CALPAK vs Samsonite: Which Should You Buy in 2024?

CALPAK luggage is stylish and trendy, while Samsonite luggage is tried and true.

It would be hard for two luggage brands to be more different than CALPAK and Samsonite. They have very different designs and approaches to building luggage, so to choose between them, you need to decide what your priorities are.

CALPAK is known for its striking designs and clean aesthetic. These suitcases aren’t just about carrying your stuff, they’re meant to make a statement.

On the other hand, Samsonite luggage may not be as trendy as CALPAK, but it’s reliable (and you can find it everywhere). Samsonite has been around for over a century, and they’re the most well-known brand in the business. They sell a massive range of luggage, especially compared to CALPAK’s limited offering.

Our team has tested over 150 suitcases over the past 15 years, and I’ve put both CALPAK and Samsonite to the test on my own travels. It’s easy to read product pages and marketing info, but much harder to evaluate how a suitcase works in the real world.

I’ll delve into the CALPAK versus Samsonite debate, covering everything from the quality of materials to key design features. I’ll share insights from using luggage from both brands on trips around the globe. I aim to help you make an informed decision that suits your travel style and needs.

Why You Can Trust Us

The TravelFreak editorial team has tested dozens of suitcases over the years, and we’ve learned a lot about what separates a quality piece of luggage from an overpriced, overhyped piece of plastic. We’ve tested and reviewed budget luggage, luxury suitcases, and everything in between.

We know how hard it is to find the perfect suitcase, and we want to make the process easier for you. So we got our team of gear junkies and former product engineers together to develop the most comprehensive luggage test methodology possible.

We tested and rated 6 CALPAK suitcases and 15 Samsonite suitcases, including carry-ons and checked bags, hardshells and softshells from both brands.

We evaluated every one of these suitcases on 31 metrics across eight categories. We gave them all the same treatment and rated them on the same standardized scales. This makes it easy for us (and you) to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.

CALPAK vs Samsonite: Quick Answers

  • Durability: Samsonite makes more durable luggage, but their budget models aren’t as good as CALPAK luggage.
  • Price: Samsonite offers both budget-friendly and high-priced premium options, while CALPAK is solidly mid-range on price.
  • Warranty: Most Samsonite luggage has a 10-year warranty, while CALPAK only has a 2-year warranty.
  • Sustainability: Samsonite uses recycled materials and has programs to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. CALPAK doesn’t have any sustainability initiatives.
  • Materials: CALPAK uses durable polycarbonate across the board. Some Samsonite suitcases use cheaper plastics and some use cutting-edge materials that are extremely durable and impact-resistant.
  • Design and Style: CALPAK luggage is modern, minimalist, and very stylish. Samsonite has more variety, but none of their designs are as sleek or refined.
  • Interior Organization: Samsonite offers much more choice for interior organization, while all CALPAK suitcases are pretty much the same.
  • Expandability: Both CALPAK and Samsonite sell expandable suitcases.
  • Wheels: Both brands use similar double spinner wheels that are smooth-rolling and durable.
  • Handle: The handles on CALPAK luggage are a bit sturdier than similarly-priced Samsonite models.
  • Color Options: CALPAK has more color and style options than Samsonite.

CALPAK vs Samsonite: Which Should You Buy?

Buy CALPAK if you…

  • need luggage for vacations, cruises, or getaways.
  • you prioritize style in your travel gear.
  • often take city-hopping trips.
  • want a carry-on for shorter weekend trips.
  • you want a mid-range piece of luggage.

Buy Samsonite if you…

  • travel for work.
  • are a frequent traveler.
  • you mostly care about functionality.
  • want a checked bag for extended stays.
  • are on a tight budget, OR
  • are willing to spend more on a premium suitcase.

Materials & Quality

CALPAK Brand Overview

CALPAK uses 100% polycarbonate for their hardshell suitcases—just like pricier brands like Monos and Away. If you’ve been eyeing these uber-trendy suitcases, but can’t quite justify the spend, CALPAK may be a great option for you.

Samsonite uses a wide range of materials for their suitcases. Budget models are made with ABS or polypropylene, both of which are weaker than polycarbonate. The high-end Samsonite models use fancy high-tech materials that are even stronger than polycarbonate.

CALPAK uses double spinner wheels, which are stronger than single spinners. Samsonite also uses double spinner wheels on everything except a few of their cheapest models.

That is pretty much the pattern you’ll see across the board when comparing CALPAK and Samsonite. Samsonite’s low-end models are cheaper and less durable than CALPAK, but Samsonite’s higher-priced models are stronger and use better components.

Samsonite scored 7.9 on average for Build Quality—a bit higher than CALPAK’s 7.5 Build Quality score. Remember, though, that is an average from every suitcase we tested from each brand.

Design & Features

 

Calpak Design

If you care about style, CALPAK is a pretty clear winner. Their suitcases are sleek, minimalist, and on-trend. I especially love the super dialed-back look of the Hue Carry-On. This type of chic hardside luggage design has become really popular in recent years as a bunch of new luggage startups like Away, Monos, and July hit the scene. CALPAK keeps up with the best of them.

From the minimal Hue to the vintage-style TRNK, each piece has some personality built in, whether you prefer flashy or understated. Plus, they’re all available in a wide range of fun colors.

