Carl Friedrik The Carry On Review: Is it Worth the Hype?

As travel lovers, we all know the excitement of finally unboxing and packing up a piece of luggage you’ve been eyeing for ages. This past April, I had the chance to try out a high-quality piece of luggage from a top-tier luxury brand—Carl Friedrik. Although everything about the suitcase screamed quality and luxury, true travelers know that luggage has to be put to the test. Thankfully, I was one day away from jetting off for a three-week trip to Colombia when “The Carry On” showed up on my front porch. Cue three weeks of rugged on-the-ground testing…culminating in my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review.

So is this sleek, stylish, seemingly indestructible piece of travel gear truly worth the investment? Or are your hard-earned travel dollars better spent elsewhere? Stick around, because I’m laying all the cards on the table in my Carl Friedrik luggage review.

**I want to extend a huge thank you to Carl Friedrik for gifting me one of their luxurious carry on bags for review! While I received the suitcase for free, all opinions in this Carl Friedrik The Carry On review are 100% honest and my own.

The Carry On in black with its collapsible handle out—a feature I highlight in my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review.

Overview of Carl Friedrik’s The Carry On

First things first—let’s begin my Carl Friedrik carry on review by chatting a bit about the brand itself. Carl Friedrik is a London-based leather goods company on a mission to serve the modern professional in all their travel needs. Founded in 2012 by two Swedish brothers, the brand creates gorgeous leather goods with both elegance and functionality front of mind.

I especially love their commitment to “superior durability” and their promise to alleviate waste by using high-quality materials to contribute to a long product lifespan. With fast fashion waste increasing by the minute, we need more brands to make this commitment ASAP.

The Carry On,” along with “The Carry On X,” is one of their top-selling designs, although the brand also offers a variety of checked bags, briefcases, backpackers, and other travel essentials. Focusing on The Carry On, let’s break down what we’re working with:

  • Width: 14.5 inches (37 cm)
  • Height: 21.6 inches (55 cm)
  • Depth: 9 inches (23 cm)
  • Weight: 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg)
  • Volume: 40 L
  • Price: $495 💵
  • Where to buy Carl Friedrik carry on luggage? carlfriedrik.com

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the luggage photoshoot that I shot during my trip to Cartagena at the GHL Collection Armería Real Hotel in Getsemani 💁🏽‍♀️

Features of The Carry on

First off, I have to give Carl Friedrik props on the luxury materials used throughout this carry on. They’ve clearly prioritized luggage that’s built-to-last, and it shows in the material and hardware used in their bags.

Honestly, the 360° spinner wheels were probably my favorite feature of the entire suitcase. There’s nothing more frustrating than attempting to roll a suitcase with sticky wheels through the airport, or worse—rolling the dreaded two-wheeled suitcase to your gate. Thankfully, the wheels on Carl Friedrik’s The Carry On made maneuvering through busy airports during my Colombia trip an absolute breeze.

I also loved that the suitcase was sealed using two TSA locks instead of the traditional zipper. If the suitcase is correctly packed, the two buttons/locks smoothly and satisfyingly click into place to secure the carry on.

There are plenty more details to rave about—check them out below!

Materials

  • Shell: Tough-as-nails German-engineered Makrolon® polycarbonate case
  • Frame: Aluminium lock frame
  • Detailing: Luxurious vachetta leather
  • Lining: Recycled polyester
The top of my Carl Friedrik carry on showing the tag which says

Hardware

  • Locks: 2 TSA-approved buddies to keep your gear safe
  • Wheels: 4 x 360° Hinomoto silent spinner wheels
  • Straps: 2 sets of compression straps + a compression pad to keep your belongings secure
A side shot of the hardware on my Carl Friedrik The Carry On suitcase.
Close-up shot of the TSA locks on the suitcase—one of my favorite features that I mention in my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review.

Insert

  • Utility Insert: Secures with plastic clips to one set of compression straps—perfect for those slim, easy-to-lose items
The Carry On by Carl Friedrik laid open on an ottoman to get a better look at the utility insert and compression straps inside.

