Searching for the best carry on suitcase? Then you have found yourself in the right place.
As you probably know it already, we are big advocates for traveling light. With a few exceptions we have been traveling with carry on luggage only since 2012. Why? Because it’s so much easier, you need to carry less and it can also be cheaper. And if there is one thing most of frequent travelers we know have in common, then that’s it – most of them are traveling without checked luggage.
But you don’t need to be a frequent flyer to feel the benefits of this travel style. Having less stuff with you = less worries = better trip.
OK, but how to find the right one? How to find the best carry on suitcase for yourself? To help you with this task I have created this guide to the best carry on luggage. In it I’m mostly speaking about the best suitcases, since they are the most popular choice. But that’s not all. At the end of the article you will learn more about a few of the top garment bags, and there I have also reviewed a few of the best affordable carry on suitcases as well.
Best Carry On Luggage 2019: Carry On Suitcases
Now let’s look at the list of the best suitcase 2019 for travel!
To read more about every one of them scroll down! Most of the carry on suitcases are available in different colors. For more photos, latest price and user reviews check them out on Amazon – just click on the name or image of the suitcase! I have also included a link to Amazon under every suitcase review.
To learn more about suitcases and how to choose the one for yourself, scroll down a bit!
|NAME||IMAGE||DIMENSIONS||WEIGHT||PRICE ON AMAZON|
|Samsonite Winfield 2 Spinner||20″ x 13.5″ x 9.5″ (51 x 34 x 24 cm)||6.7 lbs (3 kg)||$||Check the price!|
|Samsonite Omni PC Spinner||19″ x 14.5″ x 9.5″ (48 x 37 x 24 cm)||6.8 lbs (3.1 kg)||$||Check the price!|
|Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner boarding bag||19” x 14” x 8.5″ (48.3 x 35.6 x 21.6 cm)||7.8 lbs (3.5 kg)||$$$||Check the price!|
|Samsonite Large Wheeled Underseater||16″ x 13″ x 7.5″ (41 x 33 x 19 cm)||5.51 lbs (2.5 kg)||$||Check the price!|
|Samsonite Inova Spinner ***||20″ x 15″ x 7.5″ (51 x 38 x 19 cm)||5.94 lbs (2.7 kg)||$$$||Check the price!|
|Delsey Quilted UnderSeat Tote||14″ x 14.5″ x 9” (36 x 37 x 23 cm)||3 lbs (1.4 kg)||$||Check the price!|
|Delsey Helium Aero ***||19″ x 13″ x 9.5” (48 x 33 x 24 cm)||8 lbs (3.6 kg)||$$||Check the price!|
|Travelpro Maxlite 5||23” x 14.5” x 9” (58.4 x 36.8 x 23 cm)||6 lbs (2.7 kg)||$$||Check the price!|
|Travelpro Crew 11 Spinner Suitcase||21″ x 14″ x 9” (53 x 36 x 23 cm)||7.2 lbs (3.3 kg)||$$||Check the price!|
|***- our favorites|
Our Favorite – Samsonite Inova Spinner
Dimensions: 20” x 15” x 7.5” (51 x 38 x 19 cm)
Weight: 5.94 lbs (2.7 kg)
Wheels: 4 multidirectional spinner wheels
Colors: – Blue, Silver
- Elegant design.
- Comes with integrated, 3-digit TSA lock
- Designed for high impact resistance.
- Few airlines may consider it too big for carry on, because of the wheels. Overall dimensions of the suitcase: 22.0 x 16.0 x 8.5″ (56 x 41 x 22 cm).
Carry On Suitcase or Carry On Backpack?
In order to make a decision – think about your style of traveling, where and why are you traveling. How much are you going to move around? Do you travel for work or mostly for leisure?
My choice is a carry on backpack, because I’m moving around a lot and I use public transportation very often when traveling. But there are a lot of people for whom carry on suitcase is the best choice. Like Christina and Ruby. Same like me both of them are frequent travelers, but they travel with a suitcase. Why are they traveling with carry on only and why with a carry on suitcase?
