What Is It: Lojel Wave hard-sided polycarbonate suitcase. The 19.5-inch carry-on version is currently the lightest hard-sided luggage in the industry, coming in at 4.3 pounds. The 24-inch version is 6.4 pounds, and the 27-inch is 7.9 pounds, which puts even the larger cases among the lightest hard-sided luggage options available.
Price and Where to Buy: $200 to $280 on the Lojel website.
Pros: The Lojel Wave has a lot of features to recommend it, including four 360-degree roller wheels that make for impressively smooth rolling, a built-in TSA-approved lock that sits flush with the suitcase’s exterior, and a three-stage locking handle, which allows you to find the right height whether you’re rolling the suitcase alongside or pulling it behind you.
Even though the feature that initially drew me to the Lojel was its light weight (particularly the 4.3-pound 19.5-inch carry-on version), I decided to test out the slightly heavier, non-carry-on 24-inch version, reasoning that the main point of a hard-sided suitcase was to protect valuables in checked baggage.
Since durability is the focus of most people who opt for hard-sided luggage, I recruited a couple of toddlers to do their worst, figuring they would be at least as unforgiving as the average baggage handler. I was right—they immediately knocked it onto its side, climbed up on it, walked across it, and jumped on it repeatedly. The suitcase and its contents emerged from its first test unscathed.
Wanting to push the limits, I did something I would never do with a soft-sided suitcase. I packed it, stuck a bottle of wine in among the clothing (white wine—I wasn’t going to sacrifice a suitcase full of clothing in the name of product testing), zipped up the bag, and then kneeled on it (I’m nine months pregnant, so my heft is substantial). The top indented a bit but maintained its protective shape even when I crawled across it, digging in with my knees to give the sort of concentrated pressure that would challenge the integrity of a glass bottle. Both wine and clothes were totally unaffected by my crushing attempt.
Cons: The suitcase came up short in only two scenarios. Because it’s a hard-sided suitcase, it doesn’t have those handy external pockets that are good for quickly stashing and retrieving items when you’re on the go. And since the suitcase has a rigid shape, you can’t crush it down to store it in a closet, though it would be easy enough to nest smaller suitcases inside it to save on space when you’re not using it.
How It Rates:
- Usefulness: 9/10. The combination of light and sturdy is a true sweet spot when it comes to luggage.
- Portability: 9/10. The four 360-degree roller wheels offer a very smooth ride, making it easy to pull the suitcase beside you like an obedient dog or tow it behind you in the traditional fashion.
- Value: 8/10. At $200 to $280, it’s quite competitively priced compared to similar offerings.
- Durability: 10/10. This is clearly a sturdy suitcase. It has double-coil zippers that have twice the pulling strength of regular zippers (chronic overpackers take note) and has withstood quality testing, including tumble tests and drop tests in sub-zero conditions. It’s also got a 10-year warranty (five years from the manufacturer and five from the U.S. distributor) and most of its parts can be replaced.
- Cool Factor: 9/10. This is a nice-looking suitcase that comes in three interesting colors (pink, gray, and a pleasing blue).
Final Verdict: The Lojel Wave is a trustworthy travel companion for those looking for a suitcase that’s both light and sturdy. It seems especially useful for trips that include purchases such as food (especially in glass bottles or jars), housewares, and other delicate items.
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