Since 2012 when I started backpacking I’ve gone from a hardcore and dedicated backpacker to a more lightweight and easy-going traveler. These days I’m more likely to stay in hotels and nice AirBnb’s and I’ve sort of ditched the backpack in favour of a suitcase.
Don’t get me wrong, if I’m travelling for a few weeks on a whirlwind tour through Eastern Europe or South-East Asia then I’m obviously going to bring along a backpack but if I’m taking it slow and spending a few weeks exploring just one city then it’s the wheeled, hard-shelled suitcase that I’m bringing along.
In this post I’m only going to talk about suitcases specifically the ones I’d recommend you’re looking for the best lightweight luggage for travel.
When it comes to finding a lightweight, portable and durable suitcase that’s suitable to travel with there are a few different things that you want to keep in mind.
You’ll want to look at the:
- Interior storage and compartments
- Additional features
How durable a suitcase is one factor that helps to determine whether or not it’s a suitable choice for traveling with. You’ll want to keep an eye out for something that’s going to be able to withstand the rigors of travel without falling apart the first time you roll it out the door.
There are two different types of suitcases that you’ll be looking at: hard case/hard-shell and soft case/soft-shell.
I find that the hard shell suitcases are much more durable and a more practical choice for travel but ultimately it’s up to you depending on what your preferences are.
In my experience the soft shell suitcases that I’ve used have been more prone to damage, ripping, tearing and I feel less comfortable using one for my trips, especially if I have to check it underneath the plane.
Hard shell suitcases on the other hand are what I’d recommend because I find that they tend to be more durable, tough and less prone to damage. The hard shell is definitely more likely to be scratched and over a long period of extended use it can even crack but for most people this isn’t a problem that you’ll ever experience.
They also help to keep your luggage more protected from the elements and any sharp edges or anything else that your suitcase will come into contact with when it’s stowed away somewhere out of your reach.
If you’re traveling light then you probably don’t have to worry too much about whether or not your suitcase can expand.
However, if you find that you’re always over-packing or you want some extra room to bring home some souvenirs or anything else you might buy while you’re abroad then the expandability of a suitcase is something you want to consider.
Some suitcases come with a secondary zipper that allows you to further open up the suitcase and essentially expand it so that it can hold a little bit more luggage. For some people this is a great feature to have and it’s still something to consider if you’re in the market for a new lightweight suitcase.
Interior Storage and Compartments
There are many different sizes of suitcases ranging from small to extra large.
If you’re traveling light than you’ll want something smaller but there’s always the opportunity to go with something bigger depending on how much gear you’re bringing along with you. Be sure to take a look at the different sizes and compare how much interior storage space there is versus how much luggage you’re planning to bring along with you.
The interior compartments are another feature that you should keep in mind.
Some cases come with a variety of different pockets and other internal compartments that you can use to keep your things organized and others just come as a large, open and empty space that give you the ability to organize your things however you see fit.
Again, it’s really up to you and what your preferences are when comes to deciding on how much storage and how many compartments you want.
Finally, there are plenty of additional features to look out for if you’re in the market for a new lightweight suitcase.
These features can include the number of wheels, the size and type of handle, whether or not there is any locking capabilities, the style of zipper, whether or not the handles are patted and countless other features to keep in mind.
If there is something in particular that you want then be sure to look for an option that’s most suitable for your requirements otherwise always be sure to compare the different options available to see what most meet your needs.
Alright, now that I’ve got some of the introductory basics out-of-the-way let’s take a look at the options that I’d recommend for the best lightweight luggage for international travel.
The Best Lightweight Luggage for Travel
Delsey Helium Aero
The Delsey Helium Aero is my suitcase of choice for traveling with and when I was looking for the best lightweight luggage for international travel this is the one that I came up with.
For starters, it’s a hardshell suitcase made from 100% polycarbonate which I prefer using over some of the other softshell models.
I’m not going to go into the technicalities behind polycarbonate suitcases but the material helps to make it lightweight, durable and a great choice if you’re looking for something that’s easy to wheel around the airport.
It has four different double spinner wheels which help to make it maneuverable enough to get around airports, bus and train stations and over the sidewalk on the way to your hotel.
