My mother, like many other mothers around the world, had plenty of pithy words of wisdom. One of them was about where to spend your money – and she always it is worth spending the money on good luggage. If you’ve ever taken cheap luggage on a trip abroad and found yourself with a crumbling pile of plastic bits far far away from home, you’ll no doubt agree. But how much should you spend? And on what?
Choosing luggage is a tricky game, because in my experience, spending a LOT doesn’t get you a lot more. I’ve spent the past month or two road testing Atlantic’s Ultra LITE 22″ Carry-On. I wanted to find the best carryon luggage, and the Atlantic has left me impressed. It must be half the weight of my previous case, and as a bonus it is easy to pack with my usual travelers tricks. Here’s some further thoughts in my Atlantic luggage review.
But First: What to Look for in a Suitcase
I speak from experience when I say I know about bad suitcases, because I’ve had several blowouts over the years – usually at the most inopportune times, such as on a busy street or in the middle of an airport. It’s not just about being the lightest luggage – review a few sites like Amazon and you’ll see plenty of commentary otherwise.
Everyone’s preferences are different, but I think here are some things to think about when it comes to luggage:
- Take a closer look at the wheels. I assume you’re getting something that rolls (I hope so!), and the wheels seem to be a soft spot with manufacturing. Do they look sturdy? Are they able to be replaced when broken?
- Sturdy zippers are important – esp if you’re a chronic overpacker. Next to wheels, zipppers take a pretty heavy beating sometimes. Think about it: when you pack all those souvenirs in there you didn’t really need, the zipper is holding strong all the way home.
- Size is an important consideration. Most brands come in all sizes, but keep in mind what size is going to be best for you. As I mentioned earlier, I am using the carry-on, but I don’t like to check luggage, even on long trips. (And I seriously think everyone should consider lightening the load. Those huge bags? You don’t need all that crap.)
- Lastly, look at the handle. I’m kind of particular about handles for some reason (might be one of those weird left-handed-person things), but I like a good comfy handle. In most cases, I have a bright blue handle cover that I use, which doubles as a great “hey man this is MY bag” identifier. Also pay attention to handle height – very important if you’re short or tall, or if the bag handle is just at a crappy height.
Now, About the Atlantic…
So, as I said, I am road testing Atlantic’s 22 inch Carry-On. I love it! Here are some highlights:
- They say this bag weights only 6.5 lbs. It is incredibly light when empty, and still very light when full. WOW. This is the deal maker for me.
- The front storage compartments are very roomy, meaning I can get a lot into this which doesn’t fit into the main compartment.
- Sturdy wheels. I waited a several weeks to post this review, because this is important to me, and the wheels are holding up just fine. I’m very hard on luggage and you can see a few scuffs here and there, but they’re holding up just fine.
Now, just a couple of areas with room for improvement:
- The sides of the suitcase are made of a somewhat flexible material – part of the lightweight-ness – but I think the area around the zipper itself could use a little more padding. That’s not to say it is flimsy, but it just means you cannot overpack this case. An easy fix would be to include that zip part which would let you extend the size of the case out another inch.
- I’m pretty particular about these things, but I don’t like the handle – I found it too small to hold comfortably. I’m using my handle pad so it’s fine, easy to fix.
I haven’t tried them all, of course, but based on my experiences so far this must be one of the best carryon luggage options you have out there. Great weight, great size, holds plenty. (And yes, it does fit into the overhead bins!)
Looking for a new set of lightweight luggage on wheels? Then go ahead and try out the Atlantic Ultralite, either the carryon size that I’ve been using or one of their larger options. Amazon is one of many retailers that have them, though Amazon has the best price, plus you can shop in your pajamas.
What’s important to you when choosing travel luggage?
Share your tips in the comments.