The Best Carry on Luggage: Keeping Your Stuff on Hand

Best carry on luggage
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Let’s be honest, traveling is stressful enough as it is. That being said, you want your luggage to be easy to handle and drama free. The last thing you need is your luggage splitting open or your handle snapping.

Suitcases are usually the most popular piece of luggage for traveling, however, if you’re going on a weekend trip or are a light packer, then you’ll need to know what the best carry on luggage is.

Why Travel with Carry On Luggage?

If you have a full-sized suitcase, then you’re probably wondering why you would even need a carry on bag when you can fit everything in one giant suitcase.

Travel with Carry On Luggage

Well, there are some pretty solid reasons as to why you should consider carry on luggage when traveling. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • You don’t have to use a full-sized suitcase if you’re a light packer.
  • You don’t run the risk of having your luggage damaged or lost.
  • Carry on bags can usually sustain enough items for a 3-4 day trip, so it’s great for short trips.
  • You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars as opposed to a full-sized suitcase.
  • They come in both soft and hard shell cases.
  • They come in various styles, specializing from those who do business travel to backpacking travel.

So, at first glance, you may not think carry on suitcases are handy, however, these are some pretty important factors to consider when traveling.

Features to Consider When Choosing Carry On Luggage

You just don’t want to pick up the first carry on suitcase you find. There are some features you need to consider when buying a carry on because they will change the use of your bag.

Carry On Luggage features

So what are some of the important considerations you should keep in mind?

  • Size: Before you even pick a carry on bag, you want to check the size restrictions of carry on bags. This is because your carry on luggage has to fit in the overhead bin or under your seat. The size may vary depending on where you’re going.
    However, in the US, the typical size for carry on bags is 45”, including your wheels and handles. For weight, again it depends on the airline you’re with, however it tends to be a weight limit of 40 lbs.
  • Hard or soft case: Generally speaking, soft cases are more popular than hard cases. However, each have their pros and cons.
    Hard cases

    • easier to squeeze into overhead compartments
    • better shock absorption
    • available in a variety of models
    • can be difficult to clean
    • has side pockets
    • prone to rips

    Soft cases

    • better for carrying fragile items
    • easier to clean
    • more susceptible to wear and tear
    • can be challenging to put into small spaces

    As you can see, both have their pros and cons, just like your regular suitcase. It really just depends on your needs when traveling when choosing the best carry on suitcase.

  • Wheels or no wheels: You have a couple options when choosing wheels or no wheels. You can opt for no wheels, two wheels or four wheels.
    • No wheels: No wheels are ideal for when you’re carrying a light load and may be unable to wheel it due to rough terrain.
    • Two wheels: Two wheels is quite stable and great for most terrain, so you’ll be able to wheel it around with ease.
    • Four wheels: With four wheels you’ll be able to quickly move around the airport and glide on smooth surfaces.
  • Handles: Unless you’re looking for a backpack carry on, you’ll be needing a handle. You want to make sure that your handle is proportionate to your height. If not, you may strain your back from having to lean or hunch over while wheeling it.
  • Expandability: It’s not always a feature that comes with a carry on bag, but it’s definitely a nice one to have. You’ll be able to either expand or compress your bag depending on how much you have in your luggage.
  • Zippers: Make sure your zippers are large and made of good quality. This means you’ll want to invest in a durable carry on. You may have to pay a little more, but it’ll be worth it and last you longer.

So, you know the features you should consider, but what are the types of carry on luggage? Well, it’s time you learned about the various designs of carry on suitcases.

Types of Carry On Luggage

There are a couple different types of carry on luggage that you’ll be able to choose from. Each type has its own pros and cons, so it really depends on what you’ll be using it for.

Hard Case Carry-on

So, let’s go through some of the carry on options you have.

