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Away Carry-on Luggage Review: Testing Out Away’s New Suitcase Line

Away Carry-on Luggage Review

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updated: July 18, 2024
edited by Alyssa Sybertz

With airlines constantly jacking up prices and charging ever-more exorbitant baggage fees, many of us will only check our bags if it’s absolutely necessary. That means carry-ons have become more popular than ever, and Away have carved out a big niche for themselves in this space, offering high end, lightweight, hardside suitcases in a  range of fun colors. But are they really as good as everyone says? I decided to find out. 

For this review, I’ll be looking at three bags from the popular luggage brand’s latest line—updates of their endlessly popular Carry-On and Bigger Carry-On, and their newest large offering, the Trunk (which you would have to check, as it won’t fit in the overhead bin)—to see how they stand up to the best hardside luggage out there.

The Carry-On in Navy Blue

The Carry-On in Navy Blue

The Bigger Carry-On in Jet Black

The Bigger Carry-On in Jet Black

The Trunk in Tango Red

The Trunk in Tango Red

Specifications:

The Carry-On

  • Price: $315
  • Material: Impact-resistant polycarbonate shell, recycled polyester interior
  • Size: 21.7 inches high x 14.4 inches wide x 9 inches deep
  • Weight (empty): 7.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 39.8 liters/5-7 outfits/3-5 days (Note: Away gives capacity in number of outfits/days, which I feel is easier to visualize/understand than liters when it comes to a suitcase)
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Return policy: Free returns on unused items within 100 days
  • Colors: 9 (there is currently a 10th limited edition color available)

The Bigger Carry-On

  • Price: $335
  • Material: Impact-resistant polycarbonate shell, recycled polyester interior
  • Size: 22.7 inches high x 15.4 inches wide x 9.6 inches deep
  • Weight (empty): 7.9 lbs
  • Capacity: 47.9 liters/6-9 outfits/4-7 days
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Return policy: Free returns on unused items within 100 days
  • Colors: 10

The Trunk

  • Price: $475
  • Material: Impact-resistant polycarbonate shell, recycled polyester interior
  • Size: 31.3 inches high x 17 inches wide x 13.7 inches deep
  • Weight (empty): 12.1 lbs
  • Capacity: 107 liters/18-21 outfits/3+ weeks
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Return policy: Free returns on unused items within 100 days
  • Colors: 3

Unboxing and First Impressions

The first thing that strikes you as you slide each suitcase from its snug cardboard box is how light they are. Even the Trunk, at over two and a half feet high, weighs only just over 12 pounds. The second thing is the depth and consistency of the colors. The models I reviewed were black (the Bigger Carry-On), olive (the Trunk), and wave (the Carry-On), the latter being a deep and vibrant blue. Each bag’s interior perfectly matches the outside, seamlessly continuing the color across the lining, mesh pockets, and straps, with the interior zipper heads just a shade lighter to make them easier to spot. As an added bonus, each suitcase contains a polyester laundry bag and a luggage tag, also perfectly matched to the shade of the suitcase.

Pros and cons

As you’d expect with any product, Away’s bags have both advantages and disadvantages, which have been summarized here.

Pros:

  • Lightweight: As mentioned above, the bags are extremely light and easy to lift and maneuver. 
  • Colorful: Most of the suitcases are available in a variety of interesting color options, from plain matte black to bright, striking orange or glossy blue or garnet.
  • Durable: The hardshell covers survived their first trip–a four-hour flight–with no noticeable scratches or marks.
  • Organized: The multitude of internal pockets, zips, and straps make organizing and separating your belongings easy.
  • Secure: Each bag has a fully integrated, TSA-approved combination lock guaranteed to keep your belongings safe.

Cons:

  • Price: Away’s offerings are definitely on the higher side when it comes to cost, as most carry-on luggage falls in the $50 to $150 range.
  • No battery in these models: Considering that the included removable battery (from which you could charge your phone, etc.), was one of the reasons for the original Away carry-on’s viral success, it’s strange not to see it included in these updated versions (I asked Away about this, read on to find out what they said). 
  • Some color limitations: The Trunk is currently only available in three colors (black, olive, and seafoam)

Prices 

Key Features

Durable, lightweight shell

Made from impact-resistant polycarbonate, the shell is both light and sturdy.

