Best carry on luggae

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As more travelers opt to avoid checking suitcases by traveling lighter, carry-on luggage becomes an increasingly important part of a traveler’s toolkit. After decades of design stagnancy, suitcase manufacturers are once again bringing new life to carry-ons, adding organizational details, ergonomic touches, and tech-forward features. We’ve put a fresh crop of suitcases through extensive testing to rank and rate our editors’ choice best carry-on luggage of 2018.

In our best new carry-ons for 2018 category we tested new-this-year bags that were 22 inches or shorter and cost less than $600. Through extensive testing, we assessed durability, strengths, and weaknesses. We also compared notable features, size/weight, price, ease of packing, and style, culminating in reviews of the nine finalist suitcases. From this pool we selected a gold, silver, and bronze winner. Since each of the suitcases had winning qualities, we’ve given you details of how each performed in our tests.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Carry-on Luggage 2019.

Gold: Samsonite: Armage 19″ Spinner

The Armage 19-Inch Spinner from Samsonite scores top marks for dependable functionality, attractive detailing, and plenty of useful extras.

Because it has one deep compartment (plus zippered lid compartments), it feels roomier than a suitcase that splits the packing sections into two. Zippered compartments (three on the lid, one along the long side of the body, plus a snap-in waterproof pouch large enough for a swimsuit or two) add to the organizational options without getting too fussy.

When tipped onto two wheels, it takes corners well, handles stairs like a champ, and bounces over uneven surfaces easily. As a four-wheeled suitcase, it glides easily on smooth surfaces. The handle system can be adjusted to eight different heights, and when combined with the padded handle, makes for a comfortable carrying experience.

Though it’s billed as a 19-inch suitcase, that measurement refers to the interior packing dimensions; the full height with wheels (what the airlines care about) is 21.7 inches. However, since most U.S. airlines allow carry-ons up to 22 inches, it remains a useful carry-on option–and one that’s actually large enough to accommodate packing for up to a week or even longer.

Small enough to be a carry-on, but structurally sound enough to withstand being checked, this adaptable carry-on has useful additional features like exterior USB ports (you stow your own charger inside the lining of the main compartment) and a TSA-approved cable lock that seems to miraculously disappear into the lining of the suitcase when not in use.

Silver: Away The Carry-On with Pocket

The much-hyped Away Carry-On with Pocket is worth the fanfare. With a built-in laundry bag, battery pack, inner laptop pouch, and TSA lock, this bag has a lot of worthwhile features. It fits a lot of stuff and isn’t difficult to close when overfilled. The inner pouch serves a dual purpose: To carry electronics and to squish down your clothes. While the front pocket holds a lot, it’s not wide enough to comfortably reach into. The bag’s understated design is sleek and stylish, but inconspicuous enough not to turn heads.

The exterior of the bag gets scuffed easily but is fairly flexible and durable. The lock takes a bit of time to start working. Airline employees quickly recognize the Away bag’s signature battery pack, even though the battery is concealed underneath the handle. You might be asked to remove the battery pack even if you put this bag in the overhead compartment. However, the battery pack is easy to eject and carry in your personal item.

The bag is a bit heavy, but not bulky or difficult to lift, and it fits the dimensions of most major U.S. airlines.

Bronze: North Face Stratoliner-M

Gimmick-free and sleek, the 20-inch Stratoliner-M from North Face is a minimalist carry-on dream. It trades four spinner wheels for two unidirectional wheels and utilizes that extra few inches to maximize interior packing space. What it lacks in bells and whistles it more than makes up for in packing volume and excellent construction. And really, isn’t that the very foundation of a great carry-on suitcase?

The exterior is far more modern and elegant—think recessed zippers and slightly tapered corners—than one might expect from an outdoors-focused brand. The Stratoliner-M has a zippered clamshell interior, two exterior zippered pockets, a two-point-adjustable telescoping handle, and the unusual addition of carrying handles on all four sides of the bag. Its classic lines and durable exterior will make it a trusted travel favorite for many years to come.

Finalist: Delsey Turenne International Carry-On Spinner

At 4.8 pounds, Delsey’s Turenne weighs in as the lightest of this crop of new-for-2018 carry-ons. But it hasn’t sacrificed functionality or style in pursuit of its lightweight structure. The Turenne doesn’t have the unbending rigidity of traditional hardside suitcases; instead, it shaves weight while maintaining strength with a thin but durable virgin polycarbonate shell. The exterior is mostly matte, with a subtle monochrome pattern that adds a bit of gloss; additional detailing keeps this French brand’s latest suitcase looking elegant.

The Turenne’s telescoping handle is fairly simple, with no handle padding or added structure for strength, but it does have two locking heights. Nimble double-spinner wheels take on corners, stairs, and uneven surfaces without issue. And the internal clamshell design with zippers offers a measure of built-in organization.

The suitcase holds enough for several days—or more if you’re willing to pack strategically. Its zippers—which have a double layer of zip—are advertised as being significantly stronger than regular zippers; in our tests, they required a firm hand to zip, but held up well to repetitive opening and closing. The built-in, TSA-approved lock sits flush with the bag’s exterior, and tucked away in the back is each bag’s unique identification code, which—when registered—allows anyone who finds the bag to report it to Delsey, which will alert you. It also comes with unattached laundry and shoe bags.

The Turenne is an attractive, lightweight, hardsided carry-on with enough features to keep it modern but not so many that it feels gimmicky.

Finalist: Eagle Creek Morphus International Carry-on

It’s not every day you meet a carry-on that forces you to rethink the entire suitcase concept. But the Morphus International Carry-on does just that. It’s a three-in-one bag: a rolling carry-on, a carry-on backpack, and, most surprisingly, a twofer: a 32-liter carry-on and a 35-liter backpack that can be separated to more than double your storage capacity during your journey.

It’s a great bag, but it’s not for everyone, and it definitely takes getting used to—starting with forcing you to think through the packing stages of a trip. Will you be bringing more stuff on the way over or the way back? At what point do you want to split your options? Once you decide on your game plan, there’s also some complicated zippering that requires patience to master.

The backpack is comfortable enough to be a daypack during the trip, which offers another way of making the most of your options. And that’s the thing: You could pretty much always use them as two separate units and have gotten two for one in the suitcase-buying process.

Travelers who adjust their thinking and embrace this suitcase are likely to become huge fans.

Additional features like a super organized front tech pocket, kickstand for greater rolling carry-on stability, and padded laptop storage up the functionality of this carry-on suitcase. And it’s light: At 5.4 pounds, it’s the second lightest of the bunch—a bonus for hauling, lifting, and staying under airline weight limits.

Finalist: eBags Fortis Pro Traveler Hardside Spinner Carry-On

eBags

At about $200, the 22-inch Fortis Pro Traveler spinner is the least expensive of the finalists—but a lower price tag doesn’t mean settling for less. The high-gloss hardside exterior has a ribbed pattern, which gives it a sleek look and disguises little bumps or bruises that happen during travel. It also offers something that many hardsided suitcases can’t: the ability to expand to fit more stuff via a zip-out accordion section that offers an additional 1.5 inches. It has a TSA-approved lock built into the body and a neatly tucked-away external USB port. Inside, a netted zippered pouch stows the USB wire and offers a place to stash your battery pack.

The Fortis Pro’s interior offers a standard clamshell design with a twist: one side of the clamshell is zippered, while the other has a divided interior and compression straps to keep items in place—but the compression straps aren’t straps at all. Instead, they’re two shallow zippered compartments (one netted, one water-resistant) that can be packed as an additional layer on top of items stored below, and then secured with a buckle to keep items from shifting. The suitcase also comes with a separate, unattached laundry bag.

The Fortis handles well, and takes corners without tipping. It’s roomy (and it offers the chance to be roomier, though you’ll want to keep carry-on size restrictions in mind if you’re expanding the bag).

Finalist: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Carry-On Spinner

The attractive Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Carry-on Spinner offers plenty of space as well as some appealing extras—such as a matching garment bag, a zip-out clear toiletry bag, and a side compartment with a built-in USB cord where you can store your own external power pack for charging devices. The two small accessory pouches that intrude into the main compartment of the bag are a nice idea, but should be detachable for travelers who don’t find them useful.

As you’d expect of a bag at this price point, the suitcase is made of durable, high-quality materials. The wheels generally roll smoothly, though on uneven surfaces it works better to roll the suitcase behind you rather than alongside or in front. The bag has numerous compartments to help keep you organized.

This bag is at the larger end of the carry-on scale, so you can easily fit a week’s worth of clothing into it. However, that means it may not always be suitable as a carry-on. Although the company claims the bag has been “carry-on sizer tested” and “will fit most carry-on criteria,” it’s 23.5 inches tall, and most major U.S. airlines—including American, United, Delta, and JetBlue—accept carry-ons up to 22 inches. If you fill the bag to the max, it will exceed the depth maximum as well. For travelers willing to check a bag on occasion, this suitcase is a fine addition to your travel collection.

Finalist: Heys Smart Luggage 21″ Carry-on

The Heys Smart Luggage 21-inch Carry-on takes the smart-device concept and customizes it for the modern traveler. This hardshell suitcase offers a roomy interior and 360-degree wheels that make it easy to navigate on smooth surfaces. This 21-inch spinner has a sleek design that looks elegant but doesn’t draw attention to itself, and comes in three colors (black, burgundy, and silver).

Strong zippers, steady handling, and pleasing design earn the Heys good marks on the basics, but what sets it apart is its TSA-approved Bluetooth-access remote lock and a battery-operated alarm that lets you know if your suitcase has strayed. It also features a scale built into the handle. The app was buggy when we tested it, but once the company works the kinks out, this bag will be a serious contender for tech-savvy travelers looking to upgrade their carry-on luggage. And it’s an intriguing option for any traveler looking to protect their luggage contents with an extra layer of security.

Finalist: Victorinox Werks 6.0 Softside Global Carry-on

As you’d expect from the makers of the Swiss Army Knife, the Victorinox Werks Traveler 6.0 Softside Global Carry-on is both functional and cleverly designed. Included with the bag are a laptop sleeve that can be converted into a packing cube and a garment suiter that can also serve as a suitcase divider. Other features include a TSA-approved lock, compression straps, and an integrated USB port. The suitcase easily fits several days’ worth of clothing and shoes.

The bag rolls smoothly and is made of durable materials, though some travelers might prefer a color option besides basic black. Unfortunately, the bag is prone to toppling forward if you put something heavy—like, say, a laptop in the provided sleeve—either in the large front pocket or toward the top of the main compartment. Considering the fact that many travelers need their laptops to be easily accessible, this is a problematic design flaw.

American travelers should be aware that while the bag fits within the carry-on size limits of some European airlines, it’s too wide and slightly too deep (especially when stuffed full) to meet the size restrictions of most major U.S. carriers. As its name suggests, the bag is best used on international flights operated by carriers with less stringent size requirements. Otherwise, you may be asked to gate-check this bag—which could be a problem if you’re using it to carry your laptop.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at [email protected]

Gone are the days of unrecognizable black canvas bags with wobbly wheels and tears in the corners! For even the most infrequent of travelers, carry-on luggage is not something that should be skimped or compromised on.

We’ve reviewed the best carry-on luggage of 2020 and shared our expert tips on what to look for when shopping for the lightest and most durable cabin bags!

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Best Carry-On Luggage of 2020 Reviewed

Top luggage brands have recently rolled out some of the best looking and most practical small suitcases we’ve seen so far. Business travelers and outdoor adventure-seekers alike can find maximum value, space, durability and security in our collection of the top carry-on suitcases of the year.

Most Affordable Carry-On Luggage

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 20 inch Luggage

If you’re a highly-organized traveler looking for a durable, stylish, and theft proof option, then the Samsonite Winfield 2 is for you. With a full-zip interior divider, side mounted TSA locks, and a 10 year limited warranty, this top rated carry-on bag will keep your stuff tidy and last you for a while. Plus, ringing in at under $100, it won’t break the bank.

Perfect for: Business or budget travelers who need to keep professionalism and organization in mind.

Compare prices here.

Best Lightweight Carry-On Luggage

Genius Pack 21″ Aerial Hardside Carry On Luggage

With a sleek, minimalist design and weighing just 6.2 lbs, the Genius Pack “Aerial” is perfect for the no-fuss traveler! The bag features durable spinner wheels, its own laundry compartment, interior organization compartments, a packing checklist, and is scratch and stain resistant.

If you’re looking for an easy packing experience in a lightweight bag, the Aerial is for you!

Perfect for: Those looking to keep their haul as light and organized as possible.

Compare prices here.

Read more: Packing Light: How To Pack For Carry-On Only

Nicole Miller Paige Collection Carry On Under Seat Bag

Weighing in at only 6.3 lbs, the Nicole Miller Under Seat Bag is perfect for those who prioritize a light, sleek bag. This rolling bag features a retractable handle, side and front zippered pockets, and is stylish to boot!

If you’re seeking a good balance of classy and casual in a bag, then this is one of the best cabin luggage options for you!

Perfect for: Business and weekend travelers keeping it classy.

Compare prices here.

Best Carry-On Luggage For Frequent Travelers

Biaggi Contempo Foldable 18″ 2 Wheel Fashion Tote

Any travel product with the word “foldable” in the name immediately draws in any seasoned traveler. This Biaggi carry-on collapses to half its size for easy stowing away (perfect for sailing trips or sleeping in a campervan!), is durable and water resistant, and uses hinge-lock technology. However, the real draw is its size.

With a little research, we’ve found the smallest combined dimensions of all international airline carry-on restrictions to be 21 x 13 x 9 — and this bag is one of very few to fit within them! Being one of the best international carry-on luggage options on the market, you can be sure that no matter where you fly or what airline you take, this tote will meet all requirements.

Perfect for: The adventurous traveler with limited space, or long-term travelers who want to pack their carry-on light.

Compare prices here.

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2

I have to admit, this post would not be complete without mentioning a Travelpro suitcase. This tried-and-true brand has been used by airline employees for years, namely for its simplicity and durability, and has some of the best luggage reviews from airline professionals.

Travelpro’s latest carry-on — the Platinum Magna 2 — can withstand plenty of wear and tear over the years and is practical in every way. A “comfort” handle and and MagnaTrac wheels that self-align, in addition to convenient built-in zipper pockets, are added bonuses on an otherwise no-frills suitcase that will last a lifetime.

Perfect for: Frequent and/or adventurous travelers who prioritize durability.

Compare prices here.

Best Smart Carry-On Luggage

Samsonite Spinner Underseater

One of the biggest airport hassles is drained batteries, a problem that can easily be solved with this sleek, smart-suitcase.

The Samsonite Spinner not only looks sleek and sophisticated but has built-in technology to serve as a USB charging port for all your electronic devices. Not only that, the bag will fit perfectly in front of the seat in front of you, it features spinner wheels, and it weighs only 6.5 lbs!

Perfect for: Frequent travelers needing to stay connected and have their devices charged at all times.

Compare prices here.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Most Durable Carry-On Luggage

Eagle Creek Load Hauler

Dual backpack straps, an adjustable shoulder strap, and padded handles on both the top and front of this bag make Eagle Creek’s latest duffel an ease to carry and one of the best carry-on bags to take along on your adventures!

High durability and maximum abrasion resistance means you can throw this bag around just about anywhere without worry of tears or damage, but the makers of this bag offer a full lifetime warranty on it just in case.

A safety whistle and lockable zippers ensure extra security while you’re near or far from your bag, and practical outer pouches for toiletries and gear give you all the space you need to carry all your travel belongings with you in-flight.

With compression straps, expandable zippers, and a little smart packing (remember to roll your clothes instead of folding or cramming), minimalist packers won’t even need to check a suitcase!

