DOWNGRADE FROM 5 STARS AFTER SIX TRIPS
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 August 2015
The first half dozen trips have shown up a flaw in the design. At this size, the shell is just too thin, with insufficient stiffening ribs, and if the suitcase is half empty, it gets deformed during any airline trip.
More often than not, the case arrives on the luggage carousel in a deformed state, although it remarkably regains its shape in the taxi ride home. But in one instance, the deformation was so severe, that it permanently discolored the plastic where it had been pushed past its yield point.
While I still like the design, I seriously doubt that this case will have long life considering its weak shell. Note that in smaller sizes, the shell may be stiff enough - this review applies only to the 81 cm case.
As a professional geologist who travels constantly, I need really tough luggage. This means a large hard shell case, secured with clasps and not zips. Samsonite, arguably the best manufacturer of affordable luggage in the world, sells three models that fulfill these requirements: Termo Young, Aeris and S'Cure.
However, the first two models combine the telescopic pull handle with the top carry handle. The risk here is that an airport luggage handler may inadvertently release the telescopic handle, thereby exposing it to damage during the remainder of the trip. The S'Cure has an elegant separate top carry handle built into an indentation, so I chose this model.
A full length bottom hinge and clasps on each of the other three sides appears to make this case about as secure as it can be - so its name is apt. I invariably over-pack my luggage, and this system insures that the case remains undistorted as the contents are compressed. Ultimately, a fully comprehensive review of any suitcase can only be made after it's been exposed to several years of hard travel. So far, this case has done only two trips, so the following review has had to be prepared with this limitation. I intend to edit it as the suitcase builds air miles.
Plain or deluxe (DLX)? The two seem to differ by the fact that in the DLX, both compartments have covers, while the plain model just has elasticated straps over one of the compartments (but the same fully-zippered compartment as the DLX on the other - a nice feature since it completely closes off the compartment). The extra DLX cover consists of two halves that snap together, each of which has a zipped container (one fully lined with plastic for wet items). There's also a somewhat useless suit bag that is not integrated in any way with the case. The extra cost of the DLX is about GBP 20 on Amazon, a worthwhile investment if you plan to travel a lot. With each compartment separately covered in the DLX, packed items are prevented from falling out during opening and closing, a very nice feature to have in hard shell luggage. The interior space is distributed between the compartments on a 60:40 basis, which is ideal, allowing bulkier items to be carried in the thicker compartment while still preserving considerable space in the other one.
The wheels are not uniform, with a larger pair for rough ground when the suitcase needs to be pulled while tilted onto two wheels, and a smaller pair used when it's gliding on all four wheels, at which time the wheel size variation is completely unnoticeable. All items susceptible to potential damage (wheels, telescopic handle etc.) seem easily removable via accessible screws for replacement, though I haven't confirmed that spares are available.
The locking mechanisms on the two side clasps are positive and secure (earlier Samsonite models had very stiff ones that were unusable).
The DLX comes in four attractive subdued colours, maintaining my golden rule of being the "grey man" at airports. You don't want a lemon yellow or lime green case catching the eye of a bored customs agent as you pass through the green channel.
My one complaint, and I would deduct half a star for this sin if I could, is that a big indentation to accommodate the Samsonite logo protrudes about 12 mm into one of the compartments. Of necessity, one side of any hard shell case has to have protrusions to accommodate the telescopic handle. But I expect the other side to be flat, for any drawings or artwork that I might need to transport, packed flush against the side of the case. The unnecessary protrusion of the logo into the inside of the case means that I need to pack cardboard around the indentation to make the surface flat, something that I should not have to do. A silly oversight on the part of Samsonite.
The 81 cm version is the largest of the S'Cure range. Be advised that the 55 x 35 x 81 cm size adds up to 171 cm, whereas many airlines have a limit of 158 cm. However, I usually travel with cases of this size and have never been stopped on size, although weight has at times been an issue. Pack the case to stay within an airline's weight limit, and you should generally be OK - at least that's my experience.
All-in-all an excellent very tough case with only one minor flaw, and thus highly recommended.
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