Suitcases come in all shapes and sized, and while some may be better than others, just remember that it should suit you, your style and your personally. If you like the pliability of a duffel bag and don’t mind slinging it over your shoulder then go with that. Prefer four wheels and an upright easy push? Then go with that. Don’t worry about what works for others, do what works for you, cause that’s how to choose a suitcase.
In saying that, I’ll now talk about what works for me and why… and yes, I get the irony here…
I tend to go with a 20″ soft-case carry on. I’ve got a larger 24″ bag too but after a few tours with just a carry-on I find that a larger bag is excessive now. Even on a 4-6 week tour I find that I’ve got enough room in my carry on for all my needs… minus perhaps a warm coat if entering a colder country (but I’d wear it on travel days so no need to pack it)… and granted I am a guy and it’s easier for us; a few jeans, a few shirts and we’re good to go!
I’ve tried various brands, shapes and sizes and there are great features and pros to each but to me, portability is the key! I try to keep the size and weight down, keeping my ability to toss my bag from here to there while maintaining it’s shape and keeping my clothes in order is a plus.
Duffel bags are excellent for this, extremely light and super pliable, jam it into any ‘ol space, but it’s harder to keep it’s insides looking neat, therefore I don’t get the joy of opening my bag and looking at a solved game of tetris. A 4-wheeled easy-push is nice for smooth surface pushing, like in an airport, but outside even a rough sidewalk can cause these small shopping cart like wheels to tremor. They open nicely and keep your clothes protected with a nice rigid case, but struggles with it’s weight and pliability. Sounds like I’m talking about a body builder from muscle beach… weighs a lot, not too flexible and has trouble keeping their balance (shaped like a triangle, tiny legs, add other jokes here)…
Ok before I get off topic, let me repeat my entire point here… in order to find the best suitcase for you, try borrowing a few suitcases from friends and test out a few different styles. And whatever you do, find out what works best for you!
on a side note, this Fall I will be testing out a couple of bags from Arc’teryx, ones with no wheels and kind of a duffel bag slash soft case hybrid… anyway, more about that in an upcoming post!