Summary: As avid travelers (70+ passport stamps combined!), my husband and I put Monos and Quince suitcases (and packing cubes) to the test on a three-week trip to Turkey and Morocco. Both bags exceeded our expectations across eight flights. The packing cubes kept us organized and allowed us to travel light while still feeling like we had everything we needed. 

Pros

  • Monos and Quince’s luggage collections are made with recycled and sustainable materials. Both are thoughtfully designed for longevity — consider it the last suitcase you will ever need to purchase! 
  • Monos packing cubes come in options of four and six. They are designed to fit your Monos suitcase, and we love their anti-microbial fabric. 
  • Both offer lifetime warranties to fix or replace anything that breaks. Monos provides a 100-day trial so that you can test the suitcase first. 

Cons

  • Monos is the more expensive brand (Carry On starts at $250). Quince is more affordable and offers the same chic design for around $100.  
  • Quince packing cubes come in one option: Six. We found we didn’t need all six and would have liked the option to purchase fewer. 

Fun fact about me: I’ve been to over 30 countries in the past two decades. I love to travel — so much so that I even convinced my husband to move to Europe for a few years in our 20s. Somehow, we managed with just a few suitcases and our backpacks. 

I’m not perfect at it, but I do consider myself something of a strategic packer. During those years abroad on a grad student budget, weekend trips meant flying on small European airliners with expensive check-in fees — I learned how to make a carry-on suitcase work to its full potential, even for longer vacations. (The trick is in the packing cubes!) 

“Despite my many years of traveling, though, I’ve never been able to find a suitcase that checks all the boxes.”

Despite my many years of traveling, though, I’ve never been able to find a suitcase that checks all the boxes. Either the exterior is flimsy and dents too easily, or the zipper gets stuck and eventually breaks. Even worse, the wheels give out — and there’s truly nothing like having to literally drag your bag through a city because the wheels refuse to work. 

I’ve generally preferred traveling with a backpacking bag for ease and mobility (shout out to Osprey), though the hunt for a functional, durable, and, dare I say, aesthetically pleasing carry-on suitcase has remained. That’s why when I discovered Monos’ and Quince’s luggage collections (oh, the joy of algorithms), I knew they’d be the perfect brands to test on an international trip this spring.


The suitcases & packing cubes we tested

Because I don’t need two suitcases, I looped my husband in for this review. Here are the bags we tested for a three-week trip to Turkey and Morocco: 

Monos

Carry-On Pro Plus | $315
Compression Cubes | $90
Luggage Cover | $45

I chose the Carry-On Pro Plus (color: desert taupe) because of the front pocket for my Kindle and laptop (this feature is available for their carry-on and carry-on plus bags). The Carry-On Pro is also slightly bigger than the Carry-On; exterior dimensions are 23″ × 15″ × 9.5″. This means the bag will work as a carry-on for most major airlines (but not some European budget ones). I was excited to put that to the test. I also tested a four-set of compression packing cubes (color: tan) and a luggage cover.

Quince

Check-In Hardshell | $180
Compression Cubes | $50

I’ve long loved Quince for affordable clothing basics, and their luggage collection looks just as dreamy (and affordable!). My husband chose the 24” Check-In Hardshell (color: navy) so we could test the durability over the course of eight international and domestic flights. My husband also tested a set of six eco-packing cubes (color: black).


Unboxing the suitcases

Mail day is always a favorite day, especially when receiving luggage. Both Monos and Quince arrived in branded cardboard boxes, alongside the packing cubes in plastic bags and two scuff-mark erasers. My Monos carry-on also came with a leather luggage tag; the Quince bag did not. 

You can see from the photos that both brands look fairly similar in their packaging materials and overall design. Both looked and felt expensive when we unboxed them. As we gave them both a spin and opened them up, neither of us could tell that one was about $100 cheaper. 

“As we gave them both a spin and opened them up, neither of us could tell that one was about $100 cheaper.”

Similarly, the packing cubes for both brands appeared sleek and well-designed. The materials felt similar (both have mesh tops and compression zippers). Monos’ packing cubes are made of an antimicrobial fabric with 100% recycled polyester (the same as the interior for the luggage lining). In comparison, Quince’s packing cubes are 100% premium water-resistant recycled nylon. According to the brand, each set is made from 61 recycled plastic bottles.


Packing

Let’s get to the fun stuff! How did the packing cubes and suitcases fare when it came time to actually fit three weeks’ worth of clothing, shoes, and toiletries (while leaving space for souvenirs!)?  

Monos: 

I’ll start with my packing list, which included the following: 

“How did the packing cubes and suitcases fare when it came time to actually fit three weeks’ worth of clothing, shoes, and toiletries (while leaving space for souvenirs!)?”

  • Linen pants x 2
  • Jean shorts x 2 
  • Floral skirt x 1
  • White tanktop x 2 
  • White t-shirt x 2
  • Button up crop tops x 2
  • Linen long sleeves x 2
  • Sleep pants + sweatshirt x 1
  • Slide sandals x 1
  • Clogs x 1
  • Underwear x 7 
  • Bralettes x 3
  • Swimsuit x 2
  • Hat x 1
  • Fanny pack x 1

On the plane, I wore joggers with my sneakers, a basic tee, and my jean jacket. I also brought this small hanging toiletry bag, which was a game changer for organizing makeup, skincare, and vitamins. Other items for the front pocket: kindle, laptop, chargers, airpods, and sleep mask. 

