The first thing to know about me is that I like simplicity, especially when it comes to travel. Like many of you, I might be repacking from one trip to pack for another.
List of Best Carry on Luggage
- Kipozi Hanging Toiletry Bag of Men and Women
- BAGSMART Portable Travel Shoe Bags Gym Sport Sack Organizer
- MATEIN TSA Large Backpack for Travel and Business with USB Charger Port
- G4Free 3-Way Travel Duffel Backpack Luggage Gym Sports Bag with Shoe Compartment 40L
- Rains Unisex MSG Bag
- Timbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller
- Tumi Unisex Alpha 3 International Office 4 Wheeled Carry-On Spinner
- Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Expandable Suitcase
- Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
- G-RO 22″ International Carry-on Luggage
- AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage –Best Affordable Option
- Travel Pro Luggage Crew 11 21″ Carry-on – Best Premium Soft side
- Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage
- Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20-Inch Carry-On
- DELSEY Paris Helium Aero Hardside Luggage
- Travelpro Maxlite 4 Rolling Tote – Best Tote Carry-on
- DELSEY Paris Chatelet Hard+ Hardside Luggage – Most Stylish
- eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21 Inch – Best Wheeled Duffel
- Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner Luggage – Best International Carry-On
For that reason, this post won’t be just about the best carry on but about the 4 types of cabin luggage and accessories that make my life easier.
First is the international carry-on backpack which doubles as a laptop bag and organizes my most important items. Depending on the trip, it might also carry some clothes.
Best Carry on Luggage – Comparison Table
Second is the carry-on roller bag which holds my clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Where I am going a little deeper is about what goes into the carry-on bag that keeps me organized.
Kind of like the Babushka Dolls or the Russian Nesting Dolls, I like to pack inside my luggage in order to maximize iits packing space.
As a tall guy my shoes tend to be larger and thus take up a lot of packing space, so I prefer to use a travel shoe bag inside my roller. For my toiletries if I am traveling by car or train or checking my roller I like to pack a separate toiletry bag.
This method of packing inside my luggage makes packing quicker, makes accessing items on the trip easier and makes unpacking at home simple. So essentially, I am going to review carry on luggage but I also want to help make your travel simpler.
What to look for in Carry-on Luggage?
Finding the best carry-on bag can be a very daunting task. With innumerable luggage companies, different airlines allowing different luggage sizes and the type of the luggage itself, the selecting procedure can be very challenging.
Hence the reason why we came up with this buying guide to make the whole process seamlessly quick:
As is the case with size, airlines also generally apply restrictions on the maximum weight you can carry in your bag. We always recommend our readers to go with a lighter bag, as not only is it easy to lug around but a partially-filled bag gives you more wiggle room when you’re still in the packing stage.
Purpose of Travel
In order to help you evaluate what carry on luggage makes sense for you, I recommend you consider what type of traveling you are planning on doing. For some people travel is travel or at least that’s what they think.
Some people travel for short work trips, weekend getaways, weddings, long vacations, family fun, etc. For my money, the type of travel you do will affect the type of luggage you want to choose.
If you take 1 or 2 big trips per year for a week or two, you are going to have different needs and concerns than someone that takes a lot of weekend trips and is back to the grind on Monday. On that long vacation you are going to need to plan for a lot of possible events and eventualities so you want to jam as much contents as possible into your luggage.
The weekender knows the weather because of their limited time and likely travels lighter. The difficulty comes in to play when you do a little bit of both throughout the year.
4 wheels vs 2 wheels
Also known as spinners, 4-wheelers are easy to navigate in tight spaces. Ergonomically, too, they are a better choice as they don’t put much stress on your shoulders. However, having so many wheels prevents them from remaining stationary on an incline, so you have to lay them on their side.
Easy to navigate in tight spaces
Won’t put stress on your shoulders
More space for storage
Externally mounted wheels are susceptible to snapping off
Cabin cases with two wheels roll easily on uneven surfaces, such as cobblestones or sidewalks and they clear curbs better than their four-wheel counterparts. On the flip side, the fact that they have recessed wheels means there is less space in the bag’s packing area.
