Gadling Gear Review: EXO Hardside Luggage From eBags

With all that electronica the modern traveler hauls from Point A to Point B and back again, it’s natural to be worried about things getting crunched, crushed and smashed. Hard-sided luggage is the solution, especially if you’re checking a bag, and eBags has a new line of branded gear; I tested one out on a recent trip.

There were two less than perfect things I discovered right away about the EXO Hardside Spinner. The first: there’s no brake on the wheels so if you’re on a sloped surface, the bag will wander away if you don’t keep an eye on it. It’s an odd thing to discover, but there we are, saying goodbye on the airport drive and my bag is heading off for the car behind us, perhaps preferring not to board a coach flight to Seattle.

The other issue I wasn’t thrilled with? No outside pockets. There’s a packing strategy for this surely, but if your laptop and your baggie full of 3-ounce liquids is packed inside the bag, you have to open it up at the security checkpoint. I’m a carry-on traveler in most situations and dealing with my TSA scrutinized belongings at the checkpoint was more difficult than when I have a bag with external pockets to stow my stuff.

You do lose a little interior space with a four-wheel spinner (two-wheel rollers have a bit more), but there are some clear advantages. The bag holds its shape and that makes efficient packing a breeze. It’s really maneuverable and getting down the airplane aisle is a snap. It’s perfectly sized for the overhead and I did not worry about my belongings getting crunched by other travelers’ stuff in the game of luggage Tetris that takes place on every flight. Because eBags makes this line in crazy bright colors, it’s easy to spot on the carousel if you decide to check your bag. There’s a built-in TSA approved combination lock too – a nice detail.I also tried out a set of eBags’ packing cubes. They’re designed to fit the luggage perfectly. I’m a recent convert to packing systems, and a surprised one at that, but I like the sense of order a set of packing cubes gives to my otherwise haphazard packing method. I can’t honestly recommend the eBags set over the many others available, but know that if you choose this bag, you can get a packing system designed to work with their bags.

What’s more, eBags backs their brand with a lifetime warranty. On an anecdotal note, folks have told me that the company is very responsive when you give them feedback about their products; they really want you to like the gear and they’re eager to learn what makes great gear from the people that use their stuff.

The eBags EXO line comes in a carry-on size and a larger, 24-inch size. The carry-on retails for $119, and the larger bag for the packing system is $143.99. Check for the sales at eBags – these are back to school prices and subject to change.