Who doesn't love aluminum luggage? We have all seen them gliding across the floors at airports around the world. Their stylish, clean and modern look is just so appealing. What are your impressions? Expensive, flashy or even too pretty?
All these things can be true but if you have ever had the opportunity to try out aluminum luggage, you would probably be converted. Aluminum suitcases are so much more than a case in which to transport your clothes, they are a statement about who you are and your aspirations in life.
Aluminum luggage is built to a higher tolerance than regular run-of-the-mill suitcases. Made from precision engineered aircraft-grade aluminum and finished with the most luxurious materials, these cases are in a league of their own.
We have researched the range of aluminum suitcases available today and distilled the group down to the very best five.
What's on This Page:
1) What we look for in Aluminum Luggage
2) Beware of suitcases that only look like they are made of aluminum
3) What's new for 2020?
4) The Downside of Aluminum Luggage
5) Ricardo Beverley Hills Aileron
6) Away Aluminum Edition
7) Zero Haliburton Geo Aluminum
8) Tumi 19 Degree International
9) Rimowa Classic Aluminum
11) Frequently Asked Questions
Since the number of companies who manufacture aluminum suitcases is quite small, we were able to keep the list quite short. These cases tend to be on the luxury end of the scale so we focussed on the larger brand names to ensure quality products.
There are many lesser known companies based in Asia that may not offer the same level of service as say Rimowa, Zero Halliburton or Tumi so we steered clear of them.
This list is simple. It breaks down the suitcases features, interior finishes, quality, warranty, price and, of course, the shells must be made from 100% aluminum.
If you are not careful you may find some manufacturers that try to represent other materials that look very similar to aluminum as actual aluminum. Especially when shopping over the Internet, it is very difficult to see the difference between some other materials.
The most common deception is to represent an aluminum framed suitcase as an actual totally aluminum suitcase. These suitcases usually use shells made from shiny Polycarbonate or Polycarbonate/ABS mix. They are shiny and look like aluminum but they are far from it. You can learn more on our luggage materials page.
Polycarbonate is not aluminum! Unfortunately, it can look very close to aluminum in pictures but it is not at all the same thing. Please, please please, make sure that you are buying a 100% all aluminum case.
The best way to tell if you are getting a real aluminum suitcase is the price. Aluminum is expensive so if you find and "aluminum" suitcase priced under $400 or $500 dollars, chances are it is not an aluminum suitcase.
Aluminum luggage is expensive to design and build so once a company is set up to make a certain case, it is rare to see many changes to the basic design. What we are seeing in 2020 is the addition of the latest features such as the addition of USB charging panels (on carry-ons). We are also seeing new interior lining materials making a mark like Ricardo's metallic weave fabric.
It is commonly known that aluminum luggage is prone to scratching and denting. This is true but only because the shell materials show these dings more than other suitcase materials. Having said this, many owners tell us that aluminum suitcases become more attractive with age. Each scrape or dent tells its own story.
If you are concerned about your aluminum luggage getting scratched, you can always buy a luggage cover - they come in many great and attractive designs.
We love all of the cases on this list but we had to find some way to order them. To do this, we had to find one type of case common to all five brands so we finally decided to order the list by the price of the carry-ons. So, this list is arranged by price of the carry-on, from least expensive to most expense. (who wants to see the most expensive first anyway?)
There are some companies that only make carry-ons in aluminum. We chose to not include any brands that do not make checked luggage.
Prices at time of publication:
Ricardo Beverly Hills Aileron: $480
Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition: $515.00
Zero Halliburton Geo Aluminum: 3.0-Carry-on $895.00
TUMI 19 Degree International Carry-On Luggage: $995.00
Rimowa Classic Cabin: $1550.00
Ricardo Beverly Hills is a travel lifestyle brand that was founded in 1978 by Richard "Ricardo" Gibbs in Beverly Hills, California. They pride themselves on making modern luggage and travel accessories. Today, their corporate headquarters are located in Seattle, Washington.