Cabin cases with two wheels roll easily on uneven surfaces, such as cobblestones or sidewalks and they clear curbs better than their four-wheel counterparts. On the flip side, the fact that they have recessed wheels means there is less space in the bag’s packing area.
Easily clear curbs
Perform better on uneven surfaces
Recessed wheels can withstand tough handling
Not easy to drag along in a crowded spaces
The variety traveler banks on flexibility, because from one trip to the next or even one day on your trip to the next your needs might vary greatly. Travel by its nature requires adaptation, because in a new city or country you don’t know what to expect.
Your habits and routines are thrown off and something as simple as going to the gym or getting your morning coffee now takes planning and work. Traveling forces us to adjust to such a degree that there are studies that prove that it benefits our brains and helps us improve skills such as problem solving.
Consider that for a second, because it makes perfect sense. Anyone that has ever traveled abroad and looked for something as simple as a place to eat likely had to identify and solve a problem. Unlike when you’re at home opening the fridge for leftovers isn’t an option.
So, if everything including where to eat requires adaptation and flexibility, wouldn’t it make sense that you choose luggage that works with you rather than against you? Consideration for flexibility should start with the size of your luggage. Allowable parameters can vary based on airline and even country when it comes to carry on bags and personal items.
Material (Softside carry-on vs Hardside)
Soft-sided luggage is made of fabrics that give way, such as ballistic or Cordura nylon. This cabin case can flex and you can easily compress their dimensions to make them conform to tight cabin luggage spaces, such as your airplane’s overhead storage compartment.
Can flex to fit in tight spaces
Easier to store
Susceptible to ripping
Hard-sided luggage is made with high-end plastics such as polycarbonate and ABS. While the latter is undoubtedly heavier, it is less durable than polycarbonate. Some top-of-the-line hard-sided luggage comes with a top-lid opening but most open and close like a clamshell, requiring more space to open them.
Durable polycarbonate casing
Won’t allow you to overstuff it
Vulnerable to scuffs and scratches
That brings me to my travel pack, as mentioned earlier is a backpack, carry on roller bag, toiletry bag and shoe bag. With this pack I can adjust my luggage to nearly any type of trip, and I can also easily unpack from one type of trip just to repack for a new trip. Each piece of luggage by itself is useful but for me the success is how they each work together.
The item that gets the most use for me is actually the toiletry bag. My toiletry bag is in my gym bag when I’m not travelling and that has everything I need to transition from a sweaty mess to a presentable human being. On any driving trip or where I am going to check my bag, my toiletry cabin bag just pops over from my gym bag to my roller bag.
There is nothing for me to think about, its just done in one step. Next to my toiletry bag goes one or two show bags depending on the type of trip. Inside the show bag and inside the shoes themselves I can pack socks, undies, etc and not waste any space.
My roller bag carries the core of my stuff and can be used of course for carry on or as a checked bag. On top of my roller bag, or on my back goes my backpack. This has a laptop section and some very cool travel and security features.
My travel pack might sound like I’m overdoing it, but each piece solves a problem I have had while traveling, so here is the breakdown.
• No more forgetting a toothbrush, deodorant, etc
• No more worries about your toiletries breaking and ruining clothes
• No more having to lay out items on the hotel sink
• Keeps my clothes clean next to my shoes
• Maximize unused space around and inside shoes
• Easy to unpack at your destination
Carry On Roller
• Avoid issues with carry-on luggage size at certain airlines
• Ability to check without concerns of damage
• Pockets to make packing and unpacking easier
• Separate compartments allow dirty clothes to be separated
• Always having access to important documents
• Phone charging port built in
• Separate pockets for organization
• Easy to carry or place on roller bag
• Better way to transport laptop
Provided you invest in a high-end bag, you might get an interior layout design for easy organization. Such bags have multiple compartments to store bigger items and flexible straps to keep everything secure. Some of them also have interior pockets that double as a toiletry bag when required. Zippered compartments are the norm these days to let you safely put away your valuables.
There are three types of international carry-on bags which you can easily get on the market: backpack, suitcase, and duffel. You might want to go for a backpack if your traveling itinerary is likely to involve too many stairs and not that many ramps.