Perfect for: Adventurous travelers who prioritize both durability and flexibility.

Compare prices here.

Delsey Helium Aero

While we typically stand by the saying that “you get what you pay for,” this 100% polycarbonate hardshell suitcase runs for about $100 USD and packs a lot of features in a “small” suitcase. Delsey’s Helium Aero is comparable to Samsonite in strength and style, but has additional organization pockets and an easy-access padded laptop compartment in the front.

Luggage reviews of this carry-on can all seem to agree that the overall quality and price of this Delsey makes it one of the best cabin luggage options on the market!

Perfect for: Budget and business travelers looking to keep their electronics within reach.

Compare prices here.

Read more: Carry-On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel

Best Carry-On Luggage for Business Travelers

CHESTER Carry-On Luggage/22″

While it does offer a sleek style and a great-sized frame, what we love most about this hardshell suitcase is its sheer durability. Made with 100% polycarbonate, this lightweight piece of luggage is water-resistant, super easy to clean, and even has organized compartments for all your possessions.

Not to mention that the Chester carry-on runs at a little less than $200 USD and includes warranty, meaning it will last forever!

Perfect for: Travelers who prioritize durability and keeping their belongings safe.

Check prices here.

Most Stylish Carry-On Luggage

Bellagio Business V2.0 21” Carry On Spinner

I am completely in love with this bag and bring it on all of my domestic trips! The philosophy of Italian travel bag manufacturer Bric’s Milano is to “create elegant, functional travel bags that are good looking, and include all the practical function and modern amenities demanded by today’s traveler.” And boy, does this bag deliver.

A gorgeous, polycarbonate option with leather trimmings, the Bellagio Business Carry On Spinner features an external pocket acting as a business organizer, is lightweight and durable, and even has a water-resistant zipper.

Running in at a little less than $600 USD, this bag will not only make you the owner of the most fashionable bag on the plane, it will also last you years of travel. This is simply one of the best international carry-on luggage items you can buy!

Perfect for: Business travelers with a desire for top-end style and functionality.

Compare prices here.

Best Carry-On Backpack

Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack 40L

Not only does the Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack fit almost all carry-on luggage requirements, but it also features packing cubes, three different carrying styles, exterior compression straps, a padded laptop sleeve, and the handiest pockets ever! Hynes Eagle is well-known for creating durable, stylish products and this backpack delivers.

Perfect for: Low-maintenance travelers looking for quality and flexibility.

Compare prices here.

What to Look for in Carry-On Luggage

Size: What is the best carry-on size? In order for you to take your carry-on into the cabin, it’s going to have to meet the airline’s size requirements. That said, different airlines can have different size requirements for cabin luggage, so make sure you check online to see what the standard size is for the airlines you fly with the most.

Weight: As with size, airlines also usually have weight restrictions for carry-on bags. Not only will a lighter bag be easier to lug around, but it’ll give you more wiggle room when deciding what to pack.

Wheels: Carry-on luggage featuring wheels are pretty standard, but not all wheels are created equally. Wheels made of cheaper materials can become scratched, start to wobble, wear away easily, or fall off — and that’s never convenient when you’re on a trip.

Additionally, decide whether or not having two wheels is sufficient for you, or if you would prefer four. Having four wheels could save you arm pain if you have to drag your suitcase around for a while.

Compartments: Regardless of what kind of traveler you are, having conveniently-placed compartments can be a great way to organize your bag. However, make sure these compartments don’t hinder the amount of space inside your bag.

Before you buy, think about the items that you usually take along with you, and whether or not you’ll be able to adjust the compartments to fit them.

Quality: It should go without saying, but definitely read the reviews of every bag before you buy. Look for keywords in regards to the durability and stitching of the carry-on, as an attention to the quality could end up saving you from having to purchase a new bag in a few years.

What’s Not Allowed In a Carry-On Bag

Knowing what you can and cannot bring in your carry-on bag will save you time and hassle when you get to security. These guidelines change a bit country-to-country, but some general guidelines for what to leave at home are are any liquids more than 3.4 ounces (including gels and aerosols), tools, anything sharp (razors, scissors, etc.), sporting equipment (you’ll likely have to check it), weapons & self-defense items, and flammables.

Additionally, most medications will be fine to bring with you in a carry-on, but check the requirements for the country you’re traveling in as you may need a note from your doctor.

15 Best Travel Suitcases That Are Built To Last

Suitcases have graduated from purely functional items designed to carry clothing to bonafide fashion statements within themselves. Whether you’re hopping around the globe for work or play, a chic, functional piece of luggage should be at the top of your list. However, finding the right suitcase to suit your individual travel needs and personal style can be a tricky task. Here are the best travel suitcases you need to invest in this year.

RELATED: 15 Top Travel Accessories For The Avid Traveller

1. Samsonite Octolite 75cm Spinner

Whether you’re heading on a relaxing holiday or off on a business trip, Samsonite’s Octolite 75cm Spinner case has you covered. Featuring an innovative design, this impressive suitcase is ideal for the modern traveler. With every curve and groove perfectly sculpted, the Octolite is ultralightweight and incredibly durable. However, its unique and practical shape isn’t the only benefit of this handy travel companion. The case also boasts a variety of impressive features, including a TSA combination lock and 360° multidirectional spinner wheels for maneuverability.

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2. Victorinox Lexicon Hardside Large

The Victorinox Lexicon Large Hardside case is part of the esteemed brand’s most technically advanced collection of hardside luggage to date. Sturdy, spacious and innovative, this case boasts the latest in moulding technology and functionality. Featuring super-recessed wheels and haul handles, the case offers travellers greater packing capacity than any other case in its class. Additionally, this smart design is incredibly reliable with a 100% virgin polycarbonate shell and an integrated combination lock.

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3. Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry-On Expandable Spinner Trolley

The Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry-On case comes with a hard, durable exterior but does not compromise on style. It is a sleek and elegant design that will not scuff or scratch. It is the perfect touch of luxe for any traveler or globetrotter and comes in four chic colors all with a shiny finish, so your look will still be on point while you’re navigating the busy terminals. For such a strong and sturdy case it’s also super light and moveable with four spinner wheels that rotate in any direction.

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4. Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29

Known for producing luggage that exceeds industry standards, Victorinox is regarded as one of the best brands in the luggage biz. The front compartment is easily accessible and ideal for carrying your laptop, jacket or water bottle. Like all Victorinox products, the Spectra 2.0 29 has a tough scratch-resistant outer with a stylish matte finish. Its versatile range of motion means that it can be easily pulled on two wheels or pushed on four. Overall, it’s a sleek piece of luggage that melds fashion and function. It also comes in black, blue, red and white.

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5. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20″ 4 Wheel Upright

This case’s durability alone is a good enough reason to buy it. But when you consider its sleek appearance, functionality, and affordability, it is hard to go past it. The Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20” Moulded Upright Spinner will keep your travel essentials protected and your arms free of strain all while looking stylish. This lightweight carry-on features molded details, and it is designed to absorb impact. This means it will flex while under stress and then pop back into its original shape without any dents. It is spacious and has a fully lined luxurious interior complete with restrains, pockets and a lid compartment, meaning you won’t have to do the dreaded opening of your entire bag to retrieve your things in the middle of the airport.

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6. Samsonite Omni PC 28-Inch Spinner

Whether you’re jetting off for an extended vacay or a frequent flyer you probably need a large suitcase with plenty of storage. Well, look no further than the Samsonite Omni PC 28-Inch Spinner. Samsonite is known for producing some of the most high-quality and reliable suitcases on the market. This case is durable, lightweight and it features four spinner wheels which can turn 360 degrees. So, navigating the foreign streets should be a breeze with the Omni PC gliding effortlessly over any surface. It also features scratch-resistant technology, so it will continue to look fresh while you travel and for many trips to come. It is available in several colors, and for a security bonus, it comes with a TSA lock mounted on the side.

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7. Herschel Supply Co Medium Trade Luggage

Look and feel fantastic while you travel with the durable and highly functional Herschel Supply Co Medium Trade Luggage Case. It is lightweight and convenient featuring mesh interiors to store smaller items or anything you may want to keep separate. If you’re into all things matching, this bag also sports the classic Herschel’s striped fabric liner, meaning your case will match your backpack. It also features a stylish pebbled leather diamond pattern, and pebbled leather pulls. Like most cases, it has four-wheeled spinners that rotate 360 degrees. However, this case will not roll away if you let go of the handle. This case is fashionable, functional and won’t dent even if you drop it.

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8. American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 29

Functional, fashionable, fun and affordable, the American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 29 comes in seven different colors, meaning you can pick a bright and vibrant style to stand out in baggage claim or go for something subtle and professional. This lightweight expandable suitcase offers enough space that you don’t have to streamline your packing. It also boasts two front pockets for items you want to be easily accessible. Its four spinner wheels and super lightweight, spacious design all make for easy mobility and stress-free packing.

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9. Coolife Luggage Expandable Suitcase PC+ABS Spinner Carry-On

If you’re planning to rough it or even just a little bit paranoid about those less than careful baggage handlers, the Coolife Luggage Expandable Suitcase may be what you need. Travel with peace of mind knowing that your case is protected. The case features a hard plastic shell that has undergone rigorous quality control testing to ensure it can withstand the turmoils of traveling. To top it off, the interior is completely lined with multi-use organizational pockets, making packing clothes, jewelry, accessories, technology, and any other items very smooth sailing. It is spacious, easy to organize, strong and fashionable.

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10 Antler Aire 4W

If you’re taking off on a longer trip or even just on the hunt for a super-light bag, look no further. Antler’s Aire 4W Expanding Suitcase weighs in at just over two kilograms, making it the brand’s lightest soft case ever. The best part is that its lightweight does not affect its durability. It has the same inner padding as the brand’s bigger cases and can withstand plenty of bumps and scrapes. Know that your things are safe and that your super light luggage will continue to look good as new for all your adventures. It will glide effortlessly over any surface including the cobblestoned lanes of Russia and the busy streets of New York.

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11. Olympia Apache II 21″ Carry-On Spinner

What is extra special about the Apache II is Olympia’s patented hidden compartment. Exclusive to Olympia, this is a hidden expandable compartment that allows you to easily access your laptop, sweater, headphones, water bottle, wallet and more. This means no more awkwardly rummaging through your bag in the middle of the busy airport frantically searching for your things. In addition to this handy feature, this bag is also super strong, especially considering its price range. It also includes a zippered divider with shoe pockets and mesh pockets for items you might want to keep separate from the rest of your things.

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12. Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable 28″ Upright

If you’re after something with a simple and minimal style that offers one of the most satisfying packing experiences imaginable, the Briggs & Riley Baseline is the bag for you. While it is a little on the pricey side, it is certainly worth the extra cash. The expansion/compression system allows you an additional 2½ inches of space then compress the bag to its original size. Thanks to the handy latch mechanism, the lid is kept firmly in place with no extra pressure placed on the zip. This bag also offers varying degrees of expansion or compression as opposed to other cases which can only be fully expanded. As well as being a sophisticated and stylish piece, this bag offers truly unique and exceedingly functional features.

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13. Hartmann Herringbone Luxe Softside Carry On Expandable Spinner

Hartmann has long set the bar in the luggage line, creating timeless travel pieces that are functional, fashionable and reliable. The Hartmann Herringbone Luxe Carry On will get you where you need to go without slowing you down or compromising your look. The durable steel coils and fiberglass rod frame are hidden neatly by the luxe design. This case is shock-resistant and available in hard or soft case styles. It also features a removable waterproof pouch.

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14. The Travelpro Maxlite 3 Expandable Spinner

Are you a fan of a sneaky weekend getaway or always going here and there for quick business trips? A smaller, lightweight case that still offers plenty of space might be more up your alley. The Travelpro Maxlite 3 Expandable Spinner is a reasonably priced smaller bag that is perfect for short trips or as a carry-on. Just be sure to double-check your airline’s restrictions regarding carry-ons first. It features an ultra-lightweight design and a four-wheel spinner system with wheels that rotate 360 degrees. This case is significantly lighter than others of its size meaning it can be lifted up and down with ease. It is ideal for shorter getaways but can be expanded to fit up to a week’s worth of clothing.

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15. Ricardo Beverly Hills Mar Vista

Sturdy, reliable, functional and made to meet airport standards. This bag is perfect for all you travelers hunting for a staple piece of luggage. The rolling garment bag feature allows you to hang shirts, dresses or any other items you want to keep clean and protected. You can hang them in their own section and keep them as wrinkle-free as possible. This is especially handy when traveling for business or a special occasion. As well as wheels that glide and turn smoothly, this bag also comes with a stopper on the wheels, meaning you can stop to catch your breath, get a coffee or have a chat knowing your bag won’t roll away. It is functional, attractive and offers a large packing capacity.

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The Best Carry-On Luggage in 2019 for Every Taste and Budget

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What is the best carry-on luggage? is a question on every traveler’s mind these days. For me, there is nothing quite like a chic retro-inspired suitcase to induce that sense of wanderlust. For you, it could be a practical backpack, a striking designer piece, or a professionally looking hardside spinner packed with all technical conveniences. In the end, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, but rather different needs and preferences.

Luckily for all of us, with high demand comes even higher competition, and that means innovation, creativity, and choice. Luggage brands around the world are building better and better carry-on bags each year in order to satisfy every traveler’s taste and budget.

Whether you prefer your cabin companion stylish and classic, chic and feminine, or exceptionally practical and equipped with a bevy of tech features, we’re pretty sure you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the list below.

Please note that these are not reviews, but our handpicked recommendations of the best carry-on luggage in 2019 for every budget and type of traveler. Bon voyage!

Eye-Candy Pink Away Suitcase

The Bigger Carry-On in blush pink is not just impossibly pretty, but also unbreakable and packed with lots of smart features. These include an interior compression system which allows you to make the most of the space inside, TSA-approved lock, removable laundry bag, built-in battery for charging your USB devices, as well as premium 360° wheels for a smooth, easy roll.

Nevertheless, its chic and durable polycarbonate shell ensures both your suitcase and contents stay intact during the trip, while also keeping the weight down. In a nutshell, this minimalist luggage from Away is sleek, sturdy, and excellent value for money – a must-have for any fashionista who likes to travel with extra outfits! We wouldn’t expect less from a company that makes some of the best travel luggage out there.

Smart Carry-On Luggage with Personal Travel Assistance

Loaded with tech features and enhanced with a personal travel assistant, you’d be hard pressed to find a smarter luggage piece for short trips than this tough, beautiful carry-on bag from Horizn Studios.

Designed especially for frequent flyers, the M5 Cabin Luggage is crafted with premium aerospace-grade polycarbonate and features an easy-access front pocket made from Italian leather and waterproof nylon – perfect for holding a 15” laptop and other journey essentials.

Each case comes with upscale Japanese 360° spinner wheels and offers one-year access to Horizn GO – your dedicated travel agent. Tech-savvy travelers will also love the built-in/removable smart charger, which is compliant with all international flight regulations.

Chester’s Lightweight & Durable Hardshell Carry-On

Impact resistance and lightness are among this product’s strongest features, enhanced by a sleek, contemporary design and a host of modern conveniences.

Fabricated from 100% polycarbonate, Chester’s 22″ carry-on luggage is one of the lightest and best value pieces in its category. However, this doesn’t mean it compromises on quality and convenience. On the contrary, with two spacious compartments, three interior organizers, and a removable nylon laundry bag, you have the room you need to neatly store your belongings when traveling.

