Packing & Organization

Packing sucks. The items here make it easier 👜😌.

8 categories, updated 13 days ago

Classic Luggage

Since its origins as the humble suitcase 120 years ago, luggage has evolved to continually better serve our travel needs. What hasn’t changed though is that they're abused more than Theon Greyjoy, especially when checked. That wear and tear makes a strong case (pun intended) for investing in better quality luggage that lasts longer and saves you from constant repairs or replacements.

The classic luggage collections here are from trusted brands with decades of experience you can feel confident in.

Unsure of weight or size requirements?

This site is handy for carry on sizes. For checked baggage, it ranges from 30kg (66lbs) for nicer airlines down to none for budget airlines where you pay by weight. The typical range is around 20kg (~44lbs).

What we look for
  • Quality materials and components to withstand abuse and so you enjoy using it more
  • Lightweight so your weight allowance goes towards what you’re actually packing
  • Organization features like compression and suiters to make packing easier
  • Spinner wheels for easy movement in all directions with minimal effort
  • Warranty and ease of repair to minimize out of pocket expenses
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Travelpro Crew 11

Best overall classic luggage collection

Airline crews across the world trust Travelpro for good reason: their luggage always hit a sweet spot between features, quality, and price. The Crew 11 collection continues that tradition. They're built with a sturdy ballistic nylon that's also lightweight and use self aligning wheels unique to Travelpro that make rolling easier. The 21" carry on even takes a cue from modern luggage and includes a power bank pocket for charging devices.

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • 21" carry on: 7.2 lbs, ~36L
  • 25" checked: 8.8 lbs, ~63L
  • 29" checked: 10.6 lbs, ~85L

Delsey Helium Aero

Great hardside value option

The Delsey Helium Aero collection is our favorite hardside luggage that's affordable yet still well made. The most important feature is its polycarbonate shell, which is the most durable yet lightweight material for hardside luggage. It comes with a TSA lock and looks pretty sleek for its price too.

  • 10 year limited warranty
  • 21" carry on: 8.4 lbs
  • 25" checked: 10.2 lbs
  • 29" checked: 12.5 lbs

Travelpro Maxlite 4

Great softside value option or if weight is important

Not only is the Maxlite 4 our favorite affordable softside luggage, it's also the lightest: 2 to 4 pounds lighter than competitors actually, which is a lot considering most luggage is around 8 to 11 pounds. It lacks fancy features like the self aligning wheels of its more expensive Crew 11 sibling, but it's ~1/2 the price and is still made with sturdy materials overall.

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • 21" carry on: 5.9lbs
  • 25" checked: 7.8 lbs
  • 29" checked: 8.6 lbs

Briggs & Riley Baseline

Quality and service worth the high price if you travel frequently

The Baseline collection from Briggs & Riley epitomizes "buy less, but better": high quality materials like a nylon/rubber/aluminum fabric, a patented compression system that's easier to use than others, a suiter, and other luxurious details. While not exactly trendy, its classic looks are perfect for business travelers. Finally, B&R are one of the few that offer a lifetime warranty that includes airline damage and are often recommended by luggage repair shops for being easier to fix, making it a truly good long term investment and a favorite of frequent travelers despite its price.

  • Lifetime warranty that includes airline damage, a rarity
  • 22" carry on: 9 lbs (video review)
  • 25" checked: 11 lbs
  • 28" checked: 11.9 lbs

Rimowa Salsa Deluxe

Heritage and style make this a high society favorite

Rimowa is an all time luggage great due to its German engineered quality and signature good looks, making it a cult favorite among discerning business travelers and celebrities alike. Although the aluminum Topas series made them famous, we recommend the polycarbonate Salsa Deluxe since it's lighter, more durable, and cheaper without sacrificing features like the external bag holder. We won't blame you for sticking with the Topas though, especially the lust worthy Stealth 😍.

  • 5 year limited warranty
  • 21" carry on: 8.2 lbs, 32L
  • 26" checked: 11.5 lbs, 63L
  • 29" checked: 11.9 lbs, 78L
Learn more

Modern Luggage

Anything you can do, we can do better. At least that's what a few modern luggage upstarts thought when they burst onto the scene a few years ago using the same disruptive crowdfunding and direct to consumer strategies popularized by brands like Casper and Warby Parker. This generally meant smart features like integrated batteries to charge devices, trendy designs, good quality, and more hip branding at a less marked up price.

It's not for everyone, in particular we think some of the smart features are more useful as separate products, but there's a definite appeal to younger travelers.

What we look for

Same as Classic Luggage but with additional scrutiny on smart features, design, and branding.

