Throughout my 20s, I traveled with a bright-blue camping backpack, a polyester eyesore that accompanied me through the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, the mists of New Guinea’s mountains, and on countless airplanes, trains, cars, and boats. That tattered old rucksack, now in storage, is still a cherished relic of epic adventures. But around the time of my 30th birthday, it sunk in that a threadbare REI special didn’t exactly scream professionalism on work trips.
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After researching luggage that met my criteria of affordability, stylishness, and solid design, I purchased the Away Carry-On luggage. This suitcase has been a game-changer, and at just under $300, it’s worth every penny. I’m such a fan that I even bought one for my girlfriend last Christmas. Below, find my take on the Away Carry-On: basic details, things I love about it, and a couple of minor gripes.
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Does away carry-on plus fit in an overhead bin? Here are the specs
As you might infer from its name, the suitcase is just small enough to meet airline qualifications as a carry-on (the exact dimensions are 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inches). No need to worry about having to cram it into those annoying metal boxes gate agents use to measure bags — it fits easily. The Carry-On is lightweight, about seven pounds when empty. So unless you’re packing sand, you can pick it up and sprint through the airport, if need be. But when you’re not scrambling to make a connection, the wheels and retractable handle, well-engineered and sturdy, make for an easy ride on smooth surfaces. The suitcase does fit inside overhead bins on most planes, however, on some smaller regional jets you may need to gate-check the bag.
The ease of packing & unpacking the Away Carry-On
The Carry-On’s interior engineering is its strongest selling point. Even with the intentional size constraints, the suitcase is plenty voluminous, providing nearly 40 liters of space. Even on trips involving multiple climates when I packed both a jacket and warm-weather attire, I’ve never found the suitcase too small. I particularly appreciate the zip-up netting inside, a feature preventing contents from falling out when I open my Carry-On. The slim zip-up compartment on the interior partition is another bonus, allowing me to conveniently stash my laptop, tablet, and extraneous folders.
Like a good Patagonia fleece, the Carry-On is honeycombed with hidden pockets. The small side pocket protects valuables like my watch or Whoop and helps me keep track of easy-to-lose knick-knacks like cufflinks or shirt stays. The Carry-On, black by default but available in several colors, is sharp and professional-looking (which is, as nostalgic as I may be for it, a palpable step-up from the backpack).
What Away could improve
As much as I appreciate the Carry-On’s bang for the buck, a few features could be better. The exterior shell, of polycarbonate plastic, is not as sturdy as it should be, and my suitcase suffered a large dent after I gate-checked it on one flight. The warping is right above the zipper, making opening and closing the luggage slightly more difficult now. The lock could be stronger, too. Thankfully, I have never had an issue with luggage thieves, but a bad actor could pop the lock quickly with a screwdriver or pen. Another minor complaint — although one that is simultaneously a compliment to Away — is that these Carry-Ons are everywhere these days. On a couple of trips, I almost mixed up mine with an identical one belonging to someone else, and I ended up slapping a large sticker on my Carry-On to avoid future mishaps.
How to set the Away luggage lock
Even if the lock on the Away Carry-On luggage isn’t exactly bank-vault quality, it does offer some peace of mind. The manual provides straightforward instructions for setting the combination, a process taking all of five minutes: First, use a pin to press down the tiny button to the right of the dial; then, roll the dial to a 3-digit combo of your choice, keeping the tiny button pressed down. Finally, slide the adjacent latch to the right and, voila, you’re set. When it’s time to lock your Carry-On, simply click the two exterior zippers into the lock and scramble the dial. Keep in mind that it’s never a bad idea to save your combo in a discrete place in your phone or email.
Where to buy Away luggage
The easiest place to scoop up an Away Carry-On is the company’s website, AwayTravel.com. Before shipping and taxes, the basic Carry-On will run you $275. Black is the default hue, but Away offers a few other colors like Navy blue or gray. You might be wise to go with a one-off color to avoid potential luggage mix-ups like the one I mentioned earlier. If you’re inclined to shop on eBay, you can find almost-new Carry-Ons at deep discounts. Ditto for the upscale resale sites Grailed.com or poshmark.com. Upgraded models, like an aluminum-shelled Carry-On, are available on the company’s website, too, but they can cost several hundreds of dollars more than the standard issue.
What is the Away luggage warranty and return policy?
Away luggage is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. This means that if anything breaks on your Away luggage, they will repair or replace it for you, no matter how long you’ve had it. The warranty covers the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, and anything else that functionally impairs the luggage.
The battery in your Away luggage is covered by a two-year limited warranty. If the battery fails within two years of purchase, Away will replace it for you. To make a warranty claim, you can contact Away customer service at help.awaytravel.com. You will need to provide your proof of purchase and a description of the problem. Away will then assess the claim and determine whether it is covered under the warranty.
Here are some things that are not covered by the Away luggage warranty:
- Damage caused by misuse or abuse
- Damage caused by accidents or other external forces
- Damage caused by wear and tear
- Damage caused by modifications or repairs made by unauthorized third parties
If your Away luggage is not covered by the warranty, you may still be able to get it repaired or replaced. Away offers a 100-day satisfaction guarantee, so you can return your luggage for a full refund within 100 days of purchase. You can also purchase an Away Protection Plan, which extends the warranty coverage to three years.
Away Carry-On vs Monos, July, and other leading brands: Is Away luggage worth it?
The Carry-On is a bargain, for my money, the best piece of luggage under $500. While not in the luxury echelon of Rimowa or Roam, the Carry-On is handsome, affordable, and well-designed. Highly mobile, lightweight, and easy to pack, this suitcase is a boon companion for the business traveler or weekend warrior. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Away’s nonpareil customer service. The zipper on my first Carry-On broke after a pillowcase got entangled in the teeth, but after a quick phone call, Away sent me a brand-new suitcase and a shipping label to return my damaged one. I’m so pleased with the Away Carry-On luggage, I’ll probably even gift another to a younger sibling this Christmas.