Susan Heinrich stands in Denver's Union Station with Monos luggage - the Monos Medium Check-In and the Monos Metro backpack.

Monos Luggage Review

TRAVEL PLANNING

After lots of research I found a carry-on and checked luggage that’s durable, well-designed, and affordable

I’m a frequent traveler who hates packing, and this Monos luggage review explains why I chose the Vancouver-based brand as my new favorite. There are lots of pros as well as a few cons. Read on. 

Off the top, I will say that my priorities were a lightweight bag that rolled like a dream. I was willing to invest but didn’t have the budget for a luxury luggage brand like Tumi or Rimowa. I ordered several carry-on bags online and returned them all. One didn’t have enough compartments. Another had a clever design but was too heavy. There were sticky zippers, wobbly handles and awkward layouts. And then one happy day, I found Monos.

A display of Monos luggage at a popup store in Toronto's Stackd Market. Pictured are a row of Monos Carry-On bags in 7 colors as well as various other luggage items. Beyond the luggage is an artwork collage in pastel colors.
Monos Carry-On bags on display at the Monos Toronto pop-up store at Stackd Market

The carry-on bag I was replacing was a Samsonite that I had owned for many years. It had held up well but was too heavy at over 10 pounds. I often travel solo, so wanted to be able to lift my carry-on bag into the overhead bin on my own. Something a little more stylish would be welcome as well. And I hoped to do a lot of traveling over the next ten years, so it had to be durable and easy to move around, (i.e. four wheels). 

Monos had a lot going for it out of the gate. It’s Canadian like me – I live in Denver but am from Toronto. Monos was launched in 2018 by Vincent Tam. His vision for the company was to make premium luggage affordable by selling direct-to-consumers. It is a similar model to competitor Away. More on that below. 

Monos Luggage - the Options

A selection of Monos luggage, as well as the Monos Metro Backpack are pictured at an RER station in Denver Colorado. Susan was on her way to the airport for travel to Toronto
On my way to Toronto with the Monos Check-In Medium and Carry-On, and the Monos Metro backpack

Monos Carry-On Bags

Monos makes three sizes of carry-on luggage. I purchased “The Carry-On” rather than the larger Carry-On Plus or the Carry-On Pro.  Why? Mostly the weight. The Carry-On weighs 7 pounds, the Carry-On Plus is 7.38 pounds. It might not sound like a lot, but since its volume is considerably more – 39 liters versus 48 for the Carry-On Plus – I knew I would inevitably pack more with a bigger bag. Even a few extra pounds makes a difference when I am traveling on my own and lifting it into an overhead bin or carrying it up the stairs of the Metro in Paris. In addition, I often travel to and within Europe and they require smaller bags and often weigh carry-on bags to check if you are within weight limits: hello my friends at Air France. That said, the larger Carry-On Plus would be more doable for a week in Europe, if you were willing to risk you may have to check it within Europe. 

Monos Carry-On Bag dimensions
Monos Carry-on plus dimensions

Monos Luggage Carry-On Dimensions

I also wanted a bag that would fit in all airplane overhead bins; standard size for many airlines in the U.S. is 22” x 14” x 9”, the exact dimensions of the Monos Carry-On. The Carry-On Plus has an extra 1/2 to 1 inch in each dimension (see the comparison image above). 

There is another variation of the cabin bag – the Carry-On Pro. It comes with a front compartment that can accommodate a 15” laptop. (Note that reviewers have said the compartment won’t fit larger laptops so be sure and check dimensions of your laptop.) I do like that travel essentials can be accessed without opening your bag, but again, this bag is heavier. And I usually keep my laptop in a tote bag at my seat, but if you prefer to travel with a smaller purse or bag, the Carry-On Plus might be the way to go. It comes in the same two sizes mentioned above. 

