10 Best Carry-On Bags for Every Traveler

by , SmarterTravel Staff
10 Best Carry On Bags (Photo: SmarterTravel)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 30, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: baggage, Dara Continenza, product reviews.

(Photo: SmarterTravel)

These days, everyone has a carry-on bag. After domestic airlines began raking in billions in checked-bag fees in 2008, the amount of passengers packing carry-ons soared, according to TSA statistics. This means the carry-on market has exploded. Every major luggage retailer now offers multiple carry-on models in multiple sizes, each with an exhaustive list of features and configurations. So which one is best for you? In-line vs. spinner wheels? Collapsible vs. hard-sided? Lightweight vs. ultralightweight? Buckles? Ballistic material?


Don't get overwhelmed, travelers. We've narrowed down dozens of bags to come up with this list of 10 exemplary carry-on options. We schlepped these suitcases on public transportation and airplanes and through security and customs, packed them and lifted them over our heads, and careened with them at full-speed around sharp corners. Of course, luggage is not one-size-fits-all, so we took into account several criteria, including height, weight, maneuverability, and all the bells and whistles—from TSA-approved combination locks to high-performance materials—when devising this list.

Best of all, each of these bags comes in at $300 or under (and some are way under; think $80 or less). Further markdowns can always be found via Amazon, eBags, and other discount retailers, so before you buy at full price, do some Internet sleuthing for the best possible deal.

What's our recommendation for you? Read on for the 10 best carry-on bags for each type of traveler.

Delsey Helium Breeze 4.0 Carry-On Expandable Spinner Suiter Trolley

Best for: The organizational genius

The Good: This bag, from iconic French brand Delsey, was one of our favorites for its organizational features. Somewhat lightweight but still remarkably durable, it gets its shape and sturdy stature from its tough ballistic material. A padded laptop sleeve on the front of the bag makes it easy to pack your gadgets (and remove them for inspection in the TSA security line). An easy-to-access compartment at the bottom of the bag seamlessly stores toiletries or dirty laundry, while the interior contains multiple mesh pockets: perfect for the hyperorganized.

The Iffy: When in use, the laptop sleeve can make the bag front-heavy and liable to tip. Also, the bag's spinner wheels may stick out of the airplane's overhead compartment, so you'll need to stow this Delsey sideways (or risk it not fitting on a super-crowded flight).

Weight: 8.75 lb.

Dimensions: 20.5" x 14" x 9.5"

List Price: $300 via

Read the Entire Story: 10 Best Carry-On Bags for Every Traveler.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at

Read comments or add your own insight!