It may be hard to believe, but there are very few hardsided suitcases that address the significant packing problem that travelers have with most of these types, and that is not having 80/20 hardside luggage lid openings.
While hardside luggage has become more popular than softside in recent years, there are some problems usually associated with it. One such problem arises with the way you have to pack the suitcase. Because of the 4 spinner wheels, they have to be designed to open with the front pair attached to one opening side and the back pair attached to the other. This means that most hardshelled luggage will open “clam style”. This means the top and bottom sections are divided 50/50 in volume and your belongings have to be packed equally between them.
When you’re unpacking in tight hotel rooms you don’t have space to lay your suitcase flat open. I’ve actually had to keep the lid vertically open with the divider panel still zipped closed and unpack one half before spinning the suitcase around and doing the same with the other half!
Not the pieces that we’ve chosen below, though. These collections feature the 80/20 style opening that makes most softside luggage so attractive. The only other collection that does the same is the Briggs & Riley Torq.
With an 80/20 split or top lid opening hardside luggage, you can just pack accessories like toiletries, chargers and shoes in the shallow lid compartment with the divider panel fully or partially closed and lean the lid against the wall so that the suitcase doesn’t take up much room on the floor or can just about lie on a small luggage rack that some hotels room have.
Alert: In the last 3 years there are other options available for hardside luggage with lid opening or front compartment. These don’t necessarily open in the 80 20 configuration, but they provide an external compartment or lid from which you can access your laptop or other important possessions that you may need to always be within easy reach of.
Top Picks for Best 80/20 Hardside Luggage
Best 80/20 Split Hardside Luggage
Samsonite Polygon Spinner
The old Samsonite Spin Trunk was the first 80/20 hardside spinner luggage on the market but the newer Samsonite Polygon Carry On Spinner and Large Spinner are a step above in design and functionality and their FLAT-MAX™ 20:80 luggage proportion structure maximizes the packing experience by placing the integrated pull handle on the outside of the shallow section.
They boast the standard must have features of double spinner wheels, dual tube pull handle, TSA recessed combination lock for the double zippers, and double zipped packing dividers inside for each packing side. These dividers come with pockets and there’s compression ribbon too for better organization. The double wheels feature an EASY BRAKE™ SYSTEM by Hinomoto for high maneuverability but a way to prevent your spinner from rolling away on an incline.
The shell is made of polycarbonate polygon brushed texture finishing that looks premium and could reduce visibility of scratches. Each piece is very lightweight and easy to handle on the move.
So in addition to making packing easier, customers love how light it is and easy to handle.
Andiamo Classico Suitcase with Built-in TSA Lock
Andiamo is known in the industry to produce collections with a few innovative features, so it stands to reason that they have a hard shell suitcase that features the rare 80-20 split. That’s the Andiamo Classico Carry on Suitcase. It also boasts another sought after feature – zipperless locking.
The Classico scores high in design and style, sporting a glossy finish in three colors – black, ruby red and royal sapphire. The strong aluminum frame with polycarbonate shell and aluminum-magnesium alloy bumper corners make the piece extra durable. Instead of zipper closures, there are two TSA locks built into the aluminum frame, which is an added security feature.
The dual wheels and aluminum handle work smoothly.
For travelers that constantly need to charge their devices, there’s an external USB port that’s connected to an inner pocket where you can keep your own power bank. This allows you to charge your phone or tablet at anytime in the airport or station. Another inner pocket boasts RFID protective lining so that your passport and cards are safe from personal information theft.
There is a handy removable computer and accessories padded sleeve inside the shallower section that’s useful if you’re not inclined to carry an extra laptop bag. If it’s not needed on a trip, just unfasten the Velcro strap and remove it to make more room for your other belongings.
The deeper packing section is separated from the shallow one by a divider panel with its own inbuilt zipped mesh pockets. There’s a lid support strut on one side of the suitcase that helps keep the lid open about 100°, which is perfect if you don’t place it in front of a wall for unpacking. This can be unfastened if you prefer the top lid to lay flat instead.
