If you’re someone who has difficulty packing lightly, you’re probably always on the lookout for the most lightweight suitcases on the market that will offer a bit of leeway on the scale. However, lightweight materials are often not of the highest quality, which may compromise the durability of your luggage, so it’s important to consider this during your search.
In this article, we’ve taken a look at some of the best wheeled carry-on suitcases out there that won’t have you paying extra in baggage fees. We’ve also reviewed some of their most important features and offered helpful guidance on what to look out for when purchasing this type of luggage. It’s also worth noting that we only included lightweight suitcases that are built to last – we skipped the ones which are super lightweight, but will break after a few trips.
Top-Rated Wheeled Lightweight Suitcases
- Best overall wheeled lightweight suitcase: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside
- Most affordable: Elite Printed Luggage Softside
- Most lightweight hardside: American Tourister Soundbox Hardside
- Best value: Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds Hardside
- Most luxurious: Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Softside
- Most durable softside: Samsonite Ascella X Softside
- Best features: American Tourister Airconic Hardside
- Best for utility: Wrangler Smart Luggage Hardside
Travelpro Maxlite 5
Elite Printed Luggage
American Tourister Soundbox
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds
Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea
Samsonite Ascella X
American Tourister Airconic
Wrangler Smart Luggage
Tips on Buying Wheeled Lightweight Suitcases
Selecting the Correct Type of Suitcase
Hardside vs. Softside
It’s important to remember that the material your suitcase is made from plays a big role in how heavy it is. Generally speaking, softside suitcases are a little more lightweight than hardside suitcases, but both luggage types offer other advantages too.
To be precise, on average, softside luggage is 16% lighter than hardside luggage. To calculate this, we gathered data for 386 popular suitcases from 31 different luggage brands, to find out the average weight of luggage.
If you’re considering a softside suitcase, it’s most likely that you’ll end up buying one that’s made from polyester since roughly 70% of all softside luggage is manufactured from this material. Although polyester in itself is a relatively durable material, it would be advisable to take note of the Dernier count, as this is what determines how thick the threads of the fabric will be. A higher Dernier count will offer you more durability and a little more protection against the elements.
While polyester is incredibly lightweight, the lightest of all fabrics used in softside luggage is nylon. This material is also more durable and resistant to abrasion than polyester is, but it’s less commonly used because it’s slightly more expensive to produce. Ballistic nylon is the most durable of the three, but because of its price, it’s typically used exclusively in high-end luggage.
There are a few different materials commonly used in suitcases with hard shells. In order from least to most durable, you may find your luggage made from ABS, polypropylene, polycarbonate, or aluminum. This is also an indication of how expensive each material is, so many suitcases are made from ABS in an effort to keep prices low. Although ABS is quite a rigid material and can be prone to cracks, it’s incredibly lightweight and, with the right care, you should be able to get your money’s worth.
If your goal is to find the lightest possible suitcase, try to look for one made from polypropylene. It may prove difficult though since roughly only 8% of all hardside luggage is made from this material. If their baggage is within your affordability, Samsonite and American Tourister have a few great polypropylene options on offer.
If you’d like a more in-depth description of each material’s properties, take a look at our material guide.
Spinner Wheels vs. Inline (Skate) Wheels
If you’re purchasing a hardside suitcase, you won’t have the option of inline wheels as these are generally only featured on softside luggage.
Spinner wheels have become the most popular wheel type in recent times because of the smooth rolling experience they offer. The wheels can move in any direction, which makes it easy to maneuver your suitcase in a number of different settings. Double spinner wheels work best in this regard, however, you may find single spinner wheels fitted on some cheaper suitcases too.
The one problem posed with spinner wheels is that they may break off if your suitcase is handled too roughly. Wheels of lower quality might also seize if they are rolled over uneven surfaces. You’ll be able to circumvent this issue with a carry-on since you’ll have full control over how your suitcase is handled throughout your journey, however, if you’re opting to purchase a checked piece, it may be wise to choose a brand that offers an unlimited lifetime warranty.
