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Hands-on Gear Review

Samsonite Inova 20 Review

Samsonite Inova
Price:   $230 List | $208.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Integrated lock, smooth rolling wheels.
Cons:  Smaller internal storage, no external pockets, single-stem handle makes adding a briefcase challenging.
Bottom line:  Sleek and stylish bag for shorter trips.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Samsonite

Our Verdict

We've tested several hard-sided, four-wheeled bags in this review and in the process we grew to love these sophisticated, lightweight pieces for city-to-city travel. Of the hard-sided bags that we tested, the Samsonite Inova 20 stood out far above the rest. It rolls flawlessly, is lightweight, and has a sleek, chic look. It doesn't have the capacity of the larger and expandable two-wheeled bags in this review, like our Top Pick for Business Travel, the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic, but it was able to hold enough items for a long weekend and then some. It has an integrated TSA lock, and the spinner-wheels make the bag easy to maneuver. We do have a couple of complaints about this bag: there are no exterior pockets, scratches show up easily, and the single stem handle makes adding a laptop bag or briefcase a challenge, but overall, this is a high performing piece of carry-on luggage. If you prefer the look and/or protective qualities of hard-sided luggage, the Inova is a great bet.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
December 1, 2016

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The Samsonite Inova 20 has a 100% Makrolon polycarbonate shell and frame-integrated TSA lock. It weighs 6 lbs 7 oz and its exterior dimensions are 21 x 15 x 8. Current color options are Indigo Blue and Metallic Silver.

Performance Comparison


This bag fits like a glove even in Allegiant Air's notoriously tight sizers.
This bag fits like a glove even in Allegiant Air's notoriously tight sizers.

Ease of Transport


The most notable benefit of this bag is its efficient four-wheeled design. The high quality swivel wheels allow you to push or pull this bag flawlessly over polished surfaces, even while making tight figure eights. Because you can push this bag in front of you, we never had the problem of it catching on a seat on the plane while walking down the aisle, something we did experience quite often with two-wheeled bags like the Travelpro Magna 2. However, the wheels on this bag are not as large and wide as those on most two-wheeled bags, which can handle uneven surfaces much better. That said, when you hit an obstacle or harsh surface, it's easy to tip this bag up and pull it as a traditional two-wheeled carry-on. This bag's single-stem telescoping handle raises smoothly and locks at two heights, but we weren't a fan of this design. Normally we liked to carry our laptop bag against the telescoping handle of our carry-on, and the normal two stems usually provide a good resting place for it, but it kept falling to either side of the Inova's single stem. This suitcase doesn't have an add-a-bag strap, further limiting your options. It was one of the lighter bags in our review, and since you can't pack as much into it as some other options, it felt light travelling with it.

While we liked the ease of travelling with this four-wheeled bags in airports and maneuvering down tight airplane aisles  the single stem on the handle made it difficult to carry our laptop bag on top of it - it kept falling off to the side.
While we liked the ease of travelling with this four-wheeled bags in airports and maneuvering down tight airplane aisles, the single stem on the handle made it difficult to carry our laptop bag on top of it - it kept falling off to the side.

Storage


This bag doesn't look like it can hold much, but we were able to squeeze a surprising amount of clothing and shoe options in it. There's no option to expand it though, so watch that you don't purchase too many souvenirs on your trip. The Inova does have a dividing flap that fully encloses one side, which is nice for separating dirty and clean clothes during your trip, but the compression straps on the other side do little to keep your belongings secured. If you're a heavy packer and sold on hard-sided luggage, check out the Delsey Shadow 3.0 21, which has a lot of internal space and an expanding zipper — just don't pack it too full and check your airline's carry-on baggage restrictions as you may be forced to check it!

You can squeeze a lot in this bag  and the ability to close off one side completely is nice for separating clean and dirty clothes.
You can squeeze a lot in this bag, and the ability to close off one side completely is nice for separating clean and dirty clothes.

Features


As mentioned above, our testers really like the internal divider on the Samsonite Inova 20. The Rockland Melbourne 20 has this feature as well. The Samsonite piece also has an integrated TSA-approved combination lock that is simple to set and use. One feature that our testers missed on this bag were exterior pockets. None of the hard-sided bags in this review have easy-to-access exterior stash spaces for books, last minute additions, and other items. This bag is pretty light on features, particularly compared to our Editors' Choice winner, the Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On, which has so many extras on it. But, there is something to be said for clean and simple, and that's what the design of this bag offers.

The integrated TSA lock is a nice touch  but one of the only "extras" this bag has to offer.
The integrated TSA lock is a nice touch, but one of the only "extras" this bag has to offer.

Durability


The hard-sided shell of the Samsonite Inova 20 is 100% Makrolon polycarbonate, which is more durable than other plastics like ABS (which is the material used to make the Rockland Melbourne. The Inova has a brushed finish, which gives it a distinctive look, but also shows scratches more than a textured bag like the Delsey Shadow 3.0. The zippers on this bag are sound and self-repairing, which is key if you overstuff it. Finally, the handle was one of the least rickety of all the bags in this review. But, as with all four-wheeled bags, you run the risk of damaging a wheel, particularly when you check it. Overall these protruding wheels just don't hold up over time like a two-wheeled bag where the wheels are protected by the frame of the suitcase.

Spinner wheels are great for easy travelling in airports  but can be easily damaged.
Spinner wheels are great for easy travelling in airports, but can be easily damaged.

Weight


This was one of the lightest bags that we reviewed, and it was easy to slide into the overhead bin time and again. It weighs 6 lbs 7 ounces on our scale, and is about half a pound lighter than the Rockland Melbourne.

This lightweight bag is easy to lift up into overhead storage bins.
This lightweight bag is easy to lift up into overhead storage bins.

Style


This is a sleek bag with a professional look, and it's more attractive and expensive looking than its Rockland and Delsey competitors. This bag will definitely add a touch of sophistication to your next flight. Our main concern in this category were the scratches that started forming on this bag after less than five flights. The bag's ridges are designed to take the brunt of the sliding and scratching, but we found that flaws showed up all over the bag. If this is a major detractor for you, consider a bag with a textured exterior, or one made of ballistic nylon like the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic.

This bag has a sleek look to it  making it well-suited for business travel.
This bag has a sleek look to it, making it well-suited for business travel.

Best Applications


This bag performs best on polished surfaces. We think it's a great choice where professionalism and class are desirable — think business trip or wedding. Our testers used this bag for both these uses and were happy with the look it provided.

Weekend jaunts to a wedding or for business travel are right up this bag's alley.
Weekend jaunts to a wedding or for business travel are right up this bag's alley.

Value


This bag is listed for $230 on Samsonite's website, but like many bags in this review it can often be purchased for much less through online retailers, and we've seen it as low as $160. Use our Price Comparison Tool to find the best price out there. This bag also comes with a 10-year warranty.

Conclusion


There are many choices when it comes to luggage, from shell material to the number and types of wheels. If you are specifically looking for a hard-sided, four-wheeled bag, then we highly recommend this model, even with its flaws. Cruising through the airport will never be easier, and you'll look good doing it.

Other Versions


The Inova line comes in two larger, checkable models, a 28" and 30".
Cam McKenzie Ring

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 1, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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