Away’s Aluminum Edition ‘smart’ suitcase is beautiful, but not worth the ca$h

If there was an incredibly niche contest for the most Instagrammed suitcase — which, in a perfect world, there would be — that award would have to go to Away. 

Away has almost half a million IG followers, and for good reason — their smart cases are pretty, minimal, and come in very aesthetically-pleasing colors. The luggage company has its “thoughtful luggage for modern travel” all over the #influencer community.

I consider myself to be somewhat influential (read: not at all), so I took The Carry-On from The Aluminum Edition out for a spin to see if it was more than just a pretty case.

Credit: Away

Wait wait, start from the beginning… what is a smart suitcase?

What sets “smart” suitcases apart from dumb ones, is that they have technical features such as portable charging, GPS tracking, and Bluetooth-connection. This obviously comes in handy when you need to charge your phone on the go, or need to track down your missing luggage.

The Away Carry-On comes with an ejectable 10,000-mAh battery, which the site says is safe and compliant with airline and TSA policies. 

Credit: Away

For GPS tracking, Away has partnered with Tile, a Bluetooth tracking service, to create tags that log the suitcase’s location when within a 100-foot range of a paired smartphone, or when any other Tiles come within that range. All this can be tracked on the Tile app. Keep in mind, this Tile Luggage Tag doesn’t come with the case for free — you’ll need to buy it for an extra $30.

Credit: Away

So, how did you like it?

I took The Aluminum Edition Carry-On on a week’s journey, which covered city cobblestones and rugged seaside steps, and honestly, I’m mixed on the quality of the actual suitcase.

To start with the positives: it’s sexy as hell. Seriously, look at it:

I have chills.

It could easily be a container for gold bars or guns, or a surface for Scarface to do coke lines off of. It really is that pretty.

The Away luggage comes in two carry-on sizes, of which I tested out the smaller one, and it fit a lot of stuff. I was able to pack a week’s worth of clothes pretty easily. It comes with a name tag and laundry bag, both of which I found incredibly exciting, and the way the suitcase is organized makes grabbing your laptop out of the designated sleeve quick and easy for airport security.

Unfortunately, you need to be careful of jamming this particular model shut. The normal range of suitcases has a zipper enclosure, but The Aluminum Edition has two clasps which lock it shut.

This is great on the one hand because it won’t easily pop open, but on one occasion a small piece of fabric got stuck in between when I was closing it. I needed sweat, tears, a sacrificed virgin, and a bit of help from someone stronger than me to pry it open.

I’ve been careful with overpacking since and haven’t had any trouble.

The site claims it’s “sized to fit in the overhead bin of most major airlines.” At 54.5 cm in height by 34.5 cm width and 22.8 cm depth, it was slightly large for many budget European airlines, which I fly exclusively because I’m a writer who would still like to eat.

Probably the most disappointing thing about The Aluminium Edition model is that it bangs up incredibly quickly. After one short flight in the hold, there were several visible dents and scratches. Now, unless it was seatmates with a bull, its shiny, pretty facade probably should have held on a bit longer.

To my surprise, they do address this on the site: “History in the making: Over the years, the aluminum exterior will show the marks and signs of your time together—the more you travel, the more stories you (and your suitcase) will have to tell.”

Credit: Away

Call me crazy, but who on earth would want to spend $475 (or €495) on banged up luggage? I might be in the minority here, but this, ehm, bangability feature strikes me as poor quality masquerading as a cool feature.

Cool — but how’s the tech?

Technologically, the battery pack is excellent. It lasts a long time, comes with a USB port for quick charging, and was reasonably lightweight and fast to recharge.

Those white marks are where I dripped paint all over my bedroom floor when I was trying to repaint my walls. No, I did not cover the ground properly.

The removable battery pack comes especially handy if you — like myself — frequently forget the concept of differing international plugs. I used it to charge my phone throughout the whole week and only needed to recharge the battery pack once. I’ve even started carrying it around in my work bag in between trips, and it’s saved me on multiple occasions.

Many airlines ask you to remove the battery pack before flying, especially if your luggage will be checked. On the whole, it’s easy and effortless to pop it in and out, and the battery’s charger even comes with adaptor plugs for different countries.

Let’s cut to the chase: should I buy one?

Despite a few shortcomings, Away suitcases are a good value for their money. The company is based off a direct-to-consumer business model, keeping overhead low and cutting out retailer mark up.

I would not, however, recommend The Aluminum Edition because of the negatives I mentioned above. Their normal range of luggage comes at a very accessible price point — $225 or €245 for The Carry-On — for which you get a decent suitcase, a great portable battery, and immediate acceptance in the #influencer community.

Use code GEORGINA for 10% off your next order! (Kidding, that won’t work, don’t do that.)

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Published July 23, 2019 — 06:00 UTC

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