There are dozens of great luggage brands out there, but July and Away are two names that come up a lot if you’re looking for modern upscale suitcases. They have a lot in common—and both make some awesome luggage—so choosing between them isn’t easy.
I’ve spent months digging into the details of these two brands, from their designs to manufacturing processes to customer service. I’ve traveled around the world and learned a lot about what makes good luggage (sometimes by seeing the exact opposite). While comparing these two brands, I’ve been on the lookout for those details that make the biggest difference in real-world travel on my own trips.
Both July and Away sell some great luggage, so the winner will be the brand that offers the best durability, functionality, value, and style. When you’re far from home, little details can be make or break.
So, are you ready to find out which luggage brand is better? In this July vs. Away luggage comparison, I’ll cover everything you need to know to pick between these two powerhouse travel brands.
And yes, there is a clear winner.
Founded in Australia in 2018, July managed to survive the pandemic as a startup travel brand when no one was traveling. That in itself is pretty impressive, and I think July’s customer-first business approach is largely to thank for it.
Before the designers at July made a single prototype, they conducted extensive customer research. They read thousands of reviews and asked people: what are the problems with your luggage? They then set out to design bags that solved the most common problems they found.
Having worked for several years as a product design engineer, I know how important it is to get real feedback from real people who will be using your product in the real world. You’d be surprised at how often companies ignore customer feedback and just do what is cheapest or easiest.
I really appreciate that July isn’t like that. With everything from their suitcase designs to their service policies, they’ve listened to real travelers.
July Materials & Quality
Like most high-end hardside bags, July luggage starts with an outer shell made from lightweight and durable German polycarbonate. There’s a reason most manufacturers are going to this material for their high-performing hardside luggage. It’s lightweight, sturdy, and flexible enough to survive tough impacts.
July goes above and beyond most polycarbonate luggage by adding reinforced aluminum bumpers at the corners. Their research found that this is one of the most likely areas to break on hard shell luggage, so they added the sturdy metal corner bumpers to prevent damage to these high-impact areas of the bags.
Another place where July bags stand out in terms of quality is in their spinner wheels. Rather than using standard luggage wheels already available on the market, they completely redesigned their own from the ground up. The July SilentMove 360-degree spinner wheels are some of the best I’ve encountered on any travel bag.
Most spinner wheels do just fine on smooth airport tile, but that changes when you leave manicured surfaces behind. I don’t know about you, but my trips often take me down narrow cobblestone alleys or unpaved gravel paths, and I have to drag my bags behind me all the way. That’s where you see the difference between wheels.
July’s wheels are smooth and quiet on concrete, and they work impressively well on rougher surfaces. These wheels are bigger and tougher than standard luggage wheels, and they can take some abuse.
July Design & Features
Internally, the organization of July luggage is simple, but it works. There’s a large zippered divider on one side and a unique compression system on the other. Instead of the flimsy elastic straps you see in cheaper bags, the July carry-on and checked bags have a compression pad you place over your clothing and then beefy Y-shaped compression straps to cinch it all down.
I do wish there were more internal pockets in July bags to keep things organized, but Away isn’t any better, so no one wins on that score.
In each July bag you also get a stain- and odor-resistant laundry bag, but that’s also included with every Away bag, so again, no difference here.
There’s another feature that stands out with July carry-on luggage. Both their Original and Pro carry-on bags come with an ejectable portable charger battery that can power up your phone or laptop. Finding outlets in an airport can be a struggle, so this is an awesome feature to have in a carry-on bag. This is just one of the many features that make July cases some of the best carry-on luggage.
July suitcases also look amazing. They have a very simple, minimalist design without any extra frills. I’m all about simplicity, and I definitely prefer the aesthetic of a July bag to Away’s slightly more ornamental design. I especially like the super minimal styling of the July Carry-On Essential, which doesn’t have the external aluminum bumpers.
July Luggage Pros and Cons
So we’ve covered the basics of July luggage, but you’re here to know specifically how it compares with the Away luggage brand. These two brands are direct competitors, so you have to dig into the details to start to see the differences.
There are a lot of pros for July luggage, and I think it’s better than Away overall, especially in terms of durability. But it doesn’t excel at everything.
For example, July carry-on luggage is great, but if you want an external pocket, the Carry-On Pro SnapSleeve is a bit less versatile than the simpler pocket design you get with the Away Carry-On with Pocket. The July Carry-On Pro is way more innovative and cool, though.
Here are some of the pros and cons you need to consider when picking between July and Away luggage.
- July bags have outstanding durability (better than Away)
- July is less expensive than Away for equivalent products
- Smooth and tough SilentMove wheels
- July carry-on luggage has more lightweight options with the Essential and Light
- More minimalist, sleek styling
- Easier to use Y-shaped compression straps
- The aluminum corner bumpers tend to show scratches
- The July Carry-On Pro isn’t as versatile as the Away Carry-On with Pocket
Away Luggage Overview
Away is a female-founded travel startup that has quickly gained something of a cult following among influencers and millennial travelers. A lot of that is thanks to their killer marketing on social media and other platforms. The Away brand seems to show up everywhere, and their ads make me want to buy a plane ticket and head out on an adventure.
