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Away and Eagle Creek Top Consumer Reports' Best Checked-Luggage Brands

Consumer Reports 12/8/2022 Tobie Stanger

All 31 brands in our survey-based ratings are worth owning, but some are real high flyers

© Provided by Consumer Reports

Durability—how well zippers, handles, and other features hold up—had the most weight in our brand ratings.

By Tobie Stanger

If you’re traveling with a load of stuff and want the best checked luggage—medium-sized and large bags, the kind that get checked on flights—you can’t do better than Away, the upscale hard-shell luggage brand. Consumer Reports gave Away the highest possible satisfaction score in our survey-based ratings of checked luggage brands.

And right behind Away are Eagle Creek, a perennial CR member favorite that mainly sells soft-sided bags, and Rimowa, a luxury brand of hard-shell luggage favored by celebrities. Both brands earned very high overall satisfaction scores, just short of Away’s.

Like Away, Eagle Creek received top marks in all the attributes our survey covered, including ease of carrying, wheelability, ease in packing, durability, and weight. Rimowa did nearly as well but earned just a favorable—not exceptional—score for ease in packing. (The actual scores Eagle Creek and Rimowa earned for each ratings attribute totaled up to a slightly lower overall satisfaction score than that of Away.)

A Dozen Great Luggage Brands

In fact, suitcase buyers have many terrific options, our survey found. Away, Eagle Creek, and Rimowa led the pack, but another nine names also earned our top-tier overall satisfaction score, among a total of 31 brands we rated. Those stellar scorers include Briggs & Riley, Travelers Choice, iFLY, TravelPro, Victorinox, Tumi, Lands End, Ebags brand, and Hartmann.

Briggs & Riley, a high-end brand known for its lifetime guarantee, earned superlative scores in every attribute but weight; in that category, it received a favorable mark. Travelers Choice, a moderately priced name that’s available in soft- and hard-shell designs, scored atop the ratings in nearly every aspect; for ease of packing, it received a distinguished, but not stellar, mark.

Notably, iFLY, a hard-shell brand with a 20-year warranty on most of its lines—and a lifetime warranty on one of them—was judged very well in every attribute. Yet, because of how CR determines its color-coded ratings and weighs some attributes more highly than others, iFLY earned a very high overall satisfaction score that nonetheless was lower than that of a few others.

"Though it got top marks for all attributes, iFLY didn’t get perfect scores behind these marks," explains Tian Wang, a senior research associate in CR’s survey research department who led our survey. "Especially for durability—the most important attribute and the one with the most weight in our ratings—iFLY’s score was just above the cutoff point for the best rating." That "bottom of the top" score means iFLY was qualified to get our top, dark green mark for durability, but didn’t score as well within the highest range for durability as some other top-tier brands.

The other 19 brands in our ratings, including American Tourister, Delsey, Ricardo Beverly Hills, and Samsonite, earned favorable overall satisfaction scores. In fact, few brands earned scores that were less than distinguished in any individual attribute.

The lowest-ranked brand, Atlantic, was judged just passable for ease of carrying, wheelability, and weight. Members told us that Atlantic checked suitcases were more likely than bags from other brands to become unbalanced and easy to tip when full. Their materials also were more likely to wear out or be damaged, and their zippers were more likely to break or malfunction. Nevertheless, Atlantic still earned a favorable overall satisfaction rating.

In all, CR members told us about their experiences with 13,005 pieces of medium-sized and large luggage.

What Travelers Care About Most

Members also told us about the features they care about the most, with the top two being a suitcase’s wheelability (cited by 57 percent of respondents), and its durability (cited by 54 percent). Durability—how well zippers, handles, fabric, and other features hold up—had the strongest correlation to members’ overall satisfaction with their checked bags.

“We found these factors consistently impacted our members’ luggage purchase decisions and user satisfaction over the years,” Wang said. "Some other key factors were weight, ease of carrying, and ease in packing." Notably, only 34 percent of surveyed members cited price as the most important attribute in their luggage purchase, and just 31 percent mentioned weight.

Taking all of this into account, below we profile the three checked luggage brands that garnered the tip-top overall satisfaction ratings in our survey, including their price ranges. All three are high-end brands, so if you’re looking for a wider or lower price range, take a look at our full ratings of checked-luggage brands to see how 28 other brands compare. We also offer lots of useful advice in our luggage buying guide, plus ratings of carry-on luggage brands and luggage retailers. Away topped both of those survey-based ratings as well.

Checked Luggage Brands That CR Members Love

Away

Price range:

$345 to $745

Warranty: Lifetime limited, covering damage to the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, and anything else that impacts your use of the suitcase; 2-year warranty for electronic components.

CR’s take: Away luggage aced every aspect of CR’s checked-luggage brand ratings, earning an exceptional score for overall satisfaction. The high-end company sells primarily hard-shell suitcases, including “smart” bags that have removable battery-powered chargers for travelers’ electronics. The company offers a generous 100-day trial period, during which you receive a full refund if you decide to return your suitcase. You can only buy new Away bags through the company’s website or at one of its brick-and-mortar stores (there are 11 in the U.S., one in Toronto, and one in London). The warranty only applies to new bags purchased at one of those outlets.

Eagle Creek

Price range: $299 to $499

Warranty: “No Matter What” lifetime warranty on workmanship and materials.

CR’s take: Eagle Creek soared in our survey-based ratings for checked-luggage brands, earning top scores in all attributes and a near-perfect overall satisfaction score (the difference from Away, above, is due to the actual scores it got for each attribute). Eagle Creek, which sells mainly travel backpacks, offers a small selection of checked suitcases, including wheeled duffels, traditional spinner suitcases, and large two-wheeled trunks. Most are soft-sided, though one line, Tarmac, features luggage with a hard back.

Rimowa

Price:

$875 to $2,025

Warranty: Lifetime guarantee for all functional aspects of suitcases purchased on or after July 25, 2022. Products purchased earlier receive a five-year guarantee if you register online; otherwise, you get a 2-year guarantee. Exclusions apply. For repair or replacement, Rimowa will cover the cost of the return shipment.

CR’s take: Luxury brand Rimowa is a repeat top-scorer in our survey. The brand earned top marks in all attributes in our survey-based ratings except ease of packing (and it was still favorable in that arena). The company’s suitcases and trunks are all hard-sided—aluminum or polycarbonate—and have Rimowa’s signature ribbed surface. Every model has integrated combination locks.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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