Thinking about getting a hard shell suitcase with no zippers?
Well, then you’re in the right place because in this article we’ll:
- Compare the 10 best zipperless suitcases on the market.
- Tell you what to look out for before getting a zipperless bag.
- Weigh out the pros and cons of zipperless luggage, so you can find out whether it’s really a smart choice for you.
What Is Zipperless Luggage?
Essentially, “zipperless luggage” is just hard shell luggage with no zippers. Instead, these bags come with one or two latches for keeping the suitcase closed.
Believe it or not, but just a few decades ago, most suitcases didn’t come with zippers. It all changed only in 1987 when Travelpro invented the original rollaboard, which had two wheels, zippers, and a retractable handle. This style quickly overtook regular suitcases with latches, and now only about 5-10% of all luggage is zipperless.
How Does Zipperless Luggage Work?
Instead of having a zipper to close the main compartment, zipperless bags have one or two latches for keeping the main compartment closed. These bags have to be made from a rigid material, like aluminum or hard plastics (polycarbonate, polypropylene, or ABS) to keep the main compartment closed. Both latches usually have built-in, TSA-approved three-digit combination locks, which means that they’re keyless and open with a three-digit code. You can set your own three-digit code, but you’ll have to remember it.
Are Zipperless Suitcases Actually Safer?
Yes, zipperless suitcases are considered much safer than regular suitcases. They can only be opened by entering a three-digit combination or with a TSA-approved key, which only the airport security agents have. Zipperless suitcases can be made from aluminum or plastic. The ones made from aluminum are considered the safest ones because aluminum is much harder to bend or break.
If you leave a regular suitcase with zippers unattended just for a few seconds, anyone could bust open your zipper with a pen in a matter of seconds and steal your belongings. And the worst part is that you wouldn’t even be able to tell that anyone was inside. Quite often this trick is used by baggage handlers to get inside checked bags and steal perfume, electronics, and other valuables unnoticed. With zipperless luggage, opening the bag unnoticed isn’t possible.
Here’s a video that shows how regular suitcases can be opened with a pen:
Is Zipperless Luggage Worth it?
Should you get a zipperless bag? We’ll it heavily depends on how you’re using your luggage.
If you carry valuables, need something really durable and safe, and use packing cubes, then zipperless luggage is a really solid choice. But if you’re an over-packer, you don’t carry anything valuable, or you’re looking for something cheap and lightweight, then suitcases with regular zippers will probably be a smarter choice.
Here are the main pros and cons of zipperless bags.
- Safer than regular suitcases. Of course, really dedicated thieves will still get inside, but you basically can’t get inside a zipperless suitcase without ruining the bag. This means that no baggage handlers will be able to steal stuff when your bag is checked in without being unnoticed.
- Usually, more durable. If you’re getting an aluminum zipperless suitcase, it will likely last decades. They’re considered the most durable options on the market.
- More optimized interior. Usually, zipperless suitcases have large and rectangular main compartments. They’re great for people who use packing cubes for organizing their stuff
- No more broken zippers. Zippers and wheels are the first elements to break on any suitcase. Without zippers, there’s one less thing to worry about.
- Better-looking. Of course, it’s a subjective opinion, but there’s just something about aluminum zipperless suitcases that make them look good. Also, there are a lot of insanely good-looking vintage-style zipperless suitcases.
- Slightly heavier than regular suitcases. Most commonly, zipperless suitcases are made from aluminum or polycarbonate, which are pretty heavy materials. So if you’re looking for a lightweight option, consider getting a fabric suitcase instead.
- More expensive. A zipperless system is much more expensive compared to regular zippers. That’s why the cheapest zipperless models start only at 100$. For comparison, you could get hardside suitcases with zippers starting from 60$.
- No expandable zippers. Almost all zipperless suitcases don’t have expandable systems. If you’re an over-packer, then you should consider getting a model with zippers instead.
- No exterior pockets. Zipperless suitcases don’t have any exterior pockets, which means you won’t have a separate exterior compartment for documents and other items that need to be accessed quickly. This is bad if you’re a tech-savvy person who needs a carry-on with a laptop compartment.
