Carry-on luggage comes in a range of shapes, sizes, and configurations, and depending on your requirements and trip type, some is more useful than others. While a suitcase is ideal for easy packing and quick access to the contents, a backpack is much easier on the body when you have to carry your bag for any length of time.
Standard Luggage is trying to offer the best of both worlds with its Carry-On Backpack, a piece of luggage that converts between three different luggage styles. The company sent out a sample to try on for size, and here’s how it fared.
Impressions and Specifications
The Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack comes in black, with orange or teal accents you can switch between as the mood takes you. It's a relatively plain-looking suitcase in its usual configuration, although those accents do help distinguish it on the baggage belt.
When it arrived, my first impression was the bag was surprisingly large for carry-on–I was almost certain it would be too big to take on board international flights. According to the company, however, the 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5” (zipped) capacity fits within the parameters for every carrier, including notoriously picky ones like Europe’s Ryanair.
Unsurprisingly, there are several ways to carry it. As a suitcase, there are both top and side handles and a detachable shoulder strap. Pull the back straps from their dedicated compartment and snap the buckles, and it becomes a backpack, complete with sternum strap for carrying heavier loads.
The main compartment opens flat for easy packing, with a pair of compression straps to cinch everything down. There are two pockets on the front, a larger one for documents, and a smaller one for things like books.
At the back, there’s a separate electronics section with a padded sleeve for laptops up to 15”, a second sleeve for tablets or e-readers, plus several pockets for passports, business cards and the like.
The bag holds 35 liters of gear, expandable to 45 liters, and weighs 3.7lbs. The fabric is water-resistant, but there’s a rain cover included for when the weather really turns nasty, and a safety whistle for scary situations. Zips for both main and back compartments are lockable, but not the front pockets.
Staying with a friend across town for a week, I left my usual backpack at home and used this luggage instead. The main compartment easily fitted clothing for several days, including a spare pair of shoes, without needing to expand it. The compression straps kept everything secure and created extra space on top to lay larger items like a jacket.
My laptop and Kindle fitted easily in the electronics section, along with a motley collection of chargers, travel adapters, earphones, and portable batteries.
The bag was stable and balanced with around twenty pounds of weight in it, and comfortable to carry as a backpack for long periods. It felt sturdy and well-made, using quality materials like YKK zips. The rectangular shape and larger size did stand out, however.
My companion commented that it looked like I'd strapped a suitcase to my back, and that’s basically what I’d done. It was also a little bulky on public transport and in crowded spaces, and it was hard to avoid bumping it into people or having it get underfoot.
The handles were good for maneuvering the bag short distances, and lifting the case out of trunks and up onto shelves was easy enough. Like most similar bags, however, when there’s any real weight inside I’d be more likely to use the shoulder strap than try to carry it like a briefcase.
The Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack isn’t for everyone. If you need something with wheels you’ll need to look elsewhere, and it’s a little large to use as a daypack while out exploring your destination (the company makes a smaller convertible day bag for that purpose).
On the other hand, it’s a well-made piece of luggage, with loads of space for multi-day trips. It includes extras like a rain hood, shoulder strap and swappable decals that other companies want you to pay for, which makes the list price of $179 seem good value. Even better, free international shipping is included.
The padded, separate electronics section protects your gear while making airport security less painful, and being able to expand the main compartment gives you more options, at the expense of remaining within carry-on limits.
If you’re after a versatile, durable carry-on at a reasonable price, the Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack is well worth a look.