If you are fed up with dealing with broken suitcases and trying to repair them yourself, then it is time to invest in some of the most durable luggage. Yes, some suitcases are more durable than the others, and it is not that difficult to spot them.
In this review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the features of a strong suitcase. And I’ll show you some of the best choices you can get for your money, and some of the most durable luggage brands around.
Keep in mind that we’ll only check out hardshell luggage in this review, since softshells don’t really compare, in terms of durability. If you’re ready to completely change the way you travel, scroll down to find out which durable suitcase is perfect for you!
Not everyone needs extremely durable luggage. People who fly maybe once or twice a year will get plenty of use out of an affordable suitcase. And people who mostly travel by land will get even more use out of them.
However, if you are a frequent flyer, and by frequent I mean at least once every couple of months, then you definitely need a durable suitcase brand. For one thing, it is just a better investment in the long run – you will pay more for it now, but you won’t have to replace it for a really long time. As opposed to getting a cheap suitcase that you have to replace on a yearly basis, and even earlier if you get on a plane several times a month.
A really durable suitcase is built to withstand the “gentle” treatment of baggage handlers. Check out this video to see what I mean:
This happens to your luggage pretty much every time you board a plane. And do you really think a non-name brand, $50 suitcase is going to pass this durability test each time? Of course not! And that is exactly why you need to buy yourself something that was built with these images in mind.
So, let’s talk about how to spot a really durable suitcase.
Just from the images alone you can tell that this is a really durable suitcase. It is available in three sizes, a 22” carry on and larger, 27" and 30” checked bags. The suitcase is made of polypropylene, which is somewhere in the middle between ABS and PC, in terms of durability. But overall, this is a really sturdy piece of luggage. Oh and there’s something really interesting about it – unlike most other hardshells, this suitcase has a single packing compartment.
It has skate wheels, which hold up pretty well. And there is also the really wide wheel handle, which makes the luggage feel lighter than it actually is. That’s a really useful feature, considering how heavy this suitcase is – the carry on weighs nearly 10 lbs, while the larger case almost hits the 20 lbs mark. Which also means that its weight alone is going to take up a lot of baggage allowance. And that would be one big downside to this Pelican case.
The suitcase has three latches, two are press and pull, while the one in the middle also features a TSA lock. So, this is not just a durable case, but also a really secure one. In addition to that, the body of the Pelican Elite is watertight, meaning that you could completely submerge it underwater, and your clothes would still be as dry as a desert. Overall, it is definitely one of the most durable suitcases your money can buy.
This luggage is supposedly indestructible – at least that’s what the manufacturer claims. And, looking at all the different durability tests that people performed on this particular suitcase, I can tell you that they’re not even lying. At least regarding the exterior of the suitcase. It’s made of durable and lightweight polypropylene, which has great impact resistance.
But the sad thing is that the inside of this suitcase is not nearly as durable as its outside. The lining is kind of awkward and crooked, and the zipper pullers are flimsy and thin. But if you can live with that, you will see that this suitcase will last you longer than some other, more expensive ones. Even the single spinner wheels are pretty sturdy – their low profile really helps.
This luggage is available in a few different sizes, as well as a value set. I recommend you get that last one, if you are looking for the best value for money. All of the suitcases have zipper closure and a TSA lock – and the external zippers are actually very sturdy.
I think that it’s a shame that the capacity of these is not expandable, but you do get plenty of space in the two packing compartments. Overall, these might not look that good, but they are without a doubt some of the most durable suitcases out there.
The Topas is a luxurious suitcase. Yes, it is really pricey, but it’s also a one in a lifetime purchase. Meaning that if you actually decide to splurge on this suitcase, you won’t need to buy a different one in your lifetime.
This Rimowa luggage is made of aluminium, which is an exceptionally sturdy and durable material. And the Topas collection in particular is famous for this ribbed designed, which was actually inspired by the Junkers 52 aircraft.
Inside this suitcase you get two fully lined packing compartment, with pretty unique dividers. That’s because the Topas features dividers that are height-adjustable – meaning that, even if you don’t fully pack your suitcase, nothing will get jumbled around. One downside of this design is the lack of internal pockets, though.
There are two TSA latches on this suitcase, for maximum security of your items. And the double spinner wheels will give you excellent manoeuvrability of your luggage, while their recessed design will protect them at all times.
Plus, the wheel handle is smooth, lightweight and quite sturdy. However, there is one more downside to these awesome suitcases, and that’s their weight. With the carry on weighing in at 10 lbs, you won’t really be able to travel light.
