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Male tourist traveling by plane Passengers place their carry-on luggage in lockers above their seats on the plane.
Witoon | Adobe Stock

The Best Carry-On Luggage 2024, Tested and Reviewed by Travel Editors

Packing for a trip can be stressful, especially if you’re trying to fit everything you need into a carry-on bag. With increasingly strict airline baggage allowances and common occurrences of lost/mishandled checked bags, finding the right carry-on suitcase is key to avoiding expensive checked baggage fees and ensuring your stuff makes it to your destination. 

No one understands this struggle more than the SmarterTravel team. As travel editors, we travel a lot (and are firm carry-on only flyers.) We tested and reviewed the top carry-on luggage over hundreds of trips to help you find one perfectly suited for all your travels.

The carry-on bags we reviewed underwent rigorous testing to see how they held up to the realities of travel. We evaluated important factors like size and weight, wheeled performance, ease of packing, durability, and special features. Our testing process included packing each bag to capacity, carrying it through airports, stowing it in overhead bins, and taking it on planes, trains, and automobiles during real-world trips.

Ranging in price from affordable to splurge-worthy, the best carry-on suitcases earned top marks across all our tests for their optimal size, seamless maneuverability, handy organization, stylish looks, and resilience.

From a lightweight hard-sided spinner that fits easily in tiny overheads to a large carry-on that expands for over-packers, these are our travel editors’ picks for the best carry-on suitcases of 2024. 

Best Carry-On Suitcase Overall: Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On Suitcase

Outline Pro Carry-On Spinner
Samsonite.com

The Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On Suitcase was our favorite of all the carry-on suitcases we tested. This smart and sleek suitcase is made from a durable polypropylene shell that helps contribute to its light weight of 6.4 lbs. Smooth spinner wheels and an adjustable handle make this bag easy to wheel even when fully packed.

The interior is just as nice, lined with a fabric made from 100 percent plastic bottles. There’s also a multi-functional panel divider that can compress clothes to create more space while providing pockets for organization. One of the pockets is water-resistant, so you can use it to separate swimsuits or wet clothing on the journey home.

Our favorite feature of the Samsonite Outline Pro is the antimicrobial handle technology used on the trolley grip and side handles, which helps keep us healthy while traveling. 

Dimensions: 15” x 10” x 23”

Weight: 6.4 lbs

Best Large Carry-On Suitcase: Roam Large Carry-On Suitcase

Roam Large Carry-On Suitcase
Roamluggage.com

If you want to test the limits of an airline’s carry-on policy, we recommend the Roam Large Carry-On Suitcase as the best large carry-on suitcase. We’ve taken this suitcase on hundreds of flights and have only ever had to check it on very small puddle-jumper planes. This roomy carry-on can hold up to 42 liters, making it a great suitcase for chronic overpackers. 

This suitcase comes with two compression boards, which can be used to divide the two halves of the suitcase and help you fit even more in. The boards have large pockets perfect for packing cords and other small items. 

We also love that all Roam luggage can be customized to suit your style—you can choose the color of every part of this suitcase, right down to the wheels, to create a unique bag that definitely won’t get mixed up at baggage claim.

Dimensions:  9” x 16.25” x 22”

Weight: 7.7 lbs

Best Expandable Carry-On Suitcase: Delsey Rempart Carry-On Suitcase

Limited Edition Carry-On Expandable Spinner
Delsey.com

An expandable suitcase is like having two bags in one—keep it small and compact for a short trip or open it up for a longer journey (or for the return trip when you buy lots of souvenirs to bring home). Delsey’s Rempart Carry-On Suitcase is our favorite expandable bag due to its patented Securitech Zipper that’s three times more resistant than a standard zipper (so you don’t have to worry about it ripping open, even when it’s expanded to its maximum capacity).

Other thoughtful features include an integrated TSA-combination lock, two packing compartments with compression straps, zippered pockets, and a lined divider. We also love that the interior lining can be removed and washed—an innovation you’ll appreciate if you’ve ever come home with a sandy suitcase after a beach trip.

Three carrying handles allow this bag to be carried in various ways. If you have other Delsey suitcases, the Rempart’s modular design allows it to stack on top for easy carrying and storage. 

Dimensions: 13.75” x 10.25” x 21.75”

Weight: 6.7 lbs

Best Soft-Sided Carry-On Suitcase: Travelpro Maxlite 5

Travelpro Maxlite 5
Amazon

The best soft-sided carry-on suitcase is also one of the lightest weight options on our list. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 lives up to its name, weighing just 5.4 lbs. This model is the brand’s latest and is a full half-pound lighter than the previous iteration, the Travelpro Maxlite 5. 

The suitcase has a unique tapered design that helps prevent it from tipping over when upright (a common problem with soft-sided suitcases). It also has a solid bottom tray design that helps increase the bag’s durability. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 can expand to 2 inches to provide extra space when needed. The interior is lined with a waterproof protectant that helps keep the bag dry. 

This suitcase comes with Travelpro’s limited lifetime warranty, which will cover the cost of repairs if it’s damaged for one year after purchase. 

Dimensions: 23” x 14.5” x 9” 

Weight: 5.4 lbs

Best Small Carry-On Suitcase: Eagle Creek Gear Warrior XE 4-Wheel Carry-On Luggage

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior XE 4-Wheel Carry-On Luggage
EagleCreek.com

We love the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior XE 4-Wheel Carry-On because it’s deceptively spacious for its small size and light weight. It even expands slightly to give you a little bit of extra space when you need it. We’ve packed for week-long trips with just this bag and had no issues fitting everything in. Despite the diminutive size, this suitcase is packed with organizational features, like an exterior laptop sleeve and interior zippered pockets. 

