With so many different carry-on options out there, it’s difficult to decide on which one is the best. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size fits all option with these! So for this guide, I’ve gone through and picked out a few common scenarios for specific applications. Below is a brief list of these options.
- Best Overall – AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner – 20″ Cabin Size
- Best Carry-on for Business Travel and Suits – Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-on Expandable Upright
- Best Carry-on for Men – TravelPro Maxlite 4 Expandable 21 Inch Suitcase Spinner
- Best Carry-on for Laptops and Tech – Incase Eo Travel Hardshell Roller
- Honorable Mention – Delsey Luggage Helium Aero Carry-On Spinner Trolley
For a more in-depth review of each of these bags, read on!
Best Carry-on Luggage Overall
For the casual traveler, this carry-on bag is the most well-rounded piece on this list for the price. The Amazon Basics brand is making headway across all sorts of different categories, including luggage. This 20” hard-side spinner is perfect for the weekend traveler as it offers a hard-side outer shell and eight spinner wheels for under $50.
The bag comes in 4 different colors, and is expandable to about another inch. Perfect for the extra souvenirs or other items you might pick up for the return trip. Based on several of the reviews seen on Amazon, this bag can be taken domestically or internationally. However, it is not a bad idea to double check with the airline you plan on flying with prior to purchase.
Best Carry-on for Business Travel and Suits
For the frequent domestic business traveler, the Briggs & Riley Baseline model is undoubtedly the way to go. Although the price is on the higher end, you’re getting a product that is worth every penny. This bag is durable, well-designed, and caters to the business professional that regularly takes 2-5 day domestic trips.
Briggs & Riley has a long history of producing high quality products with an almost unbeatable lifetime warranty. If your bag becomes damaged either by you or the airline, you can rest assured they’ll repair the damage at no cost to you. Their lifetime warranty is actually a lifetime warranty and not just some marketing hype.
Not to discredit the great design of the bag and the business-specific features it touts, the company and its reputation behind the bag is really what makes this a stellar purchase. For someone constantly on the go, having a consistent, reliable bag is a must.
Best Carry-on for Men
For most men, you’re looking for something practical and stylish. The TravelPro Maxlite 4 is your suitcase. With a similar look to the Briggs & Riley model above, this bag has many of the same great features at a fraction of the price.
TravelPro is a very reputable brand when it comes to the design and durability of their products. They are the original inventors of the Rollaboard Wheeled luggage and continue to develop a variety of rolling duffels, totes, backpacks, and more in their Boca Raton headquarters.
Although their warranty is not free compared to Briggs & Riley, they do offer repair services. With roughly a $400 difference in price, it may be worth trying the TravelPro model before shelling out $500 for the Briggs & Riley name.
Have a little more to spend?
To start off, this model has an upgraded set of spinner wheels. TravelPro’s patented MagnaTrac spinner wheels self-align to move in any direction you push it. Anyone who has ever had to sharply change direction knows how some spinner wheels can get hung up and ‘drag’ or have to be readjusted. The MagnaTra fixes this problem.
For those who prefer more organization, the platinum magna includes several side pockets that allow you to separate dry and wet clothes along with a special area for accessories. Similar to the Maxlite, the platinum magna is designed to provide wrinkle free storage of your more delicate garments.
I had a tough time debating between this one and the TravelPro. They’re both great carry-ons, very well-made, lightweight, etc. etc. The one up the TravelPro has is it’s a soft-sided model. Some people may prefer having the hard-sided model over the soft-sided, but there’s one caveat. You never know who you’ll be next to on a plane or the items they’ll bring.
Most people fly economy, myself included, so eventually you’re going to be towards the end of the line when it comes to loading onto the plane. Not everyone’s luggage is equal and if you’re not able to cram your carry-on in an overhead compartment, then you’ll end up having to check it in, or place it somewhere else.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be unable to load your carry-on, it’s so much more of a hassle to make sure your bag gets to its destination. Because of this, I’ll almost always argue to have a soft-sided piece over a hard-sided piece as a carry-on, all else equal. You can’t cram a hard-sided piece the same way you can a soft-sided piece.
First class flier? Then this will probably be a better option than the TravelPro. The hard-sided offers more protection and looks a little sleeker. Apart from those two factors, these carry-ons are very comparable.
Best Carry-on for Laptops and Tech
Creatives, editors, and analysists rejoice! This is the bag for you! Incase’s Eo Travel Hardshell Roller is specifically suited for the laptop conscious traveler. With enough space for a 17” Macbook Pro or other laptop and a dozen other organizer pockets, this carry-on provides all the space you need. External hard drives, flash drives, SD cards, chargers, battery packs and more will find a home here.
A polycarbonate hard-shell panel in the front protects all you gear from the bumps and bangs that can happen during your journey. Additionally, each compartment opens in a butterfly style that makes it easy for you to get through TSA if anything needs to be checked.
So you have your carry-on, what’s next? Do you plan on staying for longer than a couple days or do you simply pack a bit heavier than most? Some don’t mind checking a bag as long as they’re able to bring a few more necessities. If you’re still trying to figure out what suitcase is best for you, click here to read my luggage buying guide.