Photo: Brett Braley

This Carbon Neutral Roller Bag Makes Packing for Two a Breeze

Technology + Gear
by Brett F. Braley Aug 4, 2023

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine an old-fashioned scale. On one end, you’re going to have Form, and on the other, Function. Most luggage brands either lean heavily into one category or the other: a tactical duffel that leaves little in terms of aesthetics, or a twee bag that can’t stand up to long-term wear.

And right in the middle of this imaginary scale, perfectly balanced, is Paravel.

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It’s a name you have probably seen on Instagram, specifically if you’ve searched the hashtags “Old Money” or “Wes Anderson”. The company is equal parts Orient Express and Jet Set, with a keen sense of sustainability for good measure. It’s as timely of a luggage brand as it is a classic, and I’m glad I was finally able to try out its largest offering, the Aviator Grand, in Safari Green, on a recent Summer getaway.

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We hope you love the Paravel Aviator Grand! 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.

Size matters

Try as I might, I can never seem to pack as lightly as I’d like. Couple that with the fact that my husband and I are the same size and, therefore, share most of our wardrobe, and that means we usually check a bag out of both convenience and necessity.

The Aviator Grand is the largest in the brand’s Aviator series and complements both its Carry On and Carry On Plus alternatives. Coming in at 18.25″ L x 28″ W x 11″ H, this is a larger piece of luggage that doesn’t feel excessive. The Aviator Grand offers plenty of room for two adults on a five-day vacation, while still leaving space for a few souvenirs, too.

Of course, the larger the bag the more you run the risk of extra weight. Unpacked, the Aviator Grand comes in at just under 12 lbs, making it a pretty standard size, thanks to the polycarbonate shell and aluminum handle. It feels as though Paravel hasn’t just designed the Aviator Grand from an aesthetic point of view, but from a functional point as well. No one wants to lug a heavy bag around – or worse, pay the extra fee to check one if it’s overweight.

Photo credit: Brett Braley
Photo credit: Brett Braley
Photo credit: Brett Braley
Photo credit: Brett Braley

Eye for design

For the better part of seven years, Paravel has remained consistent in terms of both design and quality. There are a number of brand elements that have defined the Aviator line, including a clean polycarbonate shell, perpendicular leather detailing, and aluminum wheels and bumper accents that adds protection without the bulk. All of this makes for a bag that feels high quality and belies the sub-$500 price tag.

Notable to Paravel is a design language that marries aesthetics and functionality. For example, the textured finish on the exterior shell is designed that way to help hide the inevitable scuffs from checking one’s bag. The leather accents are made of vegan leather, as part of the brand’s core philosophy to be as carbon-neutral as possible. And, perhaps most important to mention when it comes to Paravel’s design, is the variety of colorways with contrasting trims. These neutral color options stand out among the doldrum greys, navy, and blacks found in baggage claim without veering into ostentatious territory.

Packing: How the Paravel Grand Aviator holds up

The 77-liter interior of the Aviator Grand is fitted with a few specific details that make packing a breeze. The interior is your simple cavernous set-up with a few small features which were easy to utilize and stopped me from just shoving everything in and zipping it up as fast as possible. Each Aviator Grand is equipped with separate interior pockets for easy organization (or, if you’re like me, to keep your dirty shoes away from your white shirts), a removable laundry bag, and a compression board. All of these features aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they do make packing much more simple and – dare I say it? – a mindful act.

A brand with a mission

We all know the debate regarding air transportation and the environment. Paravel’s commitment to carbon neutrality through the manufacturing process isn’t just a pithy, throwaway PR move, but is an integral part of its business and manufacturing model. This seems to have come directly from co-founder, Indré Rockefeller, who has long heralded the green movement in her personal and professional life, including receiving a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Columbia.

Details such as using recycled polycarbonate and aluminum, as well as sourcing net-negative nylon for the interior, have allowed Paravel to proudly boast that the brand is one of the earliest adopters of carbon neutrality in the luggage industry. A helpful infograph on the Aviator Grand’s web page puts it into numbers. One Grand manufactured through sustainable means equates to: 11,352 hours of bulb energy saved, 126 km of driving emissions avoided, and 93 days of drinking water saved.

Paravel Grand Aviator security

While I would like to think that no one would feel the need to break into my luggage to steal my dirty socks or my tanning lotion, one never knows. Paravel’s luggage is equipped with a standard integrated lock for extra security. I found the instructions easy to follow and felt a little more comfortable handing my bag over to the American Airlines desk attendant when I popped the lock into place.

Here are the instructions to set the Aviator’s lock code, which are found on Paravel’s FAQ:

The preset combination is 0-0-0 and can be personalized by following these simple steps:
1) Turn the dials to the preset or current combination.
2) Press and hold the Reset Button with a pen or other tool while you set the dials to your desired combination.
3) Release the Reset Button and push the slide button on the other side of the dial to set the new combination
4) Secure your zipper pulls by inserting them into the slots

You may change your combination and reset your lock again by following the above steps whenever you’d like. Keep your personal combination in a safe place for future reference.

How does the Paravel Aviator Grand compare to competitors?

Between my freelance work, full-time job, and the occasional holiday, I’m looking at 10 to 15 trips a year. Because of this, I need a bag that can keep up. In the short time I’ve used the Paravel Grand Aviator, I’ve learned that it is a great roller case for longer trips when I can’t avoid a checked bag.

I do have Away’s “The Large” wheeled luggage, which somehow feels much larger and bulkier than Paravel’s, even though their dimensional differences are negligible. Paravel’s small design details also help to break up the eye from monolithic alternatives, making it stylish and not too blocky when tucked away in the hotel room.

From a price point, it does skew a little higher, but one can justify the cost when looking at the brand story and mission for carbon neutrality. But, by the same token, one may expect real leather finishes when paying nearly $500 for a bag. For me, I’m much more mission-driven and understand the cost and feel the bag looks as well as feels like a quality product.

What’s Paravel’s warranty policy?

Paravel offers a 10-year limited warranty, which covers most factory defects. Because of the nature of travel, your luggage is likely to get dinged up, and not all issues that arise will be covered by this warranty. Other defects that are caused by heat, solvents, or water damage are not covered by the warranty. Replacements and refunds are at the discretion of Paravel and require proof of original purchase, so be leery of using a secondary market like eBay when buying your Paravel in the off chance you ever need to contact the company with an issue.

Where to purchase the Paravel Aviator Grand

Paravel’s is a D2C business with accounts at retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, but the full experience is best found on its own site. The company offers all colorways for the Aviator Grand, while you can also pick up a matching Carry-On to complete the set. What’s nice about being in the Paravel universe is the array of travel accessories, such as luggage tags and passport holders, which can be handpainted and monogrammed to your liking. Be smart when shopping and try to bundle a few items to save money versus buying these pieces separately. Best of all, Paravel has been running a number of sales lately, so signing up to its newsletter may equal a few hundred dollars saved.

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