Make suitcase shopping an open-and-shut case
While shopping for a new suitcase, you can quickly find yourself foggy about the things that matter most. Consumer Reports researched the features that go into making a reliable and easy-to-use suitcase.
Choose a side
Though bags come in countless shapes and sizes, luggage can generally be divided into two basic categories: hard-sided and soft-sided. Consumer Reports notes that each has its advantages.
Some advantages of soft-sided bags: They are lighter and can also flex and compress to more easily fit into the snug spaces of the overhead bin in an airplane.
To keep fragile items from being crushed or your clothes from being creased, nothing beats hard-sided, or hard-shell, suitcases. They’re making a come-
back, thanks to new materials that are rigid and lightweight. Another advantage is that you can’t overstuff it to bulging. And, so as long as you buy the right size, it’ll fit in the luggage sizers at the gate.
How do you judge a bag’s
Zero in on zippers. Bernard Majeau, director of product development at eBags, an online luggage retailer, says that most pieces of luggage come with a coil zipper, which is usually made of polyester and differs from the metal tooth zipper found on, say, a pair of jeans. The larger the zipper, the stronger it is likely to be.
Hoist the handle. Handles take a lot of abuse
as bags are pulled up and down curbs and yanked mercilessly by bellhops and airline baggage workers. Make sure your handle is built to last: It should feel solid and sturdy, and not wiggle or rattle as you pull.
Wade into the warranty. A lifetime warranty for repair or replacement is, of course, the best option and a good indication that the manufacturer stands behind a bag’s durability. But make sure to check for exclusions
and to read the fine print. Certain manufacturers will cover damage caused by an airline, for instance; others won’t. And most won’t cover normal wear and tear.
Deal with the wheels
When it comes to wheels, the first decision you’ll need to make is whether you want two or four.
Four-wheeled suitcases, also called spinner suitcases, are more versatile
and ergonomic. You can easily wheel a spinner at your side or in front of you, or pull it behind you without putting much stress on your back or shoulders. Spinners are a cinch to navigate down narrow airplane aisles and through other tight spaces. But Consumer Reports warns that you need to keep an eye on them: Because a spinner doesn’t have stationary legs, it can roll away when it’s placed on an incline.
A two-wheeler, on the other hand, rolls only forward and backward. It’s less ergonomic because you have to drag it behind you, which could irritate your shoulder, wrist or back. But a two-wheeler will stay put on an incline and might be easier to fit into the overhead compartment because its wheels are slightly recessed.