“ Brand: John Lewis / Type: Hard Case / Trolley: 4 Wheels „
There are three sizes to choose from with this case and I own the medium which has a 69 litre capacity and cost me £84.99 during a sale at John Lewis which was a £20 reduction on the normal price according to the label. There is a larger version which is a 108 litres that would be fine for longer holidays but I was looking for something that would suit long weekend breaks while the smallest one available at 40 litres would only really suit a light traveler or for over night stays. All cases come with a five year guarantee.
What appealed to me about this case was the sturdy build quality combined with the light weight of it. It is a hard shelled case which gives your contents good protection against the vagaries of airport baggage handling, my case has completed three trips and it still looks in good condition with only a couple of marks on it. I have a dark vanilla colour case which is not the most attractive colour and does show the marks a bit more but it does stand out on the baggage carousel which helps when collecting it.
The pull out handle has three settings which is helpful so that it can be adapted for different arm lengths of the users and it is very comfortable to grip and use. The case is very stable when it is being wheeled along as it rests on four wheels that are moulded into the structure. There is also a side handle if you want to carry it without the wheels and for lifting and this is very strong and well designed as well as a handle on the top next to the extending handle.
Security wise there is a combination lock and separate zips as well. The only slight criticism that I do have with this case is that on the inside there is only one zipped mesh pocket compartment separate from the main storage area. I would have preferred a couple of options at least for separating some items from my clothes and general holiday items.
What I like about this case is how light it is when empty and yet it remains a well built sturdy piece of luggage. It is not cheap but it does feel like I will get a lot of use out of this case as it is so well made.
I can imagine that many people, myself included, havn't bought a suitcase for many years. Unfortunately you will soon find that no longer can we pay our £10 or £20 and get a decent quality branded suitcase that will keep our belongings secure during the journey to our destination. I ventured into Matalan thinking I will surely find a bargain but no, £40+ for anything considerable enough to hold my belongings. At this point I realised I wouldn't get anything but a cheap, poor quality suitcase for the budget in mind so I had to change tact. I decided to just accept that i would either have to comprimise on quality or budget - I opted to stretch my budget providing I could find a good quality case.
John Lewis have a good range of suitcases and the 'Fuji Lite' design was just what I was looking for (albeit at a more modest price). John Lewis sell them in 3 sizes - small(£79), medium(£105) and large(£119). The small case was just too small (40litres) for my requirements, but it would have made a good weekend case or for people traveling light. The medium(69litres) and large cases are more suited to week and fortnight holidays, and so I bought the large case with a capacity of 108litres.
I am always reassured when buying from John Lewis as their returns policy is favourable, but you must be aware that by overloading your case will void your guarantee - the 5 year guarantee covers ahainst faulty workmanship. The build quality is also to a very high standard, the wheels dont feel flimsy and after a few times through the airport system all seems intact.
The case has hard panels on each side for added protection of your goods, and this also means that even if the case isn't full it will stay in one shape. One problem with a flat, half empty conventional case is that it can wear easier but there are no problems here on that front. The ABS shell is reassuring and is a good example of the John Lewis quality across the range. The large case comes with a pull-out handle to pull the case along the ground, along with a top handle for general carrying and a side handle to carry the case lengthways.
The case is lightweight and this helps when it comes to meeting the luggage allowances, and a press-button lock system coupled with 2-way zip and a fixed combination lock give good security.I did notice that the small case had just 2 wheels, but the other sizes do have 4 wheels so it can stand on its own wheels and as the wheels are on castors this offers good manoeuverability. The main compartment to the case has elasticated straps to hold your clothes in place and a mesh pocket with a zip in the top side of the suitcase.
I am thoroughly pleased with the workmanship and ease of use of this suitcase and will most certainly return to John Lewis in the future.
When it came to replacing old hand me down luggage recently I was in a quandry as to what was actually available without paying through the nose for it. It seems these days that travel suitcases are big business, no longer cheap and cheerful £75 "three level/triple sizes," taking centre stage but premium brands such as Samsonite and latterly Antler producing premium built suitcases and not afraid to charge an absolute fortune for the privilege! What am I talking about, here? A medium sized suitcase with wheels, a triple lock system and quality oozing from every edge shouldn't cost mega bucks but I was astounded to see prices from £300 to £700 for some suitcases that I would never imagine owning or using.
Initially then I researched suitcases on the Internet and came across a set of hard box impact resistant suitcases called the "John Lewis Fuji Lite," suitcases. Now these suitcases are not available to view on the John Lewis website and even though a quick email to John Lewis confirmed my suspicions that they can't list everything they have in store online, it remains a mystery to why a product like the "Fuji Lite," range isn't available to view. John Lewis obviously haven't done their homework; the suitcase in 2008 got a GHI/Good Housekeeping Institute seal of approval for being one of the best lightweight cases around, and infact the GHI online link was the only listing available to propose this product for buyers online. To my eyes the prices of £75 to £160 made much more sense even though the hard cases lack outer pockets, it was the test of the real products in my hand at John Lewis that made all the difference for the Fuji Lite series. At Christmas 2008 I purchased my very own "XL" large Fuji Lite suitcase at the cost of £155, last of the current series in speckled silver finish and with only a 5.1kg weight and 108 litres on offer, this case managed to take everything I needed for my first couple of months of contract teaching.
