In this post, I walk through what to take into consideration when looking for hardsided spinner luggage that can be carried on while traveling to Europe. It took us a long time to switch from our soft-sided luggage (which I still love, but they were getting old). But we found a great option for hard case luggage that makes travel a breeze.
The Best Hard Case Luggage For Europe – Chester Luggage Review
I also offer recommendations for one of the best hard shell luggage companies we’ve found – Chester Travels. We’ve recently tested out their Minima carry on spinner luggage when traveling in Europe. They pack a lot of power into a small bag making it an easy choice for us when jetting around Europe from our home in Spain.
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Check out the complete line of spinner suitcases at Chester Travels now. Use the discount code “TravelForFood10” to save 10% off all luggage and sets. Click here.
What Is Hardside Spinner Luggage?
Unlike traditional soft-sided suitcases, hardside luggage is just that, luggage with a hard shell on the outside. Hardside luggage can come in a variety of materials, from cheap plastic you might see for sale for $20 to well-made and durable polycarbonate.
Generally, these come as luggage with wheels, but there are different types of wheels. Rolling luggage might come with two wheels or four wheels. Some four wheeled-luggage might only roll in two directions (forward and back). A spinner suitcase is one that rolls in all directions, normally called 360-degree spinner luggage.
What Features Should You Look For In The Best Hardside Spinner Luggage?
There are a lot of features to look for when purchasing a quality carry on bag with wheels. First, look at the materials. What is the exterior made of? What are the wheels made of? Are these durable enough to withstand travel?
This is one of the reasons we were always hesitant about switching to spinner luggage. I saw too many damaged bags with broken wheels when traveling around Europe. With quality luggage, this shouldn’t happen.
You also want to look at the dimensions of the bag, particularly if you are focused on a carry on sized bag. There should be a happy medium between being small enough to fit in the overhead bin and being the right size for all airlines, and being able to fit enough clothing in the bag for your trip.
This is another reason why we were hesitant to switch to hard shell luggage – would it hold enough for us to use it for longer trips?
Looking for more packing tips?
Check out our guide to the Best Weekender Bags
Learn our tips on How To Pack Carry On Only For Two Weeks
Eric Looking Stylish Using His Chester Travels Spinner Luggage
Why Use Hardshell Luggage For Europe?
We’ve always used soft-sided luggage. I am not entirely sure why. I always thought I could squeeze just a little more in the bag if it was soft-sided. Or, that I could squeeze it into an overhead bin when it was a bit too full when the flight attendant wasn’t looking.
When we moved to Europe, this changed. First of all, discount airlines in Europe are pretty strict about the size of carry-on bags. They always looked at ours with skepticism. Second of all, most Europeans use hard shell spinner luggage, so do as the locals do.
We were specifically looking for hardshell luggage to use on city breaks in Europe. This would be a smaller bag for less than a week of travel. We also thought this smaller bag could be supplemented by another bag for longer trips. We were looking for a suitcase that would make packing for Italy, Spain, or Portugal super easy.
Using a Chester rolling weekender bag and a weekender tote for a long trip
What Is Chester Travels Spinner Luggage
We had the chance to test out Chester Travels Minima 21 inch spinner luggage. They offer a few different sizes and spinner luggage sets, but we have the Minima, their smallest bag, which is made for international carry on standards.
It’s really easy to use and is perfect for travel in Europe. We can use it as carry on luggage for European airlines. We can also use it when traveling by train in Europe.
We are big proponents of traveling light when traveling by train in Europe. Escalators are not readily available, you need to drag your luggage on and off the train, and often need to store it above your head on the train.
Features Of Chester’s 21 Inch Spinner Luggage
Here are some of the features of the Chester Minima
The hard shell is made from polycarbonate, which was a material I was not familiar with before investigating hard sided luggage. This exterior is durable and water-resistant. It also is a little textured, which helps it not look scuffed from use.
The bag also has a pretty durable extendable handle and the zipper feels good too. The handle locks at two different lengths, which comes in handy.
Dimensions And Weight
The Minima is carry on size. It weighs only seven pounds. Its dimensions are 21.8” x 13.5” x 8.5”. This means the bag meets the standard carry on size requirements under both the TSA in the US and IATA, which sets international standards. This makes it the perfect carry on size for Europe.
The Minima is 360 spinner luggage, this means the set of four spinner wheels move 360 degrees in all directions. They are smooth and durable too.
We had no problems rolling them around airports, train stations, or on the cobblestone-like sidewalks in Spain. They become a little more difficult to roll when you try to roll two in one hand, which we’ve done. This is pretty rare though.
When it comes to security, Chester luggage has a built-in, recessed TSA lock for security. You set your own lock combination. But, the TSA can open the lock if needed for security. This means you can keep it safe from others.
This might not seem important when it comes to carry on luggage, but we had items stolen from one of our carry-on bags on a train in Spain. So, we lock our bags all the time now, even when we carry them on. It also helps if the overhead bin space fills up and you need to suddenly check your bag unplanned.
There’s also a matching leather luggage tag. This is not really important to me when determining which luggage to buy, but it’s a nice touch.
The inside of the Chester Travels Minima
What I can fit in one-half of the spinner luggage
When it comes to what can fit inside the bag, it’s all about how they organize the interior. Being a newbie to hardsided spinner luggage, I was confused at first. I am used to opening luggage on the top and everything fitting in one space. With hardsided spinner luggage, you have two sides to fill.
