Can this plane-friendly case carry your stuff in hard-shell style? We took it to Italy (via France) to find out.
WORDS & PICTURES BY CHRIS ROWLANDS
Searching for a suitcase that’ll do double duty as both hold baggage and carry-on (and live to tell the tale) tends be about as fruitful as looking for love in the business lounge.
While a clutch of the expandable bags found rolling through airport halls claim to have what it takes, few could truly be trusted to take on the perils of the angsty baggage handler.
Enter, though, the 55cm Lock’N’Roll from American Tourister: clad in tough polypropylene, this easy-roller might just have found the sweet spot between compact convenience and tough-skinned reliability.
With a surprisingly spacious 37l capacity, it maximises every available inch of space whilst still squeezing into the cabin regulations of the likes of EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways, standing at 55cm tall, 40cm wide and 20cm deep.
And it’s all usable space, too: with a centre opening, the Lock’N’Roll serves up two compartments which are usefully uniform in shape, relatively free from the usual lumps and bumps caused by hidden handles.
All of which means that you’ll easily fit a week’s worth of gear in. We crammed in a pair of shoes, a wash bag, the usual shorts and shirts, and a few emergency jumpers – and still had room for a Bluetooth speaker.
With a zip-close divider on one side and clip-in ribbons on the other, it all stayed usefully in place, too, with no fear of jumbled particulars.
Even if you fill it to maximum capacity, you’ll find the Lock’N’Roll to be relatively forgiving. Despite that rugged outer shell, there’s sufficient give and flex to permit a bit of sit-on-the-lid squeezing if you find you’ve suddenly over-bought on knock-off Havaianas, while the well-placed clips keep things tight and secure.
There’s a single a clip on the top and bottom edge respectively, both of which feature a slide mechanism to lock them shut, while the main side clip features an in-built, TSA-approved combination lock.
This is a boon in two respects: it does away with the need for cumbersome padlocks and means that the case closes shut securely, without putting undue strain on a zip or strap – so you won’t be worried about it popping open and revealing your polkadot budgie smugglers to the entire check-in queue.
It also rolls rather nicely, with the all-direction spinner wheels big enough to overcome kerbs and sufficiently sturdy to survive a trip along the conveyors. Even with a little more flex than we’d have liked in the telescopic handle, this made the Lock’N’Roll an easy thing to move across all kinds of terrain – from airport hall floors to car park asphalt.
And, when it came to chucking it in the boot, the side handle made things a cinch. Well-built, its placement around the locking mechanism meant the case always felt impeccably balanced in the hand – and was positioned at exactly the right spot for pulling it down from overhead lockers or off the baggage belt.
The Lock’N’Roll’s light 2.7kg kerbweight helped as well, reducing unnecessary bulk with a double-wall design that ensured weight-reduction without compromising on reliable toughness.
In fact, while the matte-and-shiny shell won’t be to every taste, there’s no denying its rugged credentials, refusing to buckle even whilst piled in the rental car beneath a bevy of other luggage.
Every bit of the Lock’N’Roll feels bolted together and firmly built, with attention to detail in all the right places – from the handle to the clip-locks to the compartments themselves.
Yes, it won’t rival your leather holdall for business class style – but it’ll fend for itself a whole lot better, whether you choose to take it on-board or check it in.
Want proof? Well, it passed our ultimate test: safely carrying a bottle of artisanal olive oil back from Italy – in the hold.
- Shell is tough but not inflexible
- Surprisingly spacious for a carry-on
- Build quality feels excellent
- Wheels roll with ease
- Shiny plastic styling won’t be to every taste
- Slight play in the telescopic handle
Tough enough for the hold yet compact enough to carry, the Lock’N’Roll is equal parts spacious, sturdy and secure – which makes it our current carry-on of choice.