When it comes to protecting your belongings during travel, a hard side suitcase can offer an extra layer of security. These suitcases are made with durable materials that can withstand rough handling and protect against impact.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best hard side suitcases on the market. We’ve researched expert reviews and customer feedback to bring you a list of top picks that offer durability, functionality, and style.

You’ll learn about the features that make each suitcase stand out, such as scratch-resistant shells, spinner wheels, and expandable compartments. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or someone who wants to protect their belongings, this guide will help you find the perfect hard side suitcase to suit your needs.


✅ The luggage is lightweight, even when fully packed.

✅ It has a retractable handle and spinner wheels, so it’s easy to move around.

✅ It has great durability and can withstand the rigors of travel.


⭕ This piece doesn’t come with a built-in TSA lock, so you’ll have to buy one separately before you travel.

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✅  Lightweight, durable, and easy to use

✅  Expandable for extra packing space when you need it

✅  Comes with a lifetime warranty


⭕  The wheels are not very strong


✅  The luggage set is expandable and can fit a lot of clothes.

✅  It has two large wheels so the luggage rolls easily.


⭕  The zippers are not sturdy enough to keep the luggage closed when it’s full.


✅ Expandable (up to 2.5x)

✅ Spinner wheels

✅ TSA-approved lock

✅ Padded top and side handles for easy lifting or pulling


⭕ A bit heavy, but it’s hardside luggage so that’s expected.


When you’re traveling, the last thing you want to do is waste time searching for your suitcase. That’s why it’s important to find one that fits all of your travel needs and has enough room for everything you need for a trip.

To help you choose the best hard side suitcases for your next trip, we tested over 20 bags and narrowed it down to 10 favorites. We then spent two months testing these 10 bags on trips around California with our family in tow: my husband and I plus our toddler son who loves playing in airports while we wait around getting ready to go on vacation (yes, even babies love this stuff!).

A good suitcase makes it easier to take your favorite things with you when you go away for the weekend or for a month, but only if you can lift it and it fits in the trunk of your car or overhead bin of your plane.

Some people prefer suitcases with wheels, others don’t. These are the best hard side wheeled suitcases we’ve tested.

We’ve reviewed dozens of wheeled luggage sets and have found that the best are made from either aluminum or polycarbonate plastic. Aluminum is lighter than other materials, which means you’ll be able to lift it into overhead storage bins without straining yourself;

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It also has a longer lifespan than polycarbonate materials because it’s less prone to damage from impact or pressure (though if you do damage your suitcase, both types of material can easily be repaired). Polycarbonate materials cost more upfront but they’re durable and lightweight enough to carry around when empty plus they’re available in all sorts of colors!

To find the best hard side suitcase, we researched more than 20 models. We then spent two months testing 10 of them, taking each one on a four-day trip to evaluate its functionality, durability, and ease of use.

To find the best hard-sided suitcase, we researched more than 20 models. We then spent two months testing 10 of them, taking each one on a four-day trip to evaluate its functionality, durability, and ease of use.

We found that the most functional luggage is made from polycarbonate plastic or ballistic nylon (a type of fabric). This is because it’s lightweight yet durable, making it easy to carry your belongings without breaking your back.

Ballistic nylon also resists abrasion and scuffs better than polycarbonate. The downside is that it has a tendency to pick up lint and dirt along the way a problem you can help prevent by using a vinyl cover when not traveling with your suitcase in tow.

You need an expandable hardside roller bag with double ball bearing wheels (one wheel must spin freely) for durability alone, which means no matter what happens during travel.

The wheels should be wide enough so they don’t get stuck going over uneven surfaces like cobblestones or grassy fields; otherwise, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it through airport security unscathed!

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When testing these suitcases, we considered the following questions:

  • How easy is it to maneuver through airports, up stairs, or up hills?
  • How well does it protect your belongings from damage?
  • How easy is it to open and close?

How easy is it to maneuver through airports, up stairs, or up hills?

You want a bag that is not too heavy but not so light that you feel like you are carrying nothing. For most people, the weight of their luggage will be about 15–20% of their body weight.

If that number sounds too high for you, consider buying a suitcase with wheels. Wheeled suitcases are more expensive than non-wheeled ones and can also be heavier because they have to incorporate wheels into them (even if they don’t have any).

If your bag needs to fit inside an overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you on a plane, then it has to be small enough for these spaces. If your carry-on bag is too big or too heavy, it will force you to put it in another bin where other passengers may trip over it or walk past it without noticing it and this can cause major problems when trying to get off at your final destination!

