The Monos Hybrid Carry-on is a small hard case that combines aluminum and polycarbonate to provide a sturdy and lightweight solution for the discerning traveler. It's a solution that works very well in providing enough protection for your belongings without adding weight and it does so while looking fantastic.
There is no shortage of stylish carry-on luggage or suitcases out there, nor is there a shortage of lightweight functional offerings. A case that offers both style and functionality is rarer though, without paying through the nose. Priced at $325 (roughly £260 / AU$460) this Monos is more affordable than some of the big names but by no means cheap. The payoff is that it looks every penny of that price, if not more.
I tested the Monos on a few business trips around the US and one longer holiday, using it as my main carry-on bag. It's not quite my perfect cabin bag but this 22in case will easily fit enough for a couple of nights away. If you want to know more about how we review products, take a read of our how we test (opens in new tab) page.
Monos Hybrid carry-on review: price and availability
The Monos Hybrid Carry-on launched in 2021 and is available exclusively from the Monos website (opens in new tab). Priced at $325 (roughly £260 / AU$460) its considered a mid-priced case though there are occasionally discounts available, especially if you're looking to buy a set.
There's also a large Hybrid Carry-on Plus that is one inch longer and wider (and half an inch deeper) if you need a little more space that sells for $345.
Monos Hybrid carry-on review: features and design
The hybrid element of this case is the mix of aluminum and polycarbonate that is designed to make it light yet strong. The skin of the case is polycarbonate while important parts like the seal and the frame is aluminum. There are also scuff pads on the top edges. This means the whole thing weighs just 8.5lbs (3.85kg) which is next to nothing for a case that is 22x14x9 inches (55.8x35.6x22.9cm).
The model I tested was finished in a champagne color, which gives it a unique look among other cases that I really liked. You can also get it in a silver or black finish if you like. The problem with lighter-colored cases is that they are more likely to show up any scuffs and scratches. The case does come packed in a drawstring bag and comes with an eraser if you want to keep it immaculate.
There's a slight industrial nod in the ribbed design but its subtle and overall the case just looks very high class. I wheeled it into some posh hotels in New York and never once felt underdressed. There's everything you need on the outside, including two TSA-approved combination locks that double as closing clips, top and side carry handles and an extending handle with four positions.
The handle is smooth to extend and solid when locked in place. Not that it needs to be particularly strong on a bag this size, but you could easily use it to lift the case. It does also come with a leatherette luggage label holder, which is a nice touch, though this was black rather than color-matched to the bag.
Inside, there are plenty of packing aids. The top section has a zipped cover, with a full-length netted material pocket on the front. The main section has a full-size removable pouch with two zips for a netted pocket. This is attached to large compression straps, allowing you to completely flatten anything placed underneath it. This is actually pretty effective compared to just using straps though requires some organized packing. It also comes with a series of small packing bags for shoes and accessories. If you are fastidious about your packing, you'll love the organization options here.
Monos Hybrid carry-on review: in use
Though I do normally travel with a 22-inch carry-on, my go-to is a soft-sided case. Side by side, there's not much between them but I found I could fit considerably less in the Monos Hybrid. The internal dimensions are just 19.5 x 12.5 inches and due to the extended carry handle, the depth in the main section goes from 4.5 inches to less than 3 inches in places. So while I can usually make do for a week with my regular bag, any more than a couple of nights is a struggle with this – unless you're a savvy packer, which clearly, I'm not.
When it comes to airline carry bins, this case is small enough to fit in, even on the small commuter jets. In that respect, it's a safe bet if you don't know what you're going to be flying on without risking having to check the bag.
Being a hard case, there's no extendable section on offer here and the clasps need a tight close to be able to operate. This isn't a bag to overfill, at least not without using those compression straps to their full effect.
Though I haven't had to check the bag on any of my trips, I have noticed a few scratches to the back of the case that are too engrained to rub out. They're not obvious from a distance though and I feel add a bit of character to the case.
Monos Hybrid carry-on review: verdict
The Monos Hybrid is a beautiful carry-on case that is perfect for those that travel light and are heading somewhere fancy. Business trips on small planes, weekends away, and luxury yachts are all catered for with this case. It's lightweight and well made but if you pick the light color it will take some care not to scratch it.
For an extra $20, I'd be tempted to opt for the larger Hybrid Carry-on Plus, as that extra inch in each direction shouldn't exceed most cabin restrictions but it will really help with internal space. For now though, this bag is teaching me to pack more effectively, which is no bad thing.
Monos Hybrid carry-on review: also consider
Monos also offers its standard Carry-On model which is the same size as the Hybrid and costs nearly $100 less. It's still made of polycarbonate but it doesn't have the aluminum frame, so while it's likely to be not quite as sturdy, it's even lighter at 7lbs.
Samsonite's Cosmolite costs a little more than the Hybrid but weighs in at just 3.7lbs (1.7kg). There's plenty of space inside and comes in either a reserved black or bright red finish.
For something a little more affordable, the Samsonite Freeform 21-inch spinner is just $149 right now.