Most people don’t care about how much their luggage weighs. But they should – especially if they’re flying with budget airlines. Saving a few pounds might not seem much, but by getting a lightweight carry-on, you can save upwards of 20-30% of your total hand luggage weight allowance.
We gathered data on 374 popular suitcases from 32 different luggage brands to find out the average weight of empty suitcases, and how it differs between various materials and other factors.
In this article, we’ll share:
- The average weight of empty softside suitcases
- The average weight of empty hardside suitcases
- How much should lightweight suitcases weigh
- The lightest and heaviest luggage materials
- Whether softside luggage is lighter than hardside luggage
- The lightest and heaviest luggage brands
- Whether spinner suitcases really are heavier than rolling suitcases
How Much Does an Empty Softside Suitcase Weigh on Average?
Average Weight of Empty Softside Underseat Suitcases (15-18 inches / 38-45 cm)
On average, an empty softside underseat suitcase weighs 5.78 lbs (2.62 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Softside Carry-On Suitcases (19-22 inches / 48-55 cm)
On average, an empty softside carry-on suitcase weighs 6.55 lbs (2.97 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Softside Medium Checked Suitcases (23-27 inches / 58-69 cm)
On average, an empty softside medium checked suitcase weighs 8.63 lbs (3.91 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Softside Large Checked Suitcases (28-32 inches / 71-81 cm)
On average, an empty softside large checked suitcase weighs 9.91 lbs (4.50 kg).
How Much Does an Empty Hardside Suitcase Weigh on Average?
Average Weight of Empty Hardside Underseat Suitcases (15-18 inches / 38-45 cm)
On average, an empty hardside underseat suitcase weighs 8.19 lbs (3.71 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Hardside Carry-On Suitcases (19-22 inches / 48-55 cm)
On average, an empty hardside carry-on suitcase weighs 7.11 lbs (3.23 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Hardside Medium Checked Suitcases (23-27 inches / 58-69 cm)
On average, an empty hardside medium checked suitcase weighs 9.23 lbs (4.19 kg).
Average Weight of Empty Hardside Large Checked Suitcases (28-32 inches / 71-81 cm)
On average, an empty hardside large checked suitcase weighs 11.19 lbs (5.08 kg).
Which Are the Lightest Lightweight Suitcases?
Lightweight Underseat Suitcases (15-18 Inches/ 38-45 cm)
We compared 26 popular underseat suitcases to find out which ones were the lightest.
The lightest ones weigh between 4-5 lbs / 1.8-2.3 kg, are made from fabric (polyester), and most of them have two inline wheels, aside from the Rockland Melrose spinner. None of them exceed 15 inches (38 cm) in height.
We found only a few hardside underseat suitcases, and they’re heavier than most hardside carry-ons, so we would recommend getting a fabric one instead.
Lightest softside underseat suitcase: Rockland Melrose (3.99 lbs / 1.81 kg)
Lightest hardside underseat suitcase: Rockland Revolution (6.99 lbs / 3.17 kg)
Lightweight Carry-Ons (19-22 Inches / 48-55 cm)
We compared 127 popular carry-on suitcases to find out which ones were the lightest.
The lightest fabric carry-ons weigh between 3.75-5 lbs (1.7-2.3 kg), most of them have two wheels (although there are a few spinners as well), and they’re made from nylon or polyester. Even though it isn’t the lightest one, a really solid option is the Samsonite Upright carry-on (4.4 lbs / 1.99 kg), which has some really good reviews.
The lightest hardside carry-ons usually weigh just below 6 lbs (2.72 kg) and come with spinner wheels. Although in theory, polypropylene is the lightest hardside plastic, the choice of material doesn’t seem to influence the weight too much, as long as it isn’t made from aluminum.
Lightest softside carry-on: It Luggage World's Lightest Los Angeles (3.75 lbs / 1.70 kg)
Lightest hardside carry-on: Travelpro Maxlite 5 (5.50 lbs / 2.49 kg)
Lightweight Medium Checked Suitcases (23-27 inches / 58-69 cm)
We compared 110 popular medium checked suitcases to find out which ones were the lightest.
The lightest softside medium checked suitcases weigh between 4.5-6 lbs (2-2.7 kg) and they’re made from polyester or nylon. Although not the lightest, some solid options include the Osprey Ozone rolling suitcase (5.1 lbs / 2.35 kg) and the Lipault Plume checked spinner (5.6 lbs / 2.54 kg).
And the lightest hardside alternatives weigh between 7.3-8 lbs (3.4-3.6 kg). They usually have spinner wheels and are made from ABS, polycarbonate, or an ABS/polycarbonate composite.
Lightest medium checked softside suitcase: It Luggage World's Lightest (4.5 lbs / 2.04 kg)
Lightest medium checked hardside suitcase: American Tourister Stratum XLT (7.4 lbs / 3.36 kg)
Lightweight Large Checked Suitcases (28-32 inches / 71-81 cm)
We compared 111 popular large checked suitcases to find out which ones were the lightest.
