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July luggage

I'm traveling to Europe for the first time and realize I need smaller and lighter to achieve my goal of exclusively carry-on.
I have researched all the suggestions posted here, and in my wanderings found July Carry-on Light. Does anyone have an opinion on this? Is it worth spending the extra money ($265.) for a lighter bag (4.9 lbs at 21.26 x 14.17 x 8.66 ), as opposed to, say, Mr. T's (now $179, Bric's Ulisse 21, (21 x 14 x 9)).

Posted by
4520 posts

My TravelPro MaxLite 5 spinner carry-on bag only weighs 5.4 lbs and I bought it for around $140. So you don’t need to pay a lot for a lightweight bag.

Posted by
5192 posts

Watch Macy's for great deals on Travelpro. I switched to a 2 wheeled Travelpro and got it for less than $100 at Macy's. I've traveled with it a total of about 10 months, now. We do a lot of walking between train stations and inns.

Posted by
1259 posts

I'd say anything over $150 is too much to spend for a wheelie carry-on but it's competely up to you to do the shopping. Brand names, craftsmanship, warranties, features, clearance sales, discount outlets—they all factor in to a competent luggage purchase decision. To answer your main question, yes, lighter is always better. The two-wheel/four-wheel discussion is intense so, again, your decision.

If I were in the market for a two-wheeled carry-on, I'd be looking for soft-side bag on big, rugged rollerblade-style wheels.

Try to have fun shopping.

Posted by
5192 posts

The thing with the wheels whether four or two is to examine how exposed they are. If they are built into the case, they seem to fare better for me. Also, if the wheels are attached with grommets, then you need a luggage repair person to replace the wheels. If they are attached with screws, that is a repair you can do yourself.

Posted by
7786 posts

We're on our second sets of TravelPro 21" ultra light swivel wheel carryons.. I bought the last pair at

Posted by
12679 posts

As you can tell, many use the TravelPro.

I went very light with my last bag but it was expensive. I got the Osprey Ozone which was $280 and comes in at 4.5 lbs. It's a slightly weird bag but works for me.

I looked at the July Carry on light. It's a hardshell with 8 wheels. What you should be aware of is that each side is equal depth meaning you may need to lay it out flat to access your stuff. European hotel rooms are small and the ones I've been in would rarely have accommodated a flat suitcase. There are folks on the forum who use this kind of case so they must be putting it on a chair or luggage rack and opening it like a traditional suitcase. It looks like there are zipper covers for each side which will prevent things from falling out if you've got the lid open like that. (Does that make sense to you?)

It is expandable which is good and may or may not be needed.

I'm not familiar with this brand so I don't know how durable the wheels are which is often the biggest fail point in a suitcase.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks all for the great info,,,
One more question...Has anyone had trouble trying to carry on internationally? I'm flying Lufthansa & Iceland Air and the stated maximums are 21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8 ( 9" Lufthansa ), & 22 lbs/17.6 lbs. I'm struggling finding something that fits those requirements unless its an "under the seat" bag.

Posted by
1259 posts

You should be able to find two versions of most good bags, carry-on and the slightly smaller “international carry-on”, which will be suitable for most airlines. The advantage of a carry-on softside bag squished into almost any sizer.

Posted by
1979 posts

The narrower size for some of the European airlines is a big challenge. Most of the carry on bags are 9” deep, which is too big for some. When I flew on Lufthansa they weighed and measured each of our bags at checkin. They were doing random checks at the gate also. I would count on the airline enforcing the size limits. It’s a billion $ industry just in baggage fees.

For our upcoming trip, we’re bringing carryon size bags but checking them. I purchased a backpack that I’ll use as a carryon with a change of clothes for each of our party. And we’ll split up clothes in the checked bags, so if one is lost/delayed, that person has some clothes in a different bag.

Posted by
289 posts

I wish there was a polling function on the travel forum where people could indicate whether their luggage was delayed or lost during a connection in an European airport. Are people tying themselves in knots, and limiting how much they can carry, to solve a problem that may now be less prevalent?

