The Best Carry-on Luggage For Travel
Next to your chosen personal item, your carry-on is your best friend while traveling. You typically don’t have to separate from each other and it can come even come with you to the bathroom if need be. As such, investing in a high quality, durable, and stylish piece is important. Many suitcases get thrown (literally) through the wringer during travel. If you do choose to check this bag, you’ll want to know that it will survive the harsh conditions of traveling in the belly of the plane. With millions of options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to start. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re on the right track.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Top Ten Carry-On Luggage
1. Olympia Apache Ii
Colors are off from their picture
This carry-on luggage is the next generation of carry-ons. This luggage may look simple but is packed with extra features to make your travel experience relaxing and convenient. It also looks stylish too, definitely a carry-on to look at if you're in the market.Read more
This luggage comes with an aluminum handle to ensure it will last and will be strong enough to pull the weight of your carry-on. Built with a tough exterior this luggage can take a beating and still look great. If you have experienced your previous luggage damaged from tough airline abuse, this is one that will hold up.
This bag features a number of extra features such as 4 wheels that spin to ensure that mobility is ease for the operator. This carry on also comes with a hidden compartment to store your electronics or anything that needs to be accessible while traveling. There is also an expansion zipper that gives the bag about two extra inches, allowing you to bring back souvenirs for everyone.
As mentioned, this suitcase has 4 spinning wheels. This allows you to walk with the suitcase instead of dragging it behind you. The wheels spin 360-degrees and the bag can be pulled sideways, backward, or pushed in front of you.
Ease of Use
This suitcase is very easy to use! As long as you don’t overwhelm yourself while packing, stay calm and organized, there is a place for everything.
2. Samsonite Omni PC
Good packing features
Wheels can jam
If you’re looking for an affordable choice for your luggage, then you might want to check out what the Samsonite Omni PC has to offer. Designed for easy use and packed with extra features that ensure organization, this bag offers a lot of functionality.Read more
The shell of this suitcase is made out of 100% polycarbonate. It features micro-diamond technology that resists abrasions. The lining of the bag is made from polyester.
This luggage will fit in most overhead compartments, but won’t always meet carry-on standards. If you choose to expand the bag on the sides to fit more clothes or souvenirs, it may get flagged as being too big. A TSA lock is also integrated into this suitcase, keeping your items secure.
This suitcase also features 360-degree spinner wheels and is very easy to transport through the airport.
Ease of Use
With this bag, you get a full-zip interior, divider, and cross-straps to help you better organize your items when you pack.
3. Amazon Basics Softside
Easy to push around
Great quality material
Many organizational pockets
Limited color choices
This next piece comes from a site, a brand, a friend that we all know and love. It is a soft-shell carry-on spinner suitcase which is ideal for international flights or weekend getaways.Read more
The material of this suitcase is very durable and the outside is lined with a protective layer in order to avoid scratching and damage. The purpose of the lining is functional but also looks very nice. This carry-on luggage is also very lightweight and it weighs only 5, 5 pounds. The volume of it is 9 liters.
Since it doesn’t have the two-shell method of organizing your belongings inside, it does have interior pockets that will assist with 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 suitcase 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 overpacking 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.
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 an option, look through our other suggestions.
Ease of Use
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. The soft side design of the suitcase will allow you to squeeze it into small spaces, 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.
4. Genius Pack G3
Wheels could be stronger
The Genius Pack G3 is a neat option in luggage choices and features an integrated air valve to compress clothing. That means you can pack a lot more into this bag than you could with some other luggage options.Read more
Designed from high-quality 840-denier ballistic nylon and polyurethane coated trims, this bag is made for durability. It also features a strong honeycomb frame that can take a lot of abuse. This bag is designed with a 100% aluminum telescoping handle that has two locking positions. You also get a memory foam-filled top area that makes the bag more comfortable.
This bag can expand out an extra two inches, providing 20% more packing space when you need it. It also has a checklist embedded inside of it so you always know what to bring with you.
