The 5 Best Hard-sided Luggage Picks of 2024

In the world of luggage there are many factors to consider: the price, the size(s) you’ll want for your journeys and the key features. One of the first decisions to make is if you prefer hard-sided or soft-sided luggage. If you like a sturdy, sleek and water-resistant exterior that you can easily wipe off, a hard-sided suitcase may be your perfect match.

From carry-ons to checked bags, there are countless hard-sided luggage options. To help narrow the choices, our editors tested dozens of bags on a variety of trips and surfaces. Read on to find the best hard-sided luggage options, tested and reviewed by our team of travel experts.

(Note: Prices were accurate at the time this article was published; they may fluctuate due to demand or other factors. Original photos were taken by our editors during luggage testing.)

Polycarbonate vs. polypropylene vs. ABS

  • Good – ABS: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a durable, cost-effective material; however, it doesn’t handle high temperatures or general misuse as well as its counterparts. ABS luggage works for those who travel infrequently.
  • Better – Polypropylene: Polypropylene is lightweight and durable but has a lower impact resistance than polycarbonate. It’s also a more cost-effective option.
  • Best – Polycarbonate: Widely considered the best material for hard-sided luggage, polycarbonate is a hardy form of plastic. It’s so durable that it’s actually used in bullet-resistant glass. Polycarbonate luggage is essentially damage-proof.

Rachael Hood|U.S. News




Color options

22 x 14.25 x 9.75 inches 8.3 pounds Polycarbonate Custom color combinations include red, black, lilac or slate

Constructed with durable polycarbonate in your personalized choice of colors, this suitcase was selected by U.S. News as the overall best piece of carry-on luggage. It has rounded corners for added durability and a flexible zipper for when you need just a tad more room. The front pocket is padded with foam to keep your laptop safe, and there’s a zippered pocket, a key fob and a mesh pocket for easy access while traveling. The internal compartment has two removable compression panels with mesh pockets, and contents are kept secure with a TSA-approved lock.

Note: This carry-on is currently on closeout with limited color availability.

Between the customized color combination and the quality of the construction, this hard-sided carry-on really stands out from the crowd. The wheels glide effortlessly on all types of terrain, the front pocket is ideal for a laptop and business essentials, and you can create a custom tote or backpack to coordinate with your suitcase! – Rachael Hood, Senior Editor

Dimensions Weight Material Color options
26 x 18.5 x 11 inches 10.4 pounds Polycarbonate Black, navy, blue gray, olive or glossy white

Away has mastered the recipe for hard-sided luggage that lasts: A 100% polycarbonate shell and sleek design combine to create ultra-lightweight bags that are virtually indestructible – and just plain pretty. Away’s checked luggage encompasses The Large, The Large Flex (with expandability), The Trunk, The Medium Flex and finally The Medium – our personal favorite.

The Medium can accommodate at least a week’s worth of clothing or more, depending on how you pack. Inside you’ll find interior compression and plenty of compartments for organization. Other features include an underside grab handle (especially useful when pulling your bag off the belt at baggage claim), 360-degree wheels and a TSA combination lock.

I like that this checked bag is just big enough, and that I never have to worry about it getting damaged by baggage handlers at the airport. – Amanda Norcross, Content & SEO Strategist

Textured exterior of Amazon Basics 20-Inch Hardside Spinner.

Erin Evans|U.S. News

Dimensions Weight Material Color options
21.46 x 14.76 x 9.45 inches 7.34 pounds ABS Black, light blue, navy or orange

This affordable Amazon hard-sided carry-on piece is made of ABS, which means it’s versatile and lasts even if exposed to inclement weather like rain and snow. The hard-sided textured design of this carry-on also means scuffs, scratches and dents are less likely to show on the exterior. Additional standout features on this bag include smooth double-spinner wheels, an additional zipper for expandability, interior pockets for organization and compression straps to allow you to fit as much as you need into it.

This is an excellent budget-friendly piece of carry-on luggage. I appreciate how well it’s made, and the textured exterior has a cool look but is also functional in combating dings and scratches. The carry-on can squeeze in a respectable amount of clothes, shoes and accessories as well. – Erin Evans, Managing Editor

 July Carry On Light in black against a sunny window.

Rachael Hood|U.S. News

Dimensions Weight Material Color options
21.25 x 14.17 x 7.5 inches 3.9 pounds Polycarbonate Beige, charcoal, clay or six other color options

Combining durability with lightweight construction, the July Carry On Light is one of the lightest hard-sided suitcases on the market. The exterior shell is made of aerospace-grade German polycarbonate. The bag also features a twin bar three-stop telescopic handle and double spinner wheels for balance and durability. The interior is divided into two compartments, separated by lightweight zippered mesh panels, and completed with a water-resistant nylon lining.

I’ve tried a lot of lightweight luggage, and this suitcase surpasses all the other competition. It’s extremely light, durable and holds a lot. Unlike other lightweight styles, the July Carry On Light doesn’t tip over easily, and the quality of the construction is not sacrificed to make it lighter. – Rachael Hood

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Hardside Spinner in cream on a pathway outside.

Leilani Osmundson|U.S. News

Dimensions Weight Material Color options
23 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches 8.1 pounds Polycarbonate Light blue, navy, sand, black or gray

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Hardside Spinner is a high-quality suitcase that packs a punch. Made with a 100% polycarbonate, ultra-strong shell, the bag also sports aluminum corner guards for extra protection. The expansion zipper grants an extra 2 inches of packing room and includes a pocket for holding a power bank (not included) to connect to charging ports on the side of the bag.

This Travelpro luggage is equipped with a range of other helpful features as well, like self-aligning magnetic wheels, a TSA zipper lock and more. Inside the bag you’ll find two large compartments and three pockets, so you’ll have plenty of room to fit all your belongings even before using the expansion zipper.

As someone who likes to be prepared (and thus tends to over-pack), I love how spacious this carry-on is. On a recent trip to Mexico, I was easily able to fit four pairs of sandals along with a week’s worth of outfits – a couple of which were large, bulky dresses – on top of all my accessories and toiletries. – Leilani Osmundson, Digital Producer

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Our team of travel experts tested an array of hard-sided luggage across a variety of price points. We packed and took them on a variety of adventures, including weekend getaways and trips abroad. In addition to packability, the wheels and maneuverability were checked on multiple surfaces including asphalt, cobblestones, escalators, carpet and tile. We utilized our findings along with comparing unique features and our travel expertise to curate this list.

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