CalPak is a California brand that manufactures super stylish and unique luggage that stands out from the pack. They make everything – from hardshells to duffels, so you’ll be able to find the type of luggage you are looking for within their range.
But, as with all affordable luggage, quality is always a concern. And that’s what we’ll mostly be talking about in this review – the quality of certain products, and the overall value for money you get.
Obviously you can’t expect these to be as good as some high-end luggage, like Samsonite or Tumi. But are they good enough for the average traveller? Let’s find out together.
In this section we’ll check out a few of their regular suitcases, and a few luggage sets. The sets are a great choice if you’re in need of more than one suitcase, or are looking to get a present for someone. On the other hand, the individual items are awesome because they are really affordable, with some of them costing less than $40. Let’s take a look at them.
CalPak Medora Luggage Set
This CalPak luggage set includes two hardshell suitcases. You get a 19” carry on, and a 27” one that you would have to check at an airport. Both suitcases have expandable capacity, so you’ll be able to pack a little more items than you normally would in luggage of this size.
In addition to that, there are TSA locks and double spinner wheels on both of them, which are basically a must for a good hardshell suitcase. And generally when you look at the features, these are as good as any high-end piece of luggage. The wheel handle is a retractable telescopic handle, with a push button that allows you to lock it into position.
Inside the Medor suitcases you get two fully lined packing compartments. The top one is equipped with a full-width mesh divider, while the bottom compartment features a zippered panel with elastic and a small zippered pocket. Overall they are great suitcases – especially for the price.
In terms of colors, like all Calpaks, they are more on the feminine side. But in this case they only come in silver or pink, both with a sparkly sheen to them.
The Calpak Ambeur luggage range is one of their more popular models, which is not surprising as it's quite stylish. It comes in the usual carry-on, medium and large, as well as 2-piece and 3 piece sets.
It is made from a durable mix of ABS and polycarbonate materials which mean it will take what the airport luggage handlers can throw at it. Although it is quite shiny on the outside, which looks great but is always more likely to get scratched over time.
The overall design is quite standard for the industry with a main zipper that slots into a TSA-approved combination lock. It also has an expandable zipper which gives you 2 more inches should you need it.
On the inside you have the two main packing areas, one is secured with elastic straps, the other a zippered panel with extra zippered and elastic pockets for your smaller items.
CalPak Premium Jen Atkin
If you know the famous hair stylist Jen Atkin then this bold suitcase from Calpak won't surprise you at all. It comes in red, of course, but also black, gold and pink. All the colors Jen would approve of I am sure!
This premium case from Calpak has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a top model like this. Super smooth Japanese Hinomoto double spinner wheels. A durable Alimunium frame with a zipperless design to help keep your things super-secure via two strong TSA one-click locks. The corners are also protected with Aluminium guards, which is a great addition. Oh, and there is a protective cover with this model too!
The interior has a cool black nylon lining in each of the two sides of the main compartment. One side has a unique panel that clips on the side of the suitcase to keep things in place (usually most manufacturers will use elastic straps). The other side is fully sealed with a zipper. Both sides have extra zippered pockets to pack all those small items that just don't fit anywhere else.
Although I have only shown the Medium size here, it also comes in the usual Carry-on, Large and even a super-large Trunk variant.
CalPak Trnk Luggage Set
This is a retro Trunk style set from CalPak, and it includes either two or three pieces of luggage. The set features basic luggage sizes – a 20” carry on, and the larger, 25” and 29” suitcases. All of the TRNK suitcases are equipped with the same features and they all have expandable capacity of 2 inches.
Like most of their models, these CalPak suitcases have double spinner wheels, which is makes moving them around the airport a breeze! They also have telescopic wheel handles, side and top carry handles, and corner protection to keep your case going for years to come.
As with the majority of hardside cases it opens clamshell style with two packing compartments. One side secured with elastic straps, the other a fully zippered panel, that also has a zippered pocket on the front.
Currently only the grey is available, but Calpak also has this model in black and nude colors. You will have to check if they are available at the time you are reading this. Click here to see availability.
The Oh Joy! set is a stand-out addition to CalPak’s luggage collection with colors you will almost never get anywhere else. Who doesn't want to stand out while waiting to check-in at the airport!
This set includes a 19” carry on, a 25” medium suitcase, and a 26” large checked suitcase. Aside from the vibrant paint job on the outside, Calpak have also made the interior shine with color by adding super colorful stripes to the interior. The two packing sides are otherwise quite standard with elastic straps and a fully zippered panel and pockets.
All three suitcases have double spinner wheels and a retractable wheel handle, which makes them super easy to manoeuver. And they feature a TSA lock – a must-have if you often travel to the States.
Additionally, the capacity of all of these CalPak suitcases can be expended by two inches – perfect for all of you who bring back more things than they left with!
As with most Calpak luggage this comes in single (carry-on, medium & large) as well as 2 piece and 3 piece sets.
CalPak manufactures a few duffels, and we have to check out at least a few of them. Anyway, you can see my top picks below.
The Hue Duffel reminds me of the Away Everyday bag I had a while back. It brings a modern style to the weekend bag we all know and love. It comes in a few colors, Moss Green (above), Black, Hazel (brown) and Pink.
In terms of features it is quite simple, after all, it's a duffel. It comes with a 15" padded laptop sleeve on the inside. As well as a couple of other pockets on the inside and out. There is even a small hidden pocket between the handles, a detail I love in a travel bag. Calpak are all about style, so they have provided a matching removable zippered pouch, which is handy for storing your valuables while on the go.
