The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

scene of 20+ suitcases with two testers organizing and evaluating

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

TripSaavy's Pick

Samsonite's Freeform carry-on checked all the boxes in our luggage test. It's durable, maneuvered well, and could easily fit all items on our packing list. Travelpro's Platinum Elite was a close runner-up, also acing many of our tests. And if you're looking for a top-notch budget option, the Amazon Basics 21-inch carry-on is an excellent choice.

These days, with more and more airlines charging fees for checked bags, many travelers are choosing to limit themselves to a carry-on whenever they can. This means it’s more important than ever to purchase one tough enough to withstand being hauled in and out of overhead compartments—yet light and spacious enough to give you the greatest amount of packing space possible. Handy extras range from TSA-approved locks and integrated luggage scales to USB ports for keeping your devices charged in transit. 

With so many brands and styles out there, choosing the right suitcase can seem overwhelming. To make it a little easier, we tested 40 of the most popular options in our testing lab. We put them through their paces and scored them for attributes including capacity, design, durability, maneuverability, and value. The winner of our test was the Samsonite Freeform, but we also chose top picks for categories ranging from Best Budget to Best Design.

Best Overall

Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable with Double Spinner Wheels Carry-On

5
samsonite-freeform-hardside-expandable-carry-on-21-inch

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Superior maneuverability on two or four wheels

  • Impact-resistant material for added durability

  • Modern aesthetic in a wide choice of colors

What We Don't Like
  • Only one zippered pocket

An instant favorite with our testing team, the Samsonite Freeform Carry-On is made of injection-molded polypropylene for a hardside case that’s exceptionally lightweight, durable, and impact-resistant. It stood up well to our baseball bat test with barely any scuffs—so much so that we’d feel confident if we had to check it in. We loved its minimal, ultra-modern aesthetic and found that it had sufficient space for everything on our packing list, even without employing the expansion feature. 

Potential purchasers should be aware that although the expansion feature is a definite bonus, overstuffing the suitcase could make it exceed some airline carry-on restrictions. We felt the interior organization options were good, with a cross ribbon, divider, and several pockets. The only downside was that there was only one zippered pocket, meaning you’d have to choose whether to separate shoes or dirty laundry. 

The suitcase has four 360-degree double spinner wheels for flawless maneuverability, and we found that it had the best glide of any bag we tested. It was easier to operate on two wheels over bumps, but transitioning between two- and four-wheeled use was a breeze. The suitcase also features a multi-stage handle with a wider grip for added comfort, a recessed, TSA-approved combination lock, and a built-in ID tag. Colors range from classic black to silver or sky blue. Finally, your purchase includes a limited 10-year global warranty. 

Price at time of publish: from $190

Dimensions: 21.25 × 15.25 × 10 inches | Weight: 6.5 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable Carry-On

Tamara Staples

Best Overall, Runner-Up

Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Expandable Hardside Spinner

4.7
Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Carry-On Spinner (21-inch)

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
What We Like
  • Smooth, easy-to-control glide

  • Solid handle with multiple height settings

  • Excellent impact and scratch resistance

What We Don't Like
  • Expansion feature required to fit everything in

  • Power bank sold separately

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Carry-On is a relatively expensive option; however, a 100 percent polycarbonate shell with reinforced aluminum corner guards makes it impressively durable and, therefore, worth the investment. Even after multiple drop tests and bat beatings, we could see no visible signs of damage. The textured finish should help reduce the visibility of scuffs or scratches, keeping your luggage looking brand new for longer. Exterior highlights include an integrated TSA lock and USB-A and C charge ports. 

This suitcase benefits from Travelpro’s famous PrecisionGlide System, with eight self-aligning spinner wheels and a PowerScope Lite handle with four height settings. We found it incredibly smooth and easy to navigate and particularly liked the handle’s sturdy feel and textured grip. When it came to packing, we had to use the expansion feature to fit everything in, which made it a tight squeeze getting the bag into an overhead compartment. However, we liked the zippered divider panel and water-resistant toiletries section.

Price at time of publish: $370

Dimensions: 23 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 8.1 pounds | Wheels: 8 | Expandable: Yes

Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Carry-On Spinner

Jhett Thompson

Best Budget

Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

5
Amazon Basics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Interior organizer with multiple pockets

  • Expandable by up to 15 percent

  • Handles bumps, turns, and different terrains easily

What We Don't Like
  • No TSA-approved lock

The AmazonBasics 21-inch spinner retails for well under $100, making it the most affordable option on this list. Despite its modest price tag, it surpassed our expectations on every test, making it an exceptional value for money. It features a thick ABS plastic shell with a scratch-resistant, textured finish. We loved the simple sleekness of its design, with four bold colors to choose from, including black, navy blue, light blue, and orange. 

