Published on April 27th, 2013 | by Greg
Genius Pack Carry On: Redefining Luggage
In a world of intense competition, it can be tough to enter a mature market, even with an inventive product and a new idea. There are rarely disruptive technologies that can allow a new company to gain a foothold in industries like wine-making, or in today’s product category, luggage. Established companies have some big advantages, but we’re always on the lookout for an upstart.
Enter Genius Pack to the arena, with their Genius Packer 22″ Carry On. They claim a lot of innovative features, some of them even patent-pending. We’ve seen our fair of the fairly new roller luggage style, with four independent wheels, and generally like the added mobility now that wheels have improved, offering better durability. We’ve seen many other contenders for our travel needs- brand names like Samsonite, whose sexy Cosmolite bag continues to be a favorite despite a hefty price tag. And Delsey, with their reasonably priced Helium Aero.
But those bags are fairly straightforward, offering more or less the same basic functions as almost all other luggage. The materials can change a bit, and the zippers and handles as well, but the compartments and layout remain essentially unchanged. Every now and then, we see something that’s truly different- like the excellent Zuca that we reviewed years ago, a bag that offers individual compartments for packing, and offers a built-in seat.
The Genius Packer goes further- not only including a cute removable toiletry kit, but adding a host of others. There’s the “laundry chute”, the air valve for compression, and the removable bag for laundry. There’s a cute dedicated umbrella pocket, another for your water bottle, and a nice front-facing pocket that includes space for your phone, some valuables, and their special backup battery. In fact, this is a rare bag, one with accessories like a speaker, the special umbrella, and the custom battery… that are purchased separately. If you already have those items, yours might or might not fit the pockets, and their prices for the extras are high but not excessive ($28 for the speaker or the battery charging system for instance). Most water bottles won’t fit that pocket, we found. But we received the battery kit, and it worked perfectly fine.
Unfortunately, the bag looks boring- it’s plain black looks won’t attract any attention, but don’t do much to distinguish it either. The wheels are acceptable- we didn’t have any issues- but don’t roll as easily as some that we’ve seen. The same goes for the materials and build quality- good, solid zippers and handles are nice but not luxurious or even all that notable. We’ve seen more ergonomic designs, and at 8.6 pounds, it’s fairly hefty. The permanent checklist (on the toiletry kit) is handy, but the issue with compartments is that different people have different needs- it was excessive for one person (a guy with just a toothbrush and toothpaste), and didn’t have enough room for another (a woman who needed extra space for cosmetics and more). The best and most useful feature is probably the built-in roll-up space for dirty laundry- handy, if a little awkward to remove at the end of the trip. We also liked the unusual extendable strap for securing coats or other light items to the top of the bag, but warning- it can catch on things.
Overall, the Genius Packer tries quite a few new things, might be a good fit for the business traveler who wants some interesting features rather than style. It’s priced competitively as well, running under $200 for a full-sized wheelie carry-on, available now.