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Before modern suitcases were invented, travel trunks (also called steamer trunks) were the luggage of choice for long-haul trips. Their sturdy construction and excellent storage capacity made them the go-to for transporting clothing, footwear, and even household items. These features have kept them relevant today, except that brands have added plenty of upgrades like lightweight construction, spinner wheels, multiple handles, and built-in organization. Travelers now also have many more options when it comes to the design and size of these pieces.
When we carefully tested more than 215 carry-on and checked bags for over six months, including trunk-style luggage, we made sure these final picks were truly the best in style, comfort, value, design, and functionality. We assessed every trunk on our list to ensure it could hold up to the fast-paced environment of modern-day travel, and our top pick stood out for its high-quality construction, excellent maneuverability, and expectation-exceeding storage capacity. Whether you’re headed for a quick weekend getaway or a bucket-list trip of a lifetime, these travel trunks are best in class.
Delsey Paris Cruise 3.0 26 Inch Trunk
Delsey’s Cruise 3.0 trunk truly stood out as one of the best checked trunk options on the market. It passed our durability tests with flying colors, with the polycarbonate shell and spinner wheels not showing any signs of wear and tear, which is exactly what you’d want from your checked suitcase (after all, airport handlers are not exactly known for their gentle handling of luggage). We were also impressed with how easy it was to maneuver it — even when fully packed — along various surfaces and quickly change directions with no drag so, whether you’re heading to the airport or rolling it along a historic street in Europe, this is a solid choice.
Speaking of its capacity, this Delsey trunk should definitely be at the top of your list for winter or cold-weather trips. We packed a long list of items, plus a very bulky puffer jacket with the help of its compression straps, and had no issues closing it. And, while it has a rather simple internal organization, you can invest in a good set of packing cubes if you’d like to have more control over how your belongings are organized.
Another feature that we found extremely helpful is the built-in weight indicator, which turns red as soon as the trunk becomes too heavy — goodbye, overweight luggage fees. Naturally, as expected from this reliable, stylish brand, you can also expect beautiful design and sturdy construction that will last for years to come.
Price at time of publish: $240
The Details: 9.5 pounds | 29.5 x 16.5 x 14 inches | 90 liters | 4 spinner wheels
Bric’s Bellagio V2.0 Carry-On Spinner Trunk
Beautiful design, quality materials, and lightweight construction, what else could you want from the perfect carry-on? And this Bric’s spinner trunk checks all the boxes. We found it exceptionally easy to push and pull, with the spinner wheels turning smoothly. While this carry-on trunk doesn’t have a side handle, our testers found it easy to lift and place in the overhead compartment.
It also scored a perfect rating in the design category for its innovative internal organization that features two main compartments, both of which have zippered pockets that will come in handy for storing laundry or shoes. The only thing we couldn’t fit was our toiletries after packing for a four-day trip, but you can easily place those in your second carry-on bag (or personal item). Finally, yes, we know this suitcase is an investment, but our tests showed that it is worth its price tag.
Price at time of publish: $665
The Details: 7 pounds | 21.7 x 15 x 7.9 inches | 40 liters | 4 spinner wheels
Delsey Paris Chatelet Air 2.0 26 Inch Trunk
One of the reasons why we’d check in a suitcase is if we are carrying bulky or oddly shaped items. And this is exactly why we love this Delsey trunk. It is designed with one side much deeper than the other, making it perfect for transporting ski equipment (like ski boots or a helmet, for example). Additionally, we packed a long list of items and still had plenty of room left over. We also appreciated the zippered pockets on the two divider flaps that could be used for smaller items. This is a very packing-cube-friendly trunk as you could easily stack them on top of each other in the deeper compartment.
Once you check it in at the airport, you can rest assured that your items will arrive at your destination safe and sound, thanks to the durable and tough polycarbonate construction that, together with the four double spinner wheels, held up remarkably well after several hits and drops, even in the creamy color.
Price at time of publish: $390
The Details: 10.87 pounds | 28.75 x 16.5 x 14 inches | 91 liters | 4 spinner wheels
Steamline Luggage The Sweetheart Carry-on
If you’re looking for a suitcase that will garner attention no matter where you are, this posh, vintage-inspired suitcase tops our list. Gold-hued latches open up to reveal a silky, watercolor floral lining and the exterior features gorgeous leather accents. Don’t waste your time — and this bag’s Instagram potential — by checking it in; style it as part of your travel outfit, especially since the light-colored exterior may not stay pristine on the tarmac.
While this carry-on only has two wheels, we found it easy to maneuver; it does stand upright thanks to the two small legs opposite the wheels but it needs to be pulled behind you as you go. Another thing to keep in mind is that, while it measures 20 inches, it is pretty small on the inside, so you might find it hard to pack more than a few days’ worth of clothing. However, the classic rectangular trunk shape means you can maximize the internal storage space (as opposed to carry-ons with rounded corners).
