Guys, so sorry about the bad audio on this one. Had some problems I only realized when I got home. Read more: TechGadgetsCanada.com
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I've recently been on the hunt for new luggage, and being the tech blogger I am, I was interested in learning what's new in the baggage market. Smart luggage is all the rage, with features from charging, self-weighing, GPS tracking and more. I had the chance to try a carry-on suitcase from Away Travel.
The case I chose is what's called the Larger Carry-on in Minions Yellow. It's pretty bold, but I want something that will stand out.
Initially I was a little bit nervous about the size when I set it side-by-side with my existing Heyes carry-on. My Heyes luggage can fit into the overhead bin on its end and still have the door close securely.
It turns out my concern was for naught, since the bag fit perfectly in the overhead bin on my Westjet flight from Calgary to Palm Springs, California.
The exterior shell feels very thin and light and is quite flexible. It's "unbreakable, super lightweight, and has a little gift to it," according to the info pamphlet inside my case. Away says the flexibility means it will bend and not break under pressure, and that it's a natural shock absorber. Plus it can actually expand a little bit to give you more packing space.
The wheels on this suitcase are super maneuverable. The case will roll straight when you push it and will spin easily without wobbling.
One thing I did notice however was that when the case was full, it had a tendency to tip over when I would try to pull it along on all four wheels; it most often wanted to be pulled on its back two wheels. That's fine, and it rolls quite well, but when the bag is heavy I find I prefer to keep it on four wheels so the load is on the wheels, not my hand. I suppose this is a personal preference as opposed to a design flaw.
There is a TSA approved lock so the suitcase can be secured easily, but opened by the authorities if need be..
The telescoping handle slides easily and feels very lightweight. It has two locking positions, high, and low. The tallest setting is significantly higher than my existing luggage. As a tall person with a long stride, this is handy when I'm trying to dash through the airport with my bag. Plenty of times I clip my own feet with my suitcase because the reach is so short.
One of the things I'm most excited about is the built-in charging. Tucked inside a small but easy-to-access flap underneath the handle are the built-in charging ports.
There are two USB ports: A standard USB port and a fast charging.The battery is a 10,000 MA, which generally speaking is capable of charging an iPhone up to five times.
If airport security has questions about the battery, there's a sticker between the wheels with all necessary compliance info if you do need to remove the battery for some reason there is an included screwdriver so you can take it out. The battery is very easily accessed by unzipping the interior lining.
This is gaining importance particularly since some airlines have elected to ban smart charging suitcases if the batteries cannot be removed.
I believe the logic is that if a battery caught fire in the cabin, it could, in theory, be put out by flight attendants. Whereas in the cargo, ain't no one gonna catch it until it really starts a midair burn.
Inside it seems like there is so much room. The suitcase is divided neatly into two sides: one has a mesh covering that zips closed. It's made to store hard, bulky, and non-compressible items like shoes, toiletries etc.
On one side, is the area where you store your clothing; anything soft and squishable. You can pile up your clothes, then buckle the compression pad and tighten the straps to pack it all in and down. There's also a handy mesh pocket for laptops, tablets or readers.
I really like the Away bag. It's roomy, the wheels roll smoothly and easily, and the divisions inside are smart. Additions like the laundry bag and the built-in charging are convenient. The telescoping handle is smooth and operates easily, and the long reach is handy for taller folks. The bag (on its own) is quite light meaning you can overload it just a bit more and still be able to lift it into the overhead.
If I were to change anything about the bag it would be to pad the handle. I also didn't care for how easily it wanted to lean over onto two wheels when full.
Overall, if you're looking for a smart suitcase with style and smart features, I can definitely recommend Away.
Away is available from Away's website. The size I tested, Larger Carry-On, is $245