Review: AWAY Carry-On Suitcase

AWAY Carry-On Review

I’ve been using the AWAY suitcase since May for every trip – a week in France, multiple jaunts to DC, an extended San Francisco/Napa long weekend. It’s joined me in planes, trains, automobiles, and even helicopters.

And it is, without a doubt, the best suitcase I’ve ever had.

While I still love my Tumi, the AWAY carry-on has replaced it as my go-to luggage. Here’s my detailed review on this suitcase:

EXTERIOR

Why is it so hard to find a suitcase in an elegant neutral – that’s not black?

You can sometimes find a gray or silver. Red is popular, but I’m not a fan of the color in my luggage.

AWAY stands apart first with its subtle color offerings – the navy // hunter green // tan (and yes, black) staples, but also their seasonal white and graphite offerings.I have the navy. It stands out nicely without being too conspicuous (i.e screaming “hey, steal me!)

Virtually any hard case suitcase will scratch or dent. It’s the payoff for having a significantly lighter suitcase. My AWAY carry-on has a handful of scratches and neat dent in the top corner, but I’ve also been using it once a month (sometimes twice!) over the past 7 months. It still looks fantastic, despite the wear-and-tear, and AWAY’s excellent warranty will cover more extensive damage (cracks in the exterior or broken hardware), which is on par with other luxury luggage companies.

INTERIOR

This suitcase opens up in two equal halves, with different closures. Which is intentional.

The built-in compression section, secured with a zipper, has replaced the need for packing cubes. I pack all my clothes in that section, neatly rolled and folded, and the section helps keep everything in place while minimizing the bulk.

It’s basically Spanx, for your belongings.

The second section in the AWAY suitcase is closed with two fasteners on a flat zippered section (a great place to store laundry sheets and feminine hygiene products), and has slightly less room as it shares real estate with the suitcase’s handle and battery. I typically pack my shoes, non-liquid toiletries and makeup, and the all-important steamer in that section.

DETAILS

One of the AWAY suitcases’ signature details is the in-suitcase battery. And it’s a game changer.

I’ve gotten 2 full charges (and sometimes more!) out of this single battery. Virtually all of my devices are charged with a USB cord – my phone, Kindle, iPad, and even my headphones – and having a heavy-duty backup power bank while in transit has been a delight.

And now, a downright necessity.

The suitcase comes with its own laundry bag, which neatly rolls up and sits in a zippered pocket in one corner. While I overlooked it during the first few times I used the suitcase, it’s become one of my favorite details of the AWAY carry-on.

Like the battery charger, it becomes a necessity only when you have it.

What AWAY has done superbly well is building their brand. Everything they do on digital, in print, and in-person is consistent with their products. The company has combined convenience, quality, and luxury at an attainable price point perfectly.

Which is no surprise, given their previous roles at Warby Parker.

I know luggage is a popular holiday gift idea, and that the AWAY suitcase has been popping up on gift guides everywhere. If you’re thinking about adding this to your list or gifting it – DO IT.

You won’t regret it. And I won’t blame you if you buy it for yourself.

The fine print – AWAY did gift me the suitcase, but all opinions are my own. I’d been holding off on reviewing the suitcase until I’d put it through the full HOTG test. AWAY aced it.

More luggage recommendations here, and all my travel tips can be found here.

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    Definitely on my wishlist!

    • hithaonthego

      Yay! You will love it. What color do you have your eye on?

      • Jessie Buckmaster

        I’m usually a black/navy gal, but I’m kind of loving the gorgeous hunter green color!

  • Telicia Allen

    I’ve been WAITING for this review!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • hithaonthego

      Aaah! So glad you liked it!

  • Laura

    Hitha, what size of the luggage do you have?

    • hithaonthego

      I have the smallest carry-on, which has met all international and budget size requirements.

  • Jess

    That charging feature is solid, especially in airports where outlets are in short supply! If only I hadn’t already gotten some great new luggage a couple of years ago from Briggs & Riley. Definitely will be recommending this to my friends though.

    • hithaonthego

      And it’s not that it’s a battery, in the suitcase. It’s a SUPER battery. I’ve charged my iPhone, Kindle, and headphones from it in a single sitting. It’s truly a lifesaver.

  • Colleen

    I love this suitcase and have had several people ask me about it as I am charging my phone in the airport as I roll down the walkways.. I have one in tan and have taken it all over the US since I purchased it last April. I did have the zipper break but AWAY promptly replace the bag.

    • hithaonthego

      So glad to hear from another AWAY fan! The tan is beautiful, and not a color I’d typically pick for luggage.

  • Felicia C. Sullivan

    Thanks, Hitha. I’ve been on the fence and I’m pulling the trigger on their checked luggage. Appreciate the thoughtful review.

    • hithaonthego

      My pleasure, Felicia! I’m so glad you found it helpful.

  • Lila

    I really like my Away, and it’s admittedly great for the price point, but a couple things to note for those considering buying it:

    1. The handle feels a little flimsy. If I have it loaded up (so, always) the weight of the bag sometimes causes the handle to twist/flip a little, so i have to stop and right it before proceeding. Nothing huge, but a big change from the Briggs and Riley I was using before, which had a cross bar for added stability.

