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AmazonBasics Oxford Expandable 20" Review

Though it may look like a good option, this bag is fraught with flaws
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Price:  $67 List | $56.23 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, integrated TSA lock, inexpensive
Cons:  Useless features, difficult to use, not durable at all
Manufacturer:   AmazonBasics
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 12, 2020
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32
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 6
  • Ease of Use - 35% 3
  • Storage & Features - 30% 4
  • Versatility - 20% 3
  • Durability - 15% 2

Our Verdict

Several hard-sided, four-wheeled bags were tested for this review, and we feel that the AmazonBasics Oxford 20 does not stand up to the rest of the pack. We thought we would grow to love this bag, but it did not perform up to our standards. It is unable to roll over uneven terrain and only seems to roll on a polished floor. It is incredibly lightweight and is among the smaller of the bags that we tested. It has an integrated TSA lock, and though it is one of the only bags to have this feature, it broke during testing, locking us out of our belongings, and then proved to be all too easy to break into. It has a chic look and comes in a variety of colors but is a squeeze to get a week's worth of necessities in there. Our chief complaints about this bag include: there are no exterior pockets, scratches show up easily, and the quality is not up to par.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

This bare-bones model is adequate for the infrequent traveler who doesn't want to pony up for an expensive bag that they'll only use once a year. Frequent flyers need not apply.

Performance Comparison


On paper  this suitcase seems like it's got all the basic features. In practice  those features just don't stack up.
On paper, this suitcase seems like it's got all the basic features. In practice, those features just don't stack up.

Ease of Use


We love four-wheeled bags, but this bag has a low-quality swivel compared to the others in our testing group. It comes equipped with larger wheels than many others, but we are unable to push this bag easily over uneven surfaces. When you hit an obstacle or harsh surface this bag nearly stops in its tracks and likes to tip over. Even on even, polished surfaces, it has a tendency to drift in all kinds of directions and the telescoping handle is so incredibly loose that it's difficult to control. The wheels are also rather loud, which we aren't fans of.

The small wheels aren't well-equipped to handle much more than the smoothest of surfaces.
The small wheels aren't well-equipped to handle much more than the smoothest of surfaces.

Like any hard-sided piece of luggage, there are no outside pockets, so you really need to have a handy personal item to fulfill that function. It also has no laptop sleeve of any kind anywhere in the bag, so if you tend to travel with a laptop or tablet, you'll need another secure way to transport it. All the pieces you'd expect to be on a suitcase are there and work fine, but don't inspire the confidence of being able to check this bag or even use it for many years - maybe not even months.

The telescoping handle does have three possible heights  but also is so rickety and loose it's incredibly difficult to steer and this bag constantly veers off on its own mission.
The telescoping handle does have three possible heights, but also is so rickety and loose it's incredibly difficult to steer and this bag constantly veers off on its own mission.

Storage & Features


We would suggest watching how much you purchase while on vacation because even with the expander, this bag is pretty small. Its clamshell design isn't quite as accommodating to different styles of packing. The side that zips completely shut for you to flip upside down also has a lot of wasted space above that flap. And in a bag this small, wasted space seems extra painful. Additionally, if you're trying to squeeze as much into this space as possible, you'll find it's extra challenging to zip that flap zipper closed when the compartment is full - no an ideal compression situation.

Clamshell suitcases are a bit more restrictive when it comes to what you can put in them and how you can organize them. We did a bit of Tetrising to fit everything required for a week of travel in this one.

The opposite side has a simple cross-strap to hold everything in place. However, it's made of the loosest elastic band we've ever had the misfortune of testing in a piece of luggage. We're not really sure the purpose of this band for anything other than looks, as it doesn't help compress anything and doesn't even keep things in place as you walk around. There are a few internal pockets, but we found their thin, narrow shapes to be very challenging to use. We're rather disappointed by the organizational features, storage capacity, and compression options (or lack thereof) of this bag.

There's a lot of extra space above the zippered closure flap of this side that's wasted - no a good design for a bag that's already on the small side.
There's a lot of extra space above the zippered closure flap of this side that's wasted - no a good design for a bag that's already on the small side.

Versatility


This bag has a more simplistic look and not too many features. It's geared toward travelers who are self-organized and have a great personal item bag to accompany a very simple suitcase.

A simple expansion zipper does exist  but the interior design of this bag makes it very difficult to take advantage of.
A simple expansion zipper does exist, but the interior design of this bag makes it very difficult to take advantage of.

The integrated lock is a nice idea, but in practice, we found it wanting. To use it, you must always line up the zippers exactly right, which we could get used to. Where it really failed is after a small amount of manhandling, it became stuck and refused to unlock, trapping all our belongings inside! Fortunately, we were able to get it opened after a few minutes. Unfortunately, how we did that is by prying the lock open with a pair of pliers, which was all too easy to do. So while the lock seems like a neat addition, it malfunctions easily and is disappointingly easy to break into.

Seems like a convenient feature to have an integrated lock right? Sure  but this one didn't do so well...
Seems like a convenient feature to have an integrated lock right? Sure, but this one didn't do so well...

Durability


Though the Oxford is a hard-sided bag, we're very unimpressed with its durability. The hard sides barely keep their shape and become dented and scratched extremely easily - and look awful in the process. When we dropped this bag from about a foot off the ground, part of one wheel actually flew off. It was a "hubcap", and though half the tabs were broken off, we were able to reattach it and use the wheels just fine. But the ease with which this bag broke inspires very little confidence in your bag making it through the checked luggage process without some lasting ill effects.

A single drop from less than a foot off the ground sent a piece of the AmazonBasics Oxford's wheel flying. Fortunately this piece is just cosmetic  but a break that easily is never a good sign.
Not all hard-sided (or soft-sided) bags are created equal. Though you might think hard-sided would be more protective  many of the ones we tested are quite flimsy and less protective than many of the soft-sided models.
Though the AmazonBasics' integrated lock seemed like a great feature  it failed to open again after the bag was dropped. We then had to break into it - which took a pair of pliers and about 30 seconds.

We already discussed the durability issues with the integrated lock, which are doubly disappointing as it's is one of this bag's few features. Every piece of this suitcase is troubling from a durability standpoint. The telescoping handle is one of the most rickety of any we tested, the other handles are quite flimsy, and the zippers don't glide smoothly and confidently. Though we tested this bag for just a few months, we don't think it's up to the task of years.

Value


This piece of luggage comes in an array of colors and is by far one of the cheapest options we tested. If you're willing to pack light and only need a rollaboard once every year or two, this one just might suffice. But if you want to be able to put your faith in your suitcase and make it your companion for years of adventures, we can't recommend this option.

There's no dedicated pocket to protect your laptop.
There's no dedicated pocket to protect your laptop.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a hard-sided, four-wheeled bag on a tight budget, this ticks those boxes. It's rather small, lacks a lot of organizational features, and has some serious durability flaws. We can't recommend this bag to anyone looking for a reliable carry-on. But if you need something infrequently, can pack light, and are very gentle with your belongings, this one just might work for you.

The performance of this bag leaves a lot to be desired.
The performance of this bag leaves a lot to be desired.

Maggie Brandenburg