There’s a lot of luggage out there that is, to be honest, pretty subpar. I’ve seen a lot of cheap manufacturing, poor materials, and outright bad design in the travel industry.
If you’re on a quest to find a suitcase that doesn’t suck, you may have come across July, an Aussie travel brand who asserts that they’re here to fix the broken luggage industry. That’s a bold claim, so the question is this: how do their products measure up in real-world use?
I’ve traveled widely across the world: from little towns in Europe to mountainside villages in the Himalayas to manufacturing hubs in Malaysia. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two about what separates good suitcases from the rest of the mediocre pack. I’ve pitted July’s models against some of the best suitcases in the business to see how they compare.
I’ll share with you what I found, how July suitcases perform in real-world use, and break down the different models they offer. I’ll also give you a few alternative brands to check out.
July Luggage First Impressions
The first thing that stands out to me with these suitcases is the clean minimalist aesthetic. I’m not a fan of ornate, frilly designs, and I love the streamlined look of these cases.
The fit and finish is also spot-on at first inspection. The German polycarbonate shell feels smooth and tough, the handle is sturdy, and the aluminum corner bumpers add an extra sense of quality and durability.
The biggest standout feature when I started looking at these cases—specifically the July Carry-On—was the wheels. A few years back, I destroyed the wheels on two suitcases by dragging them all over European cobblestone streets. Ever since then, I’ve been very wary of suitcase wheel durability. I tend to be pretty skeptical of spinner wheels in general because I’ve seen so many that are cheaply made.
July’s wheels feel very different from the typical cheap plastic ones that you find on budget suitcases. They are bigger than standard suitcase wheels and they feel way stronger. July claims that their silent wheels can handle the cobblestones of Europe, and based on my first impression, I tend to agree.
Who is July?
July is an up-and-coming Australia-based travel brand that was founded in 2018 with the mission “democratise unbreakable and lifelong design.”
For a travel startup, 2018 was a pretty terrible time to start, since the pandemic hit just as they were beginning to gain momentum. The fact that July survived the lockdown period and is still going strong is pretty impressive.
To give you a bit of an insight into who July is as a brand, here’s a quick snippet from their about page:
As a category, the travel accessories industry is broken; it’s often make it as cheap as possible, using a plethora of retailers and distributors to sell, and ignore all connection with the customer. This results in over-priced goods sold with a short product lifespan.
We’re here to fix this.
That all sounds wonderful, but many brands use high-falutin language in their marketing info. Nowadays, I find myself pretty skeptical of claims that companies make. There’s just way too much bullshit out there.
When I started to dig into the details on July, I was surprised to find that their self-proclaimed mission to fix the luggage industry goes more than surface-deep. They seem to be taking that commitment seriously.
The first place I see evidence for this is in their design process. July started the design of their products by reading thousands of suitcase reviews to find the most common complaints. Then they set out to design a suitcase and business model to fix the most problems they found.
That may sound like a pretty good (and maybe even obvious) approach, but I’ve worked as a product design engineer, and you’d be surprised by how many companies build products without actual insight into what people really need and want.
July has also chosen to do several things the harder way because they wanted to build the best product they could. For example, rather than using standard wheels available for luggage, they designed their own wheels from the ground up because they couldn’t find anything that met their quality expectations.
To sweeten the deal, July offers free shipping, a 100-day free returns policy (with paid return shipping), and an impressive lifetime warranty.
July Luggage Review
For the first part of this review, I’ll focus on the common elements and features across the entire range. If you want info on a specific suitcase, scroll down to the “July Luggage Review by Model” section.
Every July bag starts with a sleek polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate has become the gold standard material for functional, high-end suitcases because it is lightweight and tough.
In July’s survey of suitcase reviews and common complaints, they found that the biggest problem areas for hardside suitcases were the bends and corners. These areas are typically weakened during the thermoforming manufacturing process, and they take more stress and impacts during use. As a result, cracked corners and edges are fairly common with hardside luggage, even if it’s made with polycarbonate.
To solve this, July improved the curved design on their suitcase edges and added anodized aluminum bumpers to the corners. The corner bumpers are a big upgrade over standard suitcases, and not something you typically see in this price range.
Beyond the hard shell, July cases are made with water- and stain-resistant lining fabric, tough YKK zippers (the best in the business), and even leather trim detailing.
The material choices are very well thought-out and give July luggage a premium feel as well as good durability.
The styling of July luggage is decidedly minimalist. Their signature suitcases are simple polycarbonate rectangles. The blocky rectangular profile is smoothed out with curved edges and broken up by a single molded-in line around the center.
