Finding the right luggage is a matter of what works for your budget and particular travel style. But those aren’t the only considerations. Here’s what to look for when shopping for the best travel bags for men (and for you).
We’re not talking about just good looks here, but rather what was the bag designed for. You’ll want a bag that fits your travel style. Weekend warriors and casual jetsetters may prefer smaller, minimalist carry-ons that are lightweight, offer plenty of storage, and are compact enough to stash in an overhead bin or under a seat. Hardcore digital nomads might do well with a versatile backpack, duffel bag, or hybrid (that converts from duffel to backpack on the fly) that’s easy to transport in any conditions, over any terrain. Vacationers (most folks who travel a few times a year for a week or more) will probably want larger bags—perhaps checked size—with maximum storage capacity and plenty of organization features.
Good looks may or may not matter to you. If you value function over flash, it makes finding the right travel bag that much easier. Just look for a model that fits your budget and storage capacity, and you should be good to go. If, however, you want a travel bag that stands out and that fits your personal style, you might have to pay a premium.
Travel bags are available in a wide range of prices. The cheapest budget carry-ons can be had for around $50, while the most premium brand-name checked bags run north of $1,200. Just know that, as with most things, you don’t have to spend a fortune. In our experience, you can find a decent hard-sided carry-on for around $300, and a larger, hard-sided rollaboard might be closer to $400. Spending any more than $500 on a single bag usually just means you’re paying for a luxury nameplate.
These days, the best travel bags are packed with clever design features. For rolling luggage, quiet, 360-degree “spinner” wheels are almost required, as they allow you to effortlessly move your luggage through airport terminals. For hardsided luggage, look for a polycarbonate or aluminum shell as these are two of the most durable materials. Soft-sided luggage should be some form of durable nylon.
On the inside, some bags feature compression straps to wrangle all your clothes and maximize the bag’s capacity. Others include additional storage options like dedicated shoes bags, flexible dividers, or laundry bags to keep your clean and dirty clothes separate on the return trip home. Ejectable USB battery chargers are also an option on some bags, allowing you to keep your small electronics topped up on the go without having to fight with strangers over precious public power outlets.