Last March, Away debuted with a whole set of new products to accessorize that #jetsetter lifestyle, rolling out a duffel with a luggage strap, garment bag, and more accessories than we can really and truly keep up with. Here's how the Everywhere Bag performed for nearly a year.
In particular, the Everywhere Bag is the company's attempt at the personal item and weekender that many manufacturers fail to get right. Though it delights in straddling that line successfully, and is a great bag in of itself, it doesn't top what's been done before.
But then again, it really will end up boiling down to aesthetic preference. More or less, it seems like the Everywhere Bag's key competitor is the Lo & Sons O.M.G. bag, a family-founded boutique handbag manufacturer that has been around for almost a decade.
The Away Everywhere Bag is designed to be a stylish and functional add-on to the suitcase, and is priced from $195 to $225, coming in a few different versions. The standard version comes in nylon at $195; limited editions have ranged from $225 to $325.
(It is worth noting that the Away suitcase itself is priced at $225, the same price as the Everywhere Bag.)
Since we're comparing prices, interestingly, enough the Lo & Sons O.M.G. is $275 and the O.G. is $295 (but was most recently seen on sale for as low as $165 to $192.50!). Away is on the lower end of the price sprectrum; it is certainly interesting to see the price distribution at retail cost.
Because of the similarities between both bags, this review is going to take on a slightly different format from other ones we've done in the past. First, we'll evaluate the Everywhere Bag as a standalone bag, followed by a major comparison against its competitor, the Lo & Sons O.M.G/O.G bag.
Getting into everything with the Everywhere Bag.
The company sent us both of the versions available at the time, the (black) nylon and a limited (blue) saffiano leather version (no longer available). On first impression, the nylon version seemed… staid, but eventually over time, we warmed to the materials. The saffiano leather version, on the other hand, is beautiful but became too heavy to carry around after awhile.
But aside from the exterior, that’s not really much difference regarding the interior in either version.
There is small open, front pocket that measures roughly 5 inches x 5 inches, barely big enough to fit a Google Pixel and/or an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite lengthwise, though these devices will peek out. This is not ideal for situations where petty theft might be a concern, and seems more designed for wallets and passports, since these objects slide in more inconspicuously.
It's also a good spot for the keys, though, I'd feel better if there was a dedicated key loop, which there isn't.
The luggage strap (that also doubles as a back zipped pocket), measuring 12 inches by 7.5 inches, is a better place to store frequently accessed items in our opinion. Here's a quick example of what we've stashed in here: small notebooks, pens, boarding passes, wallet, passports, and tea bags.
Flat items tend to fit well in here, as anything bulkier would impede the bag's ability to slide over a luggage handle.
The inside compartment is subdivided into two sections. There is a 12 inch x 6 inch panel inside along the front of the bag1 subdivided into two 6 inch by 6 inch pockets. Behind it is a largeeeee zip for random knicknacks, and this is often where the makeup palettes and valuables got placed.
The opposite side houses the main laptop compartment,2 "big enough to fit a 15-inch MacBook." (It measures 14.5 inches x 8 inches, though there's about 2 inches of additional wiggle room at the top. The issue is that we found bigger laptops might catch the top zippers upon pulling it out of the bag.)
Here are the laptops it would be able to fit, as I hate the assumption that millennials only own MacBooks. 🙄
|Manufacturer & Make||Screen Size||Width||Depth|
|Away Everywhere Bag||14.5 inches||8 inches|
|Macbook Air 11-inch (2014 model)||11 inches||11.8 inches||7.6 inches|
|Macbook Air||13.3 inches||11.97 inches||8.36 inches|
|MacBook Pro||15 inches||13.75 inches||9.48 inches|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme||15.6 inches||14.24 inches||9.67 inches|
The adjacent tablet pocket measures 10 inches by 5.5 inches, and is enough to fit a tablet like the iPad Mini lengthwise comfortable. The other adjacent pocket measures 5 inches by 5.5 inches. It seems better suited as a phone pocket, as opposed as a place to stash a Kindle, which fit much more reliably on the other side.
But perhaps what all the device pockets had in common, beyond everything else, is that they were all really poorly padded. Introducing a case often added more heft, especially in the case of the laptop.
Right underneath the umbrella pocket, lies a "hidden" rectangular pocket that opens up, measuring about 5.25 inches by 3 inches. Upon further inspection, it hides a U.S. passport rather snugly and seems like a great place to store it after the airport. It's an easy enough to miss pocket — it barely caught our attention, even after months of owning the bag.
Quite frankly at first, I thought it was to hold the umbrella flap, but since the umbrella flap isn't even rectangular, it doesn't seem like this is what it is for.
