After 24 hours of research evaluating 37 products, we picked Delsey Luggage Helium Aero as our top choice.
You’re often reminded of the items you can’t pack in your carry on luggage.
But, at the same time, there’s a lot of things you need to squeeze in. Finding the best carry on luggage can make your travel life so much easier.
When you think about it, the convenience of your carry on is critical (you know, like that travel pillow that makes all the difference).
Bigger isn’t always better.
Okay, you want to cram your valuables into your carry on, but you have a finite amount of space. So it may be better to consider the additional features first – like easy access to your laptop, smooth wheel movement, weight, handles, and security options.
The International Air Transport Association has proposed a maximum carry on size of 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5” which is slightly smaller than the domestic standard carry on size of 22" x 14" x 9". Internationally, the carry on size is about the same and weight limits can be anywhere between 15 and 26 pounds.
The good news is:
We've researched the best carry on luggage for you. And, we’ve got those all lined up for you on our list below.
The removable panel for electronics makes this super convenient, as does the size, TSA locks, and multi-directional wheels.
It’s on the pricier side, and it doesn’t meet strict airline carry on dimensions.
There are pros and cons to this luggage. We truly appreciate the weight of this baby – it’s about 6 pounds. That makes it a pleasure to push around on its multi-directional wheels. But, and this a HUGE but, it doesn’t fit into strict airline carry on sizes. While you may get away with it, you can’t bank on it. And, with that, you still need to battle a smaller than average interior.
We really wish they would fix that because this is a dependable bag with a strong warranty. The very best feature is the front, removable electronics panel that makes it easy to pull your gear out in the security line. It also has a built-in TSA-approved lock and a combination recovery program which is accessible online.
Durability and construction: The 100% Beyer polycarbonate is scratch-resistant and strong; the matte finish is a nice touch.
Design: Hard-shell wheeler
Dimensions: 21.5” x 14.8” x 7.7”. Now, that 14.8” just pushes it over the edge of the international carry-on restrictions, but no one seems to have experienced any issues with it – and it fits into the overhead bins just fine.
Weight: It’s exceptionally lightweight at 6.2 pounds. That’s really incredible.
Colors available: Black, red, and mocha brown
Handles and wheels: The one-touch handle has a comfort grip and extends to 37”, 39”, and 41” heights. There’s also a haul handle on the top for convenience. The wheels offer 360º directional movements.
We specifically love the packing options here. You have two options – either open the case in the middle (as you would a traditional hard case), or use the innovative top zipper when your space is tight. The lid has organizational compartments for essentials and there’s also a removeable padded sleeve for laptops up to 15.6”.
The TSA-approved combination lock is made even easier with the bonus Access™ Lock Combination Recovery Program. You can register your combination online for retrieval if forgotten.
The MSRP is wild; it’s listed at $585. If you pay that much, however, you’ve truly paid too much. You should be able to get it for under $300, which is worth it for the features. And, with that, you get the global 10-year limited warranty.
The choice of professional flight crews, this spinner suitcase is small enough to fit anywhere, durable enough to last, and comes with all the conveniences you need for easy travel.
The wheels aren’t the highest quality; carry-on may shimmy while rolling.
This suitcase is the chosen option for flight crews around the country, thanks to its compact size and convenient design. Not only is it small enough to fit in any storage bin, but it’s sleek, stylish, and easy to move around.
The built-in battery bank is its real bonus feature, and you’ll never have to worry about running out of battery life again. All you have to do is plug your phone or tablet into the external USB charging port, and your suitcase will keep your devices ready for action.
Durability and construction: The ballistic nylon fabric is covered with a DuraGuard water-, stain-, and scratch-resistant coating that will keep your contents protected even in heavy rain. The fiberglass frame may not weigh much (a good thing), but it’s tough enough to handle years of regular use.
Design: Soft-case wheeler
Dimensions: This measures 21” x 14” x 9” which is just under the airline maximum for carry ons.
Weight: At 7.2 pounds, this is a wonderfully light bag that will make for easy traveling no matter how much you have to carry.