Furthermore, its 4 silent spinner wheels along with the telescoping ergonomic handle ensure 360-degree mobility through the terminal, while the TSA-compliant size and lock make your journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Next Generation Carry-On Bag

Take your travels to the next level with the minimalist G-RO Carry-on 2.0 Classic. With its tough-terrain oversized wheels, this groundbreaking companion bag is chock full of advanced features.

Durable, yet surprisingly light, it sports a super-strong ballistic nylon outer shell, with high-quality YKK zippers and an extra-long ergonomic handle suitable for all heights. Adding to its roomy, well-structured interior is an easy-access laptop compartment, as well as lots of external pockets for staying organized and connected on the move.

The unique axle-less wheel system, along with the durable, simplified design, makes the G-RO an intelligent choice for today’s savvy explorers. This newer model lacks the tech features of the original but is slightly lighter and roomier.

The Carry-On Closet

Taking proper care of your precious clothes when on the road is no easy job. But, what about a valise that doubles as a portable closet?

Aptly named The Carry-On Closet, this creative, cabin-approved hardshell spinner luggage designed by Solgaard has built-in retractable shelves to keep your garments nicely separated and wrinkle-free wherever the day may take you.

Samsonite’s Lightweight Freeform

Freeform, one of Samsonite’s coolest carry-on suitcases, combines strength and maneuverability with a unique futuristic design. Appointed with multiple pockets as well as interior cross-ribbon and divider, the 21″ hardshell spinner makes for easy, effective packing and organizing.

Needless to say, this sleek rolling luggage piece is extremely lightweight and made from strong, high-quality materials to provide long-lasting durability. Further characteristics include four multi-directional double spinner wheels, telescopic handle, expandable capacity, TSA Lock, and built-in ID tag.

A Gadgets Lover’s Dream Luggage

Tech-savvy road warriors will fall in love with the Xiaomi Business Travel Boarding Suitcase, a 20-inch carry-on spinner with a unique open-lid compartment that provides quick access to electronics and travel documents. Not only that, but the suitcase comes in a stylish titanium gray, with smooth, silent wheels, adjustable 4-level handle, and double TSA locks.

World’s First Fully Customizable Luggage

Made of 100% virgin Polycarbonate with a trademarked nano-coating finish, The Jaunt by ROAM steals the show with its sleek, sturdy design, unparalleled lightness, and personalized looks.

Thanks to a bevy of customizable components, you’ll be able to design your own dream suitcase from scratch online and have it delivered right at your door. You can basically personalize everything, from outer shell colors to wheel caps, stitching, zipper/zipper pulls, binding, carry-handle, and telescoping handle rods. You can even choose a shade for the patch from 11 options available and then add a monogram with your initials.

Bespoke aesthetics aside, this wheeled carry-on roller suitcase sports a soft mesh interior with two zip pockets, and comes appointed with TSA-approved lock, ergonomically designed handles, and top-grade Hinomoto wheels.

A 3-in-1 travel backpack, this versatile luggage piece converts into a suitcase or shoulder bag in no time, all while fitting 5-7 outfits into a carry-on size. Equipped with padded back ventilation, hide-away straps, detachable hipbelt, and a roll-aboard strap that attaches to rolling luggage, it offers the ultimate in carrying comfort on the road.

Able to expand to 45L, Standard’s 35L Carry-on Backpack is part of a novel travel system sold alongside transforming accessories for the urban travel market. It’s tough, stylish, and gloriously functional, which makes it an ideal companion for digital nomads, business travelers, weekend warriors, and pretty much anyone consistently on the move.

The 1680D ballistic nylon exterior is durable and water-resistant, while the interior is smartly organized, with a dedicated laptop sleeve and all sorts of pockets for gear and accessories. A full-perimeter zip enables a wide opening for easy packing and access to contents, lockable zips on main pocket & laptop pocket provide extra security, and a raincover helps keep the bag dry in wet weather conditions.

Its convertible design, expandable capacity, and thoughtful features place it amongst the best travel backpacks on the market. It comes in two colors and is backed by a lifetime warranty. Pair that with the fact that Standard is the only online travel backpack retailer offering free worldwide shipping and you can see why we love this hybrid cabin bag so much.

TREK Aluminum Suitcase Black

If you haven’t heard of MVST Select, you should. The brand specializes in premium quality luggage at affordable prices. Their Trek Aluminium Suitcase, for instance, is not only remarkably durable and well designed but also seriously stylish. It sports an unbreakable aluminum-magnesium alloy shell complemented by reinforced corners, TSA-approved combo locks, and water-resistant rubber sealing, as well as ultra-smooth spinner wheels that make maneuvering a breeze. An aluminum telescoping handle provides ergonomic comfort, while the interior compression system keeps your belongings organized and secured.

This classy cabin-size suitcase is for frequent travelers who don’t mind making a statement, but MVST Select offers carry-on luggage for every taste, including aluminum, carbon fiber, and polycarbonate collections.

Best Carry-On Suitcase

No fashionista’s summer essentials list would be complete without a chic suitcase that really gets her in holiday mood. With the feminine, vintage-inspired Delsey Chatelet Hard, you will be the envy of all ladies around the baggage carousel!

This nostalgic French beauty brings to mind glamorous Parisian breaks and sunny French Riviera getaways, while also providing functionality and durability. Aside from 4 quiet, easy-running double wheels and an inbuilt TSA lock, the cabin trolley case has a patented integrated brake that locks your wheels, preventing it from rolling away on the steep, cobbled streets of Montmartre.

Best Rolling Softside Carry-On

Modern road warriors will fall in love with the Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller, an ultra-lightweight softside carry-on spinner with a unique clamshell design and various easy-access compartments for shoes, dirty clothes, and cosmetics. Not only that, but this cool luggage roller sports removable skateboard wheels and a bike-inspired handle system; comes in two carry-on sizes; and is backed by lifetime warranty.

A Carry-On Spinner Ready for Any Adventure

Zero Halliburton’s original suitcases were used to carry rocks back from the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, so to say their Geo Aluminum 3.0 Carry-On Spinner is sturdy and well made would be an understatement.

Crafted from premium anodized aluminum, this badass travel case sports a clean Double-Rib design with a robust piano hinge, draw-bolt latches with two TSA-approved combination locks, and a magnesium alloy for added strength and durability.

The stain-resistant interior is divided into two zip compartments with flat panels to keep garments protected and organized, while its reactive spinner wheels along with the multi-stage retractable handle allow for masterly navigation through the airport.

Timeless, tasteful, and tough as hell! We wouldn’t expect less from the creators of the aluminum suitcase!

Best Carry-On Luggage for International Travel

From wandering millennials to stylish global jetsetters, everyone will find something to love about this shimmering rolling suitcase from Briggs and Riley.

Constructed from three-layer Makrolon polycarbonate, the silver International Carry-On Expandable Spinner is sleek, lightweight, and impact resistant. It rolls effortlessly on four double-spinner wheels and features the brand’s signature CX technology, which allows you to expand the bag up to 34 percent, pack everything you need for the road inside, and then compress it back down to carry-on size.

For the ultimate travel ensemble, pair it with a soft companion piece from the same Sympatico luggage collection.

Best Carry-On Luggage for Men

Lightweight, contemporary, and perfectly organized, the 21″ Hartmann Century Hardside Carry-On Expandable Spinner is the perfect accessory for the stylish jetsetter. With its polished and durable polycarbonate shell, removable trifold suiter, and smooth rolling wheels, this beautiful piece of luggage oozes cool urbane sophistication, making a fantastic addition to any man’s collection.

Best Carry-On Luggage for Women

Compact, efficient, and decidedly chic, the Murphie Under-Seat Carry-On is the perfect choice for women craving comfort and convenience during their flight. Not only does it fit perfectly under the seat, but it also has a roomy, fully-lined main compartment, as well as multiple interior/exterior pockets for keeping small items organized.

Made from durable polyester, this Calpak soft-sided underseater features smooth-rolling wheels and a push-button telescoping handle system for hassle-free mobility. The pass-through sleeve on the back is a nice touch too, as it lets you attach it to the handle of larger sized luggage and converts into a zippered pocket when not in use.

Ladies, if you’re after drop-dead gorgeous carry-on luggage under 100$, look no further than the Murphie!

Futuristic Swiss Hardside Suitcase

With a special integrated multi-tool – containing pen, sim card replacement tool, ID tag, and USB port, the Lexicon Hardside Frequent Flyer Carry-On will impress even the most tech-savvy globetrotter. This cabin size trolley case from Victorinox (the maker of the Swiss Army Knife) is constructed from durable 100% virgin polycarbonate with a scratch-resistant matte finish and comes with ultra-recessed wheels to maximize both maneuverability and packing capacity.

Vintage Styled Spinner Trunk

The perfect marriage of fine Italian craftsmanship and modern features, the Bellagio 21″ Carry-On Spinner Trunk from Italian manufacturer BRIC’s will add a touch of class to any holiday or business trip.

Crafted of durable, lightweight polycarbonate, this blue cognac vintage-styled suitcase is trimmed with luxurious vegetable-tanned Tuscan leather while featuring a 360-degree four-wheel system for easy maneuverability through busy airports and crowded city streets.

Its generous interior is divided into two double-decker compartments with intuitive zip pockets for organizing your essentials. It also includes a TSA-approved combination lock and a practical telescoping handle.

The RIMOWA Essential Cabin

RIMOWA is synonym with high-end, innovative hard case luggage, and this glossy black carry-on bag is no exception.

As the world’s first polycarbonate suitcase, the RIMOWA Essential Cabin has all the makings of the perfect wheeled carry-on: a high-end multiwheel system, stageless telescopic handle, and TSA-approved locks. Moreover, its high-tech polycarbonate shell is engineered with extreme precision to offer you the ideal balance of lightweight and sturdiness, while the patented Flex-Divider system keeps contents organized during transit.

Travelpro’s Smart Crew 11 Expandable Spinner Suiter

Designed with pro travelers in mind, the Crew 11 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter from Travelpro is the epitome of practicality. Equipped with a removable 2-fold garment bag and a variety of pockets for fitting in all your essentials, it helps you pack like a flight attendant and stay organized while on the road.

This versatile, high-quality travel bag in patriot blue comes with a variety of smart features too, including patented 360-degree dual spinner wheels, a dedicated power bank pocket, as well as an external USB port to power up your devices on the go. Add a rugged water, stain, and abrasion resistant ballistic nylon exterior, plus premium leather top & side carry handles and a PowerScope extension handle that adjusts to multiple heights, and you have one of the best in-flight cases for frequent travelers.

Splashy Sunset Carry-On

Complement your summer outfit with a trendy 20-inch hardshell spinner in the colors of the sunset. Oh Joy! is a light and durable CALPAK luggage created in collaboration with designer & blogger Joy Cho. Its two separate packing compartments will fit all your party dresses, while the additional pockets are perfect for securing small personals and accessories.

If you want a well-designed women’s suitcase that’s both sturdy and stylish, this is it!

Best Carry-On Bag Under 200

There is a lot to love about this glossy hardside carry-on from Samsonite: it’s highly impact resistant; comes packed with modern features; and the design is both functional and eye-catching.

Made of 100% polycarbonate, the Winfield 2 Fashion 20″ Spinner makes travel effortless thanks to its retractable handles and smooth multi-directional wheels. The case comes in 4 striking metallic colors and its interior is fully lined and well laid out for efficient organization. Busy travelers will also appreciate the mounted TSA combination lock and the 10-year warranty.

Best Carry-On Luggage for Kids

Calling all Marvel fans out there! This 18″ spinner suitcase from American Tourister sports a sturdy ABS/PC split-case shell decked out in colorful graphics depicting Spiderman.

One of the best carry-on bags for boys and girls on the go, it comes with side-mounted skate wheels and an easy pull handle for easy maneuverability through the airport. The fully lined interior provides crisscross tie-down straps and a large zippered mesh pocket for additional accessories.

Compact, lightweight, and easy to spot on the carousel, this vibrant hardside luggage adds a bit of fun to any travel plans.

Best Carry-On Luggage for Business Travel

Perfect for business travelers with a sense of style, this classy Tuscan leather carry-on trolley fits two suits and keeps them free of wrinkles until your next meeting, wherever in the world that may be.

Designed by German manufacturer Vocier, F38 Luggage uses an original Zero-Crease System to keep your outfits intact in a special compartment that gently curves around the cotton-lined interior. Once you arrive at the destination, just open the main zipper and hang the bag in the closet.

Also, a unique storage area hidden beneath the handle allows easy access to your passport, phone, and flight tickets for getting through security fast. The best cabin luggage for business travel, hands down!

Raden A22 Carry-On Luggage

Stylishly designed and equipped with the latest in travel technology, Raden’s A22 carry-on luggage answers the needs of connected, style-conscious travelers with an in-built weighing scale handle and two micro USB ports – perfect for charging your devices while out and about. When paired with the Raden app, you can weigh the bag just by lifting it or find out its approximate location if lost.

The interior is just as neat, with two zippered, equally sized compartments, pockets for small items, and amenities such as earplugs, eye mask, and a USB cable for charging the suitcase battery.

Gorgeous Rose Gold Suitcase by Arlo Skye

Travel the world in style with the beautiful Polycarbonate Carry-On from Arlo Skye. Envisioned by former employees of Tumi and Louis Vuitton, this sleek, unbreakable piece of luggage features an innovative zipper-less design with 1-touch open/close frame, durable aluminum corners, and whisper quiet Silent Run Lisof wheels.

Complementing its splendid rose gold shell is an antimicrobial interior lining, as well as a built-in removable charger for juicing up your devices on the go.

Stylish & Functional Aluminum Carry-On Suitcase

Blending contemporary functionality with award-winning design and craftsmanship, TUPLUS X2 is a dream come true for today’s modern, sophisticated traveler.

The sleek aluminum suitcase is fitted with silent, vibration-absorbing wheels and a 3-tier adjustable pull rod for smooth transportation from the airport to your destination. It also allows easy access to your belongings thanks to the ingenious One-Touch open system (20° and 90° open angles), and boasts a well-designed interior with clever organizational pockets.

Experts Reveal the Best Carry-on Suitcases for Traveling Europe

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If you’re traveling Europe and looking for ideas on the best carry-on suitcases, read on to find out what the travel experts recommend.

Best Carry-on Suitcases for Traveling Europe

Table Of Contents

There are various things to consider when choosing the best luggage for Europe including a difference in carry on size, strict weight restrictions, mobility on the cobblestone streets, and long flights of stairs. Scroll down to the end of this post for tips on choosing the best suitcase for Europe travel to suit the needs for your trip.

Below you’ll find the most popular Europe travel bag styles according to our readers along with their tried and tested reviews. Keep reading to choose the right one for you:

Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry On

Delsey Hard Side Suitcase

The best suitcase to have when traveling Europe is a rigid trolley case, ideally with four castors. The trolley should be divided into two compartments (not just one big compartment) for easy packing. As Kelly Hadous, CEO and founder of Win The Room, says, “you can really pack it full.”

This Delsey trolley case features two large fully-lined compartments with multiple pockets allow easy access and organization for all of your items. There’s also an easily accessible front compartment with a padded sleeve for your laptop, tablet, or other items you reach for at the airport or mid-travel. If you’re looking for European luggage, this Delsey suitcase fits the bill for easy organization and travel. Buy it here!

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack

Osprey Farpoint 55 Backpack

Ranked as one of the best travel bags for Europe, the Osprey Farpoint is perfect for carry-on travel, RTW trips, and backpacking. The daypack conveniently attaches to the main harness of the Farpoint pack to provide easy access to gear essentials, while the sleeping pad straps allow for quick, external gear attachment. They can be fully removed to save weight, while the adjustable sternum strap deploys quickly for any path or trail.

