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Freeform Hardside Carry-on (21 Inch)
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Picking out a brand new suitcase is never an easy task. Especially if you want to try out something new, and give one of the lesser known brands a shot.
Olympia is one of those brands. They're definitely not the first name you think of when someone says "suitcase", but they have a pretty large and loyal customer base. And, in this review, we'll check out some of their most popular suitcases - both softside and hardside.
We'll also check out a couple of other pieces of luggage, like rolling duffels and backpacks. So, whatever you are looking for, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find it in this detailed review!
If you’re looking for a bargain, this is just the right suitcase for you. Right now you can save almost $100 on it, so don’t hesitate to grab the Denmark if you like it! It’s currently available only in the carry on size, which has some pretty remarkable features!
One of those is a hidden compartment that you can store some last-minute things in. It’s located in the expandable area, and features a quick-access zipper on the top of the suitcase. It’s also the perfect size for your laptop, not to mention that it would be safely tucked in between the clothes in the two packing compartments.
The Denmark is made of ABS, which is a sturdy and durable material. But definitely not the best one for hardside luggage – that’s Polycarbonate. Nevertheless, it is still a pretty tough suitcase, mostly due to its reinforced corners. And the aluminum wheel handle is lightweight, and works wonderfully with spinner wheels, providing you with excellent maneuverability of your luggage.
I particularly like the inside of the suitcase – the top compartment has a divider that covers about 4/5 of it, which is great. And there’s a pocket on that divider. The bottom compartment, on the other hand, features tie-down straps along with a wet-pocket. Perfect for storing your wet swimsuit after that last dip just before you have to pack up and go!
The Apache suitcases offer more variety, size-wise. And they are even more affordable, if that’s even possible. The carry on is also on some crazy sale right now, and you can get it for less than $40! Now if that’s not affordable, I don’t know what is.
All three Apache suitcases sport the same feature, so you don’t have to give up anything if you choose to pick up just one. They are all made of 100% ABS plastic, and have reinforced corners. I find their design very interesting – all of them are black, but feature accents of different color. Personally, I adore the black and blue one.
There are two packing compartments in these suitcases. The top one sports a divider with a large mesh pocket, while the bottom one features elastic cross-straps and a smaller zippered pocket. Naturally, the Apache luggage has expandable capacity, as well as a secret compartment in that area. You can access it when your suitcase is closed and standing upright.
Other equally important features include spinner wheel,s a retractable wheel handle with a push button and several carry handles. Overall, this is one of the more affordable Olympia suitcases you can get, and it’s well worth the money. Plus, if you go for a larger size, the colorful accents will make it really easy to spot on the luggage belt, which is always a bonus in my book.
The Whistler luggage is in a completely different league from the previous two. It’s much more expensive, but it justifies the price with its features. For one thing, these suitcases are made from Polycarbonate, which is the best and more durable material for hardside luggage.
As if that wasn’t enough, these suitcases also feature chrome corner reinforcements, which significantly improves their overall durability. The dual spinner wheels give you great maneuverability of your luggage, while the push-button wheel handle allows you to steer them in any direction you want.
These also feature a TSA lock, which is crucial if you plan on travelling to the US. Unfortunately, they don’t have expandable capacity, but I’m okay with that – you can’t always have it all. And their interior is pretty spacious; the top compartment features a large hanging divider that will keep all your clothes in place. The bottom compartment has elastic cross straps. Additionally, both are fully lined and feature a zippered pocket.
The only thing that I don’t like on the Whistler is the high-shine finish. Polycarbonate luggage is prone to scuffs and scratches, and those are much more visible when you have such a shiny suitcase. But, slap a cover on it and you won’t have to worry about that at all.
The Sidewinder luggage is particularly interesting. There is one unique design feature on these that really intrigues me – the larger two suitcases feature hooks, which allows you to attach all of them together. This is perfect if you’re travelling with all three suitcases – instead of having to grow a third arm just to be able to deal with them, you can maneuver them around with a single wheel handle.
