travelpro maxlite 5 soft luggage carry on blue

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Review (From an Airline Employee)

As an airline employee and frequent traveler, having quality luggage is a must. Our bags travel pretty extensively and need to withstand a lot of wear and tear. We’ve been fans of the Travelpro brand for years, and recently when it was time to replace our old luggage, we went straight to Travelpro. This time we decided to try the Travelpro Maxlite 5 suitcases. We did a lot of research before purchasing this luggage and are exploring whether it’s a good buy.

Is Travelpro a good brand?

Travelpro luggage blue soft

Before getting to the specifics of the Maxlite 5, why should you consider Travelpro over other luggage brands? Travelpro is a popular brand due to the quality and durability of luggage. They offer a wide variety of features, sizes, and designs to meet the specific needs of all travelers. You can choose from the hard shell, soft shell, carry-on sized, checked bag sized, spinners, and rollaboard. Travelpro is the luggage choice of flight crews everywhere, which speaks to the quality. If flight crews opt for this brand, you know it has to hold up to rigorous travel. Travelpro bags are even put through rigid testing to ensure they are putting reliable luggage out into the world.

Design and Features of the Travelpro Maxlite 5

I’ll get into more of the specifics, but at a high level, these are some of the biggest factors.


The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is designed with frequent travelers in mind. For starters, it is incredibly lightweight. The Maxlite 5 21″ weighs only 5.4 lbs. Travelpro does make heavy bags – in fact, our previous bags were on the heavier side. But this time we wanted lightweight and we got it with the Maxlite 5. Choosing a lightweight bag means it won’t be quite as durable as say, the Travelpro Platinum Elite, but it’s surprisingly durable for how light this thing is.

Travelpro Maxlite H2O Guard suitcase

H2O Guard

Another feature we love is the water-resistant coating to protect your bags from the elements. If you’re anything like us and it always rains on your vacations, this is a really great selling point. The material is thick and durable, but it’s still able to repel water. We lugged these bags through the rain in Japan and everything on the inside remained completely dry. They call it the H2O Guard.


The bag also has a spacious main compartment with adjustable straps to keep your clothes secure during travel. Plus, it has multiple pockets on the outside, one of which you can slide a laptop or tablet into. Our previous bags had a shocking amount of space for being carry-on size, so we were looking for something similar. After trying the Travelpro Maxlite Air, we discovered we needed more space and instead opted for this bag. It has the additional space we wanted to maximize our packing.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 luggage blue inside

Checked Bag Size or Carry-On?

The classic debate: should you get a carry-on-sized bag or the bigger, checked bag? If you go for the checked bag, you’ll get the additional packing room, but you’ll be subject to checked bag fees. If you instead choose the carry-on size, you’ll have less space, but your bag can come on the plane with you.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 is a Carry On

We travel on standby, so for us, carry-on luggage is non-negotiable. But even if we had a more traditional approach to travel, I think I’d still pick a carry-on-sized bag. I love how light and easy it is to maneuver through airports. I also don’t love the checked bag fee game.

The benefit of having the checked bag size is you can pack multiple people in a single bag and not have as many pieces of luggage to wheel around. But honestly, we’ve been able to pack some trips for two using just this bag. And when we traveled to Japan for two weeks, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 was large enough to fit all my clothes.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 packing cubes purple

It comes down to personal preference, carry-on or checked, but if you are looking for carry-on luggage, this is a great option.

Spinners or Rollaboard?

Our previous luggage was the two-wheeled, rollaboard style. This time around, we wanted spinners. What are spinners? Spinner luggage has four “spinner” wheels that rotate 360 degrees and an upright design that allows the bag to be rolled more smoothly. With all the traveling we do, I’m surprised it took us this long to get spinner luggage. I just never understood the hype. But now that we have them, I don’t think we’ll ever get two-wheeled luggage again.

Rollaboard luggage has a tendency to fall or flip over when you’re navigating it through an airport. And it’s an added annoyance. Spinners make it so much easier to maneuver your luggage smoothly.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 spinners wheels

The fact that you can move your luggage in an upright position also means you can stack other bags on top and it’s easy to roll it around. Whether you get a Travelpro bag or not, I highly recommend getting the spinner design over the two-wheeled rollaboard style. I’m convinced.

Hard or soft-sided luggage?

Another area where everyone seems to have opinions – do you go with the hard shell or soft-sided luggage?

