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This article is part of a series giving you detailed reviews on a wide range of the major choices of carry-on bags available today.

Be sure to read it in conjunction with our related reviews and our summary recommendations (see links in right column).

 
 
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Lower Priced Carry On Bag Reviews

Lower price but still acceptable quality for less frequent travelers

Reviews of lower priced carry on bags

It isn't essential to spend many hundreds of dollars on your carry-on bag, particularly if you're an infrequent traveler.

Here are three bags that you might consider to be of acceptable quality, and at markedly lower prices than the mainstream carry-on bags.

 

 

Is it really necessary to spend $500 on a bag when you can often find one for only $50?

Or to spend $250 when you can find a bag for $125?

Scroll down or click these links to jump to the review you wish to read

American Tourister/Walmart Meridian IV

Costco Kirkland Signature Executive 22" Expandable Trolley

 

 

American Tourister / Walmart

Meridian IV

Very inexpensive American Tourister suitcase
 

American Tourister is a lower priced brand belonging to the Samsonite company (see also the two Samsonite reviews here).

Walmart's reputation for providing reasonably good quality products at very low prices remains secure with this bag, which is an acceptably good product at a very low price.

However, there is a tangible improvement in quality to be experienced by upgrading from this bag to the Costco bag reviewed below this review.

 

Price and availability

$39.42

This bag - and at this price - seems to be only available directly from Walmart

Warranty

American Tourister offers the same limited ten year warranty as does its parent company, Samsonite, which excludes wear and tear or abusive treatment.

A positive feature of their warranty is that Samsonite have world-wide repair facilities, although the chances are very unlikely you'd have enough spare time while traveling to arrange for repairs to your bag.

The warranty politely says 'retaining the following items would be helpful' and lists proof of purchase, product tags, shipping carton, and, strangely, the warranty certificate which is just a standard mass-printed sheet of paper with no specific data on it, but doesn't imply it is mandatory to keep these things.

Official size

21" x 14" x 7" (42" total)

Measured maximum external size

22.5" x 14.5" x 9"

Measured internal size

20.5" 13.5" x 6.75"

The bag has tightly radiused corners making best use of space.

Expandability

Yes - sort of.

Plainly someone wanted to add an expansion gusset just so they could claim that feature.  But the gusset only opens a pathetic half inch, making it almost not worth the bother.

Weight

10.5 lbs claimed.  Tests to about that weight.

Construction

The bag is made from 1200 denier polyester fabric.

It has panels of plastic material around the sides to give it rigidity, and a soft front lid that allows for some overpacking flexibility.

Construction is by rivet rather than screw.

Some extra ribbing is on the front of the bag, but not on the top back sides.

All compartments are lined.

Overall, construction does not appear as sturdy as with other bags, but in terms of what you get for your money, it is excellent value even if not excellent quality.

Color choices

Blue

Handles

Three handles, not very comfortable when carrying a heavy load.

There are no support legs opposite the carry handle on the long side.

Towing Handle

Extends 39.5".  Easy to open and shut, with just the one extension position.

Telescoping design with three sections.  Doesn't wiggle much.

Mounted internally and protected from external forces.

Wheels

Two wheels that roll with a little resistance, measuring 2.5" by 0.85".

About one quarter of each wheel is protected inside the bag structure.

Stair skids

Sort of - plastic strips above the wheels.

Outside compartments

Two front compartments, both generously gusseted with about 2" of room to expand.

The top compartment measures13" wide by 6" deep. with an opening 10" wide x 4" deep, with a single zipper around three of its sides but no side flaps to stop things from falling out.

The lower compartment measures 13" wide by 13" deep, with a single zipper opening along the top 10" wide and 6" deep.

Inside compartments in base

There are no compartments inside the base.

Inside compartments in lid

The cover has a mesh cover over its entire opening, with a full length zip most of the way up.  There are no other compartments in the lid.

Suit carrier included

No

Other Removable holders inside

No

Waterproof compartment

No

Packing Straps

Elastic straps in an X shape half way up the base.

External carry hook/strap

Yes - one adjustable piece of webbing that clips onto the top of the bag, loops around and then clips onto itself.

ID holder

Yes - plastic holder on flimsy metal chain looped around top handle.

Other features

No

 

 

Costco Kirkland Signature Executive 22" Expandable Trolley

SKU 00007 36155

Good quality and value Costco carry-on luggage
 

Costco's latest wheel aboard bag is fully featured and seems to be very well constructed and thought out in every respect apart from one weakness - a sloppy towing handle that feels like it may quickly wear and become a problem.

Apart from the weak handle, everything else about the bag is very impressive.

Reflecting the solidness of its construction is its weight - about 13.5 - 14 lbs with all accessories included.  This makes it the heaviest bag tested.

Unlike Walmart, Costco do not disclose who the actual manufacturer of their bag is.

 

Price and availability

$89.95.

This bag is only available at Costco stores, not through their online site.

Warranty

The promotional tag on the bag says 'Lifetime warranty' on the front and 'Every Kirkland Signature product is guaranteed to meet or exceed the quality standards of the leading national brands.  If you're not completely satisfied, your money will be refunded' on the back.  There was no formal guarantee/warranty or anything else.

What does this actually mean?  Your guess is as good as mine!  But it sounds impressive.

