Photo: James Gavin

I Tested Carl Friedrik's $595 Carry-On Case. Here's Why It's Worth the Investment

Technology + Gear
by James Gavin May 16, 2024

When I initially looked at this travel case and saw the cost, I thought to myself, there’s no way this can be worth the price. At the time of writing, the Carl Friedrik’s Carry-on X retails for $595. To many, this may seem like an awful lot to spend on a carry-on, but I just used it as my only piece of luggage for a four-day trip, and I was blown away by the quality.

We hope you love the Carl Friedrik’s Carry-on X! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to make a purchase. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.


Does the quality of the Carry-on X match the price tag?


Out of the box, the Carry-on X arrived in a lovely fabric sleeve, and upon removal, I could tell immediately that this was a high-grade piece of equipment. The Vachetta leather detailing really sets off the premium look, and everything about it exudes quality. Opening the case reveals two generous compartments with adjustable straps, a removable compression pad, and more leather detailing.


The Carry-on X has an exceptional build


I was very impressed with many aspects of this case. Built to a high specification, it’s constructed from an aluminum frame with a polycarbonate outer shell, making it lightweight but highly durable.

Internally, the stitching is on point, with straight lines, no loose threads, and quality zips that I don’t anticipate having any problems with.

Photo: James Gavin

The locking mechanism feels well put together. So many other combination locks I have experienced become a pain to use, the numbers not quite sitting correctly, forcing a frustrating amount of fiddling with the lock before it opens, but not so here. The dials sit nicely in place as they should, and the lock opens and closes rather satisfyingly. It’s also reassuring to have the TSA locks, knowing your case won’t be damaged should any security inspections be required at the airport.

On the subject of the airport, traveling through it is a breeze with the 360-degree Hinomoto silent spinner wheels. I can’t overstate how much of a difference these wheels make to the experience of traveling with this case. It glides seamlessly across whichever surface, no rattling, no wobbles — a night and day difference from cases I have used before.


The interior is so well organized you won’t need an iron at your destination


The inside of your case has to be well laid out for all of your gear, and the interior of the Carry-on X has everything you could want and more.

Each side of the case has integrated straps to hold your things in place, and there is also a removable compression pad that works in tandem with the straps to compress one side. I absolutely loved this feature. So many times, I have folded and sorted clothes neatly, only to arrive at the destination and open my case to a kit explosion. Not so this time. Everything was exactly where it should be. In fact, if ironed and folded correctly, clothes should arrive uncreased at the destination using this carriage system.

There are also some little zip pockets in the inner lining, and on the removable compression pad, just to give some extra separated storage space.


Laptops can be stored in the integrated front pocket


Photo: James Gavin

One of the standout features of this model is the integrated front pocket, which gives easy access to your electronic devices and travel documents.

The front pocket zips open easily to access the interior and is kept in a half-open position by a fabric hinge that can be easily unbuttoned to allow full extension of the front section.

I really rate this design. Access is simple, and the hard-covered pocket accommodates a 16-inch MacBook Pro. Most importantly, the polycarbonate shell protects your laptop and anything else from the harsh environment of aircraft overhead bins or overzealous luggage handlers should you need to check it in.

I had zero worries when traveling with my valuables. Not being concerned about damaging expensive equipment makes traveling a little more relaxing.


Is the Carry-on X worth $595?


Photo: James Gavin

Given the price point of this case, I was expecting quality, and frankly, the Carry-on X has it in spades. It looks and feels premium. It does everything you need it to do and does so while looking good. Not only will your stuff get to the destination in its originally packed state, but the case made me feel less stressed about my travel experience.

The more I considered its value, the more it made sense to me. I have almost certainly spent over and above the cost of this carry-on on previous cases, which have long since been retired due to assorted rips, tears, broken zips, or the wheels, quite literally, falling off. And with the lifetime warranty included with the Carry-on X, why keep buying new cases when you can just invest once?


Carl Friedrik’s Carry-on X specifications


  • Hard-shell zipped front laptop pocket
  • Robust telescopic handle
  • Integrated TSA-approved locks
  • Seamless 360-degree Hinomoto silent spinner wheels
  • Interior includes two sets of compression straps and a compression pad
  • Two narrow zipped interior pockets
  • Compliant with most European, US, and countries airline cabin size restrictions
  • Width: 38 cm (15 inches)
  • Height: 55 cm (21.7 inches)
  • Depth: 25 cm (9.6 inches) 27 cm (10.6 inches) when expanded
  • Weight: 4.3 kg (9.5 lbs)
  • Volume: 43 L

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