Not too long ago, I would have laughed at the idea of me traveling anywhere with wheeled luggage.
Why? Because for the longest time, I was a backpack travel kind of girl. While I practiced and preached carry-on only travel, I really only ever did it with a backpack. I tended to avoid anything that had wheels and had to be dragged alongside me–anything that would slow me down in any way!
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to see the value of wheeled luggage. While I still don’t like checking bags if I can help it, I do appreciate not having to lug all my luggage’s weight on my body.
I’ve recently discovered for myself (finally) that a wheeled carry-on is ideal for a city break or beach holiday because even though I’m not packing much, I’d rather not force myself to deal with shoulder/back pain while traveling.
So after scouring the internet to find the perfect piece of luggage to serve as my first self-purchased carry-on (thanks mom and dad for supplying all the luggage until now!), I pulled the trigger and shelled out ~$300 on the Monos Carry-On Pro.
And if you’re on this post, you’re probably wondering if it’s the right bag for you too. With so many brands and options out there, how do you pick just one?? Well, this review is hopefully going to give you some clarity on whether a carry-on from Monos Travel is the way to go!
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MONOS TRAVEL: AN OVERVIEW OF THE BRAND
There are plenty of options for luggage these days, so what exactly makes Monos stand out from the crowd?
Monos, a luggage company based in Vancouver, Canada has a really admirable mission statement.
The Monos team started with a specific set of criteria they needed to meet–design, quality, and affordability. Monos found that other luggage brands in the market fulfilled one or even two of these, but not all three together. Thus, the Monos luggage was created–there was a gap that needed filling!
Monos claims to give travelers what the luggage market was lacking – premium, minimalist luggage, built with only the finest quality materials and components – all at a fair price.
They are also Climate Neutral Certified, which means the company has net-zero carbon emissions — the first luggage brand to do so.
Another thing that draws people to Monos is the fact that luggage bags come with a 100-day trial period and a lifetime warranty on parts.
MONOS LUGGAGE: STAPLE FEATURES
Some of Monos’ standout features include the following:
- Shell made with polycarbonate material
- TSA combination lock
- YKK zippers
- Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run wheels
- A divider inside the main compartment
- Internal compression pad
Monos uses aerospace-grade, recyclable German Makrolon polycarbonate for their suitcases. Polycarbonate is the best, and most expensive material used in luggage. Unlike luggage made with polycarbonate blends that crack upon impact, true polycarbonate has amazing impact and shock resistance. That means more durability!
All Monos luggage is also equipped with YKK zippers, which are one of the best types of zippers out there in the market. You can lock those zippers with a convenient TSA combination lock, which helps to safeguard your belongings if you do end up checking/parting with a bag.
Monos luggage also features Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run wheels, which are probably my favorite feature about Monos Luggage. These dual spinner wheels are so smooth, and silent! Even when I’m at home sitting in the living room, I’ll sometimes move the luggage across the floor just for the sensory experience that those smooth wheels give off! They are pure perfection.
We’ll get into some of the other features in the next section of this post, but I did want to mention that alongside the standard zipper-style carry-ons, Monos also has a collection of zipperless suitcases. These are the Hybrid Carry-Ons.
The main difference between these carry-ons is that the Hybrid features a latch closure with two TSA locks instead of a traditional zipper. That makes them a lot more secure, so if security is your number one priority when it comes to buying a carry-on, consider their hybrid suitcase.
THE DIFFERENT CARRY-ON MODELS THAT MONOS CARRIES
Aside from the hybrid luggage, Monos has four main lines of carry-on options. There’s the basic Monos collection (which features a carry-on, a medium, and a large checked suitcase), the “Plus” line, the “Pro” line, and the “Pro Plus”.
MONOS CARRY-ON FEATURES
Monos Carry-On is the standard option and also the most affordable option offered by the brand. It comes equipped with all the staple features listed above (unbreakable polycarbonate shell, sturdy telescopic handle, TSA-approved lock, whisper-quiet wheels, and all-premium materials).
It’s currently available in ten different colors. In my opinion, the Olive Green and Terracotta options are the easiest on the eyes!
The great thing about the Carry-On size is that it was designed to fit in the overhead bin of almost any flight, anywhere in the world.
- Dimensions: : 22″ × 14″ × 9″
- Case Dimensions: 20″ × 13.5″
- Weight: 7.01 lbs
- Capacity: 39.9 liters
- Trip Length: 2-5 days
MONOS CARRY-ON PLUS FEATURES
Now moving down to the Carry-On Plus. The main difference between the standard carry-on and the Carry-On Plus is its size; the Plus is a bit bigger and offers 8 more liters of storage than the standard. This extra space is better for travelers who tend to take longer trips or who tend to pack more for their trips.
