G-RO Smart Luggage Review

G-RO Smart Luggage Review

For decades, not much has changed in the luggage world. First we had heavy leather bags and cases that required a folding cart to move. Then came the advent of wheeled luggage, like spinners.  Now, there is something new in suitcases: smart luggage, like the carry-on from G-Ro.G-ro gro luggacge smart charging luggage review airline ban

Smart luggage: G-RO review

G-RO is a soft sided suitcase. The big difference with it is the wheels. The wheels on this suitcase are bigger, they’re more rugged, they’re on the side of the bag instead of the bottom and they’re designed to make the case both easier to pull, and easier to navigate obstacles like stairs and bumpy terrain.

I had a chance to test and review one of the carry-on size bags on a recent trip from Calgary to Palm Springs.

G-ro gro luggage smart charging luggage review airline banInnovative wheel design

What sets those G-RO wheels apart? The large diameter shifts the bag’s center of gravity closer to the wheel’s rotational axis making the bag feel lighter and easier to pull.

Understandably, G-RO says the days of snapping your spinner wheels off are gone too, since the size and construction of G-RO wheels are more reliable and stronger than average four-wheel bags.

Built in charging – G-RO smart suitcase

The other big feature that sets this suitcase apart from basic baggage is the built-in charging. Two USB ports are hidden in the top of the bag under a rubber flap. gro g-ro smart chargingYou can charge gadgets up while you’re waiting for takeoff, or stash your tablet and other gadgets inside the bag, since there’s cabling that lets devices charge while they’re being transported. The bag is big enough to tuck a 15″ laptop in one of the front pockets, which is super handy.

The charging unit is a separate power bank, which can easily be removed if your airline has any problems with it.

Charging suitcases banned by airlines?

This is gaining importance particularly since some airlines have elected to ban smart charging suitcases if the batteries cannot be removed.

G-ro gro luggage smart charging luggage review airline banI believe the logic is that if a battery caught fire in the cabin, it could, in theory, be put out by flight attendants. Whereas in the cargo, no one’s gonna catch it until it really starts a midair burn.

The G-RO battery pack is simple to remove, even when the bag is packed, which sets it apart from some smart charging bags where the battery is screwed into the bag’s frame. (Yes those batteries are technocally removeable, but you’ll need to unpack the bag first. Not idea in the security lineup.)

Tile Tracking included

If you’ve ever lost a suitcase you’ll appreciate this: a Tile Slim tracker is included in the G-RO package, just in case you check the bag. Tile uses crowd-sourced Bluetooth proximity tracking to find your bag using Tile’s free app.

That means no expensive extra bills for satellite tracking that come with some other add-on tracking devices. Since I didn’t lose the bag, I didn’t have to test this feature (phew!) but you can read more about how the tracker works on Tile’s site here.

How’s the G-RO handle?

gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging batteryThe telescoping handle on the G-RO bag is very light, smooth and easy to operate. It’s wider than average, and has three stops so you can use it as short or as long as you need. While the handle itself is quite fat and easy to grip, it’s not padded. Overall it’s easy to pull and the long reach means taller travelers won’t be kicking their heels into the bag with every step.

There’s also a small but sturdy handle on the side of the bag.

G-RO storage: Passels of pockets

On the outside of the bag is a range of different pockets.

On the front, there’s three pockets of varying sizes and depths. One small shallow pocket on the top front, a larger pocket below, and then in behind a massive and deep pocket with pouches for the removable battery pack plus a laptop/tablet sleeve. This is where you can also get access to the cords and cabling for charging gadgets while they’re inside your bag.gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging battery

Then on the back, there’s another two smaller pockets between the handle rails that’s the perfect size for quick access to your phone, wallet and travel documents. The second pocket  expands to hold a small water bottle, compact umbrella or similar.

The zippers on each one seem secure and are smooth running easy to operate. The fabric on the bag overall is made of ballistic nylon, which promises extreme durability. it should resist rips and tears easily.

Does G-Ro lock?

