The Best Carry-on Luggage For Travel

To begin with, when looking for a carry-on luggage, don’t forget that the main purpose of it is easier travel through the airport, train stations or whatever trip you are planning on taking. When traveling by airplane, it is important to know that they don’t treat your luggage nicely. They don’t intend on damaging your luggage, but it still happens. Statistics show that most suitcases are damaged while transporting them to the plane and out of it. The main reason for this is because the process is not automatic in most airports which leads to the human factor. People transporting your luggage have a certain amount of time in which range they have a task of replacing the luggage from one place to another. With this time frame being too small, the result is throwing your luggage from one place to another. The problem is, no one is there to catch it. This leads us to our main subject. How to find the best carry-on luggage that won’t get damaged from the transport?

The wheels, the zippers, and your luggage shell should all be high-quality parts and they should be flawlessly attached in order for your luggage to be able to last for years. Regardless of whether you are traveling for work every week or you only need a vacation carry-on luggage, you will need a functional luggage that will make your travel easier and faster. Considering the charges on airports, it should also avoid being too bulky and this is a feature that will save you a few dollars.

In the past decade, the prices for flights have significantly dropped, however, airlines are trying to make up for this by adding additional charges for every additional pound to your luggage. For this reason, the weight of your luggage is also of great significance. In addition, we will mention the features you need to consider when choosing a carry-on luggage in order to choose the best one for your needs. We will also suggest some carry-on luggage options ourselves that we have reviewed and tested. We are sharing the positive as well as our negative experiences with each and every one of them.

Backpacking luggage straps are an important part of its design and functionality. It is best when the straps that go on your back are padded and adjustable. There should also be waist straps in order for you to avoid back pain while wearing it. With good straps, your posture will remain straight and you will feel good afterward.

The Top Rated Picks

London Fog Coventry
  • London Fog Coventry
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Incredible Quality
  • Price: See Here
Check on Amazon!
Jump to Full Review
Utopia Home ABS
  • Utopia Home ABS
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable Design
  • Price: See Here
Check on Amazon!
Jump to Full Review
Aerolite Carry On MAX
  • Aerolite Carry On MAX
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Fantastic value
  • Price: See Here
Check on Amazon!
Jump to Full Review

 

London Fog Coventry UL Collection 21 Inch Expandable Upright

Editor rating: 9.8 / 10
Read Reviews & Buy on
This London Fog carry-on luggage has a great design and even greater quality. Its design is made to fit almost all domestic airlines and their overhead compartments.
Expand to see more
Frame quality and material

The frame is made from high-quality corner guards that are helping the luggage look as new for a long time. The outside of it is made out of a hard synthetic material which is unable to be scratched. The back of the luggage usually provides the strength of the bag for carrying heavier items. In this case, this luggage has reinforced back frame that is able to withhold a greater weight. The frame of the luggage is made with a honeycomb structure that gives it strength without making it extra heavy. This results with an ultra light carry-on luggage with strong support for your heavier items. The weight of this luggage is only 7, 5 pounds and the dimensions are 9 x 21 x 14 inches.

Additional features

The handle system is made from high-quality aluminum parts that are working smoothly and without disruptions. The aluminum handle material also gives the luggage strength so you are even able to lift the suitcase by its handle and it wouldn’t break. However, this is only done for testing; it is not recommended for regular use. The aluminum handle system is reinforced with channels for extra strength.

Wheel system

The wheels are incorporated in a wheel system with protective corners in order to ensure that they are protected during the transport. This is a two-wheeled system which means you will be able to use it as a carry-on luggage for a long time. Since the wheels are placed inside a frame, the luggage is also convenient to use on rough terrains. However, you wouldn’t want to since it looks very elegant and well designed.

The exterior is rich with pockets that will make your traveling more organized. However, the interior is also well organized with shoe pockets so that you don’t mix up the “dirty” shoes with your clean clothes and a mesh pocket which is zippered placed on the lid of the bag.

