Best Carry-On Luggage: Roll Through the Airport with Ease

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Running through the airport to catch your flight and one of the wheels on your bag breaks. Or your zipper snags and the luggage won’t stay closed. What a nightmare! That is why investing in a well-constructed, dependable carry on bag with reliable wheels will prevent you from having to carry your bag (literally).

Article Overview

The Benefit Of Carrying On Your Bag?

Airlines lose 24 million bags a year. Some of those misplaced bags are delayed while others are lost forever. Yikes! For that reason sticking with carry-on bags is the best way to travel.

What Size Is Allowed For Carry On Bags?

There is no standard set by TSA. Each airline sets its own restrictions for what size is allowed for carry on bags. All the bags we reviewed fit within most major airline’s size requirements.

Best Carry-On Luggage

Here are our top picks for the best carry on bags with pricing and pros and cons for each.

Samsonite Freeform Review: 21″ Spinner

Samsonite Freeform Spinner#1

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The Samsonite Freeform Hardside 21″ Spinner rolls comfortably beside you throughout your trip making it our #1 pick for best carry-on suitcase. It has four spinner wheels, so you have the option to roll it behind you or next to you.

The exterior is light-weight and scratch-resistant to keep its new look for numerous trips. The interior has a divider to keep your belongings on each side of the bag in addition to cross straps. When you pack your belongings in this bag and get to your final destination, all of your items will still be in the same place as where you packed them. It expands for extra room, has a built-in TSA combo lock, push-button locking handle and a sliding slot for ID tag at the top.

The downside is that the exterior has no pockets, so no quick access to your belongings, but that is pretty typical for hard shell luggage. Given the con, this is still the best Samsonite carry on in our opinion.



  • Scratch-resistant
  • Four multi-directional spinner wheels
  • TSA-approved lock
  • Expandable option
  • 10-year warranty
  • Zip interior divider with cross straps
  • No small pockets to access on the exterior


Tech Specs

  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 19.0″ x 14.5″ x 9.75″

American Tourister Luggage Reviews: Splash 2 Upright 21

American Tourister Splash 2 Upright 21#2

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The second best carry-on bag goes to the American Tourister Splash 2 21″ Upright. It has most of the features you want in a carry-on suitcase.

The interior has cross straps to keep your clothes in place, there’s an expandable option to give you a little more room for your belongings and there are exterior compartments to place things you need quick access to.

The downside is it’s only got two wheels, so if you prefer the flexible spinner style with four wheels this isn’t the suitcase for you.



  • 10-year warranty
  • Expandable option
  • Exterior compartments for quick access to belongings
  • Interior cross straps
  • Handle on side and bottom to help place on scanner belt and in overhead bins
  • Only two wheels
  • No built-in lock


Tech Specs

  • Weight: 7.1 lbs
  • Dimensions: 21″ x 14.5″ x 8″

Travelpro Luggage Review: Maxlite3 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard

TravelPro Luggage MaxLite3 22" Expandable Rollaboard#3

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The TravelPro Luggage MaxLite3 22″ Expandable Rollaboard is similar to the American Tourist carry-on except it comes at a higher price.

This particular TravelPro suitcase has a List Price of around $120. We can’t justify spending more than $100 on a carry-on when you can get essentially the same thing for much less. However, it’s stain resistant exterior may make it worth snagging.



  • Fabric has water and stain resistant coating
  • Carry handles on side and bottom
  • Expansion capability
  • Exterior pockets
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Only two wheels
  • No built-in lock


Tech Specs

  • Weight: 6.3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 14″ x 22″

Other Carry-On Suitcase Reviews To Consider

Although these didn’t make our top 3, you’ll still want to read about them so you can make a more informed buying decision.

Nautica | Rockland

Nautica Luggage Reviews: Ahoy 21 Inch Hardside Spinner

Nautica Ahoy 21" Hardside SpinnerView on Amazon

Similar to the Samsonite above, this Nautica Ahoy 21″ Hardside Spinner case has a familiar look to it.

However, it’s missing some features, which is why it didn’t make our top 3. For example, this bag only has a 5-year warranty, which isn’t terrible but the industry standard seems to be 10 years. There is no expandable option either, which has become an industry standard as well.

But Nautica carry on luggage is overall very durable and a reputable brand.



  • Four multi-directional spinner wheels
  • Cross straps and interior zipper compartment
  • Only 5-year warranty
  • No expandable option
  • Lacks built-in lock
  • No small pockets on exterior or side handle


Tech Specs

  • Weight: 8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 21″ x 14″

Check out our Best Travel Website Reviews

Rockland Melbourne Luggage Review: 20-Inch Expandable Abs Carry On

Rockland Melbourne 20" Expandable Abs Carry OnView on Amazon

The Rockland Melbourne 20″ Expandable Abs Carry On Luggage has a hard shell exterior. This means there are no small pockets for easy access to belongings, and no side handle to help you carry the case when rolling it is not an option.

This suitcase also has four spinner wheels so you can roll it comfortably next to you or behind you, and the interior has cross straps to hold your clothes in place.

Overall, if you’re looking for a hard suitcase like this, we suggest you go with the Samsonite above. It’s priced similarly and has a better warranty with more features.



  • Four multi-directional spinner wheels
  • Expandable option
  • Cross straps on the interior
  • Only 3-year warranty
  • No built-in lock or side handle
  • Lacking small pockets on the exterior


Tech Specs

  • Weight: 7.3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 14.4″ x 9.2″ x 22.1″

Best Carry-On Backpack: SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900 Review

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900View on Amazon

You’ve chosen the best carry-on bag, but now you need the best carry-on backpack (to go under your seat).

Our favorite is the SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900. It has tons of pockets including ones for your water bottle, laptop, tablet, phone, headphones and more. There is plenty of space in this bag for your clothes, books and other travel essentials.

This bag is TSA approved, so when you go through security all you have to do is unzip the back of the bag and lay it out (butterfly style). No more dividing all your electronics into multiple bins.

This is a great bag that makes traveling easy.


Video: SwissGear ScanSmart BackPack

To get a further understanding of all the pockets and features of this bag, checkout this video.

Carry On Luggage vs Checked Bags

Airlines have cracked down on their luggage “laws” and make you pay to carry on a bag. In addition the size has gotten smaller and most airlines (including Delta, American and United) set their maximum dimensions at 22″ x 14″ x 9″. So, while ideal, carrying on isn’t always possible (or cost effective). Especially if you’re going on a long trip and need to pack more than what will fit in a smaller bag.

So check out our best luggage brands article which reviews the the most durable and stylist sets of luggage.

What happened when you lost your luggage?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She is one of Exploring Life's Mysteries most experienced researchers. When reviewing products and services her natural curiosity helps her dig deep and unearth the truth behind the marketing. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly grew up camping at the nearby lake with her family when she was a young girl. It wasn't until she met her husband that she rediscovered her love for the outdoors and began taking regular vacations to the national parks. Some of Kimberly's favorite memories include camping in a tent, hiking beautiful terrains, sitting around a campfire eating s'mores and sipping on a cold craft beer.

After three years of dating and exploring different regions of the U.S., Kimberly's husband proposed to her with the help of Exploring Life's Mysteries' online engagement content that she had researched and written. Not only was he able to design her ring himself, he was able to do so at great cost savings.

Kimberly likes starting her days with a warm cup of Nespresso, and she enjoys going for walks with her family and hound mix, Sally. In the evenings, she likes indulging in a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate while cozying up by the fire pit in her backyard.

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