Your clothes are only as good as the suitcase you carry them in. If your bag is flimsy, poorly designed, unwieldy, or just plain ugly, then at best it’s letting the rest of your carefully-honed travelling persona down (we know you have one), and at worst it’s leaving your beautifully ironed white linen shirt collection on the taxi concourse at Heathrow Terminal 4.
Luggage should be less of an afterthought and more of a considered and calculated investment. Fortunately, we’ve done the considering and calculating for you. Here are the four best-value luggage brands your money can buy.
Samsonite is a household name for a reason. Reasonably priced, long-lasting, and with a range that spans absolutely every travel eventuality, the brand has graced more airport carousels than you’ve had airplane dinners.
Its hard-sided range is cleverly made and robust. Not only is the new Omni PC series built from a 100 per cent polycarbonate material that’s entirely scratch resistant, but it’s also fitted with a TSA lock that secures the reinforced zips.
The brand’s soft-sided cases, meanwhile, are lightweight, understated and more durable than most of their competitors. Here, the Samsonite Lift comes particularly recommended, with many users complimenting its slick manoeuvrability.
Then there’s the niftily designed Tectonic backpack range – with its special compartments for laptops and chargers and its ergonomic, spine-friendly design – or the brand’s sleek messenger bags in dark leathers and traditional shapes. Samsonite truly is a brand for all seasons, and arguably the best value for money on the market.
Eastpak started out as Eastern Canvas Products Inc. in 1952, when it built duffel bags and packs for the US military. Since then, it’s grown into a global luggage titan, gracing the backs of a million college freshmen and standing in as a goalpost for every playground football game since 1992. Its latest incarnation, however, sees it offer rough-and-ready luggage solutions for the more adventurous traveller.
The Tranverz range is the pick of the bunch. A series of lightweight cases that come in more than 20 colourways (though we’d plump for the timeless all-black option), Tranverz bags feature a double-deck compartment that hides a frankly eerie amount of storage space. They also come with some neat design features, such as side compression straps to keep things tight and compact, and a bottom handle that makes it easy to grab from the carousel.
Best of all though, is the famous 30-Year Eastpak Warranty that comes with every single item, and transforms the approx. £100 model from a mid-range buy to a serious investment piece.
The North Face
The North Face made its name in the luggage game thanks to the unbeatable Base Camp Duffel bag, a modern design icon that’s set a new standard in both durability and smart design.
The brand’s duffels are the lightest on the market to feature backpack straps and D-shaped openings. They’re also decked out with lots of lovely, why-has-no-one-else-thought-of-that touches: a small plastic window area for contact info, dual daisy chains, multiple grab points, compression straps and a zipper mesh pocket on the inside of the lid. The range comes in six different sizes, catering for everyone from the overnight businessman to a Siberian exile.
And if all that wasn’t compelling enough, the mountainwear specialists have now put out a hybrid model – the brilliantly named Rolling Thunder – that cross-breeds the traditional duffel with a wheeled suitcase. Though The North Face’s luggage options aren’t the cheapest on the market, the famously sturdy design and excellent features make them exceptional value for money.
Back in 1937, when Rimowa was still a fledgling luggage brand, a devastating fire struck founder Richard Morszeck’s factory. Returning to the warehouse the next morning with his father Paul, Richard discovered that the only stock left unscathed were the suitcases in his experimental aluminium collection. With that, Richard resolved to make all his luggage from the extremely tough yet lightweight material, and the Rimowa reputation for mind-blowing durability and ultra-lean suitcases was born.
Today, Rimowa crafts its luggage from modern polycarbonates as well as aluminium, but its reputation for toughness remains unparalleled. Of course, this precision German engineering does nudge Rimowa’s luggage into a higher price bracket than that of its competitors, with the popular Rimowa Salsa AIR rolling in at around £300. But when you consider just how durable and long-lasting these cases are, a Rimowa suitcase starts to look like a smart investment indeed.
Fans of the brand praise the well-proportioned and slick wheels that navigate the airport topography of carpets, marble, escalators and rumble strips with ease, while business travellers praise the bags’ cavernous interior and suit-saving layout.