Four double-spinner wheels provide smooth maneuverability in any direction, with the suitcase performing admirably over bumps, through obstacle courses, and over smooth and carpeted surfaces during our testing process. The fully lined interior is expandable by up to 15 percent, although we didn’t have to use this feature to fit everything in. We particularly liked the built-in organizer with its three separate zippered pockets, while compression straps kept all our belongings in place. Durable zippers and a sturdy handle complete the bag’s list of attributes.

Price at time of publish: $76

Dimensions: 22 x 14.9 x 10 inches | Weight: 6.3 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

AmazonBasics 21-Inch Hardside Spinner

Tamara Staples

Best Value

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Carry-on

4.7
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Carry-on Spinner

Samsonite

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4.5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.8/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Textured finish for superior scratch-resistance

  • Ample packing space, even before expansion

  • Simple yet effective organization

What We Don't Like
  • Small wheels get caught on ruts

The Samsonite Omni PC Carry-On may retail for roughly double the price of our budget pick, but it's still considerably cheaper than many of the suitcases on this list and combines durability, capacity, and lightness to provide impressive value for money. It features a 100 percent polycarbonate shell with micro-diamond texturing for extreme scratch resistance (even after our rigorous testing, it showed no visible scratches). And it's protected by Samsonite's generous 10-year global warranty. 

We found we could fit everything in without using the suitcase's expansion feature. However, it was still a tight fit in the overhead compartment, so it's a good idea to check the exact requirements of your favorite airline before purchasing. We liked the interior organization features—namely, a zippered divider and compression straps. The only drawback was the undersized spinner wheels, which caught easily on ruts (but performed well on carpet and sharp turns). The handle has two height settings, and the integrated lock is TSA-compliant. 

Price at time of publish: $160

Dimensions: 22 × 15 × 9.75 inches | Weight: 7.05 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

Samsonite Omni PC Expandable Carry-On Spinner

Jhett Thompson

Best Softside

Travelpro Luggage Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Carry-on Spinner Suiter

4.7
Luggage Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Carry-on

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Organization
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.9/5
  • Durability
    5/5
What We Like
  • Made to last from premium fabrics

  • Great organization features

  • Built-in USB charge port

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively expensive

If you’re looking for a softside carry-on, the Travelpro Platinum Elite is an excellent pick, featuring high-density nylon with a DuraGuard coating that resists stains and abrasions. This showed up during our durability tests, in which the suitcase survived completely unscathed. With its genuine leather accents and chrome zippers, we feel this is a quality investment likely to last long enough to justify its high price tag. As a bonus, it includes a built-in USB charge port with an external power bank pocket that adheres to FAA regulations. 

We did have to use the tip-resistant expansion feature to make space for everything on our packing list, which made the bag significantly larger. However, we really appreciated the thoughtful interior organization features, including two separate compartments, a deluxe tie-down system, and integrated accessory pockets. There’s even a removable, quart-sized wet bag for your toiletries and a fold-out suiter. Other highlights include Travelpro’s renowned PrecisionGlide System and a choice of elegant colors from Bordeaux to Rich Espresso. 

Price at time of publish: $370

Dimensions: 23.5 x 14.5 x 9 inches | Weight: 8.3 pounds | Wheels: 8 | Expandable: Yes

Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Spinner

Conor Ralph

Best Hardside

Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-on Spinner

4.7
Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-on Spinner

Samsonite 

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Chic, streamlined design 

  • Great choice of storage compartments

  • Handy USB port

What We Don't Like
  • Rolled less smoothly than expected

We loved the ultra-modern, contoured design of the Samsonite Outline Pro’s polypropylene shell, which not only looks excellent but also protected it entirely from scratches and dents during our testing process. The case also stands out for its integrated extras, including a USB charge port and a TSA-approved lock, while an interior lined with fabric made from recycled plastic bottles wins points for sustainability and a 10-year limited global warranty affords peace of mind.

