After more than 120 hours of research and testing numerous carry-on luggage for the past 16 years of travelling, I am pretty sure that the best carry-on luggage for most travellers is the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 after i bought and tested this carry-on luggage in August of 2018 because if offers the best balance of price, quality and features.
I also think that the AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage is the best budget carry-on luggage and is another great choice for people who want to spend less but still want a decent quality carry-on luggage.
Below is the list of other great carry-on luggage (in no particular order) for 2018.
Other Great Picks for 2018
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If you travel a lot, you know what a pain it is to drag your luggage through the airport and onto the plane.
Carry-on luggage is a convenient way to keep important items with you and not have to go through the checked luggage process.
The only drawback is that it is hard to remember all the different airline requirements when it comes to weight and measurements, plus you want something comfortable and lightweight to lift and pull around while you walk from terminal to terminal.
These days there are lots of carry-ons with convenient features that will make traveling less of a chore, you just have to know what features you want in your carry-on before you start shopping.
Travelpro Crew 11
Making travel easier than ever, the Travelpro Crew 11 is versatile and innovative carry-on that includes a contour grip, self-aligning wheels, an extension handle with PowerScope, and Duraflex anti-break buckles. It also features an integrated USB port that allows you to power your tablet or phone while on the move. Designed for frequent travelers, this stylish carry-on on emphasizes durability, quality, and excellence.
Including a lifetime warranty, the Crew 11 is one of Travelpro’s more upscale carry-ons. Constructed of ballistic nylon fabric, this is a stain and abrasion resistant carry-on.
Easily fitting into most overhead bins, this carry-on comes equipped with four wheels underneath that uses magnetic self-aligning technology so it is easy to either pull or push this bag in a straight line. It also easily extended with a retractable handle to either 38″, 40″, or 42.5″ while retaining its stability and easy to maneuver capabilities.
- Great bag, really well-made
- Magnetically-aligning wheels work really well to keep it in a straight line
- Bag steers easily and USB port and pocket for a power bank is a nice feature
- The included folding suit bag doesn’t fit in the carry-on well
- Bag is smaller than some users expected
Genius Pack G3
One of the smartest carry-on luggage options on the market, the Genius Pack G3 includes the innovative air valve feature that compresses your clothing allowing your bag to take up less room. This integrated feature is great for those travelers that need to carry bulkier pieces of clothing. Organized packers will also appreciate the several interior compartments that are labeled so you know what goes into each pocket to optimize your packing space.
The G3 is a third-generation model that has had numerous improvements that include exterior pockets that allow you to hold important things like your passport, reading material, or a water bottle for easy access. A top-mounted umbrella or a portable USB power bank is also easily added to this all-in-one carry-on. Weighing only 8.6 pounds, the G3 measures 22 x 9 x 14 inches that can easily expand an additional two inches for 25% more interior space.
You can also keep your dirty clothes separated from your clean ones with the patented laundry compression technology of the G3. The laundry bag is also removable allowing you to just unzip it to remove it. You can also strap your jacket to the carry-on as you walk through the airport, and it includes an add-a-bag strap so you can attach a personal bag.
Constructed of ballistic nylon, this is a durable carry-on that also features four spinner wheels that can turn 360 degrees for easy handling. Memory foam-filled side and top handles are also provided for added comfort. This is a hassle-free and convenient carry-on that is designed for the extreme organizer.
- Well-made, plenty of room for your things
- Has tons of pockets to carry your things in
- Has a dirty clothes compartment that is isolated from your clean clothes
- Umbrella and charging device is an extra charge
- The laundry chute feature will only work if everything is out of the bag first
Eagle Creek Duffle Carry-On
For those that prefer a duffle bag design, the Eagle Creek Duffle Carry-On is one of the best duffle bag carry-ons on the market. This 20-inch duffle bag features a retractable handle plus side and top handles. Weighing only eight pounds, the Eagle Creek Duffle measures 13 x 20.1 x 8.3 inches and has great functionality.
Constructed of ripstop nylon, the Eagle Creek Duffle is durable and water resistant. It also features external compression straps and a topside pocket that allows you to quickly remove liquids as you pass through security. Ideal for trips up to two weeks, this lightweight carry-on is a convenient and easy to use carry-on for traveling.
- Great bag, works well for two-week trips
- Durable and water resistant
- Lightweight with great functionality for a carry-on
- Handle doesn’t always fully lock on both sides
- Luggage also bulges and will rub against walls and escalators
Samsonite Omni PC
Constructed to take on harsh traveling conditions, the Samsonite Omni PC is constructed with the lightest 100% polycarbonate and features textures that are scratch-resistant. This lightweight and long lasting piece of luggage will look brand new for year to come with its polycarbonate plastic features that are abrasion-resistant that features a micro-diamond texture. You can also easily pull the Omni PC along effortlessly by your side with the 360-degree spinner wheels.