Carry-On Plus Specifications
- Dimensions: 23″ × 15″ × 9.5″
- Case Dimensions: 21″ × 14.5″
- Weight: 7.38 lb
- Capacity: 48 L
- Trip Length: 3-7 days
MONOS CARRY-ON PRO FEATURES
The Monos Carry-On Pro is the same size as the standard carry-on, and has all the same features with one main difference – there’s an additional zippered compartment on the front of the luggage.
This external compartment features a 15” laptop sleeve and three additional zippered pouches for all the other little things you may want easy access to.
- Dimensions: 22″ × 14″ × 9″
- Case Dimensions: 20″ × 13.5″
- Weight: 7.8 lb
- Capacity: 36 L
- Trip Length: 2-5 days
MONOS CARRY-ON PRO PLUS FEATURES
The Carry-On Pro Plus will be the luggage for you if you’re looking for all the bells and whistles. The “Plus” in the name is for the fact that this is the slightly larger version of the carry-on, while the “Pro” signifies the additional features such as the laptop compartment.
Again, the additional compartment features a 15” laptop sleeve and three extra zippered pockets.
- Dimensions: 23″ × 15″ × 9.5″
- Case Dimensions: 21″ × 14.5″
- Weight: 8.38 lb
- Capacity: 46 liters
- Trip Length: 3-7 days
MONOS CARRY-ON PRO REVIEW
Now we get to the fun part–taking a peek at an actual Monos Carry-On Pro! I recently purchased my very own Carry-On Pro in olive green and was so excited to take it on my first trip. Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed.
CARRY-ON PRO: SIZE AND STYLE
First and foremost, I loved the fact that my carry-on was a hardshell suitcase.
I’ve only ever used soft-sided roller bags which ultimately did the job, don’t get me wrong. But they got dirty, stained, and just didn’t age very well. And because they were soft in nature, I never had full confidence that the stuff inside wasn’t getting squished to death when stored in luggage closets and whatnot.
Monos bags are made with aerospace-grade, water-resistant, German polycarbonate hard shells. Polycarbonate is one of the best luggage materials out there, which gave me confidence that this bag would hold up for years to come.
FYI, the majority of other brands in the market today opt for cheaper PVC material, which is highly toxic and non-recyclable. This is one huge pro of Monos bags–they are conscious about the environment and it shows in the final product.
And while hardshell bags do have the ability to get scuffed (especially when checked in), the scuffs are pretty darn easy to remove with a magic eraser.
Next up, the size was perfect for my travel lifestyle.
The Carry-On Pro was designed to comply with the size restrictions of as many airlines as possible, fitting in the overhead bin of nearly any flight, anywhere. Because I fly internationally so much, it was important for me to get something that would ease my worries about whether my carry-on would need to be checked or not.
When I backpacked across Europe, I had to check my travel backpack (Osprey Aura 65) on a few occasions while flying budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet. This backpack was always accepted as a carry-on while flying domestically in the US and even on larger international flights. But because some planes are smaller, these larger “carry-ons” might not always fit.
It goes without saying, all those checked bag fees added up! The worst part was that I didn’t expect to incur those fees–at least not until I read the bag policy days before my flights.
So with my lesson learned, I opted for the smaller of the two Monos carry-on options, the Carry-On Pro.
CARRY-ON PRO: WHAT’S INCLUDED
Inside the box, my bag was covered in a very nice drawstring cloth bag to prevent any scratches during shipping. This bag can also be used as a dust bag to store the luggage when you aren’t using it.
The carry-on came with a little introduction card, an anti-microbial laundry bag and two shoe bags, a vegan leather luggage tag, and a scratch-eraser sponge. I was not expecting all these extras so I was very delighted to find all these little freebies included!
It’s no secret that this bag is simple, yet beautiful. I mean, just look at it. Such a soothing color to stare at and not a lot of nooks and crannies to distract you. Love it.
Next, let’s talk about the interior pockets of the front zippered panel. The main interior pocket can fit a 15″ laptop, tablets, or magazines. There are three other interior zippered pouches that are perfect for smaller things like phones, batteries, cables, passports, sunglasses, eye mask/earplugs, etc.
CARRY-ON PRO: FEATURES
I’ll start by saying that the presence of the external compartment on a hardshell bag is one of the main reasons why I went with the “Pro” over the standard. In my opinion, it really makes life easier!
Without the front pocket, it’d be almost impossible to partially open up a hardshell’s main compartment to grab something inside. You’d need to lie it down, unzip the whole thing (exposing your luggage contents to everyone around you), get what you need, then zip it all back up.