Speaking of, I actually downright hate the umbrella/water flap that lies along the bottom. Though it is not perfectly rectangular to accommodate different circumferences, the main issue is that it lies flat along the bottom of the bag. If there are other objects in the bag, it is virtually impossible to pack anything flat. There are other existing designs where the shoe compartment/water bottle/umbrella compartment is justified against the side of the bag, keeping it somewhat compartmentalized.
It is also not as big as other compartments seen in other products, so stuffing shoes or a pair of heels in it is really a no go. This design feature could benefit the most from a revamp.
In terms of construction, the Away bag consists of a special nylon blend, with leather accents. Most noticeably, these leather accents adorn the carrying handles, with a small touch on the strap, contributing to a nice uniform look. Everything is made of nylon otherwise.
Both the zippers and carrying strap are fairly standard. They're not significantly better or worse than most zippers and carrying straps on the market. The carrying strap itself measures about 1.5 inches wide, and is comfortable enough for most usage. It is a standard strap for most bags geared toward the fairer sex.
(In general, the best carrying straps are usually found on more masculine bags.)
Everywhere... on the road, on trains and on flights.
For ten months, the bag was schlepped everywhere around the continental U.S., covering over 18,000 miles, roughly three-quarters around the circumference of the globe. In fact, it wasn't until we tracked its mileage that we realize we barely went anywhere international in 2018 😞
But there wasn't a single form of transportation it wasn't subjected to: it sat on plenty of trains, passenger seats and airports due to its compact size, making it great for short trips. Normal transport, that is.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the fact that the Everywhere Bag does not fit in a regional jet's overhead bin, specifically both the Bombardier CRJ-700 and Bombardier CRJ-900. It will fit underneath the seat regardless of plane type, but it may be something to consider. On the bright side, there's no gate checking these bags on a small plane if someone is bound to have a lot of regional travel.
In terms of pushing past sleet, snow, rain and nasty coffee spills—let's be real!—the Everywhere Bag performed fantastically. Except for water spots and discoloration around the umbrella flap, this bag was incredibly easy to clean. The stiff nylon shows its true colors here: The Everywhere Bag looks as remarkably new as it first did as when we first received it.
For personal bag travel only, it's a great bag to have in the arsenal since it's possible to fit up to three, four or even five days depending on the locale and weather. (Travel days are included in this estimate.) In our estimate, a full week is seriously pushing it and will probably require Marie Kondo to pack those clothes.
The main downside is that it fails up to live to purse standards: I often found myself toting a small, standalone tote because it really doesn't look like a handbag I could bring to a restaurant date or to an office meeting.
This is something that often became more apparent and frustrating over time, especially when the Everywhere Bag served as an addendum to another suitcase or bag. It wasn't uncommon for us to pick this as a second personal item for especially long trips that easily exceeded two weeks or more. By the third or fourth week, I was often ready to tear out my hair at not having a smaller handbag to tote around.
But for long weekends, its nearly perfect.
Here's how it packed over time.
Noticeably Away's smallest packing cube was virtually perfect for the bag, especially for short getaways. (It also served us well on an extremely quick destination wedding several states away, lending us enough space to pack heels, sans hairdryer. And two to three pounds of Texas barbecue to go, more importantly.)
Generally, it's a bit much for an overnight bag but perfect for three-day weekend trips. Though it's possible to go even longer, it would seem that it would be hard to push this bag past four or five days. That's right around the time we'd start feel uncomfortable and craving fresh clothes and more creature comforts 😂
Here's how it packed...
|...as a weekender.||...as a personal item.|
Comparing it against the Lo & Sons bags.
It's almost impossible not to compare it against the Lo & Sons bags. Not only because it was one of the first products that got the green light from us, but because Lo & Sons pioneered a forward-thinking bag from the get-go. And also, because the silhouette is very similar.
There are also similar construction and design elements, but with some very subtle differences. But first, let's get physical with both bags.
Both the Lo & Sons and Away bag exteriors are made out of nylon, though its very apparent to the touch that these nylon blends are nowhere similar. In particular, the Lo & Sons exterior is made out of a 65% polyester and 35% cotton blend, while the Away "is constructed with an abrasion and water-resistant nylon on the exterior." (No word from the company on the exact makeup of the nylon, but its much stiffer and rigid than the Lo & Sons version.)
It's hard to say whether the Away bag will hold up as long as the Lo & Sons has, which truthfully lasted somewhere between three to four years before somewhat looking like it has expired, after a few hundred thousand miles on the road.
Only time and distance can truly tell if the Away bag can stand up to the test, though there are fairly high hopes since the stiffer nylon seems it would hold up better over time. Under the year that we did travel with it, it held up splendidly from the beach to the road (so easy to clean sand off, too!).
Away also chooses to use the same nylon material inside the bag, opting for a universal gray liner, a contrast against Lo & Sons' traditional gold-colored or purple-colored jacquard liner. In this, the edge went to Lo & Sons for providing a higher-color contrast, allowing someone to find different items inside more easily.
