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It was a close competition, but one suitcase truly had us soaring
Your suitcase can make or break your travel experience. It might sound dramatic, but it’s true — just picture the pain of dragging a sticky-wheeled bag down the airport hall or opening a clamshell bag to find all of your belongings jumbled around and covered in shampoo. In the competition for the best carry-on suitcase, two viral competitors have emerged: Away and Béis.
The Béis Carry-On Roller and the Away Bigger Carry-On Flex are roughly the same size, and both carry-on suitcases have polycarbonate shells, smooth-wheeling 360-degree wheels, and multiple handle options. But we also found a few obvious differences between the two trendy pieces of carry-on luggage.
To get to the bottom of which brand is truly best, we put the Away and Béis carry-ons head-to-head in our testing labs. We compared both suitcases with scientific-like precision, judging their organization, size, ease of carry, and any extra features. After rolling, packing, and baseball-bat-smacking each suitcase through multiple tests, we found a clear winner. Keep reading to discover which travel brand makes the best carry-on suitcase.
Away The Bigger Carry-on Flex
Price at time of publish: $345
Dimensions: 14.5 x 23 x 9.6 | Weight: 8.5 pounds | Materials: Polycarbonate shell, leather, | Charging-enabled: Capable, but battery not included
Béis The Carry-on Roller
Price at time of publish: $218
Dimensions: 15.7 x 22.8 x 9.8 inches | Weight: 8.3 pounds | Materials: Polycarbonate shell, vegan leather | Charging-enabled: No
What Are the Key Differences Between the Away and Béis Carry-On?
The biggest difference between the structures of the Away and Béis bags was, in our opinion, the organizational layout — and Béis takes the cake here. The Away suitcase is made up of two large clamshell sections, with a zippered compression net on one side and a mesh pocket divider on the other. The simple, no-fuss design would be great for anyone who’s okay with just throwing their belongings in essentially two large compartments.
Comparatively, upon unzipping the Béis carry-on’s clamshell sections, you’re met with a zipped compression flap and pocket, a PVC zippered pocket, another zippered pocket, a mesh pocket, and a zip pouch for keeping smaller items. And the Béis carry-on comes with a separate pouch for sorting your dirty clothes, wet clothes, shoes, or anything else that you want separate from the rest of your clothing. In short, the Béis Carry-On Roller is an organized traveler’s dream.
Both the Away suitcase and the Béis suitcases are made with polycarbonate shells that look similar at first glance — but do they really hold up the same? That’s what we aimed to learn in our rigorous testing process that included shoving both cases off ladders and slamming them with baseball bats. Overkill? Perhaps. But we were left with valuable insights, mainly that the Away suitcase seems to be more durable than the Béis one. Both suitcases sustained some surface scratching, but the Béis bag showed some dents that the Away bag didn’t.
While both are made of polycarbonate shell and vegan leather, the Away suitcase is more expensive than the Béis model, so we’d expect at least a slight difference in quality. And, if you’re not slamming your suitcase with a baseball bat, we think the Béis carry-on will stand up to the regular bustle and jostling of travel.
The Away carry-on costs over $100 more than the Béis carry-on. Compared to other high-end bags, neither the Away nor the Béis carry-on suitcase is at the top of the price spectrum, but neither is as inexpensive as some of our favorite Amazon picks (more on that later).
Away Carry-On Pros and Cons
The Away brand was one of the first viral, tech-forward luggage brands to emerge in a now crowded marketplace and boasts more than a few celebrity fans (including Megan Markle). The brand designs suitcases “to make each and every journey more seamless,” according to its website. After testing the Bigger Carry-On Flex for ourselves, we agree that the bag performs exactly as promised. The 360-degree spinning wheels rolled smoothly across every surface we tested on, including a real-world test in snow and gravel. Through our vigorous lab testing and real-world experience with the Bigger Carry-On Flex, we found that the bag was surprisingly durable — no denting, sticking wheels, or loose handles here. Some scratches did form on the side of the bag during our drop testing, and the eraser sponge that comes with the bag couldn’t altogether remove those marks, but they weren’t very noticeable.
