When you’re faced with a luggage selection as wide as Best Buy’s, it can be tough to figure out which brand to go with. So today, I’ll be doing a luggage comparison for three of Best Buy’s most popular brands: Samsonite, Swiss Gear, and Kenneth Cole.
First, let’s talk about what’s the same in all three. They’re all high-quality luggage brands that hold up over time, and the sets that I chose to compare are all pretty similar. Each set features all hard side luggage pieces, which are great for protecting your belongings from being crushed by other pieces of luggage and careless TSA officials.
They also all feature 360˚ wheels, which (as dedicated readers of the Best Buy Plug-in Blog will already know) I absolutely LOVE. Unidirectional wheels were one of my biggest pet peeves growing up, and I was thrilled when 360˚ wheels became a thing.
They’re so prevalent nowadays that you’re almost guaranteed to find them in any piece of mid-range to high-end luggage, but only almost. One of my family members had to return a luggage set that they bought online just last month because it didn’t have 360˚ wheels, so the fact that Kenneth Cole, Samsonite, and Swiss Gear all have them is still a big plus!
Kenneth Cole Reaction
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Departure Point Luggage Set includes:
- A 20 inch (47.58 L) that measures in at 22.25 in and 2.75 kg
- A 24 inch (79.26 L) that measures in at 27.25 in and 3.54 kg
- A 28 inch (116.89 L) that measures in at 31.25 in and 4.31 kg
I found an unexpected love for the Kenneth Cole Reaction line. The set that I was able to review for this luggage comparison was their Kenneth Cole Reaction Departure Point 3-Piece Hard Side 8-Wheeled Luggage Set, and I immediately liked the straight Departure Point lines. Made from impact-resistant ABS plastic, the Kenneth Cole Reaction Departure Point set includes a 20-inch carry-on, a weeklong 24-inch (which you could totally fit a whole month into), and a 28-inch.
Each piece has a fully lined interior with a zippered lid and a main compartment with garment restraints. Additionally, they rest on eight 360-degree spinner wheels–each corner has a duo-wheel setup for added stability. The Departure Point set comes with top and bottom grab handles for easier lifting, and as a 5’2″ woman who had to lift each of these sets into their vertical boxes, I can confirm that the handles really do help a lot.
In terms of technologies, the Kenneth Cole line was the most basic of all three. The Departure Point range is not RFID protected or TSA lock-friendly, and none of the pieces were water resistant or expandable.
While 3 pice sets of any brand will be comparable in size, a 20″ piece of luggage from one brand isn’t always the same size as a 20″ from another brand. On the whole, the Kenneth Cole Reaction line runs true to size, but each piece sits a little high due to the large wheels that they use. It was the lightest and tallest set across the board, with the most space in its carry on.
A taller profile means that these pieces will be slightly harder to fit into an overhead luggage compartment, but the trade-off may be worth it: if you’re headed somewhere with snowy or rugged sidewalks, having that extra inch and a quarter of clearance could be useful.
The Samsonite Pinsky Expandable Luggage Set includes:
- A 20 inch (39.2 L) that measures in at 21.5 in and 2.82 kg
- A 24 inch (68.1 L) that measures in at 26.67 in and 3.84 kg
- A 28 inch (101.9 L) that measures in at 30 in and 4.86 kg
Canadian-born Samsonite celebrated their 60th last year (in 2016), so you know that it’s a line with long-term durability and reliability. But despite this legacy, the one thing that hit me immediately about the Samsonite Pinsky 3-Piece Hard Side Expandable Spinner Luggage Set was the fact that it looks dated.
If you love teal or turquoise, then this set could be what you’ve waited you entire life to find. But for me? I keep thinking about the set of luggage under my grandmother’s bed, which is basically the soft-side version of this exact Samsonite set. It’s the same right down to the colour, and she’s had it for a good twenty years.
In terms of functionality, Samsonite has lost a few inches all around in order to fit in that terraced design. Across the board, this luggage set is heavier than comparable sizes of Swiss Gear or Kenneth Cole Reaction (by up to half a kilo per piece), and yet volumetrically, it has the smallest amount of storage space.
The wheels on the Pinsky are very generous, which makes this set very stable but a little harder to move than the Swiss Gear or Kenneth Cole Reaction sets. In terms of technologies, this set doens’t have RFID-blocking linings or TSA-approved locks, but it is expandable.
The Swiss Gear Extravagance II Expandable Luggage Set includes:
- A 20 inch (45.03 L) that measures in at 21.5 in and 2.8 kg
- A 24 inch (85.98 L) that measures in at 26.5 in and 4 kg
- A 28 inch (125.74 L) that measures in at 30 in and 4.75 kg
Finally, this luggage comparison covers my favourite luggage set so far: the Swiss Gear Extravagance II 3-Piece Hard Side 4-Wheeled Expandable Luggage Set. I LOVE this luggage set–it’s so easy to use and lift, and the lacquered finish is just gorgeous.
The Swiss Gear Extravagance set is noticeably trendier than the other offerings mentioned in this luggage comparison, with nice, sleek edges. I especially appreciated the attention to detail in the design of Swiss Gear’s hard shell exteriors; this set features elongating ridging and a particularly lovely logo embossed on the backs of the pieces, while other sets like the brand’s EVO II range offer a subtle swirl detail and visual grain.
Size-wise, there is more space in the Swiss Gear Extravagance II set than in either the Kenneth Cole Reaction or Samsonite lines, despite the fact that each piece is shorter than the comparable sizes in other ranges. (I find that a shorter profile makes luggage easier to fit into an overhead bin, so it’s something I always check!)
I find that Swiss Gear luggage has smaller than average wheels, which is one of the reasons why it’s shorter than most. A lower clearance isn’t ideal for snowy terrain, but it’s excellent in an airport or bus terminal–these glide along the floor like figure skaters.
Overall, Swiss Gear’s technologies are also pretty basic, with no RFID shielding or TSA-approved locks. However, this set is expandable, and each piece is handily listed as water-resistant. (Not waterproof, but water resistant items typically fare better in environments where they may be splashed.)
A quick luggage comparison by brand
In the broad view, I really loved using Swiss Gear’s Extravagance II Luggage Set. However, it’s on the pricier end of things, and each brand has its strengths.
Swiss Gear gives you better ease of use and more packing space, while Samsonite gives you stability in the wheels. Kenneth Cole Reaction is a mix of the two, with a bulkier profile, but also a lower price point.
What kind of luggage will you need on your next vacation? Leave your answers in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter at @thenotice!