Making a Weighty Decision: Best Luggage Scales for Your Travels
Inventor/entrepreneur/big dreamer Ryan Grepper hit pay dirt by inventing a cooler, considered “the most successful project in crowdfunding giant Kickstarter’s five-year history.” He made a cool $13 million for this clever idea.
But lost in his history was his invention of a luggage scale to “help travelers avoid airline fees.” It’s anybody’s guess who got the first patent, but both innovators shared this belief: If you want to save some bucks when you travel, owning your own luggage scale will help big time.
Our Top Luggage Scale Picks:
Scales: Essential to world commerce
Angela Chieh, Data & Studies Product Manager at Nokia, “believes in a world where data-driven decisions and creativity both have their place.” Her interest in the topic of scales sent her on a journey back in time to eras when weighing scales were “born of necessity” because value couldn’t be ascribed to items being traded without a way to calculate the values of goods based on the amount being sold or bought.
Chieh’s search took her to the Indus River valley near Pakistan around 2000 BC. Traders and merchants used a balancing system consisting of two suspended plates from an overhead beam tethered to a central pole. Merchants used weight-setting stones in order to decide how much to charge. Items were place on one plate and stones on the other. When the plates were even, a selling price was established.
By 390 BC scales were so essential to life, one became the centerpiece of a historic cheating scandal: Celtic chieftain Brennus laid siege to Rome, then tried to ransom the city for 1,000 pounds of gold. The Romans wanted Rome back--were willing to pay the ransom—-until someone realized that the Celts placed lighter counterweights on the scale to force the addition of more gold. The standoff was settled and the Celts left Rome a 1,000-pound+ ransom.
Luggage meets scale: A match made in financial heaven
Fast forward to contemporary airline travel and the need to figure out ways to regulate luggage size so cargo holds could be efficiently organized and pilots could make accurate fuel assessments. As new materials like carbon fiber and composite materials used to construct airplane bodies began to decrease weight, the industry required updated statistical deviations to ballpark average lift-off weights that took into consideration the combined weight of a plane's shell, passengers and luggage.
Major benefactors of this emphasis on payload were companies like Arlyn Scales, a firm that understood that airplanes could “be forced to reduce the number of passengers carried” if they didn’t get an accurate handle on weight limits. Small aircraft owners were particularly impacted, hence the rise of “accurate, rugged weighing scales to obtain actual passenger and luggage weight."
Scales revolutionized the way airlines computed fuel costs. As scale manufacturers entered this lucrative niche, every facet of design was refined and improved, from heights to platform balance and from employing materials like welded aluminum to re-engineering mechanisms designed to pair strength with stability.
Ultimately, luggage became a major revenue-generating factor for airlines and as weight limits associated with heavy bags grew more stringent, industrial scales had to be even more accurate--thus you might wonder whether the current generation of hand-held scales can hold their own. In fact, they are not only saving passengers money, but they're one of the most affordable travel gadgets within this expanding market.
Reasons to buy a luggage scale
Your reason for shopping for a luggage scale has everything to do with kissing goodbye these words: “Sorry; your bag is 3 pounds over—how would you like to pay for that overage?” Using a portable scale to ascertain the weight of your luggage while you’re packing makes sense and given the proliferation of these gadgets, prices are dropping so you could be advantaged in many ways.
Using your bathroom scale to estimate the weight of your bag’s contents? Not a great idea. All it takes is a couple of extra ounces to push your bag into the Land of Fees, and isn’t the reason you’re reading this review in the first place to avoid that visit? In fact...
- Luggage scales will help you monitor packing weight at home so you save time checking in at the airport.
- Packing and carrying less as a result of conforming to weight limits lessens your impact on the environment.
- If you intend to shop at your location, bring your scale along and recheck weight at your destination.
- Save money by shipping home items you don’t need right away if your luggage scale delivers bad news.
- Lessening the weight of your luggage can impact everything from your skeletal system to fatigue levels.
- Discover other uses for your luggage scale that save you money and increases its value to you!
How to operate a luggage scale
The rise in luggage scale design and manufacture has created quite the crowded marketplace that has become an epicenter for digital scales available at a surprising array of price points. It’s getting harder to find a standard version so you may wish to confine your search to the growing library of digital models.
