Home>Travel inspiration>Tips + News>Tech + Gear

The Best Luggage for 2019

By Amy Jurries

Dec 22, 2018

share this article

Photos courtesy Away, Thule, Osprey, Rimowa, pxhere.com, Pedro Szekely/Wikimedia Commons, and Ann Porteus/Flickr; Design by Emily Blevins

Whatever your travel style, budget, or destination, we’ve got a new favorite bag for you.

share this article

Whether you are off on a month-long trip through Southeast Asia or headed for a weekend in Paris, the last thing you want is to see your shirts, socks, and souvenirs strewn all over the baggage carousel. You need a suitcase that goes above and beyond simple good looks. You need to think about quality, functional design, packing space, and whether it qualifies as a carry-on or if it’s better to check. Luckily, when it comes to luggage, these days we are spoiled for choice. Whether you are looking for something rugged, sleek, luxurious, or even high-tech, we’ve got a bag for you.

The Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel, left, and Away’s The Bigger Carry-On, right

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel 90

Buy now: $162 (was $270), osprey.com

When you need to haul a ton of gear without breaking your back, the Transporter Wheeled Duffel 90 is at your service. Made from strong, weather-resistant fabrics, the duffel uses a large U-zip opening for quick and easy access to the interior. The no-frills design features internal mesh pockets and dual compression straps to help you stay organized and keep everything in its place during transport. A large, external end pocket can be used to store quick-access items like a book or—our personal favorite—isolate dirty laundry.

Once outside the terminal, the Transporter’s oversized wheels roll right over rough terrain, tackling cobblestones and rocky trails with ease, and a built-in kickstand on the wheel chassis keeps your duffel from falling over when not on the move. A variety of padded grab handles double as tie-down points, and there’s even a tuck-away tow strap that lets you connect bags in a train if you need to maneuver multiple ones through streets and airports.

Away The Bigger Carry-On

Buy now: $245, awaytravel.com

Away has built a cult-like following since its launch three years ago. Following a direct-to-consumer model, the brand manufactures its luggage in China and sells it via the internet, knocking out the middleman to offer a more affordable price. After discovering that the maximum measurements stated by most airlines are slightly smaller than the actual size of the overhead bin, Away created a slightly bigger version of its original four-roller carry-on, which has since become a bestseller.

The durable polycarbonate shell suitcase uses four 360-degree spinner wheels, giving you friction-free roll through airports, and tamper-proof zippers that slot into a TSA-friendly combination lock and can stand up to years of abuse. A 10,000 mAh lithium-ion battery at the back of the bag holds enough power for five phone charges, depending on model, and is removable in compliance with TSA checked-baggage rules.

Two interior compartments allow you to separate dirty shoes and potential toiletry spills from the rest of your items, and a nylon laundry bag further separates your clean clothes from those that are wet or dirty. A buckle-down compression pad helps you maximize the space and squeeze in any additional things you bought on your travels. Available in 10 colors plus two limited edition colors, the Bigger Carry-On will be your favorite travel companion for years to come.

The Thule Revolve, left, and Planet Traveler’s Space Case 1 (SC 1), right

Thule Revolve

Buy now: From $400 to $550, thule.com

Article continues below advertisement

New for 2019, Thule is venturing into the hard-sided luggage space. The stylish, impact-resistant, and lightweight (even the largest bag weighs less than six pounds) Revolve is designed with the same high-quality Swedish engineering that goes into the brand’s various other transport solutions. Made of 100 percent virgin polycarbonate with internal corner protectors, a rigid frame, and reinforced front panel, this bag can take a beating. Thule also devised an efficient eight-wheel system with oversized rear wheels that glide over any terrain, and small recessed front wheels that don’t take up much interior space. The combination allows you to roll the luggage both as an upright spinner and as a traditional pull-behind.

Inside, a custom-fitted felt liner holds your clothes in place and absorbs vibration, which helps muffle any roll rattle. The zippers secure into a TSA-compliant combination lock to keep your belongings secure wherever you go.

The Revolve series includes three colorways in four different bag sizes: two carry-on sizes (33 liter and 41 liter) and two check-in sizes (75 liter and 97 liter).

Planet Traveler Space Case 1 (SC 1)

Buy now: $799, amazon.com

Dubbed the “world’s smartest suitcase” by Planet Traveler, the SC 1 takes the stress out of looking for outlets in the airport, wondering if you’ve exceeded weight limits, or worrying about where your lost luggage ended up. Made of tough 100 percent polycarbonate and packed full of technology, the suitcase uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone and the Planet Traveler app to control a host of high-tech features.

The two zippers secure into a TSA-friendly robotic lock that you can open with your fingerprint or the app. And there’s no need to worry about someone stealing your suitcase while you’re distracted; you can arm it using the app—if the bag leaves your vicinity, you’ll receive an alert to your phone and the case will sound an alarm.