- You won’t be able to get your stuff out quickly. Suitcases with regular zippers are quite easy to open up and quickly take something out, without taking up too much space. But zipperless suitcases have to be placed horizontally on the ground before opening, which means that getting something out of your zipperless carry-on mid-flight will be pretty hard.
What to Look out for When Buying Zipperless Suitcases
- Is it made from aluminum, polycarbonate (PC), polypropylene, or ABS? Here’s all hardside luggage materials ranked from strongest to weakest – aluminum, polycarbonate, polypropylene, and ABS. Aluminum suitcases will be the most durable, but some affordable options that are made from polycarbonate and have aluminum edges around the zipperless part, aren’t too bad either.
- How much does the bag weigh empty? On average, empty carry-ons weigh about 7.9 lbs. Zipperless carry-ons weigh around 8-11 lbs because they’re built from aluminum or polycarbonate, which are much heavier materials. Try to find a bag that weighs as low as possible, because every additional pound means fewer items that you can pack before reaching the weight limit.
- Will you be using packing cubes? If you’re using packing cubes, make sure that the main compartment is rectangular and roomy. Preferably, you don’t want any separating sheets in the middle, which are pretty common with regular hardside suitcases.
- Are the locks TSA-approved? If you’re planning on checking in your bag, your locks need to be TSA-approved. If they have a red TSA symbol printed on them, any security agents can get inside your bag while it’s checked in for inspections. If the locks aren’t TSA-approved, they’re authorized to break them when performing spontaneous inspections.
- If getting a carry-on, is the bag in the right dimensions? If you’re planning on flying internationally, make sure that your carry-on is under 22 x 14 x 9 inches. It’s the most common carry-on size requirement for airlines. That said, a half-inch above the limit will usually be fine.
- Do the spinner wheels look durable? Preferably, get a bag with double spinner wheels that look massive and durable. It also wouldn’t hurt scrolling through the reviews and checking if anyone had any problems with the wheels.
- Does the bag come with an anti-scratch finish? If you’re getting an aluminum suitcase, try to get a silver/uncolored option. It will look brand-new even after ten years because the scratches won’t be visible. But if you’re getting a plastic suitcase, make sure that it has a patterned or rough finish, which hides all the smaller scratches.
Read Next: Best Suitcases for Suits Compared
Top-Rated Zipperless Suitcases
|Best Overall: TravelKing Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.5|
|Best Affordable: Coolife PC/Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.4|
|Best High-End: Tumi Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.7|
|Best Luggage Set: Coolife PC/Aluminum 3-Piece||Editors rating: 4.4|
|Sindermore Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.6|
|Unitravel PC/Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.4|
|Clothink PC/Aluminum 24-Inch||Editors rating: 4.3|
|Andimo PC/Aluminum 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.3|
|Samsonite Polypropylene 20-Inch||Editors rating: 4.2|
|Samsonite Polypropylene 28-Inch||Editors rating: 4.1|
1. Best Overall: Travelking Aluminum 20-Inch Carry-On
|- 21.6 x 14.6 x 9.1 inches|
|- 9.7 lbs (4.4 kg)|
|- 100% Aluminum|
|- Editors rating: 4.5|
The Travelking 20-inch carry-on is the cheapest fully aluminum suitcase you can get. If you’re looking for a somewhat cheap suitcase that feels like it should cost at least 700$, this one is probably your best choice.
Fully aluminum suitcases made by well-known brands, like Rimowa, Tumi, or Away Travels cost 500-1200$, but this one is a fraction of the cost. That’s because Travelking is a Chinese Amazon manufacturer, so you aren’t overpaying for the brand.
That said, you shouldn’t expect the level of customer service you would get from a well-known brand. This suitcase only comes with a 3-year warranty, instead of Away’s lifetime warranty, or Rimowa’s no-matter-what 5-year warranty. We did a little bit of research, and it looks like if you get any issues with Travelking’s bags during the first three years, you’ll get replacement parts sent to your home for free, but you’ll have to replace them by yourself. It’s not ideal, but a lot of Chinese manufacturers ignore their warranty completely, so their warranty is somewhat okay.