Suitcases, meanwhile, are an amenable options for the corporate types. Since they lug around wherever you go, you don’t have to worry about lifting the weight you put in them. Duffels allow you to stuff a lot of gear into them – or as much as you want to lift.
Q: Can 24-inch luggage be a carry-on spinner?
A: Some airlines, like JetBlue and Southwest, consider 24-inch luggage to be a carry-on. Though you might want to check with your airline before embarking on the trip.
Q: Do airlines measure carry-on bags?
A: They do. Airlines have luggage sizers which they place at their gate which they could use to measure carry-on bags.
Q: What is the best brand of carry-on luggage?
A: At the cost of sounding politically correct, no single brand is the best for all people. There are multiple luggage brands that provide their users with a pleasant experience. Some of them include:
– Briggs & Riley
– American Tourister (and more)
Best Carry On Luggage Reviewed
1. Kipozi Hanging Toiletry Bag of Men and Women
Some of the smallest investments can be some of the biggest time-saving tools. This toiletry bag falls into that category for me. Prior to having a toiletry bag, I was always trying to remember my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel, etc when I traveled or need to change at the gym.
I had a different toiletry bag before this one, but it didn’t hold up very well. None the less it convinced me that this was the only way to go.
In order to make things the easiest for me, I bought an extra set of everything from a toothbrush to eye always drops to keep in the bag. (This avoids me forgetting something) Then all I need to do is pop it in my gym bag or in my roller bag.
Even times when I’m bringing toiletries carry on its simple to pull the items out rather than locating things in my bathroom. As for this bag specifically, I have had it for over a year, and I use it nearly every day at the gym.
Although it is now stained up, and the lining has a rip or two inside from my razor it has held up well. The nice thing is that the bag stands alone and has pockets inside as well as the large storage area in the middle.
There is plenty of room for everything you need to make your transformation. The zipper is very solid, and I have had no issues, but the only thing that bothers me a little is the hanging hook.
I have never used the hanging function so when I go to zip my bag and the hook falls out in the way it’s a little annoying. It’s not that important because I haven’t done anything about it, but it is the one design drawback I have seen. All in, it keeps me from forgetting something and having to go to work stinky, so I highly recommend it.
2. BAGSMART Portable Travel Shoe Bags Gym Sport Sack Organizer
There are many of these shoe bags on the market and I have some less expensive ones that help organize me at home, but this is my go-to travel bag.
I can’t say that there are amazing differences between this one and cheaper ones, or even more expensive ones. However, this has a couple of features that I find useful in my packing personal use.
First off, the bag fits my size 13 shoes which is important to me because not all do. The bag also has some structure to it which works well for me sitting next to my toiletry bag.
Secondly, the front pocket is helpful for packing extra socks, etc. I have never used it for this purpose but in a pinch, the shoes could be pulled out and this could also be used on a trip for carrying items outside of the luggage for the day.
3. MATEIN TSA Large Backpack for Travel and Business with USB Charger Port
I am a backpack reconvert, after years of carrying my laptop and important docs in a large laptop bag. However, after reading someone else’s blog I was convinced, and I was drawn in by the low-price tag at the time.
However, the smaller bag wasn’t enough for me, so I upgraded and upgraded my price along the way. None the less, for the price and versatility it was worth it for me.
The first thing that caught my attention was the laptop carrying function which is no more difficult to navigate at security than the lap top bag I used to have.
What my lap top bag didn’t have were comfortable straps for carrying the weight. It also didn’t have a USB charging port, which is a very cool feature.
When I am walking through the airport the bag also has a strap that allows it to slide over the roller bag. This is a great feature, though I do find the strap is a little tight and can be tough to get over my roller bag handle.
The variety of pouches makes it very simple to organize myself and know where everything is. This has proven to be a great utility and travel bag for me.
4. G4Free 3-Way Travel Duffel Backpack Luggage Gym Sports Bag with Shoe Compartment 40L
Although I don’t own this bag personally, we did purchase it as a gift for my brother in law and he has gotten a ton of use out of it. This bag offers a built-in shoe carrier and can be used as either a backpack or duffel bag.
