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Best Overall: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rollaboard Luggage at Amazon
"Meets carry-on size restrictions for most international airlines."
Best Smart Luggage: Travelpro Crew 11 Spinner Suitcase at Amazon
"Features an on-the-go, built-in charging system."
Best Hardshell: Samsonite Winfield 2 at Amazon
"Durable and can stand up to the elements."
Best Cult Favorite: Away The Carry-On at Away
"The brand boasts high-quality suitcases at a reasonable value."
Best Duffel: Everlane The Twill Weekender at Everlane
"A simple, lightweight carry-on bag."
Best Backpack: Tortuga Setout Backpack at Amazon
"This front-loading carry-on packs like a suitcase."
Most Durable: Tumi Latitude International Carry-On at Amazon
"Made of tough, ballistic material for flexibility."
Best Personal Item: Samsonite Silhouette 16 Underseat Carry-On at Bloomingdales
"Meets the latest size requirements of personal items for budget airlines."
Best for Business Travel: Kenneth Cole Reaction Spinner at Amazon
"Certainly functional, though its classy style is what makes it truly stand out."
Best for Adventurers: Eagle Creek Load Warrior at Amazon
"There's an equipment keeper to strap gear in."
As airlines continue to charge for checked baggage, traveling light becomes even more important. Choosing a carry-on bag that fits your needs can be difficult, but these days bags are made to help travelers get through airport terminals easily. The companies that design carry-on baggage anticipate travelers' needs by adding features such as gripped handles, pockets for storing small items, built-in toiletry bags, and charging stations for your devices.
Read on to see our picks for the best carry-on bags.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Rollaboard Luggage
Make traveling a breeze with the 5.4-pound, Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Rollaboard Luggage. Travelpro boasts the Maxlite 5 line of suitcases as its lightest collection ever, as they're up to a half pound lighter than the Maxlite 4 cases. Although compact, the suitcase can expand to two inches to pack (most) of your belongings — yet it still meets carry-on size restrictions for most international airlines. Even more, its inline skate wheels and sturdy handle system ensures a smooth roll. The 20 x 15 x 7.7-inch case also boasts durability, with its strong, ergonomic zipper pulls and polyester fabric with water- and stain-resistant coating for any accidents.
Best Smart Luggage: Travelpro Crew 11 21" Expandable Spinner Suitcase
If you’re spending your day traveling in taxis and waiting in airports, keeping your cell phone charged can be tricky, but the TravelPro Crew 11 carry on has that covered – as well as some other smart features. In addition to an on-the-go, built-in charging system, the nylon bag uses DuraGuard water-resistant coating, and sturdy SUPRA zippers. The carry-on suitcase has spinner wheels that roll straight (so it doesn’t drift when waiting in line) and an extension handle that has three length settings. Numerous pockets on the front and interior help keep you organized. The TravelPro measures 21 x 14 x 9 inches, weighs 7.2 pounds and is available in black, blue, brown or navy.
Best Hardshell: Samsonite Winfield 2
If you need a carry-on bag that is more durable and can stand up to the elements, the Samsonite Winfield 2 is a reasonably priced, well-built piece of luggage. If you’re traveling in an area with snow or rain, the luggage can easily wipe off (so no moisture can soak through to your clothes). It also has convenient spinner wheels, cross straps for added space, and a long, retractable handle. It also has a TSA-approved combination lock, as well as 10 zippered organizational pockets. It measures 19.8 x 12.5 x 28 inches and weighs 14.3 pounds.
Best Cult Favorite: Away The Carry-On
Away has a large following for a reason — the brand boasts high-quality suitcases at a reasonable value, and its The Carry-On is a particular favorite. Like most Away cases, this carry-on suitcase features an optional ejectable battery and polycarbonate shell for durability. The case is compact at only 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inches and eight pounds, but its compression system and compartments allow you to pack a modest amount of clothing, shoes, and more. To round out the offer, the case includes a TSA-approved lock and 360-degree spinner wheels for seamless navigation through the airport. If you’d like more packing space, upgrade to The Bigger Carry-On.
