The Best Carry-on Luggage of 2022, Tested by TripSavvy

A trusty carry-on is the best travel companion

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Carry-On Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

A good, reliable carry-on might be the most important piece of luggage in a traveler's arsenal. With the right piece, you can pack everything you need for up to a week, smoothly transport it wherever you go, and easily maneuver it into your overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

We (a team of travel editors who've logged hundreds of thousands of flight miles for business and pleasure) chose some of the leading carry-on luggage items on the market and put them to the test. We measured and weighed, packed and unpacked, wheeled and hoisted every single bag. Then, we dropped them from a ladder multiple times and took some swings at them with a baseball bat—all in the name of testing for longevity. (Plus, it was fun.)

All our findings are here in our roundup of the best carry-on luggage.

Best Overall, Softside: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Carry-on Spinner

5
default image
Our Ratings
  • Organization
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Overall value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Helpful bags and pouches included

  • Very durable

  • Rolls smoothly over all surfaces

What We Don't Like
  • Smart-compatible, but battery not included

The first thing we appreciated with this Travelpro piece was what we found inside: a wet bag and a garment bag as well as nifty interior pouches that helped us keep our things tidy. There's also a luggage tag holder built into the back. The suitcase held up to our intense ladder drop and baseball bat testing, showing only minor dirt and scuffs after taking some rough treatment. And it was a joy to glide over all the surfaces we tested it on (hard floor, carpet, and cobblestone), rolling smoothly each time.

We've also put this bag to the test on the road: “A couple of years ago, I got my hands on a Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Spinner, the major upgrade I'd been in need of since I first started traveling internationally,” says TripSavvy associate editor Elizabeth Preske. “It has held up through trips to London, Spain, Oaxaca, Southeast Asia, and Dubai with nary a tear, and the 360-degree magnatrac spinner wheels make flying through the airport a breeze.” The organization is spot-on: “It comes with a few organizational pockets, including a fold-out suiter for wrinkle-free clothing, while the external USB port and power bank pocket are FAA-friendly,” she says. “Plus, I love its sleek, sophisticated look.”

Weight: 8.1 pounds | Dimensions: 23.75 x 14.5 x 10.25 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: Smart-compatible, battery not included

Travelpro Platinum Elite Spinner carry-on

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Overall, Hardside: Away Bigger Carry-On

4.7
Away Bigger Carry On

Courtesy of Away

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Overall value
    4.7/5
What We Like
  • Useful compartments and dividers for organizing

  • Iconic style

  • Smooth maneuverability

What We Don't Like
  • Scuff-removal sponge not very effective

We immediately appreciated the organizational features in this bag from trendy and trusted Away. We found a pocketed center divider, a battery pack, a shoe bag, an interior compression pad, and a mesh-enclosed compartment. This model has a few more inches of room than the brand's classic The Carry-On. The telescopic handle does take up some interior space, but the trade-off is worth it considering how well this bag rolled over all the surfaces we tested it on.

In terms of durability, it held up very well to the ladder drops and showed only minor scuffs from our bat swings; we noticed that the slightly flexible shell helped it absorb the force well. The included sponge for scrubbing away the scuffs helped fade them but it did not completely erase.

Weight: 8 pounds | Dimensions: 22.75 x 15.25 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: Yes

Away The Bigger Carry-On

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Budget: Made by Design Hardside Carry On Spinner Suitcase

4.5
Made by Design Carry-On Spinner

Made by Design

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    3.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Overall value
    4.5/5
What We Like
  • Dead ringer for a more expensive suitcase

  • Showed no damage after durability tests

What We Don't Like
  • Handles could be more comfortable

  • Not many organizational features

This incredibly affordable suitcase looks just like a more expensive piece of luggage from a brand like Away or Monos. And while it doesn't come with any bells and whistles to speak of, the looks, price, and solid performance make it a recommended purchase. At 6.9 pounds, according to our scale, it's actually even lighter than listed online. We also noted that the suitcase maneuvered well over every surface we tested it on; it also pivoted nicely and handled curbs and lips with ease.