A good rule of thumb here is that if there isn’t enough room around your hard-sided suitcase, then consider looking into soft-sided alternatives instead!

Does the suitcase have the right amount of room for your clothes, shoes, and toiletries?

You will need to pack a lot of stuff for a long trip. Make sure you can fit everything in the suitcase. If you are traveling with a companion, make sure you have enough room for both of you.

How easy is it to open and close the case?

It’s important that you can quickly pack and unpack your suitcase, especially if you have to do so often. The best hard-sided suitcases have smooth-opening zippers and hinges that allow for easy opening and closing.

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We also looked at how heavy the case was when full; heavier cases can be more difficult to lift into tight overhead bins or onto overhead racks on trains.

What kind of security features does it have?

Some travelers might want a lockable hard-sided suitcase as an added level of protection against theft or tampering while in transit. If this sounds like you, check out our recommendation for the best TSA-approved luggage lock.

Does it have a TSA lock?

There are many different types of TSA locks available these days, from magnetic stripes to Bluetooth keys (yes, really!). But no matter which type you choose, every traveler should carry at least one with them when they check their bags at the airport!

If your bag is checked without any type of locking mechanism attached, there’s really nothing stopping anyone from getting inside unless they break through the zipper itself, which could easily happen if they’re determined enough but not impossible if they’re too careful about it, so just remember to always bring along some way to secure it.

How well does the case protect your belongings from damage?

In order for your suitcase to be considered for our best hard-sided suitcase list, it needs to protect its contents from damage. The best suitcases on the market are sturdy and well-made.

They have a strong handle that will not break off when you’re dragging it across an airport floor or using it as a carry-on bag. The zippers must also be sturdy this is especially important if you plan to use your suitcase as a carry-on luggage piece (you’ll want easy access into the main compartment).

The interior of any good hard-shell suitcase should also include some sort of internal frame or reinforcement for added structural integrity. This will help prevent damage from occurring during transit or in case you drop your bag accidentally!

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This feature is especially important when traveling internationally, where airlines tend to handle luggage differently than domestic carriers do here in America, so having reinforced sides can prevent scratches from happening during transport at least once before reaching their destination overseas!

Does the case have helpful organizational features like shoe pockets or mesh compartments?

If you want to make sure the bag is travel-ready, look for features that make it easy to organize your belongings. Some of our favorites include shoe pockets and mesh compartments.

The former allows dirty shoes to be kept away from clean clothes. The latter lets you keep toiletries separate from clothing, so they don’t get thrown around in transit and become ruined.

Some suitcases come with both of these features; others have neither. If you’re considering a suitcase without either of these features, consider how much time you’ll spend packing and unpacking at your destination if the case lacks these built-in organizational tools.

Can another bag be attached to this one using compression straps or luggage loops?

The hard-sided suitcase we tested comes with some luggage loops on the top and sides.

These loops can be used to attach additional bags to this one, such as a laptop bag or backpack. This can be convenient for adding storage capacity for your trip or for taking along an additional bag with more weight capacity that you might need when traveling.

Does it come with a manufacturer’s warranty? Are there any reviews complaining about structural defects that would void that warranty?

You should look for a warranty that lasts at least five years, in case you need to get your suitcase repaired or replaced. You can check to see how many reviews mention structural defects in the suitcase by looking at the number of 1- and 2-star reviews compared to 5- and 4-star reviews.

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If there are very few complaints about structural defects, then it’s likely that the manufacturer stands behind its product and will honor its warranty if needed. If there are many negative reviews related to defects with this product, then it’s possible that the warranty will not be honored if you need repairs or replacements during this period.

Is there a way to quickly and easily identify this bag (for example, brightly colored details or unique patterns)?

The best hard-sided suitcase will have a few things that make it easy to identify:

  • Brightly colored details, unique patterns, or personalization. You should be able to spot this suitcase from across the airport.
  • A luggage tag that has your name and address on it (or at least your airline’s logo). If you don’t have one of these, it can be bought at any airport or travel store before your trip.

Our pick for the best hard-shell suitcase is the Tumi Luggage Helium Aero Inverted Design Spinner. It’s a lightweight, upright spinner with a smooth pull and an intuitive design that makes it easy to maneuver.

The Helium Aero also has a practical handle that locks in place when you need to keep your bag upright, making it convenient for checking into hotels or going through security checkpoints at airports.

We liked this suitcase because it fits well on most airline-size bins, has plenty of storage space, and comes in lots of nice colors like red, dark blue, and black (and two different sizes). The only thing we didn’t like about this product is its price tag, but if money isn’t much of an issue for you, then go ahead and get yourself one today.


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