A woman walks through a train station with carry-on luggage

Delsey vs Samsonite: Ultra-Lightweight Carry-On Luggage

TRAVEL PLANNING

In search of cabin luggage light enough for me to lift into an overhead bin

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When you tend to overpack, as I do, choosing ultra lightweight luggage is a savvy start to smarter packing. I wanted to find the best lightweight carry-on bag, so matched up Delsey vs Samsonite. Was there a clear stand-out in budget-friendly luggage under 6 pounds?

I’d had my existing carry-on bag for eight years, a soft-sided Samsonite with lots of pockets and the ability to expand, which I liked. It was still in good condition, but it was too heavy, almost 10 pounds, empty. 

I was increasingly struggling with this heavyweight carry-on. It seemed imprudent to rely on strangers to assist me, when my bag teetered precariously as I struggled to get it into the airplane overhead bin. It was time for some ultra lightweight luggage.

Susan sits on her Samsonite carry on which weighs 10 pounds
My Samsonite had held up well, but weighed 10 pounds, empty

How Light is Ultra Lightweight Luggage?

I wanted a hard-sided carry-on this time and it had to be a four-wheel spinner (much easier to move around than two-wheels), and some interior pockets would be nice. I needed a durable bag but didn’t want to invest in top-of-the-line luggage, so I set a budget of US$250 and less would be great as well.

I had no idea what the options were in “ultra-lightweight” and was pleasantly surprised to find there are several carry-on bags that fit the definition which is 6 pounds or less. That was almost half the weight of my current carry-on!

I originally planned to compare the four biggest luggage companies, but decided to leave out American Tourister and Travelpro. American Tourister has great price points, but I don’t like their styles as much. And Travelpro is better known for soft-sided bags; I wanted a hard-sided. That left Delsey vs Samsonite.

Samsonite & Delsey Compared

Samsonite

Delsey

HISTORY

Samsonite was founded in Denver, USA in 1910 by the Shwayder brothers who saw the need for durable, well-constructed travel trunks.

HISTORY

Delsey was founded in Paris in 1946 by Emile DeLahaye. Initially it was a producer of hand-made camera cases.

KNOWN FOR

A huge variety of durable and affordable luggage. Samsonite is the world’s largest luggage company and also owns Tumi and eBags.

KNOWN FOR

Hard-sided bags and interesting styles with a European flair. 

The Lightweight Carry-On

The Lightweight Carry-On

KEY FEATURES

  • 6.5 pounds
  • 23″ x 15″ x 10″ 
  • Black, Navy, Purple, White, White/Grey
  • Made of polycarbonate
  • 10-year warranty

KEY FEATURES

  • 5 pounds
  • 21″ x 12″ x 10″
  • Blue or Grey
  • Made of Polycarbonate
  • 10-year warranty

PROS

  • Color Choice
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Smooth Zipper 
  • Security Feature
  • 1″ expansion

PROS

  • Sleek style
  • Deep dimensions
  • Security Feature
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Slightly heavier than Delsey

CONS

  • Zipper stuck

Lightweight Carry-On Bags - Size Limits

It turns out not all lightweight carry-on bags fall within airline size limits, which vary quite a bit. In Europe, permitted carry-on sizes are often smaller. I live in Denver and United Airlines has a hub here, so it’s the one I fly most often. United’s carry-on limit is 22” high x 14” wide x 9” deep. Since I also fly Air Canada (I’m from Toronto), Lufthansa and Air France, I checked their dimensions as well. They were similar to United.

TIP: Check carry-on luggage size limits with  the airline(s) you fly most often, when considering a new luggage purchase.

Delsey and Samsonite carry-on bags stand side by side

Delsey vs Samsonite​

Delsey - Ultra lightweight luggage

Delsey is a French company that dates to 1946; it began as a manufacturer of leather camera cases. It’s based in Paris and second in the global luggage market, behind Samsonite. I was aware of Delsey but have never owned one of their bags.

I pulled up the Delsey website and immediately noticed the Chatelet Air. Named after a district in Paris, it has a pretty two-tone exterior and I thought the off-white with a contrasting tan accent was tres, tres chic. However, it weighed almost 8 pounds, not ultra-lightweight, so the pretty Paris bag was a “non”. I might consider it another time.

A Delsey Turenne carry-on bag outside of Nordstrom Rack
A Delsey Turenne 20" carry on

The Delsey Turenne 20” - 5 pounds

Retail $225 – $299

I looked next at Delsey’s ultra lightweight carry-on: The Turenne. It was introduced in 2018 and appeared to have everything I was looking for: a sleek design, double spinner wheels and most importantly, it weighed only 5 pounds. It’s made of  impact-resistant polycarbonate, which is apparently the gold standard for durable and light.

