On this website, I talk a lot about luggage security. After over 30-years of traveling for both business and pleasure, I have seen a lot. My least favorite sight is the cheap bag that has broken open and the contents are spewed out on to the luggage carousel. There is just no need for some ones trip to go so wrong. As an airport inspector, I have gotten to see what goes on behind the scenes at major airports and some of what I have seen would shock you.
There are many ways that our luggage can be damaged. These range from the baggage handling machinery to unscrupulous baggage handlers stealing from our bags, or worse, planting contraband being smuggled to your destination airport. If you would like to learn more about the risks that your luggage endures, please visit our main page. This will show you why it is so important to use only hard sided luggage.
No solution is perfect but the best prevention against these possibilities is hard shell luggage. For this reason alone, my team and I only travel with hard side suitcases.
Reading other luggage websites, it is obvious to me that most of the people writing for these sites do not know what they are talking about. They are just out to make a buck and do not really care about informing or educating the public. I doubt that many of them have ever seen some of the suitcases that they review as "experts" let alone own one. So. I thought it only fair to prove that I know what I am talking about and show you what luggage I own.
What's on This Page:
1) A little about my tastes?
2) A little history for you
3) The economy of luggage
4) Exactly what types of suitcases do I own?
5) What suitcase do I plan to buy next?
6) 24" Samsonite Oyster
7) 31" Samsonite Oyster
8) 28" Samsonite F'Lite
9) 31" Samsonite F'Lite
10) 31" Samsonite S'Cure
I guess that I am one of those rare individuals who does not like dragging all my worldly possessions around an airport. I prefer to check my luggage. I just like to have my hands free and have less to have to keep my eye on. Also, I like to have the room I need to pack more than I can fit into a carry-on suitcase.
I know that many people are morally outraged about being forced to pay to check their baggage but, in my opinion, it is far easier than schlepping it to the gate and then fighting to find space in an overhead bin.
As an airport technology inspector, I do not like that there is all that great scanning equipment for checked baggage in the back of house and people can circumnavigate it by carrying everything through pre-board screening. I am not knocking the X-rays at pre-board screening but a lot of money has been spent to build-out a network of high-end checked bag X-rays and it is a shame to see them go underutilized...
Another thing that you need to know about me is that I love the Samsonite line of hard shell luggage. My first suitcase was a Samsonite hard sider and it is all I have purchased over the years. They have never given me cause to buy anything else. They are relatively inexpensive, light, rugged, well built and they last forever. I cannot say enough good things about the suitcases that I own.
Way back in the late 1980's I had a job where I traveled in support of the Canadian Prime Minister and his entourage. I was part of a small technical team that set up communication equipment used by the Prime Minister. As a result, we traveled with a large number of flight cases (like a rock band) in the belly of (mainly) commercial airplanes.
I will never forget my first few trips traveling with a beat-up old soft sided suitcase that I had borrowed from my parents. All I can remember about it is that is was a sickly maroon color and the outer coating was cracked and chipping. It was pretty sad looking.
None of my colleagues said anything but I could feel their distain for my borrowed suitcase. Luckily, one of my first international trips was to Brussels. It was 1987. This is where I fell in love - with a brand new Samsonite Oyster. It was released only a year earlier in 1986. It was a medium sized case and had (still has) light gray shells with a purple gasket. I do recall the pride I felt because I now had the nicest suitcase of all of my colleagues.
That case is still in use over 30 years later! I have had to replace one side latch and a wheel but that is all. It has never failed me. That's Samsonite quality for you. I can think of no greater testimonial than that.
Within two years, the entire team was issued brand new black 28" Oyster Suitcases. (Now I had two cases to choose from...) We still use that case too. It has become our "family fun in the sun case" where we store (and transport) all of our beach stuff that we carry on vacation. Come to think of it, I have never had to replace anything on this case.