Expand your carry-on with a design that allows for additional packing capacity when you need it. The TSA locks will guarantee that your things arrive at your destination safely. Visually impactful, this lightweight carry-on is available in ten color options. Weighing 6.8 pounds, the Samsonite Omni Pc measures 22.0 x 15.0 x 9.5 inches and you can add another 2” if you flying with a more lenient airline.
- Luggage is sturdy and lightweight
- Wheels transition well from being pulled to being pushed
- Durable and holds up well
- Scratches easily
- Handle is weak and not very sturdy
Victorinox Avolve 3.0
Made with a lightweight, 100% pure polycarbonate frame, the Victorinox Avolve features a durable exterior made of nylon that is designed only for Victorinox. It also includes a one-touch, aircraft-grade handle, and a dual-trolley system made of aluminum that will lock into three different positions either 37, 39, or 41 inches to work with travelers of varying heights. The four 50mm Hinomoto wheels guarantee that you will be able to roll smoothly across any surface, plus it gives you both zero weight-in-hand and 360-degree maneuverability.
Constructed of a polycarbonate shell and a nylon liner, the Victorinox Avolve only weighs 7.5 pounds while measuring 8 x 14 x 21 inches. The large and spacious main storage area can expand 1.2 inches for additional packing space, and it can also hold a laptop up to 15.6 inches in the padded front u-shaped zippered compartment. You can hold tickets and your passport in the two front pockets that allow quick-access to necessities.
A large zippered mesh lid pocket and zippered hanging pocket are included in the interior organization that contains storage that is dedicated to accessories. You can feel secure with the X-shaped compression straps that cover a larger surface area, plus there is an integrated ID tag for convenience and security. The top haul handle is retractable and the bottom grab handle allows for easy carrying, plus the TSA combination lock easily keeps your things secure while allowing US TSA screeners to open it without damaging the lock.
With a thumb groove inspired by the Swiss Army Knife, the custom zippers are lockable giving you great burst strength in the laptop and main compartments. You can register your lock combination with the Access Lock Combination Recovery Program so you can recover it if it is ever forgotten.
- Compact, durable, and lightweight
- Great interior volume, very spacious
- Lots of pockets to store things, wheels roll easily in all directions
- Minimal padding around laptop storage area
- Pockets are only separated with minimal fabric and padding
Delsey Luggage Helium Aero
With a modern design, the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero features a metallic glossy finish so you can travel in style. Constructed of durable but lightweight polycarbonate, the Helium Aero also features two zippered pockets inside for easy organization. Plus, double spinner wheels guarantee superior maneuverability and the ability to push it at your side instead of behind or in front of you.
The Helium Aero also features an integrated padded sleeve that will fit up to a 15.6-inch laptop, plus two zippered mesh pockets for easy access to toiletries or last minute items. Easily fitting into most domestic airline’s overhead bins, the Helium Aero measures 15.2 x 10.2 x 24.8 inches and can expand an additional two inches even though it is a hard-sided bag.
- The unit opens flat for packing
- Handles function well and wheels perform smoothly
- Durable exterior, minimal scratching
- Smaller than expected, not able to pack as many clothes
- Durability is questionable over time
Züca Pro Travel
Weighing 9.3 pounds, the ZCA Pro is part carry-on and part organizer. You can take all the comforts of home with you by using the packing pouches that will stack like drawers. This new concept has a built-in seat with five zip-closed and color-coded compartments that are also removable and easily slide out.
Fitting comfortably in overhead bins, it also comes with a TSA-friendly toiletry bag, and you can also add on flashing LED light wheels if you prefer. It is constructed of an aluminum alloy frame that is designed to function as a seat at the airport gate if you can’t find an empty one. Because of its unique design and added features, this is considered one of the best carry-on luggage frequent traveler.
- Very unique bag that definitely gets noticed
- Small, light, and easy to carry
- Easy to pack and travel with all over the world
- The non-wheeled legs in the front can scratch floors
Travelpro Platinum Magna Spinner Suiter
Featuring magnetrac, the Travelpro Platinum includes the Platinum Magna 21 inch expandable spinners for an instantly aligned wheel when the bag is pushed. Rolling straight in whichever direction you wish to go, the Travelpro Platinum also features a powerscope, contour grip, and duraframe for effortless maneuverability that is lightweight and more durable. One of the most innovative carry-ons on the market, the Travelpro Platinum also features a lifetime warranty.