This doesn’t have any function for easily carrying a laptop, but for the price you can’t beat it. There aren’t enough pouches and storage areas for my travel needs but for someone that likes simple and clean this is an option worth looking at.
5. Rains Unisex MSG Bag
I do own this backpack which is kind of a messenger and backpack hybrid. I don’t use it for much travel other than an overnight trip, or a staycation night away. However, for those that are very fashionable this is an option to accompany your carryon.
The bag can easily be used during your trip for carrying towels, sunscreen etc and items for a daytrip. This will not work perfectly as a lap top bag if you also need to carry other items, as it doesn’t have pouches.
6. Timbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller
I did a great deal of research when I was looking for a new carry on bag before I settled on this one. I honestly hadn’t ever spent this much on a bag, so I looked at it as a little bit of an investment. I was looking for something that allowed me to fit enough items while still complying with European carry on standards. It was also important to me to be able to pull out some items without having to empty my suitcase.
That’s why I love the separate compartments with mesh walls. The bottom area allows me to pack two pairs of shoes, the toiletry bag, a pair of jeans and dress shirts over the top. The other compartments can get most of everything else I need taken care of. Over the last two years I sometimes get this bag really packed and the zippers have proven to be solid.
I have had zero problems fitting this bag in the overhead compartment, and it has really checked all the boxes for what I was looking for.
7. Tumi Unisex Alpha 3 International Office 4 Wheeled Carry-On Spinner
I don’t own nor have I used this Tumi bag, but this a high design bag that has a lot of great reviews. This bag address some of the same concerns as the Timbuk2 but of course at a greater price tag. For the stylish traveler, this is a fantastic option especially if you were to pair it with a very fashionable backpack such as the Rains.
If the 4-wheel design is important to you this has very strong reviews. My opinion however is that spending this money on luggage might make you sad when you see it banged around during your trip. If that isn’t a concern this is worth looking at as a very nice option.
8. Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Expandable Suitcase
Travelpro is a highly rated luggage manufacturer and the Travelpro is no different. This bag comes in several different colors which is a major factor for those that want more than black and gray in their lives. This is lighter than previous versions and comes with the spinner wheels which can make traversing an airport much easier.
The interior comes with a fabric design and has the more traditional packing assistance tools inside the bag. The significant drawback is the lack of multiple pouches for the versatility and ease of packing that I talked about earlier.
9. Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
The first set of matching luggage I bought were the samsonite soft sided suitcases which I still own today. The name Samsonite is synonymous with luggage and style even though the price point isn’t especially high for most of their luggage.
I have not owned a hard side bag, but this one is a Samsonite mainstay, so I had to include it. With the hard sides the interior and pocket options are limited so this is a more traditional bag though it does open in the middle.
This separation will make unpacking easier than other models but is not ideal for flexibility. Again, this luggage comes in a variety of color choices and the spinning wheels make maneuvering busy airports simple.
10. G-RO 22″ International Carry-on Luggage
A 2019 carry on list wouldn’t be complete without at least one smart luggage. Although smart bags have mixed reviews and have caused concerns for the FAA and airlines they don’t seem to be going away.
In all honesty my only experience with smart luggage is seeing them in airports and on the shelf for sale. Due to the technology the price tag is typically rather high, although this is a more reasonably priced one.
As can be expected, smart bags tend to have mixed reviews, but for the tech savvy early adopters these are very exciting. I can only speak to the actual storage space via research, but the usable internal space seems to be strong, though there is no compartment separation.
11. AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage –Best Affordable Option
One of the biggest draws of this spinner carry-on suitcase is it offering a unique mixture of compact size and plenty of storage space. Provided you hate running out of space when packing your essentials, this is the affordable option you need.
The 20-inch AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner is acceptable to most airlines because of its compact size. It has a protective hard-shell whose scratch-resistant finish allows the entire unit to retain its original shine for long.
The fact that the shell is made of extra-thick ABS means you can count on it to withstand abuse. The four double wheels which carry this model – as well as its self-locking telescopic handle – make it easy to navigate in crowded spaces.
