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The best smart luggage

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By Les Shu


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incase proconnected 4 wheel hubless roller smart luggage blends high design with large capacity battery lifestyle 0162

Traveling can be a joy or a pain, and the luggage you use to tote your stuff affectsthat outcome. While manufacturers have made advancements in materials and design, suitcases really haven’t changed much. But luggage is finally getting smarter, and the options for connected suitcases and related gadgets from startups like Away, to market leaders like Samsonite, Rimowa, and Delsey are beginning to take hold.

From built-in scales to GPS tracking and mobile apps, these innovations won’t make luggage any lighter, but they could make the traveling experience less harrowing. Below are some of our current and forthcoming favorites.

Editors’ note: Airlines and the FAA have new guidelines on smart luggage with batteries. Batteries must be removable, and are prohibited from checked luggage.

Incase ProConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Roller

For its new smart luggage series, Incase focused less on smart and more on power — 20,100mAh of battery power, to be exact. With a USB-C and two USB-A ports, you can recharge a MacBook Pro, or mobile devices for several days. The bag, made of polycarbonate and strong polyester, meets current TSA guidelines on smart luggage, as the battery is easily removable. The 4 Wheel Hubless roller is a stylish carry-on with a minimalist design, and plenty of room for a weekend jaunt or, if you pack wisely, a full week. With the Incase Smart companion app, you can track battery life and the last known location. It’s pricey, but besides good looks, you are paying for high-quality construction.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Incase: $400

Away Carry-On

You’ve probably seen ads for Away’s hard-shell smart luggage in your Instagram feed or subway ads, but you’ll also see quite a few of the bagson the streets. They have become a hit with consumers, thanks in part toan array ofcolor options and celebrity fans. But popularity aside, the Away luggage is well-made, and it all comes with a lifetime warranty. We also like that you can try it out for 100 days before committing — a great way to experience whether you truly need a smart bag. Available in five options, including one just for kids and two carry-on options, the bags are stylish yet simple, regardless of which size you opt for. And, to comply with regulations, Away has created an ingenious method for easily ejecting and removing the battery.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Away: $225

TraxPack

Digital Trends called TraxPackthe “smart tank of luggage.” On one side it has a track system that makes it easy to drag up and down stairs. Of course, it comes with some built-in tech, like a GPS tracker, a scale in the handle, and a combination lock with TSA access. Another Kickstartersuccess story, the carry-onswith the GPS system are now available through the TraxPack website. And the bags come in interesting color combinations to stand out from the black luggage making its way around the carousel.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
TraxPack: $200

NitCollapsible Suitcase

Not every case has to have a bunch of built-in electronic tech to be smart or rather, clever. People aren’t in a perpetual state of travel, and the suitcase has to go somewhere when not stuffed with necessities. Nit’s suitcase folds flat for easy storage when it’s empty. The polycarbonate/aircraft-grade aluminum shell folds down to three inches, and even has a carabiner clip so it can hang in a closet. The 360-degree removable wheels are yet another easy-stash feature, so the Nitcan fit where other suitcases are a “no-go.” There are both checked and carry-on options, though the most dramatic change in size is the checked bag it shrinks by 70 percent to three inches flat. And of course, it has a GPS tracker to keep track of it using the Nit travel app.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Neit: $245-$475

Airbolt

Want to add some security to a bag you already love? That question inspired Airbolt,a Bluetooth-enabled lock that works with almost any bag. Controlled from a smartphone, AirBolt offers a slew of security features, like a proximity alarm that can ring when your luggage gets too far away. Like some other location devices, AirBolt relies on a crowdsourced GPS network, pinging bags based on the last location within range. However, the success of such systems depends on how many people are using it the more users, the more effective the system. The Airbolt is available now.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Airbolt: $100

Modobag

Why carry your luggage when your luggage can carry you? It can when the luggage isModobag, a suitcase that doubles as a motor scooter and has a sweet set of features that makes it fit right in at Digital Trends. It has a built-in seat and footrests fortravelers whowould rather sit as they make their way through a giant airport complex or the long lines at the Panda Express. The scooter maxes out at a speed of eightmiles per hour, and can go about sixmiles on a charge. Steer with the handle, or pull it up and pull the suitcase on its wheels like a normal bag. Whether ridden or not, it has two USB ports to keep devices charged, and an optional GPS system to keep track of the Modobag itself. The only problem with the Modobag is its weight: 10 pounds empty. At least it has brakes to avoid ramming fellow commuters. It’s set to ship to backers of its Indiegogo campaign in the first quarter of 2018.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Modobag: $56

Rimowa E-ink Case

Following the development of E-ink luggage tags a few years ago, Rimowaadded an E Ink Mobius display to a standard hard shell suitcase. Users send info from their phone to the bag via Bluetooth, and the tag shows everything the airline needs: Departure and arrival points, a scannable bar code, and even the green European Union stripe (for travel in the EU, naturally). The advantage to E-ink is its hardiness and longevity. It doesn’t require a lot of power, so users won’t be stuck with yet another power-hungry device while traveling. The displays use a coin cell battery that’s easy to replace, but the screen only uses power when it changes the display and should last for thousands of changes. The display is also shock, moisture, and temperature resistant. Paper tags just aren’t as tough. The Rimowa Electronic tag doubles as a digital boarding pass, letting some passengers check in on the road or from home, via a partnership with Lufthansa. United, EVAAir, Condor, and Thomas Cook are in the process of testing the tags.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Rimowa

