So, you’ve decided to donate your old, cheap, hand-me-down luggage and get yourself a nice suitcase. If you’re in the market for modern, upscale luggage, odds are you’ve seen the names Monos and Away in your search. These two luggage brands are direct competitors, and both specialize in sleek, high-quality hardside suitcases.
But which one is better?
As someone who’s been traveling for more than a decade, I’ve had a lot of hands-on experience with both of these brands. I’ve spent multiple years using bags from each brand—all over the world—and comparing the nitty gritty details to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
There are a lot of similarities between Monos and Away. Both are startups founded in the last ten years. Both offer stylish hardside cases with polycarbonate shells. Both have grown loyal customer bases, especially among younger travelers.
The winner in this detailed comparison of Monos vs. Away Luggage is be the brand that offers the best quality, useability, and value. Below, I’ll dive into the details and break down where each brand excels. Ultimately, I’ll show you exactly where each brand stands out compared to the other.
Don’t like to read? Here’s the spoiler: just buy Monos.
Monos Luggage Review
Monos is a Vancouver-based luggage brand that was founded in 2018. Their mission is to provide products that help you focus less on your stuff and more on the (sometimes fleeting) experiences of travel. They believe in making simple, timeless luggage that is built to last rather than trendy, cheaply-made products that you’ll throw away in a year.
I can get behind that idea.
There are two other things that really impress me about Monos.
First is their emphasis on quality manufacturing and transparency about their process. Every company has some level of quality testing (at least they should), but I’ve rarely seen a brand make that public the way Monos does. Their quality testing is extensive (some might say torturous), and gives me a lot of confidence in their products.
Second is their dedication to sustainability. Monos donates 1% of their revenue to climate-related non-profits. They are also the first luggage brand to achieve net zero carbon emissions and become Climate Neutral Certified.
For more information, read our full Monos luggage review.
Monos Luggage Materials & Quality
As you’d expect from a brand that is dedicated to building high-quality, sustainable products, Monos luggage is really well-built.
It all starts with the durable polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate is the gold standard material for hardside luggage these days because it’s lightweight, strong, and flexible enough to absorb impacts without cracking.
Not all polycarbonate shells are created equal, though. The design and manufacturing process also play a huge roll in the durability of hard shell suitcases. Monos construction is among the best. I’ve never seen a Monos shell crack, even with rough use. That’s better than I can say for Away.
Monos also offers a hybrid suitcase collection that combines polycarbonate shells with an aluminum frame and reinforcement in the corners and edges. Instead of zippers, the Monos Hybrid Luggage uses a hinge design with locking clasps. Honestly, I don’t see much reason to buy one of their hybrid cases. They are heavier, more expensive, and harder to use. The classic Monos suitcases are plenty durable.
The quality and durability goes beyond the shell, too. Every Monos suitcase uses strong YKK zippers (the best in the business) and high-performance spinner wheels that Monos designed from the ground up to be the best on the market. Sure enough, this is some of the best spinner luggage I’ve ever used. It’s smooth, maneuverable, and handles cobblestones with (relative) ease.
Monos rounds out their materials with premium vegan leather details and a soft stain-resistant lining that’s easy to keep fresh trip after trip.
Monos Luggage Design & Features
The overall design of Monos suitcases is very simple and streamlined. The external is smooth and doesn’t have any unnecessary frills. The sleek, modern aesthetic just looks really good (I personally much prefer Monos styling to Away).
Inside, you get plenty of features for keeping everything organized. On one side you get a large zippered divider with a built-in mesh pocket. On the other side there is an interior compression system with a compression pad (removable in the carry-on luggage and folding in the checked luggage). This compression pad goes over the top of your packed clothing, and then a pair of beefy compression straps cinch everything down.
The simple design doesn’t mean you don’t get some extra perks though. Monos suitcases come with an anti-microbial laundry bag, TSA-approved lock, two shoe bags, and a vegan leather luggage tag.
Monos design and features are fairly consistent across their entire range of sizes. The checked Monos luggage has a few more pockets than the carry-on models, but that’s the main difference.
I love the number of choices Monos gives you for a carry-on. You can pick the standard Carry-On which is sized to fit international size restrictions or the Carry-On Plus, which is a bigger carry-on for domestic flights. They also offer the same sizes with an external pocket with their Carry-On Pro and Carry-On Pro Plus (that last name’s a bit of a mouthful, but it gets the point across).
The Monos Carry-On Pro is one of the best carry-on suitcases out there. It has all the quality and features as the normal Monos Carry-On, but it adds a zippered exterior zippered compartment. This pocket has a padded sleeve for a laptop and more compartments inside for organization. It also has a hard polycarbonate face to keep all your essentials protected. If you want to buy one Monos suitcase, this is the one to get.
Monos Luggage Pros and Cons
There’s a lot to love about Monos. It’s durable, functional, and stylish. Overall, Monos has a lot of advantages over away in terms of quality and features, but there are some downsides, especially if you have specific needs like expandability or a small personal item suitcase.
