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Is Smaller Luggage the Secret to Travel? We Review the Calpak Mini Carry-On

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It’s the curse of today’s overbooked airline flights—you’re lucky to get a seat, however by the time you board, an apologetic flight attendant is announcing “We’re sorry but there’s no more overhead bin space, you’ll need to gate-check your carry-ons, even if they are within airline size requirements.” So you’re delayed while waiting for luggage to be collected, tossed into the hold, then fished out again when you reach your destinatio

Thanks to the new Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage— which is so compact it won’t be gate-checked since it can fit under most airline seats—I’ve been spared that indignation.

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calpak review cat
Calpak

  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Sturdiness: 18/20
    TOTAL: 96/100

I Took The Mini Carry-on On A 4-day Trip

On a recent commuter flight, I was able to fit its compact size—16-by-14-by-8 inches—into an overhead compartment that was too small for any of the regulation-sized carry-ons that other passengers were made to check back at the terminal gate, which means I was hopping into a taxi while most other passengers were still being matched with their gate-checked bags.

In both style and sturdiness, the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On is a cut above the similarly sized rolling business bags I’ve seen. It’s not boring black canvas, for one thing—the lightweight polycarbonate hardshell comes in six shades, including millennial pink and hazelnut brown. The spinner wheels glided smoothly as I dashed to my gate, and the multi-pockets inside came in handy when I was wedging all my looks into its small space.

Is going mini worth the payoff of packing light?

This brings us to the biggest worry I had when deciding to take the Calpak Mini on a recent four-day trip. Was the hope of a faster, easier luggage experience worth editing my outfits so rigorously? Would I even be able to? Happily, I took the chance and was able to fit four T-shirts, one dress, a spare pair of loafers, a robust toiletries bag, leggings, a workout bra, undies and trousers into the case, along with PJs. Why did I ever need a bigger case for a quick getaway? And here’s the best part—the case opens, clamshell-style, and stays open at 90 degrees thanks to two “up-right straps” that can be detached in case you want to lie each half flat open. This way, I can just leave my clothes in the case, chest of drawers style, and need not risk using potentially bedbug-riddled hotel room drawers.

Final Thoughts

My quibbles are minor—the telescoping handle feels a bit shaky when fully extended, and I would have appreciated a monogramming option. But almost wholly, I’m thrilled with the Calpak Mini and already planning a matching laptop duffel for when I want to rest everything on those spinner wheels for an even easier gate sprint.