If you’re a frequent flyer or a savvy traveler, then you already know the importance of traveling light. Checked baggage is not only inconvenient, it can be hideously expensive. However, choosing carry on luggage that will suit your needs isn’t an easy task either. There are just so many to choose from. To give you a helping hand in sorting out the best from the good and the bad, we’ve done our own tests and picked out bags that maintain that fine balance between price, performance, organization, and space.
Top 10 Carry On Luggage of 2018
- Top 10 Carry On Luggage of 2018
- 1. Travelpro Platinum Magna 2
- 2. Olympia Luggage 22″ 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag
- 3. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4
- 4. Samsonite Luggage Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner 20
- 5. Travelpro Crew 10 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter
- 6. Tumi Alpha 2 Continental Expandable 4 Wheel Carry-On
- 7. Delsey Luggage Helium Aero
- 8. Briggs & Riley Baseline International
- 9. A. Saks EXPANDABLE 20 Rolling Trolley Duffel
- 10. Samsonite Luggage Inova HS Spinner 20
- How to Choose the Best Carry On Luggage
1. Travelpro Platinum Magna 2Carry On Luggage For Business Travel
The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 22″ Expandable Rollaboard Suiter is the perfect blend of capacity, durability, maneuverability, and price. This carry on luggage can hold 5 days’ worth of clothes, including a suit which you can store in the suiter with its trifold garment folder, with quite a bit of room to spare. It also features utility straps with pouches and the patented PowerScope handle that stops at 38″, 40″, and 42.5″ which makes this a perfect choice for people of different heights. And it’s backed with the Platinum Magna 2 Worry Free Warranty
- smooth rolling
- plenty of organizational options
- curved handle takes up unnecessary space inside the bag
- the secondary bag holder is unwieldy
- needs more “crash protection” along the length of the bag
2. Olympia Luggage 22″ 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag
If duffel bags are more your style, then this carry on from Olympia Luggage is your best bet. Made out of 100% polyester, the bag features one large compartment plus 7 small pockets. You get a telescopic handle (does not lock in place), an in-line skate wheel system, a top carry handle, and two wheels to help you roll it where you’re going. The material is durable and the wheel frame is sturdy; you can be sure that whether it’s a carry on or checked luggage, it’ll survive the rigours of travel.
- lots of room
- can be compressed to easily fit in the overhead compartment
- can’t stand on its own
- it can exceed carry on limits if you fill it up
- telescopic handle does not lock in place and is a bit short for tall people
3. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4Carry On Luggage For International Travel
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20″ Spinner is a lightweight yet spacious and durable carry on. Did we also mention stylish and easily maneuverable? It is made out of polycarbonate ABS with reinforced corners for maximum impact resistance. And it weighs less than 8lbs empty and has 4 wheels that will allow you to push or pull your carry on wherever it is you want to go. It features handles on the side and the top for easy lifting to an overhead compartment. And then there’s the fully lined interior that provides water and oil resistance.
- spacious compartments can hold a week’s worth of clothes
- small size, fits in small overhead spaces
- the wheels are for smoother terrains
- the handle has been reported by some users as a bit flimsy
- no exterior pockets providing easy access storage for travel documents or electronics
4. Samsonite Luggage Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner 20
The Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner is made out of 100% polycarbonate with sharp molded details and features a full-zip interior divider with organizational pockets, a side-mounted TSA lock, oversized #10 zippers, and 4 multidirectional spinner wheels. The brushed pattern not only makes the luggage look modern and stylish, it cleverly hides scratches and scuffs that your luggage will eventually get while traveling. And it anyone’s wondering, the small case can fit around 4-5 days’ worth of clothes.
- rolls smoothly
- fits any overhead compartments
- the case attracts dust and dirt very easily
- case also gets banged up pretty easily
- no side handle for carrying like a suitcase
5. Travelpro Crew 10 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter
The Travelpro Crew 10 22″ Suiter is almost the same as our number one pick, the Platinum Magna 2, with just a few key differences. One, the price is lower (around $40 cheaper at the time of this review). Two, the Crew does not have the Worry Free Warranty. Three, the straps holding your stuff have no extra pouches to offer. Four, the telescopic handle only has two stops – 38″ and 42.5″. And five, there’s no secondary bag hook. Not really deal breakers and if you’re on a budget, this would make the Crew 10 a better option.
- more affordable version of the Platinum Magna 2
- spacious interior
- the garment bag (suit inside) is a little hard to store in its compartment once folded
- some of the screws on the wheels are not tight
- the interior straps are a bit flimsy
6. Tumi Alpha 2 Continental Expandable 4 Wheel Carry-On
The Tumi Alpha 2 Continental Expandable 4 Wheel Carry-On is made of 100% Ballistic nylon with a zipper closure, a suiter section, a front U-zip pocket, a hanger bracket, a telescoping handle with 3 stops, 4 dual-recessed wheels, and top and side carry handles. It also features a secondary bag attachment and large two-toned mesh tie-downs to keep your stuff secure and your clothes wrinkle-free. You also get a zippered expansion for extra room if you need it. The Tumi Tracer located at the bottom back of the luggage will enable quick identification if your carry on gets lost or stolen.
- responsive wheels
- dual front zipper pockets (one for toiletries and one for documents)
- suiter section is too small for larger sized suits (i.e. 42L jacket)
- the garment hanger requires a special Tumi hanger
- very expensive
7. Delsey Luggage Helium Aero
The Delsey Helium Aero is a sleek and stylish piece of luggage to accompany you on your travels. Made out of 100% polycarbonate, it features a glossy metallic finish, a large front compartment with a padded sleeve for a 15.6-inch laptop and zippered mesh pockets, double spinner wheels, top and side handles, and two large fully-lined compartments with web straps and a zippered divider. The main compartment is also expandable up to 2 inches. The carry on also features a TSA-accepted lock on the hardside and comes with a Worldwide Limited 10-year Warranty.