One reader says, “I carried the Osprey Farpoint on Ryanair with no trouble! I used the small detachable backpack as my hand luggage that went at my feet. The larger bag fit fine into the Ryanair sizing bins.” Buy it here!

Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack

Osprey Porter Carry-on Backpack

For a European carry on size bag, a backpack is always a safe option. It’s also the perfect fit for those of us who prefer to travel hands-free.

Jackie Laulainen, travel blogger of TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com, always travels with her REI backpack, sharing, “I was able to pack ALL of my belongings into this backpack (including my purse). Not only is it comfortable, with great pockets and compartments, but it also fits perfectly into the Ryanair overhead bin. This is very important, because they pulled others out of line and made them check bags at the gate, which can cost up to 60 Euros. No thank you!”

While her beloved REI backpack is an older model, we found a similar style. The Osprey Packs Porter 30 travel backpack sets the standard for deluxe duffels. It features padded sidewalls, convenient organization, and a substantial suspension for backpack-style carry. This bag also features a dedicated zippered laptop and tablet pocket with multiple access points. This bag gets two thumbs up from us! Buy it here!

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender

The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible bag is the perfect carry-on size backpack. We love this for European carry on luggage because it features countless organizational details along with a laptop compartment.

The full expansion zipper adds 10% more packing space for all those souvenirs you pick up along on your European travels. We love how many zippered compartments there are, making it easy to pack and organize your gear. Buy it here!

Looking for a perfect hands-free carry-on convertible backpack? Try this eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior!

Lite Gear Travel Pack

Lite Gear Travel Pack

Perfect for an overnight trip or an outdoor adventure, the Lite Gear carry-on case features a convertible design that you can use as a shoulder bag or a backpack. Made from durable polyester, it features a lightweight design in an airline-friendly carry-on size that makes it perfect for all types of European travel. The bag also has a zip down front pocket, a side water bottle pocket, and a vertical front zipper pocket for easy and organized storage.

As one reader says, “I use a Lite Gear convertible backpack and love it!” Buy it here!

Samsonite Centric Expandable Spinner

Samsonite Spinner

For long travels, you need a durable traveling suitcase, like the Samsonite Centric Expandable Spinner. One reader says, “I am happy with my Samsonite spinner! If you are the kind of person who only has a few pieces of luggage and then uses it for years, this investment is absolutely worth it.

This luggage won’t weigh you down but can also survive even the most rigorous of travel. Four, multi-directional spinner wheels offer easy mobility, and the bag rolls upright so there is no weight on your arm. Most impressive is the fabric. It’s lightweight yet durable, so you don’t need to worry about tears or rips. This is the kind of luggage that will last you for years and years. Buy it here!

Travelpro Platinum Elite International Expandable Carry-on Spinner

Travelpro International Carry-On Suitcase

Expandable carry-on luggage is the perfect fit when you need to size your bag up or down. European budget airlines have stricter size regulations for carry-on luggage, which means your suitcase needs to be smaller. This Travelpro suitcase is sized right, making it among the best carry-on luggage for international travel. You can expand it incrementally up to 2 inches.

Additionally, this classic design luggage has self-aligning magnetic dual wheel spinners, which help keep it rolling in a straight line. The extension handle has three stops, so you’ll find the perfect height for personal comfort.

It is made with high-quality, durable nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating to help protect against stains and scuffs, and it features leather top and side carry handles. Travelpro designed this bag with frequent flyers in mind, for business or pleasure. You’ll find it a stylish choice when looking for the best suitcase for Europe. Buy it here!

AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack

Amazon Basics Backpack

Backpacking in Europe once meant you had to carry big, bulky packs. Now, with choices like Amazon’s Carry-On Travel Backpack, you’ll be able to tote your capsule wardrobe in style in the best backpack for Europe. We love that this travel backpack is convertible in style; padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, waist belt, and long shoulder strap are removable, so you can convert this backpack into a carry-on suitcase or shoulder bag.

It has three handles to carry it, hoist it, and stow it easily — wherever you go — on planes, trains, buses, or even on foot. Plenty of pockets will hold your laptop, documents, ID, travel liquids, and any shoulder straps you aren’t using. The backpack’s main compartment features zippered mesh space and internal and external compression straps. Better still, it expands by zipper, allowing up to 10 percent more space — perfect for bringing home souvenirs and making it a best travel backpack for Europe! Buy it here!

Deuter Transit 50 Carry-On Travel Backpack

Deuter Transit Backpack

The Deuter Transit 50 Travel Pack features a U-shape zip allowing you to access the main compartment on a whim, keeping you from holding up the security line and on time for your flight. This bag meets airlines’ size guidelines for carry-on baggage and conveniently fits inside overhead compartment bins so you never have to check it.

Featuring a padded removable carry strap, two sturdy grab handles, breathable padded shoulder harness, and luggage stabilizing straps for extra comfort, this backpack is easy to travel with, making airline transit a breeze. Buy it here!

IT Luggage 21.5″ Stitched Squares Lightweight Carry-on

IT Lightweight Luggage

A number of our readers rave about IT luggage for the best carry on luggage for Europe. Their collection features a wide range of colors to suit your personal sense of style. This revolutionary lightweight design features a fiberglass handle that is built into the frame, which allows for a flat packing bed for crease-free packing. Each case has two smooth wheels and a wide soft grip non-locking handle.

Mary Chong, a travel blogger of Calculated Traveller, swears by IT luggage, saying “I use the 4-wheeler carry-on by IT Luggage Brands, which weighs 2.25 kg/4.96 lbs. I LOVE IT. I go carry-on only and sneak more on the plane by using a backpack as my laptop bag/purse.” Buy it here!

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 4-Wheel Bag

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior

When you travel to Europe, you want the lightest carry-on luggage to grab and go. The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior meets that challenge at 7 lb 15 oz. This durable carry-on bag has reinforced corners to prevent fraying and a water repellent exterior.

A top compartment would be perfect for travel liquids or anything else you need to keep handy. Eagle Creek suggests the large pocket can be used for dirty laundry or gear you want to keep separate from other items in the main compartment. Use the compression straps in the main compartment to keep your packing cubes or clothing secure.

The oversize wheels have treads for greater grip when you use the adjustable handle with the unique equipment keeper. If you travel with gear, you can use the equipment keeper to strap gear to the top of the bag — or it doubles as a bottle opener. Durable and lightweight, the Eagle Creek Warrior is among the best carry-on luggage for Europe. Buy it here!

Lipault Original Plume Spinner 55/20 Carry-On Luggage

Lipault Original Plume Spinner

This carry-on from Lipault Paris makes our list for the best lightweight luggage for Europe thanks to its ultra-light weight fabric and unique collapsible 2-wheeled trolley that comes with a matching zipped storage case. One reader raves about this bag because it’s the perfect size and weight for a week’s worth of clothing.

She says, “I’ve taken the Lipault 21″ two-wheel rolling carry-on bag on three big trips with me. I had to check it once because of tour, not plane, restrictions. It’s held up pretty well. The plastic part of the retracting handle cracked last year, but I fixed it with electrical tape and it made it through this year’s trip with flying colors. It’s very lightweight and fits easily in overhead bins.” Buy it here!

High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Book Bag Backpack

High Sierra Wheeled Backpack

Another popular Europe travel bag is the High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Book Bag Backpack. Its large, multi-compartment design features a roomy main zippered compartment with a cushion zone padded 17” laptop sleeve, an organizer and media pocket, a zippered pocket, and several open pockets for quick access.

It also has an easy-access zippered accessory compartment with headphone port and zippered side pockets for water bottles or other necessities. The bag easily converts into a comfortable backpack with adjustable mesh shoulder straps and a zippered, paneled back panel. Buy it here!

Knomo London Mayfair Nylon Sedley Tote

Knomo Wheeled Tote

We love the versatile shape of this wheeled tote by Knomo. You can use it as a stylish shoulder bag or tote it like a suitcase with its handle. The bag has a sleek nylon exterior with saffiano leather trim with a colorful lining. The large main compartment features a laptop pouch, organizer, and zip pockets to keep all of your belongings separate and organized.

As one reader says, “what a great bag! It fits so many travel essentials, including a laptop, comfortably.” Buy it here!

Best Carry-on Suitcases for Europe Comparison Chart

Still can’t decide? Here’s a quick review about each of these carry-on suitcases:

BRAND / MODEL REVIEW RATING PRICE
Delsey Trolley Case “This Delsey trolley case features two large fully-lined compartments with multiple pockets allow easy access and organization for all of your items.” Check Price
Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack “Ranked as one of the best travel bags for Europe, the Osprey Farpoint is perfect for carry-on travel, RTW trips, and backpacking.” Check Price
Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack “The Osprey Packs Porter 30 travel backpack sets the standard for deluxe duffels. It features padded sidewalls, convenient organization, and a substantial suspension for backpack-style carry.” Check Price
eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible “The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible bag is the perfect carry-on size backpack. We love this for European carry on luggage because it features countless organizational details along with a laptop compartment.” Check Price
Lite Gear Travel Pack “Perfect for an overnight trip or an outdoor adventure, the Lite Gear carry-on case features a convertible design that you can use as a shoulder bag or a backpack.” Check Price
Samsonite Centric Expandable Spinner “This luggage won’t weigh you down but can also survive even the most rigorous of travel. Four, multi-directional spinner wheels offer easy mobility, and the bag rolls upright so there is no weight on your arm.” Check Price
Travelpro Platinum Elite International Carry-on “Travelpro designed this bag with frequent flyers in mind, for business or pleasure. You’ll find it a stylish choice when looking for the best suitcase for Europe.” Check Price
AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack “The backpack’s main compartment features zippered mesh space and internal and external compression straps. Better still, it expands by zipper, allowing up to 10 percent more space — perfect for bringing home souvenirs and making it a best travel backpack for Europe!” Check Price
Deuter Transit 50 Travel Pack “The Deuter Transit 50 Travel Pack features a U-shape zip allowing you to access the main compartment on a whim, keeping you from holding up the security line and on time for your flight.” Check Price
IT Luggage Lightweight Carry-on “This revolutionary lightweight design features a fiberglass handle that is built into the frame, which allows for a flat packing bed for crease-free packing. Each case has two smooth wheels and a wide soft grip non-locking handle.” Check Price
Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 4-Wheel Bag “When you travel to Europe, you want the lightest carry-on luggage to grab and go. The Eagle Creek Load Warrior meets that challenge at 2.06k/4 lb 13 oz. This durable carry-on bag has reinforced corners to prevent fraying and a water repellent exterior.” Check Price
Lipault Paris Foldable 2-Wheeled Carry-on Trolly “This carry-on from Lipault Paris makes our list for the best lightweight luggage for Europe thanks to its ultra-light weight fabric and nique collapsible 2-wheeled trolley that comes with a matching zipped storage case.” Check Price
High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Book Bag Backpack “Its large, multi-compartmented design features a roomy main zippered compartment with a cushion zone padded 17” laptop sleeve, an organizer and media pocket, a zippered pocket, and several open pockets for quick access.” Check Price
Knomo Mayfair Nylon Sedley Tote “You can use it as a stylish shoulder bag or tote it like a suitcase with its handle. The bag has a sleek nylon exterior with saffiano leather trim with a colorful lining.” Check Price

Things to consider when shopping for the best traveling bags for Europe:

When you choose the best travel bag for Europe, remember that you might be taking a variety of transportation methods on your trip such as trains and buses.

Aside from small luggage racks and tight storage spaces, you need to be able to move quickly and easily maneuver your suitcase on and off the train. There are sometimes even wide gaps between the train platforms and the trains so it’s helpful if you can lift your own bag with ease.

Being able to carry your own luggage is a must! Forget having to lift your own suitcase on a plane, in Europe you have to be able to lift your own bag and more through train stations, steep historical streets, and also through narrow staircases to get to your hotel room.

Unless you’re staying in a major hotel, many buildings don’t have elevators, especially if you’re staying in a small guesthouse or Airbnb. Plus, when you’re in a rush.…it helps if you can move quickly without being slowed down by your bag.

Weight and Size restrictions: If you’re traveling with one of Europe’s budget airlines such as Easyjet, RyanAir, or Jet2, one of the things to consider is baggage restrictions that are different than what’s allowed on large international carriers. Choose a lightweight suitcase to maximize the amount of space for your belongings!

The key to traveling light is to create an interchangeable capsule wardrobe!

Compass Rose Compression Packing Cubes

PRO PACKING TIP:

Use luggage organizers such as packing cubes to maximize the space in your bag so you can fit in all your belongings in an organized and efficient way using minimal space.

If you’re not already traveling carry-on only, this might be the game changer you need!

Unsure how to use them? Read this post to find out everything you want to know about packing cubes!

What do you think are the best carry on suitcase for Europe? Share in the comments!

For more suitcase recommendations, please read:

  • Suitcase Recommendations: 20 Travel Experts Reveal Top Luggage Brands
  • This Packing Video will Change the Way You Travel
  • How to Choose the Best Luggage Organizer
  • How to Choose a Suitcase

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The best carry-on luggage of 2019

Seamus Bellamy Reviewed.com Published 3:20 PM EDT Oct 18, 2019 Best carry-on luggage of 2019 Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

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Having the right piece of luggage can make a business trip or vacation a lot less stressful. For many people, the best suitcase to travel with is a carry-on bag. They’re perfect for anyone traveling for a short jaunt or who just likes to travel lightly.

After speaking with the experts at Delta Airlines, conducting days of online research, and then personally testing 12 popular carry-on bags (including the use of a hand-built sizing device to approximate overhead cabin space), we think the Samsonite Flexis 21” Spinner (available at Amazon for $121.61) is the best overall carry-on you can find. Looking for more options? We’ve also tested checked luggage brands and carry-on under seat luggage.

1. Best Overall: Samsonite Flexis 21″ Spinner

Samsonite Flexis 21″ Spinner Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

The Samsonite Flexis 21″ Spinner is the best carry-on bag of the moment. It’s the direct replacement for our previous pick for best carry-on bag, the MightLight 2, which Samsonite has discontinued. The Flexis’s total dimensions, at 22.5 x 15.0 x 9.0 inches, make it a little bit smaller than the MightLight 2. As such, it fits in our sizing device, wheels and all, with no difficulties.

The Flexis 21” Spinner features the same high-quality spinner wheels that its predecessor came sporting. I found that they made crossing over sun-cracked pavement, concrete sidewalks, wood floors, and tiles comfortable and easy. As it’s a four-wheeled spinner, you’ll have no trouble maneuvering the Flexis around obstacles. The handle on the side the bag is oriented to make grabbing it out of an overhead compartment a breeze, while the one on the top is cushy enough to carry the bag comfortably for a long time. Its locking, retractable handle offers height adjustments, making this bag easy to wheel along, no matter how tall you are. That the expandable handle can be unlocked by either of the two buttons built into it makes it easy to use and provides a bit of redundancy.

The 21-inch version of the Flexis offers 2520 cubic inches of packing space. There are three pockets on the outside of the bag: the large exterior pocket is ideal for stuffing a sweater, iPad, or magazines into it. Two smaller zippered pockets—which are well-sized for an e-reader, passport, and charging cables—are built into the bag’s zippered lid. Speaking of charging cables, you should know that one of the pockets comes with a smaller, zippered compartment designed for storing a rechargeable battery pack in. Plug your power pack into the Flexis’ integrated USB port and you’ll be able to use it to charge your phone or other small electronics, without a mess of cables getting in your way. As your battery pack isn’t integrated into the bag, as it is with some smart luggage, you can easily remove your battery to keep in another carry-on or personal item should the Flexis need to be stowed in your flight’s cargo hold.