– Christina Saull, My View from the Middle Seat
As a part-time leisure traveler, part-time business traveler, full time wanderlust, my suitcase is an important part of my life. When my years old trusty Samsonite finally bit the dust, I went on the hunt for the perfect rolling bag. My requirements were simple: two wheels only (four wheels take up too much room in an international bag sizer), light weight (I’m only 5’4”, so reaching into overhead bins is a challenge) & durable.
After reading hundreds of reviews online, talking to flight attendants and pilots and literally going store to store with a tape measure, I settled on a 22” Travelpro Maxlite 3 (my husband has the Maxlite 4 – see it on Amazon – and also loves it!). I love almost everything about this bag, except its black color (so boring!). Since I travel carry on only, even on international trips, it was essential to me to have a bag that would meet both business travel needs and leisure travel needs – something that looked professional with clients, but also flexible for beach trips.
My decision to travel carry on only started after a slew of bags not being lost, but taking forever to come out on the baggage carousel. There’s nothing worse than getting to a brand new destination and having to stand at the baggage carousel for an hour waiting for your suitcase. In addition, my home airport – DCA – is notoriously slow with checked baggage (I have never waited less than 25 minutes for a bag, even during non-peak times).
While I have checked this bag on occasion, especially when I had status with US Airways and could check for free, but it has been a carry-on workhorse for me. I have packed for 2 weeks (carry on!) in Europe in this bag and it truly lives up to the test!
Christina Saull is a luxury DINK travel blogger sharing stories and photography at MyViewfromtheMiddleSeat.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @MiddleSeatView.
– Ruby Escalona, A Journey We Love
I’m Ruby, I travel with my husband Peter, and we go on frequent trips every year. We travel almost every month, if you count weekend trips.
The reason why we only bring carry on bags for trips that are a week or less is because it is much faster to get around. Imagine having a big checked bag, waiting ages for it to come out through the baggage conveyor, when you could already be on a bus or other public transportation waiting to explore the city.
I used to travel as a backpacker, and my husband tried to travel with just a backpack on our first year of traveling together but it just didn’t work.
In late 2016, we decided to use a roller suitcase instead of a backpack and it made our life so much better. Now instead of lugging two backpacks for me (a small day pack and a bigger carry on backpack), I only get to bring the day pack and a wheeled suitcase, which means I don’t have to carry much weight. I presume it is because we’re also getting older. I started traveling in my 20s, and now that I’m in my 30s, I guess I’m more after convenience now.
Now my husband is traveling with a duffel bag, that we’re going to upgrade to a carry on suitcase. Most probably it will be from Samsonite, and it should be a colorful one. Peter is not a fan of black suitcases, saying that it is the most common kind out there and it is harder to distinguish one from the other.
The suitcase I have right now is an old one from the Philippines (bought in 2010), so it is around 7 years old, from a brand called Voyager. I do like that it has 4 wheels, and it is small enough to be considered a carry on with most American carriers.
Ruby Escalona is a travel blogger from the USA. Together with her husband they document their adventures/travels at A Journey We Love.
Finding the Best Carry On Suitcase for Yourself – What Do You Need to Know?
What to look for in carry on luggage? How to find the best carry on suitcase for yourself? What size should you choose? Answers to all these questions, and not only that, you will find here. If at the end you will still have some questions about carry on luggage, do not hesitate to contact us!
1. Under the Seat or in an Overhead Compartment?
Is it a long trip or a very short one?
If you will be away only for a couple of days and you usually don’t need much stuff, then I would highly recommend you to consider buying a small-sized (41 cm / 16” high) rolling tote bag, like Delsey Quilted UnderSeat Tote, which you can see in the table above. Having a bag this small will make your journey even more pleasant, since the bag alone is extremely lightweight, it’s small and it can fit under a seat. Very convenient!
If you are going away for several days or you just can’t pack all of your stuff in a small tote bag, then buy a carry on suitcase!
2. Size and Weight of the Carry On Suitcases
Please note, that there is no one standard carry on luggage size. Each airlines has its own restrictions on luggage size and weight, even the number of bags allowed on the plane.