Of course, a basic bag like this doesn't have a ton of great organizational features, and we had some difficulty telling the expansion zipper and regular zipper apart. We also felt that the side and top handles for use when lifting the bag were a little tight around our hands. However, it certainly surprised us with its excellent performance in the ladder drop and baseball bat tests: It showed next to no damage.

Weight: 6.9 pounds | Dimensions: 21.75 x 13.75 x 9.75 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Made by Design carry-on spinner

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Most Durable: Samsonite Mobile Solution Carry-On Expandable Spinner

4.8
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Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Overall value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Only 6 pounds

  • Showed no damage after durability test

  • Several interior compartments and pouches

What We Don't Like
  • Expansion feature doesn't add much space

  • Smart-compatible, but battery not included

We all felt this Samsonite piece was small but mighty. At 6 pounds, the small-but-sturdy suitcase surprised us with its perfect scores on the durability tests. As we did with all the bags, we threw it off our 6-foot ladder several times and whacked it repeatedly with a baseball bat; we saw zero signs of any damage whatsoever. (A trend we noticed during testing was that hardside luggage tended to be a bit more prone to scuffs and dents, while softside suitcases fared better.)

We also appreciated how the bag offers help keeping belongings organized and tidy. Included are three front zipper pouches, two interior pouches, a wet bag, and a split-case design that made separating items easy. We did note that the expansion feature doesn't add much space, and we didn't find the included charging cords without a battery all that helpful. The suitcase rolled smoothly over the various test surfaces, and the side and top handles were comfortable on our hands when we lifted the suitcase into our makeshift overhead bin.

Weight: 6 pounds | Dimensions: 22.25 x 13.25 x 10.5 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: Smart compatible, but no battery included

Samsonite Mobile Solution Spinner

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Features: Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

4.7
Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Overall value
    4.6/5
What We Like
  • Tri-fold garment bag

  • Unique expansion system

  • Plenty of packing space

What We Don't Like
  • Wheels ran into our heels during roll tests

  • On the heavier side

All our testers were impressed with the innovative features packed inside the Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner. A built-in tri-fold garment bag with a hanger hook lets packers keep suits and dresses folded and neatly stored. A unique expansion system that adds 2 inches particularly caught our attention: Using sleek latches on the sides of the interior, we could literally slide the case up 2 extra inches or compress it back down to original size. We also liked the retractable luggage tag, TSA-approved lock, and bag strap.

We were able to maneuver the suitcase well for the most part, and it performed admirably in our durability tests: It showed only minor dirt and scuffing after we dropped it from the ladder and hit it with the bat. Overall, we felt we could pack a whole lot into the suitcase while keeping our belongings both organized and safe.

Weight: 9.9 pounds | Dimensions: 22.5 x 15 x 9.75 inches | Expandable: Yes | Smart: No

Birggs & Riley carry-on

Conor Ralph

Best Lightweight: Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

4.3
samsonite luggage
Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
  • Overall value
    4.3/5
What We Like
  • Sleek, shiny exterior

  • Interior straps and compartments

  • Only 6 pounds

What We Don't Like
  • Some scuffing and minor dents from the durability test

TripSavvy Senior Special Projects Editor Astrid Taran owns the Samsonite Winfield 2, and she loves how it's organized on the interior, with multiple compartments for clothes and smaller ones for essentials like chargers and toiletries. The cross-straps also keep larger clothing items you pack in the lower compartment extra-secure, she says. “It’s really great for the value.”

In the lab, we agreed that the organizational features were helpful, though we noted that the handle casing took up a bit of interior space. The suitcase rolled well over test surfaces, but it did suffer minor dents and scuffing when we dropped it from the ladder. We were, however, able to pop the larger dent back out. And overall, the Winfield 2 performed better than our other lightweight option, the more expensive Rimowa carry-on.

Weight: 6 pounds | Dimensions: 22.75 x 13.5 x 9.75 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

Samsonite Winfield 2

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Style: Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On Max: Aluminum Edition

4.5
Arlo Skye The Frame Aluminum

Arlo Skye

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Overall value
    4.4/5
What We Like
  • Eye-catching aluminum exterior

  • Simple exterior latch system

What We Don't Like
  • Dented under duress

The two most interesting things about this suitcase? Its sleek metallic look and the fact that it doesn't feature even one external zipper. Instead of zipping shut, the bag uses two external latches, each with a TSA-approved lock, to close securely. The exterior also features a charging station (battery included) with USB-A and USB-C ports. The interior, which included three pouches, is quite spacious, and the wheel casings don't take up too much room. We did find the interior compression strap slightly finicky to adjust. 

