If you are looking for a good quality hard shell suitcase, then you should find this page really useful. The reason most sensible people look for a hard suitcase, often called a shell suitcase, is because they want to look after and protect the contents inside.
We spend a lot of money buying our clothes and travel accessories. We certainly do not want them damaged by baggage handlers as we all know how they treat our bags and cases.
There are a whole range of hard suitcases available, and for the most part, many of them are very good quality. There are of course quite a few that state they are tough, but they have been poorly made and of low quality.
Below you will find a list of what I believe to be the Top 10 hard suitcases currently available in the UK Market. If you are looking for hard shell suitcase sets, then please click here as I have done a full review on the best sets of those.
This is based on the information supplied by real life buyers who have taken the time to leave reviews of their buying and using experience.
I have gathered these from websites like Amazon, travelling forums and other commercial websites. Then I have summarised and reviewed all of that information so as I am confident about what I have found.
Top 10 List of Hard Shell Cases by Buyer Rating
Here is a top 10 list of the cases and these are listed by those case which buyers gave the highest rating to. If you click on any of the links just below, you can go straight to a summary review of each case.
- Karabar Cabin Approved Hard Suitcase
- Travelhouse Suitcase Travel Luggage Locks Hard Shell
- Merax ® Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Carry On
- Aerolite Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Carry On
- Karabar Large Hard Sided Suitcase
- American Tourister Bon Air 4 Wheel Suitcase
- Aerolite Medium or Large Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell
- Antler Suitcase Lightning
- 5 Cities Jetsetter Hard Shell Polycarbonate Travel Trolley Luggage Suitcase
- Cabin Max Turin ABS Hard Shell Cabin suitcase
Many people buy these to fly with the airlines shown below, so here is a quick reminder of their cabin size approved luggage. In other words the maximum size you are allowed to take onboard their aircraft.
CABIN SIZED APPROVED LUGGAGE
- Easyjet (56 x 45 x 25 cm) - no weight restriction
- Ryanair (55 x 40 x 20 cm) - 10 kg weight
- FlyBe (55 x 35 x 20 cm) - 10 kg weight
- Jet2 - (56 x 45 x 25 cm) - 10 kg weight
- Thomsons - (55 x 40 x 20 cm) - 5 kg (7 kg on some limited flights)
- British Airways (56 x 45 x 25 cm) - 23 kg
- Virgin Atlantic (56 x 36 x 23 cm) - 10 kg
"Please note when airlines quote their sizes they include the full size of the case including the handle and wheels. Manufacturers refer to these as the exterior dimensions."
If you want a case or bag that will suit all of the above, then you need to go with the tightest size restriction. That would be 55 x 35 x 20 (FlyBe) and then check the weight for each of the above.
If you are never going to use FlyBe then a 55 x 40 x 20 would be a great choice.
No 1 Choice - Karabar Cabin Approved Hard Suitcase
With the highest buyer rating this cabin approved suitcase from Karabar came out as number one on our list.
It measures 55 x 35 x 20 cm and weighs 2.7 kg. It has 4 multi-directional wheels for easy movement, an aluminium frame and a telescopic push button handle and a side combination lock.
It also has a fully lined interior, restraint straps and organiser pockets. It is available in the "Cities" style shown in the image above, or in another style known as "Balloons."
This case has an interesting modern design and it comes with a 3-year warranty.
According to buyers this case is ideal for cabin luggage and will hold enough for around 5-7 days. Buyers say the case looks great, wheels easily and stands up to the rigours of air travel.
No 2 Choice - Travelhouse Hard Shell Luggage Locks Lightweight 4 Wheel Suitcase
This one sells a lot and it is available as either a 24" size or a larger 28" Size. It is also available in the following colours, black, black/green, black/rose, blue/rose, cyan/ivory and rose/pink.
