by Deanna Ting | September 01, 2012
As airlines continue to enforce stricter weight restrictions for luggage with steep fees, travelers are demanding ultra-lightweight bags that can stand up to the test, and luggage makers are responding with high-tech, lighter-than-air models.

"Every discussion about a new collection starts with weight," says Pete Mitchell, director of B2B sales for Samsonite. When Samsonite saw sales for one of its most popular collections - the Silhouette - decline due to weight issues, it decided to release a new collection in January 2013 that will be 16 percent lighter. "The pressure is on for all of us in the luggage business," says Mitchell.

Even carry-on suitcases are slimming down as travelers tire of lifting heavy bags into cramped overhead bins. "The consumer doesn't want to lug around a heavy piece of luggage anymore," Mitchell says.

A majority of today's ultra-light luggage is constructed with high-tech, hard-sided materials. Tumi's Tegra Lite collection, for example, uses Milliken's Tegris, a proprietary composite traditionally used to armor Humvees. Filaments of the ultra-tough material are woven into a fabric that gets compressed into hard-sided sheets that are virtually indestructible. "This is the lightest luggage that we make," says Mike Landry, director of special markets for Tumi.


The Tegra Lite Extended Trip Packing Case (28129) by Tumi weighs only 10 pounds, measuring 32 inches long and 20 inches wide with a depth of 12 inches. It includes four wheels, TSA-approved integrated locks, and a removable garment sleeve on the inside. $645,

Landry says that, because of weight, more consumers are opting to purchase lighter hard-sided luggage than ever before. "Hard-sided luggage, in general, has become an up-and-coming trend," say Landry. "Traditionally," adds Mitchell, "most Americans were not into hard-sided luggage because they like expandable luggage. I think that [perception] might be changing now, however."


One of Samsonite's lightest hard-sided collections is the European-made Cosmolite, made of Curv, an exclusive woven polypropylene-reinforced material that's molded and scalloped for style. The 20-inch carry-on model (41203) weighs a total of 6.2 pounds, with a width of 15 inches and a depth of nine inches, and features four spinners and a TSA-approved combination lock. $450, email: [email protected]

Another lightweight and durable carry-on model, the 20-inch-tall Dash Upright Luggage (731776) from Brookstone weighs less than eight pounds, has four spinning wheels, and expandable sides. "Throw it, kick it, even stand on it," says Robert Ludwig, Brookstone national sales manager, special markets. "[This] hard-side luggage will withstand the demands of even the roughest travel." $100, (800) 964-4387, Brookstone Corporate Sales,


The PC4 collection from Hartmann is backed by a 10-year warranty, having endured a rigorous testing process that included a simulation of more than 7,000 drops, or 10 years' worth of harsh wear and tear. The 27-inch Mobile Traveler Spinner (3053) weighs only 10.6 pounds and is constructed out of 100-percent virgin four-layer polycarbonate material. It features Hartmann's signature figure-eight carry handle and an exclusive divided packing system. $760, email: [email protected]

The glossy finish and eye-catching lavender hue of the ZERO Halliburton Zero Air suitcase in pearlescent violet combines function and style. The 23-inch tall model (ZX223) weighs only 6.2 pounds and has 360-degree spinning wheels with a built-in TSA-approved combination lock. $495,