The Best Carry-On Luggage for All Types of Travelers

Courtesy of Retailer

Obvious statement of the day: Traveling in the post-Pandemic can be pretty stressful. But the silver-lining is you can eliminate—or at least minimize—stress if you do your traveling right. That means arriving to the airport early, making sure you have on comfortable clothes (not pajamas), and packing efficiently.

Which brings us to arguably the most vital piece of luggage a person can own, a carry-on bag. The first step to finding your favorite carry-on luggage is by deciding what kind of travel you will be embarking on. If it’s a short weekend trip a backpack or duffel bag will suffice, but if you’re going away for, say, a week then a carry-on suitcase will likely be more efficient.



  • Best Carry-On Duffel Bag

    Medium Rugged Twill Duffle Bag
    Filson

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  • Best Carry-On Backpack

    Travel Pack 45 L
    Peak Design

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  • Best Carry-On Suitcase

    The Carry-On
    Away

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  • Most Stylish Carry-On

    Base Camp Duffel—S
    North Face

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  • Best Luxe Carry-On

    Classic Cabin
    Rimowa

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Before upgrading your carry-on bag there are a few factors you should consider. First, make sure measurements are TSA-approved—most airlines allow carry-ons no larger than 22 inches long by 14 inches wide by 9 inches tall, including wheels and handle. If you’re a heavy packer, you’ll want an expandable bag to maximize space. If you’re storing your suitcase in a small closet, you might want a bag that flattens when empty.

Read more: Best Luggage Brands

We curated the top carry-on bags for all types of frequent flyers. The pieces of luggage below represent a wide range of budgets and style preferences, but what you will find though is each carry-on prioritizes function over everything. Your carry-on luggage probably won’t be able to help you tune out the screaming baby across the aisle, but it will certainly get your gear from point A to point B with as low amount of stress as possible!

Best Carry-On Duffel Bag

Medium Rugged Twill Duffle Bag

  • Weatherproof canvas
  • Spacious main compartment
  • Made in USA

Made with rain-resistant rugged twill and bridle leather, Filson duffle bags are almost guaranteed to last you for years to come. Design notes like a rust proof brass zipper and storm flap closures help bolster the bag to combat weather, and its interior pockets are made of dry finish tin cloth for added durability. Simply put, this is the All-American choice (made in the USA) of carry-on duffles.

  • Dimensions: 20″ x 12″ x 13″
  • Material: Rugged twill
  • Capacity: 43 L

Read more: Best Travel Bags

Best Carry-On Backpack

Travel Pack 45 L

  • Holds up to 45 L
  • Made with 100% recycled nylon canvas
  • Lightweight

If you like travel backpacks but often find yourself wanting a tad bit more space, Peak Design’s 45 L Travel Pack is the answer. Aside from the quick access top pocket, the rest of the bag’s storage is kept under wraps in its gigantic main compartment. Two zippered openings exist to access the compartment, with one acting like a traditional backpack zipper and the other providing you the option to open the bag suitcase style. Oh, and both the zippers and the 100% recycled nylon canvas shell are weatherproof.

  • Dimensions: 22″ x 13″ x 11″
  • Material: Recycled 40-denier nylon
  • Capacity: 45 L

Read more: Best Travel Pants

Best Carry-On Suitcase

The Carry-On

  • Wide array of colors available
  • 360-degree spinner wheels
  • Strong polycarbonate shell

The Carry-On has risen to become a luggage staple for frequent travelers. Because Away is a direct-to-consumer brand, you’re able to get a top-quality suitcase without any extra costs. What you get is a strong polycarbonate hard shell with 360-degree spinner wheels and an ejectable USB charger to give you phone extra juice while on-the-go. An interior compression system and water-resistant laundry bag are added to make packing for the ride back just as easy as the initial departure. Away also just knocks it out of the park with a great minimalist design and the opportunity to select from a wide array of colors.

