The Tester: Rachael Levitt, Managing Editor, Fodors.com
The Bag: The Jaunt, traditional carry-on, $350
The Trip: 10 Days in South Korea (Seoul, Jeju Island, Busan)
From the get-go, the ROAM’s “The Jaunt” carry-on feels superlight—almost suspiciously so at 5.8 pounds empty. But flimsy it is not—I returned home with barely a ding in its polycarbonate shell, no small feat for a suitcase that rode 6 planes, a bullet train, and probably 50 subways. Public transportation is the way to travel in Korea, but it comes with sidewalk bumps, moving escalators, and general interaction with the public en masse. The ROAM case came away from bellboys, taxi drivers, and flight attendants without a scratch. It kept everything dry in a pouring rainstorm in Busan (my husband’s canvas case, on the contrary, was completely soaked through). In terms of reliability, the case was remarkably durable.
The Jaunt’s extraneous and thus most vulnerable parts, the wheels, the telescoping handle, and the zipper, survived very intact as well. Two zippers meet on the exterior track, and, perplexingly enough, press into a uniquely formed lock (with TSA release spring), which I can’t actually imagine would be used by travelers—hotels have safes and the TSA probably won’t bother to refasten it if they decide to check. The telescoping handle is comfortable enough, though the poles seemed slightly flimsy—perhaps they were just flexible since they held up just fine, but they never felt completely sturdy. And the wheels, for as many terrains as I traveled—sand, concrete, asphalt, escalator, stairs, hardwood, and a variety of other surfaces—held up remarkably well, easily shifting directions and gliding along.
ROAM’s marketing cornerstone is customization—there are over 1 million color combinations you can design—but only in terms of aesthetics, which is nice but not particularly essential. The outer shell color, wheel caps, zipper and pulls, binding, handle and even monogram patch are all up for your personalizing, so at least you’ll always know which bag is yours on sight. There are four sizes currently being sold: The Jaunt, a traditional carry-on (coming in at 22 inches high, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep, it meets the carry-on requirements for all major US airlines as well as international regulations); The Jaunt XL, a wide-body carry-on; The Journey, a medium check-in; and The Globetrotter, a large check-in.
The bag opens clamshell-style, with either side encased in mesh zipping. This was nice for when something needed to be pulled out on the fly—only half of my suitcase would be affected, and since it opened flat, it wasn’t affected much anyway. The mesh pockets were a bit too small for anything of importance, but it’s always nice to have organizational opportunities. I ended up keeping a pair of sandals between the two encasements as bonus storage.
What I Packed
On a 10-day trip to Korea in the spring, I needed a variety of weather resistant options, including a rain jacket and rubber-soled shoes. The temperatures are wide ranging from Seoul to Jeju—the former being a bustling, humid city and the latter a tropical-esque island known for hiking and beaches, so I had to bring every style from urban-chic to outdoor-active, plus a few conservative items for temple visits and cool evenings. That means at least three pairs of shoes; a variety of dresses, pants, and tops; a swimsuit, and undergarments and toiletries.
In my personal item bag, I tend to keep my “business” items—camera, computer, glasses, documents, books, water bottle, and a neck pillow for the plane. It leaves me no room for any overflow from my carry-on, so I have to make sure all my apparel fits in its case.
U.S.-made and sold directly to the customer, you can personalize and order your ROAM suitcase right from the website and expect it to ship to you in three business days. It doesn’t get easier than that.
Though the suitcase had a regular grip handle on top alongside the telescopic handle, there were no others along the side. It made for sometimes cumbersome grasping.
Buy this bag. Its durability alone will withstand whatever travels may bring you—and they will bring damage. It never ceased to surprise me how light this bag was to lift over my head into a plane baggage bin and how sturdy it stayed as it dropped to the ground. Especially worthwhile if you don’t check luggage.