Samsonite Silhouette 700 Series, Expandable Carry-on Upright Suiter
Dimensions 21.5" x 14" x 7.5"
Weight 11 lbs. Price $320
Warranty 10 years
Design Nearly perfect—our testers loved the adjustable-height handle and were
impressed with the bag's easy- to-grip side and top handles. They were disappointed, however,
by the clumsy (and flimsy) built-in ID tag.
Resistance Although the exterior fabric looked water-resistant (it certainly held up against oil and dirt), we ended up with about a cup of water in the main compartment and a sopping wet front pocket. We were also surprised to find that the exterior fabric scratched fairly easily. The interior stood up to water and toiletries, but its tan color reveals every stain.
Packability The only company to acknowledge the difficulty of packing around the handle casing, Samsonite maximizes interior space by providing a special pouch that helps you pack items between the metal bars and create a flat surface for the clothes above. Plus, there are three useful pockets (one deep and long) in the front.
Maneuverability The bag felt slow and heavy despite its light frame and lacked balance on tight turns. Testers, however, were thrilled with the performance of the handle, which is designed to absorb shocks.
Durability With a padded flap that zips over it, the handle—the most vulnerable part of many bags we tested—was successfully protected in the toss test. The thin, plastic frame on the back of the case, however, dented in one corner and shattered in another, leaving the bag prone to further damage. Strangely, the fabric came through this test unscratched.
OVERALL A good value choice: this bag has some flaws but also several real advantages at an attractive price.
American Tourister Tribute II 600 Series, Expandable Carry-on Upright Suiter
Dimensions 21" x 14" x 8"
Weight 11 lbs. Price $200
Warranty 10 years
Design Adequate, if a little shabby. Our testers liked the main handle and the easy-to-grip
bottom one, but noted that the thin interior fabric cannot be removed for cleaning.
Resistance The exterior fabric kept the front pocket dry, but there was about a half-cup of water in the main compartment—and it was quickly absorbed into the tan interior fabric, which we found particularly susceptible to staining. This was the only bag that succumbed to our stabs: the exterior punctured slightly and the interior fabric beneath it tore. The knife-scratch test left the bag an unsightly mess.
Packability This has the smallest interior capacity of the bags we tested, and it's the only one that comes with a top interior pouch, but no true suiter. Neither of the deep front pockets runs the length of the case—a bit of a disappointment.
Maneuverability Our testers applauded the handle's comfortable grip, which aided with movement, but were frustrated with the bag's lackluster shock absorbency, which left them with tired arms and shoulders. The bag wobbled in tight turns, though it recovered quickly and rarely fell over.
Durability One of the plastic wheel casings came a little loose after our tossing tests, but there was no structural damage to the suitcase. Plus, the fabric fared remarkably well while skidding across pavement.
OVERALL What do you expect for two hundred bucks?Not perfection, but this case performed well, making it an excellent starter bag.
* All prices are manufacturers' suggested retail. In many cases, these models are available at a discount in stores.