Aluminum carry-ons 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 five here. Get one before your next trip and wear all the inevitable scratches with pride.
Like we said before, aluminum definitely dings easier than polycarbonate, but it won't crack like the plastic ones do. 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 bag looks a little worse for wear).
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.
The Best Aluminum Suitcases
Best Overall Aluminum Suitcase: Away The Large Carry-On: Aluminum Edition
If you tend to go on longer trips and check bags (because you get them for free with your credit card), turn to the roomy interior of Away’s The Large, a heavy-duty option built to survive the stowaway. There are hidden pockets plus a laundry bag inside, and the bag comes with a complimentary leather name tag. Plus, these wheels are the best of the bunch. (Even smoother than Rimowa's, I'd argue.) For a deeper look, read our full review of the Away Large Carry-On.
Best Upgrade Aluminum Suitcase: Rimowa Original Cabin S
Boasting one of the most recognizable luggage silhouettes in the world, Rimowa’s fluted aluminum carry-on features leather handles, a system of adaptable dividers and four ball-bearing mounted wheels that help it roll with ease.
Best Affordable Aluminum Suitcase: Monos Hybrid Carry-On
(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.
Tumi 19 Degree Continental Carry-On
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.
Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On Max: Aluminum Edition
Founded by former execs from luggage specialists Tumi and Louis Vuitton, Arlo Skye brings luxurious touches to its approachably priced bags. Its aluminum carry-on features an anti-microbial lining and the quietest wheels of all the bags we tested.
Zero Halliburton Pursuit Aluminum International Carry-On
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 10-year warranty.
Samsonite Silhouette 17 Medium Hardside Spinner
This Samsonite bag isn't small enough to carry on, so you'll (unfortunately) always have to check it. But, rest assured it'll stay safe in stowaway. It comes with a TSA lock, has a polycarbonate/recyclex exterior and shock-absorbing wheels. Plus, the spinner comes with a free zipper repair kit. Everything else is protected by 10 year global warranty.