On the other hand, inline wheels are a lot more durable and rarely ever seize up. In fact, you should have no trouble rolling them over even the roughest terrains throughout your trip. The problem arises, however, if you add too much weight to the front of your suitcase. Most luggage with inline wheels is fitted with a stability bar to allow the piece to stand on its own without being held, however, these may not be very effective if the contents of the suitcase are imbalanced.
In terms of weight, spinner luggage is also heavier. On average, spinner suitcases weigh 23% more than inline alternatives. The weight difference comes from having only two wheels instead of four. Plus, if you have four wheels, then the bottom of the suitcase also needs to have a molded, rigid bottom, which isn’t the case with inline suitcases.
Ultimately, your choice between these two wheel types will come down to your personal preference. If you’re looking for something lighter and more durable, definitely go with two rolling wheels. If, however, you’re willing to sacrifice that for easier moveability, then go with four spinner wheels.
Understanding What Size Wheeled Lightweight Suitcase You Should Get
For comparison’s sake, we’ll only be reviewing carry-on wheeled suitcases in this article, however, you can find lightweight luggage in loads of shapes and sizes. If you click on any of our suggestions, they usually come in many different sizes. Take a look at our luggage size guide for the full breakdown.
1. Personal Items
You can use any kind of bag as a personal item as long as it fits under the seat in front of you on an airplane, so some baggage manufacturers make underseat bags that are ideally sized for this purpose. They usually measure between 15-18 inches (38-45 cm) and may be fitted with a variety of extra pockets and nifty features, like USB ports, to make your journey more comfortable.
There usually isn’t a specified weight limit for this item, however, airlines may place a restriction on the overall weight of all carry-ons you take onto the plane. If you’re considering purchasing this type of bag for an upcoming trip, be sure to check the size and weight limitations of the airline you’ll be using. You can also find a general breakdown in our personal item size restriction guide.
Read Next: 10 Best Wheeled Underseat Suitcases in 2022
2. Carry-on Suitcases
Carry-on suitcases can range anywhere between 19-22 inches (48-55 cm), so the one you choose will typically depend on your packing habits. The key aspect of this type of suitcase is that it needs to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane, and if you have trouble packing lightly, you’ll be better off opting for a softside bag as they are more malleable, and as a result, easier to manipulate in this space.
Most US airlines don’t put a weight restriction on this piece of luggage, however, those that do typically require your bag to weigh between 15-35 lbs (7-16 kg). It’s also important to note that airlines tend to be a lot more strict on international flights than domestic ones. If your bag exceeds the size or weight limit, you may be forced to check it in and pay hundreds of dollars in fees, so it’s vital to spend a bit of time researching your airline’s requirements.
3. Checked Suitcases
Checked suitcases can be any size provided they don’t exceed the upper size and weight limits imposed by the airline. Checked bags need to be under the 62 linear inch restriction, which is calculated by adding together the depth, width, and height of the bag with the wheels and handles included. Many bags that are marketed as checked pieces exceed this measurement, so be sure to take careful note of the dimensions before making your final purchase.
You’ll have the choice between medium-sized and large checked pieces when buying wheeled suitcases. Hardside medium bags range between 23-27 inches (58-69 cm) and weigh an average of 9.23 lbs (4.19 kg), while hardside large bags range between 28-32 inches (71-81 cm) and weigh an average of 11.19 lbs (5.08 kg). If you’d prefer a softside suitcase, medium bags range between 23-27 inches (58-69 cm) and weigh an average of 8.63 lbs (3.91 kg), while large bags range between 28-32 inches (71-81 cm) and weigh an average of 9.91 lbs (4.50 kg).
Read Next: 8 Best 62-Inch Checked Suitcases in 2022
4. Luggage Sets
If you want to be prepared for any kind of trip, you’ll find a lot of value in buying a luggage set. Apart from the matching style, you’ll also benefit from a discounted rate. Oftentimes these sets are designed to fit together, which makes both storage and maneuverability far easier.
You’ll find a variety of luggage sets available since some brands may offer two or three-piece sets that only include wheeled suitcases, while others offer four-piece sets that include an underseat or vanity bag too. Take a look at the list of our favorite luggage sets to make this choice a little easier.
