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AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided 29 Review

A low priced suitcase with great storage capacity
AmazonBasics Expandable Softsided 29
Photo: Amazon
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $83 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, smooth travel, great storage
Cons:  Tips over, lacks durable materials
Manufacturer:   Amazon Basics
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 21, 2020
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Reliability - 25% 6
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 8
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 6
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 4
RELATED: Best Suitcase

Our Verdict

If inexpensive and generic is what you're seeking, the AmazonBasics Expandable may be just the ticket. This case is constructed of cheaper materials and isn't as durable as most suitcases; however, it does offer some of the best rolling capabilities and storage that we've seen from inexpensive luggage cases. Its major flaw is that it falls over if heavier items are loaded in the front, which means you have to be diligent in your packing to ensure balance. While this is a deal-breaker for some, the low price may be more alluring for others. If you're simply seeking a decent suitcase at a reasonable price, this Best Buy award winner offers good value.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $83 List$269.00 at Amazon$295 List$250.15 at Amazon$246.73 at REI
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Pros Inexpensive, smooth travel, great storageSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleStylish, simple, reliable constructionWell-built, great organizational features, suit & dress holder, great travel abilityDurable, simple storage design, great transportability, excellent water-resistance
Cons Tips over, lacks durable materialsZippers could be smoother, some reported handle issuesExpensive, drags up stairsPotential zipper and handle issues, high priceSticky zippers and handle button, less padded handles
Bottom Line Great travel and storage at a low priceA durable and high value suitcase suited for all types of travelA smooth, simple, and luxurious spinner suitcase for all types of travelA business-savvy suitcase that has a variety of applicationsA simple and durable suitcase built to keep you adventuring wherever you go
Rating Categories AmazonBasics Expandable Soft... Timbuk2 Copilot Away Travel Large Platinum Magna 2 26" The North Face Stratoliner 75
Reliability (25%)
6
8
8
7
8
Storage & Organization (25%)
8
9
8
9
7
Ease Of Transport (25%)
6
8
8
7
8
Weight (15%)
6
7
5
7
7
Style (10%)
4
8
10
9
7
Specs AmazonBasics... Timbuk2 Copilot Away Travel Large Platinum Magna 2 26" The North Face...
Measured Weight (lbs) 11 10 12 10 10
Measured Volume (liters) 105 80 110 87.5 75
Construction Clamshell, softshell Clamshell & peek-a-boo access, softshell Clamshell, hardshell Clamshell, softshell Clamshell, softshell
Measured Packed Dimensions 20" x 11" x 29" 25" x 14" x 10" 27" x 19.5" x 11.5" 25" x 18.5" x 12" 28" X 16" X 12"
Expansion Zippers? Yes No No Yes No
Number of Wheels 4 2 4 2 2
Number of Large Interior Compartments 1 2 2 1 2
Interior Storage Features Smaller organizational compartment with mesh organizer 2 Mesh dividers with organizational pockets. Seperate toiletries bag, one mesh divider, organizational pocket that can be detached. Removable dress/suit holder, mesh organizational pocket, waterproof organizational pocket. Seperate toiletries bag
Number of Exterior Pockets 1 large pocket 1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve None 1 small, 1 large 2
Compression System Internal compression straps Internal compression straps Interior compression straps, no exterior compression Internal compression straps Interior compression straps, no exterior compression
Handle Height from Ground Low: 38"
High: 42"
40.75" Low: 37.5"
High: 41"
Low: 38"
Med: 40"
High: 42.5"
43"
Built-In Lock Yes None Yes None None
Main Exterior Material 150D-polyester Nylon & polyester Polycarbonate shell Ballistic nylon fabric with water resistant coating 900D Polyester With TPE Laminate, 1680D Polyester
Unique features None Peek-a-boo front pocket, padded front pocket for a 13" laptop. Unique compression system Removable attachment for a suit or dress Hide-away zippers on the front for ample water resistance.
Warranty 3 year limited warranty Lifetime limited warranty Lifetime limited warranty Worry free warranty Limited warranty
Other Volume & Size Options 18, 21, and 25" Small (42L), Medium (52L), XL (108L) The Carry-On, The Bigger Carry-On, The Medium Small (21"),
Large (29")
45L

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.

Performance Comparison


The AmazonBasics Softsided Expandable is a spinner luggage option...
The AmazonBasics Softsided Expandable is a spinner luggage option with basic performance at a great price.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Reliability


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.

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 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.

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

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 sturdy with two different height levels to work with.
The handle is sturdy with two different height levels to work with.
Photo: Amber King

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.

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

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.

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


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.

A look at the relative amount of storage (which is huge!) during one...
A look at the relative amount of storage (which is huge!) during one of our many roller and storage comparison tests.
Photo: Amber King

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.

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 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Here we see the hardgoods being packed first, with softgoods on top...
Here we see the hardgoods being packed first, with softgoods on top. We use a collapsable backpack to keep everything together as the compression straps don't cover the entire case area. If you pack this way, without packing anything too heavy in the front, the suitcase will not tip over.
Photo: Amber King

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.

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

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.

A look at the bag that comes with which is quite large and works...
A look at the bag that comes with which is quite large and works well as a laundry bag.
Photo: Amber King

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.

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 - this isn't the case with many spinner options.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

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.

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 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

Weight


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.


A look at the relative weight of the suitcase.
A look at the relative weight of the suitcase.
Photo: Amber King

Style


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.


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 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.

AmazonBasics offers a 3-year limited warranty.

Conclusion


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.

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

Amber King