Gone are the days of unrecognizable black canvas bags with wobbly wheels and tears in the corners! For even the most infrequent of travelers, carry-on luggage is not something that should be skimped or compromised on. We’ve reviewed the best carry-on luggage of 2018 and shared our expert tips on what to look for when shopping for the lightest and most durable cabin bags!
Top luggage brands have recently rolled out some of the best looking and most practical small suitcases we’ve seen so far. Business travelers and outdoor adventure-seekers alike can find maximum value, space, durability and security in our collection of the top carry-on suitcases of the year.
The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2018 Reviewed
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 20 inch Luggage
If you’re a highly-organized traveler looking for a durable, stylish, and theft proof option, then the Samsonite Winfield 2 is for you. With a full-zip interior divider, side mounted TSA locks, and a 10 year limited warranty, this top rated carry-on bag will keep your stuff tidy and last you for a while. Plus, ringing in at under $100, it won’t break the bank.
IT Luggage World’s Lightest 21.5 inch Carry On
Budget travelers rejoice! This carry-on is light in weight — and on your wallet. At less than $65 and weighing in at 3.6 pounds, this wide-handle suitcase from IT Luggage’s “Worlds Lightest” collection is perfect for those looking for both a simple bag durable enough for the wear-and-tear that plane travel entails, and one of the lightest carry-on luggage options out there.
For the price, you’ll give up a few conveniences like expansion and spinner wheels; however, the low cost and (essentially) weightlessness of this bag makes it big winner among people looking to “travel light.”
Read more: Packing Light: How To Pack For Carry-On Only
Tumi Alpha 2 Double Expansion Travel Satchel
This expansive duffel from Tumi is perfect for the fashionable conscious man (or woman), with the clean, cultivated look of a designer bag. A key leash and media pocket (for cell phones, passports, etc.) provides easy access to the essentials, while the deep middle compartment has plenty of room for everything else.
The soft, lightweight material is complimented by supportive bottom pegs, although it’s very dirt and stain resistant. If you’re seeking a good balance of classy and casual in a bag, then this is one of the best cabin luggage options for you!
Biaggi Contempo Foldable 18″ 2 Wheel Fashion Tote
Any travel product with the word “foldable” in the name immediately draws in any seasoned traveler. This Biaggi carry-on collapses to half its size for easy stowing away (perfect for sailing trips or sleeping in a campervan!), is durable and water resistant, and uses hinge-lock technology. However, the real draw is its size.
With a little research, we’ve found the smallest combined dimensions of all international airline carry-on restrictions to be 21 x 13 x 9 — and this bag is one of very few to fit within them! Being one of the best international carry-on luggage options on the market, you can be sure that no matter where you fly or what airline you take, this tote will meet all requirements.
Travelpro Platinum Magna 2
I have to admit, this post would not be complete without mentioning a Travelpro suitcase. This tried-and-true brand has been used by airline employees for years, namely for its simplicity and durability, and has some of the best luggage reviews from airline professionals.
Travelpro’s latest carry-on — the Platinum Magna 2 — can withstand plenty of wear and tear over the years and is practical in every way. A “comfort” handle and and MagnaTrac wheels that self-align, in addition to convenient built-in zipper pockets, are added bonuses on an otherwise no-frills suitcase that will last a lifetime.
The biggest airport hassles — from drained phone batteries to overweight carry-ons — can all be solved with this single, sleek, smart-suitcase.
Deemed “the iPhone of suitcases,” the innovative Raden A22 not only looks sleek and sophisticated but has built-in technology to serve as a charging port for all of your electronic devices, sense your luggage’s weight, and sync up to its compatible app for Bluetooth tracking. It even goes as far as telling you how bad traffic is between your home and the airport, or how long you can expect to wait in the TSA line!
The only flaw we’ve found was that cosmetic scratches were common, but ultimately that’s a small price to pay for all the conveniences it provides.
Eagle Creek Load Hauler
Dual backpack straps, an adjustable shoulder strap, and padded handles on both the top and front of this bag make Eagle Creek’s latest duffel an ease to carry and one of the best carry-on bags to take along on your adventures!
High durability and maximum abrasion resistance means you can throw this bag around just about anywhere without worry of tears or damage, but the makers of this bag offer a full lifetime warranty on it just in case.
A safety whistle and lockable zippers ensure extra security while you’re near or far from your bag, and practical outer pouches for toiletries and gear give you all the space you need to carry all your travel belongings with you in-flight. With compression straps, expandable zippers, and a little smart packing (remember to roll your clothes instead of folding or cramming), minimalist packers won’t even need to check a suitcase!
Delsey Helium Aero
While we typically stand by the saying that “you get what you pay for,” this 100% polycarbonate hardshell suitcase runs for about $100 USD and packs a lot of features in a “small” suitcase. Delsey’s Helium Aero is comparable to Samsonite in strength and style, but has additional organization pockets and an easy-access padded laptop compartment in the front.
Luggage reviews of this carry-on can all seem to agree that the overall quality and price of this Delsey makes it one of the best cabin luggage options on the market!
Read more: Carry-On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel
CHESTER Carry-On Luggage/22″
While it does offer a sleek style and a great-sized frame, what we love most about this hardshell suitcase is its sheer durability. Made with 100% polycarbonate, this lightweight piece of luggage is water-resistant, super easy to clean, and even has organized compartments for all your possessions.
Not to mention that the Chester carry-on runs at a little less than $200 USD and includes warranty, meaning it will last forever!
Bellagio Business V2.0 21” Carry On Spinner
I am completely in love with this bag and bring it on all of my domestic trips! The philosophy of Italian travel bag manufacturer Bric’s Milano is to “create elegant, functional travel bags that are good looking, and include all the practical function and modern amenities demanded by today’s traveler.” And boy, does this bag deliver.
A gorgeous, polycarbonate option with leather trimmings, the Bellagio Business Carry On Spinner features an external pocket acting as a business organizer, is lightweight and durable, and even has a water-resistant zipper. Running in at a little less than $600 USD, this bag will not only make you the owner of the most fashionable bag on the plane, it will also last you years of travel. This is simply one of the best international carry-on luggage items you can buy!
What to Look for in Carry-On Luggage
Size: In order for you to take your carry-on into the cabin, it’s going to have to meet the airline’s size requirements. That said, different airlines can have different size requirements for cabin luggage, so make sure you check online to see what the standard size is for the airlines you fly with the most.
Weight: As with size, airlines also usually have weight restrictions for carry-on bags. Not only will a lighter bag be easier to lug around, but it’ll give you more wiggle room when deciding what to pack.
Wheels: Carry-on luggage featuring wheels are pretty standard, but not all wheels are created equally. Wheels made of cheaper materials can become scratched, start to wobble, wear away easily, or fall off — and that’s never convenient when you’re on a trip.
Additionally, decide whether or not having two wheels is sufficient for you, or if you would prefer four. Having four wheels could save you arm pain if you have to drag your suitcase around for a while.
Compartments: Regardless of what kind of traveler you are, having conveniently-placed compartments can be a great way to organize your bag. However, make sure these compartments don’t hinder the amount of space inside your bag.
Before you buy, think about the items that you usually take along with you, and whether or not you’ll be able to adjust the compartments to fit them.
Quality: It should go without saying, but definitely read the reviews of every bag before you buy. Look for keywords in regards to the durability and stitching of the carry-on, as an attention to the quality could end up saving you from having to purchase a new bag in a few years.