What’s Hot in Luggage? Six Top Trends

If you’ve taken a trip in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that luggage is transforming in every way, from looks to features. Here’s an overview of the hottest trends we’re seeing and how they could impact you.

1. New Players Are Emerging

It’s an exciting time in the industry, with new companies and new products constantly popping up. Established companies including TUMI and Samsonite have introduced several hard-sided luggage offerings, while emerging brands including Away and July have helped reinvigorate the industry.

At the same time, many manufacturers of cheaply produced luggage have introduced a flood of look-alike but poorly constructed products. We’ve put several to the test and have been disappointed by their cheap plastics or metals that scratch easily, fall apart, and wheels that often feel like you’re pushing a shopping cart.

What it means to you

Do your research. While you can find great luggage at appealing prices, it’s easy to spend less and end up with a disposable-feeling suitcase that doesn’t survive more than a few trips.

2. The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC)

Back in the 90s, companies like Dell Computer proved the value of selling direct to consumers, showing that by “eliminating the middleman,” the company could sell high-quality products at a significantly lower price. In the past 10-15 years, the DTC model has taken over multiple industries, for example, Warby Parker in glasses, Casper in mattresses, and Allbirds in shoes.

More recently, Away luggage and others have shown that DTC works for luggage, too.

What it means to you

You might be paying too much. Consider this: Beyond its high quality, there’s a reason TUMI luggage is typically in the $1,000-plus range–they have to pay a middleman. With as much as 50 percent or more of its revenues going to retailers, TUMI needs to price its luggage high to make a profit. Start your next search for luggage with a direct seller, including Away, Roam Luggage, or Duravo, and get a quality product at a fraction of the price.

3. New Materials, New Looks

Hard-sided luggage used to be heavy and bulky, often weighing as much as its contents. Fortunately, new options are available. For example, polycarbonate, a plastic used by several manufacturers, is strong and light, and can be molded into a variety of shapes in a vast array of colors.

Recently, high-tech new materials such as Duravo’s Flexshell have come along, offering a never-before combination of strength and light weight. Duravo’s Expandable International Carry-On, made from a woven fabric resembling carbon fiber but more flexible, weighs a tick over five pounds–two-to-three pounds less than polycarbonate cases. It’s highly moldable, leading to stunning, elegant looks in an ultra-strong exterior.

What it means to you

You have compelling new options. If you’re a light traveler and want to spend less, consider a polycarbonate shell. If you take travel seriously, Flexshell or TUMI’s Tegra-Lite are well worth a look.

4. Consumers Are Shifting to Hard-Sided Luggage

For years, most luggage was constructed from nylon fabrics, typically in black to avoid showing dirt and wear. Soft luggage has been popular for its relatively low cost, resistance to cracking, and its flexibility in packing and stuffing into small spaces. The cons? It doesn’t protect as well as hard shells, often isn’t waterproof, can be hard to clean, and generally is a bit challenging to maneuver due to having two versus four wheels.

Hard-sided luggage, thanks to the above-mentioned innovations, is now a compelling choice thanks to its durability, strength, protection, and, yes, style. With its fixed shape, it also easily supports four wheels, helping it easily move in any direction, including down narrow airline isles. Several, including Duravo, are expandable to accommodate even more items when needed.

What it means to you

You can stand apart from the crowd while protecting your belongings. Choose the color and pattern that calls to you, then look for ball-bearing wheels to help you silently glide along.

5. Storage Abounds

Soft luggage, due to its lack of a rigid shape, generally doesn’t offer straps and compartments; instead, its large open space is best used with packing cubes (or free-form piles). Hard-sided luggage, on the other hand, supports compression straps, compartments, and clever storage pockets for smaller items.

What it means to you

To organize and protect your items, and for better maneuverability, go hard-case.

6. Track Your Luggage

Those awesome little AirTag and Tile devices do an incredible job letting you know where your luggage is–and isn’t. We recently took a trip where our spouse was able to tell us her luggage arrived at her planned destination–after she’d been re-routed to another airport. She was delighted when we picked her up, luggage in hand, at a different location.

A challenge with these devices is that they can easily fall out, and we’ve lost two this year alone. Fortunately, companies like Duravo thoughtfully offer a hidden sleeve inside an interior pocket that neatly and discreetly houses a tracking device. Problem solved!

What it means to you

Use an AirTag or Tile! In case you’re wondering, these devices are TSA compliant, and they’re inexpensive–especially when compared to the loss of your luggage.

Stay tuned for more developments and insights into the booming, exciting luggage industry!


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