Traveling is a trial for most people, we have to endure the rigmarole of tedious security checks, delayed flights, and getting charged out the wazoo for baggage. The latter is especially annoying because luggage is subjected to some unfair treatment, depending on how much you pack and whatever arbitrary size restrictions airlines enforce.
It can be a tremendous pain in the ass even before you get to the airport, but a company called AWAY is trying to ease some of the frustration with their Bigger Carry-On. It’s been making buzz as one of the smarter options out there with style to match, but what about substance?
Yes, the AWAY Bigger Carry-On looks sharp and fits within a cool jet-setting lifestyle. The body is constructed of German-made polycarbonate and is designed to be lightweight at 7.3 lbs, and measuring in at 22.7 inches x 14.7 inches x 9.6 inches. Storage is laid out with a dual compartment arrangement to separate the clothes from whatever else you choose to take with you, whether it be shoes, toiletries, or piles of documents with a strap-down sleeve/compression pad for smaller extras. You also won’t forget what brand of suitcase this is either because the AWAY logo is literally adorned on everything from the interior lining, YKK zippers, and plenty of exterior badging.
Speaking of the outside, the details are a little less astounding. While the body itself can withstand some abuse I’m not so confident about the rubber-like handles that appear more for show. Fortunately, rolling the suitcase around inspires more confidence thanks to Hinomoto-made wheels that provide 360° rotation. For individuals who want to stand out, the Bigger Carry-On can be had in variety of single and two-tone colors, with the option to add a stylized three-letter monogram.
The most apparent features are the built-in TSA-approved combination lock to protect your stuff from unwarranted strangers, and (the real Pièce De Résistance) a battery pack (wall adapter and USB-B cable also included) that has 10,000mAH of expandable power and can actively recharge two devices. You even get a nylon laundry bag for cleanliness.
One of the reasons I decided to review the Bigger Carry-On is due to absolute necessity, seeing this as an investment rather than accessory. Some people will bring their entire wardrobe on a holiday, but the Bigger Carry-On seems to be aimed at business-goers who travel lean and often. The matte surface is advertised to be scratch-resistant (not proofed) for harsh handling and overall durability, but the body still catches inevitable scuffs from regular use. The blemishes are mostly seen on the underbody (when standing upright) where it’ll kiss the pavement over curbs or inclines, luckily it doesn’t make the Bigger Carry-On any worse for wear overall.
Capacity will feel generous at 46L (liters) and that’s probably more than enough room for many flyers who need to escape for a week, or light packers who strictly use the overhead bins. On my annual business trip to CES I noticed that I couldn’t fit as much accumulated stuff in the Bigger Carry-On compared to my well-weathered suitcase.
The primary reason for this is that my older luggage is made of nylon fabric and expandable for a free inch or two in a pinch. Unlike my existing baggage, I actually had to repack almost everything in the Bigger Carry-On on my returning flight. This is a unexpected inconvenience that I took for granted and was an disappointing omission here, considering how much structural flex the AWAY luggage has for stuffing things in.
The “smart” element of being able to charge your small gadgets and smartphones with the battery pack is going to be real attraction here, along with a status check through four white LED lights. It became apparent that the handiness of having power-on-demand was indispensable on my trip, and it was a (digital) life-saver while navigating the Las Vegas Convention halls (LVCC). The manufacturer suggests that the battery pack be charged overnight for a full eight hours, our experience matched the estimated time.
Equally important is that our suitcase is an updated model where the battery is now spring-loaded and easily removable, so you can take it on-board the aircraft and eliminates the need to carry a screwdriver around all the time — this change in particular is supposed to alleviate the hassle of security clearance for international/Asian flights.
So what more can I say about the AWAY Bigger Carry-On? For its intended purpose it does hold up well and is the most affordable pick in its class. The clever battery pack will end up being a godsend to power-hungry users without a wall outlet, and the compromises in space management will be acceptable for many light travelers. Predictably, the oncoming scuffs will be an eyesore, so at the very least we recommend getting this in a dark color to hide the imperfections.