So I purchased it and lifted it into the trunk of my car. I was amazed how light it was; my handbag often weighed more. Once home, I took it for a quick spin and found it was easy to maneuver and the retracting handle worked well and seemed sturdy.  I liked it so much I wondered if I even needed to consider a Samsonite. It’s my dream to live in Paris one day, so maybe French luggage was “a fait accompli”. 

Carry on bags stand next to each other

I weighed it with my luggage scale and it came in at exactly 5 pounds. It has a combination lock which allows you to set your own three-digit code, and it’s TSA-friendly, meaning it can be opened by the TSA, using a universal key. I don’t usually bother with locks but liked the idea of having one built in and since I am hoping to do more international travel, the lock seemed like a good feature. The handle moved up and down easily and it was a nice angled handle to hold; my smallish hand fit perfectly around it. 

Delsey uses what they call a Zip SECURITECH™ making zippers that are apparently highly durable. Unfortunately, I found the zippers challenging. I had to pull forcefully to get it to move and and it kept catching.

The Delsey Turenne has two equal-sized compartments with netted fabric covers in a nice blue that contrasted with the grey exterior. I liked the fabric because I could see what was underneath without having to zip it open. It comes with two detached fabric bags: one for shoes and one for laundry. 

There were no other internal compartments. Perhaps because extra fabric pockets and zippers add to the weight, so I could live without them to get a lighter bag.  Also, it doesn’t expand but I am ok with that as well. Although it’s hard-sided, it had some flex to it; apparently a little flex in this rigid material is what you want.

I quite liked the Delsey Turenne. I couldn’t get over how light it was, it’s very attractive. But the zippers were a concern. Would they loosen up?  Well functioning zippers seem like an essential feature. 

A woman holds a carry-on bin the airport

Ultra Lightweight - The Best Samsonite Carry On

Retail $199

NOTE: As of late 2023 the Samsonite NeoPulse that I originally tested and reviewed is hard to find. I am now comparing a similar option, the Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner. It weighs just slightly more at 6.5 pounds and has similar dimensions. It has fantastic reviews and is a Travel & Leisure best carry-on bag. $199.

Samsonite is the current leader in the luggage business and was founded in Denver in 1910The Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner comes in five colors.  It is heavier than the Delsey Turrene at 6.5 pounds, but is still considered a lightweight bag. The height is 23”, width is 15” and depth is 10”. This is slightly bigger than United Airlines dimensions but compatible with other, like Southwest Airlines (24x16x10).

 I have found most US airlines don’t measure roller bags so the slightly larger size of the Samsonite is likely not be an issue, within the US. And the bins that airlines use to check your luggage size, are slightly bigger than their stated limit. 

A quick trip around my living room found that it moved easily on the spinning wheels and the extendable handle seemed sturdy. The zipper also worked really well, opening and closing it was easy and smooth. The interior was divided into equal-sized compartments, each with a zipper closure to keep things contained. Like the Delsey, it had no interior pockets. In fact, they were virtually identical inside.

Delsey vs Samsonite - Packing a Carry-On for Paris

eiffel tower from trocadero

To compare Delsey vs Samsonite in action, I packed each of them for a fall weekend in Paris, an imaginary dry-run for a future holiday. I would pack a wardrobe for three nights/four days: Two pants, three blouses, two sweaters, one blazer, pajamas and toiletries. And I’d pack one pair of boots. I’d take one warm coat and wear it on the plane. 

Despite my tendency to overpack, I do strive to pack as light as possible for Europe travel. Carry-on’s are much easier than larger bags when you are riding trains and subways which are more the norm in Europe, versus North America, where we tend to take taxis. 

I’ve gone to France for a week, with only a carry-on, and while I did have fewer outfit options, the convenience of a smaller bag was great. For more packing tips see: Smart Pack Hacks: A Guide to Avoid Overpacking.

Packing for My Imaginary Trip to Paris

Wardrobe for a fall trip to Paris

I packed the Delsey bag first and because it is deeper there were a few different ways that my bulky toiletry bag and boots could fit in. Everything fit quite easily, which made me wonder what I was forgetting. I added an umbrella and a scarf and was satisfied that I had everything. Pretend packing is much less stressful than real packing. 

Delsey Turenne packed for Paris
The Delsey Turenne, packed for Paris
Delsey Turenne inside with compartments zipped
I liked that with the covers zipped I could still see what was where

I took everything out and re-packed it into the Samsonite NeoPulse.  The only difference in the interior was the stretchy strap that held things in. This seemed unnecessary given the compartments had covers that zipped closed, like the Delsey. 

