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Antler Icon Stripe suitcase review: A premium travel companion

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £175
inc VAT

Classy looks and smooth manoeuvrability make Antler's Icon Stripe suitcase a pleasure to travel with, but it's an investment buy


  • Stylish exterior with great colour options
  • Easy and quiet to manoeuvre
  • Spacious interior with plenty of pockets


  • Expensive
  • Exterior scuffs easily

British brand Antler is a mainstay of our best suitcase and best hand luggage roundups, regularly building on its 110-year pedigree with new releases such as the Icon Stripe collection. This helped make Antler the UK’s third-fastest growing retail brand last year, right behind online upstarts Vinted and Shein.

According to Antler, the hard-shell Icon Stripe collection is made using 20% recycled polycarbonate and 100% recycled interior lining, so it brings a touch of sustainability to your travels. Perhaps most importantly, I found it a pleasure to use, thanks to its spacious pocket-packet interior, comfort-grip handle and silent “360 spinner” wheels.

I tested the Icon Stripe in Cabin size, whose 55cm height falls just within most airlines’ carry-on allowances. I spent a month putting it through its paces, including road trips and shopping expeditions, and while it picked up more than its share of scuffs, it proved to be tough, convenient and secure. But is it worth its premium price tag?

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Antler Icon Stripe suitcase review: What you need to know

The Icon Stripe comes in three main sizes (Cabin, Medium and Large) plus two variations (Cabin with Expander and Biggest Cabin). All sizes have four wheels,  a comfortable telescopic handle plus two other carry handles,  a TSA-approved combination lock and a light but tough hard shell to protect your stuff from squashes and knocks.

The “Cabin” case I tested has a packing capacity of 38.4l. That’s at the top end for hard-shell carry-on cases, but its 2.7kg unpacked weight feels nimble. At 20 x 40 x 55cm (WDH), the Cabin falls within the carry-on allowance of airlines including Easyjet, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Thomas Cook, but it’s outside of Ryanair’s strict 40cm free carry-on size.

The “Cabin with Expander” model, which costs £10 more than Cabin, has a stretchy central strip that expands the case by 5cm when fully packed, taking it to a potential 28cm deep. This extra wiggle room is great for souvenirs but means you’ll have to be even more careful about cabin allowances. Make sure to check before you fly (or, rather before you arrive at the airport).

You can find an up-to-date table of airline baggage allowances at the bottom of our article on the best hand luggage you can buy.

Moving up the size scale, “Biggest Cabin” is 39.5 x 24 x 58cm (48.2l packing capacity) and “Medium” is 45.5 x 30 x 66cm (81.5l). Both are too big for most carry-on allowances but small enough to fit in the footwell of a car and strike a good balance between spaciousness and manoeuvrability.

The “Large” size measures 51.7 x 33.6 x 78cm and has a huge packing capacity of 122.3l. That’s ideal for long-haul trips where you need to pack a lot of clothes or presents, such as winter holidays or Christmas visits, but gets extremely heavy – up to 25 to 30kg when fully packed. You will never be more grateful for those wheels.

I tried the Icon Stripe in a lovely Heather Purple, but all sizes are available in a further six classy and expensive-looking colours: Antler Green, Black, Taupe, Indigo Blue, Moorland Pink and Mist Blue. Whatever colour you go for, the polycarbonate shell is water-resistant and has a slight sheen that makes scratches less visible than a full-sheen finish.

The case arrives locked, with a default 000 combination that releases the zips easily with one slide of the toggle. The toggle has a TSA key lock that lets airport security get in for a check (yes, I’m afraid you can’t lock them out). Security staff aside, the secure lock will give you peace of mind when your case is in the hold or your hotel room.

The Icon Stripe lacks the external laptop pocket of Antler’s more expensive Clifton Cabin (£220), but I was impressed by the number of organising features inside. Within the modest dimensions of the Cabin case are three zipped mesh pockets that are a good fit for electronics and documents; one large zipped pocket for clothes; two concealed zips in the fabric lining; and a small zipped pocket for keys, jewellery and other valuables.

One side of the case is substantially deeper than the other, but I never encountered any balance problems when it was full, perhaps thanks to the four-wheeled design. The compression strap on the shallower side will help to keep clothes in place, as long as you remember to open the case with the shallow side on the floor.

All Antler’s cases come with a 28-day trial period, during which you can return the case in its original dust bag, and a lifetime warranty.