  • Travel Backpacks: Travel backpacks are a great option if you’re a business traveler with a lot of accessories to carry. It’s hands-free luggage that you’ll be able to simply put on your back. If you’re not into wheeling around a piece of luggage, then opt for the backpack. However, if you need more room, then go for something on wheels. Also, backpacks won’t be able to keep your clothes wrinkle-free.
  • Hard Case Carry-on: Hard case carry-on luggage is ideal for people who will be carrying equipment that is fragile in nature, such as cameras or ornaments. These bags are waterproof and will even float, so you know that your items will be fully protected. However, these bags tend to weigh slightly more than the others and they’re also not expandable.They’re also a bit more expensive.
  • Soft Case Carry-on: This is the most popular carry on bag, as you can really stuff this bag to its limits and can carry almost anything. It’s highly efficient for space and is usually ideal for organization due to its compartments. These bags usually come with wheels and adjustable handles as well. However, not all airlines will accept the size of your carry-on and in that case, you won’t be able to use the bag.
  • The Duffel Bag: The duffel bag is extremely simplistic, and you’ll be able to stuff whatever you want in it. They’re lightweight and extremely versatile. You’ll be able to squeeze this bag into any overhead compartment. However, if you have organizational issues, we don’t recommend this bag. It’s essentially just one giant space.

Now that you know why you should have a carry on, the features of carry on and the types of carry on bags, let’s look at the top seven carry on luggage bags available. These bags all vary in style, so, you’ll be able to see which is the best bag in each category.

Top Reviews

So, you have all this information about carry on bags, but where do you start looking? Trust us, it can be an overwhelming process, so we did the work for you and reviewed the best carry on suitcases.

Travelpro Platinum Magna

Travelpro Platinum Magna

Weight: 11.2 lbs/ 5.08 kg

Dimensions: 22 x 9 x 4 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: The Platinum Magna is a 22 inch carry-on roller that’s expandable if you need to make more room in your carry-on. It’s a great add-on feature that Travelpro included in their luggage.

It’s extremely lightweight, with highly durable zippers, a leather wrapped handle, screw construction, nylon lining and removable sealed ball bearing wheels.

It’s deluxe suiter system has padded foam which prevents your clothing from becoming wrinkled while you’re traveling. The deluxe suiter system can also be removed at any time.  It comes with a removable shoe/laundry bag which comes in handy while you’re on the road.

The crash protection wheel casing and rubber skid, gives your wheels extra protection while you’re running around the airport. In addition, if there’s something wrong with the carry-on, Travelpro comes with a manufacturer defects warranty.

Related: Travelpro Platinum Magna also comes as a tote bag, if you’re not a fan of a roller carry-on. It comes with various organizational pockets and an adjustable shoulder strap. The Travelpro Platinum Magna tote bag is a great alternative option.

Samsonite Silhouette

Samsonite Silhouette

Weight: 10 lbs/ 4.5 kg

Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 8 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: The Silhouette is Samsonite’s new carry-on roller which features four multi directional split spherical wheels, allowing you easy mobility in the tightest of situations.

In addition, it rolls upright, so you don’t have any extra strain on your arms when moving the carry-on. The textured TPR coating gives the carry-on a water resistant coating and provides further protections against wear and tear.

If you’re a business traveler, this carry-on with be able to withstand the constant use.

The zippers are highly durable, so you can be assured that your items will be kept safely inside your carry-on. It’s design is simple, yet sleek and will comfortably fit in any overhead compartment.

Related: If you like the Silhouette, but prefer a hard-case carry-on, well, there’s good news. The Samsonite Silhouette also comes in a hard-case shell as well. It comes with the same features as the soft shell, however, just different outer casing.

Briggs & Riley Baseline

Briggs & Riley Baseline

Weight: 11.3 lbs/ 5.12 kg

Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 22 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: The Briggs & Riley Baseline is ideal for those who are frequent travelers. The roller features CX technology which increases your packing capacity by 25% and then can compress it back into its original size for overhead storage.

It’s made of ballistic nylon which is water resistant and fights against wear, moisture, and dirt. The v-groove handle is shaped for less jamming and is highly durable.

The mesh lid zip pocket allows you to easily organize your smaller items and the SpeedThru pocket gives you easy access for quick storage, ideal for security checkpoints at airports.

There’s also a built-in suiter which can hold 1-2 suits, wrinkle-free. So, if you’re an avid traveler, then this is a great option.

Related: Briggs & Riley Baseline also comes with an Expandable Cabin Bag, that compliments the carry-on. If you’re not traveling with enough to even fill a carry-on, you can opt for this expandable cabin bag.