Honestly, style is one of the main reasons to choose CALPAK over Samsonite.

Not that Samsonite cases look bad, they just don’t have quite the same dialed-in, Instagram-ready look. Samsonite’s style tends to lean either toward professional or techy. If you’re headed on a business trip, something like their Elevation Plus Carry-On may fit in better than a colorful CALPAK bag.

Once you get past the surface, all CALPAK suitcases are pretty much identical. Inside they have a zippered divider with a few mesh pockets on one side and a set of elastic compression straps on the other. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. I would probably recommend buying a few packing cubes to stay organized, though.

There are only a few models that diverge from this basic design. Their front pocket carry-ons (available for the Hue or Ambeur styles) include an external zippered pocket that’s perfect for a laptop or tablet and has a few smaller pockets inside for things like a passport, phone, boarding pass, and notebook. Their softside models (like the Terra 45L) also have more pockets to keep smaller things tidy.

In general, though, if you prefer more pockets and organization, you’ll be happier with Samsonite’s Outline Pro than with anything from CALPAK. For the same price as a CALPAK suitcase, you can get a much more organized and functional design.

Samsonite has a huge range of products with very different designs, and it seems like their designers are always coming up with new innovative features, like built-in packing cubes and wireless charging pocket on the Just Right Carry-On or the included folding garment storage in the Samsonite Pro. There’s even a model that has built-in LED lights to keep you visible at night on city streets.

Basically, if you want a certain feature, Samsonite probably has it.

Samsonite is more practical, and the organization features make it easier to pack. Samsonite scored 8.9 for Ease of Use, where CALPAK only scored 7.5. Samsonite also scored slightly higher for functionality.

Even though CALPAK focuses on style and didn’t score as high in our ratings, their suitcases work well during real-world travel. Still, if style isn’t the most important thing, and you want more advanced features, Samsonite has more to offer.

Value for Your Money

Samsonite Value

Both CALPAK and Samsonite scored very well in our Price-to-Performance category: 8.7 for CALPAK and 8.6 for Samsonite. If you want to get a great bang for your buck, either brand is an excellent choice.

CALPAK really shines in terms of the sheer value and quality you get for the money. Their luggage is pretty comparable to brands like Monos or July—you get the same polycarbonate shell material and sleek aesthetic—but it costs significantly less.

If you like the modern, trendy polycarbonate suitcase designs, CALPAK is pretty much the lowest-priced option out there.

That said, if you’re on a really tight budget, Samsonite does have cheaper models than CALPAK, especially if you find them on sale, which is common.

Warranty and Buying Experience

CALPAK’s warranty is not great compared to the competition. They only have a 2-year limited warranty, where many similar brands have lifetime warranties. I think this is one of the places where CALPAK is cutting costs to sell their suitcases for cheaper. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to decide if saving money or having a great warranty is more important.

Samsonite does better, with a 10-year warranty on most models. They also have a pretty good reputation for replacing or repairing suitcases under warranty, so if you want that peace of mind, Samsonite is probably the better choice.

Brand Impact & Sustainability

If you care about buying sustainable products and reducing your impact on the environment, you’ll want to choose Samsonite over CALPAK. Neither brand is outstanding when it comes to sustainability, but Samsonite scored significantly higher for our Brand Impact category: 6.2. CALPAK only scored 4.5.

Samsonite uses recycled materials for most of their suitcases, and their Essens and Maxsum Eco models use 70% recycled material for the hard shell. Samsonite also has programs to reduce carbon footprint, use more sustainable energy, and support fair working rights. The brand still has a long way to go, but those are steps in the right direction.

CALPAK doesn’t use recycled materials and has virtually no sustainability initiatives in place. Their focus is making good products at an affordable price rather than making those products good for the environment.

Final Thoughts

The debate between CALPAK and Samsonite ultimately comes down to this: do you prioritize style or practicality more?

CALPAK is the cheapest brand selling trendy, well-built polycarbonate luggage right now. The main draw is the dialed-in style, so if aesthetics are important to you, you’ll probably be happier with CALPAK. Their luggage is also well-built and well-designed, so you won’t be sacrificing on function.

Samsonite suitcases are just a bit more practical, though. They are sturdier, have more pockets and features, and come with a better warranty. If you travel for work (or just travel a lot), you’ll probably prefer Samsonite’s reliability.

Here’s one last question that may help you decide: what are the odds you’ll be taking photos with your luggage on your next trip?

CALPAK vs Samsonite FAQs

Is CALPAK or Samsonite Better?

Choosing between CALPAK and Samsonite depends on your priorities: CALPAK for style and modern designs, Samsonite for durability, variety, and global warranty.

Is CALPAK luggage a good brand?

Yes, CALPAK is renowned for its stylish, functional luggage (including carry on luggage) with innovative features like 360-degree spinner wheels. They offer great value and durability.

Is a CALPAK carry-on too big?

CALPAK carry-ons are designed to meet most airline size restrictions.

Is Samsonite the best luggage?

Samsonite is highly regarded for its quality, innovative luggage solutions, and global warranty, making it a top choice among frequent travelers.

Which brand of luggage is the most durable?

Samsonite‘s use of polycarbonate and ballistic nylon materials often gives it an edge in longevity.

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Foster

Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.
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