Handles and wheels: The handles are made with premium leather, and they’re low-profile enough that they won’t get in the way of pushing your suitcase into a storage bin. The PowerScope retractable handle comes with three length settings (38”, 40”, and 42.5”), perfect for users of all sizes.
The wheels are where the bag falls slightly short. While they are magnetic, 360-degree dual spinner wheels, they have enough shimmy (wobble) that you’ll feel the vibrations as you walk.
Colors available: Available in black, Patriot Blue, Mahogany Brown, and Indigo.
The bag comes with side mesh pockets, wet pockets, and a full-length interior lid pocket—all the additional space you need for your smaller items. There’s even a removable hanging garment bag included just in case you’re traveling with suits or jackets.
There aren’t any built-in locks, but the SUPRA zippers are very tough and are compatible with padlocks.
The price tag on this is a bit higher than you might like, but considering that you get a lifetime warranty, it may be a price worth paying to get a bag you’ll use for the rest of your life.
It’s expandable and the 4 spinner wheels are a bonus. The price is right and you can more or less pick your favorite color.
The telescopic handle isn’t terrible sturdy and we would love to take a pound off the weight.
Details: If you need a bag that you never have to gate check and still holds everything you need, this is likely to the one for you. It easily fits within regulations and yet, it is expandable so you can check it on the way back if needed.
The spinner wheels are useful for casual travel, though the telescopic handle could be easier to deal with. Besides being affordable (well, for luggage anyhow), you can pick just about any color you want. Now, it’s not feature-rich, but we could easily tuck this into the value-for-money category.
Durability and construction: The exterior is made of ABS plastic. (So that’s where the abs comes into play in the product name!) ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene…yes, we’re sticking to ABS rather than the long name.
Design: Hard-case wheeler
Dimensions: This carry on measures 20” x 13” x 9” – that’s a little less than the airline restrictions of 22” x 14” x 9”. That means you should never have to gate check your bag unless you feel like it. You probably won’t feel like it though as it will easily tuck into the overhead bins.
Weight: We wish the compact size carried over into a lighter weight, but it’s not terrible at 7 pounds 8 ounces…it’s just that we yearn for a compact, solid bag that weighs about 6 ounces.
Handles and wheels: We love the multi-directional spinner wheels. The aluminum telescopic handle is acceptable (but not the best), although the grab handles are strong.
Colors available: Basically, you can pick any color your heart desires. Choose between turquoise, black, blue, silver, pink, orange, red, carbon, champagne, bronze, lime, agenta, blackwave, goldwave, purplewave, redwave, silverwave, brown, charcoal, fiber, green, grey, mint, navy , sterling, and violet. Different colors do carry different prices, however.
There aren’t any exterior pockets and you won’t find much in the way of interior pockets either; there’s a small one that’s big enough for a few small items.
There’s nothing integrated, but you should never need to check your bag, so you should be alright.
The MSRP is $120, which is already rather good for the quality. But, you will pay a little closer to $60 or $80 – depending on the color you choose. You get a 3-year warranty for that price.
Thanks to the built-in air valve, you can compress the contents of your suitcase to increase storage space. Durable, well-engineered, great for organization, and rolls like a dream!
Not the most durable exterior fabric and a bit pricier than you might like.
Details: Fodor’s and Travel + Leisure have both chosen this as a Top Pick, which is saying a lot! Thanks to its built-in air valve, you’ll be able to push all the air from within your suitcase, compressing all the clothes and items within. You’ll never know how much extra space air takes up until you’ve tried this suitcase—there are few that can match its carrying capacity.
The suitcase comes with interior compartments that enable quick and easy organization. Not only are there various compartments, but they’re each labeled to help you know exactly what goes where. With the added exterior zippered pockets, you’ll find this offers way more packing space than any carry-on you’ve owned.
The bag can even have a portable USB bank installed or a top-mounted umbrella integrated into its design, making this your all-in-one carry bag that can handle any trip!