We were able to roll the suitcase smoothly over our test surfaces—though we noticed it handled the cobblestone better on two wheels (as do most suitcases)—and we found the handles easy to use for lifting and lowering. The only true negative we found with the suitcase is that it dented after both the ladder drops and hits with the baseball bat. Such intense battering might not occur outside the lab, of course, but it's something to keep in mind if you're looking for a suitcase that'll keep its sleek appearance intact long term.

Weight: 10.8 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 15.5 x 9.75 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: Yes

Arlo Skye aluminum carry on

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Organization: Monos Carry On Plus Spinner

4.7
Monos Carry On Plus Spinner

Monos

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Overall value
    4.7/5
What We Like
  • Pouches and bags for toiletries, shoes, etc.

  • Minimalist exterior design

What We Don't Like
  • Scuff sponge not very effective

The first thing we noticed with this Monos bag was the tasteful exterior. We ordered the matte white finish and liked the minimalist style. But what impressed us most was the organizational help on the inside: Not only did we find a compression panel and straps, but we were also pleasantly surprised by three pouches and bags for laundry or shoes and a clear plastic bag for toiletries. As travelers, we know how useful a shoe bag is for keeping things clean, and how helpful a ready-to-use toiletry container can be for getting through security.

In terms of maneuverability, we thought the suitcase rolled fine, if not exceptionally. Regarding toughness, we noticed a few minor dents when we struck it with the baseball bat, but the bag held up fine after the ladder drops. We did note that, like other bags with scuff-removing sponges, the sponge removed light scuffs but didn't do much on heavier dirt.

Weight: 6.9 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 14.75 x 9.5 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

Monos Carry-On Plus

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Underseat Bag: Briggs & Riley Baseline Rolling Cabin Spinner

4.7
Briggs & Riley Baseline Rolling Cabin Bag

Courtesy of Briggs & Riley

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Overall value
    4.7/5
What We Like
  • Very compact

  • Exceptionally smooth rolling and pivoting

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bland style-wise

This Briggs & Riley underseater looks petite, but we were able to pack in four pairs of pants, two shirts, a dress, a mug, toiletry bottles, and two pairs of shoes. A bag this size naturally doesn't come with a ton of organizational features, and the zipper was a tiny bit finicky, but it performed fantastically on all our other tests (one editor even called the maneuverability "amazing"). We found the handles well-placed and comfortable, making it easy for us to lift, and it held up fine to our ladder drops and bat swings. If you're looking for a bag to keep right with you at all times, this is a good bet.

Weight: 7.3 pounds | Dimensions: 15.5 x 16.25 x 10.25 inches | Expandable: No | Smart: No

Briggs & Riley underseat luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Other Bags We Tested

Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin S (view at Rimowa): The 5.1-pound weigh-in for this piece easily makes it the lightest bag we tested. That said, we weren't wildly impressed with other elements of the suitcase, especially considering its hefty price tag. It had two zipper compartments on either side of the clamshell design, but that’s it for organization. The capacity felt relatively small, and the single-post telescopic handle bar took up some interior space. It also arrived at our lab with a small dent in it. That said, the bag is extremely stylish and maneuvered well. We suspect the high cost means you're paying largely for branding (Rimowa has been hot on Instagram), but if that's your thing, go for it.

Herschel Highland Luggage Carry-On (view at Herschel): Herschel is best known for its backpacks, but the brand is in the luggage game, too. Their carry-on isn't too complicated: The interior is one deep compartment with a compression strap; the lid has an interior mesh pocket, and there are two pockets on the outside. The telescopic handle casing does takes up some interior space, and we noticed that there was no real area for shoes. The bag's handles were noticeably comfortable, and the bag moved well on four wheels. However, we noted a significant issue with pushing the bag forward on two wheels; when we tried, it just skidded annoyingly to the side. In terms of durability, it held up very well to both the ladder drops and swings with the bat.

