I’ve always dreamt of finding the perfect carry-on. It’s something I wanted but never allowed myself to splurge on, however, because — as a seasoned traveler (or someone who used to be a seasoned traveler prior to the pandemic) — I never saw the point. If I was checking a bag, I knew it needed to withstand a beating — which meant my preference for white luggage would be incredibly impractical — and even if I wasn’t, my luggage would be shoved in storage whenever it wasn’t in use. Even when I lived in England and frequently traveled throughout Europe and back to the States, luggage was meant to be sturdy and practical — not luxurious — so why did it matter?
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to put this to the test when I was asked to review ROAM(Opens in a new tab), touted as the world’s first color-customizable premium luggage brand.
Customizing my new luggageThe customization process for ROAM’s luggage is incredibly simple. You start by choosing the product you’re interested in — I tested ROAM’s standard Carry-On(Opens in a new tab) and their Continental backpack(Opens in a new tab) — before customizing it to your preference. While I did appreciate the option to customize my luggage, I found this part of the process to be a little lacking.
For the Carry-On, a lightweight 7.3-pound polycarbonate hardshell suitcase, I was able to customize eight different factors: the front shell, back shell, zipper, binding, wheels, carry handles, monogram patch, and lining. While this does give a lot of potential variations to choose from, there were only nine color options available for the front and back shells (with the ability to choose a different color for each), with most of the additional color options left in the smaller details. It was fun to play around with the customizer and see my creations on the website, but with four of the nine “main” color options available for the outer shell being various shades of blue…it didn’t feel quite as unique or customizable as I had hoped.
The Continental backpack was even more limited, with only four customizable details — the front panel, back and bottom, side panel, and the straps and handles — but each of the four sections only offered four different color options. My options were limited to blue, green, red, and black for each of the four sections, and I didn’t like most of the variations that I tried. Unfortunately, instead of feeling unique and bold, the color-blocking effect of the backpack reminded me of a kid’s backpack. It was definitely bright with some fun color options, but it didn’t feel quite as customizable as the $350 price tag suggests.
The Continental backpack is designed to fit on the handle of the Carry-On, which made them a nice travel duo.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable
First impressions of my ROAM luggageRight off the bat, I was surprised by how lightweight both products were. The Carry-On was an immediate upgrade from my ancient Samsonite carry-on, and — even though I was nervous about making the switch to hardshell luggage — I could definitely tell the it was a step up. The downside? I didn’t love the actual construction of the suitcase. Quality-wise, the ROAM Carry-On felt a little cheaper than I’d like, especially the inner lining. I was worried about it getting caught or tearing immediately, and I didn’t love how — instead of feeling sturdy and lightweight — the outer shell felt almost too light. Yes, the colors were stunning and definitely Instagrammable, but I immediately knew that there was no way the white outer shell would be staying white after my first trip.
Fortunately, my impressions of the backpack were MUCH better. Aside from the limited color selection, I really liked the finished result of my Continental backpack. The bag was ridiculously light, and the unique construction had me hooked from the beginning. At 26 liters, the Continental was only 2 liters larger than my trusty Herschel backpack, but the functionality of the bag made it seem twice as big. The zippers opened more fully, allowing easier access (and tighter packing) while the additional pockets and compartments were both strategically placed and somehow still had room to spare.
However, my only complaint was the same as the suitcase: The materials themselves didn’t quite feel up to par with the price, especially the weak padding in the exterior laptop compartment. ROAM does say the back is made entirely from recycled and eco-friendly materials, which was definitely a bonus, but I was worried about its overall longevity. I was also nervous about exposing the bag to the elements, so I decided to test the “water-resistant” label with a spray bottle with a heavy emphasis on the zipper and seams, and it did an okay job of keeping everything dry. It’s definitely not waterproof, nor does it claim to be, but I was satisfied with knowing that my electronics would be okay as long as I was careful.
There’s no denying this luggage is pretty.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable
Traveling with my ROAM luggageI quickly realized two things while traveling with my ROAM luggage: one, I should’ve upgraded to 360-degree wheels years sooner, and two, this luggage looks phenomenal. I received several compliments on my luggage at my accommodation, but — while it looked good enough to prompt people to ask where it was from — everyone balked at the $550 price tag.
