Let's set the scene: you're at the airport, passport in hand and your suitcase is being weighed, when you get a stern look from the person behind the desk - we all know what comes next.
No one enjoys opening their suitcase in front of dozens of people, pulling out jumpers, shoes and just about anything else we think will make a difference. This situation is all too familiar, because - if we're being honest - 'packing light' is hardly ever an option; whether it's a two-day weekend trip or a week-long holiday, fighting the urge to pack half our closet is a real struggle.
Having said that, while packing light is out of the question, opting for a light suitcase might be just the solution to all your luggage-related problems. Chances are, your suitcase itself is adding a tonne of unnecessary weight which you could be filling up with your own belongings, saving you from outfit dilemmas and the classic airport holdup.
Related: Best 30-35 litre backpacks reviewed
Unlike traditional cases, lightweight suitcases are expertly made with specific light materials, namely, polypropylene, to ensure you are not carrying any extra weight along the way.
We've rounded up the best lightweight suitcase options currently available on the market, for your next travel adventure.
The best suitcases shortlist
Editor's pick: American Tourister Bon Air Suitcase
Best soft shell: Samsonite Base Boost Suitcase
Best carry-on: Aerolite Lightweight Cabin Luggage
Best hard shell: Samsonite Lite-Cube Suitcase
What to look for when buying a suitcase?
If you're headed on your next holiday, but fancy a suitcase upgrade then you might be wondering what to keep an eye out for. The main things to consider when choosing luggage are material and size.
First things first, the material of your suitcase will tell you a lot about the quality and weight of your bag. In terms of hard shell luggage, ABS combined with polycarbonate will make for a strong and durable suitcase. If lightness is what you're after, then look for the word polypropylene - this is the lightest material available and is also highly flexible. Soft-sided luggage is typically composed of polyester, nylon or both.
Related: The best tablet bags
Next - size. For size, think about how long you're going for, what your airline permits and how much you can handle. Airplane carry-on allowance is typically around 55 x 45 x 25cm, with this varying slightly from airline to airline. Anything bigger than that will count as a check-in bag.
Extra features such as a lock, 360 rotatable wheels and extra expandability are also worth keeping an eye out for.
Should I buy a hard or soft case?
A hard case is best if you've packed delicate or fragile items that you wish to protect. Hard shells are also water-resistant, so there's no need to worry about your belongings getting drenched.
On the other hand, soft cases are more flexible, are typically expandable and include a host of extra pockets on the sides for even more space.
The best lightweight suitcases 2022
American Tourister Bon Air Suitcase
The American Tourister suitcase is a traveller's dream: extremely lightweight thanks to 100 per cent polypropylene composition, sturdy and with enhanced volume, to help fit every last one of your belongings. A three-digit lock is included for added security, as are 360-degree spinner wheels to help you cruise around effortlessly. This suitcase is available in a rainbow of colours, from bright orange to muted grey, suiting a variety of personal styles.
100 per cent polypropylene material
Review: "Really lightweight but very solid. Looks great too. All my suitcases have been American Tourister for years and still have no reason to change that."
Samsonite Base Boost Suitcase
Best soft shell
A more traditional option for those who like to keep things simple, Samsonite's Base Boost collection emphasises protection and lightness. It's easy to manoeuvre, comes with a secure lock and will help you travel with ease. The tiny metal logo and plead caps on the front pocket add to the over sleekness of the bag, so that you're travelling in style.
Made of polyester
Included ID tag
Review: "These Samsonite base boost spinner suitcases are a great balance of lightness, strength and manoeuvrability. I borrowed the one I bought for my son for a business trip and liked it so much that I bought another!"
Aerolite Lightweight 55cm Hard Shell Cabin Luggage
This next option is ideal for those looking for a lightweight piece of cabin luggage for a weekend away. Designed to make travelling less of a pain, the Aerolite suitcase is tailor-made to be accepted by all airlines in the UK, Europe and North America. No need to worry about the safety of your belongings, the strong ABS plastic hard shell is made to withstand all your travel adventures, and the four spinner wheels with 360-degree rotation will allow you to manoeuvre the case comfortably.
Four spinner wheels
Review: "This fits all the major airlines hand luggage restrictions and has plenty of space inside. The case weighs next to nothing, can be dragged on 2 wheels or pushed on 4 just as easily and is pretty sturdy with the rigid outer. Very impressed with this suitcase and I travel lots with work so go through a fair few suitcases."
Samsonite Lite-Cube Suitcase
Best hard shell
It is style meets comfort with Samsonite's Lite-Cube suitcase. Fully constructed using polypropylene material, you'll be getting a super lightweight yet extremely durable suitcase that's shock-absorbing and easy to handle. The soft-touch carry handles will make any heavy-lifting that much easier, and the light gold detailing on the logo adds to the overall sleekness of the suitcase.
Woven polypropylene material
Soft-touch handles and premium lining
Review: "I was looking for a small 4 wheeled case that was as light as possible and this fits the bill perfectly. It took me some searching to decide on this one from all that was available but it's great and has handled several trips both domestic and international with a number of airlines without damage or problems."
Kono 19 inch Carry On Luggage Lightweight
Another fabulous cabin size option that is light as a feather. Strong, sturdy and spacious, this is the perfect compact option for a three-day getaway that will fit in the tiniest of overhead spaces.
Review: "I looked for ages to find a small case, and this was one of the few of this size that seemed suitable. Great for travelling on crowded trains with little luggage space... It is very light, very compact. If you like to travel light this is perfect - I took it for a week away and it fitted everything I needed fine. It's also a great colour and looks really good. It wouldn't be good for someone tall as the handle is not very long. I'm 5'6 and it's exactly right at full extension."
Samsonite Expandable Large Suitcase
Samsonite simply knows how to make a good suitcase, and this next option is no exception. Large but light, this modern and sleek suitcase contains 100L capacity that is expendable, so there's no need to leave any items behind. The wheels are shock-absorbing, and a water-repellent zip ensures all your items are safe in case of any sudden downpours. The contrasting interior of the case is removable and hand-washable, in case of any dreaded shampoo or lotion spills.
Review: "Really good quality. Feather light. The second inner zip allows to expand the capacity of the suitcase which comes as a pleasant surprise :)"
Marina Avraam is a Commercial Content Writer for WhatsTheBest, and also writes for Yours.co.uk, heatworld and Closer across beauty, tech, and lifestyle.
Subscribe to the What’s The Best Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews and recommendations from the rest of the What’s The Best team.