We’re off to the south of France for a Christmas break and we needed some decent hand luggage so I bought a couple of Samsonite cabin suitcases; the Samsonite Chronolite and the Samsonite Firelite so I thought I’d do a review.
Always Choose A Decent Make of Suitcase
Anyone who reads my blog or any of my other reviews knows that I only buy products from brands that specialise in what they make. This could be anything, from denim, hosting or sunglasses.
I don’t ever buy a fashion brand version of something for the label, I buy the product because its the best in its class and made by a company that builds its name on a product line.
With suitcases I have just two brands I would consider, Samsonite or Delsey. Samsonite are probably now the better known due to their more aggressive marketing and tough image, but Delsey have been around a long time. I have an affinity with the brand as my mother used to fly for British Airways, and the blue Delsey’s were the choice for flying professionals back in the 80’s and 90’s.
I actually own a large lightweight Delsey suitcase which has been in constant use by the whole family since 2005. Other than a few obligatory scuffs and having to tighten up one of the bolt straps once or twice, it is great condition and looks like it will be good for another 8 years.
This is the complete contrast to a non-branded bag I bought to travel across India with in ’92. Being on a budget I bought the cheapest thing I could before I set off. One week into the trip we inadvertently boarded a 1st class only train and when we were discovered with our 2nd class tickets and were refusing to pay the difference, which was 2 weeks budget, were then forced to jump off the train while it still moved, albeit slowly. I heard a snap and something gave as I landed. The strap to my bag had broken and I was left with no handle to carry my 15kg luggage with for another 5 1/2 months…
I learned the hard way, that when backpacking, buy a decent backpack.
Basically, like most things its a false economy to go cheap. You will have to replace it sooner, and more importantly, with cheap luggage, you risk your prized possessions being spread about the baggage handlers floor/carousel/overhead locker.
The Samsonite Chronolite & Firelite Suitcase
This time around I opted for two different Samsonsite models, the black/charcoal version of the Samsonite Chronolite (£260) and Samsonite Firelite (£235). This is a lot to have to pay on two suitcases but we do a lot of short haul flights and need to maximise our luggage capacity now we have a small child in tow. The fact that they are guaranteed for 10 years means that we do not need to worry about hand luggage for a very long time…
The other option was a Delsey Helium which was a slightly cheaper option of £165.
With the hard case form factor, I preferred the feel of the Samsonite. It felt tougher and lighter, plus Samsonite is renowned for this style of suitcase so I stumped up the extra cash. I will say if budget was more an issue, the Delsey would have been a no-branier as has very similar specs.
I bought both models because the shop only had one of each, unless I wanted white. My girlfriend who is quite fussy gave me strict instructions on the colours – black or silver and that they should be matching. As you can see although they are different models, they are very similar:
This actually put me in a good bargaining position as I managed to get a few pounds knocked of the Chronolite as its slightly more expensive and I really I would have been happy with two of the cheaper Firelite’s.
A Closer Look at the Samsonite Chronolite and Firelite
The two suitcases are very similar and the Chronolite is a slighter newer model, hence the price difference. The Chronolite is actually a tiny bit wider and puffs out more if needed but both will fit comfortably into the 55cm x 40cm x 20cm hand baggage allowance, so you’ll be fine for budget airlines like Ryanair.
They are both made from the same super tough”Curve” polycarbonate material that Samsonite has patented and are exactly the same colour (the black is anyway). With weight, the Firelite is 2Kg and the Chronilite just 1.95Kg according to the specs. I haven’t confirmed this yet, but when I’ll update if need be when I do.
Here you can see the underside with the wheels. These are the smoothest wheels I have ever experienced on a suitcase and they even make the Bugaboo pram feel stiff in comparison!
One main difference is the extendable handle, the Firelite has a single stem, and the other a double. Also, the handles that you carry them with should you not be able to wheel them are made of very grippy rubber that feels secure to hold. The Chronolite actually has a slightly thinner handle but it makes no difference when picking up.
Inside, the difference is more noticeable, with the Firelite on the left sporting a slightly more finished look and the Chronolite on the right, sporting a more minimal black interior with see through mesh for the divider.
In essence they both provide exactly the same functionality, two separate halves, a pocket and strap to fasten.
The Samsonite Firelite actually has the better finishing inside:
Compared to the Samsonite Chronolite:
However I am guessing by giving it a more minimal finish is how they shaved the extra 50 grams of the weight.
Because the Chronolite puffs out more at the sides, it will fit slightly more in, which is a bonus. I actually like the black finish with the mesh. It’s very masculine:
Although you may not tell from the photos, both have a soft fabric type finish interior bonded to the polycarbonate case which is soft to touch.
I bought both as I got a discount for buying two together and the more expensive Chronolite had a further discount as I said I needed two matching and in order to make the sale he did a price match.
They are both remarkably well made suitcases that are ultra-light and best in class with a ridiculously smooth wheel action. They have the same combination and key locking function plus strong, waterproof zip to keep everything super secure. The only real difference is the ever-so-slight wider width and lower weight advantage that the Chronolite has.
You may squeeze in a little more before you fill up or hit your weight allowance, but only to the tune of an extra shirt or two! That said, the Firelite looks nicer on the inside and has a studier to hold handle due to the thickness. It may suit a bigger hand but there not much in it really. I
They are guaranteed for 10 years which means each suitcase will cost at most just £24 a year, plus they look great and you know you own the best.
Basically you cannot go wrong with either suitcase and I highly recommend either one should you be considering either as a purchase. If I had to choose, I’d go for the one that is cheapest at time of purchase!
Here are some links to Amazon where you’ll most likely get the best prices. I hope you found the review helpful and I have used affiliate links so I will get a small commission if you use them to purchase your products. No hard feelings if you don’t!
Check out the Samsonite Chronolite Cabin Bag 55/20
or the at Samsonite Firelite Cabin Bag 55/20 on Amazon
Ok, happy holidays and let me know if you have any questions and I’ll respond as quick as I can.