This Australian brand is launching the lightest carry-on suitcase in the world in the U.S.

July 1, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC
Suitcases from Aussie brand July: So light they fly by themselves.
Courtesy of July

Australian brand July is bringing to the U.S. what it claims is the lightest carry-on suitcase in the world, just in time for the height of summer travel.

After closing $8 million in a Series A funding round less than a year after launching in February 2019, the Melbourne-based luggage startup is now looking to expand and replicate its success in North America.

“Airlines around the world restrict traveler luggage on two points: the size and the weight,” July cofounder Athan Didaskalou tells Fortune. “With our original Carry On and Carry On Pro, we maximized their dimensions to be the biggest carry-ons allowed on any domestic or international flight [so you can] take as much volume as possible on board with you.”

But there are also travelers who focus on the total weight of their bag, Didaskalou continues, because of budget flights or tighter restrictions in some parts of the world. Most carry-on weight limits fall between 15 to 22 pounds.

“So we wanted to create something for them: a light carry-on that would weigh 3.9 pounds to give them maximum volume for the rest of their items,” Didaskalou says. “This product direction means that travelers who fly globally often don’t have to worry about the restrictions in one region over another. Light luggage is a global demand product, and something that a lot of the direct-to-consumer luggage brands have failed to see as an innovation point.”

At 3.96 pounds (1.8 kilograms), the Carry On Light is outfitted in a polycarbonate shell with 360-degree double spinner wheels, and is able to hold up to 38 liters in volume.

“The shape of the Carry On Light is unique in that it feels familiar for a new object. It has an eggshell curve to it that helps it bounce back on a drop, making the most of the polycarbonate flexibility. Eggs, like bridges, use the shape of an arch to bear heavy loads,” Didaskalou notes. “These curves give it a more retro feel, a shape that was popular in the golden era of flying.”

A view of the Carry On Light in “Sky.”
Courtesy of July

“The Light traveler is youthful or young at heart—preferring to keep their luggage minimal and feature-free—apart from the one killer feature of being able to lift it effortlessly,” Didaskalou says. “I love seeing people’s faces when they first pick it up; they don’t expect it to be that light! It weighs as much as two bottles of water.”

Didaskalou cites one review that made him laugh. As he recalls, it read: “When I picked up the cardboard box [the suitcase] arrived in, my initial thought was ‘Did they forget to put it in?’”

A view of the Carry On Light in “Sand.”
Courtesy of July

While the model does push the boundaries in how light a hard-shell carry-on suitcase can be, there is no shortage of options on the U.S. market right now between stalwarts like Samsonite and Tumi and upstarts such as Away and Paravel.

The founders of July used the travel downtime during the pandemic to develop the Carry On Light, with the intention of attracting customers obsessed with design and technical innovation.

When the pandemic first hit and all flights had paused, Didaskalou admits July’s revenue dropped by 95%. “Once the reality set in that there was not going to be an overnight solution, we decided to see the silver lining in this pause in activity and use the downtime to focus on product innovation.”

Because everything had to be done remotely, a lot of engineering work was theoretical until it was finally molded. The curved eggshell shape for strength, the lighter SilentMove wheels, and the magnesium telescopic handles—everything got redesigned in efforts to shave weight here and there. A lot of work went into the wheels in particular, to re-create a double-wheel system that reduced a lot of the material of the original without hampering the glide.

When it comes to weight reduction, Didaskalou notes there were two priority measurements: Is it lighter than before, and is it just as strong? “Once we had our drawings, 3D renders, and cardboard cutouts, we were ready to mold and begin the physical testing and refinement,” Didaskalou says. “The pandemic provided an opportunity to create something with clear focus, and we’re grateful we could leave that period with a product we’re truly proud of.”

With 38 liters of carry space, the Carry On Light is one of the largest in its class.
Courtesy of July

The main hurdle, Didaskalou says, was that they couldn’t be in the factory testing the parts and betas in person; the team worked remotely on a physical product, which can be challenging when a key part of product design is experiencing how something feels and looks, he notes.

“We have a tinker lab in the office where we keep all the samples, tools, and hardware. This is where you can cut material, shape polycarbonate, shave off metal, et cetera. This is where you go when you want to test things,” Didaskalou explains. “Because of lockdowns and work restrictions, we had to keep things digital and make the most of the materials we had—cardboard mockups for shapes, et cetera—with anything we had lying around the house. A creative time, indeed!”

All July luggage can be personalized for free.
Courtesy of July

Shipping (for free, with a 100-day trial and lifetime warranty) to North America from Melbourne as of July 1, the Carry On Light sells for $225 and is available in eight shades with a multitude of personalized monogram options.

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