I personally love the overall look of these suitcases. It’s clean, streamlined, and understated. With a neutral color, a July suitcase definitely doesn’t stand out in the airport, but it looks professional and refined.
If you do want a bit more flair, they come in an awesome array of colors, so you can get something that suits your personality.
One thing I’ve loved about the July suitcases is the thoughtful organization features on the inside. I naturally like to keep things organized and tidy, but that can be hard when I’m living out of a suitcase for weeks on end. Everything seems to turn into a jumbled mess at some point.
July suitcases have a zippered mesh divider on one side to keep everything separated and in place. On the other side, you have July’s Y-strap compression system, which works much better than the strap compression you find in most suitcases. You also get a hidden laundry bag made of the same material as the stain-resistant lining to keep dirty clothes separate.
Overall, the interior design is very simple, but I’ve found that it works pretty well. There are no unnecessary frills to complicate things and a good amount of separation.
I do personally wish there were one or two more pockets for keeping small things like electronics, books, and toiletries. It would be easy for July to add just a bit more organization to make these suitcases even more functional.
Given the fact that July explicitly states their goal is to build “unbreakable” suitcases, my expectations were pretty high for the durability of their suitcases.
Airline baggage handlers don’t have a reputation for being gentle with luggage, and I’ve seen many suitcases come out of baggage claim with cracks or tears. The aluminum-reinforced corner bumpers give me a lot of confidence that the July Checked suitcases will survive the rough abuse.
Carry-on luggage also can take a beating during travel. The July Carry-On bag has proven impressively durable. It holds up well to being dragged across cities and stuffed into packed overhead bins (and maybe accidentally dropped out of them).
One thing to be aware of is that the corner bumpers are likely to show scuffing and wear over time. July uses a basic anodize coating for the aluminum. While that’s fairly durable, with enough use you’ll probably see scratches that go through the anodized color to show the bare aluminum underneath. It isn’t functional, but be aware that these cases may start to look beat up after several trips.
Let’s face it: when you’re shopping for a new suitcase, price is going to be one of the top considerations (if it isn’t, do you want to trade finances?). I always recommend investing a bit more cash on gear that will last, but I also want to get the best bang for my buck. If something costs more, I want to know why, and I want it to be worth the cost.
July offers suitcases with a lot of premium features like polycarbonate shells, aluminum corner bumpers, and ball-bearing wheels. They do all this while keeping their prices much lower than luxury brands like RIMOWA, Briggs & Riley, and Tumi.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can definitely find capable and durable suitcases for significantly less cash, but if you want that luxury-level construction, aesthetic, and quality, July suitcases have fantastic value for the money.
July Luggage Features
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the specific features offered in July suitcases. From ejectable battery banks to a smart compression system, the designers paid a lot of attention to the details of each suitcase.
360-Degree Spinner Wheels
When July couldn’t find spinner wheels on the market that fit their high quality standards, they decided to design their own smooth wheels from the ground up. Their final design features double wheels that are bigger than standard suitcase wheels and use stainless steel ball bearings for easy rolling and durability.
These silent wheels are super quiet and easy to maneuver, and they are much stronger. I typically am a bigger fan of two-wheeled suitcases, but these are some of the only spinner wheels I would trust for frequent travel.
Y-Strap Compression System
July’s Y-strap compression system includes a compression pad that you place over your packed belongings and two Y-shaped compression straps that cinch down over the top to give you more space.
The compression straps in July cases are way better than the typical flimsy straps you find on most suitcases. I don’t find those to be very helpful, but July’s straps are thick, strong, and well-placed to really tighten down your load.
Bonus? The compression pad has a mesh pocket built-in that’s perfect for smaller items.
Hidden Laundry Bag
All July suitcases come with a hidden laundry bag that is odor-resistant and compresses down to keep your dirty clothing separate from the rest of your stuff.
I really hate having all my stuff start to smell like dirty clothes a few days into a trip, so I appreciate the built-in laundry bag.
Integrated TSA Lock
July suitcases also come with an integrated TSA lock to give you some extra security and peace of mind while you travel. It is built into the side of the suitcase and locks the main zipper so thieves can’t get in.
Traveling is stressful enough. I love having the ability to protect my stuff with a little bit of extra security. It definitely isn’t foolproof—determined thieves could still rip through the zipper—but it definitely adds some deterrence.
