Review: The Internet-Famous Solgaard Carry-On Closet

TikTok loves it, but how does it hold up in the real world?

March 26, 2024 10:24 am
Meet the Carry-On Closet
Meet the Carry-On Closet
Solgaard/Danica Killelea

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Because of the nature of my job, I’ve tested a lot of luggage. I am, however, perpetually wary of anything “viral” in the travel realm. I think this stems mostly from my distrust of viral TikTok travel hacks (i.e. pulling your legs up on to your seat on the plane and buckling your seatbelt around your ankles). In my experience, they’re potentially problematic at best, downright dangerous at worst. And that’s to say nothing of what happens to a destination once it goes viral.

In short, when Solgaard’s internet-famous Carry-On Closet came across my desk, I had reservations. Is it that good? Or did it just make for good TikTok fodder?

Well, legend has it that, after three years of living the nomad life, founder Adrian Solgaard, set out in pursuit of an answer to chronically untidy hotel rooms. The Carry-On Closet, with it’s patented, five-shelf closet, purports to be that answer. It was dubbed TIME Magazine as the Best Travel Invention of the year, so I knew that had to count for something.

I will also concede that, even off the rip, it looked cool as hell. Plus, I’m self aware enough to know that I only stand to benefit from a little added organization while on the road. So with all of that in mind, and in the name of journalism, I decided to test it out for myself.

Below, my official review of Solgaard’s Carry-On Closet.

The Carry-On Closet, at a glance


  • Built-in shelving system
  • Polycarbonate shell
  • Integrated USB charging port
  • TSA approved three-digit lock
  • Ribbed design for easy overhead bin sliding without damage
  • Interior Shore-Tex lining, made from 100% recycled plastic
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Frictionless 360 degree wheels
  • Cleans up 6 lbs of ocean-bound plastic from coastal communities

How we tested

On my most recent trip to Seattle — a jaunt of the personal variety to visit a friend — I employed the Solgaard Carry-On Closet. Though it was a quick, three-dayer, Seattle in winter makes for an interesting case study in packing, in that it vacillates between warmish and sunny to rainy and freezing cold in a matter of minutes, all day long. That said, I was hyper-conscious of not overpacking — in part because I wanted to be able to fairly review the Carry-On Closet, but also because I knew I’d have access to laundry at my destination. It felt like the perfect opportunity to finally put it to use.

The interior
The interior

What I liked

  • It’s extremely well built. This thing is sturdy af. Historically, I’ve gravitated toward lightweight polycarbonate luggage, but I’ve found myself disappointed more often than not by the lack of heft. Even bags that I thought were going to hold up have come back to me with improbable dings and dents. I can say for an absolute fact that I had zero concerns about this with the Carry-On Closet after having to check it against my will on my (United) flight home, though. Sure enough, it came around the carrousel back in Newark in near-perfect condition.
  • It has all the bells and whistles. If you’re a sucker for features, this is the bag for you. It has an integrated USB charging port (it even comes with a cord, though the powerbank is sold separately), a three-digit combination lock, a nifty one-pinch opening mechanism, lots of compartments (including a built in shoe sleeve!) and, of course, the shelving system (more on that shortly). If you live by the age old adage, “More is more,” consider your search for the perfect carry-on officially over.
  • The shelving system! This is a really cool and totally unique feature, which — in addition to functioning as a little travel closet — effectively operates as built in packing cubes. As someone who never unpacks at my destination, instead opting to live out of my suitcase, this is a real game changer. I could also see it being a really practical on a roadtrip.
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What we didn’t

  • It has no give. If you’re not a habitual overpacker, this obviously isn’t a deal-breaker. I don’t know that I’d categorize myself as an overpacker, but I do appreciate an expandable suitcase…you know, just in case. That said, because the Carry-On Closet doesn’t zip shut, but rather relies on that one-pinch opening mechanism, there’s zero room for anything extra. (I will add that the idea of no zipper initially freaked me out — what if the buckles broke? — but was ultimately very surprised with how heavy-duty they wound up being.)
  • It’s definitely not lightweight. Take this with a grain of salt because, on top of three days worth of clothes, I also packed a (hardcover) book, my laptop and a small ceramic pot (a gift to my friend). That said, I was almost glad when I had to check my bag, stemming from fear that I wouldn’t be able to lift it into the overhead storage compartment myself (a thing I don’t typically worry about). Having all those bells and whistles come at a cost, and this, I would say, is it.
  • It’s not all that intuitive. While it comes with a very user-friendly visual aid, and it’s easy enough once you’ve got the hang of it, it is — at first glance — a little intimidating. Read: there are lots of straps and buckles and it’s not immediately clear what goes where. You’ve just got to trust that you’re smarter than your carry-on and you’ll be fine.
The exterior
The exterior

The verdict: should you buy the Solgaard Carry=On Closet?

If you have a penchant for throwing all of your belongings haphazardly into your bag an hour before you’re due at the airport, I’d said no. Otherwise, yes! It has upwards of five stars on upwards of 3,200 hundred reviews, which should speak to how well-liked it is. Available in a multitude of colorways, it’s sleek as hell, lends itself to peak organization even while in transit and, by all accounts, will outlast you on this Earth. We’ll go ahead and let the internet have this one.


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