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Antler Icon Stripe suitcase review: Price and competition

The Icon Stripe feels as durable and beautifully constructed as you would hope for £175 for its smallest size (Cabin). Prices rise steadily through the range, but none are what I’d consider overpriced. Cabin with Expander is £185, Biggest Cabin is £195, Medium is £210 and Large is £245. You can save 15% by buying the three main sizes as a set (£630).

The Icon Stripe is the most versatile of Antler’s cases, but it’s not quite the most durable. That honour goes to the supremely hardwearing Stamford (£200), which only comes in Cabin size and is designed to safely fly your laptop, tablet and camera around the world regularly. If you want a soft shell case, which is less hardy but easier to squash under a seat, try the new Soft Stripe (from £170 for Cabin size).

Antler’s prices may seem steep, but they’re lower than those of rival British brands such as Samsonite, whose cabin size cases cost from £179 to a cool £800, and newcomer July, whose Carry On case costs £245 and large Checked case costs £275.

You can find lower prices for comparable cases at American Tourister, whose hard-shell Flashline 55cm case costs £99, and It Luggage, whose hard-shell underseat cases start at £40 when not discounted.

READ NEXT: Best weekend bags

Antler Icon Stripe suitcase review: Features and design

The Icon Stripe is a fantastic-looking suitcase. It manages to look both classic and modern, and it will give you a touch of class even while you’re dragging your half-awake bedhead through the airport at 5am.

I’d always pick the Antler Icon Stripe over the more gaudy and playful bright colours and shiny finishes of some Samsonite and American Tourister cases. I also prefer it to the more rugged, modern look of July’s cases. This of course is a matter of personal preference.

My one quibble with the exterior is that it blemishes easily. After I had sat the case on the floor to fill it with clothes, I noticed white marks spoiling the underside. Many more white scuffs appeared on the shoulders of the case after a couple of hours in the car boot. I dread to think how scuffed it would get in the hold of a plane.

The scuffs came off with a wet wipe, and the polycarbonate shell is coloured all the way through, so even a deep scratch would remain the same colour as the surface. It’s also worth noting that other cases I’ve tested, including the July Checked suitcase, suffer similar scuffing. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but worth bearing in mind, especially given the cost of these cases.

The premium price tag is partly for the Antler brand name, but also for design and attention to detail. There’s a palpable difference between using this case and a budget case with squeaky wheels and a sticky handle.

The Icon Stripe’s telescopic handle moves up and down smoothly, and a press of the button allows it to extend further. There are carry handles on both the long and short sides (handy when trying to put the case in an overhead locker), and these extend far enough from the body of the case to give even chunky fingers plenty of grip. When you’re done, the handles settle back to lie almost flush with the case.

Antler has made much of the Icon Stripe’s silent glide 360 wheels, and rightly so. Even when I dragged my packed case up a steep uneven pavement, the wheels worked smoothly and the fully-extended handle didn’t sag. It genuinely does seem designed to make moving your luggage around as easy on your arms as possible, short of carrying it for you.

The case is surprisingly roomy inside, and the fabric lining is baggy enough to accommodate plenty of clothes behind the concealed zip. All the zips work smoothly, and the compression strap opens and adjusts with satisfying ease.

The telescopic handle extends all the way into the shallower side of the case. As well as taking up space, this will crease your freshly ironed shirts, so beware when packing. Again, though, this is a common downside of cases with telescopic handles, and I didn’t find it particularly intrusive.

I would have welcomed a secure external pocket for easy access to important items like my phone and passport, or even an easy-access pocket just inside the main zip. The green valuables pocket just behind the combination lock is too small for either a phone or passport, which seems a strange decision by Antler. It’s ideal for keys, though, and I did find the case’s larger pockets quick and easy to reach when needed.

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Antler Icon Stripe suitcase review: Verdict

It looks fabulous and is a joy to use, even when packed to the gills, but does the Antler Icon Stripe justify a price of £175 for the smallest model? Not if you’ll only use it once a year. But if you travel a lot, the Icon Stripe is a fantastic buy. You’re not just paying for the Antler name. It’s an investment that represents a big step up from the squeaky wheels, sticky zips and rippable interiors of budget rivals.

I was tempted to knock off a point for the scuff marks that take away from the various handsome colours you can buy this case in, but this is a common problem with hard-shell cases, and I was able to rub them off. However I can’t say how scuffed the case would get after years of use, so it’s worth bearing in mind if you are a frequent traveller and likely to be checking your Icon Stripe into the hold regularly.

Ultimately, I found the Icon Stripe to be a smooth, secure and versatile case that’s much more than a good looker, so I’m happy to give it a Best Buy award.

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