Most bags, from backpacks to larger luggage pieces, can be purchased with wheels, back straps and/or retractable handles. While handles and back straps are consistently useful features, some travelers get frustrated by stiff luggage wheels, which can inadvertently lead a heavy bag across the foot of an innocent bystander. If this sounds like you, look for spinner luggage with wheels that can twist 360 degrees, allowing for greater control and ease of movement.
Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, both with and without frames. They are a good option for anyone planning to camp, hike or do other outdoor activities. Even large luggage pieces can become backpacks when they have padded back straps. We love these bags — but make sure to tape down any wayward straps if you check your backpack to keep them from getting entangled in the baggage carousel.
Duffel bags are no longer just a device to cart your sweats to and from the gym. Many modern duffels have accessories like wheels or a retractable handle; these bags are often sold as “travel duffels.” While a traditional small or medium duffel bag will fit nicely in the overhead compartment, it may strain your arm or shoulder if you have to carry it for long distances. For extensive travel, always go for a piece that has wheels or back straps.
Traditional luggage comes in two models: hard-side and soft. Hard-sided bags are molded from difficult-to-pronounce materials like polypropylene and polycarbonate. Soft bags can be made out of fabrics such as microfiber, leather, nylon, PVC or polyester. Some soft bags are expandable and can accommodate up to 25 percent more if you need the space.