Here are some of the top pros and cons of Monos compared to Away:
- Monos luggage is more durable than Away luggage
- Less expensive than Away luggage
- The Carry-On Pro is more protective than the Away Carry-On with Pocket
- Sleek, minimal styling
- More pockets inside Monos suitcases than Away
- No expandable suitcases like Away’s Flex series
- No underseat carry-on size
Away Luggage Review
Away is probably the most on-trend luggage brand today. They started in 2015 and now have something of a cult following among Influencers and Millennial and Gen-Z travelers.
Away luggage was started after one of their founders, Jen Rubio, had her suitcase split open in the airport, dumping all of her belongings across the floor. After that she wanted to create modern luggage that was both stylish, and durable enough to rely on during travel.
Away builds some great style-conscious and durable wheeled luggage. Many people have used their Away suitcases for years on end without any significant problems, and the internet is full of rave reviews.
If you want even more detail, you can read our full Away Luggage Review.
Away Luggage Materials & Quality
Just like Monos, Away luggage starts with a durable polycarbonate shell. Away hard shells are not as rounded as Monos, and they have a rougher surface finish. I personally like this rougher finish because it hides scratches better, but it also isn’t as sleek looking as Monos.
Something about the design of the Away hard shell is also just less durable overall. I’m not sure if it’s a difference in the curvature or the manufacturing process, but even though these two luggage brands use the same material, Away luggage is just a lot more likely to crack or break.
Granted, that probably won’t happen with normal use, but you never know what those airline baggage handlers are going to do with your bag.
Another area where Away falls short is in the wheels. Away uses good spinner wheels, and they roll smoothly, but they definitely aren’t as tough as Monos wheels, which are some of the best luggage wheels in the business.
Away luggage has high-quality genuine leather detailing, including zipper pulls and an included luggage tag.
Away Luggage Design & Features
Away luggage has all the suitcase features you’d expect in a modern higher-end hardside bag: a sturdy telescopic handle, TSA-approved lock, hidden laundry bag, and internal compression system. Nothing is particularly outstanding, but it’s all there, and it all works.
One thing I love about Away is how many options they provide. Their suitcases range from a fairly basic standard carry-on (creatively called The Carry-On) to an expandable checked bag (The Medium Flex) to a compact underseat spinner (The Daily Carry-On).
Their standard Carry-On is small enough for most international flights, while the Bigger Carry-On is designed to take the absolute most allowable room in the overhead compartment on domestic flights.
All Away suitcase sizes are available with an expandable design with their Flex series. The problem is that the Flex suitcases are significantly more expensive. I personally don’t think expandability is a necessary feature, but it’s up to you to decide if you need it. If so, Away will be the best choice for you.
Away Luggage Pros and Cons
While Away luggage is well-built, stylish, and packed with useful features, it falls behind Monos in terms of quality, durability, and organization.
That doesn’t mean it’s all cons though. Here are some of the top pros and cons of Away luggage:
- Expandable designs for extra packing space
- Rougher surface finish hides scratches better
- Away has an underseat carry-on suitcase: the Away Daily Carry-On
- Away suitcases are less durable than Monos overall
- More expensive than Monos
- Fewer interior mesh pockets for organization
Monos vs. Away: Which Should You Buy?
So, now to the final question: Monos vs. Away, which should you buy?
If you’ve been paying close attention, you probably can already guess the answer:
Go with Monos.
Monos luggage is higher quality and more durable than Away luggage, all while still being less expensive across the entire range. It also has more features, pockets, and organization.
If you want a carry-on bag that will best survive being stuffed into overhead bins and dragged for miles, or a checked suitcase that will arrive at the luggage carousel in one piece, Monos is your best bet.
Monos only launched their products in 2018, so no one has had one long enough to tell how it holds up over decades of travel. I have no doubt, though, that if you get a Monos suitcase, you’ll have it for the rest of your life. Plus, with their lifetime warranty, if you ever do happen to break it, they’ll repair or replace it for you.
Don’t get me wrong, Away luggage is good (and if you’ve already bought an Away case, you don’t have to regret it). I just don’t see much reason to pick Away over Monos.
The one exception would be the Away Daily Carry-On. This miniature Away carry-on is small enough to use as your personal item on most flights and works great as a carry-on laptop bag.
Other than that, if you’re in the market for a new suitcase, just pick Monos. You won’t regret it.
Monos vs. Away FAQs
Is Monos better than Away?
Monos suitcases offer better quality, durability, features, and price than Away luggage.
Who is a competitor to Monos luggage?
Is Monos luggage TSA approved?
Yes, Monos suitcases fit most airline size requirements and have a TSA-approved locking system.
Is Monos a reputable company?
Yes, Monos luggage has amazing quality, great customer service, and a solid warranty.
Which company suitcase is best?
Monos builds some of the best suitcases. Their luggage is durable, stylish, and functional.
How long has Monos been around?
Monos is a modern travel company that launched in 2018 with a range of durable, stylish suitcases.