Functionality features

The liner dimensions are 13 inches when it is fully expanded. It is also very stable when standing on its own. Some cases tend to fall forward when they are over packed. However, this carry-on luggage doesn’t have that issue; it could certainly stand free regardless of its packing content.
Pros
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Spacious
  • Well organized
Cons
  • Small wheels
  • Not lockable

Utopia 20-Inch ABS Lightweight Carry-On Spinner Luggage

Editor rating: 9.6 / 10
Read Reviews & Buy on
This Utopia Home ABS carry-on luggage is a nice choice if you are looking for a standard hard shell luggage with an affordable price and good features.
Expand to see more
Frame quality and material

The material it is made of is polycarbonate which makes the suitcase extremely durable and a sturdy choice. The wheels are integrated into a plastic protection which is added on the suitcase instead of being designed as an integrated part of it. For this reason, it is highly likely that they will get damaged if you are planning on using the suitcase on rough surfaces or you are frequently flying. For frequents flyers, an integrated wheel system is required in order for the wheels not to get damaged in transport. However, the entire suitcase is very lightweight and spacious inside. The wheels are large considering the dimensions of the suitcase and this is making it more stable and even easier to maneuver. If you are one who changes transportation means frequently during one trip, this would be the perfect carry-on luggage choice for you.

Additional features

The luggage consists of four spinner wheels which are very easy to maneuver and the mobility with it is quite effortless. The suitcase is designed especially for smooth surfaces, and if you try using it on rough terrains the mobility would be significantly harder. In fact, there is a great probability the wheel system could get damaged.

Functionality features

Since this is a two compartments luggage, you will be able to organize better your stuff and the two inner straps will let you allow divide the two parts even better. Even though it is lightweight, the outer shell material is strong enough to protect your belongings and it doesn’t crack easily. However, if the looks of your suitcase is of importance to you, it is would probably be an issue for you that it is very easy to scratch. Even after your first trip, your suitcase will have “scars”. If this minds to you at all, look through our other soft shell luggage suggestions.
Pros
  • Large wheels
  • Very durable
  • Spacious
Cons
  • Large wheels
  • Easy to scratch

Aerolite Carry On MAX Travel Trolley Bags Luggage Suitcase

Editor rating: 9.5 / 10
Read Reviews & Buy on
This Aerolite carry-on luggage is made specifically for frequent flyers that are using domestic airlines. The dimensions fit most USA airlines as well as Southwest airlines. And what makes it a good and safe choice is its 10 years guarantee which enables you to buy this product with confidence.
Expand to see more
Frame quality and material

The material this suitcase is made of is high quality 600 denier polyester which is resistant to ripping and very durable. The entire suitcase is made with durable, but lightweight materials. This Aerolite carry-on luggage suggestion is one of the lightest suitcases on the market. With its weight of only 4, 6 lbs you would be able to carry it through airports easily. It is available in various color designs as well as other sizes. The company also offers a 10-year guarantee in order for you to make a more confident decision, in case you are not sure of your purchase.

Additional features


Comparing to other suitcases, this bag is more spacious and it can carry more weight. Its weight limit is 38 liters which are 20% more than competitive models. The handle is also retractable, like many other models from this price range and level of quality. The retractable handle can be put to use with the push of a button. It enables you to pull your suitcase on two wheels. Or you could also push it around on four wheels. The four wheels are not integrated into the suitcase, but that is rarely an option in bags in this price range. However, the wheel system is reinforced and conveniently placed so there is minimum impact in case you or someone else drops it. The corners of the luggage are also reinforced in order to protect your belongings from damage. This is also a regular feature in suitcases, although many lightweight luggage alternatives don’t have it.