By having an outside pocket, things like passports, headphones, a laptop, or a phone can easily be tucked in/taken out during security or check-ins requiring travel documents.
Having said that, you will have to be strategic about what you tuck in the outside compartment. Stuff too much in there, and you’ll definitely have trouble zipping up. After some trial and error, I found that it is best for very thin items because anything too bulky will prevent the pocket from zipping up.
All in all, I do wish this pocket was a bit larger. Because I have a 16-inch Macbook, I won’t actually be able to use my personal computer in this compartment which is a bummer. However, for work trips, this pocket will work perfectly since my work laptop is about 13 inches.
Note about laptops fitting: A 16-inch laptop will technically fit in the zippered compartment, just not in the mesh pocket. Also, you’d have to be sure to not overstuff the main luggage compartment so that the zippered outer compartment can zip up with the laptop in it.
The next thing that I loved about this bag was the multi-stage telescopic handle that you can adjust for your height. While you can’t stop the handle in whatever position you want, there are 4 height settings which is enough customization for my needs.
Next up is the highly-coveted Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run 360° wheels. It’s such a small feature, but it makes all the difference. Pulling (or pushing) this bag around is so fun because of how easy and effortless it is.
I could literally use one finger to move it along on concrete! It didn’t matter whether I was rolling it along bumpy sidewalks, dirt pathways, carpeted hallways, or just in the airport. It was so smooth… definitely one of my favorite features of my Monos carry-on.
Just like all Monos bags, the Carry-On Pro comes with integrated TSA-approved locks on the side of the bag.
The presence of locks is pretty standard these days, and the only difference compared to Away bags (one of their main competitors) is that the locks on the Monos bags are located on the side as opposed to on the top.
Okay, now let’s talk about the inside of the bag. Inside, the bag has 2 sides to it, one that has a zippered compartment and another that has an attached compression panel that flips up and down and is tightened with straps.
This internal compression pad is cool because it actually allows you to pack more items inside than you’d initially think.
Both the panel and mesh have zippered storage which is a nice added bonus. These little pockets are great for little things that you want to keep separate from your main clothing compartment (such as hair accessories, toiletries, scarves, undergarments, socks, etc.).
The luggage is lined with anti-microbial fabric and features vegan leather details for that minimalistic, sleek look.
BENEFITS OF BUYING A MONOS TRAVEL LUGGAGE
When you purchase a Monos luggage, you get a lot more than just the bag. Did you also know that every Monos suitcase comes with a lifetime limited warranty, a 100-day trial, free shipping, and Wayfarer Rewards?
LIFETIME LIMITED WARRANTY
All Monos luggage purchased directly from Monos.com is backed by a lifetime warranty extended to the original owner of the item. Monos products purchased through authorized third-party retailers are also backed by our lifetime warranty.
The warranty covers:
- Cracks or breaks in the shell
- Wheels, handles, or telescoping handles that break off or are no longer usable
- Broken zippers
However, the warranty does not cover:
- Cosmetic Damage – scratches, dents, dings, scuffs, stains, color changes, normal wear and tear (including inner fabric), and a few other use cases
- Replacement of any non-defective parts in the luggage.
- Damage determined to be due to intentional abuse, modification, tampering, and/or alteration beyond what could be considered normal handling and use.
100-DAY FREE TRIAL
Because Monos Travel wants you to feel confident about your purchase, they will allow returns within 100 days.
The 100-day trial gives you time to ensure that your new suitcase is the right bag for you. That means you’ll get to fill it up with stuff at home, roll it around the house or some other indoor environment, and feel it out for sizing, weight, color, etc.
NOTE: The 100-day trial is voided if your suitcase has been used in transit. Pack it up and roll it around your house to get a feel for it, but don’t use it on a flight and then try to return it. They don’t accept returns on suitcases that are in an unsellable condition. The shipping cost of a return will be deducted from your total refund.
For other bags, apparel, and accessories, you may initiate a return within 30 days of the delivery of your item.
Upon making your purchase, don’t forget to sign up for Wayfarer Rewards! As a Wayfarer, you get access to exclusive rewards and savings.
So how does it all work? Well, you’ll basically earn Monos Miles every time you shop. Once you have points, you can then redeem them as cash for your next purchase.
For example, for my Carry On Pro luggage purchase, I earned 509 points. Already with just that purchase alone, I was able to redeem this for $25 USD off my next purchase!