The handle features a contoured grip that reduces the strain on your shoulder and arm while the sealed ball-bearing wheel act like in-line skates for smooth movement. Weighing only 7.75 pounds, the Travelpro Platinum also features a carry-on garment bag that includes a padded roll bar and an extension panel for long pieces of clothing.
- Stable and easy to maneuver
- Fits easily into overhead bings
- Magnetically aligning wheels lets you push it straight or at a 90° angle
- Hard to move sideways on carpeted floors
- When you use the front pocket, the bag isn’t as stable as it could be
Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Expandable Global
From the makers of the Swiss Army watch, this stylish carry-on is available in their iconic red color. This bag features dual-sided wheels that allow you to spin your carry-on 360 degrees, and that can be very useful when pulling it down a narrow aisle. With a polycarbonate-exterior, it comes with a universal tracking number, plus a 24-hour customer service number in case it gets lost.
Featuring a zippered expansion system, the Victorinox Spectra lets you adjust the depth of the case to meet your airline carrier’s requirements. With a one-touch, comfort grip and dual-trolley, the Spectra’s handle system is made of aluminum and it locks into three different positions, either 41, 39, or 37 inches. The handle allows travelers of varying heights adjust and transition from pulling it on two wheels to pushing it on four.
Dual-caster wheels offer a soft tread feature that is the perfect traction for rolling smoothly across any surface while also offering zero weight-in-hand and 360-degree maneuverability. Constructed of 100% pure Bayer polycarbonate, this break-resistant carry-on has a stylish matte finish that is scratch-resistant giving you the most strength and the highest level of performance. It also features corner guards that give you additional protection to those areas of the carry-on that will receive the most abrasion and impact.
Weighing only 6.7 pounds, the Victorinox Spectra also features a zippered expansion system that lets you adjust the case to fit the requirements of your airline. The front zippered door also includes stabilizing straps that let you easily top-load pack your bag while the zippered mesh divider is removable and stretches for easy packing. An interchangeable electronics panel holds a laptop or tablet and can be placed into the zippered mesh divider.
Store your travel essentials in the front organizational panel while the Y-shaped compression straps are able to cover a larger surface to keep your items secure. The top handle allows for easy carrying while the TSA combination locks let U.S. TSA screeners open the lock without having to destroy it. And, in case you lose your bag, the Swiss Tracker Bag Tracking Program will get your bag back to you free of charge.
- Great interior and build, nice top loading feature
- Perfect hybrid of a softshell and hardshell carry-on
- Wheels are big and sturdy, really steady when it rolls
- Laptop/tablet-carrying part is too flimsy
Briggs & Riley Commuter Expandable Upright
Compact and lightweight, the Briggs & Riley Expandable Upright is perfect for international travel or just for an overnight trip. This bag will expand up to 33% with its CX technology and then compress down to it regular size for easy storage under your seat or an overhead compartment. Constructed of ballistic nylon, this is a wear-, moisture-, abrasion-, and dirt-resistant carry-on that will last you a long time.
Providing durability, shape retention, and flexibility, the Briggs & Riley Expandable Upright features V-groove handle tubes that guarantee to not jam and are stronger than its competitors. With reinforced corner guards, all four corners of your case are protected from abrasion and wear.
Weighing only 8.1 pounds, this basic style carry-on features a compression system allowing you to make more while still getting the bag within carry-on parameters. Mesh garment panels inside the bag reduce wrinkling so you don’t have to worry about your business suit the next day.
- Great size, durable, smooth operation
- Easily fits several days of clothes
- Convenient laundry pouch inside for long trips
- Handle grip is very uncomfortable
Carry-On Luggage Buyer’s Guide
Types of Luggage
You can fly with two types of luggage, either checked or carry-on. Checked luggage consists of larger bags, suitcases, or bulkier items like strollers that are stored in the luggage area of an airplane, which is usually under the passenger cabin. At the end of your flight, you pick up this luggage from the baggage belt before leaving the airport.
Carry-on luggage is luggage that you can keep with you on the plane. For some travelers, all they need is a carry-on as you will only be traveling for a couple of days.
Where does carry-on luggage go?
You can store your carry-on in one of two places either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. Remember that if you sit at one of the emergency exits, you will not be allowed to place anything on the floor in front of you, so you will only be allowed to use the overhead compartment.
What size is allowed for carry-on luggage?
All airlines have size restrictions for your carry-on, otherwise, you would find everyone’s luggage with them on the plane. Each airline differs in their size restrictions, but they really don’t vary that much.