The Chester has two large zipper compartments on either side, which actually each hold a good amount. Like most travel bags with wheels, the wheels and the handles protrude a bit into the bag, so you need to learn how to pack around them. This was the same with our soft-sided bags too.
Packing Shoes And Laundry
There are a few smaller zip compartments too, for undergarments or electric cords. There is also an extra bag that is zipped into the side. This can be used for laundry. Or, we use it for shoes.
This was the biggest concern switching from our old bags, where we were able to put our yucky, dirty shoes in the outside pocket. Instead, we can fit the extra shoes in the shoe bag.
And, to give you an idea of size, Eric was able to fit a pair of rather large men’s shoes inside the shoe bag and store them on one side of the case without feeling like he was taking up the entire interior with a pair of shoes. See the photo on the right, below.
Using the small compartments
Using the shoe bag for Eric’s shoes
How Much Can You Fit?
For us, this is one of the most important things when looking for rolling carry on luggage – how much can we squeeze into the bag? This is particularly important because sometimes we travel for a long weekend in Europe. Other times, we travel for weeks or even months at a time.
The Chester Minima holds a good amount, where it can easily hold a week’s worth of clothing for a light packer or 3-4 days worth of clothes for a “normal” packer. We are light packers for sure.
For a trip, Eric was able to fit a pair of sneakers, two pairs of pants, a sweater, several t-shirts, two long-sleeved henleys, two dress shirts, sleep pants, socks, underwear, and a toiletry bag with room to spare. Not bad at all.
Curious about how to pack light? Check out these tips:
How to use Merino Wool for Travel
How To Pack For Two Weeks In Europe Carry On Only
Chester Travels Minima 21-Inch Spinner
The Minima spinner luggage holds 38 liters and is the smallest that Chester Travels makes. A lot of people wouldn’t know how many liters any of their bags hold. Being long-term travelers, this is a big thing for us.
Our old bags held 42 liters and we could use them for a month-long trip or longer. This means that for us the Minima will be for shorter trips, for a week or less. This is something that is pretty specific to our use as full-time travelers. For most people, 38 liters is a lot of space for spinner carry on luggage.
Chester Travels offers a 10-year limited warranty on all of their bags. The warranty covers wheels, handles, zippers, and cracks in the hardshell exterior.
They also offer a 100-day trial period with free returns if you don’t like the bag. This is pretty interesting.
One of the things I like about some of the best spinner suitcases is that they come in a variety of colors. It’s a great way to break away from the typical, masculine black suitcase you see on the luggage belt at arrivals, right?
The Chester bags come in a variety of colors including pale blue and even pink. We choose dark blue (storm) and dark grey (haze). I know this is still pretty masculine but I am not really a pink girl.
If they had one in orange or bright red, I probably would’ve chosen one of those colors. That said, the dark colors did well when we checked the bags on a recent trip. They didn’t show the wear and tear of luggage handlers.
What We Like
I like how slick the bag looks, how lightweight it is, and how easy it is to roll. I like the security of knowing it fits in the overhead bin. I like the shoe bag.
What We Didn’t Like
It’s the perfect size for us to use for city breaks in Europe or week-long trips. It’s a little too small for us and our semi-nomadic, constantly on the road lifestyle, where we might need to pack for different weather in one trip. But, that’s something that isn’t as much of an issue for “normal” people. We are far from normal.
For other travelers, I do think this is one of the best hardside spinner luggage options for travel in Europe as well as for international and business travel too.
Other Options For The Best Spinner Luggage Sets
We have the Chester Minima, their smallest option, which works for us. Chester also offers other sizes and some great hardside luggage sets.
They have the Regula, which is 26 inches and is made to be checked. They have the Maxima, which is 31 inches and is their largest bag. I don’t recommend traveling to Europe with a bag this size. If you need that much space, though, at least the bag is durable, lightweight, and easy to roll.
Or, you can purchase a luggage set, which includes all three of the above and is great for couples or families. Or, they offer sets with two of the three as well.
Our 10% discount code works for all of luggage sizes and the luggage set. Just use TRAVELFORFOOD10 when checking out.
The Chester Minima Spinner Suitcase
Where To Buy The Best Hard Case Luggage For Europe
You can purchase Chester’s line of four wheel spinner luggage on Amazon.
You can also purchase them directly from Chester’s website. If you use this link and purchase direct you can save 10% off your purchase by using the code “TravelForFood10”.
Also, by purchasing through their website you can take advantage of their try it for 100 days offer, with free two-day shipping and free returns.
FAQ – THE BEST SPINNER LUGGAGE SETS
It’s certainly up there. When I traveled for business I always used TravelPro suitcases. I found it to be one of the most high-quality luggage brands. But, the bags were big and heavy, even the carry on bags. You can fit a lot in the Chester carry on bags, while still keeping them carry on size, and looking professional.
Again, it’s certainly up there. First, it’s really common to see hard case luggage, particularly in Europe, but in Asia too. The size is perfect as well. The Chester Minima will fit the dimensions for most international airlines.
One note, though, is that some international discount airlines limit the weight of your bag. Most of the time, they don’t check if your bag looks small enough. If you can pack light, the dimensions are certainly there and I would definitely recommend the Minima luggage for international travel.