Splurge or Save: Should You Buy Away’s $275 Carry-On or Quince’s $130 Look-Alike?

updated Dec 21, 2023
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Credit: Away, Quince

Shopping online can be tricky. You don’t get to touch or try out the product beforehand, so you could end up with something you’ll ultimately have to return or live with until you can afford to replace it. And there are so many similar products on the market right now at a range of different price points that it can be difficult to decide whether to opt for the more expensive item or just grab something cheap and hope that it doesn’t fall apart. In today’s economy, it’s a tough call.

Thankfully, we’re here to help! In our new Splurge or Save series, we’re comparing two editor-tested (and loved!) products that serve the exact same purpose but retail for very different prices. These are products that we ourselves own or have tried and also highly recommend. We’ll compare and contrast the features of each and share our honest opinion so you can decide which product best suits your needs and your budget. First up: hard-shell carry-on suitcases from celeb favorite Away ($275) and editor favorite Quince ($130).

Credit: Away, Quince

Away vs. Quince

At the mere mention of the phrase “hard-shell suitcase,” we bet a certain brand name popped into your head: Away luggage. And that’s no coincidence. The brand’s popular travel essentials have earned a reputation for being both stylish and durable — not to mention pricey. Luckily, you can get the same bang for fewer bucks from Quince, an under-the-radar brand that offers a sleek hard-shell carry-on in a similar style. Below, you can find out more about each brand, and since we’ve done some traveling with both suitcases, get our thoughts on how they performed.

Overview of Away’s Carry-On

As you might know, you have Away to thank for much of the shift to suitcases with hard polycarbonate shells. Nearly a decade after the brand launched, its sleek luggage is still a mainstay in airports across the world, despite the hefty price tags. Away’s carry-on, specifically, caps out at $275. Naturally, you might feel some hesitation about shelling out that much cash for what’s not even a full-sized checked bag. AT contributor Amy felt the same skepticism when she saw her first Away commercial promoting the brand’s fashion-forward suitcases. But after a few more repeats of the ad, she splurged on one for herself. The rest, as some might say, is history.

“The first indication that I had entered a new realm of luggage bliss was the durable — yet still incredibly lightweight — construction,” Amy wrote in her review of the carry-on. “That hard, polycarbonate shell has handled me throwing it, dropping it, sitting on it, you name it… and it still looks just as spiffy as ever.”

Indeed, the bag’s 100% polycarbonate shell is practically indestructible, meaning it’ll look good in your travel pics for years to come. At just under 22 inches long and 14.4 inches wide, it fits in the overhead compartment of most major airlines, and because of its 7.5-pound construction, you can stuff your bag to the brim without having to worry about exceeding the weight limit. It also has an underside grab handle, which comes in handy when you need to hoist it into the overhead, and per Away’s site, it boasts a capacity of 39.8 L, which is enough to hold up to seven outfits.

But that’s not the only impressive feature of the suitcase’s interior. “When you unzip and open the bag, two separate sides offer different functionality,” explained Amy, who gave the suitcase five out of five stars. “The one with the zippered mesh cover is perfect for shoes, chargers, toiletries, books, and other accessories. The other side is meant for clothing and has a compression system that buckles shut to ensure that there’s no unused space.” And, no matter how many items you cram into the suitcase, its no-snag zipper will seamlessly glide open and closed every time.

Overview of Quince’s Carry-On Hard Shell Suitcase

Mark, AT’s executive director of commerce, is also a big fan of Away (it also earned a spot on our Best List), but then, he tried Quince’s hard-shell carry-on and hasn’t looked back. “Quince’s suitcase looks a lot like my Away carry-on, right down to the tan color of its polycarbonate shell,” Mark said. “Like the Away, the Quince also features spinner wheels, a TSA-approved combination lock, a removable laundry bag, and an interior compression system.” That said, Mark was initially worried that his new bag’s $130 price tag would mean it was of a worse quality than his trusty $300 Away large carry-on. But after taking it on a few domestic trips, he was happy to report that the Quince suitcase exceeded all expectations.

For a four-day trip to Boston, Mark fit four outfits (it holds up to nine), sleepwear, personal accessories, toiletries, and snacks into the Quince without a problem before making his way to the train station. “The suitcase handled the 20-minute walk to Penn Station nicely, gliding smoothly across the bumpy pavement of the sidewalk and streets, and taking knocks from going up and down curbs like a champ,” he said. “Once on board my train, the lightweight luggage easily fit into the overhead compartment and still looked good as new.” Since then, Mark’s suitcase has sustained some black scuff marks, but they were barely visible after he cleaned them with a magic eraser. These elements, coupled with the fact that the Quince carry-on looks just as stylish as Away’s more expensive one, have made it a mainstay in Mark’s travel routine. He’s even convinced friends and family members to try Quince, and they’ve been equally impressed.

The Verdict

If you’re into brand names and celeb-favorite products, Away’s carry-on will no doubt upgrade your airport fits and last a long time without sustaining serious wear and tear. But if you’re balling on a budget, Quince’s carry-on will do the trick, and it’s also a pound lighter, so you can sneak more souvenirs or clothes into it. Honestly, you can’t go wrong, no matter which carry-on you choose.