I Road-Tested Royce & Rocket's New Carry-On Suitcase with Shelves—and It's an Organizational Game-Changer

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Royce & Rocket

  • Durability: 20/20
  • Design: 19/20
  • Styling: 17/20
  • Innovation: 19/20
  • Value: 20/20
    TOTAL: 95/100

I'd sooner shout "plastic explosives" in a crowded airport security line than check luggage. Not only is it a big drag to worry that your suitcase could be lost in transit, but also there's nothing more annoying than the baggage carousel ennui, followed by the elbowing fray of your fellow passengers heaving their tattered and strapped jumbo cases homeward. It's at best a hiccup in a happy arrival, and at worst the opening salvo in a battle to repossess a wayward suitcase. No thanks. Instead, I'd rather zip along with my honestly overstuffed carry-on case, which leaves me fewer outfits, but more security.

So it's imperative that I make the most of what I do pack: Enter the Royce & Rocket Castle Carry-On. I heard about this innovation from a friend in the travel industry, who gushed about the larger, checked-luggage version of the bag. So when the family-run, New Jersey-based company came out with a smaller, TSA-approved carry-on size, I had to test it. On a recent three-day weekend in San Diego, then an eight-day trip to Hawaii, I put it through its paces.

Royce & Rocket

The bag's look impressed me, since its matte burgundy exterior and pink poly-satin lining was distinctive but still subtly chic. I've reported on numerous budget and luxe carry-on bags, so I was curious to see exactly how this bag was designed to not only store all my stuff in transit but also replace organizing clothes in a chest of drawers upon arrival. Here's how—one side of the hard case has straps that snap onto the other side of the case, propping it open like a large clam without having to prop it up against a wall. The upright side has two quarter-inch thick shelves that drop down, supported by inconspicuous straps that match the lining. The idea behind the bag is that, instead of rooting around in layers of folded or rolled clothes in a flat case, travelers can at-a-glance see their garments arranged neatly on shelves.

But here's the rub—you have to take a few moments to actually put your clothes on the shelves. On my San Diego jaunt, I was too distracted to neaten my arrangement straightaway upon arrival, then each subsequent day I thought, 'Oh it's almost time to leave, why bother?' So, although I enjoyed wheeling this case on its smooth 360-degree Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run spinner wheels, and didn't break the telescopic handle when I roughhoused the case across a parking lot, I didn't use the shelves. I was ready to call them a gimmick, when I decided to give it another try on a longer trip to Hawaii.

After two days in Maui, I decided that it was time to organize myself, since I would have to take off my bathing suit and get dressed. And shock—a few double-folded t-shirts, shorts and a pair of pants later, and I could, at a glance, see everything I'd brought, as well as easily take it out without disrupting the rest of my wardrobe. A ten-minute investment and voila, I was sorted. (I wasn't even tempted to use our Airbnb's drawers, a practice I've avoided for the past decade, since an increase of media reports of bedbugs across a wide range of travel accommodations put me on high alert.)

What else? The compression straps on the case's lower half helped me squish everything in on the trip home, and there's an expandable zipper that gives an extra two inches of packing space if needed. I docked the bag a few styling points since it's only available in a handful of colorways initially; the black, burgundy or silver cases, with their tobacco or pink interiors are lovely, though, and I look forward to seeing the next hues from the brand. And as for cost, the case's $415 price point is commensurate with other carry-ons that don't even have the shelves, so that's a major value add.

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...