Best Carry-On Luggage Reviews: Ultimate Guide for Your Next Travel

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Finding the best carry on luggage for travel can make a huge difference in your family adventures, especially if you plan to travel carry-on only.

Whether you’re on a round-the-world trip or a short family holiday, finding the best carry-on luggage for international travel and domestic flights is important. Here are our reviews of the best carry-on luggages and tips for choosing the best carry-on bag for your next travel.

Best Carry On Luggage Reviews

Best Carry On Luggage Reviews

If you want to travel light, then choosing the best carry-on luggage is an important step. That said, you don’t have to travel carry-on only to want the best carry-on luggage for your needs. It’s important to have a carry-on bag you like. You can use backpacks as a carry-on bag, of course, but it is nice to have something that stands by itself, with the weight off your back.

Either way, your carry-on is important. After all, whether you’re flying to Sumatra or Spain, your carry-on bags will be what you depend on while in the air.

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Best Carry On Luggage

What to Look For in the Best Carry on Luggage

Before I list out some of the best carry-on luggage, let me detail a few of the things you should be looking for. Most of the world’s best carry on luggage share these few attributes.

Size

Size of the carry-on luggage is one of the things you need to first think about. This is probably the most obvious one. But yes, the best carry on luggage is small and compact enough to meet airline standards and fit in the overhead bins of commercial aircraft.

Airlines are getting stricter about what they allow on the plane, so if you’re looking for the best carry-on luggage, make size your top priority. Do you usually fly with a particular airline carrier? If so, it’s worth checking their most recent size and weight requirements. For example, some of the European airlines such as Ryanair have smaller size allowances than US airlines.

Like Backpacks? Read Our Review of Best Travel Backpacks

Weight

Like your bag’s dimensions, weight is crucial to the best carry-on luggage for any travelers. The lighter the bag, the more room you have to pack your own things or buy more along the way.

The best carry-on luggage is capable of holding a lot, but the bag itself doesn’t weigh you down.

Durability

Wherever your travel takes you, you want your bag to last. The best carry-on luggage for families is rugged and durable. It’s able to take some knocks from inconsiderate porters and careless airport ground staff. It can be tugged, jerked, yanked and shoved into small spaces without a stitch or seam out of place.

The most durable bags are hard cases, usually, but that doesn’t mean that soft-side luggage won’t cut it. Fabric technology today makes some incredibly rugged nylon and polyester blends that can withstand a lot of abuse.

The best carry-on luggage also comes with durable zippers. If a zipper breaks, then it doesn’t matter if the bag is bulletproof.

Don’t Forget About Insurance! Read Our Tips for Travel Insurance

Comfort

This is one that many people don’t think of this as a trait of the best carry-on luggage. However, comfort plays a large role in what makes the list of best carry-on luggage.

Think handles, zippers, and wheels. How easily can you carry it? How smooth are the zippers? Is the handle long enough for your height? If you’re tall, then this is more important than you may think.

Functionality

What are features important in your bag? Which aren’t? The best carry-on luggage should help make your travels easier. Do you like specialized pockets and sleeves for laptops, devices, and electronics? Do you need easy access to maps, diapers, toys or crayons? Is it a must for you to have new features such as cell phone battery pockets?

Wheels

Unless you’re in the market for a backpack, most of the best carry-on luggage comes with built-in rollers to make getting through the airport easier. Some come with two rollers and need to be pulled. Others come with four multi-directional wheels and can be pushed or pulled.

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The Best Carry On Luggage Reviews: Our Top Pick

Travelpro Crew 11 Expandable Spinner Review

Best Carry on LuggageThis rugged nylon-based bag is one of our best carry on luggage recommendations for many reasons. For one, it has some of the best wheels in its class. The MagnaTrac magnetic wheel technology helps you roll smoothly and change directions with ease.

Another great advantage of the Travelpro Crew 11 is its exterior USB port. This lets you connect and charge USB devices straight from the suitcase. The dedicated power bank pocket is on the side. Keep in mind that the power bank doesn’t come with the bag.

The retractable handle expands long enough for taller folks too, which is not as common as it should be. Inside the bag, you have a compartment to keep wet clothes separate. It also has as a 2-fold garment bag if you have clothes you want to keep wrinkle-free.

