As the old saying goes, it’s not the destination that counts but the journey. And while we don’t always tend to agree when the destination is blue skies, zesty cocktails, and white sands, we do believe that the type of luggage you choose plays a crucial role in the overall success of your trip—particularly your carry-on.
The perfect carry-on ticks multiple boxes—the first (and perhaps most important) being that it fits into the ever-shrinking cabin requirements of airlines while maximizing packing capacity (a big ask).
But it’s more than just that; the right carry-on should also be effortlessly organized (reducing the stress of last-minute scrabbles) and comfortable to carry. Jumping aboard the remote-working train and living a digital nomad lifestyle myself, I personally understand how your travel bag can affect your journey. A comfortable carry can be more impactful than a five-star hotel (there, I said it). While a poor-quality carry-on can make Europe’s iconic cobblestone streets totally unenjoyable (yep, I’ve been there).
Don’t know where to find such a travel companion? Our list of the best carry-on luggage has a cabin bag for every type of wanderluster.
|Best Overall: |
|Best Value: |
|Our verdict||Ultra lightweight and multifunctional, this all-star carry-on flies high.||A well-(w)heeled rolling carry-on that gets compliments rolling.||Premium quality carry-on luggage at economy prices.|
|Get best deal||Get best deal||Get best deal|
Why you can trust Luxe Digital? As travel enthusiasts and frequent flyers ourselves, we know a thing or two about luxury travel (hint, hint: journey through our sister site Luxa Terra for luxury travel inspiration). All year long, we rigorously test and review elevated essentials, and go the extra mile to unearth gateway-ready gear that go the distance and brands that we believe will go places. For more on how we test products, see our HAPPY philosophy (read: Honorable Craftsmanship, Aesthetic Design, Positive Impact—on People and the Planet, Purpose and Function, and Yielding Value) for buying luxuries.
For this article, the team at Luxe Digital tested dozens of carry-ons (suitcases, duffles, weekenders, travel totes, and travel backpacks) in real-life international travels—from Europe’s cobblestone streets to Dubai’s desert. Read our methodology to pick the best carry-ons currently on the market below.
13 best carry-on luggage bags
- Horizn Studios H5: Overall best carry-on luggage
- Rimowa Original Cabin: Best luxury carry-on luggage
- Beis Travel: Best value carry-on suitcase
- Away Travel: Best hardside carry-on roller
- Samsonite Solyte: Best softside carry-on roller
- Nomatic Navigator: Best hybrid carry-on roller
- JanSport Driver: Best wheeled backpack
- Calpak Stevyn: Best wheeled duffel
- Bellroy Transit Plus: Best travel backpack
- Dagne Dover Landon Carryall: Best weekender bag
- Harber London Weekender: Best duffel bag
- KAAI Helix: Best travel tote
- Samsara Luggage: Best convertible carry-on luggage
Horizn Studios H5: Overall best carry-on luggage
|Material||Polycarbonate, 100% vegan|
|Weight||5 lbs (2.3 kg)|
- Partially recycled hard shell is incredibly durable, lightweight, and water-resistant
- Spinner wheels are effortless to wheel
- Telescopic handle is ultra smooth with four height options
- Clamshell opening is easy to pack with two dual-zippered main compartments
- Backed by a lifetime guarantee
- It is 100% vegan
- No external pockets means you have to carry another smaller bag for easy access to important documents or small essentials
If we could only choose one carry-on to take on every upcoming holiday, it would have to be this ultra-versatile, lightweight, durable iteration by Horizn Studios. Plus, it’s covered by a lifetime warranty, so it’s guaranteed to be a quality, once-off purchase.
The Horizn Studios H5 cabin bag has been recommended to us time and time again, so naturally, we had to get our hands on it to test it for ourselves. And oh, how it performed—earning its rightful position as our best carry-on in a highly competitive list. Talk about flying high!
The first thing we noticed was how smooth the telescopic handle was to pull out, with four height stages (making it perfect for both adults and, if our Editor-in-Chief’s kids are any indication, for children aged 4 and above). And while we know that a telescopic handle doesn’t make a great carry-on, it’s a significant detail when you’re on the move and one that made us excited to explore the rest of the cabin bag.
Our expectations were once again raised by how effortless (and silent) the four 360º Japanese wheels are to maneuver and just how lightweight the durable polycarbonate shell actually is—it is in fact the lightest rolling suitcase on our list and under the industry average for a suitcase of this capacity. We were pleasantly surprised by the clamshell opening with two spacious compartments protected by TSA-approved locks.
The thoughtful travel brand also has a smart version with a charging portal and other high-tech features, but we were more than happy to stick with the more affordable Horizn Studios H5 Essential for everyday travel.
