Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by The Filtery


The Basics:

  • Monos is a direct-to-consumer luggage brand offering durable, lightweight, and thoughtfully-designed suitcases at a mid-range price point.
  • Although Monos luggage is missing a few “extras” like a USB charger and suitcase expansion option, this luggage brand beats out its competitors in terms of high-quality materials and durability. So, my spoiler is: yes, all things considered, I think Monos is worth it.
  • Monos luggage can be purchased online. The only retailer that currently carries it is Nordstrom.

Since you’re here The Filtery, you likely care about the materials and chemicals used in the products you buy, and that includes luggage. In our guide to low-tox luggage, we dove deep into different suitcase materials and the toxicants commonly found in them (main bisphenols, phthalates, and PFAS), and why Prop 65 warning labels are so often found on luggage.

As you’ll find in that article, Monos became my top pick for luggage that was simultaneously practical, durable, and the least likely to contain high amounts of toxic chemicals.

So, I went ahead and bought myself a Monos suitcase for an upcoming trip. (The one I’d been using was over a decade old.)

My husband used the Monos suitcase quite a bit during our trip as well, and I was curious to get his thoughts. His entire review: “Loved it. Lightweight, very maneuverable. Best suitcase I’ve had.” Okay, thanks for that. But I’m hoping to bring you a bit more detail than he did, hah!

So, in this article, I’ll tell you about my experience using the Monos Large Check-In suitcase on a 10-day international trip and give you my honest thoughts on Monos when it comes to price, practicality, durability, aesthetics, and more.

This article is not sponsored and I purchased the suitcase myself. This article does contain affiliate links, which means if you decide to make a purchase, we may earn a commission.

Featured Image Credit: Monos

Is Monos Luggage a Good Company?

Monos a Canadian company that has a more mindful philosophy behind it; their website states they’re committed to quality over quantity. They intentionally design their suitcases with a timeless aesthetic and aim to use the best materials that will really stand the test of time.

Monos is also Climate Neutral Certified, which means all of the carbon outputs generated through its production, shipping, and other operations are offset through reforestation efforts. The brand is also a member of 1% for the Planet, which means 1% of revenue is donated to non-profit organizations.

Monos Offerings, Design, & Specs

Monos offers 11 different kinds of suitcases, along with backpacks, duffle bags, packing accessories, and even travel clothing.

  • Their standard suitcase is available in 4 sizes: Carry-On, Carry-On Plus, Check-In Medium, and Check-In Large.
  • Then they have a “Carry-On Pro” collection, which is available in 2 sizes. (The “Pro” has a front pocket which I’ll explain later.)
  • Their newer Hybrid Collection (which uses aluminum) is available in 5 sizes: Carry-On, Carry-On Plus, Check-In Medium, Check-In Large, and Trunk

Most of the standard and “Pro” suitcases are available in 10 different colors (including 2 limited edition ones). The Hybrid Collection is currently available in 3 different colors.

Outer Shell

The outer part of the suitcases are made out of “vacuum-formed” aerospace grade polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate is one of the most commonly used materials for suitcases because it can be both durable and flexible at the same time, allowing it to bend without cracking.

Super Handle!

Monos reengineered the handle to make it both more ergonomic and sturdier than most other luggage handles. It also has 4 adjustable height settings, which is definitely convenient when it comes to different rolling angles (behind vs. beside you) and height differences of the carrier (my husband is a foot taller than me!).

I’ll talk about this more in a minute, but the handle is one thing that really sets Monos apart from other luggage brands (such as Away). People who have compared multiple suitcases say that the Monos handle is noticeably sturdier and higher-quality, and that it really does make a difference in their travel.

360° Spinner Wheels

It’s got quiet, high-performance 360° spinner wheels, which definitely make a huge difference in ease of travel. “Very maneuverable,” as my husband says. I think 360° wheels are a must these days.

