Expandable cabin bags work well when you want one bag for use yet the airline rules change from airline to airline. This one at its smallest is 20 x 38 x 55 cm (so 113cm), comfortably inside most airline’s restrictions, yet by unzipping the side it expands by another 3cm and allows more to be fitted in. Here’s a video of how it works (it’s the second case, the first one is for the checked luggage.
In addition, this one has an optional zip in 15.6 inch laptop pocket allowing you to also take your laptop with you when necessary (or ipad – it had pockets for both). When you don’t need to, you can unzip this internal pocket and simply replace it with a zip-in mesh layer.
If I’m honest, for a bag costing well over £300 it looks cheap. That’s a shame, because it’s well made and very tough (see the video at the end with a lot of people drumming on the case and testing the zip.
It’s part of the Sepctra 2.0 range, and Victorinox says that like its larger hold bags, it has been “Engineered to be lightweight without sacrificing durability.” I suppose on advantage of not looking expensive is it won’t attract undue attention – and the cases have TSA approved locks.
It also points out that “these cases feature 100% pure Bayer polycarbonate, a stylish, scratch-resistant matte finish and protective corner guards” and it was very tough, being tested on several very different trips over a two week period, ranging from a long weekend in the Peak District to a four-day trip to a new spa resort in Turkey with Easyjet flights to and from. It has a front compartment and stabilising straps for easy top-load packing, and could fit enough clothes in for most short trips. I felt it needed a fair amount of weight in it for the wheels to work properly – half full (and only with clothes) it was a bit skittish and would dart off into my feet and trip me up when being wheeled ahead of me – this problem disappeared when it was fully loaded.
My main problem with it, though, is that when it’s your one bag (say on a trip where only one bag is allowed on the aircraft), to access anything inside you have to lie the bag flat to unzip it and retrieve your toiletry bag for security, or to get out your laptop or iPad for the journey on the aircraft. That limits its usefulness and is the reason so many of these cabin bags have a second zip for the front compartment.
A solid choice – good quality – but it won’t win any marks for looks and the lack of a front compartment accessible without unzipping the whole bag is a shame.
Net weight 3.1 kg
Capacity 29 litres
Collection Spectra TM 2.0
Dimension: 20 x 38 x 55 cm