The Stryde is one of my all-time favorite Samsonites ever. I am just in love with the interior of this luggage – the double pockets on the zippered divider and the double cross straps in the bottom compartment are reason alone to get this suitcase, if you love to travel organized. But it will not disappoint you in terms of durability either, since that’s our main concern here.
The luggage is made of pure Polycarbonate, which is pretty much the best material for luggage. It is not only really durable, but also very lightweight – in fact, the 22” Stryde weighs in at just a little over 7 lbs, which is awesome. And, even though this suitcase is equipped with spinner wheels, you don’t really need to worry about their durability because they are reinforced with steel bearings.
The design of the PC shell is something else you’ll really like. Since the shell is not completely smooth, but rather ribbed with a unique design, the scratches won’t be that noticeable. And you won’t get those nasty scratches that run the entire length of your suitcase, which is a bonus. Plus, the TSA lock will keep all your belongings safe, and the expandable capacity allows for a shopping spree (or two) on your trips.
You probably guessed that we wouldn’t go through this review without at least 2-3 Samsonites. And you’re right – but only because Samsonite luggage is one of the best options out there. The Winfield suitcase in particular is a perfect combination of durability, functionality and affordability. It is available in three classic sizes and a variety of colors, so there’s plenty of variety to choose form.
The luggage is made of Polycarbonate, which speaks volumes about its durability and sturdiness. But, I do have to point out that this suitcase will not look brand new for a while – the nearly smooth shell is like a magnet for scratches. And it does nothing to make them less visible.
You also get four single spinner wheels on this suitcase, which means you will have great manoeuvrability of your luggage. Plus, the wheels are pretty small and low profile, and that really helps their durability. In addition to that, the TSA lock will protect your stuff at all times, while the two packing compartments with one full zippered divider will allow you to organize everything neatly. Overall, if you are looking for the best ratio of durability vs. price, this is your top choice.
The Flieks suitcase is kind of unique, in terms of the materials used in its shell – a mixture of aluminium, Polycarbonate and ABS plastic. The aluminium makes the suitcase really durable, while the PC and ABS allow it to still be pretty lightweight. And, in comparison to the Rimowa luggage which is completely made of aluminium, the weight difference is really noticeable.
This Merax suitcase is equipped with double spinner wheels that will give you great manoeuvrability of your suitcase. And with steel bearings holding them in place, they should be as durable as the shell.
Now, when you also notice the TSA latch locks and the interior of the suitcase, it looks a lot like a Topas rip-off. And it almost is – the dividers look a lot like the ones in the Rimowa, but these are not height adjustable. And they have pockets, which is great for organization of your belongings.
Overall, this luggage is a great choice if you want to try something new but can’t really afford the Topas. You’ll be surprised by the durability of the aluminum, I can guarantee that. And for an eighth of the price of a Rimowa? Definitely worth a shot if you ask me.
Travelpro is a luggage brand that was created with airline personnel in mind. Their suitcases are designed for pilots and flight attendants, with focus on durability and weight. So, I think that if a suitcase is durable enough for a stewardess, then it has to be durable enough for you.
The shell of these suitcases is called ChromaShit – a proprietary Travlpro material that is treated for impact and scratch resistance. Plus, the color of the shell changes, depending on how light hits it. Which means that this luggage looks pretty good. in addition to being really durable and sturdy. I think the only downside to them are the spinner wheels – these are not as impact resistant as you would want them to be.
What I really like about these suitcases is the aluminium telescopic handle. It has several stop positions, which means that travellers of different heights will be able to adjust it to fit them. This luggage also has expandable capacity, plenty of internal pockets and a TSA approved lock on the top. Overall, if you are looking for durability at an affordable price tag, I would definitely recommend these.
*Note: There is also a newer collection of this luggage – the Maxlite 5. However, it hasn’t been as extensively tested as the Maxlite 4, so it remains a mystery whether or not they are as durable as this particular collection. I will update the post in due time, if they turn out to be the better choice.
Omni is a collection of pure Polycarbonate suitcases from Samsonite that are seriously rugged. The benefits of this material are obvious from the weight of these suitcases, since they are among the lightest ones in this review. And not to mention that they also have an extremely durable and impact resistant shell.
However, their exterior is not that scratch resistant. Sure, the micro-diamond texture will do a good job at protecting your suitcase from any nasty scratches, but that is just a general flaw of Polycarbonate. But at least it is not completely smooth – the ribbed parts will make the scratches less noticeable overall, and help your suitcase look like new for a longer time.
