TikTok loves these bags. But will I?
I’ll be the first to admit that before I became a frequent traveler, I gave absolutely no thought to luggage because if it got my belongings from point A to point B, it was all the same. Or so I thought. During a trip to Alabama, I unzipped my suitcase at about midnight after a long day of travel, and everything was wet. I knew then that I had to really invest in a good luggage set that kept up with my frequent adventures. With my current luggage pieces on the brink of retirement, I took to my favorite search engine, TikTok, to see what bags and suitcases everyone absolutely loved.
Overall, I wanted something easy to identify and lightweight with plenty of storage that was also multifunctional. The past few weeks, I’ve been testing out the luggage brands and suitcases highly recommended on social media. From weekend getaways to overnight stays and regular vacations, there was a type of luggage for every kind of adventure.
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For reference, here’s what I typically pack for trips: a crossbody bag, clothes including undergarments and jammies, one to two pairs of sandals, jewelry, toiletries, cleaning/sanitization kit, disposable bedding, medicine/first aid kit, snacks and either my MacBook or iPad/Apple Pencil. Of course, there are small electronics as well, such as chargers and travel documents. All the bags were used during trips of five days or less. Here’s how they compared for me:
The Battle of the Bookbags
F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L by Away – $220
At first glance, it looks ordinary, but you’re discovering your new go-to bookbag within minutes. There’s room for everything! Part of what makes this bag unique is its built-in compression system which means a notorious over-packer like myself can get everything I need either inside or in one of the hidden pockets. The padded straps provide extra comfort while carrying it as a bookbag, but it can easily be slid onto a suitcase handle for easier navigation or converted into a duffel. The straps can easily be tucked away for easy storage; it’s lightweight and can be used as a carry-on, personal item, or checked luggage, depending on how much is packed. Rough handling between Colombia and Miami left my bag with some scruff marks that I was able to get rid of without damaging the outside material. Overall, Away really knocked it out of the park with this bookbag.
Go Bag Small 40L by Baboon to the Moon – $189
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Immediately, I loved the bright exterior color that paired well with the playful interior print. It was very reminiscent of my personality. I also like that the Go-Bag is a part of a collection so travelers can snag coordinating bookbags, totes, fanny packs, and more. The adjustable straps made it comfortable and a breeze to switch the bag between myself and my travel partner, as we are both of different heights and sizes. The adjustable straps also allow carrying it as a crossbody, duffel, or in hand. Another product feature I liked was the built-in carabiner which I was able to hook my keys to the inside of the mesh zipper compartment for safekeeping. There are a few outside pockets to discreetly stash away items like cash or travel documents while remaining easily accessible. This size can be used as a carry-on or personal item. I wish this bag had a trolley pass and additional compartmental storage (so I can pack more), but ultimately, it’s a great choice for those who love overnight and weekend adventures.
Carry All Weekender by July – $195
A sleek leather weekender that is perfect for the minimalist traveler is exactly what comes to mind when thinking about this carry-all. July got it right with this one. The built-in cushioned laptop compartment was the fan favorite to me as it provided an extra layer of security between my MacBook and the other contents of my bag. I also really appreciated the inside pockets and dividers that helped with organization. Either side of the carry-all has an outside pocket for additional storage, and yes, there is a trolley pass! Admittedly, I had to do some finagling and minimizing to get a decent amount of my packing list inside, but it was doable for a 2-day trip. (For reference, I am plus size, and a straight size person may be able to fit a bit more).
Stackers Weekend Tote Bag by The Container Store – $169
It’s like an office in a bag, making it a huge plus for me as someone who is often on the go with work in tow. There are designated spaces for a computer, pens, notebooks, a cell phone, an umbrella, and even a water bottle. This did not take away from the overall packing capacity, as there was still plenty of room for two-days’ worth of essentials. Another huge plus for me was the compartment at the bottom, which I used for sandals as well as to keep dirty clothes separate. I also liked the connected wallet that came with it, making it hassle-free to keep up with i.d., credit cards, and money. The straps did not have as much padding as I would have liked, but it was still cozy to carry as a shoulder bag.
Carry On Vs. Checked Suitcases
Carry-On Closet by Solgaard – $295
Carry-on suitcases are the way to go these days, and this suitcase provided quite a bit of versatility. The huge seller with this suitcase is that it has a shelving system that compresses and is removable, allowing me to take my items straight from the suitcase to hang in the closet effortlessly. I was able to get four days of clothes in the shelving system and use the other side with packing cubes. The shelving system is optional, allowing me to pack using all packing cubes on a different trip. Another gem that came along with this suitcase was the built-in charger. Now, this may be an underrated feature to some, but I greatly appreciated how easily it glided across carpeting and traditional hard floors. It was also incredibly simple to change the TSA lock code, which I loved having as additional security for my belongings. All in all, this suitcase is a game changer for carry-on luggage.
Road Runner Carry-On by Level 8 – $178
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What I liked the most about this suitcase is that I didn’t have to choose between my MacBook or iPad because the front compartment unzips to reveal sleeves for a laptop, tablet, and other quick-grab items needed for a travel day. The two compartments each had their own TSA lock, so being able to unlock either at any time was neat. I also liked the zippered sections in the main compartment that allowed me to stow away toiletry items, maximizing the space inside. One of my sore spots with carry-on suitcases is the handle length. I found the handle not only easy to extend with one hand (and in one attempt) but adjustable to my preferred height as well.
Textured Check-In 24 by Level 8 – $187
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I got this in a fun, bright blue color, making it easy to spot in the sea of black suitcases going around the carousel. This minimalist design was sleek, sturdy, and incredibly durable. It was waterproof, something I was incredibly grateful for during rainy travels. There were similar features between this one and the Level 8 runner-up carry-on, such as the TSA lock, internal zippered sections, and the adjustable handle… all of which I was thrilled to see on their larger suitcase. I did miss having an extra outside compartment, but this full-size check-in suitcase had plenty of space for my whole packing list!
In conclusion, I think each of the pieces served its purpose and made a great travel accessory. Each company also offers an amazing product warranty for possible issues such as malfunction, defect, and hardware for normal wear and tear.
First of all - the luggage has to be lightweight by itself.
Secondly - wheeled carry ons often end up to be checked (at extra cost!)
Most airlines tend to have very varried dimension parametres and require wheels to fit within the restricted dimensions!Therefore a soft sided bag that can be carried like a backpack is a must for me.
If not overpacked it can be easily crammed into airlines "sizing crates".
Go with Briggs and Riley. LIfetime guarantee. I have had mine for 30 years now. Did once have to have the zipper repaired about 12 years ago--which they repaired for free under the warranty. And boy have I travelled. Usually for long trips (5-7 weeks) so I must pack in a rollie handcarry just for practicality's sake. IOW, this suitcase has taken a beating.
100% this. I have a family of four including 2 women that are chronic over packers. We go on long domestic and international trips and some cruises (so they have been thrown around a lot). Sometimes these bags will be pushing 70lbs and they look like the day I bought them 10 years ago.