best carry on luggage

Carry-on luggage is a lifesaver irrespective of the kind of trip you're looking to embark on!

Honestly, the kind of bag you travel with always determines if your journey will be stressful or not.

Sounds unbelievable?

Imagine traveling with a 50-pound bag, and on getting to your destination, you need to walk with the bag to the next train station located 70meter away from you.

I bet you'll regret it.

Also, don't forget that there are certain traveling rules imposed by airlines concerning luggage size, and checking luggage can be very stressful.

Hence, to save yourself from unwanted hassles, you need handy luggage that can serve you to the fullest without any compromise.

Perhaps you're looking to acquire carry-on luggage, but you need to be confident of your choice, don't panic because this guide will walk you through the best carry-on luggage for your next trip.

Be it hardside, software, two-wheel, spinner, backpack, or suitcase, we've curated a list of the best carry-on luggage in every category.

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Carry-on Bag Sizes: Domestic vs International

As stated earlier, there are certain traveling rules imposed by airlines concerning luggage size.

So, depending on the airline you fly, you'll need carry-on luggage with a size that suits the requirement of the airline.

For example, most domestic US flights require carry-on bag size to be a maximum of 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

However, for international US flights, it's best recommended you stick to a carry-on luggage size of 21 inches and below to avoid any kind of issues when boarding.

Softside v. Hardside Bags

Looking for a flexible bag? Then softside carry-on luggage is a perfect choice for you.

Softside carry-on makes it easy for folks to stuff their belongings (both perfectly shaped and irregular shaped items) in an organized manner effortlessly.

Yes, with softside carry-on bags, you can easily arrange small and large items using internal and external pockets, thus, enabling you to have quick access to your belongings when needed urgently.

Besides, if you're the kind of person who always remembers to add that last-minute item, softside bags will save you the stress of opening the main compartment, instead, you can either squeeze in the items or utilize the external pocket.

Just make sure you opt for a padded one if you're storing your tech.

Hardside carry-on bags, on the other hand, don't give users the room to squeeze more items.

Yes, this is because they are made of aesthetically durable materials, and they tend to be more protective of what's inside them, compared to softside carry-on bags.

Also, hard-side carry-on luggage is available in a wide variety of colors, and they tend to be more protective compared to soft-side bags.

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Two-wheel vs Spinner Wheels vs No Wheels

Two-wheel carry-on luggage just as the name suggests always comes with two wheels, while spinner luggage has four wheels, which is usually arranged in a multi-directional manner.

Spinner luggage is a great option for folks who feel comfortable pushing their bags by their side when walking.

Both of them usually have a retractable handle at the top, however, only spinner bags allow pushing and pulling (Two-wheels bags support only pulling) while walking.

Spinner carry-on luggage has a smaller space compared to the two-wheel carry-on (the space is used by the extra wheels).

You can also opt for a carry-on with no wheels, which means you will be carrying it throughout the airport and your journey as a whole. This will be more tiring, but can be more convenient. If you choose a backpack for example, it allows you to carry your items with two hands free.

Weight Limits

Weight matters when choosing carry-on luggage!

As we all know, airlines have a certain carry-on weight that a passenger must not exceed - most airlines have a maximum weight of 40 pounds per carry-on bag.

Thus, ensure your carry-on luggage doesn't exceed the given weight limit of your airline, so you won't pay any extra fee or go through unwanted stress.

In most cases, you will struggle to pack your hand luggage with enough weight to hit that limit, but it's always best to weigh it just in case.

*One tip if you're over the limit, is to purchase items from the airport in a plastic bag, then transfer some items from your carry-on to the bag, hence reducing the weight - and that plastic bag is allowed as a personal item.

Durable Handles

The best carry-on luggage will have a handle at the top and by the side for lifting.

Also, an extra sturdy telescopic handle should be available to enable you to push and pull the luggage easily (when wheeled).

Note: A good telescopic handle is long enough to enable users to easily pull or push luggage at their comfortable arms length, so check the measurements of the handle and compare to your height when standing.

Compartments and Interior Size

The interior construction of carry-on luggage consists of two types.

The deep compartment with an outer flap (typical of a softshell bag or backpack), or the ‘sandwich’ (also known as clamshell) compartment where the suitcase is split into 2 equal halves (usually a hardshell bag with no outer pockets).

You will often find that it's useful to have a carry-on with some exterior pockets, as they're useful for storage things you need to get quickly, such as your boarding pass or passsport.

Laptop Storage

Carry-on luggage with laptop compartments is a decent option for folks whose main purpose of traveling is work.

This kind of luggage gives your laptop maximum protection, and besides that, it makes it easy for you to access your laptop at security checks or anywhere when it's being needed.

Backpack vs. Duffel vs. Wheeled Carry-on Suitcase

Are you the type of person who likes to over-pack when embarking on a trip? Then a carry-on duffel bag is a perfect option. Yes, this is because the carry-on duffel is larger and has more space for you to add different items, and usually has a soft side that can accommodate extra items last minute.

