Kenneth Cole Reaction is a high-end fashion brand. One that you can often see on the runway during New York Fashion Week, and that designs stunning clothes. But, what’s even better about it is that this brand makes some seriously affordable luggage. Most suitcases are under $100, which is great for anyone who can’t really afford anything too expensive.
So, just how good are these suitcases? Well, that’s what we are going to find out in this review!
At first glance, most Kenneth Cole luggage looks really good – a clear tell that they are designed by someone who has a lot of experience in fashion. But how do they compare to some other affordable luggage? And, is there more to these than stunning exterior? Let’s find out!
The Reverb luggage collection features three suitcases, in three different colors. You can check out all of their specs in the product info boxes below. They are all made of ABS – a lightweight plastic that is often used in hardside luggage because of its affordability.
ABS has several upsides – for one thing it is very scratch resistant, even more than Polycarbonate. However, it is not really as durable as PC. The main reason for this is that, when dente, Polycarbonate can usually just pop back into its original shape. But since ABS is plastic, it is not really that flexible. If your shell breaks, you are going to have to fix it; but at least repairing an ABS shell is easier than you think.
This luggage has reinforced corners, which really improves their overall durability and impact resistance. The Reverb suitcases are also equipped with double spinner wheels and a retractable wheel handle which will give you great manoeuvrability of your luggage.
But I think that the best feature of these are their interiors. Both packing compartments are fully lined, and have plenty of pockets. The bottom compartment features two tie-down straps, which are wide and have tiny pockets on them, in addition to the pocket inside the compartment itself. The top compartment, on the other hand, has a full zippered divider, as well as one zippered and two slip pockets. Overall, the Reverb by Kenneth Cole is a great choice if you want to travel organized.
At first glance, these probably look really similar to the Reverb suitcases. But look closely at the shell – the different design means better scratch resistance. With the previous suitcases, you could get a scratch on the smooth side that’s really noticeable. But the ribs on the Out Of Bounds will help hide all those scuffs and scratches, and help your luggage look brand new longer.
These Kenneth Cole suitcases have single spinner wheels and a telescopic wheel handle which make it effortless to manoeuvre through the airport. They also feature an ABS shell, which is lightweight and sturdy. And the reinforced corners really help with the impact resistance of these suitcases.
The Out Of Bounds collection doesn’t feature expandable capacity, which is a shame. But, it also means that you won’t really be able to over pack these, and that you are more likely to stay within the airline’s weight limits. See, it’s all about finding that silver lining!
The interior of this luggage features two fully lined packing compartments. The top compartment has a full zippered divider, while the bottom compartment sports elastic cross straps. And sadly, there is only one tiny pocket in this entire suitcase, which isn’t really great for organization. Overall, these suitcases are a good choice if you can want to travel as lightweight as possible.
The Renegade collection is one of the few that includes a hardside under-the-seat bag. And this is a great choice if you want to be 100% sure that you will always be allowed to bring your luggage inside the cabin, and avoid any fees. That’s an underseat bag with expandable capacity, double spinner wheels and a retractable wheel handle, no less!
These suitcases feature an ABS shell, along with reinforced corners. They have good durability and great impact resistance, and I think they’ll stand up to the test of time pretty well. And you can get these in a variety of different colors, so they will be really easy to spot on the luggage belt.
Unfortunately, none of the Renegade suitcases have a lock. You can always get a TSA padlock if you want to be 100% sure that your belongings are safe. Additionally, I think you’ll really love the design of the stop handle on the back of the suitcase – it will ensure that the Renegade will stay put even in the smoothest surfaces.
The interior of these is awesome. In the top compartment you have a zippered divider, with one zippered and one slip pocket. In the bottom compartment you also have a divider, but not a full panel one. It’s attached to the body of the suitcase with buckles, and it features a pretty large pocket on it. Oh, and there is also one small zippered pocket inside the bottom compartment itself. Overall, the Renegade luggage is perfect for all of you want your stuff to be organized and look neat.
The last hardside suitcase from Kenneth Cole that we will check out is the 8 Wheelin. It’s a pretty sturdy suitcase with a textured ABS shell that does a great job at hiding all the scuffs and scratches. Plus the shell features reinforced corners, which also significantly increases the impact resistance of this suitcase.
The 8 Wheelin sports four single spinner wheels, a retractable wheel handle and expandable capacity. That last feature will really come in handy if you tend to do some shopping on your trips, so it’s definitely an upside in my opinion. Plus, the interior of this luggage is pretty spacious, even though the wheel handle protrudes inside the little bit.
I can’t tell you a lot about the interior of the 8 Wheelin – you get two fully lined and spacious packing compartments. You’ll get a full zippered divider in one of them and a secured panel with zippered pocket to hold your clothes in place in the other. Which is a nice step up from most other run-of-the-mill luggage
I can, however, tell you that this luggage has multiple grab handles, which makes it super easy to pick it up and put it down. Plus those spinner wheels roll really smoothly, so you’ll have no issue getting around the airport. I’d say the only downside of this suitcase is the lack of choice of colors. Which, for most of you, won't be a huge issue.
