The top bag in my travel quiver is currently this shape-shifting, color-morphing Travelpro Maxlite 4 Hardside carry-on. I used it on my last couple of trips, including a journey in November to Nicaragua and most recently, a family trip to California.
It’s purple. Kind of. The “ChromaShift” exterior looks different colors from different angles. It’s my first bag with 360-degree spinner wheels, which really do make things easier. The bag fit easily in the overhead, has a built-in TSA lock, and handy dividers and compartments on the inside. It was sturdy enough that I felt comfortable using it to transport delicate Nicaraguan ceramics and soapstone carvings on my return trip last fall—and none broke!
But I needed to put this baby to a strength test, so I called my 3-year-old daughter over to help out as we set off for southern Cali. First, I strapped her heavy carseat to it (which we would gate-check) using this simple strappy gadget. It scuffed up the suitcase a little, but I never trust a bag without battle scars, so I was happy for these marks.
My daughter sucked her thumb and hung in there for the slightly-unsteady ride, as I tried to tilt it enough to pull her. It really gave the Maxlite a run for its money but it worked. The hard suitcase buckled a bit and groaned, but always snapped back to shape; the wheels and handle held out as well, as we went in and out of elevators and trains while making out way through DEN International Airport and on to LA.
Overall, it’s a solid case, two thumbs up, and still spinning strong. I don’t think I’ll strap a growing toddler to it again, so I expect to get quite a few more journeys out of it. This suitcase goes for $129–155, depending on the size.