The packing experience was similar and I was able to fit everything I wanted to take. I decided to weigh the bag, packed. It was 15.3 pounds; I was surprised that my items weighed more than ten pounds. Even packing light adds up.

Note the Samsonite Freeform has a slightly different interior than the NeoPulse that I orignally tested. One side has a fully enclosed zip cover and the other has a stretchy strap but no cover. See image below. 

Interior of a Samsonite carry-on bag packed with items. This model is the freeform carry-on spinner.
Interior of the Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner

Delsey vs Samsonite - Compared

And so, Samsonite vs Delsey, how do they compare? The  Samsonite is heavier but also larger in both height and width. That difference provides extra space in the Samsonite. 

I like the look of both bags. I found Samsonite’s top and side handles a little more comfy to hold and maneuverability was similar. 

Weighing Samsonite carry on luggage

The interiors were similar although I like that Delsey has a second side with a zippered cover.  They are both made of polycarbonate and have a 10-year warranty. It’s hard to know which would hold up better. The reviews I read were good on both although a few people complained of the telescoping handles breaking, in both cases. The handles seemed equally sturdy to me. 

The most significant difference was the zippers: the Samsonite was much easier to open and close, while I struggled with the zipper on the Delsey Turenne.

Delsey vs Samsonite - The Lightweight Champion

Winner - Samsonite

The truth is, I wanted to buy the Delsey. I liked the look of it and was keen to try a new brand. But the zipper was too big of an annoyance for me. I was afraid it might get worse with use, not better. 

So the Samsonite gets my vote in the Delsey vs Samsonite matchup.  The price seems very reasonable for the quality and I’m confident it will last. And best of all, at 6.5 pounds I can lift it into an overhead bin by myself. 

I’m thinking I might leave it packed for Paris. It feels like a good harbinger for a new year.

Luggage at Nordstrom Rack

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Away Carry on Bag in Blush set in a colorful living room with a striped rug
The AWAY Carry-on Bag in Blush

More Carry-on Luggage Recommendations

Another great hard-sided option is the AWAY Carry-On. It rolls like a dream and comes in 9 colors. It’s the New York Times Best Carry-On Pick. Full review coming soon. I also like Monos luggage. You can read more here: Monos Luggage Review.

Budget-Friendly Soft-Sided Carry On – Travelpro Maxlite 5 21” 

If a soft-sided bag is your preference, the  TravelPro Maxlite Spinner is a winner. It’s well-reviewed, expandable and weighs only 5.4 lbs. It also comes in 7 colors. I love the slate green. If I was looking for a budget-friendly soft-sided bag, this would be my pick. $169.99

The Luxe Bag – Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin

If you’re feeling spendy, the Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin bag might be for you. They are hand-made in Germany, weigh 4.9 pounds, (30% less than their standard luggage line), and come in three colors. The green is gorgeous. At $650-$700, I would be too upset every time my expensive suitcase got a scuff or dent. But it may be the perfect luggage for you.

 

4 Responses

  1. I have the same bag and Delsey will not respond to customer service requests. After many attempts, I have given up. Stay away, far, far away!!!

  2. Hi! I just purchased the monos plus in light blue. It’s beautiful but scuffs so easy. I was test packing it and I guess it hit the table and scuffed. Yes it came out with an eraser but this seems like “work” to keep it clean. And it’s heavy to lift over my head when filled. It’s pretty, rolls nice and packs well. I’m used to my 28 year old samsonite soft. No maintenance. Also I considered the Travelpro maxlight but thought the monos was prettier and does it hold more? Sometimes I do a 5 night trip and only bring carry on. Which is your favorite?Should I exchange for darker color or deal with scuffs or travelpro soft- but will it hold as much clothes as the monos? . I got the monos cover but this seems like a lot of “work”. And what’s the point of pretty if I have to cover it. I am also super hesitant to get the larger monos bc of the scuffs and dents. But I really want a matching set. Ugh. Would love your opinion!!!

    1. Hi there – I was able to clean my beige Monos bag with a solution of baking soda and soap. I love the Monos but think you can’t go wrong with either. If you decide to stick with Monos I would choose a darker color, so the scuffing isn’t such as issue, especially for a checked bag. (but check, there may be a shipping fee to return the one you have; maybe not if you are buying a new one. I have done a week in Europe with my Monos carry-on only. Either should work for that. The Monos is 7 pounds, so slightly heavier. You can double-check the capacity in liters on each website. Hope that hopes; happy travels!

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.

Susan

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