The Omni suitcases all have expandable capacity, two packing compartments, a TSA approved lock and a sturdy telescopic wheel handle. They also have four single spinner wheels, which aren’t the best wheels you’ll see on a Samsonite. But they will do a good job at transporting your suitcase from one place to another, and they are easy to replace if one of them breaks.
Overall, if you want Samsonite quality at a pretty low price tag, then the Omni might just be right luggage for you. Just keep in mind that these don’t offer great organization, since they only have one internal pocket.
Tumi makes high-end luggage, made only out of the premium materials. Which means that the Polycarbonate V3 suitcases will not only be exceptionally durable, but also lightweight, easy to manoeuvre around and stunning to look at.
Oh, and what sets this luggage apart is the inclusion of the Tumi Tracer system – in case you lose your suitcase (which is a real possibility if you frequently fly), Tumi is able to Trace it and reunite you with it. But not in a big-brother is watching kind of way; there is a serial code on the suitcase which is tied to your personal information, so that they can contact you in case airline personnel reports a lost Tumi suitcase.
One more really cool thing about this luggage is the design of the zippers. Pullers were built to break away from the bag if they get caught, meaning that you would only have to replace them and not the entire zipper. Which is pretty cool, and much easier to repair. In addition to that, this luggage is also equipped with smooth-rolling spinner wheels and two very spacious packing compartments with expandable capacity.
There aren’t many pockets inside the suitcase, so you will have to make compromises there. And one more thing – the shell of the suitcases is not 100% smooth, which will reduce the visibility of any scuffs and scratches.
The Out Of Bounds suitcase collection is the only luggage that we’ll check out which is made of ABS. These suitcases are lightweight, rugged, affordable and stood up to the test of time surprisingly well. They have reinforced corners, which significantly increases their overall durability and sturdiness, and which is why these ABS suitcases are a good choice even for frequent flyers.
These also feature self-repairing zippers, similar to the ones on the Tumi cases. Additionally, this luggage is equipped with two spacious packing compartments, with a full zippered divider on one side and elastic cross straps on the other.
The spinner wheels are sturdy, and they will give you good manoeuvrability of your luggage. The wheel handle is lightweight and can be locked into position with the push button. Unfortunately, it can’t be locked into multiple height positions.
The way I see it, this suitcase has two major downsides – it does not have a TSA lock, or any lock for that matter. And its capacity is not expandable. But the latter also means that it will be virtually impossible to overpack it, so it’s not a deal-breaker.
The Delsey Helium is one of those crowd favorites that you see all over. In fact, I think the guy in front of me yesterday at the train station had one.
They are made of super-lightweight polycarbonate (you can read all about that here) which means it's robust, durable and strong right out of the shop. In fact, the crazy team at skyscanner hit it repeatedly with a sledge hammer and didn't make a dent!
They also claim to have one of the most unbreakable zippers, which is a relief, because zipperless suitcases are coming back in right now. And who can blame people, after all, it is super easy to open many a zipper with just a ballpoint pen.
Delsey have also added handy dual-spinners which you normally only see on more expensive suitcases or higher end models from the likes of Samsonite. But for the average consumer, what it means is smoother travel, less pushing and just an easier time with your suitcase while on the go!
Of course, you also get both a zippered/lined section on one side and an elastic straps on the other. This makes for super easy packing and unpacking of a clamshell case like this.
And last of all, it comes in a range of colors and sizes which you can see below.
Samsonite makes an insanely wide range of luggage, but what I have been noticing lately is that they are also focusing (back) on hardshells with super-durable cases. You know the type. Like your Mom and Dad used to take on vacation back in the 70s. Thick, solid and strong looking plastic cases that don't look like they will collapse if you look at them the wrong way.
This particular model from Samsonite is just one of those babies.
It also comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from Samsonite with dual spinners, a TSA approved lock and collapsable handle. And of course, a range of colors and sizes, so everyone can choose their favorite.
Spinner wheels pretty much revolutionized the ease of travel. And I love suitcases that have them – since I tend to overpack, my luggage is always heavy. Spinner wheels make it so much easier to move around with a heavy suitcase. However, they are surprisingly not as durable as skate wheels.
For one thing, there are four of them, so chances that one of them will break as twice as bigger. And they actually protrude from your suitcase, which means that they are more exposed to damaging elements.