The inside of the suitcase boasts a large open area with elastic retention straps for securing your clothes or packing cubes into place, as well as mesh stash pockets for organizing smaller items. On the inside of the bag’s lid, you’ll find a zippered, mesh compartment that’s perfect for jamming socks or underwear in.

The Flexis comes equipped with self-healing YKK Strong Grip Zip, which is significantly more reliable than traditional coil zippers; if one of the bag’s zippers gets messed up (but doesn’t break), zipping and unzipping it should make it as good as new. The main compartment can be sealed up using TSA locks—an important feature, should you ever need to check the bag. Without anything in it, the 21-inch version of the Flexis weighs seven pounds. It strikes the perfect balance of affordability, features, and build quality. I highly recommend taking it for a spin (sorry).

I’ve only got a couple of complaints about this bag: the Flexis 21 doesn’t come with a built-in waterproof bag for sealing up your toiletries in—but if you own a good toiletry bag, it’s no big deal. In addition to this, when not in use, the Flexis can’t be compressed down for storage. If that’s a deal-breaker, check out our pick for Best Soft-Sided Carry-On.

Dimensions: 22.5 x 15.0 x 9.0-inches

Our bags sizer says: It fits!

Get the Samsonite Flexis 21″ Spinner from Amazon for $121.61

2. Best Soft-Sided Carry-On: Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45

Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

You may not be familiar with Tom Bihn, but they’ve been making bags since the 1970s. Since then, they’ve earned a cult following within the travel community thanks to their intelligent, near-bulletproof design. The Aeronaut 45 has a 45-liter (2700 cubic inch) capacity. Measuring 22 x 14 x 9 inches, it had no problems fitting into an overhead bin. And, as there’s no internal frame or wheels sticking out of it, it’s possible to compress the bag to fit even smaller.

The Aeronaut 45 is available in two different fabrics: incredibly tough-wearing 1050c ballistic nylon or 400d Halcyon/420d ripstop nylon, weighing around three pounds and two pounds respectively. The Halcyon fabric isn’t as hearty as ballistic nylon, but it won’t pick up pet hair. No matter which fabric you go with, you’ll be able to snag an Aeronaut 45 in a wide variety of colors with a weather-resistant urethane finish. All of the bag’s exterior zippers are waterproof.

The frameless Aeronaut 45 feels feather-light compared to a spinner. Tom Bihn equipped the bag with a plushly padded handle and stow away backpack straps. That the bag can be worn as a backpack makes running through a crowded airport terminal or transferring to a train or bus that much easier. A set of D-rings on the outside of the bag also makes it possible to attach a shoulder strap. Tom Bihn’s patented $30 Absolute Shoulder Strap is easily one of the most comfortable that I’ve ever used on any piece of gear.

The bag is broken up into three different sections: the spacious main compartment which is perfect for pairing with packing cubes (although it also comes equipped with a set of compressions traps for your clothes,) and two smaller, zippered compartments on either end of the bag. You’ll find sub-compartments in each—a large mesh pocket in the lid of the main section and zippered stash pockets on the outside of the bag, perfect for keeping keys, your passport and other small items in. The interior of the Aeronaut 45 is full of D-ring attachment points that allow you to kit the bag out with organizational pockets and pouches, Dopp kits, lanyards for keeping loose items organized, laundry bags and stuff sacks. Tom Bihn offers a ton of such options on their site.

When you’ve returned home, the Aeronaut 45 can be compressed down flat and rolled up to keep it out of the way.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches

Our bags sizer says: It fits!

Get the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 from Tom Bihn for $300

3. Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Carry-on Rollaboard

Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Carry-on Rollaboard Travelpro

For anyone that’s not crazy about using a soft-sided carry-on bag but still needs a suitcase that can be partially collapsed down for storage, the Maxlite 4 could be a good option. It has the same capacity as the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45, but in a semi-rigid package that can be wheeled around an airport. The lid can be pushed into the body of the bag, cutting down the size by about 25%. So you shouldn’t have a problem finding a place for it at the back of your closet. It comes with enough pockets to make organizing your travel gear and clothing easy, but not so much that you’re forced to compromise on how you want the bag to be organized. Best of all, you can find it for well under $100!

The downsides? First, it has two wheels rather than four. Second, this bag simply doesn’t feel as well made as our Samsonite pick. While it is sturdy enough, the polyester material of the MaxLite 4 can’t match the Flexis 21″ spinner’s for quality. I also noted that while its wheels showed no wear, the skid plates on the bottom this bag showed considerable pitting and scuffs after wheeling the bag over uneven pavement.

Dimensions: 22.5 x 15.5 x 8.5 inches

Our bags sizer says: It fits!

Get the Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Carry-on Rollaboard from Amazon for $91.54

4. Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter Travelpro

The Magna 2 comes with a removable garment bag for those who need to include business or formal wear in their loadout while traveling. Right out of the box, I loved the look, quality, and thoughtful organizational aids. The build quality was the finest of any of the spinner-style carry-ons that I tested.

Unfortunately, it’s too big: I wasn’t able to slip it into our sizer, no matter how hard I tried to jam it in. The bag’s wheels stick out too far and the handle, while exceedingly comfortable to hold, refused to compress. It wasn’t a unique problem in this roundup, but it’s a problem nonetheless.

Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9 inches

Our bags sizer says: Too big

Get the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter from Amazon for $227.01

5. Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller

Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller Timbuk2

Timbuk2’s high-quality gear always looks thoroughly modern and wears well, and the Copilot is no exception. We love the water-resistant compartment in the top of the bag for stashing wet shoes or toiletries in and an internal mesh divider in the main compartment. It had the best telescopic handle of the bunch and the handles were very comfortable.

According to Timbuk2, the “medium” 22-inch version of the bag should have been able to fit into the sizing device. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. It was close though—so close, that I ended up pushing on the bag too hard and breaking the sizer as I tried to get it in. The sticking point was the bag’s wheels. You can remove them, but at that point, it’s no longer a rolling bag and loses much of its utility. There’s a 19-inch version of the bag that would have definitely fit into our sizer, but it doesn’t have the volume required to hold all of the clothes you’d need for a week away from home. And the large 28-inch version of the bag is big enough that it’d have to be stowed under the plane.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 10 inches

Our bags sizer says: It fits, but you may have to take off the wheels

Get the Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller from Amazon for $224

6. American Tourister iLite Xtreme 21″ Spinner

American Tourister iLite Xtreme 21″ Spinner American Tourister

American Tourister is a Samsonite Company that makes decent luggage at middle-of-the-road prices. Their iLite Xtreme Spinner 21 is a great example of this. Available in five different colors, it costs considerably less than the Samsonite MightLight 2 but offers many of the same features—albeit at a slightly lower quality. As with so many of the other bags in this roundup, the iLite’s size was too Xtreme to fit into our sizing device. Its wheels and loose polyester pockets on the lid of the bag kept it from sliding in.

Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 x 8 inches

Our bags sizer says: Too big

Get the American Tourister iLite Xtreme 21″ Spinner from Amazon for $89.99

7. Arc’teryx Covert Case

Arc’teryx Covert Case Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx is a Canadian company that specializes in making high-end technical outdoor gear and military kit for Special Forces operators. No matter whether you’re talking about a hardshell jacket or a carry-on bag like their Covert Case, you can guarantee that the build quality will be amazing. Despite this, the Covert Case came in second place to the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 in the competition for a great soft-sided bag.

The Covert Case easily fit into the sizing device, but with its 40-liter capacity, it can’t hold as much as the Aeronaut 45 can. That said, it was able to carry all of the clothing and sundries we chose to use during testing. But after carrying around for a bit, I found that its thin handle became uncomfortable. The bag’s laser-cut backpack straps were much more comfortable to use but not as comfortable as those built into the Tom Bihn bag.

Dimensions: 11 x 22.44 x 14 inches

Our bags sizer says: It fits!

Get the Arc’teryx Covert Case from Amazon for $189

How We Test

If your carry-on doesn’t fit into a size checker like this, a gate agent may not allow you to bring it on board. We built one ourselves to make sure that all the bags in this roundup would actually fit. Getty / NAN104

The Tester

My name’s Seamus Bellamy. I’ve got close to a decade’s worth of tech journalism under my belt. I live on the road, full-time, in a 40-foot motorhome, splitting my time between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. When I’m not traveling overland, my job as a journalist takes me across the globe. I’ve danced with Geisha in Japan, climbed volcanoes in Nicaragua and hiked all 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. I know travel and the gear that makes doing it easier.

The Tests

One of the biggest issues surrounding the use of carry-on suitcases is whether or not your bag will fit into an overhead compartment on an airplane. If there’s a North American standard for carry on luggage sizes allowed on an aircraft, most airlines don’t bother to follow it. JetBlue, for example, allows bags up to 26 x 18 x 12 inches to be placed into their overhead bins, while Virgin America allows up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches. The most common size agreed upon by major air carriers like United, US Airways, American and Delta is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. After taking a look at carry-on size allotments for European, African, Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, this is as close to a baggage sweet spot as you’re likely to get. There are exceptions, of course. Many bags with slightly larger dimensions come with handles or wheels that can be compressed or retracted.

The lesson here: don’t trust the specs. The only way to be sure is to get your hands on it and test it. So that’s just what I did! I built a box measuring 22 x 14 x 9 inches and attempted to jam each of the bags into it. It’s true that this is a conservative measurement. We all know that real overhead bins sometimes have a little give. But this is pretty much the same experience you’ll encounter at your gate with an airline-approved sizing device. Ultimately, it’s the gate agent that gets to decide if your carry-on is getting carried on. Once it was determined that the bags I called in for testing were appropriately sized, I also looked at these other considerations:

  • Capacity: Each carry-on was checked to see if it could fit enough clothes for a week’s worth of travel.
  • Weight and carry comfort: Each bag, fully loaded, was held by the main handle for 10 minutes. If the bag had backpack straps, I carried it around for another 10 minutes like that.
  • Mobility: Each bag was either wheeled (or carried, for those without wheels) over a quarter-mile over tile, hardwood, concrete and sidewalk surfaces, making a 360-degree turn every 20 steps to ensure that the wheels were still spinning freely. Then they were run again through an obstacle course of tables and chairs.

What to Look for in a Carry-on Bag

Tavaya Davis and Frank Giglitto are flight attendants for Delta Airlines. The pair see more time in airports and in the air during a week of work than most of us experience in a year. I asked them what features they felt that a good carry-on bag should have.

  • Price: In order to find bags of good quality that come with a reasonable warranty, but still be financially accessible to most people, we capped the price at $300.
  • Tough and Flexible: Hardside luggage with a plastic or aluminum exterior are easy to scuff, dent or crack when subjected to casual abuse. What’s more, they don’t compress, making it less likely that you’ll be able to jam one into a tight overhead compartment. As such, I favor soft-sided suitcases made from resilient materials like leather and ballistic nylon. Such bags can stand up to a beating and still look great.
  • Wheels: if you prefer your luggage to glide through an airport concourse on wheels, four wheels are better than two. No matter whether you’re pushing or pulling your bag along, you’ll find it just as maneuverable. That said, two-wheeled bags are still a good get—they’re more portable and can often cost less.
  • Handles: Retractable handles should slide in and out of position, smoothly, and offer at least a couple of height settings to accommodate different sized users. For times when you have to pick up your bag and carry your carry-on, it should come equipped with wide, padded handles to make the weight of what’s inside of it feel like less of a strain on your hand. Handles located on multiple sides of a bag are a win, as they make it easy to grab it out of an overhead bin, no matter how you had to place it in there. Carry-on bags without wheels should come equipped with multiple, comfortable handles, too. To make last-minute dashes for your gate or long walks to a hotel more comfortable, I like ones that come with backpack straps.
  • Organization: Bags that offer a few interior and exterior pockets, with a single, large interior space are a smart buy. Having a large main compartment that can be used with packing cubes, a garment bag or packed with loose clothes and sundries is great when paired with interior pockets for smaller items like toiletries or socks. A few outside pockets can be used to stash on-the-go items.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Published 3:20 PM EDT Oct 18, 2019

Cabin bags have revolutionized the way we travel. With airlines charging extras fees for checked luggage, more and more of us are cramming our belongings into little carry-on bags.

If you pack well, you can get pretty much everything you need into these compact cases — and you will also reap the rewards of not having to waste time at baggage claim when you arrive at your destination.

Things to Consider With Carry-on Luggage

Most U.S. airlines will have strict rules about the amount of carry-on luggage a traveler can have with them, as well as the size of the items they bring on board. Items that are too large, too heavy, or restricted won’t be allowed to travel with you, and will need to be checked instead.

Every airline is different, but as a general rule you’ll be allowed the following per passenger:

  • 1 small purse or laptop bag
  • 1 small cabin bag measuring no more than 22 x 14 x 9 inches (some airlines have even tighter restrictions, so check before traveling)

The usual rule for carry-on luggage is that it must weigh less than 40 pounds, including the weight of the bag itself. If you want to be sure before you fly, weigh your bag using a good scale before you leave home.

If your bag is too heavy, it will be stowed in the hold. Carry-on luggage is placed in the overhead lockers — too heavy and it’s a safety risk since too many heavy bags make for a dangerous flying environment.

Need to fly with your suitcase full of weighty items? Opt for checked baggage instead.

Material and Durability

Unlike your checked luggage, your carry-on bag will stay close to you for the duration of your flight. This means you probably don’t need to pay for super tough materials if you don’t want to since it won’t be thrown around or battered by luggage handlers. But you do want something quality that will last.

You need to carefully consider the weight of the luggage you choose to use on board. Since you only have up to 40 pounds to play with, lightweight but durable nylon bags or similar are usually the most practical option.

There are thousands of small cases, bags, and even rucksacks that are designed to meet the size and weight restrictions of most major airlines, so finding one should be a cinch.

Carry-on Backpack vs. Carry-on Suitcase

As the battle between backpack and suitcase rages on, travelers usually come to a conclusion based on their individual travel needs. While a cabin bag usually comes with wheels and is easy to pull around the airport, they can have limited access and may hold less than their counterparts.

Backpacks need be carried at all times, but do offer plenty of hidden compartments for handy travel accessories — and using one will keep your hands free while you fumble for your tickets at check-in.

Which is best? Both work well, and your choice should be based on your own personal preference.

Hot Tip: Need some tips on packing your carry-on? Check out our Carry-on travel essentials for short and long flights!

Wheels

Wheeled cabin luggage is perfectly designed to let you pull it around the airport — when the wheels are good, that is! Complete with pull-up handles and different types of wheel options, these types of cases are now the go-to accessory for savvy travelers around the world.

Standard 2-wheeled versions are perfect for pulling behind you or pushing in front when you have to. They are practical and affordable.

If you want something that offers even more maneuverability, opt for spinner wheels that allow you to wheel your case sideways next to you as well. Spinner wheels are much more practical when it comes to pushing your case down a busy airplane where space is limited.

Either way, quality counts. Pay bargain prices and you can expect a wheel to pop off here or there, or a broken handle that will render it useless halfway through your trip.

If you are pulling, pushing, or even carrying your luggage, you want to be sure the handle will withstand the journey. Cases often come with collapsible, extendable handles that stow away in the body of the case when not being used.

Backpacks, on the other hand, need handles that are strong and durable but are also easily flexible when it comes to storing your luggage in the locker.

Much like wheels, quality is key. A badly built extendable handle may snap or come out of its housing, while a backpack or bag with inferior handles can break and leave you cradling it like a baby.

Hard or Soft Luggage

This is another decision that should be based on personal choice. Legend has it that hard-shell luggage is more durable than softer cases, but in reality, this is not always so.