Final Verdict

Travelpro is a favorite among flight crews for a reason. We loved the Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Spinner (view at Amazon), and it performed exceptionally well on our tests. If you prefer hardside luggage, Away's The Bigger Carry-On (view at Away) is a stylish piece that also aced most of our tests.

Product Selection

Our writers and editors chose some of the best-reviewed and most popular carry-on suitcases on the market. We took our time during the selection process and based our choices on both personal experience and thorough research. We also made sure the 11 bags included in this test represented a variety of styles and price points; we ended up selecting six hardside carry-ons and five softside carry-ons, ranging in cost (at time of purchase and lab testing) from under $90 to about $600.

How We Tested

We first removed the carry-on suitcases from their shipping packaging and inspected them for damage. Next, we weighed each bag (using the Eteckcity luggage scale) and measured length, width, and depth to compare their specifications to those listed on the manufacturers' sites. Then we packed each bag for a trip. We included different types of clothing, shoes, full toiletry bottles, and breakable souvenirs like mugs. During this portion of the process we paid particular attention to any organizational features (compartments, garment bags, straps, etc.) that the bags offered. We kept the suitcases full for the remaining testing steps.

We then tested the bags' maneuverability by wheeling them over several different surface types both indoors and out—wood, carpet, cement, cobblestone. We even created a simple obstacle course using cones to gauge how the bags pivoted and switched directions—you know, for those times you're weaving through a crowded airport to make your flight before the doors close. Next came our durability tests. With all the items still inside, we dropped each case four times off a 6-foot ladder. But we weren't done. We also took some swings at each bag with a baseball bat to be sure we gave them our best shots. We then took notes on how the bags held up, both in terms of exterior damage and the conditions of the items inside.

TripSavvy luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Luggage durability testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

TripSavvy luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

What to Look for in Carry-On Luggage

Weight

A good weight for an empty carry-on suitcase is 10 pounds or below. This should allow you to pack what you want while keeping things pretty light. And most major airlines have no stated weight limit for your packed carry-on, but you'll want to be sure the bag can be lifted into an overhead compartment. If you're unsure, check the airline's website for any weight limits they might enforce.

Hardside vs. Softside

In general, you can choose a suitcase with a hard exterior or a soft one. Based on our experience and our testing, we've found that both options perform similarly and that it primarily comes down to preferred aesthetic. In durability tests, the softside suitcases performed just as well as, if not better than, the hardside bags at keeping belongings safe and resisting exterior damage. Plus, you can usually store softside luggage in tighter spaces. That said, we do love the look of a hardside suitcase.

Organization

Some people prefer one big compartment; others like to have pockets and straps and other features. When picking a suitcase, be sure to look closely at product descriptions for information about included accessories and organizational features. If nothing is listed, then the suitcase is likely a simple clamshell piece with no additional compartments. Find your preference and pick accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the acceptable dimensions for a carry-on bag?

    Some airlines allow slightly different sizes for carry-on bags, but a safe guide to follow for U.S. air travel is 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 inches). See the FAA website for additional tips about carry-on rules and regulations.

  • What is a "smart bag?"

    A smart bag is a suitcase featuring inputs for charging cell phones and other small electronics. They usually, but not always, come with a lithium battery included. We've found that this feature is only really necessary if you are especially worried about access to power sources during your travels.

  • Can I bring a smart bag on an airplane?

    You might have heard stories about lithium batteries, the kind in smart luggage, causing small spontaneous fires. This was a rare issue with bags that had non-removable batteries, and those types of bags aren't really produced anymore. Today, you can carry on your smart bag if its battery is removable (and if you want to check the bag, you have to remove the battery and carry it on with you).


Why Trust TripSavvy

Chris Abell is the senior commerce editor at TripSavvy. He has worked in the travel space for years, with previous stops writing for Travel + Leisure and helping found a travel startup, among other ventures. Chris and other TripSavvy team members selected these products, worked together to design these tests, and carried them out in the TripSavvy Testing Lab, taking copious notes in the process. The testing team included Jamie Hergenrader, Commerce Editorial Director; Taylor McIntyre, Senior Visual Editor; and Sherri Gardner, Associate Editor.

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