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Away Expandable Large Review

This bag is heavy but it looks good, is easy to organize, and can keep up with whatever you have planned
Away Expandable Large
Photo: Away Travel
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Price:  $295 List
Pros:  Integrated TSA lock, rolls well, smart organization options, stylish
Cons:  Heavy, fabric is easier to mark
Manufacturer:   Away Travel
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 27, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 7
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 7
  • Reliability - 25% 7
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Away Expandable Large is a fun suitcase, big enough to accommodate a long vacation. It has helpful organizational features for all your essentials, and there's even a thin bag tucked away to isolate dirty clothes or shoes. A zipper unleashes an extra strip of fabric to expand the bag's capacity for when you buy one too many souvenirs. The large wheels roll well, even over curbs, and pivot with you as you move. Really, we like everything about this suitcase but its weight and flexy telescoping handle, which moves around more than most. If you're not worried about surpassing luggage weight requirements, this is a solid roller bag.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Away Expandable Large
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $295 ListCheck Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$379 List$299.95 at Backcountry$85.00 at Amazon
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Pros Integrated TSA lock, rolls well, smart organization options, stylishSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleAmple storage, water-resistant, durable, heavily featuredLarge wheels roll well, stable, convenient external organizationInexpensive, smooth travel, great storage
Cons Heavy, fabric is easier to markZippers could be smootherMany features that aren't that useful, bulky designNot much in the way of interior organizationTips over, lacks durable materials
Bottom Line This bag is heavy but it looks good, is easy to organize, and can keep up with whatever you have plannedA durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travelA tactical and durable adventure suitcase that excels at packing bulky gearA rough and tumble option that could work for anything from gear hauls to business tripsA very low priced suitcase with great storage capacity but a propensity to be tippy
Rating Categories Away Expandable Large Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... The North Face Roll... AmazonBasics Expand...
Storage & Organization (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Ease Of Transport (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Reliability (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
4.0
Weight (15%)
4.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Style (10%)
9.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
4.0
Specs Away Expandable Large Timbuk2 Copilot Eagle Creek ORV Tru... The North Face Roll... AmazonBasics Expand...
Measured Weight 14.5 lbs 9.4 lbs 9.1 lbs 10.2 lbs 9.9 lbs
Volume 106 to 114L 80L 98L 80L 105L
Liters per pound 7.3 to 7.9 8.5 10.8 7.8 10.6
Construction Zip open, softshell Clamshell & peek-a-boo access, softshell Zip open, softshell Roller-duffel Clamshell, softshell
Measured Packed Dimensions 28" x 19" x 12" 25" x 14" x 10" 30" x 17" x 15" 28.5" x 15" x 16" 20" x 11" x 29"
Expansion Zippers? Yes No No No Yes
Number of Wheels 4 2 2 2 4
Number of Large Interior Compartments 2 2 1 1 1
Interior Storage Features 1 dirty clothes bag, 2 zippered panels, compression straps 2 Mesh dividers with organizational pockets. Three smaller organizational pockets 1 mesh organizational pockets on lid of duffel Smaller organizational compartment with mesh organizer
Number of Exterior Pockets 1 with two smaller ones inside 1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve 2 large pockets, top and bottom. Several gear loops on the exterior. 3 pockets, top and middle. Several gear loops on the exterior. 1 large pocket
Compression System Internal compression panel and straps Internal compression straps Removable gear holder keeps items in place, but not compression. Compression buckles on the outside. Expandable boot pocket on the interior of the backpack. Internal and exterior compression straps Internal compression straps
Handle Height from Ground Low: 37"
High: 41"
40.75" 42" 42.5" Low: 38"
High: 42"
Built-In Lock Yes None None No Yes
Main Exterior Material Water-resistant nylon Nylon and polyester Bi-Tech Heather, 1000D Helix Polyester Twill 1,000-denier polyester with TPE laminate/1,680-denier nylon 150D-polyester
Unique Features Includes a dirty clothes bag Peek-a-boo front pocket, padded front pocket for a 13" laptop. Gear specific storage Duffel on wheels None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Weight is an important factor for larger suitcases since it's easy to put them over flight weight limits in the first place. But if you tend to pack bulkier, lighter items or just like a lot of space for your stuff, the Expandable Large offers good looks and smart organizational features, making it a compelling choice.

Performance Comparison


We think this Away bag is one of the smartest looking in the review.
We think this Away bag is one of the smartest looking in the review.
Photo: Clark Tate

Storage & Organization


This bag doesn't look all that large, but it holds just as much as or more as bags that look much larger. This is helped by a compression panel and an extra ring of fabric that unzips to expand its depth. The Expandable Large also has one of the largest volumes in our test without seeming bulky. We really appreciate the stealth capacity.