At first attempt, I wasn’t sure I would be able to fit everything in the bag, but I have to say, the compression cubes are very deceiving! Once I had all of my clothes rolled up tight and packed into the cubes, compressing them down was simple, and I immediately saw how I was going to be able to pack everything easily. While I didn’t have any excess room for souvenirs, I trusted my husband’s suitcase might have some extra space. 😉

Quince: 

While I’m not one for stereotyping genders, my husband is very much a boy’s boy when it comes to packing — if it were up to him, he’d have done this trip with a small backpack and a change of underwear. That said, I think he’s happy he decided to pack a bit more for our three weeks away, and Quince’s suitcase and packing cubes definitely helped. Here was his list: 

“I think he’s happy he decided to pack a bit more for our three weeks away, and Quince’s suitcase and packing cubes definitely helped.”

  • Shorts x 2
  • Jeans/pants x 2 
  • Sweatshirt x 1
  • Jean jacket x 1
  • Tee shirts x 4
  • Button up shirt x 2
  • Boxers x 5
  • Swim trunks x 2
  • Sleep shorts x 1
  • Hat x 1 
  • Slides x 1 
  • Sneakers x 1 

Because he had excess space — he only needed four of the six packing cubes to fit all of his clothes — he also packed our film camera and (on the way home) a few small souvenirs we purchased.


How they fared during the first flight

Our first flight was from Los Angeles to Istanbul, and we had a short layover in Chicago. For this flight, my husband checked his bag, and I put the Monos carry-on to the test. We flew United for our domestic leg, then Turkish Airlines. 

“The bag was easy to maneuver through the crowds, and the ergonomic handle made it easy to glide without much effort.”

According to the Monos website, the Carry-On Plus Pro is not compatible with Turkish Airlines’ carry-on bag limit (9 x 15.7 x 21.6 inches), but I didn’t have a problem carrying it on either flight or fitting it into the overhead bin. We also had to walk quickly from our gate in Chicago to board our flight to Istanbul — our layover was about 40 minutes. The bag was easy to maneuver through the crowds, and the ergonomic handle made it easy to glide without much effort. First test: Pass. 

Once in Istanbul, we picked up my husband’s bag off the carousel, and we were impressed to see minimal scuffing after its first ride in the undercarriage. The real test, though, was once we arrived in the city center and walked a half mile to our hotel. The walk was uphill and through a few alleyways, which were mostly cobblestone. Both bags did great. Despite the uneven pavement, which was also muddy and wet from rain, it was easy to roll them, and a quick wipe-down at the hotel proved that the exterior shells could withstand the elements.


Traveling for three weeks with the suitcases 

Throughout our trip, we took eight flights (many small-budget airlines), a cross-country train, and a few Ubers. We also rented a car for a few days in southern Turkey and got to test out the luggage in our trunk — they fit beautifully. 

For the budget flights, I was also able to test Monos as a check-in bag, and I have to say, the luggage cover was absolutely necessary. I will never travel without one again — no matter the color of my bag. It was completely destroyed and disgusting after each flight, yet it kept the exterior of my suitcase in pristine condition. 

“The luggage cover was absolutely necessary. I will never travel without one again … It was completely destroyed and disgusting after each flight, yet it kept the exterior of my suitcase in pristine condition.”

Another thing I will always travel with is compression cubes. These are a game changer. I’ve always been a huge fan of traveling lightly, but these only solidified my love for packing as lightly and strategically as possible, even on a longer trip. They also made organizing and unpacking/repacking seamless. Because we traveled around a lot and never stayed in one place for more than two nights, we lived out of our suitcases. The Monos and Quince packing cubes helped with organization and made the re-packing process after each city much more efficient.


Our conclusion

The real question: Which suitcase is better — Monos or Quince? I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t actually decide! Both bags are exceptionally made and stood up to our eight flights, lots of cobblestone streets and dusty alleyways, busy train stations, and even pigeon poop (yes, really). If I were shopping on a budget, Quince would definitely be my go-to choice for a bag that checks all the boxes. It looks chic and I’m confident it will last for years. 

“Both bags are exceptionally made and stood up to our eight flights, lots of cobblestone streets and dusty alleyways, busy train stations, and even pigeon poop (yes, really).”

Part of me is partial to Monos, though, mainly for the exterior pocket that I can use for my laptop and other essentials. I also am a bit partial to the design and branding — Monos feels a bit more expensive and I’m confident I will have this suitcase for decades. I’ve already used it for a few weekend trips at home and am quite attached to the packing cubes.

As for logistics: Both brands back their luggage with a lifetime warranty, and Monos offers a 100-day trial. Both have a TSA-approved combination lock, exterior hard shells, water-resistant lining, YKK zippers, and 360° spinner wheels. Both brands offer free shipping, and both Quince and Monos use recycled and sustainable materials, as well as guarantee ethical production. You can read more about Monos’ commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing here, and Quince’s commitments here.

My husband and I agree that either of these luggage options is a good choice. We’ll both be using our Monos and Quince bags (and packing cubes) for many more trips to come.


Kayti Christian is a Contributing Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.