Best carry-on luggage for your next trip

ByNishka Dhawan WPVI logo
Monday, April 29, 2024
best carry on luggage
Here are the best carry-ons you can shop right now.

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The best carry-on luggage can easily fit in an airplane's overhead compartment and hold all your travel essentials without giving way. I spoke to Briggs & Riley's CEO Richard Krulik about what makes a good carry-on and listed the best carry-on luggage to buy now. Krulik only provided general shopping guidance, he did not make any product recommendations.

Carry-on luggage buying guide

Spinner wheels: "You want smooth wheels since that makes a huge difference when you're rolling the bag through a very long terminal," says Krulik. 360-degree spinner wheels are the best as they can rotate in any direction and will glide smoothly at the airport or train station.

Additional pockets: "A front pocket is always a real plus on a carry-on because you may want quick access to a magazine or a light jacket," says Krulik. Some carry-ons also have extra back pockets.

Telescopic handle: "You also want a firm solid handle that's not flimsy or wobbly," says Krulik. An adjustable handle is also important as we're all different heights, he adds.

Locks: You must buy a carry-on with built-in locks or lockable ones. TSA-approved locks can help keep your bag safe on the off chance that you need to check it in at the gate. You can also use your carry-on to hold travel documents instead of using the safe in your hotel room.

Durability: Ballistic nylon is the strongest and most long-lasting durable material, according to Krulik. That said, reinforced polyester is also a great option if you're looking for hard-sided luggage says Krulik. Before you shop, also make sure to look at a brand's testing requirements. Brands will usually test the bag's wheels on uneven surfaces to see how they hold up, and check how strong the outer shell is by subjecting the bags to drop tests.

Style: This depends on personal preference. Maybe you want a monogrammed travel suitcase or a bag that stands out from the rest - maybe in a pastel color? You'll want to think of your bag as an accessory, says Krulik. Keep your personal style in mind when you shop.

Size: Every airplane has different carry-on requirements, that said most domestic airlines require that your carry-on be 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches in size. International airlines are a bit different, while many follow the same domestic rules, some airlines prefer carry-ons only to be under 22 inches tall. Either way, check your chosen airline's baggage size requirements before purchasing any of the below.

Best carry-ons

Best carry-on bag


Proxis Global Carry-on Spinner

  • $500

    Samsonite is a brand I swear by, having owned their luggage pretty much my entire adult life. The Proxis is one of their newer collections and a great option if you prefer hard-sided luggage. It has dual spinner wheels for maneuverability, an adjustable aluminum handle and a rugged exterior that won't get bumped or bruised during your travels. It also has a USB port, in case you want to charge any devices and a TSA-approved lock for safety. The interior has mesh pockets for additional storage and cross straps to hold your garments. Since this is a smart suitcase, you may have to remove the installed battery during security check, so keep that extra step in mind.

    Dimensions: 22" x 14" x 9"

    Best splurge

    Briggs & Riley

    Briggs & Riley Essential Expandable Carry-On

    • $659

      Briggs & Riley makes some of my favorite carry-ons and I love them for their lifetime warranty - if you break a zip or see a dent in your suitcase, you can send the suitcase to the brand to have it repaired for free. This particular option is available in three colors and can also be monogrammed, making it easy to identify in a sea of similar-looking luggage. It has a TSA-approved lock and features the brand's flagship expandable and compression technology which allows your suitcase to hold more, without increasing its dimensions. The handle is adjustable too, and there is a carry handle on top, on the bottom and on its sides. There is also a built-in garment folder to make packing easier and zipped pockets on the interior for any essentials.

      Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 - 11.5 in (includes wheels and handles)

      Largest carry-on bag


      The Carry-On Roller In Text Me Red

      • $238

        This aesthetic carry-on is one of my favorites as it stands out from the other options on this list. It has a durable polycarbonate hard shell build and is available in multiple colors. It has spinner wheels like our other options and also has top and side carry handles. It also has TSA locks and is expandable just in case you need to fit more in. The interior has compression straps to hold your clothes, and also a separate pocket where you can store dirty clothes or undergarments. While it doesn't have an exterior pocket, it does come with an additional small pocket on the interior that is designed to hold any small valuables.

        Dimensions: 22.85" x 15.75" x 9.85" (including wheel & handle)

        Best water resistant

        15% off

        Terra 45L Carry-On Luggage

        • $327.25
        • $387

          This is the best combination of both soft-side and hard-side luggage. It's made from polyester and polycarbonate. It has 360-degree spinner wheels like the other options and also has multiple exterior pockets for any travel documents or essentials. It has a designated laptop compartment, is expandable and also has a water-resistant exterior - perfect for unpredictable weather. The inside has compression straps and mesh pockets for storage. Plus, the product is made from recycled bottles, making this one of the most sustainable items on this list.

          Dimensions: 22" x 14" x 9"

          Best budget

          5% off

          Wrangler Smart Luggage

          • $53.01
          • $55.84

            This budget-friendly carry-on sets itself apart thanks to its convenient cup holder attached to the bag. It also has multidirectional spinner wheels, top and side handles and is expandable, if needed. It even features a phone holder and also has a USB port option for your devices. The interior has one large zipped pocket and a side with compression straps. It's the most basic interior layout compared to the other options, but at its price, it's still one of the best carry-ons you can buy.

            Best carry-on duffel bag


            Away The Weekender

            • $245

              Away is another great luggage brand and they make both carry-on suitcases and duffel bags. The Weekender is a great pick for short trips and can hold a 15-inch laptop plus multiple changes of clothes. It has a detachable shoulder strap for comfort and a water-resistant design that's built to last. The interior has mesh pockets and a detachable key clip to help keep your everyday essentials organized. Right now, you can shop it in four colors.

              Dimensions: 20.9" x 11.8" x 9.4"

              Is hard-side or soft-side luggage better?

              Soft-side luggage is less susceptible to getting scratched up, according to Krulik. That said, one isn't really better than the other, it's more a matter of personal preference. Soft-side luggage also has tons of additional front and back pockets for storage, which is not common on hard-side luggage. If you're packing items that are fragile, a hard-side option is better, according to Krulik.

              How can I efficiently pack my carry-on?

              "One of the things that I think people don't realize is every time you make a fold in your clothes, it's adding bulk to what you're packing," says Krulik. Fold your shirts in half instead of threes, he adds. "Secondly, there's dead space inside those shoes that you're packing." Stuff them with travel shampoo bottles or anything else that fits says Krulik. Finally, if you have an expandable suitcase, make sure you avoid expanding it till the end of your trip. "If I go with a maximum bag that's stuffed to the limits, I have no place to put anything that I might want to buy on the trip."

              Meet our expert:

              Richard Krulik: Krulik is the CEO of the travel luggage brand Briggs & Riley. Krulik only provided guidance on how to shop for a carry-on, he did not make product recommendations. Products were individually selected by our editor.

              * By clicking on the featured links, visitors will leave and be directed to third-party e-commerce sites that operate under different terms and privacy policies. Although we are sharing our personal opinions of these products with you, Localish is not endorsing these products. It has not performed product safety testing on any of these products, did not manufacture them, and is not selling, or distributing them and is not making any representations about the safety or caliber of these products. Prices and availability are subject to change from the date of publication.