The Best Carry On Luggage Pieces

Carry-on luggage isn’t exciting but essential for any travel pro. It took me two years of traveling around the world before I decided to ditch the backpack in exchange for carry-on luggage designed for the overhead. When you travel as much as we do, you want the best bag you can find to carry your garments. A lot comes down to finding the perfect-sized piece of luggage that fits the maximum allowed carry-on dimensions.

Since switching to hard shell luggage, we haven’t looked back.

The best carry-on luggage should easily pack up to a week’s worth of clothes and have solid build quality. There are three types of luggage styles regarding carry-on. Those are the suitcase, carry-on backpack, and duffel bag. We’ve scoured the internet and tried out several bags, suitcases, and backpacks to generate this list of the best carry-on-approved luggage.  That way, you get the right piece of luggage and make your next trip a breeze.

The Best Carry-On Luggage

Away — The Carry On

Away — The Carry On

You’ve probably seen this bag on social media and the internet, as they’ve marketed heavily over the last couple of years. We even ran an ad with the bag several years ago on @theworldpursuit. After years of use on our travels, we can now confirm the bags live up to the hype.

Away has designed a lightweight and sleek bag that feels modern yet robust. It even comes with a lifetime guarantee that we believe will last. Like the rest of the luggage on this list, they use a polycarbonate shell that should stand up to most airfare and the rigors of travel. The exterior uses a textured shell to avoid scratches, a sturdy telescopic handle, and a TSA-approved lock. It comes in 9 attractive colors, so you’ll find your own unique

The bag falls into a mid-level bag with luxury touches such as leather embellishment, leather luggage tag, compression system, multiple zippered compartments, and a hidden laundry bag. A laundry bag that detaches and unfolds when needed is one of our favorite features, as it separates dirty and clean clothes.

Above all, it’s a stylish bag that can deliver essential features for your everyday travels. If you’re okay with spending around $300 on a bag, this is a great choice, and you’ll be more than happy with your purchase (Away offers a 100-day return policy). My one complaint would be the small wheels that feel a little small for the bag on rough surfaces.

eBags EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner

eBags EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner

This is the exact carry-on suitcase I have, and I love it. It’s my go-to carry-on luggage for international travel, and when I’m not using it, Cam is. The hard shell outer case ensures all your valuables are well protected. We travel with many fragile electronics, so we love having a bag with a tough outer shell. The bag opens at the center to two separate sides of compartments. Once there, it is so easy to stay organized with this bag.

There are two compartments within the bag, one designed for clothes with a compression system and the other for shoes, toiletries, and where we store our electronics. A nylon dirty clothes bag is included to separate clean from dirty and keep your clothes looking fresh.

We also love the bag’s security with a built-in TSA-approved lock. It’s also extremely stylish, looks great when traveling, and easily fits into overhead luggage space. The best part is you can buy this with checked bag components, making it one of the best luggage sets by eBags!

The interior features a divided nylon mesh lining and a clothes strap to keep things organized. We recommend picking up the complimentary eBags packing cubes. The bag comes in four attractive color options and three luggage sizes, from a carry-on to a 29″ luggage. If I had to ding the bag, it would be the lack of style; however, you receive tremendous value for a bag that performs well.

Delsey Helium Aero Carry-On

Delsey Helium Aero Carry-On

This carry-on suitcase from Delsey is 100% polycarbonate and has terrific features from one of the top bag companies, Delsey. We own several bags from Delsey and love them for their quality and style. Helium Aero is one of Delsey’s most popular checked luggage choices due to its price point, rigid shell, and high-gloss finish in various colors.

The four wheels are substantial and roll with ease on most surfaces. An aluminum handle with an ergonomic grip and multiple levels feels comfortable. On the exterior are essential features like a TSA-approved lock, expandable side zip, and rubber side handle.

The zippered divider keeps your items inside organized as a clamshell, and elastic straps keep packing cubes in place. The Helium comes in nine colors and three sizes, from carry-on to large checked bag. In addition, Delsey delivers a ten-year warranty on all its products at a reasonable price.

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2

This bag checks off every criterion you could ask for in a flight-approved bag. It’s durable yet features soft sides that are weather-sealed. A telescopic handle that is strong and locks well is sure to save you any grief.