Made from 100 percent recycled, water-resistant fabric, this carry-on-sized spinner bag is easy to wipe clean and great for rainy destinations. 

The Warrior is equipped with heavy-duty wheels that allow you to roll this bag over rough terrain—a perfect pick for navigating the cobblestone streets of Europe.

Dimensions: 21.65” x 14” x 10”

Weight: 8 lbs 12 oz

The Best Hardsided Carry-On Suitcase: Away The Carry-On

Away The Carry-On
Awaytravel.com

Away’s The Carry-On Suitcase has won many awards and is beloved by travelers, and for good reason—it’s smartly designed. The Carry-On is Away’s smallest suitcase and will fit in most overhead compartments and pass all but the strictest baggage sizers at the gate.

This durable carry-on suitcase is crafted from 100 percent polycarbonate for maximum impact resistance. It glides smoothly on premium 360-degree spinner wheels and features a telescoping trolley handle with two height settings for ergonomic maneuvering. The water-resistant shell safeguards your belongings, while convenient features like the TSA-approved lock, laundry bag, and color-matched luggage tag help streamline your packing routine. 

Thoughtfully designed, the suitcase maximizes storage with a double-buckle compression pad and extensive interior organization like three mesh pockets and a handy hanging pocket. Reverse coil zippers grant easy access to the wide opening, and an underside grab handle aids lifting. 

As a bonus, Away’s carry-on suitcase comes in a variety of beautiful colors, including glossy and matte options. 

Dimensions: 21.7″ x 14.4″ x 9″

Weight: 7.5 lbs

The Best Luxury Carry-On Suitcase: Tumi Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On

Tumi Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On
Amazon

The Tumi Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On is an organized packer’s dream. The design of this suitcase keeps suits, shoes, clothes, and toiletries neatly separated and wrinkle-free. Convenient amenities like the built-in USB port and built-in TSA lock maximize functionality. 

This is a great suitcase choice for business travelers, as the interior features a removable garment sleeve and fiberglass rod that allows you to hang a suit or dress inside the case without getting crushed or wrinkled. 

The Continental Dual Access features Tumi’s signature smooth-rolling wheels and a 3-stage telescoping handle for easy maneuverability. Protective features like molded bumpers and side panels guard against impacts, while built-in tracers and TSA-approved locks keep valuables secured. With options for top, side, or bottom access via well-designed zippers, this suitcase optimizes packing efficiency for several days of travel. 

Dimensions: 22.0″ X 16.0″ X 9.0″

Weight: 11.1 lbs

The Best Carry-On Backpack: L.L. Bean Approach Travel Pack

L.L. Bean Approach Travel Pack
L.L. Bean

A carry-on doesn’t have to be limited to a suitcase. For the ultimate in mobility, opt for a backpack as your carry-on. You won’t have to worry about climbing stairs or pulling a bag over rough sidewalks, and a backpack can fit under your seat on a full plane when necessary, avoiding the dreaded gate-check. 

Our favorite carry-on backpack is the L.L. Bean Approach Travel Pack. Use it on its own for a short trip, or combine it with a checked bag (put all the essentials in the backpack and carry it on the plane) for longer journeys.  

The Approach Travel Pack opens flat and can be packed like a suitcase, unlike a traditional backpack where you’ll have to shove everything in through the top and dig through the entire bag to find something buried at the bottom.

Dimensions: 20” x 12.5” x 10”

Weight: 3.3 lbs

How We Tested These Carry-Ons

These are the carry-on suitcases that the SmarterTravel team uses on their own trips. We’ve taken them on countless flights, train trips, road trips, and cruises to find out the pros and cons of each bag. 

When testing a carry-on, we consider the following factors:

  • Size and weight
  • Durability
  • Ease of transportation
  • Organizational features
  • Capacity

We’ve tested out numerous suitcases that didn’t make the cut, which helped us narrow the list to the best carry-ons worth investing in. 

FAQ

What Size is a Carry-On Suitcase

The dimensions for a carry-on suitcase vary by airline and generally change depending on if it’s an international or domestic flight. For flights within the United States, the most common size limit for a carry-on suitcase is 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches high. 

The international carry-on suitcase size limit is usually 21.7 inches by 15.7 inches wide by 9 inches high, but this will vary by airline.

Note that airline carry-on size limits include all aspects of the suitcase, including the handles and the wheels, so be sure to check the total dimensions of your bag and not just the interior measurements. If your suitcase meets the size limit but the wheels don’t, it will not pass the carry-on sizer test.

Always check with your airline for the correct carry-on size for your trip, as it can change by destination. 

Is There a Weight Limit for Carry-Ons?

There usually isn’t a weight limit for carry-ons on domestic flights within the United States (unless you’re flying on a very small plane). However, you must be able to lift the suitcase into the overhead bin without assistance.

International flights are generally stricter with weight limits and will weigh your carry-on bag when you check-in. These weight restrictions vary quite a bit by airline but generally range from 15 to 35 lbs. 

What Can’t You Pack in a Carry-On Suitcase?

Remember, carry-on suitcases are subject to stricter security restrictions than checked bags. You can’t pack these items in carry-on suitcases, but you can pack them in your checked luggage:

  • Liquids or gels bigger than 3.4 ounces
  • Sharp objects (including knives, hiking poles, and large scissors) 
  • Certain sporting goods (such as baseball bats and hockey sticks)
  • Self-defense items (including pepper spray and brass knuckles)
  • Weapons (including firearms) 

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We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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