    2. It does get scratched and dinged pretty quickly. I don’t mind, but others might.

    3. The side with the strap-down zippered section really does not have a ton of room. I had to extend the compression straps all the way just to fit in things like my toiletry bag, and still it was a tight squeeze. And since the flat section in the middle has an exterior frame but soft sides, it kind of twists and warps if the stuff underneath isn’t totally flat. I wind up having to pack a lot lighter with my Away than I did with my Briggs and Riley carry-on, but that was soft-sided and not a spinner, so it may just be a matter of adjusting to that. I haven’t tried Away’s Bigger Carry On, but heavier packers might prefer that!

    4. Because of the external battery, the Away shouldn’t be checked. It does come with a tiny Philips head screwdriver so you can remove the battery if you have to check it, but I didn’t have mine on a recent trip when I had to check some gifts I received. Might be inconvenient if you’re forced to gate-check…but it might also help you get out of gate-checking altogether? I haven’t tried checking it with the battery in place, so YMMV.

    5. Because it’s very clearly divvyed up into two discrete sections, you may have a hard time fitting in bulkier items. You could always leave the compression side unzipped, I suppose, but I didn’t love that idea. Though again, my momentary irritation at this may just be because I’ve never used a hard-sided clamshell before and am not used to the accompanying space constraints.

    Aaaaaaand didn’t intend to write a novel, but OH WELL. Hope this is helpful for someone down the line!

    • Lila

      (PS Hitha I got a review copy of your book in the mail at work today—SO EXCITED! Haven’t started reading just yet but I love the look and texture of the faux-leather trim and I can’t wait to dive in!)

    • hithaonthego

      All of these are excellent! I’ve been using a hardcase for 4 years now, so I’ve forgotten some of the limiting qualities it has for someone who’s switching over. I have accidentally checked it with the battery in place, and had no issues (whoops!)

      Thank you for your incredible feedback! And I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book :)

    • Tammy

      Thanks for sharing your feedback! Great points to consider when I switch over to a hardcase.

  • Lauren W

    Thank you SO much for this review. I’d seen a ton of reviews, but really wanted to hear from someone who used it for a long time. I travel often for work, and was waiting for a real review, like this! I just pulled the trigger and got the black carry-on. I’m now counting the minutes until it arrives. Thanks!

    • hithaonthego

      I really appreciate that, Lauren! I wanted to put the suitcase through the ringer before writing a review, and after 10+ trips, it’s still holding up beautifully. I’m so glad you finally ordered it.

  • Tammy

    YES, YES, YES, YES, YES! I’ve been patiently waiting for this review. I got my boyfriend the blue carry-on for his birthday and he loves it! I watch him pack it on our trips with envy while I use my (still in good condition to replace) samsonite. His is starting to see some wear with our travels but I’d like to say it’s evidence of our miles. ;)

    Counting down the days till my carry-on needs to be replaced so I can pick up the Away carry-on (or the slightly larger one).

    • hithaonthego

      I’m so glad you loved the post! You definitely need this suitcase :)

  • Sofia

    Just received the “bigger carry-on” from Away for Christmas and can’t wait to use it. The only thing that caught my eye right away as a potential issue is the handle, which feels very flimsy. Any issues with that in your experience, Hitha?

    • hithaonthego

      Hi Sofia! I know what you mean – the handle on my husband’s Briggs & Riley seems much more sturdy and it was something I was wary of. That said, I’ve put the suitcase through the ringer for 7 months and have had zero issues. The warranty also covers any damage to the handle, which makes me feel good about it. Hope this helps!

  • Kevin

    Does anyone have the bigger carry on? i just bought it and am wondering how much bigger “bigger” is?

    • hithaonthego

      My friend Michael purchased the bigger carry-on (he’s also a solid foot taller than me) and uses it for his weekly trips with no problems. While it meets most major US-airlines carry-on requirements, they may not fit in smaller planes’ bulkheads.

  • Polipau

    Does someone have the bigger carry on? Had any problem with the size? Thanks

  • Polipau

    Does anyone have the bigger carry on? Did you had any problems with the size? Thanks

    • hithaonthego

      I err on the side of caution and got the smaller suitcase, just because I really HATE to check in my bag. I’ve flown with it on smaller airplanes, large aircrafts, and budget airlines without any problems. I don’t have the bigger carry-on, but a friend of mine does and he loves it for his weekly Amtrak trips.

  • Connie

    Have you ever had an issue with European airlines that weigh carry-on luggage? When I looked, it strikes me as a little heavy (7 lbs, give or take), and I’ve had some airlines (most notably Brussels and Air France) get quite strict with me when weighing carry-on baggage. I want to use as much of my allowed weight for packing as possible!

    • hithaonthego

      I’ve flown with this suitcase (carry-on) on both Air France and Brussles Airlines, and have had no problems! But anytime I fly smaller airlines, I remove the battery in case I do have to gate check it.

  • cpl100

    Thanks for this review. I have purchased it for my son for his 30th birthday. He loves to travel and is always connected so I believe it will be a hit.

    • hithaonthego

      I’m so glad to hear that! I hope he loves the suitcase.

  • Jennifer

    Is the battery removable?

    • hithaonthego

      It is! The suitcase comes with a small screwdriver you can use to remove the battery.

  • Dennis Nash

    Hi, I just saw this and had a quick question. For liquid toiletries where do you store? I haven’t used a hard case before and I store in a front zipper to easily grab for security. Is there any easy feature for this? Thanks.

    • hithaonthego

      Hi Dennis! I keep my liquids packed in my personal item so I can easily remove it during security screening, if the airport doesn’t have TSA PreCheck. If it does, I just keep it packed inside the suitcase.

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