What Is Upright Luggage?

Dan Cavallari

Upright luggage is any type of bag or container used by travelers that stands upright rather than laying flat like a duffed bag. The luggage usually features a telescoping handle and plastic wheels to make pulling the luggage much easier and preventing the user from having to pick up the bag too often. The luggage itself may be a soft-shell version or a hard-shell version, and some types of luggage that fit this category do not feature handles or wheels. As long as the luggage sits upright, it can be considered part of this category.

Many travelers use small, upright pieces of luggage as a carry-on item that can help organize their belongings.
Many travelers use small, upright pieces of luggage as a carry-on item that can help organize their belongings.

The advantages of upright luggage include ease of use, durability, convenience, and versatility. If the luggage features a telescoping handle, the user can pull the bag along without having to bend or squat while transporting the bag. The handle will then collapse down into the bag for easier storage in overhead bins on airplanes or even in automobile trunks. The wheels mounted on the bottom of the bag allows the user to pull the bag easily, and when the bag is not in motion, it can be rested upright on the wheels and plastic feet mounted on the bottom for stability.

Upright luggage often features a telescoping handle and wheels, making it easier to transport.
Upright luggage often features a telescoping handle and wheels, making it easier to transport.

Hard-shell upright luggage adds another benefit to the mix: added durability. If the traveler is transporting fragile items or electronics, the hard-shell luggage can help protect those items from direct impacts common during traveling. These types of upright luggage can be a bit more expensive than other models, though it is unlikely the price difference will be too substantial. Unlike soft-shell luggage, however, hard-shell luggage is less likely to expand significantly, so shoving that last pair of pants into the bag might not be possible. Hard-shell luggage will also resist crushing, which is an advantage and a disadvantage: it will protect items within, but a user is more likely to have problems fitting the unyielding hard-shell luggage into small spaces.

The outer pockets of upright luggage are oriented in such a way that accessing commonly used items quickly and easily is possible without having to lay the luggage down. Many travelers use upright luggage as carry-on items so they can access items like passports, cell phones, wallets, and so on while sitting in airport terminals or on the airplane itself. The luggage can come in a variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of various travelers, and while smaller units can be used as carry-on luggage, larger units are usually suitable for checked luggage.

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Discussion Comments


I think both upright luggage and duffel bags are nice and essential for different situations.

Upright luggage is so convenient when going on long trips and when you have to be with your luggage often and move around with it. The wheels make it so convenient and make it feel so light!

If I am just going on a night or weekend trip somewhere close to home, where I won't need to be lugging luggage around many places, I prefer a duffel bag.

I just recently learned the trick of rolling clothes when packing instead of folding clothes. This saves so much room, especially for an over-packer like me!


@JessicaLynn - That is a pretty convincing argument for upright luggage. I actually prefer to carry a duffel bag though. I feel like I can fit so much more stuff in than I can a piece of upright luggage. I guess because duffel bags are pretty flexible.

I have actually seen duffel bags with wheels recently though, and I think I might make the upgrade sometime soon. I could get all the flexibility of a duffel bag with the convenience of upright luggage.


I'm a big fan of upright luggage. I especially love the kind with wheels. I took a last minute trip awhile ago, and I ended up having some weird layovers.

One of the layovers involved me running through the airport to catch my next flight. I carried on my luggage, because I was afraid of it getting lost and my suitcase isn't that large. I was able to get through the airport quickly, pulling my upright luggage behind me. If I had to carry a huge duffel bag, I don't think I would have made it!


I own a couple different luggage sets, and how I am traveling determines which set I use. I have found many airlines to be extremely rough on luggage. For this reason, I will usually travel with cheap luggage when I fly.

This way if something happens to it, I am not out much money. My son bought a new piece of upright luggage and after just one trip, the wheels began to fall off.

It was probably a combination of being a cheaper piece of luggage and rough handling by the baggage people.

If I am going to be traveling by car, I like to use a more expensive set of luggage. I don't handle my bags nearly as roughly as they do at the airport, and this set of luggage has lasted me for many years.


@letshearit - My husband did the same thing before we went on a big trip. He went out and bought a large piece of upright luggage. He only had one piece of luggage, but when it was full it was over the weight limit.

Much to my surprise, I had some extra room in one of my pieces of luggage so we were able to lighten the load enough so that he didn't have to pay an extra fee.

It doesn't take long to buy a new luggage set by the time you pay those fees both ways. This was when each person could have two pieces of luggage with no extra fees.

Now you get charged for each bag you take, so the fees seem to add up no matter what you do.


Does anyone have any large luggage that is upright? Do you find yourself always going over the baggage allowance at the airport?

I purchased a huge upright luggage bag last year and found that it actually fits far too much. I can never get under the baggage allowance. I think I am so used to the idea of packing to capacity that I did myself in by buying too big a bag.

There have been some really good luggage deals at the mall lately, so I may donate my too big bag and get something smaller and much more compact.


Upright luggage is much easier to travel with than things like duffle bags or bulky suitcases. I think a lot of travel luggage these days has headed to the upright luggage style, as it is so much easier to handle.

I got a really nice luggage set last year and it came with a small upright luggage carry-on, and a larger one to check-in. So far I haven't needed to add anything else to make extra room.

One thing I don't like about the upright luggage though is that it can be quite heavy even by itself. I have the hardside luggage, and it easily knocks 6 pounds off my baggage allowance right off the bat.

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