Shelfpack

The Shelfpack might be the perfect bag for travelerswho want their clothes tostay neat while on the go. It sounds exactly like what it is —a suitcase with built-in shelves that pop up into an open chest of drawers of sorts a clothing shelf system. No sifting through the bag or fussing with internal garment bags to find clothes after a long and draining trip. The 26-inch Shelfpack has four internal shelves, three external compartments, and a total storage capacity of 6,700 cubic inches. This bag is already shipping for $349 — a little pricey considering it doesn’t have smart features built in — but it’s basically the only portable closet that meets airport regulations.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Shelfpack: $349

Bobby

Another cleverly designed backpack, the water-repellent Bobby is good for short trips or the daily commute. It’s designed to be anti-theft, with a recessed zipper that’simpossible for thieves to find and unzip quickly. Made of amaterial that can’t be easily cut,the Bobbyhas an integrated USB charging port, rear reflectors, and a transit card pocket in the front strap to make the daily grind easier and safer.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Amazon: $98

ProGo

progo

It sounds like a bag designed to carry GoPro cameras, and it is — with a few features that fit any smart traveler. A removable shelf that hangs in the closet while travelers are in their hotel (or at home) and a shoe compartment are just two of the ProGo’sspecialized compartments. Of course, there are separate pockets for GoPro cameras, with modular pads held in place with Velcro. There’s even a secret pocket that’s inaccessible to others while the bag is worn. A Bluetooth device tracker lets travelers monitortheir bag — though some backers have pointed out that it’s no different thanother trackers on the market.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
ProGo: $400

Fugu Luggage

Fugu luggagefocuses on form-factor instead of connectivity features, and the unique way it tackles this caught our eye. It uses the same tech you’d find in an inflatable paddle board to transition from small to large, allowing you to double the amount of storage space. The built-in pump used to inflate the luggage also works to suck the air out of vacuum storage bags (an optional accessory). Other components, like pull-out shelves, a removable laptop case, and a GPS module, round out the suite of add-on features.

Read more here.

Buyit now from:
Brookstone: $299 Jet: $299

Planet Traveler Space Case 1

Planet Traveler’s Space CaseKickstarter campaignraised nearly a million dollars, claiming to be the world’s smartest luggage in the process. We were impressed, too, back in 2015. TheSpace Case 1’shard polycarbonate carry-on, along with the check-in accordion spinner uprights, link to an app where you can seea bag’s location and weight via a built-in digital scale. The scale is a nice touch, as is the biometric lock designed to complement the TSA lock for screenings. A 12,000mAh battery with two external USB charging ports and one internal complete the suite of features.

The Space Case 1 comes in more colors than some of the other bags here,includingsilver, gray, pink, and two crazy art prints instead of just black. The lowest pre-order price for the bag is $330, with the check-in coming in at $380. The problem is that Space Case has met with a series of delays delivery was initially promised for November 2015. Planet Travelerupdated backers periodically onits Kickstarter page, and claimed that it was beginning production at the end of December 2016, but some backersare still angryenough to thinkabout suing.

Read more here.

Preorder it from:
Jet: $329 – $869Planet Traveler: $329 – $869

Trakdot Luggage Tracker

Trakdot is not an actual bag, but a tracker that helps you find your bag anywhere with a GSM signal. It runs on a pair of AA batteries and automatically turns off when out of range, to adhere to flight regulations. It’s perfect if you have a suitcase that you already love or, in theory, anything else you want to track that’s large enough to hold the tracker. You also don’t need a dedicated app to use it, but there is one available. Trakdot works with all SMS-capable devices, so you can get notifications via text or email as long as you’re within GSM coverage.

If you do decide to use the accompanying app, it can help alleviate worries about when you’ll actually see your bag again. Aside from providing you with your bag’s general location (like city and airport), the app will tell you when your bag is about to hit the carousel. And, if you have a black suitcase that tends to blend in, Trakdot will even show you where on the carousel your luggage is sitting. The Trakdot retails for $70 on Amazon, but keep in mind that there’s a $9 activation fee and $13 annual subscription fee. Nonetheless, it’s still considerably less expensive than a new bag (or replacing lost items).

Read more here.

Buy it now from:
Amazon: $70

LugLoc Luggage Locator

Another GSM add-on for traditional luggage, LugLoc uses GSM for distance tracking, which allows your bag to pop up on the map when you ping it with the LugLoc app. Bluetooth within the module can also help you find your luggage on the carousel, while the embedded patented triaxial accelerometer ensures the device will turn off when in motion.

The pay structure is a little different than Trakdot, however. Each time you search for your bag it, essentially counts as a trace. LugLoc comes with 15 free days of unlimited traces, rendering it perfect for a vacation, but you’ll have to buy more through the app after that. You can purchase five traces for $7, 10 for $10, or unlimited traces for $30 all of which are good for a year after purchase.

Buy it now from:
Amazon: $70

This article was updated May 21, 2018. We added a new entry to the market, the Incase ProConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Roller. We also removed the Bluesmart and Raden, as both companies announced they are shutting down. Bluesmart, which kickstarted the smart luggage trend, cites anairline banon luggages with non-removable batteries. Raden also made a similar comment. Although we liked both products, because their future is uncertain, we are no longer recommending Bluesmart or Raden luggage.


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