When I traveled with the PM, our luggage used to be shipped out and loaded on-board the airplane with our equipment cases. The baggage handlers in our home town could see us coming from a mile away and they did not like handling our many heavy cases. At this time, we carried a bullet-proof podium that weighed around 225 pounds. More often than not, when we would open the plane's cargo doors at our destination, we would see one of our suitcases on the floor of the airplane's cargo hold with the 225 pound podium on top of it and other cases stacked on top of that! I wish I had taken a picture. Long story short, we never worried about the contents because we knew that our luggage could easily handle the abuse. Darn those baggage handlers...
Those suitcases were (are still) wonderful. In 1989, I remember bringing six bottles of Russian Vodka home in one of them without a worry. And yes, all six bottles arrived intact.
Fast forward several decades - I have a new job as an airport technology inspector and I have repeatedly added to my Samsonite hard shell luggage collection.
Please understand, I am not made of money but I do feel that you get what you pay for - especially when it comes to luggage.
If the only luggage that you can afford is a $50 soft sided bag, who am I to judge? Chances are that you will use it twice a year to go and visit relatives or go on vacation. (and I kind of envy you for that) It is also true that after a few years it will need to be replaced. I spend a little more on my luggage to ensure that my stuff gets to my destination without incident and so it will last much longer.
Buying better luggage will save you money over time largely due to it not needing to be replaced as often as well as the protection that it provides your belongings.
The luggage that I promote on this website does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Yes, there are some pieces that are very expensive and there are some that are not. Just take a look at what I own. None of it is over-the-top expensive. In fact, I do not think that I have spent more than $250 on any of my suitcases. You just need to be careful about where you buy it.
That raises one red flag. The absolutely worst place to buy luggage is in a store at the airport! These shops know that if you need to buy a suitcase there, then you are in a bind and will pay extra... So please plan ahead!
Okay, I love my luggage... Some may even describe me as a luggage snob but that's okay because it is kind of true. Hopefully, you can understand how crucial having robust luggage has been for me in my travels. They have saved me so much grief time after time. Frankly, more times than I will ever really know.
I even use my hard sided luggage as a replacement for hotel safes. You can lock all your valuable in a hard sided case knowing that the maids or other hotel staff cannot access it. You can read more about why you should not use hotel safes here.
What I own:
That is a very good question. Let me make it very clear that if I were to buy another suitcase, it is not because I would be replacing one of my old ones. They are all very much alive and kicking! I would be buying a new suitcase because something new caught my eye.
I would probably restrict my research to the Samsonite, Desley and Lojel lines. The newer aluminum frame cases with the recessed locks look very nice but unfortunately, they are generally made with polycarbonate shells. Find out why I prefer polypropylene shells here. For my next suitcase, I would only consider suitcases made with polypropylene shells.
So I suppose, my best choice right now would be the Samsonite Vaultex. It is made with polypropylene shells and looks very solid (and it is affordable). It does remind me a lot of the S'Cure line. My wife really likes the aqua blue color.
I am currently actively looking around for a new carry-on bag and I am torn between a hard sided bag on wheels and Pacsafe Vibe 200. This is the only circumstance where I would consider going with a polycarbonate bag. At least with a carry-on you can somewhat control the abuse that it receives.
Like I said earlier, this was my first hard sided suitcase. This Samsonite Oyster is over thirty years old and it is still going strong. Yes, it is over thirty years old! It has a few scrapes and scratches but that just gives it personality. I still get compliments when rolling this through airports.
I will be honest with you, I do use a luggage strap with it because I do not trust thirty year old plastic latches (although one was replaced about 10 years ago). Over time, plastic degrades and will lose its strength. So I use a luggage strap just to be sure that in case of a catastrophic failure, my case will stay closed. (Another great reason for using luggage straps)
On the downside, these earlier suitcases were a little on the heavy side. This is what makes the case so strong - the shell walls are so thick. Back then, the weight limits seemed to be a little more relaxed but in today's traveling environment, I use it only for shorter trips where I do not have to fit as much into it.
