In the glamorous world of luggage, owning a top-notch aluminum suitcase is like owning a piece of luxury. They don’t come cheap, and they’re definitely not for everyone. So, before you splurge on this metallic wonder, it’s only natural to ask yourself: are aluminum suitcases worth it?
We’re here to uncover the upsides and downsides of aluminum suitcases, helping you determine if they live up to the hype and, most importantly if they’re the perfect fit for your travel needs.
Let’s find out!
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Are aluminum suitcases really worth the investment?
Absolutely! While they may come with a heftier price tag compared to conventional options, these sleek and sturdy beauties are a long-term investment that truly pays off. The exceptional durability of aluminum means you won’t have to constantly replace them like you would with cheaper, less reliable alternatives.
Not to mention, they exude style and provide top-notch security, making them an ideal choice for frequent jet-setters and adventure seekers alike.
That said if you’re on a tight budget or prefer a more lightweight and budget-friendly option, a soft or hard suitcase that’s made with a material like polycarbonate or nylon may be better suited for your needs.
Read on as I develop these reasons…
Below are the benefits of owning an aluminum suitcase:
Aluminum suitcases are built like a tank, ready to withstand the toughest adventures. They boast impressive durability, capable of surviving rough handling, careless baggage handlers, and any jostles and scrapes that come their way.
In fact, according to Oscar Brumelis, a well-traveled writer at Clever Journey, aluminum suitcases are “arguably the most durable” compared to various plastics and fabrics commonly used in luggage.
He explains that aluminum, being a metal, doesn’t tear or crack when subjected to pressure; it simply bends, without significantly affecting the bag’s functionality. Brumelis goes on to suggest that even after a decade of heavy use, an aluminum body suitcase is likely to remain in good shape.
Also, Aleon, a manufacturer, asserts that aluminum is a highly durable material that can last up to 20 years with proper use, far surpassing the one or two-year lifespan of other materials. While some dents and scratches may appear, the suitcase should continue to perform well in terms of usability.
Supporting the claim of durability, Michael Kay, a Quora member, shares his experience with Zero Halliburton aluminum suitcases that he has used for several years and which still maintain a pristine appearance. In his own words, “They are essentially indestructible. I have a number of Zero Halliburton travel and camera cases that are now nearly fifty years old and still appear brand new.”
While I can assure you that aluminum suitcase, with proper care and maintenance, can last for a long time, it’s important to anticipate some external wear and tear over the years, such as scratches, dents, dings, and scuffs.
However, these minor imperfections add character and can even be considered a point of pride by enthusiasts. In fact, some Reddit users appreciate these marks, referring to them as “patina” or “character.”
Due to their exceptional durability, aluminum suitcases are a worthwhile long-term investment. Unlike cheaper and less durable options, they don’t require frequent replacement, making them a smart choice for frequent travelers or anyone seeking a reliable companion for their adventures.
Aluminum suitcases are highly suitable for transporting delicate items.
Unlike materials like polycarbonate or nylon, aluminum doesn’t easily deform or flex under pressure. Its durability and rigidity significantly reduce the risk of fragile items getting crushed or damaged from accidental drops or bumps during transit.
Elite Travel Blog compared aluminum and polycarbonate materials and concluded that if you seek exceptional protection and rigidity, aluminum is likely the superior choice.
According to Erica Ho, the founder of Map Happy, if she needed a suitcase capable of withstanding a nuclear war, the aluminum suitcase would be one of her top choices. She remarked, “It is probably one of the few suitcases I’d feel OK checking special equipment.”
Furthermore, the best aluminum suitcases often feature secure closures such as TSA-approved locks, robust latches, or reliable locking systems.
These design elements ensure a tight seal, preventing any unwanted movement or shifting of fragile items inside. This stability greatly minimizes the risk of items colliding or breaking during transportation.
Unlike nylon or polyester fabrics, aluminum does not absorb water or allow moisture to seep through easily. This can be attributed to the impermeable nature of the aluminum shell, which effectively keeps water out, even in damp or rainy environments.
I should point out that while aluminum suitcases provide excellent water resistance, like polycarbonate cases, they are not entirely waterproof.
In extreme conditions such as prolonged submersion in water or long exposure to water, some water may still find its way inside the suitcase.
Credible sources, including the editor of Clever Journey, and Laurent, the founder of Container FAQs, affirm that water can seep through the rivet points and latch closures of an aluminum case unless it’s properly sealed.
The best aluminum suitcases have advanced security features such as a plastic TSA latch closure system, and replacing zippers. This design offers superior protection against unauthorized access.
Personally, I value the absence of zippers in these latch designs as they help reduce the occurrence of zipper failures and minimize the risk of forced entry by pickpockets or mishandling during luggage transportation.
This allows you to have peace of mind knowing that your valuable items will stay safe and secure.
Paying homage to a long-standing metallic trend initiated almost 70 years ago by the German company Rimowa, aluminum suitcases remain exceptionally cool even to this day.
With their sleek designs and smooth finish, they’re the James Bond of luggage – effortlessly stylish with elite status while making other travelers jealous.
In fact, these aluminum suitcases have become so cherished that certain travelers and even manufacturers like Away Travel embrace every nick, mark, dent, or scratch on them, considering them as “patina” or “character” that contributes to the rich tapestry of their travel experiences.
What people don’t like about aluminum luggage
Now, let’s talk about the not-so-cool things about aluminum luggage.
Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks, but there are some complaints that travelers have about this type of luggage, which I will dive into below:
1. Aluminum suitcases are expensive
One major drawback of aluminum suitcases is their high price. When compared to fabric or plastic suitcases, aluminum counterparts often come with a heftier price tag. This is particularly true when considering luxurious brands like Rimowa and Zero Halliburton.