Monos vs. Away on TheFiltery.com
TSA-approved lock is on the side of the suitcase, which I think is more convenient than being on the top.

TSA-Approved Lock

It’s got a TSA-approved lock, and I will admit it took me a second to figure out how to open it! Just in case you need help too, here is a video showing you how to open the suitcase for the first time, and here are directions for how to set the lock for the first time.

The lock is on the side of the suitcase instead of the top, which in my opinion is easier and more convenient for opening the suitcase.

Internal Compression System & Organization

The interior is made out of 350 denier polyester, which is a durable and inherently waterproof fabric (meaning they don’t have to add a toxic PFAS chemical finish in order for it to be waterproof).

The organizational and compression aspects of the inner design are definitely a plus. On one side is a zippered panel where you can keep your shoes and dirty clothes separated from the rest of your stuff if you want. (The fact that you can zip it all the way up definitely makes closing a full suitcase much easier, too.)

On the other side are two different sets of clipped straps to keep clothing compact. It’s also got several large zipper sleeve pockets.

The “Extras”

  • Monos offers a 100-day trial, but that trial is voided after your first trip. They recommend you pack up your suitcase with a similar weight that you’re going to travel with and then take the suitcase around your house to test it out and make sure it’s right for you.
  • They also offer a limited lifetime warranty, which covers cracks and breaks. Note that in order to get the warranty, you have to purchase directly from their website (not a retailer). Limits to the warranty include the usual stuff: it doesn’t cover cosmetic damage, replacement for non-defective parts, or intentional damage.
  • Monos also offers free shipping to the contiguous US and Canada.

Standard Suitcase vs. the Hybrid Collection vs. the “Carry-On Pro” Collection

Monos’ original collection of suitcases is made with an entirely polycarbonate shell, but their new Hybrid Collection combines polycarbonate with aluminum in an attempt to bring the best of both of these materials into one suitcase.

monos hybrid collection
Monos Hybrid Collection (with aluminum corners and a zipperless closure)
Imaged credit: Monos

Aluminum is a great option for luggage because it’s extremely durable, but it’s also a bit heavier and more expensive. So for their Hybrid Collection, Monos used polycarbonate for the base of the outer shell, but they reinforced the corners with aluminum. They also took the zipper off, so it’s closed with two locks instead. The goal of the zipper-less suitcase is that it gives you quicker access to your stuff, but I also suspect it might last longer since zippers tend to be one of the first things to break.

The Monos “Carry-On Pro” Collection is for people who do a lot of travel with carry-on luggage instead of checked suitcases (think: more short-term business trips and less long-term vacations). It’s very similar to the other suitcases, with the only difference being the padded front compartment.

Inside this front part are lots of pockets and pouches to fit your 15-inch laptop, planner, tablet, passport, and whatever other accessories you might need quick access to. It zips open to make it really easy to go through security or grab your laptop from the overhead bin during your flight without opening your whole suitcase.

The Monos Carry-On Pro is available in two sizes: the Carry-On Pro and the Carry-On Pro Plus, which is slightly larger. Both fit into the plane’s overhead bins, but the Pro Plus may need to be checked on smaller planes.

The prices aren’t too different from each other:

  • The standard Carry-On is $275
  • The Carry-On Pro is $300
  • The Hybrid Carry-On is $325

My Personal Experience Using the Monos Check-In Large Suitcase

Monos Check-In Suitcase Reivew on TheFiltery.com
Inside of my Monos Check-In Large Suitcase

Once I decided on Monos, it wasn’t too difficult for me to choose which suitcase I would get. I knew I needed a large check-in suitcase that would be able to hold enough stuff for a 10-day international trip (in the fall, when layers are a must!) plus extra room for gifts and souvenirs.

The main reason I went with the standard Large Check-In as opposed to the Hybrid was because my husband and I both liked the olive green color (the Hybrid only comes in black, silver, and champagne at this time). It also might be worth noting that the Hybrid is 2.5 pounds heavier than the standard Check-In. So if you (like me) push that 50-pound limit to the max, that might be worth keeping mind.