The bag has a TSA approved locking mechanism that can secure the main compartment of the bag. Other zippers could be secured with your own travel lock.gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging battery

Inside G-RO: how’s the storage?

On the inside, the bag is vastly different from other suitcases too. It features one large compartment, not two halves. While this makes the storage space seem bigger, it does pose a packing challenge. Where two halves of a suitcase offer you the ability to pack in two layers, with G-Ro you need to pile everything on top of itself. I find this makes for a bit more digging through clothing and toiletries, and the need for more creative packing.

While admittedly this is not what I’m used to, I think it’s fine if you’re going to a destination and staying put, whereas if you’re needing to get in and out of your bag and access your stuff a lot, you might feel like you’re always digging for what you want.The belly of the bag does have a bit of an arched shape to it. The base near the wheels is about 9″ deep while it slims to just 5″ at the top. This makes me wonder how much space is being lost inside.  With that said, this design does allow for that ultra deep pocket on the front of the bag, so I guess this is a tradeoff. Being made of fabric, there’s a lot more flexibility in the design and some room for the bag to expand too.

Surprisingly, the bag is quite tippy when it’s empty, and you can blame the unusual wheel design. When fully loaded, however, the bag is surprisingly stable.gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging battery

G-Ro’s website addresses the tipping: “Because of G-RO’s unique design, the bag tends to tip backwards when it is empty. Unlike most bags, however, G-RO usually does not tip over when packed, and in fact becomes incredibly stable. We recommend storing your G-RO on its side when you’re not using it to avoid the bag tipping over.” Fair point, and fine solution.

G-RO’s wheels are unique

The wheels on the G-ROsuitcase are big and rugged and definitely make the bag feel easier to pull. I find that with spinner suitcases, you really know you’re pulling the weight; it feels like dragging rocks sometimes. The G-RO is smooth and feels like you’re pulling about half the weight.

I was concerned I’d lose some maneuverability with the G-Ro that comes from spinner bags. Not so. The bag is easy to pull and turn and though it does lack some sharp cornering ability, I found it quite easy to get around with. I didn’t miss spinner wheels when using the G-Ro.

G-Ro review on stairs

The wheel design, combined with heavy rubberized treads on the wheels makes G-Ro easy to get up stairs. The bag pulls right up. Spinner bags need to be lifted and carried or you run the risk of snapping off a wheel. To see how it rolls, check out my YouTube video.gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging battery

Overall G-Ro review – smart suitcase

There’s a lot to love about G-RO. The smart charging is great, and the fact the battery pack is so easy to remove mans that if you do run into trouble with airline security, it’s an easy problem to solve. The wheels definitely make the suitcase easy to roll and pull and I love the array of pockets.

If there’s anything I didn’t like, it was the single inside compartment design. I find it challenging to pack.

I most often take only a carry-on when I travel, so my clothing, shoes and toiletries all need to fit inside. When I packed this bag, it only had room for my clothes in the main compartment, and that’s even with them all packed into a compression sack. There was no space for other stuff. I’ll take this bag on another trip and get creative with my packing in order to see if I can adapt. I’d say I was able to fit far less in this bag that in the last smart suitcase I tried, Away. Read that review here.gro g-ro smart suitcase bag luggage travel review charging battery

Away bag:

  • compression sack of clothing
  • toiletry bag
  • makeup bag
  • slip-on flats
  • collapsible full size tripod
  • DSLR camera

G-RO bag:

  • compression sack of clothing (all the same clothing as I packed in the other bag)
  • slip on- flats
  • smaller makeup bag (in front pocket)

I don’t think I’m a fan of the single large compartment. I find it difficult to pack smartly in. That’s a personal preference and not a design flaw. If you’ve got packing tips that could help me, I’d love to hear them.

Overall I really like the smart features of the G-RO bag, I like all the pocket options and I like the fabric design. I just feel like I can’t get as much into it as I can in other bags, but I’m also a heavy and determined carry-on packer.

G-RO’s carry-on suitcase sells for $399USD on G-RO’s website.

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Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.