Affordable, durable, functional—what more do you need in a suitcase?

By Lauren Phillips
Updated February 27, 2020
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Optimus Luggage Review: First-person review of the Optimus carry on suitcase
Credit: optimusluggage.com

More and more people are traveling regularly for work and for pleasure; at the same time, the cost of checking a bag on an airline (or even carrying one onto the plane) is rising, so it’s no surprise that the hunt for a reliable, durable suitcase that fits into an airplane’s overhead bin is increasingly desperate. Some popular options are on-trend and give anyone the look of a stylish, put-together traveler, but those popular options can also be expensive (think more than $200 for a carry-on). Finding the suitcase sweet spot where options are affordable, durable, and good-looking may seem impossible, but it’s doable.

For me, that suitcase sweet spot is the Optimus Luggage Carry On. I live in New York City, a place with endless flight options to any destination you can think of; I have family scattered across the country (and even abroad); I like traveling to far-flung places for vacation, and I occasionally get the opportunity to travel for work, too.

With all that, I end up on an airplane several times a year (hello, Frequent Flyer status), so it’s a necessity that I have a suitcase that can count as a carry-on (so I can avoid bag fees), fit all my travel necessities (I’m a notorious over-packer), and withstand the challenges of traveling and being dragged through city streets. I’ve had a few options in the past that, for various reasons, haven’t worked: Some get scratched on my first trip with them and look dingy and grungy forever thereafter; others only fit in some airline overheads; still more can barely hold a pair of shoes, much less my travel wardrobe.

So much can go wrong with a suitcase, particularly a rolling suitcase that gets tossed into closets, onto planes, and into taxis, but my Optimus Carry On hasn’t let me down yet. The wheels are 360-degree (aka spinner wheels), so they roll in all directions: I don’t have to drag my suitcase behind me, and I can easily traverse rough terrain (aka cracked city sidewalks). The handle is sturdy and extends and retracts easily. Many suitcases’ handles break, and though that hasn’t been a problem with mine, if it did, Optimus offers a 10-year warranty.

On the inside, the suitcase is surprisingly roomy, with smart zippered compartments that make fitting a long-weekend’s wardrobe inside easy. (Learning how to pack a suitcase has never been easier.) The compartments are so smart that packing cubes aren’t completely necessary, but when I choose to use them anyway, they fit into the spacious main compartment just fine.

The Optimus Carry On even comes with a removable (and waterproof) laundry bag, so I can easily separate my clean clothes from my dirty ones during the trip. If I pick up a few extra souvenirs on my trip, I can expand the suitcase to fit a few extra items, and the polycarbonate shell exterior keeps everything safely contained—and it stays scratch- and ding-free, too. The suitcase even has a built-in TSA-approved lock, so you can keep your possessions protected.

All these features aren’t necessarily unique or new to suitcases in general. What sets Optimus’ items apart is the price: The Carry On is $100 ($99.99, to be exact), more than $100 less than other popular, top-performing suitcase options. $100 is a large chunk of money, but for a reliable carry-on suitcase, it’s positively affordable.