  • Dimensions: 21.7″ x 13.7″ x 9″
  • Material: Polycarbonate shell
  • Capacity: 39.8 L

Read more: Best Hoodies

Most Stylish Carry-On

Base Camp Duffel—S

  • Wallet-friendly
  • Strong water-resistant shell
  • Comes with padded side handles and shoulder straps

Recognized by colors like Summit Gold and TNF Red, North Face’s duffle bags have risen into iconic luggage status. The affordable bag (under $130) is designed with a generous main compartment and stitched together with a water-resistant shell. And small utility details like padded side handles, compression straps, and detachable shoulder straps, make it easy to carry through even the densest crowds.

  • Dimensions: 13″ X 21″ X 13″
  • Material: Ballistic nylon
  • Capacity: 50 L

Read more: Best T-Shirts

Best Luxe Carry-On

Classic Cabin

  • Made from lightweight aluminum alloy
  • Impact-resistant riveted aluminum corners
  • Long lifespan

It wouldn’t be right to talk about the best carry-on luggage without bringing up Rimowa. Go with the classic all-silver design and enjoy the fact knowing you will likely use this suitcase for the next ten years. We’re talking premium anodized aluminum alloy for the body, riveted high-gloss aluminum corners, and handmade leather handles. It’s truly German engineering at its finest.

  • Dimensions: 21.7″ x 15.8″ x 9.1″
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Capacity: 33 L

Amazon’s Choice

Omni PC Hardside

  • Wallet-friendly
  • Wide array of colors available
  • Scratch-resistant textured shell

You can never go wrong with Samsonite when it comes to carry-on suitcases. For us, the Samsonite with the best overall value is the Omni PC. The stylish hardshell case comes loaded with all the bells and whistles. We’re talking multi-directional spinner wheels, TSA-compatible side locks, and a retractable pull handle. What’s cool is the polycarbonate diamond texture is highly scratch-resistant, so your case will stay looking clean and sleek through all your getaways.

  • Dimensions: 22″ x 15″ x 9.5″
  • Material: Textured polycarbonate
  • Capacity: 41 L

Best Bang for Your Buck

The Garment Duffel

  • Under $100
  • Easily stores a suit
  • Efficient fold-out design

Don’t let the outside of this bag fool you. Halfday designed this compact duffel to fit a suit, two pairs of shoes, and five days worth of clothes. The secret is in the bag’s fold-out design, which makes it so you can store your suit wrinkle-free by gently wrapping it around the everyday clothes you’re storing on the interior. And the fact it’s under $100 is just plain amazing.

  • Dimensions: 22″ x 12″ x 12″
  • Material: Canvas
  • Capacity: 45 L

Quality eco-friendly luggage is hard to find, mostly because brands rely so heavily on plastics. That’s far from the case for Cotopaxi. Their Allpa travel pack is made from 100% repurposed nylon (no one bag is alike) and holds up to 35 L of goods thanks to a smart suitcase opening design. Inside the bag are large and small mesh storage compartments as well as a padded laptop sleeve. And along with the bag you get a sleek rain cover for when the weather starts taking a turn for the worst.

  • Dimensions: 20″ x 12″ x 8″
  • Material: Repurposed nylon
  • Capacity: 35 L

Just like their cowboy boots, Tecovas’ bags don’t miss. The Weekender is perfect for quick tw0-day getaways thanks to its durable Presidio leather handles and trim, solid brass hardware, and waxed canvas body. This is a classic duffle bag that’s only going to look better the more it’s beaten up.

  • Dimensions: 18 ¼” x 12” x 11”
  • Material: Waxed canvas
  • Capacity: 39 L

Monos is an Asian-founded brand that makes an excellent carry-on suitcase. The Carry-On Pro is made with a polycarbonate shell and comes with a built-in compression pad, an antimicrobial laundry bag, and two shoe bags to help organize your clothes. Our favorite feature of though is the streamlined front compartment that’s made to store your laptops and tablets, thus eliminating the burden of having to load your tech in your personal item (like a backpack).

  • Dimensions: 23″ × 15″ × 9.5″
  • Material: Polycarbonate
  • Capacity: 46 L

For the past six months, we consulted with Men’s Health‘s editors and writers on the best carry-on luggage. Experts, including our Gear and Commerce Editor, John Thompson, put a number carry-on luggage pieces to the test and evaluated their storage space, durability, weight, and price. We also considered top-reviewed carry-ons that had high customer ratings on e-commerce websites we trust.

John Thompson is the E-Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology.

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