Four wheels is also what I’d recommend because that way you don’t have to do as much work lugging around all of your luggage compared to some of the two wheel alternatives. I love being able to just roll my suitcase along with it completely upright and the Delsey Helium Aero allows for this to happen quite easily.
One of the interior compartments is an integrated padded sleeve that can be used to store laptop up to 15.6 inches in size and there are also two zippered mesh pockets that can be used for storing any travel accessories and other small items that you’re traveling with.
This compartment actually expands out of the suitcase and gives you a little bit more storage space and organization capabilities.
One of the main compartments on the inside can be zipped shut and this makes it easier to keep your things organized and divided without having everything get jumbled together once you close your suitcase and lift it upright.
The other compartment has a strap system that you can use to keep all of your clothes, shoes and other travel items in place during transit.
On the exterior zipper there is a TSA accepted combination lock that you can use to lock the zippers in place for further security when your bag isn’t in your sight.
Personally, I hate these little locks and I never use them but if that’s something that you’re interested in they’re there for you to take advantage of.
The extending handle itself isn’t padded but I found it to be comfortable enough for pulling around the Delsey Helium Aero without any issues.
I also noticed that it was very sturdy, rigid and didn’t feel flimsy at all even when the suitcase was full. On the side is a padded, hard plastic handle that’s comfortable to use for storing, stowing or lifting up the suitcase for whatever reason.
Overall, throughout my research into the best lightweight luggage for international travel I found that the Delsey Helium Aero met all of my requirements and was the most suitable choice for traveling with.
If you’re looking for a suitcase that’s lightweight, durable, can be used as a carry-on and quite sharp looking then I’d recommend taking a look at the Delsey Helium Aero.
Delsey Helium Quantum Trolley
The Delsey Helium Quantum Trolley was another option that kept popping up when I was looking for the lightweight carry on luggage.
Delsey has quickly become one of my favorite luggage brands and apart from a duffel bag and other smaller suitcase I’m slowly amassing a large collection of their gear and I feel the need to share my thoughts about the quality, design and durability of their offerings.
It’s a soft-shell suitcase, which isn’t really what I prefer, but I was pleased by its high quality design and durable polyester exterior build.
What I really liked was the EVA foam backing which I think helped to further protect the contents of the suitcase and make it even more durable and protected from any bumps, jarring, shocks or whatever else it might encounter when it’s stowed away.
Also on the exterior are two additional pockets for further storage and organization.
The zippers felt quite sturdy and were easy to slide around which made it easy to open the main compartment. I liked how thick they felt but they weren’t so big that I have to worry about them getting caught on something and ripping off if I had to check the bag.
The one thing I didn’t like is that there were no side handles so that made it a bit more tricky it came to loading the suitcase into something overhead or pulling it off of the luggage carousel but overall the lack of side handles made it more streamlined and gave it a more minimalist appearance.
One of the features that I’m on the fence about is the wheels.
Rather than having the four wheel setup the Delsey Helium Quantum Trolley has only two recessed in-line wheels.
This means that they only move forwards or backwards and you have to prop the suitcase onto the wheels if you want to move it around.
However, I found that the wheels rolled along very nicely and I didn’t even perceive it to be a drawback by only having two wheels versus four.
It seems to me that with the two wheel setup that the wheel system takes up less space and makes the suitcase a little bit smaller and somewhat more portable but I’m still not sure whether I prefer having just the two or all four wheels.
Again, this is something that’s up to you to decide whatever it is you prefer having.
On the interior is a large opening where you can pack all of your clothes and all of the main travel essentials that you’re bringing along.
The compartment is quite large and the suitcase can even be expanded up to two inches which gives you a little more room to work with if you happen to overpack.
The main compartment features two straps that give you the ability to strap in all of your clothes so that you can keep them in place during transit.
On the interior of the door are two more pockets, a larger one with a small fabric snap strap to keep everything in place and a smaller mesh pocket for toiletries and other small essentials that you don’t want loose in the main compartment.
