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The best lightweight luggage, according to experts

The best lightweight luggage can help ease the load during your long-haul trips
The best lightweight luggage is durable, expandable and has security features, like TSA-approved locks.
The best lightweight luggage is durable, expandable and has security features, like TSA-approved locks.Kara Birnbaum / NBC

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 recommend prioritizing lightweight options so that you can scoot through airports and bus stations with ease.

We spoke with travel experts to find the best lightweight luggage on the market. We also consulted Select staffers about their favorite options.

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

Our top picks

How we picked the best lightweight luggage

Every option we share below — whether it’s a carry-on, checked bag or weekender bag — is either a Select staff favorite or directly recommended by our experts. We also kept the below in mind while shopping for a quality option:

  • Weight: Every piece of luggage on our list weighs less than 11 pounds, which our experts consider ‘lightweight.’
  • TSA requirements: Every carry-on bag fits most domestic airlines requirements (​​22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches) for overhead compartments.
  • Locks: Every checked bag comes with a TSA-approved lock for safety.

The best lightweight luggage in 2023

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.

Away The Everywhere Bag

The Everywhere Bag, which can store a 15-inch laptop, a weekend’s worth of garments and small accessories like travel snacks, is a favorite of luxury travel advisor, Sally Nguyen for its multiple interior pockets. The water-resistant bag also has a trolley sleeve that makes it easy to put it over your carry-on suitcase, and a wraparound zip opening, so you can quickly unzip the main compartment according to 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)

Rimowa Essential Check-In L

This large, checked luggage option has a polycarbonate exterior, an adjustable handle and an interior flex-divider, which can hold your belongings in place while you travel, according to the brand. It’s a favorite of travel journalist and writer Rana Good for its hard-shell build. Apart from the occasional scratch, her suitcase had no visible dents even after months of constant travel, according to Good.

It can hold up to 10 days of clothing, according to Rimowa, and comes with a leather tag included — so you won’t have trouble finding your suitcase at baggage claim. The bag has TSA-approved locks, spinner wheels for steering and zippered compartments for organization too. Additionally, its interior compartment also has a compression system, which can let you add any last-minute travel items to your bag, without making your suitcase bulky, according to our experts. And, while this is the largest option on our list, it still weighs only 10.6 pounds. Rimowa also offers some of the best customer service, according to Good, including hotel repairs on your luggage at participating locations.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 10.6 pounds

Away The Carry-On Flex

Away also makes Nguyen's favorite carry-on suitcase, which she says can easily hold all her garments on long-haul trips. “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. The nearly 9-pound bag has a TSA combination lock, 360-degree spinner wheels and interior compression belts to hold your clothes in place. It even has a zipper expansion that adds 2.25 inches of packing space and a hidden handle by its wheels to make it easier to lift it off baggage belts, according to the brand.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 8.15 pounds

Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner

This hardshell Samsonite spinner, which has a TSA combination lock, is a favorite of Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg who calls it “indestructible, yet so lightweight.” It is expandable by 1.5 inches through the additional zipper and has a built-in ID tag, to make it identifiable at baggage claim. There are four wheels for easy maneuvering and an interior divider to store your items separately. Plus, there’s a retractable handle too so you can adjust it to your height for comfort.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 8.48 pounds

Delsey Chatelet Air Checked Luggage

I own this checked bag and love its durable zippers — 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. Plus, its TSA-approved combination lock keeps your items safe, while 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 monitor your bag in the off chance it gets lost during travel.

Material: Polycarbonate | Weight: 9.30 pounds

Briggs & Riley Carry-On Expandable Spinner

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 says it’s still in pristine condition. You can expand this carry-on suitcase by simply pressing a button and pulling the sides up, according to the brand. It also has a built-in garment holder, 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 Go Bag

Baboon To The Moon makes bright-colored bags including fanny packs and totes, and is a favorite brand of both editorial director Lauren Swanson and Select page Mikhaila Archer for its fun, funky designs. The waterproof, lockable small Go Bag, can hold enough for three to five days and has multiple external pockets for storage. Additionally, there are adjustable handles if you don’t feel like slinging this duffel across your shoulder and prefer to carry it like a backpack.

Material: Polyester, jacquard | Weight: 3.5 pounds

How to shop for the best lightweight luggage

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

  • Material: This can affect the weight and durability of your suitcase. Both Good and Nguyen prefer hard shell luggage as it’s more scratch-resistant and durable than soft shell luggage. Kathleen Westerhout, senior director of product at Monos, also agrees. Polycarbonate is the most common form of hardshell luggage, according to our experts. “Polycarbonate is the best balance of weight and durability,” she says. “While soft shell suitcases are generally a little lighter, a hard polycarbonate case provides much better protection.”
  • 360-degree spinner wheels: Opt for luggage with wheels that can move in any direction since they’re easy 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. When trying out suitcases, “specifically, focus on how the wheels roll over different surfaces,” says Ulliyada Bopanna, vice president of design and innovation at Samsonite North America.
  • Handles: Handles factor into the overall weight of the bag as well, so choosing a handle made from lightweight material is important, according to Bopanna. “Materials like lightweight aluminum or high-grade plastics are commonly used to ensure functionality and durability while minimizing weight,” he says. Additionally, retractable handles that glide smoothly when you adjust them are a must for any luggage, according to our experts. A wide handle or a grippy handle also makes it easier to drag your suitcase around.
  • Zippers: A strong zipper that’s durable, can help your luggage last longer, according to our experts. “Metal zippers are considered the most durable, but these tend to be heavier and more expensive, so they’re less prevalent in luggage,” says Bopanna. Our experts also agree that Nylon coil zippers are the next most reliable. “Nylon coil zippers hold up well both on the inside and outside of luggage and bends easily around corners,” says Westerhout.
  • TSA-approved Locks: This is important especially for checked-in luggage as it keeps your belongings safe and saves you the trouble of buying an additional lock for your suitcase, according to our experts

Meet our experts

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.

  • Rana Good is a travel writer who’s written for Forbes, Travel and Leisure, Men's Journal and The Coveteur. She is also the founder of Naïra, a digital magazine for women of color.
  • Sally Isabella Nguyen is a luxury travel advisor who has traveled to over 37 countries.
  • Ulliyada Bopanna is the vice president of design and innovation at Samsonite North America.
  • Kathleen Westerhout is the senior director of product at Monos.

Why trust Select?

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, journalists and design experts about their favorite lightweight luggage and considered staff favorites as well.

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