Pros:

  • Specialized pockets
  • Smooth-rolling wheels
  • USB charging technology

Cons:

  • May not fit in overhead bins of smaller US domestic airplanes
  • The height is 23 inches including wheels (but some reports no problem carrying into the aircraft)
  • If your bag looks too puffy with too many things in it, you may be asked to check it in

Check the price of Travelpro Crew 11 Expandable Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Carry-On Spinner Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

This rugged, 100% polyester soft-side bag makes is one of the best carry on luggage 2017 because of its versatility and water-resistant features.

Despite its small size, the Maxlite 4 holds a lot. Its main compartment can be expanded up to 2 inches deeper, allowing you to carry more when needed. It also has a compartment as large as the zippered lid, which makes a good spot to load shirts, maps or document that should remain flat.

The water-repellent coating covers both interior and exterior.

The 360º rollers provide smooth navigation, with a low center of gravity and an innovative bottom tray design for added stability.

Pros:

  • Water-resistant coating inside & out
  • Ful lid compartment
  • Smooth rollers
  • 2″ expandability

Cons:

  • Does not fit in the overhead of some smaller US domestic planes
  • May need to remove items from side pocket to fit international size restrictions

Check the price of Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Carry-On

Delsey Luggage Helium Titanium International Carry on Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

If you are a fan of the hard-sided bag, the Delsey Luggage Helium Titanium International is certainly one of the best carry on luggage you can buy.

Having a hard side helps you keep everything in the bag from being squished by other luggage in the overhead bins. A large front compartment makes it easy to access anything you store there. Your laptop will be safe in its padded sleeve.

The hard-side has a matte scratch-proof exterior, which means it might look like a new carry on luggage for longer.  You can maneuver easily in the airport with its’ double spinner wheels.

You’ll also find a TSA-ready lock built in. That’s another reason why we consider this to be one of the best carry on luggage options out there.

Pro: Super rugged and super smooth to maneuver

Con: May not fit in the overhead compartment of some European airlines

Check the price of Delsey Luggage Helium Titanium International Carry-On

Goplus GLOBALWAY Expandable ABS Carry on Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

The durable exterior and rugged multi-directional wheels of this bag make this one of the best carry-on luggage items on the market. From its wheels to its zippers, expect smooth operation.

Tall people will also appreciate that the retractable handle extends up to 42 inches. This means that people of all heights can roll through the airport with ease. It’s multi-directional wheels mean that even young kids can push or pull easily.

Pros: smooth rolling and long handle

Cons: No outside storage units

Check the price of Goplus GLOBALWAY Expandable ABS Carry On

Lipault Luggage Original Plume Spinner Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

This heavy-grade nylon soft-side makes the list of best carry-on luggages because of its incredible sturdiness and light weight.

Being a soft bag, the Lipault’s Original Plume can flatten and fit into smaller spaces, and it’s spinner wheels offer a smooth roll.

Need more room? It’s also expandable. However, I might suggest not to over pack if you want to carry it on. If it looks too puffy, you may be asked to check it in.

Pro: Super light and remarkably durable for a soft case

Con: Wheels have a tough time on cobblestones

Check the price of Lipault Luggage Original Plume Spinner

Samsonite Aspire Xlite Spinner Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

The people at Samsonite have been making some of the best carry on luggage out there for decades now. The Aspire Xlite is no different. Using ultra durable polyester and steel wire, they have created an impressively rugged soft carry on suitcase.

The Aspire Xlite has rolling inline wheels and multi-directional spinners. This means that you can pull this effortlessly on two wheels or push it one-handed on four.

Pros: Smooth rolling, durable yet soft exterior

Cons: Tight fit and NOT expandable, and may not fit on some smaller planes

Check the price of Samsonite Aspire Xlite Spinner 19″

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater Large Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

There’s a lot to love about this bag, but what puts it on the best carry on luggage list is its size and functionality.

Made of a durable polyester-nylon hybrid, the wheeled underseater has a built-in hanging organizer. Remove this from the bag and use it in the closet or wherever you please.

Its inline skate wheels roll smoothly from the terminal to your seat, where you can place your bag under. That’s right: this bag fits under the seat of most domestic and international flights.

There are side water bottle pockets and a wetpak system for dirty laundry as well.

Pro: Never fighting for overhead space

Con: No laptop sleeve, smaller and therefore can’t pack as much as the others listed here

Check the price of Samsonite Wheeled Underseater Large

Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Softside Spinner Boarding Bag Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

This rugged nylon bag makes our list of best carry on luggage because of its mobility and versatility. It has a large main fabric-lined central compartment and a padded laptop pocket. The Silhouette Sphere 2 also has a built-in organizer, which can be removed and loaded separately when required. Wetpak and modesty pockets are a few of its specialized compartments for easy and specific packing. That also includes a folding device for wrinkle-free clothes when you need them.

