The Best Carry-On Luggage for Travelers

best carry on luggage

There are many people who take pride in collecting handbags or shoes—I am not one of them. Instead, I prefer to collect luggage. My husband often jokes that our apartment is akin to a baggage storage facility. We currently own 10+ pieces of luggage—and that’s after downsizing! (I’ve gifted extra suitcases to friends and family members who were in desperate need of an upgrade.) All of this is to say: I’m a self-proclaimed expert when it comes to the best carry-on luggage.

People often ask me to recommend my favorite carry-on, but the truth is, I have different favorites for different categories. I’ve summarized what I consider to be the best carry-on luggage brands below, but you can find more detailed reviews throughout this post.

Best Carry-On for Women: CALPAK

Best Softside Carry-On: Tumi

Best Luxury Carry-On: Rimowa

Best Hardshell Carry-On: Away

Best Fashionable Carry-On: Steamline

Best Ultra Lightweight Carry-On: American Tourister

Best Durable Carry-On: Bric’s

Best Carry-On Luggage for Men: Samsonite

Best Budget Carry-On: Amazon Basics

Best Carry-On for Business Travel: Arlo Skye

Best Personalized Carry-On: Roam

Best Eco-Friendly Carry-On: Paravel

The Best Carry-On Luggage

I’ve dubbed Calpak’s rose gold carry-on the “Instagram suitcase” because if you scroll through any fashion blogger’s feed, you’ll inevitably see her at the airport with this bag. In fact, I own one and can vouch that it is SUPER cute—arguably my favorite suitcase based on looks alone.

The bag is super lightweight, which is a major pro since it won’t break your back when you try to put it in the overhead bin. I also think this roller bag is one of the best expandable 4 wheeled carry-ons for anyone in the market for a chic, reasonably priced suitcase.

Dimensions: 2.51″H x 14″W x 9″D
Weight: 7.4 lbs

Amazon is a go-to for so many items, including a lot of my travel essentials, so it should come as no surprise that they also make a great duffle bag. If you’re a light packer or you’re just going away for a night or two, you could likely get away with bringing along just this bag.

And even if you are jetting off on a longer trip, I always think it’s wise to bring along an extra couple of outfits and toiletries in a carry-on (in the event that your checked luggage gets lost.)

Aside from the under $50 price point, another thing I love about this bag is that it has a separate compartment that’s made for storing shoes.

Dimensions: 18.5 x14.2 x 8.7 inch
Weight: 2 lbs

The first piece of “investment” luggage I ever owned was a Tumi. I purchased a very similar bag nearly 10 years ago, and it still looks good as new to this day. The Tumi International Dual Carry-On has an expandable zipper to give you extra room for your belongings, as well as an external pocket for laptops, flat sandals, books, or magazines.

In my opinion, Tumi is the most reliable luggage brand on the market. When you invest in a Tumi, you can be confident that you won’t need to replace the bag for at least a decade. Of course, this comes with a hefty price tag: the bags are expensive. But like most things in life, I truly believe you get what you pay for. The brand stands by their products, so if you ever have an issue, you can bring it into the store and have them assess the situation. I also love that they offer monogramming.

Dimensions: 22″H x 14″W x 9″D
Weight: 10.7 lbs

MORE: 8 Expert Tips for Surviving Long Flights

I know it can be hard to choose the best carry on bag, but I promise you that you can’t go wrong with this one. When Away first launched, it was the only luggage brand anyone could talk about. I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. But after trying the carry-on out for myself, I can officially say that I’m a believer. Because it’s a wheeled bag, it glides through the airport like butter, and they’re a great value for the price.

Dimensions: 22.7″ x 15.4″ x 9.6″
Weight: 7.9 lbs

Inside, the bag accommodates a LOT more than many of my other carry-ons. In fact, I currently own 4 (or maybe 5?) Away suitcases—including the original style as well as the Aluminum Edition. The Aluminum Edition looks super chic, but bear in mind that it’s almost double the price ($475 for the regular carry-on) and significantly heavier, weighing in at 10.7 pounds (compared to 7.6 pounds for the original.)

*Away Carry-On vs. Away Bigger Carry-On*
Another thing worth noting about Away’s carry-ons is that there are two different versions. One is called the “carry-on” and the other is called the “bigger carry-on.”

