BEST smart Luggage
Away Bigger Carry-On
If you’re after an attractive and extremely tough cabin case with device charging facilities and a superb compression packing system, look no further than the highly-rated Away Bigger Carry-On. A slightly smaller carry-on model is also available but, at 57.5 x 37 x 24cm, this version allows you to pack in enough gear for up to seven days of travel and, amazingly, it fits all international airline’s carry-on sizing boxes which, according to Away, are a little larger than the official measurement requirements suggest. This means you can feasibly get away with bringing a larger cabin case to the airport without anyone batting an eyelid. But don't take our word for it.
The Away’s small internal battery provides enough juice for up to five iPhone charges or a single iPad and can be very easily removed if required. The case itself is available in 12 lovely colours and made from hard, scuff-free Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate that'll withstand even the most robust treatment. You’ll be amazed how much stuff you can pack into this case, especially if using the compression system to its full potential. Away also produces a pair of check-in cases (without charger) and an unequivocally cute Kids Carry-On (pictured above), all with lifetime warranties. Top buy.
Lat_56˚ Red-Eye Carry-on Garment Bag
This premium suit-carrying shoulder bag is just the ticket for the business bod on a two- or three-day conference visit. Suits, as we all know, are among the most difficult to pack without turning them into a crumpled mess, and a creased suit is a complete no-no when it comes to securing that high-level deal or being seen round the conference table. Of course, you could just take a suit hanger with you but try carting that around the airport or stashing it in the cabin. They’re just more hassle than they’re worth.
The Red-Eye sets out to solve the travelling suit conundrum by using the tried and tested garment rolling method. Granted, rolling up an expensive Armani suit might seem like a violation but truth is, a tightly rolled garment or suit is far less likely to arrive full of unsightly creases. And even if it does have a few creases, all you have to do on arrival is hang the suit in the hotel bathroom where moisture from your first shower will make those creases completely disappear.
The Red-Eye uses the Saville Row-endorsed ‘Suit Packing System’ (SPS) comprised of a special torso shaped hanger and garment bag that holds the suit in place while you roll it up into a tight package. When you arrive, simply unfurl the bag and hang it up in the hotel room’s wardrobe. The rest of your smart gear – shoes, ties, shirts and underwear – goes into the additional ‘kit chamber’.
The Red-Eye is larger than the accompanying image suggests (it’s 55cm long and weighs a shade over a kilo) but it’s still well within carrying comfort levels. Lat_56’s telltale design flourishes are all present and correct, from the high build quality to the rather fetching dimpled rubberised exterior. This case is tough as nails, long lasting and arguably the most sophisticated and practical suit-carrying solution on the market right now. If you’re a frequent-flying businessman or businesswoman then a case like this is pretty much a no brainer.
Voltaic leads the way in the field of portable solar panel technology and the OffGrid Solar Backpack is literally a case in point. This cleverly designed 25-litre rucksack comes with a 6.15-watt solar panel on the rear and a 4,000mAh battery with a single USB output for charging anything from a 10-inch tablet to most USB-specific cameras, including some DSLRs. As with most solar charging products, Voltaic’s solar panel keeps the backpack’s internal battery topped up at all times. And even when the battery eventually runs out of juice – say overnight – it takes just three hours of sunshine to get your smartphone up and running again. The OffGrid is made from recycled plastic bottles and will accommodate a 15-inch laptop, a tablet, a surfeit of camera gear and enough under clothing for a weekend in the wilds.
Voltaic OffGrid Solar Backpack
If you thought the Samsonite Micro Scooter Case (see review below) was a bizarre but fun piece of travel kit, wait till you get a load of the forthcoming Modobag, the world’s first tech-filled motorised ride-on suitcase. No really. The Modobag functions like any other piece of carry-on luggage but when it comes time to board your flight, you simply unfold its handlebar and quick-release foot-pegs, hop on and press the throttle. Whoosh, the next thing you know you’re whizzing along the concourse at a not too shabby 5mph (8mph outdoors) while everyone around you huffs and puffs with all their oh-so-conventional luggage in tow.