From there, I was encouraged to complete a few extra steps to earn additional Monos Miles. This included following Monos Travel on social media, entering my birthdate, and more. Just a few actions later, I was up to a total of 900 Monos Miles–enough for $45 off my next purchase!
By leaving a review, you can also be rewarded with 100 points. And once my birthdate rolls around, I’ll have another 200 Monos Miles in the bag.
A few extra things to know: You are able to redeem as many Monos Miles as you wish, in increments of 100. However, do note that the redemption of Monos Miles cannot be combined with any other promotional coupons. They expire within 1 year of earning them.
Wayfarer Rewards can also grant you VIP status. Everyone starts at Silver. Once you spend enough to get to Gold Status, you unlock extra perks such as early access to sales and 15% off new product launches.
MONOS CARRY-ON PRO: FINAL THOUGHTS
To answer the first question that’s likely on your mind–is Monos luggage worth the money? My answer is an astounding yes. I have no regrets!
While Monos luggage is by no means cheap, they are priced very similarly to other brands that play in the same space (such as Away, July, Paravel, etc). In addition, they are much less expensive than some other premium travel luggage brands like RIMOWA–these bags can cost you anywhere from $600 to $1,000 USD.
I was definitely in the market for a high-quality, durable carry-on that’d be used 2-3 times per month, and I ultimately think I made the right decision with Monos Carry-On Pro.
One of the next questions you’re probably asking is–why go for the Carry-On Pro when there’s the Carry-On Pro Plus? It’s a very good question, and this was one of my biggest struggles when I was deciding which one to buy!
While I loved the fact that the Carry-On Pro Plus was larger and came with extra space to fit more things, I also really liked the fact that the Carry-On Pro was designed to fit in overhead cabins worldwide.
Because I do a lot of international traveling, I didn’t like the idea of having to worry about whether or not my carry-on would fit on the plane or whether I’d need to check my bag on a smaller flight.
It’s important to remember that not all bins are created equal. Mainline and international flights usually have much larger overhead bins than regional aircraft. If you’re on a small regional aircraft, it’s possible that you will have to gate-check your carry-on luggage.
Because of this, I ultimately decided to go with the Carry-On Pro. Not only will this mean worry-free international travel, but it also meant that I could continue to be challenged to live more like a minimalist!
If none of the above sounds like you, then the Carry-On Pro Plus may definitely be the better option for you!
Ultimately, the Monos Carry-On Pro is for you if:
- You want your carry-on to be considered a carry-on worldwide (designed to fit in the overhead bin of almost any flight anywhere)
- You like having certain items like your laptop more easily accessible (the zippered front panel is great for this)
- You want a durable, sleek, and minimalistic carry-on
- You want a bag that has TSA approved locks
- You or your travel companion have a laptop that is 15-inches or less (FYI, my 16-inch Macbook will not fit if it’s in its case)
Don’t need a laptop sleeve? Go with the standard Carry-On.
Want a little bit more luggage room and still be able to fly with your bag as a carry-on across the US? Go with the Carry-On Plus.
Want a laptop sleeve AND more luggage room? The Carry-On Pro Plus will be the perfect option.
And lastly, if you have a good idea of which luggage you’re interested in buying, keep an eye out for their discount sales–they happen every once in a while!
ALTERNATIVE LUGGAGE BRANDS TO CONSIDER
Away is a great alternative to Monos. Very much like Monos Travel, Away’s products are ideal for the jet-setter that’s looking for well-built, sleek-looking luggage that will last for years. Their suitcases are made from similar high-end materials and they come equipped with all the features you’d be looking for in sturdy luggage.
All of their suitcases have double spinner wheels, telescopic handles with ergonomic grip, an internal compression system that makes it easy to pack more in the bags, a removable laundry bag, and TSA-friendly locks.
Similar to Monos’ Hybrid Collection, Away has an aluminum collection. They also have softshell options, and some hardshell suitcases come with an ejectable power bank.
Away offers more color variety than Monos, so if color is a big deal for you and Monos doesn’t have a bag that comes in your favorite color, you might have some luck with Away’s product offerings.
Away’s Carry-On option: The Carry-On
- Deal Alert! You can use this link to get $20 off any suitcase or bag.
Paravel was launched in 2016 with the goal of creating stylish bags that are both timeless and long-lasting.
Its line of Aviator hard-shell spinner suitcases comes in three different sizes and about 5 classic, beautiful color combinations. My personal favorites? The black/tan and white/tan options!
In fact, I like the Paravel brand so much that plan to buy this carry-on as my secondary luggage, for whenever my partner and I are traveling as a pair. So keep an eye out for that upcoming review!