The Carry-On was surprisingly roomy, allowing me to pack several days’ worth of clothing and my running shoes with a little bit of room to spare. The option to make it expandable for an additional $45 was the right call, and it meant I had room to take a few extra outfits without worrying about where I would put any souvenirs for my trip home. The additional compression boards were a nice touch, designed to help you compress your clothing down further to save space, but they didn’t do much for me — especially compared to roll-up compression bags that I’ve used in the past.
As far as using the suitcase while traveling? It was definitely the best carry-on I’ve ever used, but that felt like a result of the 360-degree wheels — something most carry-ons have these days — as well as the ultra-lightweight nature of the suitcase. Yes, it was incredible to feel like I wasn’t lugging this massive weight around with me in the airport, and it was a breeze to pop it into the overhead bins…but was it that this suitcase was phenomenal? Or was it that my old one was terrible?
Again, the Continental backpack far outperformed the Carry-On. I was stunned by how much I was able to pack into the bag including multiple hardcover books, a half-gallon water bottle, a sweater, my Macbook, chargers, etc…and I still had plenty of room to spare. It was also wheeled luggage compatible, meaning I could slip it onto the handle of my Carry-On without any issues. The additional compartments meant I was far more organized than I’d ever been on a flight — everything was easy-to-reach, even when I was on the aircraft — and it was definitely one of the better backpacks I’ve traveled with.
Is ROAM worth the price? Not really. The luggage is beautiful, yes, and the option to customize your luggage is fun and convenient — especially for folks tired of attempting to spot their suitcase in a sea of black at baggage claim — but the price didn’t quite match the quality for me.
The material didn’t feel as sturdy as I’d hoped, and the Carry-On(Opens in a new tab) already showed minor signs of wear after my two short flights over a weekend of travel. The backpack held up better, and the actual layout of the backpack was phenomenal, but again the lack of padding and the material itself didn’t quite match the hefty price tag.
However, it’s difficult to say if ROAM(Opens in a new tab) is truly worth the price without more extensive use. I was only able to test the Carry-On for a single weekend trip, so I can’t really say if it will hold up over time. It’s clearly made of incredibly lightweight materials that might outperform my expectations, and — if you’re a frequent traveler — ROAM offers a 100-day trial period as well as a lifetime warranty, so you can always put it to the test.
As far as the backpack(Opens in a new tab)? I really wanted it to be sturdier. It looks phenomenal, the compartments are so well-thought-out and functional, and the lightweight construction was wonderful…but it just fell short of fantastic. Could it be the bag for you? Maybe.
For me, ROAM just wasn’t worth the splurge.
We tested this product because of ROAM’s unique customization offerings, which offered an interesting new take on personalized luggage. Marketed as premium, built-to-order luggage, we wanted to see if their customizable options were worth the investment.
We tested the ROAM Carry-On with the extendable add-on on two domestic flights. On both flights, the Carry-On was placed in the overhead compartment on the aircraft, and we looked at performance at each stage of travel: packing, in the airport, on the aircraft, upon arrival, and returning home. The ROAM Continental bag was tested during the same travel period, as well as during the week as a carry-all for coworking sessions around the city. We also tested the water resistance by spraying the front, zippers, and seams with water to see how the material performed.
Other factors we considered in rating the product:
Size: This is one of the most important factors when purchasing a carry-on, as well as a travel-friendly backpack. The ROAM Carry-On fit easily in the overhead compartment of a midsized aircraft, and I had no issues lifting or removing it from the bin. The Continental backpack also performed well in this area, although I did have some issues fitting it under the seat on my second flight. This was partially due to my own packing skills, but it also demonstrated that users might struggle fitting the backpack under the seat in front of them if it is packed to full capacity.
Quality of material: While ROAM’s website mentions the use of recycled and eco-friendly material in the Continental backpack, I wasn’t impressed by the overall quality of the material for both the carry-on and the backpack. While very lightweight, we were skeptical about the long-term durability of these products.
Durability: Longevity is a critical factor for luggage, and we noticed minimal marks on the Carry-On after the second flight. However, without extensive testing over a longer period of time, it’s difficult to assess the durability of ROAM’s products.
Price point: The Carry-On was priced at $595, with the extension add-on, and the Continental backpack was priced at $350, making these products a major investment — especially compared to other popular products on the market. Based on our initial impressions and usage, this price point seemed slightly high.
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