A blonde woman wearing black pants and a beige trench coat and sunglasses sits on a green bench with a statue partially visible above her. She is holding the extended handle of a black carry-on roller bag.

Carl Friedrik Luggage Review

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

A carry-on bag for the jet set, and any traveler who appreciates upgrades

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I am a frequent traveler who appreciates upgrades so was pleased to elevate my cabin luggage to a swish new Carl Friedrik carry-on bag

This UK-based brand might be considered “quiet luxury” but it’s been conspicuously appearing alongside TV characters from shows including Succession, The White Lotus and The Gentlemen. 

I had recently acquired the Carl Friedrik Carry-on X when I began watching The Gentlemen and saw it make a cameo in episode 1. It was stuffed with cash — “an accessory” in a transaction involving a young British aristocrat, a social climbing American drug dealer, and some very expensive French Burgundy. 

So yes, traveling with my celebrity carry-on makes me feel one degree closer to the jet set. But that’s not reason enough to invest in premium luggage.

A youngish woman wearing a red beret and grey tweed coat is in a fancy room with her hand on a piece of open luggage. Inside the bag is piles of British pounds. Beyond her the room has portraits on maroon colored walls and chandeliers and other decorative items that suggest the home is old.
The Carl Friedrik Carry-on X has a cameo in the Netflix series, The Gentlemen

In this review I will share my experience with the Carl Friedrik Carry-on X roller bag — packing it, flying with it and traveling with it. I’ll include the pros and cons and what you should know and consider, before buying.

I regularly travel overseas taking a carry-on only (no checked bag) so my cabin luggage needs to meet a number of requirements.

What I Want in a Carry-On Bag

A woman is visible from the back. She is blonde and wearing a beige trench coat and holding the handle of a black carry-on roller bag. She is facing a bright yellow sign that says All Gates with an arrow.

The more I travel the more I appreciate that great luggage plays a part in a pleasant and seamless trip. I have taken several trips with my Carl Friedrik Carry-on X — within the U.S. and one international.  For those who prefer not to read the detailed review, here’s the bottom line based on my experience so far. Yes, I recommend Carl Friedrik luggage, specifically the Carry-on X. 

It’s an investment, but if you are a frequent traveler, or someone willing to splurge on premium luggage, I think it’s a solid buy. It will be a reliable traveling companion, it packs and moves like a dream, and it’s made to last. Additionally they have an excellent warranty and return policy. 

Note: I will be taking my CF bag overseas in the summer of 2024. If my experience differs, I will update this article to reflect the additional information.

A side view of a black carry-onX roller bag with the two locks visible.
Carl Friedrik carry-on X in black

That said, Carl Friedrik luggage won’t be right for every traveler. Here are some pros and cons to consider. 

Pros & Cons of Carl Friedrik Carry-on X

Pros

Cons

Carl Friedrik Travel Goods

Carl Friedrik is a direct-to-consumer travel and leather goods company headquartered in London, England. It was launched in 2012 by Swedish brothers, Niklas and Mattis Oppermann. 

Beyond luggage, Carl Friedrik sells home office accessories, tech cases and personal bags, all now available in North America, and beyond, shipping (almost) worldwide. Shipping to the U.S. is free and takes a max of 11 business days, but often less. Learn more about shipping here.  

Their luggage selection includes three “check-in” sized cases: a medium, a large and a tall trunk-style, and two carry-on bags. I didn’t need a check-in bag because I have one and use it rarely, so decided my first Carl Friedrik would be a carry-on.  I already owned a small roller bag I liked, but it didn’t have an integrated laptop pocket, so I chose the Carry-on X. I also thought there would be instances where I would appreciate having a slightly larger carry-on bag.

Carl Friedrik Carry-On Options

The Carry-on

A carry-on roller bag is pictured from the side view. It is dark grey with brown leather trim and has four wheels. It has a plain background beyond it

The Carry-on X

A carry-on roller bag is pictured from the side view. It is dark grey with brown leather trim and has four wheels. It also has a front pocket with a zipper. It has a plain background beyond it.