The Chelsea collection includes two bags. One is a small, underseat bag which is perfect as a carry on. Mostly because you are pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be able to bring it inside the cabin, and will never be charged additional fees for it. The small bag features a pretty spacious packing compartment, about 6 different pockets and two skate wheels. Also, it has a telescopic wheel handle so you can wheel it around.
And there is also a 24” suitcase. This is a checked bag, so it’s not the best choice for air travel. But, in terms of features, it’s a pretty good suitcase. Especially because it’s a softshell with spinner wheels, which is rarer than you’d think. And a telescopic wheel handle, which will allow you to easily manoeuvre your suitcase.
Both bags are made of polyester, which is a tough material. However, it’s not really water resistant, so you will want to avoid getting your luggage wet. You don’t have to worry about rain, but you definitely shouldn’t submerge it.
What I really like about the Chelsea is all the different pockets. There are two external ones, which are great for any last-minute items. Or just stuff you want to have handy. In addition to that, there is a small zippered pocket in the packing compartment, as well as a big one on the lid. Plus, the suitcase has expandable capacity, so you can even use it for some longer trips.
The Going Places luggage collection offers plenty of size variety. There are two carry ons and two checked bags to choose from. And I especially like the smallest bag in this collection – the 16” underseater. It features several different pockets, a spacious packing compartments, two skate wheels and a telescopic handle which zips into its own compartment. Oh and my favorite feature – a luggage strap that allows you to secure it on top of a larger suitcase.
The other three suitcases have all the same features. This includes a 600D Polyester shell, which is pretty sturdy. And four spinner wheels that roll pretty smoothly, and allow you to manoeuvre through the airport easily. Especially in combination with the telescopic wheel handle.
These Kenneth Cole suitcases all feature a single packing compartment with expandable capacity. There are tie-down straps inside it, which will keep your clothes in place even if you don’t fully pack the suitcase. And there is also a full-size zipper pocket inside it, as well as a large mesh pocket on the top lid.
But I like the two external pockets much more. And honestly, there are a big reason why I still love softshell luggage – they allow you to organize your stuff better. Plus, they are easily accessible and so they are perfect for some items you will want to have handy while you are travelling. Of course, this only applies to carry ons, in terms of air travel.
The Dot Matrix collection stands out because of its incredible weight. The smallest bag, which is a 14” underseat, weighs less than 2lbs, which is amazing! Not only is it really easy to carry it around for hours, but it also means that you will be able to pack more things inside it without going over the airline’s weight limits for carry ons.
And even the two larger suitcases are pretty lightweight, with the 28” weighing less than 8.5 lbs! Plus their design looks pretty cool – the 600D Polyester shell also has some leather-like vinyl trims, which makes the luggage look kind of sophisticated.
The exterior of these suitcase feature a pretty large front compartment, as well as a hidden zippered pocket. I think that the latter is great for all of your more valuable items, like your phone or passport. And both are quite easily accessible, which makes them awesome for any stuff you want to have handy at all times.
The packing compartment also has some cool design features. The lining matches the color of the exterior, which is a really nice touch. You get two zippered mesh pockets inside, as well as tie-down straps that will prevent your clothes getting jumbled around. And the capacity of these suitcases is expandable, so they will be able to accommodate for any additional stuff you buy on your trip.
The Lincol Square luggage has the advantage of looking very sleek and professional. But there are only two bags in this collection – a 16” underseater and a 24” checked bag. Both are made of 1680D Dobby Polyester, which is a really durable and tear resistant material. Plus it’s water-resistant, and your clothes will stay dry even in really heavy rain.
The underseat bag is the obvious choice is you are looking for a carry on. It features several external and internal pockets, two skate wheels along with a double-barrel telescopic wheel handle that zips into its own compartment for easy storage. And the bag also has a luggage strap, which allows you to stack it on top of your bigger suitcase.
As for the larger suitcase, it does not disappoint either. The spinner wheels make this suitcase really easy to manoeuvre around, while the expandable capacity allows you to pack several weeks’ worth of clothes inside it. And the multiple pockets, both inside and out, help you organize everything you are bringing on your trip.
Unfortunately, there are no locks on this suitcase. If you want your stuff to be 100% safe, you will need to invest in a TSA padlock. In addition to that, the larger suitcase is kind of heavy, especially for its size. It weighs in at 10 lbs, which is not really great for a softside suitcase. But if you don’t plan to use it for air travel, then it’s not really a big deal.
The Excursion 2.0 collection is by far my favorite, design wise. I especially like the turquoise color of the luggage, since I think it makes them really stand out. But other than that, I’m also a big fan of the multiple external pockets and compartments, and of the size variety. The Excursion 2.0 luggage features 4 bags, two of which are small enough to be used as carry ons.
