A sturdy, well-designed carry-on bag is one of the most important products any traveler can buy—especially if you’re looking to pack light and avoid checking a suitcase. But while there are plenty of pricey carry-ons on the market ($3,250 carbon fiber suitcase, anyone?), you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a solid carry-on that can serve you well all over the globe.
In our search for the best affordable carry-on luggage, we looked for bags that cost less than $150 and fit within the most major U.S. airlines’ current size restrictions, which are smaller than they used to be at 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Check out 32 airlines’ carry-on and personal item restrictions here. We also scoped out a variety of bag types, from hardside spinners to rolling duffels. Finally, we chose only bags that were well-reviewed by customers on Amazon. Check out this roundup of the best cheap carry-on luggage.
Hardside Spinner Suitcases
Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion Hardside Spinner 20-Inch
We love the brushed look on the exterior of this suitcase, which appears stylish but also helps hide scuff marks. Inside is a main compartment with compression straps, and a zippered section with two mesh pockets on the other side. There’s a built-in TSA combination lock, but unfortunately, no side handle. The bag measures 21.5 x 13.5 x 9.64 inches, according to the Samsonite website, and weighs 6.7 pounds.
Rockland Melbourne 20-Inch Expandable Abs Carry-On Luggage
This affordable bestseller comes in nearly two dozen different colors including lime, turquoise and magenta (of course, basic black is an option too). Inside is a main compartment with compression straps and a zippered section, and there are handles on both the top and the side. Its size when expanded is a smidge over most U.S. airlines’ limits (22.1 x 14.4 x 9.2 inches), but it’s close enough that most travelers shouldn’t have an issue.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4-Wheel, 20-Inch Upright Suitcase
This seven-pound carry-on is sleek and attractive, available in nearly a dozen colors. With the wheels it comes in right around the airline size limit for carry-ons (21.75 x 15.25 x 9 inches), and it includes handles on the top and side for easy hoisting. There’s a large zippered compartment inside, as well as a smaller zippered pocket for odds and ends, and a main compartment with compression straps.
Softside Spinner Suitcases
Samsonite Flexis Softside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
This Samsonite style is available in two carry-on sizes, a 19-inch version or a 20-inch version. With a built-in USB port and accessible “quick change” pocket for clothes or shoes, it’s the ideal bag for a business traveler or someone who is always on the go.
AmazonBasics Premium Upright Expandable Softside Suitcase with TSA Lock
This well-reviewed and affordable softsided carry-on bag comes in at 19 inches. The two inline wheels lend to comfortable rolling and help minimize its size.
Travelpro Bold 22-Inch Expandable Rollaboard
If you’re looking for a lightweight bag from a reputable brand, consider this Travelpro offering, which weighs 7.4 pounds. Nice touches include compression straps and a zippered pocket designed to hold wet clothes and toiletries. The bag is expandable, but the tapered design helps the weight stay balanced. There’s a large pocket on the exterior of the bag, as well as a mesh compartment inside, plus a zippered pouch for incidentals.
AmazonBasics Underseat Luggage
This affordable, underseat carry-on bag has over 600 five-star reviews on Amazon. The easy-access front pocket is ideal for in-flight essentials and the bag is backed by an AmazonBasics’ 1-year limited warranty.
Lucas Wheeled Under-the-Seat Cabin Bag
If you want a bag small enough to go under the seat in front of you on the plane, consider this compact offering, which measures 15.7 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches. The bag includes multiple interior and exterior pockets, as well as some fun extras: a hanging cosmetic satchel, travel slippers and a document holder. It comes in red, black, or blue.
Samsonite Wheeled Underseater
Despite its small size, this bag is stuffed with handy zippered pockets for easy organization, including side pockets that can hold water bottles and a removable pouch for travel-size liquids and gels. This bag is currently available in black, pink, purple, and teal.
Matein Rolling Backpack
Matein’s rolling backpack comes in at 13 x 9.05 x 19.68 inches and weighs just 4.8 pounds. It has a separate fully padded laptop pocket and main compartment to fit various clothing items. The handle can be hidden by an exterior zipped pocket, making this affordable carry-on bag easy to carry as a backpack as well.
High Sierra Adventure Access Carry-On Wheeled Backpack
High Sierra’s affordable carry-on wheeled backpack is actually three bags in one: a wheeled bag, a backpack, and a daypack. Its total dimensions are 9 x 22 x 13.5 inches.
Rolling Duffel Bags
World Traveler Black White Damask Rolling Wheeled Duffel Bag
This pretty black and white bag can be carried over your shoulder, held by the hand straps, or rolled along behind you. Exterior and interior pockets help keep travelers organized, and the bag packs mostly flat when it’s empty for easy storage. The bag measures 21 x 11 x 11 inches, so you won’t have to worry about fitting it into an overhead bin.
Kattee Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag Leather Trim Canvas Wheeled Travel Bag
This attractive bag features leather trim, a roomy main compartment, and plenty of pockets inside and out. There’s a retractable trolley handle, as well as shoulder and hand straps, so you can carry it three different ways. We saw conflicting reports on this bag’s size (the Kattee official site confusingly lists it at both 20.87 x 16.53 x 9.05 inches and 21.7 x 14.8 x 10.2 inches), but the fact that it’s a duffel means that you can squish it into most overhead bins and airport bag sizers.
Carry-On Duffel Bags
This hybrid backpack-duffel carry-on bag has a 40-liter capacity and is made of waterproof materials. Its dimensions are 12.5 x 20.5 x 12.5 inches, so the bag will fit in all airline overhead bins and meet all TSA guidelines.
Bric’s X-Bag/X-Travel Collection Folding Duffel
Bric’s folding duffel is the ultimate carry-on bag. It’s made from sturdy, waterproof, and easy-to-clean nylon; and the affordable carry-on luggage looks polished and expensive. The bag is also incredibly lightweight and can be folded and stored flat, ready for use as an additional travel bag. The carry-on duffel holds items for up to three days, and inside you’ll even find a mini-shoulder bag to use as a day bag on your travels.
Lo & Sons The Catalina Deluxe
This is SmarterTravel editor Ashley Rossi’s go-to weekend bag. She says it fits everything you need and more for a long weekend getaway and can be shoved into just about any overhead bin. The affordable carry-on luggage has inner organizational pockets and a bottom compartment for shoes and bulkier items. Bonus: the canvas material is easy to clean and durable.
What to Pack in Your Carry-On
Women’s Casual-Wear for New Zealand
Men’s Spring Travel Outfit
Women’s Dressy Outfit for a Day Out in the Sun
Men’s Evening Outfit for Croatia
Women’s Swimwear for a Florida Trip on the Beach
Men’s Swimwear for Punta Cana
Women’s Outfit for Walking to Tijuana
Men’s Outfit for Walking to Tijuana
Women’s Business Casual Outfit for Travel with Carry-On
What type of carry-on bag do you use? Share your pick in the comments.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Things Not to Do When Checking a Bag
- How to Pack Efficiently: 8 Products That Can Help
- Choosing the Right Travel Luggage
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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