Monos Checked Bag Review

Susan prepares for travel at the Denver train station. She is pictured next to Monos Check-In Medium bag and the Monos Metro backpack.
Susan at Denver's Union Station with her Monos Check-In Medium and Monos Metro backpack

Since initially writing this review, I have added a Monos checked bag to my collection – the Check-In Medium. Monos luggage has two larger bags: Check-In Medium and Check-In Large. They come in eight standard colors as well as two limited edition colors: Terracotta and Terrazzo (the latter mimics a marble finish, very stylish). I took my new checked bag on its first trip –  to Toronto just before the holidays. Like Santa’s sac, I was able to stuff it with gifts for my Canadian relatives, thanks to a clever design and internal compression pad (more on that below). And it performed beautifully. The style is similar to the Carry-On bag, but it features two additional interior pockets. It is lightweight, attractive, and is a dream to roll – one of my favorite features of Monos luggage. It weighs 9.6 pounds has a 70 L volume and it measures: 26.5″ × 18.5″ × 10.5″. It is recommended for trips between 7 and 21 days. My bag is the desert taupe color. 

The Check-In Large is only slightly heavier at 10.6 pounds and it gives you 90 L of interior space. It measures: 30″ × 21″ × 11″ and comes in the same 10 colors

The interior of the Monos Checked Bag features extra pockets and two sides with enclosures. One side is zipped and the other has a compression pad with clips.

Monos Luggage Durability

Monos bags are made with German Makrolon polycarbonate – an aerospace-grade material that is both light and nearly impossible to break. Because of its flexibility, it can take rough handling in case you need to check it. It is supposed to be resistant to dents because the material has some flex. Monos says they use the same grade of material as luxury luggage brands but because they sell direct, rather than through retailers, they can sell it for hundreds less. 

The extendable handle is often the weak point with luggage. If you want to see durability in action, check out their page on quality testing, specifically the “telescopic handle jerk test, on the Monos website. I was strangely mesmerized by the sight of the bag hanging by the handle.

Packing my Monos Luggage

Someone slides a thin booklet called Feminist City Guide into an interior pocket of a Monos Carry-On bag
One side of the bag zipped closed
A hand pulls on a strap inside of a carry on bag to compress a fabric panel and the contents underneath
The other side of the bag has a compression pad

One of the reasons I returned several other bags was the interior design just didn’t lend itself to me keeping my things in place and organized. The Monos website claims a thoughtfully designed interior. They said it first and I’ll say it second. Monos luggage has a thoughtfully-designed interior. 

The layout of the carry-on and checked bags are similar. Pictured above and below are the carry-on. One side of the bag is enclosed with a zipped panel; it is perfect for shoes and other bulky items. For me, the real magic was the other side which is covered by a “compression pad”.  Just place your piles in, and try not to concern yourself that they are three inches higher than the side of the bag. The compression pad will compress everything and keep it nicely confined – imagine a pair of Spanx, for your clothes.

 

An open Monos carry-on suitcase packed with items
Bulky items fit well under the zippered side
Interior pockets of the Monos Carry-On
I appreciate all the interior pockets

There are also interior pockets, which I appreciate when I am trying to give everything a place. The panels that enclose the sides each have large zip pockets and there’s a small zip pocket as well. It comes with bags for shoes and laundry, a cute luggage tag and a dust jacket for storage.

My Monos Luggage Around the World

My first trip with my Monos Carry-On luggage was to L.A.  One of the things I noticed immediately was how quiet the wheels were and how easily it moved along and changed direction as I did. Also, although I fit even more than I expected with the compression pad, it was light enough. I could easily lift it into the overhead bin; you might say I was a bit of a luggage ninja. Several people moved to offer help and then realized I didn’t need it. 

I found the design of the compartments were great for keeping everything organized. It was a short trip so I didn’t unpack everything. On the day I was leaving L.A., I left my luggage with the concierge at the hotel while I went for a bike ride in Venice Beach. The concierge rolled it away with me trailing behind as she was retrieving a bike from storage at the same time. She commented on how attractive it was and how well it moved and asked the brand name. I’m guessing she has since ordered one.  

