To be clear, I trialed a G-RO luggage for this review, but the bag was purchased on my own, and in no way shape or form influenced by G-RO. While I do not use this as my primary bag, it is a popular, new smart suitcase that many are purchasing, which made it worthwhile for this review.
The G-RO luggage product is a distinctive bag that’s had the backing of thousands of Kickstarter investors, and came to market a creditable four months behind its target. 6-12 months is the expected delay for similar product launches on Kickstarter. It’s a shot at the ever-elusive title of the perfect bag, aimed at the traveler with some technology to pack and protect, along with about a week’s worth of clothes.
It’s been designed with ever-decreasing airline luggage dimension and weight restrictions in mind, though at 22 inches long it’s on the large side, and that’s over the carry-on baggage limit for some carriers.
As you might expect from a Kickstarter-funded product, this G-RO luggage is packed with innovative design features. Such are the range of original ideas in the packaging, use of space, power options, security features and conveniences that there’s no single unique selling point. Inevitably there’s a price tag on all this bespoke engineering, running into hundreds of dollars before considering additional power and tracking options.
Visually, the most distinctive feature is probably the big wheels. They’re huge, rugged looking and axle-free, mounted on the sides and giving the G-Ro something of the look of a canister vacuum, or a Segway when upright. With the rubbery tires they make the bag feel light and pretty agile on the move, way more capable at tackling uneven or bumpy surfaces than luggage fitted with small casters, especially the uncontrollable four-wheeled variety. Better still, they make very little impact on internal storage space.
Space for packing clothes is maximized by the inclusion of two inserts: a detachable, double sided mesh pouch for folded clothes, and a jacket insert that folds up and is quite effective at reducing the bulk of a jacket inside the bag. Be warned that anything other than the slimmest jacket is going to need some pressing at the other end of your journey: there’s not much shoulder room in this insert.
Other compartments can be found around the G-RO: there’s a handy side pocket in the main compartment well suited to socks, and an expansion zipper that lets the bag grow wider (though outside the carry-on limits for some airlines).
Then there is a dedicated pocket that holds power pack, if you specify one, and has a strap to secure a laptop up to 15-inch size. There’s not as much padding all around the laptop as in some other bags, especially to separate it from the battery. For owners of smaller tablets, a separate mesh pocket will easily hold a 7-inch device. There’s plenty of space in external pockets for cables and other bits and pieces.
Neat engineering tricks abound. The pull-out handle is long and sturdy, and positioned and angled to do double duty as a stand or back rest for a laptop or tabler. Maybe that’s the reason why the G-RO stands at a slight angle. This has a somewhat annoying downside: the bag is unstable when empty and falls over easily. Fully loaded, it’s not a problem and the G-Ro is better balanced.
The TSA lock is worthy of praise. The key and combination lock positioned between the two compartments and secures both at once.
There’s a spring loaded ID holder which stays out of sight unless you need to flash it for official inspection. The handle also houses a zipper compartment intended for tickets, passports and other documents you’ll need quick access to in transit. In practice this may facilitate easy access for unwanted hands other than yours, but it’s another helpful packing option.
Internal cabling neatly provides twin USB sockets under a rubber flap at the top of the bag, which let you hook up almost any peripheral if you’re using a power pack. The cables could do with a bit of extra length to provide some slack and adjustment, especially as it can be used with a variety of power packs and devices.
G-RO luggage offers the options of a large 23400mAh battery, and a GPS tracking unit with Android and iPhone apps for keeping up with the location of your expensive luggage and its contents. But it’s worth investigating more inexpensive power options and tracking devices which may well be less bulky too.
As a travel bag it has some useful features like an extra side handle that’s helpful for balance when loading it in and out of compartments, cars and buses. The inside design is a drab grey that doesn’t really live up to the dynamic exterior, and makes it a little too easy to ‘lose’ items inside.
The internal cabling may be a little frustrating, and it’s worth checking your options for power supplies and GPS tracking extras besides the ones offered. Maneuverability, packaging and security features make the G-RO luggage a pleasure to use on the move, however, and well worth considering if you’re in the market for some distinctive premium luggage.
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