Despite reports of discrimination and toxic company culture, which led to the CEO and founder stepping down (and coming back a few weeks later), Away is still tremendously popular.
It’s not hard to see why, with their beautiful styling and streamlined, easy-to-use designs. Away focuses on making luggage that simplifies the travel experience so you can worry less about your stuff and more about enjoying the experience of travel.
(We also have a full Away luggage review that dives into even more detail.
Away Luggage Materials & Quality
Like July luggage, the standard Away bag collection is made with a sleek 100% polycarbonate shell. While Away luggage shells are still quite resilient, I have seen them crack and dent with rough impacts. They don’t have the reinforced aluminum corner bumpers like July luggage, so the outer shell edges and corners are more prone to damage.
Away also has a range of aluminum luggage, but they are heavy and uber expensive. so I wouldn’t recommend them unless you really want to have an ultra-premium bag, and if that’s the case, there are better choices at a similar price.
One nice addition is the genuine leather detailing. This definitely helps finish off the refined, high-end look and feel of Away luggage.
Away Luggage Design & Features
The organization and functionality of Away luggage is very similar to July. Inside there is one large zippered divider, a compression pad, and a pair of compression straps to hold everything in place.
Just like July, you get a removable laundry bag and a TSA-approved lock, but you don’t get a built-in portable charger in Away Carry-On luggage. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s something you need.
Unlike July, Away offers bags with expandable designs in their Flex Collection. The expandable design adds versatility for trips where you need just a bit more space, and it also gives you room to carry souvenirs back home. The biggest downside is that the expandable Away bag collection is expensive. Unless you really, really want it, it probably isn’t worth paying the extra cash.
I also like that Away carry-on luggage comes in two different sizes. You can get the standard Carry-On or the Bigger Carry-On if you need a bit extra space. Plus, with either Away carry-on size you can also choose between the standard design or the expandable Flex design. That’s a lot of choices!
And everyone likes choices, right? Away is the clear winner when it comes to options for size and configuration. There are 8 different Away carry-on cases!
Away also has two bags with external pockets: the Carry-On with Pocket and the Daily Carry-On with Pocket. The Daily Carry-On is an ultra-compact spinner suitcase that can fit under your seat on most flights, and it’s probably my favorite Away bag. Overall, Away’s external pocket design is simpler and more versatile than the removable Snapsleeve of the July Carry-On Pro.
Away Luggage Pros and Cons
Away luggage has a lot going for it, it’s stylish, durable, and well-designed for modern travelers. If you buy an Away bag, you won’t be disappointed, but there are definitely some downsides when compared to July.
In general, Away is just a bit lower on the durability and quality scale. Don’t get me wrong, their luggage is well built, but they aren’t at the same level of bomb-proof design as July.
On the other hand, Away carry-on and checked luggage just has a lot more options for size and design than July. You can get a small, large, or an underseat carry-on. You can choose expandable or not expandable. You can get an external pocket or no pocket. If you have specific needs and like options, there is probably an Away bag for you.
- Outer shell can crack with rough use
- Wheels aren’t as smooth and durable, especially on rough surfaces
- More expensive than July overall
July vs. Away Luggage: Which Should You Buy?
So many comparison articles end with an unsatisfying “well, it depends.” Away and July are direct competitors and have a lot in common, but in this case, one brand does outperform the other overall. If you want to know which is the best luggage brand, here’s your answer:
July is better.
July luggage is just more well-built, tough, and high-quality; it’s the clear winner all-around. I’ve seen Away bag hard shell cases crack, but I’ve never heard of that happening with July luggage. Their reinforced aluminum corners and durable wheels make their checked and carry-on bags totally bombproof. Especially with checked luggage, I don’t see any reason to buy an Away bag.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should never buy an Away bag. Away is still a very reliable luggage brand with great products, and there are some specific features they excel at. If you really want an expandable suitcase, they are one of the few upscale modern brands that offers that feature. There is also a larger Away carry-on for domestic flights, while July only has one size.
The one product I absolutely recommend from Away is the Daily Carry-On. This little Away carry-on bag is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on most planes, has a laptop pocket, and has an amazing organization system for essentials you want to keep on hand. Plus, this Away bag is tiny and cute.
Whether you’re looking for a carry-on bag or a big checked case, either luggage brand will serve you well. If you want the best case that will last forever, though, go with July.
July vs. Away Luggage FAQs
Is Away better than July?
Is Away luggage still popular?
Founded in 2015, Away is still immensely popular thanks to stylish designs and great marketing.
Is the July carry-on worth it?
Yes, the July Carry-On is stylish, durable, and easy-to-use. It’s one of the best carry-on bags.
Is the July carry-on too big?
The July Carry-On is 21.5” x 15” x 8.5” and fits almost all international carry-on restrictions.
Do Away suitcases scratch easily?
Away bags are made with durable polycarbonate with a texture that hides scratches.