price is pretty steep.

The Check-in Hardside Spinner from Travelpro's Platinum Elite line is nice and spacious, with an expansion zipper that adds a full 2 inches to the depth. Our testers had no problem fitting the entire packing list and felt like there was room to spare. They liked how the zipper panels and cross straps kept everything in place when they opened and closed it.

This large suitcase has an ultra-strong polycarbonate shell that resists cracking and crushing. After pushing it off a table and hitting it a few times with a bat, we noticed only a few superficial marks — no dents and nothing that wouldn't wipe off. Our testers said it "rolled like a dream" over carpet, bumps, and even gravel. The price is pretty steep, but we think it might be fair, considering the generous size, high-quality design, and five-year warranty.

Price at time of publish: $370

Weight: 12.1 pounds | Dimensions: 30 x 18 x 13.5 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Travelpro 28-Inch Platinum Elite Hardside Expandable Spinner Wheel Luggage

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Style

Paravel Aviator Grand

4.3
Paravel Aviator Grand

Paravel

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    4.7/5
  • Maneuverability
    4/5
  • Durability
    4/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: This sophisticated, smooth-rolling suitcase has a mid-century modern appeal and lots of organizational features.

What to Consider: It doesn't expand, and the exterior is prone to scuffing.

Even though it doesn't expand, the checked size of the Paravel Aviator fit all items on our packing list with room to spare. Our testers said the deep, dual-sided compartments hold lots of clothes, while the zippers, pockets, divider, and laundry bag help keep things organized. We noticed a few minor scuffs and dings after hitting the hard-shell exterior with a bat, but none of the contents were damaged, and it seems like it'll last a long time. (Paravel backs the Aviator with a five-year warranty.)

It's easy to push, pull, and roll over hard flooring, carpet, and bumps. With a modern appeal and a nod to mid-century luggage, this sophisticated suitcase is undeniably stylish. We loved the vegan leather trim, tasteful color options, and all-around chic appearance. "It looks very high-end," said one tester. This is one of the pricier options we tried, but if aesthetics are a priority, we say go for it.

Price at time of publish: $425

Weight: 11.8 pounds | Dimensions: 28 x 18.5 x 11 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

Paravel Aviator Grand Checked Luggage

Travel+Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Most Durable

Roam The Check-in

4.6
Roam The Check-in

Roam

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: Backed by a lifetime warranty, this suitcase has an extremely resilient shell, water-repellent zippers, and a customizable colorblock design.

What to Consider: This is one of the pricier options we tried, and it's somewhat small for checked luggage.

When it comes to durability, the Roam Check-in is tough to beat. The rigid polycarbonate shell looks and feels sturdy, and it sustained exactly zero nicks, scuffs, or dents during our tests. For even more peace of mind, the exterior zippers are water-repellent. It's on the smaller side for checked luggage, but the expander gives you an extra couple of inches. While we were able to fit all the essentials for a four-day vacation, we would have appreciated a bit more space.

Our testers said this mid-size suitcase was "so easy to move around," even on gravel, and the handles come in handy when lifting it. The colorblock design is trendy and cool but not over the top. It'll be easy to spot at baggage claim, too. You can customize it if you're not a fan of the pre-curated colors or just want something entirely unique. It's definitely one of the more expensive options, but Roam backs it with a lifetime warranty.

Price at time of publish: $595

Weight: 9.3 pounds | Dimensions: 26 x 17.5 x 10 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Roam The Check-In Luggage

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Splurge

Tumi Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

4.6
Tumi Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-On

Tumi

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    3/5

Why We Love It: This splurge-worthy carry-on is made of ballistic nylon with impact-resistant side panels, smooth spinners, and a USB port.

What to Consider: This is the most expensive option we tested and isn't technically billed as a hardside suitcase.

If you're willing to shell out the big bucks for high-end luggage, you should definitely consider the Tumi Alpha Continental. This carry-on doesn't entirely qualify as hardside luggage, but hear us out. It has a ballistic nylon exterior with a special coating to enhance durability, plus impact-resistant molded panels on two sides. It passed our bat test with flying colors, showing absolutely no damage after several hits.

