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If you’ve ever lived in a small space, like a wee London flat or a 400-square-foot “one-bedroom apartment” in Los Angeles, you know that storing luggage is no easy feat. I vividly remember ascending up the sixth-floor walkup I shared with two roommates in New York City and trying to tuck my carry-on bag under a full-size bed — to no avail. The suitcase ultimately became an end table in my living room because I literally had nowhere else to put it. (I once tucked it in the shower when guests came over!)

Here’s the truth: We all need luggage, whether we’re heading to a work conference, packing for a girls’ trip or exploring the world on an open-ended trip. And while duffels, garment bags and backpacks are more compact, my travel preference is always a hard-shell rolling suitcase because they’re so much easier to transport. The downside, of course, is that they’re big, bulky and take up an exorbitant amount of real estate, which is hard to justify when you don’t have much of it to spare.

Hence why Rollink, dubbed by the company as “the world’s slimmest collapsible luggage,” piqued my interest. I tested out the suitcase to see if the collapsing is all a gimmick or if it actually could make a difference for small-space dwellers, and to see how it stacks up to other suitcases on the market.

What we loved about it

While I was intrigued by Rollink, the idea of collapsible luggage sounded, if I’m being honest, a bit gimmicky. But once I got my hands on the suitcase and tested it out, I’m happy to report that I’ve flip-flopped — the product is functional and practical.

The brand’s main Flex Vega line is available in three sizes ranging from a petite carry-on ($185) for quick trips to a slightly larger carry-on ($199) and finally a medium-sized checked option ($249) for a week or longer. Rollink offers a second collection of suitcases dubbed Flex Aura that are slightly fancier and more expensive. The main difference between the Flex Vega and Flex Aura lines is that the Aura has a mesh interior pocket and an exterior laptop pocket, plus an overall aesthetic that is meant to be a bit more elegant for posh travelers. But all of them collapse to just 2 inches thick.

For this review, I tested the Flex Vega Cabin Plus Suitcase ($199), which measures 21.6 inches long by 15.7 inches wide by 9 inches deep when expanded. When in its expanded, non-collapsed setting, it has a 45-liter packing volume — roomy enough to store up to five days’ worth of clothes and travel gear (blow-dryer, makeup bag, jewelry case and more), but still small enough to be a carry-on and fit in an airplane’s overhead bin. Plus, it’s lighter than many other hard-shell carry-on bags on the market. At just 5.1 pounds, it’s the lightest bag we’ve tested.

Coming in at just 2 inches thick, the Rollink Flex Vega line has the durable polycarbonate shell of a traditional hard suitcase paired with a soft, water-resistant fabric that expands when in use. But once your trip is over, the suitcase can fold flat and be slipped under a bed or hung in a closet (it’s got a top handle perfect for hanging).

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So, how does the collapsing Rollink work? The luggage’s interior features three sturdy flaps that can be lifted and Velcroed to the bottom panel of the suitcase, thus creating four taut sides, opening up lots of room for packing.

Incredibly intuitive to “set up” — literally all you have to do is Velcro the three flaps and voila, you have a full-sized suitcase — the Flex Vega Cabin Plus’s hard outer shell is super sturdy and will withstand most of the abuse inflicted upon it during travel. It also has an exterior side pocket that’s perfect for keeping necessities like a water bottle or smartphone close by, which I appreciated.

The real test, however, came when I tried to store the suitcase under my bed, which has a low frame just 5 inches above the floor. Once collapsed flat and secured with the included compression strap, the Flex Vega Cabin Plus slid right under without a problem.

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All Rollink suitcases have two ultra-quiet coated wheels, a height-adjustable telescoping aluminum handle and the ability to stand upright even when collapsed flat. Oh, and for anyone who may be heading on a major shopping excursion, you can pack a Flex Vega suitcase inside a bigger piece of luggage, using it on your return trip to corral your newfound purchases.

What we didn’t like about it

While the suitcase is a good option for apartment dwellers who want to minimize the space their luggage occupies, there are some drawbacks to the Rollink. First and foremost, I’d say that it is relatively bare-bones. The bag I tested didn’t have interior pockets or a compression system like you might find in some other standard suitcases. Instead, the interior is just an empty cavity for storing your goods, which was fine by me, as I’m a packing cube devotee. But if you’re someone who prefers a lot of bells and whistles in their luggage, this might not be the suitcase for you.

Another downside to the Rollink is the wheel system. While the wheels are quiet when you’re pulling your bag around a flat surface, there are only two of them and they’re not spinner wheels. In other words, you have to drag the suitcase behind you instead of rolling it right beside you — not ideal for travelers who like to maneuver through the airport with their suitcase gliding by their side.

Personally, I found these issues to be minor considering the brand’s main selling point is a big one — it collapses flat to just 2 inches thick.

How it compares to other hard-shell carry-ons we tested

Best overall hard-shell carry-on luggage
A solid option for those who live in small spaces
A luxury option for a hard-shell carry-on bag
What we loved about it

It has everything you want from a hard-shell carry-on bag. You'll get maximum durability, four wheels for easy gliding, thoughtful organization and design touches and a chic design, all at a fair price.

This is a great option for travelers who want to minimize on the space their luggage takes up at home. The collapsible features really shine and the sleek design is on par with other higher-end suitcases.

This bag looks nice — we love it for its design and luxury feel. Plus, it's made from a flexible polycarbonate material with comfortable handles and an easy brake system.

What we didn't like about it

The top and side carrying handles are a bit stiff, and the telescopic handle can be wobbly.

The two-wheeled design doesn't make for seamless gliding, and the design of the bag is pretty bare-bones.

It's heavier than most bags we tested and can be quite bulky, especially when it comes to storage.

Key specs

21.7" high x 13.7" wide x 9" deep; 7.1 pounds

21.6" high x 15.7" wide x 9" deep; 5.3 pounds

20.25" high x 14.25" wide x 9.5" deep; 9.3 pounds

Price $275 $199 $222.99

The bottom line

When you’re considering a new suitcase, you have to take a lot into consideration and find the option that best suits your needs. If you’re looking for lots of pockets and compartments to organize your belongings, the Rollink probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a way to pack everything without taking up too much space at home, we think the Rollink is a good option.

The Flex Vega Cabin Plus is sturdy and roomy and truly a game changer for small-space dwellers, making it well worth the investment.

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