The max permitted size for carry-on bags on many U.S. airlines is x 22” tall x 14″ wide x 9” deep. So both these carry-on bags are below the height restriction. And the Carry-on is runs only half inch wider. The Carry-on X, with the pocket, is slightly deeper and wider than the size restriction.

That said, I’ve found that the bins you drop bags in to measure at the airport are typically a bit bigger than the stated dimensions, so in the case of the big U.S.-based airlines, such as United which I fly most often, I was confident I wouldn’t have issues or be asked to check my Carl Friedrik Carry-on X. Note: if you are in Canada, I’ve found Air Canada can be a little pickier with carry-ons size retrictions. I will be trying it on Air Canada soon. 

A black carry-on roller bag with the handle extended, is visible from the back. Beyond it is a bright yellow sign that says All Gates with a graphic of an airplane and an arrow.
Carl Friedrik Carry-on X ready to fly

Still, I always prepare for exceptions when I travel with a carry-on roller. I’ve had to gate-check roller bags because the aircraft type had smaller than typical overhead bins. And if you are traveling on discount airlines, especially in the UK and Europe (hello Ryan Air), you may have to check the Carry-on X. 

TIP: I suggest looking at the carry-on restrictions of any airline you regularly travel, before making a carry-on luggage purchase. 

Besides the exterior pocket, all key features of the Carry-on and Carry-on X are the same: a polycarbonite shell which makes them lightweight yet durable, a telescopic handle and Hinomoto silent spinner wheels. They also both have an aluminum lock frame closure, rather than zipper, and Italian leather detailing. 

A black carry-on roller bag stands on a white and grey carpet with the handle extended. An armchair and some artwork are visible on the wall beyond.
The Carl Friedrik Carry-on X in black

 

Both carry-on bags come in four colors, all neutrals. Two have contrasting leather details as shown in the side view of the grey/cognac version, pictured above. If you are looking for a light-colored bag, you are out of luck. There’s no taupe, pink or baby blue. 

I ordered the black with black trim and was impressed with how sleek it was, even more so than in the photos. The only thing that surprised me was that it didn’t come with a luggage tag which I’ve seen with other luxury luggage brands. It’s a small detail and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that added. 

A close up side view of black luggage showing the lock closure.

The big difference from what I had used in the past was that the Carl Friedrik Carry-on bags close with an aluminum lock frame and two latches, rather than a zipper.  

Packing the Carl Friedrik Carry-On X

A suitcase is open and filled with clothing of different colors. One side has straps enclosing it.
The Carl Friedrik Carry-on X packed with a week of outfits for Europe

The company says that the larger Carry-on X, holds five days worth of outfits. On this point I will differ; I found it could hold a week of outfits. Of course, this may differ if packing for spring in Seville or winter in Oslo.

The features that made a difference in the packing space were the compression straps on both sides and a removable compression pad on one. The compression holds down and secures items so they take up less space, and straps can be adjusted on both sides of the case. I also liked that the pad was removable. There are also a couple of interior zip pockets. 

The integrated exterior hard-shell pocket was great. It made the bag slightly deeper as mentioned, but was well designed with an organizer — there was a pocket for my laptop and another for a notebook, phone etc. I also tucked my prescription sunglasses in for easy access upon arrival. 

A black carry-on roller bag is shown with the front pocket zipped open. Inside are multiple pockets for a laptop and other items.

The pocket apparently holds a laptop of up to 16″. Note that unlike the bag itself, the front pocket can not be locked. 

When it came time to close the bag, I was in uncharted territory; my previous roller bags had always had a zipper closure. I folded the bag closed and found the aluminum lock frame was both quick and easy to seal. And the TSA-compliant locks were simple to set.