What I love about this brand is that they are intentionally running their business with sustainability in mind. Paravel makes it a mission to offset all of the carbon emissions generated from manufacturing and shipping their suitcases.
On top of their commendable efforts, you gotta also love their warranty policy. Paravel’s line of Aviator wheeled suitcases comes with a five-year limited warranty that covers manufacturing defects, wear and tear, and structural damage.
Paravel’s Carry-On Option: Aviator Carry-On Luggage
RIMOWA is a premium luggage brand perhaps best known for its aluminum carry-ons. Designed and engineered in Germany, RIMOWA combines heritage and craftsmanship with the rigors of modern technology.
This is truly the luxury version of the modern, minimalist carry-on. If I had the budget to buy luggage by RIMOWA, this would be the brand I’d buy!
On top of the high-quality materials used to craft the luggage, the handle does not have fixed settings, which means you can adjust it to literally any height you wish. Game changer!
Do note that RIMOWA luggage will cost you anywhere between $700 and $1300, which is significantly more than the cost of Monos luggage.
If you’re looking for something similar in size to the Monos Carry On Pro, the RIMOWA Essential Lite is your best bet. It’s equal parts small, spacious, and ultra-lightweight! It will fit in just about any standard overhead bin (including smaller jumper planes and international flights) and also has enough space that packing for 4-5 days is very achievable.
What Is Considered a Carry-On?
Technically, any piece of luggage that you bring onto an airplane is a carry-on bag. Most US airlines allow one piece of carry-on luggage that must fit in the overhead bin, plus another personal item. This personal item can be a smaller backpack, briefcase, purse, camera bag, diaper bag, etc.
While the dimension requirements can differ from airline to airline, to be safely considered a carry-on by most airlines, a carry-on should fall into the following dimensions: 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (or 22 centimeters x 35 centimeters x 56 centimeters). This is a very common carry-on size and the dimensions includes handles and wheels.
Again, the size dimensions of carry-on baggage allowed in the cabin of the aircraft will vary by airline. Ultimately, you’ll have to check with your airline to ensure what can fit in the overhead bin. If it does not fit in the overhead compartment, you may very well need to check the bag.
For many major domestic airlines such as Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue, there are no weight restrictions for carry-on bags. However, other airlines may have a carry-on weight limit of ~40 pounds.
International airlines may have different restrictions for carry-on luggage. It is always best to check with your airline to get their exact requirements.
Is 23-inch Luggage Too Big To Be a Carry-on?
While many airlines might say their carry-on size limit is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, their overhead cabins and luggage-size-testers might be slightly larger than 22 x 14 x 9. It really depends on who you are flying with and which type of plane you are hopping on!
For example, here are a few different airline allowances (at the time of writing):
- Southwest: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (61 x 40 x 25 cm)
- United: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm)
- Delta: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm)
- Jetblue: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm)
- Hawaiian: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm)
- Frontier: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (61 x 40 x 25 cm)
- Spirit: 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 cm x 45 x 25 cm)
- Aeromexico: 22 x 16 x 10 inches (56 cm x 40 x 25 cm)
- British Airways: 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 cm x 45 x 25 cm)
- EasyJet: 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 45 x 25 cm)
- Ryanair: 22 x 16 x 8 inches (55 x 40 x 20cm)
Despite the dimensions above, I also know that many of United and Southwest’s planes’ overhead cabins can actually fit a carry-on that’s 23 x 15 x 10 inches in dimension, despite their advertised limit of 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
More often than not, carry-on bags that are slightly oversized can slip through without any hassle. It depends on how strict your airline is, and it may depend on how full the flight is, how strict the gate agent is, or the size of the plane you’re traveling on.
Keep in mind you can always be asked to check your carry-on bag at any given time, even if it isn’t too big. This can happen if the flight is extremely full and there just isn’t enough bin space for everyone.
The bottom line is if you want to be 100% sure you won’t be charged any fees for having a carry-on that’s too large, you’ll need a bag that’s within the size limits, including the wheels and handles.
This is the exact reason why I went with the Monos Carry-On Pro instead of the Carry-On Pro Plus!
Will a 16-inch laptop fit in the Monos Carry-On Pro?
A 16-inch laptop or MacBook will technically fit in the zippered compartment, just not in the mesh pocket.
Also, you’d have to be sure to not overstuff the main luggage compartment so that the zippered outer compartment can zip up with the laptop in it.
And we’re at the end of this Monos Carry-On Pro review! I’ve given you a lot of other options to round out this review post, but ultimately, if you’re looking to upgrade your gear, Monos Travel is a wonderful brand of luggage to go with.
I love traveling with my Carry-On Pro and I think you will love yours too!
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