The underseater is your best choice if this is what you are looking for. It might be small, but it has some great features for organizing your items – the wet-item pockets are just one of those. It also has a luggage strap, a separate zip-pocket for the wheel handle and two smooth rolling skate-wheels which make it really easy to move around with this bag.
As for the larger luggage, I really like the fact that the zippers on the inside match the color of the shell. This is such a small detail, but it shows perfectly just how much thought went into the design of these suitcases. And they are all made from 1200D Polyester, which has great tear-resistance and durability.
Additionally, interior of the suitcases is fully lined, and features two pockets – one on the top lid, and another one inside the expandable packing compartment itself. The spinner wheels will give you great manoeuvrability of your luggage, especially in combination with the telescopic wheel handle. Overall, these are by far my favorite Kenneth Cole softshells!
I always recommend hardshells for air travel. Especially if we are talking about checked baggage – they’re simply more durable, and they will live a longer life than softshells. Checked suitcases are often thrown around, and a softshell is not likely to survive all those tumbles and falls. Granted, neither is a hardshell. But it will definitely endure them better.
But if all you need is a carry on, they you are fine getting a softside suitcase. However, keep in mind that you can’t be 100% percent sure that an airline will let you bring your suitcase inside the cabin, even if it does adhere to all the regulations. That still depends on the size of the airplane, and the number of people who are in it. If you get there late, there’s a good chance that all the overhead compartments will be full, and you will have to check your 20” suitcase.
There is one way to avoid this – get small, under-the-seat luggage. It’s a great choice for some shorter trips, and they will allow it inside the cabin even if there’s no space in the overhead bins. I will show you a few of these, so be on the lookout for any suitcase smaller than 19”.
If you are not looking for luggage for air travel, then there is no reason not to get a softside suitcase. They are lightweight, affordable, and can generally fit more items. Especially since you can always zip up a softshell, no matter how much you over pack it.
In most cases I will list the overall dimensions of the suitcase, which include the height of the wheels and handles, along with the packing compartment. This is because airlines take these dimensions into consideration when deciding whether or not to treat your suitcase as a carry on. So, if you see that a suitcase is 22” tall, but your airline won’t allow anything taller than 20” inside the cabin, you should skip it.
You will notice this easily – if a suitcase is 20”, but its overall height is 22”, then the overall dimensions are listed. However, in some cases Kenneth Cole only provides the dimensions of the packing compartment. I will emphasise this as “interior dimensions” in the product info boxes. And keep in mind that the dimensions of the suitcase with wheels are going to be larger.
In general, if you are looking for a carry on, then you should look for a suitcase that is 22” tall max. With wheels and handles. On the other hand, if you are shopping for checked baggage, then you don’t need to pay that much attention to the dimensions. Instead, keep an eye on the weight – remember, the heavier the suitcase, the less you will be able to pack in it. If you want to stay inside the checked baggage weight allowance, that is.
You will also see plenty of underseat bags in this review, especially in the softshell section. These are a really good choice if you want to get a carry on that you will always be allowed to bring inside the cabin, regardless of how full the plane is.
Then I think you’ll really like Kenneth Cole luggage. You have to option to get any one of the hardside suitcases as a value set. And, the sets are often cheaper than a 28” Samsonite, so there’s that. But, keep in mind that none of the softshell suitcases are available in sets. Which is a shame, especially if you were looking for one.
In addition to that, buying a set will inevitably mean you get better value for money. So, even if you want only two suitcases but there’s only a three-piece set available, chances are that the set is going to be cheaper than those two suitcases purchased individually. And you can always give away the extra suitcase, or even resell it and earn some of your money back.
I think that the value sets are a really good option for couples and families. These often include the three standard sizes of the suitcases, so you’ll get one carry on and two checked bags. You just have to agree on one color that suits all of you. But I think that won’t be too difficult, considering that most of these suitcases are available in the neutral greys and blacks.
So, out of all these suitcases, some did stand out for all the right reasons. Let’s talk about those.
Out of all the softshells, my favorite was the Lincoln Square. I especially liked the carry on with all the pockets and water proof material. Like all the Kenneth Coles, it does lack a lock, but you can always add one if you really need it.
When talking about the hardshells, I think that two collections stood out. The Reverb is the first one – I am in love with the interior of these suitcases. They have everything a good carry on should have, and are great for organization of your belongings. Plus the spinner wheels and the telescopic wheel handle make them really easy to manoeuvre around the airport.
The Renegade suitcase is your best choice if you are looking for checked baggage. That’s because of the design of the shell – it will do the best job at hiding all the nasty scuffs and scratches your luggage is bound to get. Plus, the suitcase has reinforced corners which also mean that it has really good impact resistance. And it does not disappoint one bit on the inside, since it has plenty of pockets and two dividers.
That's it! Head over to Amazon to see the prices of all of these suitcases - most of them are currently on sale, so you'll be able to get a really good deal. Plus, you can also check out all the different colors that these come in, as well as a few more photos of their exteriors!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!