Would you spend 10 bucks to avoid an overcharge on your baggage next time you escape? Invest in this Etekcity digital luggage scale and figure out where you’ll spend the money you save. Expect high-accuracy readings when figuring out how much your packed bag weighs—just as long as that bag isn’t heavier than 110 pounds. If you’re packing more than this, perhaps you should re-read the aforementioned reasons to eliminate items that aren’t necessarily important.
Pack rats may be challenged when it comes to this task, but it’s important to rely upon this hanging scale to do more than just assess weight: There’s a thermometer temperature sensor that broadcasts both Fahrenheit and Celsius readouts if you’re worried about delicate items stowed in your bag.
This scale is durable and heavy duty, so expect this product to stick around for years to come. Even the textured hand grip and rubber paint technology assist as you weigh each bag. Because it’s small and portable, take it along on your next journey to make sure fees you avoided on your first flight don’t pop up on you return trip.
- Small, affordable and accurate, the Etekcity luggage scale checks all the right boxes.
- An ideal gift for a frequent traveler, you can be the most generous person at the office by buying multiples.
- The digital window is large enough for traveling seniors to read easily.
- On-off functions preserve energy and a 1-year warranty comes with each scale.
- Disappointed purchasers say weight differences between the Etelcity and airline scales cost them overage fees.
- This scale could break if the load you’re weighing is over the recommended 100-pound bag limit.
- Temperature reading may not be accurate.
- You could wind up replacing batteries more often than you’d prefer.
You may have a hard time differentiating this MagicPro scale from the aforementioned Etekcity model. They cost the same. Look the same. But read the small print and you’ll learn that this scale only guarantees accuracy up to 100 pounds, so if you intend to travel like a Sherpa, that 10-pound differential could makes your decision. The clear, reliable LCD display will inform you if batteries are running low and signal you when the bag you’re weighing surpasses its capacity. What’s the biggest perk? You get two for the price of one!
Like the Etekcity scale, expect legible Fahrenheit and Celsius readouts to make sure your bags aren’t stowed in intemperate areas, the textured hand grip mimics the one used to on the Etekcity scale and there’s an on/off switch to save battery life. If guarantees and warranties mean the world to you, this luggage scale makes a promise many competitors don’t: MagicPro prides itself on its hassle-free, full refund policy where no questions are asked about why it didn’t work for you.
- The press-button mechanism allows you to toggle between pounds and kilos.
- The MagicPro guarantee/warranty is as irresistible as the two-scales-for-one-price offer.
- CR2032 3v batteries are easy to find so no exotic power sources are required.
- Ergonomically designed to fit your hand while you’re weighing your luggage.
- The power key could get stuck rendering the scale useless.
- The digital display may be accurate, but it can take a long time to pop up on the screen.
- The readout doesn’t reset automatically once it’s computed a weight.
- Shoppers complain about receiving two units but only one battery.
If the two aforementioned brands don’t do much for your sensibilities, you can get more style and a sleeker look for an additional $4 by opting for a Tarriss Jetsetter scale that’s been profiled by “Huffington Post” travel editors and other publications. This scale has a 110-pound weight capacity and data is delivered on the digital screen in both pounds and kilograms. Tarriss offers a 100-percent, satisfaction-guaranteed, lifetime warranty.
You’ll avoid battery drain because there is no backlight on the LCD display and you’ll appreciate the auto-shutoff feature if you tend to forget to turn things off. Made of stainless steel and sleekly shaped to resemble the head of a golf putter, this scale comes with a long-life lithium battery so you either avoid or eliminate some of the biggest complaints consumers register when shopping this product category. And when it comes to weight options, only this scale reports data in pounds, kilograms and stones.
- Can you put a price tag on a lifetime warranty--especially when competitors don’t offer this perk?
- Small, sleek and extremely attractive, this no-frills luggage scale could win beauty contests.
- Weighs just 4 ounces so it takes up less room than your car keys when you stow it.
- The capacity overload and low-battery indicators are worth spending an extra $4 on this product.