As I'm often a solo traveler, I would find a carry-on bag a major burden navigating the airside at airports while also carrying my day pack - in the men's room, cafeteria and fast food lines, window shopping, etc.

And I wonder whether the weight restrictions are actually more limiting than the dimensions - can you really survive for two weeks living out of a 18 - 22 lb. suitcase, when nominally five pounds is the weight of the case?

I still use the Rick Steves original wheeled carry-on that I purchased in 2002 - a good wipe-down last year made it like-new - but I check it. The current 2-wheel model is 21 x 13-1/2 x 9 and 6.5 lbs - too large for Icelandair. But it's expandable, and if the earlier model is any indication, built to last.

Posted by
5192 posts

Mark, my luggage has been lost/delayed enough that there is no way I'll check my bags at the beginning of a trip. Our luggage was lost/delayed both directions for our honeymoon. When I took my sons to NYC our luggage was delayed a couple days due to a last minute flight change. I just remember how hard it was to find a store, at night, near our Manhattan hotel that sold little boy underwear. And there was the time that all outerwear and ski equipment for our family of six didn't make the flight. Obviously, we couldn't have carried on our ski equipment, etc. but it reminded us that lost/delayed luggage is a huge pain.

And there was this summer's fiasco in Amsterdam and London.

Posted by
22891 posts

Jules -- sounds like you have had a lot of bad luck. Some are just lucky that way. In 50 years of airline travel with a dozen or more trips to Europe and checking our bags most of the times, we have our luggage delayed once for about two days and misplaced at the airport once. Lucky I suppose.

Posted by
7 posts

Yikes! I’ll consider myself lucky! The very few times I’ve had to check s bag, it was there at the end.
Thanks MarkCW, I’ll take another peek at the RS bag mentioned, and I’ll let you know how it went in Europe. I’m packing for a month ( planning on sink laundry) hop-scotching from Seattle to Iceland, Frankfurt, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, then meet in Ljubljana for the 14 day RS tour down the Adriatic.
An adventure, to be sure!

Posted by
301 posts

I will add a little more to what markcw pointed out about weight. I have the smaller carry on Away bag (have you looked at this?) from soon after their launch, and it's very similar in style and weight to the July brand you are considering. I love it- and was always able to travel for 3+ weeks. I like the hard sides that offer some protection if other bags get stacked on it (on trains). It wasn't until a Norwegian Air flight that its weight became an issue- I had no problem fitting in what I needed, nor it not fitting the test sizer things, but the suitcase itself suddenly added 5 pounds.
In the end I used an Eddie Bauer duffel (about 1 and 1/2 lbs empty) with a shoulder strap to pull off carry on only for that flight and meet the weight requirement. But it certainly felt heavy sometimes if I had to lug it any distance! (I used to have a Tom Binh convertible backpack bag but although it could squish for the sizers I found it harder to pack, access and also at 5'2" felt like a turtle about to topple over. if I used that feature. I do appreciate wheels!)
With this your first (congratulations!) of hopefully many trips it might be worth considering your travel style beyond this trip. If for the most part you will fly across an ocean and then use other modes of travel, this will likely serve you well.

Posted by
1259 posts

I’ll just point out that luggage delay and baggage loss are only two of several reasons why going carryon-only might be a good idea for a certain type of traveler. Not for everyone.

Posted by
16045 posts

Never heard of July Luggage and I might be a little suspicious of what they had to do to make it that light; but if you check the reviews and they look good and that's what works for you, go for it.

I've noticed everyone has a different definition for "light"; keep in mind that a pair of men's 501 jeans weighs in at about 1 lb, so in theory 4.9 vs 5.9 is a pair of jeans; and don't and let anyone convince you that you need a light bag because the heavy ones are too hard to lift as for most of us they all weight 17.6 pounds cause they are packed to the limit.

I use the Bric bag and one of the things I like about it are the wheels are recessed a bit and pretty heavy duty and its a good square bag so you get all the space allowed.

The spinners and the clamshell design of any hard bag are also winners for me; but I almost choked when I paid $140 for that bag (i understand its like $179 now)

You really can't go wrong as long as the size fits the airline requirement; the bag isn't the trip, it's only a few minutes of the trip.