Other Things to Look out for Before Buying a Wheeled Lightweight Suitcase
- Packing Capabilities: In order to maximize the space in your lightweight suitcase, it would be a good idea to check whether your suitcase has compartments and pockets that will allow for optimal packing. This will also save you from exceeding your airline’s weight limit and being liable for fees.
- Warranties: Some cheaper luggage brands offer warranties that cover only manufacturing defects for a limited time period. These warranties will also leave you liable for the courier fees to have the damaged bag assessed before your claim is even accepted. If you’re worried about this, it may be worthwhile to invest in a suitcase with an unlimited lifetime warranty. You’re likely to end up with a piece of a higher quality and you won’t need to pay for a replacement if it breaks.
- Moveability: Along with the wheels on your luggage, you’ll also need to consider the handles and straps. Some brands ergonomically design their retractable handles to prevent strain on your wrists when maneuvering your bag for long periods of time. The more handles that have been included, the easier it will be to lift your suitcase when needed. You may even find suitcases that have incorporated feet onto the side of the bag so that it can be placed down horizontally without damage.
- Utility: If you’ve opted for a carry-on on a long journey, you might need access to certain items throughout your trip. It may not be possible to open up your entire suitcase, so having pockets on the exterior of the bag will prove useful. Some bags also include compartments for laptops and other devices that will keep them both secure and easily obtainable.
Best Wheeled Lightweight Suitcases in 2022 Compared
1. Best Overall Wheeled Lightweight Suitcase: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside
|- 21.75 x 15.75 x 7.75 in (55.2 x 40 x 19.7 cm)|
|- 5.39 lbs (2.4 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.6|
Weighing only 5.39 lbs (2.4 kg), the Travelpro Maxlite 5 is the ultimate choice if you’re looking to pack in a few extra pounds. The brand has manufactured this suitcase specifically with this factor in mind, with it being up to half a pound lighter than its previous collection, the Maxlite 4. Despite its weight, the bag is still spacious, measuring 21.75 x 15.75 x 7.75 inches (55.2 x 40 x 19.7 cm).
If you need it, you’ll be able to make use of the bag’s expandability feature which offers an additional two inches of packing space without worrying about whether it will fit in the overhead compartment of the plane. And, to prevent tipping, Travelpro has designed the Maxlite 5 with a tapered expandable pocket, however, the suitcase’s stability feet are also well-placed, which goes a long way in combatting this issue.
The Maxlite 5 is built to last, with a tough polyester exterior that has been coated with a water and stain-resistant substance called Duraguard. The high-performance ball-bearing inline wheels have also been made for durability, as most customers have remarked that they were able to handle the suitcase well on a variety of surfaces – including cobblestone. You’ll also enjoy the comfort of the ergonomically-designed PowerScope Lite telescoping handle and the convenience of the low-profile carry handles when you need to lift and maneuver your suitcase.
Packing and utility are a breeze with this bag, as even though it may appear to be small, the Maxlite 5 can easily accommodate approximately five days’ worth of clothes. When you flip open its lid, you’ll find a mesh pocket compartment for storage of any items you want to keep separate from your clothing. You’ll be able to make use of the compression straps in the main bin of the bag to keep your contents secure throughout your journey. If you need to stow easy-access items or devices like laptops and tablets, the front of the suitcase features an aptly sized pocket precisely for this purpose.
Travelpro is known for the quality of its luggage, so it’s likely that this suitcase will last you a long time. However, if you do experience any breakages that you suspect may be a result of a manufacturing defect, the brand has extended a limited 10-year warranty to cover this. As an added bonus, they’ve also introduced the Trusted Companion Promise that covers your suitcase for the first year after purchase. This special warranty will take care of any damage caused by airlines or other carriers, and Travelpro will reimburse you for any shipping costs to send your bag to the repair center too.
You’ll be able to choose from eight classic colors to find the style that suits your personal preferences. The interior of each model has been matched to the color of the exterior, giving the bag an elegant and luxurious feel. Overall, if you need something long-lasting that won’t force you to pay for checked luggage fees, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 is the ideal fit.
