The Best Lightweight Luggage, According to T+L's Tests

The smooth-gliding, expandable Delsey Paris Clavel Hardside is our top pick.

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Carry On Luggage Test

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

It's easier said than done to "pack light," but it is a wise sentiment. When you want to bring plenty of outfit options (plus shoes and accessories to match), your full skincare routine, workout gear, and must-haves for working remotely, lightweight luggage can help balance out your load.

But the best suitcases, weekenders, backpacks, underseat bags, and duffles aren't just lightweight. They're also durable, easy to maneuver, and spacious, with lots of compartments and standout features, like expanders, compression panels, laptop sleeves, TSA-approved locks, and USB charging ports.

To help you narrow down your options, Travel + Leisure tested almost 120 pieces of luggage. After packing them up, spinning them around, rolling them over different flooring materials, hoisting them overhead, and whacking them with a bat, we found several notably light models that check all the boxes. (Learn more about our in-depth testing process below.)

Our number one pick is the Delsey Paris Clavel, a rigid carry-on suitcase with four spinner wheels and an expandable capacity. More to the point, it weighs just over 5 pounds.

These are the best lightweight luggage options we tested:

Best Overall: Delsey Paris Clavel Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels

4.5
Delsey Paris Clavel Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Amazon

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

Why We Love It: At 5.3 pounds, this hardside suitcase is perfectly lightweight and compact while fitting a surprising amount of clothes — no expander needed.

What to Consider: The handle is somewhat short, and it sustained a minor dent from our bat swings.

Weighing 5.3 pounds, the Delsey Paris Clavel was one of the lightest-weight suitcases we tried. At 22 x 14 x 10 inches, it's nice and compact too. But while this carry-on looks small, our testers were pleasantly surprised by how many clothes they could fit inside. They didn't even need to use the expander, which adds another three-quarters of an inch to the depth. We also like that there are two main compartments separated by a zippered divider, plus tie-down straps and shoe pockets. Lifting it overhead was a piece of cake compared to heavier models, and it should easily fit into any overhead bin.

This hardside suitcase has a polypropylene (thermoplastic) exterior that stood up well to our bat tests, although it sustained a minor dent from one particularly enthusiastic swing. The rigid shell gives it a modern, high-end appearance. Beyond the basic luggage colors, you can opt for a statement hue or choose something a little easier to spot at baggage claim, like citrine, blush, or stark white.

Thanks to the four-wheel spinner design, our testers said the Clavel has good maneuverability and rolls smoothly over bumps, cracks, and carpet. One drawback is that the handle is a little short and feels slightly loose. Still, we were thoroughly impressed with this suitcase and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to pretty much anyone looking for a lightweight carry-on. The price is right on point too, and Delsey backs it with a five-year warranty.

Price at time of publish: $210

Weight: 5.3 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 10 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: Yes

packing a suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

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 budget-friendly spinner weighs just over 6 pounds and has an unexpectedly spacious interior.

What to Consider: There are only a few colors, and it doesn't have a TSA lock.

On a budget? Amazon has you covered. After trying it out first-hand, our testers said the Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner has excellent maneuverability, even when rolling over bumps and carpeted floors. It also turns and spins like a champ. What's more, the thermoplastic shell lives up to its scratch-resistant claims, with no signs of damage from our drop tests and bat swings.

Our testers were able to fit all items on our packing list, including clothes, coats, shoes, and toiletries. Expanding it wasn't necessary, but it's nice to know there's room to spare. While this wallet-friendly suitcase doesn't have a TSA lock or any smart features, its functionality blew our expectations out of the water. And although there are only a few colors available, we like the sleek, pared-down design.

Price at time of publish: $89

Weight: 6.3 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 10 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: Yes

wheeled suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best Carry-on: Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner

5
Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner

Samsonite

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

Why We Love It: Boasting a spacious capacity, smooth-rolling wheels, and an exceptionally durable shell, this 5.6-pound spinner earned perfect scores in all our tests.

What to Consider: It doesn't come with a laundry bag or have a zippered section for dirty clothes.

Samsonite's Freeform Carry-on clocked perfect scores in all testing categories. While this 5.6-pounder is conveniently compact, our testers could fit enough clothes to get through a four-day trip without having to expand it. There's no removable satchel for dirty clothes, but it does have a zippered separator for shoes, plus a few pockets and cross straps.