- Because it’s so small, this luggage scale can easily get lost when you’re on the go.
- This scale does not always “freeze” the weight reading on the display and could jump around.
- Purchasers report a 2- to 3-pound weight discrepancy between this scale's readout and airport scale weights.
- The power and selection control button are a shared function so you lose two features if it malfunctions.
Love gimmicks? You can stop reading now. This Habor digital scale costs less than $10 but it’s loaded with bells and whistles. Sure, you get the promise of 110-pound capacity and the LCD display is backlit so you don’t have to wear glasses to conclude that if you don’t get rid of some of the contents in your bag, you’ll spend a lot more than the price of this gadget. Readouts lock in place once the scale determines its weight (an H appears on the scale telling you not to expect fluctuation), and if you forget to turn it off, it’s programmed to shut off in a minute to save battery life.
How much do you travel? This scale is designed to compute baggage weights at least 1,000 times before it goes off to luggage scale heaven, but while it’s alive, you’ll get plenty of service. What’s different? Retrieve a clever, 3-foot-long steel measuring tape, long enough to ascertain the parameters of your suitcase in both inches and centimeters from its hidden compartment so there’s no guessing about the size of your suitcase, either.
- You love that measuring tape, don’t you?
- This Harbor digital scale features battery-saving measures like one-minute shutdown capacity.
- At just a little over half an inch by 1.3-inches in size, it’s easy to carry and store.
- Found to be reliable by travelers who paid more for scales that weren’t as accurate.
- Availability could be problematic; this popular scale sells out quickly.
- May not be as accurate as the manufacturer claims, according to a few scale owners.
- The tape measure could get caught or snagged and getting it to dispense could be frustrating.
- It’s so slim and small, it could get lost if it’s not stowed safely.
Even if you watched the 2016 Golden Globe Awards, who knew that every celebrity in the house was given a Dunheger digital luggage scale as a gift in their celebrity goodie bag? Is that claim to fame worthy of a $3 price increase when compared to the Etekcity and MagicPro scales? That depends upon how star struck you happen to be and whether bragging rights are important.
This luggage scale weighs bags in pounds and kilos, comes with a backlit display and offers travelers one-button operation. Despite that slight price hike, this Dunheger won’t compute weight if you bag weighs over 100 pounds, so if you want that 10-pound advantage, save your $3. That stated, there is one major difference (or minor difference if that’s your perspective): instead of a hanging hook featured on competitor scales, this scale weighs bags using a strap and buckle combination. Two AAA batteries are included.
- The auto shut-off feature kicks in at 1 minute to save battery life.
- This scale has an auto-lock feature to prevent LCD readout numbers from jumping around.
- Receive a money-back guarantee from Dunheger.
- The unique strap and buckle combo may appeal to you if you’ve had problems with hooks in the past.
- Customers complain about differentials when assessing the same bag’s weight multiple times.
- May not be as sturdy as competitor scales if dropped or otherwise abused.
- Despite charged batteries, features on the LCD display may malfunction.
- Weighing strap not located as indicated in photos; balancing a heavy bag to get a reading could be problematic.
Conclusion: The Winner Is…
If forced to classify the five products profiled in this review, we would have to pair the Etekcity with the MagicPro because the price is the same and the features are practically identical. Both the Tarriss and the Dunheger get high marks for performance (and that two-for-one offer could be irresistible to pairs of travelers), but neither manages to escape the wrath of folks who expect more for those extra few dollars.
For those of you who belong to the Church of Thrifty Living, you’ll be happy to know that the luggage scale we’ve picked as the best of the best is the affordable Habor Digital Hanging Luggage Scale for Travel. It’s got everything the other scales in this review have plus the cool tape measure function.
The Habor brand makes good on its promise to hold weight readings steady against the backlit field and getting an extra 10-pound weight advantage could be considered priceless if you intend to travel for extended periods of time with everything but your kitchen sink in your baggage.
Should the fact that this scale costs less than the others trouble you? Not if you’re an optimist. Your mom may have told you that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but once in a while, a manufacturer really does make good on product promises. Brand fans and scale owners seem to believe that Habor does just that.