The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Delsey Helium Shadow 2 21 Review

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Price:  $260 List
Pros:  Large internal capacity, Textured exterior hides scratches
Cons:  Handle started sticking, Wheels a little wonky
Manufacturer:   DELSEY
By Amanda Fenn ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 21, 2013
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76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 7
  • Storage - 25% 8
  • Features - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Looks - 10% 10

Our Verdict

Discontinued
This has been discontinued but we keep our main carry-on review updated with the latest version of this model as well as other top bags.

A four-wheeled, hard-sided carry-on bag, the 21" Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 put up a good fight for our Top Pick Award. It is comparable in capacity, style, and construction to the Samsonite Winfield 2 20, but came up just a little short in terms of ease of transport and features. We really liked the Delsey Helium Shadow and it got a LOT of use during our testing period; one of our testers took this bag on four flights over the course of a two-week business trip. This sleek, professional looking bag holds a surprising amount of luggage, features an integrated lock system, and is made of durable polycarbonate plastic. At $260, the Delsey Helium Shadow is more affordable than our Top Pick Award winner, but if you're looking for an even cheaper hard-sided bag, be sure to read up on the Rockland Melbourne 20.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Traveling with the Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 21" Carry-on Trolley will definitely add a little class to your trip. This spacious bag easily holds everything you might need for a multi-day trip, including several pairs of shoes, a slim tri-fold garment bag, and a laptop. Thanks to its four swivel-mounted wheels, it glides easily over polished surfaces or tips up onto two wheels for easy toting. Read on as we break down specifically what the Delsey Helium Shadow has to offer and where it falls a little short of the competition.

The Delsey Helium cruises through the airport. This bag didn't maneuver as well as the Samsonite Winfield 2  but it was better than either of the other four-wheeled bags.
The Delsey Helium cruises through the airport. This bag didn't maneuver as well as the Samsonite Winfield 2, but it was better than either of the other four-wheeled bags.

Performance Comparison



Ease of Transport



For many of our testers, this was the first time they had used a four-wheeled bag, and they loved the convenience that those little swivel wheels had to offer. From the start, it was clear that the Samsonite and the Delsey bags had superior rolling capability in comparison to the Rockland bag and the Traveler's Choice Cambridge 20; however, by the end of the review, we can now say that the Delsey Helium Shadow's wheels are not as high performing as the Samsonite Winfield 2's. When trying to make quick turns (or as in our test, outline figure 8s), the Delsey's wheels have a tendency to hang up and veer off course. This bag was also significantly more difficult to roll on four wheels over concrete. It's also important to note here that neither the Samsonite or Delsey bags have side handles that are useful for carrying bags down stairs, etc.

Penny opts to pull the Delsey Helium up on two wheels through the airport.
Penny opts to pull the Delsey Helium up on two wheels through the airport.

Internal Capacity



Although we were not able to get the exact volume measurements of the Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 from the manufacturer, we can say that this bag passed our packing test. It held all our items and had a little extra space. As with the other hard-sided bags we reviewed, this piece does not have any external pockets (although Delsey does make other hard-sided bags with accessible outer pockets).

The Delsey Helium Shadow held everything from our packing test and still had room for more. We didn't love the divider that snaps in place  but didn't have any trouble using it.
The Delsey Helium Shadow held everything from our packing test and still had room for more. We didn't love the divider that snaps in place, but didn't have any trouble using it.

Features



The Delsey Helium Shadow has several features that travelers will find very useful, the first of which is its easy-to-use lock system. The zipper pulls connect into an integrated combination lock on the side of the bag. Additionally, the bag's telescoping handle has three heights for maximum comfort (no other bag has three settings). The interior has a delightful striped pattern, two pockets, and X-shaped non-elastic straps that snap together to keep items in place on the bottom half of the bag. Items on the opposite side are held in place by a divider that doubles as a mesh pocket and snaps in place. Although this method is effective, we preferred the Samsonite divider which zips entirely closed.

The Delsey Helium has an integrated combination lock (TSA approved  of course). We liked this bag's stylish look.
The Delsey Helium has an integrated combination lock (TSA approved, of course). We liked this bag's stylish look.

Durability & Construction



In addition to the wheels not swiveling properly, we discovered that over time the handle became more and more difficult to use. By the end of our review, it did not pull up or push down as smoothly — almost as though something had dented or bent in the internal system. We did appreciate the durability of the Helium's textured 100% Polycarbonate shell and noticed very few scratches on the front of its exterior. There were several scratches on its underside, though, where it had been shoved into overhead bins and dragged over curbs. We noticed that the interior lining of this bag has a lightweight layer of padding and despite a thinner zipper, we did not encounter any long-term zipper issues. Finally, because the Delsey Helium Shadow has more rounded edges, it is more likely that a significant smash to the shell would crack the material or put a dent in the edges.

Weight



Although it was lighter than several of the convertible backpack carry-ons, the Delsey Helium Shadow was one of the heavier hard-sided bags. At 6 lbs 5 ounces, it is definitely not heavy when considering all the bags in this review, but if having a lightweight hard-sided bag is very important to you, then you may want to consider another option.

The Delsey carry-on was a fair bit heavier than the Samsonite bag. It has an attractive top handle  but no side carry handle. Its telescoping handle raises to three heights.
The Delsey carry-on was a fair bit heavier than the Samsonite bag. It has an attractive top handle, but no side carry handle. Its telescoping handle raises to three heights.

Style



The hard-sided Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 has a sophisticated and elegant look (for a piece of luggage, that is). At the top of the bag, the cut of the shell arches slightly, adding a little interest and shape; the top handle also sticks just up from the shell, framing the bag. Furthermore, the polycarbonate exterior is textured to help mask scratches, dents, and dings.

Best Application



This spacious bag is useful for city-to-city travel where wheeling over hard (specifically, polished) surfaces is the primary mode of transportation. Since it does not have a backpack options or even a side carry handle, this bag is not convenient for trips that involve "off-road" travel or even non-elevator/escalator travel.

Awaiting a flight. The Delsey Helium Shadow is a nice carry-on  especially for city-to-city travel  though it isn't quite as high performing as the Samsonite Winfield 2.
Awaiting a flight. The Delsey Helium Shadow is a nice carry-on, especially for city-to-city travel, though it isn't quite as high performing as the Samsonite Winfield 2.

Value



At $260, the Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 is $20 cheaper than our Top Pick Award winner, the Samsonite Winfield 2. While both do fail to include a side carry handle (a major design flaw in our opinion), we think that it's worth spending the extra $20 to reap the benefits of the Winfield 2. Cosmetically, the Samsonite bag shows wear and tear more quickly, but from a durability and performance standpoint, the Samsonite bag is certainly superior. Both the Samsonite and Delsey bags come with a 10-year warranty. On the other hand, if you are not dead set on purchasing a four-wheel, hard-sided bag, the classic two-wheeled Travelpro Maxlite 2 22 (our Editors' Choice winner) is also a great option at only $240.

Conclusion



The Delsey Helium Shadow 2.0 has several commendable features and a durable outer shell; however, due to its sticky handle and its moody swiveling wheels, this bag was not the most high performing of the four-wheeled bags in our review. Being able to push a four-wheeled bag through the airport is a major convenience, but do yourself a favor and purchase one that will truly give you that advantage and not veer off course.


Amanda Fenn