Functionality features

However, the functionality of the suitcase comes with its organizational properties. This Aerolite choice has two front pockets which can be closed with a zipper. The zipper is dual closed so you are able to easily access your belongings from every angle. The upper pocket is perfect for your passport, entertainment device or charger. Even though the dimensions are perfect for most airline overhead departments, this suitcase is not able to fit under the seat. However, this only applies for the economy class. It is also convenient that you have the freedom of movement with it, if you decide to push it on four wheels. It doesn’t go only in one direction, but it also swivels.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durable material
  • 10 years guarantee
Cons
  • Might seem too fragile
  • Not so durable frame

AmazonBasics Softside Spinner Luggage

Editor rating: 9.1 / 10
Read Reviews & Buy on
This Amazon Basics suitcase is currently on sale and if you decide that this is your most suitable option you will save 26% of the full price. It is a soft shell carry-on spinner luggage which is ideal for international flights or weekend getaways.
Expand to see more
Frame quality and material

The material it is made of is very durable and the outside is lined with protection layer in order to protect it from scratching and damage. Although the purpose of the lining is functional, the protective fabric looks very nice. The handle system is telescoping and the pulling is smooth and effortless. There is a push button on the top of the handle which allows you to activate it. There are 4 wheels that could move in any direction and the rolling is pretty smooth. However, the sizes of the wheels suggest that this suitcase choice is not too convenient to be used for rough terrains. If you are looking for such option, look through our other suggestions. This carry-on luggage is also very lightweight and it weighs only 5, 5 pounds. The volume of it is 9 liters.

Additional features

Since it doesn’t have the two shell method of organizing your stuff inside, it does have interior pockets that will assist the organization. This Amazon Basics suitcase has an option of expanding. This means that you could choose to use it as a smaller carry-on luggage in case you have less stuff for a shorter trip. Or you could expand it to 25% and get additional packing capacity in which you will be able to fit most of your stuff. Although it is not recommended that you over pack your suitcase, the zippers are very durable if you don’t take the over packing too far. Inside, there are also clipping straps that will keep your stuff lined up. This is a feature that organized people will know to appreciate. There is also a zippered compartment inside that will allow you to physically separate the dirty stuff for instance from your clean ones.

Functionality characteristics

Even though its dimensions are limiting you to where you are going to place your suitcase while traveling, they are changeable. This doesn’t mean that you could turn the 21 inches of height in 18 inches to fit your airline rules. But if you are traveling by car and you have only a little space left, the soft side design of the suitcase will allow you to squeeze it inside, in order for it to fit the tight space. Of course, if your packed belongings allow this. Even though this is a characteristic that all soft shell suitcases possess, the hard shell ones would crack if you push too hard to fit them in a tight space.
Pros
  • Easy to push around
  • Great quality material
  • Many organizational pockets
Cons
  • Bad wheel placement
  • Limited color choices

The criteria used for evaluation

Carry-on size

First of all, the carry on size is important for several reasons. It is important to you because you would want your luggage to be able to fit your most essential belongings. And it is important for the airlines because they have an interest for your carry-on luggage to fit the overhead bin. Different airplanes have different measurements for the overhead bins. However, in order to ensure that your luggage will fit, you could be asked to try to fit it into the measuring slot that is put on checking in point. The measuring slots on the other side, are a bit smaller than the overhead bins, as you might have already noticed. If your luggage doesn’t fit the measuring slot, you have no other option but to check in your luggage and this is certainly not a pleasant neither a cheap experience.

Having this in mind, a carry-on luggage has two measurements that you should consider; linear and the dimensions of the luggage itself. The accepted size of most airlines is 22 x 14 x 9 inch, although you should always double check this before packing. International flights have a bit different size requirements. They usually require 20 inches of height. Surprisingly enough, the airlines are not only measuring the bag itself, but in these dimensions, the handles and wheels are also included. Although this can be frustrating, it is quite logical because the handles and wheels must fit the overhead department.

In addition to this, airlines also have restrictions regarding the weight of the luggage. Although many domestic companies don’t have these restrictions, international ones usually do. However, even if they do, these restrictions are not so important because there is a little chance that in the space allowed, you will be able to pack more that the weight allowed. However, if you are using vacuum seal clear storage, then you might want to double check the weight since it is likely that it exceeds the limit.

