I recently made it through a 15-day trip to Vancouver, Alaska, and Seattle relying solely on Bluesmart’s Black Edition carry-on. Next week it’s headed back out with me to Outdoor Retailer.
Update: Several of the bags below have been discontinued.
It wasn’t that long ago that the best you could hope for from a piece of luggage was durability, but the recent wave of disrupters to the space has resulted in desperately needed design upgrades, and a wealth of “smart” integrations of varying usefulness. Away’s Carry-on, which we love, starts at $225 without a deal,
so what makes the Bluesmart Black Edition worth potentially more than double the price? The Black Edition was recently discounted to $420, so that’s how we’re going to think of it here- we can’t very well run the best deals coverage around and still pretend MSRP is a thing.
The best feature of the Black Edition, and the one that sold me, is the external electronics compartment, which can easily be accessed while going through security or reaching into the overhead bin. This compartment finally kills the need for a personal item in addition to your carry-on, and I was easily able to fit a MacBook, Nintendo Switch, wireless earbuds, documents, and my passport inside it. The Black Edition also features a built-in battery, location tracking, remote locking, and a scale you’ll never use since this is a carry-on. If you’ve taken all that in and $420 is still too much for you, I’ve got good news.
The Bluesmart One has all the features of the Black Edition, with slightly less durable materials and slightly worse wheels. Is the laptop compartment alone worth paying ~$70 more than the competition. Absolutely. Even not taking into account the remote lock and location tracking. But wait, there’s more...
I got a recent demonstration of Bluesmart’s Series 2 lineup,
which is currently available for preorder at a discount on Indiegogo. There’s a lot to like, some things to love, and one glaring omission.
Ignoring bundle pricing, you can pick up the “Cabin” (carry-on size) for $295 if you strike now. The bag has 25% more storage capacity than its predecessors and there’s an awesome built-in compression system, but the laptop compartment is gone! While we wait for a future “One” or “Black” edition of the Cabin, we’d spend our money on the One, or if we really didn’t need the laptop compartment (not possible), stick with the Away.
The “Check” (check size bag) is another story. It has the best built-in luggage scale on the market, the remote lock, and the location tracking,
and you can snag one for $345 with a preorder. That’s a lot of extra features for $50 more than Away’s “Large” size.
As for the Bluesmart Laptop Bag and Passport Pouch, we love that they’ve built an ecosystem of products that play nicely together, but the preorder prices are huge, and the MSRPs are just off the charts (
though we do want to shout out that you can save a ton with the bundle pricing on Indiegogo). It’s not apples to apples, but $400 for the Laptop Bag is double the price of a Peak Design messenger bag.
This is also a good time to say that we’ve crossed the USB-C event horizon, and built-in batteries that don’t incorporate full speed charging of MacBooks (and everything else) over USB-C will just be dead weight for many. Similarly, while the additions to Bluesmart’s app are actually great, it’s easy to throw a Tile in a bag (and the app enhancements are also compatible with the older Bluesmart line).
With Bluesmart moving their focus to their Series 2 offering, this is a great time to watch for discounts on the Black Edition and One, and by watch for discounts, we mean read Kinja Deals.