Is checking in luggage a hassle you can do without when you fly? Long lines, excess fees, and the chance of lost luggage mean that more of us are opting to travel with only carry-on luggage. There are many options for carry-on luggage, like suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, and more, so we made a list of our 10 favorite options to help you find the bag you need for your upcoming trip.
We've looked through a wide variety of options and found Coolife's Luggage Suitcase to be our favorite since it's durable, can be pulled in any direction, and has plenty of pockets. We also have a buying guide and a 10 list to help you choose your favorite option from the bunch.
We used the following points to pick the 10 best carry-on bags available:
As you remember these points, you should go through our buying guide below for more information.
Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage
Rolling Duffel Bag
20-Inch Spinner Carry-On
50L Travel Duffel Bag
Lightweight Softside Expandable Suitcase
Multifunctional Duffel Bag
Moonlight Rolling Laptop Bag
Best Carry-on for Durability and Security
Best Duffel With Quick Access to Belongings
Best for Long-Lasting Luggage
Best Lightweight Duffel With Wheels
Best Rolling Backpack With Plenty of Compartments
Best Hard Case for Keeping Belongings Secure
Best Carry-Only Duffel Bag for Travel
Best Soft-Sided Luggage With Chic Designs
Best Duffel With Ventilation and Different Carrying Options
Best Rolling Bag for Light Packing and Business Trips
|Size||15 x 8.5 x 21 in.||19 x 10 x 8.5 in.||13 x 9 x 20 in.||22 x 14.9 x 10 in.||13.9 x 9.1 x 19.7 in.||20 x 14 x 10 in.||20.8 x 9.8 x 11.8 in.||20 x 14 x 8 in.||26.3 x 13.7 x 12.2 in.||17.7 x 9.5 x 13.7|
|Weight||5.3 lbs.||Not provided||7.5 lbs.||Not provided||4.7 lbs.||7.5 lbs.||2.86 lbs.||7.8 lbs.||1.74 lbs.||6.68 lbs.|
|Bag type||Suitcase||Duffel||Suitcase||Luggage||Wheeled backpack||Luggage||Duffel||Luggage||Duffel||Luggage|
|Wheels||4 spinner||-||4 double-spinner||2 in-line||2 (type not specified)||4 multi-directional spinner||-||4 spinner||-||2 (type not specified)|
|Security features||3-digit TSA lock||-||TSA-compatible lock||-||-||Three-digit lock||-||-||-||-|
We've searched the internet to find the best carry-on bags and listed them below, complete with their key features. We also considered the reviews for each product and the buying guide.
|Size||15 x 8.5 x 21 in.|
|Security features||3-digit TSA lock|
|Size||19 x 10 x 8.5 in.|
|Size||13 x 9 x 20 in.|
|Security features||TSA-compatible lock|
|Size||22 x 14.9 x 10 in.|
|Size||13.9 x 9.1 x 19.7 in.|
|Bag type||Wheeled backpack|
|Wheels||2 (type not specified)|
|Size||20 x 14 x 10 in.|
|Wheels||4 multi-directional spinner|
|Security features||Three-digit lock|
|Size||20.8 x 9.8 x 11.8 in.|
|Size||20 x 14 x 8 in.|
|Size||26.3 x 13.7 x 12.2 in.|
|Size||17.7 x 9.5 x 13.7|
|Wheels||2 (type not specified)|
With so many options for carry-on luggage, it can be hard to choose the right one. It all depends on your physical condition, where you’ll be traveling to, and what your comfort preferences are.
The most common maximum dimensions for carry-on bags are 9 x 14 x 22 inches. This includes the handles and wheels. However, sizes can vary by airline or even airplane type so always check before you fly. Budget airlines often have much smaller limitations, for example. Some may even have weight restrictions, such as Frontier having a 35-pound weight limit.
If you prefer not to put your bag in the overhead storage or want to keep your personal items at hand, you can store it beneath the seat in front of you instead. These spaces are typically smaller than the overhead compartments, however, so not all carry-on luggage will fit under your seat.
This is especially the case with hardshell luggage. If under-seat storage is important to you, we would suggest prioritizing soft luggage and backpacks. These are typically smaller and can often be squashed into tight spaces such as under a seat.
When you look into carry-on luggage sizes, you should also consider what works for you. This is especially the case if you have any physical limitations that affect how much weight you can carry.
If you have any back problems, then a rolling suitcase that has as much maneuverability as possible is a better choice than a backpack. Even though they're bigger, you won't have the weight on your back and can instead pull or push your suitcase. You may also want to go with a smaller one that can fit under the seat, so you don't have to use the overhead storage.
