Monos Carry-On Pro suitcase review

REVIEW – I remember travel.  We used to do it.  In fact, we were in New Zealand on a cruise in March 2020 when the proverbial COVID poo hit the fan, our 56-day trip was cut short by 44 days, and we had to fly home from Sydney, Australia immediately after disembarking the ship.  Some day, we will travel again, and when we do, we need something to throw our stuff in to take with.

Suitcases come in all sizes.  Monos, a suitcase manufacturer, makes several suitcases from small carry-on models to large check-in models. Let’s take a look at their Carry-On Pro, a slightly larger version of their small carry-on style bag.

What is it?

The Monos Carry-On Pro is a hard-shell 360-degree rolling suitcase with large central compartments and a small front compartment for a laptop, tablet, magazines, and other small items.  It is designed to fit in the overhead compartments of all but the smallest commercial aircraft.

What’s in the box?

  • Carry-On Pro suitcase
  • Antimicrobial laundry bag (top right)
  • Shoe bags (2) (top left)
  • Vegan leather luggage tag
  • Info/instruction card
  • The suitcase also comes in a large cloth bag with the Monos logo
  • Scuff eraser sponge (lower right)
  • The small items were in a zip-pouch that can hold potentially leaky items

Hardware specs

  • Aerospace-grade German polycarbonate hard shell
  • Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run 360° wheels
  • Soft 350D anti-microbial interior fabric
  • Adjustable telescopic handle with 4 height settings
  • Ultra-microfibre vegan leather details
  • TSA-approved combination lock
  • Color-coordinated YKK reverse coil zippers
  • Built-in compression pad
  • Exterior measurements: 22″ × 14″ × 9″
  • Interior measurements: 20″ × 13.5″
  • Pocket measurements: 15.3″ × 10″ × 1″
  • Front pocket
    • Three interior pockets can fit a 15″ laptop, tablets, or magazines
    • Three interior zippered pouches fit phones, batteries, cables, passports, sunglasses, or other small items
  • Practical use: 3–7 days trip length
  • Weight: 7.8 lb
  • Volume: 36 L
  • Available in eight standard colors and two limited-edition colors – I was sent the terrazzo limited edition color

Design and features

The Carry-On Pro is a hard-shell suitcase with 360-degree spinner wheels and a multi-position retracting handle. I will mention that the handle releases easily with a button on the underside and it telescopes very smoothly.

Basically, if you’ve ever seen a roll-on suitcase, you know what this looks like.

The bottom features the dual-wheels. They roll smoothly and quietly and swivel easily.

You can also see the reinforced ends of the YKK reverse coil zippers.  This zipper design effectively seals the suitcase and makes it very difficult to pry into.

A big differentiator for this suitcase is the separate front pocket designed for tech.

There is a padded back sleeve for a laptop and a non-padded front sleeve for magazines and such. Also, there are three padded zipper pockets for cords, eyeglasses, and other small items. The zipper for this front pocket is designed to accept small paddle locks, like TSA-compliant locks.

Speaking of TSA locks, the main compartment is equipped with TSA-compliant locks.

Pressing the button to the right of the combination puts the lock into setup mode, where you can select your own combination, rather than the default 0-0-0 that the Carry-On Pro ships with.

To open the lock, you slide the bar to the right of the TSA access port.

As soon as you slide the bar, the zipper ends pop right out of the lock – easy-peasy.

On the top and also on the side of the suitcase, Monos includes a soft-touch handle embossed with the Monos logo.

The suitcase is covered in a polycarbonate hard shell that sure feels like it will take a beating.  I’ll repeat the cover photo here so you can see the terrazzo color again.

The suitcase ships in eight standard colors (in my descriptive color names rather than their marketing names): tan, pink, green, light blue, dark blue, gray, white, and black, as well as the two limited edition colors, terrazzo (shown) and dark maroon.

Opening the suitcase, we see distinctly different designs on each side.

On the left, we see a fully zippered compartment.

A thin zippered mesh compartment is on the cover of the flap.

Opening the zippered flap, we find a deep unstructured compartment.

The entire inside of the suitcase is lined with a sueded anti-microbial fabric that feels really soft.

On the right side, we see a strapped compression pad with a thin zippered mesh pocket.

I’m not sure what you’d shove in the mesh pocket as it is pretty thin – perhaps a few undergarments.

Under the strapped pad is another deep compartment.

The cool part of this is that you can slightly overpack this side, and then use the straps to compress the contents, effectively saving you space. There is a small zippered pouch in this compartment for tiny items you don’t want free-floating in the suitcase.

Performance

I started by testing the front pocket.  I use a 13.3″ Microsoft Surface Book.

As you can see, it is a tight squeeze fitting it into the back pocket.  Nothing much larger would fit. It is really designed for tablets. Still, a 15″ laptop would fit in front of the pockets and be padded from the back and protected from the front by the small pockets and the outer shell.

But, a suitcase is only good if you can practically haul stuff. Monos claims that this bag is sized for a 3-7 day trip.  Let’s try packing for five days.

I gathered five polos, five t-shirts, five briefs, five pairs of socks, a pair of shoes, a pair of slacks, travel toothpaste, deodorant, an electric toothbrush, and an electric razor.

I got lazy and didn’t roll my clothes and use packing cubes like I typically do.  If I had, I certainly could have fit more stuff.  Still, just folding everything and tossing it in presented absolutely no issues.

On the left, you can see everything in the suitcase with the flaps open.  Closing everything up was simple. I think the 3-7 day trip claim is perfectly within reason.  Keep in mind that I also had my laptop, chargers, and cords in the front pocket, eliminating the need to also carry a backpack. That’s pretty cool.

What I like

  • Great visual design
  • Flexible packing options
  • Top-quality materials
  • Smooth handle operation

What I’d change

  • Include a description of the intended use for each space/compartment

Final thoughts

They say that the best endorsement of a product is when you will spend your own money on it.  I liked the Carry-On Pro enough to order and pay for a Check-In Medium and Check-In Large to round out the set.

I really like the visual design that sets these apart from other suitcases.  I also like the interior design.

One of the best features for a traveler is that they are designed to nest like Russian nesting dolls.

Each is designed to be just small enough to fit into the next larger bag.

The photo above shows the Carry-On Pro inside the Check-In Medium inside the Check-In Large.  It’s the turducken of suitcases – how appropriate as I’m writing this near Thanksgiving.

This is a *huge* deal for travelers with limited storage space at their destination – say a cruise ship, or with limited space at home for huge suitcases. All you need space for is the Carry-On Large as everything else stores inside of it.

Suffice it to say that we are looking forward to the day when we can again travel freely, and the Monos family of suitcases will be coming along for the ride.

Price: $275 in standard colors, $285 in terracotta, and $305 in terrazzo as reviewed – current promo code FALL30 will get you 30% off.  Note that prices and promotions change all the time.
Where to buy: Monos
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Monos.

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