Advertisement
We independently evaluate the products we review. When you buy via links on our site, we may receive compensation. Read more about how we vet products and deals.

The 6 best hard-side luggage pieces of 2024, tested by a travel-obsessed shopping editor

These powerhouse suitcases held up at baggage claim with no issues — and barely any scratches.

best hard-side luggage, according to a shopping editor
Good hard-side luggage can make or break your trip (literally). These are all editor-approved! (Walmart, Away, Amazon)

Let's be honest — travel season is now an all-year affair. For that reason, owning an upgraded selection of suitcases makes sense, and the best hard-side checked luggage can withstand the not-so-gentle treatment of busy baggage handlers.

Quick overview
See 1 more

There are many reasons travelers may prefer hard-side luggage over soft-side options. High on the list: their durable, rugged build. Hard-side luggage can be ideal for checked bags because, unlike carry-ons, we can't baby them — once they're handed over, they're at the mercy of the airlines. The hard outer shell helps keep contents secure, no matter how aggressively your bag is tossed around. Today tons of brands make hard-side checked luggage with practically indestructible shells.

Of course, there are also security considerations. According to Consumer Reports, hard-side luggage "could offer better security than soft-side baggage because it can't be ripped open as easily and usually has integrated locks." That's valuable peace of mind for any traveler.

We've taken the guessing game out of your luggage shopping by rounding up the best hard-side checked luggage options on today's market. For instance, if you're looking for a tried-and-true option that's not overly huge, the Away Medium is super-lightweight and has a built-in compression system to give you ample room. If you don't want to spend more than $100 but still need a hard-side suitcase that lasts, the iFly Hardside Spectre Versus is one of my personal faves.

From the best overall hard-side checked luggage to the best expandable pick, we've got you covered below.

Best hard-side checked luggage for travel

If you're looking for an option that has it all, this is the one to buy. Delsey's Paris Helium 29-inch Aero Hardside Expandable Luggage is expandable and extremely lightweight. In addition to a sleek exterior, it has an interior that's as roomy as it gets for a checked suitcase. However, you won't be able to tell unless you expand it with the hidden zipper.

The interior is fully lined and features two compartments with multiple pockets for easy access and organization. There is also a TSA-compliant lock and multidirectional spinner wheels.

I've owned this Delsey suitcase for over six years and have used it more times than I can count. I recently gave it to a family member, and after all these years, it still looks brand new with barely a scratch.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Expands up to 2 extra inches
  • Rugged build
Cons
  • Glossy finish may scratch
$198 at Amazon

One of the biggest misconceptions about hard-side luggage is that it's extremely pricey. That doesn't have to be true though: Walmart's customer-favorite iFly Spectre Versus Hardside Checked Luggage is among the best under-$100 options that's still built to last.

This was one of my first budget hard-side suitcases, and it lasted me at least two years before I decided to donate it and upgrade to a more premium expandable option (the July pick below). Still, if you're looking for an entry-level hard-side suitcase that won't break the bank but still checks all the boxes — ample protection, long warranty, sturdiness — this is a solid pick. Choose from 24- or 28-inch options for checked bags. A 20-inch carry-on is also available. 

Pros
  • Affordable
  • 20-year warranty
Cons
  • Handles made of less-durable rubber
$98 at Walmart

Samsonite is one of the most established luggage brands out there, so it should be no surprise that its Winfield 2 28-inch Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels has nearly 16,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. I used this cult-favorite suitcase on a last-minute trip after borrowing it from a family member. Before then, I didn't get the hype surrounding Samsonite — but after that single use, I instantly got it. Made from durable polycarbonate for tough handling and longer trips, this hard-side suitcase has everything buyers want in a more premium piece of luggage, including multidirectional spinner wheels, a retractable pull handle and a TSA-compatible lock. Just note that it clocks in at 11.5 pounds, which makes it heavier than many competing suitcases.

Pros
  • Over 15,000 five-star reviews on Amazon
  • Established brand
  • Durable polycarbonate shell
Cons
  • On the heavier side
  • No extras included
$231 at Amazon

Away is one of the buzziest brands when it comes to hard-side luggage, and if you're looking for a suitcase that isn't too big for a shorter trip, the Away Medium is my top recommendation. It's become my go-to hard-side suitcase for trips that require more space than a carry-on but less than a larger checked bag. If you're willing to spend a little more, this is one you definitely need in your arsenal. 

This bag has a lightweight, durable shell that the brand says has been tested to withstand rough baggage handling. It also comes with Away's signature interior compression system that's designed to help you stay organized and pack more. Its recently updated design has thoughtful elements including top and underside handles. This feature is one of my personal favorites, since it takes away the strain of pulling a suitcase off the conveyor belt at baggage claim.

Pros
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Enough space for one to two weeks of clothes
  • Top and underside handle for easy carrying
  • Comes with luggage tag
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No duster bag
$345 at Away

Today, there are many smaller brands that focus more on luggage quality and less on retail presence. July is one of those brands, and it has exceeded my expectations in both craftsmanship and design. I've tried its Checked Plus Expandable suitcase, and it looks and feels just as luxe as it does in the photo.

If you're taking a long-haul trip and need a suitcase that easily expands, this is the one to buy. Just unzip the additional zipper and you'll gain an extra 10 liters of space — not too shabby. I took this on a recent trip when I had a lot to pack, and I had so much room to work with thanks to the expandability. This would a great option even on trips where you need weeks of clothing.

I also love that this hard-side suitcase is crush-proof with aluminum bumpers to protect it from hard drops. I got it in this stunning chocolate brown color, but it comes in eight additional hues.

Pros
  • Comes in a protective duster bag
  • Expansion adds 10 liters of space
  • Aluminum corner bumpers protect suitcase from hard drops
  • Large enough for smaller suitcases to nest inside
Cons
  • Expensive
$375 at July

Monos's bestselling Check-In is arguably the best, most secure large suitcase I've tried. It has a water-resistant polycarbonate shell and an anodized aluminum frame with corner guards, so it will maintain its shape. My suitcase has a tiny dent in the upper right corner after getting tossing around by baggage handlers, but the inside looks as good as new.

It also features an ultra-sturdy telescopic handle, two TSA-approved combination locks, quiet spinner wheels, vegan leather details, an anti-microbial laundry bag, two shoe bags and a vegan leather luggage tag. What I love most about this checked suitcase though is that it's completely zipperless — giving you more security since it only unlocks with your personally set combination.

If you have the Monos Hybrid Carry-On, it neatly nests inside of the Check-In for easy storage. 

Pros
  • Secure zipperless design
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Made of durable polycarbonate
  • Two combination locks for extra security
Cons
  • Expensive
$435 at Monos