Carry on luggage isn’t exciting, but it is essential for any travel pro. It took me two years of travel around the world until I decided to ditch the backpack in exchange for a piece of 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 bag that fits the maximum-allowed carry-on dimensions
Since making the switch to carry on bags we haven’t looked back.
The perfect carry on should be able to easily pack up to a week’s worth of clothes and have a solid build quality. There are three types of luggage styles in regards to carry on. Those are the suitcase, carry on sized backpack, and a duffel bag.
We’ve scoured the internet and tried out a number of 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.
Elements Of The Perfect Carry On Luggage
There are two measurements to look at in regards to size. That is capacity for backpacks and duffel bags and size for the traditional suitcase. A great size for space capacity would be 40L. This is a standard size in backpacks and duffel bags.
The best suitcases have maxed out around 22 inches in length. Both of these sizes will ensure you have as much packing space as possible while fitting 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.
I think there is a lot of nice design changes each type of luggage is seeing these days. Features I love on a traditional 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.
One feature that will make most business travelers drool is a large fold out suit compartment offered by our favorite suitcases.We love waterproof canvas materials in duffel bags and straps to throw on your back. While front loading backpacks will make packing and unpacking a breeze.
You need to make your mind up on hard shell or soft sided bag. We’re big fans of both kinds of luggage for different reasons. One thing is certain though and that is the material should be durable and ideally water resistant. Hard shell cases tend to be more difficult to fit in overhead compartments; however, they’re guaranteed to protect your valuables.
We’re also pretty big safari nuts and you can’t bring hard case luggage on a small Cessna plane. So, the material of our bags often depends on where in the world we’re going. For city jaunts and hopping around Europe we go with hard shells, but in developing nations we go for soft sided because the bags look less valuable.
How you get the bag from A to B matters. We like a suitcase with a telescopic handle and a side handle for lifting. These are also aspects to look for in a great backpack and duffel bag. Many travel orientated backpacks these days have a handle on the side that allows you to carry through the airport or throw in an overhead compartment.
Our Carry-On Luggage Picks
Away Travel Carry On
We love this suitcase. The hard shell outer case ensures all your valuables are well protected. We travel with a lot of electronics that are fragile so we love having a bag that has a tough outer shell. A massive bonus on the electronic front is the built in battery that allows us to charge our electronics via USB.
There are two compartments within the bag, one designed for clothes with a compression system and the other is designed for shoes, toiletries, and where we store our electronics. Included with the bag is a nylon dirty clothes bag to separate clean from dirty and keep your clothes looking fresh. We also love the security of the bag with a built in TSA approved lock. It’s also extremely stylish and looks great when traveling.
Travelpro Platinum Magna 2This bag checks off every criteria 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.
Overall the build is quality when it comes to the bag with tough YKK zippers that interlock and water resistant lining. Other interior designs include mesh lid pocket and accessory pockets to help organize toiletries. The Travelpro also comes in at an affordable price for a bag designed to last a lifetime.
Osprey Farpoint 40L
I’ve talked about the Farpoint 55L before on this best travel backpacks post; however, the 55L is too big to be carry-on approved. In comes the 40 liters sized version of the bag. It’s probably one of the best travel bags out there.
Extremely versatile and fully capable of being carried around on a back at length. The side handle on the bag is an added bonus, making it easy to grab out of an overhead bin and carry it off of a plane. Osprey is one of my favorite backpack companies because of their All Mighty Guarantee. If you’re going on a backpacking we suggest you check out some of our favorite eco friendly products for your next trip.
eBag TLS Mother Lode
This bag is described as spacious with plenty of organization to boot. It’s an easy contention for one of the best carry-on bags around if not for its comfortability. However, as I talked about previously there is no one solution fits all to finding a bag. This bag is tremendous for those looking to have a great bag to carry on the plane and then onto their hotel.
I wouldn’t plan on spending a few hours with the pack on because it may become uncomfortable. You can read more about our favorite carry on backpacks.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel – Small
North Face has been making quality outdoor products for years. The Base Camp Duffel bag is practical and looks pretty freaking awesome. Made from super tough material and soft sided its “low-tech” in all the right ways. This bag is dead simple, made well, and tough as nails. This bag won’t let you down flying to London or climbing a mountain.
The opening is in the shape of a D and allows for easy access to the whole bag that way you don’t have to dig for your clothes. With two straps the bag can also be carried on your back making it quite the adventurers bag. It comes in a lot of sizes but make sure to purchase the small if you’re looking for a carry on sized bag.
Filson Small Duffle Bag
This is the carry on bag for the stylish traveler. The Filson duffle bag would look perfect in an urban environment or out in the countryside. The bag is made from 100% cotton oil finish is water resistant, lightweight, and durable.
Straps and zippers are of the best quality and are sure to last a lifetime. We love the extra wide strap and storm flaps that ensure your clothes will never get wet. It’s also the perfect size as a carry on bag.
Cheap Carry On Luggage Picks
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a bag. It’s totally doable to pick up a piece of luggage for $50 instead of a stylish expensive bag. If you’re only taking one trip a year maybe an expensive suitcase or duffel bag is not your cup of tea. Here are three quick, cheap, and easy picks for flight approved bags.
- Amazon Basics Duffel Bag – It’s lightweight, water resistant, and has plenty of space to pack your belongings in. The bag has a shoulder strap, outside pockets, and two handles. What is awesome about the bag is that it folds up and can be packed in another bag or stored in a vehicle.
- Jetstream Carry On Suitcase – The bag is super cheap for a suitcase. It may frustrate you a bit, but it’s also only $33 on Amazon and carry on approved.
- Modase Lightweight Backpack – This bag is only $19.99 on Amazon and comes with some awesome reviews. It’s top loading and won’t be able to handle a ton of clothes, but again it’s cheap!
There are so many great carry on bag options online to choose from you should never have to have a tough time packing your luggage and having a stress free travel day.