Luggage styles

Once we have moved on from the boring size and weight restrictions you can begin your search for the perfect carry-on luggage that matches your taste as well as your needs. That said, even though you might prefer a soft-shell bag, a hard-shell one might be more suitable for you. There is also the number of wheels dilemma. You could choose luggage with four wheels, two wheels, or our personal favorite, one that turns in a backpack and has comfortable straps instead of wheels.

It is also important to take into account the stuff that you are planning on packing into your carry-on luggage. Although it is clear that you are never going to pack the same stuff, you are going to pack the similar kind of objects inside. This means that if you are using your luggage for traveling, you will probably be packing clothes. Clothes are not fragile stuff, so you won’t have the need to pick a hard-shell luggage unless your taste requires you to do so. The soft shell luggage has the advantage of numerous pockets that you can access quite easily. If this is something that matters to you then this style of a carry-on luggage is more convenient for your needs. Soft shell luggage is also convenient when traveling by car. Everyone who has ever traveled knows that you are always lacking space when packing in the trunk. However, the soft-shell luggage can be squished and it could easily fit in smaller spaces. Of course, if the nature of the stuff inside allows it. When you do so, make sure you are careful enough not to rip the outer material since it is easy to do so if there is a sharp object around.

The soft shell luggage has the advantage of numerous pockets that you can access quite easily. If this is something that matters to you then this style of a carry-on luggage is more convenient for your needs. Soft shell luggage is also convenient when traveling by car. Everyone who has ever traveled knows that you are always lacking space when packing in the trunk. However, the soft-shell luggage can be squished and it could easily fit in smaller spaces. Of course, if the nature of the stuff inside allows it. When you do so, make sure you are careful enough not to rip the outer material since it is easy to do so if there is a sharp object around.

On the other side, if you are planning on using the luggage for business trips and you have fragile item samples that you need to carry around, you should definitely choose a hard-shell luggage that will protect your belongings up to some extent. However, keep in mind that the hard shell luggage is prone to scratching. In fact, it will probably get scratched after only a few travels. If this doesn’t mind you, you are good to go. Luckily, there are some hard shell suitcases that don’t have a shiny surface, but a rougher hard side that is resistant to scratching. However, this kind of luggage also has a higher price than the previously mentioned versions.

It is also interesting in hard shell bags that if under pressure, they could crack. In this case, you would be forced to replace it with another one, and some airline companies don’t offer compensation for these accidents. In order to avoid such problems, make sure you don’t under pack by leaving more space inside. This way, when pressure is added, the cracking is easier. Over packing can result in the same problem. This style of luggage is visually looking like they hold more stuff inside. It is comprised out of two parts and it closes with a clam shell method which is connecting the two sides in the middle. You could pack stuff on each side which is more convenient if you are an organized type. However, if you manage to pack more stuff inside, you will probably over pack the luggage which would make the zipper prone to cracking.

Over packing can result in the same problem. This style of luggage is visually looking like they hold more stuff inside. It is comprised out of two parts and it closes with a clam shell method which is connecting the two sides in the middle. You could pack stuff on each side which is more convenient if you are an organized type. However, if you manage to pack more stuff inside, you will probably over pack the luggage which would make the zipper prone to cracking.

Also, if you are the adventurous type and you are planning on traveling the world with a carry-on luggage and a map, a backpack luggage might better suit your needs.

Wheels or not

When it comes to the number of wheels your choice is simple. You can choose between four-wheel luggage, two wheel bag or no wheels at all. However, the numbers of wheels are not just for style. They provide a different functionality and stability of the luggage.

Four wheeled luggage is more suitable for flat surfaces and places where the roughest terrain is concrete. Otherwise, pushing it will be significantly more difficult. However, the positive advantage to this type of luggage is that on smoother surfaces, the bag is very easy to push. It practically follows you.

