Australians love to travel, and CHOICE is here to help you choose a sturdy, easy-to-manoeuvre suitcase that won't add to the frustration of getting to your dream destination. Our luggage test puts popular carry-on and check-in sized suitcases through some pretty rough treatment to find out which ones will help your trip go smoothly.
We've got decades of experience testing suitcases, and despite high-tech materials and increasingly lightweight styles coming on to the market, little has changed: in 1966 our suitcase report included a user trial along with a range of lab-based performance tests, just as it does today.
Similarly, the brand and style of suitcase was as much a concern in the fashion-conscious sixties as it is now. "Business men are just as prone to the prestige angle as women," says the 1966 report. "Just watch at any international airport and see how many men own really expensive suitcases!"
Our market researchers survey major manufacturers and scour the market to see what's out there. We include both "luxury" brands as well as cheap suitcases from national chain stores, to see if it's really worth paying more.
Once our market research is completed, we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.
Our suitcases go through many comprehensive assessments:
Lift and drop test: We load our carry-on suitcases with 4kg of clothes, while check-in suitcases are loaded with 15kg. Using a custom test rig, we drop the suitcases wheels-first onto a concrete floor 300 times from a height of 90cm. Damage is then assessed; models which survive unscathed receive 100%, whereas ones with missing wheels or severe holes score zero.
Puncture test: A heavy pointed cylinder is dropped on to the suitcase surface to see whether any damage occurs.
Rain test: In this unforgiving test, we stuff suitcases with newspaper and put them under our custom-made shower rig which simulates a ten-minute downpour. We then assess the cases to see how wet the newspaper becomes.
Stability test: We load the suitcases (carry-on is loaded with 4kg and check-in is loaded with 15kg) and tilt them to see whether they will tip at a certain angle. Anything that tips at 6° or less is considered unstable and rated 'poor'; 6° to 15° is considered reasonably stable and 'fair'. Anything above this is rated stable ('good').
Ease of use tests
Three triallists, including our expert tester, take the suitcases for a walk around the CHOICE building, as well as through our local streets and parks. When rating ease of use they look at:
Moving the suitcase out of a lift
Moving the suitcase down the stairs
Taking the suitcase along carpet, asphalt, and cement pathways
Comfort (including handle grip)
Test criteria explained
Our suitcases are ranked on performance (60%) and ease of use (40%).
Performance consists of the lift and drop test (60%), puncture test (10%), rain test (10%) and stability test (20%).