We found the Freeform easy to maneuver on both hard flooring and carpet. Our testers were also fans of the adjustable aluminum handle, which locks in place with the press of a button. After whacking it with a bat, the exterior sustained zero dents, scuffs, or scratches. Considering the durable construction, minimalist-modern design, spacious capacity, and reasonable price tag, we think this carry-on is a prime choice for frequent fliers and short getaways.

Price at time of publish: $190

Weight: 5.6 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 10 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: Yes

packing a suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Best 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: The July Checked Suitcase is just over 8 pounds and the perfect medium size, with lots of organizational features and a smooth yet strong shell.

What to Consider: This suitcase isn't expandable, the lighter colors are prone to scuffs, and it doesn't roll as smoothly on carpet.

For checked luggage, July is your best bet. This hardside suitcase weighs 8.3 pounds — a few pounds lighter than average for this category and just a couple more than most lightweight carry-ons we tried. Though it doesn't expand, it's a perfect medium size with a generous capacity. There are various compartments and pockets for easy organization, plus a handy compression pad. "I imagine it would fit up to 50 pounds for international travel," said one tester.

The outer shell feels smooth yet strong, and the handle is sturdy with a soft grip. While it resists dents and scratches, each swing we took with our black bat left a scuff on the clay-colored exterior. We love the matte finish but suggest getting one of the darker colors to avoid superficial blemishes. The July Checked Suitcase rolls smoothly on hard floors but requires a little more elbow grease on carpet. Still, it's a top-notch choice for those looking for mid-size luggage.

Price at time of publish: $325

Weight: 8.3 pounds | Dimensions: 26 x 19 x 11 inches | Type: Checked suitcase | Expandable: No

July Checked Suitcase

Vicky Wasik

Best Hardside: 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: This expandable carry-on makes it easy to pack and organize your stuff, and its rigid shell seems almost impossible to damage.

What to Consider: The small wheels sometimes get caught, and it seems to work a little better on two wheels than on four.

The 6.1-pound Samsonite Omni PC was our favorite hardside suitcase. It's not only lightweight but also compact, fitting snugly into an overhead bin, with an expander if you need some wiggle room. With zippered compartments, pockets, and cross straps, we found it easy to fit and organize everything on our packing list. Stuffing it to the brim doesn't affect maneuverability — it rolls well on carpeted floors and turns easily.

However, the small-ish wheels sometimes get caught in ruts, and the suitcase is not quite up to par with how a spinner should move. "It's almost like it wants to be on two wheels more than it wants to be on four," one tester noted. This carry-on held up well to our bat swings, with no scratches or dents in sight. The price is sharp too. We'd recommend it to anyone looking for affordable luggage, as well as overpackers and those who don't want to worry about damage.

Price at time of publish: $160

Weight: 6.1 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 9.5 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: Yes

wheeled suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Best Softside: Lipault Plume Cabin Spinner

4.2
Lipault Plume Cabin Spinner

Lipault

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    3.8/5
  • Design
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    4/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: This duffle-suitcase hybrid weighs only 5 pounds, plus it rolls smoothly and resists scratches and scuffs.

What to Consider: It doesn't have an expander, and the handle felt slightly wobbly.

Lipault's Plume Cabin Spinner was also a hit in the lab. This softside duffle-suitcase hybrid weighs just 5 pounds, and while it doesn't expand, we could fit everything on our packing list, save for one of the two toiletry bags. Unlike most of its hardside counterparts, there are a couple of flat exterior pockets. But bear in mind it'll be hard to put anything in them when the suitcase is stuffed full.

Though the handle was slightly wobbly, our testers said the wheels rolled smoothly. The Plume Spinner also held up well to our bat test, with no visible damage, which is to be expected with a high-quality softside model. We like the stylish design, and the smooth matte exterior seems easy to wipe clean. While the price is a bit steep for a carry-on, we think it's a good option for short trips.