Weight: 10.7 lbs.
This was my workhorse suitcase for traveling on business for years. It was provided by my employer so I saved my grey Oyster for vacation trips. You can see by the picture that this suitcase has been through the ringer. It traveled under the harshest conditions. It was mixed in with heavy road cases on boats, in trucks, in airplane bellies and it even flew into Leningrad in a C130 cargo plane.
Like the smaller grey Samsonite Oyster, this case is a little heavier than its modern day equivalents but is had a lot of volume inside. It is only partially lined with a divider but that was not an issue for me. It also had a system for hanging suits inside with was very handy for business travel.
One small detractor about this and the smaller Oyster case, the way the two wheels and handle were aligned makes wheeling it awkward. The center of balance is off just a little so it "wobbles" when you roll it. This effect is a little more pronounced on the larger case. These days, it goes right onto a luggage cart with all my other luggage - problem solved.
Weight: Unsure, didn't want to unpack it :)
I bought this suitcase specifically for inspection tours (business trips). It is small but perfect for a five-day business trip. It has two wheels so it is not a spinner but it will not roll away from me on an inclined surface.
Like my two Samsonite Oyster suitcases, it is only partially lined which I have become used to. I am not sure if, after all these years, I would enjoy a fully lined suitcase or not. Being a newer generation Samsonite suitcase, although the shells are made with polypropylene, they seem to me to be a smidge narrower gauge making the case a full two-pounds lighter than my older 24 inch Oyster.
The only real complaint that I have with this bag is the shape. It is not a perfect rectangle (it tappers to the top end) which makes packing things in it slightly more challenging. Fitting it into the trunk of a car is interesting too...
The overall shape limits how you can stand it up. It only really wants to stand on its base. These are minor points but I thought that they were worth mentioning.
Weight: 8.1 lbs.
We purchased this because the we needed a second suitcase for my wife and 24" F'Lite just wasn't big enough. When we vacation we tend to go for three or four weeks and we like to stay in places with a kitchen. My wife likes to pack spices and things that we would need to buy so we needed extra space. Often in the countries we visit, these staples are imported and very expensive. The money that we save by not having to buy these things often pays for the extra checked baggage fees.
This case is similar to all the others in that it is only partially lined with a divider. It has fours wheels so it is classified as a spinner - which my wife prefers. It has the same tapered shape as the 24" F'Lite but it does not seem to be as pronounced on the 28" version. Perhaps that is only an optical illusion?
As you can see from the pictures, we have tried to keep our most recent purchases all the same color so they are easier to keep and eye on and identify on the luggage carousel.
Weight: 10.7 lbs.
Yes, another red suitcase... What can I say, at least we are consistent. This is currently our favorite suitcase. It is large, light and it was fairly inexpensive.
This suitcase is definitely more rectangular than our F'Lites are. It makes packing a breeze. Packing it into the trunk of a car is also easier. It is partially lined and has a couple of very useful pockets for my wife to hide things from me.
It is also a four wheel spinner and has become our go-to suitcase for trips when my wife and I need to share a suitcase on vacation. Even though it is supposed to be the same size as our 28" F'Lite, it seems a little larger and able to hold more contents. (and it is a half pound a lighter too) Strange but true...
We have nothing negative to say about this suitcase. It is exactly as advertised. A good solid case at a reasonable price.
Weight 10.3 lbs.
So there you have it. These suitcases are my personal choices and all of them have their advantages. As you can see, Samsonite has perfected their polypropylene shells and significantly reduced the weight of their suitcases over the years. In my opinion, this is at the expense of structural strength (the newer cases are more plyable than the older ones) but I understand how important keeping weight down has become.
Like I said, I am not a rich man but I do value safe and secure luggage. Safe and secure luggage does not have to be expensive. I would recommend any of these as prime examples of what a "safe suitcase" should be.
I hope that you have found this behind the scenes look at what luggage I own helpful.