The lightest ones are made from fabric (polyester or nylon) and weigh between 5.3-7 lbs (2.4-3.2 kg). Although not the lightest, a really solid option is the Samsonite Base Boost checked spinner (6.82 lbs / 3.09 kg).
Similar hardside alternatives weigh between 8.7-10 lbs (3.9-4.5 kg), they usually have spinner wheels and they’re made of various plastic composites. Although not the lightest one, a really solid option is the Samsonite Freeform polypropylene spinner (9.5 lbs / 4.3 kg).
Lightest large checked softside suitcase: It Luggage World's Lightest (5.3 lbs / 2.40 kg)
Lightest large checked hardside suitcase: American Tourister Stratum XLT (8.7 lbs / 3.95 kg)
Which Luggage Materials Are the Lightest?
For determining the average weight of each material, we looked only at carry-on suitcases, because it’s the most popular luggage size, which meant that we could get the largest sample size. In total, we gathered data on 127 carry-ons made from different materials.
Nylon and polyester came out as the lightest fabrics used in luggage. Theoretically, nylon should be a bit heavier, because the threads are usually much thicker, but in reality, both materials are almost identical in weight.
After that, the next lightest materials are various luggage plastics for hardside luggage, such as polypropylene (PP), ABS/PC composite, ABS, PET, and Polycarbonate (PC). Although all of them are fairly similar in terms of weight, polypropylene is the lightest luggage plastic and polycarbonate the heaviest.
The two heaviest materials used in luggage are Ballistic Nylon (softside) and Aluminum (hardside). However, it should be noted that these two materials are also the most durable ones. From our own experience though, well-made fabric suitcases made from polyester and nylon are usually strong enough for frequent travel, so we’d advise choosing something made from these two materials.
Are Spinner Suitcases Heavier Than Rolling (Inline) Suitcases?
We expected spinner suitcases to be heavier than rolling (other called inline or upright) ones because instead of two wheels they come with four. But we didn’t expect such a huge difference between them. On average, a spinner suitcase weighs about 1-3 lbs (0.45-1.36 kg) more than a similar alternative with only two wheels.
If you’re planning on getting a new suitcase, you should seriously consider getting a rolling, upright one. Of course, suitcases with spinner wheels are much easier to move around because they don’t need to be tilted and pulled behind your back. But they’re much heavier, they usually offer less packing space, and spinner wheels are much more likely to break off because they’re “sticking out” from the main frame.
Is Softside Luggage Lighter Than Hardside Luggage?
As we already expected, softside luggage ended up weighing less than hardside luggage. On average, a hardside suitcase weighs about 0.5-2.5 lbs (0.22-1.13 kg) more than a similar fabric alternative. In these calculations, we also included aluminum luggage, which is significantly heavier than fabric luggage, so if you’re getting a plastic hardside suitcase, the difference isn’t as high. That said, in most cases, plastic suitcases still weigh about 0.5-1.5 lbs (0.22-0.68 kg) more.
Which Are the Lightest Luggage Brands?
For this research, we compared the average weight of carry-ons for 32 luggage brands. The lightest ones were Lipault, It Luggage, Eagle Creek, and Osprey. All of them offer really lightweight fabric suitcases, and not only carry-ons but checked ones as well. Other lightweight luggage brands include Merax, Bric’s, Rockland, Travlepro, Coolife, and Showkoo, which also offer lightweight hardside suitcases.
All of them are fairly similar in terms of weight, but we do have to mention that we also included some of the heavier models of Travelpro in this research. Travelpro offers a line of fabric and hardside suitcases called “Maxlite 5“, which in terms of weight, is competing with the lightest suitcases out there. In fact, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 hardside is the lightest hardside carry-on that we found, weighing only 5.50 lbs (2.49 kg). Another thing worth mentioning about Travelpro is that their suitcases are really durable, even more than Samsonite.
Which Are the Heaviest Luggage Brands?
For determining the heaviest luggage brands, we compared the average weight of their most popular carry-ons. The heaviest luggage brands are Tumi, Away, Rimowa, and Briggs & Riley. This is somewhat unsurprising because these luggage brands also make some of the most durable suitcases out there.
Other heavy luggage brands include Hartmann, Monos, Delsey, Traveler’s Choice, American Tourister, and London Fog. Some of them make somewhat durable luggage, such as Hartmann, Monos, and Delsey, so their weight is justified. It’s also worth noting that American Tourister also offers some really lightweight luggage, such as the American Tourister Stratum XLT medium checked suitcase, which weighs just 7.4 lbs (3.36 kg). You can read its full review over here.
Read Next: Best Luggage Brands Compared
Frequently Asked Questions About Luggage Weight
What’s the Difference Between Underseat, Carry-On, and Checked Luggage?
Underseat luggage (other called personal items) is the smallest type of luggage, which passengers can take with them on the plane and it has to be stored under airline seats.