Open up this international carry-on, and you’d come across a fully-lined interior with a vertical divider. You also get three internal zipper pockets to store your essentials. And the whole inner compartment is made of 150D polyester to keep premature tears at bay.
12. Travel Pro Luggage Crew 11 21″ Carry-on – Best Premium Soft side
Ever since its founder added wheels beneath a suitcase to create the Rollaboard back in 1987, Travel Pro has been leading the industry. And the company’s dedication to technology is still there for all to see in the new Luggage Crew 11 21 inches Carry-On suitcase.
All Travel Pro carry-ons show commitment to technology and the Crew 11 isn’t any different. It contains a built-in charging system in the shape of a USB slot. You can find it inside the pocket located on the bag’s left side whose one side connects to the external power adaptor and the other to your gadget.
You get a total of eight magnetic self-aligning, 360-degree spinner suitcase wheels. You don’t have to adjust either your grip or the bag when you’re running as its wheels make sure that the bag stays straight all the time. Plus, you might find it pleasing to know that the wheels work equally quick on carpeted floors.
On the inside as well as the outside, you get plenty of pockets to store your valuables. There is a full-length interior lid pocket, a side mesh, a wet pocket, and three exterior pockets. The bag’s rear side contains a small pocket to secure hold (and display) your ID tags.
13. Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage
The Samsung Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage offers you optimal space for your travel items. It’s both price friendly and durable and offers three options for sizes. This best carry on luggage won’t force you to choose a one-trick pony. It comes with three sizes – 20-inch, 24-inch, and 28-inch – and therefore allows you to make the choice.
It has an external case whose 100% polycarbonate construction ensures the well-being of your travel items.
Next comes its integral locking system which makes your luggage extra-secure through a 3-digit combination code – which is easy to remember as well. Also, since this model has an impact-resistant body, it would flex under stress before jumping back to its original position.
If you’re one of those business travelers who take no prisoners when it comes to the security of your luggage items, the Samsung Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage might be perfect for you.
14. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out Of Bounds 20-Inch Carry-On
Just like the Samsonite Omni Expandable, the Kenneth Cole Reaction is also available in three sizes to make it more amenable to a wide range of audiences. Fortunately for us reviewers, the similarities stop right there as this model chooses its own path to woo potential users.
Both the interior as well as the exterior of this model are an epitome of durability. Its storage compartment is fully lined to prevent any wears and tears. The outer shell, meanwhile, contains molded corner guard reinforcements to absorb/deflect any shock they may encounter on impact.
To provide expandable storage space, its interior contains equally divided compartments that allow double-sided packing. You also get garment restraint straps to secure clothes in place and there’s also a large zipper pocket to store valuables like keys.
Small enough to meet almost all domestic and domestic international requirements, the Kenneth Cole Reaction is a heavy-duty carry-on which provides enough storage space to house all your clothes. Throw into the mix of its variety of colors, and there’s not much wrong you can find with this luggage.
15. DELSEY Paris Helium Aero Hardside Luggage
Coming from a manufacturer that is famous for making ‘pluggage’ – a smart/connected luggage like the Travel Pro Crew 11 – the Helium Aero doesn’t contain anything fancy. Apart from a dedicated section for your laptop, this model doesn’t have anything for tech-lovers.
The fact that its hardshell is 100% polycarbonate is the main reason why the Helium Aero is so light. It comes with a worldwide 10-year warranty to ease your doubts about its durability and turns your cabin suitcase into an easy-to-carry cart with its two 360-degree wheels.
Assuming you end up buying this luggage carry on, every piece of your garment will remain secure. That’s because it has a TSA approved lock whose 3-dial combination makes the interior of this model almost impregnable to any thief who might be after your garment.
Is the Delsey Helium Aero Spinner worthy of your hard-earned money? It is. And we aren’t saying this merely because we like its design. Of course, we do love its design, but this model has other equally useful features – like the ones we mentioned above – which make it a must-have.
16. Travelpro Maxlite 4 Rolling Tote – Best Tote Carry-on
Offering limited lifetime warranty on all their carry-ons, TravelPro distinguishes itself as one of the best luggage brands on the market. The Maxlite 4 Rolling Tote is no exception as this under-seat luggage has everything to make your journey stress free.
