RADEN Smart Luggage

The formidable suitcase + app combo weighs itself, charges phones and lets you know when it's close by

The plot might be familiar: a young start-up disrupts big, sleepy industry that nobody young wants to touch—but the ending is sweet and actually, available to purchase on the day of its launch. Raden is more than a container to hold your clothes and toiletries; its smart features (like GPS-tracking, weight sensors, and removable, standalone battery pack) work with real-time traffic and TSA data to make travel less hassle and more pleasure. Josh Udashkin, Raden founder and CEO, saw a need in the market by way of his uncle, who was in the luggage business. “I started learning about the luggage business was how big it was, that most of the products are terrible, the brands are worse, the industrial design is worse than that—and there is no technology,” he tells CH.

“I’ve been using Rimowa for many years—love the product, unfortunately, just not affordable. So if you wanted to add to your collection or even buy one as a gift for a friend, it was just out of the range. It’s a $600 carry-on. It feels too precious and didn’t feel right demographically for our cohort,” continues Udashkin. On the other side of the spectrum were the massive luggage companies making a product nobody he knew wanted, and were able to get away with it. “That was an aha moment of, ‘OK, let me try to make something that someone wants.'” He brought together a team of people who worked at TUMI, Quirky, Ammunition Design (behind Beats By Dre) and more to bring to life this idea of “pairing beautiful hardware with a great platform, just like FitBit,” and the result is a piece of luggage you have a connection with—like you might have with your headphones or smartphone—rather than one you want to throw away after every trip.

Every part on the luggage itself was custom-designed, from the zippers to the shell and handles. “We had our lead industrial designer come out of consumer electronics and not luggage, that’s why there’s this kind of fresh, modern-day on luggage as opposed to anything you’ve seen in the space already,” says Justin Seidenfeld, who runs Product at Raden.

Similar to what we saw with Away’s debut suitcase, Raden also has a two USB ports for your power-hungry mobile devices. Inside, there are a few reasons why Raden’s rechargeable battery is far more user-friendly. (TSA has tight regulations on transporting spare lithium ion batteries.) The battery pops out easily without tools (thanks to a zippered case), can be used as a standalone portable charger outside of the suitcase and, most importantly, it “passed all relevant regulatory certifications and testing standards for travel and battery powered electronics” (the FCC, UN, TSA, IATA)—meaning it can be safely taken through airport security or checked in.

Raden’s app feels less like a superfluous download and more like a reassuring travel companion. It shows TSA wait times at your selected airport, traffic and weather conditions, suitcase battery level, plus your case’s weight (lift the handle to measure) and proximity to you (a crowd GPS network is used for coverage beyond 200 feet). Overall, the suitcase and app combo makes for a dependable travel companion, significantly updating the dreaded travel experience to be on par with our fast-paced, connected lifestyles today. Nothing feels more outdated than being the person waiting by the empty baggage carousel (or being slapped with a surprise overage fee). The app also offers direct live chat with Raden customer service as well as a neat record of all the countries your bag has traveled to.

The biggest thing for Raden in the future isn’t designing 20 different suitcases, but continuing to develop their platform and flesh it out with more useful travel information—packaged beautifully to enhance the travel experience. “What types of utility we can provide in the app to make travelers transit more efficiently—that’s the goal for business,” says Udashkin. “It’s not about making more glamorous travel or telling you where to stay in a hotel or Airbnb or anything else. It’s really about speed and efficiency.”

Starting today, you can actually get Raden’s 22″ carry-on ($295) or the 28″ check-in ($395) case delivered within three to five days—no pre-order or delayed nonsense here. Order online or NYCers can visit their temporary retail experience in SoHo (72 Spring St) to close and up front with the suitcases. There are seven different colors, even some pastel shades.

App and battery images by Cool Hunting; product images courtesy of Raden