While hard cases do offer some extra protection, they can be heavier, and space may be compromised by the design of the shell. Soft suitcases are more flexible in terms of shape and generally lighter. That said, they could also be more prone to splits or tears.

Guess what we’re going to say next? Yep — whatever you choose, quality is key! Pay for well-manufactured, lightweight hard shell cases or strong nylon soft cases to ensure your cabin luggage lasts you for more than 1 journey.

Laptop Compartment

If you’re taking your work with you, you need to ensure that your laptop is well-protected while you fly.

Carrying laptops on board has its own intricacies, and you’ll usually need easy access to remove it for airport security. After that, you need practical, secure storage for the duration of the journey.

Some cabin cases are designed with laptop users in mind and have their own laptop compartments fully padded for extra protection. Other travelers choose to take a separate laptop bag with them, but you would need to check with your carrier to see if this is allowed within your onboard baggage limitations.

These days, everything is getting “smarter” — from our phones to our homes…and now even our luggage. Smart luggage offers fancy extras like power banks to charge your devices, electronic baggage tags, GPS tracking, and TSA-approved locks.

Bags like this may cost more than regular luggage, but they’re totally revolutionizing the way we travel. Locate lost luggage, charge your devices, and keep your belongings safe from theft or damage as you go.

These additional functions are priceless for anyone who wants to enjoy fuss-free travel in the digital age.

2020 Update

Turns out some things really are too good to be true! While smart luggage may seem like the perfect solution for connectivity problems of the modern-day traveler, it appears that it’s also causing major problems for the airlines.

The lithium-ion batteries found in these cases aren’t allowed in the cargo hold, and uninstalled ones can only be held by the passenger in the cabin during transit.

In an effort to combat potential fires and explosions as a result of lithium-ion batteries, no smart bags are allowed to be checked at all, and can only be carried in the cabin if the battery is removable. Airlines who have already implemented policies like this include:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines

It’s likely that many more will also follow suit, so please check with your airline before flying with smart luggage.

Best Carry on Luggage Cases with Hard Shells

For Every Type of Traveler

3,045 Reviews

Samsonite Omni Hardside Spinner 20

Weight: 6.8 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 22.0 x 15.0 x 9.5 Inches

Made by one of the biggest names in luxury luggage, the Samsonite Omni Hardside Spinner is a beautiful piece of engineered luggage. Lightweight and effortlessly mobile, the 100% polycarbonate design is easy to move, offers plenty of internal space, and looks like business.

The micro-diamond texture is extremely scratch resistant, which is important if you’re planning to use the case on multiple journeys. Inside the suitcase are interior dividers to help keep your belongings organized, as well as cross straps for flattening your clothes.

For added security, there is a side-mounted TSA-compliant lock. The free spinning wheels are the major selling point of this individual case, and allow you to pull the case behind you or along next to your side.

Hard-wearing, good looking, and incredibly practical, this Samsonite case is designed to match the size and weight allowances of most U.S. airlines. If you are looking for a case that will fit enough clothes and toiletries for a week away without checking your luggage, this little beauty could be the one for you.

Premium Suitcase That Will Really Go the Distance

Delsey Paris Helium Aero 21″ Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Weight: 8 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 24.7 x 15.25 x 10.25 inches

Body Dimensions: 20.5 x 14.5 x 10 inches

The Paris Helium Aero case is made from 100% impact-resistant polycarbonate, ensuring that it strong enough to withstand the bumps and dings of airline travel while still alluding plenty of class and style.

At 8 pounds, this may not be the lightest carry-on case on the market, but it is close and arguably one of the best looking. Stylish and sleek, the double spinner wheels add to its allure as the case glides effortlessly around the airport.

On the inside, two full-size packing compartments provide plenty of space for all your travel essentials, and the tie-down straps will prevent your neatly packed items from moving around in transit. No matter how full your case, you will still be able to comfortably carry it when you need to thanks to the soft-touch top and side carry handles.

Because Delsey understands just how much you love your luggage, this case also features integrated, TSA approved locks, allowing agents easy access to your belongings without the worry of them causing any damage.

Finally, if you want to go all out with your next suitcase selection, you can upgrade to the Chromium Lite edition. This premium upgrade offers the same great looks and design but includes extra features such as a USB port to charge electronic devices and a choice of 2 or 4 wheels for use on any terrain.

Weighing in at just 7.7 lbs, and with compact, carry-on dimensions, this edition is perfectly suited for those who like to travel lighter.

For The Budget-Conscious Traveler

Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Cabin Case

Overall Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.2 x 26.8 inches

Basic by name, but not necessarily basic by nature, this little case from Amazon is great for the budget-conscious traveler. The 24-inch hardshell case is perfect for shorter trips and will easily stow all your belongings safely while you travel.

Made with a scratch-resistant finish to protect against over-eager cab drivers or baggage handlers, the extra thick ABS shell is on par with many of its more expensive competitors and adds enhanced strength and durability.

Inside, the case is lined with 3 zippered pockets for storing all those important bits and pieces you need to bring along. Packing is a breeze with this expandable case — a useful extra 15% capacity means you can throw in that extra sweater or pair of shoes with ease.

The 4 double spinner wheels make this case easy to maneuver with 1 hand, leaving the other free for important additions like child-wrangling, or retrieving your tickets and passport while you walk.

With a telescopic handle and an additional securely mounted short handle, you can drag, roll, or carry this case through airports and foreign lands the world over.

For The Fashion-Forward Traveler

Delsey Luggage Chatelet Spinner

Weight: 9.3 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.25 x 9.75 inches

If you want to fit in with the jet set but aren’t quite in the market for a full set of Louis Vuittons, this little beauty is stylish, practical, and a firm favorite with those in the know.

Elegant and innovative, this case is a real looker! Clean curves and soft leather trim mean it wouldn’t look out of place in the most luxurious of destinations, while the Bayer 100% Virgin Makrolon polycarbonate construction is built to last. Designed to be seen, it can withstand extreme temperatures and will survive the general scuffs you can expect to receive.

This suitcase is so well-engineered, it even features a unique Stop-and-Go brake system that allows you to lock the front brake to stop it rolling away while you pull it — meaning you never have to grab for a runaway suitcase again.

The nearly silent Japanese Hinomoto spinner wheels assure smooth maneuverability and are a real talking point. Finally, the luxurious red interior is like a Louboutin for your belongings, and the zippered compartments keep your garments safely secured while you travel.

The only tradeoff with this very stylish case is that it does come in 1-2 lbs heavier than other top quality hard shell cases.

The Bang-for-Your-Buck Hard Shell Carry-on

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20″ Hardside 4-Wheel Spinner

Weight: 6.25 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 21.75 x 14.5 x 8.5 inches

This case offers tons of useful features for an insanely low price. For ease of mobility, the Reaction case can literally turn on a dime — the multi-directional 4-wheel spinners allow for smooth, 360-degree movement over virtually any surface.

Being exceptionally lightweight makes it even easier to move around, and you can fill it to the brim with your belongings without having to worry too much about your weight allowance when you board. Garment straps are useful to hold your clothes in place and prevent too much creasing.

If you’re into the aesthetic charms of carry-on luggage, this one is sure to please, with molded corners, an ergonomic handle, an attractive shine, and scratch-free ABD hard-shell cover that looks great and is highly durable. The case is also available in 11 different colors, so you are sure to find something that suits your tastes.

Internally, there are additional zippered compartments that make light work of keeping your valuables and smaller items safe while you travel. All in all, this is a great little case that won’t cost a fortune. Kenneth Cole also offers a 10-year limited warranty with this case for your peace of mind.

For Travelers Looking for a Truly Lightweight Carry-on

Chester Lightweight Polycarbonate Spinner Case

Weight: 7.0 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches

Chester designs great quality luggage that performs well and looks awesome. This case is no exception, offering a lightweight, unbreakable shell that you can fill up for your next adventure.

Based on the company’s signature polycarbonate shell design, the case is ultra durable, really lightweight, and incredibly easy to maneuver. It is also strong enough to withstand being thrown around during transit since the shell can absorb most knocks, eliminating nasty dents and scratches.

Designed by people who like to travel a lot themselves, the internal space is practical and well-thought-out. There are 2 compartments, an interior organizer for smaller items, and a separate nylon bag for your dirty laundry.

When you’re packed up and ready to go, the silent multi-directional wheels make quick work of airport terminals — and are probably good enough to take you across harsher terrains during your travels.

Complete with TSA-approved locks that are set using a combination code, you should be able to pretty much guarantee your belongings will stay safe wherever you’re headed. This is a great case designed and made by people who really appreciate travel.

Hot Tip: For more lightweight options, check out our separate review dedicated to the best lightweight carry-on luggage.

For Samsonite Luggage Lovers

514 Reviews

Samsonite Freeform Spinner Cabin Case

Weight: 6.5 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 21.25 x 15.25 x 10 inches

Samsonite is one of the biggest names in luggage, and every case they sell is designed to be lightweight, extremely durable, and a good-looking addition to any traveler’s collection.

This particular model has been created to offer the strength you would expect from a hard-shell case, with the lightweight maneuverability you’d expect from a roller skate (honestly, it handles that well!).

Spacious interiors make light work of clothing and belongings to last a few days away, while the cross straps and divider are perfect for keeping your clothing tightly pressed and uncreased during transit.

The double wheels are perfect for pulling along behind you or keeping close by your side, and the Samsonite TSA 3-dial lock will prevent unwanted opening by anyone other than TSA agents.

This case is also expandable to a degree so you can pack that extra heavy sweater, and the built-in ID tag makes it easily identifiable as it swings past you on the luggage carousel.

The Freeform is designed with the discerning traveler in mind. The price tag may be a little higher than some of the lesser-known models out there, but you’re paying for a superb case built to last by a world leader in the luggage market.

For Frequent Flyers Who Want Chic Design

Trek Aluminium Suitcase

–> Use Special Promo Code “UP25” for 25% off!

Weight: 9.6 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 8.7 inches

Chic and stylish, this hardshell carry-on case is designed to offer maximum luggage capacity, while still meeting the size restrictions for overhead lockers on most domestic and international airplanes.

With its unbreakable aluminum-magnesium alloy shell, the trek carry-on case oozes sophistication and good looks making it perfect for both business travelers and leisure trips alike. The unique zipper-less closure is easy to open while remaining incredibly secure, and the dual TSA-approved combination locks mean the case can be accessed easily by security agents should they need to.

The super spacious, fully lined interior offers over 39 liters of space in both halves to carry everything you need for your next trip. The pocketed panels will keep your liquids and clear bag secure in transit.

It’s not just the rugged good looks, and clever design touches that make this such an excellent choice for carry-on passengers, the way in which it moves is a revelation too. Forget about wonky wheels and flimsy handles, this beauty comes complete with ultra-smooth 360° spinner wheels and an aluminum telescoping handle that make it an absolute delight to wheel around the airport.

Bottom Line: Refined, sophisticated, and built to last, this is the perfect carry on case for frequent flyers.

For The Tech-Heavy Business Traveler

97 Reviews

Xiaomi Passport Suitcase

Weight: 10 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches

With its unusual front opening compartments, the Passport suitcase is designed for those who need instant access to their devices, documents, and other items while they travel.

Grab your passport, wallet, phone, tablet, or laptop with the flick of a zipper, leaving your pockets empty and your hands free. Great for business travelers or those who need to take a lot of tech with them, you can breeze through security without having to unpack your entire bag just to get your devices out.

Your entire front panel opens fully for packing larger items. The main compartment is also pretty impressive with plenty of space for your clothes, and each compartment is held in place by cross-straps and zippers to stop your belongings rolling around during transit.

Made from 100% polycarbonate with an anti-impact and scratch-resistant hard side, this is one heck of a suitcase and is guaranteed to be completely shockproof. Reinforced with premium bars for a durable structure, this sleek and futuristic-looking case is coated with metal powder to give it a particularly impressive look.

Quirky and unique, this is a great case for those who want to be able to access their items at a moment’s notice.

Best Carry on Luggage Cases with Soft Shells

For The Discerning Traveler

Travelpro Platinum Magna Expandable Spinner Suitcase

Weight: 7.9 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9 inches

No one wants to reach the destination with sore hands from dragging their suitcase behind them. This suitcase comes with a contour grip handle and comfy cushioned touch points to help relieve the stress on your hands while you travel.

As with all the best cabin luggage, this suitcase is lightweight, sturdy, and conforms with the height and weight restrictions in place on most U.S. airlines. It’s not just on the plane where this case excels though — the self-aligning magnetic wheels will allow you to roll it in any direction.

On the inside, your clothes can remain wrinkle-free during travel as you tuck them in 2 different compartments both inside and outside the suitcase. The engineered zipper is also designed to withstand the constant opening and closing of your case while you find the perfect outfit for your vacation.

Another plus for this particular bag is its extremely lightweight design, meaning you can pack more belongings without worrying about having to check your luggage. Overpacked? Not to worry — this case also comes with expandable capability to increase the internal storage area.

Complete with a worry-free lifetime warranty, this is a great little case for your next adventure from a brand that makes quality products.

For The Traveler Who Always Packs Too Much

Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Expandable Cabin Case

Weight: 8.9 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 22 inches

Briggs and Riley have been committed to supplying American globetrotters with luxury luggage for over a quarter of a century; this cabin case is another example of their very fine work.

A top pick with frequent flyers and airline staff, the Baseline expandable case has its very own neat trick that allows it to offer a whopping 25% more packing space when needed. The case then manages to compress back down to fit perfectly in the overhead storage lockers of most U.S. domestic airlines.

With a state-of-the-art hybrid fiberglass frame, the case remains lightweight and easy to maneuver while still being incredibly durable. Made from super-strong ballistic nylon, the outer fabric is hard-wearing and water-resistant.

The aluminum handle system offers a super comfortable ergonomic handle, and the freewheeling system makes this case a dream to move around even the busiest of airports.

Designed For The Practical Traveler

134 Reviews

SwissGear Travel Gear 6283 Spinner Luggage

Weight: 9 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 13.5 x 7.5 x 20 inches

Soft and light yet somehow strong and dependable, the SwissGear Travel Gear 6283 is a good choice for those who like soft-shelled cabin luggage.

Every aspect of this case has been designed with longevity in mind. This is a case that’s built to last and offers tons of features to help it withstand the rough and tumble of long-distance travel.

Made from durable, scuff-resistant polyester, the case is lightweight and can expand to offer extra packing space when needed. It also has some nice extra features like a zippered wet bag for keeping dirty clothing separate from the clean stuff.

It is also easy to maneuver with a telescoping locking push/pull handle system and 360-degree multi-directional spinner wheels that will glide effortlessly across most types of terrain.

With easy-to-access front pockets (that you won’t find on hard-shell cases) and a built-in ID tag, this in one case that you can literally buy, fill, and carry on!

For The Really Modern Traveler

Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard

Weight: 6.3 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches

The Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 is one of the lightest cabin bags ever made, meaning you can bring even more of your wardrobe when you travel. With lots of innovative features, this little beauty is made from tough, durable polyester that looks and works perfectly.

This case’s most fascinating feature is the patented Rollaboard that places a frame several inches from the bottom, allowing the designers to do away with heavy and bulky reinforcing frames found in similar cases. This means less weight and more space for you!

Exterior pockets are spacious enough to safely store a laptop, while the full-size inner compartment is large enough to keep even the crispest of suits wrinkle-free. If you want to squeeze even more in there, the case can expand to give you more room — but you could quickly exceed the maximum size restrictions for your airline carrier.

The modern design is also pretty impressive. Despite its somewhat surprising dimensions, this looks pretty sleek for a soft shell case, and the smooth gliding wheels and ergonomic handle make it a good choice for most travelers.