The Fuji Lite range however is designed around the now discounted Antler "Murello" series of 4-castor wheel fitted suitcases and lightweight acrylic PVC plastic build with padded and netted sections inside the base shells. The John Lewis brand name is sensibly stated at the top of the case on its front and in metal it sits understated without being overly ostentatious. Internally the order of the day is striped white or cream with grey stretch braces to keep everything from falling out whilst the netted section is helped by zips to close everything up. Although the cases are slightly wider than the norm, their appearance is very modern and stylish enough to look the business!
Thanks to its actual structure, the key to the John Lewis Fuji Lite range isn't its rather stylish mock brown silver chrome paint on the external body but its mix of lightweight plastic which is impact resistant helped by a middle perimeter of rubber seals acting as the main closure seal when the two halves come together. This gives the case extra "suspension" when the two doors are stitched up together by the two way zips fitted that have lug holes on the tops to slide and lock into the three teeth dial lock set at the top of the case at the side. Of course, outwardly this means there is no hard lock in place and you only have the two zips as the only means of protection locked into the three-lock combination code mechanism. However the design is a bit novel on the way the case closes. Thanks to the soft touch rubber, the soft edges with no hard edges in sight, the flexibility of closing is easier to function without having to sit on the suitcase or struggling to get things down in order for the case to shut. Haven't we all been there before? The thought whilst crossing unstable concrete with a trolley suitcase suddenly pops open because of the shudders it sends through the suitcase shell. The rubber seals also act as a flexible bend to the lids, which allow for more movement minimising any leakage of contents. I find the whole affair of lifting and shifting a lot easier than a traditional case and I would probably put it down to the extra comfort handles rather than the rubber seals although they themselves are wet proof from the rain and cover up the zip closure backing.
The grab handle at the back also has three stages of height on offer whilst the handle is very comfortable (both with gloves on or off) with no seams felt and a central lock button located on the top that moves easily to allow for the handle to telescopically fall back down into the rear of the case. On all three cases, the grab handles move easily with oiled precision and a feeling of substantial production which gives general good peace of mind.
A shoe bag also comes with the large and medium sized cases although it is a pity that no bag comes with the small size. The medium size is approximately 4.1kg empty and has 69 litres on offer (it cost £107) whilst the smaller case has a weight of just 3.1kg (lighter than a Miele S4000 vacuum cleaner at 4kg!) and a 40-litre capacity. It was the last purchase of the small case at £75 that has completed our new family and therefore replaces the old fashioned suitcases my mother has had to put up with, without the ease of wheels.
In terms of protection however the Fuji Lite series is particularly apt for unstable surfaces not just due to its full four point castor wheels but for the fact that on all four sides of the base there are permanently attached thick PVC corner bumpers that protect the base. This has been fully tested on the rigours of Edinburgh pavements (and if you have been to Edinburgh then you'll have seen the differences of the Old Town pavements compared to the New Town pavements) where constant angling where the case is made to fall down onto different surfaces means the edges of the case get the worst abuse. I have been pleasantly delighted with the Fuji Lite suitcases as a result and some people have looked back as I move the case to my sides with me as opposed to the rear angle that most trolley suitcases by default have to be pulled on. Even when made to do this I find the whole procedure very comfortable, as the wheels are able to pivot on every surface without worry of the case falling over when stationary.
When moving back to Edinburgh in early August however I was dismayed to find that the silver versions had indeed been phased out, to make way for the dark brownish gold painted cases, or as JL state, "Gun Metal Grey." The colour isn't really something I would go for however as it is a bit flashy against the darker speckled silver and the Gun Metal colour has a glossy and matt effect rolled into one layer. My mum however liked the colour and we decided to buy suitcases when and needed at the time. Three months after the purchase of the medium Fuji Lite case, another one with four castors I decided to buy the small case that only has two standard fixed wheels sadly and doesn't follow the fashion of four castors. Despite this I do approve of the small case having the same pull up and adjustable handle even though the second highest position isn't tall enough for my six-foot frame; the highest setting is however more appropriate here.
If there are a couple of downsides apart from its lack of info from John Lewis themselves and the minimal security offered by its miniscule zip holders and triple combo lock, then it is the silly transfers that are placed on the cases themselves at the time of purchase. Although I had to collect the cases from the JL delivery centres, all of them came in cardboard boxes that I could leave at the centre before taking the case with me either in its thin Polythene bag it came with, or just carry the case in my hand. The transfers that boldly advertise that the case is ultra lightweight are really difficult to move and already on the small case, the exterior shows signs of scraping where I tried to remove the rather large transfer quite unsuccessfully. As a result although the finish on the case is fantastic, it doesn't hide finger marks terribly well and scrapes and scratches can be made easily. The speckled silver Fuji Lite version stands up better and feels a bit more substantial and more robust as a result to occasional scrapes. Another downside could have been avoided by offering a click strap that allows suitcases like these to be "bolted" onto bus luggage storers or similar. I find with 4 castors that any suitcase has the ability to wander off particularly if the case has been put in its upright position. Adding a strap to the grab handle at the back could stop this from happening.
For travelling either for short or long distances, the Fuji Lite series by John Lewis is well priced against premium brands that are not afraid to charge more for similar capacities. The suitcases however are beautifully light to begin with, which makes all the difference when travelling, even when fully loaded up. Tie in the general soft curves and easy to grab handles and the whole idea of travelling with these cases means a relatively stress free time. Frankly that's how suitcases should be. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
Combination lock. Towing handle with 3 height options