Best Duffel: Everlane The Twill Weekender
Perfect for weekend getaways, Everlane’s The Twill Weekender is a simple, lightweight carry-on bag. As with all of Everlane’s ethically sourced products, the bag is made from a factory in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s constructed out of durable, 100 percent water-resistant cotton twill, yet it only retails at under $100. At 22 x 8.5 x 12 inches, the bag can fit in any overhead compartment and store all of your travel essentials in its exterior and interior pockets. The colors are just as stylish, with options including Black, Dark Green, and Reverse Denim. Plus, leather straps add a luxurious feel to the bag.
Best Backpack: Tortuga Setout Backpack
Get the features you’d want in a suitcase in a compact, non-roller bag with the Tortuga Setout Backpack. This front-loading carry-on packs like a suitcase, with organization pockets and the capacity to fit a week’s worth of clothing, up to a 17-inch Macbook laptop, toiletries, and more. The backpack is fully supported as well, thanks to padded shoulder straps, a removable hip belt (with pockets), and a suspension system for a comfortable fit. Even more, you can tuck the straps away and use the backpack's side grab handles for versatile carrying. Its lockable YKK zippers also ensure reliable protection. With a 45-liter and 35-liter version to choose from, the latter measures at 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches and weighs 3.6 pounds.
Most Durable: Tumi Latitude International Carry-On
This hardside suitcase from Tumi may be pricey, but it’s built to last a lifetime of trips. Made of tough, ballistic material for flexibility, the 22 x 14 x 9-inch case features a three-stage telescoping handle, an integrated TSA lock, and four, smooth-rolling spinner wheels. Despite its durability, the case is extremely lightweight at only six pounds. The two interior compartments offer easy organizing, while tie-down straps, a hanger bracket, and zippered pockets maximize its packing capacity. As with all of Tumi’s suitcases, the Latitude is also a sleek, stylish choice with color choices like Silver, Navy, and Black.
Best Personal Item: Samsonite Silhouette 16 Underseat Carry-On
If you’re flying a budget airline, the new trend is to only allow a free “personal item” that must fit under the seat in front of you. Designed with these baggage restrictions in mind, the 17.75 x 14 x 8-inch Samsonite Silhouette 16 meets the latest size requirements of personal items for budget airlines to save you cash in the long run. It features easy rolling in-line skate wheels, as well as a retractable push-button locking handle. The nylon bag also has a built-in USB port, a laptop sleeve that can fit up to 15.6-inch devices, and even a retractable privacy ID tag, so going through security will be a breeze. It's the perfect bag for a weekend trip.
Best for Business Travel: Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 20" Hardside Spinner
Business travelers who crave a luxury look and feel when it comes to their luggage would do well to invest in the Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 20-Inch Spinner Carry-On. Featuring multi-directional 8-wheel spinners, self-repairing coil zippers, and a retractable handle, this popular luggage item is certainly functional — though its classy style is what makes it truly stand out. From the Reverb’s glossy, rose gold color to its sturdy ABS hard-shell exterior and molded corner guard reinforcements, this lightweight, well-built piece of luggage is both durable and fashion-forward. Plus, thanks to the under lid compartment and expansion zipper, you’ll have no trouble fitting in all your best business-casual clothing for your trip. The carry-on suitcase is 10 x 22 x 15 inches, weighs 7.5 pounds, and in addition to rose gold, comes in pretty shades of silver and black.
Best for Adventurers: Eagle Creek Load Warrior
Outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers will appreciate the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 22 Inch International Carry-On Luggage. The lightweight bag weighs 4.13 pounds and at 9 x 14 x 22 inches, it meets most international airline standards for carry-on luggage (which are smaller than U.S. requirements). There are four handles to easily grab and go, heavy-duty zippers (that stay on the track), a bottle opener, as well as an equipment keeper to strap gear in. The wheels have extra tread and the bag comes with a lifetime warranty.
What to Look for in a Carry-On Roller Bag
Weight So many of today’s carry-on bags are lighter than ever. Look for one that offers the features you want, without all of the extra bulk.
Type of trip Consider the sort of trip you’ll typically be taking with this bag. If you’re using it for business, a smart carry-on may give you everything you want. But if you just need more of a weekender bag, maximum storage space is likely a top priority.
Price Cost per use is a critical factor. If you’re on the road for a couple of weeks a month, splurge on something that’s going to make stressful travel days as hassle-free as possible. If this is a purchase for a one-off trip, it might be better to save those extra dollars for a splurge while on vacation instead.