We are on the cusp of the proliferation of the Smart Luggage. These are bags equipped with technology that allow it to be tracked by GPS, remotely locked and measure its own weight (never mind the “built-in charger” nonsense; you can easily purchase a battery pack for your current bag and have the same function). The Smart Luggage is catching the same wave as the Smart Home initiative, another step towards the Future where all Things are enhanced by codes and a connection to each other.
The Samsonite Firelite is not a Smart Luggage. It doesn’t have gizmos that transmit data or connect to the internet. Instead, the Samsonite Firelite’s advantage is based on mechanical engineering. It connects to your brain by way of your nervous system and the signal that gets delivered when you pick up the bag is “Wow, this is incredibly, nearly unbelievably, light”. On the cusp of luggages getting “smart”, Samsonite dumbs it down to create what may be the most technologically advanced suitcase in the market with the Firelite.
Like all of our bags, we’ve made a video review for this Samsonite Firelite that you can watch on our YouTube channel Tekuben Prime or below:
We’ve also made a shorter Quick Look video of the Samsonite Firelite for those who find the above video too long:
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Not to be confused with Simmons’ Curv, the Curv® material by Propex Fabrics is what makes the Samsonite Firelite so special. In the words of Propex, “Curv® is the world’s first self- reinforced 100% polypropylene composite offering extraordinary levels of impact resistance, light weight and high stiffness.” In short, Curv® is woven plastic fibre that is light and strong – two attributes that are highly valuable for a carry-on suitcase. The strength of the Samsonite Firelite has been tested and demonstrated by 8th Graders so you don’t have to. One can go so far as to say that the Samsonite Firelite isn’t a “luggage” because it doesn’t feel like you’re lugging it given its weight (4.4 pounds per Samsonite, inconclusive per Tekuben.com since it didn’t register on our bathroom scale).
As a hard-shell carry-on, there isn’t much here to go off of. The best way to describe the Samsonite Firelite exterior’s appearance is “flashy”, given the glossy finish of the Curv® material. The retractable handle is reduced to one telescopic rod instead of two to further reduce weight. Business travelers and those wanting to place their messenger/laptop bag over the handle bar and on top of the Firelite will find the experience frustrating as this second bag will inevitably fall and swing off the bar.
The zippers are weather resistant, 100% polyurethane and seem to do a good job sealing contents in the bag off from the elements. The four wheels on the Samsonite Firelite are well tucked in to the body so it doesn’t add much to the overall bag’s height, but it does encroach on the bag’s carrying capacity. The two hinges are single bendable pieces.
The Samsonite Firelite has a built-in TSA Approved lock. While having a lock built-in is convenient, I’m not fond of the mechanism as I find it difficult to latch the zipper pulls into their lock positions. I’ve found that the easiest way to use it is by having the hinge-side of the bag sit on your lap and the lock facing you.
As strong as the Curv® material has been designed to be, it doesn’t appear to be resistant to abrasion. Such is the case with most hard-shell cases so keep in mind that wear on the Samsonite Firelite will show more than a typical soft-shell case. With that being true, it’s still a bit of a drag knowing that the attractive appearance upon buying it new at $465 may be detracted after a few uses.
The interior of the Samsonite Firelite is a blunt reminder that luggage, regardless of size and what it’s called, is a box. Call it simple, stark, barren, plain or practical. The interior of the Samsonite Firelite is lean. There’s a thin zippered pocket running along the hinge side, presumably for toiletries. The upper half of the clam-shell is zippered off from the main compartment by a sheet of fabric. There’s a cross-type bungie latch system in the bottom half of the clam-shell extending from the top and bottom of the bag to meet in the middle and keep your contents in place. You can feel the ribs of the exterior when running your hands over the soft-touch lining. Pinch the edge of the Firelite for further evidence of how thin the Curv® material is.
While the “features” to help keep your contents organized may be useful for some, I find it to be restrictive. Part of the appeal of the Samsonite Firelite for me, aside from the light weight and international flight carry-on friendly size, is that the Curv® material has a high tolerance for pressure and impact. This results in the Samsonite Firelite being a hard-shell bag that bends and flexes with ease. These properties allow the traveler to overstuff the bag, having the confidence that the shell and zipper system will work in conjunction to compress and pack the contents. I find the zipper panel on the top half of the bag inhibits this liberty.
As one of Tekuben’s best-in-class (4-wheel, Hard-Shell, $400+, International-Friendly Carry-On) bags, the Samsonite Firelite is a technical marvel – lightweight, strong, pliable and compliant with nearly all international flight carry-on limits. I should mention at this time that the Firelite is part of Samsonite’s Black Label collection – the company’s most prestigious product tier in terms of quality. While there are a few shortcomings and a lack of “smarts”, the Samsonite Firelite may very will be the most-advanced bag, not just among Samsonite’s offerings, but in the entire market thanks to its usage of Curv®. If you’re looking for a 4-wheel, hard-shell, carry-on with a budget of $500, then the Samsonite Firelite is, in our opinion, the best that you can buy.
Specs (un-scientifically measured by Tekuben with a measure tape and scale):
Model # 49957-1198 (or 499571198)
Height (from wheels to top handle): 22.25 inches or 56.5 centimeters
Width (from hinge to side handle): 15.5 inches or 39.4 centimeters
Depth (front to back): 8 inches or 20.3 centimeters
Weight: Inconclusive. Our bathroom scale didn’t read the weight since it’s so light.
|20 in.||28 in.||30 in.|
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Bonus! See how the Samsonite Firelite compares to the Briggs & Riley International Wide:
As one of Tekuben’s best-in-class (4-wheel, Hard-Shell, $400+, International-Friendly Carry-On) bags, the Samsonite Firelite is a technical marvel – lightweight, strong, pliable and compliant with nearly all international flight carry-on limits. While there are a few shortcomings and a lack of “smarts”, the Firelite may very will be the most-advanced bag, not just among Samsonite’s offerings but in the entire market thanks to its’ usage of Curv®. If you’re looking for a 4-wheel, hard-shell, carry-on with a budget of $500, then the Samsonite Firelite is, in our opinion, the best that you can buy.