By Rena Behar
April 11, 2019
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Courtesy of Arlo Skye

Arlo Skye self-describes its luggage as “travel pieces for the design-obsessed.” And, I can confirm, the brand's Louis Vuitton and Tumi alum founders have made an extremely aesthetically pleasing piece of luggage.

From the minute I opened the box the Polycarbonate Carry-on (arloskye.com, $450) was shipped in, the bag felt deluxe. It's delivered inside a fabric dust bag that you can store it in between trips — a nice bonus if your luggage storage shares space with outdoor gear — and a leather luggage tag. When you set it on the floor, the suitcase wheels like a dream. It’s almost completely silent to wheel and just one slight push will send it rolling gracefully in any direction (and conveniently point out any unevenness in your floors).

Rena Behar

The hardshell suitcase, made out of virgin polycarbonate, should stand up to whatever you can throw it at it, particularly with the reinforced corners, but it will take some dings along the way the same as any hardshell. Rather than frequently fallible zippers, it closes via two three-digit TSA-friendly combination locks that you can pop open and closed. As a slightly paranoid traveler, I liked that the contents were always protected no matter where I left the bag; as a lazy person, entering a combination every time could be a little annoying, but you can always leave it unlocked to avoid this.

Inside, one half is open to a compression strap setup while the other is covered with a zippered fabric top. The split-side design of hard bags means you have to be more judicious with your packing than you might with a more flexible soft bag, but you should be able to pack plenty for a short trip. I brought the Polycarbonate Carry-on model on a nine-day trip to the Caribbean and managed to shove everything in, including three pairs of sandals (I like to have options) stuffed into the two included shoe bags, but it was a challenge. 

If space is a concern for you, there is a Bigger Carry-On (arloskye.com, $475) available, though it's pushing the limits of what some airlines consider to be acceptable carry-on size. The site notes that you should be safe when flying with United, Southwest, American, and Delta, and that it fits in the overhead compartments of "big planes."

Rena Behar

There are no external pockets if you want to stow a book or tech on the outside, and the hardshell build is not forgiving to overpackers. If you want to pop open your whole suitcase in the middle of the airport, the zippered side does have an external thin pocket useful for stashing an eye mask or accessories. I had packed the bag tightly enough that I was a little worried that shoving a book in there would rip the seam, or that I would never get it closed again. I had to sit on mine after one especially haphazard repacking job, and was occasionally thwarted by the edges of my clothes sneaking out and interfering with the closing mechanism.

The inner lining is antimicrobial and highly effective. My post-beach laundry lived in the included laundry bag for about 10 days (definitely for testing purposes, definitely not because I forgot to unpack it) and didn’t leave a trace behind.

Rena Behar

On the outside, it looks like the fancy cousin of the Away suitcases everyone seems to be wheeling around recently. It even includes a removable USB power bank, which is nice if you’re going somewhere with potentially limited outlets. I’ve never considered this a necessary luggage amenity, as someone who travels with a portable battery pack, but it is easier than unearthing a small battery from your backpack and potentially carries a higher charge capacity.

Overall, I was more into the Arlo Skye's additional benefits of reinforced corners, silent-roll wheels, locking closures rather than zippers, and generally more professional, well-designed look. If you’re into sleek design and minimalist travel, the Arlo Skye bag is a strong carry-on contender.

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