Style AdviceClothes guides – The complete guide to luggage

Luggage construction and materials

You want a lot of reinforcement in your luggage. Here are the key features to look for when selecting your luggage:

Most luggage pieces are made of nylon, polyester or leather. The luggage industry uses the word “denier” to describe luggage durability. Generally speaking, the higher denier the better. Durable nylon and polyester hold up well in the seams of your luggage. Nylon luggage should be a minimum of 400 denier, woven in a tight construction. Look for a ballistic weave that is more resistant to tearing.

Leather is also strong and durable and may give your luggage a distinctive look. If you are looking at a leather briefcase or bag, you want to make sure the leather is high-quality. Genuine (often called full-grain) leather is the strongest and best looking. It is durable and breathable, and it will age better than other lower-grade leathers. Top-grain leather has been stamped, sanded and painted. Suede and splits (the layers split off from under the top grain) are lower-quality leathers which are heavily treated to simulate full-grain leather.

Special features to look out for


  • Expansion

    Expandable cases feature an additional zipped section that can be opened to create more room in your case, normally around an extra 20%. Simply zip it back up when you do not need it. This feature is mostly available in soft side cases and is particularly useful to pack in any shopping done while you’re away.

  • Seams

    Get luggage with taped seams between the zipper and the bag for less fraying. Also, look out for seams that are individually lock stitched for greater durability.

  • Luggage frames

    Fiberglass inner luggage frames offer a lighter load as well as durability. Aluminium and durable plastic luggage frames also provide sturdiness and light weight.

  • Organisation

    External pockets can be handy for newspapers, magazines or travel documents – particularly when using a smaller cabin friendly case. Also look for internal zipped or gathered pockets, meshed pockets, dividers and laptop compartments. Premium options can feature shoe bags, laundry bags and wet pockets.

  • Pull handles

    Make sure the handles can be recessed so they are not exposed to damage.

  • Wheels

    Suitcases can have two or four wheels, but four wheel cases have the advantage of being easier to manoeuvre in any direction. Rather than pulling the case behind you, you can simply drive it alongside in front. Rubber wheels are ideal for a silent roll and also, check for wheels that have a wide track, have a bearing system, and are recessed into the actual frame of the bag.

  • Weight

    Large soft cases generally weigh 5kg or less, whilst large hard cases should weigh 6kg or less to be classed as lightweight. The smaller cases in each range naturally weigh less.

    Super-lightweight cases are 25% lighter than their lightweight equivalents. If you are looking for the lightest way to travel then also consider using large wheel duffel – these are often the lightest option due to their deconstructed design and will enable you to carry more belongings within the same airline weight allowance.

  • Zippers

    Larger zippers are easier to use and usually last longer than smaller zippers.

Must have luggage accessories

Get the right accessories to make carrying your luggage more functional.


  • Straps

    Luggage straps can get lost. Keep extra luggage straps around to make sure you can keep your bag closed.

  • Locks

    Make sure your valuables are safe with quality luggage locks. For security, look for kissing locks, generally secured by padlocks (key or combination) on the main compartment of soft cases. Hard cases either feature the same, or in-built combination locks.

  • Luggage tips

    Ensure your bag has an ID tag that is sewn on the reverse or separate luggage label holder, which contains your name, address, and phone number. Ideally keep an extra inside your suitcase in case it gets lost.

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