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Built to Last, Styled to Impress: Away The Carry-On Review

Department store luggage never endures. Blown-out zippers, torn-off handles, dented corners — it's tough to be a piece of luggage these days. Away's The Carry-On combines a simple but tough design with a modern look to rise above the fray.
(Photo/Miya Tsudome)
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Let’s face it: a lot of luggage is bulky and ugly. And if you’re an occasional traveler, pulling out that battered suitcase or duffel from the back of your closet will be just fine for your annual trip back home. However, for others, having a more polished look is important. That’s where Away comes in with The Carry-On ($275). This award-winning suitcase is sleek and refined, with simple design features and a modern look. 

A lightweight hardshell, interior compression system, 360-degree wheels, and included laundry bag make this suitcase a cut above the rest. While hard-sided suitcases always have fewer pockets than soft ones, the interior of The Carry-On is designed with organization in mind. A clamshell opening reveals two compartments with thoughtful features like zippered pockets and compression straps.  

I took this carry-on on a 5-day trip from California to New York and felt that it had just enough space for a getaway of this length. However, it would probably be too small for anything longer as your only bag. Soft-sided suitcases do better at maximizing every inch of an airplane’s overhead bin and typically have more pockets, making them more suitable for longer trips.

That being said, I think The Carry-On is a great complement to a checked bag. Away also makes other models, like the Bigger Carry-On, The Carry-On Flex, and various checked suitcases. I highly recommend Away’s lineup for business trip-goers and those who appreciate a polished, minimalist look. 

In short: Away’s The Carry-On is a practical, modern, and stylish suitcase for the occasional and frequent traveler alike. It’s great for looking polished on business trips or if you’re simply looking for a high-quality, hard-sided suitcase. Even at $275, this piece of luggage is well worth the cost.

To see how the Away Carry-On stacks up against the rest of the luggage on the market today, check out GearJunkie’s Best Carry-On Luggage Buyer’s Guide.

Away The Carry-On Suitcase


  • Weight 7 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 21.7” x 14.4” x 9”
  • Carry-On Linear Inches 45.1"
  • Materials Polycarbonate shell exterior
  • External Pockets Zero
  • Volume 39.8 L


  • Stylish and sleek
  • Interior divider acts as a compression panel as well as provides an extra pocket
  • TSA-approved lock on exterior


  • Expensive for such a simple suitcase
  • No expansion zipper

Away The Carry-On Suitcase: Review

First Impressions Between CA and NY

Style points abound on this carry-on, even all the way down to the logo print on the interior; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

You can tell right away that Away is design-forward, evidenced by this sleek and modern suitcase. It is a nice departure from the flimsy plastic clamshells you usually buy last minute at a department store before your trip. The textured material on the outside seems like it will withstand some scuffing and scratches, no matter the rush the baggage handlers are in.

The zippers feel high-quality, and everything about this suitcase feels well-made. Most of all, I immediately loved the compression panel that also serves as a divider for each side. This genius design allows you to separate each hardshell compartment neatly without clothes bulging from mere compression straps. I could tell this was a suitcase that I would keep and use time and time again.

Carry-On Compliant Across the Board

With dimensions of 21.7” x 14.4” x 9”, or 45.1 linear inches, The Carry-On fits overhead on most major airlines. Away even provides a handy chart that shows its compatibility with many major national and international airlines, which is a nice feature of its website. A 39.8L capacity is nothing to turn your nose up at either, and I could fit five summer outfits plus two sweaters into the suitcase’s interior. 

While protruding handles or wheels can often be the difference between carrying on or checking your bag, the Carry-On keeps these exceptionally low-profile and tucks the wheels up into the base of the bag. On both legs of my flight to New York, I had no trouble sliding the bag into overhead bins with wiggle room to spare.


The three mesh and one hanging pocket make organization simple in the Carry On; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

The Carry-On makes packing a breeze. Some folks will prefer the clamshell design of hardshell suitcases such as this one, which allows you to pack items on either side and separate them into two compartments for better organization. Others might prefer suitcases with one zippered top opening, allowing easier access to the interior without splaying out your luggage. This will come down to personal preference. 