We also appreciate that this bag helps us keep track of all the stuff it will hold. It unzips right down the middle, opening like a clamshell, with equal-sized compartments on either side. On the left, there is a big, open pocket with a zip-away mesh panel. It's great for stuffing bulky items away with abandon. The right-hand side has a structured panel that you can use to compress your clothes. Simply put squishy items behind it, and ratchet down on the straps. The panel itself has a mesh pocket in the front to tuck away a few items that you might want to find at a moment's notice — this area is also a great sock drawer.

Smart organizational features make it easy to keep track of all that...
Smart organizational features make it easy to keep track of all that you pack.
Photo: Clark Tate

If that's not enough space for you, unzip the 1.75-inches of expansion fabric. While we like this option, we don't love it on any of the expandable bags we tested. The expansion fabric does not have much structure, and if your packing job doesn't provide enough rigidity, the soft fabric can let the entire bag flex, putting a lot of strain on the zipper. Still, in a pinch, it's a great option.

That strip of fabric below the middle zipper is the expandable...
That strip of fabric below the middle zipper is the expandable portion of the bag. Zip it back up to minimize storage and maximize your bag's rigidity.
Photo: Clark Tate

Unfortunately, this is the heaviest bag in our test by quite a bit. While this doesn't make much of a difference when you're wheeling it around, if you're packing for a plane, you often need to stay under 50 pounds. With this bag, you're starting with 14.5 pounds of just suitcase, and it gives you tons of room to overpack. So watch those scales.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Ease of Transport


The Expandable Large is shorter than many of the other options we tested, and also wider. That keeps the center of gravity low, which seems to help it roll well and stay stable in turns. Larger wheels that easily spin a full 360-degrees also help. We found this bag stable and smooth in corners when lightly or fully loaded. Cobblestones, gravel, and curbs are all fair game.

The four large wheels spin 360 degrees and can tackle everything...
The four large wheels spin 360 degrees and can tackle everything from rough pavement to gravel.
Photo: Clark Tate

The telescoping handle is one of the thinnest of our tested models. It still feels comfortable in the hands, but we tend to prefer larger options that let the hands relax more. It has two height settings, at 37 and 41-inches. We like the flexibility for different users and different circumstances. What we don't like is how much the handle flexes when it's fully extended; it bends so much that we're afraid it might not be as durable as the other options.

This suitcase sports three external grab handles — an obvious one on the top, another on the side, and one that's tucked away in a fabric fold below. Between them, it's easy to pick the bag up or move it around in the back of a car. Again, though, the bag is heavy and can fit a lot, so you may need your muscles.

None of these bags are pleasant on the stairs, but this one takes...
None of these bags are pleasant on the stairs, but this one takes them as well as the rest.
Photo: Clark Tate

Reliability


The zippers on the Expandable run smoothly, and the nylon feels sturdy with no snags during testing. The leading edge along the bottom showed some scuffing relatively quickly, and with no bumpers, we expect that area to sustain the worst of any wear and tear. It does have four bumpers along its left side, so if you need to lay it over, choose that edge. The nylon fabric is water-resistant and does a great job of beading up splashes or the first few minutes of a rainstorm. The zippers don't keep water out, though, so don't leave this puppy out in a rainstorm if you can help it.

The wheels seem well made and stood up to our testing antics. We don't see any obvious way to replace them, though, should that be needed. Many bags have a visible screw or hex that would let you quickly replace a busted one. An integrated TSA-approved lock lets you lock the zippers from the main compartment securely. We really like this feature. You'll just have to be careful about what you stash in the forward compartment unless you buy a second lock.

An integrated TSA-approved lock is a handy addition, though the...
An integrated TSA-approved lock is a handy addition, though the zippers do have to have an annoying tab to make it work.
Photo: Clark Tate

Weight


She's a heavy one. At 14.5 pounds, the Expandable Large is the heaviest bag we tested. However, it rolls so well that we didn't notice this unless we were trying to pack a lot on a flight or pick it up to get it in a car or off a conveyor belt.

Man is this bag heavy.
Man is this bag heavy.
Photo: Clark Tate

Style


We really like the look of this suitcase, with its nice color options, appealing fabric, and horizontal line detailing. Being able to stash a few extras in the front pocket — a layer, your laptop, your ticket, and your ID — go a long way to feeling put together and in control.

We always feel put together with this bag.
We always feel put together with this bag.
Photo: Clark Tate

Value


If we knew for sure this bag would last a good five years of heavy use, we'd say it's a good value. You get a lot of storage space, style, rolling, and organizational support for your money. Given the promising durability signs so far, we'd say its value is about average, giving you just what you pay for and not much more.

The bag comes with a cotton sack to help keep it clean and a classy...
The bag comes with a cotton sack to help keep it clean and a classy name tag holder.
Photo: Clark Tate

Conclusion


This good-looking suitcase packs a lot away and holds everything in place as you head from point A to point B. It even gives you a little easy-access storage for the places in between. If you can work with the weight, it's a great option.

While the handle feels less stable than most in its extended mode...
While the handle feels less stable than most in its extended mode, we never struggled to move this bag around.
Photo: Clark Tate

Clark Tate