Reviews You Can Rely On

AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided 29 Review

A very low priced suitcase with great storage capacity but a propensity to be tippy
AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided 29
Photo: Amazon
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $85 List | $85.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, smooth travel, great storage
Cons:  Tips over, lacks durable materials
Manufacturer:   Amazon Basics
By Amber King and Clark Tate  ⋅  Aug 27, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 6
  • Reliability - 25% 4
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Style - 10% 4

Our Verdict

If you're looking for inexpensive functionality, the AmazonBasics Expandable may be just the ticket. This case doesn't seem as well-made or durable as the other suitcase we tested, but it does offer some of the smoothest rolling capabilities and best storage we've seen from an inexpensive option. Its major flaws are that it falls over if you overload the front with heavier items and less impressive durability. While these things may be a dealbreaker for some, the low price may be more alluring for others. If you're simply seeking a decent suitcase at a reasonable price, this simple model offers good value.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $85.00 at AmazonCheck Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$379 List$299.95 at Backcountry$295 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
55
76
75
70
68
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Inexpensive, smooth travel, great storageSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleAmple storage, water-resistant, durable, heavily featuredLarge wheels roll well, stable, convenient external organizationIntegrated TSA lock, rolls well, smart organization options, stylish
Cons Tips over, lacks durable materialsZippers could be smootherMany features that aren't that useful, bulky designNot much in the way of interior organizationHeavy, fabric is easier to mark
Bottom Line A very low priced suitcase with great storage capacity but a propensity to be tippyA durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travelA tactical and durable adventure suitcase that excels at packing bulky gearA rough and tumble option that could work for anything from gear hauls to business tripsThis bag is heavy but it looks good, is easy to organize, and can keep up with whatever you have planned
Rating Categories AmazonBasics Expand... Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... The North Face Roll... Away Expandable Large
Storage & Organization (25%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease Of Transport (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Reliability (25%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
Style (10%)
4.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
9.0
Specs AmazonBasics Expand... Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... The North Face Roll... Away Expandable Large
Measured Weight 9.9 lbs 9.4 lbs 9.1 lbs 10.2 lbs 14.5 lbs
Volume 105L 80L 98L 80L 106 to 114L
Liters per pound 10.6 8.5 10.8 7.8 7.3 to 7.9
Construction Clamshell, softshell Clamshell & peek-a-boo access, softshell Zip open, softshell Roller-duffel Zip open, softshell
Measured Packed Dimensions 20" x 11" x 29" 25" x 14" x 10" 30" x 17" x 15" 28.5" x 15" x 16" 28" x 19" x 12"
Expansion Zippers? Yes No No No Yes
Number of Wheels 4 2 2 2 4
Number of Large Interior Compartments 1 2 1 1 2
Interior Storage Features Smaller organizational compartment with mesh organizer 2 Mesh dividers with organizational pockets. Three smaller organizational pockets 1 mesh organizational pockets on lid of duffel 1 dirty clothes bag, 2 zippered panels, compression straps
Number of Exterior Pockets 1 large pocket 1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve 2 large pockets, top and bottom. Several gear loops on the exterior. 3 pockets, top and middle. Several gear loops on the exterior. 1 with two smaller ones inside
Compression System Internal compression straps Internal compression straps Removable gear holder keeps items in place, but not compression. Compression buckles on the outside. Expandable boot pocket on the interior of the backpack. Internal and exterior compression straps Internal compression panel and straps
Handle Height from Ground Low: 38"
High: 42"
40.75" 42" 42.5" Low: 37"
High: 41"
Built-In Lock Yes None None No Yes
Main Exterior Material 150D-polyester Nylon and polyester Bi-Tech Heather, 1000D Helix Polyester Twill 1,000-denier polyester with TPE laminate/1,680-denier nylon Water-resistant nylon
Unique Features None Peek-a-boo front pocket, padded front pocket for a 13" laptop. Gear specific storage Duffel on wheels Includes a dirty clothes bag

Our Analysis and Test Results

The AmazonBasics Expandable is a generic four-wheel suitcase that offers ample storage at a very low price. As one of the most inexpensive suitcases we've come across, we were surprised and impressed by its decent 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.

Performance Comparison


This suitcase is simple, affordable, and a good option for those who...
This suitcase is simple, affordable, and a good option for those who can't afford typical checked luggage prices.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

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, approximately 105 liters.

We tested the 29-inch case. It also comes in 18, 21, and 25-inch options.


The main compartment is large, and 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 belongings without a problem. It also features compression straps, which work wonderfully to maximize space and keep items in place.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The front flap that you unzip to access the main compartment contains three smaller zippered pockets to help keep you organized. One is a thin pocket that fills the entire space of the flap. You can unzip a fold of fabric to expand it if you need a little more packing room. The fabric "door" that zips to close this pocket contains two additional compartments: one is mesh, and one is water-resistant plastic. We really appreciate this detail so you can protect your clothes from things like sunscreen or shampoo as you travel.