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Away

Quality and hip branding at a reasonable price

Away is the Warby Parker of luggage, not just because a founder worked there but because their direct to consumer model results in a thoughtful and quality product without the typical retail markup. They're all built with Makrolon polycarbonate (aka the best) and come with a TSA lock, compression system, and removable laundry bag. The carry on integrates a battery for charging any USB device and can nest within bigger Away luggage like Russian stacking dolls. Their beautiful Instagram account also does a great job selling the travel lifestyle.

  • 100 day trial with limited lifetime warranty
  • 21.7" carry on: 7 lbs, 38L (unboxing video)
  • 25" checked: 8.5 lbs, 62L
  • 28" checked: 9.9 lbs, 86L

Bluesmart One

The ultimate smart carry on for connected travelers

The Bluesmart One is luggage reimagined for today's connected age with smartphone enabled features like a worldwide location tracker, digital scale, digital TSA lock, integrated battery for charging, and easy access compartment for a laptop/tablet. Its hubless wheels are quieter than others while also adding to its slightly geeky looks. An interesting approach that'll appeal to many, but not all.

If you can wait, Bluesmart is launching their new Series 2 luggage series launching in December.

Raden

The Apple of luggage

Raden uses an Apple-esque approach to luggage that combines a sleek design with the latest technology and the best materials. It boasts similar smart features as the Bluesmart with a companion smartphone app, but from its minimalist and polished exterior you wouldn't think this luggage was so teched out. The polycarbonate hardshell comes in a beautiful array of colors, but we'd only recommend the lighter colors if you're proud of visible scuffs similar to how Rimowa owners love the stickered patina of the Topas.

Internally it is a bit sparse: few pockets and no compression but that isn't too hard to rectify with the right accessories.

Incase NoviConnected

Sleek smart luggage with USB-C charging

While technically not an upstart, Incase has always made high quality, tech focused bags and their take on smart luggage is definitely modern. The NoviConnected hits all the right notes: high quality materials like Makrolon polycarbonate, sleek looks with removable hubless wheels, and app connected battery that can charge USB-C devices. Most modern luggage can't charge USB-C yet.

If you want to add tracking, Incase does offer a separate smart luggage tracker.

  • Limited lifetime case warranty and 2 year battery warranty
  • 22", 41L

Travel Backpack

Normal everyday backpacks do an admirable job when traveling. If you travel often though, it’s worth considering a travel backpack which is meant to simplify life on the road by consolidating your carry on and backpack into a single 35L to 45L bag that still falls within an airline's carry on requirements. They also usually have features to make packing easier, like a clamshell style opening. It's a 🔥 category: there are a ton of great options today, with many released only within the past year or two.

What we look for
  • Quality materials and components to withstand abuse and so you enjoy using it more
  • Smart organization features so you can pack efficiently and quickly find items when on the go
  • Padded straps and vents so it's comfortable to wear for long periods
  • Some level of weatherproofing to make the bag more versatile
  • Good looks which is subjective but we err on the minimal side so it matches with more outfits and doesn’t scream tourist to minimize attention from thieves
  • A good warranty to protect your investment because sturdy backpacks aren't cheap
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Osprey Porter 46

Great overall bag: spacious, durable, light, and functional

You see this Osprey bag often all around the world and for good reason: it's a really good all around bag and not to mention Osprey's top notch reputation and customer service. It comes with a big panel loading main compartment with compression for easy packing and a lockable front panel with padded device compartments. The technical and outdoorsy look, however, isn't for everyone.

  • Conveniently attaches with certain Osprey daypacks, like the Daylite, for easier daily outings
  • If you want an even more seamless daypack combo and don't mind something bigger, see the Farpoint 55 with its made for zip off daypack
  • Lifetime Warranty ("All Mighty Guarantee")
  • 46L, 3.31 lbs
  • Video review

Minaal Carry-on 2.0

A sleek, minimalist bag made to the highest standards

Despite not knowing anything about making backpacks, two kiwis decided to scratch their own itch and create the Minaal Carry-on: one of the most well thought out travel backpacks ever. It's admittedly expensive but the quality and craftsmanship are absurdly good, like comfortable magnetic load bearing shoulder straps that are stowable for a minimalist briefcase look. Its sleek design works everywhere including the office and its clamshell design opens fully for easy packing. If you want the best travel backpack, this bag is definitely up there.

The North Face Surge

Great commuter backpack that also works for travel

This commuter backpack has long been popular among travelers and the "buy it for life" crowd due to North Face's consistent high quality materials and components. It has lots of dedicated, padded pockets for devices including a lie flat laptop compartment for easy airport travel and a comfortable FlexVent shoulder strap system. The only small downsides are a busy exterior (zipper pull and straps galore) and a top loading style main compartment which isn't as convenient for packing.