The Modobag’s battery charges up in about 60 minutes and provides enough juice for up to eight miles of concourse cruising. It also provides power to two 5v USB mobile device chargers. The Modobag’s dimensions meet most airlines’ cabin baggage allowances though it does lose about 15% of its packing space to the onboard battery and the 150 watt motor. But here’s the rub… Will you actually get away with bombing round the concourse on a suitcase? After all, the last thing you want to hear is a loud Tannoy announcement requesting that the gentleman riding a suitcase please dismount and behave like everyone else. Launched May 2017.
LAT_56˚ RW_02 Road Warrior
LAT_56˚ specialises in high quality luggage made from military-spec moulded EVA foam and ballistic Nylon so rest assured your contents will remain intact. This handsome new eight-wheel, cabin-approved spinner is exceptionally well designed with a top pouch for an iPad Mini and travel documents, and a rear nylon sleeve that could accommodate an iPad, Macbook Air or similar sized laptop. Inside it’s a picture of travel perfectness. The main compartment has enough space for a three-day stint, there are a couple of small zippered sleeves for odd things like memory cards, small hard drives, keys etc, a decent sized zippered shirt pouch in the lid and a removable 100ml bag for shoes or ablutions. It also comes with a TSA combination lock for added security. The Road Warrior isn’t the lightest luxury cabin case on the concourse (3.7kg) but at just 55cm x 35cm x 20cm it meets the majority of airlines’ cabin baggage requirements, including Ryan Air.
John Lewis Monaco II
If you’re on a tight budget and need a robust, hard-sided polycarbonate accompaniment for your travels that looks extremely stylish yet doesn’t cost a fortune, then this tough yet lightweight medium polycarbonate spinner ticks a multitude of boxes. The Monaco weighs just 3.1kgs (very light for a case this size) and has a capacity of 74 litres which is more than enough for a ten-day sojourn. Superb.
Picture the scene… You’re on a whistlestop business or package tour with no time to pack and unpack. That’s where this new wardrobe-in-a-case comes in. The Rise looks like any other pull-along, duffle-style travel bag but open it up and it presents a fully collapsible shelving system replete with laundry compartment and integrated top shelf. When you arrive at your umpteenth hotel, simply open up and hang the whole shebang in the room’s wardrobe. The Rise Roller Blue weighs a portly 4.1kgs but has a huge capacity of 88 litres. Available directly from the US.
Osprey Cyber Port
Osprey produces some of the most desirable backpacks and luggage items on the market. The neat, uncluttered design and quality materials used for the Cyber Port is most welcome relief from the baggy norm. But it’s what’s on the inside that impresses most. Aside from a fleece-lined 13” laptop compartment, a sunglasses pocket and ample space for any commuting or in-flight necessities, the Cyber Port’s piece de resistance is a front flap that lifts up to expose a clear TPU-covered tablet sleeve. This means that next time you’re squashed up on a sardine train or standing on the street, a simple lift of the flap will provide full finger-swipe access to your tablet’s screen without the palaver of having to remove it. Brilliant. An ultra comfy shoulder harness, breathable rear mesh panel and neatly tapered zips complete a coolly sophisticated package.
If you’re looking for a top-quality polycarbonate four-wheel cabin spinner that doesn’t require being spread out all over the security checking area when asked to remove your laptop and tablet, then consider this handsome model that comes with an easy-access front sleeve for a 15-inch laptop and an average-sized tablet. The Torq is equipped with a combination-style TSA-friendly lock and meets most official cabin dimensions (except Ryan Air, of course). It also has enough capacity (36 litres) for a three-day stint. However, at 4kgs, it’s not the lightest carry-on at the check-in desk or the cheapest.
Briggs & Riley Torq
This smart and very stylish backpack is the ideal receptacle from which to whip out one’s silvery sleek MacBook Pro. Although it’s designed predominantly for Macbooks, it will naturally accommodate any model of laptop up to 13-inches (a 15-inch version is also available). What’s especially clever is the way the laptop compartment can be tailored to fit, simply by making adjustments to the flaps on the side. Add a 10-inch tablet sleeve, a pair of smaller pockets and a big main compartment for everything else and you have the ideal travelling workstation on your shoulders. It’s also perfect for airline travel and very reasonably priced, too.