There is also significantly less padding in general on the interior of the Away bag, despite the company claiming high quality filler is used. The Lo & Sons opts for brass hardware; while the Away bag opts for plasticky type of hardware.
From a pure design standpoint, the most obvious difference between the two is the relatively nonexistent front pocket on the Away bag, while the Lo & Sons has a whole zipper compartment for notebooks, pens, key loops and more. Though there is often more digging in the Lo & Sons bag, the Away's front pock accessibility also contributed to plenty of lost pens and lipsticks. After using the front pocket for a while, we often chose to forego it to prevent losing more items.
They both feature a luggage strap, though both manufacturers construct this slightly differently. In the Lo & Sons version, the strap itself can turn into a pocket, since it utilizes a top and bottom zipper for this. In the Away version, the strap is a dedicated strap with a built-in zip pocket.
The Lo & Sons version of the strap seems like a smarter design, but runs the risk of lost items if the bottom zip is not properly secured. That said, there is a subtle difference of being able to have a pocket no matter what with the Away bag (though if the bag is STUFFED, it often hardly matters). The Lo & Sons luggage strap can only function as a pocket if it's not sitting on top of a suitcase; this doesn't matter with the Away bag.
Away's compartment is also not technically as functional as the shoe compartment in the Lo & Sons bag; the company calls this an umbrella pocket, and perhaps this is appropriate. The zipper seam runs along the bottom edge of the bag, so it's really not possible to throw significantly bulkier items in it. It simply lies flat when not in use, and has the added bonus of being relatively hidden because of the zipper's placement along the inseam.
In fact, this was almost never used because it often prevented us from laying objects or clothes flat if it was in action. In our opinion, this was the weakest design element in the entire bag.
The Lo & Sons shoe compartment runs along the height of the bag, which is secured internally by a tiny strap when not in use. It is more flexible in accommodating different types of objects, and since it is located by the side.
Meanwhile, the main compartment is almost exactly identical, except where the tablet compartment would be on the Away bag, there is an additional subdivided pocket. (Indeed, the tablet compartment fit an iPad Mini better.)
Here's a quick comparison of the specs between both bags.
|Make||Price||Capacity||Weight||Length||Width||Height||Drop Handle||Luggage Strap||Laptop||Tablet||Luggage Strap|
|The Everywhere Bag||$195-225||20 L||2.2 pounds||16.3 inches||7.3 inches||10 inches||7 inches||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lo & Sons O.M.G.||$275||18.5 L||2.1 pounds||16 inches||6 inches||13.5 inches||9 inches||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lo & Sons O.G.||$295||25.5 L||2.2 pounds||17 inches||6.5 inches||15 inches||9.5 inches||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
If we weren't accounting for the difference in materials, it seems like the Everywhere Bag only has a ever-so-slight difference from the O.M.G. bag, with minute design iterations.
If it were up to us, what version would we pick?
Even though the O.M.G. has started looking significantly worn over time, it is still an attractive bag. In fact, we saw a brand new one rolling around on top of a suitcase in New York the other day, and were taken aback (still!) at how sharp a new one can look straight out of the box.
In sharp contrast, the Everywhere Bag, is more minimalistic and understated, catering toward a unisex audience. However, overwhelmingly, most men we talked to did not express interest in the bag. The only man that expressed a preference for it was, well, swung the other way.
In the end, it all comes down to price and construction. Lo & Sons seems to use better materials all around, coming down to the hardware and the interior lining of the bag. Especially when it comes to comparing the Lo & Sons nylon versus the Away nylon. They are practically in almost different leagues, and never before have I been so convinced that not all nylon blends are created equal.
Lo & Sons runs great sales (sometimes even up to 40% off) on their bags all the time, making the price significantly affordable. In fact, these sales sometimes pit the prices within spitting distance of the cheapest version of the Away bag, making it a no-brainer to pony up the extra $30 or whatever it is.
The limited edition versions of the Away bag also doesn't seem like it justifies the $225 price tag, marking it into serious suitcase replacement territory, not unless it can suffice as a complete purse replacement. But the lining and compartmentalization in the limited editions aren't what we'd expect out of that price point.
Strangely, I think I approach luggage how I approach life. The premise of Away is fun, playful, and there’s a chance that if they bring back this Rashida Jones and pastel-inspired colors of cactus green, clay pink and violet luggage, I could be swayed for silly aesthetic reasons.
But in the Instageneration where moments are perfectly curated, selfies airbrushed effortlessly, and everything rehearsed, finding something substantive that will endure the test of time is difficult. The façade has never interested me (again, unless its in a pastel).
Travel coughs up the humanity in all of us, life laid bare, especially when jetlagged, dragging a suitcase over cobblestones after 13 hours of flying.
Away is a great brand for that magical time after college and before parenthood while we're (often, lazily) figuring out how to be an adult, and for the most part, this bag will you get there for the time being.