Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable 28" Review
Cons: Tough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational features
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Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable 28"
$239.88 at Amazon
|$279 List||$289 List|
Check Price at REI
|$250 List||$119 List|
$79.38 at Amazon
|Pros||Cavernous main compartment, scratch- and water-resistant, easy-roll spinners||Smooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great style||Durable construction, large capacity, rolls with ease across mixed terrain||Ultra-lightweight, large wheels, useful organizational features||Inexpensive, rolls easily, large capacity|
|Cons||Tough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational features||Zippers could be smoother, low clearance||Limited interior organizational features, easy to overpack||Small storage capacity, jiggly awkward handle, dubious longevity||Low-grade materials, poor craftsmanship, sticky zipper|
|Bottom Line||An oversized yet lightweight mega-bag with spinner-tight roll and control over smooth surfaces and surprisingly tough exterior construction||A durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travel||The perfect all-terrain rolling duffel with substantial storage capacity and useful organizational extras||An ultra-lightweight roller duffel great for road tripping but less useful for airline travel||A low priced expandable suitcase with enormous storage capacity but dubious durability|
|Rating Categories||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Timbuk2 Copilot||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Osprey Ozone 75L Wh...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Storage & Organization (25%)|
|Ease of Transport (25%)|
|Specs||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Timbuk2 Copilot||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Osprey Ozone 75L Wh...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Measured Weight||10.3 lbs||9.4 lbs||9.6 lbs||5.2 lbs||11.6 lbs|
|Liters per pound||14.1||8.5||11.1||14.4||10.9|
|Construction||Clamshell, hard-sided||Clamshell plus topside u-shaped zip access, softshell||Zip open, duffel||Zip open, duffel||Clamshell, hard-sided|
|Measured Packed Dimensions||30.5" x 20.5" x 13"||26.5" x 14.5" x 13"||33.75" x 16.25" x 14"||26.5" x 17" x 12"||30.75" x 21" x 12|
|Number of Wheels||4||2||2||2||4|
|Number of Large Interior Compartments||2||2||1||1||2|
|Interior Storage Features||Elastic restraint straps in one-half clam, zip enclosure over opposite half; hanging zipper accessory pocket||2 mesh clam panels with 2 organizational pockets||2 mesh organizational pockets on inside of opening panel (one with key hook), 2 internal compression straps||Compression panels with 2 straps||One-half clam with elastic restraint straps, one-half large zip enclosure with 2 zip mesh pockets, hanging zip accessory pocket|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||None||1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve||1 side exterior zip pocket. 1 small top zip pocket with piggy-bag strap attachment, plus daisy-chain gear loops||1 liquid pocket, 1 media-sized slide pocket, 1 small top containing tuckaway carry-on strap||None|
|Compression System||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression||No||2 external and 2 internal compression straps (4 in total)||2 external compression straps, 1 internal panel set||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression|
|Handle Height from Ground||Low: 36"
|Built-In Lock||Yes, TSA Approved||No||No||No||No|
|Main Exterior Material||Polycarbonate||Nylon and polyester||Recycled 400-denier nylon/recycled 1,680-denier nylon (bluesign®-approved)||210-denier nylon honeycomb plus 450-denier packcloth||Extra-thick ABS, hard shell|
|Unique Features||Built-in TSA-approved lock; large packing capacity; impressive water resistance, expandable, anti-scratch exterior||Liquids pocket and padded front pocket to fit 13" laptop; skateboard wheels||Oversized wheels, rugged chassis, full-length bumpers, 2 internal and 2 external compression straps, stopper-stand, carry-on piggyback clip, 6 haul handle options, daisy chain lash points, water-resistant||Ultralight, large, treaded wheels, exterior slide document pocket, carry-on tuckaway strap||150D-polyester zippered clamshell enclosure, 3 organizational pockets|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The largest suitcase among our list of contenders by far, the Samsonite Omni PC Expandable is not the bag for every trip or everybody. But when extra-large capacity, reliability, and value are key considerations to your travel plans and most roads ahead appear clear of rough-road obstacles, this classically styled beast of a spinner should land high among your list of luggage choices just as it has garnered a top spot on ours.