Is there an airline or airlines of your preference which you are flying with frequently or even almost all the time? Then – before buying new travel luggage check its restrictions on luggage size and weight.
If you don’t have a preferred airline, then better look at something about this size – 20” x 14” x 8” (51 x 35 x 20 cm). Pay attention to the height of the suitcase. It should definitely not exceed 20” – 21” (51 – 53 cm), including the wheels.
Actually, the smaller case, the better! As long as its big enough for your needs, of course. Because then the chances that it will be allowed on board as a carry on also with all low-cost carriers will be higher.
Please note, that when you are looking at airline carry on luggage restrictions, the dimensions include also the wheels!
But most of the product descriptions mention the dimensions of the body, not including the wheels. When in doubts, check also overall dimensions!
Pay attention to the weight of the suitcase! Not always the lightest carry on suitcase will be also the best suitcase, but anyway your carry on luggage should not use up all the weight allowance! Most of the international airlines only allow a carry on luggage of a weight between 15 – 22 lbs (7 – 10 kg).
3. Soft or Hard Luggage?
Hardside luggage is made of durable polycarbonate, whereas soft – of tough, water resistant nylon. Both of these materials are lightweight and high quality. That’s if we are speaking about the best carry on luggage. And in this case material of the luggage is just a matter of choice. Choose the one you like better!
And, yes, softside luggage isn’t that soft nowadays. Because many of the these suitcases now have a reinforcing frame under the fabric.
4. Wheels and Handles
Many of the best suitcases have 4 360-degree spinner wheels, which will allow you to roll the carry on suitcase upright in any direction. Thanks to the four multi-directional wheel system there will be no strain on your shoulders and arms. But still you will be able to pull a four-wheel suitcase behind you on two wheels as well.
Most of the cheaper carry on suitcases feature only 2 in-line skate wheels, which aren’t multi-directional. This means you will need to pull and tug the suitcase. And this, I must admit, is not very comfortable. At the bottom they have a plastic stability bar, which will hold the suitcase upright.
Look where the handles are located. Is there a handle at the top of a case? Most probably, it will be there. What about the side handle? Some of the carry on bags don’t have a side handle. Bottom handle? A lot of travelers admit, that it would be easier to pick up a case or take it down from the overhead compartment if it would have a sturdy bottom handle, too!
If you plan to buy an underseat tote, there is no need to look for several of handles, as those bags are really small and lightweight. So – they’re easy to lift anyway.
If you are tall, take into account that you will want to feel comfortable pulling and rolling your luggage. So choose a carry on which features a telescopic handle with several locking points.
5. Style and Compartments
When looking for the best carry on suitcase you will notice that there are two types of suitcases:
- Carry on suitcases with a lid and a deep main compartment. The lid usually features a full length mesh or nylon pocket.
- Sandwich type suitcases with a zippered divider and cross straps. You can separate your stuff, by putting, for instance, clothes in the compartment with cross straps. And electronics or shoes – in the second – zippered compartment.
When looking for the best underseat tote bag, you will see that most of them will have a main compartment with several interior pockets and a couple of outside pockets.
What kind of a luggage you should choose? Well, just like with the material – it’s a matter of choice! Think about what stuff you are usually taking with you and how would you like to organize it!
Best Carry On Suitcase – Reviews
1. Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner 20” Review
Samsonite Winfield 2 is a 20” high hardside spinner suitcase. Its shell is made of durable polycarbonate material. Even though the suitcase is lightweight (6.7 lbs/3 kilos), it is highly impact resistant.
The Winfield 2 suitcase features retractable handle, 4 multi-directional wheels and a mounted TSA combination lock. Thanks to its multidirectional wheels you will be able to roll your case upright and in every direction!
Unfortunately, there is no side handle.
Inside of the suitcase there is a divider with a few small zippered compartments and cross straps to prevent shifting.
Remember, the Samsonite Winfield 2 Spinner 20” is not expandable! On a few websites the it’s described as an expandable suitcase. But it is completely the opposite – not expandable. The larger Winfield suitcases (Winfield 2 Spinner 24″ and 28”) are expandable, though.