While its external appearance might not be assuring enough, this 15’’ wide carry-on has enough space to carry all your contents for a short trip. What this model lacks in space it more than makes up for its compact size – as you can easily slide it under your bus or airplane seat.
Other than that, a molded handle on the bottom of the Maxlite 4 doubles as a bag rest and allows you to easily get it on and out of the overhead bin. A protective fabric coating and crash-guard wheel housings will help this garment bag retain its original appearance for a long time. So If your next trip doesn’t involve spending weeks away from home, the TravelPro Maxlite 4 Rolling Tote has enough space to store all your contents.
17. DELSEY Paris Chatelet Hard+ Hardside Luggage – Most Stylish
Provided you came here for a carry-on which would force the onlookers to take notice as you slide it in a hall full of people, you can’t go wrong with this luggage. With slanted light brown lines against a chocolate brown background, this model is a dream come true for stylists.
Similar to other clamshell design hardcases, the inner case of the Chatelet splints into two so you can lay it on the ground and pack more items. Delsey has equipped this carry-on with two zippered closures on the inside and multiple zippered pockets on the outside.
Also provided is a full-length zippered pocket that you can use to store smaller items (like jewelry). Then there are the extra cloth bags that come packed inside this model. You can use them whatever way you want but most of the users count on them to store their dirty laundry.
As a result, and without underrating its other features, what really stands out is the vintage-meets-modernism styling of the Chatelet Hard+. Provided you want to be the star attraction in a travel lounge, this is the carry-on luggage that must accompany you.
18. eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21 Inch – Best Wheeled Duffel
Ever felt the urge to roll back the clock and go back to your high-school days? This wheeled duffel bag has all the looks to take you back to those glory days. More importantly, though, this softside carry-on has all the features and offers enough storage space to handle the contents of your adult life.
Since this is a 21’’ bag, you’d find most airlines receptive to the ideal of it populating their overheads. It has a bright interior that allows you to easily locate your contents, and the main compartment has a movable divider to effortlessly organize your contents.
Also on the inner side are two flat pockets. They aren’t big enough to store your laptop, which is why eBags provided the TLS Mother Lode with an outside laptop pocket. This eliminates any need you may feel for carrying a second bag for your laptop.
Consequently, while its boyish looks might suggest otherwise, the eBags TLS Mother Lode 21’’ has enough space to store a week of clothes, with room to spare.
19. Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner Luggage – Best International Carry-On
As we saw this spinner luggage from Briggs and Riley for the first time, elegant was the word that flashed into the mind of one of our reviewers. This isn’t a surprise given the fact that this company has worldwide fame for making attractive but not flashy carry-ons.
The first thing which we noticed when reviewing this carry on luggage is its large number of useful pockets. It has large exterior pockets that can easily store a hardcover book, a shallow pocket at the top which helps secure documents and a thin pocket b/w the handles that could hold a read magazine or travel umbrella.
Inside, you get a roomy main compartment that is expandable thanks to the company’s “Compression Expression” technology. You can use it to increase this luggage’s capacity from a built-in 35.4 liters to all the way up to 46.4 liters, which is huge parking space no matter how you look at it.
Therefore, If you travel often, have money to spend and prioritize a huge warranty, the Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner luggage might be worth the investment.
It is entirely possible that I have a bias toward the bags that I have personally used and are my go to’s but so what; sue me. I spent time and energy researching the Timbuk2 roller bag, and while sometimes the idea of 4 wheels makes my eyes wander, I have no intentions of going away from the sleekness and flexibility of the Timbuk2. The fact that I still consider it money will spent I think is a good sign.
As the second most important part of the travel pack, I have every intention of sticking with the MATEIN laptop backpack. Aside from the fact that I feel funny carrying a backpack anywhere other than an airport at my age, I will not go back to a laptop bag and I haven’t found a better backpack.
As I harped on, I value flexibility and I feel that the Timbuk2 and MATEIN backpack give me that flexibility I need. I recommend you add the toiletry and shoe bag, but it might not fit what you need and that’s cool. No matter your choice, my suggestion is to get your butt out there and travel!!