I received the Antler Juno 2 suitcase for free from Antler to review and test out, but all opinions are my own and I only recommend what I truly love. So here we go, my review of the Antler Juno 2!
When I first started travelling I was super excited to go backpacking, like a proper traveller I thought. I carefully picked out the perfect backpack (it was pink, naturally) and absolutely adored travelling with it for the first few years. But then I started working online and travelling as a nomad. My travel style was changing and so were my luggage needs.
I retired my backpack with a heavy heart (at least until the next backpacking adventure) and switched to my big green Antler suitcase with two wheels, it’s been in our family for 20 years I think. I was thrilled to have more space and wheels, so I wasn’t breaking my back carrying all my worldly belongings around with me, which now included my electronics and home office.
However, it turns out that if you have the space, you fill it up. I started lugging around more and more – my suitcase, a backpack with electronics, my yoga mat, then my hula hoop. Every time I travelled, it literally looked like the travelling circus was arriving.
Then, after hopping around Europe this summer, I’d finally had it. After an excruciating trip from Barcelona to Sofia that involved queuing 2.5 hours to drop our bags despite having paid for speedy check-in, I decided enough was enough. I’d long admired those smug carry-on-only travellers whizzing about the airport while us mere mortals had to stand in line to drop and pick up our bags.
I decided it was time to become one of them!
Going Carry-On Only
Of course, as a former scientist, I had to research the pros and cons of all available options – backpack vs. suitcase, softshell vs. hardshell – and after a lot of research and consulting the DNG community I decided a cabin-sized hardshell suitcase was just what I wanted.
So, you can imagine how delighted and excited I was when the lovely people at Antler asked me to try out and review their new Juno 2 suitcase range? Uhm, did I? Yes, please! I even got to pick my own colour!
Naturally, I picked the pink version, which is a similar shade to DNG pink, and a couple of days later two shiny new Juno 2 suitcases arrived from Antler, one cabin-size and one medium-size.
As my old Antler suitcase has been in the family for nearly 20 years, I was confident the quality would be great. After all, as a digital nomad girl, my suitcase is kind of like my portable home, so it has to be sturdy.
If you missed me testing the suitcases on my Instagram story, you can still watch it in my story highlights here.
So firstly, let’s talk specs. After researching suitcases for the last 2 months, I became a bit of a geek on the subject (my boyfriend gets annoyed when I comment on everyone’s suitcases at the airport, quoting stats and brands. That’s normal right?).
Here are the specs of my two new suitcases:
- Size: 55x40x20 (cm)
- Weight: 2.4 kg
- Volume: 39 litres
- Wheels: 4 double spinner wheels
- Lock: TSA approved lock
- Size: 68 x 46 x 27 (cm)
- Weight: 3.1kg
- Volume: 77 litres
- Wheels: 4 double spinner wheels
- Lock: TSA approved lock
There’s also a large-sized version, but I think I’d have to be moving my entire family across the globe to ever need that much space. On the other hand, it would be great for fashion bloggers or shopaholics, or for a couple to share.
Pleasingly, the suitcases fit neatly inside each other, like little Russian dolls. This makes it so convenient to store them when you’re not travelling. They also have top and side handles that make carrying and loading/unloading so much easier.
I was dead set on going carry-on only for my six-week trip to Colombia, so I had to make sure the cabin-sized Juno 2 had the right dimensions. Thankfully, it complies with international and even European carry-on dimensions (which are stricter). The stated dimensions include the wheels and handle, so you can definitely take it onboard most airlines.
Many airlines have weight restrictions on cabin luggage, so it helps that the Juno 2 only weighs 2.4 kg – I can literally lift it with my pinky.
But for me, the most delightful feature is having four wheels. I’d never had a four-wheeled case before and I was a little sceptical about whether it would make much difference.
Trust me, it does.
My mother-in-law literally caught my boyfriend and me spinning our suitcases through her kitchen, amazed how smoothly they were gliding across the wooden floor (that’s also normal, right?). I also love that the wheels are colour coordinated with the shell, so mine are pink. It’s those little details that make the difference.
The hard shell is made of polypropylene, which is super strong but also a little flexible. Having never used a hardshell before, I wasn’t sure how it would feel to pack, so I was super happy to find that it had a little give and wasn’t totally rigid.
For me, there was no question about the colour – pink forever – but for those of you who appreciate other shades, the Juno 2 also comes in black, white, turquoise, orange and purple. There’s definitely a colour for everyone.
Let’s open it up…
I’ll be writing a separate blog post on what and how I pack my suitcase as a digital nomad, so I’ll just give you the quick rundown here. The interior of the Juno 2 is lined with a medium-grey sturdy fabric.
I love that the stitching and other details are colour coordinated with the exterior, so mine are pink. It’s also great that the interior is light and not black like most other suitcases, making it easier to pack and find everything, even when it’s dark.
The cool thing about hard shell suitcases is that they have a sort of clamshell design with two separate halves, which can really help keep your belongings organised and separate. In the Juno 2, one half has a zipped cover and the other has an elastic cross strap that keeps everything in place.
Will it all fit?
Having never packed like this, I was a little nervous about fitting everything in, especially as I usually use packing cubes. I decided to pack all my clothes in the zipped side and then arrange all my other bits and bobs, like shoes, toiletries, raincoat, a sarong, etc. in the other side.