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 33L, 3.22 lbs
  • Need more space? Check out its bigger sibling: Router Transit (41L)

Tortuga Outbreaker

A high quality bag optimized for city travel

Tortuga is one of the best brands focused on city travel and their newest Outbreaker backpack continues that tradition with quality components across the board: YKK zippers, waterproof sailcloth, duraflex buckles, and more. It has a clamshell design for easy packing and a padded, lie flat laptop compartment. The rectangular design might not appeal to everyone, but the shape actually lets you pack the most while still falling within carry on requirements.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

Best security focused backpack

Paranoid or traveling to a sketchy region? Pacsafe is known for producing high quality, security focused travel products. The Venturesafe EXP45 epitomizes that anti-theft ethos in a sleek bag that doesn't compromise on space or features. You can secure all zippers into a single point, lock the bag to a fixture with an integrated cable, and know your bag is safe from slashing with its steel mesh embedded fabric. For easy packing it has a clamshell design compartment, dedicated device pockets, and stowable straps.

Daypack

Big 40L travel backpacks can get you to where you need to go, but they aren't fun to lug around day to day. Or maybe you pack mostly with luggage and don't need a big backpack. We recommend in these cases smaller 20L backpacks, perfect daily companions when on the go.

These bags will work for a day hike, but if you’re actually backpacking in the wilderness there are clearly better options since we focus on city travel and everyday use.

What we look for

Same as travel backpacks except in a smaller package and without packing focused features like a clamshell design.

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Aer Fit Pack 2

Sleek and superbly built bag for everyday essentials

Don't let the minimalist exterior fool you: Aer's Fit Pack 2 packs a lot of features in a fairly small package. Made originally to help people easily transition between the office and the gym, you'll find all sorts of ways to help you organize: a quick access pocket on top, a shoe compartment on the bottom, and an area for a 15" laptop along with all your cables and boondogles. These all easily make it a perfect option for traveling.

Osprey Daylite Plus

For outdoor versatility and combining with Osprey's larger bags

Osprey's Daylite Plus is a solid bag: good quality, enough pockets, and lightweight. What makes it extra handy though is it can combine with Osprey's bigger Porter series like the Porter 46 recommended above, giving you the flexibility of a bigger bag for transit and this daypack for day to day usage. Its outdoor style isn't as hip but that outdoor use case is also where this bag shines: when you don't need a full hiking backpack but want features like a hydration reservoir pocket or high visibility.

  • 20L, 1 lb
  • Lifetime warranty (Osprey's famed "All Mighty Guarantee")

Lo & Sons the Hanover

Minimal and eco-friendly with clever travel features

Lo & Sons took everything they learned building their popular overnight bags and put it into the Hanover, a lightweight and minimal backpack made from eco-friendly recycled plastic. The brand's travel focus didn't disappoint with nifty features like a removable padded insert for a 15" laptop and water bottle, secret side pockets, a back sleeve for sliding over luggage handles, and memory foam shoulder straps.

  • ~21L, 1.75 lbs
  • No set warranty, but told us they'll do right by the customer when contacted (and the positive chatter amongst social media for their brand seems to bear that out)

Minaal Daily Bag

If you're a serious traveler that wants the best

On the spectrum of a plastic grocery bag to a bag overflowing with features and quality, Minaal definitely skews to the latter. There's no question few backpacks can compete with them, which is why despite their high price tag they are loved by serious travelers. For their Daily bag, they took what worked so well for their bigger Carry On bag and shrank it. It's similarly lightweight, has a ton of pockets, lies flat, can stow its straps away to turn into a briefcase, and comes with a built in raincover.

  • 21L, 2.16 lbs

Filson Journeyman Backpack

Great heritage looks with Filson's signature rugged quality

In Filson's 100 year history of making rugged Americana style clothing and gear, their backpacks are a fairly recently addition. They don't disappoint: the quality of the oil finished tincloth, leather trim, and brass hardware are all a sight to be behold and use (with a commensurate price). While the Journeyman does have less inner pockets for organizing than today's nylon options, it has more than other workwear style bags so ultimately if you're going for that heritage look, we think this is the best option out there. Plus, Filson products come with a famed lifetime guarantee and will fix nearly any problem you encounter.

  • ~18L, 2.25 lbs
  • Lifetime guarantee

Weekender

Weekenders give literal meaning to "living for the weekend." They're essentially nicer duffel bags meant to hold enough clothing and personal items for a weekend trip. I'm sure weekdays will be requesting their own type of bag any day now, as long as it's not on the weekend.

