Have you ever seen a product on Instagram and wondered if it lived up to the hype?

After a couple of bad purchases, I became pretty skeptical about whether recommended products are actually as good as they seemed. But after more than a few glances, I got enchanted with this shiny suitcase company called Away.

A favorite among travel bloggers, this relatively new startup markets itself as the Warby Parker of the luggage industry. People love their products for the simplicity, functional design, and smart features.

So, I decided that after ten years of using my worn but beloved Briggs & Riley carry-on, I would give Away’s smallest suitcase a spin and see if it lived up to its reputation.Away_Lifestyle_Tokyo_2

First Impressions

When the Away suitcase arrived at my front door, I hauled the box up my walk-up apartment building. The first thing I noticed is how light it felt, thanks in part to its polycarbonate shell. I opened the box, delighted the fact that it was wrapped in a reusable canvas bag (bonus points for eco-friendly packaging!).

I made a few “oohs” and “ahhs” over the details that afternoon. The carry-on includes a couple smart components: a built-in smartphone charger for long layovers and zippers that click into a TSA-friendly lock.

And when I opened up the suitcase, things only got better.

Away_Lifestyle_Tokyo_27There’s just enough structure to maximize space without being overly complicated. The shell opens in half, leaving you half of the space for clothing and the other half for shoes, toiletries, and everything else you haul around. My favorite characteristic by far, though, is their roll-up, waterproof laundry bag. It’s made just for sweaty clothes and wet bathing suits — you won’t ever have to wrap a wet bikini up in a Ziploc again.

I sat on the suitcase (as I sometimes do at airports), and the shell comfortably bent to my weight, but it didn’t break. Thankfully, they have a lifetime guarantee, so if something (or someone) did cause a fracture or a dent, Away would replace it without asking any questions.

Away_Lifestyle_Tokyo_15Road Test

Here’s the biggest surprise: I actually enjoyed packing. The carry-on is intuitive to use, which I see as the mark of good design. Everything had its own place to go, and the compression pad and zippered compartments ensured that, for the first time, I wasn’t traveling with a bag of chaos.

As smitten as I was so far, the real test was how it functioned in door-to-door travel. Would it get scuff marks when I inevitably banged it on the rim of an overhead bin? Was it relatively easy to live out for a few days?

Carrying it down my stairs was a piece of cake. The rounded edges meant I carried it comfortably, even as it bumped against my legs. The handle was easy to grip, and again, the sheer lightness of the suitcase made it worth a purchase.

I loved that the wheels had 360 degrees capability, and that’s a new luggage requirement for me. I plopped my beloved Lo & Sons OG bag on top of the carry-on and glided through the airport without weight on my shoulders. When the suitcase got a scratch, I took a damp paper towel to it, and “poof!” it was gone. I got to charge my phone through the suitcase when my flight was delayed, too, which was a treat.

Away_Lifestyle_Tokyo_28Once I arrived at my destination and walked to the taxi stand, I realized my one pet peeve about this otherwise clever suitcase. Nitpicky as it sounds, the wheels on the suitcase are much louder than other bags against the pavement, and the roaring rumble grated on your ears.

That said, living out of it for a few days was simple. I opened the carry-on on a luggage rack, and everything stayed in its allocated place.

The verdict: I’m psyched about my new travel companion. Would I take it on my next adventure? Absolutely. Would I buy it in a bigger size, too? You bet I will.

The Carry-On: $225