The suitcase market is bubbling over with startups.
Away is perhaps the best-known one: The brand launched in 2016 with high-quality suitcases complete with USB chargers, starting at $195, a fraction of what their competitors were charging. But many others have popped up, each with a unique selling point. Raden gives you an app that tracks where your suitcase is at any given time. Modobag allows you to ride your suitcase around the airport. Valeto doubles as a high chair should you happen to be traveling with a baby.
Ebby Rane, a Canadian startup founded by former lawyer Sonja Salmon, has created a high-end case called the Quartermaster, which I tested on a recent trip. At $995, it is pricier than some of its peers in the startup world, and is perhaps more comparable to Rimowa or Steamline Luggage. Ebby Rane justifies this price by a range of premium touches, both on the inside and out. Like similar hardshells on the market, this one is made from a lightweight plastic, but has cognac leather details throughout, including the handle and a strip that goes through the center of it. This makes it look like a cross between a Victorian steamer trunk and a modern carry-on.
The brand has already developed a large following, in Canada and beyond. Sophie Trudeau, the First Lady of Canada is a fan, as is American actress Meghan Markle. Since Ebby Rane debuted with a Quartermaster specifically designed for women, the brand first caught on among female business travelers. But after customers asked for a more masculine version, Ebby Rane now has a men’s Quatermaster that costs $925.
Rather than outfitting the case with high-tech features, the company has focused on what goes inside. Ebby Rane has created an elaborate system designed to make it easier for frequent travelers to pack quickly and efficiently, and find what they need upon arrival without wasting time digging through their suitcase.
Each bag comes with 10 accessories to help with organization. In the woman’s version of the bag, there is a leather clutch neatly inserted in the middle that serves as a folder for your travel documents and passport as you go through the airport, or a handbag when you reach your destination. There are two bags for shoes, one for dirty laundry, one for wet swimwear, a tech case, a jewelry case, a toiletry case, a makeup bag, and a separate clear pouch for liquids that need to be taken out for the TSA check. The bags and pouches are sturdy and neatly labeled. On the women’s Quartermaster, these accessories are designed with feminine ruffles which makes the boring act of packing slightly more fun. (The men’s version has a similar set of accessories but with a manlier look.)
The idea behind these interior compartments is to allow frequent travelers to have their suitcase fully stocked with all the items they would need for a trip. Besides toiletries, you might keep a pair of flats and heels packed, plus some versatile jewelry and an extra set of chargers. Upon your return, all you need to do is take out the dirty laundry and wet bikini bags; everything else can stay in place. The system is ideal for professionals who are on the road all the time, like management consultants or sales executives. It is also perfect for those who need to be able to hit the road without much warning. These also happen to be categories of consumers who are willing to invest in good luggage, since it is such a crucial part of their everyday life.
In addition to the hardshell, the brand has also released another handheld $300 weekender bag that is designed to complement the suitcase. It is made of tweed and the same cognac leather on the hardshell and comes with a strap that slides into the hardshell’s handles. It is thoughtfully designed with a range of useful pockets. There’s one section for your laptop, and two roomy pockets on either end for cords or perhaps your wallet and keys. There’s also a place for your phone.
The two bags look stylish together and stand out as you’re trudging through the airport, or finding your way through a hotel lobby. At this high price point, it is clearly a luxury, rather than a necessity. But this travel system helps makes packing easier, and brings back a few fun, elegant touches to what can seem like a very inhumane experience on at airports and on planes. For a frequent traveler, it might be well worth it.