The Travelpro Maxlite 5 22 Expandable Rollaboard is the latest update in one of Travelpro's most popular series. This carry-on is lightweight, roomy, and easy on your wallet. It has two large wheels, soft sides, and structured walls. It measures 22 x 14 x 9 and has a large external pocket that will fit a 16" laptop. It also has the bonus of being expandable, which is a great solution to that problem of "When I started my vacation, everything fit into my bag and now for the life of me I can't get it back in." Although it might mean checking your carry-on on the trip home, you can simply unzip the expandable zipper and… voila! You have seven extra liters of space to work with.
New Version Available
Travelpro replaced the Maxlite 4 with the new Maxlite 5. See the latest incarnation in the photo above, and scroll on down to see a comparison of the two.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Maxlite 5 vs. Maxlite 4
Travelpro replaces the Maxlite 4 in their lineup with the new Maxlite 5. While we haven't confirmed all the differences with Travelpro, it seems as if the side handle configuration has changed, and the price has dropped significantly. See a comparison of the two below, with the Maxlite 5 on the left and the Maxlite 4 on the right.
Handle Configuration — As can be noted in the photos above, the side handle has been flipped 90 degrees on the new bag (shown on left).
Hands-On Review of the Maxlite 4
The Maxlite 4 22 works well for general airline travel and is a great option for individuals who want a lightweight, easy-to-roll bag. This bag has the standard carry-on measurements of 22 x 14 x 9 inches and weighs 6 pounds 5 ounces. It comes in three color options.
Ease of Use
Although you can't push the Maxlite 4 around the airport like the four-wheeled bags that we reviewed, it still maneuvers easily, and because it's so lightweight, it's also easy on the arms. The wheels are also much larger than those on a four-wheeled version, making it easier to pull on uneven terrain like a bumpy parking lot or gravel road. If you are interested in the four-wheeled design, Travelpro does make a four-wheeled version of this bag.
The Maxlite also has top and side handles that are lined with gel-like padding, making it easy to remove from overhead storage or tackle a flight of stairs. The one downside of the side carry handle is that we found that it occasionally got caught up on the edges of the airline seats as we pulled it down the aisle. It also has a pull handle on the bottom, which is useful for tugging it out of tight spaces.
Storage & Features
This bag held everything in our pack test without a problem. The bag's structured walls ensure that the bag stays within the required airline measurements even when it is stuffed, and its exterior pocket provides a useful space for a laptop or reading material. Moreover, this carry-on is expandable, thanks to a zipper that sits just between the main compartment and the exterior pocket. With the bag expanded, we were able to fill it full of souvenirs on our way home from a vacation.
This bag doesn't have a lot of options when it comes to features, but as we mentioned above, we did appreciate the expanding zipper. This is perfect for trips where you end up purchasing extra souvenirs and don't quite have enough space (or the items that you originally brought magically grow in size). Simply unzip the expansion zipper and check the bag. Overall though, this bag is relatively simple, which is to be expected in a lower-priced model.
It has non-elastic compression straps and two mesh pockets in its main compartment, but no folding compartment to keep a suit or nice dress wrinkle-free. The exterior pocket is deep enough to hold a 16" laptop in a slim case, but it does not have built-in laptop padding, and it makes the suitcase more prone to tipping over.
The Maxlite 4 is a fairly basic bag that comes in a few colors and is not the carry-on to choose if you want to make a statement when you fly. It certainly has a professional look to it, but it's also just nondescript. This is primarily because this bag uses the tried and true two-wheeled design with top and side handles and an exterior pocket. But — and this is the thing — after completing several months of testing, there's a reason why that design is so popular in carry-on luggage: because sometimes basic is better. So, if you aren't overly concerned about looking super chic or cool when you travel, we do highly recommend this bag.
This bag is ideal for general airline use, especially for longer trips or heavy packers. The expandable feature is also great for individuals who want a little extra versatility and the option to use it as a small checked bag.
This bag has durable self-repairing zippers and a sturdy telescoping handle, but it's made with slightly less sturdy components than their Magna line. Most of the other bags that we reviewed had some sort of frame sheet on the entire length of the backside (underneath the encasement for the telescoping handle); however, the Maxlite saves on weight and forgoes reinforcing the middle of the back panel. There is a frame six inches down from the top and six inches up from the bottom (both of which provide structural support to the bag), but the nine inches in the middle of the back panel are comprised solely of fabric.
While we did not experience any ripping of the fabric in this middle section, after checking the bag on a return flight, we did notice some denting in the upper frame panel on this model. While the "damage" was minor, it does raise some concerns over the longevity of the bag. Travelpro offers a limited lifetime warranty on the Maxlite series that covers "damage as the result of defects in materials and workmanship." The damage done by an airline carrier or through normal wear and tear is expressly not covered, which is what happened in our case. This situation only serves to reinforce one of the reasons why people prefer to carry-on when possible, as you are generally more gentle and careful with your luggage than a baggage handler.
The Maxlite 4 seems to be consistently found for massive discounts through major online retailers. Is this a case of price inflation so that you feel like you're getting a deal when you buy it "on sale?" We don't know, but if you can get it for one of these low prices, then we think it is a great deal.
We really appreciated this classic bag's simplicity and lightweight design. This is a sensible carry-on that does its job well and will make packing up for your next trip a breeze. If you are looking for an inexpensive model to take on your next trip, be it a weekend getaway or spring break vacation, then this model will do nicely.
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