TSA-approved combination lock

Integrated into the top of the suitcase, the zipper heads slot into place and can be locked tight for worry-free travel.

lock

360 degree spinner wheels

No more abrupt stops or wobbles when you dash to your gate. The 360 degree wheels offer a smooth, maneuverable ride.

Multiple handles

As well as top and side handles, and an extendable handle for trundling the bag along, these new models also include an underside handle to make lifting them in and out of your car, or off the conveyor belt, much easier.

Airline-approved sizes

All carry-on models meet overhead size requirements for both domestic and international travel.

Included laundry bag

Each model comes with a 100% recycled polyester laundry bag in matching color.

laundry bags

Performance

User friendliness

As noted elsewhere, the number of organizational options—as well as the amount of interior space—make packing and unpacking these suitcases a good experience. The outer shell feels gratifyingly tough, and the various colors are strong, vibrant, and impressively maintained across all the different surfaces and materials.

The TSA-approved lock is fairly simple to use once you’ve read the instructions, although you will need a pen or other pointed object to press the tiny button required to change the combination number. It’s also a little tricky to maneuver the zipper heads into position to lock them, but once you get used to doing it, it becomes easier.

The top carrying handle is a little snug, and could perhaps have used a bit more wiggle room to make it more comfortable to lift—people with larger hands may have a tough time squeezing their fingers beneath the handle. The inclusion of both a larger side handle and a third, underside handle, however, make hoisting the bags around a much less difficult proposition than usual. I did notice, in reading reviews of Away’s earlier models, that several people found the retractable handle to be a little loose or wobbly, but that seems to have been fixed on these versions, as I didn’t notice this at all.

One big question mark I had was the included luggage tags. Although very attractive—made from recycled leather in the exact same shade as the bag itself—using them felt less than intuitive, with no buckle or other securing feature to keep them in place. I tried them the official way (slotting the body through the slit in the strap) but two of the three came loose enough to look like they were about to fall off just from going downstairs. I considered locking them in place with the zips, but ultimately decided not to use them, which was a shame. Away does sell a separate luggage tag with a buckle, but at $25, it feels like too much, and something that should just have been included.

Durability

I checked the Trunk and took the two carry-ons onboard with us. All three made it through the flight without a scratch, and the contents of each bag barely shifted at all. I definitely felt that our belongings were secure, especially once the bags were locked.

Interior

Away’s bags are spacious and well organized. Both the carry-ons have equal amounts of space on each side, with one side being zippered and the other open, but featuring compression straps to hold everything in. Multiple zippered pockets and compartments make it easy to organize your stuff, especially if, like me, you’re traveling with kids and need space to keep all their various bits and pieces separate from your own clothes.

The Trunk’s interior is a little different, living up to its name with a 70-30 split, making it feel like opening the lid of a large, well, trunk. I were able to get a week’s worth of clothes for two adults into the larger side, while the top half—with its even more impressive array of zippered compartments—easily held all our respective swimwear, sandals, phone chargers, make-up bags, toiletry bags, and everything else I didn’t want jammed in next to our clothes.

The only real downside to the Trunk is that, like any large suitcase, it’s a little too easy to fill past the weight limit for checked bags. With ours full—but not completely stuffed—it hit 50 pounds on the button, meaning any more and I’d have had to do some hasty airport-floor repacking. It’s definitely not a deal breaker, but it’s something to be mindful of.

Quality of wheels 

The 360 degree spinner wheels roll exceptionally well—almost too well. Quite honestly, as any time I was standing still, I had to hold onto the bags, as they kept slowly rolling away from us. But when it came to more traditionally tricky terrain, like carpet or bumpy concrete, even my six-year-old was able to trundle along with hers quite happily.

Design

Both interior and exterior have been thoughtfully designed, balancing attractiveness and functionality admirably. If you’re not used to hardside luggage, then the lack of an outer pocket for slipping in last-minute items (like flip-flops or a phone charger) might be a disappointment, but other than that, these are extremely practical, good-looking bags.

One change that will likely surprise—and possibly disappoint—some people is that this new line of carry-ons doesn’t feature the built-in, ejectable USB charger that allowed owners of the original bags to charge their phones on the go. (The remaining suitcases with this feature sold out shortly before the writing of this review). When I reached out to Away to inquire why the new line lacked this feature, a spokesperson provided the following information:

“When we first launched in 2016, one problem we set out to solve was the lack of charging options while traveling, so we designed suitcases with ejectable USB chargers. But since then, airline regulations have changed, and there are more portable charging options available, so we focused our upgrades on the features that our customers wanted to see most in their suitcase—like more interior organization; improved handles, wheels, and zippers; a new underside grab handle; and increased compression—so you can pack more into every trip.”