One side of this suitcase has a large, zippered compartment that keeps loose items in place. I love to slip packing cubes into this compartment. A panel with compression straps secures down the other side, making it ideal for tightening bulky items like sweaters and jackets. This panel also has a large mesh pocket, which is great for storing small items like electronics, loose cables, books, and other accessories. 

I loved this compression panel for how well it keeps each compartment separate. Other, cheaper bags typically have criss-crossed straps that do a feeble job of keeping your wool sweaters from busting out and snagging on your hairbrush. But this panel, cinched down by two straps, maximizes the bag’s total space and makes packing a sleek and satisfying endeavor.

Extra Features

A good TSA-approved lock can provide some peace of mind when your bag is passing through multiple hands; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

While this minimalist bag doesn’t have many bells and whistles, the compression panel is useful and unique enough to make it one of my favorite extra features. Besides this, The Carry-On has an included laundry bag, which is tucked away inside a small zippered pouch and is a great way to keep your soiled items or a pair of shoes separated. A TSA-approved combination lock is another nice feature that provides some peace of mind, and actually secures both of the zipper pulls once locked. 

The bag has two slim carry handles, one on the side and one on top, as well as an underside grab handle, allowing for easy lifting from any angle. Its 360-degree wheels travel effortlessly through airport terminals, but are quite small and won’t perform great on uneven terrain like gravel or cobblestones.

Materials & Design

The hardshell of The Carry-On is made from polycarbonate and comes in several different color schemes from more matte, neutral tones to bright, glossy ones, allowing you to choose a design that suits your personal style. The polycarbonate is lightweight, with the whole suitcase weighing in at 7.5 pounds.

There is no anti-scratch coating on this suitcase, and scratches tend to show up more on lighter-colored models. If this is a concern, consider getting a darker color or opting for a soft-sided suitcase instead, which will be less prone to the bumps and scrapes of travel.

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Room for Improvement

It would be nice to see a version of this exceptional suitcase with even more organizational features. Each of its existing features is clearly well thought out and intentional, allowing you to choose your own method of organization and keeping with the minimalist theme of the company. But upping the form factor even more, with a separate sleeve for a laptop, an included bag or compartment for shoes, would make this carry-on really shine. 

Other carry-ons, like the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag Roller or Mystery Ranch Mission 40L Wheelie, incorporate a good number of exterior pockets into its design. While the sleek look of the Carry-On doesn’t quite allow for this, there were a few times I wished for a quick pocket to stash something away (such as an electronic I didn’t want to bring in my checked bag). If pure versatility is your thing, the Carry-On may not be the best pick.

And finally, $275 is a hefty price for a relatively simple suitcase such as the Carry-On. Budget rollers like the Rockland Melbourne 20 ($120) or Dakine 42L Carry On Roller ($185) accomplish pretty much all of the same luggage-toting needs, but for a good bit less, meaning looks have a lot to do with the price on the Carry-On. With 10 colors available, however, it can be worth the splurge if the design appeals to you.

Away The Carry On: Conclusion

A carry-on luggage sits in front of a window in an airport
A solid, functional carry-on is key for seamless travel; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

You might have already started to see the Away The Carry-On suitcase everywhere, as this bag has been growing in popularity as more and more travelers opt for sleek, modern styles and minimalist functionality. While you might be able to technically pack more if you purchase a soft-sided suitcase, the interior design of The Carry-On makes it easy to be organized and efficient with what you pack.

The tough hardshell exterior did admirably on my cross-country travels recently, only gaining a few scuff marks here and there. The internal organization is just right, with enough pockets to partition different items without sacrificing precious space, and a smart compression system that actually works.

A great complement to a checked bag, or perfect on its own for a 3-day business trip, you won’t be disappointed in the style and function of the Away Carry-On.

A carry-on luggage sits in front of a window in an airport

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Miya Tsudome

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