Best Carry-on Backpacks

For Those Serious About Traveling The World

Osprey Farpoint Travel Backpack

Weight: 3 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 5 inches

Osprey is world-famous for their awesome backpacks, and this one is as good as any in the range. In fact, this one comes in 2 different options for guys and gals. The Farpoint and the Fairview offer practical solutions for those looking for a cabin-sized rucksack that can be used for your onward journeys too.

If you like to sling your belongings on your back, both the Farpoint and the Fairview are made from super-tough ripstop nylon and feature slash-proof straps, tons of useful compartments, and a harness and hip belt for ease of wear during longer excursions.

Both have a discreet laptop and tablet sleeve that will keep your tech protected while you travel. Easy to access, lightweight, and big enough to handle a good amount of belongings while still being cabin-sized, these backpacks are just about the perfect alternative to cabin-sized suitcases.

Osprey backpacks also come in a wide range of colors (and bigger sizes too), so if you want to coordinate your checked luggage, you should be able to find a size and style that matches.

The Budget Carry-on Backpack

Max Metz Cabin Backpack

Weight: 1.75 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9 inches

A bestseller across Europe since it was first released in 2009, this backpack is versatile, attractive, and perfect for travelers who prefer to carry the world on their back instead of pulling it along on wheels.

Weighing in at just 1.75 lbs, you can maximize your hand luggage allowance by filling up your bag with as many belongings as you need while still meeting the size restrictions for overhead bins.

Offering an impressive 44-liter interior, you can make it feel like a Tardis on the outside by pulling the compression straps and keeping it easy to carry.

To increase the comfort, the designers added well-padded and adjustable straps to prevent sore shoulders, while the front organizer pocket is easy to reach when you need to find your tickets, passport, and other accessories in a hurry.

Whether you are traveling the world or just going on vacation, this backpack is unobtrusive and won’t make it look like you’re going to spend a year in a youth hostel. What it will do, however, is safely carry your belongings from one destination to another.

The Best Design For The Cool Backpacker

Hynes Eagle Flight Approved 40L Backpack

Weight: 2.45 lbs

Overall Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.4 x 9.8 inches

Hynes Eagle bags suggest that you’re a traveler who knows a bit about the world — and that you certainly know which kind of bag best suits your needs. Their cabin-approved backpacks are just the right size and offer tons of interior space while retaining modern silhouettes and a certain minimalist chic.

Made from water-repellent polyester, this is one of the hippest of all cabin rucksacks… and should probably be accessorized with a chai latte (and maybe even a beard).

Trendsetting aside, everyone should be impressed by the multiple interior slip pockets — one of which fits a 15.6-inch laptop with ease. Externally, there is a front zip pocket that enables easy access to your passport, money, phone, and frequent flyer cards.

Designed with ergonomics in mind, there is an adjustable sternum strap for added stability, as well as multiple exterior compression buckle straps for adjusting the height based on your own individual needs.

This is a true hands-free carry-on bag that won’t limit your mobility, while still being able to stow plenty during your travels.

Final Thoughts

The ability to travel without having to check bags makes your check-in faster and negates the need for lengthy waits at baggage claim.

Although you may need to do your research before you invest in the right cabin luggage for your needs, finding a small case that is easily maneuverable, lightweight, and able to hold everything you need for a few days away is really a game-changer when it comes to domestic and international air travel.

Interested in more “best of the best” travel products to up your adventure game? Check out these other articles we’ve posted:

  • All Our Best Travel Product Reviews – In One Place
  • Away Travel Carry-On Luggage Review
  • The 15 Best Checked Luggage Bags For Any Traveler
  • The 13 Best Laptop Backpacks to Buy for Travel
  • The 11 Best Luggage Tags on the Market for Travelers

It’s no secret that checking your luggage can be a pain: Not only do the airlines charge you exorbitant fees, but you have to spend the extra time picking it up from baggage claim and stressing that your suitcase might get lost. So investing in a carry-on bag that can hold your entire load and is easy to carry through the airport seems like a no-brainer.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab tests carry-on luggage by measuring the size and weight, reviewing how much each can hold, and evaluating the durability through tests like abrasion resistance, scratch resistance, and more. We also call in consumer testers that use the rolling luggage in an obstacle course to get feedback on things like how comfortable it is to hold and how smooth it feels to wheel around.
When shopping for carry-on bags, make sure to check the dimensions. Each airline has its own size restrictions, but the most common is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Keep in mind that this includes the handles and wheels, so be careful that you’re not just looking at the case. When it comes to materials — i.e. hard or soft side — it’s a matter of personal preference. Hard-shell luggage like polycarbonate is protective and still lightweight, while soft fabric luggage like nylon is less pricey and can be stuffed into tight spaces.
The bags ahead are winners from our luggage tests, personal favorites from our editors who travel all the time, and other popular styles that have great features and top feedback from users. Read on to learn more about our top picks, but to summarize, the best carry-on luggage styles to buy in 2019 are:
Best Overall: Away The Carry-On
Best Value: AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner
Best Frequent Flyer Carry-on: Hartmann Vigor Carry-On
Best Two-Wheeled Carry-on: Travelpro Maxlite 4 Rollaboard
Best Underseat Carry-on: Samsonite Silhouette Underseat Spinner
Best Duffel Carry-On: Dagne Dover Landon Carryall
Best Backpack Carry-on: Matein Travel Backpack
Best Versatile Carry-on: Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel
Best Space-Saving Carry-on: Biaggi Zipsack
Best Luxury Carry-on: Bric’s Bellagio
Best Kids Carry-on: Heys Travel Tots

Additional reporting by Lindsey Murray.

A sturdy, well-designed carry-on bag is one of the most important products any traveler can buy—especially if you’re looking to pack light and avoid checking a suitcase. But while there are plenty of pricey carry-ons on the market ($3,250 carbon fiber suitcase, anyone?), you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a solid carry-on that can serve you well all over the globe.

In our search for the best affordable carry-on luggage, we looked for bags that cost less than $150 and fit within the most major U.S. airlines’ current size restrictions, which are smaller than they used to be at 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Check out 32 airlines’ carry-on and personal item restrictions here. We also scoped out a variety of bag types, from hardside spinners to rolling duffels. Finally, we chose only bags that were well-reviewed by customers on Amazon. Check out this roundup of the best cheap carry-on luggage.

Hardside Spinner Suitcases

Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Hardside Spinner 20-Inch

Amazon

We love the brushed look on the exterior of this suitcase, which appears stylish but also helps hide scuff marks. Inside is a main compartment with compression straps, and a zippered section with two mesh pockets on the other side. There’s a built-in TSA combination lock, but unfortunately, no side handle. The bag measures 21.5 x 13.5 x 9.64 inches, according to the Samsonite website, and weighs 6.7 pounds.

Rockland Melbourne 20-Inch Expandable Abs Carry-On Luggage

Amazon

This affordable bestseller comes in nearly two dozen different colors including lime, turquoise and magenta (of course, basic black is an option too). Inside is a main compartment with compression straps and a zippered section, and there are handles on both the top and the side. Its size when expanded is a smidge over most U.S. airlines’ limits (22.1 x 14.4 x 9.2 inches), but it’s close enough that most travelers shouldn’t have an issue.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4-Wheel, 20-Inch Upright Suitcase

Amazon

This seven-pound carry-on is sleek and attractive, available in nearly a dozen colors. With the wheels it comes in right around the airline size limit for carry-ons (21.75 x 15.25 x 9 inches), and it includes handles on the top and side for easy hoisting. There’s a large zippered compartment inside, as well as a smaller zippered pocket for odds and ends, and a main compartment with compression straps.

Softside Spinner Suitcases

Samsonite Flexis Softside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Amazon

This Samsonite style is available in two carry-on sizes, a 19-inch version or a 20-inch version. With a built-in USB port and accessible “quick change” pocket for clothes or shoes, it’s the ideal bag for a business traveler or someone who is always on the go.

AmazonBasics Premium Upright Expandable Softside Suitcase with TSA Lock

Amazon

This well-reviewed and affordable softsided carry-on bag comes in at 19 inches. The two inline wheels lend to comfortable rolling and help minimize its size.

Travelpro Bold 22-Inch Expandable Rollaboard

Amazon

If you’re looking for a lightweight bag from a reputable brand, consider this Travelpro offering, which weighs 7.4 pounds. Nice touches include compression straps and a zippered pocket designed to hold wet clothes and toiletries. The bag is expandable, but the tapered design helps the weight stay balanced. There’s a large pocket on the exterior of the bag, as well as a mesh compartment inside, plus a zippered pouch for incidentals.

Underseat Bags

AmazonBasics Underseat Luggage

This affordable, underseat carry-on bag has over 600 five-star reviews on Amazon. The easy-access front pocket is ideal for in-flight essentials and the bag is backed by an AmazonBasics’ 1-year limited warranty.

Lucas Wheeled Under-the-Seat Cabin Bag

Amazon

If you want a bag small enough to go under the seat in front of you on the plane, consider this compact offering, which measures 15.7 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches. The bag includes multiple interior and exterior pockets, as well as some fun extras: a hanging cosmetic satchel, travel slippers and a document holder. It comes in red, black, or blue.

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater

Amazon

Despite its small size, this bag is stuffed with handy zippered pockets for easy organization, including side pockets that can hold water bottles and a removable pouch for travel-size liquids and gels. This bag is currently available in black, pink, purple, and teal.

Rolling Backpacks

Matein Rolling Backpack

Amazon

Matein’s rolling backpack comes in at 13 x 9.05 x 19.68 inches and weighs just 4.8 pounds. It has a separate fully padded laptop pocket and main compartment to fit various clothing items. The handle can be hidden by an exterior zipped pocket, making this affordable carry-on bag easy to carry as a backpack as well.

High Sierra Adventure Access Carry-On Wheeled Backpack

Amazon

High Sierra’s affordable carry-on wheeled backpack is actually three bags in one: a wheeled bag, a backpack, and a daypack. Its total dimensions are 9 x 22 x 13.5 inches.

Rolling Duffel Bags

World Traveler Black White Damask Rolling Wheeled Duffel Bag

Amazon

This pretty black and white bag can be carried over your shoulder, held by the hand straps, or rolled along behind you. Exterior and interior pockets help keep travelers organized, and the bag packs mostly flat when it’s empty for easy storage. The bag measures 21 x 11 x 11 inches, so you won’t have to worry about fitting it into an overhead bin.

Kattee Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag Leather Trim Canvas Wheeled Travel Bag

Amazon

This attractive bag features leather trim, a roomy main compartment, and plenty of pockets inside and out. There’s a retractable trolley handle, as well as shoulder and hand straps, so you can carry it three different ways. We saw conflicting reports on this bag’s size (the Kattee official site confusingly lists it at both 20.87 x 16.53 x 9.05 inches and 21.7 x 14.8 x 10.2 inches), but the fact that it’s a duffel means that you can squish it into most overhead bins and airport bag sizers.

Carry-On Duffel Bags

Baboon Go-Bag

This hybrid backpack-duffel carry-on bag has a 40-liter capacity and is made of waterproof materials. Its dimensions are 12.5 x 20.5 x 12.5 inches, so the bag will fit in all airline overhead bins and meet all TSA guidelines.

Bric’s X-Bag/X-Travel Collection Folding Duffel

Amazon

Bric’s folding duffel is the ultimate carry-on bag. It’s made from sturdy, waterproof, and easy-to-clean nylon; and the affordable carry-on luggage looks polished and expensive. The bag is also incredibly lightweight and can be folded and stored flat, ready for use as an additional travel bag. The carry-on duffel holds items for up to three days, and inside you’ll even find a mini-shoulder bag to use as a day bag on your travels.

Lo & Sons The Catalina Deluxe

Lo & Sons

This is SmarterTravel editor Ashley Rossi’s go-to weekend bag. She says it fits everything you need and more for a long weekend getaway and can be shoved into just about any overhead bin. The affordable carry-on luggage has inner organizational pockets and a bottom compartment for shoes and bulkier items. Bonus: the canvas material is easy to clean and durable.

What to Pack in Your Carry-On

Women’s Casual-Wear for New Zealand

Shop the look

  1. Shirt

    White Sierra

  2. Pants

    ExOfficio

  3. Sunglasses

    RIVBOS

  4. Watch

    Fossil

  5. Shoes

    Rockport

Women’s Dressy Outfit for a Day Out in the Sun

Women’s Swimwear for a Florida Trip on the Beach

Women’s Outfit for Walking to Tijuana

Women’s Business Casual Outfit for Travel with Carry-On

What type of carry-on bag do you use? Share your pick in the comments.

  • 10 Things Not to Do When Checking a Bag
  • How to Pack Efficiently: 8 Products That Can Help
  • Choosing the Right Travel Luggage

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Lightest Carry-On Luggages Worth Flying With

Still checking luggage at the airport? Get with the times. This relic of 20th century travel has practically gone the way of beepers and smoking sections. Sure, there are occasions where a huge, monster suitcase comes in handy; family vacations come to mind. But for the modern traveler on the go, it’s a big waste of time and energy to jostle for position at the baggage carousel. Serious about saving time at the airport? CLEAR could provide the solution you’re looking for.

Today’s carry-on luggages has effectively eliminated the need for checking a bag for solo travel. Lightweight and chock-full of modern conveniences, most modern carry-ons are compact enough to meet international size requirements and feature four-wheel spinner action. Most have telescoping handles and some even offer GPS location tracking options and remote locking — although, most smart luggage wouldn’t make the cut in this list of lightweight carry-ons because while more powerful than ever, batteries are still relatively heavy. For recommendations on smart luggages, here are five options worth considering.

Here are some of our favorite lightweight carry-ons for breezing through any airport, from Denver to Dubai. (Some options here are above five pounds. Although they are not necessarily lightweight, per se, with their quality and features, they offer a lot pound-for-pound.)

Hartmann 7R Global Carry On Spinner

22″ Hartmann 7R Global Spinner

Weight: 3.9 pounds

Since 1877 Hartmann has provided exceptional luggage for the distinguished traveler, and the 7R is the lightest Hartmann collection ever. With a layered woven poly shell and eight shock-absorbing spring wire steel wheels, ultra-light carbon fiber pull handle, recessed soft leather carry handles, and a water-resistant zipper, it’s designed to let you flit through airports with minimum drag and maximum style.

Shop Now: $500

Eagle Creek Expanse AWD International Carry-On

Eagle Creek Expanse AWD International Carry-On

Weight: 4.5 pounds

This compact, smart fabric spinner is one of the smallest and lightest on this list yet we think it’s one of the better options for travelers who want to think outside the standard carry-on box. It’s made of rip-stop poly in four colors and features an expansion zipper gusset, Bi-Tech armor in high-wear areas, a padded tablet sleeve in the front compartment, heavy-duty wheel housings and bumper protection, lockable zippers, reflective accents, and a mesh ID pocket.

Shop Now: $121

Delsey Chatillon Carry-On Expandable Spinner

Delsey Chatillon Carry-On Expandable Spinner

Weight: 4.7 pounds

From the premiere name in fine French portage comes the Chatillon line of fabric luggage in black or this stunning electric blue. Crafted from rip-stop DuraTec fabric, it’s ultra lightweight and features a padded front pocket that fits up to a 14-inch laptop. The fully lined interior has tie-down straps and zippered pockets for smaller items and the main compartment expands, maximizing space and packing flexibility.

