Planning a short trip or simply want to save money on checked baggage fees? Then you may be in the need for one of the best carry-on suitcases.
If you are like us and have been looking around to buy new carry on luggage, then you’ve come to the right place.
Finding the perfect hand luggage suitcase is not an easy task, with so many options available to us.
And most cheap hand luggage suitcases will fall apart before you’ve even boarded the plane!
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we’ve vetted our favorite carry on suitcases that are reliable, durable, stylish, and comfortable, so you can find the perfect luggage to store your belongings…
These carry on cases have been selected based on their brand’s long-standing reputation, excellent customer reviews and recommendations from our travel community.
- What to look for in The Best Carry-On Suitcase?
- 1. Sizes for Carry-On Suitcases
- 2. Important Features of a Carry-On Suitcase
- 3. Suitcase Handles
- 4. Do airlines prefer hard shell or soft shell carry-on suitcases?
- 5. How much to spend on a carry-on suitcase?
- The Best Carry-On Luggage
- 1. Best Overall Carry On Suitcase – Delsey Helium Aero International Carry On Expandable Spinner
- 2. Best Durable Carry On Suitcase – Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner
- 3. Best Soft Shell Carry On Suitcase – Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 21 Inch Spinner Suitcase
- 4. Best Carry On Bag For Europe – Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Global Carry-On
- 5. Best Carry On Bag For Women – Samsonite Omni Hardside 20-Inch Spinner
- 6. Best Lightweight Carry On Bag – Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4 wheel Upright Suitcase 20-Inch
- 7. Best Guarentee Carry On Bag – Osprey Ozone 22″ Wheeled Luggage
- 8. Best Kids Carry On Suitcase – American Tourister Star Wars 21 Inch Hard Side Spinner
- More Travel Gear Guides
What to look for in The Best Carry-On Suitcase?
As a family, having four checked bags every time we fly can get very expensive, so we’ve opted to carrying around a small suitcase with less stuff and not having the hassle of checking in bags (and worrying about airlines losing our luggage, or having to pay fees for checked bags!)
But every member of our family is different and need a special something from their luggage, which is why it’s important to consider a few things before you can start choosing your carry-on.
1. Sizes for Carry-On Suitcases
First off, let’s talk about carry on bag size.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one standard carry on suitcase size instead of the confusion of every airline having their own limits.
And I don’t need to tell you how tough airlines are these days when it comes to carry-on suitcase sizes, we can all do without more baggage fees, so it’s important you buy a bag that’s fits within the criteria.
Most U.S. airlines have carry-on restrictions of 22 inches (22”x 14″ x 9″) and must not exceed 45 linear inches.
That means combined length + width + height (including any handles and wheels) e.g. 22” + 14” + 9” = 45 linear (or 115 centimeters: 23 x 36 x 56 cm).
To be clear, we’re talking about the actual size of your bag, not the weight! Please refer to each individual airline for their own cabin size suitcase limits.
Does your favorite airline allow 22 inch carry on luggage? Or do you need 20 inch carry on luggage?
Our friend Ali can help you with this, she created this super helpful carry-on size chart that shows luggage restrictions for 150+ airlines.
2. Important Features of a Carry-On Suitcase
After size, the next thing to consider when researching the best carry-on suitcases are what specific features are best for your traveling style.
Does it has a USB port where you can plug into a battery pack? Does it have a main compartment and then several small pockets for organization?
But most importantly, does it have the right wheels…
Two-wheels vs. Four-wheel Suitcases
This is a topic everyone seems to have an opinion on.
Again it comes down to your travel style and what features work best for you and your family.
Because we have two young kids and travel with a lot of tech and photography gear, I’m typically pulling a carry on suitcase and a camera bag on my back, I prefer carry on luggage with spinner wheels that is easier to manage for me, and them!
The last thing I want to do is have to drag my 5 year olds carry-on around the airport or through hotels as well. That’s why we’ve been looking for the best spinner luggage.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of four wheel suitcases vs two wheel suitcases…
Pros of Four-Wheel Suitcases
- Easier to maneuver in tight spaces such as down aisles of planes, on trains, in elevators. And I can easily nudge it along with my foot when inching through a security line or at check-in (keeping me hands free).
- Spinner suitcases are more ergonomic and don’t put as much stress on your shoulders or back like rollers. You are able to put all the weight on the luggage!
- If you are like us, and our kids, we like to attach other items to our carry on bag such as camera bag or toys and the weight of the luggage and plus the extra backpack attached to the handle adds up!
Cons of Four-Wheel Suitcases
- Because the wheels are externally mounted they’re more vulnerable to snapping off.
- External wheels steal some of your valuable packing space as the length of the wheels is included in the overall allowable dimensions.
- Your bag won’t remain stationary on an incline without laying it down or bracing it.
Pros of Two-Wheel Suitcases
- The wheels are recessed into the case which helps prevent from snapping off.
- For getting around town, two wheels are better than four wheels for clearing curbs and rolling on uneven surfaces.
Cons of Two-Wheel Suitcases
- Two wheel suitcases utilize wheels like on skateboards meaning they only roll forward and backward, so you either pull or push the suitcase with the extended handle.