Dicota Code Backpack 11-13
For peace of mind while out in the sticks, this self-standing backpack features a removable 10,400mAh Lithium Ion battery capable of fully charging a single full-size tablet or four smartphones via its three USB ports. The bag holds an impressive 41 cubic litres and comes with 13 compartments in total, including two internal and five external pockets designed specifically for carrying gadgets like laptops (up to 15”), tablets, compact cameras, you name it. There’s a bit of setting up and some cable routing to be done before use but nothing a bit of common sense won’t solve. The Energi+ is just the thing for the travelling gadgeteer; it meets all airline carry-on luggage dimensions and is dead easy to access, too. Tylt is a US-based company but it does ship internationally.
Load up for your next festival with this 4.4-watt solar charging backpack and when your travel speaker, mobile phone, GoPro or tablet runs out of juice, simply plug it in to the built-in USB port, point the panel at the sun – assuming you’re not at Glastonbury, of course – and after an hour or so, voila, power to the people. The Elevate has decent enough space for all of one’s electronic essentials, including sleeves for a small laptop and a full-size tablet. Mind, you wouldn’t want to just chuck this rucksack around lest you scratch that lovely shiny solar panel. Birksun is US based but they ship internationally, too.
Birksun Elevate Solar Charger
LAT_56˚ BC_01 Briefcase
Briefcases don’t come much more rugged than this pliable but reassuringly durable model. The LAT–56 holds a 13-inch laptop and expands when required to swallow enough accoutrements for a weekend away. LAT–56 produce a number of similarly-designed cases in different sizes, including a cavernous and extremely rugged backpack (pictured) for orienteering and general day-to-day chuck-about use. Check ’em out.
Families have kids and kids come with a lot of holiday paraphernalia. This trendy gear-swallowing, four-wheel monster steers effortlessly through the concourse and comes with an outer pocket sleeve for all those last-minute accoutrements. The tough but light polycarbonate Antler Prospero has an impressive packing capacity of 104 litres and comes replete with an internal pocket, all the obligatory packing straps, even an integrated combination lock. Top buy.
Antler Prospero Large Suitcase
Samosonite Micro Luggage MkII
This bizarre, cabin-approved hybrid case could genuinely cut minutes off your trip to the check-in desk. At first glance, the Samsonite Micro looks like any other wheeled cabin baggage. However, closer inspection reveals an extra pair of titchy nylon wheels attached to a robust metal foot plate that folds out to create the zippy little scooter illustrated on the left. The telescopic trolley handle even doubles as a handlebar. You can’t make tight turns on this thing, but its lean-and-steer mechanism does allow for gentle arcs.
The case itself is made from nylon-covered polycarbonate and is divided into two main zippered compartments with space for around 26 litres of travel accoutrements – enough for a weekend away. The upper storage area is ideal for cabin gadgets and features a padded area for a 15-inch laptop and sleeves for a tablet and travel documents. The Samsonite Micro weighs in at a 5kg – twice the heft of most quality cabin luggage but still light enough to carry up a flight of stairs. Micro recommends a maximum speed limit of 10kph (yeah, right) and a user weight limit of 100kg. Go on, you know you want one.
This isn’t the lightest case around but taking it up a flight of stairs isn’t a problem because the unique, British-made Live Luggage has two little electric motors built into its wheels that kick in whenever the case senses an incline. Live Luggage also comes with an ‘anti-gravity’ handle that puts 85 per cent of the weight over the wheels, making it less tiring to lug around an airport. And should your journey be interrupted by inclement weather, simply whip out the supplied umbrella and be on your way. Clever.
You know that heart-sinking moment when you find your cabin bag is already filled to the brim and there isn’t any space left for your plush Harrods dressing gown? Ring a bell? Like any expandable cabin case, the Briggs & Riley Expandable Upright allows you to extend the sides by several inches, which is good for the dressing gown but not so good for the respective airline’s cabin baggage measuring thingamajig. Solution? Simply press down on two sides of the case and it compresses back to the correct cabin-friendly dimensions. Suck on that Mr Ryan Air!
Briggs & Riley Expandable
Finding the right kind of cabin bag is like searching the proverbial haystack, especially if your holiday isn’t complete without a shedload of gadgets. This wheeled tote not only has a large enough space for a little extra emergency clothing, but it will also easily swallow all your DSLR gear, 15” laptop, tablet, travel speakers and travel documents. Even better, because it opens from the top, you can reach in and grab what you need mid-flight while the case is tucked away in the above-seat locker. The Samsonite Short-Lite Rolling Tote is cabin friendly for most airlines apart from Ryan Air, of course, and serves as a great weekend case, too.