The 10 Best Carry On Luggage

Updated June 22, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Carry On Luggage
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Now that most airlines charge an arm and a leg to check luggage, if you can get everything you need into carry-on luggage, you can save a small fortune that you can then use for something more fun at your destination. Our selection includes models ideal for regular business travelers and occasional weekend trips. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best carry on luggage on Amazon.

10. Biaggi ZipSak

The Biaggi ZipSak can fold up into a slim duffle bag that can easily fit on top of a shelf or in a drawer, making it great for the infrequent traveler who doesn't want to waste storage space on luggage. It features 4 spinner wheels and modern styling.
  • high-density oxford krinkle nylon
  • soft sides allow for over-stuffing
  • not easy for tall people to roll
Brand biaggi
Model 631122
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Lucas Accelerator

The Lucas Accelerator is a practical travel bag offered at a great price. It looks small, but provides enough storage for a week-long trip. Unfortunately, at 22 inches, it doesn't conform to all airline's carry-on restrictions.
  • easy to maintain with spot cleaning
  • multiple exterior pockets
  • wide for some airplane aisles
Brand Lucas
Model L2144-40-22WD
Weight 9.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Victorinox Spectra 2.0

The Victorinox Spectra 2.0 is a smart choice for those who are highly focused on keeping their items organized. It has a front-facing, quick-access door that contains pockets for a laptop, tablet, smartphone, passport, tickets and more.
  • integrated tsa approved locks
  • durable aluminum trolley handle
  • exterior scratches easily
Brand Victorinox
Model 313181
Weight 9.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Briggs and Riley TU322X-40

The Briggs and Riley TU322X-40 is the ideal choice for a 2-4 day trip, equipped with features that will keep all of your essentials organized. It boasts clean, modern lines with no bars on the inside, for a nice flat packing surface.
  • cargo net holds quick access items
  • mesh panels minimize wrinkles
  • built-in garment bag
Brand Briggs & Riley
Model TU322X-40
Weight 11.2 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. Samsonite Underseat

The Samsonite Underseat makes a great travel companion whether you prefer to wheel it behind you or tote it by hand. It comes fully loaded with plenty of storage space, including internal wet pack pockets and a removable pouch in case you need to bring a little more stuff.
  • hanging tri-fold personal kit
  • strong construction lasts for years
  • professional looking work bag
Brand Samsonite
Model 55476-1041
Weight 6.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Travelpro Platinum Magna 2

The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 stands at 21 inches high, so it can fit in nearly every international plane's overhead compartment. It features attractive leather top and side handles, giving it a sleek look and adding a touch of class.
  • put through vigorous factory testing
  • fold-out screen for suits
  • has all high quality components
Brand Travelpro
Model 4091522
Weight 10.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Samsonite Inova

The sleek Samsonite Inova features a scratch and impact-resistant polycarbonate construction with contrasting matte black trim and hardware. It comes with its own TSA-approved combination lock for security and peace of mind, and the caster wheels roll smoothly.
  • interior fabric lining
  • fits in most overhead compartments
  • adjustable garment restraints
Brand Samsonite
Model 48249-1546
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Briggs & Riley Baseline

The Briggs & Riley Baseline is ideal for international travel. It has a short, wide-bodied design that allows travelers to pack more, and also means it is less likely to tip over when left standing on its own. Plus, its ballistic nylon outer fabric is very durable.
  • lightweight hybrid fiberglass frame
  • v-groove handle tubes won't jam
  • compression panels prevent shifting
Brand Briggs & Riley
Model U121CXW-4
Weight 11.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Delsey Helium Aero

The Delsey Helium Aero boasts a modern metallic glossy finish that stands out from the crowd. An awesome front dropdown pocket allows for quick access to items, and an adjustable handle locks into two positions for ease of use. It's recommended for medium-duty usage.
  • lightweight and easy to lift
  • comes in titanium and midnight blue
  • self-repairing zippers
Brand DELSEY Paris
Model 07640PL
Weight 10.5 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Tumi Alpha 2 Continental

The Tumi Alpha 2 Continental is a top quality bag from one of the most reputable names in luggage. It's quality is unmatched, and it can stand up to even the most frequent traveler's needs without having to worry about stitching unraveling or the handle popping loose.
  • dual front zipper pockets
  • protective bumper guards
  • add-a-bag strap
Brand Tumi
Model 022061D2
Weight 13.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Choosing the Right Carry-On Bag


As previously mentioned, most United States airlines allow carry-on bags no larger than 22" x 14" x 9". Some domestic airlines allow slightly taller bags, so research the size restrictions for your preferred airline. The carry-on size restrictions for international travel are usually a little smaller. Use this chart to find the size restrictions for a given airline.

When choosing your bag, check that its dimensions include the wheels, handles, and exterior pockets, which will all need fit within the airline's size allowance. Some suitcases offer an expansion feature that provides a little more room and flexibility. Also consider the handle placement: if the telescoping handle is located on the exterior of the bag, it will take up more of the allowed dimensions, but offers a nice, flat surface inside the bag that helps prevent wrinkles. When the handle is embedded into the suitcase frame, it protrudes into the main compartment, but this uneven surface can be made level by stuffing socks and underwear into the bottom of the bag.

Wheels: Spinners and Rollers

Spinners have four pivoting wheels that grant 360 degrees of mobility, and make maneuvering your luggage through crowded airports easy. They roll upright, which puts less weight on the arm and relieves strain from the shoulder and elbow. Spinner wheels are usually located on the exterior of the suitcase, however, taking up precious space that could be used for clothing. This exposed positioning also makes them more prone to breakage, so make sure that your spinner wheels are attached with screws rather than rivets—they'll be more secure and easier to replace. Some users may find that spinners are difficult to control, which is where our third pick, the Travelpro Luggage Platinum Magna Spinner, comes in handy. Travelpro developed MagnaTrac technology that magnetically keeps wheels aligned, granting better directional control. Spinner bags are not recommended for use on rough surfaces like cobblestone roads.

