Suitcases, carry-ons, and other kinds of luggage all have plenty in common. They usually come with wheels, a handle, and zippers. But, not all suitcases are the same, and if you buy luggage without doing your homework, you might find out about differences the hard way.
According to a Consumers Reports survey, of more than 27,000 subscribers who rated their luggage, the respondents noted that wheelability and durability were the most important factors to consider when purchasing luggage.
Here are facts to consider when buying luggage for yourself or to sell at your business:
1. Focus on those zippers.
If a zipper breaks when you’re traveling, it can be a nuisance. So, vet the zippers on your luggage before you buy. Zippers consist mainly of two types: chain and coil. The chain zipper has two sets of interlocking teeth, usually made of metal. Chain is better and stronger than the coil zipper, which slides on two parallel coils usually made of polyester. Chain zippers are much more difficult to break into. Coil zippers can be pulled apart with a ballpoint pen. Also, some savvy buyers consider zippers a proxy for the overall quality of the bag – so you may want to take a closer look. The best zipper brand is YKK.
2. Whirl the wheels.
Wheels can be a weak spot where durability is concerned. Jiggle them with your hands to make sure they are firmly attached.
The wheels on four-wheelers are mounted externally, leaving them vulnerable to snapping off with rough handling. For a more secure attachment, check that the wheels are attached with screws, rather than rivets.
A two-wheeler, on the other hand, has recessed wheels, protecting them from snapping off with rough handling. For a more secure attachment, check that the wheels are attached with screws, rather than rivets.
A two-wheeler, on the other hand, has recessed wheels, protecting them from snapping off. Also, like the wheels on inline skates, they roll only forward and backward, causing less wear and tear than the 360-degree spinning four-wheelers.
3. Hold the handle.
For maximum durability, the handle should have little wiggle room as you pull the bag. One that retracts completely inside the bag is less likely to sustain damage. Also, check for smooth movement as you pull it up and retract it.
4. Select a side
Select luggage that has a high Denier level in the material. A higher denier level connotes a heavier (and stronger) fabric – which is good for those long international flights.
5. Bring a tape measure for carry-on luggage.
Ignore tags, labels, or promotions that claim, “official carry-on luggage.” Nothing is official. No regulation dictates carry-on size, as airlines impose their own restrictions.
Most luggage sold today comes with wheels. The challenge lies mostly in whether you prefer two wheels or four. The advantage of four-wheeled suitcases is that they can be spun 360-degrees, making them easy to maneuver. With four wheels, you can easily wheel the luggage besides you, in front of you or behind you. It’s also easy to navigate in airplane aisles or tight spaces. However, if you are on an incline, your luggage can roll away.
A two-wheeler can only go backward or forward. It’s less ergonomic than a four-wheel spinner, but if you’re going to be walking along city streets, two-wheelers are better than four-wheelers for clearing curbs and rolling on sidewalks, cobblestone streets, and other uneven surfaces.