Photo courtesy of July

How This Hardshell Roller Got Me to Switch From My Carry-On Backpack Lifestyle

Technology + Gear
by Tim Wenger Jul 31, 2023

For years I’d been steadfast against using any type of roller suitcase. “Thou shalt not roll,” I maintained, believing full-heartedly that I’d forever be the strapping (literally) young vagabond who scoffed at the idea of putting wheels on the ground en route to wheels-up journeys.

Then, in October 2021, I became a dad.

The arrival of our little towhead marked the end of my days of loose trip planning and minimal accouterment. Suddenly, to the chagrin of a dude who’s spent much of the previous decade gallivanting the world with a backpack, there was more to consider when traveling than my own simple tastes. And when a small child is involved, those considerations tend to involve a lot more stuff.

Shopping for roller bag checked luggage? Check out Matador’s detailed reviews:

After ample research, we landed on the July Checked Plus hardshell roller suitcase, available on the brand’s website. My wife knows a few fellow travelers who both own and love their July luggage and at a price point of $345, we felt confident that we’d found a way to pack our family for trips big and small without shelling out four figures just for a suitcase. This July Checked Plus luggage review breaks down how my family addressed this new phase of our travel careers by incorporating a large check-in roller case, how it’s panned out so far, and why I’m even reconsidering my former “no roll” mantra for my own work trips going forward.

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We hope you love the July Checked Plus luggage! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Ready to roll. Photo: Tim Wenger
The adjustable handle makes wheeling through the airport a breeze. Photo: Tim Wenger
Snap dress clothes into the right side separate from casual wear. Photo: Tim Wenger
The minimalist aesthetic blends well in mid-mod hotels. Photo: Tim Wenger

Arriving in style

The July Checked Plus made a great first impression — it arrived wrapped in a cotton bag fitted tightly into a lone recyclable cardboard box, no single-use plastic in sight. The entire luggage industry should take a cue. There was a welcome envelope from the brand, containing an introduction from founders Richard Li and Athan Didaskalou and instructions for how to set the suitcase’s 3-digit lock. In a clever nod to literary-minded travelers, the envelope contained a paper bookmark with space to write our lock code. Its design is sleek and minimalist, and for a piece of luggage of its size, actually quite fashionable. I’ve never felt self-conscious wheeling it through the check-in line, nor out the exit of the airport on the other side of the journey.

Shopping for a check-in roller case? Check out Matador’s detailed reviews:

July Checked Plus specs: Enough room for the family

The July Checked Plus luggage is a large, hard-sided suitcase with two excellent use cases. First, for packing a small family’s worth of clothes and stuff for the average vacation or trip. My family of three had no issue stuffing clothes, toiletries, basic work supplies, and a few what-have-yous into the suitcase for a summer trip. I’m confident we could have fit clothes for a fourth person if need be, though admittedly we tend to travel light.

Another good use case is for long-haul flights, particularly to places where you know you’ll be bridging a lot of stuff back. The July Checked Plus is made of durable ABS plastic and has a capacity of 110 liters (most carry-on cases and bags top out at around 40 liters). So think of it this way: If you were traveling solo and would normally bring a large carry-on bag, the July Checked Plus triples your capacity. Use that extra space to pack for two more people or to stock up on goods at your destination.

The suitcase has four spinner wheels that, to my surprise, actually made moving through check-in an airport as busy as Denver’s a breeze. This spoke volumes in my acceptance of the roller case, as I began to think about all the times I’d accidentally bumped into unsuspecting strangers with my overstuffed carry-on backpack. There telescoping handle easily slides up and down and locks at positions along the way as necessary, a plus, especially for those whose travel companions are of varying heights. The TSA-approved combination lock set easily and has yet to cause any issues for us.
Here are some of the specific features of the July Checked Plus luggage:

  • Dimensions: 77cm H x 50cm W x 31cm D
  • Weight: 10.58 pounds
  • Capacity: 110 liters
  • Material: ABS plastic
  • Wheels: Four spinner wheels
  • Handle: Telescoping handle
  • Lock: TSA-approved combination lock
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Other features:

  • Crush-proof German shell
  • Custom anodized aluminum corner bumpers
  • Multi-stop telescopic handle
  • Hidden laundry bag
  • July Y-Strap compression system
  • SilentMoveTM wheels

Let’s pause here to call out one feature, in particular, that changed the game for me – the “hidden” laundry bag. My family is quite active – being Coloradans, the bulk of our travels is to engage in outdoor pursuits. As such, we generate a lot of dirty clothes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a good T-shirt or a pair of ski socks in a hotel room or Airbnb simply because I didn’t have one central place to pile these dirties. On quick trips, I’d usually put my clothes in the zip pocket of my backpack, but that doesn’t work for anything longer than a few days. July luggage solves this issue by providing an attached space for laundry that can detach from the luggage but that’s large and easy enough to spot that you literally cannot forget it, no matter how much of a rush you’re in at check-out.

Another big win is the Y-strap compression system. As an editor. I frequently travel for work, and even when we’re on the road as a family, I tend to bring along a few nice button-down shirts and a pair of pants that I hope to keep wrinkle-free. By compressing the clothes against the firmness of the shell, the July luggage keeps my clothes more presentable than any other travel pack I’ve owned.

Multiple pairs of shoes? No problem. Photo: Tim Wenger
My nicest button down arrived ready to go. Photo: Tim Wenger
Packing for three. Photo: Tim Wenger
My daughter's clothes also arrived in good order. Photo: Tim Wenger

July vs. Away and other leading luggage brands

The July Checked Plus and Away Large Flex are two of the most popular hard-sided checked luggage options on the market. Both suitcases are made of durable ABS plastic, have four spinner wheels, and a telescoping handle. However, there are some key differences between the two bags. July’s option is slightly larger than the Away Large Flex, with a capacity of 110 liters compared to 105 liters. You’re also getting that extra space at a slightly lower price point as the Away Large Flex is listed on its website at $425 as of this writing.

In terms of features, the July Checked Plus has a few advantages over the Away Large Flex. The July suitcase has a crush-proof German shell, which makes it more durable. It also has a Y-strap compression system, which helps to keep your clothes organized and compact. The Away suitcase, on the other hand, has a two-strap compression system. This is a big reason why we selected this bag. There are indeed many worthy hardshell checked luggage options, and we also considered other July luggage like the slightly larger (120-liter) Checked Plus Expandable and the smaller (80-liter) Checked.

My family loves our July Checked Plus roller case. It’s proved both efficient and durable, with the perk of not being embarrassingly large. At baggage claim, I admit to chuckling when seemingly youthful and fit travelers struggle to lift their ridiculously large and heavy suitcase from the carousel. July luggage saves you from that experience without sacrificing the space needed for a well-packed journey.

Where to buy July luggage

I ordered the July Checked Plus online from the company’s website. This is the easiest and most direct way to get it, and if you’re in the US, the only way. The Australian company hopes to move into retail stores in the future, but as of now is direct-to-consumer.

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