Travelpro offers a tremendous lifetime warranty on the bag and will fix many problems, including airline negligence. A feature that will be sure to win over many is the suit fold-out storage for business travelers, making this bag the best carry-on luggage for business travel.

Overall, the build is quality, with the bag having tough YKK zippers that interlock and a water-resistant lining. Other interior designs include a mesh lid and accessory pockets to help organize toiletries. The Travelpro also comes at an affordable price for a bag designed to last a lifetime.

Briggs & Riley — TORQ Spinner

Briggs & Riley — TORQ Spinner

One look at this suitcase and you know that it was built to last. Brigs & Riley is known for their high quality and top-of-the-line suitcases that they deliver a lifetime guarantee to customers. TORQ offers a three-layer 100% Makrolon polycarbonate. The result is an exterior that supplies superior strength in a lightweight and futuristic package.

Its futuristic look sets apart from the rest of the wheeled checked luggage options. The shell serves more than just good looks, but supplies handholds that will keep your luggage safely in your hands or those of an airline employee, thus reducing risk of damage. A flared base is designed to keep the bag upright and resist the urge to tip over.

Other exterior features to note are a robust handle that can lift the suitcase, a TSA approved lock, sturdy wheels, and a rubber side handle. The interior operates differently than most bags on this list as it is not a strict clamshell. One side offers a massive interior with a compression strap and a small zippered compartment. On the reverse are a built-in garment bag, hanger for suits or blouses, and more organization.

Travelpro Maxlite Expandable Hardside Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite Expandable Hardside Spinner

Looking for pink carry on luggage? This Travelpro bag is kind of cool (but still practical); it changes color in the light and depending on the viewing angle. If you do decide to check it rather than using it as a carry-on, it’ll be more easily identifiable. It’s also got a hard shell, and because of this, it’s incredibly lightweight. Its main compartment expands by two inches to cram just a little bit more into its already-roomy interior, and there’s an accompanying divider to maximize the use of space.

Spinner wheels and a side handle mean you can choose how you travel with this one. All the important features, like a secure lock and multiple interior compartments for the most sensible packing, are in place so you’ve got something super functional. Also it has so many organization compartments for little things making it a great contender for best carry on bag for a woman.

Tumi Osona Compact Carry-On

Tumi Osona Compact Carry-On

Compact is right; this little roller is definitely on the small side, but don’t be put off by its humble appearance. Though it’s much more compact, it’s ideal for shorter trips and is the perfect weekend luggage. The interior storage layout is optimized to make the most of the available space. The interior compartments can be zippered to be separate or opened up to create a single roomy interior.

Spinner wheels and an extendable handle make rushing around the airport a total breeze, and smaller means it’s definitely a little more lightweight. There are layers of storage on the exterior to keep smaller items like your laptop, wallet, keys, and things like documents secure but accessible.

There’s also a side-carry handle, because if you haven’t entirely filled this roller up, you might want to have the option to carry it by hand as opposed to dragging it along beside you. Tumi is a good luggage brand with a high price tag, so this bag is not for everyone.

Briggs & Riley Baseline-Softside Carry-On

Briggs & Riley Baseline-Softside Carry-On

By no means is this Briggs & Riley bag cheap carry on luggage, it is an awesome 2-in-1 carry-on and is approved for overhead compartment storage by all major US airlines. The reason for the high price point is the compression system. You can easily overstuff the bag, and then zip it up for compression making it the perfect carry on size again. It has a garment section and a more packing case-style section, so packing your clothing and your hardware (laptop, etc.) together is fully an option. The main compartment is also lockable, something any traveler will be grateful for when your bag is out of your sight.

The exterior fabric is abrasion and weather-resistant; thanks to this durability, dozens of reviewers have said that they’ve been using this bag for nearly a decade. This is definitely a buy-once-and-done kind of purchase. This is great because while it’s a bit on the pricier end of the spectrum, you can at least feel assured that you’re spending your money on something that will last for as long as you need it.

American Tourister — Moonlight

American Tourister — Moonlight

If you’re looking to save some money on your travels, the American Tourister delivers one of the cheapest suitcases on this list. The Moonlight is a hard-sided suitcase that comes in a massive selection of colors and prints. It costs $60 – $160, depending on the print and size, which ranges from 21″ to 28″.