The bigger version gives you 15% more space, but keep in mind that on smaller, regional flights (i.e. NYC to Boston, Philly to DC, etc) you’ll be forced to gate check the bag as it won’t fit in the overhead bin. For regular domestic flights on and international flights, you shouldn’t run into an issue.

If you’re looking for a carry-on companion (aka a way to get even more stuff on your flight), try this travel bag. It has a sleeve so it can slide right over your suitcase handle and it has a dedicated laptop sleeve.

I’d use this to store everything I plan on using during the flight, like my computer, a book, a bottle of water, headphones, etc. I also love that it has ultra-soft shoulder straps so you can easily walk around the airport with it without having to use your hands. Plus, compression straps make a big difference in how your back will feel before you board your flight—no digging into your skin happening here!

Dimensions: 16.5” L x 9” W x 11” H
Weight: 3 lbs

If you’re looking for a classic-style yet well-engineered suitcase, this is it. It’s made with a three-layer material that works wonders at protecting your essentials, whether you pack lightly or tend to over-stuff.

Other highlights: The double spinner wheels allow for 360° navigation while the balanced design ensures that the suitcase won’t tip over. It’s also made with an expansion-compression system, which enables more packing capacity, before compressing back to original size (to keep your items secure.)

Leave your carry-on luggage that has worn-out, squeaky wheels behind and opt for this sleek, vintage-inspired option instead. The silent-glide wheels are engineered to move smoothly across all types of surfaces. In addition, the printed interior fabric gives this bag a fun, tropical flair.

best carry on luggage

You can tell from the moment you touch the exterior of a Steamline bag that it’s well-made. While the brand describes the material as “printed Japanese fibreboard,” to me, it feels exactly like leather.

Inside, you’ll find a hanging organizer with two zippered pockets that doubles as a flap to protect your clothing. What I love about this bag is that even when you’re not using it for travel, it can be stored as an accent decor piece in your home or bedroom.

Dimensions: 20″H x 14.5″W x 6.5″D
Weight: 8.8 lbs

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american tourister carry-on

This stylish carry-on is the most lightweight of the bunch, clocking in at just under 8 pounds. It comes with a ten year warranty in case of a mishap, and has the aesthetic of expensive luggage at a quarter of the price.

The bag has an expandable zipper, which is ideal for chronic overpackers, as well as a smaller interior pocket for things like underwear, deodorant, or socks. In addition, I love that it’s hard-sided—from my experience, soft sided luggage just doesn’t hold up.

Tip: Use garment bags or packing cubes to make the most out of your carry-on space.

Dimensions: 22″H x 15″W x 9.5″D
Weight: 7.7 lbs

TSA-approved locks, waterproof zippers, and spinning wheels make this a well-rounded option for every type of traveler. I also love that it has a vintage, retro-inspired design with the functionality and ease of a modern suitcase. The bag comes in black, olive, blue, pink, and cream (seen here). It also has two interior flaps and is made of full-grain Tuscan leather.

Best Carry-on Luggage

Dimensions: 21″H x 14″W x 8″D
Weight: 7 lbs

Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with spinner wheels

With over 26,000 five star reviews on Amazon, this hardside carry-on suitcase by Samsonite is a fantastic option for anyone in search of a utilitarian, reasonably priced piece of luggage. It has an expandable zipper closure, TSA combination lock, a scratch-resistant polycarbonate exterior, and a 10 year warranty that covers material defects. 

As I haven’t personally tested this luggage, I’ll defer to one of the more detailed Amazon reviews of it: “Suitcase held up perfectly over four flights over the holidays, on two of which it actually had to be checked because the flight was very full. Not a single scratch or dent, no signs of wear, and it was easy to travel with – rolled smoothly and easily, sturdy handle.”

Dimensions: 22″ H x 15″ W x 9.5″D
Weight: 6.81lbs

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I didn’t think it was possible to find a nice-looking carry-on for under $70, but per usual, Amazon has proven me wrong. This expandable spinner has received rave reviews as being a great affordable choice. Reviewers noted that they liked the bag’s compartmentalized interior, as well as the spaciousness, and the overall look of the luggage.

The cons? Several people noted that the bag is best for people who “only fly occasionally” as the wheels and handle don’t seem to hold up with repeated use. That being said, the $50 price point is hard to beat.