Initially, I was a little sad because I thought I’d have to leave my foldable travel yoga mat behind, but to my surprise, I managed to fit it between the two clamshell halves and still got the suitcase to zip shut – yay! No more travelling circus!
I experimented quite a lot with different ways of packing my clothes into the zipped half. Ok, so I may have done a dozen different trial packs – I get a little obsessed when it comes to packing.
In the end, what worked best was roll-folding my clothes (yes that’s a thing, watch Mari Kondo fold in this style here) and using the zipped side as a giant packing cube. I only used one actual packing cube for my underwear, socks, bra, and swimwear, which also fit into the zipped side with the clothes.
I managed to neatly fit two pairs of shoes, toiletries, a makeup bag, a first aid kit, an umbrella, a sarong, a tote bag, two jackets, and a fleece into the other side, so it’s definitely roomy.
The Test Drive
My suitcases arrived just in time for me to use them on my trip to Colombia for the 7in7 conference. With a heavy heart, I left the medium-sized case behind so I could test my credentials as a carry-on traveller (although I almost changed my mind at the last minute so I could buy more colourful handbags in Colombia).
I will probably take it with me to Thailand next month, and use it as my go-to suitcase for wintry or colder trips in future when I need that extra space for warm clothes.
So off we went on our 54 hour trip from Wiltshire, England to Medellin, Colombia!
I packed and zipped up my cabin-sized Juno II and my regular small backpack that I use to carry my electronics and for day trips when travelling. For the first time in forever, I didn’t feel like a pack mule with extra bags dangling around and weighing me down.
The first hurdle came at the village train station in the UK on our way to London Paddington. Most small stations in England don’t have lifts, so I had to carry my suitcase up and down over the tracks. In the past, my boyfriend would’ve had to help me because my suitcase was too heavy for me to lift, but this time I was so thrilled to be carrying everything myself (#girlpower).
Once on the train, my suitcase even fit in the overhead storage for the first time, so I didn’t need to leave it in the luggage section at the end of the carriage and feel paranoid that it would get stolen while I wasn’t looking.
The Cobblestone Test
We stopped over in London for a few hours to eat some noodles run some important errands and travelling halfway across London with the small 4-wheeled case instead of lugging a giant suitcase or backpack made such a big difference.
In the past, I would’ve been a sweaty mess, dragging my luggage up and down the tube escalators, but this time it was actually fun. We even got to test the wheels on the cobbled streets, which were super sturdy and tackled the terrain without problems or damage.
Once at Heathrow, it felt amazing to go straight through security without having to queue for ages just to drop our bags. We had a lot of time to kill at Heathrow, so I spent hours whizzing my Antler around the shops and cafes. Having the four 360 degree wheels is a serious game changer, as they just glide really easily alongside you and you don’t have to use any energy pulling or carrying your stuff.
Even after our flight was delayed and then cancelled at 2 am (#nomadstruggles), we felt a little smug (ok super smug) because we didn’t have to wait for our luggage to come back off the plane and we got to skip the line for the bus to the hotel. Carry-on for the win!
All in all, I’ve absolutely loved going carry-on only, but there are a bunch of other reasons that I love my little Antler Juno 2.
Here’s a quick summary of why I adore my Juno 2:
- It’s beautiful – yeah I know, I know, it’s not all about looks, but if you spend as much time travelling and packing as I do, it’s really important to have a suitcase you love. I’m delighted that I finally have a beautiful pink suitcase that makes me happy to look at and fits my brand.
- It’s amazing quality – I already knew that Antler make quality luggage, and the Juno 2 is no different. The wheels and zips are really sturdy, the handle is smooth and adjusts to many different heights, and the fabric is tough and feels durable.
- It’s super light – so I can maximize my luggage allowance and actually use it for clothes and toiletries.
- It’s smooth to wheel around – Both the wheels and handle are really smooth and it feels like I’m not using any energy to manoeuver the suitcase, even on city roads, not only in the airport.
- Its clever design – The zipped design makes it easy to pack all my clothes neatly without even using packing cubes.
- Its neat little built-in TSA lock – which keeps my belongings safe and lets airport security open it up without having to damage my lock.
- Its hard shell – which protects my worldly belongings from bumps, spills, or even tropical downpour.
- Its 10-year warranty – so even if something does break or wear out, Antler will replace your suitcase internationally.*
I want to give a very honest review because I feel it’s always important to show the pros and the cons of travel, and this is no exception. I truly thought long and hard about anything I might change about my Juno 2, and only one small detail came to mind.
I love the TSA lock and it works really well, but I feel it could be even better to have those metal loops on the zips that allow you to use your own padlock as well, just in case the TSA lock ever breaks. Apart from that, I seriously couldn’t find anything else I didn’t like about my Antler cases.
So, if you’re debating whether to go carry-on with a suitcase or want to make the switch from a big backpack like me, I really think the Antler Juno 2 is an amazing choice and you should give it a spin (see what I did there?). I couldn’t be happier with it and, as a digital nomad, I think it’s the perfect choice for its great quality, beautiful design, and easy packing and moving.
You can get your own Antler Juno 2 in three different sizes and six different colours right here!
Thank you Antler for sending me my lovely new suitcases, I’m so excited to take them on many an adventure over the next years!
** Check out their warranty agreement here.