First Impressions

My very first impression was how lightweight it was. When I saw such a large cardboard box, I definitely expected it to be heavier, but it was super easy to pick up and carry inside.

When I opened up the box, I appreciated how little paper and packaging came with the suitcase. It was just wrapped in a big cloth bag (which I’m sure I’ll be able to reuse somehow), and there was no extra paper or plastic packaging involved.

I’m so used to getting a bunch of marketing brochures and other extras with packages these days (and of course, it all just gets thrown away!). But all that was in the Monos package was one little note. The other stuff (spec highlights, directions for how to open the suitcase and set the lock, etc.) were delivered to my email inbox instead.

Monos Suitcase Review from TheFiltery.com
This little note is the only paper that came with the suitcase (well, besides the cardboard box, of course).

It also came with a vegan leather luggage tag and 4 thin laundry bags. These are very basic packing bags with a simple drawstring—great for packing shoes. If you want something fancier, you can check out their compressible packing cubes, which can help you stay even more organized and save up to 60% of space. I didn’t try them, but they do look nifty!

Price

As mentioned earlier, Monos is a mid-range luggage brand when it comes to price. It’s more expensive than cheaper brands you can find on Amazon or in big box stores, but it’s definitely more affordable than TUMI or other luxury brands. The price is very comparable to other trendy DTC luggage brands such as Away.

Prices vary from $272 for the smallest Monos carry-on to $445 for the largest Hybrid Trunk. But it’s worth noting that they have sales pretty frequently, so keep your eye out for those. And they also have financing available through Sezzle.

Even though it’s not the cheapest suitcase option, I feel like the price is fair for the quality and durability you get.

Price gets a 4/5 from me.

Aesthetic

I love the minimalistic and gender-neutral aesthetic. Both my husband and I both really like the olive green color we chose. The design has a timelessness that I think I’ll still like if I’m using the suitcase ten years from now.

There’s not much else to say about that, but I give the aesthetic a 5/5!

Practicality

When it comes to real-world practical use, there are a few things I already mentioned—like the adjustable handle and the 360° spinner wheels—that make a big difference. “Very maneuverable” was one of the few comments my husband had when I asked for his thoughts.

The internal compression system and extra pockets on the inside definitely help with packing, too. It’s also super lightweight, which is really important in meeting those checked-bag weight limits!

The potential downsides to practical use (depending on your preferences) are the lack of a USB charger and the fact that none of Monos’ luggage bags are expandable.

That’s why I give practicality a 4.5/5.

Durability

Durability is one area where Monos really stands out. You can check out all of the different quality tests they do right here. And if you read a lot of online reviews, you’ll notice a common theme is that Monos’ luggage is noticeably more high-quality, stable, and durable compared to a brand like Away, which is probably their main competitor (more on that below).

So far, I can personally say that the durability claims are definitely holding up. For my 10-day international trip, my suitcase went through:

  • 4 flights (checked under the plane)
  • 2 train rides
  • 3 subway rides
  • 3 Uber/taxi rides
  • 1, 25-minute walk in the rain

We didn’t stay in one place during our trip, so not only did the suitcase get the standard throwing around by airport staff, but it also got banged around by my husband and I as we navigated trains, subways, taxis, and sidewalks. We even had to take a nearly-half-hour walk in the rain (over sidewalks, pavement, and cobblestone), so I can also say the suitcase’s waterproof feature held up in the real world.

Do Monos Suitcases Scratch Easily?

No, the Monos suitcase does not scratch easily, but there are definitely some scuff marks. They are light, and barely noticeable from a few feet back. Here are some “after” photos of the suitcase so you can see the scuff marks I’m talking about:

As you can see, the scuffs are not very noticeable from a few feet back.

I took some all-purpose cleaner to the suitcase after I took these photos and it did reduce the scuff marks a little bit, but it didn’t get rid of them completely.