July Luggage Review by Model
|July Carry-On||Carry-On Essential||Carry-On Pro||Carry-On Light||Checked||Checked Plus||Carry-On Trunk||Checked Trunk|
|External Dimensions||21.5″ x 15″ x 8.5″||21.5″ x 15″ x 8.5″||21.5″ x 15″ x 8.5″||21.25″ x 14.25″ × 7.5″||26″ x 18.75″ x 11″||30.25″ x 19.75″ x 12.5″||21.5” H x 14.75” W x 8.75” D||28.25” H x 16.5” W x 14.5” D|
|Weight||7.4 lbs||6.6 lbs||7.9 lbs||3.9 lbs||8.3 lbs||10.5 lbs||8.4 lbs||13.2 lbs|
|Capacity||42 L||42 L||42 L||32 L||80 L||110 L||42 L||95 L|
The July Carry-On is the brand’s flagship product. It’s a simple carry-on bag that features their upgraded construction and minimalist design.
This is a pretty straightforward hardside carry-on suitcase, but with July’s upgraded construction. It has external aluminum corner bumpers that increase the durability and add some visual interest to the design.
You also get an ejectable battery bank under the handle. This is an awesome feature for keeping your phone fully charged while you travel.
All of July’s carry-ons are the perfect size for international travel, meaning you can take them on almost any flight, anywhere in the world. They fit international size restrictions while still providing ample packing room.
My biggest complaint is that it doesn’t have an external pocket. Even though it’s a newer trend, I personally put external pockets right next to the must-have category for a carry-on, because I want to be able to easily access things like electronics, passports, and books without having to carry a separate bag. Monos does a great job with their Carry-On Pro line.
It’s pretty standard for hardside suitcases to forgo outside pockets (it’s just more complicated to build), but I wish the July Carry-On included one since their goal is to “bring better design to how we travel.” You can upgrade to the Carry-On Pro and get an external zippered sleeve, but I really think external pockets should be a standard feature for higher-end suitcases.
The July Carry-On Essential is the dialed-back version of the July Carry-On suitcase. It cuts out the ejectable battery bank and doesn’t have external aluminum bumpers (though the corners are still reinforced with aluminum on the inside).
I honestly prefer the Carry-On Essential over the July Carry-On. It is significantly cheaper and almost a full pound lighter. While the built-in battery bank is a handy feature, I would personally rather buy a separate one (for less money). Plus, I’ve seen issues the aluminum corner bumpers showing scratches and scuffs more than polycarbonate, so I’d rather not have those.
I think this carry-on suitcase offers the best of July’s upgraded design without unnecessary features that just cost more.
The July Carry-On Pro is definitely the most functional carry-on in July’s lineup. It blends the design of the standard July Carry-On and the Essential, with an ejectable battery bank but no external metal bumpers.
The big difference is the addition of a detachable laptop sleeve on the front of the case. This padded sleeve uses Fidlock magnetic clasps to easily snap on and off the front of the suitcase in seconds. It is super easy to use, and is perfect for detaching your laptop sleeve to carry with you while putting your suitcase in the overhead bin.
This is the best solution for carrying a laptop in a suitcase that I’ve ever seen, hands down. If you travel a lot for work and constantly need to bring a laptop on plane flights, I think the July Carry-On Pro is an awesome choice.
That said, it isn’t quite as versatile as other hardside carry-on bags that have a hinged pocket instead of a detachable sleeve. It works really well for a laptop, but isn’t quite ideal for other items.
The July Carry-On Light is the most compact and minimalist July bag. Their goal was to build the lightest carry-on suitcase in the world. They managed to make this little hardside suitcase that weighs only 3.9 lbs—the lightest carry-on suitcase I’ve come across.
There were some sacrifices made to get that weight. The outer shell, materials, handle, and wheels are all a bit lighter and less durable. The biggest downside is that the overall capacity is only 32 L (compared to 42 L in the standard carry-on.
While the July Carry-On Light is pretty cool for its sheer minimalism, I personally think it feels just a bit too flimsy, and the reduced size is a big downer. It’s awesome if you want the absolute lightest bag, but I don’t think there’s much good about it other than that.
The July Carry-On Essential is much more sturdy and spacious, and it’s only a tad more expensive.
The July Checked suitcase has all the same features and construction as the July Carry-On, but in a larger size for checked luggage. You get the same polycarbonate shell, hidden laundry bag, integrated TSA lock, internal organization, and minimalist design.
You don’t get the ejectable battery bank, but that’s not really something you need in a checked bag anyway.
With 80L of storage, this big suitcase has plenty of room for longer trips.
One nice feature is that any July carry-on suitcase will nest perfectly inside this big bag (which in turn fits inside the massive Checked Plus).
The July Checked Plus is… you guessed it: a bigger version of the Checked. If you’re packing for a family or traveling for an extended period of time, this enormous 110 L case has room for everything you need.
