Review: 5 Things I Love About the Carl Friedrik Trunk

It’s my new go-to luggage for longer trips

April 29, 2024 9:42 am
Carl Friedrik Trunk, a new piece of luggage
Your new long journey bag? The Carl Friedrik Trunk.
Carl Friedrik

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About once a year I need a bag that can handle more than a few days of clothing. Right now I’m oscillating between a very popular DTC brand’s hardshell luggage and a softside option I picked up a few years back.

Both have flaws. The hardshell is colorful, roomy and easy to spot on a luggage carousel, but it’s surprisingly easy to scuff up (I had to send it back for a replacement because it was damaged during its initial shipment). The softshell has less room and little organizational purpose — the interior and exterior pockets and compartments seem arbitrary.

Meanwhile, I fell in love with a Carl Friedrik backpack last year — I called it “refined minimalist” and ideal for commuting. My partner commandeered the pack and now uses it as a carry-on for shorter work trips. With that in mind, could Carl Friedrik deliver something equally elevated but built for longer trips, which would require something more than spacious minimalism?

Stuff We Swear By: Carl Friedrik’s Day-to-Day Backpack Is an Ideal Commuter Bag
Stylish, spacious and comfortable, this pack offers a refined minimalist design

Thankfully, yes. The Trunk by Carl Friedrik offers almost everything I need for long treks. It might not be for everyone and one claim by the brand I found to be dubious (or I’m a terrible packer). But here’s a quick outline below of what you’re getting and why I love the Trunk.

The specs

  • 5.8” x 28.7” x 14.6” (W x H x D) 
  • 13.7 lbs.
  • 90L volume
  • Including three packing cubes

And what we liked:

The 80/20 split lid opening 

If you set this down horizontally, the Trunk lives up to its moniker: Most everything you put in here will be in one section (or side). The zippered lid has a bit of room and seems ideal for dirty clothes, a single day’s outfit you need to grab quickly or (as shown in the CF promo pictures) a tennis racquet, because why not.

Carl Friedrik trunk
Can you fit three weeks’ worth of gear into your Trunk? If you pack this insanely, maybe.
Carl Friedrik

The ease of transport

While it looks intimidatingly heavy, The Trunk is just 13 lbs. when empty. And the 360-degree Hinomoto spinner wheels (which are nearly dead silent) and multi-stage retractable handle mean a person of nearly any height or strength will have no problem scooting the Trunk around.

The organizational versatility

I assumed the Trunk would be spacious but minimal, like the backpack. Instead, it appeals to my craving for organization — retractable fabric dividers can place your stuff into three makeshift compartments. The luggage also comes with three packing cubes, and there are compression straps to keep your inevitably overstuffed wardrobe in place.

The (somewhat lack of) colorways

Hardshell luggage is going to take a beating. Only available in black and grey (with some nice leather accents), the polycarbonate Trunk should keep its handsome facade longer than something more colorful. Admittedly, the Trunk smudges easily, but it also cleans up quickly (I used a cloth with a bit of soapy water). Besides, there’s a 100-day free trial and a lifetime warranty if things go bad — which is good, because (as mentioned before) I think airlines treat hardshell luggage more aggressively.

The locks

There are three latches on the Trunk, two with TSA-approved locks. You can set one or both of those with a three-digit lock code. Given that there’s only one way to open the bag, this means you won’t have to shell out for a separate lock. 

And a few tiny things that may give you pause…

Carl Friedrick claims the Trunk is ideal for “trips up to three weeks.” Even with the spacious interior and unobtrusive dividers, I see this at best for two weeks (it also depends if you have access to a washer/dryer). You’re going to need to lay the bag down horizontally to open or access anything. There are no outside pockets for quick document retrieval. The Vachetta leather handles require extra cleaning care and the brand suggests not allowing airlines to attach luggage tags to them, which might cause color loss — that’s an ask usually out of a passenger’s control. 

Most importantly, the Trunk is not cheap; at $745, it’s a few hundred dollars more than any other luggage piece I own.

Final thoughts

The Trunk is worth the extra money, as it’ll most likely be your luggage for long journeys for the next few decades. As a New Yorker with little apartment space, it also serves a cool dual purpose; I can use it as clothes storage when not in travel use. You know, like an actual trunk.


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