We were able to pack everything without using the expansion feature and loved this suitcase’s intuitive organization options. These include a KompressPak panel to keep your belongings in place, with two integrated, zippered pockets (one of which is waterproof for any damp items). The bag was slightly let down by its movement, which was clunkier than expected on all four wheels. However, the molded trolley handle is height-adjustable and infused with an antimicrobial additive to help keep your hands germ-free. 

Price at time of publish: $200

Dimensions: 23 × 15 × 10 inches | Weight: 6.39 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On Spinner

Jhett Thompson

Best for Business Travel

Beis The Carry-on Roller

4.7
Beis The Carry On Roller

Nordstrom

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Outstanding choice of pockets and dividers

  • Very light to roll, drag and lift

  • Resilient, attractive hard shell

What We Don't Like
  • It feels a little unwieldy on four wheels

The BÉIS Carry-On Roller is an excellent fit for frequent business travelers, with an ultra-lightweight and durable virgin polycarbonate shell that’s easy to roll, drag, and lift while also withstanding extensive rough handling. The attractive 3D stripe design and range of sophisticated colors (from beige to dusky pink) ensure you’ll also earn style points with your colleagues. We found the Hinomoto 360-degree spinner wheels turned tightly and rolled smoothly over bumps, while the handle’s cushioned silicone grip was infinitely comfortable. 

Perhaps best of all is this suitcase’s thoughtfully designed interior, which features multiple zippered flaps, pockets, and pouches for everything from small essentials to shoes and laundry. In fact, the storage options were so comprehensive our tester wished they could exceed our maximum points score on this front. Other highlights include a two-inch expansion feature, a retractable strap for attaching your purse, a weight limit indicator, and a TSA lock. Lastly, the suitcase comes with the brand’s limited lifetime warranty. 

Price at time of publish: $198

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 8.36 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

BEIS The Carry-on Roller

Tamara Staples

Best Organization

Away The Bigger Carry-On Flex

4.8
The Bigger Carry-On Flex

Away

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Fluid movement on two or four wheels

  • The compression system helps pack more

  • It comes with a sponge for removing scratches

What We Don't Like
  • Not a budget pick

If you’re the traveler who always needs more packing space—for last-minute items from home or souvenirs bought on your trip—you’ll love The Bigger Carry-On Flex from Away. Built using durable polycarbonate with stylish leather details, it fits 20 percent more than the brand’s standard carry-on and expands to reveal an additional 2.25 inches of space (although utilizing it may mean you have to check the bag in with some airlines). An interior compression system helps you to fit even more. 

On the inside, the lining is removable—handy for washing out any accidental spills. We enjoyed the multiple organization compartments, including a hidden laundry bag designed to keep dirty clothes separate. The suitcase survived our durability tests intact and also aced our maneuverability trials. We found that the 360-degree spinner wheels glided smoothly, turned easily, and functioned just as well whether we were using two or four of them. Choose from a range of eye-catching colors and enjoy a 100-day trial and free shipping.

Price at time of publish: $345

Dimensions: 22.7 x 14.7 x 9.6 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

The Bigger Carry-On Flex

Conor Ralph

Best Sustainable

Paravel Aviator Carry-On Plus

4.7
Paravel Aviator Carry-on Plus

Paravel

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4/5
What We Like
  • Entirely carbon neutral 

  • Frictionless wheels for a super smooth ride

  • Great capacity and interior organization

What We Don't Like
  • No expansion feature

Paravel is a brand with sustainability at its core, and the Aviator Carry-On Plus is no exception. The carbon emissions involved in sourcing, producing, and shipping the bag are all off-set – as is its first trip with you. Materials are all sustainable, from the recycled polycarbonate shell with its recycled vegan leather trim to the lining made from 15 recycled plastic bottles. And you won’t be sacrificing anything in terms of style, thanks to the chic two-tone color scheme and the test-proven scuff-hiding finish. 

Although this carry-on doesn’t expand, we were able to fit everything on our packing list with room to spare. We loved the luxurious, impeccably organized interior, which boasts a compression board, pockets, and a removable laundry bag. The suitcase was also incredibly easy to maneuver, thanks to 360-degree wheels with carbon steel bearings that rolled like a dream. Other pros include a TSA lock and Paravel’s five-year warranty, making this purchase well worth it for those with the cash to spare. 

