Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

The Best Aluminum Suitcases for Every Trip

Aluminum carry-ons are designed to protect your belongings — and make other travelers jealous. From affordable Away to ritzy Rimowa, these are the best ones.

aluminum suitcases
Gear Patrol Studios

Aluminum suitcases seem purpose-built for protecting your belongings — and for making other travelers jealous. But for all their hard-sided beauty, they can be tremendously impractical. Most options ding easily, aren’t expandable and weigh a hefty 9 to 12 pounds.

Still, if you want to look more like a Bond villain than, well, every other person at the check-in desk, there’s no better option than one of the suitcases here. Get one before your next trip and wear all the inevitable scratches with pride.

How We Tested

sterling pacific
Evan Malachosky

Our tester took several suitcases all over the continental US — from Austin, Texas to New York City. They assessed how easy the suitcases were to pack, but also roll through security, lift into the overhead bin, lock, load back into the car and unload, too. They also surveyed how the suitcases faired after a fall down a luggage carousel or after being pushed into the rear of a luggage hold.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

Best Overall Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

Away The Carry-On: Aluminum Edition


  • Excellent value and price, plus free shipping and returns
  • Has hidden pockets and comes with a laundry bag
  • Simple and stylish design

  • Divider easily becomes misshapen through use
  • Wheels aren’t as solid as other options on this list
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.5 x 9 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 pounds
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Warranty: Lifetime

    If you're a serial over-packer, turn to the roomy interior of Away’s The Carry-On: Aluminum Edition, a heavy-duty option that'll earn its fair share of dents and dings. Because Away sells directly to consumers, they can drop costs by cutting out the middlemen. That makes Away an excellent value.

    Our tester found the hidden pockets and included laundry bag helpful, and the bag comes case comes with a complimentary leather name tag, too. Plus, these wheels are some of the best of the bunch, but not quite as sturdy as Sterling Pacific's.

    away suitcase
    The full-sized checked suitcase doesn’t differ from the carry-on at all — except in dimensions.
    Evan Malachosky

    As for packing it, it's easy to do, but it'd be easier if both sides were identical, our tester says. The mesh, tube-formed divider eventually becomes misshapen, especially if you overpack it a few times. The other side, on the other hand, stays true to form, and helps keep the contents packed tightly down.

    For a deeper look at the larger version, read our full review of the Away Large Carry-On.

    Best Upgrade Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

    Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On


    • Built to last, thanks to its grooved aluminum body and ball-bearing mounted wheels
    • Interior dividers help compress excess cargo
    • Network includes warranty service from in-hotel concierges
    • Spacious and roomy for packing however you’d like

    • Telescopic handle doesn't feel on par with the rest of the suitcase
    • Despite its price, it’s still prone to dings and scratches
    • Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1 inches
    • Weight: 9.5 pounds
    • Capacity: 34.8L
    • Warranty: Lifetime

      This is the status suitcase. Recognizable by its ridged aluminum exterior, Rimowa's Original Cabin Carry-On is a go-to for first-class, full-time and famous travelers. (You've probably seen plenty of touring musicians with theirs covered in stickers. It's the cool thing to do.) The German brand dates back the late 19th century and production still takes place in Cologne, where the company is headquartered. It is now, however, owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH.

      What does that mean? Well, the quality hasn't changed, but the conversations around the suitcases have. LVMH elevated the brand, making it as much a cultural touchpoint as it is a celebrated titan of consumer product design. You'll appreciate its all-aluminum exterior, but the handles, which are hard plastic, feel lackluster in comparison.

      You know a Rimowa suitcase when you see, and that’s part of the appeal.
      Evan Malachosky

      But Rimowa's aluminum suitcases are well-regarded for good reason. The shiny silver cases can take a beating, but they show their bruises boldly. This look's not for everyone, especially if they bought the $1,400 suitcase for how it looks mint, fresh out of the box upon delivery.

      The dents and dings, though, are a good thing, a constant reminder your case is actually working. These dents could've been cracks if you were rolling a polycarbonate option. As such, think of aluminum, despite its connotations, as the ultimate choice: a material meant to be put to the test, because it'll pass with flying colors.

      Read our full review of the Rimowa Original Cabin Carry-On.

