Lipault Paris Original Plume 26" Review
Cons: Very dated design, poor build quality, minimal internal protection
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lipault Original Plume resembles a leave-behind from an era of suitcases when costs were exorbitant, and expectations were low. In fact, the reviewer had flashbacks of wrestling a surprisingly similar-looking bag off the baggage carousel for his grandmother 30 years ago.
At a price tag of $325, the Plume disappointed us right out of the box. Inspecting the inner workings of the piece revealed design flaws addressed with sloppily placed pieces of corrugated plastic. No inner storage to speak of and an untamed inner liner round out a product with a complete lack of thoughtful design or workmanship.
The Lipault Original Plume went up in a plume of smoke. Its only redeeming quality was a super light weigh-in. But for the price point, there are better, lighter and more reliable bags out there.
Everything about the Original Plume feels flimsy. The type of light-duty zippers you'd expect to find on a windbreaker bound up and would not close during our storage testing. The casters seemed to barely withstand the loads of our transportability testing. As far as we're concerned, the Lipault Plume is a duffel bag with wheels and a handle; a frail one at that. If a duffel bag is what you're after, stick to canvas.
Overall, the durability of the Plume did not measure up to the price point. The casters of the Plume pale in comparison to the stout and commanding skateboard wheel style wheels of the Timbuk2 Copilot, which is priced lower than the Plume. And the zippers don't stand a chance in a side-by-side comparison with the likes of the Eagle Creek Tarmac.
The Plume was not our low-scorer here, but came close. We attribute some increased storage advantage to the amorphous shape the bag takes on with a heavy load. Having all soft sides may come to a certain advantage, but the reviewer's fly-fishing net was left behind. That is no advantage at all in our book.
The Lipault may have ample storage for the average trip that doesn't require the gamut of gear we threw in our storage test. But we think most travelers check baggage only out of necessity. If abundant storage is a must, check out the cavernous Samsonite Omni PC hard-sided spinner. If you're after a well rounded piece of hard-sided luggage without the girth, the Delsey Helium Titanium is the piece for you.
Ease of Transport
While running the Lipault Original Plume through the paces of our transportability test, we found a number of quirks that irked us. To begin, the flimsy structure of the top and side carry handles made it feel like we were tugging on the loose skin of a defiant puppy that goes limp. A 65 lb puppy. The telescoping handle didn't impress us with perceived durability, and it certainly didn't impress in use. The 4-level handle is sticky for the first 8 inches of pull and rattles with every sidewalk seam along the way. And the benefit of a spinner was lost when we attempted to push the Plume along a smoother surface on all four wheels, as the Plume preferred toppling over gliding.
We felt every bump and scraped down every stair while testing transportability. Small wheels just won't cut it if you're lugging around 50+ lbs. A large sturdy wheel, preferably with some softer rubber, makes for the best experience over rougher surfaces. If transportability is king, then so are the likes of the Osprey Sojourn and the Eagle Creek Tarmac. The larger wheels of these models make navigating stairs and rough surfaces a cinch.
The Lipault Plume seemed to ignore much, including features. We hardly count the front zippered pocket and the basic retention straps inside the main compartment. We made note of the protective plastic above the wheels, and a zippered flap intended to hide the stored telescoping handle. The zippered flap was a nice touch in theory. However, the execution seemed half-baked as handle deployment takes two hands to guide the handle past the overhanging material.
If you are a gadget, gizmo, and feature geek — take a gander at the Osprey Sojourn for a hybrid backpack / checked rolling suitcase. If you're after a more traditional-looking bag with features galore, the Briggs and Riley Baseline is the suitcase you're after.
We were happy to see the Lipault Plume excel in a category. One of our highest scorers of the group, the Plume weighed in at a featherweight 6.7 lbs. Only the Osprey Ozone outperformed the Plume here.
The Lipault Plume is not a stylish bag. In fact, it isn't a very good looking bag either. The reviewer insists that his grandmother purchased this bag — thirty years ago. We know quite a number of styles from yesteryear are making a comeback, but we are fairly certain this one won't.
If you require your luggage to make a memorable entrance with you, a slouching suitcase simply wont do. We found ourselves loving the thoughtfully elegant, functional, yet simple design of the Delsey Helium Titanium and the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2 instead.
Filling with unused clothes and dropping off at the nearest donation center.
The Lipault Original Plume just didn't measure up to the hype of online reviews. At a retail price point of $259, right in the middle of our field of tested suitcases, every other candidate brought more bang for the buck to the table. Whether you are the budget-conscious value shopper, or the gear junkie throwing caution (and money) to the wind, this is not the suitcase for you.
We were hoping great things from a simple and clean design. However, we knew something was amiss when the amorphous suitcase in front of us barely resembled the perfectly packed and clean-lined product of manufacturer stock photos. Only mustering one scoring category above average, it is easy to see why the Plume ended up at the bottom of our charts.
— Dave Eyvazzadeh
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