On the one hand, hard-sided can better protect what’s inside your suitcase. And many styles are very durable. They can get thrown around in the plane and take hits without getting damaged. The downside is that they can’t be squeezed and pushed into tight spaces as easily, like the overhead bin space on a plane.

Soft-sided Maxlite 5

The Maxlite 5 is soft-sided luggage. You don’t have that thick shell to protect your belongings and soft-sided luggage can stain easier. But we prefer soft-sided luggage because it’s less rigid so you can squeeze in extra items and it will expand a bit.

You can squeeze it into the overhead bin space more easily, it’s light, and it has extra pockets on the outside that a lot of hard-sided luggage doesn’t have.

Travelpro soft-sided luggage

We don’t really put anything in our bags that would need extra protection from bumps, so for us, this is a clear choice. I love the fabric on this bag. It’s thick and high quality without being heavy.

If you prefer the same lightweight style as the Maxlite 5, but you’d rather have hard-sided luggage, check out the Travelpro Maxlite Air. The grandparents have these and love them. They are affordable, have a tougher shell, and have two interior panels. I find it to have a little less packing space than the Maxlite 5 though.

Pros and Cons of Maxlite 5

We’ve gone through some of the features and now it’s time to take a look at some of the advantages vs. disadvantages. If you’re on the fence, weigh these and decide what’s most important to you.

The Pros

  • Lightweight: probably the lightest luggage we’ve ever owned at just over 5 pounds.
Travelpro Maxlite 5 interior pocket storage
  • Versatile: extra interior and exterior pockets, plus carry handles on the top and side.
  • Small, but mighty: the inside has quite a bit of space, while the size of this luggage meets most carry-on size requirements. It amazes me the amount of stuff I can pack in here, given its size.
  • Spinner design: the spinners make it so easy to maneuver this bag. It feels smooth and does tip over like other bags we’ve tried.
  • Colors: most bags have one color choice, but the Maxlite 5 has 13 color options. We have the orchid pink purple and ensign blue, and we love them!
travelpro luggage colors
  • Price: you get the Travelpro name, but they only cost $144 – $169. Sometimes Amazon will run a sale on them for an even cheaper price.

The Cons

  • The wheels don’t feel as durable as the rest of the bag: what you make up for in weight, you lose in toughness. Since this bag is so lightweight, they didn’t use the strongest materials on the wheels. They navigate well, but they don’t feel as durable as some high-end models. Still, we’ve been using them for months and they have yet to break or chip in any way.
  • Smaller size: this bag is going for lightweight and easy to get around. If you want something bigger, Travelpro has larger sizes for you.
Travelpro Maxlite 5 sizes
  • It may not meet international carry-on bag standards: select international carriers have more stringent carry-on size restrictions. You may not have any issues at all, and most American carriers will be fine. But every airline is different, so if you plan to do a lot of international travel, look ahead at the size requirements. Or you can opt for the 19″ Maxlite 5 or the 20″ Maxlite 5.

The Full Travelpro Maxlite Collection

One thing I really like about Travelpro is that they offer collections. When you’re researching luggage, you may be considering an option that includes a set. Luggage sets can give you some versatility depending on the type of trip you’re taking. The Travelpro Maxlite collection includes sets, or you can DIY your own set. Earlier I mentioned the hard side Maxlite luggage, but they also offer weekender bags, backpacks, and totes under the Maxlite name. Here are some of our favorite pieces in the Maxlite collection:

travelprp maxlite soft collection

What’s the Verdict?

The Travelpro Maxlite 5 has many benefits for frequent travelers, but does it meet your needs? If you prioritize lightweight, carry-on size, spinners, and Travelpro quality, then the Maxlite 5 may be the perfect carry-on for you. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option or need a larger bag, other options may be a better fit.

travelpro maxlite 5 soft luggage carry on blue

For us, we love these bags. Granted, we’ve had this luggage for less than a year so I can’t comment on the long-term durability. I will say, it doesn’t feel as durable as some of the other Travelpro bags, but it also doesn’t have the higher price tag. When choosing luggage you’ll likely have to compromise some on weight or durability. Lightweight is the most important feature for us as frequent travelers. As standby travelers, we’re often taking multiple flights. And as a family of 5, we are traveling with multiple bags. We love how easy these bags are to lift in and out of the overhead bins. And the ease of maneuvering through the airport.

If your travel style is anything like ours, you’ll probably love the features of this luggage. If you’re still not sure, check out the Travelpro comparison guide to see what other options are out there.

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