Last Updated on June 4, 2023 by Molly Egan
There is nothing more exciting than embarking on an adventure. The plane ticket is purchased – YAY! Are you humming the John Denver tune?
“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go.”
Contrary to the latter – do we he hate to go? Heck, no. We L-O-V-E it. Maybe he was referring to packing, storage space, packing capacity, spinner wheels, dirty clothes, duffle bags, or lost luggage. Don’t fret! This list is just for you.
Whether you are going on your first trip, a frequent flyer, business travel, or someone that want’s to maximize their space and time, this list is for you!
The luggage listed below is the best carry-on suitcase. Read the reviews, and select your choice, wisely. Then make a packing list and GO!
Things You Should Consider Before You Buy Luggage
What size bag should you choose?
Are you going on a short trip or a long trip? The number of clothes and packing items (aka souvenirs or gifts) will help you determine the size suitcase.
What material, considering the maintenance, do you want?
Incredibly durable material is a key component of all luggage. There is ballistic nylon, hardshell polycarbonate, and water-resistant soft materials.
Hardshell or softshell luggage?
This can be a personal preference of esthetics as with the right quality material in both styles, you can find great luggage. Softshell luggage tends to be cheaper than Hardshell luggage and can “give” when overpacked.
Hardsided luggage most often has 360 wheels and a polycarbonate material that is strong, lightweight, and prevents splitting and cracking due to flexibility.
Is Softshell Weaker than Hardshell Suitcase?
A misconception is that softshell or fabric luggage is weaker and prone to tears. Select a high-density, durable fabric – such as Cordura nylon or ballistic nylon – treated for water resistance for long-lasting luggage.
Hard shell luggage typically is a bit more durable for fragile items but I have used soft-sided with breakable items inside too!
What is your budget?
Price does not always determine the best luggage. I have used a carry on bag as a go-to on business travel that cost under $100.
Want to secure your luggage with locks?
There are TSA locks apart of luggage help in preventing luggage locks from being cut – yay! Big tip: Pick a TSA approved lock!
What color do you pick?
Black is always a good idea – as it can hide scratches and dirt. Frequent flyers often choose this color and add a colored identifier if it becomes a checked bag.
Need backpack straps or spinner wheels?
Consider this – would it be easier with the travel luggage strapped to your back? In other words, crowded urban streets, train stations, dirt roads, or bumpy sidewalks are easier. For frequent travelers looking for business travel bags, two wheels or four spinner wheels are highly recommended, as well as carry on luggage, only.
Is a telescopic handle and a retractable handle the same thing?
Yes. It is also referenced as an extension handle as well.
What is the difference between 2 and 4 wheels?
The key difference is that 4-wheel suitcases are more stable, tip over less, and move with less exertion. These are reasons why it’s recommended over the 2-wheel suitcase.
The 2-wheel suitcase is dragged behind you, while the 4-wheel glides next to you and can “spin” with a 360-degree motion. You can’t go wrong with either, it’s a personal preference. However, maneuvering with 4-wheels in a crowded environment is a breeze!
What are adjustable garment compression panels?
These are great and prevent luggage contents from shifting! Also keeps clothing flat, minimizes wrinkling, and helps with organization creating packing compartments.
What makes a good carry-on bag?
A great carry-on bag is durable, fits all your needs, and fits in the overhead bin! Whether that be 2-wheel, 4-wheel, lay-flat capability, exterior pockets, softshell or hardshell – you will find the right fit for you! Find your favorite in the top travel carry-on bags below!
What is the Best Carry On Luggage of 2023?
Here are my top picks for the best carry on luggage.
If you are or plan on becoming, a frequent flyer and are willing to invest in a high-quality suitcase, this hard shell suitcase is highly recommended for your carry on luggage!
This suitcase has flaps, expandable aspects, and “spinners” that you will love – optimal organization. They have a “simple as that” lifetime guarantee, which validates the higher price point.
- Adjustable garment compression panels
- Large zip-around pocket
- Aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle
- Molded soft-touch textured grip for top and side handles
- Built-in TSA-friendly locks
- Proprietary lightweight, durable ball-bearing double spinner wheels
- “CX™ expansion-compression” system increases space by 22%
- “YKK® RC” zippered pockets, self-repairing & lockable
- Fabric: “Makrolon®” polycarbonate hard shell
- Dimensions: 20″ x 14″ x 9″
- Expanded Depth: 11″
I recently sat next to a frequent traveler, in the United Club lounge, and he informed me that his Briggs & Riley roller luggage traveled over 5 million miles. The takeaway – this luggage will last!
