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The best smart luggage

By Kailla Coomes

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Traveling can be either a joy or a pain, and the luggage you use to tote your stuff is one of the biggest factors in determining which. While manufacturers have made advancements in materials and design, suitcases really haven’t changed much since their modern inception in the early 1900s. But luggage is finally getting smarter, and the options for connected suitcases and related gadgets — from startups like Away, to market leaders such as Samsonite 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 favorites.

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 ($400)

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 your 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 even track battery life and the last known location of your roller. It’s pricey, but besides good looks, you are paying for high-quality construction.

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Away Carry-On ($225+)

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 bags on the streets. They have become a hit with consumers, thanks in part to nine different color options and celebrity fans. But popularity aside, the Away luggage is well-made, and 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 configurations, 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.

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Nit Collapsible Suitcase ($229+)

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 Nit can 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 to 3-inches flat. And of course, it sports a built-in GPS tracker to help you keep track of your belongings via a companion app.

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Airbolt ($80)

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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 via 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.

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Modobag ($1,495)

Why carry your luggage when your luggage can carry you? It can when the luggage is Modobag, a suitcase that doubles as a motor scooter with a sweet set of features. It has a built-in seat and footrests for travelers who would rather sit as they make their way through the airport or the long lines at the Panda Express. The scooter maxes out at a speed of 8 miles per hour, and can go about 6 miles on a single charge. Steer with the handle, or pull it up and pull the suitcase on its wheels like a normal bag. Whether ridden or dragged, 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 the weight — it weighs a hefty 10 pounds when empty. At least it has brakes to avoid ramming fellow commuters.

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Arlo Skye ($450+)

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Like the smart luggage from Away, Arlo Skye includes a removable charger. The 10,050 mAh charger has two USB ports, one for your phone and one for your computer. Unlike most luggage, however, the Arlo Skye doesn’t have zippers. Instead, the polycarbonate shell relies on two TSA-approved combination locks to keep your contents safe and sound. Created by a set of Tumi and Louis Vuitton alums, the Arlo Skye is not only smart but also very stylish. The five attractive color offerings, durable aluminum frame, and interior compression system are just an added plus.

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Arlo Skye

Marlon Carry-On ($159)

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The apt-titled Marlon Carry-On features USB charging, so you’ll never have to fight over an airport outlet again. Said charger is also removable, meaning it’s TSA-approved and allowed on all airlines. The roller features padded sleeves to help protect your wears, too, not to mention quick access to both your laptop and tablet and two all-terrain wheels that make navigating the airport less of a slog. The Carry-On can even expand by 35 percent, so you can fit everything you want when it comes time to pack for the road.

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Shelfpack ($168)

The Shelfpack might be the perfect bag for travelers who want their clothes to stay neat while on the go. It sounds exactly like what it is: A suitcase with built-in shelves that pop up to provide space for housing all your clothes and travel accessories. With the Shelfpack, there’s no need to sift through your bag or fuss with internal garment bags to find your clothes after a long and draining trip. The Shelfpack comes in three different sizes, too, and is currently available through Indiegogo at a discount.

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Bobby ($95)

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

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ProGo ($250)


If the ProGo sounds like a bag that’s designed to carry GoPro cameras, well, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the bag comes with a few welcome features that would make any traveler happy. A removable shelf that hangs in the closet while travelers are in their hotel (or at home) and a shoe compartment make up just two of the ProGo’s specialized compartments. Of course, there are separate pockets for housing GoPro cameras, each of which features 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 monitor their bag, though, some backers have pointed out that it’s no different than other trackers on the market.

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Planet Traveler Space Case 1 ($800)

Planet Traveler’s Space Case Kickstarter campaign raised nearly a million dollars, claiming to be the world’s smartest luggage in the process. The Space Case 1’s hard polycarbonate carry-on, along with the check-in accordion spinner uprights, link to an app where you can see a 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, as well as an array of minimalisr color offerings, complete the suite of features.

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Planet Traveler

Trakdot Luggage Tracker ($45)

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. A special version of the Trakdot currently retails for $45 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).

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