Everyone seems to have had some degree of experience with the inexpensive suitcase that has lasted for years and is battered and loved down to its fraying handle, and in contrast the expensive suitcase which the wheel fell off on its maiden voyage. So, is it really worthwhile spending more money on quality luggage, or is it just luck of the draw (or baggage handler)?
There is such a huge variety of suitcase models available, with prices from as low as $50 right through to thousands of dollars; so what exactly are you paying for in the more expensive models? As with all things today where there is a fashion element, the very top end has a designer/brand premium, once you go over about $1500 RRP for a large suitcase, the prices will reflect the designer, brand, leather or materials, hand finishing or limited edition.
Similarly, at the bottom end, anything below about $180 RRP for a large suitcase will be a copy and/or make use of very inexpensive materials. Whilst copies don’t always mean horrible quality – when you’re counting on moving parts and major pressure points, the copies have not been designed specifically with consideration to the parts, and will therefore break down sooner rather than later. For example, on an original design, the wheel might have been specifically chosen as its load bearing point is strengthened, an inexpensive copy will bulk purchase a similar looking wheel and attach it, so as soon as there is a full load in the suitcase, the cracks will appear (pun intended!)
So, what should you be paying for a suitcase? The answer is, the price of the suitcase you are looking for will relate to what attributes you are wanting, and how expensive those are. If you are wanting the lightest suitcase available, then you are actually needing fairly breakthrough technology and expensive materials. The hardware needs to be as light as possible, whilst offering enough strength to support a fully loaded case and stand up to the strains of baggage handling. That is far harder to achieve than a strong, heavy suitcase.
Additionally, if you are wanting any packing features, such as internal organisation, laptop compartments, expanders and so on, these will push the price up. And features such as durable double wheels, lockable handles and flexible but strong frames, built in locks and warranties will mean more dollars.
To return to our original question of does more expensive equal a better suitcase, the answer is, in most instances yes it does, and this better suitcase will last longer and offer you more. That does not mean that we think everyone should spend $500 on a new suitcase – a suitcase that expensive will suit certain travellers but not all. As a guide, a mid range suitcase from one of the major brands will cost around $299 – $399 full RRP (for a large suitcase). These suitcases will include the following;
· Quality materials and construction, perfectly suitable for the majority of casual travellers
· Considered design and quality tested
· Relatively lightweight, not the lightest available though
· 4 Spinner wheels
· Built in lock
· Lined interior
· Warranty cover
It’s rare that you wouldn’t find a suitcase in this bracket on sale year-round, so expect to pay about $180 for a large suitcase.
From there, if you would like additional features such as expandable, double wheels, even lighter, improved strength (for frequent flyers), longer or more inclusive warranties or internal organisation than $180 would be your starting point and prices would go upward depending on what you’re after.
So just like a cheap T-shirt will shrink after one wash, a cheap suitcase could fail you quickly, and there is nothing worse than being stuck with a suitcase with 3 wobbly wheels when you’re trying to do a city dash to make your flight. It is worth it to invest in decent luggage, however that doesn’t mean spending $500 apiece.
In our opinion the below suitcases offer terrific value for money in their category:
1) American Tourister Applite
Entry level pricing for a well-designed suitcase with an expander, a built in TSA lock, double spinner wheels and contrast interior. American Tourister is owned by Samsonite, so you have the benefit of Samsonite’s extensive luggage testing and quality materials, in addition to a solid 10 year warranty. The Applite has been around for a few years and it has served our customers well, we see very few warranty claims on this line.
Applite 82cm Suitcase RRP: $299 Our Price $179.40. Shop it here
2) Samsonite B-Lite
The Samsonite B-Lite has been around for a few years, and comparatively to some newer models it’s plainer and a little clunkier, however, its so generous for its size than you can often size down and its got double spinner wheels, a built in TSA lock, its expandable, fully lined and has a Samsonite global warranty. The B-lite range is also extensive so you can mix and match to find a bag combo that fits your needs exactly.
B-Lite 78cm Suitcase RRP: $449 Our Price $269.40. Shop it here
1) Antler Juno 2
The Antler Juno is a hugely popular case, customers are drawn to the colour options (there are 10!) and the price point, however from our perspective this case ticks many of the key quality boxes also. Made from a durable polypropylene the suitcase is strong and reasonably light, there are double spinner wheels a built in TSA lock and Antler 10-year warranty.
Antler Juno 2 Large Suitcase RRP: $299 Our Price $179.40. Shop it here
2) American Tourister Curio
This suitcase came out on top of the Choice suitcase reviews, which is terrific, however we believe the criteria for the awards is not as extensive as it should be. It considered material quality, but not usability, practicality and endurance across different travel circumstances, so the results whilst correct, only consider one part of the equation. In terms of the Curio though, it backs up that it has a quality polypropylene construction, it’s also reasonably lightweight and features double spinner wheels, built in TSA lock and 10-year warranty. It’s very similar to the Juno 2, but from the American Tourister brand which is owned by Samsonite. It features a distinctive circular pattern and is available in 3 colours.
Curio 80cm Suitcase RRP: $339 Our Price $203.40. Shop it here
And while we’re on the subject…
Samsonite Cosmolite – is it worth the money?
The Cosmolite and all the suitcases in Samsonite’s Curv range are priced from $899 RRP for a large, and we’re always fielding the ‘is it worth it’ question. Whilst we don’t believe the Cosmolite or Curv suitcases are for every traveller, we do believe their prices are correct for the products and very worthwhile for some travellers. The Curv technology is absolutely breakthrough, and since its entry on to the market in 2011, no other manufacturer has come close to presenting a similar material. The Curv suitcases are the lightest on the market, by some margin, and the material is highly resilient and suitable for frequent travel. In the 7 years we have been selling them, we have never seen a Curv suitcase cracked. Whilst they are not completely immune to baggage handlers, they perform exceptionally well and the material itself is unmatched. We do recommend Curv suitcases to travellers seeking the lightest and best performing suitcases.