The suitcase is available in several beautiful colors.
Body dimensions of the suitcase are 20.0” x 13.5” x 9.5″ (51 x 34 x 24 cm); overall dimensions (with wheels) – 23.0” x 14.5” x 9.5″ (58 x 37 x 24 cm). Please note that some international airlines may consider the Winfield 2 suitcase too large for a carry on because of the wheels.
Dimensions (with wheels): 23.0” x 14.5” x 9.5″ (58 x 37 x 24 cm).
Weight: 6.7 lbs (3 kg).
2. Samsonite Omni PC 20″ Spinner Review
Clearly one of the best suitcases for travel. I would even say that the Samsonite Omni PC is improved version of the Winfield (which is probably not, but I still feel that way). Thanks to its diamond texture, it is extremely scratch-resistant. The case is expandable, which is very good. After a nice trip abroad our luggage “shrinks” a bit, you know what I mean!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a side handle, which can be very useful to many of us, including me. Its easier to take it from the luggage carousel by grabbing it by the side handle, for example.
The Omni PC shell is made of injection molded polycarbonate – a lightweight impact-resistant plastic.
The Omni PC, just like the Winfield 2, has 4 swiveling wheels. It makes it very easy to roll it while holding it upright. No more inconveniences caused by two-wheel suitcases: you won’t need to pull your suitcase anymore and it won’t tip over as well!
It is easy to organize your stuff due to a few compartments – a full zip interior divider, a large compartment with cross straps and a small zippered inside pocket.
The Samsonite Omni comes in several awesome colors.
Dimensions (with wheels): 22.0” x 15.0” x 9.5″ (56 x 38 x 24 cm).
Weight: 6.8 lbs (3.1 kg).
3. Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner Boarding Bag Review
The Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner boarding bag is made of rugged tri-core nylon fabric. To provide additional protection the corners of the suitcase are covered with rubberized protectors. The suitcase features textured cushioned, gel-infused, push-button locking handle, which is both comfortable and tough.
It is very easy to organize your stuff. As the Samsonite Silhouette Xv boarding bag has several compartments: a large main compartment with 2 mesh pockets, built-in padded laptop sleeve (for up to a 15.6” laptop), a removable organizer for small items like IDs, toiletries, etc., and two zippered front pockets.
For easy mobility the suitcase features 4 multi-directional spinner wheels. Just like the previous two Samsonite cases, the Samsonite Silhouette Xv boarding bag can be rolled while holding upright. Together with all of the cool features mentioned above it makes Silhouette Xv boarding bag one of the best carry on suitcases!
This suitcase is small – it’s only 17”/43 cm high, 14”/36 cm wide and 7.75”/19.7 cm deep. Overall dimensions (including wheels) are 19” x 14” x 8.5″ (48.3 x 35.6 x 21.6 cm). That means it will be definitely allowed on board on most major international airlines. However, it might be slightly too big for some of the lowcosters, such as Wizzair and Ryanair (European budget airlines), unless you buy a priority boarding.
Dimensions (with wheels): 19” x 14” x 8.5″ (48.3 x 35.6 x 21.6 cm).
Weight: 7.8 lbs (3.5 kg).
4. Samsonite Large Wheeled Underseater Review
The Samsonite Underseater is affordable yet great quality! It is made of 900 Denier Poly/Nylon, which is a combination of Polyester and Nylon fabrics. It is a tough material with excellent wear properties.
This little suitcase features push button locking handle and 2 quality rolling in-line skate wheels. Remember, the wheels aren’t 360 degree spinner wheels!
There are several compartments to provide additional organization – a large main compartment, a zippered front pocket and two side zippered side pockets for umbrella and water bottles. As well as removable zippered 3-1-1 pouch, removable hanging pouch and internal Wetpak™ pockets.
The dimensions of the body of the Samsonite underseat suitcase are: 16.0” x 13.0” x 7.5″ (41 x 33 x 19 cm). The overall dimensions (including wheels) are: 16.5” x 13.0” x 9.25″ (42 x 33 x 23 cm).
