Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: Away The Bigger Carry-On at Away
"Ideal for travelers who have a tendency to overpack."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Delsey Luggage Carry-On at Amazon
"One of the best features on this case is the roomy front compartment."
Most Versatile: The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner at Amazon
"Has added features that make it a more versatile travel bag."
Best for Storage: Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb at Amazon
"Looks great, has plenty of space, and at a reasonable price."
Best for Durability: Tumi Latitude Packing Case at Amazon
"From the brand's most durable, lightweight suitcase collection yet."
Best Lightweight: Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin at Bloomingdales
"Weighs only 4.5 pounds."
Best Checked: Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch Hardside Spinner at Amazon
"Built with a lightweight, 100 percent polycarbonate shell for scratch resistance."
Best Splurge: Briggs & Riley Domestic Carry-On at Nordstrom
"An investment piece that’s worth the splurge."
Best Scratch-Resistant: Samsonite Inova 20 at Amazon
"A hardshell carry-on that stays looking new after many uses."
When traveling by plane, carry-on suitcases come in two basic types: hard shell with a durable exterior or soft shell suitcases made of fabric. Hardside suitcases provide added protection for valuables, but are less malleable than luggage made from fabric. Travelers who prefer the hard shell for their carry-on bag have a variety options that come with TSA-approved locks, unique designs, and spacious interiors.
Read on for our picks of the best hardside luggage bags available.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Away The Bigger Carry-On
Instagram-adored Away makes some of the highest-quality suitcases on the market — and the Bigger Carry-On is no exception. Measuring a very spacious 22.7 x 14.7 x 9.6 inches (and with a capacity of 47.9 liters), this top-notch carry-on is ideal for travelers who have a tendency to overpack. Its durable polycarbonate shell is both sleek and highly functional; you won’t have to worry about it getting scuffed up or damaged during a bumpy plane or cab ride. Conveniently, the hardshell luggage comes with an ejectable battery that charges your phone while you’re on the go, as well as a TSA-approved combo lock for extra security purposes. On the inside, you’ll find a compression system and hidden-away laundry bag that’s ideal for keeping your clothes neat and organized. Plus, for your peace of mind, Away offers a 100-day trial and lifetime warranty. You can snag one in 10+ shades, including black, white, green, pink, and purple.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry-On
Made of 100 percent polycarbonate, the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero International Carry-On has a durable build and a sleek compact look with a glossy, metallic finish. One of the best features on this hard case luggage is the roomy front compartment that has a built-in padded sleeve for up to 15.6-inch laptops (which is easily accessible when going through security), as well as two zippered mesh pockets for toiletries, phone chargers, and other small items. The interior of the suitcase is lined with fabric and has two compartments, as well as elastic straps and a buckle for making sure clothes stay in place. Keeping all your valuables safe are self-repairing zippers and a three-dial TSA-approved combination lock, while the double spinner wheels make navigating the airport easy. Colors come in black, brick red, brushed charcoal, cobalt blue, pink, teal, and titanium.
Most Versatile: The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner
The Olympia Apache Carry-On Spinner has a slightly different design than the standard hardshell luggage bags with added features that make it a more versatile travel bag. The center of the bag has a hidden compartment that allows travelers to tuck away items such as laptop computers, briefcases, and other business necessities (as well as headphones or a neck pillow) while the bag is upright. The lined interior has two zipped pouches for organizing, and the exterior is constructed from sturdy ABS with four spinner wheels. The expandable bag measures 9 x 14 x 21 inches and comes in solid black with lime, orange, red, blue or purple straps, stitching, and wheels.
Best for Storage: Kenneth Cole Reaction Reverb 20-inch Carry-On
For a quality carry-on that looks great, has plenty of space, ample organizational features, and a reasonable price, the Kenneth Cole Reaction is an excellent purchase. While the main compartments of most luggage have standard crisscrossed straps to secure items, the Kenneth Cole Reaction has the added benefit of two-winged pouches attached to the sides of the straps, so smaller items can rest atop of clothing without sliding around – a thoughtful touch. The top flap also has two pouches for shoes and toiletry items. The hardshell suitcase weighs 7.5 pounds and measures 22.44 x 15.16 x 8.5 inches (with wheels) and has added structural features such as reinforced corners and expandable sides, plus incredibly smooth-gliding spinner wheels.
Best for Durability: Tumi Latitude Short Trip Packing Case
Tumi's luggage bags may come with a hefty price tag, but you get a well-constructed, long-lasting hardside suitcase in return. From the brand's most durable, lightweight suitcase collection yet, this Latitude case is constructed out of ballistic material for flexibility. This checked bag clocks in at 26.8 x 17.8 x 11 inches, but it's extremely light at eight pounds. With enough space for a weeklong trip, the case includes two packing compartments with a hanger bracket, mesh tie-down straps, and zip pockets for convenient packing. The four, lightweight wheels and three-stage telescoping handle makes the case easy to maneuver, too. Better yet, its streamlined design is easy on the eyes, with color options like Navy, Silver, or Black.
Best Lightweight: Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin
Weighing only 4.5 pounds, Rimowa boasts the Essential Lite Cabin as its lightest suitcase ever. Even more, it weighs 30 percent less than the Rimowa Essential cases. The polycarbonate case is still stable, thanks to multi-stage, telescopic handles that can easily adjust to your desired height. Smooth-rolling spinner wheels offer seamless traveling, while a TSA-approved lock will give you peace of mind. Inside, there's a flex-divider system for organized packing. The 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1-inch hardshell suitcase also comes in a glossy finish with colors like Red, Black, or Blue.
Best Checked: Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch Hardside Spinner
This sleek, hardside spinner is for those who need to check in a bag. Built with a lightweight, 100 percent polycarbonate shell for scratch resistance, the Travelpro Maxlite comes with an aluminum PowerScope handle, four spinner wheels, and low grab handles for extreme durability. Fit all of your belongings in the spacious interior, which includes a divider pocket and elastic hold-down straps to keep all the contents in place during your journey. Plus, its precision glide system offers breezy mobility throughout the airport. The 25 x 16.25 x 11.5-inch hardshell luggage bag also has a TSA-compliant lock to protect your items. It's available in six stylish colors including azure blue, dusty rose, and imperial purple.
Best Splurge: Briggs & Riley Sympatico Domestic Carry-On
It’s no secret that Briggs & Riley churns out incredibly high-caliber luggage, and the Sympatico Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner is easily one of their best pieces. Combining CX technology with a quality hardside build, the Sympatico Carry-On is an investment piece that’s worth the splurge. Over-packers, especially, should take note: though the carry-on measures just 22 x 14 x 9 inches, it expands, offering you up to 22-percent more space to stow your belongings before zippering it back to its original size. The hardshell suitcase's double spinner wheels and ultra-comfy carry grips make handling a total cinch, and the onyx color is a smart choice for any traveler.
Best Scratch-Resistant: Samsonite Inova 20
The Samsonite Inova 20 is a great option if you’re looking for a hardshell carry-on that stays looking new after many uses. Made of high-tech, Makrolon polycarbonate, the bag is a worthwhile splurge, thanks to its high-impact resistance material and textured finish that reduces the visibility of scratches. The sleek-looking, metallic carry-on measures 15 x 7.5 x 20 inches and weighs just over six pounds, allowing it to travel with ease on spinner wheels with little effort. The bag features a built-in, TSA-approved lock, and a split interior design that’s fully lined with straps on one side and a large zippered compartment on the other; however, there are no small pockets for cell phones or other quick-grab items.