- easy access padded storage for laptop
- rolls very smoothly
- smaller than some carry ons
- the front compartment uses up part of the interior space for clothes and other stuff
- scratches very easily
8. Briggs & Riley Baseline InternationalCarry On Luggage Design
The Briggs & Riley Baseline International is the perfect investment for a frequent flyer. It’s made of 100% nylon and features a very roomy garment folder, compression panels to provide a wrinkle-free tie-down system, self-repairing YKK zippers, and an external pocket. The tracks of the handle is located outside of the luggage so you get a flat inner back wall to put your stuff on. The best thing about it is its compression system. You can expand the bag fully to fit in all of your stuff, close it, and then use the compression system to resize your carry on back to its original dimensions.
- CX Expansion Compression System
- Lifetime Performance Warranty (including airline damage)
- compression panels secures your stuff and keeps it wrinkle-free
- wider than the maximum width of most airlines (but usually overlooked)
- the handle feels loose and shaky
9. A. Saks EXPANDABLE 20 Rolling Trolley Duffel
Here’s another duffel bag for you. This one is made of strong 420D nylon, weighs 4.5lbs, and features an extra strong T26 handle system. The bag has quite a lot of space and can even be expanded up to 17 inches deep). The main compartment features two tie-down straps, no zippered pockets but there are two small exterior pockets for extra storage (not that you’d need it). It’s lightweight, flexible enough to fit in an overhead compartment, and it even stays upright!
- stays upright with the handle up
- loads of space
- rolls really well
- lack of interior pockets for organization
- the bag folds in on itself when empty so packing takes a bit more effort
- the exterior pockets are not that useful
10. Samsonite Luggage Inova HS Spinner 20
The Samsonite Inova is made of 100% polycarbonate with four Spinner wheels with 360-degree easy-pivot mobility. It features a lined divider with cross straps to keep your stuff in place. You also get an integrated 3-digit TSA lock, flush-mounted handles for more interior space. The carry on is lightweight, rolls smoothly, and provides you with a lot of space for your stuff.
- rolls smoothly
- lacks compartments
- the handle feels flimsy
- easily scratched
How to Choose the Best Carry On Luggage
If you’re going to be traveling light, then you need to find a carry on luggage that will be able to transport all of your stuff, fit in the plane’s overhead compartment, and roll around easily as you go from point A to point B. While it may seem to be an easy thing to look for, with so many products to choose from, it’ll be a lot easier to choose the wrong carry on. So, what does one really look for in a good carry on? Let’s get down to features.
What are its dimensions?
Before you can even consider how much stuff your potential carry on can carry, you need to make sure that it’ll pass whatever eyeball estimate, measuring tape, or cage the airline uses to determine whether you carry or you check it. Most American carriers have maximum dimensions set at 22″ x 14″ x 9″. However, these standards do change so make sure that you check the airline’s website before you click on that buy button.
Also, keep in mind that you need to make sure these dimensions stay the same when your bag is packed to the brim. Some carry ons like the Briggs & Riley Baseline International are expandable but its compression system allows you to bring it down to the airline’s standard dimensions.
Two wheels or four?
Now, this is a matter of preference. Some people believe that rollaboard luggage (two wheels) such as the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 is much sturdier, less prone to wheel damage. While this may be true, having only two wheels means you can only pull your luggage behind you. Four-wheeled carry ons like the Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4 are more maneuverable because the wheels turn 360 degrees. You can easily navigate it in tight spaces such as an aisle on a plane plus you can choose to pull it, push it, or wheel it beside you as you stroll along the airport or wherever it is you’re going.
What’s the handle like?
Not all humans are created equal. Some are taller than others. What this means is, you need to make sure that the telescoping handle adjusts to a height where you are comfortable holding it without having to bend down at an awkward angle. Similar to our number one pick, the Tumi Alpha 2 Continental Expandable 4 Wheel Carry-On has 3 stops which will fit different people of varying heights.
How much can it carry?
The design of a carry on can limit the amount of space available in the main compartment. While most carry ons have the same external dimensions, not all of them have the same internal volume. Some carry ons such as the Olympia Luggage 22″ 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag and the A. Saks EXPANDABLE 20 Rolling Trolley Duffel offer quite a lot of space but lacks organization inside the bag.
Others like the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero can fit less clothes but it does have a front pocket with a padded sleeve for your laptop and other computer accessories. The Samsonite Luggage Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner 20, for example, can fit 4-5 days’ worth of clothes and features organizational pockets on the divider for additional storage. Of course, you’d have to consider where the handle’s rails are located and how big a handle the carry on has because it also takes up valuable real estate inside your luggage.
How much does it weigh?
We already know that the bag will be a bit heavy with all the stuff you’ll be cramming in. But does the carry on itself contribute to how heavy your load will be? A lot of our picks are lightweight such as the Travelpro Crew 10 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter which means that you can easily lift it to an overhead compartment or over a puddle (or something similar) without breaking your back. According to the experts, a good carry on should weigh no more than 7.5lbs.
Of course, there are other features you also might want to look at such as front pocket big enough for travel documents, another exterior pocket for liquids for easy access during TSA inspections, and a secondary bag attachment. And then there’s the price. Keep in mind that quality and price do not always go hand in hand. Some of our picks cost less than $100 while others are worth around $500. Thankfully, there are a number of really good carry ons offered in a range of prices that will fit any budget. Now that you know how to pick the best carry on luggage, what are you waiting for? You’ve got a flight to catch!