The Samsonite Large Underseater will fit under the seats of most airlines. Although, different airlines have different rules and, of course, the space under a seat differs depending on a plane.
Read the airline rules carefully before buying your tickets or luggage! If you find out that this suitcase wouldn’t fit under the seat of your preferred airline or it is larger than the allowed size, be assured, that it will easily fit in the overhead compartment space.
One tip though – don’t stuff the front zippered compartment, as then you might not be able to place the suitcase under the seat comfortably, without pushing it in!
Dimensions (with wheels): 16.5” x 13.0” x 9.25″ (42 x 33 x 23 cm).
Weight: 5.51 lbs (2.5 kg).
See also the slightly smaller version of the Samsonite Underseater on Amazon!
Read our article about underseat luggage.
5. Samsonite Inova Spinner 20″ Review
The Samsonite Inova Spinner is one of the most elegant suitcases I have ever seen! And definitely it is one of the best carry on suitcases available! Not only because of its design, though.
It is pricier than other Samsonite suitcases reviewed above in the article but it is totally worth the money. It is lightweight – it weights only 5.94 lbs (2.7 kg). This sleek suitcase is made of polycarbonate, material designed for high impact resistance.
The suitcase features 4 multidirectional spinner wheels and a flat retractable handle, which stores neatly inside and doesn’t really stick out. There is a side carry handle as well.
Inside of the suitcase there is a flexible mesh fabric divider and cross straps to prevent shifting.
Body dimensions are 20.0 x 15.0 x 7.5″ (51 x 38 x 19 cm), overall dimensions – 22” x 16.0” x 8.5″ (56 x 41 x 22 cm). Please note that some international airlines may consider the Samsonite Inova Spinner suitcase too large because of the wheels. Then you will need to check it in.
Dimensions (with wheels): 22” x 16.0” x 8.5″ (56 x 41 x 22 cm).
Weight: 5.94 lbs (2.7 kg).
6. Delsey Quilted Rolling UnderSeat Tote Review
This cute and tiny women’s underseat carry on is perfect for very short trips or as an overnight bag. If you are an expert in packing or you don’t need much, then you even will be able to pack everything you need for a week-long trip as well!
The Delsey quilted tote fits in most airline overhead compartments and under the seat. It is made of durable 1800 denier polyester fabric, and is very lightweight and small.
This carry on has a retractable handle, which can be hidden under a zippered lid. The bag has a strap on the back, which allows it to be carried on top of a larger suitcase.
The bag features great front organizer for boarding passes, passport, tablet computer, etc. There is a main compartment with several zippered interior pockets for small items like toiletries, accessories and jewelry. The Delsey tote also features a side zippered pocket and a mesh side pocket.
The Delsey underseat tote is available in a few colors.
Dimensions (with wheels): 14″ x 14.5″ x 9” (36 x 37 x 23 cm).
Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 kg).
7. Delsey Helium Aero International Carry On Spinner 19” Review
The Delsey Helium Aero carry on suitcase is made of durable and lightweight material – polycarbonate. Thanks to 4 double multidirectional spinner wheels it is very easy to transport the luggage – the the case can be rolled upright in every direction.
The Delsey Helium Aero features a large easy access front compartment with a built-in sleeve, where, for instance a laptop (up to 15.6”) can be stored. The front compartment features 2 zippered mesh pockets for computer accessories, documents, books, IDs, etc. There is a large main compartment with a mesh divider and cross straps. The main compartment expands for additional packing space. The suitcase features a side handle and TSA lock as well!
The body of the Delsey luggage is 19″ (48 cm) high. However, when including wheels, the case is higher.
Dimensions (with wheels): 21.75” x 13.75” x 9.75″ (56 x 36 x 25 cm).
Weight: 8 lbs (3.6 kg).
8. Travelpro Maxlite 5 Carry On Spinner Review
The Maxlite 5 carry on suitcase is a great suitcase for hand luggage. This classy and professional-looking 21 inch spinner suitcase is really lightweight and stable. It features four good quality spinner wheels (360 degree), which work great on carpeted areas as well!