The most maximum linear size is 45 inches which are the length, height, and width added together. The most common measurements you will see is 22 x 14 x 9 inches which can vary an inch or two. International flights are often much stricter, and it is usually easier to choose a smaller bag just to make sure.
It is easy to check the exact size with the airline you are using by checking your itinerary or ticket. Plus you can contact the airline to ask if necessary. You want to make sure you aren’t at the airport when you realize you will have to check your carry-on because you were of an inch.
What is the weight limit for carry-on luggage?
There are also weight limits for carry-ons which will also depend on the airline’s requirements. Some airlines will only allow 11 pounds while others will go up to 45 pounds.
Since you don’t want to waste all the precious weight you are allowed on the piece of luggage itself, try and purchase a lightweight bag constructed of a light material to save some of that weight for your things.
Advantages of a Carry-On Bag
Checked baggage will definitely give you more space, but there are lots of reasons to leave the checked bag at home on your next flight. Many domestic airlines let you take on one carry-on for free. Since a checked bag can cost you around $25, depending on the airline, for a domestic flight, so taking on a free carry-on is a nice option. Just make sure your carry-on fits into the metal basket that is used by airlines to check its size, otherwise, they could make you pay a fee at the gate to check your bag.
By using a carry-on, you also get to skip those long waits for luggage after your flight. Plus, you will get constant access to your things while at the airport, and you have the peace of mind knowing that the airline isn’t going to lose your luggage. Checking in is also faster and smoother when you don’t have to check a bag.
To make sure that traveling with your carry-on does go smoothly, make sure that the bag is lightweight enough to put into an overhead easily. Always use an overhead that is close to your seat so you can get off the plane quickly. And make sure that the overhead compartment will actually close with your bag inside so it doesn’t end up having to be stored somewhere else.
Ease of Transport
How easily you can move your stuff around an airport and while you are on vacation is one of the most important features of a carry-on. You will use your carry-on in a few different places and environments, including sidewalks, parking lots, and different forms of transportation, so it is important for your luggage to improve your navigation of an airport and not hinder it.
Two-wheeled bags tend to pull the way you would predict and transition easily from polished floors to cement and gravel. Four-wheeled bags tended to vary a lot in their rolling performance, and they are preferable for airport navigation over a two-wheeled bag since you push it by your side with very little effort instead of dragging it behind you.
Four-wheeled bags are also easier to pull down the aisle of a plane by just pushing it in front of you. The wheels on a four-wheeled bag tend to be smaller than the wheels on a traditional bag, which makes them hard to roll over rough surfaces by either pushing or tilting and dragging them.
Comfort isn’t necessarily something you associate with carry-on luggage, but it does play a large role though in what makes the best choice for our list. When you think about comfort, you don’t always think about wheels, zippers, and handles, but you do think about how easy your carry-on is to carry and use and if the handle is long enough for you. Before you make your purchase, check on how easy the bag is to lift and push around the store before making a final choice.
The purpose of a carry-on is to make traveling easier, so you need to consider what features are important to you. Do you want a specialized pocket and sleeve for your laptop or tablet? Will you need to access other items like your passport, water, or toys? Other features like a cell phone battery can also be important to you, so make sure to check out our list and see what features are available before you make any final decisions.
The amount of stuff you can place in your carry-on is also a very important feature. Generally, you want a bag that can hold enough clothes and personal items for a basic three-day trip which should include four shirts, two pairs of pants, toiletry bag, undergarments, shoes, and a novel. Some bags will be able to carry the basics, but won’t have the ability to carry a nice set of clothes and shoes while others can hold your basic items plus a business suit as well.
Also, remember that having a smaller capacity internally is not that bad if you are a light packer or travel to warm climates or if you still travel with a checked bag, but use a small bag as a carry-on. However, if you are a heavy packer, then you should look for a more spacious one.
Features to Look for in a Carry-On
The current airline standard for a carry-on bag classification is 22 inches. This is the most space you will be able to use for a carry-on bag that will still fit the overhead requirement on both domestic and international flights. If you try to expand your carry-on, you run the risk that flight attendants will claim it is oversized, so try to stick to the specifications as much as possible. Full specifications for a carry-on bag are 9 in x 14 in x 22 in, and that includes both the handle and wheels.
Hard or Soft
Really a matter of personal preference, either material you choose for your luggage has its own advantages over the other. With soft carry-on luggage, you are allowed to maximum on your storage capacity and squeeze in every bit of extra room you can. Hard carry-on luggage has a sleek and luxurious look that is more distinctive. Both work well as carry-on bag materials as long as you have plenty of interior pockets to stay organized.