      Best Affordable Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

      Monos Hybrid Carry-On


      • Boasts plenty of scuff protection and corner bumpers
      • Solid style and available colors
      • Telescopic handle has four height settings, including one appropriate for children

      • Expensive
      • Easily acquires scuffs
      • Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
      • Weight: 8.81 pounds
      • Capacity: 36 L
      • Warranty: Lifetime

        (Shhhhh... this bag is actually polycarbonate. How else could it be this affordable?) OK, the secret's out. This option isn't aluminum. However, it has an aluminum frame. The front and back plates are cut from aerospace-grade polycarbonate, which Monos says proves just as indestructible. Everything's tonal here, too, meaning all aluminum(-colored) everything.

        Our tester says it's nearly indistinguishable, though, and despite only taking it on a few trips so far, they haven't run into any issues, even when they were forced to check it at the gate. It arrived with fewer literal dents, but it did show signs of damage nonetheless: a few dark-colored scuffs.

        Most Elegant Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase


        Sterling Pacific 35L Cabin Travel Case


        • Minimal two-wheel design reduces the number of possible failure points
        • Rectangular design makes it easy to pack
        • Attractive, eye-catching design and leather handles

        • Quickly attracts scuffs, according to some users
        • Very expensive
        • Dimensions: 22.5 x 14 x 8.5 inches
        • Weight: 11.5 pounds
        • Capacity: 35L
        • Warranty: Lifetime

          With two wheels, not four, upstart brand Sterling Pacific's 35L Cabin Travel Case stands out. It's also an unusual shape: a slender lid offsets a deep trunk, where you can stow quite a lot. And what you do put inside will surely be protected. The whole case is 100 percent aluminum: an aerospace-grade aluminum body, reinforced aluminum corners, aluminum wheel housings and an aluminum trolley.

          Sure, it's a little wonky-looking, but it was easy to adjust to after a few rolls, our tester says, plus the suitcase is less likely to snag on a cracked sidewalk or tile floor, like four-wheeled designs do.

          sterling pacific
          Pilots love Sterling Pacific’s silver suitcases, but many are required to carry black ones, so the brand custom makes them, too.
          Evan Malachosky

          In a sea of similar suitcases, both in material or design, Sterling Pacific's 35L Cabin Travel Case stands out — and for obvious reasons. But its deviations from the norm, if you will, aren't without reason. The two-wheel design reduces the number of possible failure points, and the rectangular shape makes it easier to pack.

          The $1,495 suitcase may come sans the legacy of a suitcase like Rimowa, for example, but Sterling Pacific is a new brand carving its own lane, catering to elite travelers with high standards — and staying with them through the life of their suitcase, offering a lifetime warranty and endless complimentary repairs.

          Read our full review of the Sterling Pacific 35L Cabin Travel Case.

          Best Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase with a Battery

          Arlo Skye

          Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On Max: Aluminum Edition

          Arlo Skye

          • Very smooth, quiet wheels
          • Antimicrobial lining for anti-odor
          • Has built-in USB-C and USB-A charging ports

          • Some say the aluminum shell is too thin
          • Battery must be removed before each flight
          • Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 9.6 inches
          • Weight: 10.5 pounds
          • Capacity: 45L
          • Warranty: Lifetime

            Founded by former execs from luggage specialists Tumi and Louis Vuitton, Arlo Skye brings luxurious touches to its approach-ably priced bags. Its aluminum carry-on features an antimicrobial lining, sports a built-in USB-C and -A charging port and some of the quietest wheels of all the bags on the market, reviewers say. Some, though, wished the aluminum shell was slightly thicker, which would help deter dents. They were upset that the suitcase returned from its first journey with a sizable wound, even though that's a part of the art of aluminum suitcases.

            Best Minimal Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

            Level8 Aluminum Carry-On


            • Zipperless design with built-in locks
            • Mesh interior pocket divider
            • Noiseless handles with slow release to prevent pinching

            • Some users say internal straps broke after a few uses
            • Several users say its frame and depth is not large enough
            • Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 8.5 inches
            • Weight: 10.14 lbs
            • Capacity: 36L
            • Warranty: Lifetime

              Aerospace-grade aluminum magnesium alloy is a material known for its lightweight and its ability to resist corrosion and other damage. As such, it makes for an ideal frame for any suitcase. Level8 applies it to its zipper-less lock closure suitcase, which has super-quiet wheels and an alloy handle, too.

