Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner Review
Squeezing gear into the Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner’s tucked-away corners is tricky, but you can at least fit plenty of items, given its spaciousness.
- Main compartment isn’t overly sectioned; fits bulky gear easily
- Expandable in case you need to pack more gear
- Tightly-fastened wheels don’t creak despite plastic materials
- Luggage tag built into the logo is easy to miss
- Tucked away corners in main compartment can obscure small gear
- Borderline carry on compliance given its size
6.5 lb (2.9 kg)
23 in x 15 in x 10 in (58.4 x 38.1 x 25.4 cm)
Polypropylene, Unbranded Zippers, Unbranded Hardware
Samsonite is one of the more recognizable luggage brands out there. Hang out at any airport in the world, and you’ll eventually spot someone traveling with one of their bags. That prevalence brings reasonable expectations for build quality, design, and ergonomics. In other words, we expect a hassle-free experience traveling with this Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner.
Apart from the stylistic choices Samsonite made on the outside, this rolling carry on luggage has a relatively simple design. There are minimal built-in pockets; instead, it’s up to the user to supplement with organizers like tech pouches and packing cubes. The amount of space is generous, though almost to a fault since, despite the name, carry on compliance is hit-or-miss—more on this as we dive into the review.
The main material used for the hard shell is polypropylene. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s one of the most common forms of plastics, similar to ABS and polycarbonate. You’ll find a lot of arguments as to which of these are the most durable. One of the key things most will point to is how much flex there is on the material. In the Freeform Carry-On Spinner’s case, the polypropylene hard shell does noticeably give when you press on it, but not to a worrying degree, and that flex helps the suitcase close when overstuffed. Plus, the material handles scrapes and scratches pretty well. For more context, this bag has survived gate check on Delta with little to no scratches to show for it.
We want to say that the Freeform Carry-On Spinner looks striking with its glossy lines that kinda remind us of that tub Neo from The Matrix woke up from. However, it doesn’t really stand out that much once you’re walking around a busy airport terminal. The black colorway we chose helps keep it lowkey, though more colorful options are available at the time of writing (the Pink Rose variant looks particularly inviting).
Despite the busy aesthetics, there are few external features save for the handles and the built-in TSA-approved combination lock. Contrary to inviting, the latter should be enough to dissuade any would-be thieves from taking your favorite pair of socks or anything else of high value. The zippers slot into two notches along the top, and entering the right three-digit code lets you slide the tab to release them. In case you’re wondering, the keyhole is for the universal key the TSA uses if they need to access your bag (hence, making the lock TSA-approved). Additionally, the zippers are unbranded, but they’re beefy enough that we don’t see them breaking easily in day-to-day use; they certainly haven’t had any issues on any of the trips we took during testing.
The Freeform Carry-On Spinner has two secondary handles, one at the top and one on the right side. These handles remain flat against the hard shell. They’re partly recessed into the hard shell and extend quite a bit once you pull on them. It’s a subtle design choice that keeps the bag looking sleek and minimizes the chances of the handles snagging on something. The padding is quite minimal, so you’ll only want to use either handle for short-term carrying, like moving the bag across the room or pulling it out of a car trunk.
There’s also a luggage tag built into the rear logo at the center. Slide one side out to find a relatively small space where you can write your contact information. Though it is refreshing to see a simple tag without any gimmicks, the issue is that this tag is too well hidden. It’s really not obvious that you can slide out part of that logo, so it may be missed by anyone who finds it. We opted to use a third-party luggage tag just to be safe.
The main handle is made out of aluminum and feels solid, with no major gaps around the base or joints to make the whole handle wiggle. And yes, the handle is the standard telescopic type, with two levels of height adjustment locked in place by a simple topside button. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward design, and the only noteworthy detail here is how recessed the handle is into the body once it’s lowered all the way down. Nothing sticks out of the surface, so you can sit on this bag in a pinch without feeling too uncomfortable.