What we look for

Quality materials and components, at least a few internal pockets, and good looks.

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Everlane Twill Weekender

Well crafted with elegant looks

Everlane's Twill Weekender is as classic as it comes for weekenders. The twill fabric makes it durable and its classic colors turn anyone into a stylish traveler. It lacks a longer shoulder strap, but for most people the two handles should be enough. You've also got to love Everlane's transparency into their manufacturing process and costs.

  • The same design is meant for both women and men, although the men's has a few more colors
  • For a bit more durability, see the $115 dipped version
  • Prefer something more affordable or with a shoulder strap? See their $78 Nylon Weekender (note: nylon is a less luxurious fabric, hence the lower price)
  • For a more luxe version with a similar look, an added shoulder strap, and similar transparency into their factories and costs, check out the Oliver Cabbell Kennedy Weekender

Lo & Sons Weekenders

If you want more organization features

Lo & Sons offers a few different weekenders that all share two signature features to make traveling a breeze: a bottom zipper pocket to separate shoes/clothes and a back sleeve that slides over luggage handles for easier transportation. There's three sizes for women and one for men. They're all made from high quality materials, although the men's uses sturdier fabric hence the higher price.

J.Crew Abingdon Weekender

If you prefer a vintage heritage look

J.Crew's Abington was an instant hit among the vintage Americana loving crowd when it came out a few years ago and understandably so: it's handsome, well made, and reasonably priced considering its quality compared to competitors. Made of a tough waxed canvas and a bit bigger than most weekenders, it'll be a sturdy trip companion for years.

Tip: J.Crew often has sales, so if you're patient you can easily get this bag for < $200.

Want even higher quality from a true heritage brand? See Filson's medium duffel.

Troubadour Goods Weekender

For a truly luxe leather weekender

Troubadour is an artisan direct-to-consumer leather goods company, and boy are their products awe inspiring. They combine the highest quality materials like vegetable-tanned Italian leather that'll patina beautifully over time with craftsmanship going back multiple generations in a modern, architect driven look. It's a wonderful marriage of old and new that's admittedly expensive but comes with quality of this caliber.

Like the look but want something more affordable? Troubadour offers a $999 Fabric + Leather Weekender that combines leather with other fabrics in the same style. If you prefer all leather, check out Frank & Oak's more classically styled $425 leather weekender.

Packing Accessories

Would you use a closet with no shelves? A dresser with no cabinets? Without packing cubes and other similar accessories, that's basically what you're doing. It kind of works... but it's not very efficient 🤷‍♀️. After using these, it's not uncommon to meet travelers who become almost religious in their praise, especially packing cubes. You've been warned.

What we look for

High quality fabric combined with sturdy components like zippers so you can really pack in items without worrying about breakage.

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eBags Packing Cubes

Best general packing cubes

You can't go wrong with these packing cubes from eBags: they're made with a super durable nylon and premium YKK zippers, have reinforced seams, and come with a lifetime warranty. Admittedly there isn't a ton of variance among higher quality packing cubes, but these are just slightly better.

If shaving off any weight is important, eBags offers an Ultralight version. You'll save a few ounces per cube, but note the sizes they come in are different from typical cubes. They're meant to combine like legos with each size being half of the bigger size, which might be more appealing to some.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes

Best compression packing cubes

Have you experienced packing cube nirvana and still wondered if there could be more? Enter compression packing cubes, you green grass seeking heathen. These packing cubes keep your clothes compressed using a dual zipper system, helping you fit a lot more into a small space. In exchange for the extra compression, you do lose some accessibility: there's only a zipper only on one side and the fabric isn't transparent like the typical cube mesh.

If you have super bulky items like thick sweaters, consider Eagle Creek's Compression Sacs. The shape isn't as packing friendly as cubes, but they're better at reducing bulk.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Shoe Sac

Best shoe bag for separating dirty shoes

Keep dirty shoes from contaminating your clean clothes with this Eagle Creek shoe bag. It's made of a durable, leak proof mesh that's easy to see through and comes with a handle for hanging or attaching to others bags using a carabiner. It's certainly an upgrade from using grocery store plastic bags (which we've all done at some point).

Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Garment Folder

Best garment folder to keep away wrinkles

If you have shirts and pants you'd prefer to keep wrinkle free (like for business travel), a garment folder is a must. These from Eagle Creek are lightweight, durable, and come with a folding board to ensure clothes are folded to fit perfectly inside. They technically don't compress but people often find they can pack more by virtue of these helping stack clothes more efficiently and why many love them not just for the wrinkle free benefits.

