Imagine a world where your luggage rolls effortlessly next to you, you can charge your phone without searching the airport high and low for an outlet, and you don’t have to struggle to jam your heavy bag in an overheard compartment.
That’s the world that Away wants to provide with its line of modern, durable suitcases.
The New York-based startup — which launched in early 2016 — aims to create “the perfect suitcase.” The company makes carry-on bags and full-size suitcases, along with accessories like luggage tags and travel blankets.
So what is the perfect suitcase? And can it actually live up to the hype? I got to try one on a recent trip and found out for myself.
Quick, easy charging
I used Away’s smallest model, the Carry-On, on a five-day trip to the San Francisco area. The bag retails for $225, about $25 less than a Samsonite bag of approximately the same size. Away’s entire line ranges from $225 to $295.
The $225 is worth it for the charging ports alone. The option to charge my phone via my suitcase is one I never knew I wanted, but now can’t imagine living without.
As someone who frequently lets my phone’s battery run down all the way, but also loves the convenience of having my boarding pass on my phone, being able to charge up my phone while waiting for my flight — and not being tethered to the wall — was crucial, and helped make my travel experience almost seamless.
The bag has two USB ports hidden underneath the retractable handle which allow you to charge an iPhone up to five times and an iPad more than once.
Away includes a cable to recharge the suitcase’s built-in battery and a screwdriver if you want to remove the battery completely. The company recommends you do this if travelling to Asia, as customs officials can be more strict.
It’s worth noting that Away is one of several options for so-called “smart luggage,” with Raden and Bluesmart One also selling device-charging bags.
An ‘impenetrable’ exterior
Before leaving, I set a goal for myself: I would only bring the Away bag and try not to overpack. That turned out to be surprisingly easy thanks to the bag’s flexible outer shell.
All of Away’s bags have the same exterior: a plastic, scratch-resistant surface that won’t break under pressure. In fact, Away describes the outside of the bag as “impenetrable.”
That came in handy while transporting my bag everywhere from the New York City subway to the overhead bins on a very full JetBlue flight. It was durable enough to hold up while traversing Grand Central Station and flexible enough that I could stuff it in the bins worry-free.
And after five days of travel, my bag came home without a scratch.
The flexibility also aids in packing. Of any suitcases I’ve packed in, Away’s was the easiest, since I was able to stuff clothes and shoes in without worrying about it putting stress on the zippers. Plus, I was able to push down on the outer shell as much as I wanted without worrying about putting stress on the plastic.
While nothing about the interior of the bag is revolutionary, it is cleverly designed. One side of the bag is intended for shoes and other harder objects like toiletries, while the other side is meant for clothes and soft items.
Every bag comes with a detachable laundry bag that’s folded inside a small pocket and can be unrolled, filled, and attached to the inside of the suitcase with a metal snap. Each bag also has a stiff pocket that can be used to store a laptop, tablet, or book, and doubles as a means to tamp down your clothes.
As a chronic over-packer, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to fit inside the suitcase (three pairs of pants, six tops, two sweaters, two pairs of shoes, and much more). It’s deceptively spacious inside and could have served me well even if I was travelling for a full week.
And even fully packed, the bag is super-lightweight. The small carry-on only weighs seven pounds empty, so it’s easy to lift above your head.
In the end, the Away bag is essentially just a very chic suitcase — but a suitcase that’s well worth the money. The bag has a lifetime guarantee, so it could be the only luggage you ever have to purchase.
What sold me most on the suitcase was how compact and stylish it is. And since Away was founded by two Warby Parker alums, so it makes sense. The design of the bag is simple, modern, stylish, and — best of all — unisex.
The fact that it’s tech-enabled? Even better.