Storage & Organization
If cavernous packable space is what you are here for, the 145L Omni PC is THE bag. Be it wetsuits and climbing shoes, gala-ready gowns and costume glitz, or uniforms for a whole team, there's more room to haul in this mammoth streamlined case than you'll know what to do with. Forgot your boots? Need to toss in just one more winter coat? A final set of ropes? No problem. Flip-open the clamshell and unzip the side expansion panel to boost your net capacity by yet another couple of inches all around. But keep in mind what this boxy four-wheeler delivers in sheer size and depth alone does not necessarily directly translate into smart use features overall.
Inside, one-half of the clam is covered in a zipped mesh panel to restrict the movement of items in transit. Great. But what else? The other half is wide open with just a simple elastic restraint strap set to help maintain position and balance among any additional freewheeling pieces housed in the main chest. But unfortunately, that comes without the benefit of true operational compression. Next, a single thin accessory pocket sits across the clam divide, like a lonely offering to the organizational gods. And finally, an embedded TSA-approved locking mechanism offers a convenient sense of security when on the move.
Our primary concern here is two-fold. One, it will take no effort at all to tap out the 50-pound airline maximum in the early stages of packing, increasing your chances of significant overweight luggage charges once you reach the airport. Two, packed at only half or low capacity, this bag runs the risk of becoming a potential hazard to itself and/or to its contents. Any vacant space means free-floating items can shift about inside the case, settling toward the bottom and creating an overall "belly-drag" effect within the flex-sided box or inadvertently exposing vulnerable edges and surfaces to compromise when tossed about within. You'll be better equipped to dial this big boy in if you're working with packing cubes or large soft pieces. If not, consider a smaller suitcase that suits your real-time packing needs.
Ease of Transport
The Omni will pack all the gear you need — and a whole lot you probably don't — and deliver a fairly comfortable body-parallel ride under average travel conditions. Navigating a crowd across a hotel lobby? Late for check-in at the airport? It will keep pace around a sea of people and corners with little excess effort or hesitation. With just one condition: its weight.
Due to the lack of internal compression and significant restraint, interior shifting and weight redistribution are factors. Specifically, we found something of a "belly-drag" effect given the semi-flexibility of the sides, and this can slow you down a bit. Also, when topped out at just the maximum airline weight of 50 pounds with plenty of room inside to spare, we noted the Omni, like so many other spinners we tested, begins to peel away from the body parallel, shifting to a 45-degree angle while in motion. We found this true on flat and mild uphill slopes, making it vastly harder to keep the heavy bag at our sides and requiring substantially more energy and effort to maneuver a straight line matching our steps.
Like all four-wheeled spinner suitcases in our suite, flat road is where it's at with the Omni. No question, hefty treaded wheels are required if offroad adventures are what you seek, and this four-wheeled giant's stats stumbled as expected when presented with a diversity of landscapes. Although the 3.5-inches of bottom clearance leaves the case free to charge rough roads and broken surfaces, the four spinner wheels themselves are far too small to offer much fight against rocks, dirt, gravel, sand, or any other obstacles, even if flopped to a two-wheeled pull position. Likewise, the lightweight parallel-ride-friendly handle loses its appeal when tasked with compelling the weight of a full bag against such challenging terrain.
On loading, the thin rubberized top and side haul handles feel secure but offer little room to grip and stand small chance of serving comfortably or providing easy maneuverability when the bag is packed to its full capacity — or really, even just half. Its colossal dimensions ensure any grab and go will require a significant amount of muscle and leverage, like a large baggage handler. On standing, best keep a hand free. There's no stopping mechanism in place to save you from such a bag with a freewheeling mind of its own.