Backpacks may be better for others who prefer to have their hands free and don't want to deal with the hassle of dragging a suitcase with them. If you do opt for a backpack, make sure it has comfortable straps that are wide and well-cushioned. Some larger backpacks might have a waist or chest strap too, which can also help to distribute the weight equally.
Depending on your destination and your method of travel, there may be a type of bag that suits your circumstances better than others.
Small suitcases are very popular as carry-on luggage, so you're bound to have multiple options if you opt for one of these. They're gentler on your back than a backpack but struggle with uneven surfaces. They're made for city and resort breaks instead of hiking through mountains!
A hardshell suitcase will protect your belongings and prevent them from becoming squashed or wrinkled if you packed them well. They allow you to make the most of your case space and can generally hold more than a backpack.
Be aware of how heavy the suitcase is before you purchase it. Some suitcases, especially the hardshell type, can weigh several pounds even while empty. You may not need to carry these bags on your back, but you will still need to navigate weight limits and stairs with them.
Rolling carry-on backpacks give you the option of either pulling the bag like a suitcase or wearing it like a backpack. You can pull the bag along when you're walking through a smooth airport and wear it when navigating stairs or rough streets.
Rolling backpacks usually have a handle to pull them, so they're more structured than regular backpacks. They might have metal rods down the back for the handle to push into when not in use, so you may find them to be uncomfortable if worn for extended periods. Their wheels are often not as sturdy and maneuverable as suitcases, either.
Some carry-on backpacks with wheels come with a zip-off day pack. This can either be separated and worn as a backpack on its own or left on the larger back to increase its capacity.
The duffle bag straps and material should be as resilient as possible. Many duffle bags use materials such as polyurethane fabrics which are water-resistant and durable. Keep this in mind if you may run into bad weather on your trip.
If you know you're going to walk for long periods of time, you'll need a bag that can be carried. A traditional duffel without wheels is usually lighter and more mobile but often comes with a single shoulder strap which can strain your back after a while.
As with any other carry-on luggage, you'll need to stick within the size limitations. Also, like backpacks, most airlines won't allow you to exceed a maximum capacity of 40 liters. Duffel bags can fit under your seats while giving you easy access to your belongings.
As you look at suitcases, you'll notice some come with spinner wheels while others have in-line ones. Spinner wheels can turn 360-degrees, so you can spin them in any direction. This gives you solid maneuverability with your suitcase. However, spinner wheels have a hard time with uneven surfaces since the bumps can knock them off course.
In-line wheels remain fixed on one spot, so the wheels can only go forward or backward. While they require more effort to maneuver, they have an easier time going over uneven terrain.
If you plan to spend most of your time indoors or on smooth streets, you could go with spinner wheels. On the other hand, you may want in-line wheels if you plan to go hiking or walk on rougher surfaces.
One great advantage that carry-on luggage has over checked luggage is that it's always with you. You have the option of dipping into your carry-on to pull out something if you need it. This can be made even easier if your carry-on has easy access pockets.
Backpacks and softshell suitcases typically have several pockets, so you can keep important belongings in reach. Whether it's a water bottle, book, or electronic device, you can easily access them without having to open the main compartment.
Hardshell cases don't generally have pockets on the outside, but can have easy access pockets inside. You might need to open the case fully, but many have mesh dividers with pockets that can just as easily hold something you need.
Although carry-on luggage is always with you, it's still at risk from thieves. Airports are busy places with thousands of people walking through them daily. When you consider the stresses and strains of traveling added to the mix, it's easy for thieves to take advantage of a distracted passenger.
Many suitcases and even backpacks have a combination lock to secure the zippers. However, it's generally just the main compartments that have this feature and not any side pockets. Make sure that you don't put anything of value in an unsecured pocket.
If your backpack or suitcase doesn't have a combination lock or padlock included, you should consider investing in some. They can be bought in many places, including the airport itself, so you can keep your belongings safe.
Lots of outdoor companies make backpacks in different sizes for traveling. A backpack gives you more freedom of movement and is suitable whether you're walking through a flat and smooth airport terminal or a rough hiking trail. Backpacks also give you quicker and easier access to your belongings than many suitcases do.
One of the biggest problems of a backpack is carrying all the weight on your back. As stated earlier, make sure the backpack has comfortable straps and has well-distributed weight. Some backpacks have more structured and hardened shapes and these can dig into you after a period of time.
If you're going to be doing a lot of walking with your backpack, opt for softer bags. They're gentler on your back and usually weigh less in their own right!
We have some more recommendations for products that will make your travels easier. No matter where you go, make sure you're only bringing the best with you!
If you're not satisfied with our choices, see what the people on Amazon have to say! You might even recognize a few options from our list.
Author: Mart-Mari Jansen van Vuren
Updated by: Garrett Garcia, 12/8/2021
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