Grid-It Organizer

Best organizer for gadgets and small extras

If you have a lot of gadgets, cables, and other little extras then the Grid-It system will make your life much easier. Instead of having to dig through an unorganized jumble in your bag you just pull out the Grid-It and go. It's better than other device organizers because it provides endless ways to organize according to your exact combo of items vs. others often have arbitrary pockets that might not fit what you're packing. Furthermore, they use a durable rubberized fabric to ensure your things stay in place.

They come in a bunch of sizes, like this slightly smaller version.

Luggage Accessories

Once you're packed, your entire life for the next few days/weeks is contained within your luggage. Your. Entire. Life. It'd be unfortunate for anything to... happen to it... wouldn't it? 🤔

Yeah, no shit. Here are key accessories to help keep your luggage incident free and your peace of mind intact.

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Tarriss TSA Lock

For securing your luggage

TSA locks can't prevent a thief from entering your luggage if they're motivated, but it'll slow them down or deter typical thieves who prefer easier targets (which applies to any lock, including your front door). We recommend this Tarriss lock mainly because we know they work as they should, cables are a bit more versatile than bars, its search indicator changes colors which is easier to notice than others, and it has a lifetime warranty.

Zip ties are also a simple alternative if you don't want a lock.

Swisste Luggage Scale w/ Tape Measure

To avoid overweight baggage fees

To lure more customers with lower base prices, more and more airlines are charging for checked bags and becoming strict on any weight/size overages including for carry ons. Invest in a luggage scale to avoid any hefty fee nightmares, since you can't know you're over the weight limit if you don't measure it.

This one from Swisste is our favorite: it's well made with helpful features like a backlight and a tape measure to ensure your luggage fits within their size requirements. It's also one of the few in this category with a lifetime warranty, always a plus.

Tile Mate

Make sure you don't lose your luggage

With this tiny Bluetooth tracker, you can know where your luggage is at all times through your smartphone. It's technically better for your carry on vs. your checked luggage since the tracker needs to be within a certain range of your smartphone. However, it still helps because if you mark your checked luggage as lost the entire Tile community will automatically look for your luggage like a global lost and found. Also, once it's within Bluetooth range your phone will show it so you can at least know it arrived. Finally, the Tile can play a ringing sound if you know it's nearby but can't find it.

Note: We link to the 4 pack because at $70 for 4, it's a much better deal than $25 for 1 and you can then attach it to your keys and other bags.

Shacke Luggage Tags

For providing critical info and helping identify luggage

Luggage tags help you spot your luggage more easily and provide critical identifying information to airlines in case you, gasp, lose your luggage. We recommend this one by Shacke: the rubber material holds up better than metal and leather, it has a flap for more privacy, and its stainless steel loop is secure as it gets.

For a sturdy leather option, we like these from British Belt Company.

BlueCosto Luggage Straps

For securing and helping identify your luggage

Luggage straps keep your luggage closed and secure while in transit especially as your luggage gets older and zippers start to break down. They also act as an additional identifier when your luggage is a plain black or gray. Some say it provides an additional strap for baggage handlers to hold onto too, which may lower the chances of them throwing your luggage carelessly.

We recommend this sturdy and well reviewed one by BlueCost, although you'd honestly be okay with almost any you find as it's a straighforward product. For a bit more security, they offer a lock version.

Protect Your Bag

Schlepping around a backpack or handbag with your valuables around the world will eventually lead to inconvenient situations: caught in a storm, in a dirty or dusty place, or just at a crowded restaurant with nowhere to place your bag. Keep your peace of mind with these accessories.

Other Tips
  • Before hanging your bag off anything high, test it out first to ensure it's stable (our dented laptop is the reason we list this 😩)
  • Wear your backpack in the front if you're in an area known for pickpockets
  • Watch our for thieves slashing the bottom of a bag so all your valuables fall out
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Lulabop Heroclip

May your bag never touch the ground again

Don't mistake this for any ol' carabiner: the Heroclip is a carabiner on steroids. The attached 360 swivel on top means you can basically hang a bag off anything, like attaching a backpack to your luggage so you're not stressing out your back. Or maybe a bathroom door when you gotta go but there's no hook to put your bag leaving only the germ filled floor. Yes, we've used it many times for that actually.

It can also easily hang other objects like wireless speakers and lanterns. Made out of solid aluminum, you can tell when handling it that it'll last a long, long time.

  • 50 lb weight limit (so please don't use this like a real climbing carabiner)
  • 1 year warranty

Mountainsmith Backpack Cover

Shield your bag from the elements

Although this packable backpack cover is mainly meant for rain, it can be used in a lot of other places: preventing pocket access in crowded areas with pickpockets, on boats, or in dusty areas.

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