Having the right piece of luggage can really improve your travel experience — finding that piece of luggage can sometimes be easier said than done.
For years I had relied on a lineup of soft-sided roller bags, both checked and carry-ons. However, for the past couple of years, I have been using hard-shelled suitcases exclusively, and I can’t imagine going back.
The soft bags were sturdy and did their jobs well, but they got dirty, stained, and generally just didn’t age well. Plus, I was never fully confident about the safety of my stuff inside them getting squished throughout my travels.
My family’s current luggage lineup consists of large, hardside Delsey suitcases and Away carry-ons. They have been great because we can pack them to the gills and they don’t tip, they’re easy to roll through the airports (the kids can even help), and they can be easily cleaned with a quick wipe down.
If you have done any research for checked or carry-on luggage lately, you have probably come across the Monos brand. Founded in 2018, this relatively new Canadian luggage maker is making some beautifully simplistic premium bags — without the full premium price (the bags aren’t inexpensive, but they provide great value).
I received 2 of these popular bags and put them to the test. Let’s take a look at them up close.
Table of contents
- Monos Overview
- Monos Build Quality
- Monos Luggage Sizes
- Monos Real-life Testing
- Where To Buy Monos Luggage
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Monos Overview
- Monos Build Quality
- Monos Luggage Sizes
- Monos Real-life Testing
- Where To Buy Monos Luggage
- Final Thoughts
Monos is based in Vancouver, Canada, and is dedicated to creating well-designed, premium suitcases. The simple designs are meant to be timeless, and with high-quality parts and materials, the bags are designed to be around for a while.
At a quick glance, there is a lot to like about this company. Besides making really good-looking bags (and clothes and accessories), Monos is Climate Neutral Certified, which means the company has net-zero carbon emissions — the first luggage brand to do so.
It also donates 1% of its revenue to verified nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to preserving and restoring the natural world… not a bad thing!
Add in the fact that bags come with a 100-day trial period and a lifetime warranty on parts, it is easy to see why so many people have quickly adopted this brand.
Monos Build Quality
I mentioned the warranty, and Monos stands behind it because it is so confident in the quality of its products.
All of the hardside bags are made with water-resistant, German Makrolon polycarbonate, which is a lightweight, aerospace-grade, vegan material that is nearly impossible to break.
The materials go through over 40 durability tests, including colorfastness, water repellency, and strength and impact tests. If you want to see some behind-the-scenes testing examples, check out the quality testing videos.
Monos Luggage Sizes
Monos has 2 sizes for both its carry-on and larger checked bags. Depending on your travel habits, not every bag may be a good fit.
Carry-On, Hybrid Carry-On, and Carry-On Pro
Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
These models should fit in nearly any overhead bin of any plane, even regional jets.
Carry-On Plus, Hybrid Carry-On Plus, and Carry-On Pro Plus
Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 9.5 inches
Just like its siblings, the only difference between the Carry-On Plus, Hybrid Carry-On Plus, and the Carry-On Pro Plus is the front pocket. However, the “Plus” version means that they are a bit larger.
These models probably won’t fit in the overhead bin in smaller planes but are fine on larger planes that the U.S. carriers tend to fly.
Dimensions: 26.5 x 18.5 x 10.5 inches
The Check-In Medium is the smallest large bag. Bigger than the Carry-Ons, it’s probably good enough for a couple to share on a quick trip or an individual on a longer trip.
Plus, the Carry-Ons can easily nest inside these bags for easy storage.
Dimensions: 30 x 21 x 11 inches
The Check-In Large is the biggest of the lineup with plenty of room for overpacking and bringing home souvenirs.
Hot Tip: Will the carry-on or checked bags from Monos fit on your upcoming flight? Check out our size chart guides that include allowances for all major airlines for carry-on luggage and checked luggage.
Monos Real-life Testing
Over the past 2 months, I have been testing the Carry-On Pro and Check-In Medium bags on both international trips with my family, as well as some quick weekend getaways.
Both bags arrived nicely packaged in brown boxes that were clearly labeled.
Inside the boxes, each bag was covered in a drawstring bag to prevent any scratches during shipping.
Both bags came with a nice little introduction card, some bacteria-resistant laundry bags, an imitation leather, vegan luggage tag, and a scratch-eraser sponge.
The first thing you will notice about these bags is that they are very sleek, and have an understated styling. I personally find them very good-looking.
The simple, hardshell look has become very popular thanks to Away, but Monos has done a good job making subtle changes to stand out a bit.
I ordered the Olive Green, but there are plenty of colors and patterns to choose from on the site.
Size and Compartments
I was really excited about the Carry-On Pro because previously my Away bag did not have an outside pocket. My wife has one and I always regretted not ordering my bag with one — now I have one!
Having an outside pocket on a hardside bag really makes a difference, because it is almost impossible to partially open up one of these bags to grab something inside like a passport. By having an outside pocket, quick things like a laptop during security or passports during check-in can be easily accessed.
That being said, the outside pocket on the Carry-On Pro is also a hardshell, which means it is not very forgiving. After some trial and error, I found the best use is for very thin items because anything too bulky will prevent the pocket from closing.
By comparison, my wife’s Away bag has a leather pocket that is more flexible and feels larger, as well.
Inside, the bag has 2 sides — 1 that gets zippered closed, and the other that has a sturdy cover panel that flips up and down and is secured with straps. Both the panel and mesh have zippered storage as well.
The Check-In Medium has a pretty standard design on the inside but was surprisingly spacious. Smaller than my 29-inch Delseys, it held an impressive amount of stuff as we were wrapping up a 2-month trip.
