We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

News.

When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

30 May 2022

How much do you need to spend to get a suitcase that won't break?

We put hard shell suitcases from Samsonite, American Tourister, Tripp and more through a series of tough tests to see which came out intact
Suitcases piled up at the airport

A suitcase that can stand up to being chucked about, sat on, rolled over cobbles and zipped and unzipped zillions of times is essential as more of us head back out on holidays this year.

But which suitcase is toughest? And how much do you need to pay out for one that's going to last? We bought hard shell suitcases from Samsonite, American Tourister, Tripp and more at prices from £30 to £180 and put them through a series of tough tests to find out.

We discovered:

  • Although the most durable suitcases are likely to cost you more money, you don't have to shell out more to get a suitcase that'll survive a beating.
  • None of the suitcases we reviewed broke completely during our testing, so buying the cheapest hard shell suitcases we investigated should ensure your suitcase survives all but the roughest handling.
  • Some suffered nasty dents that certainly spoil the look of the suitcases, though, and we found the weakest part of most suitcases to be the trolley handle, several of which were much wobblier after our tests.
  • The hard shell suitcases we tested aren't guaranteed to keep your belongings dry in a downpour. Although none of the zips broke, they proved an easy access point in our water resistance tests.

Read on for how each suitcase fared in our tough durability tests.


Travel smart - get our free Travel newsletter and start planning better holidays


What we put each suitcase through

We put each hard shell suitcase through the following tests designed to replicate the rough and tumble it's likely to face when you take it on holidays or work trips:

  • To test the strength of the carry handles and trolley handles we loaded up and lifted each suitcase numerous times.
  • We dropped each suitcase from shoulder height at several angles onto concrete to simulate rough handling.
  • To see how the wheels coped with being dragged across rough surfaces, we took each suitcase for a hurried walk around a cobbled street.
  • Sometimes there isn't always somewhere to sit while you wait at the airport, so we sat on each suitcase to see how they handled being used as makeshift chairs.
  • Each suitcase was subjected to a two-minute shower to see how it might fare at keeping your belongings dry if you get caught in a downpour.
  • We also overfilled the cases and tried zipping them up to see how the zips cope with extra strain.

The sturdiest suitcases we tested

Below is a list of each hard shell suitcase we tested for durability, listed in order of how durable we found them to be.

Editor's Choice: American Tourister Soundbox

Cheapest price: £109 (cabin), £119 (medium), £139 (large)

Available at: Go Places, also available at Amazon, American Tourister, Fenwick, John Lewis

Dimensions: 55 x 40 x 20cm (cabin), 67 x 46.5 x 29.5cm (medium), 77 x 51.5 x 29.5cm (large) (HxWxD)

Weight: 2.6kg (cabin), 3.4kg (medium), 4.2kg (large)

Colours available: Bass black, midnight navy, golden yellow, coral red, jade green, magenta, spring green, poolside blue, stone blue, lavender

Other key features: Eight rubberised 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (two height settings), TSA Lock, expandable, three-year warranty, the inside of the suitcase has one zip-up divider with a large pocket on it, one other long and thin pocket, and two sets of straps for keeping your items in place.

Our verdict: The most durable

You'll do fine buying a cheaper hard shell suitcase as none of them broke during our tests, but stumping out the extra cash for the American Tourister Soundbox will get you the most durable suitcase we tested.

Our durability tests didn't seem to phase this suitcase at all. It came through with just some light scratches around the edges and corners. There were no dents, no extra wobbly handles and no dodgy wheels. It stood up to almost everything.

American Tourister Soundbox - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

The handles were just like new after our tests and didn't seem fussed by any of the strain they were put under.

The zip is thick and it opened and closed smoothly and easily, too. The lining did let in water, but so did every other suitcase we tested.


