UPDATE - Thule Subterra 22” Carry-On

As you can read here, a few months ago I received Thule's new 22” Subterra carry-on case to replace my old Millican Holdall as I wanted something more secure and easier to manage on flights.  During that first review I waffled on about how cool and practical the Subterra was, even though I hadn’t actually used it, but now I have, many times, so what’s is it like?


I looked forward to packing for our first overnight foray more than I really should have.  In the main compartment I put a couple of shirts, a pair of trousers, sturdy boots and underwear, they all seemed to be lost inside.  After I used the compression board to, well, compress everything,  I placed Peter the Washbag, my Pentax K3-11 and various lenses in the other side, pretty straight forward really.

Our first flight together was from Manchester to Heathrow, then Farnborough to Tuscany with Kia.  In Italy, as you can imagine, I had no use for a coat, but in the UK I did.  For this I found the compression board incredibly useful.  Once I’d compressed my shirts, trousers, etc into place, I had a good 3” of room left in which I folded my Barbour jacket.  This kept my clothes aways from the jacket's waxy finish, and when I returned to blighty, I unzipped the Subterra half way, grabbed the coat and nothing fell out.

When I'm travelling by plane I like to have access to my MacBook Pro, and this is where Thule's piggyback strap attachment loop comes into play as it allows an additional bag to be hooked onto the Subterra, but I'll talk about that later on.  


I’ve found the Subterra very agile, from loading and removing from overhead lockers to dragging it out of a boot of a car, the 3-handles work well, no matter how heavy the contents or how hard I’ve tugged.

Size matters!  With dimensions of 20 x 35 x 55cm and weighing in at 3.18kg with a 36ltr capacity, it might be the smallest case in the range but it's like the TARDIS inside, but more importantly, it fits the size requirements for most airlines, from Flybe to British Airways.

A shout out has to go to the over-sized wheels, they work remarkably well on all surfaces, including gravel and small stones.  They’re quiet too and roll well without any drag or roll resistance - which is handy when you’re knackered after a long flight and you’re dragging most of your wardrobe behind you!

In a similar vein, the V-Tubing telescoping handles are light and sturdy and offers complete control when manoeuvring the carry-on around. There is also a base at the bottom to help it stand upright when not moving.


I may have only had it a few months, but it’s taken a bit of a beating, some accidental, some on purpose and it’s almost been driven over (don’t ask). Thule say that it’s design absorbs the impact of travel due to the durable exoskeleton and moulded polycarbonate back panel, all I know is that it hasn’t deformed and nothings ever been damaged.

I initially opted for a carry-on because I didn’t want my gear going into the hold of a plane, but on more that one occasion the plane has been full to capacity and the cabin crew have insisted that all luggage needed to go in the hold.  On each occasion it has emerged on the conveyor belt a little dirtier than when it went in, but otherwise unscathed.


As you will have gleaned from above, I love it.  Not only is it tough and hardwearing, but it’s smart and doesn’t look out of place at 5-star hotels.

When it first arrived I only had one criticism, and that was, unlike its bigger and more expensive sibling, the Crossover, it doesn’t have an outside pocket in which to store a laptop.  After using the Subterra quite a bit, I’m now glad it doesn’t as the Subterra MacBook Attaché case has proved to be the better option, for me at least, and you can read my review on the Attaché here.

I pride myself in writing honest reviews as there’s no point in telling fibs about products, but sometimes they can come across as glorified marketing blurb with pretty pictures.  However, in the case of the Subterra carry-on I honestly couldn’t have wished for, nor designed a better carry-on for my needs, the Subterra has been spot on and the design of the compression board is simply ingenious giving you the opportunity to not only to pack more clothes, but to keep them in place and separate from other items.

As the saying goes, there's no rest for the wicked, and the Subterra is packed again ready for another couple of days away on yet another launch, then next week it's a short flight from Manchester to Inverness with Mazda - it's a good job it's a Thule!

Where to buy:  Thule, Amazon & various retailers

Price: RRP £215