My Monos Carry-On bag looking trés chic on a trip to Paris

In addition to my domestic travels, my Monos luggage has traveled with me to France, Spain, Greece and Canada.  My Europe travel included planes, trains and automobiles, and my Monos bag performed beautifully. One thing to keep in mind with Europe travel is that it can be awkward to travel on trains with large bags. For this reason, I actually prefer two smaller roller bags, to one large bag. 

 

Cleaning Monos Luggage

My Monos luggage has held up well with no damage or dents but they definitely do show scuffs. The lighter color the worse that problem is. After returning from a recent trip to Canada my Monos checked bag (which I have in the light beige called desert taupe) looked worse for wear. I used a solution of baking soda mixed with dish soap, a rough cloth and some elbow grease and was able to get the scuffs out. Pictured below are a before and after. 

The Monos Medium checked bag in desert taupe, a light beige, covered in dark scuffs
The Monos Medium checked bag in desert taupe, a light beige, pictured with a cleaning cloth with baking soda on it.
The Monos Medium checked bag in desert taupe, a light beige, pictured after being cleaned. The scuffs are gone; it looks almost like new.

What does the Monos Lifetime Warranty Cover?

I have had several people comment about the lack of coverage in the lifetime warranty, so wanted to add some clarifying details. The Monos lifetime warranty covers some things, but not everything. The following are covered:

  • Cracks or breaks in the shell
  • Wheels, handles, or telescoping handles that break off or are no longer usable
  • Broken zippers

Not covered are: scratches, dents, dings, scuffs, stains, colour changes, and normal wear and tear, including of the inner fabric. Non-functional changes in the appearance of the product, if they do not impair the functionality of the luggage, aren’t covered.

Susan in New York City, matching her Monos Carry-On luggage.

A Note About Monos' 100-day Return Policy

A note about Monos 100-day return policy: this allows you to try it out *at home* and return it if you don’t like it. FYI: This means packing it, lifting it, rolling it around, all at home. As soon as you take it on a trip, that return option becomes void. I wish it was an option to try it out in the world on a trip and then decide, but for now that’s the policy.

Monos luggage on a train platform at sunset
Monos luggage on a Denver train platform at sunset

Monos Luggage Review - Final Thoughts

Overall, I am thrilled with my Monos luggage, that said, there are some cons: It becomes easily scuffed, especially light colors, and I’ve noticed that if it’s overpacked, the handle is difficult to pull up. But that’s if I really overdo it. And I wish their 100-day return policy allowed you to take a trip. While it is not the lightest carry-on bag on the market, it’s lighter than most competitors. (If you want ultra-lightweight luggage, you can read my comparison of those in: Ultra Lightweight: Delsey Vs. Samsonite. ) 

If you are wondering about a comparison with other luggage brands that sell direct, I can share a little about Away’s Carry-On bag. My son owns an Away bag and likes it very much. I’ve used it on a couple of trips, and on the surface they are similar, but I think the Monos quality is superior and I prefer its design. Also, Monos seem to have better sales if budget is an issue. If you are set on having a built-in charger, Away is a good option. Otherwise, I prefer Monos. 

A Monos suitcase with a hand holding a message about the meaning of travel
A woman's hand holds a pen to fill in a luggage tag

The name Monos is inspired by the Japanese concept “mono no aware” – the appreciation of beauty in fleeting moments. Tam’s philosophy is that travel can be about more than enjoyment; it can be a chance to grow and learn. I feel the same way. And after all of the Covid lockdowns, you might say my that returning to travel with Monos luggage as my companion has felt like a fairy tale, and that if I were Goldilocks, Monos is my just right.

Happy travels!

Explore Monos luggage  

A note regarding the comments section below. Some people have shared issues they have had with their luggage pieces and are not thrilled with Monos’ warranty, in terms of what it covers and what it doesn’t. For clarification, please refer back to the above section that outlines the warranty and the Monos 100-day return policy. 