Shop Now: $85

it Luggage World’s Lightest Los Angeles

it Luggage World’s Lightest Los Angeles

Weight: 4.85 pounds

A quasi-acronym for “International Traveler,” it Luggage was established in London in 1985 and the company’s “World’s Lightest” line is indeed light. Overwhelmingly great reviews by Amazon users mean it’s not just lightweight but reliable and a great value — and at this price, we can’t argue. The fiberglass frame and durable, high tensile fabric keep the weight under five pounds, and the wide telescoping handle runs the full width of the case, providing stability as you rush through the airport.

Shop Now: $59.99

Raden A22 Carry-On

Raden A22 Carry-On

Weight: 5.6 pounds

Here’s a piece of smart luggage that easily qualifies as lightweight: the Raden A22. The sleek polycarbonate shell comes in multiple colors in either matte or gloss finishes, and is supremely light. So even with the handy dual chargers the A22 smart carry-on rolls in at about the same weight as a standard carry-on. And Raden’s battery is removable, so even in the event of a random gate check — thanks to the new TSA rules — just zip it out and you’re down the jetway in a flash.

Shop Now: $236

Travelpro Maxlight 4 International Expandable Carry-On Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Carry-On Spinner

Weight: 6.2 pounds

Ideal for the international business traveler, Travelpro’s International Spinner features water repellent coating inside and out, a patented contour grip on a two-stage (38” and 42.5”) telescoping airline-grade aluminum handle, protective crash-guard wheel housings, and a neat honeycomb frame integrated with the bottom tray that provides lightweight durability. We particularly love the sneaky exterior ticket pocket, as well as the full-length zippered lid pocket.

Shop Now: $94

Samsonite Omni Hardside Spinner

Samsonite Omni Hardside Spinner 20″

Weight: 6.8 pounds

Available in nine colors, the micro-diamond polycarbonate case features a full-zip interior, divider, and cross-straps for wrinkle-free organization and a zippered expansion gusset. Despite its relatively light weight and textured, scuff-resistant finish, the Omni gets mostly Excellent Amazon ratings, although some reviewers complain about wheel quality and many lament the lack of a side handle for easier stowage in overhead bins.

Shop Now: $75

Tumi ‘V3’ International Slim Carry-On

Tumi ‘V3’ International Slim Carry-on

Weight: 7.1 pounds

There’s a simple reason Tumi luggage costs more than the competition — quality. This stylish carry-on made from a multi-layer polycarbonate alloy is durable, light, and very good looking. Expandable and available in six distinct color options, the expandable V3 International Slim features four pockets and tie-down straps on the inside, and a three-stage telescoping handle, integrated TSA lock, and four recessed dual wheels on the outside. Get free shipping direct from Tumi.

Shop Now: $525

Thule Crossover Carry-On

Thule Crossover Carry-On 22″

Weight: 7.7 pounds

Stand out from the throng at the security line with this hybrid, upright roller that converts into a backpack using hide-away shoulder straps. The lightweight, durable fabric is water-resistant; the exoskeleton and molded poly back panel absorb the blows while a crush-proof compartment protects your sunglasses, portable electronics, and other fragile gear. Be advised: Some online reviewers claimed trouble with this Thule in Europe, where carry-on rules can change seemingly on a whim.

Shop Now: $300

The Best Carry-on Luggage, According to Travel Editors

Image zoom Getty Images

We know the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan wasn’t initially intended to have anything to do with luggage, but we really do believe in skipping a checked bag whenever possible. With all of your belongings on board, you can take comfort in knowing everything you’ll need upon landing is with you — not headed to a different destination because it didn’t make the connection or lying alone on a tarmac somewhere, probably in the rain, which is how we tend to visualize our luggage when we’re feeling particularly anxious watching dozens of not-your-bags roll out onto the baggage claim carousel.

Related: 13 Surprisingly Roomy Pieces of Underseat Luggage

And less stress isn’t the only pro of going carry-on-only. A carry-on bag is also much easier to handle. Have you ever had to schlep a 50-lb. bag up four sets of broken escalators to catch a train that’s about to depart? Trust us, the extra three pairs of shoes won’t be worth it again. Though, if you’re a very clever packer and can squeeze quite a lot into a small space, you generally won’t have to worry about weight limits like you do with a checked bag. As long as you can compress that thing back to its original size dimensions and lift it above your head without throwing your back out, you can fill a carry-on with bricks and no one will call you out. Except maybe the TSA’s Instagram account.

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Here are a few more helpful points to consider when choosing your new carry-on luggage.

Domestic v. International Carry-on Bag Sizes

While there are generally only a few inches of difference between carry-on luggage dimensions, you’ll want to pay attention to the carry-on size restrictions of the airlines you fly most often. A good rule of thumb for domestic U.S. flights is to adhere to suitcases sized 22″ x 14″ x 9″. If you’re often flying internationally, you may want to opt for a bag that stands at 21 inches instead, just to be sure you won’t run into any issues when boarding. I’ve found that international carry-on luggage rules tend to be a bit more strict, especially if you’re flying with a budget carrier.

Softside v. Hardside Carry-on Bags

If you always seem to be forced to gate check, you may want to opt for a soft-sided bag. They generally hold up best to wear and tear, though hard-shell bags are adopting more aesthetically durable materials as their popularity grows. Hardside luggage is generally a little more protective of what’s inside, while softside bags may allow you to squeeze in an extra bit of baggage for the way home because the fabric has that added give.

Two-wheel v. Spinner Carry-on Luggage

Spinner luggage has four wheels, usually multidirectional, that will allow you full control of the bag. This is helpful if you feel more comfortable wheeling your bag beside you when walking instead of hauling it behind you, and if navigating the bag down tight airplane aisles always seems to be a struggle. Do keep in mind, however, that two-wheeled suitcases don’t have to lend as many inches dimension-wise to the wheels — so you may be sacrificing already precious packing space if you opt for a spinner.

Related: The Best Lightweight Luggage for the Upcoming Travel Season

How to Make Sure Your Carry-on Works for You

Once you receive your bag, test it out before your trip. Did you just like the look of it or is it really functionally the best suitcase for how you travel? Stuff it full and wheel it around to see how it handles. Pick it up and lift it over your head to mimic putting it in the overhead bin. Familiarize yourself with all of the pockets and features. Even if you’ve read tons of luggage reviews and bought a bag from one of the best luggage brands, you’ll want to evaluate the quality before traveling with it, because if there’s one true law of luggage it’s that if your luggage is going to break, it will absolutely find the most inconvenient time during your trip to do so.

Check out our list of this year’s best luggage choices in every category and keep reading for even more details on each.

  • Best Softside Carry-on: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Spinner
  • Best Hardside Carry-on: Briggs & Riley Sympatico 21-inch Expandable Spinner
  • Best Carry-on Spinner: Samsonite Spettro 20-inch Spinner
  • Best Two-wheel Rollaboard Carry-on: Victorinox Lexicon 2.0 Global Carry-on
  • Best Lightweight Carry-on: Delsey Turenne Hardside Spinner Suitcase
  • Best Large Carry-on: Roam Jaunt XL Wheeled Carry-on Hard Case
  • Best International Carry-on: Briggs & Riley Baseline CX Carry-on Spinner
  • Best Underseat Carry-on: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rolling Underseat Carry-on Bag
  • Best Affordable Carry-on: AmazonBasics 20-inch Hardside Spinner Luggage
  • Best Zipperless Carry-on: Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-on Max
  • Best Leather Carry-on: Hook & Albert Men’s Leather Garment Weekender Bag
  • Best Luxury Carry-on: Rimowa Original Cabin Spinner Luggage
  • Most Durable Carry-on: Tumi Latitude International Carry-on
  • Best Wheeled Duffel: eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21-inch Wheeled Carry-on
  • Best Carry-on Backpack: Tortuga Setout Backpack

Best Softside Carry-on: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Spinner

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

Travelpro has been an industry leader since its founder, pilot Bob Plath, first added wheels to a suitcase to create the Original Rollaboard back in 1987. And the company’s commitment to advancing technology is still super evident in its new Platinum Elite line. This spinner incorporates a contoured, comfortable handle, wheels that are aligned by built-in magnets for effortless rolling, damage-resistant zippers, a fold-out suiter, and tons more organizational components into a sleek, leather-trimmed package. And all of that’s offered at a reasonable price point.

To buy: ebags.com, $215

Best Hardside Carry-on: Briggs & Riley Sympatico Expandable 21-inch International Spinner

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

This glistening suitcase really is the full package. The Sympatico carry-on is one of Briggs and Riley’s top sellers. It’s equipped with double swivel wheels, an impact-resistant polycarbonate shell, and a pretty incredible compression system that you can simply snap back down to regulation size after packing 25 percent more inside. With the lifetime warranty — the best in the business — to boot, it’s absolutely worth the investment.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $579

Best Carry-on Spinner: Samsonite Spettro 20-inch Spinner

Image zoom Courtesy of Samsonite

Samsonite is a household luggage name for a reason; it’s been crafting quality travel bags for more than a century. The just-released Spettro, however, is decidedly modern. Its four multidirectional spinner wheels allow for 360 degrees of easy wheeling, meaning no struggles as you navigate your way down narrow plane aisles. Inside, there are two built-in packing cubes and and three additional zippered pockets to make sure everything is securely packed and organized. And outside, the honeycomb texture atop the polycarbonate shell makes it resistant to scratches.

To buy: samsonite.com, $160 with code CHEERS (originally $320)

Best Two-wheel Rollaboard Carry-on: Victorinox Lexicon 2.0 Global Carry-on

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

Organized travelers will be delighted to pack up this roller. Aside from the spacious, expandable main compartment, there is a removable garment sleeve, zippered external pockets, and a U-shaped front pocket with padded sleeves for both a laptop sized up to 17 inches and a tablet. The robust wheels are worth noting, too. Bring on that cobblestone.

To buy: ebags.com, $420

Best Lightweight Carry-on: Delsey Turenne International Carry-on Hardside Spinner Suitcase

Image zoom Courtesy of Macy’s

French luggage company Delsey released its lightest hardside suitcase yet earlier this year. The elegant Turenne weighs in at only 4.8 pounds and is made of 100 percent virgin polycarbonate to withstand the wear and tear of a gate check, if needed. Two packing bags, intended for shoes and laundry, are included.

To buy: macys.com, $200

Best Large Carry-on: Roam The Jaunt XL Wheeled Carry-on Hard Case

Image zoom Courtesy of Roam Luggage

Roam Luggage is completely customizable, so you can design your suitcase exactly the way you want it. From zipper pulls to stitching, you can make a Roam suitcase entirely your own. Plus, the innovative brand was founded by two former Tumi executives, so you know that quality is key. The hardside suitcases are made from 100% virgin polycarbonate that’s designed to hide scratches. The brand offers four different sizes of luggage, including two carry-ons, including the Jaunt XL (measuring 22” x 15.75” x 9”), which is accepted as a carry-on on almost all domestic flights in the US.

To buy: roamluggage.com, $475

Best International Carry-on: Briggs & Riley Baseline CX International Carry-on Spinner

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

If you want to be able to comply with international carry-on luggage requirements, this is your bag. Another excellent pick from Briggs & Riley, this Baseline model also incorporates the brand’s revolutionary zipperless CX compression-expansion tech. The ballistic nylon fabric is designed to resist abrasion, wear, moisture, and dirt, so it’ll stay this sharp-looking over years of travel. Plus, there’s a quick-access pocket between the handle bars on the back which, if you ask us, is the perfect place to store your passport and boarding pass while you’re between security and boarding.

To buy: ebags.com, $639

Best Underseat Carry-on: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rolling Underseat Carry-on Bag

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

Though it be but little, this bag is mighty. The polyester exterior is both water-repellent and stain-resistant while its high-performance inline skate wheels make for effortless navigation. At just 15.25″ x 13″ x 8″, it’s sized to fit snugly beneath all standard airline seats. And it even comes with a matching hanging toiletry organizer to stow all of your 3.4-or-less-ounce liquids.

To buy: ebags.com, $94

Best Affordable Carry-on: AmazonBasics 20-inch Hardside Spinner Luggage

Image zoom Courtesy of Amazon

If you only travel a few times a year, it’s definitely worth considering a more affordable suitcase. More than 3,500 five-star reviews suggest the online retailer giant’s own line is certainly on to something in the luggage category. As the name suggests, this little polycarbonate spinner packs in all the basics: TSA locks, expansion, zippered pockets, and an internal compression system to keep belongings secure and as wrinkle-free as possible.

To buy: amazon.com, $50

Best Zipperless Carry-on: Arlo Skye Polycarbonate Carry-on Max

Image zoom Courtesy of Arlo Skye

You may never realize how much time you’re wasting with zippers until you try out a suitcase that clasps shut. This carry-on from luggage startup Arlo Skye — which was founded by Tumi and Louis Vuitton alums — checks all the boxes of today’s busy traveler. It’s got a durable shell, a removable charger, Japanese Silent Run wheels, and an elegant yet simple design.

To buy: arloskye.com, $475

Best Leather Carry-on: Hook & Albert Men’s Leather Garment Weekender Bag

Image zoom Courtesy of Hook & Albert

We’re slightly obsessed with this clever weekender bag, which essentially functions like the origami of packing. Rendered in gorgeous top-grain pebbled leather, the bag zips open so that it’s totally flat and can store up to two suits around the outside structure. Then, zipping it back together will give you room inside for shoes, accessories, and more. It’s also available in a women’s version, which has different pocket configurations.

To buy: hookandalbert.com, $690

Best Luxury Carry-on: Rimowa Original Cabin Spinner Luggage

Image zoom Courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman

Rimowa’s grooved suitcases are nothing short of iconic; it’s no wonder the brand has built a following of loyal A-list clientele. Not only are its cases made to look good, they’re made to be used — really used. They’re water-resistant, secure, and so very strong for how lightweight they are. And all of the dents, scars, and stickers you may pick up will only add character, telling micro-stories of the places you’ve been.

To buy: neimanmarcus.com, $1,050

Most Durable Carry-on: Tumi Latitude International Carry-on

Image zoom Courtesy of Tumi

This carry-on by Tumi is the perfect example that a suitcase doesn’t need to sacrifice style for durability. Part of the brand’s lightweight Latitude collection, it’s built to stand up to hundreds of trips, with a new, reinforced wheel system, bumpers to guard common impact zones, a sturdy telescoping handle made of aircraft-grade aluminum, and a specially woven material that’s designed to flex and bend on contact, protecting whatever’s inside.

To buy: tumi.com, $750

Best Wheeled Duffel Carry-on: eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21-inch Wheeled Carry-on Duffel

Image zoom Courtesy of eBags

Almost 5,000 reviewers have given this best-selling wheeled duffel a 4.6-star rating on eBags’ site — safe to say it’s a crowd favorite. It’s super compartmentalized — much more so than your average one-compartment duffel — with two main packing sections, a divider, and plenty of auxiliary pockets, too. The two wheels are quiet and smooth to roll. The four external compression straps will make sure your contents stay secure. And it’s available in eight colorways, so there’s sure to be one for every traveler’s style.

To buy: ebags.com, $120 with code 2020 (originally $220)

Best Carry-on Backpack: Tortuga Setout Backpack

Image zoom Courtesy of Tortuga

This popular backpack has the capacity of a suitcase, but can be worn for hours of exploring without discomfort or the annoyance of having to rake your rollaboard across cobblestoned sidewalks. It also packs like a suitcase, with a front-zip panel instead of the traditional top-loading style most “backpacking” packs tend to have. It’s got a water-repellent coating, lots of smart organizational components for your tech, padded straps and a removable hip belt, lockable YKK zippers, and many more features you’ll be thankful for on the go. If you’re bringing a week’s worth of clothes on board with you, might we recommend also investing in the brand’s packing cubes?

To buy: (men’s) tortugabackpacks.com, $199; (women’s) tortugabackpacks.com, $199

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