2. Most Affordable Lightweight Suitcase: Elite Printed Luggage Softside
|- 6.5 x 13.25 x 20 in (16.5 x 33.7 x 50.8 cm)|
|- 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.2|
Although this suitcase isn’t packed with special features, it ranks high when it comes to the most lightweight options on the market and is significantly cheaper than most other luggage of this size. This model weighs only 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) and measures 6.5 x 13.25 x 20 inches (16.5 x 33.7 x 50.8 cm), leaving plenty of room for you to pack for a short trip. It can also be expanded to give you a little extra space if necessary.
The most noticeable feature of this luggage is its vibrant design. Although it is only available in two patterns, both are equally unique, which makes the bag a great choice for kids. The Houndstooth model features a design made up of purple, red, and blue stars, while the Blue Geo, as its name suggests, offers a blue and white geometric design. The interior in both models is a solid grey, which contrasts well with the colorful exterior.
The exterior of this suitcase is made from polyester and features two additional pockets that can be used to store smaller items. However, it should be noted that, like many suitcases with inline wheels, the stability bar hasn’t been said to provide ample support, so the bag may topple over if the front is overpacked.
Aside from this small issue, most other components of the suitcase have been well-designed. After locking it in place, you’ll have no issue holding onto the retractable handle to roll your suitcase behind you. To lift your bag, you can grab either the fabric handles on the top and side of the bag or the plastic handle at the bottom. Packing space is quite standard, with a zippable mesh pocket on the inside of the lid to keep smaller items and a large compartment with compression straps for your clothing.
Unfortunately, this bag is made by a small business, so there isn’t a warranty in place to cover any defects at all. However, considering the price, it won’t be much of a financial loss if breakages were to occur. To add to this, many customers have complimented the sturdiness and quality of the bag, so it’s likely that with the right care, you’ll be able to get much more than your money’s worth from this bag. Because it’s a carry-on, you also won’t need to worry about it being mishandled by airline staff.
Overall, if you need something cheap and lightweight for a short and unexpected trip, this suitcase has a lot of value to offer.
3. Most Lightweight Hardside Suitcase: American Tourister Soundbox Hardside
|- 15.75 x 7.87 x 21.65 (40 x 20 x 55 cm)|
|- 5.72 lbs (2.6kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.4|
Polypropylene is the most lightweight material a hardside suitcase can be made from, so it’s no wonder the American Tourister Soundbox weighs only 5.72 lbs (2.6kg). Measuring 15.75 x 7.87 x 21.65 inches (40 x 20 x 55 cm), this bag is compact and easy to spot in the overhead compartment at the end of your flight.
Although the manufacturer markets it as suitable for a two-day trip, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to get much more value out of this suitcase with its spacious interior. The bag zips open down the middle into two equally-sized compartments, one of which can be zipped closed. You can make use of the two smaller compartments inside the bag for any items that need to be kept separate from the rest of your contents. Like most suitcases, the Soundbox also features diagonally-fitted compression straps on one side to prevent wrinkling of your clothing and you can expand the bag if you need additional packing space.
This suitcase’s aesthetic value is off the charts and arguably one of its best features. The bag is available in a variety of beautiful summer colors that will undoubtedly leave you standing out from the crowd as you roll it alongside you. Even though the inner lining of the Soundbox is quite a dull grey, the brand has tastefully included zippers and straps that match the exterior shell, which significantly adds to the elegance of the piece as a whole.
The bag is fitted with double spinner wheels, which generally have been known to potentially break off while in transit no matter which luggage brand you buy from. However, there have been no reports of broken wheels or any other components for that matter, which bears testament to the authenticity of American Tourister’s promise of quality. On the plus side, if you do experience any manufacturing faults, you can claim from the limited global 3-year warranty that has been extended.
Check-in is a breeze with the Soundbox’s TSA-approved lock. You’ll be able to secure your bag using a 3-digit combination code to prevent unwarranted intrusion, but if airport security needs to check the contents of your suitcase, they’ll conveniently be able to open it up using a special key. Lifting and moving the bag is also made easy by the sturdy handles fitted on the top and side of the bag and the retractable handle that locks in place.
