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TripSavvy / Kimberly Holland
A wide variety of colors
Sturdy exterior shell
Exposed wheels could be damaged easily
Strong odor when new
Rockland Luggage’s Melbourne Expandable Carry-On is an inexpensive and sturdy suitcase that still maintains a sleek appearance.
We purchased the Rockland Luggage Melbourne Expandable Carry-On so our reviewer could test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Whether they’re rolled through an airport, stashed in a train compartment, or tossed in the back of a car on the way to the beach, suitcases endure a lot in the course of a trip. And yet, many people aren’t keen to make the hefty investment some top-of-the-line suitcases require. Thanks to advances in materials, though, less expensive options are more readily available. One such option is the 20-inch Rockland Luggage Melbourne Expandable Carry-On. We recently tested this petite rolling suitcase over a weekend trip and evaluated it for factors like durability, portability, and design.
The Rockland Luggage Melbourne carry-on is made of ABS, a type of injected polymer thermoplastic. In other words, each piece is molded, filled with plastic, and hardened. The material feels sturdy if not a bit thin. While it handled our weekend trip well, we would be hesitant to check this bag. In using it solely as a carry-on, we were able to help guard it against unnecessary bumps and hits, which could help it last longer.
Both the side handle and the top handle are made out of hard rubberized material. All elements around the suitcase are plastic, including the four spinning wheels. Again, the wheels do not seem sturdy enough for checked baggage to us, but carrying the suitcase puts a lighter load on them so they will resist damage and destruction.
While it handled our weekend trip well, we would be hesitant to check this bag.
The telescoping handle is made of light aluminum with a handle of hard plastic. It moves easily and stores in a pocket on the back of the suitcase so it doesn’t protrude from the suitcase’s silhouette. The lining of the suitcase is a padded polyester material, and the sleek finish is easy to clean in the event of a spill.
We found that the suitcase, removed directly from the box it’s shipped in, has a very strong chemical odor. Whether it’s the lining or the ABS material itself, the smell may be off-putting. Because we didn’t need to use this right away, we placed the suitcase in a garage to allow it time to “off-gas” and reduce the smell. Using it immediately after purchase may mean your clothes smell, and everyone around you may catch a whiff of the odd chemical aroma.
For its lower price, this suitcase features an attractive, high-end aesthetic. The body is decorated with pairs of indented horizontal lines. The material itself has a “webbed” appearance instead of being entirely smooth.
Inside, the two halves of the shelled suitcase are divided by a zippered liner. We found it was easy to pull the liner back to fill the top half of the suitcase, then close it up. This helped us shut the suitcase without all our items falling out onto the floor. One long zippered pouch is sewn into the lining on the bottom half. It’s attached with a flap that can be easily pulled away from the clothes if we needed to quickly access something.
For its lower price, this suitcase features an attractive, high-end aesthetic.
Two zippers run along the side of the case. One zips the whole suitcase closed. The other gives the pack a bit more room—1.5 inches to be exact—if you’re really stuffing every inch of the bag. However, keep in mind that once expanded, the bag may not fit into some overhead compartments.
Because of the use of plastic materials (instead of metal wheels, for example), this suitcase is ultra-lightweight. When empty, it weighs just 7 pounds. The four wheels attached to the bottom spin in 360-degree angles, so you can stop and change direction on a dime; the suitcase will go right along with you.
One thing we noticed in using this suitcase, however, is that the wheels stick out away from the body more than what we’ve found to be typical. From the bottom of the suitcase to the bottom of the wheel, they’re 3.5 inches tall. That could make them susceptible to damage if they stick out from an overhead bin or protrude out of a luggage compartment.
If you have a favorite color, odds are you will find this bag in that shade. We chose the Champagne hue for its timeless appeal, but the Rockland Luggage Melbourne 20-inch Carry-on is actually available in four different finishes and 33 different colors: black, blue, two-tone blue, two-tone green, two-tone navy, two-tone white, brown, champagne, charcoal, chocolate brown, green, gray, lime, mint, magenta, navy, orange, pink, purple, red, silver, turquoise, and white-magenta.
A second finish, one with a wave-inspired look, comes in three colors: black, gold, and silver. The third finish features vertical lines. It comes in five colors: fiber, bronze, carbon, gray sterling, and metallic. Lastly, a quilted case is available in black matte or black gloss.
Some of the solid color cases have unique color characteristics, namely color “highlights” of a different shade. For example, the mint suitcase has a fresh, light green shade over the case, but it also has a pink top shell. The navy option has yellow trim in the center.
The Rockland Luggage Melbourne Carry-On carries a price tag of between $50 and $120. The final price depends on which style you buy and where you buy it. With some name-brand and highly popular options topping $200 for the same size, this case is a great deal. Yes, the materials are less sturdy, but it’s a bargain for an infrequent traveler who needs a great weekend suitcase—especially since it comes with a five-year warranty.
Both Rockland and SWISSGEAR make many suitcases and bags designed for travel, but these two suitcases fulfill very different needs. The SWISSGEAR ScanSmart Laptop Backpack (view on Amazon), which we also tested, is designed specifically for people who carry multiple electronics—a laptop, tablet, phone, headphones, chargers—while the Rockland Luggage carry-on suitcase is meant for classic packing purposes—shirts, pants, shoes, and more.
At similar price points, around $50 to $70, you get very different results from these two bags. In fact, these two complement each other well if you’re trying to hop a plane without checking a bag. The Rockland suitcase can go in the overhead while you keep the SWISSGEAR backpack at your feet, and in reaching distance of all your electronics. Just be sure to stow any electronics when the flight attendants ask you to.
An inexpensive option for light travelers.
You won’t squeeze more than two or three days’ worth of clothes into the compact 20-inch Rockland Luggage Melbourne Carry-On, but it’s the just-right size for a quick weekend getaway. And at this price point, you don’t have to make a major investment you’ll come to regret the first time it comes off the baggage claim carousel with a dent or scratch.
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