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For the longest time, my backpack was my one reliable piece of luggage that I travelled with. But it’s not that practical for shorter trips, which is where the Nere Wonda suitcase comes in. When I saw the sales at Strandbags for Cyber Monday, I quickly locked in on the idea of getting a Nere suitcase.
I will admit, I had never heard of Nere before. Nere is the home brand line of luggage for Strandbags (an Australian luggage and handbag retailer), taking over for their old Flylite range. Now, I could have shelled out the extra money and gotten an Antler or Samsonite case. But at first glance the 65cm Wonda seemed to hit the ideal mark of price/quality and I wasn’t expecting to need it all that much.
Here is my review of my Nere suitcase after testing it out extensively during my trip to Japan and Korea. Please note, the Nere Wonda line has been replaced by the Nere Stori line. They’re practically identical except for the external design. If you just want the short version of my review, here it is: affordable and no complaints.
Surprising Amount of Storage
I originally bought the 65cm Nere Wonda suitcase for use on short trips, say for one week. Turns out, it worked just fine for a 1.5 month trip. I saw very few tourists on my trip with smaller cases than mine. Plus I wasn’t even using the expander. Overall, I was really impressed with now much I could carry in it.
In terms of sizes, the 65cm case is the middle child of Nere’s luggage ranges. Its role is basically to be the smaller option for checked-in luggage. So no, you can’t take this carry on, but once you realize how much it fits you’ll understand why.
Storage in this 65cm Nere suitcase is 63L that can be expanded to reach 75L. My trusty backpack offers 65 litres of storage, so there’s really very little difference in storage. As for weight, my backpack can regularly weigh up to 15kg, while the case fully packed weighed about 12kg. And that’s taking the case’s 4kg starting weight, winter clothes, and a pair of boots inside into account.
The big difference though is that the Nere suitcase is much more compact and portable than my pack. That’s because it is designed to maximise internal space and does a great job of compressing your clothes without threatening to bust open. Its compact nature meant it was much easier sliding the case into storage compartments on trains/buses than I normally find with my lumpy backpack.
A Useful Internal Layout
What really helps with the capacity of the Nere Wonda is its internal layout. The suitcases ensure there is little-to-no waster space, unlike some similar small-to-mid size cases I’ve temporarily used. Usually it’s the telescopic handle that interferes with the space, but it’s barely noticeable here.
Inside you have two compartments, that meet in the middle at the zipper. One side is strapped down while the other can be zipped off entirely. There also several smaller pockets with zippers to stow away smaller items, documents, etc. Two of the pockets are mesh and one isn’t, giving you options if you want things visible or not.
I liked having the two spaces rather than one big one as you have greater access to everything when the case is open, but you can use the sides to organize your belongings. The way they come together also means there’s give and take if one side is fuller than the other.
Durability and Quality
Travel isn’t always gentle, especially on luggage. I rarely have things in my checked-in luggage that are fragile, so a hard case has never been essential to me. I’m not sure whether the Nere’s hard case was necessary either, but it definitely stood up to the rigors of regular transit/travel.
Aside from a few scuff marks and perhaps a small dent, it looks perfectly fine. Besides the shell, the two parts most likely to suffer from wear and tear are the wheels and handle. The spinner wheels coped fine with my frequent long walks to accommodation. Mind you, Japan and Korea may not have offered the greatest challenge; no cobblestones or gravel tracks.
I will admit I was worried about the telescopic handle at first as it felt a little flimsy fully extended. However, it coped just fine through vigorous use getting to and from metro and train stations. I even lifted the case with the handle extended more than I should have and nothing bad happened.
Of the other furnishings of the case, like the zips and TSA lock, I have no complaints. The side handle is a bit rigid and not easy to grab quickly, but that’s likely to keep it streamlined and less prone to damage. That’s a minor complaint at best.
Clean Cut Look and Unremarkable Design
I’m going to be honest, the look of the case is the least important element of the case to me. It looks like most other regular suitcases. You wouldn’t confuse it for a luxury or designer suitcase and that’s because it’s not.
It is and looks like most other affordable suitcase. But I wouldn’t say it looks cheap or low-quality either; you shouldn’t feel embarrassed wheeling it around. They look no different to Antler’s cases and not much more basic than Samsonite’s, and yet they’re at least $100 cheaper.
The only real downside is that in such a normal colour, it looks no different to many other people’s luggage. I do recommend distinguishing it in some way to avoid it getting confused with others. The range of colours for Nere cases is pretty extensive; just go to the website and see if you want to pick out a more noticeable colour.
Nere Suitcase Review Summary
It should be clear that I’ve been satisfied with my experience using the Nere Wonda 65cm case. It supported a much longer trip than I anticipated and held up just fine. The following trip I went back to my backpack as I thought it would be more appropriate, but there were plenty of times where I missed the ease of the suitcase.
I will say, that even if I did encounter a problem with my case, there’s always Strandbags’ warranty. The cases come with a 10 year warranty and I’ll keep you posted if I ever need to use it. While I’m certainly glad I saved money on it with the Cyber Monday sale, I wouldn’t feel bag paying regular price knowing what I do know.
Have you used a Nere or Flylite suitcase before? Does this Nere review have you planning for the next Strandbags sale? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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