On the exterior, you have four spherical spinner wheels for multi-directional navigation. The outer casing is soft but durable, with a water-resistant coating for rainy-day travel.

Pros: Specialized pockets

Cons: Wheels so smooth that you need to be careful on inclines

Check the price of Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Softside Spinner Boarding Bag

it luggage Megalite 21.9″ Spinner with Expander Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

This high-density Polyester bag is one of the best carry on luggage because of its super light weight and expandability

The it Megalite 21.9” weighs just over five pounds. This means you have less to worry about when you weigh your bag at check in. Or perhaps it means that you can but a few pounds more of souvenirs.

The bag’s wheels give you 360º navigation ability, and its front pocket gives you quick access to important items like maps, tickets, and devices.

Want more room? Its expander zippers allow you to fit in approximately 25% more.

Pros: Super light

Cons: Because it’s so light, it can tip over if you have a large laptop or other heavy things in the front pocket

Check the price of it luggage Megalite Spinner with Expander

Ciao Carry On Wheeled Under The Seat Bag Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

This bag stands out in this list of the best carry on luggage because of its small size and 100% ballistic nylon exterior for added durability.

The Ciao carry on fits easily under the seat. Yet it holds a lot of clothing and travel gear, as well as other personal items in its many mesh and zippered pockets.

I also like that this bag has dual poles in the handle, which makes it easier to roll through a terminal and change directions quickly.

Pros: Super small yet super rugged

Cons: May need to be turned sideways when fitting under aisle seats

Check the price of Ciao Carry On Wheeled Under The Seat Bag

Think Tank Airport International Review

Best Carry On Luggage for Air Travel

I’ve been carrying a version of this bag for the last ten years. It’s not the smallest, nor the lightest. But it makes the list of best carry on luggage 2017 because I think it’s one of the best and most secure electronics bags around.

To be clear: this secure rolling suitcase is not designed as an overnight bag. It’s designed to carry cameras and other electronics It was one large main compartment and lots of soft Velcro dividers to split of the section. The fill lid has clear zipper pockets for all your wires, batteries and SD cards.

For gear-heads only

The Think Tank Airport International is designed for people who have several camera bodies, 3+ lenses and a laptop and they want to carry it on the plane.

I was once one of these people. I bought the bag when I was still working on Nikon projects and needed to carry multiple cameras and a laptop to a shooting location (the cameras were for pros to use, not me). Since then, I have since continued to use the bag for nearly a decade. I’ve shed most of the camera gear now, but still fill it with all our other electronic gear: speakers, scanners, microphones and other tools that I use for the blog and podcast.

It’s super rugged and has heaps of security features, such as TSA-approved lock and a built-in cable and combination lock to secure the bag to a fixed object.

What I like best is the exterior laptop pocket, where you can slide your laptop in and out inside a fully-padded sleeve. That way I have access to my laptop quickly since it’s outside of the bag. The laptop bag makes the security line much easier, as well, and the sleeve has great pockets, too, and a rugged detachable handle.

I’ve been carrying this on and off of planes since 2008.

Pros:

  • Pockets and/or versatile dividers to fit all your electronics and photo gear
  • A sturdy beast, and doubly secure
  • Lots of great specialized pockets
  • Exceptional (and detachable) laptop bag

Cons:

  • Much heavier than anything on this list
  • Make sure to pull out the laptop sleeve and hang it from your shoulder  before letting baggage handlers throw it around

Check the price of Think Tank Airport International

Tell me about Your Best Carry-On Luggage

With the best carry-on luggage, your travel will be so much easier. Have you found the best carry-on for your air travel? Is that one of those listed above? Did I miss it? Comment below or contact me.

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Best Carry On Luggage

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This costs you nothing. However, when you use our links, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a room. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best carry on luggage for your family travel. 

Comments

  1. Hi Jason,

    Nice review here.

    I feel I am due for a spinner, one of these days. I eye spinner carryon owning travelers with jealousy as I see them cruise through the airport.

    My luggage has wheels. But it ain’t spinning so turning corners and getting through tight spots, well, that feels challenging sometimes.

    We also need to figure out how to do a long term trip with carry ons. So used to 4 or 6 month, or, 2 year trips to SE Asia. Methinks a lot less clothes and more laundry-days is the way to go, for a carry on friendly, long term trip.

    Thanks for sharing Jason.

    Ryan

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