It's easy to forget, however, that Away launched a line of softside luggage called The Expandables in 2019 that looked quite similar to the newly unveiled Softside collection. It's hard to understand why the company's original attempt at softside bags stalled before then.

In a recent RollingStone article about the new Softside collection and Afar, Away representatives explained that the original The Expandables collection was a limited edition, from which the company then used consumer insights for the new launch. And that may well be true. It's just odd that our coverage of the launch in 2019 and other media outlets' reports at the time didn't mention any details about limited editions.

Given that Away's first soft bags launched in October 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic brought global travel to a halt, it's also plausible that the brand's original visions for the category simply fell victim to bad timing.

Whatever the reasons for the restart, now seems like a good time, with industry analysis from firms like McKinsey & Company predicting that travel will return to year-on-year growth in 2024.


The Softside collection has many of the great features of Away's hardshell line, but does not open like a clamshell.

Like the hardside bag we've been calling the best carry-on bag around for years, the new Softside collection features a compression pad, telescoping handle, 360-degree wheels, and a drawstring laundry bag. It's also available in the same size options as its hardside cousin.

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