Pros and Cons of This Carl Friedrik Suitcase

I can gush about materials and smooth, 360° wheels for hours, but at the end of the day deciding on a large purchase comes down to if the pros outweigh the cons. I’ll be honest, although I am obviously a big fan of this carry on, it’s not perfect. I’ll never lie to you about a gifted product—you’ll know what I love about it and you’ll know what I didn’t love. There are both pros and cons in my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review…so let’s get into them.

Pros

  • Luxury detailing 
  • Sleek and modern design 
  • Love the simple closure with the 2 TSA-lock “buttons”
  • Crafted to meet most airline carry-on restrictions
  • The 4 x 360° spinner wheels are super helpful when rolling through an airport or around town
  • The insert is great for storing thin items that could easily get lost (I used it for my Apple keyboard, dive log, and spare office supplies) 
  • Survived a 3-week-long trip without a hitch
  • At $495, it’s affordable luxury
  • Free shipping & returns

Cons

  • It’s impossible to overpack (could be a pro for some, but if everything does not fit in the suitcase perfectly then the locks won’t close and you’re completely out of luck)
  • It’s a high-end investment
  • It’s too small for any trips longer than 2-3 days (although as a chronic over-packer, you’re free to take my opinion with a grain of salt)
  • The polycarbonate shell shows scuffs and scratches easily, but this is true of almost all hard-sided luggage (especially over time) 

My Personal Carl Friedrik The Carry on Review

I took this bad boy on a gear-heavy three-week trip to Colombia in April. I learned how it functions in airports, around town, being overpacked, being underpacked, fitting in overhead racks, and more…to bring you the most comprehensive carry on luggage review possible. So here’s the tea:

I’m an over-packer—it’s just the truth. Even after visiting 32 countries around the world, living in Italy, moving to Honduras, being on more trips than I could frankly afford—I still overpack every single time. That being considered, the Carl Friedrik carry on would be too small for me for even a 3-day trip. I simply wouldn’t be able to bring enough shoes 🤪

However, it was the perfect gear bag. As a digital nomad, blogger, and amateur photographer, I have more gear than I know what to do with—and certainly more than I can carry through an airport. I checked a 50 lb bag full of clothes, shoes, toiletries, and other essentials, and filled up my Carl Friedrik gear bag with…

For this, it was chef’s kiss perfection 💋 I rolled it through the airport leisurely, with only my laptop on my back and a Dunkin’ Donuts bagel in hand. My shoulders weren’t screaming, I didn’t have to set it down during long lines or carefully maneuver myself through the airplane aisle because it was so huge. Nope—just easy, airport bliss.

A cute thank you note that came with my carry on bag by Carl Friedrik.

The Final Verdict

Carl Friedrik’s The Carry On is a fantastic value for money and a great carry on option for anyone who meets any of the following qualifications (maybe not all of them, but at least a few):

  • You’re a simple and efficient traveler who packs only the essentials
  • You take frequent 1-3 day trips—especially if they’re for work
  • You have money to spend and you’re not afraid to splurge on luxury items
  • You’re a digital nomad who frequently travels with a lot of expensive gear that can’t be transported in a checked bag

It’s not the ideal carry on for you if you…

  • Are a budget traveler who’s not ready to splurge on luxury travel items
  • Are a chronic over-packer who is constantly playing “Tetris” with your belongings and sitting on your suitcase

After three weeks of lugging around gear; shoving it into buses, taxis, and planes around Colombia; and unpacking and repacking in tons of Airbnbs, hostels, and hotels, I can confidently say that The Carry On by Carl Friedrik is a solid investment for those who value style, durability, and organization in their travel gear. It’s particularly suited for business travelers and digital nomads who need to keep their expensive equipment safe while hopping from one location to another.

Sure, it’s not the cheapest option out there, and it’s definitely not for budget travelers or chronic overpackers. But if you’re ready to invest in luggage that elevates your travel game (and you’re committed to packing more efficiently), this suitcase might just be your new best friend.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may enjoy the related posts linked below—and don’t forget to follow along for the adventure on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps.

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Pinterest image for my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review post.
Pinterest image for my Carl Friedrik The Carry On review post.

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