Spain, Canary Islands, France, Greece: latest travel advice


Tripp ‘Holiday 6’ Suitcase

Cheapest price: £59.50 (cabin), £69.50 (medium), £95 (large)

Available at: Tripp, also available at Amazon, Next

Dimensions: 55 x 40 x 20cm (cabin), 66 x 39 x 26cm (medium), 76 x 50 x 32cm (large)

Weight: 2.7kg (cabin), 3.2kg (medium), 3.9kg (large)

Colours available: Slate, black, ocean, citron, watermelon

Other key features: Four rubberised 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (two height settings), TSA Lock, five-year warranty, has one zip-up divider inside and a single set of straps for holding your belongings in place on one side of the suitcase.

Our verdict: Proof spending less doesn't mean a weaker suitcase.

The Tripp Holiday 6 proved tough in our tests overall and didn't suffer any major damage, but the scratches and stress marks didn't look too appealing.

Although it took a nasty dent in our drop tests, it wasn't a permanent one. The dent popped back into shape after a few minutes, leaving this case with some minor stress marks and a few scrapes and scuffs.

Tripp ‘Holiday 6' Suitcase - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

The case didn't seem to like being sat on, though, with extra stress marks appearing in the corners.

The trolley handle still worked fine after being put under some repeated strain, but it was slightly wobblier than before.

We had no problems with the zips despite some minor water ingress.


Do you still need to wear a mask on a plane?


it Luggage 8 Wheel Suitcase

Cheapest price: £80 (cabin), £90 (large)

Available at: Argos (cabin size not in stock)

Dimensions: 54.5 x 39.5 x 24cm (cabin), 74.5 x 51.5 x 31cm (large)

Weight: 2.71kg (cabin), 3.51kg (large)

Colours available: Blue, coral

Other key features: Eight rubberised 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (three height settings), expandable, 10-year warranty, interior has one zip-up divider with two medium-size pockets on it and one set of straps for holding your items in place on one side of the suitcase.

Our verdict: Decent

This expandable case didn't cope well with being sat on, and the wheels seem to be a vulnerable spot, but it handled our durability tests well overall.

Although it avoided any permanent dents, the case suffered stretch and strain marks from being sat on and on our cobbles walk the outer casing of one of the wheels snapped off. The wheel still worked fine - it just didn't look too appealing.

it Luggage 8 Wheel Suitcase - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

We had no problems with the zips, but this case did let a lot of water in in our water resistance tests.

The handles also seemed strong and durable, although the trolley handle rattled a little more afterwards.


The five best value Greek islands


Samsonite Magnum Eco Spinner

Cheapest price: £159 (cabin), £179 (medium), £195 (large)

Available at: Fenwick, John Lewis, Samsonite

Dimensions: 55 x 40 x 20cm (cabin), 69 x 48 x 30cm (medium), 75 x 51 x 32cm (large)

Weight: 2.74kg (cabin), 3.6kg (medium), 4kg (large)

Colours available: Forest green, graphite, midnight blue

Other key features: Eight rubberised 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (four height settings), TSA Lock, five-year warranty, two dividers, one for each side of the case. Each has three clip-in height settings to choose from so you can ensure your items are held firmly. One of the dividers has a large zip pocket on it, too.

Our verdict: Not bad

Samsonite's Magnum Eco Spinner does away with zips and instead uses large plastic clips to lock it shut, which could be handy for avoiding getting the suitcase caught on anything while it travels.

Unfortunately this case suffered a nasty dent in one of the corners during our drop tests. It also gave in rather easily to being sat on but it didn't appear to be damaged by it.

Samsonite Magnum Eco Spinner - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

Besides that, it only had some minor scratches. The handles held up well, too.

This was also one of the better suitcases for resisting water, possibly because of there being no fabric zip lining. It still let enough in that you'd have some soggy clothes, though.


What are the passport validity rules for travelling to Europe now?


