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Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20-inch Hardside Spinner Review

An inexpensive roller of dubious durability but enough utility to suit light packers and infrequent travelers and plenty of colors to keep it fun
kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review
Credit: Kenneth Cole
Price:  $90 List
Manufacturer:   Kenneth Cole
By Myrha Colt ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 26, 2022
48
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Ease of Use - 35% 4.3
  • Design - 25% 6.9
  • Packability - 25% 4.0
  • Durability - 15% 3.6

Our Verdict

As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. And in the case of the inexpensive Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds Spinner, that statement could not be more apt. Although it comes structured in a standard hard-sided clamshell form and features a number of the same basic organizational components we’ve come to expect from most carry-ons of the hard-sided variety, the Kenneth Cole falls short where others have delivered. Why? Lower-quality materials and some questionable design features mean this bag might be destined for a shorter lifespan marred by irritating failures and a lack of features that no amount of playful exterior color can remedy.
REASONS TO BUY
Budget-friendly
Numerous color choices
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Durability issues
Rattly roller handle
Finicky zippers
Lower-quality interior materials

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Price $90 List$120 List
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Pros Budget-friendly, numerous color choices, lightweightMany useful extras, impressive capacity, accessible priceSmooth and stable, impressive capacity, variety of colors, lightweightSpacious, easy to use, budget-friendly, lots of colorsInexpensive, decent storage, expandable
Cons Durability issues, rattly roller handle, finicky zippers, lower-quality interior materialsHeavy, exceeds airline size requirements, frontside bulkDurability concerns, minimal organizational featuresDurability issues, rattly roller handleDurability concerns, rattly roller handle, finicky zippers, heavy
Bottom Line An inexpensive roller of dubious durability but enough utility to suit light packers and infrequent travelers and plenty of colors to keep it funAn accessible price point and a slew of useful features make this carry-on a good option for those who want a solid performer without breaking the bankA simple, lightweight yet solid hardshell spinner that outshines other bags at a similar price pointAn affordable roller with enough utility to suit light packers and infrequent travelers and plenty of colors to keep it funA well-priced and reasonably spacious hardshell carry-on with limited organizational features and dubious long-term viability
Rating Categories Kenneth Cole Reacti... SwissGear Sion Soft... Samsonite Omni PC H... Rockland Melbourne 20 Amazon Basics 21-in...
Ease of Use (35%)
4.3
8.2
7.5
5.4
5.6
Design (25%)
6.9
6.1
8.0
6.6
5.1
Packability (25%)
4.0
8.7
7.0
7.1
6.0
Durability (15%)
3.6
7.0
5.2
4.0
4.0
Specs Kenneth Cole Reacti... SwissGear Sion Soft... Samsonite Omni PC H... Rockland Melbourne 20 Amazon Basics 21-in...
Measured Dimensions 21.1" x 14.6" x 8.5" 23" x 14.1" x 10" 21.5" x 14" x 9.5" 23" x 14" x 9" 22" x 14.8" x 10"
Handle Height Options (where it locks) 3 (30.5", 33", 41") 3 (28", 34.5", 43") 5 (25", 30.5", 33", 36", 41.5") 3 (26", 33", 41") 2 (33", 41")
Number of Wheels 4 4 4 4 4
Number of Exterior Pockets 0 2 0 0 0
Interior Opening Style Half shell Top lid Half shell Half shell Half shell
Locking? Main compartment zipper has a loop for a lock but does not come with lock No Yes No No
Exterior Material ABS hardshell Polyester Micro-diamond polycarbonate ABS hardshell ABS hardshell
Colors 15 - charcoal, cobalt blue, kelly green, light silver, magenta, black, navy, rose gold, smokey purple, teal, barn red, deep purple, naval, white, purple 8 - black, blue, burgandy, dark gray, navy lime, pewter, purple, teal 11 - black, carribean blue, red, white, silver, teal, navy, purple, bronze, burnt orange, radiant pink 26 - black, blue, brown, champagne, charcoal, gray, green, lime, magenta, navy, orange, pink, purple, quilt, red, silver, turquoise, two tone blue, two tone green, two tone navy, black wave, gold wave, mint, carbon, two tone magenta (with 3 additional colors available as part of a 2 piece set) 4 - black, navy blue, blue, orange