Think about that video above, and imagine your precious suitcase landing on one of its spinner wheels. What do you think would happen to them? So, if you are really gunning for durability, you should get luggage with skate wheels. They are not as convenient as spinner wheels, but they are more durable.
They break off less easily, and they are pretty much hidden in the body of the luggage so it’s much harder to damage them. The worst thing that can happen to a rubber skate wheel is that a piece of the rubber will break off, and you can easily fix that with some duct tape.
However, most high-quality hardshell suitcases today are equipped with spinner wheels, so we will check out a lot of suitcases with them. But I will do my best to find luggage that has steel rods in the wheels, since this helps their overall sturdiness.
Latches are much more secure than zippers. And they are slightly more durable, but the difference isn’t shocking.
With zippers, there are several things that can go wrong with them. They can get stuck, a puller can break off, or the teeth of the zipper will get crooked. But, these are all pretty easy to fix – you can repair the damage yourself, or you can ask a professional to do it for you. And worst case scenario is you need to replace the entire zipper on your suitcase, which is quick and inexpensive.
With latches, things are a bit different. A latch is more durable and it is less likely to break or get stuck. However, it is more difficult fixing a broken latch than a broken zipper. You can always try to superglue it together, and if you use some really strong superglue, it will probably work. But you will eventually need to replace the entire latch, and that is going to get expensive.
You need to get a TSA latch, and one that is the exact same dimensions as the broken one. So, you will probably need to ask the manufacturer to send it to you, and that can get expensive. And then you need to get someone to replace the latch, which means you need to spend more money. Yes, you could just send the suitcase to the manufacturer, but keep in mind that luggage warranties never cover damage caused by airline staff, so it won’t be a free repair. And count in the shipping.
This one is really up to you; both zippers and latches have their advantages and disadvantages. I would say that zipperless luggage is more durable in the long run, but it is a nightmare to fix it when something goes wrong.
Obviously we’re sticking to hardshells in this review. Softshell suitcases are great, but they are just not built to endure the treatment of baggage handlers. One nasty landing and your softshell is going to come out looking like a squished cake.
Hardshell suitcases are usually made of two types of plastic – ABS and Polycarbonate. ABS is more scratch resistant, and your luggage will look brand new longer. However, that’s about the only advantage it has – there’s a good reason you don’t see pure ABS suitcases from trusted luggage brands like Samsonite or Rimowa.
And that is because Polycarbonate is the sturdier material. Yes, it is more prone to scratches, but that issue is much easier to fix than a hole in your suitcase. Polycarbonate has better impact resistance, and it is overall a more durable material. So, for ultimate durability, you are going to want to pick up a PC suitcase.
You will also see some suitcase made of Polypropylene – this material is not as tough as Polycarbonate, but it comes pretty close. And it is definitely tougher and more impact resistant than ABS, so it is a strong contender.
Finally, don’t be surprised to also see aluminium suitcases. This is basically the toughest and strongest hardshell material, and these suitcases will last you for years.
But, the reason you don’t see too many aluminium suitcases in general is because their manufacturing process tends to be pricey. Additionally, they are not really lightweight – especially not as light as Polycarbonate luggage.
Out of all of these durable suitcases, three stood out the most for me.
If you are looking for value, then look no further than Samsonite’s Winfield. It is made of pure Polycarbonate, so you know it has a really durable and impact-resistant shell. Plus, the suitcase has everything else you want out of any suitcase – two spacious packing compartments, a TSA lock, expandable capacity and a full zippered divider inside. It is the perfect example of durability, functionality and affordability combined.
The Rimowa Topas is without a doubt one of the best suitcases that money can buy. Therefore, it is my top recommendation if you are willing to splurge on a high-end suitcase. It’s not just exceptionally sturdy and durable, but it also has everything you need out of a suitcase for worry-free travel. The spinner wheels will make it easy to move with it, and the TSA latch closure will keep all of your stuff safe. If you want lifelong quality, this is the luggage you should invest in.
And if you just want the toughest, most indestructible suitcase money can buy, then go for the Pelican Elite. Yes, it is heavy, and you will probably wind up paying some extra charges for it. But it is virtually indestructible – the shell is made of sturdy Polypropylene and the skate wheels are really hard to break. Plus, the entire suitcase is watertight – even if it somehow winds up on the bottom of a river, your stuff inside it will stay dry.
You can check out the prices of all of the suitcases in this review on Amazon. And you can also see what colors they come in, as well as a few more pics of each suitcase. Head over there if you figured out which durable suitcase is the right choice for you!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!