Why this is the only carry-on bag you’ll ever need

Do you remember that scene in Mary Poppins when she arrives at the Banks household and starts to unpack her bag? First she pulls out a hatstand from her large carpet bag, followed by a tall mirror, a houseplant and then a tall standing floor lamp. Well, like many an over-packer, I’ve always wanted one of these bottomless bags and, finally, I think I might have found one.


Thule: the best carry on bag
The Thule Subterra Carry-on


Although I consider myself good at packing (I can fit a lot into any given bag), I’m not a particularly light packer. As a family who spent 12 years living overseas, we always travelled with myriad bags and wondered, incredulously, at those fellow family travellers who only needed one trolley at the airport baggage claim.



Thule Carry-On Bag

However, since moving back to England, we’ve had to up our game. With Europe on our doorstep and endless cheap flights on offer, we’re keen to explore as much of the continent as possible. But, as you undoubtedly know, those cheap flights come with lots of caveats; yes, you might be able to fly from London to Barcelona for £12 but you will be sitting by the toilets at the back of the plane with only a poncho and your wallet to keep you warm over the weekend. You can still keep flights cheap if you travel with just hand luggage, but they become pricey if you start adding checked luggage. What this has meant for us, is that we’ve had to become a carry-on only family. Packing for a family of five using only cabin-approved luggage has not been without its challenges but we are getting there, particularly now that I’ve found my Mary Poppins bag.


Thule: the best carry on bag
The carry-on is divided in two with a compression panel to help you squeeze more in!


I was recently contacted by Thule (pronounced “too-lee”), a Swedish company that make luggage, bags (including bags for snowboards and skis), trailers, pushchairs, roof boxes, bike racks and more, to see if I wanted to try out one of their bags. Now, my husband has been coveting Thule luggage for a while and is regularly sending me images of the pieces that he likes such as the Thule Subterra Luggage, which can work as one large piece of checked luggage or separate into two smaller carry-ons. So, I was familiar with the brand and very excited to try some of their stuff out. I opted for the Thule Subterra Carry-On and it arrived in good time for my trip to Southern Italy.


Thule: the best carry on bag
You need a stylish bag to travel to Italy!


I have to be honest and say that when it arrived, however, I did start to panic. The carry-on just looked really small (too small for an over-packer like me in any case!). It’s a neat and compact 55cm high two-wheel carry-on with a durable exoskeleton and moulded polycarbonate back panel. It looked very stylish, but it did make me think that I was going to have to go to Italy with little more than a swimsuit and a pair of flip flops.


Thule: the best carry on bag
Deceptively small!


When I started packing, however, I realised that there’s more to this bag than I initially thought. Thule’s USP is the clever compression panel; the main body of the case is divided in two allowing you to separate clean clothes from dirty, work from play etc.. and one side has a compression panel that allows you to pack more. I was honestly amazed with the amount of clothes, shoes and bags that I managed to fit into the Thule carry-on – I even managed to pack an extra outfit!


Thule: the best carry on bag
The Thule Subterra looking very much at home on the Amalfi Coast


In order to show just how much stuff I took with me in my Thule carry-on, here is my packing list:

  • 1 x running shoes
  • 2 x sandals
  • 5 x dresses
  • 5 x t-shirts
  • 1 x sportswear (leggings and a top)
  • 2 x small handbags
  • 1 x skirt
  • 1 x pyjamas
  • 1 x shorts
  • A small jewellery bag
  • My make-up bag


My husband has since used the bag for several work trips and has similarly commented on how roomy the case is.

What I also like about the Thule Subterra carry-on is that it looks good. I know that appearances aren’t everything but I really appreciate good design and this case is sleek and stylish. It also doesn’t weigh much (3.18kg), meaning that you don’t really have to worry about going over airline weight allowances. Finally, it moves effortlessly. We’ve previously owned carry-on cases that boasted about as much manoeuvrability as a temperamental supermarket trolley so it was a joy to wheel the Thule carry-on through Heathrow airport and onto Turin in Italy.


Thule: the best carry on bag
Another gratuitous Italy shot!


In short, this is a great carry-on option. In the spirit of transparency, I will say that Thule gifted me the Subterra Carry-On but I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own. I’ve road-tested enough backpacks, suitcases, carry-on bags and more over the years and I know when a company understands what a traveller needs. In this case, they’ve designed the perfect Mary Poppins bag for the 21st century.


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Thule: the best carry on bag

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