Victorinox Werks Traveler WT 5.0 20" Carry On Review
Luggage is a surprisingly serious commitment, particularly for those who spend a good amount of time on the road. In a worst case scenario, your bag can be like an old-timey “O Brother Where Art Thou” prison ball shackled to your leg: heavy, hard to transport, and inescapable. In a best case scenario, your bag can be your best friend: durable, dependable, and easy to travel with. It'll protect all of your stuff, look good, and be able to stand up to being overpacked and thrown around by baggage porters.
I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with the Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 WT 20” carry on, provided by Victorinox. Over the past few months it's been down the cobbled streets of the Azores, a chain of islands off the coast of Portugal, on the snowy streets of Zurich in Switzerland, and stateside in New Hampshire, Boston, and Washington D.C.
Between all of the airports, conveyor belts, and luggage compartments, it’s seen a fair amount of use. I feel comfortable saying that it's been thoroughly tested. Thankfully, this has revealed that it's a solid, dependable choice, and one of the best pieces of luggage that I've had the chance to test or own.
The Werks Traveler 20-inch (or WT 20 from here on) is 14 inches wide x 20 inches tall x 9 inches deep (or in metric ,36 cm x 51cm x 23cm). The bag also has the capacity to expand to a depth of 11-inches ( 28 centimeters), and as with virtually all bags, this is accomplished by using a simple external zipper. The WT 20 weighs 6.4 pounds (2.91 kilograms) and has three external zippered pockets in addition to the main zippered storage compartment. Its interior offers 2520 cubic inches of packing space, which works out to 41.3 liters.
What these numbers really mean is that the WT 20 is almost universally carry-on friendly. While the site Travel Made Simple has put together a fairly comprehensive chart of carry-on restrictions by airline, a quick look at three of the largest carriers in the United States tells us a great deal. Delta, American Airlines, and United all have carry-on size restrictions of 14-inches x 22-inches x 9-inches (36 x 56 x 23 centimeters), which syncs up almost perfectly with the dimensions of the WT 20. Most other airlines use very similar (if not identical) measurements, making this a good all-around choice for carry-on.
The fact that this bag is almost exactly the allowable size on major carriers is good news. It means that in its unexpanded state, your bag is occupying the most amount of room allowed. If you can fit it into your bag and it's not too bulgy, you can have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll have one less thing to worry about before your flight.
The fact that it expands also makes it more versatile. I'm a perpetual overstuffer of bags and it's not at all uncommon to see me cramming my suitcase into a compartment that's more than a couple of inches too small. If you're willing to skirt the law of the skies you can probably expand this baby and still get it into an overhead compartment without much trouble.
Build and Exterior
The WT 20 features a nylon exterior, rubber coated zipper pulls, and three rubberized handles which appear on the top, side, and bottom of the luggage. While this is a soft-bodied bag, the corners are well reinforced and the internal frame is rigid and sturdy. As with all bags, checked or not, the WT 20 is liable to get manhandled, and it is definitely possible to scuff the outer nylon. So far, it has stood up well to the abuses of travel. And all signs of wear are appropriate for the amount of handling that it experienced.
The bag's horizontal pull bar is activated by pressing a button recessed into the handle, and is adjustable to three different heights. I’m over 6 feet tall and I had no trouble pulling or maneuvering the bag. It seems well suited for people of a variety of heights.
This bag also features four dual-caster wheels, which makes it easy to pull and maneuver. Wheels are often one of the first things on a bag to go, and in this department the WT 20 does particularly well. The bag is well balanced and the wheels are made out of solid pieces of sturdy plastic. This is worth mentioning because the wheels on luggage are often coated with a second layer of rubber, almost as if they were miniature tires. This rubber can pit and peel off, which leaves bags unbalanced or downright unusable. This is not an issue for the WT 20.
The WT 20's exterior pockets are also well designed, although a bit oddly sized. The larger pocket has a large U-shaped zipper and features two separate storage areas. Victorinox bills this as a pocket that can fit a laptop of up to 15 inches, but I would be hesitant about putting sensitive electronics in an area that could be compressed or struck against a hard surface. The second pocket is just large enough to hold a boarding pass or other small assorted pieces of paper. A third pocket, which can almost be described as hidden, lies horizontal on the bag and is small. Both of the smaller pockets also do not have much depth, and would not be a good place to put anything too bulky. If you have documents, money, or boarding passes that you want to have easy access to, these smaller pockets are a good place to keep them though. The WT 20 also comes with a strap that you can use to hang a separate, smaller bag (such as a purse, small briefcase, or satchel) from the outside of the luggage. This is a pretty standard luggage feature, but it can come in handy for attaching a personal item that don't want to carry in your hands.
The WT 20's interior features two zippered mesh pockets, X-shaped compression straps, and an optional “Pack More Divider”. This divider helps to create a flat platform that you can place items on which you don't want to bend or fold, such as delicate clothing like dress shirts or a suit. As with most bags the X-shaped compression straps help to secure clothing and other larger items. One of the two interior pockets is on the inside of the bag's storage compartment, while the other takes up the entire inside of the lid. The interior of the bag is definitely attractive and features orange highlights. I felt comfortable storing fragile items such as bottles inside of this bag and I returned home without any damage to my possessions.
I was extremely pleased when traveling with the Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 20-inch bag. The bag is appropriately sized for carry-on and I didn't face any difficulties when attempting to place it in overhead bins. I typically prefer two-wheeled bags, as they're typically easier on cobbled or uneven streets, but the WT 20's four dual-caster wheels has me rethinking this preference. The interior and exterior of the bag are both attractive and durable, and the bag itself feels sturdy and well-constructed. While I didn't travel with a suit or other pieces of sensitive clothing, the Pack More System helped me to secure loose items into the main body of the bag, and kept things from tumbling around too much. It's not hard to recommend the WT 20 to those looking for a sturdy, well-constructed carry-on sized piece of luggage. I'm definitely considering more pieces from the same line and so is my wife, who has borrowed this bag for her own travel.
Disclosure: I received this product at no charge for consideration for review. That does not, however, change my opinion of the product as stated in the review.