Softshell vs. hardshell luggage; a debate that is very frequent among travellers. Both have their benefits, but in general, I prefer hardshell luggage, especially if I am travelling by plane.
On the other hand, a lot of you prefer softshell luggage because it is lighter, more affordable, and just more comfy to carry.
In this review, we’ll switch things up a little and take a look at a softshell piece of luggage – the Samsonite Paradiver. The Paradiver line of products includes many different items, but in this review I will focus on the duffel bags with spinner wheels.
Let’s (para)dive straight into the review of the Samsonite Paradiver spinner duffel bag!
The Paradiver duffel bag is available in 3 different sizes. The smallest bag is a carry-on and the larger 2 have to be checked (if you are travelling by plane). Here are their basic specifications:
55 x 40 x 23 cm
67 x 46 x 28 cm
79 x 47 x 32 cm
I would say that this duffel bag is a great choice for people who won’t be travelling by plane. This is because luggage at airports is often thrown around, and most softshell suitcases end up squished on the carousel. If you are travelling by bus, train or car, this duffel bag is a great choice for you.
If you are looking for a smaller, carry on suitcase, this could be a good choice. The rules for checked baggage don’t really apply to in-cabin baggage, so you can disregard what I said earlier about baggage handlers. A particular benefit the Paradiver has as a carry on (when compared to most hardshell carry ons) is the presence of many exterior pockets. You can keep any smaller items you might need during the flight in them, and you will be able to access them easily.
If you are looking for luggage that you can use for overseas travels by plane (for many years to come), I urge to check out my review of hardshell suitcases. They are much sturdier by design, and they cope better with being thrown around by baggage handlers. Zipperless hardshell suitcases in particular have many benefits when it comes to travelling by plane.
The Samsonite Paradiver is made from durable 600 x 600 denier polyester. This type of material is weather resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your bag getting wet or dirty, which is one of the biggest concerns when talking about softshell luggage. Your belongings will stay dry even if you get caught in a really heavy rain.
The outside of the duffel bag is coated with polyurethane, which is partially what makes it weather resistant. This coating also enhances the durability of the bag, and makes it resistant to dirt. However, in terms of impact resistance, I wouldn’t say that the Paradiver is very durable. That’s the downside of softshell luggage – if too much weight is put on top of it, it can easily get deformed.
It is not very often that you find softshell luggage (and duffel bags in particular!) with spinner wheels. In fact, there are several versions of the Paradiver without spinner wheels, so carefully check that before you go ahead and buy it.
These wheels are able to turn 360 degrees each, which allows you to roll your luggage however you want. There is no need to tilt to bag to get the wheels rolling, which means much less strain on your arms and shoulders.
The extendable wheel handle is single-tube, which minimizes the weight it adds to the bag. Additionally, since this is a softshell suitcase, the handle doesn’t really protrude in its interior, the way it does with hardshell luggage. A cool thing about the wheel handle is that, when it’s not in use, it can be zipped up into its own compartment, and it’s not visible at all.
There are several carry handles on the Paradiver; on the top, on the sides and on the very front. They are soft to touch and reinforced, so that you don’t need to worry about the handle breaking off from the bag.
If you are fine with one packing compartment, then the Paradiver is a great fit for you. If, however, you are used to having 2 packing compartments, this might be a problem. Personally, I prefer to have 2, simply because they allow me be more organized.
There’s not much to talk about, in terms of the interior of this suitcase. There are elastic straps inside it that will keep your stuff in place, as well as a single zipped pocket for any smaller belonging you would want to keep separate. The interior is mainly black, but the pocket zipper matches the overall color of the suitcase, which really brightens it up.
There are pros and cons with this bag, so, allow me to explain:
If you are looking for a bag to add to your existing luggage collection, then yes, this is a great bag for you. If, however, you don’t own any luggage and you are looking for something big and strong that you can bring along on overseas flights, then no, this isn’t the suitcase for you.
This is mainly because softshell luggage doesn’t handle protect your stuff against the treatment from baggage handlers very well, and it often comes out damaged. In addition to that, this bag doesn’t have any locks on it, which is also why I wouldn’t recommend it as checked baggage. In that case, I would advise you to consider getting a hardshell suitcase.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a carry on, or a bag that you can take along with you on trips in 4-wheeled vehicles, than I would say yes, this is a good option for you. The spinner wheels really set it apart from other softshell luggage. Also, the bag is made of weather resistant material, which is another great feature you don’t usually expect from softside luggage.
Another thing to consider is: if you do fly with this bag, and don't ever back anything that can get damaged, it's also a good option. For example, you only pack clothes, shoes and books? Then it's perfect.
If you want to buy the Paradiver, then go over to Amazon – you’ll hardly find a better deal somewhere else.
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!