Suitcases can cost anywhere from $50-$200 and sometimes even more if you go with a hyper-expensive brand like Louis Vuitton.
Well-made baggage can cost a lot because it uses quality materials. And, to withstand the wear and tear of travel, you must get suitcases made from durable components.
It’s important to distinguish between different bags, brands, and quality.
This guide will cover the aspects that make luggage so expensive, providing the information you need to decide which bag is best for you.
Types of Baggage and Materials
Generally speaking, brand name, material, and size will dictate luggage cost.
Hard-sided baggage with four wheels is generally the most expensive suitcase type, followed by soft-sided baggage, backpacking packs, and duffel bags. You can also buy baggage such as laptop bags, large purses, and other luggage.
Hard-Sided Wheeled Baggage
Hard-sided baggage is one of the most popular baggage types, and for a good reason. They are easy to transport and can withstand the movements placed upon them when tossed from one luggage handler to another.
Materials that manufacturers use for durable hard-sided wheeled baggage include:
- Aluminum ($$$): Aluminum luggage withstands extreme temperature changes and is waterproof. An aluminum suitcase is an expensive material, but it is not as durable as other hard-side luggage materials.
- 100% polycarbonate ($$$): Polycarbonate luggage is lighter than other hard-sided luggage options, and it’s also the most durable suitcase option. But, the price is high.
- Polycarbonate composite ($$): This polycarbonate variant is cheaper than 100% polycarbonate. It is also light but more prone to scratches and cracks. This baggage usually has a good price at a mid-range cost.
- Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) ($): ABS is a solid plastic second in strength only to polycarbonate. And, if you’re looking for a high-quality material that is also affordable, rest assured that ABS is a cheap one.
Soft-Sided Wheeled Baggage
Soft-sided wheeled baggage is more flexible when it comes to packing. So, if you’re taking bulky items on your trip, they would likely fit better in soft-sided baggage.
Most soft-sided baggage also includes outer pockets with zippers to hold smaller items, offering extra storage.
Soft-side wheeled luggage materials include:
- Leather ($$$): Full-grain leather creates durable suitcases that are elegant and timeless but with a hefty price to reflect its quality.
- Nylon ($$): This material is highly durable and resilient at a mid-range price.
- Polyester ($): Polyester is similar to nylon but cheaper.
Duffel bags are a type of soft luggage great for carrying sports materials or bulky items. However, they’re not the best for ordinary travel because they’re difficult to carry, although some duffel bags do have wheels for effortless mobility.
You can find duffel bags made of canvas (most common), leather (most expensive), nylon, or cotton.
Many backpacking bags are the size of checked luggage, but you can also find carry-on sizes. These are for backpackers traveling between many locations, some of which may be remote.
You’ll usually find these backpacks in canvas, cotton, or nylon options. Plus, many are waterproof.
A suitcase with all the bells and whistles will increase its production cost and price tag. But, add-ons make security, packing, and spending time at the airport more convenient, which is great for frequent flyers.
Extra features that can facilitate travel but increase the suitcase’s price are:
- Multiple packing components: Well-made luggage can include extra inner and outer pockets for more structured packing and easy access to essentials. Quality pockets can even be waterproof.
- Secure TSA locks: Not only do locks keep your bag safe, but the TSA will not break TSA-approved locks.
- Spinner wheels: These wheels allow spinner luggage to roll seamlessly alongside you.
- Handle settings: Some luggage options include more handle settings to lock in the most convenient position for your height.
- Built-in USB charger: With this option, you can charge your devices straight from your bag. Thus, these bags are perfect for a business trip where you need to stay in contact with others all the time.
- Zipper-less case: Some high-end suitcases now offer zipper-less cases that use a latch closure system and sometimes a keycode. Conversely, you can also look for self-repairing zippers.
Expensive Luggage Brands
Certain brands are famous in the luggage industry for making well-made luggage. These brands usually use durable materials and include convenient add-ons.
The following luggage companies are famous for making the best luggage, but their prices tend to align with their fame.
- American Tourister
- Briggs; Riley
- TUMI Luggage
You can also buy exclusive luggage from luxury brands like Gucci.
Many other companies make air travel products, but it’s better to buy well-made suitcases. Plus, when you buy a bag from a reputable brand, they ensure you get a good quality suitcase that doesn’t tear easily and often has a lifetime guarantee.
Choosing Your Luggage
You can find suitcases in all designs, prices, and measurements both online and at local shops.
The most popular checked bag size is 25” to 29” tall in varying widths. Meanwhile, airline companies usually set carry-ons at 9” x 14” x 22”.
And you need to make sure you pay attention to size to avoid extra luggage fees. Thus, large suitcases and those with extra weight may not be appropriate for the average traveler.
Each airline has different requirements when it comes to suitcase dimensions. So, if you tend to stick to one airline, know their size and weight restrictions regarding suitcases.
Once you know the size you’re looking for, decide which add-ons and material you want. These factors will determine your price range and narrow down your options to a few reputable brands.
But even though the companies mentioned above are well-known, other brands may also fit your criteria. And since many people search for cheap travel baggage to offset high ticket prices, some brands make good luggage for a lower price.
However, always read customer reviews when accessible to ensure you’re choosing suitcases from a reliable manufacturer.
Is a Quality Suitcase Worth It?
If you’re a frequent traveler or prefer to purchase quality over the long term, then expensive, high-quality luggage may be perfect for you.
The durability of quality materials surpasses cheap luggage because the more durable a suitcase, the longer it will last, especially when you partake in a lot of international travel. And luggage that costs more money will usually be more resistant to scratches and marks from transit.
The best question to ask yourself is: Would I rather pay less now but have to replace this suitcase in a year or two, or invest in good quality suitcases now and be content with my purchase for years to come?