It wasn't until after testing and crunching numbers that we realized the TravelPro Maxlite 4 diced it up with the middle-pack candidates at a fraction of the price. We were astonished to find the price in the range of higher end duffel bags we reviewed in the past, so it's easy to see why it won our Best Buy Award.
Gliding spinner wheels on smoother surfaces, ample storage capacity, and thoughtful revisions to traditional features made us realize that not all suitcases are required to rank in the upper echelon of every category to be good. Sometimes good enough is good enough. We think for the money, the Maxlite is beyond good enough.
The TravelPro Maxlite 4 always performed up to snuff. The lowest scores we saw from the Maxlite were average scores (5 out of 10) in durability and transportability. And we understand that to have a super durable suitcase, it requires materials that don't work with a $160 price range.
As for transportability, we believe spinner wheels lend themselves to great carry-on bags, but are a disadvantage when used with checked luggage. There were a total of seven spinners in our review, and Maxlite ranked third out of those spinners. The only spinners to place higher was our favorite hard-sided luggage, the Delsey Helium Titanium, and the spendy Briggs and Riley Baseline.
The Maxlite 4, although high in value, did not excel in our durability assessments. The polyester outer fabric, prone to scuffing, particularly when navigating up and down concrete stairs, and grows fuzzy through use. In time, we expect thorough use to abrade through the outer polyester covering.
Fuzziness and abrasion aside, our main concerns for durability are with seams. Heavy stress seams, such as at carry handle attachment points will likely be the first to give way. However, we do believe the Maxlite will endure occasional travel with modestly weighted bags. If you travel weekly, or pack beyond the 50lb weight limit, the Maxlite may not last the year.
If you want a more durable spinner that doesn't top the charts in cost check out the Delsey Helium Titanium. Otherwise consider venturing away from a spinner and checking out our Editors' Choice Award Winner, the Timbuk2 Copilot.
Some battered edges and fuzzy fabric after navigating concrete stairs.
The Maxlite 4 handled our massive packing list without need to use the expansion zipper. We enjoyed the options of the outer front pocket, as well as some interior storage options, like the folded clothes zipper inside the main flap and a toiletry pocket in the main compartment.
The Maxlite scores towards the middle of the pack when it comes to storage.
Similar to the Samsonite Aspire XLite, this suitcase expands only half of the main compartment to limit the risk of toppling the bag when transporting along all four wheels in a spinner configuration. However, unlike the Aspire, this suitcase expands only the bottom-half of the bag to prevent toppling and top-heaviness, which we appreciated.
Check out the Briggs and Riley Baseline and the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 for similarly styled suitcases with excellent storage.
A simple yet functional storage area with dual cinchable straps.
Ease of Transport
This suitcase simply glides on smooth surfaces, and if the world was made of entirely smooth surfaces with no stairs or cracks in sidewalks, it would be perfect. However, as we know that is not the case, the Maxlite 4 has some struggles — as most spinners do — when it comes to navigating obstacles in transit.
In spinner mode, the Maxlite transitions nicely from one direction to the next with a consistent solid-feeling rolling action. It is when we transitioned to a tow-behind mode that the Maxlite showed its flaws. As most spinners did, the Maxlite suffered its way up and down stairs; the polyester fabric catching on concrete patio stairs. The smaller wheels announced every crack in the sidewalk, but the ergonomic handle prevented the task from becoming a chore.
If comfort in transport is what you seek, check out two-wheeled suitcases with larger wheels like the Timbuk2 Copilot and the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2.
We thought the feature list of the Maxlite 4 provided exactly what the occasional traveler might need. Storage features include a single outside pocket that provides large secondary storage for last minute items that you may want to pull out prior to reaching your destination. The folded clothes pocket inside the main flap can fit shirts, pants, or even a carefully folded suit. And although the toiletries compartment is a step in the right direction, we would like to see it detach. We also appreciated the sturdy webbing-based clothes cinch strap versus the useless elastic strap of yesteryear.
The collapsible handle features some design cues that we nearly missed. The ergonomic handle, already fairly comfortable, has extra-wide soft rubber pads to comfortably rest your palm on, making pushing the Maxlite along in spinner mode a breeze. And if that weren't enough, the Maxlite also has a bottom mounted handle perfect for placing your suitcase on a bed or luggage rack.
For feature-rich suitcases with increased transportability, have a look at the Eagle Creek Tarmac and TravelPro Platinum Magna.
The TravelPro Maxlite 4 lived up to its moniker and boasted the lightest weight of any award winner or any suitcase we would recommend, for that matter. Weighing in at 7.5 lbs, the Maxlite posted the only sub-10lb weight and performed well across the board. The next closest all-around competitor was the Maxlite's feature-rich sibling, the TravelPro Platinum Magna.
The style of the Maxlite doesn't make any bold statements, take any risks or scream high fashion. It has clean lines and a simplistic design. It's not a fashion piece or a garish train wreck. It's simply a suitcase.
If you want something with some more panache, it'll cost you. We had nothing but love for the looks of the TravelPro Platinum Magna 2.
This suitcase has a place in just about any home looking for a standard suitcase. No frills, nothing fancy, but a suitcase to get from A to B without the cost. If you're an occasional traveler, or even a traveler that normally uses a carry-on, and want a budget option — this is your bag. Plenty of room, proper execution, and overall quality is where the TravelPro Maxlite 4 excels.
A simple suitcase.
The Maxlite screams value. That is exactly why it earned the Best Buy Award. The Timbuk2 Copilot sang us its siren song, but the Maxlite wooed us into crowning it Best Buy with a price tag $65 less than the Copilot. Simply put, the Maxlite provides quality at a ridiculously low price.
The TravelPro Maxlite 4 is a fantastic suitcase for the money, and perfect for the occasional traveler or those that rarely check bags. For the offerings at the given price tag, the Maxlite got our nod for the best bang for the buck.