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Whenever I travel, I like to travel with as little luggage as possible. Preferably, hand luggage size. But sometimes, this is not possible (even for me).
On my 20-day trip to the West Coast of the USA, I needed to bring enough clothes and some extra accessories like hiking shoes. So I ended up buying a big suitcase. The largest size most airline companies allow.
It was a suitcase that was hard to keep under the maximum weight allowed on the plane.
Earlier this year, I went on a 12-day trip to the Baltics. I managed to fit everything in my carry-on. But this didn't leave much space for souvenirs.
So, when I went back to Riga last September, I decided to buy a new suitcase. I wanted to bring some souvenirs from Riga back home. I needed something bigger than my carry-on, but smaller than my other suitcase.
The hunt for a new suitcase started. I have always been a fan of Samsonite, but not of their current colors and prices. And with this blog, I feel the responsibility to try out different brands so I can write reviews for you to read.
My eye fell on the Travelite Air Base M. It is an affordable, lightweight, hard-shelled suitcase. It is big enough for a few weeks on the road. Or to bring a bunch of souvenirs home.
The Air Base comes in three different sizes. Small, medium, and large. Respectively, 37, 71, and 105 liters. The medium is expandable to 82 liters. It is available in anthracite, blue, champagne, and lilac. All sizes come with four wheels and an extendable drawbar.
Since I bought the medium-sized version, this review will only cover the medium-sized Air Base M.
The Air Base is made of polypropylene – a lightweight but strong material. The Air Base M weighs 3.2 kilograms.
As mentioned before, it comes with four spinner wheels. It has a sturdy, extendable drawbar. There is also a TSA lock to keep people out of your suitcase. You can pick up the Air Base with the two handles, one on top and one on the side.
You open and close the Air Base with a zipper. The zipper feels sturdy but can be a bit hard to use. The zipper (and the whole suitcase) should be waterproof, but I have not been able to test this.
The Air Base M is the only Air Base that is expandable. It comes with a second zipper. Unzipping this adds 11 liters to the inside and brings the capacity to 82 liters.
The dimensions of the Air Base M are 67 x 45 x 27 centimeters. Or 67 x 45 x 31 when expanded.
Both sides of the Air Base have straps and dividers to keep your belongings in place. One of the dividers has pockets for small accessories.
I stayed one week in Riga. I brought enough clothes for one week and all the essentials I needed. I was able to fill one side of the Air Base with this. For a guy like me, this medium-sized suitcase would be enough for a trip of three weeks.
I filled the other side with a fleece plaid. Two reasons. It is a good idea to fill your suitcase completely. This way, your suitcase is not just filled with air. Air compresses easily. With differences in air pressure and temperature in the cargo hold of a plane, your suitcase can be crushed and damaged by other cargo.
In other words, it is best to bring a suitcase that is just big enough.
The other reason for the fleece plaid was to have something to protect the souvenirs. I planned on bringing home a few bottles of Riga Black Balsam. These are clay bottles, and I didn't want them to break.
At first, I could not appreciate the shell of the Air Base. It feels very flexible, and you can push the sides in with little effort. But it feels a lot better when packed.
There is a good reason for this, though. A suitcase with a rockhard shell is more prone to break than a flexible shell. A flexible shell is better at absorbing impact.
After my first flight with this suitcase – a two-hour flight to Riga – it looked a bit damaged already. There were scratches on all corners. But no substantial damage. It was not a big surprise, though. I read this in other reviews, so I was expecting this.
I think the big test was when I arrived in Riga. Riga's cobblestones are for real. I thought the wheels would break off, but all four wheels survived the test.
At the end of the trip, the suitcase had endured two flights. It was processed at two airports and was in the air for about five hours.
The Air Base didn't look more scratched than after the first flight, and all four wheels were still attached.
Everything inside the suitcase survived, allowing me to enjoy my Riga Black Balsam from the comforts of my home. Although, home is where the heart is. I could have enjoyed it back in Riga.
After putting the Air Base M through its first test during my recent trip to Riga, I can confidently say I am happy with it.
Its lightweight design, expandable feature, and storage capacity make it a practical choice for travelers like me who want to strike the right balance between size and functionality.
In particular, I am a big fan of the expandable feature of the suitcase. I did not need it, but I was happy I had the option.
While the scratches on its surface were inevitable, the suitcase proved its durability by keeping my souvenirs intact. Despite the scratches, I am happy about the quality of the Air Base. So far, the Travelite Air Base M is a reliable and affordable option for a mid-sized suitcase.
In conclusion, if you're searching for a suitcase that balances durability, functionality, and affordability, the Travelite Air Base M is an excellent choice. It made my journey smoother, and my souvenirs arrived home safely, making every euro spent well worth it.