Buying Guide for Luggage Scales
Why buy a luggage scale?
If your checked bags exceed an airplane’s weight limit, even by half a pound, you will be charged a penalty fee. Since most airlines charge a fee just to check bags, the last thing you want is to pay even more money for them, especially since overweight baggage fees tend to be much higher than the cost of checking the bag alone. The obvious solution is, of course, to weigh each of your checked bags individually before you go to the airport. You may be able to achieve this with your bathroom scale. However, these often aren’t entirely accurate, especially if your bag is already close to the airline’s weight limit. That’s where luggage scales come in. Since they are designed specifically for the purpose of weighing your bags and suitcases, they are considered to be much more accurate than standard scales.
Unlike most standard home scales, luggage scales tend to be extremely compact, portable, and lightweight. No matter how stuffed your suitcases and bags are, you shouldn’t have an issue slipping one into your luggage so you can weigh it for the return journey as well. And even if you aren’t traveling by airplane or checking a bag, weighing your bags on a luggage scale is a helpful way to help you pack lighter; you may be shocked at how much clothes alone can weigh.
What should you look for in a luggage scale?
- Portable vs. Floor: When it comes to picking a luggage scale, you’ll have the choice between a portable one and an analog one. Portable models are small and weigh luggage from a hanging strap or hook at the bottom. Floor models are very similar to classic bathroom scales, just more accurate for weighing luggage. Portable models are small enough to bring on your trip and weigh your bags before your flight home as well, which is handy for ensuring that the souvenirs you bought don’t exceed the weight limit. Floor models don’t offer this same convenience, but they tend to have higher weight capacities.
- Weight Capacity: You are going to want to ensure that any baggage scale you buy has a high enough weight capacity for your typical luggage size. Fifty pounds is the standard limit for checked bags on most airlines, so you will want to make sure your baggage scale has a higher weight capacity than that. Some airlines don’t even allow you to check bags that weigh over 100 pounds. If you want to play it safe, look for a luggage scale with a weight capacity of at least 110 pounds. That way, you will always know for sure if your bag or suitcase is too heavy to be allowed on a plane.
- Display: With both portable and floor luggage scales alike, you will have a choice between an analog and digital display. If you opt for a digital display, look for one that’s backlit, so you can read it no matter the time of day or available lighting. Whichever display type you pick, look for one with the biggest possible screen, so it’s easier to read. And also consider if it shows luggage weight in pounds, kilograms, or both. If you travel internationally, you may find it worthwhile to invest in one that shows both so you can alternate between the two as needed.
Do luggage scales have maximum weight capacities?
Yes, they do, and not all luggage scales have the same weight capacities. Some may be aimed at carry-on bags rather than large checked bags, so they won’t be able to support as much weight. This is less of an issue with floor scales, but for classic portable, hanging luggage scales, be sure to check the weight capacity before you buy. If you don’t, you risk buying one with a too-small weight capacity, only to see it break when you go to weigh your luggage. To be safe, opt for a luggage scale with a weight capacity of at least 100 pounds. This tends to be towards the upper echelon for more airlines, so you’ll want to make sure your bags don’t tip the scale at that number. You may even want to spring for one that has an even higher weight capacity just to be safe, especially if you find yourself overpacking quite often.
Our Picks for the Best Luggage Scales
Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale
An accurate, portable luggage scale that measures temperature as well as weight.
Pros: Like most handheld, portable luggage scales, this model is compact, lightweight, and small enough to slip into your pocket. It has an ideal weight capacity of 110 pounds, is accurate within 0.1 pounds, and can display weight in kilograms. As a bonus, it’s equipped with a thermometer sensor, perfect if you have temperature-sensitive luggage or items inside your bags. The thermometer measures both Fahrenheit and Celsius. The rubber textured handle is comfortable to hold, even when holding the heaviest baggage. The auto-off function helps save battery life, and the scale will alert you when the batteries are running low.
Cons: While you shouldn’t have trouble gripping this scale in one hand for lighter bags, it will require two hands for heavier luggage. The size and shape make it harder to hold in two hands, and it may dig into your palms during the weighing. Also note that the battery is built-in, so it can’t be replaced or recharged; once the battery dies, you’ll have to buy a new scale altogether.
Bottom Line: There’s a lot to love about this classic luggage scale, especially if one luggage scale alone just won’t cut it, such as when you and your significant other or a friend are traveling together, and you want to weigh your own suitcases separately. Or maybe you simply want to have a spare luggage scale on hand if your first one accidentally breaks or the battery runs out. Whatever your reasoning, whether you need a single luggage scale or a double set, you can’t go wrong with this model.
Etekcity Scale with Backlit LCD Display
An especially compact luggage scale with a retractable stainless steel hook and its own carrying pouch.
Pros: At under 6 inches long, this hooked model is especially compact and portable. And, unlike many others, it comes with its own drawstring carrying pouch for protection and to keep it from rattling around freely in your luggage. This scale’s compact size doesn’t negate its effectiveness, either. It has a weight capacity of up to 110 pounds and is able to detect items weighing as little as 0.1 pounds. Not only is the backlit LCD screen easy to read, but it can display your luggage’s weight in pounds, ounces, grams, or kilograms, depending on your preference. The durable stainless steel hook offers greater security while your luggage hangs from it and can be stored in the back slot of the scale, so it won’t scratch or damage your other belongings. It has several other useful functions, such as an overload indication for items over 110 pounds, a low battery indication, auto switch-off after 60 seconds of inactivity, an optional data hold function, and even a built-in tape measure if you want to ensure your bags fit within any dimension restrictions.