              The interior dividers were identical, too, which made packing easy, but they can be removed as well if you prefer to pack without them. Our tester found despite the slight frame of this suitcase, it still packed quite a bit.

              Most Stylish Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase


              19 Degree Continental Carry-On

              Tumi Tumi

              • Smooth, 360-degree wheels
              • Unique style makes it stand out from others on this list

              • Some say it’s too small for longer trips
              • Its heaviness may be a turnoff for some

              • Dimensions: 22 x 16.5 x 9 inches
              • Weight: 11.8 pounds
              • Capacity: 35L
              • Warranty: 5 years

                There’s a kinetic beauty to the fluid lines of Tumi’s aluminum luggage — it looks like it’s moving even when it’s standing still. With a 35L capacity, it can comfortably hold everything you need for a few days away, but not much longer, and that's the primary complaint from reviewers. That and this suitcase's weight.

                It's fairly heavy for a small-sized suitcase, but that helps it roll smoother, a perk plenty praised online. If you want the lightest suitcase, this isn't it. If you want something different, Tumi's the right fit for you.

                Best Durable Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

                Zero Halliburton

                Zero Haliburton Pursuit Aluminum International Carry-On

                Zero Haliburton

                • Solid, heavy-duty construction
                • Comes with plenty of internal dividers and pockets

                • Heftier dividers would better support packing
                • Distracting blue-hued handles
                • Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
                • Weight: 11.5 pounds
                • Capacity: 32L
                • Warranty: 5 years

                  Zero Halliburton is one of a handful of American-made brands whose wares have been to space. Its latest edition features the same hard-sided protection as the bags it started making in 1938 and carries a 5-year warranty.

                  Reviewers like that the suitcase has handles on all sides, making lifting it into an overhead bin or up off of a luggage carousel easy. But some cited the coated handles as, well, a little too distracting from the silver suitcase. Many say it'd fare better if the handles were leather or even silver plastic, not the distracting, shiny blue hue. As for packing it, heftier, more helpful dividers would've been nice, they say, to keep everything in its correct place.

                  Why Aluminum?

                  If you do get a ding, wear it proudly. Like the stamps in your passport, it's proof you went somewhere — and survived to tell the tale (even if your luggage looks a little worse for wear). Plus, the dings are only cosmetic; your contents will always be safe in these hard-sided suitcases. (If you're still worried, try organizing what you load inside with packing cubes.)

                  rimowa luggage hard shell
                  Retired pilot Michael Moore put about 2.1 million air miles on his late-’80s Rimowa Pilot Case — and it has the dents and scrapes to prove it.
                  Matthew Stacey

                  Some brands, like Rimowa, offer complimentary maintenance, while others have warranties on the parts that break most often: i.e. the wheels, handles or zippers. You can check it with those retailers and have it back in time for your next trip.

                  rimowa luggage hard shell
                  Footwear designer Chris Echevarria’s Rimowa Cabin S Carry-On that he purchased in 2020.
                  Matthew Stacey

                  Downsides to an Aluminum Suitcase

                  Like we said before, aluminum definitely dings easier than polycarbonate, but it won't crack like the plastic ones do. But you are paying quite a bit for a suitcase that easily shows wear and tear. However, in the luggage world, unlike in beer and spirits, aluminum is a luxury.

                  rimowa luggage hard shell
                  Though aluminum readily shows its dents and scrapes, it does a superlative job protecting suitcase contents.
                  Matthew Stacey

                  Carry-On vs. Checked Bag

                  For frequent travelers, this is hardly a hotly contested debate. Busy business travelers prefer a carry-on bag because it lessens the likelihood it'll get lost, stolen, opened or rummaged through. Plus, a carry-on helps you get from your arrival gate to the airport's exit faster. It's the one suitcase everyone should own.

                  To learn more about how big (or heavy) your carry-on can be, refer to our broader guide to the best carry-on suitcases for every trip.

                  Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
                  More From Buying Guides