Price at time of publish: $375

Dimensions: 22.7 x 14.7 x 9.6 inches | Weight: 8.5 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: No

Paravel Aviator Carry-On Plus

Jhett Thompson

Best Design

July Carry On Pro

July Carry On

July

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    4.5/5
  • Design
    4.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
What We Like
  • External laptop sleeve 

  • Ejectable battery for laptop and phone charging

  • Sturdy, silent wheels for a smooth roll

What We Don't Like
  • The compression system could be more effective 

Made from crush-proof polycarbonate that stood up well to our durability tests, the July Carry-On Pro represents the next generation of carry-on suitcases. Its most exciting feature is the detachable SnapSleeve, a padded 16-inch laptop compartment with space for documents and an extra zippered pocket that uses magnets to click into place on the outside of the suitcase. Want to store your bag overhead but keep your laptop with you? No more rummaging around in the aisle for you. 

You can also charge your laptop and phone using the ejectable battery with its USB and FastCharge USB-C ports. The bag fit everything on our packing list, with a Twin-Strap compression system and hidden laundry bag. We especially loved how well the suitcase rolled on cement and rough surfaces, with four SilentMove wheels that never caught or got stuck. Other highlights include a 20-height telescopic handle, a TSA lock, and the ability to personalize—either with text or an illustration of your pet.

Price at time of publish: $345

Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 7.9 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: No

July Carry-On Pro

Tamara Staples

Best Durability

Monos Carry On Plus Spinner

4.7
Monos Carry-On Plus

Nordstrom

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    4/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • Aerospace-grade polycarbonate shell

  • Impressive capacity and organization

  • Choice of gorgeous colors

What We Don't Like
  • Maneuverability could be better

The Monos Carry-On Plus is a looker with its premium materials, vegan leather details, and beautiful color choices that range from Desert Taupe to Rose Quartz. Not just a pretty face, though, it’s also incredibly tough, with an aerospace-grade polycarbonate shell that withstood multiple drop tests and bat beatings without sustaining anything more than easily removable scuff marks. Its longevity is proven by the fact it comes with a lifetime warranty. All details, from the YKK zippers to the sturdy telescopic handle, are top quality. 

We loved the suitcase’s interior too. We felt it was beautifully made and were impressed with how much we were able to fit. The clamshell design features a zippered panel on one side for keeping shoes or dirty laundry separate, while the other uses a compression pad and ballistic nylon straps to keep your belongings firmly in place. The only downside was the case’s maneuverability. We felt it was relatively hard to turn, and it worked better on two wheels than four.

Price at time of publish: $265

Dimensions: 23 × 15 × 9.5 inches | Weight: 7.38 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: No

Monos Carry-On Plus

Jhett Thompson

Best Splurge

Tumi Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

4.6
Tumi Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Capacity
    5/5
  • Design
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Value
    3/5
What We Like
  • Spacious interior with superb organization

  • Seamless roll over all terrains 

  • Integrated USB port

What We Don't Like
  • Exorbitant price tag

Retailing at nearly $1,000, the TUMI Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled carry-on is undoubtedly a splurge (and one our tester found difficult to justify despite its excellent performance). However, if you’re looking for a suitcase that’s as much a status symbol as a luggage item, this is it. It features TUMI’s proprietary FXT ballistic nylon, with a unique weave and special, extra-durable coating. The benefit was clear after our durability tests, of which the bag showed no evidence of damage. 

It opens two ways: clamshell style and via a front lid, both with quality security zippers. With three exterior pockets, multiple interior pockets, and dividers (including a removable garment sleeve), it’s the organized packer’s dream. We loved that we could fit everything without using the expansion feature and that it slid easily into the overhead compartment. Four dual spinner wheels and a premium telescoping handle guarantee a smooth roll over all surfaces, while extras range from a USB port to optional monogramming. 

Price at time of publish: $975

Dimensions: 22.0 x 16.0 x 9.0 inches | Weight: 11.7 pounds | Wheels: 4 | Expandable: Yes

 TUMI Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On

Jhett Thompson

Other Bags We Tested

In all, we tested 41 pieces of carry-on luggage. The top-performing 12 are those included above. We selected products to test based on our expertise, knowledge of products and brands, and internet research. We included suitcases we've personally owned or tested and from brands we know well. We also included luggage that had high ratings from customer reviews and other prominent media publications.

an editor wheeling a suitcase around an obstacle course of cones

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

How We Tested

All carry-on luggage was tested in our purpose-built laboratory. First, bags were packed with a prescribed list of items to reflect what one might take on a four-day sightseeing trip in the fall. During the packing process, organization features and component quality were evaluated. Once full, we tested how well the suitcase rolled over a variety of terrains (smooth concrete, carpet, and gravel) before using an obstacle course designed to simulate a busy airport terminal to test maneuverability. 

