If you’re considering the Away carry-on, you might want to check out another option – the Chester! If you’re getting ready to purchase either of these, be sure to read the entire article or watch the entire video version of this article below.
So, you’re probably wondering why these two carry-ons look so similar. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would speculate these are made in the same manufacturing facility somewhere in China, which there is nothing wrong with that.
The Chinese make some great products, like the Apple or Samsung phone you probably have in your pocket. Having said this, these two companies likely fall into the category of a private label.
What is a Private Label?
A private label is essentially when a single manufacturer sells the same product, sometimes with slight variations, to multiple resellers who then put their own branding and marketing on the product and sell it. This is a very common practice and you’ve probably bought tons of private label products before without even knowing it.
Dollar Shave Club, Sam’s Choice, Kirkland Signature, and almost everything at Aldi’s are all private label products. The additional value in these products is built around the brand, culture, warranty, and customization features the reseller offers.
Chester vs. Away Carry On Price Comparison
The first and easily most notable difference is the price. As of making this video the Chester is around $175.50, with my discount included (use code: bmf at checkout too!), and free 2-day shipping.
Using my link for the Away luggage will put you at $225.00 + tax, with free shipping. You’ll receive $20 in in-store credit for the Away by using my link. You may incur tax on a bag purchased from Chester, but it all depends on your location.
Tax on the Away luggage for me in Indiana was $15.75, bringing my grand total to $240.75. So there’s a $65.25 difference between the two, ignoring the $20 Away credit, because what are you going to do with that? Just give us the straight up discount…
Secondly, size is a very important factor. Since manufacturers tend to advertise the size of the bag, not including the wheels or handle – I’m looking at you TravelPro and Delsey.
Anyways, the advertised measurements vs. the actual measurements are in the table below.
|L x W x D||Advertised||Actual|
|Away Carry On||21.7″ x 13.7″ x 9″||22″ x 14″ x 8.75″|
|Chester Carry On||21.5″ x 13.5″ x 8.5″||22″ x 14″ x 8.75″|
The Away offers a built-in, removable charger, and while this may seem like a great feature, you really don’t want it, at least not in my opinion. There are problems that can occur with this and there are other, more practical options available.
You can buy a separate one that has more power, plus a quick-charge USB block and a Chester for less than the total cost of the Away – more on this later.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe the handle on the Chester, other than it has a bit more of a curvature to it. The video will it explain it best. The Away is a simple and straightforward design. The button on the Away has a little bit of play in it and doesn’t sit nearly as flush as the Chester does. Does this really matter? Probably not, but it was worth mentioning.
While I prefer to use a smart luggage tag, I still fill out the included paper one as long as it’s covered like it is on both of these bags. The tag on the away appears to be made of a thinner material, but is softer than the thicker Chester tag. It also offers more room to write, but since I prefer the DynoTag, this doesn’t matter a whole lot to me.
The wheels on the Chester and Away are the same in diameter, however the wheels on the Chester are slightly larger by a few millimeters. Theoretically this will provide a smoother ride, but in reality you probably won’t notice much of a difference.
Long term durability of the wheels isn’t clear.
The wheels on the Away are made in Japan by Hinomoto, with what some basic googling says are supposed to be high quality wheels and, I quote “…are not available on any other bag under $1,000,” according to the Away founders. On the Chester the wheels are manufactured by SJTOBOL, a manufacturer in China.
I couldn’t find much on them, but looking at both of the wheels on the Away and Chester I can’t tell a huge difference. They both feel exactly the same, roll the same, and look the same regardless of the size, manufacturer, or markings on the wheels.
Similar to the wheels, the weight is slightly different, but probably not enough for anyone to notice. It’s a bit of overkill to be using a $700 pull force gauge to measure these, but since I had it around for work, I might as well use it since I know it’s been calibrated. You can see the Chester is slightly lighter (maybe a tenth of a pound?), but again, not enough to really make a difference.
I thought the stitching on the Chester might be greater in length in order to use less thread and reduce the costs. Nope the amount of threads per inch, I don’t know if that’s an actual term or not, are the same for the Chester and the Away. Now onto a few cosmetic differences that are more of a personal preference.
In terms of color selection, the Away wins. I have both of these here in what I call “sky blue.” Chester has 7 color options while Away has 10, plus 2 limited edition striped options that are available as of writing this article.
Away offers all the colorways that Chester does that only vary slightly, some are darker, some are lighter, but it’s generally the same color.
The interior of the Away and Chester are opposites. The zippered compartment is on the right for the Chester and is on the left for the Away.
Included Garment Bags
The garment bags on the Away and Chester are also reversed. There’s a longer zipper on the Chester, making it easier to store delicates. Both garment bags connect the same way through these small plastic hooks.
If you purchase the Away with the charger, it also includes a flat, micro USB cord and 3 international outlet adapters for China, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. I actually like the design on these adapters a lot as they’re compact and easy to slip on or off.
The orientation for the straps are also different. Vertical on the Chester and horizontal on the Away. The only other difference is the straps on the Chester are wider and have bigger buckles. This will help in holding your clothes down and keeping them held down better throughout your travels.
Why Avoid the Battery Pack?
So why should you avoid the battery pack? If you’ve never flown before, airlines have gotten better with restricting these power banks. They must be removable and must be removed if you’re checking your bag and taken on your carry on. Cool, no problem so far with the Away, unless you’re checking your bag…
The problem that arises is if the spring mechanism that holds the battery pack in it fails and you have to flip your carry-on upside down to get it out. Which presents another problem. If the cover that holds that battery in, breaks in any way, the battery is free to fall wherever when tipped sideways or upside down.
I’m not a huge fan of this design. Instead, I’d rather buy my own portable power bank, one that has more power in the same amount of space, and a quick-charge USB block for less than the total cost of a Chester, plus those items.
A Better Power Bank Option
Personally, I use the Anker PowerCore 13,000 and the Anker 18W USB Wall Charger. The included Away portable power bank is rated at 10,000 mAh. There’s a little more math involved than just looking at the mAh rating of the charger, which is beyond the scope of this article.
Long story short… the Anker one is better and the wall charger can charge you phone 4x faster than your regular cube. This I have experienced first hand as those two items will always be close by when traveling.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line is apart from some preferential differences, there isn’t anything significantly different between the two, besides the price. If the charger is that big of a deal, purchase a separate one. Otherwise, just purchase the Chester, as these bags are likely produced at the same manufacturing plant, with slightly different molds and materials.