Overall, if you’re looking for something spunky and of good quality to take on your next getaway, the Soundbox is the perfect choice for you.
4. Best Bang for Buck: Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds Hardside
|- 20 x 13.5 x 7.5 in (50.8 x 34.3 x 19.1 cm)|
|- 6.25 lbs (2.8 kg)|
|- Modified ABS|
|- Editors rating: 4.4|
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds has a remarkable number of quality features considering how affordably priced it is. It’s also made from a very durable form of ABS, which makes it incredibly lightweight at only 6.25 lbs (2.8 kg). Since it has corner guards for added protection, you’ll be able to make this suitcase a long-term travel companion if you care for it correctly.
The suitcase is the ideal choice for those who love bright colors, and no matter what your preference, you’re bound to find a model of the Out Of Bounds that suits you. There are over fourteen colors to choose from, so you’ll be able to take your pick from the metallic, neon, and even pastel choices on offer. The interior is standardized in grey across all models in this range, though.
With packing dimensions of 20 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches (50.8 x 34.3 x 19.1 cm), you won’t be left short of space with this suitcase. The bag zips open down the middle into two large compartments, one of which can be zipped closed to keep its contents separate from the other side. The non-zippable bin features compression straps, as well as a small utility pocket for the storage of smaller items like toiletries or jewelry.
The bag is fitted with four single spinner wheels, a retractable handle, and handles on its top and side, making it easy to mobilize and roll alongside you during the course of your trip. Unfortunately, the wheels and zippers on this bag have not been very well-received by customers, and since Kenneth Cole has only extended a 10-year limited warranty to this luggage range, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive compensation in any form from the manufacturers in the event of breakages. It would be wise to take extra care on rough surfaces and avoid overpacking, which would cause unnecessary tension on the zippers.
Overall, this suitcase is a great choice if you can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on luggage. Despite the low price, the brand has taken extra measures to ensure the suitcase’s durability, which will give you quite a bit of bang for your buck.
5. Most Luxurious Lightweight Suitcase: Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Softside
|- 22 x 14 x 9 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)|
|- 6.35 lbs (2.9kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.5|
This suitcase is marketed as luggage for women, but in my opinion, it offers a classic elegance that would suit both men and women. The exterior is embellished with a stunning chevron quilted fabric that provides added resistance to tears and breakages, which means that you won’t need to worry about the polyester wearing away after just a few uses. Not only do the gold zippers go a long way in contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of this bag, but they’re also made with self-repairing technology, giving you long-term use from the suitcase.
The Chelsea measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm) and weighs only 6.35 lbs (2.9kg), so together with the additional 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of expandability, you’ll undoubtedly be left with an abundance of room for your clothing and other items. The packing potential of this bag is amazing since the inside of the lid features a mesh pocket as well as a clear PEVA gusseted pocket for toiletries. PEVA is a waterproof plastic that will prevent any spillage of liquid from ruining the other items in the main bin of the suitcase. You’ll also be able to make use of the two additional pockets on the front of the bag, one of which is large enough to fit a 13-inch laptop with ease.
When moving your luggage, you’ll enjoy the comfort of the retractable handle and single spinner wheels. It should be noted though, that customers have complained about the quality of the handle, so to avoid breakage, it would be wise to avoid placing any unnecessary pressure or weight on it. Unfortunately, like the Reaction Out Of Bounds, the Chelsea is covered only by Kenneth Cole’s limited 10-year warranty for manufacturing defects, so you’re unlikely to receive any restitution if something goes wrong.
If you’re a lover of modern sophistication and you want a bag that reflects this, the Chelsea is a great choice. It’s available in black, navy, and olive, and all three color choices exude opulence. Although it may not be the cheapest option on the market, this suitcase certainly has a lot of value to offer.
