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You might have seen Paravel bags swimming around your Instagram. The direct-to-consumer company was founded in 2016 and one of their latest releases is the redesigned Stowaway, Paravel’s take on a classic suitcase. Four stiff sides fold like magic into a convenient pouch. The idea is save space at home, as anyone who’s tried shoving an empty suitcase under their bed can understand.
Living in an era of hard-shelled polycarbonate carryons, it’s not hard to long for the vintage glamour of the glory days of travel. Sure, having a built-in charger is handy, but I wanted to see what it was like to travel in a (new) old-fashioned way. Here’s a closer look at Paravel’s Stowaway:
The Stowaway’s colors are Domino (black trim), Scout (tan), Jetty (blue), Bebop (red), all made with cotton canvas and cost $325, and then there’s the one I tried out, the Cadet — a rich, supple navy blue in a new linen material for $345. Paravel claims all the bags are waterproof, stain-proof and spill-proof, but I was still scared to muck it up.
A nifty adjustable strap clips on with gleaming gold attachments and the two-way lockable zipper feels stronger than Zeus. They’re made in Italy, with Italian leather handles and bindings. There are zero pockets anywhere, which probably explains why it only weighs about three-and-a-half pounds. One upside: I could see everything at once, my pair of running shoes, two pairs of jeans, running clothes, two outfit changes, a jacket, and toiletries. And it does, in fact, collapse into a little pouch.
This definitely isn’t your typical suitcase. I took it for a spin on a weekend trip outside of New York — its size makes weekenders ideal — and while standing on the subway, I perched it near my feet. Unlike an upright roller bag, it felt very low and out of reach and I held the strap in my hands so no one was tempted to make off with it. It’s also aggressively attractive (even Vogue called it chic!) which made me feel like I was carrying around a beautiful box that just happened to contain my underwear, sleeping mask, and far-less-chic pajamas.
But its unusual shape may actually be a secret weapon. When I arrived in the cesspit of New York’s Port Authority station, I had 10 minutes to get to my train gate and had to run. And the funny thing about this suitcase: I actually could run! Navigating crowds with a roller bag while going at a fast clip is nearly impossible; you’re liable to trip yourself or some poor commuter. If you have a tendency to hustle to takeoff and don’t mind a minor arm workout, this could be a good fit for you.
Then, when the bus driver snarled at everyone during check-in to store their bags underneath the bus, he gave my bag a once-over and kindly told me, “You can bring that one inside.” Without bulging pockets and a giant handle, I guess the Stowaway looked super small and sleek. It popped into the overheard compartment with ease.
The suitcase measures at 17″ long x 13″ wide x 6.5″ high (unfolded) and 17.5″ long x 7″ wide x 2.5″ high (folded) and weighs 3 pounds, 7 ounces. There’s also the option of hand-painted monogrammed initials or emojis like a cactus or eyeballs, which costs $35-$65 per monogram or emoji, depending on size and style. They also offer a 30-day return policy, with customized items excepted.
Strong zippers and sturdy sides make Paravel’s Stowaway a practical option for a short trip, but if you need organizational help, you might not enjoy the lack of pockets. If you prize having a few extra cubic feet of space in your closet, you’ll value its quick shrinkage. The price tag is steep — of course, you could buy 10 nylon duffel bags for the same cost — but if traveling in style is important to you, have a look. Sometimes it pays to stand out on the tarmac.
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