This is another suitcase that features 360-degree rolling wheels. You can carry or roll this suitcase anyway that makes you happy.
Ease of Use
In terms of packing, this bag is very easy to use. It features a removable laundry bag, designated compartments, and exterior pockets. In terms of rolling, this bag is also a dream.
5. eBags TLS Mother Lode
No side handle
Founded by five friends in 1998, eBags has become one of the online leaders of luggage sales. They were recently bought out by Samsonite International but continue to produce top-quality travel gear at affordable prices. The TLS Mother Lode is available in eight different colors and offers ‘lodes’ of organization.Read more
This suitcase is made from 840D and 900D twisted polyester. Apart from the suitcase, you will also receive two fiberglass rods that assist with the stability of the bag, keeping it upright when standing. These are essential pieces and you should insert them before using the suitcase for the first time. The bag is a carry-on size for almost all standard airlines. It measures 21.5” x 15” x 9”. It weighs eight pounds and eleven ounces.
The TLS Mother Lode features two external pockets, one small but wide pocket on the top of the suitcase, and one large pocket. There are three zippered mesh pockets inside. One of the most favored features by reviewers is the removable movable shelf divider in the main compartment. Each section of the exterior zippers leaves enough room to add a lock. There is also an expansion zipper that gives you an extra 1.5” inch of space.
This suitcase has two large wheels. They do not wobble and ride smoothly on many surfaces. As for motion control, that’s really up to the driver with this bag. It can easily be pulled behind you, or if you would like to practice your driving skills, you could push it in front of you.
Ease of Use
With all of the additional features in this bag, it’s very easy to use and organize. The zippers are smooth and lockable (lock not included). The handle can be adjusted to three different height levels. Some reviewers had issues inserting the fiberglass balance rods but eBags has recently put out an extra instructional video to assist users with the issue.
6. Aerolite Carry On MAX
10 years guarantee
Not so durable frame
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 that it comes with a 10-year guarantee, which enables you to buy this product with confidence.Read more
The material this suitcase is high quality 600 denier polyester which is resistant to ripping and very durable. The entire suitcase is made with durable but lightweight materials.
Compared to other suitcases, this bag is more spacious and it can carry more weight. Its weight limit is 38 liters which is 20% more than competitive models. 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.
This 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.
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.
Ease of Use
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 to 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.
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.
7. TravelPro Crew 10
Can feel heavy
The TravelPro Crew 10 is a strong nylon bag that’s made to roll easily and not wobble. It’s durable and features a high-quality design and great materials.Read more
The material designed into this bag is 100% nylon, and it also features a nylon lining on the inside. The frame is made from solid, durable aluminum that is built to last.
The interior of this bag comes with a full lid and also has a deluxe suite inside it, so your clothes won’t wrinkle when you travel with them. Also, this bag comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The bag features corner guards, side feet and skid guards to help make your luggage last longer.
This suitcase has only two wheels. This makes motion control very manageable. With only two wheels, unless you’re on a steep incline, there is really no chance of your bag rolling away from you.
Ease of Use
Designed with a power scope aluminum extension handle, this bag holds itself upright well and also gives you several stops with the handle. The bag is fairly easy to handle alone, at 8.8-pounds.
8. London Fog Coventry UL Collection
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.Read more
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 scratch-resistant. The back of a suitcase usually provides the strength of the bag for carrying heavier items, but, 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.
The handle system is made from high-quality aluminum parts that work 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.
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.
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 suitcase 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.
Ease of Use
The linear 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.
9. Platinum Magma 2
Durable and versatile
Could come in more color options
The Platinum Magma 2 is designed to give you a well-balanced bag that isn’t prone to tipping. It also offers you a smooth rolling option in luggage choices.Read more
Designed out of 100% nylon and featuring a nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating, you get a powerful aluminum frame. Also, the aluminum handle extension on this luggage is very strong.