Weight: 5 pounds | Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 8 inches | Type: Rolling duffle carry-on | Expandable: No

bag zipper

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best Style: Travelpro Maxlite Air Carry-on Expandable Hardside Spinner

4.2
Travelpro Maxlite Air Carry-On Expandable Hardside Spinner

Travelpro

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4/5
  • Design
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5

Why We Love It: With a shiny textured shell that conceals scratches and resists cracks, this suitcase is the perfect balance of stylish and durable.

What to Consider: The capacity is somewhat small without the expander, and it can be slightly unstable on all four wheels.

The 6.1-pound Travelpro Maxlite Air really stood out in terms of aesthetics. It has a crack-resistant polycarbonate shell and a shiny ribbed exterior with a denim-like texture that's supposed to help conceal scratches and scuffs. Sure enough, we saw no damage whatsoever after shoving it off a table and whacking it with a bat.

We were able to fit everything into the dual interior compartments but had to expand it, which could make it too big to pass as a carry-on. With that said, a compression pad or cross straps would have been nice. This suitcase boasts eight wheels, but it's actually four sets of dual casters. Our testers said it rolled nicely on two casters, even over bumps and around sharp turns, though it was less stable on all four. All things considered, we think the price is fair and would recommend this to someone looking for stylish, durable luggage.

Price at time of publish: $170

Weight: 6.1 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: Yes

carry-on suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Most Durable: Coolife ABS+PC Spinner Trolley

4.4
Coolife ABS+PC Spinner Trolley

Amazon

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

Why We Love It: The exceptionally sturdy yet flexible shell can be knocked around without damage while making it easy to pack all the essentials for a getaway.

What to Consider: This carry-on isn't expandable, and it doesn't take corners as well on two wheels.

At 6.4 pounds, the Coolife Spinner Trolley isn't the lightest of the lightweight luggage we tested, but it's undoubtedly the most durable. The ABS+PC (acrylonitrile butadiene and polycarbonate) shell is an exceptionally sturdy thermoplastic blend. After shoving it off multiple surfaces and giving it a few good hits with a bat, our testers reported zero visible damage.

This carry-on isn't expandable. But thanks to the strong yet slightly flexible exterior, stretchy cross bands, and smooth zippers, we were able to stuff in all the essentials for a four-day trip. It also has a double TSA lock for extra protection. Maneuvering the Spinner Trolley was a breeze, though it doesn't take corners as tightly on two wheels. We'd expect it to last several years and think it's a stellar option for such an affordable price. And as one tester added, "Its appearance is very attractive."

Price at time of publish: $120

Weight: 6.4 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9.5 inches | Type: Carry-on suitcase | Expandable: No

packing a suitcase

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best Underseat: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Underseat Carry-on Travel Tote Bag

4.3
Travelpro Luggage Maxlite 5 18" Lightweight Carry-on Under Seat Tote Travel

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    4/5
  • Functionality
    3.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5

Why We Love It: This 2-pound tote is conveniently compact yet spacious, with comfortable straps and a trolley sleeve.

What to Consider: It may only fit under the seat of larger planes and might not be big enough to replace a suitcase.

If you need luggage you can stow beneath the seat in front of you, the Maxlite 5 Tote is a solid choice. Measuring 18 x 11 x 8 inches, it's conveniently compact — and just 2 pounds when empty! This softsided bag fit all the necessities for a two-day trip, including clothes, toiletries, and a laptop, with room to spare. One thing to note is that it was too big to fit into the underseat compartment we tested it with, but it should work on a larger plane. And you can always stash it overhead if needed.

The wheel-free design has a padded shoulder strap and comfortable handles, so it's not awkward to carry around. There's also a trolley sleeve that slides over the handle of a larger suitcase. The price is a little high for the size, but if you can swing it, we think it's a great travel companion. "For a weekend trip, this would be the perfect bag to grab and go," said one tester. It's also good as supplemental luggage to checked baggage.

Price at time of publish: $100

Weight: 2 pounds | Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 8 inches | Type: Underseat bag | Expandable: No

underseat luggage

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

Best Duffle: Kipling Bori Duffle Bag

4.8
Kipling Bori Duffle Bag

Kipling

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

Why We Love It: It's surprisingly spacious with durable nylon construction, a comfy handle, and a shoulder strap.

What to Consider: This popular duffle sells out often and doesn't have a compartment for dirty clothes.