Price at time of publish: $850
The Details: 8.8 pounds | 20 x 14.5 x 6.5 inches | 2 wheels
Peugeot Voyages 26-inch Large Trunk
French automobile maker Peugeot helped Delsey create this sleek travel trunk, and you could definitely tell it was designed with the security of its contents in mind as we’d even go so far as to call this bag a tank. Each of its two main compartments has compression straps and is deep enough so you can stack packing cubes or transport bulkier gear. The mesh flaps on top also have zippered pockets, so we gave this bag a perfect score for capacity.
The four wheels are extremely well-made and the bag is easy to turn and maneuver. However, because of the sheer weight of the trunk, travelers might find it heavy to lift when fully packed (as it’s almost 12 pounds when empty, due to its aluminum frame). Another factor to consider is that you’ll hit an airline’s weight limit quicker if you are not careful with how much you pack inside.
Price at time of publish: $495
The Details: 11.7 pounds | 28 x 16 x 14 inches | 89 liters | 4 spinner wheels
Our Testing Process
Our team has tested more than 215 suitcases, assessing and gathering insights on a wide range of products. We first verify all bags’ dimensions and weight and then proceed with rigorous tests to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each option, including maneuverability over a wide range of terrain like carpet and gravel. We also carefully inspect all exterior and interior elements, such as wheels, pockets, handles, and zippers, and simulate real-life situations like drops and whacks.
We verify the storage capacity of each trunk by packing with a set list of clothing, shoes, and toiletries; carry-on bags were assessed for a four-day trip while larger trunks were packed for journeys of a week (or more). In order to make our list, their features must work properly, including zippers that run without snags and telescopic handles that extend and retract smoothly, and they must not have received permanent damage after our durability checks. Finally, we evaluate their overall design and functionality and, only after coming to a conclusion about the strengths and weaknesses, do we consider the price and value.
Tips for Buying a Travel Trunk
Choose the size and features that fit your needs
Gone are the days when trunks were a fairly standard, rectangular box. Travelers have plenty of choices nowadays in terms of size, design, and shape. Both carry-on and checked options have features that render them functional for many occasions. The 70/30 design (where one side is larger than the other) is perfect for transporting large, oddly shaped items. Clamshell trunks have a zipper down the middle, while some have classic latches for extra security. You can also opt for a trunk with a flap top to stack and secure your packing cubes inside.
We love the style of vintage-inspired travel trunks, but before purchasing one, make sure they feature modern additions such as wheels, and telescopic and carrying handles for easy transportation.
Look for lightweight construction
While most domestic airlines don’t have a weight limit on carry-on luggage, you must be mindful of the trunk’s weight if you are traveling in Europe. For example, low-cost carriers such as RyanAir or WizzAir will allow for a 10-kilogram or 22-pound bag (versus a more standard 12-kilogram or 26-pound allowance). For checked bags, almost all airlines impose a 50-pound limit for travelers in economy class (business and first-class passengers are often allowed a greater weight allowance on checked bags).
Other than airline weight restrictions, the other reason to choose a lightweight piece is that you will have to haul it around and lift it, whether that’s into an overhead compartment or an Uber trunk. Heavier trunks are also much more difficult to wheel, especially on unpaved terrain.
Frequently Asked Questions
How big can my travel trunk be?
Travel trunks come in carry-on and checked sizes, so you should pick one based on your needs and preferences. Carry-on trunks often come in 20- and 21-inch lengths (that includes the shell and the wheels), which fully adheres to most airlines’ requirements. They typically range in weight from about seven to nine pounds.
Larger trunks vary in dimensions, but the most common is 26 inches long. However, before you purchase a trunk to check in, consider its weight. Travel trunks tend to be heavier than regular suitcases because of their design and construction, so there’s a higher risk of being charged an overweight fee.
Why should I pick a travel trunk over a checked suitcase?
Travel trunks have been popular throughout history because of their design — one side is usually deeper than the other, making them ideal for transporting bulky or oddly shaped items.
Trunks are often sturdier and more durable than regular checked luggage, which is also good news for those traveling with fragile and delicate items (like pottery, artwork, and camera or sports equipment).
How do I clean a travel trunk?
Keeping your travel trunk clean will significantly extend its life. Vacuum the interior with a handheld vacuum, and then wipe it down with a wet cloth or treat any lining stains with a soapy solution. Some trunks have removable pockets or lining, so you can simply throw those in the washing machine.
Many travel trunks have hard shells made from polycarbonate, so you can use the same cleaning products for standard luggage. Don’t forget to disinfect it, too. (Clorox or Lysol wipes work best.) And finally, before storing it, let it dry completely, zip it up, cover it in a dust bag (or trash bag), and place it in a cool, dry spot. Avoid humid areas like attics or basements with no airflow.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Dobrina Zhekova is a lifestyle journalist with over a decade of editorial experience in print and digital media in the U.S. and Europe. For this story, she worked with T+L’s editors and testers to determine the best travel trunks after a series of months-long real-world and lab tests, where every option was evaluated based on rigorous assessments.
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