It also feels lighter on the shoulders and arms and you would be able to travel greater walking distances without getting tired. They are also recommended for people who have neck or back issues since pulling a luggage around an airport could have a negative effect on them; especially if the luggage is heavy. These types of luggage are also more convenient for children or older people. If you have a stroller to push, then a four wheeled luggage should be your obvious choice since it is the easiest way to handle them.

With it being easy to push around, you should consider that it is just as easy for the four-wheeled luggage to escape you. If you take your eye off it on an uneven ground, all it takes is just an accident push so that it rolls away from you. Before you know it, you will be in an embarrassing situation of running for your luggage. However, if the luggage has a secure break, all this could be avoided.

Four wheels also mean four potential issues that might come up. Although if you choose a high-quality luggage, you might not have to replace the wheels for a long time, the wheels of a luggage are still a sensitive subject. After the zipper, they are the second thing that causes troubles to travelers around the world.

Although these are all compelling arguments, the next one would probably make you decide on the number of wheels on a luggage. Since wheels are fragile and they tend to break or wear off, if you are taking the luggage with you in the overhead department, a four-wheel luggage is a logical choice. However, if you are checking it in, and letting someone else take care of your luggage, then definitely go for the two wheeled one since it will last you longer.

Backpacking carry-on luggage

There are two types of backpacking luggage. One that is also converting into a regular luggage and you are also able to roll it around and another version with straps but without wheels. Each of these versions has its own use. The one with wheels is convenient if you are traveling through airports often and you need a carry-on luggage that would be used there as well as walking to your destination. The wheels will allow you to move freely through the airport and the straps will make sure you could walk to your destination without having to roll your bag behind you. This way, both of your hands will be free. This version is also more convenient if you are traveling to some rural area where the walking terrains are not exactly smooth.

The second version, however, the one without wheels is recommended for adventure traveling when not much of airport walking is included. These types of bags are also called convertible bags and they are intended for off-road travel. Convertible bags are suitable if you are often changing transportation mediums. If you choose to purchase a luggage of this type, be prepared for the conversion since it is not as easy as it seems. Some wheels are retractable and they should be extracted before usage. Convertible luggage is also convenient if you already have two regular bags checked in and you are lacking more hands for a third one. It is also suitable if you only have one rolling luggage since it is not easy to roll with two bags at once.

A young child as a travel companion often requires that you hold his hand in order to keep him from escaping your side. In this case, a backpacking luggage will allow you to have a regular luggage in one hand and a backpacking carry-on on the back, meanwhile holding your child’s hand at all times. Even though this might not seem logical to some people, in some international countries it is essential for your child’s safety that you always keep an eye on him.

In backpacking luggage, straps an important part of its design and functionality. It is best when the straps that go on your back are padded and adjustable. There should also be waist straps in order for you to avoid back pain while wearing it. With good straps, your posture will remain straight and you will feel good afterward.

Final thoughts

Traveling is a wonderful activity that everyone likes. However, we all wish to skip on those airport check-in moments which can be somewhat stressful or inconvenient. Nevertheless, with the right luggage choice, you will be able to organize yourself neatly and be prepared for each part of the process. Even though there are some advices on how to choose the best carry-on luggage, there is no such thing as the best one. In this buying guide, though, we have hopefully helped you decide what you need and how to determine a low-quality suitcase from a quality one.

Sometimes, if all you need is a less expensive travel bag, it is perfectly good to choose one that you are aware that is not going to last for a long time. However, you should always get the features that you are paying for. For this reason, we have given you valuable pointers on how to choose a carry-on luggage that will act to your personal convenience. It should be easy for you to use and of course, you should always be satisfied with your choice. Whether you prefer a certain design or a four wheel option, you should always consider your preferences first.

Is there a particular brand of carry-on luggage that you are satisfied with? Share with us in the comment section bellow and let our fellow travelers avoid the hard way of learning this. Have a nice trip everyone!