Raden vs Away Luggage
After spending a year traveling with both Raden and Away smart luggage, I’ve got the low-down on all the pros and cons of each!
I spent my own money–this isn’t a sponsored review, so I can be completely honest about my experiences. Given a limited budget, it didn’t make much sense for me to purchase two suitcases of the same size, but the two bags I’m comparing represent the full features of each brand (Raden’s checked and carry-on bags have identical technology, and Away’s checked size bags don’t actually have any integrated technology–only their carry-ons have built in batteries).
And one quick note about smart luggage: Beginning in early 2018, many major airlines are banning cases that have a non-removable battery. Both Away and Raden’s batteries are removable, so they’re fine, but keep this in mind if you’re shopping other brands.
When it comes to smart features, Raden is the easy winner. Away’s one and only smart feature is an integrated power bank, which only comes in their Carry-On and Bigger Carry-On suitcases.
The power banks in both the Away and the Raden have worked perfectly for me.
One nice feature of the Away is the little door that covers the charging ports, so they stay clean and protected. My Raden has a tendency to blink when it needs to be charged, so I’d love to be able to cover it like this.
I appreciate that the power bank is removable in both brands, as some airports or screeners may require you to remove your bag’s power bank during screening or prior to checking the bag.
This is because lithium batteries that are used in power banks can occasionally explode. It’s rare, and not something you need to worry about–after all, you’re probably using a lithium battery if you have a standalone power bank, laptop, smartphone, digital camera, etc. But when it comes to air travel, many feel that it’s safer to have lithium batteries in the cabin, where a fire could be quickly extinguished, as opposed to the baggage hold, where no one is around to put out a fire.
Because of this, you may have issues checking a bag with a lithium battery in it (Asian airports are real sticklers with this), so be prepared to remove it, and definitely don’t purchase a smart suitcase with a non-removable battery.
Despite the possible need to remove the battery, I sort of like having a larger bag with a battery. Depending on how you travel, this may be less important to you.
Raden’s self-weighing handle is one of my favorite features, and makes packing so much easier. It works through the Raden app (currently availabe for iOS, and in development for Android), which is also how you’ll see location tracking.
Just make sure your case is packed, zipped and setting upright on a flat surface, then open the app and select “weigh.” It will calibrate, then ask you to lift the case by the self weighing handle, and the app will tell you how much the bag weighs. It’s incredibly useful, and saves me wondering if my overpacking will result in extra baggage fees. The only downside here is that if you’ve really overpacked, it can be difficult to lift a heavy suitcase straight up by the top handle.
Raden’s location tracking is one feature I haven’t really used. It works mainly via Bluetooth, which means a range of just 100 feet. So you’ll be able to check if your suitcase is nearby, but if your case is stolen, you’re unlikely to get a ping on where it is. I say unlikely because the technology does include what they call “crowd GPS.” Basically, if there’s another Raden user near your case, the Raden app installed on their phone may detect and relay your suitcase’s location. This would be great if Raden luggage were as prevalent as say, Apple devices, but given the relatively niche market, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a lost case to be located this way.
It should be noted that while Away cases don’t have built-in location tracking, you can separately purchase an Away x Tile luggage tag that provides the same tracking tech as in the Raden.
Away and Raden luggage include some nice non-smart features: both are constructed of lightweight, flexible Makrolon polycarbonate, and roll smoothly on 360° spinner wheels.
Away’s cases are a little lighter, with the Carry-On weighing just 7 pounds compared to Raden’s A22 Carry-On‘s 8.4 pounds. I was actually a little shocked at how light my Away Bigger Carry-On was the the first time I lifted it! If, like me, you previously stuck with cheaper luggage, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The advantage holds for the checked bags as well, with Raden’s A28 coming in at 13 pounds, and Away’s Large case at just 9.9.
Both brands offer similar interior organization– nothing groundbreaking, but functional and useful. You’ll also find nearly identical TSA locks in both brands. The relative security flaws of TSA locks (as well as zippered bags) are well documented, but I still feel it provides an extra layer of security against casual theft.
I’ve been really happy with how both of my cases have held up. They’re both fairly lightweight, smooth rolling, and easy to use.
However, while both have held up well to handling, I’ve found that the Raden bag scuffs more easily than my Away. The glossy finish just seems to be prone to scuffing. It looks a little worse in my photo at the photo up top than it really is, and to be fair, they do offer some matte finishes that would probably fare better. But if you’re hoping that glossy finish will stay perfect, you will be disappointed.
I’m not crazy about this, but I bought my Raden bag with the intent of eventually plastering it with stickers, so it’s much less of a problem for me than for someone hoping to keep the bag pristine. I can also see this being more of an issue for someone who purchases one of Raden’s lighter color bags, like the popular pink hue. I went with Navy in part because I knew it would hide scuffs better, and short of another recurrence of my glorious experience flying private, there’s no way around checked bags getting beat up eventually.
Away claims the matte, textured surface of their bags resist scuffing. It’s difficult to make an even comparison since I haven’t had to check my carry-on yet. However, it does seem likely that the material would be less prone to scuffing than my glossy Raden.
In general, I’d recommend avoiding very light hues for checked bags, instead reserving that for a carry-on you can pamper a little more easily. Away actually recently brought back their white color option, and launched some pretty pastel limited edition cases. While I’m guessing they wouldn’t be as pretty after a going a couple rounds with baggage handlers, my recently purchased cactus blue carry-on (yes, I just couldn’t resist!) still looks pretty great after a couple trips.
Both bags roll smoothly, and are easy to unzip, pack and lock.
Above, I mentioned the potential need to remove the built in battery. In my Raden bag, the battery is held in place inside a zippered pouch, so it’s a breeze to pull out.
UPDATE: I’d previously posted that Away’s power banks are bit of a hassle to remove. It seems they’ve changed this in newer cases!
I sprung for a Cactus Blue carry-on from the limited edition Rashida Jones collection, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the power bank now easily pops out from the outside. Just lift up the hinged protective cover and gently press down on the power bank. Voila, it’s released and can be tossed in your purse.
No more digging in your suitcase and unzipping the lining, this is a huge improvement!
This one’s really up to you! I prefer Raden’s sleek style over Away’s boxy design, but my Away bag is growing on me, and they’re definitely having a moment lately with lifestyle bloggers.
Away sticks mostly to a range of muted hues in their core line-up, with some more interesting limited editions (which sell out fast!). Raden more consistently offers fun colors, like a light pink, and metallic gold.
But I gotta say, Away is killing it with the of-the-moment optional hand lettered monogram, and the fun stickers you can add on (if nothing else, you can do as I did, and slap your Away stickers on another bag!).
You may find, like I did, that the tech you want in a carry-on differs from your needs for a checked bag. I’m really happy with my decision to stick with Away for a carry-on, as it’s lighter weight than Raden, more roomy than Raden’s carry-on, and has only the tech I truly need.
On the flip side, I love the self weighing handle on my Raden checked bag, and am not sure I’d be willing to lay out the nearly $300 for one of the larger Away bags with no tech whatsoever. I’m sure Away’s large suitcases are nice, but they’re not smart luggage.
Or, if you’re looking for a comprehensive rundown of smart luggage, including ways to add tech to your existing luggage, this post from Choosy Traveler has quite a few options.