Many people underestimate the importance of durability when it comes to their luggage, but it is the most important determinant of not only the value of your luggage, the longevity as well. In my formative years, instead of going for something that would last, I would buy cheaper, low quality luggage and then watch critical components unravel slowly. I learned quickly that the adage “you get what you pay for” was definitely true, and after 3 disasters (luggage that was destroyed after a few international trips), I decided to change my ways.
Three years ago, I purchased high quality luggage with a strong warranty, and not only is the entire luggage set still in great condition; I’ve yet to take advantage of the incredible warranty that comes with the bag. Because of my experiences, I’ve become motivated to write about luggage so that no one else has to go through the problems that I did. There are many things to consider when choosing new luggage, but most importantly, as you finalize which piece(s) of luggage are best for you, make sure your decision takes durability into consideration. Well, unless you enjoy purchasing luggage over and over again. With that in mind, here are the critical components we should check for durability; overall construction, outside material, handles and wheels.
The overall construction is very important when it comes to the durability of luggage. Overall construction is all about the “first impression” of the luggage; how does it look and feel to you. When I search for a new piece of luggage, I just play with it a little; pick it up, move it around, roll it this way and that, and I walk away from the “test drive” with a decent first impression. In my experience, a first impression is usually an accurate reflection of its durability.
Next, you check out the outside material and what it’s made of. Is the luggage fabric, soft shell or hard shell? If it’s fabric, what is the fabric like; cotton or quilted? Keep in mind that luggage made out of fabric is susceptible to tears or ripping, and an early indicator for tearing is pulls throughout the fabric. Not only that, but fabric can stain easily as well. In order to prevent this, find fabric luggage that minimizes these durability issues; they are composed of coated canvas or polyester-blended nylon.
If you’ve decided to go with soft shell luggage, there are other things besides the fabric to consider. You should also remember that soft shell luggage may dent easily due to the lack of structural reinforcement, but soft shell luggage with reinforced corners is better equipped to prevent dents. Soft shell luggage that minimize these durability issues are composed of ballistic nylon or polyester-blended nylon, but both ballistic nylon and polyester-blended nylon are incredibly flexible and are equipped to handle everyday travel . Ballistic nylon is the material deployed for most high-end luggage.
If, instead, you’d rather use hard shell luggage, you should know that hard shell luggage can give off the illusion of increased durability, but they’re also more susceptible to cracks because they are less flexible than fabric and soft shell luggage. Hard shell luggage also scratches more easily it doesn’t give when it comes into contact with other surfaces and substances. Hard shell luggage that minimize these durability issues are composed of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is lightweight, durable and rarely scratches. Also, the surface does not chip because there’s not a player of paint over the plastic.
The next part of the luggage to check for its durability is the handles. In the past, before I started buying higher quality luggage, I had the most durability issues with my luggage handles. I take care of my luggage; pay special attention to it when I carry it on, and always secure a “fragile” tag when I check bags, but I would inevitability mess up the handles. Either I packed too much in the bag, carried my luggage by the handle in a suboptimal way, and then the handles would stop raising or lowering. Then, even if they did, they would remain stuck in one of a couple different positions. A durable handle withstands the tugging and pulling force it is subject to on each and every trip.
The final thing to consider when checking for durability of luggage is the wheels. Luggage presents a double-edged sword to luggage consumers; on one hand, they can significantly improve the durability your luggage by decreasing the stress on handles that result from carrying your luggage. On the other hand, wheels themselves can also break and or malfunction in use; and the only thing worse than carrying around heavy luggage with no wheels is carrying around luggage with wheels because the wheels are broken. The real problem is, plastic wheels are not durable and crack easily under pressure. Wheels made of a polyurethane composite plastic are much more durable. Also, believe it or not, the orientation of luggage wheels also contributes to durability. The wheels should be housed within the body / frame of the luggage to prevent unnecessary exposure, and, additionally, they should be placed farther apart to increase stability and maximize weight/force distribution, but there needs to be adequate distance between the wheels and luggage corners.
If you travel frequently, or even if you only travel once a year, your luggage will be a much better investment, and last much longer, if you just take the time to test out the durability of it. The overall construction, outside material, handles and wheels are the most important considerations when checking luggage for durability, and if you check these things thoroughly, you should have luggage that lasts you many years. You truly do “get what you pay for”.