In terms of features, this suitcase comes with two TSA-approved combination locks and massive double spinner wheels, which people said rolled quite smoothly. Inside, it comes with x-shaped tie-down straps on both sides and quite a few pockets and compartments for organization. This setup will be better for those who don’t use packing cubes because you get so many organizational features.
The Travelking’s aluminum zipperless suitcase is well-reviewed, made from durable materials, cheap, and comes with pretty useful packing features. Other zipperless models are made from less-durable materials or are overpriced, which is why we think it’s currently the best zipperless suitcase on the market.
2. Best Affordable: Coolife Polycarbonate 20-Inch Suitcase (With Aluminum Frame)
|- 22.5 x 15 x 9 inches|
|- 8.3 lbs (3.8 kg)|
|- Aluminum / Polycarbonate|
|- Editors rating: 4.4|
Now if you’re looking for something more affordable, we believe that this Coolife zipperless suitcase is currently the best choice on the market.
It isn’t fully made out of aluminum, which is why it’s so cheap. The hard shell is made out of polycarbonate, which is the strongest plastic material used for hardside suitcases. Aluminum is only used around the edges, where both parts connect together. This is a neat affordable solution, because aluminum is expensive, and you need the edges for zipperless bags to be really durable and stiff.
We’ve rated Coolife as the best affordable luggage brand from over 16 different luggage brands. Their warranty is pretty much non-existent, but all of their suitcases are rated exceptionally well, and the durability is really good considering how cheap they are. Out of all the zipperless suitcases on Amazon, the Coolife Zipperless is one of the most popular and well-rated ones.
Instead of having two combination locks, this carry-on comes with one TSA-approved combination lock. When you unlock the three-digit combination lock, two additional latches are unlocked, and you can open up the suitcase. This system works similarly well to having two TSA locks but is cheaper to build, which is why Coolife opted to use this system instead.
Inside, the bag is pretty basic. One side of the main compartment is separated by an unzippable fabric sheet and the other by x-shaped tie-down straps. You’ll also find two zippered pockets inside that are meant for sorting all the smaller items (chargers, toiletries, e.t.c.)
The Coolife zipperless 20-inch carry-on isn’t too advanced, but it’s decently made, amazingly well-reviewed, and best of all – incredibly cheap, which is why we think that it’s currently the best affordable zipperless suitcase on the market.
3. Best High-End: Tumi 19-Degree Aluminum International Carry-On
|- 22 x 14 x 9 inches|
|- 11 lbs (5.0 kg)|
|- 100% Aluminum|
|- Editors rating: 4.7|
The Tumi 19-degree aluminum suitcase is the best suitcase that Tumi has to offer, and between all the zipperless options on the market, we believe that it’s also the best option out there. That said, it’s also really expensive.
If you don’t know Tumi, they’re a premium luggage brand that was bought by Samsonite a few years ago. Their models are really expensive (700-1200$), but they’re also made from the best possible materials and are backed up by a solid warranty. Tumi, along with Rimowa and Briggs & Riley is usually recommended by frequent travelers and people who work in the airline industry because they’re so durable.
Out of all the suitcases mentioned here, this one definitely has the best warranty. The Tumi 19-degree International Carry-on is backed up by Tumi’s 5-year warranty. For the first year, they’ll cover all damages, and in years 2-5, they’ll cover manufacturing defects and normal wear. That said, a lot of people have said that even after the fifth year they’ll repair their suitcases at reasonable prices.
In addition to having the best warranty, this suitcase is also the most durable one. It’s made from 100% airline-grade aluminum, which will last decades. However, we would recommend getting the silver option, because the dark-gray one will eventually get scratched and the silver aluminum paint will start to show through.
Features-wise, the Tumi 19-degree carry-on comes with two TSA-approved combination locks and a few useful features inside. The main compartment is split into two equal parts, separated by a fabric sheet in the middle that you can unzip. It’s also fitted with two two mesh pockets for organization, a bracket for hangers, and x-shaped tie-down straps, which is nice.