This is a top favorite carry-on luggage! The exterior pockets on the front, on the side for the water bottle, and the rear quick-access pocket are features that distinguish the design detail.
- Four spinner wheels
- 2 heights of the telescoping handle
- Side water bottle pocket
- Rear zippered easy access pocket
- Multifunctional pockets internal and external
- Soft side suitcase
- 1-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects
- Care: Wipe clean with a damp cloth
- Fabric: Nylon
- Dimensions: 14″ w x 22″ h x 9″ d
- Weight: 6 lbs
The exterior zippered pockets are an efficient use of packing space and creates ease in traveling. Also, the company was founded by flight attendants – so you’re in great hands with the best suitcase!
This hard side luggage model is a better take on the Away “Carry-On” suitcase. The main difference is a water-resistant nylon exterior pocket. Perfect for your laptop when you don’t want to bring a backpack or travel documents!
- The padded pocket fits a 15″ tablet or laptop
- Extra interior pockets, inside exterior pocket – passport or phones
- Compression system
- Black leather details and luggage tag
- TSA-approved combination
- Four 360° spinner wheels
- Dirty laundry bag to keep dirty clothing separate
- Lockable zipper
- Return it anytime within the first 100 days of purchase
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Material: polycarbonate hard shell
- Dimensions: 22.7″ x 14.7″ x 9.6″
- Exterior Pocket: 16.5″ x 11.25″ x 1″
- Weight: 8 lbs
This sleek affordable durable hardside luggage is an excellent carry on luggage; especially when compared to others on this list. The Interior laundry bag and exterior pocket accessibility to laptops make this the best luggage.
On international travel, you may not encounter smooth sidewalks and this softside luggage will be your best travel decision! This soft luggage is more than just a duffel bag. It has a spacious main compartment, perfect to carry a ton of stuff and still be manageable and carry on compliant bag.
- Largest carry-on Osprey backpack
- Large U-zip opening and accessible interior pockets
- Tuck away the harness, hip belt, and shoulder straps
- “StraightJacket” compression straps with padded sidewalls
- Zippers are lockable
- Front panel zippered pocket – great for papers, laptops, or book
- Spacer mesh harness and hip belt, both soft and breathable
- All Mighty Guarantee – repair damage or defect-free of charge
- Material: recycled fabrics, “bluesign®-approved”, PFC-free DWR
- Dimensions: 21.5″ X 14″ X 9″
- Weight: 3 lbs
- Exterior Pocket: 16.5″ x 11.25″ x 1″
Created with the modern and savvy traveler. Simple design without the overdone quantity of pockets. The best luggage and carry on bag. If needed, it’s a great checked luggage bag as well. I have used this many times and highly recommend it!
Whether a domestic flight or international travel, this will always make it on the plane! That is a relief. For the organized traveler, it has many options with zippered pockets and add-on organization.
- “MagnaTrac® self-aligning” 360° spinner wheels
- Airline-grade extending handle “PowerScope” reduces wobble
- Built-in USB port
- Additional for purchase packing compartments
- Garment “Zip-In” Organizer
- Professional-grade dependability with robust corner armor
- Up to 2″ additional capacity with expansion – room inside
- Exterior pocket fits up to a 15.6″ laptop
- Four wheels
- Limited warranty
- Material: high-quality ballistic nylon fabric with a “Duraguard” coating
- Dimensions: 21.5″ x 14″x 9″
- Weight: 7 lbs
Created with the frequent flyer in mind, this has a removable TSA compliant toiletries bag in exterior pockets and reinforced corners. That combined with being a US and International compliant carry on bag – it is the best travel suitcase!
Would you be able to find the perfect under-seat suitcase? Yes, see our top picks here.
You can’t go wrong with any of the options above. Go with your gut and what features speak to you. Sometimes lots of pockets can be overwhelming so to each their own!
If you prefer duffel bag or backpack, the best carry on soft shell luggage is the Osprey – Porter Travel Pack 46.
If you want the best carry on luggage for all scenarios it’s the Briggs & Riley – Domestic 22″ Carry-On Expandable Spinner.
For international travel to exotic places, not an urban city, we recommend the Osprey – Porter Travel Pack 46.
This is a list of the best carry-on luggage; however, when you have that local liquor or wine that requires checked luggage, all of the above also work.
Take your pick, and have fun on your adventure!!