A Kmart bag has wowed judges with this $49 offering. Picture: Mike Knott
A Kmart bag has wowed judges with this $49 offering. Picture: Mike Knott

$49 Kmart ‘bargain’ gets perfect score

WHEN it comes to finding the right bag for your travels, no one case is the same.

With some costing less than $50, others will set you back more than an international airfare - so how do you know which one is best?

Luggage experts at consumer watchdog Choice have done the hard yards and put some of the most popular carry-on bags to the test, revealing which of the leading brands stacks up when it comes to performance and durability.

When it comes to finding the right carry-on case, there's a lot of options on the market.
When it comes to finding the right carry-on case, there's a lot of options on the market.

As part of the testing, Choice broke down the results into three budget categories -

lower, middle and top of the price range.

 

BUDGET WINNER: $49 Kmart Anko Bag

According to Choice, this 45.5cm soft-case bag - which is a popular item with influencers - received 100 per cent in their "lift and drop" test, which means the case is dropped from a height of 90cm on repeat 300 times.

The Kmart bag retails for $49.
The Kmart bag retails for $49.

Overall, the bag received 86 per cent for performance and 73 per cent for ease of use.

CHOICE luggage tester Matthew Tung said where the budget bag didn't quite stack up was when tested against rain and the stability test (where the bag is put on a tilted platform to see how long it can stand for). But despite falling a little short on the latter hurdles, Mr Tung said the bag was worth every dollar for the cheap price.

"You could buy the Kmart carry-on plus return flights from Sydney to Melbourne and you still wouldn't have spent as much as the RRP of the Samsonite," he said.

 

MID-RANGE WINNER: $295 Away The Carry-On Bag

At almost $250 more than the Kmart alternative, this carry-on bag has a few extra features than the cheaper alternative.

Like the budget version from Kmart, this pink bag performed exceedingly well in the lift and drop test as well as the puncture test, which looked at how the bag withheld a sharp object hitting the exterior.

The bag comes with its own built-in powerbank.
The bag comes with its own built-in powerbank.

The Carry-On by Away, priced at $295, is a hard case suitcase and also comes with a very handy in-built power bank for charging appliances on the go. Hiding under the handle, it's a discreet addition to the bag and perfect for when your phone is getting low on juice.

Receiving an overall score of 84 per cent - yes, lower than the Kmart alternative - experts said the downside to this bag was the nifty powerbank, as it added weight to the case. In addition, airport laws mean the bag would need to have the battery removed before going through security.

 

SPLURGE WINNER: $625 Samsonite Lite-Shock Sport

If you're willing to dish out more than $500 on a carry-on suitcase, chances are you'll come across one of the Samsonite offerings.

Samsonite make some of the best bags in the world, and these cases typically exceed on performance, durability and style.

The Samsonite bag is the most expensive in the review.
The Samsonite bag is the most expensive in the review.

According to Choice, this bag had nothing negative to comment on. It scored 100 per cent in the lift and drop test, 95 per cent in the puncture test and 75 for how it handled a downpour.

And while the price tag may have you raising eyebrows, luggage expert Kim Gilmour said more often than not you'd come across this bag on sale.

"The RRP of this Samsonite is $625, but you'll almost certainly never see it for sale at that price. Our expert buyers were able to pick this one up for $375," Ms Gilmour said.

HOW CHOICE TESTS SUITCASES:

Lift and drop test: Experts loaded each carry-on suitcase with 4kg of clothes, while check-in suitcases are loaded with 15kg.

According to Choice, experts drop the suitcases wheels-first onto a concrete floor 300 times from a height of 90cm. Damage is then assessed, and any models that survive unscathed receive 100 per cent in the test, whereas ones with missing wheels or severe holes score zero.

P uncture test: Choice say their experts drop a heavy, pointed cylinder onto the suitcase surface to see whether any damage occurs. A score is given depending on damage.

The rain test looks at how a suitcase withstands the natural elements, such as rain. Picture: Choice
The rain test looks at how a suitcase withstands the natural elements, such as rain. Picture: Choice

Rain test: For this "unforgiving test", each suitcase is filled with newspaper and put under a custom-made shower that simulates a 10-minute downpour. Experts then look at the cases to see how wet the newspaper becomes.

Stability test: Each carry-on case is loaded with 4kg of weight and tilted on a platform to see if it will tip at a certain angle.

Anything that tips at 6 degrees or less is considered unstable and rated "poor"; 6 degrees to 15 degrees is considered reasonably stable and "fair". Anything above this is rated stable ("good").

Here's you'll find the full debrief of how the luggage test went down.

The bag won Choice's best bargain category.
The bag won Choice's best bargain category.
The pink Away carry-on scored 100 per cent in the lift and drop test, according to Choice.
The pink Away carry-on scored 100 per cent in the lift and drop test, according to Choice.
Choice says the $625 suitcase delivers on performance.
Choice says the $625 suitcase delivers on performance.

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