The GolfHr Textiles Lab has seen impressive luggage upgrades over the years, from 360° spinning wheels to lightweight durable shells made of polycarbonate. Now brands have taken convenience to a whole new level with features like built-in chargers, easy-to-maneuver designs and collapsing elements that offer space-saving storage.
For the forgetful travelers, this case's clever interior has a built-in packing checklist. The compartments also include labels (like "socks" and "chargers") to help you stay organized and a separate compartment for dirty laundry (handy!). Though it's not made of polycarbonate (your best bet for hardside luggage), it does have a polycarbonate shell to protect against scratches and scuffs.
Starting at $450
Say goodbye to lost luggage. This bag not only has a built-in charger and an app that weighs your load, but unlike other connected bags, there's a SIM card with GPS that lets you track your luggage from anywhere in the world. Just make sure to check your airline's policy about checking luggage with batteries; if you need to remove it, you won't be able to track the location.
Starting at $225
Outlets can be tricky to find when traveling, but Away's built-in battery lets you charge your phone, tablet and other devices on the go. And if you need to check the bag, the battery can be easily removed (certain airline policies will require it). The company's return policy can't be beat: If you don't love it after you use it, you have 100 days to return for any reason. We were surprised by how lightweight this polycarbonate case is. At just seven pounds for a carry-on, it's even lighter than some soft-side luggage.
A must-have for long flights with young kids, the BedBox suitcase converts into a bed on the plane. You simply flip the top, attach the padding, and your toddler has a comfy leg rest. We wish they made these for adults! The bag fits easily under the airplane seat (so you don't have to store it in the overhead bin), and though the padding doesn't always stay in place on the chair, it creates a cozy napping spot. Keep in mind that flight attendants may not be familiar with it, and there's a chance they may ask you to stow it back under the seat during flight. (This happened on one of the four flights we tested it on).
Starting at $139
The perfect suitcase for the super-organized, this pack has built-in shelves that you can hook in the closet upon arriving at your destination. No need to ruffle through a messy suitcase or unpack everything into drawers. It's easy to pack the shelves while its hanging, just make sure you don't overstuff them before attempting to collapse into the case.
Starting at $230
The best part of this suitcase: It's powered by two AAA batteries. Seriously! Most connected luggage options need a lithium-ion battery, which has been linked to fires in other products like cell phones and hoverboards. The downside is you won't be able to charge your devices on the go, but you can still weigh the bag and lock it via an app. Plus, its sensors let you know where your luggage is — so you don't have to worry about leaving it behind when you're juggling a whole bunch of pieces and little kids.
Starting at $295
Proof that luggage has gotten much smarter and cuter. Available in a rainbow of colors from pastels to metallics, this polycarbonate case has a handle that weighs your load via an app. Sensors let you know when your suitcase is nearby (perfect for baggage claim) and a built-in (yet easily removeable) battery lets you charge your devices on the move. We love the water-resistant cover over the exterior zipper, and the fact that it has zippered compartments on both interior sides of the case (though the battery does take up some packing space).
Starting at $260
Samsonite is turning the luggage industry on its side (literally!). Unlike most suitcases, this polycarbonate one is wide, not tall. Its low center of gravity is stable and won't easily tip over if you stack another bag on top. We were impressed by this case's roomy interior, ultra-wide handle and easy maneuvering (especially around turns).
Starting at $70
This bag folds down to the size of a briefcase to discretely store your luggage when it's not in use. The fact that it's under $100 doesn't hurt either. We found it easy to transition from the collapsed to upright position. The Biaggi ZipSak has easy access for packing, too: You can open the center (like a suitcase) or top (like a backpack).
Starting at $1030
Bugaboo used the same technology in its well-known strollers to create a suitcase you can push (not drag) with minimal effort. The different-sized cases also attach to the wheeled chassis, or you can stack the two for use at the same time. This model is very pricey – but there's nothing out there like it. Once you get familiar with setting up the wheeled chassis, it's smooth sailing. It was easy to stack the cases on and off the system.
Starting at $99
This duffel bag designed for adventure travel, but its functionality makes it a desirable pick for regular use, too. Padded straps mean you can carry it hands-free as a backpack, and grip handles are there for easy loading. You can even stuff it into a small pack for minimal storage space. We found this piece lightweight, durable, water-repellent and spacious for packing.