There is a zipper closure designed into this bag, and the bag also features a leather top with side carry handles. Its total weight is 7.7 pounds.
Unlike some other suitcases on our list, this particular piece comes with not 2, not 4, but 8 wheels! Each pair is magnetic and self-aligning and allows for a 360-degree range of motion.
Ease of Use
The expansion capabilities on this bag are up to two inches, and the bag is designed with a leather top and easy carry handles. You’ll be able to easily carry and take this bag along with you.
10. Briggs And Riley International
Built to last
Could offer more color options
Briggs And Riley International’s bag is made with high-quality materials and brings you a lot of durabilities. This bag is built to last and carry heavy loads, and it’s very easy to bring along with you when you travel.Read more
Briggs and Riley designed their bag out of a durable 100% nylon material. The frame is made from quality aluminum and is built to be strong and durable.
This bag features expansion compression, meaning you can actually expand the bag out when you need to pack additional items. This part of the bag also compresses in when you no longer need it.
This specific bag has two wheels, however, the company also makes a four-wheeled version. The two-wheeled version provides simple motion control and is easiest to pull the bag from behind.
Ease of Use
The zipper closure used on this bag makes it very easy to pack your items and take them along with you. Plus, the inside of the bag features a large, flat interior and compression panels.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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 similar kinds of objects inside. This means that if you are using your luggage for traveling, you will probably be packing clothes. Clothes are not fragile items, so you won’t have the need to pick a hard-shell suitcase 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 suitcase is more convenient for your needs. Softshell 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 suitcase is more convenient for your needs. Softshell 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 suitcase 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 bother 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.
The size of the carry-on is important for several reasons. It is important to you because you want your luggage to be able to fit your most essential belongings. And it is important for the airlines because they require that your carry-on luggage fits in the overhead bin. Annoyingly, 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, 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 different size requirements. They usually require 20 inches in 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 than 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.
When it comes to the number of wheels your choice is simple. You can choose between four-wheel luggage, a two-wheel bag or no wheels at all. However, the numbers of wheels are not just for style. They provide 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 of 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 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 suitcase 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 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 suitcase, you might not have to replace the wheels for a long time, the wheels of a suitcase are still a sensitive subject. After the zipper, they are the second thing that causes troubles to travelers around the world.
Ease of Use
When looking for your next carry-on luggage ease of use is quite important because the ability to accommodate and organize all of your gear and necessities is obviously critical to you as a traveler. Your carry-on should not only be able to transport your clothes and gear, but also have a smooth feel, and fit in the plane with ease. Features such as inside pockets and straps for secure containment, separation, and easy access can also go a long way toward improving the user-friendliness of your luggage.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Remember when packing your carry-on that airlines will not allow liquids to be packed if they are over 3.4 ounces. They will also require you to place these containers together in a separate sealable plastic bag before passing through security. Proper preparation here will save you time and extra hassle at the airport and will prevent having your liquids confiscated.
Other Factors to Consider
There are two types of backpacking luggage. One can convert into regular luggage and you are also able to roll it around. The second version comes 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 suitcase 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 suitcase 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can hard shell bags crack?
Hardshell bags can crack from too much pressure. 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. Overpacking 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 clamshell 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 overpack the luggage which would make the zipper prone to cracking.
q: Can over packing cause cracking or tears?
Overpacking 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 clamshell 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 overpack the luggage which would make the zipper prone to cracking.
q: What do I need to consider about luggage with wheels?
Since wheels are fragile and they tend to break or wear off, if you are taking the luggage with you in the overhead department, 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.
q: When should I consider backpacking luggage?
If you are the adventurous type and you are planning on traveling the world with a carry-on suitcase and a map, then backpack luggage might better suit your needs. Or, if you have a young child as a travel companion who often requires that you hold his or her hand in order to keep him from escaping your side, you might want backpacking luggage. In this case, backpacking luggage will allow you to have a regular suitcase 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.
q: What do I need to know about straps with backpacking luggage?
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.