Until i bought that Bric i used a Walmart Special for more than 15 years that I think I paid $35 for and it took care of me through about 45 European, Asian and African vacations (still good too .... i only changed for the convenience of the clam shell and the convenience of putting a hard bag in the overhead).

Posted by
13841 posts

The reason it is hard to find a bag in the USA that fits European carry on size dimensions is because there aren't that many sold in the USA.

Most Americans fly domestically. And except for a few ultra discount carriers, they want the maximum allowed size bag (22 x 14 x 9.) They aren't as concerned about the weight.

Most Americans flying internationally for a vacation are taking a check in size bag. I know some here think everyone travels the Rick Steves way but they don't.

That actually leaves a fairly small market for European size bags in the USA. And with the varied carry on size difference among European airlines, it becomes to costly to make different size bags.

It also doesn't help that we use inches while the rest of the world uses metric. Rounding up of inches causes problems and misunderstandings. It's best to use metric dimensions for non-US based airlines when considering a bag.

Posted by
16045 posts

What is a Eurooean size bag, or Internatiinal size vs Domestic?

American. Air France. United. Delta, KLM are all 22x14x9 and it doesn't matter if you are flying them domestically or overseas.

Lufthansa and British Air and a large number of the other European carriers allow a slightly larger bag; so your "American" market 22x14x9 works everyplace and I hit the weight limit before I fill it so the extra 1.5" Lufthansa anf many of the others allows isn't any help for me.

I went through a couple of lists of airlines and only found a few obscure carriers that the 22h didn't work (they were 21.5 or 21, like my Bric bag) and 2 others with issues in the other dimensions.

And I can't remember the last person I saw boarding an international flight without a carry-on.

Posted by
9736 posts

I've never heard of these three brands. Could you give links to what you're considering. What are the guarantees? Materials? Pockets?
Maybe James E, who mentioned Bric can speak about the quality.
I have pretty standard Dell, Travelpro, and Eagle Creek.

Posted by
13841 posts

There are some airlines that are not 22 x 14 x 9. You may not take them but they are there.

Air France and KLM are not 22". They are 55 cm which is 21.6". You might say big deal but it can matter in the sizer. Especially if the airline can make money for extra baggage charges.

Icelandair only allows 20 cm thickness which is 7.8", not 9". Most intraeuropean airlines also restrict size.

It's usually the handle that will protrude out and cause the bag to be "too big" for the sizer.

I have seen many people board an aircraft internationally with just a "personal item." Since you travel with carry on only, you don't see what is going on at the baggage carousel. And since you are making a connecting flight, it's possible that many of the people arriving in Budapest from Instanbul are local travelers who would have only carry on.

I used to be involved with the travel goods/luggage industry and I still keep abreast of what is happening. If luggage manufacturers thought they could make money with European sized bags in the USA, they would all be marketed here.

European limits range from 55 x 35/40 x 20/23 cm....that's 21.6 x 13.8/15.7 x 7.8/9.0 inches.

Posted by
1487 posts

markcw--I too use the Rick Steve's 21" rolling bag. We bought two in 2007 and one of our kids took one of them, but I still had the other. The zipper area finally gave up last year, but it had a lot of use so we felt we more than got our money's worth out of it. I did buy a replacement of the newer version of the bag. I do a lot of solo travel to help an elderly parent and I manage just fine with that bag and my Longchamp purse. This is the largest bag we own. When our daughter did her study abroad term in France, she took one of the bags and a day pack, that was it. She was gone for months. When our son did his study abroad, he did pack more than she did, with an extra pack, but again he was gone for 6 months. Totally doable. We have used Iceland air quite a bit, including twice last year and yes their carryon bag size is much smaller. We take Osprey packs for those trips so we can do carryon only. We will be doing that again this summer, headed back to Iceland for 17 days for a camping/hiking trip.

