Even in rolling mode, the Contrail is built for the road. It sits a full inch higher than most rolling luggage we’ve looked at, so if you’re pulling it over gravel or cobblestones, you won’t scrape the bottom. There are grab handles on the top and side for lugging it to places where wheels aren’t much use. And at 5.9 pounds, it’s much lighter than most other carry-on bags on the market. (Compare, for example, with the excellent TLS from eBags, which is 7.1 pounds.)
Our favorite parts are the lightweight pouches, made from thin, ripstop tent-like material that detach from the unit. One pouch tames folded dress shirts, socks, and underwear, and then snaps inside the main bag when you’re on the road. The other pouch is made to hold wet and dirty clothes, and hangs in the hotel closet until you’re ready to approach with due caution.
The bag held up well in our cross-country travels, and its 46-liter capacity held a lot of gear. We were only disappointed by the way the body stayed so rigid that we couldn’t pack it flat when empty. We were also surprised that, unlike many 2013 luggage options, the bag doesn’t have padded pockets to hold electronics such as a camera, tablet, or laptop. But Osprey addresses those shortcomings with a compatible backpack, reviewed after the jump. ($299)