Maxlite 5 vs. Maxlite 4
Travelpro replaces the Maxlite 4 in their lineup with the new Maxlite 5. While we've yet to test the new version it and 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).
- Price Decrease — The new Maxlite 5 retails for around $130, which is half the retail price of the previous version!
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: Ocean Mist Blue, Black, and Purple. This model did fall a little short in both Style and Durability, so if you are a frequent business traveler the classic and more sturdily constructed, though much more expensive Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic, would be a better option.
This bag mostly fits and as long as it's not expanded you should have no issues.
Ease of Transport
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.
These wheels are easy to roll with, but not as large as some other bags' wheels. The real boon to this model's rolling ability is its lightweight design.
This bag can handle a lot of clothes, but the compression straps do little to hold your belongings in or compress them down.
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.
You can store a nice dress or suit in the large internal pocket, but it won't keep things as wrinkle free as a folding suiter will.
The expandable zipper helps you pack a little more when needed, like some souvenirs on the way home.
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. If this feature is important to you, then our Top Pick for Business Travel, the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic, is a better option. 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. Finally, this bag has a pull handle on the bottom, which is useful for tugging it out of tight spaces.
The external pocket can fit a large laptop, but it does make it more prone to tipping forward.
Travelpro's Magna line (top) is made with durability in mind, while their Maxlite line (bottom) is a more budget friendly offering.
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 back side (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 was dented after checking it in. This sort of damage is not covered under the lifetime warranty.
At a little over 6 lbs, the Maxlite 4 was one of the lightest carry-ons that we tested. This model felt noticeably lighter to pull than the Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic, which weighs over 9 lbs. With a four-wheeled suitcase, you might not notice the weight as much as you are generally just pushing it around. With a two-wheel model, you are dragging the weight, so a lighter bag is nicer. This model might sacrifice a bit on some aspects of durability to help make this happen, but overall we think that the decreased weight is a huge draw for this bag.
Shaving a few pounds off your bag makes putting it in and out of overhead bins easier.
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.
Classic but simple in design, this bag won't turn any heads, but it gets the job done.
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.
The Maxlite 4 has a stated retail value of $260, but we consistently see it on discount on 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 around $120 then 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.