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Antler Size Zero Carry-On Bag

Antler Size Zero 22" interior

ABOVE: An interior view of a bronze Antler Size Zero Cabin suitcase, showing the zigzag elastic straps that hold clothing in place.

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First impressions

When I took the Antler Size Zero Cabin Suitcase out of its shipping carton, I was surprised by how light it was. I could pick up the suitcase easily with one finger, and it was noticeably lighter than the two older (and excellent) carry-on bags that I've used in recent years: a Briggs & Riley 21" upright and a TravelPro Crew 5.

I was curious to see how Antler had managed to strip the weight down to 2.4 kilos or just over 5 pounds. One design choice was immediately obvious: The Size Zero Cabin Suitcase doesn't have a side handle or a grip on the bottom. The lack of a side handle isn't likely to be a problem unless the top handle breaks off, but the missing bottom grip could become irritating if you're a frequent business traveler who wrestles the suitcase out of airline luggage bins several times a week. (I'm willing to sacrifice those extras for a lighter bag.)

Antler SizeZero top zipperThe outside of the bag has one pocket (compared to the two or three on some carry-on uprights), and it doesn't have an expansion zipper or mechanism. However, a zippered flap protects the retractable handle, which is a nice touch. One of the grips on the main zipper holds a TSA-approved padlock, which can be opened with a master key by security screeners in the U.S.A. and many other countries.

Next, I opened the opened the suitcase. The simple, boxlike interior was fully lined, with a hidden zipper running down the center seam (presumably for easier repairs if the handle's telescoping mechanism needs fixing).

I found a large zippered mesh pouch on one side (handy for extra shoelaces, notebooks, and other small items) and a large mesh zippered pocket in the top flap. The suitcase also had four triangles of elastic that could be hooked together in pairs to keep clothes from spilling out.

Finally, I tried compressing the empty suitcase by kneeling on it with one leg. The sides gave quite a bit (and bounced back after the experiment), but the top and bottom retained their shape, thanks to the arched "flexi-frame" elements that were built into each end of the bag.

I also noticed that the handle, bottom corner protectors, and wheel mounts were attached with sturdy Allen-head bolts. Overall, the Size Zero Cabin Suitcase appeared to be as sturdy as the other name-brand bags that I've used, and it's certainly much stronger than the cheap, flimsily-constructed carry-ons that you might find at a discount store.

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