We were able to fit an entire long weekend’s worth of clothing and items in the suitcase’s spacious compartments, and we appreciate that one side zips closed to keep the items in that half of the bag secure in transit, but we wish that the bag offered a few more organizational pockets or sections. The bag does have other thoughtful features, though, like a TSA-approved combination lock and a built-in USB charging port. Those extra features and the impressive durability and glide of the Away suitcase make it worth its price.
Béis Carry-On Pros and Cons
You actress Shay Mitchell started her organization-first luggage brand by sketching a bag “on a cocktail napkin on a plane one time,” she told PEOPLE exclusively. Since then, Béis has become known in the luggage industry for creating high-quality, uber-organized bags at a more affordable price point than its competitors. The Carry-On Roller bag is a perfect example of everything that Béis does best: it’s beautiful, organized, and shockingly well-priced. It has some of the best organizational capabilities of any carry-on suitcase we’ve tested (and we’ve tested plenty). Inside the carry-on, there are two large, zippable compartments with a zipped compression flap and pocket, a PVC zippered pocket, another zippered pocket, a mesh pocket, and a zip pouch for keeping smaller items.
The Béis carry-on also comes equipped with a few nifty features, like a built-in weight indicator that shows if your bag is over the standard 50-pound airline carry-on limit (but if you’re looking for a bag that can carry even more, we recommend the Check-In Roller, which was one of the winners in our checked-luggage test). The handle is padded with cushy memory foam to make the bag comfortable to pull, no matter how heavy you pack it. And though it doesn’t come with USB charging capabilities, we find that we rarely use that feature when it’s offered with other suitcases anyway.
We only found one con for the Béis carry-on roller: how it responded to our baseball bat test. The bag dented slightly after being hit with the bat, and that dent affected how easily we could pull up the telescoping handle. But, the bag didn’t dent during our ladder drop test or in any of our real-world traveling; just a few scuff marks on the paint, which we didn’t really mind. Again, the bat test is an intense one and not something users will actually be doing themselves (we hope).
Away Carry-On vs. Béis Carry-On Verdict
Winner: Béis The Carry-On Roller
While the Away bag beat out the Béis in terms of durability, the Béis bag performed just as well (or better) than its competitor in all of our other testing categories. Where the Béis bag truly earned its crowning title was its clever pockets, smart features, and great value. For $100 less than the same-sized Away bag, the Béis bag comes with more pockets and a built-in weight indicator — plus, it still looks just as sleek and trendy as its rival.
Amazon Basics 21-inch Hardside Spinner
Another carry-on suitcase we tested that stands up to the Béis and Away bags is the Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner, which fit everything on our packing list, maneuvered smoothly over bumps and was shockingly durable during our ladder and baseball bat tests. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as its more expensive competitors, but if you’re looking for a simple carry-on suitcase, this one is a great value.
Does the Away Bigger carry-on fit into an overhead bin?
Yes, while the Away Bigger carry-on is slightly larger than the original Away Carry-On, it still fits into a standard overhead airplane bin easily. We found that the similarly sized Beis Carry-On fits into an overhead compartment just as easily as the Away Bigger bag.
How much can you fit in a carry-on?
In our tests, we packed both the Away Bigger Carry-On Flex and the Béis Carry-On Roller with enough clothes for a long weekend, including:
2 long-sleeved shirts
3 pairs of pants
5 pairs of socks
5 pairs of underwear
2 pairs of shoes
2 toiletry bags
After packing all of those items into both suitcases, we still had room to spare.
How much does a carry-on suitcase cost?
There is a large range in the quality and price of luggage available on the market, from less expensive (and less durable) Amazon luggage to luxury, high-tech carry-ons. In general, a carry-on suitcase costs between $88 to $700 (as we said — huge range!). If you’re looking for a simple, well-made suitcase that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Béis Carry-On Roller, which costs $218 but performs as well as much more expensive bags.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Cai Cramer is a shopping writer at PEOPLE, covering the best and buzziest products across the beauty, fashion, health, and lifestyle spaces. For this story, Cai consulted extensive testing data from the PEOPLE Tested labs, which included durability and real-world testing on both the Away and Béis carry-on suitcases included in this story. In a previous story, Cai also spoke personally with Béis founder and CEO Shay Mitchell about how she started the brand.
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Read the original article on People.