One side of the bag zips completely closed so that nothing falls out when flipping it open, and the other side has a clasp that covers the contents in an “X” to secure them.
Durability and Materials
The build quality is impressive. I have gone through my fair share of cheap bags, and it is very clear that these bags will be in our fleet for a while.
Even after reading about the “German Makrolon polycarbonate” (which honestly means nothing to me), the most noticeable thing about these bags is how solid they feel. They aren’t heavy, but they roll with authority and can take a beating.
We packed the Check-In Medium with as much as we could and checked it with American Airlines for a flight from Boston to Miami and then to Rio de Janeiro. Somewhere in Miami it got separated from the rest of our bags and ended up in Santo Domingo.
After 2.5 days I assumed it was gone or would be delivered in pieces. To my surprise, it survived and rolled right into my house as if nothing had happened.
Having a smooth, easy-rolling bag is really important for me and my family. We travel heavy, with many bags, so if 1 of those bags has a bad wheel or doesn’t glide easily, it can throw off the momentum for all of the other bags. Plus, if bags are easy enough to push or pull, our kids can help out.
The Monos bags use Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run wheels, which are equally smooth and quiet. Whether on bumpy sidewalks, hotel carpets, or in the airport, the bags were effortless to move around.
While I usually push my bags upright on the 4 spinner wheels, my 7-year-old ended up pulling the Carry-On Pro on an angle on only 2 wheels and it performed quite well — which isn’t always the case with spinner bags.
In my experience, the only time you really notice a luggage handle is when it’s uncomfortable, wobbly, or doesn’t work properly. It’s a good sign that until writing this review, I had not really noticed the handle on either of my Monos bags.
Both bags have the same pop-up handle with a button on the underside that slides up easily and stays in place in one of the height options.
After doing some more research on monos.com, I learned that the company dedicates a whole section to the handle and how it re-engineered it with high-grade aluminum that fits at opposing 45-degree angles to reduce lateral and torsional movement. That sounds complex, but the result is simple — a solid and comfortable handle.
Lock and Zippers
Both the Carry-On models and Check-In models come with integrated TSA-approved locks on the side of the bags.
The locks are pretty standard, the only difference compared to my Away bag is that the Monos lock is located on the side of the bag, while Away puts the lock on the top.
I think I like having the lock on the top for easier access and seeing the numbers, but having it on the side makes for a cleaner look. Either way, it’s a nice option to have.
The zippers so far have been sturdy. The only issue I have had so far is overpacking the outside pocket of the Carry-On Pro — with no flexibility, the pocket simply won’t close. Having an extender there would be a nice touch.
Monos bags do not come with a built-in battery. That was the first thing I noticed when I opened the bags, and at first, I was disappointed.
Even though I rarely use the battery option on my Away bag, it’s nice to know it’s there. That being said, I have plenty of battery packs that I can bring along.
Anyone looking for a new suitcase knows that it is a crowded market. With countless brands, styles, colors, and prices to choose from, you could spend more time doing research on a bag than you spend using it.
Although prices can vary, if you are interested in a Monos bag, you have probably looked at the following brands as well:
Hot Tip: If you are debating between Monos and Away, check out our review of Away’s The Carry-On suitcase.
Monos bags are not inexpensive, however, they are much less expensive than some other premium bags like Rimowa that can set you back $600 to $1,000.
Monos bags start at $275 for the Carry-On and can get up to $413 for the Limited Edition Check-In Large suitcase. However, sales aren’t uncommon and both of those bags are $50 to $100 off at the time of this writing.
Depending on the model you choose, the price may vary slightly. The current models are:
- Carry-On — $275 to $313
- Hybrid Carry-On — $325
- Carry-On Plus — $300 to $338
- Hybrid Carry-On Plus — $345
- Carry-On Pro — $324 to $359
- Carry-On Pro Plus — $347 to $382
- Check-In Medium — $280 to $388
- Check-In Large — $375 to $413
Every Monos suitcase comes with a limited lifetime warranty for U.S. and Canadian residents that is valid for the original owner only — it is not transferrable.
The lifetime warranty covers cracks or breaks to the outer shell, any wheels or handles that break off or are unusable, or zippers that can’t be opened or closed.
The warranty doesn’t cover anything cosmetic like scratches or dents. And only defective parts will be replaced, not the entire bag.
You can read the full warranty on the Monos website.
There is also a 100-day trial of the luggage to see if it is the right fit for you. That way you can be sure you got the right size and color before committing, because these bags will be around for a while!
Hot Tip: Do you still need help with your next bag purchase? Don’t miss our list of the best checked luggage bags for any traveler!
Where To Buy Monos Luggage
You can only buy Monos bags at monos.com, so if you are interested, head on over to the site and check out the full lineup.
If you are lucky, you might catch a sale!
Overall, I am really happy with the 2 new additions to my luggage lineup. Without hesitation, the Olive Green Carry-On Pro has been my go-to bag for weekend trips and as a carry-on.
The Check-In Medium gives me and my family a nice intermediate option if we don’t want to lug one of our large suitcases around, and the color and style really set it apart.
While Monos is near the top of the price range when compared with the competition in the same category, the quality and lifetime warranty can justify the cost.
Although I was disappointed at first about not having a built-in battery, I have come around and realized that it isn’t totally necessary and I can always just toss one in the outside pocket if I feel like I need to bring one along.
With the premium materials, high-end craftsmanship, great colors, and functions, I can easily recommend a Monos bag to my friends and family. If you have any questions about the bags, let me know in the comments section!