The best lightweight duffle is definitely the Kipling Bori. While it weighs just 2 pounds, our testers said the 49-liter main compartment is "nice and spacious," with plenty of room to pack all the essentials. We found the adjustable shoulder strap and grab handles very comfortable. Even when the bag was stuffed full, it wasn't uncomfortable to carry around. And if you need something smaller, you can cinch it up with the carabiner buckles.

Our testers said the water-resistant nylon exterior and interior lining seem durable and easy to wipe clean. If we could change anything about this travel duffle, we'd add a removable laundry bag or a zipper compartment for dirty clothes and shoes. It sells out often too, so you might have to stalk the site. But otherwise, no complaints.

Weight: 2 pounds | Dimensions: 28 x 13.5 x 11.5 inches | Type: Duffle | Expandable: No

Kipling Bori Duffle

Nick Kova

Best Checked Duffle: Eagle Creek 130L Cargo Hauler Rolling Duffel

4
Eagle Creek 130L Cargo Hauler Rolling Duffel

Eagle Creek

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: This extra-large and incredibly durable wheeled duffle is under 5 pounds, with a generous capacity and comfortable shoulder straps.

What to Consider: There's no proper handle, and it would be nice if there were a couple more pockets.

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is an excellent checked luggage option, and at 4.7 pounds, it weighs less than most carry-ons. Our testers could easily fit all items on the packing list, though a couple more pockets or separators would have helped keep things organized. This extra-large duffle has two wheels and glides pretty well, but since it doesn't have an extendable handle, rolling it around isn't very comfortable. However, the shoulder straps allow you to carry it like a backpack.

This durable duffle bag showed no signs of damage during our whacking and shoving tests. The bold monochrome colors add a tasteful touch to the rugged design while helping you quickly recognize it at baggage claim. While it's a bit pricey for this type of luggage, the Cargo Hauler seems like it'll last a long time. We think it's a solid choice for camping, hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor excursions.

Price at time of publish: $199

Weight: 4.7 pounds | Dimensions: 34 x 15 x 14 inches | Type: Checked bag | Expandable: No

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Wheeled Duffel 130L

Vicky Wasik

Best Weekender: MZ Wallace Travel Jim

4.3
MZ Wallace Travel Jim

Bloomingdale's

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

Why We Love It: With a soft, stuffable design, smooth-as-butter zippers, and a stylish aesthetic, the Travel Jim is an all-around pleasure to use.

What to Consider: The price is pretty steep for a tote, and we wish the exterior pockets zipped up.

Our favorite lightweight weekender is the Travel Jim from MZ Wallace. It's just 5 pounds when empty and is roughly the size of a small carry-on. Owing to the soft, stuffable design, our testers could fit everything needed for a two-night getaway, with room to spare. We love all the pockets (six inside, three outside) but wish the exterior ones zipped closed. Still, the main compartment "zips like butter" and opens wide for easy packing.

Our testers raved about the portability, noting the trolley sleeve, comfy handles, and adjustable shoulder strap. But since the nylon is somewhat slick, the strap is prone to slipping. This weekender seems durable and easy to wipe clean. The price is a little alarming, but it's enjoyable to use and undeniably stylish with the swag of a name brand.

Price at time of publish: $295

Weight: 5 pounds | Dimensions: 20 x 13.5 x 10 inches | Type: Tote bag | Expandable: No

MZ Wallace Travel Jim

Conor Ralph

Best Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack

4.6
Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack

Amazon

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

Why We Love It: This exceptionally durable backpack weighs barely more than 3 pounds and is large enough to fit everything for a three-day trip.

What to Consider: This popular pack sells out often.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 weighs barely more than 3 pounds when empty, and it's nearly as spacious as a carry-on suitcase. With a generously sized main compartment and ample pockets, there's plenty of room to pack for a three-day trip — maybe longer. "It just kept swallowing everything I had planned on packing, and there is more than enough space to add more," said one tester.

Not only that, but this backpack is extremely durable. The rip-stop nylon held up to our whacks and shoves like it was nothing. Even after packing it full, it zipped closed without a fuss, and the seams showed no signs of stress. Carrying it around was a cakewalk too. If you're heading on a backpacking trip or just like traveling light with the freedom to speed-walk hands-free through the airport, the Farpoint 40 is for you.