It may be cheap luggage, but it still comes with some attractive features you can find in much higher-priced pieces of luggage. The exterior is a hard case ABS plastic that should sustain most all but the hardest of impact. It has four single-spinner wheels that roll well, but I prefer the double wheels. The zipper comes with locking loops where you can use a third-party lock.

The suitcase has a polyester expandable interior with plenty of room for your clothes. A zippered divider with three pockets helps organize your checked baggage. Don’t expect fancy features like a guarantee, TSA Lock, polycarbonate exterior, or robust wheels. However, the moonlight is reliable and comes in a wide variety of colors and prints.

Eagle Creek Tarmac Carry-On

Eagle Creek Tarmac Carry-On

This one is a backpack with all the fixings but turned into a rolling suitcase. That means extra exterior pockets with secure zips – super helpful for the bits and bobs you’d rather keep somewhere a little more accessible without the risk of theft. That’s not the only security feature; there’s a break-resistant lockable zipper to ensure nothing can be swiped when your bag is being handled.

The wheels are heavy-duty for more seamless rolling (no more struggles when rolling down those cobbled streets in Europe!) and are resistant to abrasion and general wear and tear so that this carry-on suitcase will last longer. This one also has quite a unique addition that many bags don’t have: an interior key ring that doubles as a bottle opener. With many features like a padded tablet sleeve, 3-ply polycarbonate back shell, zipper expansion capabilities, and Eagle Creek’s No Matter What™ Warranty.

Elements of the Perfect Piece of Carry-On Luggage

Natasha Looks Out Window Of Airport


There are two main measurements to consider regarding the size of the best cabin luggage: the capacity of backpacks and duffel bags and the size of the traditional suitcase. A great size for space capacity on travel luggage would be 40L, which is a standard size in many backpacks and duffel bags.

The best carry-on suitcases are maxed out around 22 inches in length. Both of these sizes will ensure you have as much packing space as possible while meeting overhead requirements. For reference, the standard carry-on bag should fit these measurements: 9 in x 14 in x 22 in (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including the wheels and handles.


There are many nice design changes each type of luggage is seeing these days. Features I love on a traditional rolling suitcase are four wheels, reinforced padding, and divided storage. Four wheels instead of two are amazing useful because you can rotate the bag and roll down an airplane aisle. You can also conveniently walk with the carry-on luggage upright instead of on a slant.

One feature that will make most business travelers drool is the large fold-out suit compartment offered by our favorite suitcases. We also love waterproof canvas materials in duffel bags and straps to throw on your back. Whfront-loading backpacks will make packing and unpacking a breeze.

Material – Hard Luggage vs Soft Luggage

You need to decide whether to travel with hard-shell luggage or a soft-sided bag. I love to travel with hard-sided luggage because it looks sleeker and is super durable. Hard-shell cases tend to be more difficult to fit in overhead compartments, though; however, they’re guaranteed to protect your valuables.

Honestly, the material of our bags often depends on where we’re going. For city tours and hopping around Europe, we go with hard shells, but in developing nations and for more adventurous trips, we go for soft-sided bags because they look less valuable and can be picked up and thrown around more easily. 


How you get your carry-on bag from A to B matters. We like a suitcase with a telescopic handle and a side handle for lifting.

4 Wheels vs. 2 Wheels

It’s important to look at the wheels before buying any carry-on luggage. The standard two wheels are a bit outdated and are for people who want to pull their suitcases behind them. These bags are typically cheaper for the inconvenience. Four wheels are called “spinners” because they can be spun in all directions and give you full control. I love spinners because I can easily walk upright with them, and I don’t have to drag anything behind me. It can get very heavy on your arm if you pull a bag behind you for too long!

Smart Luggage

Smart luggage is a bit of a new term, and it refers to all the fancy extras in a bag that aren’t needed but are nice add-ons that make traveling more convenient. Things like power banks and USB chargers for your phone, TSA-approved locks, and electronic baggage tags are smart luggage. You’ll pay more for many of these features, so it’s up to you to determine if they are worth it.

I love the TSA-approved lock – it gives me a great piece of mind knowing someone is not rummaging through my stuff. I have had bags with USB chargers, but I have honestly never used them. In addition, many American airlines have banned the USB chargers’ lithium-ion batteries. Many airlines will check and have you remove the battery and carry it on yourself. So, if you do opt for a smart suitcase, make sure the battery is removable.

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About Cameron Seagle

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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