Dimensions: 21.6″ H x 14.4″ W x 9.2″D
Weight: 8 lbs

Best Carry-on Luggage

Launched in 2015 by two fashion industry execs (they came from Tumi & Louis Vuitton) Arlo Skye is arguably the best under-the-radar luggage brand you’ve never heard of. Their products are exquisitely designed and I can personally vouch for the quality—I got one of Arlo Skye’s carry-ons when they released their first bag four years ago.

The glide and 360 degree spin of the polycarbonate carry-on is unrivaled by any other bag on this list. In addition, it has a removable battery pack and TSA-approved combination locks in lieu of a zipper. One of the bag’s best qualities is that unlike its aluminum counterparts, Arlo Skye’s polycarbonate material doesn’t ding or scratch easily.

Color options include champagne, black, and navy.

Dimensions: 22″H x 14″W x 9″D
Weight: 8.5 lbs

If you’re looking for luggage that you can really make your own, this smooth-riding carry-on is an ideal choice. You can choose from a variety of color options for the front of the shell, back of the shell, and trim color. You can also add your monogram for an even more personal touch.

best carry on luggage

A telescoping handle with four height settings, water-repellent zipper, TSA-approved combination lock, and interior compression system are just some of the features that make this carry-on a solid pick. Plus, the company offers a 100-day trial period so you can feel confident about your purchase.

Dimensions: 22″H x 14″W x 9″D
Weight: 6.6 lbs

This sleek suitcase was named the best eco-friendly carry-on by Afar magazine. In addition, the brand is committed to using sustainable and recycled materials wherever possible—the bag features a recycled polycarbonate shell, recycled zippers, a lining made from 15 recycled plastic bottles, and a telescopic handle made from recycled, aircraft-grade aluminum.

best carry-on luggage

The carry-on comes in six different colors, can fit 4 to 7 days worth of clothes, and also 2 to 4 pairs of shoes. It also comes with a 10-year warranty, which covers manufacturing defects.

Dimensions: 22.7″H x 14.7″W x 9.6″D
Weight: 8.5 lbs

If you’ve ever seen a paparazzi photo of a well-dressed celebrity at an airport, there’s a 99% chance they were rolling a Rimowa. The classic silver cabin case is synonymous with stylish, luxury travelers—and it’s built to last.

Best Carry-on Luggage

While some might criticize Rimowa’s aluminum luggage for its tendency to get dinged in transit, most savvy travelers know that the “well worn” look of the Rimowa is, in a way, part of its charm—almost like travel bragging rights.

The ultimate sign of a fancy AF Rimowa owner? Anyone who rocks a cabin case that’s covered in bumper stickers.

Dimensions: 21.7″H x 15.8″W x 9.1″D
Weight: 10.2 lbs



  • Kath
    July 8, 2019 at 1:17 am

    Perfect timing, Lindsay! The American Tourister set my parents gave me disintegrated after my last trip – need new luggage stat.

  • Heidi Thatcher
    July 14, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    Extremely helpful post!

  • Bobbie
    August 31, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Have you run into any problems with the Away Bigger Carry-on when travelling internationally? I have a big trip coming up next year: 8 flights, 4 airlines (LOT, Turkish, Singapore & Air Canada) all in Business. My husband wants to try to do it carry on only which means I want to find an allowable carry on with the most space possible lol All the airlines allow 2 carry ons in business but no one bigger than 21.7 in.

    • Lindsay Silberman
      September 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      I had ONE smaller airline give me a problem on my most recent trip but other than that I’ve never had an issue. And if you’re flying business they wouldn’t dare say anything lol I’d go for it! I find that between the Away bigger carry-on and a nice sized duffel bag as my personal item, I can fit SO MUCH for a long trip

  • Shawn Giebner
    December 1, 2019 at 3:59 am

    I can’t decide between the Away bigger carry-on with pocket and the Arlo Sky carry-on max with pocket. Can you help? I am looking for ample room, sturdy and smooth rolling wheels.

    • Lindsay Silberman
      December 8, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      ah that’s a tough one! I don’t have the versions with a pocket but I like both brands! these days my husband prefers Arlo Skye, I prefer Away

  • Deb
    February 7, 2020 at 2:42 am

    Hi Lindsay! Would you say this information applies to the checked bag versions? I’m between the Away & the Arlo Skye…


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