It’s true that there’s certainly no shortage of on-the-go charging options out there—and most airports and planes now provide ways for you to power up your devices—so whether this is make or break for you is largely subjective. Speaking personally, the issue of urgently needing to charge a phone didn’t come up on my trip, but had it been a long train or bus ride, the loss might have been felt more acutely. Either way, it’s something to be aware of when considering the new line.

Should you buy the Away carry-on luggage? 

If you can live with the price, Away’s bags are definitely worth it. While it might seem like I’ve listed several negative points in my review, realistically, these are little more than nitpicking, highlighting a few minor quibbles from an otherwise overwhelmingly positive experience.

User reviews

At the time of writing, there were no customer reviews for the newly-launched Trunk—though it’s worth noting that it’s currently sold out (for now) in every color. Here’s what some other pleased travelers had to say about the Carry-On and the Bigger Carry-On.

The Carry-On

“I'm on my second ‘carry-on’ bag. The first was replaced under the lifetime warranty after more than 7 years of flying almost weekly. The stronger and updated handle is a great improvement. The bag has always been nearly effortless to roll along. Extremely durable and worth the money.” - John P. (5/5)

“Pretty much everyone adores something new right after it is purchased. So, before commenting, I waited to take two, long trips. Each about two weeks. Thoughtful, clever interior that holds a surprising amount. I never felt I was short on clothes and travel necessities. Yes, every few days I washed some things out in a sink or used a washing machine at an AIRBNB. But it was worth it. The bag fit easily in overhead compartments and having a handle on the side makes lifting it up there much, much easier. Last time I flew the airline official at check-in asked if I had any bags to check. None, we said. ‘That's smart,’ she said. The bag rolls easily and smoothly, unflustered by rough surfaces. Also, my wife - who is 76 - was able to handle it on airport escalators. Also, Away is not kidding about the warranty. One my first trip one of the plastic compression clips came loose. I could not get it to stay put. We asked Away for a replacement clip. Instead, Away insisted on sending me a new bag. So, this is one of those rare cases (literally) where you get what you pay for.” - Christopher J. (5/5)

The Bigger Carry-On

“1st off, Away’s warranty and customer service are by far the best in the biz. 2nd, I recently? purchased the Bigger Carry-on and couldn’t be happier. It’s literally all you need and can pack at least a week away in this luggage. It fits great in overhead and the colors and quality are top notch!” - Amanda S. (5/5)

“It’s the go to bag for us. It is so versatile that we take it almost exclusively whether we are gone for few days or couple weeks.” - Michael S. (5/5)

Alternative carry-on luggage  

If you’re not convinced by Away’s offerings, one of the below might fit closer with what you’re looking for.

Samsonite Freeform Carry-On Spinner

For less than half the price of Away’s Carry-On ($149.99), Samsonite’s popular Freeform carry-on offers a spacious interior, smooth-running wheels, and a tough exterior. You don’t get nearly as many (or as interesting) color options, but being both lightweight (just 6.1 lbs) and featuring a TSA-approved lock, it’s well worth considering.

Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner

If you’re looking for something to fit a much tighter budget, Amazon’s Hardside Spinner could be your best bet, being lightweight and spacious still, but reliably costing under $90. It likely won’t last as long as some other carry-ons, but if you just need something for a quick, one-off trip, this is a good option.

The North Face All Weather 4-Wheeler 30”

Those looking for rugged durability above all else should consider North Face’s All Weather 4-wheeler. Roughly the same size as the Away Trunk, It’s the most expensive suitcase covered in this article, at $400, but if you want a bag that looks like you could hide behind it in action-hero style—plus doesn’t use zippers and is completely waterproof—look no further.

For even more options that bring convenience to your next trip, take a look at our list of the best carry-on luggage

Final verdict 

All three bags I tested were easy to use, held everything my family needed, and came through their trip unblemished, with their contents not just intact, but having barely shifted. The colors were every bit as bright and solid as their online photos promised, and despite how durable they seem to be, the suitcases are refreshingly lightweight—before you stuff them to capacity, at least.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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