Durability and construction: Made with ballistic nylon, the outer fabric looks good but isn’t the most durable. Some users complained that it begins to fray or wear out after just a few uses. However, the lightweight fiberglass frame is solid enough to last and offers 360-degree protection for your items.
Design: Soft-case spinner
Dimensions: This measures 22” x 14” x 9”, the airline maximum for carry-ons. The top and side handles may make it a bit harder to stuff it into the overhead storage bins, but you’ll love the expandable design—you get two more inches of storage space if you need it.
Weight: At 8.6 pounds, it’s not as heavy as a hard-shell, and is a great choice for international travelers.
Handles and wheels: The handle is durable and comfortable to grip, and it will help you push, pull, and carry the suitcase around with ease. The spinner wheels glide like a dream, and you’ll never struggle to move this through the airport again.
Colors available: Available in black, navy, red, and titanium.
There are 2 zippered exterior pockets, perfect for carrying documents, papers, and other items you need close at hand. The interior compartments are neatly laid out and labeled so you know exactly what clothing and other items goes where. For Type A packers that want everything “just so”, this is a dream suitcase!
The bag is Laundry Compression Technology ® Enabled, and you can easily compress the clothing contents of the bag thanks to the integrated air-valve. Talk about extra space!
There aren’t any built-in locks, but the YKK zippers are designed for adding your own lock.
At $240, this is definitely a pricier suitcase than you might expect, but it’s a great option if you want to take A LOT of clothing in one small bag. That air valve is so much more useful for getting more packing space than you realize!
This resilient hard-shell carry on has 360º easy glide double wheels, plus an integrated lock. And, it’s unbelievably stylish.
There aren’t any external pockets and it’s a touch on the large side for a carry on – though there seems to be a little less internal storage than you might think.
Details: This carry on is almost sexy; it’s that good looking. Now, you may not think it has a lot of bells and whistles, but what it does it does remarkably well. That is to say that the handles and wheels are smooth and easy to maneuver. The zippers are as sturdy as the case and there’s a built-in TSA-approved lock.
There is a downside if you’re a heavy packer; the interior isn’t as huge as you might like it to be. But, it’s super lightweight and will just squeeze into the sizer. The lined interior does a great job of keeping everything in order and the price is right. Well, it’s value for money – and great value at that.
But, even the folks at Travel Gear Zone say the things you want to hear. Such as, "the Inova Spinner makes for the ideal luggage piece to bring for business trips, overseas conferences, and other out-of-town corporate events. More than that, it’s great for family vacations too." And really, it is all that. It's light, it's tough, and it's oh so good-looking.
Durability and construction: 100% Makrolon® polycarbonate (that’s a fancy way of saying the high-tech material offers reliability and high-impact resistance).
Design: Hard-shell wheeler
Dimensions: This carry on measures 20” x 15” x 7.5". That 15” is a little questionable as the maximum size for a carry-on is supposed to be 22” x 14” x 9”, but it’s unlikely you’ll run into problems with that as it fits remarkably well in even the tightest overhead bins. It’s the side handle that pushes it over the edge.
Weight: 6 pounds 4 ounces. In case you’re wondering, that is rather light for a carry on; many weigh more than 9 pounds.
Handles and wheels: The telescopic, push-button handle extends easily and there are flat handles for ease of use. The 360º easy glide double wheels make it easy to pivot your luggage as needed.
Colors available: We love that this carry on is available in both indigo blue and metallic silver. Super stylish!
There aren’t any exterior pockets (which helps to maintain the sleek design) but the lined interior divider (with cross straps) maintains wrinkle-free clothes.
Features a single, integrated 3-digit TSA lock
The MSRP is $230, but you can expect to pay closer to $180 – and you get a limited 10-year warranty with that. Which we think is one heck of a bargain.
You can fit a surprising amount of stuff in this expandable suitcase. It’s well-made and fits airline regulations without any hassles.
It is on the expensive side and it could be a little lighter.