Cons: If you have suitcases, bags, or other luggage with thicker straps or handles, this luggage scale may not be optimal for weighing your travel baggage. The hook is proportionate to the overall size of the device, meaning it’s on the smaller side and may not fit onto bigger or thicker straps.
Bottom Line: If you prefer a hook-ended luggage scale to a strap-ended model, this highly portable luggage scale is the one for you. Between the hook and its other built-in features, this is an excellent multipurpose scale for activities like fishing, gardening, and more.
SHANJE High Precision Luggage Scale
A compact luggage scale with dual attachment choices and a green backlit LCD screen that is a breeze to read no matter the time of day.
Pros: Some luggage scales use straps or lanyards to lift up bags and suitcases; some use hooks. This model, however, comes included with one of each, so you can switch between a strap and hook at well, as needed. That’s not the only benefit it provides, either. Even the best luggage scale in the world isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t properly read the display. Thus, picking a model with an easy-to-read screen is crucial. This model is designed specifically for this purpose. The LCD screen won’t put any strain on your eyes. The green backlight will be crystal clear, even in the dark. It can display your suitcase’s weight in either pounds, kilograms, grams, or ounces. It has a weight capacity of up to 110 pounds and is highly accurate, with a deviation of no more than a mere 0.1 pound. The scale itself only weighs 90 grams and is small, making it easy to slip into your pocket, wallet, or even the smallest luggage compartment. And the battery is replaceable, unlike those in some luggage scales, so you won’t have to buy a whole new scale once the battery runs out.
Cons: This luggage scale is pricier than most handheld models due to its dual attachment feature. And its size and design mean that it’s another option that’s hard to grip with two hands, which you will have to do for any luggage that weighs over 15 kilograms (33 pounds). Also be careful not to tilt this scale at an angle during use, as this will lead to an inaccurate reading.
Bottom Line: Most luggage scales use either a hook or a strap for lifting and weighing your bags. This particular luggage scale saves you the trouble of having to choose between the two since it comes with both types of attachments.
Smart Weigh Digital Heavy-Duty Luggage Scale
A multipurpose, heavy-duty floor luggage scale with a high weight capacity and an adjustable LCD screen.
Pros: This model is a great option for a floor luggage scale. The impressive 440-pound weight capacity makes it suitable for a wide range of items and will easily let you know if your bags are overweight. The LCD can show weight in pounds, ounces, kilograms, and grams. Readings are instant and accurate, especially when resting on a hard, flat surface. The tare weighing option allows you to place more than one suitcase at a time if desired, and the PCS function gives an accurate count for multiple items. The LCD reader is attached to the scale through an extendable display cord, so you can adjust and place it in the spot most convenient for you to read. The USB cord provides an extra power source just in case the battery runs out on you unexpectedly. And since it’s a floor luggage scale rather than a handheld one, it can be used to weigh a much wider range of items besides suitcases and bags. For instance, you may find it useful for weighing packages before bringing them to the post office.
Cons: As is the case with floor luggage scales in general, this model isn’t nearly as compact as a handheld scale. While it’s slim enough to fit into some suitcases and bags, it’ll add several extra pounds to your baggage, and the LCD screen is more challenging to tuck away. There’s also a minimum weight reading of 6 ounces; it can’t detect anything that weighs less. And it’s much more expensive than handheld models.
Bottom Line: Not everyone likes to, or is capable of, lifting their luggage off the ground to weigh it, especially heavier bags. If you’d prefer not to constantly pick up their suitcases when weighing them, this floor scale is an excellent alternative to handheld models.
EatSmart SmartGrip Instant Read Luggage Scale
A high-quality handheld luggage scale designed to be extra easy to grip with one or two hands.
Pros: If you’ve found that long, narrow, handheld luggage scales are hard to lift, consider this model as an alternative. The handle shape is much easier to firmly grip and lift, with one or two hands, thanks to both its shape and two rubber handle grips. It won’t dig into your palms when weighing heavier baggage, as some handheld models do. The buckle on the nylon strap is quick-release, easy to undo and fasten, and the battery is equally simple to replace when the included one dies. The backlit LCD screen is built right on top of the handle and can display weight in both pounds and kilograms.
Cons: Be careful when packing this scale in your luggage, as it’s easy for the on/off switch to turn on by itself if a stray item presses against it. Since this slightly pricier model doesn’t have an automatic shutoff feature, it’s very easy for this scale to get switched on inside your bag and the battery drain without you even realizing it. You may want to keep a spare replacement battery on hand, just in case.
Bottom Line: Traditionally, handheld luggage scales tend to be long, narrow, and slightly curved in shape, making them harder to grip and lift with two hands and running the risk of digging into your palms during the weighing. This particular handheld model is just as lightweight and portable but designed with a more convenient handle.
If you travel by airplane a lot, especially internationally, a luggage scale is invaluable for assuring you won’t exceed your bags’ assigned weight limit. Even if you don’t fly very often, a luggage scale can still be a valuable way to make sure you aren’t overpacking and weighing yourself down with extra, unnecessary weight in your luggage.