How Will It Hold Up In the Long Run?

I wanted to give you my first impressions after taking my Monos suitcase on at least one trip, but of course the hope is that it lasts years! I will check back in and update this article in a year (or two! or ten!) and let you know how the suitcase is holding up over a long period of time and multiple trips.

But as of right now, I give the durability a 5/5!

Where to Buy Monos Luggage

If you decide you want to go with a Monos suitcase, the best place to buy it is from their own website. This is the only way to ensure you get the lifetime warranty. If you get the suitcase and don’t like the color as much as you thought you would or just generally change your mind, you can return it within the 100-day trial period (before you take it on your trip!).

Monos does not have their own flagship store at this time and is not sold in most stores, with the exception of Nordstrom.

Of course, you could also check out secondhand websites like Poshmark, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc. for used Monos luggage.

How much you can fit into the Monos Carry-On Plus
Credit: Monos

Monos vs. Away: Which is Better?

This is the big question everyone wants to know. Away has done a great job with their marketing, so it’s become a very popular and recognizable brand… But is Away better than Monos?

The short answer is: Monos and Away are very similar in terms of price, weight, aesthetics, and interior design. Monos is superior when it comes to handle stability and overall durability, whereas Away offers a few “extras” that Monos does not, such as a USB charger, personalization, and expandable option.

(As a disclaimer, I haven’t used Away’s suitcases, so I admit that I have limited knowledge here. I’m going off of product info, online reviews, and talking to a few friends of mine who have used Away.)

One of the biggest differences between Monos and Away that I consistently found from reviewers is that the Monos handle is far superior. Lots of people have said that the handle on their Monos suitcase is noticeably sturdier than the one on the Away suitcase, which feels flimsy and like it could break off at any minute. In my opinion, that’s definitely an important aspect to consider since the handle is such a crucial part of real-world use! It also seems to be a big deal breaker for many buyers.

In my experience, Monos definitely had better customer service. We reached out to both brands to ask more about the materials and chemicals used in their suitcases, and the Monos team replied every time, in a timely manner, with transparent answers.

Away, on the other hand, gave us multiple non-answers and then ghosted. (You can read more about this here if you want.)

When it comes to price, the two brands are very comparable: the Monos’ Carry-On is $272 and the Away Carry-On is $275. Pricing may differ slightly depending on which version of suitcase you decide to go with, but they’re both in the same range.

It doesn’t take long to realize that Monos and Away are also very similar aesthetically, with both brands offering a sleek, minimalistic look and offering a variety of color options.

Monos and Away are also about the same weight. They vary slightly depending on which size and what features you choose, but they are generally within a pound or less of each other. (For example, the Monos standard Carry-On is 7.01 pounds and the Away standard Carry-On is 7.1 pounds.) If you go with the extra battery pack on the Away, you’ll want to factor that into the weight as well.

The interior designs of the two brands are similar as well: they both have one side that zips up all the way and another side that has compression straps and a flap with pockets. However, the Monos does have one extra zippered pocket on the inside and it also comes with more shoe/laundry bags as well.

There is also a consensus among online reviews that the Monos suitcase just generally feels more durable as a whole compared to Away.

Other than that, the main differences are going to come down to personal preferences. Away offers several *perks* that Monos doesn’t: mainly, an optional battery to charge your phone, a personalization option, and an expandable “Flex” line.

Another difference is that even though Monos and Away both have a 100-day trial, but the terms are a bit different. Away allows you to return your suitcase within the 100 days even if you’ve already taken a trip, whereas Monos does not. (This doesn’t really bother me personally because of the sustainability factor. What happens to the Away suitcases that get returned after they’ve been used? They don’t appear to resell them, so do they just get thrown out?)

Additionally, Away has a collection that is almost entirely aluminum, and Monos does not.

So, as you can see, there are several different things to consider when choosing between the two brands, and ultimately it’s going to come down to your personal preferences and priorities!