Our Analysis and Test Results

What most of us are looking for when we shop for the best carry-on luggage is a solid travel companion that will protect and carry our precious belongings alongside us through whatever weather, crowds, or road conditions lie ahead. So we tend to keep an eye out for features and materials that breed confidence in the type of experience we can expect down the road. Unfortunately with the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20 Hardside Spinner you won’t find much in the way of selling points to make a convincing argument that this carry-on will serve your needs in either regard.

Performance Comparison


kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - although we like the range of colors and basic hardshell design of...
Although we like the range of colors and basic hardshell design of the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds Spinner, we were not impressed by how it handled, packed, or performed under testing.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The Kenneth Cole Reaction is a super lightweight, clamshell spinner carry-on with a notably small footprint. It has just enough room to hold the basics for a short trip, without a whole lot of extra options to complicate or improve the experience much beyond. The hardshell bag opens in typical form, folding open straight along the midline to reveal two halves. One side is enclosed by a fabric panel. The other offers up a small hanging accessory pocket along with a pair of thin straps crossed at the middle, a combination made with just enough elasticity to provide a bit of restraint without actually offering any compression. Many hardshell bags are set up similarly. So although the fabric liner and all zippers inside and out feel noticeably cheap to the touch, we allow that this case could be just what a budget traveler is after for a short trip.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - the thin fabric liner worried us from the start and seemed...
The thin fabric liner worried us from the start and seemed ill-prepared for the strain our clothing and other items would add.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Then again, as we continued to get to know the Kenneth Cole better through use and testing, our doubts about its worthiness only intensified. The ABS exterior immediately bends and sags under even the slightest pressure. Meanwhile, two plastic carry handles (well-positioned front and side) feel as though they could break underhand any second once we start lifting the bag overhead or find ourselves carrying it up or down stairs. And the telescoping roller handle was equally as uncomfortable when put to use. With only three locking height options and an ill-fitted and excessively rattly design, it was our least favorite of all the different handles we put to use during testing. Plus, the bag tips a lot for such a small case. And the zippers got stuck endlessly when we tried to open and close the bag in packing. Plus, the skinny, single-wheel design of its low-grade caster spinners did nothing to inspire confidence.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - a jiggly roller handle was among the many complaints we had with the...
A jiggly roller handle was among the many complaints we had with the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds carry-on.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Packability


From an organizational perspective, we don’t tend to expect much out of any hard-sided case. Their exterior shell precludes the incorporation of pockets or extra features along the lines of what we’ve come to appreciate on soft-sided bags. And the split halves of any clamshell interior require a similar approach in design, just to avoid a clothing explosion upon landing. So we had a sense of what to expect inside the Kenneth Cole. Our problem with this case was not what it did have in terms of organizational features (a half-shell fabric enclosure, cross-strap restraints, and a hanging accessory pocket), but rather with how those items were crafted. Materials felt cheap and flimsy, fabric panels and zippers appearing as if they could rip or split right underhand without even packing any items. And the restraint straps are built with such limited elasticity they seem to have limited practical use.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - flimsy cross straps do very little in the kenneth cole to provide...
Flimsy cross straps do very little in the Kenneth Cole to provide restraint (and certainly do nothing in the way of compression).
Credit: Abriah Wofford

As with all hardshell cases, packing cubes could easily provide a bit of organizational relief in an unkempt world. They might also help keep things from jostling around once the bag is sealed and in motion. But given the small capacity of the Kenneth Cole case and its lack of expansion options, we found this bag also failed us when it came to our packing tests (although we duly noted that it measures well within airline requirements). During our "Summer Getaway" packing test, we had to apply a concerted effort to close the case and then unstick the zipper long enough to circle around the bag and complete the seal. With our "Bulky Gear" test, we had to give up and accept that some items, like the climbing helmet and several quickdraws, would never make the journey. With such limited versatility, this is a carry-on we would rarely pack by choice.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - we had to leave a few things behind on during our bulky gear test of...
We had to leave a few things behind on during our Bulky Gear test of the Kenneth Cole Reaction Spinner.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Design


