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The best lightweight luggage options, according to experts

Sep 12, 2023Sep 12, 2023

If you’ve been lugging an old, bulky suitcase for years and the wear and tear is starting to show, it might be time for an upgrade.Your new luggage should have TSA-approved locks, zippered storage compartments and extra pockets for your travel documents. But above all, experts we spoke to said to prioritize lightweight options that can help you scoot through airports and bus stations with ease.

We spoke to travel bloggers and experts to find the best lightweight luggage and asked Select staffers for their favorite options.

SKIP AHEAD The best lightweight luggage of 2023 | How to shop the best lightweight luggage

Every option we recommend below, whether it's a carry-on, checked bag or weekender comes recommended by our experts or is a Select staff favorite. Here's what experts suggest keeping in mind while shopping for a quality option:

To help you find the best lightweight suitcase options for your next trip, we took into consideration expert recommendations, staff picks and highly rated options.

A quality weekender bag, the Everywhere Bag can store your 15-inch laptop, a weekend's worth of garments and travel snacks. It's a favorite of Sally Nguyen, a travel content creator and blogger who loves the bag's multiple interior pockets, where she can store her electronics and travel documents separately. The water-resistant bag "also has a trolley sleeve which makes it easy to put it over your carry-on suitcase to wheel around," says Nguyen. The zippers are lockable too, and the bag is customizable with your initials for an additional $35 fee. If you’re looking for more storage, pick the medium or large Everywhere Bag.

Material: Nylon, leather | Weight: 2.75 pounds with shoulder strap (2.25 without)

This large, checked luggage option has a hard shell polycarbonate exterior, an adjustable handle and an interior flex-divider, which the brand says can hold your belongings in place while you travel. It's a favorite of travel journalist and writer Rana Good, who loves its hard shell build. It's not entirely scratch-resistant, but any bumps and bruises don't affect the stability or durability of the bag, according to Good. The bag has TSA-approved locks, spinner wheels for steering and zippered compartments for organization. And, while this is the largest option on our list, it still weighs only 10.6 pounds.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 10.6 pounds

Away also makes Nguyen's favorite carry-on suitcase option, which she says can easily hold all her garments on long haul trips and comes with a 100-day return policy. "I can fit two weeks' worth of clothes in it and still have extra room in it to bring extra souvenirs home from my trips," she says. It has a TSA combination lock, 360-degree spinner wheels and interior compression belts to hold your clothes in place. This luggage even has a hidden handle by its wheels to make it easier to lift it off baggage belts, according to the brand. The zipper expansion also adds 2.25 inches of packing space, according to the brand, and the bag weighs nine pounds when empty, according to the brand.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 8.15 pounds

Hardshell Samsonite spinner is a favorite of Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg who calls it "indestructible yet so lightweight." It has a TSA combination lock, is expandable by 1.5 inches through the additional zipper and has a built-in ID tag, to make it identifiable on baggage belts. There are double wheels for maneuvering and a divider on the interior to store your items separately. There is a retractable handle too, which you can adjust to your height.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 8.48 pounds

I own this checked bag and love the zippers on it, as they’re extremely durable: even after years of overpacking my bag on trips to India, they haven't frayed or broken off. I also appreciate that both the interior compartments have compression straps — my clothes and makeup remain unscathed even after long-haul flights. The bag comes with a removable hanger, laundry bag and shoe bag to keep things organized. Its TSA-approved combination lock ensures your goods remain safe, and the spinner wheels and retractable handle make it a breeze to drag it through the airport. Each Delsey bag also comes with a unique tracking plate and code, which helps the brand track your bag in the off chance it gets lost during travel.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 9.30 pounds

Briggs & Riley is another favorite brand of Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg, who loves it for its durable, long-lasting products. Ginsberg has been using her carry-on bag for over eight years and claims it's still in "pristine condition." This carry-on suitcase can be expanded by simply pressing a button and pulling the sides up, according to the brand. It also has a built-in garment folder, allowing you to store a suit or two to prevent wrinkles on long journeys. There are two mesh lid pockets as well, so you can store any last-minute snacks, documents or devices. If you want to personalize this suitcase, you can also add your initials at no extra cost.

Material: Nylon | Weight: 10 pounds

Baboon To The Moon makes bright-colored bags with whimsical prints and patterns and is a favorite brand of both editorial director Lauren Swanson and Select page Mikhaila Archer. We recommend the small Go Bag, which can hold enough for three to five days. Each bag is waterproof, lockable and has multiple external pockets for storage. The straps are adjustable too and there are handles as well if you don't feel like slinging this duffel across your shoulder.

Material: Polyester, jacquard | Weight: 3.5 pounds

We consulted experts about what features to consider when shopping. They recommend keeping the following in mind:

360-degree spinner wheels: Luggage with wheels that can move in any direction are easier to maneuver, according to Nguyen. This is especially important when you’re rushing at the airport and need your carry-on to keep up with you.

Material: Both Good and Nguyen prefer hard shell luggage as they’re more scratch resistant and durable. "Having a hard shell [suitcase] makes it easier to clean and less likely to break when the airlines decide to throw your bags around," says Nguyen.

Handles: Retractable handles that glide smoothly when you adjust them are a must for any luggage. A wide handle or a grippy handle also makes it easier to drag your suitcase around.

TSA-approved Locks: This is important especially for checked-in luggage, according to experts. It keeps your belongings safe and saves you the trouble of buying an additional lock for your suitcase.

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Nishka Dhawan is an associate commerce editor at NBC Select who's written about the best travel backpacks and the best luggage sets. For this article, she interviewed travel bloggers and journalists about their favorite travel steamers and considered staff favorites as well.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Nishka Dhawan is the associate commerce editor at NBC Select.

SKIP AHEAD The best lightweight luggage of 2023 | How to shop the best lightweight luggage Best overall/editor's pick Best budget pick Best splurge Weight TSA requirements Locks Material Weight Material Weight Material Weight Material Weight Material Weight Material Weight Material Weight 360-degree spinner wheels Material Handles TSA-approved Locks Rana Good Sally Isabella Nguyen Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.