It used to be that pastel matte wasn't so ubiquitous. Unfortunately, there are only so many shades of the rainbow before 6 billion people co-opt all the same colors at the baggage carousel.
In our opinion, it doesn't matter if you're tired of distinguishing that dusty coast blue color suitcase from similar ones around the airport, feel like bucking the trend, or simply have other motives for not buying in.
The best part is there hasn't been a better time for great, design-focused luggage that doesn't cost a fortune. Competition truly fosters innovation.
These suitcase alternatives are less about being smart—so forget about having a battery inside—and are more about functioning well on the road, solid construction, with a clean aesthetic. (The main exception is the Arlo Skye Zipper Carry-On Max which does have a in-built battery.)
If you've never heard of them, Quince is a direct-to-consumer brand, like an Everlane cousin that does wonderful cashmere on top of luggage.
For a suitcase that is solidly around $130 for the entrant carry-on, this is one of the best value picks out of the lot. That's nearly a third cheaper than the most popular brand, all the while our suitcase tester actually kept forgetting it wasn't a $300 piece of luggage.
Outperforming a $1,195 Tumi bag isn't an easy task, but its wheels did, and for that, this brand should be a serious consideration.
It was a tough and a bitter pill to swallow that we'd be recommending a company that was started by an actress, but there was The Honest Company and all of that...
Though we haven't had a chance to get our hands on samples, so it's unfortunate that it's no possible to assess construction quality, Béis Travel products all seem fairly priced, and actually designed by someone who travels with functionality in mind.
In short, these products are more aligned in our values of making travel. If someone can get us a few samples onboard!
Deemed the "Apple" of suitcases, Canadian retailer Monos at a very similar price point. In fact, without the battery, we'd say Monos would give Away suitcases a run for the money, down right to the Terrazo-inspired suitcase line. (Besides, doesn't everyone carry their own battery pack these days?)
Plus, those darn Canadians are just so nice. (Read the full review here!)
The era of "smart suitcases" seems to have petered out, and have left the survivors. Perhaps Away's most direct competitor out of the bunch, Arlo Skye may be the answer. This is a brand that we haven't worked directly with, but have spied en route to the airport back and forth.
Backed by a bunch of LMVH executives, there actually isn't a ton of reason to believe that this wouldn't hold up well on the road. After all, Louis Vuitton has significant roots in travel before turning itself into a fashion brand.
Though the brand has several suitcases, the Zipper Carry-On Max polycarbonate suitcase comes with a 10,050 mAh charger (comparatively, 50 mAH more than the Away battery, so the difference is negligible). It is about $100 more than the Away suitcase, but certainly more distinctive.
Given its roots—and the fact that it is backed by the former Tumi founder and CEO—Roam is the most high-end out of the bunch. Unlike any other manufacturer out there on the planet, Roam allows customers to personalize everything down to the color of the shell to the stitching.
Is it too early to say it also is our favorite? In fact, it even makes us feel a bit basic regarding how much we like it. Primarily because the materials make us feel light as a biiiird.
The bags are a little pricey, but given its pedigree, Roam is that investment you make when you want a bag to last forever.
Lo & Sons
The company has been around for almost a full decade, so they have been ahead of the game for a while. In fact, the company re-released their O.G. bag, the O.G. 2, which comes in two sizes, the medium and large.
Though the bags can err on the pricier side, hitting the brand on one of their sales can yield significant value.
In the beginning, Everlane often attempted the bag category, delivering great-looking bags with limited, undistinguished functionality. They evolved over time, but not with a few missteps along the way.
These days, the brand is making great strides in delivering bags actually optimized for that elder millennial, globetrotting life, with a focus on the organization that is needed to get through a busy life. In particular, we like the brand's new move toward sustainability with the ReNew Transit Weekender and the ReNew Transit Backpack.
Plus, the price points are increasingly more competitive ($88 & $78 respectively) against $200 on a backpack. In fact, between Away and Everlane, it's a pretty clear decision to opt for the latter. If only Everlane decided to enter the suitcase category...