The 28 " is L77.5*W51*D31 cms, weighs 4.3 kg with a 100 litre capacity
The 24" is L69.5*W44*D26.5 cms, weighs 3.3 kg with a 62 litre capacity
It has 4 spinner wheels and a 3-level telescopic handle. The pattern on the case is designed to hide any potential scratches or scuffs that you may get from baggage handlers.
It also has a TSA lock, a fully lined interior lined complete with organisational pockets.
Buyers say this is a hard wearing case and also looks great and is very easy to spot in the airport and on the baggage line. The large size is ideal for luggage that needs to go in the hold. A great choice for the summer holidays and can hold enough clothes for up to 2 weeks.
No 3 Choice - Merax ® Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Carry On Cabin Hand Luggage Suitcase
Another popular choice for UK buyers and this one is suitable for carry on luggage on Ryanair, Easyjet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Flybe and ohers.
It is a 20" suitcase and it measures L55*W37*D20 cms, weighs 2.6kg and has a 33 litres capacity.
It is available in the following colours, black, blue, golden, orange, purple and red.
It has 4 spinner wheels and an adjustable 3-level telescopic handle. The embossed pattern on the case is designed to hide any potential scratches or scuffs that you may get from baggage handlers.
It also has a TSA lock, a fully lined interior lined complete with organisational pockets.
Buyers say this is a hard wearing case that looks good, is a good choice for cabin luggage and is also good value for money. A couple of buyers said they had an issue with the lock not working properly.
No 4 Choice - Aerolite Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Carry On Cabin Hand Luggage Suitcase
Aerolite are a very popular and well known luggage brand. This is their carry on cabin or hand luggage offer that buyers like best.
It is available in the wine colour as shown to the left and also in a rose gold colour.
It measures 55x35x20 cm, weighs 2.5 kg and has a 33 litre capacity. That makes it suitable for most airlines.
It has 4 spinner wheels and comes with a 5-year guarantee. It has a telescopic handle, zip closure, and packing straps. The outer casing is made from anti-scratch ABS hard shell plastic.
The case has a 3-digit combination barrel padlock for extra security.
The interior features packing straps, an internal zipped divider with elasticated pockets (perfect for shoes), to keep the contents in place during transit.
No 5 Choice - Karabar Large Hard Sided Suitcase
This is the large hard shell suitcase from the Karabar brand. This case comes with a 10-year warranty.
This is the bigger version of the first one on our list and it measures 76 x 51 x 29 cm, weighs 4.5 kg and has a 100 litre capacity. This is suitable for check-in luggage only.
It is available in the "Cities" style or the "Balloons" style.
Buyers like this one as a piece of check in luggage that can go in the hold. It is lightweight and flexible enough to stand up to the rigours of the baggage handlers.
It has 4 multi-direction spinner wheels, an aluminium frame with a telescopic push button handle. There is also a fully lined interior with restraint straps and organiser pockets.
No 6 Choice - American Tourister Bon Air 4 Wheel Suitcase
This is from the American Tourister brand and one of the most expensive on my list. This is a check-in style case that will go in the hold for longer holidays.
It measures 75 x 54 x 29 cms, weighs 4.2 kg and has a 91 litre capacity. It is available in a range of colours that include, black, red, seaport blue, emerald green, pink, lavender, mint green, dark green, lilac, purple, turquoise, white, yellow, porcelain blue and fresh pink.
Buyers like this one as a piece of check in luggage that can go in the hold. It is made of 100% polypropylene and has a 3 digit TSA combination lock with a multi-stage push button locking wheel handle.
Buyers like this for their longer 2-3 week holidays and the fact that this one really does stand up to a lot of abuse.
No 7 Choice - Aerolite Medium/Large Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Hold Check In Luggage Suitcase
At number 4 on this list I included the small version of this which was suitable for taking as cabin luggage. Here I include the medium size and there is also a large size available.
The medium is a 25" case and measures 69 x 50 x 27 cms, weighs 3.85 kg and has a 48 litre capacity.