The Aileron line is the only aluminum luggage collection that the company makes. This fully lined, aluminum suitcase has all the features of the more established brands but at a fraction of the price. The Aileron comes in two sizes; a 22" carry-on and a 27" checked version. Theses relatively affordable cases are available in either metalic blue or silver.
About the Ricardo Beverly Hills Aileron Collection:
Looking for a socially responsible suitcase? Well, the Away Aluminum Edition suitcase may be your best option. Their products are designed in New York City and made in various Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia), They only work with ethical manufactures and only use sustainable materials in their suitcases.
We asked Away where they actually manufacture this case and they refused to tell us but considering how low the price is, we are pretty sure that the Away Aluminum Edition line is manufactured in China. Away can keep their prices low because they sell their products direct to consumer so there is not middleman markup. These two things keep their products very affordable.
Even with a price that is hundreds of dollars less than the competition, the quality of the Away Aluminum Edition collection is on par with other major names in the Aluminum luggage market. The interiors are fully lined with ethically sourced and environmentally friendly materials, the aluminum is top quality and they even offer the latest features than few others offer such as USB charging ports (carry-ons only).
More about the Away Aluminum Edition:
This iconic brand is the best known of all aluminum suitcase brands. Founded in 1938 by Erle Halliburton their cases were originally designed to protect equipment in the oil fields of the American Midwest. Over time these cases became synonymous with prestige and ruggedness.
The Zero Halliburton Geo Aluminum carries on the tradition of design that started with the original Zero Halliburton Classic Aluminum line. This diverse collection comes in three case types and seven different sizes. It includes everything from a briefcase to a full sized check-in suitcase and everything in between.
More about the Zero Halliburton Geo Aluminum Collection:
Our number four pick is manufactured by Tumi - a trusted name in luggage since 1975. Although they have offices located all over the world, Tumi's head office is in Edison, New Jersey. They are well known as a manufacturer of fine luggage but only recently have they ventured into designing and manufacturing aluminum luggage.
The Tumi 19 Degree International aluminum suitcase collection includes five different case sizes and boast superior craftsmanship. As elegant and unique as the outer shell design is, the interior is a magnificent blend of luxury and functionality.
We think that you will agree that, this aluminum case from Tumi is gorgeous both on the inside and outside.
More about the Tumi 19 Degree International Collection:
Although Rimowa has been around since 1898, Richard Morszeck (the son of the founder) created their first aluminum suitcase in 1937 in Cologne, Germany. Their manufacturing plants are located in Czech Republic, Canada and Brazil but the aluminum cases are still built in the Cologne plant.
This case comes in at number five on our list but only because of its cost. Keep in mind though that with this case you definitely get what you pay for. And with Rimowa, you are paying for a century of the highest quality suitcase that money can buy. If you can afford one of their cases, you will not be sorry for buying one. (And we will be very jealous)
More about the Rimowa Classic Collection:
We hope that have enjoyed our list of the 5 best aluminum suitcases. We had a lot of fun putting it together. Do you think that aluminum luggage is worth the expense? The debate will undoubtedly rage on for the foreseeable future.
We wonder if aluminum luggage will be replaced by luggage made from carbon fiber sometime soon.
Like anything else, what luggage you own is a very personal choice.
If you are interested at seeing what luggage we own you can see it on this page.
How do you prevent aluminum luggage from tarnishing? You cannot stop aluminum from oxidizing. This is a normal chemical reaction between aluminum and oxygen. You can use rust remover to remove the tarnish and polish the surface. Most aluminum luggage has a top coat to prevent oxidization.
How do you prevent aluminum luggage from denting? There is not much that you can do to prevent aluminum luggage from denting. This is a natural occurring problem with checked-in luggage thanks mainly to the baggage handling system. Some travellers have reported good results by using a fitted luggage cover specially designed for the luggage.
Is aluminum luggage worth the price? Yes and no, only you can tell if it is right for you. Aluminum luggage is very attractive and it provides great security against theft and smuggling but it does show its age over time by way of scratches and dents.