For us, a 4 wheel suitcase (spinner) is what works for our situation.
On our flight from Sydney to Hawaii, and then from Hawaii to LA and then onto North Carolina, our 5 year old daughter was able to easily manoeuvre her 4 wheel carry on spinner luggage around numerous airports and hotels.
If we all had a two wheel carry-ons, I have no doubt I would have been dragging her bag as well as mine all over the place meaning more stress!
3. Suitcase Handles
Another important feature on your cabin baggage is the handle.
I suggest getting one with an adjustable length and one that is long enough for your height, is sturdy, and retracts completely inside the bag!
Our current carry-on suitcase has a two-post handle and we always use it to support either our laptop bag, camera bag, and our kids love using theirs to sit their dolls against, lol.
Two-posts provide more balance and support for this!
Also, a suitcase with top and side handles will make lifting your suitcase into the overhead compartment easier.
4. Do airlines prefer hard shell or soft shell carry-on suitcases?
Most people ask whether they should get hard shell carry on luggage or soft shell carry on luggage, and specifically, which do airlines prefer?
The truth is that airlines don’t have a preference between hard shell and soft shell, as long as they meet the carry-on dimensions of 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
If you travel a lot like us, then having a reliable suitcase is the most important, especially as over time travel can take its toll on your gear – so the build of your carry on is important for longevity.
To help you decide which is better for you, here are the pros and cons of a hard shell and soft shell suitcase.
Pros of Hard Shell Suitcases
- Can act as a seat while you wait.
- Better for protecting your contents from breakage.
- Stack easily on top of each other.
- Typically waterproof.
- Not all are expandable like a soft shell, so if you tend to overpack this can prevent you from stuffing more in.
Cons of Hard Shell Suitcases
- Not all can compress or expand
- Can scratch easily and cheap hard cases can crack.
- Can’t squeeze into tight storage spaces at home or in your car.
- Few have an exterior pocket.
- Prone to scuffs and scrapes.
Pros of Soft Shell Suitcases
- Typically lighter in weight and can conform to tight spaces such as the back of your car.
- They enable you to squeeze in just one more item of clothing (a con if you tend to overpack).
- Can absorb shock better than hard shells.
Cons of Soft Shell Suitcases
- Not as protective as hard-shell.
- Are vulnerable to ripping if the material is not of high quality.
- Not waterproof.
5. How much to spend on a carry-on suitcase?
Like everything in life you get what you pay for, so if you want a carry-on bag that’s durable you’re going to have to spend a few dollars, not a ton of money but more than 50 bucks!
You certainly don’t have to go for expensive designer luggage which can be more about fashion and looks than quality construction!
But most of us have budget constraints and you should only get what you can afford – we want to keep as much money as possible for experiences when we travel right!
The Best Carry-On Luggage
I’ve searched around the web looking for the best cabin luggage and to see which ones have the best reviews on Amazon.
I’ve also looked at other websites and blogs to hopefully save you some time.
From my research, here are the most popular and top selling cabin size suitcases on Amazon, in no particular order!
1. Best Overall Carry On Suitcase – Delsey Helium Aero International Carry On Expandable Spinner
As an avid traveler, I must say that the Delsey Helium Aero International Carry On Expandable Spinner suitcase has revolutionized my journeys.
Its sleek design and sturdy construction make it easy to manouevere and after several trips, it’s still going steady.
The expandable feature provides ample storage space, allowing me to pack all my essentials and more.
The spinner wheels glide effortlessly, making navigation through crowded airports a breeze.
The ergonomic handle ensures maximum comfort, even during long walks.
This carry-on suitcase is not just practical; it’s a fashion statement in itself. I love how I always know which bag is mine because it’s the most stylish in the over head compartment!
- 100% Polycarbonate shell
- Expandable up to 2 inches for additional packing space (great if you want to add a laundry bag)
- 4 wheel cabin luggage
- Large easy access front compartment with an integrated padded sleeve for a 15.6 inch laptop
- 2 zippered mesh pockets for computer accessories, toiletries, tickets, passport or books.
- Double spinner wheels
2. Best Durable Carry On Suitcase – Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner
The Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner suitcase is sleek and sophisticated in its design and makes a bold statement while maintaining its functionality.
The lightweight and durable polycarbonate construction ensures all your belongings are well-protected, especially if you’re carrying delicate objects.
The spinner wheels effortlessly glide through airport terminals, providing smooth maneuverability, with the additional of ergonomic handles, it’s designed for maximum comfort.
Like the Delsey, it has an expandable feature which provides extra packing space when needed, making it an ideal carry-on suitcase.
What sets the Samsonite Winfield 2 apart is its attention to detail. The TSA-approved lock keeps valuables secure, while the interior organization features help you to stay organized on the go.
Plus, the vibrant color options means it’s suited to any type of traveler.