The larger size shown to the left is a 29" case and measures 73 x 56 x 31 cms, weighs 4.85 kg and has a 131 litre capacity.
They are both available in 5 colours which are charcoal, golden blue, golden silver, golden wine and rose gold.
5 Year Guarantee.
No 8 Choice - Antler Suitcase Lightning
This hard case from the high end luggage brand Antler does come with a 10 year warranty.
It is expensive but it it highly rated by buyers and is of very high quality. It is available in either a medium or a large size.
The medium is a 67 cm, 64 litre case (66.5 x 41.5 x 27 cm) and weighs 3.1 kg
The large is a 78 cm, 104 litre case (78 x 48 x 31) and weighs 3.90 kg
No 9 Choice - 5 Cities Jetsetter Hard Shell Polycarbonate Carry On
This is an easy to identify brand and this is a 21" case that measures 55 x 35 x 20 and is suitable as carry on cabin luggage. It weighs 2.6 kg and has a 33 litre capacity.
It comes with a 5 year warranty. This one is available in a black/white style or in a "Night Cities" style.
It is made from a polycarbonate material and that ensures a tough hard shell protection. It has 4 spinner wheels and also a 3 digit combination lock. Many buyers use this for their hand luggage or for city breaks or up to 7 day holidays.
No 10 Choice - Cabin Max Turin ABS Hard Shell Cabin suitcase
This is from the popular Cabin Max brand and this is one measures 55 x 40 x 20 and is suitable as carry on cabin luggage for most airlines.
It weighs 2.7 kg and has a 38 litre capacity.
It comes in the dark granite colour shown to the left.
It has a lined interior, an internal side pocket, a netted pocket and two elastic pockets. Like the others it has 4 spinner wheels. It has a telescopic handle, and a 3 digit combination lock.
Types of Hard Shell Cases
There are different types and sizes of hard shell cases, so it is worth taking a little time to understand what is available in hard cases. There are a few variants, but they come in three main formats:
- Onboard Hand Luggage - typically used by business people for Ryanair or Easyjet Business trips, or for short break holidays such as City Breaks
- Hard Shell Cases for the Hold - used by people going on general holidays
- Hard Case Sets - typically a set of two or three hard shell cases of different sizes
As you can see they are simply for different uses and they all come with certain features which in turn offer you certain benefits.
What Features Do You Need With A Hard Shell Suitcase?
A suitcase is just a suitcase in many people's eyes, but there are in my opinion, certain features that I always look for. I have listed these below so as at least you know what is available.
- Strong and durable - your case will get tossed around by handlers, be out in all weathers and it will get abused and battered no matter how well you look after it. That means it needs to be well made, tough and come with some type of guarantee.
- Weight - Hard cases by their nature will weigh more than soft sided cases. However with the airlines all strict about what weight you can carry, you want to avoid a really heavy hard case. A lightweight hard case should be no more than 2.7-3 Kg
- Wheels - You can get these hard shell cases with either 2 wheels or 4 wheels. With the 2 wheel version you can pull this along behind you or to your side. With the 4 wheel variety you can also do that, but also slide it easily around the airport or wherever you happen to be
- Locks - Most of these use combination locks so make sure that your case has one
- Laptop Protected Section - Some people will want a place to safely store their laptop or tablet. Make sure any pouch is strong and can be locked.
- Lining - It is a good idea to have some type of protective lining inside
- Luggage Straps - It is also a good idea to have straps that can be used to hold your clothes etc in place
- Telescopic Handle - All cases will come with an easy to use telescopic handle - just make sure it is long enough and easy to use
Now that is not an exhaustive list, but if your hard case has all of these features, then you will know it is of good quality and will last you for at least a few years. After that it may simply come down to buying one from your favourite brand, or simply from the appearance.
Some people like pink, some like purple and some like black. That choice is always just personal taste. The good news is that most hard cases come in a choice of colours.