Electronics stored inside the bag have an additional layer of protection: The suitcase includes two zippered main compartments, one of which features an RFID pocket that protects your phone and passport from skimmers.

You can see how much your bag weighs without lifting a finger thanks to the lift-less scale in the bottom of the suitcase, and a massive 15,000 mAh removable power bank will keep your suitcase technology humming for up to 225 hours. The power bank can also be used to charge your gadgets via three USB ports, one internal, two external. And if that wasn’t enough, you can even talk hands-free or listen to your favorite tunes from your phone via the integrated speaker system. 

All this fancy technology comes with a bit of extra weight, however. The carry-on sized suitcase alone weighs 10 pounds. Keep that in mind when taking it out of the overhead bin.

The Fjällräven No. 6 Duffel, left, and TUMI’s Voyageur Tres Léger International Carry-On, right

Fjällräven No. 6 Duffel

Buy now: $169 (was $225) for size medium, rei.com

Any Fjällräven enthusiast will instantly fall in love with the Duffel No. 6. Made from the brand’s signature G-1000 HeavyDuty fabric—a burlier version of the fabric used in its hiking pants and jackets—the duffel is durable and water-resistant. The reinforced base is even waterproof, providing extra protection against puddles and damp ground.

Article continues below advertisement

The bag pairs classic good looks with rugged details such as leather-grip handles and metal snaps and also features storable padded shoulder straps, so you can carry it two ways. The large main compartment provides plenty of room to pack everything you’d need for a week or two away (you’ll get 70 liters of space in the medium size), and the full-length zippered opening lets you access all your belongings at once without digging around. Inside,  a mesh pocket organizes small items (such as travel-size toiletry bottles, charging chords, or socks), and a zippered security pocket protects your keys and other can’t-lose items. A small, see-through pocket hidden under one of the top panels is the perfect place to store your business card to help identify your bag.

TUMI Voyageur Tres Léger International Carry-On

Buy now: $595, tumi.com

Founded in 1975 and now with over 260 locations around the world, TUMI knows a thing or two about global travel. The brand’s new Voyageur Tres Léger International Carry-On, which is available in four different colors and sized to fit the less generous carry-on requirements of airlines outside of the United States, is the perfect companion for trans-Europe vacations. Made from a durable and water-resistant nylon, the bag features front lid and split-case-style openings, as well as two zippered front pockets, the larger of which has storage sleeves for a laptop (up to a 14-inch MacBook), tablet, phone, and other media. Inside, a zippered divider on one side and tie-down straps on the other secure the contents and keep them from spilling out as you open your bag.

The adjustable-height telescoping handle and four recessed wheels make for smooth rolling down city streets and through busy airports. The carry-on can also be registered with the complimentary Tumi Tracer program, which helps find your bag should it get lost or stolen: Each piece of luggage comes with a unique 20-digit number that is connected to your contact information in the Tracer database. If anyone contacts Tumi about the bag, they will instantly know it belongs to you.

The Timbuk2 Copilot, left, and Rimowa’s Original Cabin, right

Timbuk2 Copilot

Buy now: $229, timbuk2.com

A favorite of globetrotting hipsters, the Copilot from Timbuk2 is a sleek roller-bag style with a handle grip inspired by those on many bikes and two broad-base skateboard wheels. The clamshell configuration makes the carry-on-size luggage easy to pack and keep organized when you’re on the road, while internal mesh-pocket dividers prevent contents from migrating during transit. An expandable top compartment enables you to quarantine muddy shoes or spill-able toiletries away from the rest of your precious cargo, and the padded, zippered pocket in front is big enough to store a 13-inch MacBook and is designed to be easily accessible when the bag is stored in an overhead bin.

Rimowa Original Cabin

Buy now: $1,050, rimowa.com

Over 120 years ago, Rimowa created the very first aluminum travel trunk. Today, the brand’s Original suitcase line is modeled after that archetype and has itself become a timeless classic. Made in Germany from high-end anodized aluminum and featuring distinctive grooves, each Original suitcase is engineered to last for a lifetime of travel. Any dents and scratches acquired over time simply add character to the nearly indestructible aluminum.

The Cabin has 35 liters of storage space and adheres to airline carry-on size standards. There are no zippers to break here; instead, dual TSA-approved locks keep your belongings extra secure but can be opened by security without causing damage, and a flexible divider system keeps your belongings in place on either side of the suitcase so they don’t explode out when it is opened. An eight-wheel system lets you roll the Cabin effortlessly in any direction for quick navigation through busy airports and tight spaces, and the telescoping handle extends to two lengths. Available in five metallic colors, the Original Cabin begs to be personalized with stickers of all the places you travel, giving this classic style a retro flare.

Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you buy through our links, which helps support our independent publication.

>>Next: The Best Waterproof and Water-Resistant Backpacks for Travel

Sign up for the Daily Wander newsletter for expert travel inspiration and tips

Please enter a valid email address.

Read our privacy policy