Consumer Reports: Buying the best luggage

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Experts at Consumer Reports say considering several key factors can put you ahead of the pack when you're shopping. (WLS)

If you're heading out of town for the upcoming holidays -- make sure you've got a suitcase that can handle the job. Consumer Reports surveyed 65,000 readers -- and combed their satisfaction scores with research -- to help make shopping for your next piece of luggage, an open and shut case!

What is important to people when they select luggage? Experts at Consumer Reports say considering several key factors can put you ahead of the pack when you're shopping.

"The material is the first decision you need to make and you have two choices: hard-side or soft?" said Consumer Reports' Kevin Doyle.

Nothing beats hard-shell suitcases to keep fragile items safe or clothes from being creased.

Aluminum weighs a little more, but it's probably the most durable. Newer plastics can be both rigid and lightweight.

Soft-sided bags are lighter still -- and compress more easily to fit into the overhead bin.

One way to gauge durability is to give the handle a good shake.

"Well, you want to make sure that the handle feels solid. That it doesn't jiggle around. You also want to make sure that it telescopes up and down really smoothly. And finally, you want to make sure that it telescopes flush into the case - so that you can fit it in the overhead very easily," Doyle said.

Next, deal with the wheels. Four-wheeled, spinner bags are easier on your back and let you maneuver through crowds -- regardless of what else you're carrying.

Dragging a two-wheeler can be less ergonomic and awkward to navigate through tight places.

"But two-wheeled bags do have an advantage in clearing curbs and being easy to pull over uneven surfaces, like cobblestone streets in Europe," Doyle said.

And, consider color, it's helpful to find your bag in a sea of black.

Consumer Reports also warns against relying on size claims on the label, if you're looking for a carry-on bag. Instead, they suggest you take a measuring tape to the store to verify the dimensions yourself -- making sure to include the wheels, outer pouches and any handles that stick out.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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