Details: You can fit about a week’s worth of clothing (depending on your style and needs, of course) into this carry on and it will keep those items in good condition while you travel. Additionally, this case expands by about 2” if you happen to travel by train or car.
One of the best features is a surprise – the zippers are reinforced for durability. While the included suiter is decent, the interior pockets are strangely placed and sized. If they work for you, you’ll fall in love with them; if not, you may find them a nuisance. The exterior pockets are, however, useful. The price with the lifetime warranty is a good deal – as long as you don’t pay full price.
Durability and construction: The high-density ballistic nylon is coated with DuraGuard to keep it from wearing out too quickly.
Design: Soft-case wheeler
Dimensions: We love that this bag measures 22” x 14” x 9”. That’s exactly what’s needed to fit into airline standards – and you won’t have any problems getting into those sizers in front of airline personnel.
Weight: Now, it’s not the absolute lightest carry on at 7 pounds 11 ounces, but it’s hardly the heaviest either.
Handles and wheels: The handle is patented as it minimizes the wobbles and has adjustable heights. This PowerScope handle can extend to 38", 40" and 42.5". You can pull it comfortably and so can your children. The inline skate wheels don’t allow for multi-directional movement, but they are smooth.
Colors available: This carry on comes in either black or olive.
There are 4 interior pockets, though you may find them oddly-sized. But, we love the 2 exterior pockets. No, actually, we just appreciate the one that fits a 16” laptop comfortably.
There’s nothing built-in, but you can always add your own, of course.
Woah, the MSRP is a whopping $580. Thankfully, you will never need to pay that much. You should expect something closer to the $250 mark. And, we’d be happy to pay that price for the quality you receive. But, they would definitely need to up their game to ensure value-for-money over $320. Luckily, you get Travelpro's Worry-Free Warranty which lasts a lifetime.
Very durable polycarbonate exterior, built-in padded laptop sleeve, zippered internal pockets, crack and break-resistant shell, sleek metallic finish, elegant, wonderful wheel mobility, TSA-approved lock included, and expandable.
Exterior not resistant to scratches and you can’t partially unzip the carry-on to remove items easily.
Details: If you want sleep elegance, this carry-on luggage has it in spades! Thanks to its titanium finish, it looks very elegant as you push, pull, or slide it around the airport. It comes with specially-built electronics compartments, plenty of interior pocket space, and compartments that make it easy to keep everything organized.
For those who want to pack heavy, the suitcase comes with additional storage space thanks to its expandable design. The 2 inches of additional space allows you to fit a few more critical items, but it won’t make the suitcase too big to be a carry-on.
Durability and construction: The polycarbonate hard shell is both crack and break-proof, so you can haul this luggage around the world without worrying about it being damaged. Be warned, however, the exterior isn’t scratch-proof, so your luggage will show signs of travel after a few uses.
However, in terms of durability, you’ll never have to worry about this suitcase breaking on you. It’s built to last!
Design: Hard-shell spinner
Dimensions: This measures 29” x 19.5” x 12.5”, which makes it suitable for most domestic airlines. You shouldn’t have any problem hauling it around the airport or getting it into the overhead bins, thanks to the handles built into the top, bottom, and sides.
Weight: At 12.5 pounds, it could be lighter, but it’s well worth the extra weight for the added durability.
Handles and wheels: There are four handles built into this suitcase, so you’ll always have an easy time moving it around.
The double spinner wheels run absolutely silently, and they’ll glide over the floor with amazing ease.
Colors available: The titanium is the classic, elegant choice, but the suitcase also comes in black, brick red, brushed charcoal, cobalt blue, pink, and teal.
There are 2 interior lined pockets, along with a padded sleeve, suitable for a 15.6-inch laptop, and a built-in garment bag. If you don’t have enough space for your clothes, the expandable design gives you 2 inches extra to work with.
The TSA-approved lock is designed to can keep your luggage secure while fully accessible to TSA personnel.
At just under $90, this is a very well priced carry-on, and well-worth it for such a durable piece of luggage! You also get a worldwide limited 10 year warranty to ensure many happy years of travel ahead.