A small black roller bag stands with a digital flight board displayed beyond
Ready to fly, Denver International Airport

Traveling with the Carl Friedrik Carry-on X

The thing that stood out immediately on my first trip with the bag, was how well it handled. I strode quickly through Denver International, making quick turns and bumping it on and off the escalator and moving walkway. It moved and rolled like a dream. 

I wondered if I was imagining the difference, smitten as I was with my celeb luggage, so I swapped bags with my husband to compare. We agreed it was noticably smooth and easy to roll. The telescopic handle felt sturdy and moved up and down easily. And the bag was very quiet, as if I had activated some sort of stealth mode. 

The $40 question (a typical price to check a bag) was whether I was correct that I would glide through to our flight on quiet wheels, or be pulled over to have the size checked. No one wants to be trying to stuff their hard-shell bag into one of those metal sizing bins. Not a good look. 

A blonde woman wearing black pants and a beige trench coat and sunglasses stands in front of what looks like a European building. She is holding the extended handle of a black carry-on roller bag.

I boarded uninterrupted and am happy to say that I have not had an issue with the size, on several other domestic flights or on international flights between the U.S. and Canada. My Carl Friedrik roller has traveled on United Airlines and Frontier Airlines, the latter a budget carrier based out of Denver. 

 

I hadn’t checked Frontier Airlines carry-on restrictions ahead of my flight, but the agent glanced at it and waved me through. I’ve also had no issues fitting it in the overhead bins on any of my flights. And it’s light enough for me to manage on my own. Packed, it’s typically weighed between 20 and 22 pounds.

Two carry-on roller bags are visible inside an airplane overhead bin. They are placed on their narrow side — one is brown and a slightly larger one is black. The row number is visible and says 15 FED.

All of that said, I repeat that there are airlines that may require you to check the Carl Friedrik Carry-On X because it’s dimensions exceeds their stated limit. Or overhead bin space is smaller than typical.

A blonde woman wearing black pants and a beige trench coat and sunglasses walks in front of what looks like a European building. She is holding the extended handle of a black carry-on roller bag.

Warranty & Return Policy of Carl Friedrik Luggage

Carl Friedrik’s return policy states that you can use your luggage for 100 days and if you don’t like it you can return it for a refund or exchange. Yes, that includes traveling with your luggage!

This policy differs from some North American hard-shelled luggage brands which only permit you to wheel it around at home. Once you travel with it, no returns.

I appreciate the generous Carl Friedrik return policy and think it says a lot about confidence in their product. In reference to the policy the company says, “We want you to be satisfied with our products – this is our way of achieving that goal.”

WARRANTY

Warranty on luggage can be tricky. What’s “normal wear and tear” and what’s not, because luggage will get a lot of it. 

Broadly speaking, Carl Friedrik’s lifetime warranty covers repairs or replacements for functional damage — issues that prevent you from using the bag such as stitching, wheels, metalwork, and handles.

The warranty does not cover “normal wear and tear.” I interpret that to mean, scuffs, scratches, dings and dents. I had a few scuffs on my bag after travel which easily came off with a quick wipe of a soapy cloth. 

You’ll find the lifetime warranty details of Carl Friedrik here. 

A black Carl Friedrik Carry-onX roller bag after use, with a few white scuffs visible on it.
A few scuffs after several uses but nothing problematic; they came right out with a cloth and bit of soap

Carl Friedrik Carry-on X Review - Final Thoughts

I expected to like the Carl Friedrik Carry-on X, given its price and the positive reviews, and I am thrilled with it.

Since I am a frequent traveler and seem to often find myself on marathon walks during a connection (hello Frankfurt International) the excellent and effortless maneuverabilty is the aspect I most appreciate. Additionally, I like that I can pack a week of outfits, and how quiet the wheels are. And of course how smart looking it is.

You get what you pay for and Carl Friedrik is a premium product. I am expecting that like me, my carry-on bag has a long travel career ahead.   

I was gifted my Carl Friedrik Carry-on X luggage with the understanding that I would write an honest and objective review. All opinions are my own. 

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.

Susan

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