July’s line of trunk luggage is designed to offer the awesome durability and classic style of trunk-style cases with all the modern materials and upgrades of July’s standard luggage.
The July Carry-On Trunk is the same size as the classic Carry-On, and it has the same handle, wheels, hidden laundry bag, ejectable battery, and organization. The main difference is that instead of the normal zipper opening, it has hinges and sturdy locking clasps. This makes this suitcase sturdier and more secure than a standard suitcase.
You also get a different aesthetic with a glazed polycarbonate finish that gives a stunning glossy look. The problem is that over time scuffs and scratches start to ruin the appeal.
To be honest, I don’t think there’s much reason to buy the Carry-On Trunk. It’s way more expensive than the normal Carry-On, it’s a full pound heavier, and the glossy finish is less resilient.
While the Carry-On Trunk seems totally unnecessary, the July Checked Trunk has a lot going for it, and for specific use cases it may be the best thing out there.
This is a big, heavy, bomb-proof polycarbonate box on wheels. It is very secure with the locking clasps, and it has tons of space.
The Checked Trunk is narrower and deeper than July’s checked suitcases, so I see it being a good choice if you have to carry bulky odd-shaped items (anyone taking a tuba on their next trip?). It also offers tons of protection for carrying more fragile stuff.
July Luggage Accessories
Getting outfitted for travel requires more than just a suitcase. Fortunately, July also offers a range of awesome accessories to get you fully geared up for your trip. Here are a few of my favorites:
Keeping track of small electronic items like cables, headphones, and chargers can be a challenge. When traveling I’m always stressed that I’ll lose my phone charger or headphones on the plane or in the airport.
This little zippered case gives you a dedicated place for those small, easy-to-lose items. With room for earbuds, chargers, cables, a USB battery bank, and a pen/stylus, you won’t have to worry about losing anything.
I hate packing a suitcase. No matter what I do, it always seems like it just becomes a jumbled mess in the main compartment. I’ve found that packing cubes can work wonders for organizing a chaotic mess in a suitcase.
These zippered packing cubes come in an array of sizes to fit different items. They also have a transparent mesh front panel so it’s easy to see what’s inside. Plus, they are 100% washable and stain-resistant, so it’s easy to keep them clean.
If you want to keep your suitcase looking as good as the day you bought it, a good set of luggage covers can go a long way toward protecting it from scratches and scuffs on your travels.
These on-brand luggage covers are designed specifically to fit every size of July suitcase and protect it on all sides. They also come in a huge range of fun colors and patterns so you can get something that will stand out at baggage claim.
July Luggage Alternatives
July vs Monos
Monos is a Canada-based travel brand that has a lot in common with July. Both aim to offer luxury-level suitcases at more approachable prices. Both build minimal (but functional) polycarbonate suitcases. Both hit almost identical price points.
If you’re looking for a hardside carry-on with an external pocket, I think the Monos Carry-On Pro is a better choice than the July Carry-On Pro for most people. It has a real zippered pocket rather than the detachable sleeve of the July Carry-On Pro. It is just more versatile all-around (though not quite as convenient if you want the absolute best laptop carry system).
Other than that, I think it mostly comes down to personal preference and style. The features, functionality, and price of these two brands is very similar, but there are some aesthetic differences.
July vs Away
Away is one of the most recognizable and disruptive startup luggage brands, largely because of their awesome social media marketing. They also build sleek polycarbonate suitcases.
In my experience, July offers better performance and more value for your money than Away. I’ve seen Away suitcase hard shells crack, while July’s are much stronger with the reinforced corners. July suitcases are also less expensive and often lighter weight.
For more information, read our full Away Luggage review.
July vs Béis
Béis is another small-ish brand that’s popular among travelers looking for stylish hardside luggage. The biggest advantage is that Béis suitcases are significantly less expensive than July. If you’re looking for a solid high-quality polycarbonate suitcase that gives you the best bang for your buck, Béis is a great brand to look at.
That said, July suitcases still have the edge in overall quality and durability. If you travel frequently and want a suitcase that will last for years to come, July may be the better bet.
July Luggage FAQs
What is so good about July luggage?
July offers a great balance of high-end materials and quality at a lower price than luxury brands.
Is July luggage made in China?
July suitcases are assembled in China, but the polycarbonate shells are made in Germany.
What luggage is comparable to July?
Monos is a Canadian travel brand that offers durable polycarbonate cases comparable to July.
Does July luggage scuff?
July luggage is susceptible to scuffs and scratches, especially on the anodized corner bumpers.
What are the disadvantages of hardside luggage?
Hardside luggage can be harder to pack, often has no outside pockets, and can crack with impact.