Next, we lifted the luggage into a simulated overhead compartment to check fit and how easy it was to pick it up and set it down again. Finally, we subjected the suitcase to stringent durability tests, including pushing it off the top of a shelving unit and beating it with a baseball bat. Both tests were repeated to check all areas of the bag for weaknesses. Based on these tests, we gave each product a score from 1 to 5 for capacity, design, durability, maneuverability, and value. These scores determined our category winners. 

packing a carry-on suitcase with shoes and clothes

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

What to Look for in Carry-On Luggage

Weight

Although weight restrictions for carry-on bags vary depending on the airline you’re flying with, the aircraft size, and your travel class, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that limits can be as strict as just 11 poounds. Therefore, the weight of your empty carry-on affects how much you’ll be able to pack within it and is an essential factor to consider. Different materials and designs affect luggage weight; generally, polypropylene is the lightest choice for hardside cases, while nylon and polyester are favorite lightweight picks for softside cases. 

Maneuverability

Imagine you’re late for your plane and need to run through a crowded airport terminal, dodging fellow passengers as you go. You need a carry-on that rolls effortlessly, whether pushing it in front of you or pulling it behind you and can turn instantly in any direction. For the best maneuverability, always choose a suitcase with four wheels instead of two, and make sure they’re the spinning kind that offer seamless, 360-degree movement. Good quality wheels and a sturdy telescoping handle will give you the same maneuverability on various terrains. 

Organization

Even the most basic carry-ons will typically have at least one interior pouch or pocket, usually for separating dirty laundry or shoes or for stashing smaller items, so they’re easy to find. More sophisticated options include multiple pockets of varying sizes and materials (perhaps a waterproof one for damp items), zippered dividers that split your packing space in two, and fold-out suiters or removable garment bags. Exterior pockets are typically reserved for softsided bags and can help stash passports and other documents you need to keep handy.

hitting a suitcase with a bat to test durability

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

How to Choose Between Hard and Soft Luggage

Hardside and softside cases have pros and cons, and which is better is primarily a matter of personal preference.

Hardside cases generally offer a trendier and more modern aesthetic, provide better weather resistance, are easier to clean, and protect delicate items with their rigid frame. However, they tend to show more wear and tear on their sleek exteriors than softside bags do, so if you're choosing purely based on look, keep in mind that. Also, hardside bags tend to have fewer pockets and organizational features.

Softside cases are more able to withstand rough handling since they won’t dent or crack, are often lighter, and they’re more flexible. The latter means that you have more wiggle room if you tend to overstuff your bag or need to pack odd-shaped items. However, if you're packing fragile items in a softside bag, you need to do so with extra caution as the soft exterior won't provide much protection from drops or hard landings. For breakables, we recommend packing in a hardside bag that can better protect items inside.

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

    Dimensions vary from airline to airline (and sometimes from plane to plane), but the IATA gives the general rule that dimensions should not exceed 22 inches in length, 18 inches in width, and 10 inches in depth. These dimensions include any exterior pockets, wheels, and handles, albeit with the telescoping handle retracted. 

  • What is a “smart” bag?

    A smart bag is any bag with integrated tech capabilities. Most often for carry-on bags, this means a built-in battery pack that powers a USB charge port so you can keep your electronics going throughout your journey. Be aware that the battery should be removable if you have to check your bag since lithium-ion batteries cannot be put in the hold.

  • How do you care for and clean your luggage?

    Before cleaning your bag, you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines since the process will differ depending on the materials. However, you can generally use a soft-bristled brush (softside luggage) or a damp cloth (soft and hardside luggage) to spot-clean any dirt or stains. Dry your bag entirely before storing it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. 

lifting a carry-on suitcase into a high shelf to mimic an overhead bin

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Why Trust TripSavvy

Jessica Macdonald is TripSavvy’s Africa travel expert. After traveling across six continents for everything from scientific expeditions to gap year adventures, family vacations, and across-the-world emigration, she’s well-versed in the art of packing the perfect carry-on bag and knows which features are most helpful.

Was this page helpful?
Continue to 5 of 12 below.
Continue to 9 of 12 below.