So, Is Monos Worth the Money? (Pros & Cons)

Here’s a quick summary of things you may want to consider before deciding what suitcase is best for you:

PROS

  • Superior materials and engineering (very sturdy handle and overall durability)
  • Minimalistic & gender-neutral design
  • Interior compression system and extra organizational pockets
  • Slightly more affordable and lighter weight compared to Away
  • No Prop 65 warning label or intentionally-added BPA, phthalates, or PFAS chemicals
  • Excellent customer service
  • Climate Neutral Certified and member of 1% for the Planet

CONS

  • Does not come with a battery pack / charger
  • Does not have expandable option
  • 100-day trial does not cover an actual trip
  • No personalization
  • Mid-range price (not the most affordable suitcase on the market)

What About Monos’ Other Products?

Monos carries other bags and accessories, too:

Metro Collection

Their Metro Collection includes a duffle, backpack, folio, and sling. You can choose either nylon or vegan leather (it’s not clear exactly what the material is). Even though these bags look very practical in terms of their organizational pockets and snap-on features, I personally would go for a bag that’s made with more natural/organic fabrics instead. Lo & Sons, for example, has a great duffle bag made out of organic cotton that has a suitcase sleeve.

Other Accessories

Here are the other accessories Monos offers and my personal thoughts on them:

  • Compressible packing cubes: I didn’t try these, but they do look kinda cool, especially if you really need to maximize your space as much as possible. They’re made from nylon and TPU—not the worst materials, but still synthetic.
  • Luggage Cover: Seems a little excessive, but I guess this might be a good idea for people who do a ton of traveling and/or who might need an extra layer of water protection. It’s made from PEVA, which is still plastic, but is better than PVC. Monos says it’s free from phthalates and chlorine, too.
  • Kiyo UVC water bottle: This is a stainless steel, plastic-free water bottle that has a UVC water ‘purification light.’ I think it can be helpful to have a water bottle like this when traveling internationally, but it’s important to keep in mind that these UV-light water bottles only purify from bacteria; it doesn’t filter things like PFAS out of the water. So in my opinion, it’s more for short-term use.
  • CleanPod UVC Sterilizer: I think this is totally unnecessary. Just use a travel bottle of Force of Nature disinfectant or regular old hand sanitizer instead—it’s much cheaper and takes up less space.

Travel Clothing

Monos also has a small collection of unisex and women’s travel clothing. They’re mostly made out of bamboo rayon and conventional cotton fabric, which aren’t the best and aren’t the worst when it comes to environmental impact and toxicity. But they are at least OEKO-TEX certified, which means the finished products have been verified to be free from a list of toxic chemicals.

monos luggage review
Image Credit: Monos

FAQs About Monos

Is Monos a Canadian company?

Yes, Monos is based in Vancouver Canada, where their products are engineered and designed in-house.

Where is Monos luggage made?

Monos bags and suitcases are designed in Canada, but they are manufactured in China. On their website, Monos says their team visits their factories regularly and works closely with their manufacturing partners. Additionally, they maintain a SA8000 Certification, which verifies safe working conditions and fair wages for workers.

Are Monos bags vegan?

Yes, all of Monos products are vegan.

Does Monos Carry-On Plus fit on plane?

Yes, the Carry-On Plus is designed with dimensions that fit in the overhead bin of major U.S. airlines, BUT it may need to be checked on smaller planes.

Does Monos luggage have a battery / USB charger?

No, at this time, Monos does not offer a charging option for the suitcases.

Is Monos luggage expandable?

No, Monos does not offer an expandable suitcase option at this time.

How long has Monos been in business?

Monos was founded in 2018.

What’s with the Monos Luggage lawsuit?

We could not find any evidence that Monos has faced a lawsuit. There is one article (without citations) online stating that Monos has been sued because their luggage caused injury, but we were not able to verify this or find anything else about it.