Is there anything more stressful than traveling halfway across the country to visit the in-laws? Or how about having a 4-hour layover in one of the coldest regions of the country just to arrive to a meeting that you think could have been done over a WebEx?
Oh, the joys of travel…
Whether it’s for business, personal, or hopefully pleasure, flying from airport to airport can be stressful. However, that doesn’t mean your luggage should be a contributor to your hassle. Broken wheels, shoddy handles, and torn zippers are just a few of the many problems inferior luggage can bring your way.
- Best Overall Option – Chester Minima Carry On Luggage
- Best Premium Option – Briggs and Riley Baseline Luggage
- Best Lightweight Option – TravelPro Maxlite 4
- Best Hardshell Option – Delsey Helium Aero
- Best Carry On Duffel – Eagle Creek No Matter What Flashpoint Duffel
- Best Carry On Suitcase – Travelpro Platinum Elite Rolling Garment Bag
- Best Carry On Backpack – Osprey Farpoint Men’s 40
There’s no need for this extra baggage (pun intended), and that’s why this list is here. Finding the best carry on of 2020 shouldn’t be difficult. Domestic and international travelers alike need a bag that can hold up to the wear and tear of frequent, or even infrequent, travel.
Best Overall Option – Chester vs. Away Carry On Luggage
You might have already heard or seen Chester and Away luggage, which isn’t any big surprise. Chester has made a name for itself on Amazon with 270+ reviews and a 4.5/5 star rating. Away has become the Warby Parker of the luggage industry, which makes sense since the founder worked for Warby Parker for some time.
Related: Chester Carry On Luggage Full Review
I won’t be going super in-depth in this summary, but Chester is the better option overall. It has virtually all the same features and benefits as the Away but at a lower price. If you want to see a full breakdown comparison of the two, the video is shown below.
Best Premium Option – Briggs and Riley Baseline Upright Carry On
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, a Briggs and Riley bag will be the last bag you ever have to buy. The bag itself is better than most others, but what separates this company is their customer service. Their unconditional lifetime guarantee means that if your bag ever breaks or needs repair for any reason, they’re just a call away.
The expense is higher upfront, but it’s a bag you can depend on that won’t break and need replacing. And even if it does break, it’ll be repaired… free of charge!
Best Lightweight Carry On – TravelPro Maxlite 4 Carry On
Despite TravelPro releasing the Maxlite 5, I still favor the Maxlite 4 for several reasons, which I explain in the TravelPro Maxlite 4 vs. Maxlite 5 Comparison Video below. The main gripe I have is it looks like the company went with cheaper materials and a weaker construction in favor of being the lightest carry on luggage.
Related: TravelPro Maxlite 4 Full Review
There’s a particular trade-off point, where a few ounces saved isn’t worth sacrificing long term durability. Apart from that, the Maxlite 4 is an excellent choice. If you’re comparing it to a hardshell option, there’s a video comparing the durability of the two in the next option.
Best Hard Shell Carry On – Delsey Helium Aero Carry On
Even under its shiny exterior, the Delsey helium aero is still a practical option year over year. Simply said, this carry on offers a functional design and is suitable for business or personal travel. A more in-depth review on the bag can be found here. Otherwise, if you’re comparing this model and the Travel Maxlite series, a durability test is done in the video below.
Related: Delsey Helium Aero Full Review
Best Carry On Duffel Bag – Eagle Creek No Matter What Flashpoint Duffel Bag
For adventure travelers, this is the duffel bag you want. The problem with most duffle bags is they’re flips and could tear from being scraped on a slightly jagged rock – not this one. This rolling duffel is made out of a super durable abrasion and water-resistant material.
It’s not just normal canvas like you might find on cheaper bags. This material makes it ideal for outdoors. Muddy or clumped with dirt? No problem, take it out back and spray it off. The bag comes in 4 different sizes (S, M, L, XL). This bag works great as an additional carry or personal bag. The small and medium options have a panel on the back that allows you to slip it right onto the handles of your rolling luggage.
The L and XL options come in rolling duffel option, while the S and M do not.
Best Carry On Suitcase – TravelPro Platinum Elite Carry On Rolling Garment Bag
This year’s pick is a rolling suitcase from TravelPro’s Platinum Elite series. Expensive suits and nice dress clothes are tucked away safely in this garment bag. Ball-bearing wheels offer an effortless roll that allows you to move through the airport quickly.
Genuine leather details add to the bag’s overall style and durability. However, the downside is this bag comes in at over $300. If that price is little out of your price range, it may be worth checking out the other garment bag options that range from $50 and up.
Best Carry On Backpack – Osprey Farpoint Men’s 40 Travel Backpack
Osprey’s Farpoint Backpack series has long been hailed as one of the best options whether you’re traveling from coast to coast in airports, or across all of Europe by foot. The bag comes in two sizes, large and small. The small pack comes in at about three pounds, with the large just two pounds heavier.
The bag is safe to carry on as a personal item. The bag is resistant to tears and holes, but if for some reason one does appear, the ripstop material will prevent it from becoming larger. The tear or hole becomes isolated to that one area and will not spread over time.
Still not convinced on a single bag?
It can be overwhelming with all the options out there, but fear not! This carry on luggage buying guide will show you what features you should be paying attention to and what other features are just hot air.