According to Brumelis’ price analysis, on average, aluminum luggage is 5.1 times more expensive than hard-side luggage and 4.6 times more expensive than soft-sided suitcases.
For example, Rimowa’s Classic Cabin Aluminum suitcase can cost over $1,500, while Zero Halliburton’s Pursuit Aluminum Carry-On starts at around $1,045. In comparison, nylon and polycarbonate suitcases provide a more affordable alternative without compromising durability.
Trusted luggage brands like Samsonite and Travelpro, (the brand flight crews swear by), offer high-quality luggage with prices ranging from $100 to $400.
In fact, some luggage reviewers and travelers think that these high prices for metal cases are not justified. According to Oscar, “Aluminum bags don’t really last 4-5 times longer than other well-made softside and hardside bags.” This suggests that the longevity of aluminum suitcases may not justify the significant price difference.
In summary, while aluminum luggage is a premium choice for travelers who value style and durability, it may not be the most budget-friendly option for everyone.
2. They are heavier than plastic and nylon luggage
Aluminum suitcases are typically heavy.
To illustrate, let’s compare the Away polycarbonate carry-on, which weighs a mere 7.1 lbs, to its aluminum edition which weighs 10.1 lbs, making it approximately 3 lbs heavier.
Furthermore, there are even bulkier options like the Zero Halliburton Aluminum Carry-On, tipping the scales at a hefty 12.5 lbs.
The additional weight of an aluminum suitcase can pose challenges when it comes to maneuvering and carrying them, particularly when fully packed.
Plus, no one wants to be burdened with a heavy bag, particularly considering that budget airlines on international flights have become stricter with carry-on weight allowances.
Given these circumstances, my recommendation would be to reserve the use of aluminum luggage for check-in baggage. The weight limitations for checked bags tend to be more lenient, offering greater flexibility and convenience.
3. Prone to scratches and scuff marks
Naturally, aluminum suitcases are prone to scratches and scuffs.
With just a few uses, they will inevitably acquire cosmetic damage in the form of nicks and dents. While these marks may not affect their functionality, they can be a source of concern for perfectionists. But hey, battle scars tell stories, right?
Numerous experts, such as Jonathan Evans from Esquire, acknowledge this as an unfortunate yet unavoidable compromise that comes with aluminum luggage.
Evans himself shared his perspective on the scuffs and dents that his suitcase has accumulated over time. He stated, “After the initial shock of the first ding on my bag, I’ve come to appreciate the minor scars it has accumulated thus far, as well as those yet to come. This is a long-term piece of luggage, and I want it to show that it has traveled—just like me.”
If you have concerns about scratches, I suggest avoiding bright color options and instead opting for black or darker, more subdued choices.
4. Aluminum cases are not indestructible
Aluminum luggage is tough, no doubt about it, but here’s the reality check: those plastic spinner wheels, handles, and latches? They’re weak links. They can break when you least expect it.
So, here’s my advice: if you’re gonna splurge on the best aluminum bag, go for the big guns. Stick with the big names like Rimowa, Sterling Pacific, Away, or Monos. Why? Because these guys have got your back with lifetime warranties and repair services, just in case things go south.
That way, you can hit the road with confidence, knowing that your trusty travel companion will withstand the test of time.
5. Aluminum cases have no flexibility when it comes to overpacking
Let’s face it, most people aren’t packing wizards, and I can’t imagine anyone enjoying the experience of sitting or standing on their suitcase just to force it shut. I know I don’t.
That’s why I’m a fan of softcase suitcases. They’re incredibly forgiving when it comes to squeezing in an extra outfit or two. Polycarbonate hard suitcases are a bit more flexible too, giving you some leeway to add or remove items.
But an aluminum suitcase? Nope. It’s as rigid as they come. These cases have absolutely no flexibility when it comes to overpacking. So forget about fitting in those travel souvenirs or that so-called “urgent” item you always think you need but never actually use.
So, if you’re all about being practical and keeping your options open, steer clear of aluminum.
Opt for the forgiving flexibility of Soft-sided cases or the compromise of polycarbonate. Leave the unyielding nature of aluminum luggage to those who travel light and never bring back any unnecessary baggage (literally!).
Absolutely! Sure, aluminum cases may come with a heftier price tag, but trust me, they’re worth every penny, especially if you want a suitcase that can take a beating.
They are built to go the distance, surviving rough handling like a champ. And they come packed with robust locks that give you peace of mind. Plus, I think they are downright sexy. They add a touch of sophistication to your swagger that’ll make heads turn wherever you go.
Even though aluminum is a durable luggage material, it can dent rather easily. Unlike polycarbonate luggage which cracks under pressure, aluminum is more prone to dents when faced with rough treatment.
So, when you entrust your luggage to the not-so-gentle hands of airport staff, you might get it back with a few battle scars and scuff marks.
First off, we can’t ignore the fact that it can put a dent in your wallet. Yeah, these sleek and durable suitcases come with a higher price tag. Another thing is their weight.
Aluminum bags tend to be on the heavier side, which can cramp your style if you’re a fan of traveling light. And they are not as flexible as their soft-shell counterparts, making it harder to squeeze in that extra souvenir.
But hey, if you’re all about durability and making a bold statement, aluminum luggage is still a solid choice.
So, to answer the question at hand, are aluminum suitcases worth it? Absolutely! They offer a winning combination of durability, lightweight construction, style, and security.
If you’re ready to level up your travel game and turn heads wherever you roam, an aluminum suitcase is the ultimate travel companion.
Over to you.
Are aluminum carry-on luggage worth the high price tag? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!