Posted by
2713 posts

Look carefully at the exact luggage size requirements for each flight of your entire trip, on each airline’s site, not just the codeshare partnered ones, and buy the bag that fits the absolute smallest measurements listed out of all your chosen airlines.
European airlines are fussy and may make you check….and pay….for a carryon bag that would be fine flying in N. America.
They are very fussy about carryon bag weight in some cases too.
Ask me how I know……..

Have a look in TJMaxx and Marshall’s type stores.
I’ve bought great reasonably priced lightweight bags in them.
No need to spend a fortune!

Also, buy a small handheld travel weigh scale and weigh all your things you plan to bring….you’ll be amazed at the difference in weight between similar shirts, for example.

Posted by
12679 posts

And make sure to look at the luggage website for dimensions in metric! I drove myself nuts last summer until I realized that the "inches" dimension was rounded up from the Metric dimensions.

I also agree since you are getting a new bag to get one to meet the smallest dimensions of any of your flight legs and the lightest weight you can. Expect your bag to be weighed and to have to put it in a sizer and if you don't consider yourself ahead of the game! And yes, to both a handheld luggage scale and a digital kitchen scale. As mentioned I obsessed over this and actually weighed all of my packing cubes/pouches and only took the lightest ones. I also weighed my clothes and went light on them as well.

I've checked a bag for years but last fall after all the mess in London and Amsterdam, I made myself carry on. Yes, it's a pain for a solo traveler to have to take the carry on and personal item into the bathroom and keep track of it in the terminal especially if you have a layover but it is what it is. I'd rather have that hassle than no clothes at the end.

Posted by
552 posts

The solution is a RS original bag. It is soft. So can squeeze easily into any checkbox at the gate as well as overhead bins. And since it is soft many airlines won’t even notice you as you approach the boarding. I have been using mine for 20 years. You do not even have to stuff it. I always check mine. But that is a another thread, again and again. Unlike some above people I have only lost luggage a couple times. Not a regular thing.
Plus you do not have the annoying wheels on rough pavement and cobblestones mentioned in a recent thread with walking 1+ miles.
Of course, you have to be fit and willing to walk with a pack on your back. This is out of the norm for the average American traveler.
If I felt I had to roll, I would get the RS rolling back back. Best of both worlds.

Posted by
16045 posts

Frank II you proved my point; there are not categories for domestic and international as there are just too many airlines with differing requirements.

The metric issue is fair, and it was interesting that the KLM website listed the metric size and my KLM receipt listed it in rounded up inches so there isn't even consistency there; but its tough to find an airline that will not accept a 21" x 14" x 9" bag as that meets almost all of the domestic carriers who publish in inches and is smaller than no matter how you round the metric numbers for most of the international carriers (but you do need to check each airline that you purchase a ticket with and dont trust those lists that many news and travel companies publish).

Bets, well the Bric has only been to Europe about 6 times since I bought it and so far so good, still looks like new.

  • I like spinners, just do for the way and places I travel (Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro, Ukraine) and for the one in 5 trips when I check a bag it is so much easier to maneuver two bags if one is a spinner.
  • I like the clamshell because I am too lazy to unpack and it makes it easier to find things and stay organized (never have to dig deep to the bottom to find anything.
  • I wish it weighed a bit less because most of my flights have a 8kg
    max, but I use the personal item for the heavy stuff and that seems
    to be working just fine (still its only about 1 pound .... one pair of jeans .... heavier than most soft bags) and all bags weigh 17.6 pounds on the flights that I take (8kg limit) so its no harder to lift than any other bag.
  • I like the hard shell because it slides effortlessly in and out of the overhead and because it is devoid of worthless pockets that only serve to rob interior space.
  • I like the shape, its almost perfectly rectangular as opposed to the stylish ones with the tapered tops that only serve to rob you of interior space.
  • The wheels are recessed a little bit at the bottom buying a bit more space and the wheels are pretty large for a spinner and pretty stout in design so I anticipate they will last a long while; and yes I have dragged the thing up hill on rough pavement on just two wheels and they survived just fine.
Posted by
13841 posts

A number of years ago, IATA, the international airline trade association, tried to come up with standard size carry on specifications for all airlines to follow.

Few airlines paid attention. It was dropped.