Lightweight Suitcases Compromises
In 2006 the average carry-on suitcase weighed 5kg, in 2010 that became 3.6kg and in 2015 its down to 2.6kg.
But like many things in life finding the best lightweight suitcase is a compromise between size, functionality, type, looks and cost.
We also looked at 18 lightweight suitcases ranging from basic luggage bags to hard-sided 4-wheel cabin luggage. In Part 1 we look at six of the best lightweight cabin luggage bags. Part 2 compares six well reviewed soft-sided two-wheels suitcases. Part 3 looks at hard-sided 4-wheel lightweight suitcases and in the final part of the review we decide on the best-of-the-best winner. Read on to see if you agree with our decision.
- comfortable to carry
- high strength composite nylon bag with padded back
- 3 main zipped compartment, 2 zipped internal compartments
- adjustable shoulder straps, carrying handles, and side adjustable straps …
BUYERS DIDN’T LIKE
- the bag tore in two places when packed for the first time
- the dividing fabric between the front and main compartments tore along the stitching on second use
- material is very thin and does not appear to be durable …
The 5Cities Lightweight Wheeled Bag has a reasonable NPS figures here at 71. 82% of buyers liked or loved it while 11% disliked or hated it. It is advertised as a 42 litre suitcase but from the measurements of 54cm x 35cm x 19cm its really 35.9 litres. Its the heaviest bag in this group at 2.6 kg which gives it a big 66 grams/litre figure. It comes in a limited range of colours.
- very sturdy and made from hard-wearing polyester material
- two front-facing pockets fastened by dual-zips
- internal luggage straps to keep your items in place …
BUYERS DIDN’T LIKE
- falling over spoils an otherwise good case
- having to pay postage to return the item
- one buyer reported their zip was initially very stiff and didn’t loosen …
The ABS Hard Shell Cabin Case has the second best lightness factor here – 66 grams / litre. It also has the second best NPS score at 84 which is just one point short of the top mark of 85 – almost 9 out of 10 buyers liked or loved it.
- amazing value for money, sturdy solid construction and very lightweight
- sturdy zips & push-button telescopic handle
- built-in combination lock …
BUYERS DIDN’T LIKE
- zips inside broke a few days after arrival of the case
- It measures 50x42x21 which is larger than allowed on as hand luggage, the dimensions are even …
Size in absolute terms this is about height and width and depth.
The suitcase size that fits most (but not all) airline baggage restrictions is 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. (Check yours here) That’s 44 litres (44L) absolute maximum. No curved edges, no telescopic handles no wheels – all of which eat into that 44 litres. The more litres you have the more room there is to pack your stuff.
Always remember, when it comes to airlines restrictions the size includes handles and wheels.
Soft-sided Suitcases and Hard-sided Suitcases
Suitcases are basically hard-sided or soft-sided although there are a few hybrids. Soft-sided suitcases are generally lighter, less robust but can be squeezed into tight spaces in overhead bins on the plane. Hard-sided suitcases are more robust, provide more protection for your stuff but are less flexible.
There’s often a perception that hard-sided suitcases are more durable than soft-sided suitcases. However, lab testing of suitcases over a number of years has proven this isn’t necessarily the case. Results show that the best suitcases for durability can be either soft or hard-sided.
Here are some pros and cons of each suitcase type to help you make a decision on which is the best lightweight suitcase for you.
SOFT-SIDED LIGHTWEIGHT SUITCASES
- Flexible fabric makes them comparatively easy to store
- Many are expandable to increase suitcase capacity
- Generally lighter than hard-sided suitcases
- Often cheaper than like-for-like hard-sided suitcases
- Fabric can be less water resistant compared with hard suitcases
- Fragile items may have less protection
- Can be perceived by some travellers as less stylish
HARD SIDED LIGHTWEIGHT SUITCASES
- Can offer greater protection to fragile items
- Tends to be more water resistant
- Increasing number of lightweight options available
- Perceived to be more stylish by some travellers
- Glossy finish of some suitcases may scratch
- Fewer expandable cases
- Non-flexible exterior can make them trickier to store
- Typically more expensive than soft-sided cases
Suitcase functionality is about things like
- organisation inside the case
- outside pockets for quick and easy access
- wheels for easy transport and manoeuvrability
- lockable zippers
- integral TSA locks
Looks and Cost
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you’ll know what you like.
As for cost, only you can decide how much of your hard earned cash you want to spend. But always consider whether you want to spend a little extra for a quality product with a good guarantee that will last a few years or one that you don’t mind if it falls apart after a couple of trips.
Check out these reductions in a price range that may suit you.
With more and more travellers opting for ravelling light taking only a single cabin luggage item lightweight is the key factor. We carried out a further and broader test of lightweight suitcases focussing just on cabin luggage. This review covers “disposable suitcases” costing less than £10 through two wheels, four wheels and finally selecting an ultimate best-of-the-best overall winner. Check it out. It might surprise you.