Picking a go-to carry-on bag has become a science. With airlines continually upping the amount of people and luggage on their planes, carry-on sizes have become smaller and more strictly enforced. And with the high price of checked luggage, you always want to make the most of that carry-on space with a great bag and smart packing.
When picking a carry-on bag, you have a few things to consider. The first is what you’ll be using the bag for, be it business, vacations, weekend trips, etc. Also, be sure to pick a bag that works for both domestic and international flights if you plan on leaving the country. The TSA recommends keeping your carry-on under 22 x 14 x 9 inches for domestic flights, but international flights (and especially inter-European budget flights) have more strict carry-on rules. For those, something around 18-20 inches is a good idea.
You also need to decide on a material (hard-shell, soft-shell, leather, etc) and bag type (rollers, backpacks and duffels are the most popular options in 2019). Hard-shell bags are great if you need some extra protection for your stuff, but they’re more restrictive if you want to squeeze some extra socks in. Soft-shell bags, on the other hand, actually tend to last longer with more durable materials, but they can leave your belongings unprotected from drops.
To help with the carry-on bag search, we rounded up ten of the very best bags for every taste, need and budget. Whatever your bag preference is, we’ve got it below.
1. Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside
Samsonite has been killing the luggage game for over 100 years. No matter where you’re going or what you’re taking, their Winfield hard-shell is a great carry on option. It features a durable polycarbonate build that will keep your belongings protected, four multi-directional wheels for easy navigation around the airport, and a lock to prevent theft. It comes highly-rated on Amazon with almost 4,000 reviews and 4.2 stars thanks to its lightweight build and a professional, high-quality appearance.
2. Rockland Luggage Carry-On Set
Shopping for a carry on with a tight budget? At $28 this Rockland luggage set is the best deal you’ll find – even if it didn’t include a separate tote bag. It’s quite small at 19 inches, but that’s enough space if you’re just bringing a few changes of clothes. Plus, even though the bag is incredibly inexpensive, you don’t have to worry about quality. The bag has over 5,700 reviews and 4 stars, with users noting the bags’ durable, lasting construction.
3. Rockland Luggage Melbourne Carry On
MOST COLOR OPTIONS
Luggage doesn’t have to be a sea of black and navy. This highly-rated carry-on bag (also from Rockland) comes in 35 colors that match any personal style to help you stand out at the airport. It’s made of a durable, lightweight ABS, so it delivers utility-wise as well as stylistically.
4. AmazonBasics Softside Carry-On
If you’re a light packer, or you just need a carry on for overnight trips, grab this carry-on from AmazonBasics. At just 18” it’s about the slimmest carry-on you’ll find, making your whole trip smoother if you normally lug around a suitcase that’s bigger than it has to be. Plus, if you ever need more space, the bag expands 25% to fit more stuff (i.e. those new shoes you bought on vacation).
5. Inateck 40L Travel Backpack
Many travelers are making the switch from roller carry-on bags to backpacks, and we think it’s definitely worth considering. They’re great for taking public transit to and from the airport, and they come in especially handy on suitcase-wrecking cobblestone. We suggest this one from Inateck because it’s spacious with 40L of storage, but a lightweight build and an ergonomic weight distribution make the load easier to carry all day. The pockets are set up for travel with a compartment on the strap for travel documents, a hidden back pocket, and plenty of space for both clothes and gadgets.
6. IT Luggage 2 Wheel Carry On
Carry-on weight might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re lifting your bag up to that overhead compartment, every pound counts. If you want to be as lightweight as possible, this roller from IT Luggage is the way to go. They lead the industry in lightweight-ness, coming in at just 3.81 pounds. This makes the whole travel day much easier – from busing to the airport to finding your Airbnb.
7. Viosi Genuine Leather Travel Duffel
If you don’t mind carrying a bag over your shoulder or via drop straps, pick up a duffel. They’re more stylish than rollers, and you can find high-quality options like this one from Viosi without breaking the bank. It features a classic genuine leather construction that ages like a fine wine, and actually elevates your outfit. Plus, in addition to using the bag for air travel, you can use it as a road trip weekender, a gym bag or even a daily bag when carrying more stuff than usual.
8. Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Carry-On
Constantly wrestling all your belongings into a carry on? Go for this Travelpro roller. It boasts 49+ liters of space, ensuring enough room for several days worth of belongings. The inside is also well-organized with lid pocket, a mesh and a wet pocket and even a suiter for keeping your business attire crisp. And as any veteran packer known, good organization means more room.
9. Victorinox Spectra Carry-On
GREAT FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL
Traveling for business means you’ll want a few things: plenty of space and a high-end, professional appearance. This Victorinox bag provides both, offering a brand-name bag that’s not too expensive. It also has a scratch-resistant finish that looks sleek in any setting, as well as a laptop sleeve.
10. Rimowa Salsa
If you’ve got a bigger budget, Rimowa is the way to go. Their bags have always been the highest quality, and recent collaborations with Supreme and Off-White have brought the brand way up in status. They feature a super sleek look that’ll make you feel like a first-class traveler… even if you’re sitting in economy. This bag, the Salsa, is super lightweight too at just 4.19 pounds, proving that fashion can be functional as well.