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26 Responses

  1. Thank you for your review. I’m curious how the spinner wheels handled the cobblestones in Europe. I’ll be going on a three-city tour and have been looking at Monos for quite some time.

    1. Hi Romina – Sorry for the delayed response. How exciting about your three-city Europe tour! To be honest, I don’t recall pulling it across any cobblestones. My Airbnb and hotels were all accessed via paved walkways. That said, it is extremely durable. You can visit the Monos website to see all the stress tests they put their luggage through and learn more about the wheel construction. I love my bag for Europe travel. The fact its light is really helpful. Have a fabulous trip.Susan

  2. Hello. I’m traveling to Paris in the Fall and have been looking at the Monos Carry-On for a while. I was wondering which airline you chose for your Europe travels. It sounds like Air France is fairly strict and I’m not sure the Monos luggage would be allowed. Have you had an experience with luggage “slightly” larger than their allowance?

    Air France: 21.6 x 13.7 x 9.8 in. including pockets, wheels, and handles
    Monos: 22″ × 14″ × 9″ including wheels and fixed handles

    1. Hi Alexis! How exciting that you have a trip to Paris planned. I took my Monos Carry-On to Paris last fall (as carry-on) and flew Air France from the U.S. I had no problems with my luggage size but they did weigh it once I was in Europe – I flew to Spain from Paris and it was weighed. I’ve never had it weighed in the U.S. I think you’ll be fine on any large Europeean airline – the difference is so small and they are used to the fact that American luggage brands have slightly different dimensions as you note above – but overall size difference is small. If you were to travel on a budget airline within Europe, you might have an issue. I hope that helps. Have an incredible time in Paris! Susan

  3. My luggage is beautiful but the handle doesn’t extend all the way up when I have closed it on my carryon. And my middle piece was dented during travel and I cannot get a reply about the lifetime warranty.

    1. Hi. That is really frustrating about a lack of reply. Have you tried using the chat function on the website? They might be more responsive and be able to offer next steps? I know when I really overpacked my bag, I couldn’t get the handle up and down smoothly. Could that be the issue? Good luck getting it resolved. Susan

  4. Unfortunately my luggage’s shell chipped and is peeling after just 1 trip. My purchase was made a month ago but Mono’s customer service is awful. The first person told me to take a rubber mallet to pound out the dent. After I again emphasized it was chipped she asked me to file a claim. The claim was quickly dismissed and they offered to send me a cover for the suitcase. They asked me to confirm my mailing an address and somehow crossed my account with another customer and had my address in another state. Finally they advertise a 100 day return policy but that only applies if you don’t use the case during those 100 days. Away encourages you to take a trip in the first 100 days and then if you don’t like it you can return the luggage. Finally, Monos seems to discourage/block the ability to post a review. I could not find a spot where I could post a review.

    1. Hi Michael. Yes, I recently learned that their 100-day policy means “try it at home”. I agree with you – Away’s policy to try it on your travels is superior. I have updated the article to clarify that the 100-day return only applies to luggage that hasn’t traveled. As for the warranty, that is disappointing. Although I know dents aren’t covered, it sounds like your chipped and peeling bag really isn’t holding up as it should. Sorry to hear you haven’t had the same experience I’ve had. Thank you for sharing it here so readers can learn more before making a purchase. Despite that, happy travels to you! Susan

    2. Hi Michael,

      I just used my taupe colored monos for the first time and the color is scratched off in a lot of areas and there are permanent black scuff marks all over. My brand new case looks like it has been thru a war. I am so dissapointed.

      1. Hi Beth. I also have a light Monos checked bag which I checked on a recent trip. I was able to get the dark scuffs off with a solution of baking soda, water and soap. It took some effort so from now on I will use a cover for my checked bag. It is why I recommend a darker-colored bag if you don’t want to have to do this. Let me know if you try the baking soda. Susan

  5. I have had the same experience at Michael. I took one trip with my new Carry-On Plus and the shell actually bent and warped. The customer service response is surprising; they will not replace or refund, or even fix the shell.

