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Limited lifetime warranty
Affordable price tag
Compartments are difficult to organize
For the price, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner is a clear winner. The softshell suitcase is sturdy yet lightweight, and it comes with an equally light price tag.
We purchased the Travelpro Maxlite 5 25” Expandable Spinner so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Travelpro considers its bags, including the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner, "the choice of flight crews and frequent travelers." That’s a pretty bold statement to make, considering the wide array of luggage on the market, but it’s one that Travelpro stands by. Needless to say, we were pretty intrigued by the claim, so we decided to take the ultra-lightweight 25-inch suitcase from the brand’s Maxlite 5 collection on a journey to see how well it would perform under tenuous circumstances.
Was the popular checked bag as light as travelers claimed? Could it really withstand liquid damage and stains? And what would happen if we dragged the bag’s rotating wheels over gravel and cement? Read on to find out.
On first glance, we couldn’t find much to note regarding the shape of the Maxlite 5. This bag looked to us like a standard, rectangular, soft-sided suitcase. However, we quickly realized that the bag is anything but standard. There are actually several interesting design elements to the Travelpro Maxlite 5. The one we found the most intriguing was the weight—or lack thereof. The Maxlite 5 weighs just a bit over 7 pounds, which is nearly half a pound less than the Maxlite 4, the older version of this suitcase. That’s incredibly light for a 25-inch suitcase. Even though it’s too big to serve as a carry-on bag, we tested it out and could easily lift the bag up over our heads to mimic the process of putting it into an overhead bin with no issue. Seven pounds was easy to handle.
Part of the reason the Maxlite 5 is so light is that it’s made of polyester, a material used on the majority of softshell suitcases. In this case, though, the polyester has been coated with DuraGuard to make it resistant to water and stains. Out of curiosity, we spilled some water on the exterior of the Maxlite 5 to see whether the DuraGuard actually repelled water, and sure enough, the liquid rolled right off of the front of the bag like magic. We also dragged the Maxlite 5 over some gravel outside, and other than the expected layer of dust, we found no stains on the polyester material. The dust wiped right off, too.
We were able to extend and collapse the handle easily with just one hand. It would be simple to maneuver in an airport while juggling multiple bags.
But while that 7.3 pounds of DuraGuard-coated polyester makes for a light empty suitcase, what really matters is how heavy the bag feels when filled with clothing. We packed the Maxlite 5 to the brim with jeans, shoes, and toiletries to see if it would still be a breeze to handle. Sure enough, it was. Shaving a few pounds off the suitcase made a huge difference in the overall weight of the bag when full. If you’re looking for a suitcase that’s easy to throw around while full, this is it.
And you really can fill up this suitcase, thanks to two exterior compartments and an expandable compartment. We decided to unzip the expansion compartment to fit even more into the bag. Doing so only gave us about 2 inches of extra packing space—just enough for a couple of extra items. Still, we were impressed by the design of the expansion feature. Rather than using a standard rectangular method of expansion, the Maxlite 5 expansion compartment is tapered, which keeps the bag from getting front-heavy and tipping over. It works, too. Even with our bag completely full and expanded, we had no issues with it tipping over.
One of the weakest design points of the Maxlite 5 design is the interior, which we found slightly lackluster. As with most of the other softshell bags in this price range, the Maxlite 5 is limited to a single interior compartment with elastic tie-downs to secure your things. We had a tough time organizing the goodies we packed into just the two sides of the suitcase. While the Maxlite 5 does come with one separate zippered compartment inside of the bag, it would be nice to have a couple more dividers or pockets for things like toiletries or undergarments. One of the worst things that can happen during travel is an open shampoo bottle, and in the case of the Maxlite 5, the mesh pocket isn’t going to protect your clothes from the spill. That’s the only place to put your toiletries, though, unless you pack them in a separate bag inside of the suitcase.
It would be nice to have a couple more dividers or pockets for things like toiletries or undergarments.
We also weren’t a huge fan of the plaid interior fabric; it almost seemed too playful or juvenile for a bag aimed at regular travelers. The colors match the exterior of the bag, which is nice, but we would have preferred to have a more muted option inside.
The four 360-degree spinning wheels are one of the best features included with the Maxlite 5 25” Spinner. As the name implies, we were able to spin, push, and pull the suitcase every which way, and we tested the durability of the wheels on gravel, cement, and hardwood floors. Other than a couple of rogue pieces of gravel causing a temporary stall, we had no issues getting the Maxlite where we wanted it to go. This bag is built to roll on pretty much any surface. However, the wheels looked a bit fragile to us, so we were hesitant to drag it up or down the stairs out of fear that it would damage the wheels. If you’re using this bag on a normal surface, though, it’s likely to be smooth sailing.
We spilled some water on the exterior of the Maxlite 5 to see whether the DuraGuard actually repelled water, and sure enough, the liquid rolled right off of the front of the bag like magic.
This suitcase also features three handles—you can find them on the top, side, and bottom—which made lifting and setting the bag onto higher surfaces a breeze. The main handle, dubbed the “PowerScope Lite handle,” can be adjusted to 38 inches or 42.5 inches—a nice option for people of varying heights. We were able to extend and collapse the handle easily with just one hand, and we had no issues with it getting stuck at any point. It would be simple to maneuver in an airport while juggling multiple bags. The side and bottom handles were also heavy-duty enough to handle the bag being tossed around from airport to airport or hotel to hotel. Between the rotating wheels, the lightweight design, and the handle system, the Maxlite 5 is the epitome of portable.
The absolute best feature of this bag is the unparalleled limited lifetime warranty. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 25” Spinner comes with the New Trusted Companion Promise, which covers damage done by the airlines or other common carriers.
The Travelpro Maxlite 5 25-inch Expandable Spinner comes in five colors: black, azure blue, dusty rose, midnight blue, or slate green. It would be nice to have more color options, but the available hues should have a pretty wide appeal.
This suitcase won’t set you back too far in price. You can usually find the Travelpro Maxlite 5 25” Expandable Spinner for about $140, which is a steal given the craftsmanship and the warranty.
There are a number of bags that rival the Travelpro Maxlite 5 25” in the same price range, including the Samsonite Aspire XLite 25” Spinner. Like the Maxlite, the Aspire XLite is a lightweight, expandable polyester bag with spinning wheels that rotate 360 degrees. The Aspire has side and top handles, two locking handle positions, and the ability to roll upright.
There are a few key differences, though: The Aspire XLite weighs about 9.5 pounds, which is about 2 pounds more than the Maxlite 5. Additionally, the XLite warranty only lasts ten years and is meant to cover manufacturer defects in material and workmanship; it does not include the companion warranty that covers damage by airlines or other carriers.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best luggage items for under $200.
The Travelpro Maxlite 5 25” Spinner is one of the best bags in this price range. The warranty is solid, the workmanship is top-notch, and the bag’s incredibly light weight makes it a good choice for frequent travelers.
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