Carry-ons are the second smallest type of luggage, which passengers are allowed to bring with them on the plane, and they have to be stored in the overhead compartments.
Checked bags, both medium and large, are the bags that you have to hand over at the check-in desks at the airport. Then they’re transported to the cargo area of the plane by baggage handlers and given back to you when the plane lands.
Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Luggage Sizes: What Size Should You Get?
Do You Include the Weight of the Suitcase in the Total Luggage Weight?
When measuring the total weight of your luggage (for air travel) you also need to include the weight of the suitcase. For example, if the weight limit is 44 lbs (20 kg), then you need to pack your suitcase full and only then weigh everything.
Is Lightweight Luggage Durable?
A lot of lightweight suitcases aren’t really too durable, and they’re good enough only for leisure travel. However, that’s not the case with all of them. Some lightweight suitcases are actually durable enough to be used for frequent air travel.
If you’re shopping for a lightweight suitcase, then you need to pay close attention to the manufacturer of the bag. If it’s made by a reliable manufacturer, such as Travelpro, Samsonite, Eagle Creek, or Osprey, then the suitcase is probably durable enough for frequent travel.
Is Lightweight Luggage Worth It?
In my opinion, lightweight luggage is totally worth it, but only if you choose a bag from a reliable manufacturer, such as Osprey, Eagle Creek, Samsonite, or Travelpro. It’s usually durable enough to be used somewhat frequently for several years. So I wouldn’t recommend getting the lightest suitcase that you can find, but one that’s lightweight, with good reviews, and made by a reputable brand.
Another thing to consider is that checked luggage takes much more abuse compared to hand luggage, and the weight requirements are much looser there. So if you’re shopping for checked luggage, I wouldn’t recommend obsessing about saving every ounce – instead, you should get something more durable. Ultra-light luggage only makes sense for hand luggage, especially for Europe where the hand luggage weight limits are very strict.
Another plus for lightweight luggage is that usually, it isn’t too expensive. The most expensive lightweight options usually cost only 200-300$, which means that you won’t stress about it too much if the bag eventually breaks.
Read Next: 8 Best Wheeled Lightweight Suitcases in 2022
What Are the Airline Weight Restrictions for Carry-on Luggage?
Here are the most common weight restrictions for carry-on luggage. Just keep in mind that these restrictions may be inaccurate because they change over time.
- American Airlines: 40 pounds (18 kg)
- Air Asia: 15 pounds (7 kg)
- Air Canada: 22 pounds (10 kg)
- Air France: 26 pounds (12 kg)
- British Airways: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Delta Air Lines: No weight restrictions
- EasyJet: No weight restrictions
- KLM: 26 pounds (12 kg)
- Lufthansa: 17 pounds (8 kg)
- Norwegian Airlines: 22 pounds (10 kg)
- Ryanair: 22 pounds (10 kg)
- Southwest Airlines: No weight restrictions
- Turkish Airlines: 17 pounds (8 kg)
- United Airlines: No weight restrictions
- Virgin: 22 pounds (10 kg)
- Wizz Air: 22 pounds (10 kg)
Note: Overweight carry-on suitcases will need to be checked in for an additional fee, which usually is a bit more than typical checked luggage fees.
What Are the Airline Weight Restrictions for Checked Luggage?
Here are the most common weight restrictions for checked luggage. Just keep in mind that these restrictions may be inaccurate because they change over time.
- American Airlines: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Air Asia: 70 pounds (32 kg)
- Air Canada: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Air France: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- British Airways: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Delta Air Lines: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- EasyJet: 44 pounds (20 kg)
- KLM: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Lufthansa: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Norwegian Airlines: 70 pounds (32 kg)
- Ryanair: 44 pounds (20 kg)
- Southwest Airlines: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Turkish Airlines: 44 pounds (20 kg)
- United Airlines: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Virgin: 50 pounds (23 kg)
- Wizz Air: 70 pounds (32 kg)
Note: You will need to pay a fee for overweight luggage, which usually is pretty expensive (100-300$ per bag). Bags over a certain limit (usually 100 lbs / 45 kg) won’t even be accepted.
This article was pretty long and technical, so let’s sum everything up in a few sentences:
- On average, an empty softside carry-on weighs 6.55 lbs (2.97 kg)
- On average, an empty hardside carry-on weighs 7.11 lbs (3.23 kg)
- The lightest carry-ons weigh between 3.75-5 lbs (1.7-2.3 kg)
- The lightest luggage materials are polyester, nylon, and polypropylene
- Spinner suitcases weigh 1-3 lbs (0.45-1.36 kg) more than rolling ones
- Hardside suitcases weigh 0.5-2.5 lbs (0.22-1.13 kg) more than softside ones
- The lightest luggage brands are Lipault, It Luggage, Eagle Creek, and Osprey
- The heaviest luggage brands are Tumi, Away, Rimowa, and Briggs & Riley
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