    I really do wish that I had not fallen for all of the hype and instead simply purchased luggage with more of a track record.

    1. Hi Kristin – I am really sorry to hear this; how disappointing. I agree – it sounds like the type of defect in your luggage after one trip should qualify for a replacement. 🙁 I wish I could help. Thanks for sharing your experience. Susan

    2. I totally agree! I traveled once and my bag now looks old, dirty and embarrassing. It’s a light color that will not clean up.

  6. What color is your bag…terracota? Does it look more brown/orange? Or salmon/rose? In person.

    1. Hi. Michelle. Terra Cotta is the best descriptor. It is brown, but a reddish brown.Not nearly as light as salmon. Hope that helps. I love the color! Susan

  7. Do not buy Monos luggage. If you decide to return it, the return shipping fees are exorbitant – $60 for a large piece, $40 for the carry on. Had I known I would be charged $100 to return this luggage if I didn’t like it — and it’s okay but not worth the cost — I never would have ordered it.

  8. I hate my Monos suitcase. I purchased a light blue suitcase through Monos.com after reading several good reviews. The interior design of the bag was decent, nothing amazing but I was happy with it. When I arrived at my destination after first use the bag looked as though I’d been using it for years, it was scuffed and dirty. It actually looked substantially worse than the bag I was replacing that had been used for years internationally and domestically. This was after only one domestic flight. I contacted Monos and they do not seem to offer any type of customer satisfaction guarantee. I was told I could clean my suitcase with soap and water or use a sponge that came with the bag. This wasn’t an adequate response, especially considering the cost of this bag. I highly recommend avoiding Monos bags, I don’t believe they will stand behind their product. Monos offer a 100 day money back guarantee that is voided if the bag has been used even once. This is a pointless return guarantee since the true test of a bag is how it holds up to airline travel. They must realize their bags don’t hold up well cosmetically, put your money into a brand with better customer satisfaction guarantees.

    1. I am in total agreement about their return policy. I think they should allow returns after trying the bags. You make a good point about the light-colored bags – they definitely show scuffs much more than the darker ones. For anyone who is considering purchasing a light color there is a cover you can purchase to put on it. My bag is a terra cotta color and after many trips its also quite scuffed. But I don’t care that much about the scuffs; I love the functionality. It is lightweight and moves around like a dream.

  9. Is it actually 22” tall? I just ordered the Beis carryon and they say 22” but it’s closer to 23” so I have to return it! If this is 22” it might be a winner!

  10. I have the light blue set and my bags were so scuffed up after only one trip! And there was a dent in the large suitcase. I used the cleaning sponge, but it didn’t help much. I tried the plastic covers, but they are kind of a pain and one ripped after the first use. I picked the bags as they looked so pretty but you can’t see that with the covers on. So I went back to no covers and the bags are getting very scuffed up.

    1. Hi Kat. Try a solution of baking soda and soap to clean the scuffs. I am sorry to hear about the dent; that is disappointing. As is the ripped cover. 🙁 I haven’t used my cover yet. Did you send yours back for a refund?

  11. Hi Susan, could you please share how easy it is to roll the suitcase on carpet in the airport? I recently tried the Away suitcase and while it rolled well enough on most surfaces including carpet when I tested it at home, it was a challenge to roll it on carpet when I was at the airport. I’d love to hear your experience with Monos. Thanks!

    1. Hello Joy. I am sorry for the delayed response. I took time off over the holidays and am catching up. I just did a test and yes, it rolls easily across the carpet I have at home. Hope that helps! Susan

  12. Luggage is great but BEWARE the return policy. You can return it but they will CHARGE you $40!!

    1. I agree, the return charge is not ideal. It’s one of the downsides of direct-to-consumer products like this. They offer more value for money with the product, because you don’t have the retail store markup, but returns are not as easy and carry a fee.

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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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