While this is a great carry on for frequent travelers, it’s not one of the lightest, weighing about 10.4 lbs with the laptop sleeve.
Briggs & Riley Torq-Hardside Wide-Body Spinner Luggage
For mid to high end luggage, you can’t go wrong with the Briggs & Riley Torq-Hardside Wide-Body Spinner Luggage collection. Any B&R fan will attest to how robust and feature-rich each piece is and who doesn’t love their full lifetime warranty? The Torq collection comes with an 80/20 split opening on the wide body carry on and the medium, large and extra large checked sized suitcases. The Torq international carry on is a bit slimmer and features an external front pocket.
The 100% virgin Makrolon® polycarbonate material is high strength, lightweight, and provides resiliency. You have great color options in black, graphite, ruby and cobalt.
The YKK zippers lock into a TSA approved combination lock and the aircraft-grade aluminum pull handle extends to three different heights. As with all B&R hardside pieces, this handle is placed on the outside so that your packing space inside is flat and free from interference. The dual spinner wheels roll smoothly over any surface.
Business travelers will love the built in hanging garment section in the lid with a loop to lock hangers into place. Once the garment is carefully folded into place, the divider panel can be zipped up and its mesh zipped pockets can hold some accessories. The deeper section also features a compression panel to keep your clothes in place.
These pieces nest into one another for easy storage. We reviewed this collection in detail when it first appeared in the market.
Briggs & Riley Sympatico-Hardside CX Expandable Carry-On Spinner Luggage
If you’ve noticed, none of the other collections on this list have an expandable feature for extra packing capacity. That’s because even if an uneven split opening design is used in a suitcase, one pair of spinner wheels have to be accommodated on the shallow side. In order to do that, designers build a bend into the bottom of the shallow compartment so that just the base is broadened for the wheels. However, this bend means that you can’t have zippers that give you that expand feature because that extra inch or two has to go straight all around.
The Briggs & Riley Sympatico Hardside CX Spinner collection solves this problem by building the expandable feature a little way behind the bend and into the deeper compartment of the suitcase. This makes it the only 80/20 split hardside luggage that is expandable. The amount is 2.5 inches, which gives you 25% more packing space for your souvenirs.
Here’s the clincher – not only does it expand for packing but when you’re done and zip the suitcase closed, you can also compress it down to its original dimensions using its patented CX compression system. This allows you to always keep within airline luggage dimensions restrictions.
All the other features are similar to that of the Torq collection above. These pieces also come with an outsider telescopic handle for flat packing, a built in garment section, compression panel for keeping clothes in place, TSA combination lock for the zippers and the legendary lifetime warranty.
This collection also has the 100% virgin Makrolon® polycarbonate shell for lightweight durability. The collection includes two carry on sizes – a domestic 22″ and an international 21″, a checked medium, and a checked large spinner. You get to choose from a whopping 9 colors!
Ted Baker Men’s Hardside Spinner Luggage Herringbone Collection
For a truly luxurious set of luggage, the Ted Baker Men’s Herringbone Collection is where it’s at. There are 3 pieces in the collection – a carry on, a checked-medium and a checked-large. The colors available are black, burgundy, bronze and navy. The stunning high definition herringbone design contrast panel on the 100% Makrolon polycarbonate shell is hand applied.
The trolley handle is made from strong, lightweight aircraft grade aluminium with a faux leather ergonomic hand grip. There’s a TSA-approved combination lock with two way zip-around closure and 4 smooth rolling dual wheels for ultimate 360 maneuverability.
The inside of the suitcases feature the signature Ted Baker bird print. The top shallow compartment can be closed off with a zippered divider, and the bottom compartment has tie down straps. There is also a small zippered pocket in the bottom compartment for any smaller items you’d like to pack separately.
Each piece is very lightweight but durable.