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Comparison of 3 bags, including Eagle Creek Hovercraft Upright
on July 23, 2011
Suitcase Reviews (Samsonite Litespeed 25", Leisure Lightweight collection 25", Eagle Creek Hovercraft Upright 25"):
Background: I am a small female who has trouble with heavy luggage. I went to France in 1998 with a 25" suitcase that had very small wheels on the back (smaller than any I've seen this time), and I had a lot of troubles because it would fall forward and it weighed too much. I'm now headed to France again for 3 1/2 months, so these issues are top in my mind as I look for a better suitcase.
I went around town and tried out all the 24-25" suitcases I could. I wanted to try rolling them and carrying them by the handle, because I remember that there were times in France where I couldn't just roll the suitcase. I walked all over the store, and most of the suitcases were either too heavy OR the pull handle would not extend easily or retract easily, OR the carry handle was extremely uncomfortable, either due to size or material. I took the two that remained home to look at in more depth. They were the Samsonite Litespeed and the Leisure Lightweight collection. Due to very positive reviews about the important issues, I also bought an Eagle Creek Hovercraft online and had it sent to me. The reviews are in the order that I received the suitcases.
Major issues: weight, maneuverability, and no falling forward or backward. I was not able to test durability because I wanted to retain the ability to return them if they didn't work out. I was able to see which ones seemed more durable, though, based on the construction of the wheels, handles, and overall feel of the bag.
Minor issues: Location of the side handle (I prefer it on the right when I stand behind it), color, pull handle ease/length, expander.
The Samsonite Litespeed looks very durable, but it is not tapered. Once I was home, I found that despite my thoughts at the store, it is going to fall forward just like my old one did. In fact, just running into it by accident, while it is empty, causes it to fall forward. It's also very wide, making it bigger than I really need, and likely to be less manageable as a result. The pull handle and the carry handle on the top of the suitcase are great, but the side handle is on the wrong side.
I was not able to bring the Leisure home on the same day as the Samsonite, so when I went to pick it up, I made very sure that it wouldn't fall forward. It also was much lighter and of better dimensions than the Samsonite for my needs. In addition, I really liked the purplish maroon color, which I thought would stand out more than the red that the Samsonite was in. On the other hand, it seemed much less durable than the Samsonite. The wheels are smaller, too. The side handle is on the correct side for me, and the pull handle and top carry handle both work well, with no problems. In particular, the pull handle is excellent: I can even extend it to the second length while walking. I wasn't able to do that with the Samsonite. Once I got it home, I realized my mistake. Oh, sure, it will never ever fall forward, but it falls backwards at the slightest movement! And again, the construction made me dubious as to its durability.
I was beginning to despair a bit that there just wouldn't be a suitcase for me. And then the Eagle Creek arrived. Without having tried any of them out with actual packing, the Eagle Creek wins hands down. It is very light -- at least as light as the Leisure. It also seems very durable. The wheels are much sturdier and of better construction than either the Samsonite or the Leisure. It has a very solid feel to it, but is not heavy. The carry handle is comfortable, and the side handle is on the correct side. When I ordered it, I didn't realize that it had an expander, so I was delighted to discover that it did. It does not tip either forward or back. The only problem is that the pull handle is a little short (which may be an issue for taller people) and it doesn't extend to the longest length as easily as the other two. That said, it doesn't stick; you just have to deliberately open it further. It doesn't happen just with a press of the button. So, that's a pretty minor thing compared to falling forward or backwards, having unwieldy dimensions, or seeming to be less durable. I was in a hurry to order it, so I forgot to pick a color. I ended up with the blue one, but I think I'd like the black with blue accents better.
Weight: Samsonite was a little heavier. Eagle Creek and Leisure very light.
Maneuverability: Leisure is the best, but Eagle Creek is also very good. Samsonite is unwieldy.
Falling forward or back: Samsonite falls forward, while Leisure falls back. Eagle Creek stays upright.
Location of side handle: Good on Leisure and Eagle Creek, bad on Samsonite.
Color: Leisure is best, then Eagle Creek, then Samsonite.
Pull handle ease/length: Leisure, then Samsonite, then Eagle Creek.
Expander: all 3.
Samsonite was by far the worst for my needs due to its unwieldiness, heaviness, and location of the side handle. Leisure was next, because it had a serious problem in that it fell backwards with just a thought. There were some features that the Leisure had that I preferred over the Eagle Creek, but that falling was a real deal breaker for me. The Eagle Creek has a somewhat difficult pull handle, but no major problems and it feels very durable.
Since I am going to keep this bag, I will update this review after I've had experience about the actual durability.
I have since been to France and back, and stand by my review. This is a great suitcase! No problems with durability at all, and while all of my companions were struggling with heavy, unweildy bags, I felt just a little smug about my own bag. No issues with going over the weight limit, good maneuverability, and solid construction. I will be going with Eagle Creek for my next suitcase purchase, whenever that will be.