Owing to four spinner wheels, it glides effortlessly on various surfaces. Our testers could pack everything in the main compartment and pockets — no expander necessary. This suitcase also has lots of premium features, like a padded laptop sleeve, lockable zippers, a TSA lock, a USB charging port, and a removable garment sleeve with a fiberglass rod. While the price might be hard to justify, there's no denying the quality.

Price at time of publish: $975

Weight: 11.9 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 9 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: Yes

Tumi Alpha Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Our Testing Process

After selecting over 67 pieces of hardside luggage based on extensive market research, we performed several tests to assess their durability, capacity, maneuverability, design, and overall value. Our testers packed them with the essentials for a four-day trip in moderate-to-cold weather, including three pairs of pants, six shirts, five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes, and two jackets, plus two toiletry bags.

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage, 28-inch

Travel+Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Beyond getting everything to fit, we wanted to see how well the suitcases protected the cargo. Our testers hit them several times with a bat, then shoved them off a table. After evaluating any potential damage both inside and out, we rolled them around on different flooring materials and hoisted them into a makeshift overhead compartment. With size, weight, price, and features taken into consideration, we chose the luggage with the highest scores for this roundup.

Other Hardside Luggage We Tested

These bags did not make our list of recommendations yet still stood out from the pack. They all had positive attributes, but a few things held them back.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 28-inch Lightweight Durable Hardshell: This is a stylish, spacious suitcase at a fantastic price. The only thing that kept it from the winners list here is that it did not roll as well on gravel as some others.

Béis The Carry-on Roller: We love the organizational features and sophisticated look of this bag. If it rolled just a tiny bit better it would be up on our winners list.

Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-on Spinner: We love that this is lightweight and intelligently designed, but the wheels left a bit to be desired.

July Carry-on Pro: Testers really liked this bag, especially the standout maneuverability and good looks. The only real knock on it was that the compression straps could be a little tighter.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 28-inch Hardshell

Travel & Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Tips for Buying Hardside Luggage

Remember durability is key

Hardside luggage is about more than a sleek, modern appearance — though this is a welcome bonus. Suitcases with rigid shells are typically made of polycarbonate, a high-strength thermoplastic. This helps protect your belongings from impact, whether it's a formal suit, a robust makeup collection, wine bottles, or camera equipment.

In addition to preventing things from crushing or breaking, hard-shell luggage is also easy to wipe clean. Having said that, lighter colors and matte finishes are sometimes prone to scuffing.

Don't overlook the interior and organizational features

When browsing options, don't overlook the interior. A suitcase should ideally have a spacious capacity, even if it's a relatively compact carry-on. Organizational features can make packing and accessing everything much easier too. This might include dual main compartments, dividers, zippered sections, a compression panel, various pockets, a shoe separator, a laptop sleeve, a garment sleeve, or a removable laundry bag.

Look for a lightweight design with good maneuverability

We also recommend looking for lightweight luggage, especially when carrying on. Note the empty weight before buying a hardside suitcase, as heavier models can make it harder to lift and roll when packed full. In terms of maneuverability, four spinner wheels are ideal. A locking telescoping handle will make pushing and pulling a jam-packed suitcase more comfortable. And grab handles will make it easier to lift into an overhead bin.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is hardside luggage better than softside luggage?

    Hardside suitcases are the gold standard for many travelers. Besides the contemporary appearance, lots of folks appreciate how they protect what's inside. However, after testing nearly 120 pieces of luggage, we can tell you that a rigid shell doesn't always point to superior durability. Softside models are often just as resilient. While textile exteriors can be difficult to keep clean, they typically don't scuff as easily.

  • How do you clean hardside luggage?

    As noted, rigid suitcases can scuff, especially lighter colors and matte finishes. But they're generally very easy to clean. You can gently polish a suitcase with mild soap and water or a luggage-specific cleaning spray. If you're on the go or short on time, you can wipe it down with a pre-moistened disinfectant wipe or even a window-cleaning towelette.


    Suitcase linings are sometimes removable and machine-washable. If not, you can likely wipe it down just as you would the outside, then leave it open so it can air-dry thoroughly. When in doubt, check the brand's care instructions.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L writers are travel and shopping experts who know how to track down the best products for every excursion. For this story, commerce writer Theresa Holland compiled our in-house testing insights, then combed through product manuals to craft a comprehensive roundup of today's best hardside luggage.

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