What do we like about the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20 Hardside Spinner? Its size and lightweight design top our list. We also appreciate the bumper feet added along one side to keep it off the ground and protect its outer shell from being damaged when laid on its side. And of course, the many fun colors. For anyone who wants to add a little pizazz to their airport look without racking up a price tag to match, this simple, scaled-down carry-on offers several worthy options. But given the lower-quality construction materials and its unimpressive performance stats, there’s not much else to convince us this case is a good candidate for your hard-earned dollars.

Among the most lightweight bags in the bunch, the Kenneth Cole is an...
Among the most lightweight bags in the bunch, the Kenneth Cole is an easy bag to carry.
Small bumper feet help to protect the base of the Kenneth Cole...
Small bumper feet help to protect the base of the Kenneth Cole Reaction spinner if left on its side.

Durability


The flimsy ABS hardshell construction of the Kenneth Cole should have been our first clue this case might not deliver once testing started. But we like to leave room for surprise endings, and we always hope to find a great bag at a great price. But sadly, our initial assessment of this carry-on was pretty much on point. Low-grade materials in zippers, fabric, wheels, handles, and exterior siding made quick work out of our testing experiences. The interior fabric tore in spots along the center of the bag. Handles that started rattly and uncomfortable in use only became more so with added wear. Scratches formed around the exterior. And most irritating overall, zippers would not stop catching on themselves while trying to open and close the suitcase. We did note the wheels survived all stair, road, and drop testing, admittedly a surprise given our initial impressions and the results of the same tests on other more expensive bags. But with plenty of warning signs at every turn, we would not count on a similar repeat performance during future outings.

The single-wheel spinners on the Kenneth Cole carry-on kept up...
The single-wheel spinners on the Kenneth Cole carry-on kept up, barely.
Uncomfortable handles rule the Kenneth Cole Reaction spinner.
Uncomfortable handles rule the Kenneth Cole Reaction spinner.

Should You Buy the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds Carry-On?


We weren’t surprised by this case’s performance as much as we were annoyed that it was so predictable. It would be much more gratifying to report that the lightweight and inexpensive Kenneth Cole carry-on blew other more expensive and feature-heavy bags out of the water with simple, clean construction and attention to core functionality and details. But where costs are low, quality often suffers. And we can confirm the Kenneth Cole Reaction runs status quo among inexpensive options. All-in-all, this case doled out too many major and minor annoyances to make it a bag we would grab when other options are available, nor would we have much confidence it’ll eke out more than a few trips before you’ll be shopping for a replacement. But certainly, if you are a student looking to fly home on a tight budget or you just need to pick up a bag for your kid’s upcoming school trip, this may well be a reasonable choice.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - if you just need an affordable bag to get you through a pinch, or...
If you just need an affordable bag to get you through a pinch, or you are shopping for a child with limited travel plans, this could be a bag that works. Anything longer or more, it's probably time to upgrade.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other Carry-On Should You Consider?


If you're shopping on a tight budget and you have limited needs in terms of storage capacity, organizational options, or longevity, then the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20 Hardside Spinner is a bag you might consider. It won’t be the most comfortable roller experience, nor the easiest to access and pack, and it’s unlikely to boast a long lifespan. But if you need to get from A to B and haul a bunch of stuff along with you without emptying your pockets, the it ought to do.

If your budget is set and this is where you’ve landed, you may want to have a quick look at the Amazon Basics model as well. While not markedly better than the Kenneth Cole, it did perform slightly better across most metrics and may deliver a slightly improved performance overall. Otherwise, there are better choices out there for only a small increase in price. We’d recommend taking a look at the Samsonite Omni PC or SwissGear Sion.

kenneth cole reaction out of bounds 20-inch hardside spinner carry-on luggage review - a simple, inexpensive spinner with a short lifespan ahead but the...
A simple, inexpensive spinner with a short lifespan ahead but the minimum basics to get you through in a pinch.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Myrha Colt
 
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