The double spinner wheels help with this significantly, and make it feel like you’re only pushing around one suitcase. And not three. What’s even more interesting is the mesh cover on the carry on – it functions as a quick-stash pocket, and it’s one of the most convenient features I ever saw on a suitcase.
All three Sidewinders are made of an ABS/PC mixture, which makes them pretty sturdy. Plus they all have expandable capacity and a TSA lock. The carry on also features a hidden zippered compartment and slightly different interior than the larger two suitcases. And you can get a set of all three suitcases for just a little over $200 – now that’s a really good deal.
The interior of these does not disappoint either. There are two spacious packing compartments, one of which features a full panel divider with a zipper and a slip pocket. The other compartment sports tie-down straps with a wet pocket. Overall, if you are looking for a luggage set, the Sidewinder is definitely the best value for money you’ll find.
The Titan luggage is made from Polycarbonate, and it is pretty tough. However, unlike most other Olympia hardshell suitcases, these don’t have reinforced corners, and their impact resistance suffers for it. Meaning that if your suitcase gets thrown around a lot, there’s a good chance it could break. But at least you don’t have to worry about that with the carry on.
These suitcases are equipped with double spinner wheels and a retractable wheel handle, which is made of aluminum. You can push or pull them in whichever direction you want, and you don’t have to tilt them to get the wheels rolling. Which also means no pressure on your arms, since you don’t have to drag dozens of pounds behind you.
The Titans have two interior compartments with expandable capacity that are fully lined. The top one has a full panel divider, as well as a zippered mesh pocket and a lower slip pocket. The bottom compartment, on the other hand, is equipped with elastic cross-straps and a single zippered pocket inside.
Unfortunately, these suitcases don’t have Olympia’s patented secret pocket. So they’re not as great for organization as some other suitcases. And they also lack a TSA lock, so they are probably not the best choice if you’re going to fly to the US. But overall, they are a really decent option.
The Tuscany is a pretty popular choice. It comes in three different sizes and colors, so there’s some variety to choose from. All of the suitcases are constructed form 2-tone Poylester, and you can also get all three as a value set.
These Olympia suitcases feature double spinner wheels, as well as a retractable wheel handle. Which is not too common in softshell suitcases, especially with some more affordable brands. So, it’s a feature a really appreciate, and I think you will too.
They have a single packing compartment that is fully lined. There are tie-down straps in it, as well as a zippered pocket that goes on top of all the clothes you decide to pack inside it. Additionally, the top lid also features two pockets, one of which is a slip pocket, and the other zippered. And with expandable capacity, you will be able to pack plenty inside of the Tuscany suitcases.
One downside to these is that they are not exactly lightweight. Especially for softside luggage. And they don’t have a lock, so you would have to get a separate padlock, if you want your luggage to be 100% safe. But, at least there is one external pocket, which is great for all last-minute items. Overall, these are some decent suitcases. Definitely not the best ones we’ll check out, but pretty good for their prices.
The Skyhawk suitcases are really similar to the Tuscany ones, at least on the outside. But they have a little more to offer, starting with the material they are made from. These are constructed with 3-Tone Jacquard Polyester, which is a pretty durable material. And they also feature reinforced corners, for even better durability.
They have single spinner wheels, and a slightly different wheel handle. There is a push button that allows you to lock it into position, but you can’t lock it into different heights. Meaning that not all of you will find the preset height of the handle to be the right fit for you. And, another thing which I’m not a big fan of is the weight of these suitcases. Even the 22” one weighs almost 10 pounds, and I think that is just too much for a softside suitcase.
One other aspect in which the Skyhawk is better than the Tuscany are external pockets. The Skyhawk features two of those, which allows for better organization than the single pocket of the Tuscany. But then again it slightly disappoints with its packing compartment – this suitcase only has one zippered pocket on the lid.
However, it also has an additional pocket inside the actual compartment itself, as well a pair of tie-down straps to hold all of your belongings in place. And with the expandable capacity, you’ll be able to fit plenty inside of these Olympia suitcases.
