Hands-on Gear Review

Traveler's Choice Cambridge 20 Review

By: Amanda Fenn ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 21, 2013
Price:  $179 List  |  $69.99 at Amazon - 61% Off
Pros:  Less expensive, many color options, side carry handle
Cons:  Poor wheels, rattly handle, smaller internal capacity
Manufacturer:   Traveler's Choice
51
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 4
  • Storage - 25% 4
  • Features - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 3
  • Weight - 10% 8
  • Style - 10% 8
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  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Our Verdict

The Traveler's Choice Cambridge 20 is a four-wheeled carry-on bag that fits easily into overhead bins and has the added bonus of a side handle that allows for easier carrying. Although the piece has several notable features (that we will discuss below), we ultimately found that this was one of the lowest performing carry-on bags that we reviewed. Its wheels often stopped swiveling, its handle was super rattly, and when we packed it up for our pack test we had to sit on it to get it to zip shut (and we didn't even get all the items in there). Even though this bag is cheaper than many of the other bags in our review, we don't think it's a good value. If you really want a four-wheeled, hard-sided bag, a piece like the Samsonite Winfield 2 20 is a sure bet. Alternatively, the REI Wheely Beast 22 — is a steal (but offers a totally different look than the Traveler's Choice Cambridge).


Our Analysis and Test Results

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Read on as we break down the pros and cons of the Traveler's Choice Cambridge 20. This piece did not live up to our expectations and did not perform well in the majority of the tests we put it though.

Performance Comparison


Michael waits for the next leg of the journey to continue. Four-wheeled bags don't roll as well over rougher surfaces like concrete (in comparison to polished airport floors). The Cambridge was especially hard to roll.
Michael waits for the next leg of the journey to continue. Four-wheeled bags don't roll as well over rougher surfaces like concrete (in comparison to polished airport floors). The Cambridge was especially hard to roll.

Ease of Transport


We love the ease of the four-wheeled bag: you can push it in front of you as you meander through the airport or flip it up on its front wheels to tote it behind you when you hit the sidewalk. But in the case of the Traveler's Choice Cambridge, these benefits become more annoyances. The wheels often stick in place, causing the bag to veer off course or tip over. Although it's easier to pull this bag on two wheels, even this mode of transport pales in comparison to higher quality bags like the Delsey Shadow 3.0 21. On the other hand, the Cambridge does have a side carry handle, something other hard-sided bags in this review are lacking.

L: The Traveler's Choice Cambridge comes with a low quality lock and compatible zippers. It also has mini legs to reduce scratching. R: We appreciated this bag's side carry handle.
L: The Traveler's Choice Cambridge comes with a low quality lock and compatible zippers. It also has mini legs to reduce scratching. R: We appreciated this bag's side carry handle.

Internal Capacity


When we packed up the Cambridge during our packing test, this bag was "sit-on-it" full and we couldn't fit our tri-fold hanging bag into it. Not only was the bag too full for this final item, but the dimensions of the bag didn't allow the piece to fit. Many of our testers used these carry-ons for weddings and business trips, so it was important to us to see whether or not one of these critical travel accessories would fit.

L: The tri-fold hanging bag wouldn't fit into this bag (both space and dimension restrictions). R: We got this bag to close  but we literally had to sit on it to zip it up.
L: The tri-fold hanging bag wouldn't fit into this bag (both space and dimension restrictions). R: We got this bag to close, but we literally had to sit on it to zip it up.

Features


The Traveler's Choice Cambridge has lock compatible zippers and comes with a flimsy TSA approved combination lock. This piece is also fitted with a metal ring and strap that allow you to piggy back another bag on the back. One other feature that we appreciated was the small plastic legs on the "spine" of the carry-on that allow you to set it on its side without scratching the shell. The interior has a divider that is fitted with a mesh organizer pouch. Clothes on the bottom are held in place with elastic X-shaped straps that join together with a flimsy plastic slider buckle. The bag has one additional interior pocket.

The Cambridge's internal divider includes a mesh pocket. This divider buckles securely in place. If you are traveling with fewer items  this space can be perfect for dirty laundry at the end of your trip.
The Cambridge's internal divider includes a mesh pocket. This divider buckles securely in place. If you are traveling with fewer items, this space can be perfect for dirty laundry at the end of your trip.

Durability & Construction


The Traveler's Choice Cambridge 20 is made of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), a form of plastic that is not quite as durable at polycarbonate. As we mentioned above, the handle is rickety and poorly constructed and the zipper also seems to be of questionable quality. Overall, we were not impressed with the construction of this piece; however, it had better construction than the Rockland Melbourne 20, which is even less expensive.

Weight


Although ABS is typically lighter weight than polycarbonate, the Cambridge weighed a bit more than the Samsonite Winfield 2, which is comprised of polycarbonate. The Cambridge was lighter than the Delsey Helium Shadow, as well as several other bags we reviewed.

Style


The Cambridge certainly has the sophisticated look of a hard-sided bag, but it's not as attractive as its Delsey or Samsonite competitors. It's just a little bit boxier. That said, we do like how the textured exterior helps disguise scratches.

Elastic straps hold items in place. This bag was not the most durable in our review  but like most hard-sided bags  it has a fairly sophisticated look.
Elastic straps hold items in place. This bag was not the most durable in our review, but like most hard-sided bags, it has a fairly sophisticated look.

Best Applications


General airline travel, specifically shorter trips where durability is not key and fewer clothes are required.

Value


Although this is one of the less expensive carry-on bags in this review, we do not think that it is a good value. We do not foresee this bag lasting over the long term and believe that if you invest a bit more you will be able to fully appreciate the benefits of your carry-on bag instead of dreading using it just like you dread getting the dud shopping cart at the grocery store. This bag has a six-year limited warranty. If you are dead set on spending less than $200 on a hard-sided bag, we recommend that you read up on the Rockland Melbourne: this bag holds more, has a full-zip divider, and expands to hold extra items. It's a little less durable, but it has better rolling action than the Cambridge.

Conclusion


The Traveler's Choice Cambridge has the potential to be a nice piece and has several useful details, but overall we found the execution and construction of this bag to be of quite poor quality.

Amanda Fenn

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Most recent review: October 21, 2013
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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