How To Buy A Suitcase That Will Last

Buying a suitcase is an important purchase that most travelers will have to make at some point. However, with so many options available in the market, it can be difficult to find a suitcase that will stand the test of time and last for years of use. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the important factors to consider when shopping for a suitcase and recommendations for brands and models that are built to last.

Consider Your Budget and Needs

The first step is to determine your budget and assess your luggage needs. Think about how often and where you will be traveling with the suitcase. Will it be used for domestic or international trips? Weekend getaways or extended vacations? Carry-on or checked luggage? Answering these questions will help narrow down the right type and features.

In general, suitcases that are more affordably priced may have lower quality materials and construction that won’t last as long with heavy use. Expect to pay $100-300 or more for a durable suitcase from a reputable brand that is built to withstand years of travel. However, it’s worth spending extra for something that will serve you well rather than needing replacement after just one or two years.

Seek Hard-Sided Construction

One of the most critical factors for durability is the suitcase material. Hard-sided suitcases, typically made of polycarbonate or ABS plastic, are much more durable than soft-sided varieties made of fabric like nylon or ballistic weave. The rigid outer shell of a hard-sided suitcase protects its contents from dents, scratches, and damage during handling by airport baggage personnel.

Soft-sided suitcases can still be convenient options, but their fabric exteriors are prone to tears or punctures over time, especially with heavy baggage. Zippers may also wear out faster. For a suitcase you want to last as long as possible, look for a hard-sided design.

Prioritize Wheels and Handles

Pay close attention to the wheel and handle design, as these are high-stress points that see a lot of wear and tear.


Smooth-rolling, multi-directional spinner wheels are an ideal choice. Look for wheels that are made of hardened polycarbonate or urethane rather than cheap plastic. Spinners help maneuver the suitcase easily through airports. In-line skate-style wheels are also a durable option. Avoid suitcases with fixed wheels that don’t roll smoothly.


Telescoping handles are preferable to fixed handles, as they provide more carrying comfort in an upright position and protect the suspension parts from excessive stresses. Aluminum handles tend to be stronger than plastic and remain flexible even after prolonged use. A handle lock ensures it stays securely in the Upright position.

Consider Interior Features

While the exterior construction is paramount for withstanding damage, certain interior features can also add to a suitcase’s longevity and functionality. These include:

  • Padded compartments/dividers to organize clutter and prevent items from shifting around and potentially stressing the zippers.
  • Reinforced zipper bounds to prevent tearing where the zippers attach to the fabric.
  • Extra pockets inside and out for small items.
  • TSA-approved locks to prevent theft and tampering that could wear out the zippers prematurely.

Top Recommendations for Durable Suitcases

With these important factors in mind, here are some highly-rated suitcase brands and models well-known for their durability, quality construction, and longevity:

Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 100L

Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 100L
5 Stars

The Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 100L features a 420HD nylon pack cloth and 1680-denier ballistic nylon construction. It has a substantial internal metal frame, large 4-inch sealed bearing wheels, and weighs 8.7 pounds.

The bag offers 99 liters of volume in its main compartment, and it comes equipped with a unique straitjacket compression system for secure gear storage.

The bag’s innovative design, offset grab handles and suitability for various terrains contribute to its positive attributes.

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Travelpro Platinum Elite 29″

Travelpro Platinum Elite 29"
4.6 Stars

The Travelpro Platinum Elite 29″ boasts a generous 117-liter capacity, making it ideal for extensive travel. Weighing 12.2 pounds, it’s among the heavier options. The bag stands 32 inches tall, offering ample space for clothes.

With top-notch construction, it excels in durability tests, enduring drops, and water exposure. The smooth-rolling wheels, multiple compartments, and organizational features enhance its functionality.

Despite being bulky, it remains a top choice for those seeking a spacious, reliable suitcase at an affordable price.

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Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 30

Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 30
4.4 Stars

Eagle Creek’s ORV 2-Wheel Trunk 30 is crafted with resilient Bi-Tech and Bi-Tech Armor materials, it excels in weather and abrasion resistance.

The suitcase boasts an expandable wet/dry compartment with seam-taped construction, preventing moisture leakage. Lockable zippers provide security, and the cargo net ensures gear stays in place.

With oversized wheels, multiple grab handles, and external lash points, it’s a versatile and durable travel companion.

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Take Proper Care of Your Investment

Even the hardiest suitcases require some TLC to maintain their durability and keep components functioning smoothly over the long haul:

  • Store empty when not traveling to avoid permanent compression of the fabric or plastic.
  • Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth as needed to remove dirt or residue.
  • Apply a protective treatment like a rain and stain repellent to shields surfaces.
  • Clean and dry all parts thoroughly if the suitcase gets soaked.
  • Lubricate zippers and other moving parts periodically with silicone or teflon spray.
  • Handle carefully when loading/unloading vehicles to avoid scuffs.
  • Use a cover for extra protection from dirt and scratches during transport.

With a quality brand and some preventative care, the right suitcase purchased using the above guidelines should stand up remarkably well to years of travel adventures. Investing a bit extra up front for durability will save money in the long run versus repeated cheaper replacements. With the top models recommended here, your new suitcase is built to last!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I check a rollaboard suitcase?

Yes, most rolling carry-on suitcases can be checked if needed. However, it’s always best to check the airline’s size restrictions first. Checking a rollaboard prevents stress to its wheels and telescoping handle from lifting in the overhead bin.

How do I get compensation if my suitcase gets damaged?

For checked luggage, you’ll need to report any damage or missing contents to the airline before leaving the baggage claim area. Save time by taking photos of your suitcase as evidence. The airline is responsible for reimbursing repair/replacement costs up to a certain limit outlined in their contract of carriage.

Will an expandable suitcase last as long?

In general, expandable suitcases have more moving parts and elastic zippered panels compared to non-expanding hardside cases. However, quality brands use durable materials like polycarbonate and reinforce high-stress areas. Proper care like avoiding overpacking can allow an expandable suitcase to remain in good condition for 5+ years.

Are TSA locks worthwhile?

While TSA-approved locks won’t prevent theft themselves, they can minimize unnecessary wear to zipper mechanisms from frequent inspections. Look for replacements if the lock breaks from aggressive searches. Reinforced zipper bounds also help considerably with wear and tear in high security areas.

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