The Luxe suitcase is definitely the most popular Olympia softshell. And for a good reason – it’s made of 100% Polyester, with EVA foamed front panel. That, in addition to the reinforced bottom corners, offers much better impact resistance than you would normally get out of a softside suitcase.
Just like the other luggage, the Luxe features spinner wheels and a retractable wheel handle. And you also get two pretty large external compartments, which are awesome for all items you want to be able to access quickly. And also like the other suitcases, this one does not sport a lock.
The packing compartment of this suitcase has one unique feature – a wet-pocket on the top lid. Plus, you also get one other zippered pocket on the lid, as well as another one in the actual packing compartment. Which has expandable capacity, by the way. And there are tie-down straps to ensure your clothes don’t get jumbled around.
There’s one thing to note about the sets I linked below – option 1 features a lot more (bright) color variety, as well as a couple of sets that cost just a little over $100. Yes, for all three suitcases. On the other hand, option 2 features just two colors, which are much more muted and serious. And those sets are not quite as affordable as the ones in option 1. Check them both out, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
A rolling backpack is not for everyone. It has a smaller capacity than most softshell suitcases, so you will only be able to use it for shorter trips. However, it is also much more convenient, since you can carry it on your back wherever you go, thanks to the shoulder straps. Which you can also tuck away, so that they don’t get caught on the wheels when you are rolling it on the ground.
This is a front-loading pack, so it’s not much different than packing in a suitcase. You’ll be able to neatly organize all of your stuff, and there are tie-down straps to keep all of it in place. Plus, the pack also features an internal zippered pocket on the top lid, just like Olympia’s softside suitcases.
The Cascade has expandable capacity, so you can probably fit more inside it than you think. However, it does disappoint a little with the number of external pockets – there are only two, and both of them are pretty small. Additionally, there are also external compression straps, which will ensure everything stays put while you are on the go.
One more thing to note about the Cascade is that it also features a pretty large grab handle on the front. This is useful when you just need to quickly more it from one spot to another, since you don’t have to deal with the straps or the retractable wheel handle.
Olympia’s rolling duffel is a pretty unique piece of luggage. It’s available in 4 different sizes, all of which are really lightweight and feature no less than 8 pockets. And that is awesome for organizing your stuff when travelling – especially if you and your partner pack in the same suitcase. You could definitely benefit from one of the larger two bags.
You can carry it around just like a regular duffel bag, with the two thick and sturdy carry handles on the front. Or you could wheel it around like a suitcase, if you want to give your arms some rest. The wheel handle is retractable, and features a push button that locks it into position. Additionally, it also has its own zippered compartment where it stores when not in use.
The duffel features U-shape opening, which gives you easy access to the main compartment. It doesn’t have expandable capacity, but you don’t really need that feature, with all the different pockets you get.
This bag is made of 1200 D Polyester, which is one of the most durable types of material used in softshell luggage. Overall, this is definitely an Olympia favorite of mine. I find it extremely convenient for road trips, since all the different external pockets mean you can always find your charger, earphones and whatnot in a matter of seconds.
This depends mostly on how you travel. If you often drive places or take the train, then you can get either. But if most of your vacations or business trips include a trip to the airport, then you will need to get a hardside suitcase – especially if you plan to check it.
The most important reason for this is durability. Hardside luggage was built to endure being thrown around by baggage handlers, and softshell suitcases just can’t compare to that. In most cases a hardshell suitcases is extensively tested for durability, just to see how much pressure it can take before it actually cracks. Which is why it’s by far the better choice for flying.
In terms of carry on luggage, you are mostly fine either way. However, keep in mind that you won’t always be allowed to bring your carry on inside the cabin. This can happen when you are one of the last passengers to be seated, and all the overhead bins are already full. Or if you are boarding a really small plane, in which there is simply no room for your 21” suitcase.
