Introducing Samsonite as a brand for bags is like introducing Coca Cola as a brand for soft drinks; come on…everybody knows Samsonite! So without further delay: Samsonite has been making quality bags for quite some time, serving everyone but the heritage fashionista. I’ve owned quite a few Samsonite bags and I’ve never had complaints about the quality. They’ve been very successful and innovative in rolled luggage and probably in a lot of other areas.
Looking for a high-end carry-on spinner for business and pleasure, I stumbled across the Samsonite Pro DLX3 55-cm spinner and decided to buy it. It’s been in Samsonite’s collection for some years and it’s still sold.
OK…there we go: for most flights within Europe, especially flying with budget airlines (55 by 40 by 20 cm), it’s NOT a carry-on bag so don’t read any further if you need to be sure you can bring it everywhere without checking in. Otherwise: it’s high-end, it’s a spinner and it’s certainly of good use for business and pleasure… so read on if you’re still interested…
I brought it on a couple of flights as a check-in bag and on a lot of trips by car, bus and train. After a year’s usage it’s a good time for a road test.
First, being one of Samsonite’s more high-end bags, it’s full of carry geekery. There’s a packing system for suits included, there’s leather handles and finishings, there’s a separate bag for shoes included, there’s a TSA-approved number lock built in (yeah we know it’s not much use), it’s YKK all over for zippers…yummy, we like…
The bag has a few compartments:
- a main compartment divided in two, with a zippered separation.
- on the separation there’s a mesh pocket and a more or less waterproof plastic pocket.
- on the back of the bag there’s a small zippered pocket for tickets.
- on the front there’s a bigger pocket that can hold a 13″ MacBook and a smaller pocket for keys or a wallet.
The compartments add up to about 41.5 liters of space. The bag is expandable so the main compartments can hold a little extra, up to 47 liters if needed. That’s big enough for a lot of clothes, toiletry items, books and a Super Soaker to finish it up.
The outer size is 55 by 38.5 by 24.5 cm/21.65 by 15.15 by 9.65 inches.
Being a spinner, it has four wheels. I like that for being much more flexible in crowded areas and train corridors. The downside is you lose a bit of space staying within carry-on limitations.
There’s a handle that can be extracted in two stages and secured with a lock button.
The bag is well-built, rugged but still stylish. After a year I still really like the look of it and it has served me well. The wheels are very good, despite being dragged through muddy streets and chewing gum-stricken alleys. Again, I prefer spinners over two-wheeled luggage for flexibility.
The handle deserves a compliment as well. Besides being a nice handle in general, I dragged another 10 kg bag attached to the handle up and down stairs and the likes for two weeks, to relieve my girlfriend of some weight. I had half expected it to break or at least bend, but…none of the kind!
The bag is kinda heavy, especially compared to hardshell ultralight spinners and rolling luggage. It weighs about 4.2 kg/9.25 pounds, which will add up to your airline’s maximum weight rules. Having been unable to bring it on board as a carry-on bag, that has not been much of a problem, but still…
The second thing is the suits compartment. The bag comes with a suit hanger and a suit pack, part nylon, part mesh, that can be attached to a hook in the suit part of the bag. All really nicely done and carry-geek-worthy. However, I carried a suit and shirts several times and they always came out wrinkled. The suit pack is just too small in width to keep a suit tidy, and I’m a size 48. I guess it’s possible to bring one suit and fold the shirts separate from the suit pack, but that still doesn’t live up to my expectations.
The plastic section is handy as it’s almost waterproof, but it doesn’t stuff a full size or even small size dopp kit. That means you either have to put separate toiletry items in it, which would be weird in my opinion, or have to put other stuff in (like cables, which is what I’ve used it for). So it’s of limited use.
Best suited to
- small check-in bag or carry-on for intercontinental flights
Not suited to
- carry-on for any airline on any flight
If you like the Pro DLX3 series but want to stay within airline size restrictions, there’s the Pro DLX3 Upright.
I’d compare it to lightweight hardshell luggage as well, such as Samsonite’s Cosmolite or Tumi’s Tegra-lite. I like a few pockets up front so I can quickly grab something without having to open up the whole bag, so that might be something to consider. In that way the Rimowa’s Bolero line might be an option, as it offers a lightweight hardshell but still has an extra pocket on the front.
I’ve been happy with the bag for its comfort, stylishness, ruggedness and functionality. Not being able to use it as carry-on is still gnawing at me, but for many other weekends and one or two-week trips it has been the perfect size. Not to mention being able to curl it around all kinds of objects and people with one hand.
Being a carry geek with the mantra “there’s a different bag for every occasion”, I might want to expand my collection with a real carry-on spinner that meets European airlines’ size restrictions and maybe a bigger sized hardshell spinner and a wheeled sports bag and…(OH NO you don’t)
Ed Post Note: For some more thoughts on spinners and hard luggage, check Ando’s post on where he wishes the industry would go with them: http://www.carryology.com/2011/01/28/talking-wheels-hard-cases/