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July Checked suitcase review: A rugged case built to survive a lifetime of trips

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £275
inc VAT

The “unbreakable” new suitcase from July is certainly tough, but is it worth such a lofty price tag?


  • Cool, modern appearance
  • Extremely hard wearings, with reinforced corners
  • Smooth wheels and handle


  • Expensive
  • Exterior scuffs easily

Australian luggage brand July has landed in the UK to shake up a premium suitcase and hand luggage market that has long been dominated by Samsonite and Antler. July may never be able to match those firms’ home-grown pedigree, but it hopes to leave them playing catch-up on durability.

July’s hard-shell cases, which come in a range of sizes, are full of innovative details designed to make them “unbreakable”. Aerospace-grade German polycarbonate hard-shell casing, curved corners and anodised aluminium bumpers provide extra protection against knocks and drops, which are bound to happen behind the scenes at the airport.

To put July’s claims to the test, I took delivery of the brand’s new Checked suitcase – so named because you’ll have to check it into the hold of a plane – and put it through its paces.

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July Checked suitcase review: What you need to know

July’s hard-shell cases come in two main varieties: Carry On (five sizes, all around 40-42l capacity) and Checked. I tested the basic Checked case, which measures 47 x 29 x 66cm (WDH) and can accommodate 80 litres of contents. That’s bigger than cabin luggage, but not by much: size-wise, it’s similar to the Medium model of Antler’s Icon Stripe.

If you think you may need more room for souvenirs and impulse buys when you’re heading home, consider the Checked Expandable version, which has a central section that you can unzip to add 10 litres of extra room. There are also bigger Checked Plus and Checked Trunk models.

All sizes of July’s hard-shell cases have a water-resistant exterior, four 360˚ spinner wheels, two comfort carry handles and a telescopic handle that you can stop at any one of 20 heights. This is a step up from rival cases, whose telescopic handles normally have two or three set points where they can be stopped. 

The most noticeable difference between the July Checked and other suitcases I’ve used is its reinforced corners. These, according to July, are custom-anodised aluminium corner bumpers, designed to withstand a lifetime of battering in the holds of planes. With flight turbulence seemingly more in the news than ever, this is a clever addition.

Inside, the nylon lining is water-resistant and stain-proof, and you even get a robust nylon zip-up laundry bag that’s ideal for keeping your stinky smalls away from pressies on the way home. There’s also a small pocket just inside the zip for valuables such as your phone, passport and keys, concealed zips on the lining and a document holder made from mesh with a light but strong metal frame.

The whole case is lockable using the TSA-compatible combination lock, which arrives secured at its default 000 combination. Slide the TSA lock to open it, and then find combination reset instructions inside the case. “TSA-compatible” means that airport security can unlock it with a key if they want.

My test model of the July Checked case is a sober navy blue, but there are many other colours available, including a few limited editions that change regularly. All colours have a semi-sheen finish designed to help hide scuffs and scratches, but the reinforced corners have a smooth finish.

July is so confident about the durability of its case that it offers a 100-day return period and a lifetime guarantee.

July Checked suitcase review: Price and competition

The basic Checked case that I tested costs £275, which is towards the top end of the price range for cases this size. Samsonite cases cost more, with the comparable 69cm Proxis costing £399, but Antler’s are cheaper, with the Medium Icon Stripe priced at a relatively affordable £210.

Moving down the price scale, American Tourister’s hard-shell Aerostep 67cm is £165 when not discounted, and It Luggage’s similarly sized Replicating case costs just £50

July’s case is a premium option, but the basic Checked is far from being the most expensive in its range.  Its larger and more expensive cousins include the Checked Expandable (£305), Checked Plus (£295) and the gorgeous Checked Plus Trunk, which has a suitably sumptuous price tag of £525.

The newest arrival in the Checked range, a Checked Light hard-shell case that weighs less than the standard Checked and forgoes the extra durability features, costs £245 for the 75-litre model, which is the closest in capacity to the basic July Checked.

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July Checked suitcase review: Features and design

The July Checked has a very modern look, thanks to its embossed “JULY” logo and boxy shape. It has a cool but unshowy vibe that falls somewhere between the wild excesses of some Samsonite and American Tourister cases and the subtle classiness of Antler.

Eye-catching colours are a bonus in hold luggage, which you want to be able to spot on the carousel from a distance with jet-lagged eyes. My navy model wouldn’t stand out, but many of the other colours would, especially July’s frequently changing limited edition colour options. At the time of writing, these include Blush Pink and Burnt Orange.

I tested the ruggedness of the exterior by filling it to bursting with clothes and books, sitting on it to get the zip shut, and then dragging it across the floor and driving it over potholes. It didn’t rattle, squeak or make any audible protestations, and my belongings were secure inside.

I’ve taken road trips with large budget suitcases whose weight and lack of manoeuvrability made every stop a nightmare. I had no such problems with the July Checked, even when I’d filled it with books. Its smooth wheels, robust casing and strong multi-stop telescopic handle genuinely seem to take much of the weight off.

The July Checked’s interior design helped keep my belongings secure as they bumped up and down the road. The interior is fairly simple at first glance, with just two big mesh pockets on the upper side and a compression strap on the other side, but on closer inspection, it’s full of features.

The reinforced document holder is a brilliant idea, and I’d happily trust it to keep my laptop safe inside the case. The laundry bag is big enough to fit all your underwear from a week away, and the compression strap may be the best of its kind I’ve seen: strong, secure and easy to adjust, open and close.

Both sides of the July Checked are the same depth, unlike some cases that have one deeper side. This means you won’t have to worry about unbalancing the case or losing track of individual belongings by packing most of your stuff on one side.

The combination lock is at the top of the case next to the telescopic handle, rather than on the long edge. This meant I had to unlock the lock before laying the case down to open it. A small grumble, maybe, but it would slow you down if you needed to get inside quickly at the airport or in the car boot. There’s no external quick-access pocket, either.

My other main grumble is how easily the exterior picks up scuff marks. Part of the hefty price of this suitcase is surely for its beautiful mottled exterior and the delicious colours it comes in. To find bright white scuff marks on it after just one trip was a real disappointment. It’s not unusual, though – I had a similar problem with the Antler Icon Stripe.

Many of the marks came off the main surface eventually after a thorough rub with a damp cloth, and scuffs are unlikely to be permanent because the colour permeates right through the hard shell. But on the reinforced corners, I couldn’t get the scuffs off at all.

The corners are designed to absorb exactly these kinds of bumps and scratches, of course, and scuffs do nothing to affect the performance of a suitcase. But if you’re spending money on a suitcase partly for its good looks, it’s worth knowing if it may amass marks over time.

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July Checked suitcase review: Verdict

The July Checked case is one of the most expensive suitcases we’ve reviewed and, for many people, it won’t be worth paying £275 for a medium-sized case. However, I’m still happy to give it a Recommended award because its robust build, superb manoeuvrability and thoughtfully designed interior features mark it out as a solid investment for regular travellers.

There are a few things I’d change. The position of the combination lock at the top rather than the side slowed me down slightly when trying to unlock and unzip the case, but other users may like the fact that they can get to the lock without having to bend down. I’d also prefer a surface that doesn’t mark quite so easily, especially at this price. But these are minor quibbles.

If you like the slick, modern appearance of the July Checked and you’re looking for a case that will travel with you for decades, then this is a buy well worth considering.

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