Because of that, I recommend you look into hardsides even for carry on luggage. It’s better to bring a hardside carry on inside the cabin, than to be forced to check a softshell suitcase. Trust me.
On the other hand, nylon and polyester suitcases have the benefit of being lighter but bigger. You can always fit more in a softshell – the lid of the suitcase is much more flexible and easier to deal with when you overpack.
If you are buying a suitcase for a specific trip, then this depends on the length of your trip. You can fit up to two weeks’ worth of clothes into a carry on, if you know all the packing tricks. But, also if we’re talking about spring/summer clothes. If you plan on travelling in the winter, you will need a larger suitcase, since sweaters, jackets and boots take up much more space than shorts and shirts.
A smaller, 21” suitcase is also the right choice if you don’t want to lose sight of your luggage. Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about checked bags and you want to avoid dealing with that at all costs – that’s fine. Plus, it’s cheaper.
On the other hand, tickets for longer flights often include one piece of checked baggage. The only restriction is that you suitcase needs to be under 50 lbs, in order to avoid any overweight baggage fees. For checked baggage, I would generally recommend a 28” suitcase at the most. They are large enough to fit all you need on a month-long trip, but still small enough that it will be practically impossible to go over the 50-lb weight limit. Unless you pack bricks inside it.
Now, if you are shopping for a suitcase but don’t have a specific trip in mind, then consider the usual length of your trips. Additionally, if you need more than one suitcase, definitely check out the luggage sets. I’ll link them wherever possible, since they are a sure way to get the most for your money. In most cases a 3-piece set will cost less than two individual suitcases, and that’s just awesome!
If you never used a rolling duffel, then I strongly urge you to try one out. I think you’ll love it – it’s like an enhanced suitcase.
Duffels are generally larger, and have bigger capacities than traditional softshell suitcases. And big duffels have very big openings, so packing will still be easy and convenient. I actually prefer these to traditional suitcases, because they generally have much better organizational capabilities.
That’s because a duffel will have a lot more pockets than a regular suitcase. And this is perfect for all of you that like to organizer their stuff, but also if you are sharing your luggage with someone. Say both you and your partner are packing in one piece of luggage –you will fit more inside a duffel, and you will be able to divide all of the stuff neatly.
Some rolling duffels also have backpack straps, so that you can carry them on your backs. This is particularly convenient if you are not going to be staying in place your entire trip, since it allows you to carry all of your luggage hands-free.
One benefit of sosftside suitcases is that you can often find ones with spinner wheels. They are much easier to wheel around, since there’s really no pressure on your arms.
But this one is completely up to your preference – consider all of the above, and think about which type of luggage will fit better into your travel habits.
If you’re still not exactly sure which luggage is the best choice for you, here are my top three picks.
The Whistler is definitely the top hardside suitcase you can get. It’s made of pure Polycarbonate, which is an exceptionally durable and lightweight material. Which is really important for air travel. Plus, it has two really spacious packing compartments, as well as spinner wheels, retractable wheel handle and a TSA lock. Basically, it’s everything you want a hardshell suitcase to be.
Out of the softside suitcases, I loved the Luxe the most. It’s the perfect small suitcase, with multiple pockets and compartments, in addition to the expandable capacity. Unfortunately, you can’t really choose a size, because the standalone suitcase is only available in the 21” version. But, you can get a set of three suitcases for about a $100, and I think that’s amazing! It’s certainly the best value for money you can get.
The most interesting piece of luggage was the Rolling Duffel Bag. I absolutely loved the fact that it has 8 pockets, which makes it so easy to organize all of your things inside it. And it helps when you want to have some things more easily accessible than others. Plus, the fact that there are 4 different sizes to choose from means that pretty much anyone is able to pick up a bag that is a perfect fit for their needs.
If you want to check out the prices of these bags, head over to Amazon. You can also see all the different colors they are available in there, and grab a really good deal. Most of the Olympia suitcases are ridiculously discount at the moment, so don’t wait too long to pick one up!
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!