6. Most Durable Softside Lightweight Suitcase: Samsonite Ascella X Softside
|- 20.25 x 14 x 8 in (51.4 x 35.6 x 20.3 cm)|
|- 6.5 lbs (2.9 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.2|
Samsonite has remained a giant in the luggage industry for years because of the quality and durability of its products. The Ascella is no different. Although this bag hasn’t been packed with many exceptional features, those that have been included are well-made and thoughtfully designed. With a weight of only 6.5 lbs (2.9 kg), you’ll have no difficulty taking along everything you need on your next trip.
The bag offers packing dimensions of 20.25 x 14 x 8 inches (51.4 x 35.6 x 20.3 cm) and has been built for packing optimization. On the exterior, you’ll have the benefit of a pocket for your laptop or any other similar-sized object as well as a smaller zipped compartment for utility items. The inside features a mesh pocket under the lid of the bag, a large bin with smart fix buckles for compression, and a Wetpak zippered compartment to help you keep wet or dirty clothing separate from the rest of your contents.
While the Ascella does offer great mobility with its double spinner wheels and retractable aluminum handle, making it a breeze to take as a carry-on, it may be wise to double-check the airline requirements before taking this suitcase on your journey as some customers have complained that it was too big for the overhead bin on their plane. Since this limitation differs from flight to flight, you’ll need to use a bit of discernment in order to avoid paying for checked luggage fees.
This bag offers a smart, classic design, which makes it suitable for both business and leisure trips. If you’re looking for a suitcase that’s long-lasting, well-designed, and backed with a warranty for manufacturing defects, you won’t go wrong with the Samsonite Ascella.
7. Best Lightweight Suitcase for Added Features: American Tourister Airconic Hardside
|- 22 x 15 x 9.5 in (55.9 x 38.1 x 24.1 cm)|
|- 6.84 lbs (3.1 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.0|
American Tourister is great at packing in sought-after features at a surprisingly affordable price. The Airconic weighs only 6.84 lbs (3.1 kg) and measures 22 x 15 x 9.5 inches (55.9 x 38.1 x 24.1 cm), but it has a lot more to offer than just a lightweight feel and ample room for packing.
The bag features a TSA-approved lock, which makes the check-in process at the airport stress-free. You’ll also enjoy a USB charging port that could prove useful if you have unexpected delays while waiting for your flight to board. If you work while you’re on the move, the front of the suitcase has a specially designed compartment for books, laptops, stationery, and anything else you may deem fit.
When it comes to moveability, you’ll be able to depend on the double spinner wheels and retractable handle to move your bag alongside you. Unfortunately, you’ll only be able to lift the bag by the handle that has been fitted at the top of the bag, however, for a suitcase of this size, you shouldn’t have much difficulty lifting it without any handles at all.
Overall, this suitcase offers everything you need in a carry-on and more. With a scratch-resistant exterior and interior that is designed for optimal packing, you will certainly get your money’s worth with the right care.
8. Best Lightweight Suitcase for Utility: Wrangler Smart Luggage Hardside
|- 20 x 14.5 x 11 inches (50.8 x 36.8 x 27.9 cm)|
|- 6.92 lbs (3.1 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 3.9|
Wrangler Smart Luggage stands out from the crowd with its cupholder, phone holder, and USB charging port, making it the perfect choice if you need to keep your hands free. At 6.92 lbs (3.1 kg), it offers a lightweight feel and dimensions designed specifically to meet airline carry-on restrictions.
This bag ranked last on my list simply because I was not a fan of the color choices. The suitcase is available in black, burnt orange, navy blue, and olive green, but somehow lacks the contemporary elegance found in most modern suitcases. It also has not been reviewed as the most durable luggage out there since there have been complaints of the hard shell, wheels, and other components breaking. Because of this, I would advise against checking it in, even if you are tempted to do so.
On the plus side, you’ll benefit from expandability which affords you additional packing space and double spinner wheels for smooth movement. Some customers have even commented on how spacious it is, claiming it offers enough room to pack for about a week-long trip.
The suitcase is remarkably affordable, so it isn’t surprising that quality isn’t its top feature. However, with a little extra precaution, you should enjoy decent use from it, and if all else fails, it is possible to try claiming against the manufacturer’s warranty.