This duffel also slides over the handle of your suitcase, so you can move it around the airport without having to lug it over your shoulder for hours.
The Stevyn Duffel bag is similar to the Hue above in that they are carry on duffel bags, but this one is a little larger and has more features. The biggest difference is the separate compartments - large main packing compartment and the bottom zippered shoe compartment. This is great for separating out things you don't want to get dirty from those that are.
Of course, it comes with the usual carry-all handles and shoulder strap, as well as the luggage sleeve for easy suitcase attachment. There are a few extra pockets on the inside, but nothing excessive.
Overall the materials used are high quality, so this is a bag that is going to last. It comes in similar colors to the Hue, black, moss green, hazel, pink and a patterned blue palm for those you like something funky!
But not regular backpacks. CalPak actually manufactures a fewstylish backpacks, which are a great option if you want your luggage to be practical to carry around. Let’s check out a couple of those.
CalPak Kaya Laptop Backpack
This CalPak backpack is the perfect size for a carry on. And it is designed for those who like to have their electronics while on the go. It has a smart design with two zippered sides that open completely. One for your 15" laptop and other tech, the other for everything else.
The laptop compartment is also padded and has a strap to secure it in place. And the other main packing area also has a few pockets to help keep you organised.
In terms of straps, there is a top carry handle, two slim leather shoulder straps and a luggage sleeve to slide it over your suitcase handle while on the go.
Calpak have also gone Vegan with this model using faux-leather instead of the real thing. There is also a wide selection of 8 colors, to help you mix and match with your other luggage.
CalPak Glenroe Backpack
Another simple yet stylish backpack from Calpak is the Glenroe. It has the simple backpack design that was perhaps made famous by the likes of Fjallraven with their Kanken. Although, with quite a few interior pockets, this pack is a little easier to organise with.
It comes with both a 15" laptop sleeve and a 10" tablet one. There are also lots of pockets inside the front pocket, so you can organise all your small stuff like pens, notes, cards, phone, cables etc.
There are the usual straps for the shoulders, a simple carry handle at the top, and of course a luggage strap to slide it sideways on your case while you are traveling.
All in all a simple, stylish backpack for everyday or travel, that also comes in 6 unique Calpak-style colors.
CalPak Luggage: What Are Your Top Options?
Since we checked out quite a few different types of luggage, I’ll try to show you my favorites from each of the section. Let’ start with the suitcases.
I think that the Ambeur luggage is the best value for money you can get. And they are hardshells, so they’re perfect for air travel. But what’s really important about these are the spinner wheels, TSA lock and the two spacious packing compartments. If you need to freshen up your luggage collection, this CalPak set is the way to go.
The Medora Luggage set are another decent option if you want most of the features and don't want to spend a fortune.
Or maybe you’re looking to get a duffel bag. In that case, I have to recommend the Hue duffel. It is an simple weekend bag style piece of luggage, with enough pockets for your small items and laptop. Calpak also make sure these bags are high quality so you know it is going to last.
Their backpacks are also simple and stylish, with the Glenroe being the most obvious choice for a day pack or carry on.
What To Look For
Type Of Luggage
CalPak manufactures lots of different types of luggage – suitcases, backpacks, duffels, overnighters and a few others. We’ll focus on suitcases, backpacks and duffel bags in this review, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re in the right place!
But if you’re not sure what the right choice for you is, let me help.
I would generally recommend suitcases for people who tend to go on longer trips. Anything longer than a week requires a suitcase, at least in my experience.
For air travel, I suggest getting a hardshell suitcase. They are much more durable than softshells, and handle being thrown around a lot better. And considering just how “gentle” baggage handlers can be, you will want a really durable suitcase – especially if you must check it.
And for carry ons, you can go either way. I would still recommend a hardside, because there’s always a chance that you will be among the last people to board the plane, and there won’t be any space left for your suitcase. Then you’re forced to check it, even if it’s just a 19” one. Getting a hardside carry on is the safer option.
CalPak duffel bags are a great option if you often take the train or drive places. There’s several really good options, including wheeled duffels! You get all the convenience of a suitcase, but with lots of more pockets. That’s one aspect where duffel bags are usually the better choice – they are better for organizing your stuff.
Duffels are also good as carry ons, as long as you are getting a smaller one. They can usually fit under your seat easily, so you are basically guaranteed that you won’t need to check your bag. And since they are made from fabric, you can always force them to fit under the seat! :>
I will also show you a couple of rolling backpacks from CalPak. These are another decent option for travel, especially if you are travelling with a lot of tools or equipment. They have multiple compartments and pockets, as well as organizer panels, that allow you to organize everything down to the last detail.
However, I would not recommend their packs for everyday use, since they weren’t built for it. Meaning that you will notice the wear and tear sooner rather than later, especially with the wheels. And if you are looking specifically for an everyday backpack, check out a post I did a while back – there’s lots of great and affordable options!
A Set Or A Single Suitcase?
CalPak does both single suitcases and luggage sets. The latter is actually a little more common, but I will show you both types.
So, should you get a single suitcase, or splurge and go for a set?
I’d say it mostly depends on your existing luggage collection – if you have 5 different suitcases, I really don’t think you need an entire set. But if your suitcase collection is rather scarce, then getting a set could be really beneficial.
You’ll be set for luggage for the next few years, and for the price of an average Samsonite!
I generally prefer sets because they are better value for money. Plus, you can always give one of the suitcases away as a present, or sell it for profit, if it turns out you don’t need it. And if you often travel with your partner, you can both match!