Hard-sided luggage is normally constructed of very lightweight polycarbonate that is very durable and will offer better protection when you are traveling with fragile items. On the downside, hard-sided bags usually do not feature exterior pockets, which some people do prefer since the bag can then make the most of its interior space.
Soft-sided bags are usually made from ballistic nylon or some kind of synthetic fabric that gives you more versatility. These bags usually come in different styles and have a variety of pocket configurations. They are also better at absorbing impact and can be easier to squeeze into an overhead compartment. On the downside, your clothes are more likely to become wrinkled, especially if you are prone to overstuffing your suitcase. Otherwise, these are great bags for people who like flexibility.
Four wheels have become standard as people tend to struggle with a two-wheeled carry-on. Providing you with more flexibility, four wheels give you the flexibility to push your luggage upright or the ability to pull it behind you if you want. When choosing the best carry on luggage with wheels, it is important to consider which way you are more comfortable in transporting your bag.
If you have wheels that are spinners, you have that ability to pivot the wheels with 360 degrees of mobility so you can easily maneuver your luggage through crowded airports. You have will also have less weight placed on your arm and less strain placed on your elbow and shoulder since they roll upright. Spinner type wheels tend to be located on the suitcase’s exterior which makes them more prone to breaking.
Spinners are also attached with screws instead of rivets so they are more secure and easy to replace. Some people do find that spinners are hard to control, but some manufacturers are using magnetically aligned wheels that give you better directional control. Bags with spinner are also not recommended for use on rough surfaces such as cobblestone roads.
Bags that have rollers usually have two wheels and need to be tipped at an angle to roll. With rollers, you will find that the wheels are recessed which makes them likely to be damaged. This type of wheel does put more weight on your arm, they are easier to use if you are running between terminals as you are pulling it instead of pushing. When choosing a bag with rollers, make sure the wheels are set far apart as it is easy to lose control of your bag if the wheels are too close together.
Staying organized is another individual preference. Some people are more particular than others about the number of pockets a bag has and how they are used. You can purchase bags with exterior pockets that will hold a tablet or laptop or can hold certain items like liquids and toiletries, so they are separated from your clothes and can be easily accessed by airport security. Be careful though that the exterior pockets do not become too heavy as it can cause your bag to tip over.
Interior bags can have different pockets for shoes and dirty laundry that are good to keep separated from the rest of your clothes. There are also suitcases that features garment suiters that are trifolds compartments that keep your dress clothes from getting wrinkled which is important when you are looking for the best carry-on luggage for business travel.
It is always convenient for a carry-on to have a side handle or a short top handle for lifting, plus a sturdy telescopic handle can allow you to pull and push the luggage easily. Make sure your telescopic handle is tall enough that you can pull your luggage comfortably at arms length while still being able to contract it mid-way.
External handle placement, or lack thereof, can also contribute to how convenient a bag is to place or remove from overhead bins or the trunks of a car. It also helps to have sturdy and well-placed handles when tackling a flight of stairs.
If you are used to carry-ons that just consist of a deep compartment with an outer flap, you can get rid of this old-school design for a modern bag that features two compartments for easier organization. Many users like to use one half for clothes and shoes while saving the second half for toiletries.
Durability is a key consideration when purchasing a carry-on bag, especially since they can cost a couple of hundred dollars, so you want to make sure it will last you a few years. If you are a frequent flyer, you want to choose a bag that is constructed with durable materials like ballistic nylon that will resist dirt and scratches. Some people prefer to use carry-ons since you are easier on it than airport employees and helps to avoid the dirt and scratches it will get from riding on carts, going over belts, and being taken in and out of planes.
No matter which type of carry-on you choose, you will have to lift your bag many times while you travel. The lighter the bag is to start with, the lighter it will be after you pack it. Make sure to check the weight as you shop to decide which carry-on has a better starting out weight than others.
Carry-ons possess a certain look, and many people have a preference whether they appear sophisticated, techy, or nondescript. It’s not always easy to find a bag that you can use a fun vacation bag that will also double as a formal bag you can use on business trips. This is a subjective category, so choose the style that you like the best and that you won’t get sick of using after a few years.
There are tons of options on the market these days when it comes to top carry on bags, so it can be challenging to narrow down your options to find the best carry-on bag for you. There are lots of good choices out there no matter where you plan to travel or what your budget is, as long as you know what features are most important to you before you start your search. That way you will be prepared to find a good quality bag at a price point that you feel comfortable with and will last you for many years to come.