Mar 04, 2024

Away The Carry

Away’s stylish, well-built luggage has long been a favorite of ours, and this aluminum version provides the functionality and maneuverability we’ve come to expect, wrapped up in a sturdy, beautiful metal package that should look better as you use it. Away has recently upgraded their lineup of luggage, and the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition builds on the brand’s signature clean lines and good looks, delivering the classic aesthetics and security of an aluminum case at a fraction of the cost of higher-end options.

Away’s aluminum carry-on combines the classic looks of the material with the style and functionality we've come to expect from the brand. It’s a great choice and a good value compared to higher-end aluminum luggage.

Visually, the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition makes a strong impression right out of the box. Its aluminum exterior is thick and cool to the touch, giving it a really solid, sturdy feel, unlike flimsier, lower-quality “aluminum” options that feel more like spray-painted plastic. Its brushed finish also absorbs wear and tear much better than those inferior options. While our abrasion and drop tests resulted in the expected scratches and scuffs, this inevitable cosmetic damage gives the case more of a worn-in, well-traveled look, unlike polycarbonate units that tend to look shabbier over time. The riveted corner caps add a cool, handcrafted touch as well, while also adding to its overall durability. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Away and why we recommend their bags whether you want the best checked luggage or the best carry-on luggage.

One of our favorite design features of this case is its slow-release, briefcase-style carrying handles on the top and side. Combined with the natural sturdiness that comes with a metal case — no stretching or bending like zippered polycarbonate luggage — these handles provide a noticeably comfortable and balanced feel while carrying the case or lifting into or out of an overhead bin, even when fully loaded. When you’re done with them, they quickly fold back down automatically and take up minimal space.

The aluminum telescoping handle has three height settings, and the soft leather grip — also found on the carrying handles — adds to the premium experience. While steering and maneuvering this case was a breeze on flat, smooth surfaces, the wheels lacked the silky smooth feel of some other models we tested. These wheels rattled a bit when rolling over sidewalk cracks, so I definitely have doubts about Away’s claim about their ability to “breeze through” cobblestoned streets. The Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition is also on the smaller side in terms of storage, with a 35-liter capacity compared to the 39-liter capacity of Away’s The Carry-On, our pick for the best hard-shell carry-on luggage overall. We did find that the smaller size made the underachieving wheels less of an issue, since lifting and carrying was easier overall. (You’ll alway want to check airline carry-on baggage size requirements, by the way, which can vary between domestic and international carriers.)

The twin latches provide a convenience and peace of mind that’s hard to overstate. Instead of wrestling with frustrating full-length zippers when closing up your packed suitcase, the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition uses two heavy-duty latches to seal the case closed. These latches aren’t just a time-saver when opening and closing the case; they also prevent you from worrying about an overloaded suitcase bursting its seam and sending your clothes across the baggage claim conveyer belt.

We also appreciate that the high-end design extends to the interior of the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition. Additional latches and a compression strap system keep your items snug and tidy, and the only zippers belong to the helpful mesh pockets for small item organization and the dirty laundry bag storage pouch.

An onboard battery pack adds a modern convenience to this classic case. Hidden in a compartment underneath the handle, this 10,000mAh battery offers two USB-A ports and a micro-USB input for charging the pack itself.

The only real issue we had with the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition was the somewhat rough operation of its wheels, the only element we didn’t feel quite was up to the standard of the rest of the case. This isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, and perfectly fine if you plan on using it primarily in the airport, but you can certainly find smoother wheels elsewhere. These wheels rattled a bit in operation and can also get in the way when laying the case on its side to open it up. Occasionally one of the wheels orients itself sideways, preventing the case from lying completely flat, requiring you to swivel it out of the way by hand.

This isn’t a knock specifically against Away, but the aluminum body also translates to a heavier overall weight, and the Away Carry-On: Aluminum Edition weighs about 3 pounds more than the Away Carry-On, while also providing less usable space inside.

The aluminum body is really well made and provides the sturdiness and classic aesthetics you want from a piece of aluminum luggage. Scratches and dents give it a cool, weathered look and the hidden battery pack is a convenient feature to have on hand for unexpected delays.

Made with a strong but lightweight 100% polycarbonate outer shell, smooth YKK zippers, an aluminum telescopic handle and the Rolls-Royce of luggage wheels: four double Hinomoto spinners, which in our testing glided seamlessly on pavement, hardwood and grass alike.

Classic and glamorous design with a luxurious feeling, comfortable handles, easy brake system and scuff-proof exterior.

Gorgeous bag with a sleek, monochromatic exterior, a squishy cushioned grip that made for an ultra-comfortable carry and exceedingly lightweight.

The detachable exterior sleeve makes it extremely convenient for accessing and using your laptop, super-durable and stain-resistant 1000D polyester, eggshell texture of polycarbonate shell conceals scuffs and scratches, extremely comfortable handle and smooth wheels are easy to maneuver and roll around.

Wheels aren’t as smooth as we’d like, heavy weight considering the amount of storage space and expensive price tag.

Heavier than some other bags we tested.

Heaviest of our top picks and slightly bulkier than the Away bag. The excess weight could cause trouble when trying to carry this bag onto certain international flights.

Can exceed size and weight restrictions on some airlines when using the expandable part of the bag. The expandable part of the bag is also made of fabric, which is inherently less durable than the hard shell itself.

Loses some interior space due to the outside sleeve, and interior zippers are a little small.

10.1 pounds, 35-liter capacity, two device-charging ports, lifetime warranty

8.1 pounds, 39.8-liter capacity, two device-charging ports, lifetime warranty

9.3 pounds, 44.9-liter capacity, 10-year warranty

6 pounds, 46-liter capacity that expands up to 2 inches, two-year warranty

8.6 pounds, 42-liter capacity, two device-charging ports, lifetime warranty

Its high price tag might not be practical for those with a limited budget, but considering that higher-end aluminum options can easily cost over a thousand dollars, we feel that Away’s The Carry-On: Aluminum Edition is a great value in context. If you’re looking for a great-looking carry-on that’s sturdy enough to last a long time — and don’t plan on doing excessive rolling on rough terrain — this is a great option.