Overall, if you’re looking for a lightweight carry-on that’s easy to roll around and has enough interior storage space for a few days, or even a few weeks of luggage depending on how carefully you pack, then I’d recommend taking a look at the Delsey Helium Quantum Trolley.
I found it to lightweight, easy to use, roll around and a suitable choice for short-term travel.
Travelpro Maxlite3 International Carry-On Spinner
The Travelpro Maxlite3 International Carry-On Spinner was the last of 5 different lightweight suitcases that I tried when I was looking for the best one for travelling with.
It’s a soft-shell suitcase, made of 100% polyester, and was one of the lightest suitcases that I’ve ever used.
Sure, you could find even lighter options but I find that some of the most lightest suitcases really don’t offer the same quality or durability as the ones that are better design and more practical for traveling with.
The exterior of the Travelpro Maxlite3 International Carry-On Spinner is quite firm and I didn’t worry about any bumps or sharp edges poking into my packed luggage when I had to check it and wasn’t able to keep an eye on it.
On the exterior is a large pocket for additional storage space and on the side, on top and on the bottom are three comfortable handles which give more maneuverability and portability when you have to store the suitcase into a smaller space or lift it into somewhere like the overhead carry-on compartment.
On the interior is large main compartment for storing the bulk of your luggage and travel gear.
The interior is lined with polyester and I found it to be soft to the touch and very suitable for storing my clothing and other travel essentials.
In the main compartment is an adjustable strap set-up that you can use to keep everything in place during transit and there is a mesh pocket on the side for storing any smaller accessories, toiletries or anything else you don’t want loose while you’re traveling.
On the inside of the door flap is a full size mesh pocket that zips up that I use for dirty laundry and my underwear and socks so that everything stays organized in one place.
Finally, I found it very easy to roll around the Travelpro Maxlite3 Spinner.
It features a four-wheel rolling system that helps to give you more portability and allows you to roll the suitcase around any flat and smooth indoor or outdoor surfaces.
Overall, if you’re looking for a durable and lightweight suitcase for travelling with I would recommend taking a look at the Travelpro Maxlite3 Spinner.
Keep in mind that although I’ve had no problems carrying it onto the plane with different airlines you might have a different experience depending on the airline requirements and how the flight attendants and personnel are feeling that day.
American Tourister I’Lite Xtreme Spinner
The American Tourister I’Lite Xtreme Spinner is the second option that I’d recommend if you’re looking for the best lightweight suitcase.
American Tourister is a popular luggage making brand and I’ve had nothing but good experiences using the various bags and other items of luggage that they offer.
The Xtreme Spinner is a soft-shell suitcase, if that’s something that you’re more interested in, and the exterior is made of 100% polyester.
I found it to be quite weatherproof but after about 20 uses or so it began to take on a darker color and started to look more worn but for me this wasn’t a problem and I think that it would help to make it less appealing to someone looking to steal someone else’s luggage.
There is just one large interior compartment and the suitcase doesn’t split into two halves like some of the other options on this list.
This can be ideal if you want to just quickly pack everything into the same space and not have to worry about organizing two separate compartments. The interior is lined with nylon and it can be expanded if you need a little bit extra space for packing.
On the inside of the opening cover are two pockets, one mesh and one enclosed nylon pocket, and these give you the ability to further organize any of your smaller clothing items or travel accessories.
On the exterior are two more zippered pockets where you can store some non-important documents, laundry or anything else small and light enough that you can pack inside.
For easy carrying and maneuverability there are three different fabric handles that’ll allow you to get a good grip on the suitcase when you need to lift it up or stow it somewhere.
The main handle for pulling the suitcase around extends out of the back and I found that it offers a sturdy grip and ample control even when the suitcase is full of luggage.
On the bottom are four omni-directional wheels that are very well suited for getting around airports, bus and train stations although I ran into some problems over cobblestones but that seems to be a common issue with rolling luggage.
Overall, this is another lightweight suitcase that I recommend if you’re looking for something durable, Not too heavy and suitable for international travel.
Keep in mind that the American Tourister Xtreme Spinner isn’t specifically designed to fit into overhead compartments but depending on airline you might be able to bring it onto the plane with you.