AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided 29 Review
Cons: Tips over, lacks durable materials
Manufacturer: Amazon Basics
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided suitcase is a generic four-wheel checked luggage that offers ample storage at a high price. As one of the most inexpensive suitcases we've come across, we were surprised and impressed by its decent (though less than premium) performance. If you're seeking a bag for traveling just a couple of times a year, this low priced option is a good choice. Just be prepared to deal with what you'd expect from an inexpensive piece of luggage.
When assessing the construction of this inexpensive suitcase, we deem it to be less than optimal. The outer material isn't the most durable, and the construction of the wheel housings is questionable. Overall, we'd consider buying this bag if we were a little short on money, but know what you're buying before you make the decision.
The case is constructed of a burly 'looking' 150-denier polyester. This grade of denier is not very durable, and we noticed it scuffing and pilling after just a few days of it rolling around in the back of our truck. After three months of use, we didn't see any serious wear, though, and we do appreciate that the face fabric itself is pretty water-resistant.
The wheels are actually pretty awesome! Similar to other high-quality cases, AmazonBasics uses a double 'tire' construction that offers a super smooth ride on the go. However, the housing is cheap and provides minimal attachment to the case itself.
Because of our concerns with the cheap housing material, we took some time to test bumping this case up some flights of stairs. Everything faired well, but we're not convinced at the longevity of these parts after more extended use. And, in terms of wheel replacement, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to replace the wheel or the housing on your own.
The handle is pretty average, offering decent construction that operates well at the airport and around town. It doesn't flex when fully loaded, and the thicker aluminum construction is more robust than other contenders. Still, the quality is about what you'd expect from a budget suitcase. If you just need something simple for going from the airport to your hotel and you aren't someone who thrashes their gear, we believe this case can last a long time. Stay on hard surfaces and away from the hardest of conditions, and this low-priced option has the basic reliability you need.
Storage & Organization
Storage space is massive in this clam-shaped suitcase. While the volume isn't advertised, we measured the cubic inches to convert to a rough estimate of the volume, which is approximately 105L.
When packing gear into this case, it came as no surprise that it can accommodate some bulky items in addition to clothing. It swallowed all our necessary gear without a problem.
The inside features compression straps (which we seriously recommend using) to keep items in place. The front flap that swings out has zippered pockets but isn't nearly as large as the main compartment.
On this flap, there is one large mesh compartment and one large water-resistant pouch. We love this feature as it can protect your items from bottles that might pop open while going higher in altitude. All these pockets are simple and quite useful in the organization of the suitcase.
On the exterior of the bag is one huge pocket that can be used to store some items that you need quick access to, like a book or magazine. There's also an expansion zipper that gives you about an inch more space if you accidentally overpack your suitcase with too much stuff.
Additionally, this suitcase comes with a separate bag stored inside the main compartment that works as a laundry bag. Overall, we appreciate this thoughtful addition and all the storage options this piece offers.
However, the fatal flaw of the Expandable Softsided is that it tips over when these front compartments are packed with too many heavy items. The wheels are not balanced properly under the weight of the case, which becomes a massive pain in regards to transport.
Ease of Transport
In general, this case flows smoothly along on hard surfaces.
It features a larger four-wheel construction, with two wheels per axle. This provides a little more stability when you're rolling along with lots of weight inside.
Like other cases, you can drag this one over some technical surfaces. There's a large amount of room between the bag and the floor, enough that avoiding rocks and the like is quite easy. In comparison to all the other four-wheeled bags we tested, this one does the best on technical terrain; however, it doesn't compare to a two-wheeled design.
Another thing we appreciate about this bag are the two mega comfortable handles that make lifting it a lot more effortless than it looks. What we don't like is that the Expandable tends to tip over if not packed strategically. Several times we packed this case without putting anything in the front. It was able to stand up just fine and maintain its weight over the wheels. However, if we packed the front pockets with too much weight, the case would tip over when left to stand on its own. This is a huge problem while waiting in lines or if you need to be able to walk away from your suitcase.
The reason this case doesn't completely bomb in this category for this flaw is because of how smoothly it transports when in motion. Despite it not being able to stand up on its own, it does do a pretty good job of moving from one place to another. If you're willing to put up with this one big flaw, you can get a reasonably priced suitcase that functions well in every other category.
At 11 lbs, this is a pretty lightweight suitcase. Lifting it and rolling it around is easy. There are lighter cases out there, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that offers the same amount of storage for the weight.
This suitcase features a simple and generic style. It's the kind of suitcase that comes to mind when you say "roller suitcase." This offers a plethora of applications, but it's far from fashion-forward. If you're not a fan of the simple black color that everybody at the airport seems to have, there are other available colors.
Despite some major design flaws, this is a low-priced suitcase that offers ample volume for packing. While the bag tipping is a fatal flaw for some, others might be willing to deal with this by not putting heavy items in the front pockets. We're not sure how long this bag will last, but it's a great option for those who need an inexpensive piece of luggage that will work fine for traveling just a few times each year.
The AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided is a great option for deal-seekers looking for a piece of checked luggage they can use a few times a year. This is a classic case of "you get what you pay for," but sometimes that's all you need. It features cheaper construction but integrates some pieces that seem relatively durable. While it's not perfect, it's certainly one of the best deals we've seen yet, mostly because of the larger double-axle wheel construction that offers good reliability.
— Amber King