Official size

22" x 14" x 9" (45" total).

Measured maximum external size

23.5" x 15" x 8.75" (47.25" total) - this is illegally large for most airlines.

The external depth of the main 'box' is 6.5" for the reinforced box itself, the extra thickness is caused by the various extra things on the lid.

Measured internal size

21" x 12.5" - depth difficult to determine and varies with overpacking and the various layers of inner compartments.

Expandability

Yes - you unzip a gusset that allows the bag to loosely expand - 2.5" extra claimed, 2" as measured.

Weight

No official weight given.

Actual weight about 13.5 - 14lbs, making it the heaviest bag tested.

Construction

DuPont Cordura 1050D.  Some extra protection on ribs around corners.

Semi-soft sided, with extra padding on the lid and a solid seeming opposite side.  Honeycomb panel sides.

Everything is screwed rather than riveted except the small feet on the side opposite the carry handle.

The bag seems solid and well constructed.

Zips have replaceable zipper pulls and the bag comes complete with two replacement pulls.

The twin zips to open the main bag and the large lid compartment all have locking holes through which you could pass a padlock hasp in them.

All compartments are lined with a softer material.

Color choices

Dark Blue and Black

Handles

Three - on both short sides and one long side.

There are extra feet on the long side opposite the long side with the handle enabling the bag to be placed on the ground either on its side or base.

Towing Handle

Extends 41.5".  Easy to open and shut, with just the one extension position.

Telescoping design with three sections.  Appears flimsy and wiggles excessively.  This seems to be the weakest part of the entire bag's construction.

Mounted internally and well protected from external forces.

Wheels

Two solid wheels that turn with slight resistance.

Wheels measure 3" in diameter and 1" wide, with a curved tire shape so only a small part contacts the ground.

Three-quarter recessed, but with no side protection.  This is probably not essential, because the wheels are flush with the long side of the bag.  Keeping the wheels to the very outside of the bag also helps improve stability.

Repair would seem to require replacing the entire wheel assembly and mounting.

Stair skids

Yes, and assisted by the recessed wheels.

Outside compartments

Three on the front/lid.  There is a small compartment at the top, measuring about 12.5" wide and 5" deep, and a second  below that, also 12.5" wide and 11" deep.  These each have a single zip across the top of the compartment.

The third is a full size compartment the entire width and almost complete height of the lid, one layer in from the first two, with padding protecting its contents from any external impacts.  It measures 14" wide and 20" deep and has two zips opening along the top and down about of the way down one side and of the way down the other side.

The compartments are not very thick.

There are no compartments on the back.

Inside compartments in base

Two zipped compartments - one on each of the long sides.

Plus an unattached zippable waterproof bag about 21" x 14" that can do double duty as a divider.

The base is fully lined, and the lining is held in place by velcro, making it easy to access the exterior parts of the bag (eg for repair purposes).

Inside compartments in lid

Unzipping a mesh cover reveals the removable suit carrier, and behind the removable suit carrier, on the lid, are two elastic pockets (perhaps for shoes) and a full length zippable compartment.

The lid would get fairly crowded with two full size shoes plus also a suit in the suit carrier.

Suit carrier included

Yes - a nice tri-fold carrier with hangar to hang it in the wardrobe plus two internal hangars to hold clothes with.  Two carry handles.

Has open pouch at the bottom, two wire stiffeners (one at each fold) and space for a name tag.

Other Removable holders inside

One large waterproof holder mentioned above.

Waterproof compartment

Yes - the removable holder plus one of the side pockets in the base are both waterproof.

Packing Straps

Two adjustable but not elastic straps that go cross-wise over the items in the base.

External carry hook/strap

Yes.  An adjustable webbing loop that clips securely shut, and which in turn clips into a slot on the top of the bag.

ID holder

Yes, nice leather one with privacy cover on both the exterior of the bag and on the suit carrier inside.

Other features

The replaceable zipper pulls are probably the most distinctive special feature of this bag.  Two replaceable zip pulls are included.

Also has a junky key operated padlock that is not TSA approved - don't use this.

 

 

Review methodology

Please note that weights and measurements are approximate.  Measurements in particular are surprisingly subjective, and almost no bag/case has even measurements across every part of the bag.

External measurements are usually taken at the largest possible part - like an airline would do if trying to negatively prove your bag was illegally oversized.

 

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Originally published 17 Sep 2004, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
List of Carry-on Bags Reviewed
Our Favorite Carry-on Bags
How to Choose a Carry-on Bag pt 1
How to choose a bag pt 2
Reader comments on their carry-on luggage experiences
Reviews pt 1 :  Briggs & Riley
Reviews pt 2 :  Heys USA
Reviews pt 3 :  High Sierra
Reviews pt 4 :  Samsonite
Reviews pt 5 :  Swany
Reviews pt 6 :  Travelpro
Reviews pt 7 :  Lower priced bags
Reviews pt 8 :  Unusual and specialty bags

See also

Series on larger checked bags - reviews, buyer guide, reader comments, etc

Other related topics

Domestic Airline Carry On Luggage Policies
International Airline Carry On Luggage Policies
Domestic Airline Checked Luggage Policies
Your Rights if your bags are delayed or lost
Luggage Locator review
Distinctive MyTag Luggage Tags
Luggage Transportation Services
Packing Tips
 

 



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