- 100% Polycarbonate
- Side mounted TSA lock
- Expands for added packing capacity
- Full-zip interior divider with organization pockets
3. Best Soft Shell Carry On Suitcase – Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 21 Inch Spinner Suitcase
This carry-on suitcase is a true game-changer! Its lightweight design makes it incredibly easy to maneuver through bustling airports, and the spinner wheels glide effortlessly, allowing you to wheel through crowds with agility.
Plus, the ergonomic handle offers a comfortable grip, ideal for long walks between connections.
The expandable feature gives you some extra packing space, and you’ll be amazed at how much you could fit without compromising on organization.
The interior has two compartments and pockets where you can keep plenty of belongings neatly in place, offering easy access to essentials.
There is also a front pocket for keeping small items that you need to access quickly.
But what truly sets the Travelpro Maxlite 4 apart is its durability, which is surprisingly good for a soft shell case. This suitcase can withstand the wear and tear of frequent travel.
Because it’s a soft shell, it can easily fit in the overhead bin and squish into places the hard shells can’t.
- 100% Polyester
- 360-degree spinner wheels roll effortlessly in any direction
- Telescoping handle adds length and strength
- Limited lifetime warranty
4. Best Carry On Bag For Europe – Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Global Carry-On
The Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Global Carry-On effortlessly combines convenience and functionality.
This lightweight and slim suitcase offers ample storage space without compromising on durability. The main compartments provide excellent organization options, ensuring that all your belongings stay in place during transit.
What sets the Spectra 2.0 apart is its versatility. With the expandable feature, it complies with most airlines’ carry-on regulations, allowing for hassle-free travel.
The removable mesh divider wall adds another layer of convenience, making packing and unpacking a breeze.
The dual-access design further enhances its practicality, enabling quick and easy access to essentials.
Overall, the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Global Carry-On is a reliable and stylish, has a lightweight build, ample storage, and smart design.
- 100% Polycarbonate
- Global 10-year limited warranty
- Meets IATA carry-on regulations
5. Best Carry On Bag For Women – Samsonite Omni Hardside 20-Inch Spinner
As someone who values both style and functionality, I was impressed by what I saw with the Samsonite Omni Hardside 20-Inch Spinner suitcase.
The sleek and modern design of the Omni is a head-turner, not to mention the durable hardside shell offers maximum protection whilst also adding a touch of sophistication to your travels.
The spinner wheels provide effortless maneuverability, and the retractable handle is sturdy and comfortable, ensuring a smooth and comfortable grip.
Like the other carry on cases on this list, the Samsonite Omni has an expandability feature, and the interior pockets and cross-straps ensure items are securely in place.
It’s built to last, so if peace of mind is what you’re looking for, know that your belongings are well-protected.
- Another popular samsonite cabin luggage
- 100% Polycarbonate
- Micro-diamond texture is extremely scratch-resistant
6. Best Lightweight Carry On Bag – Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4 wheel Upright Suitcase 20-Inch
This carry-on gem offers a perfect blend of style and functionality, making it an excellent choice for any traveler looking for a hand luggage only option.
The sleek design of the Out of Bounds suitcase instantly caught my eye. Its durable ABS exterior not only ensures maximum protection but also looks elegant and sophisticated.
The 4-wheel spinner system allows for seamless maneuverability in any direction, and the telescoping handle offers a comfortable grip.
This case has a spacious interior. The multiple compartments, straps, and pockets keep everything organized and easily accessible during the journey.
- Stylish and innovative design that’s cheap
- Top and side handles allows for easy lifting
- Four wheel spinners
7. Best Guarentee Carry On Bag – Osprey Ozone 22″ Wheeled Luggage
Any backpacker would have heard of Osprey, which are a well known luggage brand for hiking backpacks and long-lasting travel bags, and their suitcases are no exception.
The Osprey Ozone 22″ Wheeled Luggage suitcase has a lightweight design that allows you to pack more without worrying about exceeding weight limits.
The durable construction ensures that belongings are always protected, plus all Osprey products come with a lifetime guarantee, so if it does eventually break, they will repair or replace it for free.
But what truly sets the Osprey Ozone apart is its organization features. The interior compression straps and multiple pockets keep everything neatly in place and easily accessible, eliminating any stress during packing and unpacking.
- 210D Nylon Shadow Box Main Body
- Easy access top pocket
- Handles on three sides
- Lockable zippers with TSA-approved combination lock
- Carry on luggage with wheels (2)
- Lifetime guarantee on all Osprey bags
8. Best Kids Carry On Suitcase – American Tourister Star Wars 21 Inch Hard Side Spinner
Ok, here’s a fun one for the kids which is very popular on Amazon!
The eye-catching design of this suitcase instantly transports your kids into a galaxy far, far away, and you’ll never have to worry about them forgetting it at the airport with a design so bold.
As you would want with a kids carry on suitcase, its durable and has a hard side construction that ensures belongings remain guarded against any force.
The interior is spacious and well designed, with divided compartments and mesh pockets to keep everything neatly organized.
- 100% Abs Plastic
- Spinner wheels
- Star wars branded
More Travel Gear Guides
Need more travel gear? Here are some other helpful guides to help you out!
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Do you own any of these carry-ons? What do you think is the best carry on luggage? Can you suggest other carry ons that we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments down below!
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