The wheels are similarly functional, if unremarkable. There are two wheels on each of the four corners that rotate independently of each other. This means you can roll the Freeform Carry-On Spinner in any direction on all wheels or on only two of them. This functionality is standard for spinner-type luggage, so let’s get into the nuances.
Having two levels of height adjustment is fairly common, though we’d also consider it a minimum just in case we want options. The two steps reach above and below the hip, respectively, for users around 5.5 feet (168 centimeters). All of that said, we mostly end up fully extending the handle regardless of whether we’re rolling the bag on all four wheels or two. The handle’s shape doesn’t look very ergonomic, but it’s curved enough that it’s easy on the palms, although it looks sharp from the sides.
The wheels spin without any problem on most surfaces. Some spinners’ wheels may have trouble gripping very slippery surfaces like freshly mopped floors or parking lots with really slick coats of paint. Fortunately, the Freeform Carry-On Spinner doesn’t have trouble traveling over those. There’s enough ground clearance in case you find yourself trekking across gravel-laden parking lots, common at some resorts, but this is not an off-roader. Stick to sidewalks and paved walkways whenever possible.
Inside The Carry On Luggage
Unfortunately, the Freeform Carry-On Spinner lacks any secondary pockets around the exterior. This means you’ll still have to travel with a sling or a backpack if you want convenient gear access while in transit. Regardless—and despite this bag’s name—carry on compliance can be hit or miss. For reference, we took this bag on a Delta Airlines flight, and the Freeform Carry-On Spinner was a little less than an inch over the carry on length, width, and height size limit. While we had no problems getting it aboard on the first flight, we were asked to check it in on the return flight, so we had no access to our gear while it was in the cargo compartment.
While we were happy to test the limits of Delta’s carry-on restrictions since they’re usually pretty lax, there’s always a chance that they’ll check your bag’s dimensions when you board. If you’re caught with a too-large suitcase (or personal item, for that matter), they’ll ask you to check your bag at the gate for a hefty fee. In short, while this worked for us, it may not work for you, so bend the rules at your own risk.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the main compartment—the only compartment. Half the bag swings open like a suitcase clamshell-style, giving you a roughly even split of the space. The front half is separated by a zippered flap, and it’s a bit recessed to give you more room to fit gear in the rear half. That back half has a crisscrossing hold-down strap to help you hold down folded clothing like dress shirts and pants. We typically use packing cubes, but they do a pretty good job at holding down loose clothing if you don’t have any of those on hand. There’s also a zippered pouch hanging off to the side where you can put some toiletry items or tiny accessories, but it’s pretty forgettable since most of your gear covers it.
Fortunately, there is another zippered pocket on the front side’s flap. We didn’t use this pocket since we have a toiletry bag and a tech pouch for our small gear. However, if you’re the type to collect pamphlets from tour guides or museums, then this is a good spot for those since it’s a mostly flat space.
Underneath the flap is even more space. Given how the flap covering it is recessed, there’s technically less space here than what we looked at earlier. This is where the rest of our items went, including a makeup bag, hair dryer, and a pair of heels. Our main gripe here is that the zipper track partly obscures the sides, making it hard to tuck gear into that leftover space. Conversely, this also means small items can tuck themselves away into those corners, making them harder to find. That said, we like the zippered compartment for small items that don’t have a dedicated place in a pouch and would otherwise get lost in the bag—just make sure you remember where you put it. Unfortunately, the packing experience feels suboptimal despite the relatively high emphasis on large, open spaces.
Mind you, space isn’t really an issue with the Freeform Carry-On Spinner. If you need extra room, it is capable of expanding. A zipper runs alongside the main compartment’s zippers, allowing a portion of the bag to wedge out about an inch. Keep in mind, though, that this definitely pushes it further past the 22 in x 14 in x 9 in carry on size limit of many airlines.
- Shell is lightweight and feels durable
- We like that there’s a zippered pocket on the zippered compartment and attached to the center
- Side and top grab handles tuck away nicely
- Scuffed up a bit after being gate checked with Delta, but still in great shape overall
- No padding or anything on the telescoping handle, but it’s still comfortable to grip and hold on to