Osprey Ozone

Osprey Ozone

Weight: 6.9 lbs/ 3.12 kg

Dimensions: 9 x 22 x 14 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: The Osprey Ozone was really designed keeping the spontaneous traveler in mind. There are some trips where a roller carry-on isn’t going to work, maybe you need something that you’ll be able to carry on your back.

Weighing less than 10 lbs/5 kg, this carry-on is engineered to provide the traveler with an extremely lightweight piece of luggage that’s also reliable. The bag has many easily accessible pockets, allowing you to quickly grab anything from your bag without a hassle.

It comes with a convertible harness, so your carry-on roller can turn into a traveling backpack. In addition, you’ll be able to remove the backpack from the lightweight aluminum frame, so you can use it as a daypack.

If you’re a fan of last-minute and spontaneous trips, this is definitely the carry-on for you.

Related: You may not be a fan of the Ozone, which is okay, it’s not for everyone. So, if you just want a carry-on roller instead of a convertible carry on bag, Osprey also has the Osprey Ozone wheeled luggage. It comes with all the features that the Ozone has, simply without the 2-in-1 backpack feature.

Delsey Helium Shadow

Delsey Helium Shadow

Weight: 9.8 lbs/ 4.4 kg

Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 x 10 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: The Helium Shadow is extremely lightweight and made of 100% polycarbonate which is also highly impact resistant and scratch resistant. It has a unique top lid opening, which allows you to pack small compartments.

The large front pocket has a built-in sleeve for a 15.6 inch laptop. The main compartment can expand up to 2 inches, giving you extra storage space.

It’s highly mobile and has silent running, double spinner wheels that provide you extra mobility while removing any strain on your arms.

It has maximum security and features a TSA-approved lock that allows TSA agents to inspect your bag without having to break your lock. In addition, it comes with a 10-year limited warranty.

Related: Delsey Helium Titanium carry-on is another great option that’s made of 100% polycarbonate and is impact resistant. The design is different than the Shadow, however, still has the same features.

Lipault Original

Lipault Original

Weight: 5.3 lbs/ 2.4 kg

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: If you’re looking for a fun and vibrant carry-on bag, then the Lipault Original is a good option. It’s a soft case roller carry-on with 4 spinner wheels, providing you with easy mobility. The retractable handle is highly durable and will be able to withstand rigorous travel.

The 2 hold down straps secure your contents while traveling and the internal zippered pocket gives you extra storage for your smaller items.

The fabric is nylon and water-resistant and comes in six vibrant colors, so you’ll be able to easily spot your carry-on in a crowd.

Related: Lipault also designed a Paris Weekend Bag for those that don’t want a carry-on roller. It’s extremely lightweight and highly durable with water-resistant PVC reinforced Nylon. Not a bad option if you’ll be carrying only a couple of items.

Travelpro Crew

Travelpro Crew

Weight: 11.1 lbs/ 5.03 kg

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches

Best Use: carry-on

Description: If pilots and flight crew use this bag, then you know it must be good. The Travelpro Crew is an exceptional bag for those who are always traveling.

It’s an expandable soft case roller fully packed with features such as the powerscope extension handle, customizable interior tie-down straps, durable buckles and shear resistant zipper heads. Yeah, it comes with everything.

It’s highly durable, extremely mobile and comfortable to travel with. The main compartment has expansion capabilities which provide you extra packing space.

It has a full lid pocket and deluxe suite which keeps your clothes wrinkle-free. If that doesn’t impress you, on top of that, it also comes with lifetime warranty.

Related: Travelpro produces exceptional bags, so naturally, there are a variety of luggage for you to choose from. The Travelpro Crew 10 is a smaller and compact version that’s 13” high. It’s a great option if you need to travel with a full-sized carry-on.


Traveling is already a stressful process, but you can ease your mind by getting yourself a carry on that’s reliable. There are already so many types and brands of carry on bags, so, finding on which suits your needs and your budget can be a challenge.

Choose your Carry on luggage

So, figure out what your needs are in a carry on and you should have no trouble finding one that won’t disappoint.

Do you have a great product you’d like to recommend? Feel free to share your products and stories with us in the comments section below.


Jerry Mueller

Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.