Its top, side and bottom handles are made of sturdy material. For extra protection and durability the corners of the Maxlite 5 are covered with rubberized bumpers. The handle, which is made of airline-grade aluminum, locks in 2 positions – at 38 and 42.5 inch height level (97 and 108 cm).
The suitcase has one large main compartment and one front zippered compartment. The case doesn’t “split in two” when open. It’s more rather like a box with a lid. The majority of your stuff will go in that “box”. There is a zippered mesh compartment on the lid, which is flat. Some documents or a tablet computer can be stored in there.
There is a small zippered mesh pocket on one side of the main compartment. Perfect for storing valuables, money, IDs and other small items. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is expandable.
Dimensions of the body are 21” x 14” x 9” (53.3 x 35.6 x 23 cm). Overall dimensions – 23” x 14.5” x 9” (58.4 x 36.8 x 23 cm). Please note though that some international airlines may consider the Travelpro Maxlite too large because of its wheels. Read the rules of your preferred airline before buying a ticket or luggage!
Dimensions (with wheels): 23” x 14.5” x 9” (58.4 x 36.8 x 23 cm).
Weight: 6 lbs (2.7 kg).
9. Travelpro Crew 11 Spinner Suiter 21″ Review
Another great option to consider when looking for the best carry on suitcase! Consider buying it if you go on business trips very often! This suitcase is exceptionally good quality and has a couple of features which could be very useful to a frequent traveler!
The Travelpro is made of durable nylon fabric with Duraguard coating, and features 4 self-aligning magnetic spinner (360 degree) dual wheels, which ensure that the suitcase rolls effortlessly and, of course, straight in every direction. The suitcase has exceptionally great aluminium extension handle, which locks in multiple positions: 38”, 40” and 42.5” (97, 102 and 108 cm).
The leather top and side carry handles, as well as bottom plastic handle are designed for easy and comfortable transporting of the suitcase.
There are several compartments – a large main compartment with an interior full length lid pocket, two zippered front compartments and one zippered side pocket. The side pocket is dedicated for holding a power bank (not included). It is integrated with the external USB Port via USB cord, which can be found in the side pouch. The USB Port is located under the extension handle.
The lid of the main compartment features a mesh pocket, and the main compartment – adjustable hold down straps, that keep clothes and othe items secure during the journey. The Travelpro Crew suitcase features wet pockets, where liquids or damp clothing can be stored away.
The case is expandable and it comes with a garment bag.
Dimensions (without the wheels): 21” x 14” x 9” (53 x 36 x 23 cm).
Weight: 7.2 lbs (3.3 kg).
Best Carry On Garment Bags
If you are a frequent business traveler and are taking a suit, shirts or dresses with you occasionally, then you might want to consider buying a garment bag if you already don’t have one. There are different types of garment bags.
Either they can be flat and long or they can be folded in half and carried like a bag. Or it can be an actual case on wheels – similar to a regular a suitcase. Read more about some of the top garment bags!
If you have any more questions about travel gear, check out our other gear guides! Or contact us!
People also want to know
Is hard or soft suitcase better?
Because softshell luggage has more give, a hard shell suitcase can be better at protecting fragile contents, assuming you cushion it well inside. On the other hand, that rigid exterior makes hardshell bags unable to be compressed to squeeze into tight spaces like softsided bags are more apt to allow.
What should I look for when buying a suitcase?
Size — bigger pieces hold more, but grow heavier — and airlines have weight limits. Weight when empty — adds to the burden you carry or roll, but heavier is sturdier. Fabrication — durable nylon luggage is light but less stylish than leather. Features — quality wheels, handles, pockets, dividers, and zippers all matter.
When should I buy a suitcase?
The best time to buy luggage is July and August. For the most part, summer travel is over by July and retailers take advantage of lower demand by offering big savings off individual pieces and sets of luggage. In addition, outlet malls, department stores, and discount stores can prove to be a trove of luggage deals.
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