A look at the organized compartment that offers great storage options.
A look at the organized compartment that offers great storage options.
Photo: Amber King

On the outside of the bag, there is one big pocket that you can use to stash a book or magazine. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any dividers or small zippered sections that would help you keep track of smaller items like cords or your ticket.

The fatal flaw of the Expandable Softsided is that it tips over if you pack the front compartments with too many heavy items, which is really easy to do. The wheels are not balanced properly under the weight of the case, which becomes a massive pain as you travel.

The front pocket is great for slim items. However, it's far from...
The front pocket is great for slim items. However, it's far from protective so if you need a place to put your laptop, make sure it has its own padded sleeve.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Transport


This case flows quite smoothly on hard surfaces, with two wheels connected by an axis on each of the four corners. The large, balanced wheels provide stability when you're rolling along with lots of weight inside.


Like most of the suitcases we tested, you can drag this one over some impressively rough surfaces. It has a lot of clearance, enough that rolling over rocks and the like works quite well. This suitcase is one of our favorite four-wheeled options on technical terrain, though we generally prefer two-wheeled designs in those circumstances.

Rolling on hard surfaces in spinner mode is no problem. It moves...
Rolling on hard surfaces in spinner mode is no problem. It moves over obstacles easily with its high clearance.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Another thing we appreciate about this bag is the three mega comfortable handles that make lifting it more effortless than you would guess. Again though, the Expandable does tip over if not packed strategically. Several times we packed it without putting anything in the front, and it was great, maintaining its weight over the wheels and never falling over. If we packed the front pockets with too much gear, though, the case tipped right over whenever we let it go. This is incredibly annoying.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

That said, even if you don't pack the Expandable strategically, its smooth-rolling performance is impressive. Just don't let it go. If you're willing to put up with this one big flaw, you can get a beyond-reasonably priced suitcase that functions well in most other ways.

Here we appreciate how easy it is to transition over curbs with the...
Here we appreciate how easy it is to transition over curbs with the larger wheels.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Reliability


The construction of this inexpensive suitcase is less than impressive. The outer material isn't the most durable, and the construction of the wheel housings is questionable. We don't expect it to hold up as well to frequent travel as other options in our review. We'd recommend buying this bag if you're short on cash, but if you're not, other options will likely last you longer.


The Expandable is made of 150-denier polyester. This grade of denier is not very durable, and we noticed it scuffing and pilling after just a few days of rolling it around. After three months of use, there was no serious wear, though, and we appreciate that the face fabric is decently water-resistant.

While the polyester rating on this case is low, it still proves to...
While the polyester rating on this case is low, it still proves to be water-resistant.
Photo: Amber King

The wheels function remarkably well. Similar to other high-quality cases, this case 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 this, we took some time to test bumping this case up some flights of stairs. Everything fared well, but we're not convinced that these wheels will last with extensive use. And there doesn't seem to be an easy way to replace the wheel or the housing on your own.

Some of our favorite wheels for spinner luggage. While the housing...
Some of our favorite wheels for spinner luggage. While the housing looks cheap, these wheels offer some of the best travel of all the spinners. They are plastic though, so durability is average.
Photo: Amber King

The handle is average, operating 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 materials seem light, and the quality is what you'd expect from a budget suitcase.

The sturdy handle has two height settings.
The sturdy handle has two height settings.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

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 will last long enough to justify the price. Stay on hard surfaces and away from the hardest of conditions, and this low-priced option has the basic reliability you need.

The zippers aren't waterproof, but still surprisingly large and...
The zippers aren't waterproof, but still surprisingly large and durable.
Photo: Amber King

Weight


At 10 pounds, this is a lightweight suitcase, especially considering how much volume you're getting. This makes it easier to lift and roll around. There are lighter cases out there, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that offers the same amount of storage.


Style


This suitcase features a simple and generic style. It's the kind of luggage that comes to mind when you say roller suitcase.


Far from fashion-forward, if you're not a fan of the simple black color that everybody at the airport seems to have, other colors are available too.

The look of this case is quite simple and generic. Not one that's...
The look of this case is quite simple and generic. Not one that's easy to pick out on the luggage round-about.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Value


Despite some major design flaws, this is a low-priced suitcase that offers ample packing volume. While the tipping issue is a fatal flaw for some, others might be willing to deal with this by simply 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.

Conclusion


The AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided is a reasonable option for deal-seekers that fly a few times a year. You do indeed get what you pay for, but sometimes that's all you need. This bag 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 keeps it rolling so smoothly.

This spinner suitcase offers basic performance at a great price.
This spinner suitcase offers basic performance at a great price.
Photo: Clark Tate

Amber King and Clark Tate