It’s not just discount carriers any longer, all airlines now view baggage handling as a profit-centre and are quick to collect fees for luggage that exceeds the weight allowance. Air passengers need to be careful to pack within weight-limits and a luggage-scale is an indispensable tool for staying the right side of extra charges.
In compiling our list, we’ve preferred digital over analog scales. There is no particular cost-advantage of one over the other but digital scales – which translate the electrical current from a strain gauge into a measure of weight – are much more accurate and can have useful added features that outweigh the disadvantage of buying and replacing batteries.
When making your selection, you should consider the LED display: It should be clear, easy-to-read and, possibly, back-lit. Can the read-out toggle between grams and pounds-and-ounces? Is there a ‘lock-in’ feature allowing you to lower the luggage to the floor while recording the weight-reading?
Other issues worth thinking about include whether the scales use a strap or hook to hang the luggage. (We think a hook is easier but a strap might be more versatile, especially with an unbalanced load). Additionally, it is important that the scales can be used two-handed; a typical, 50-pound suitcase can be difficult to manage with one arm. This would seem to favour the common ‘T-bar’ design but scales with a hoop-handle should be fine if they can be used with two hands.
Finally, don’t forget the return journey! You’re likely to buy some souvenirs while you’re traveling and you’ll need to take the scales with you to check your bags before your flights home. Ideally, then, the scales should not add to your weight problem. They should be light and easily able to fit in a pocket or hand baggage.
There are many models of luggage scales available at low prices and cost should not be a disincentive to being prepared for the airport check-in.
Best Luggage Scales
Amazon Basics Digital Luggage Scale
In keeping with the brand ethos, this is a no-frills, value-priced luggage scale. It can weigh up to 50kg and has a good-sized, grey digital display. Two buttons are used for Power/Zero/Tare and to switch the readout between Metric and Imperial units. The LED will also provide low battery and error warnings. The scale uses a CR2032 battery that is included with the purchase. The unit is 5 inches (130mm) long which should allow for two handed lifting if necessary but weighs only 95g. There are some comments that the scale takes a little time to ‘settle’ especially with heavier luggage and, with regard to accuracy, another reviewer reported measurements only ‘within 0.5kg of airport scales’. However, we are happy to include the Amazon Basics luggage scale and believe it should be perfectly adequate for most travelers.
aLLreLi Luggage Scale
The scale’s strap is looped through the luggage handle and attached to the unit via a metal hook. The scale itself has a black plastic casing fashioned in the shape of a single, closed handle which comfortably accommodates four fingers. A black-on-blue, backlit LED is inset in the top of the handle. Two small buttons are used for power/tare and to switch between pounds and kilos. The scale is powered by two (included ) AAA batteries. Weighing only 100g, the ‘aLLreLi’ scale is another low-cost unit that draws generally good reviews for accuracy and ease of use.
FreeToo Luggage Scale
The FreeToo scale is available in several colours and is a deserved Amazon best-seller for good design and functionality at a sensible price. The scale has a large (app. 2cm high), backlit LED display and a single button to control all functions: press to ‘power on’ and press again to switch between metric and imperial units. For ‘tare’ measurements, make the first lift and then press the button to hold the reading; when the reading returns to zero, add the second item to be weighed. The unit has an auto-off function and uses a CR2032 lithium ion battery (included). The LED provides a low-battery warning when necessary. The scale has a 50kg maximum capacity and measures over 15cm (6 inches) in width which allows for two-handed lifting.
Duronic LS1008/W Luggage Scale
Duronic markets several models of luggage scale in various colours. This model is designed for one-handed use with a bowed handle and a weighing hook positioned slightly off-centre. The handle is 4cm wide with rounded edges for a solid grip. It uses two CR2032 batteries that are supplied with the purchase and has auto-off battery protection. The clear LED display is backlit and features both a tare function and ‘lock-weight’: once the reading is stable, the display locks for easy-reading. The display will also communicate a low-battery warning when appropriate. The maximum capacity is 50kg. This is a useful, solid scale that will still fit conveniently a pocket or handbag.
MyCarbon Luggage Scale
The MyCarbon unit features a bright, black-on-white backlit LED display with easy-to-read 2cm numbers. Two buttons on top of the scale, next to the display, allow the user to change the unit of measurement between metric and imperial, and turn power on and engage the tare function. An automatic ‘lock’ feature enables easy weight-readings once the display has stabilised. Power is provided by a lithium ion battery (included) which is installed beneath a screw-fastened cover to maintain a good contact, and an auto-off feature helps prolong battery life. The scale weighs luggage up to 50kg in 10g increments and the LED provides both overload and low battery warnings. Weighing only 90g and with a rounded, rectangular shape measuring 14.5cm long and 5.5cm wide, this is a good, convenient piece of travel kit.
Salter Luggage Scale
Salter is an historic brand long-associated with durable, accurate mechanical scales. This luggage scale is a better-quality, digital offering designed in a circular, handle shape with an LED readout embedded in the top surface. The handle is 3.1cm thick with a 9cm wide interior opening that comfortably accommodates four adult fingers. A strap is used to attach a suitcase to the handle; use the handle to lift the luggage off the floor and a beep will sound to signal a stable reading that is locked when the bag is returned to the floor. The scale’s capacity is 40kg with readings in 100g increments and it is delivered with a CR2032 battery included. This lightweight scale will fit comfortably in hand baggage and is sold with a 5-year guarantee.