Rollers have two wheels and must be tipped at an angle to roll. In rollers, the wheels are usually recessed, making them less vulnerable to damage and leaving more space for clothing. While they do put more weight on the arm, they're better for those who often find themselves running between terminals because they are pulled rather than pushed, as is the case with spinners. If you do opt for a roller bag, make sure the wheels are set far apart; if they're too close together, it will be easy to lose control of the bag.

Materials: Hard or Soft?

These days, hard-sided luggage is usually made out of super lightweight polycarbonate. They offer protection if you're traveling with fragile items, and are typically very durable. Hard-sided bags rarely feature any exterior pockets, which some people prefer as it allows them to make the most of the interior space, but others dislike the lack of built-in organization.

Soft-sided bags, typically made from ballistic nylon or other synthetic fabrics, offer greater versatility. They are available with all sorts of pocket configurations and in different styles, such as the backpack or duffle wheelie. Soft-sided bags can also better absorb impact, and unlike hard-sided bags, they can be squeezed into overhead compartments. That said, clothes are more likely to become wrinkled inside soft bags. These bags are best for those who want flexibility and aren't prone to overstuffing their suitcases.


Pockets are perhaps the most dependent on individual preference, so consider how you want to use them. Some bags, for instance, offer padded exterior pockets that hold laptops and tablets. Exterior pockets can also be useful for storing toiletries and liquids, where they're separate from garments and easily accessible during airport security. Be wary of overfilling exterior compartments—if they become too heavy, the bag may tip over. Interior pockets can be used for anything ranging from separating dirty laundry to shoes—it depends on the bag. Some suitcases offer garment suiters, which are trifold compartments designed to keep dress clothes from wrinkling.

Advantages of Taking a Carry-On Bag

Although checked bags offer more space, there are plenty of good reasons to bring a carry-on for your next flight.

Foremost, many domestic airlines allow each passenger to bring one carry-on bag for free. A checked bag usually costs around $25 for domestic flights, depending on the airline. That said, if your carry-on doesn't fit in the metal basket that airlines use to check size, they could make you pay a fee to gate check your bag.

If a flight is full, some airlines will offer to gate check carry-on bags for free, offering those who do check their bags priority boarding. Take airlines up on this offer—although you will have to wait for your bag at the luggage carousel, it's a great way to bring a carry-on without dealing with the hassle of fitting it into the overhead bins.

If you don't gate check your bag, using a carry-on lets you avoid the long waits for baggage following the flight. Carry-ons also offer constant access to your belongings and valuables while at the airport and on the plane, as well as the reassurance that the airline won't lose your bag. There are also time benefits: checking in to your flight goes more smoothly when you don't have to check a bag.

To make traveling with your carry-on go smoothly, ensure that it is light enough for you to lift into the overhead bins—there won't always be a helpful stranger nearby. Use an overhead bin as close to your seat as possible, which makes de-boarding easier. Also make sure you can close the overhead bin with your bag inside, because if it doesn't close, stewardesses may have to store it elsewhere (and you don't want to be that guy, do you?)

The Origins of Modern Luggage

The earliest forms of luggage date back to ancient wheeled weaponry carts used in Palestine during the Crusades, which were designed to move weapons and equipment for the Knights Templar. There was also luggage used during the Roman Empire, as evidenced by the luggage tag discovered in the Chester fortress, marking the property of Julius Candidus. (I guess even the ancient Romans mixed up their luggage.)

In the Middle Ages, wealthy aristocrats traveled with canvas-or leather-covered wooden chests, whose interiors were compartmentalized. Chests like these, in addition to portmanteaus and Gladstone bags, were the dominant form of luggage up through the mid-19th century.

The English word luggage emerged at the end of the 16th century, according to the Oxford English dictionary. It was derived from the verb lug, meaning to literally drag about.

The first patent for wheeled luggage emerged during the Company Raj in 1848, when the Maharani of Nadir came to an official reception atop an elephant-drawn wheeled trunk. A British colonel who saw the trunk applied for a patent in London, but the application was supposedly lost. Coincidentally, a month later Queen Victoria awarded her husband Prince Albert a patent and three gold medals for his uncannily similar invention, the "Travelling Carry-All, Omni-Conveyance, Bewheeled.”

The 1800s also saw the rise of pinewood steamer trunks, designed for rough overseas travel on steamer ships. Featuring sturdy iron bases, these trunks were covered in canvas or tree sap to protect against water damage. Louis Vuitton, a trunk maker, achieved renown for his slat trunks that had stackable, flat tops in contrast to the rounded tops that were popular at the time.

As travel for leisure became increasingly accessible during the 20th century, luggage became a profitable venture for manufacturers. Companies such as Samsonite and American Tourist began creating suitcases—originally literally designed to hold suits—as air travel in the 1930s became more popular than travel by trains and ships. The first lightweight aluminum suitcase was made available in 1950 by the German company Rimowa.

Still, wheeled luggage had yet to exist. In 1958 an American businessman named D. Dudley Bloom proposed wheeled luggage, but was mocked and rejected by executives at Atlantic Products Corporation. It wasn't until Bernard Sadow patented a wheeled suitcase in 1972 that the market finally accepted wheeled luggage, with the addition of the telescoping handle coming roughly a decade later.

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Last updated on June 22, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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