Price at time of publish: $210 in jasper red

Weight: 3.1 pounds | Dimensions: 19.5 x 14 x 8 inches | Type: Backpack | Expandable: No

Osprey Farpoint 40

Jhett Thompson

Our Testing Process

The T+L team tested 118 pieces of luggage in our New York City lab. After weighing them ourselves, we performed a range of tests to assess the maneuverability, portability, capacity, durability, and design of the lighter-weight models. We packed them with enough clothing and other essentials to get through a four-day trip (or a weekend, for the smaller bags).

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage 28in

Vicky Wasik

To see how they'd perform in a real-life setting, we rolled them around on different types of flooring, hoisted them over our heads, slung them over our shoulders, and stuffed them under seats and into overhead bins. Next, we hit each piece a few times with a baseball bat and shoved it off a table to evaluate potential wear and tear. With size, adjustability, standout features, and price in mind, the luggage options with the highest ratings in all testing categories were selected for this roundup.

Other Lightweight Luggage We Tested

Four pieces of lightweight luggage we tested couldn’t quite earn a spot on our list but had standout features that may meet the needs of some travelers. 

Samsonite Black Label Lite-shock Carry-on Spinner: At 3.7 pounds, this bag was actually the lightest carry-on we tested, and we loved its sleek style and outstanding durability. Unfortunately, it fared poorly on our maneuverability tests, which kept it off our winners list.

Hartmann Luxe II Carry-on Spinner: This 6.7-pound suitcase has a spacious main compartment and a retro yet high-end appearance. It works well on two wheels but not so much on four, and it's a bit too bulky for an overhead bin.

Kipling Darcey Small Carry-on Rolling Luggage: Weighing just over 5 pounds, this carry-on is lightweight, spacious enough for a four-day trip, and compact enough to fit in an overhead compartment. That said, the nylon exterior is kind of noisy, and the maneuverability is clunky compared to others we tried.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Carry-on Spinner: This 5.4-pound spinner rolls smoothly for the most part and didn't sustain any scuffs from our bat test. However, it has a somewhat outdated appearance, and in the end, we liked the hardside carry-on and tote from the Maxlite line better. 

weighing luggage

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Tips for Buying Lightweight Luggage

Remember that durability still matters

Prioritizing a lightweight design doesn't mean you have to sacrifice durability. Hardside luggage tends to be better for safeguarding electronics and preventing your stuff from getting crushed. And while they’re usually easy to wipe clean, some rigid suitcases are prone to scuffing.

Believe it or not, softside carriers are often just as sturdy. Although textile exteriors can be trickier to keep clean, they also usually don't scuff as easily or show dirt.

luggage durability

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Look for comfort features

Besides staying within any potential weight limits for plane travel, one of the main points of lightweight luggage is to make your trip easier and more efficient. With this in mind, you'll want to look for models with various comfort features. These may include easy-to-push spinner wheels, a telescoping handle, padded grab handles, an adjustable strap, or even a trolley sleeve.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is considered lightweight luggage?

    The lightest-weight carry-ons are usually anywhere from 4.5 to 6.5 pounds. For checked suitcases, you're looking at closer to 8 to 10 pounds. However, alternative luggage options, such as duffles, weekenders, and backpacks, can be as light as 2 or 3 pounds when empty.

  • Is there a weight limit for carry-on luggage?

    It depends on the airline. Some set the weight limit for carry-on luggage at about 35 pounds, though international flights may be more restrictive. But unlike checked baggage that's weighed in at the counter, weight limits are often not enforced very strictly. And some domestic airlines don't have any restrictions.

  • What is the weight limit for checked bags?

    This also varies among airlines. Many set the weight limit for checked baggage at 50 pounds. But in many cases, you can go up to 70 pounds for an extra fee. At any rate, it's a good idea to check the airline's website before packing, as rules and guidelines are subject to change.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this story, commerce writer Theresa Holland combed through in-house testing insights, then referenced product descriptions and luggage manuals to create a comprehensive roundup of the best lightweight luggage available today. She has tried a handful of the above brands herself, including July, Amazon Basics, Samsonite, and Osprey.

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