If you have the money, it’s definitely worth investing in this suitcase, because it will last decades.
4. Best Luggage Set: Coolife Polycarbonate 3-Piece Set (With Aluminum Frame)
|- 20, 24, and 28 inches|
|- 31.3 lbs (14.2 kg)|
|- Aluminum / Polycarbonate|
|- Editors rating: 4.4|
If you’re looking for a full zipperless luggage set, you should probably go with the Coolife zipperless 3-piece set.
Essentially, the two larger pieces are identical to the smaller carry-on, which we believe to be the best affordable zipperless suitcase, just larger. Similar to the smaller carry-on, this 3-piece luggage set is also rated extremely well by the customers, and it’s also really cheap. Essentially, you can get this luggage set for the price of one cheap aluminum zipperless suitcase.
A nice addition is that all three pieces fit inside each other. This is good for people who live in tight spaces because when not used, this luggage set won’t take up too much space.
In features, this set is identical to the 20-inch carry-on. All three pieces come with one TSA-approved lock, four double spinner wheels, and pretty basic packing features inside.
This luggage set will be great for larger families, and for people who often travel with checked bags.
5. UniTravel Polycarbonate 20-Inch Carry-On (With Aluminum Frame)
|- 21.6 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches|
|- 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg)|
|- Aluminum / Polycarbonate|
|- Editors rating: 4.4|
The Unitravel 20-inch carry-on is the lightest polycarbonate/aluminum zipperless suitcase we found. While others weigh at least 8 pounds or more, this one is only 7.7 lbs. And if you’re getting a carry-on, every pound counts.
It’s also priced somewhat moderately. Not as cheap as Clothink or Coolife, but still, it’s a pretty good deal. Just like on other affordable zipperless suitcases, the outer shell is made out of polycarbonate – the most durable hardside luggage plastic, and the edge where the two sides meet out of aluminum.
Similar to the Coolife zipperless suitcase, this one also comes with one TSA-approved combination lock that unlocks two additional latches. This system is more affordable but just as effective as having two TSA-approved combination locks. This bag also comes with pretty durable and massive double spinner wheels, which people said roll really smoothly.
The inner compartment is quite minimal and effective. You get x-shaped compression straps on both sides, as well as two fabric dividers with built-in pockets inside. The dividers can be easily unclipped if you’re using packing cubes, and that’s why the Unitravel carry-on has one of the most packing-cube-friendly main compartments out of all the suitcases we mentioned on this list.
Out of all the polycarbonate aluminum options, this suitcase is rated the best. People seem to like everything about it. If it was priced around 30-50$ less, we’d probably place it much higher on this list.
6. Clothink Polycarbonate 24-Inch Suitcase (With Aluminum Frame)
|- 26 x 17.9 x 10.4 inches|
|- 12.75 lbs (5.78 kg)|
|- Aluminum / Polycarbonate|
|- Editors rating: 4.3|
If you’re looking for a checked polycarbonate/aluminum affordable zipperless suitcase, Clothink is one of the best choices. It’s good-looking, affordable, durable, and well-rated by the customers.
The outer shell is made out of polycarbonate – the most durable hardside luggage plastic, and the edge where both parts meet out of aluminum. From the outside, the suitcase polycarbonate shell is coated with a carbon-like rugged finish, that, in addition to looking great, also provides protection against all minor scratches. The main compartment is also protected with two TSA-approved combination locks, which is nice.
From the inside, it’s fitted with two x-shaped tie-down straps on each side. Both sides are also separated with detachable fabric sheets with built-in pockets that are great for organization. Similar to the Unitravel zipperless suitcase, this one is also packing cube friendly, because the separating sheets in the middle are unclippable, which makes the main compartment quite roomy.
Although we’ve linked only to the 24-inch option, they also have 28-inch and 20-inch options available in several colors. They’re all rated fairly well, but not as great as Coolife or Unitravel, which is why we rated Clothink only at the 7th place.