Flight Knight Lightweight 4 Wheel ABS Hard Case

Cheapest price: £49.99 (cabin), £59.99 (medium), £74.99 (large)

Available at: Amazon, Flight Knight

Dimensions: 55 x 35 x 20cm (cabin), 70 x 52 x 27cm (medium), 80 x 59 x 32cm (large) (HxWxD)

Weight: 2.9kg (cabin), 4.2kg (medium), 5.5kg (large)

Colours available: Black, black gloss, charcoal, rose gold, silver, grey-black gloss, navy, burgundy, cream, rose gloss, white, champagne

Other key features: Four plastic 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle on top (three height settings), three-digit combination lock, five-year warranty, one zip-up divider with another large zip-up pocket on it on the inside, and there's one set of straps for holding belongings in situ.

Our verdict: Okay

Flight Knight's case took a nasty dent in our drop tests, but avoided other cosmetic damage to the body of the case. It didn't appear too scratched.

The wheels took some damage when we took this case for a walk in a cobbled street, though. They still worked afterwards, but they were more wobbly and looked badly scuffed.

Flight Knight Lightweight 4 Wheel ABS Hard Case - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

We were pleased with how the handles stood up to strain, but the zips got stuck rather easily when we tried to squeeze it shut.


Where's hot for a last-minute holiday in June?


Featherstone 4 Wheel Hard Suitcase

Cheapest price: £45 (cabin), £50 (medium), £55 (large)

Available at: Argos

Dimensions: 46.5 x 35 x 20cm (cabin), 57 x 43 x 25cm (medium), 67 x 49 x 28cm (large)

Weight: 2.6kg (cabin), 3.3kg (medium), 4kg (large)

Colours available: Black, red

Other key features: Four rubberised 360 swivel wheels, Two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (three height settings), five-year warranty, one zip-up divider, a large zip-up pocket and one set of straps for holding belongings inside.

Our verdict: A couple of weak spots

Argos own-brand Featherstone suitcase is one of the cheaper options we tested but still has the same basic interior as some more expensive suitcases. 

Our durability tests left this case with a nasty dent in one of the corners, and a much more wobbly trolley handle that didn't enjoy being put under strain.

Featherstone 4 Wheel Hard Suitcase - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

It held up surprisingly well to being sat on, though, and the wheels were barely damaged at all by being dragged around a cobbled street.

The zips got stuck easily when we overfilled this suitcase and tried to close it and we spotted some loose stitching on the zip lining.

This case also let in the most water of any of the hard shell suitcases we tested.


How to cut the cost of your summer holiday


Firetrap Hard Suitcase

Cheapest price: £30 (cabin), £38 (medium), £45 (large), £48 (extra large)

Available at: Sports Direct, also available at Firetrap

Dimensions: 50 x 34 x 20cm (cabin), 63 x 45 x 28cm (medium), 73 x 49 x 31cm (large), 83 x 53 x 33cm (extra large)

Weight: 2.2kg (cabin), 3.4kg (medium), 4.3kg (large), 4.9kg (extra large)

Colours available: Charcoal

Other key features: Eight plastic 360 swivel wheels, two carry handles and one adjustable trolley handle (three height settings), three-digit combination lock, three-year warranty,  one zip-up divider and one set of straps for holding your items in the suitcase, no interior or exterior pockets.

Our verdict: Left with unattractive stress damage

Although it avoided permanent dents in our tests, our drop tests did leave Firetrap Hard Duitcase with some unsightly white stress marks in the corners. These marks also appeared on the sides of the suitcase when we sat on it and the suitcase gave way to the weight of the researcher very easily.

The wheels took a few minor scuffs when walked across the cobbles, but still worked.

Firetrap Hard Suitcase - damage from durability testing

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/how-much-do-you-need-to-spend-to-get-a-suitcase-that-wont-break-anBEK6l7IeDI

The handles didn't mind being put under strain and were still perfectly functional after testing.

We found it difficult to close the zip of this case when it was overfilled, though. It kept getting stuck.


Compare our top rated travel insurance.