Although the top design priority was clearly lightweight storage capacity, Samsonite also appears to have tackled the question of durability on the Omni PC from the ground up. The "PC" in its name refers to the core construction material of this suitcase, polycarbonate (the same tough stuff used in bullet-proof glass), and is the first indication there may be hidden strength below the bag's surface.
Upon first inspection, a couple of design surprises whispered of potential fragility and cast doubts upon our initial performance assessment. What threw us for a loop? Foremost, the bag's micro-diamond patterned hard shell presents itself as both thin and flimsy, flexing easily under hand pressure alone (as one might expect to see out of ABS construction). We found this to be a truly peculiar combination for a polycarbonate exterior that boasts scratch and abuse resistance with an overall indestructibility fit for daily battle with international airways.
Similarly, the small 2-inch diameter single-wheel design of the four heavy plastic spinners left us room for pause when projecting ahead to a rough and tumble world of airline baggage transfers, broken sidewalks, awkwardly angled hotel stairwells, and backcountry trailways. No suitcase becomes more useless than a human-sized, flex-sided mega spinner losing a wheel, especially when found far from its more natural hotel-airport habitat. And when a suitcase is near big as you are, there's no legitimate chance of hauling it about the world with a couple of small single-sided hand grips.
But true to its name, rigorous on-the-ground testing demonstrated this Samsonite hangs tough. Prepared for disappointment, we were genuinely surprised when the soft, slim exterior, thick interlocking zippers, and four underwhelmingly small caster spinners delivered on the bag's heavyweight protection promise. In fact, this was the single only bag in the entire suite that held up under both phases of water testing, remaining water-tight against both simulated showers and a concentrated soaking at vulnerable access points. Impressive.
Facing such adversaries as snowy airport tarmacs, concrete stairwells, and jam-packed trunk space, this Samsonite spinner also stood strong, leaving both bag and contents unscathed. So, while we might not suggest packing the family porcelain or leaving precious electronics or breakables floating inside in a sea of unpacked space, we'd trust this bag to carry most average travel wares safely ahead to their final destinations.
Considering its oversized dimensions, the 145L Omni PC impressed us with its 10.5-pound weight. Cases of lesser capacity come in at considerably more. So, Samsonite's concerted effort to deliver a lightweight large carry solution is well noted. But unfortunately, that number still equates to over 20% of a typical 50-pound checked luggage weight limit. So if you're taking to the air, a good deal of self-policing will be needed to ensure you don't overstuff your pack and face expensive fees.
The unobtrusive classic style of the Omni PC was not lost on us. Its streamlined curves and dulled hard candy coating played to its favor, masking its otherwise imposing size amid a crowd of similar-yet-different suitcases on the playing field. With many colors to choose from and classic, hard-sided spinner good looks, the simplicity of this no-frills suitcase ensures it leans toward the classy-yet-unassuming side of the luggage spectrum, with enough scratch and stain resistant properties to suggest a long and healthy shelf life.
If volume is what you want, volume is what the Samsonite Omni PC can deliver. And at this price point, there is no doubt you are maximizing your dollar. For hauling clothing and soft wearables over city-style surfaces, there's a good chance you won't be disappointed in its transportability, reliability, and longevity. Plus, with Samsonite, you're looking at a 10-year limited warranty from a brand built around a solid reputation for delivering on quality and commitments. In the game of trust that is travel, there are far less promising partnerships to be made.
100+ years of design and use experience stand behind this storied luggage brand. So when it comes to delivering thoughtful suitcases built to serve the unique needs of today's global travelers, it's no surprise the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable 28" boasts a host of qualities to impress. Yet the challenge remains: every trip and traveler is different, and every baggage need is unique. For some, the Omni will fit the long-haul bill just right. For others, it'll strike notes of humor before a quick grab for a far smaller and more rugged roller duffel or crisp business-ready piece. We'd choose this bag for our next international move without hesitation. But we also wouldn't expect it to come out of storage much once landed.
— Myrha Colt
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