Carry-on backpacks, on the other hand,  have lots of compartments for you to keep your travel accessories. Plus, it has even become a better option since US airlines introduced the Basic Economy fares. It allows you to keep both hands free for your boarding pass and passsport, as well as other essentials like holding onto an escalator handle.

A carry-on suitcase with wheels is best for those who don't want to carry their bag around with them the whole time. Resting the bag and rolling it on the wheels helps to save your energy, which is important, as traveling can be a stressful experience, so anything that helps you lower that stress is a good thing.

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Best Carry-on Luggage for 2022

Here we go over the best carry-on bags for 2022, by type and style:

Best Rolling Carry-on Bag with Wheels 2022

voyager leather carry on bag with wheels in brown

Winner: Voyager Leather Carry-on with Wheels

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • 16 inch laptop sleeve.
  • Easy to use rolling luggage.
  • Luggage tag included.
  • Two exterior pockets for easy-to-reach items.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Designer travel bag.
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Carry-on Duffel Bag 2022

weekender leather travel bag in brown

Winner: Weekender Leather Travel Bag

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • 16 inch internal padded laptop sleeve.
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • Internal zipped pocket for travel essentials like your passport.
  • Plenty of space for all your gear.
  • Adjustable shoulder strap.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Perfect overnight bag.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Carry-on Backpack 2022

Winner: 10X Leather Laptop Backpack

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Dedicated compartments, perfect for travel.
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • Can convert from backpack to shoulder bag for ease of access.
  • Top and side handles for when moving through airports.
  • Fits up to 15.6 inch laptop or tablet.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized
  • Available in brown, tan, black, or red leather.
  • Unisex.

Click here to check the price

Best Carry-on Garment Bag 2022

grand leather garment travel bag in brown

Winner: Grand Leather Garment Bag

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Dedicated garment carrier.
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • Carry a suit and shirt without creasing.
  • Large main compartment for other items.
  • 16 inch laptop compartment.
  • Adjustable shoulder strap.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Small Stylish Carry-on Bag 2022

liberty tan leather backpack for women

Winner: Liberty Leather Backpack

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • 14 inch laptop sleeve.
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • Affordable and lightweight.
  • Multiple front zipped compartments.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Laptop Carry-on Bag for Business Travel 2022

City leather laptop messenger bag in brown

Winner: CITY Leather Laptop Bag

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Detachable shoulder strap.
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • Fits up to a 15.6 inch laptop (also a 17 inch version here)
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Additional zipper pockets

Click here to check the price

Pros and Cons of a 22 inch Carry-on Bags

Pros:

  • Carry-on suitcases save you extra fees charged by the airline for checked-in luggage.
  • With a carry-on suitcase, you'll have instant access to your belongings.
  • Your valuables are safer and you don't tend to experience any kind of lost luggage scenario.
  • A carry-on suitcase saves you the time wasted on waiting for luggage.
  • Carry-on luggage gives you more flexibility in moving around. You don't need to go through the stress of dragging your bag.

Cons:

  • Carry-on luggage reduces stress, however, it can be very difficult to move with carry-on luggage up the stairs.
  • When handling carry-on luggage, it gets difficult to carry extra things like food, travel documents, or petty things you might want to get at the airport.

Key Features to Look Out For

A perfect carry-on suitcase satisfies your needs in terms of size, color, etc.

However, don't forget that your carry-on luggage must suit the airline restrictions on luggage size (height x width x depth). And in case you're unaware, most airlines include handles and wheels when measuring carry-on bag size.

In all, just make sure you acquire a suitcase you can vibe with when travelling. The handle shouldn't be hard to or sticky, the wheels shouldn't be cheap, etc.

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What is Smart Luggage?

Smart Luggage gives you more functionality other than just space to keep your items. It boasts elegant extra features ranging from electronic baggage, power banks to charge phones, TSA approved locks and a GPS tracker.

With smart luggage you have more peace of mind, knowing that your belongings are 100% safe and secured. Plus, even if your luggage gets missing, the GPS tracking installed on it makes it easy to find.

Are smart carry-on bags allowed on flights?

No! In 2019, lots of airlines such as; Delta, Alaska, American, etc, banned the carrying of lithium-ion batteries found in smart luggage.

Thus, instead of acquiring a smart suitcase, you should just get an external charger for your mobile device.

There are certain bags that may be allowed, but you should check the airline guidelines for more information.

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What to pack in a carry-on bag?

Your carry-on suitcase should consist of the most important items you need on your journey. From clothes to medications, jewelry, toiletries, etc.

Just make sure you pack all you need in case your checked luggage gets delayed.

Final Thoughts - A Bag That Works for You

You shouldn’t just define a bag by its look, it’s functionality should be your priority.

Yeah, I understand we all fancy gorgeous looking bags, but the question is ‘Is it the best carry-on suitcase for your travel?’

We recommend you should always test a carry-on bag before using it to embark on a trip.

It doesn’t matter if you’re acquiring a bag from one of the best brands, or you’ve read tons of reviews, just make sure you evaluate the quality of the carry-on bag before you travel with it.

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If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or contact Von Baer on info@vonbaer.com.

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Author: Albert Varkki
Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you. Connect on Linkedin

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