7. Amdiamo Elegante Polycarbonate 20-Inch Carry-On (With Aluminum Frame)
|- 22.8 x 14 x 9 inches|
|- 8.2 lbs (3.7 kg)|
|- Aluminum / Polycarbonate|
|- Editors rating: 4.3|
The Andiamo Elegante is another great option for an affordable polycarbonate aluminum zipperless suitcase. But despite its good looks, it has a few design flaws, and it’s priced a bit higher than others, which is why we’ve rated them only the 8th place.
Essentially, because of the way the polycarbonate frame has been constructed, it results in getting dents quicker than it should. You see, on other bags, the edges are usually protected with aluminum covers, or re rounded off, because the edges are the first ones to break under pressure. On the Andiamo Elegante, the edges are unprotected and at a 90-degree angle, which is why some people complained that they bend inwards under pressure.
And that’s why we would recommend getting only the Andiamo Elegante carry-on, instead of the 24-inch and 28-inch options. This bag just won’t be durable enough to be checked in, but it’ll be great for hand luggage, which doesn’t need to be as durable.
But other than that, this suitcase is very similar to the Clothink zipperless suitcases. The main compartment also comes with two x-shaped tie-down straps, and one side is separated with a unclippable fabric sheet with built-in pockets. Similar to the Clothink and Unitravel options, the main compartment is also very packing cube-friendly. Also, the main compartment is secured with two TSA-approved combination locks, which is nice.
The Andiamo Elegante is a well-reviewed and affordable option for a zipperless carry-on, but won’t be durable enough for checked bags.
8. Samsonite S’Cure Polypropylene 20-Inch Carry-On
|- 21.5 x 15.5 x 7.8 inches|
|- 6.4 lbs (2.9 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.2|
The Samsonite S’Cure 20-inch carry-on is another solid, affordable zipperless suitcase.
Instead of making the suitcase from polycarbonate/aluminum, Samsonite has opted to choose polypropylene instead. Polypropylene is the most lightweight hardside luggage plastic, but it’s not as durable as polycarbonate. It’s also one of the cheapest plastics out there, and it’s much more flexible than polycarbonate.
Because it’s made out of polypropylene, it won’t be as durable as other options that we’ve mentioned in this list. A lot of people complained about broken wheels and visible dents in the hard shell just after a few trips. That’s why we would recommend only getting the carry-on option and avoiding the larger suitcases. You need a carry-on to be light because of the weight limits, and carry-ons are less likely to get damaged because they won’t be tossed by the baggage handlers.
In features, this bag is pretty basic. From the exterior, it’s equipped with a single TSA-approved lock for accessing the main compartment, and four double spinner wheels. And the interior is split into two equal parts, with one side divided by a zippered fabric sheet, and the second one equipped with tie-down straps. It’s also worth noting that the interior isn’t lined with a fabric layer – it’s just plain plastic.
If you’re looking for a cheap and lightweight zipperless carry-on, this one is probably your best bet. Just avoid getting the checked options, because the Samsonite S’Cure isn’t durable enough to be checked in.
9. Samsonite F’lite Polypropylene 28-Inch Suitcase
|- 28 x 10.5 x 20 inches|
|- 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg)|
|- Editors rating: 4.1|
If you’re looking for a lightweight zipperless checked suitcase, then the Samsonite F’Lite is a slightly better choice than the Samsonite S’Cure. Although both models are fairly similar, F’Lite has much better customer reviews.
It’s also made from polypropylene, which isn’t the most durable luggage plastic but is the most lightweight and most flexible, so it shouldn’t crack under pressure. The main compartment is protected with three clips and one TSA-approved combination lock that’s built in the handle.
Although the main compartment isn’t lined with fabric, it’s slightly better organized than the S’Cure. It comes with a regular x-shaped tie-down strap on one side, and an un-clippable fabric sheet on the other, with a few built-in pockets for organization. This setup is very packing-cube-friendly, which is nice.
Samsonite has a very solid warranty on their suitcases, which is an advantage over all the Chinese-manufactured brands we’ve mentioned in this list. They have repair centers across the whole world, and you can count on their warranty to actually work, which is why some might choose Samsonite over Travelking, Andiamo, Clothink, Unitravel, Coolife, or Simdermore.