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New luggage, why didn't I think of that (buyers remorse?)

I recently bought a new, slightly smaller (20") spinner. I'm not sure I like the style I chose but I'm trying to like it. I loaned out my last two 21" bags to relatives and they like them so much I haven't reminded them that they were a loan. I still use my 30 year old Jandd backpack (edit: which opens completely like a suitcase) but my shoulder has been giving me some issues.

A couple of months ago I went looking for a new bag and let a gorgeous Samsonite hard side seduce me. It's a slightly bumpy textured, graphite colored 20" spinner. It has some external flat zippered pockets. It has a zippered divider inside. I tested it in the store by rolling it around, extending the handle several times, measuring the dimensions and lifting it with one finger. I thought I had a new style and a winner.

These are the things I didn't think through and am trying to get used to now. The big issue for me is that since it is a hard shell it is symmetrically split and needs to be opened completely flat to access things so the other half doesn't spill out. That requires more space which many hotels, luggage racks and my usual packing and unpacking place don't have. It may not seem like a big deal but the first time I walked into a hotel room with it and realized it needed to be opened completely "portrait style" instead of "landscape style" with the lid propped up I was struggling to find a place to set it.

The second thing I didn't check carefully was that it doesn't have any handle assist with lifting on any surface except the handle on the top and I'm used to one on the bottom of my luggage too.

I've taken it on 2 flights and several overnight driving trips so far. I love the look of it but I'm still trying to love the function of it, especially the laying both sides flat thing. If any of you use a hard sided bag can you offer any tips? I want to like this bag because it is a lovely bag in every other way. If you are thinking of switching to a hard sided case, please take these function changes into consideration.

Posted by
4574 posts

Thanks for the warning. I have never been drawn to the hard sided until I saw one designer brand with some very pretty graphics on the exterior. Of course, it means it needs a cover to keep from scratching, so then it sort of defeats buying something for the 'pretty' factor....perhaps that was just my self justification as I couldn't afford it anyway.
Your points of the way it opens and handle assist should be a consideration for any luggage - including backpacks and duffles - rolling or otherwise.

Posted by
315 posts

This week I was in TJ Max, a woman was pointing out the open issue with hard case luggage. It reminded me of my travels with a true backpack and how I had to get something on the bottom. It had to be completely packed and unpacked. I do not think I'll travel with either, now.

Posted by
1194 posts

One of the things I really enjoy about my soft pack is that I can throw it into a drawer when I get into my hotel room. I have a lot more space in the room.
Better - I can lock valuables into the pack and throw it into the drawer where most people wouldn't look.
Your comment about an opening that is 1/2 way down the bag is why I've avoided certain luggage. Several soft sided bags do the same thing.

Posted by
3290 posts

Yesterday I almost bought a really nice-looking hard shell for our upcoming trip. After coming home and reading your post, I'm glad I resisted.

Posted by
5697 posts

Yes, I have to pack/unpack on the bed ... or the floor ... but the plus on the hard-sided case is that I can pack it expanded, let it sit to settle, squeeze it down using the expansion zipper and then maybe get even more stuff in without having the sides bulge out.
But I agree, a bottom handle would be helpful. Mine has one on the side, but of course when the "book" is open it only lifts one side.

Posted by
3980 posts

Laura you reminded me of another thing that is different with a hard sided case, if you pack it and let it sit upright for a little while, there is no way to partially open the top and squeeze in one more thing. Maybe I should try your method of getting a little bit more in or maybe I will just not be able to pack it completely full, probably a good thing. Now I have three things that are very different about that case and not in a good way.

Posted by
7050 posts

A hotel bed is plenty of space to open up a hard-shell bag. I think, with some use, you'll get used to the new bag and won't be bothered by it. It's like going from a PC to a Mac...it's uncomfortable at first and forces you to do things a little differently. But, after a while, you forget all about it.

Posted by
9766 posts

You should remind your relatives that they have your 21" bags!!! There's no reason that you should have to suffer because of your kindness (in loaning them in the first place) and their rudeness.

Posted by
10289 posts

One other problem is when you try to squeeze that last piece of luggage into the trunk of a small car. There's no wiggle room with a hard shell.

Currently we are on a very active arcaeological tour with a group of older, well-traveled Europeans. Everyone has hard luggage and a lot compared to our usual way of traveling light and independently. I was beginning to question our soft luggage, but your post brings up good points on the negatives.

Posted by
3980 posts

I know Bets. I brought my soft backpack on this family trip because we have other fixed sized things in the back of the car and I wanted to be able to squish my bag in anywhere.

Posted by
347 posts

Not only do you have to lay it flat, each time you open it you must lift a relatively heavy half of all the contents of the luggage.

Do you use packing cubes? if you do, at least retrieving items and packing the bag will be easier.

A lack of extra grab handles is a real disadvantage when stowing overhead. Any chance you can use a webbed strap around the bag to give you a place to grab the bag on the bottom? {Now it doesn't look so good. :-( }

And...can you take it back? It sounds like the only good thing is the 'look.' Seriously, the bag should make the travel easier, not harder.

Good luck.

Posted by
362 posts

Agreed. I have a lovely and small hard sided suitcase, but it requires being completely flat to access both sides of it.

Having said that, it's still my checked luggage of choice when checking a bag. It's hard sided so it withstands water better if left out during the rain on the tarmac. It also provides better protection if I bring back a bottle or two of wine from aboard.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Posted by
173 posts

Would folks who use the RS Ravena bag please chime in regarding the clamshell opening? Pros, cons, etc. Thanks.

Posted by
3980 posts

I've now used the new luggage on several trips involving planes and cars. I'm getting used to it. One half is slightly smaller than the other and it has a zippered, cloth cover. I don't use packing cubes but I have used mesh bags for my underwear for a long time. The rest I roll to fit the ridges in the bottom and fold flat to fit the smooth area created on top of the ridges.

It is so light and I pack light that I haven't had any trouble lifting it into overhead bins. On a recent trip I did use it as extra protection for some glass objects we brought home. Like I said, I'm getting used to it and I still really like its weight and style.

Posted by
346 posts

I prefer to carry a backpack when traveling internatinoally (LOVE the hands free) and use a carry-on spinner when traveling domestically. I've been using an REI brand back pack that is top-loading, which is not the most convenient. I bought a Motherload weekender jr. from ebags. I love the functionality and ease of use, but returned it because the waist strap was soooo not supportive. Luggage is so...individual and specific to the person. I've looked at the hard sided carry-on's and couldn't get past that they don't have outside pockets. I REALLY need pockets. Functionality is key. If you're in doubt now, that won't go away. My motto is, "when in doubt, do without." It's really saved me from questionable purchases. Good luck in finding the right bag!

Posted by
4010 posts

I've taken it on 2 flights and several overnight driving trips so far.
I love the look of it but I'm still trying to love the function of it,
especially the laying both sides flat thing. If any of you use a hard
sided bag can you offer any tips?

Yes, return it.

It's not a good bag for you; why struggle with it? Sometimes suitcases you buy aren't a good match; get your money back and pick something else. I assume you bought it from a retailer who will refund you 100%.

Posted by
5697 posts

@Continental, did you read down to Mona's follow-up post where she said she's getting used to it ? No way to be sure that the next bag won't also have unexpected features, just different ones.