Luxury travel begins well before you board you plane, it can start from the moment you begin packing your bags. We set out to find the best hard-shell carry-ons for all your travel needs and the Delsey Chatelet delivered on sturdiness — tying with our overall top pick — and made us feel like we were rolling into first class travel.
What we loved
The Delsey Chatelet Hard+ 21-Inch Spinner actually tied in our testing with our top pick Away case. The Chatelet got especially high marks for durability, thanks to its Bayer virgin Makrolon polycarbonate shell, Hinomoto wheels and aluminum handle. The outer shell is thicker and has less give than Away’s — making the case heavier and less flexible overall, but also less dent-prone. In fact, the Chatelet essentially ignored all our attempts to damage it. The shell also has a lightly textured diamond pattern meant to reduce the appearance of scratches and scuffs, and it was indeed more scuff-proof in our tests than the Away.
This was also the most luxurious-feeling case of the bunch. Inside features soft-touch polyester lining and super smooth zippers with faux leather pull tabs. The top and side handles are also wrapped in cushy faux leather, making them quite comfy to hold for long periods of time. The wrapping on the handles is thick, though, meaning it’s hard for other items to lay flush atop the case — an issue for those who like to stack tote bags or pet carriers on top of their luggage while rolling through the airport.
Delsey’s telescopic handle deserves particular praise: It’s shiny, black and remarkably smooth — so smooth, in fact, that we couldn’t give any other case’s handle a perfect score after using it. The Chatelet also features an easy brake system, which proved useful when stopping on a sloped surface or when carrying the case on the subway.
The Chatelet features a classic, glamorous design. There are only three color options available, but there’s no denying that this bag looks and feels high-class. It also comes with a laundry bag, shoe bag and collapsible hanger. Inside features two compartments with tie-down straps and full-zip dividers; it’s a fine system, but we preferred being able to actually see what we’ve packed with Away’s mesh zipper compartment.
The Chatelet doesn’t have as great a warranty as the Away, though it’s still very solid at 10 years. The Chatelet also comes with a built-in tracking plate you can register online in case it’s lost or stolen.
What we didn’t like
So what’s the problem? The Chatelet is 9.3 pounds — the heaviest of all the bags we tested. And in the world of excess baggage fees, weight reigns supreme. The bag also has an enormous internal capacity with 44.9 liters of space, but is physically bulkier than the Away. While the Chatelet should be fine for domestic travel, you could run into trouble when trying to carry this bag onto certain international flights. It’s always worth checking an airline’s posted carry-on dimensions before traveling.
How it compares to other hard-shell carry-ons we recommend
Best overall hard-shell carry on luggage
A luxurious hard-shell runner-up choice
The most Instagrammable hard-shell carry-on luggage
Best affordable hard-shell carry-on luggage
|What we loved||Made with a strong but lightweight 100% polycarbonate outer shell, smooth YKK zippers, an aluminum telescopic handle and the Rolls-Royce of luggage wheels: four double Hinomoto spinners, which in our testing glided seamlessly on pavement, hardwood and grass alike.||Classic and glamorous design with a luxurious-feeling. Comfortable handles, easy break system and scuff-proof.||Gorgeous bag with a sleek, monochromatic exterior, a squishy cushioned grip that made for an ultra comfortable carry and exceedingly lightweight.||Affordable and sturdy with a fully polycarbonate shell and lots of internal space.|
|What we didn't like||Heavier than other bags we tested.||Heaviest of our top picks and slightly bulkier than the Away bag. The excess weight could cause trouble when trying to carry this bag onto certain international flights.||Can surpass size and weight restrictions on some airlines when using the expandable part of the bag. The expandable part of the bag is also made of fabric, which is inherently less durable than the hard shell itself.||Omni lacks a horizontal side handle, which really comes in handy when lugging a case up and down stairs and when removing it from an overhead bin.The wheels are also single, rather than double, spinners, which are slightly less sturdy and more prone to getting caught in cracks in the sidewalk.|
|Key Specs||8.1 lbs, 39.8-liter capacity, two device charging ports, lifetime warranty||9.3 lbs, 44.9-liter capacity, 10-year warranty||6 lbs, 46-liter capacity that expands up to 2 inches, 2-year warranty||6.8 pounds, 41-liter capacity, 10-year warranty|
|Price||Starting at $275||Starting at $319.99||$195||Starting at $116.10|
The bottom line
If you’re not planning to bounce around between many locations on a trip, or if you’re traveling by car or train where weight isn’t a concern, then the Delsey Chatelet is still certainly worth considering. It’s a joy to use, with a huge capacity, smooth wheels, sturdy shell, and that fantastic telescopic handle. Above all, the Delsey Chatelet will make you feel like a first-class traveler, even when you’re stuck in coach.