Rimowa Original Cabin: Best luxury carry-on luggage
|Weight||9.5 lbs (4.3 kg)|
- Aluminum is the most durable material for suitcases
- Flex divider adjusts to fit your belongings and allows for easy organization
- 360º are super robust and effortless to maneuver
- Telescopic handle is smooth and seamless
- TSA-approved lock
- Aluminum is not as light as other materials like polycarbonate
- High price tag
A favorite of celebrities and first-class fliers around the world, the Rimowa Original cabin bag is the status spinner for you if you are looking for a once-off, luxury carry-on bag to outlast a multitude of getaways. Covered by a lifetime warranty, consider it an investment.
Rivaling even the best Gucci bags in luxury and sophistication, all Rimowa’s carry-on luggage is an investment into a lifetime of glamorous getaways. But no model quite reflects the distinct affluence of the label like the Original Cabin Bag.
Made from Rimowa’s signature aluminum, the LVMH-owned luggage brand’s instantly recognizable grooves speak to an industrial-chic aesthetic. While the durability of the material is guaranteed to withstand any test—whether dropped from the top of the luggage loader or mistakenly caught in a fire. However, your aluminum suitcase will show scuffs and scrapes, dents and dings. Embrace the visible wear and tear as visible proof of past travels—rather than something to avoid.
The quality standards of the luxury luggage brand extend to every detail of the bag. From its smooth telescopic handle and robust, maneuverable wheels to its unique adjustable flex dividers and all-important TSA-approved lock. Basically, if you’re looking for the best of the best (in luxury style and performance), the Rimowa cabin bag is it.
Beis Travel: Best value carry-on suitcase
|Capacity||49 L to 61 L expansion|
|Weight||8.36 lbs (3.79 kg)|
- Telescopic handle has a cushioned grip
- 49 L interior expands to 61 L to fit in more
- Zip pockets and pouches to store smaller essentials
- Virgin polycarbonate is water-resistant, stain-resistant and ultra-durable
- TSA-approved lock
- It’s a little heavier compared to other Polycarbonate options.
- Limited lifetime warranty doesn’t cover all damage.
If you’re a frequent traveler buying luggage for an entire family or just need a stylish and long-lasting cabin bag that is a little more affordable, you can’t go wrong with this one by Beis. While it’s priced under $250, you would never be able to tell by its superlative performance.
Let’s be honest, affordable carry-on luggage that is also high quality and stylish is almost impossible to come by. And once you’ve experienced a couple of European tours with worn-out wheels and tired handles, you’ll know that it’s worth investing in luggage that lasts. Owned by Pretty Little Liars alum Shay Mitchell, Béis however, is an exception to the rule—and that’s a fact. While the Carry On is priced at well under $250, it’s just as durable as some of the most expensive brands we’ve tried.
The cabin bag is made from virgin polycarbonate, which is more robust and durable than other polycarbonate shells. Featuring a built-in weight indicator (that tells you if your bag is overweight) and a clamshell opening, the bag is incredibly easy to pack and organize with smaller zipped pockets (all about that Béis 😀). But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Beis Cabin Bag is the strength of the wheels, we didn’t expect the $218 bag to survive our cobblestone wanderlusts. But it has—and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Away Travel: Best hardside carry-on roller
|Weight||7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)|
- Lightweight without compromising durability
- Underside grab handle makes it easier to lift
- Compression pad makes the most of the cabin-friendly size
- Water-resistant laundry bag separates clean from worn
- Limited lifetime warranty doesn’t cover everything
Although hardshells are usually more protective, they often allow for less packing space. That’s why we love this one by Away. Featuring a compression pad, the organized interior makes room for more, while sticking to cabin restrictions and protecting contents.
Known to many as “Instagram’s favorite suitcase”, Away The Carry-On has always been a favorite of influencers and celebrities, but now it’s also one of our favorite carry-on bags. Its sleek aesthetic and clever interior layout are paired with a durable polycarbonate hard shell and 360° spinner wheels. While plenty of limited-edition designs and personalization options present a fun way to customize your travel aesthetic.
We particularly appreciate how organized the Away carry-on suitcase is, featuring two compartments—one designed for clothes and the other for harder items like your luxury sneakers or toiletries. Additionally, the secret water-resistant laundry bag provides space for yesterday’s outfit. And the compression pad frees up even more space for those last-minute essentials you forgot to pack earlier.
Samsonite Solyte: Best softside carry-on roller
|Weight||6.97 lbs (3.16 kg)|
- Compression straps and external pockets maximize packing capacity
- USB port for charging devices on the go
- Super lightweight and effortless to wheel
- Expansion zip makes room for more
- Luggage sleeve for when you’re rolling more than one case
- Push-button handle is not as durable as other brands, but it is covered by a 10-year warranty
This softside roll-on marries the versatility of a duffel with the convenience of a roll-on. It’s a great option for those looking for a multifunctional carry-on that is affordable, lightweight and high quality.
Samsonite is one of our go-to brands for lightweight luggage that is well-designed but also affordable. The Samsonite Solyte Softside is case in point. Made from an ultra-light (yet surprisingly durable) polyester weave, the compact carry-on glides effortlessly through the airport with its robust 360º spinner wheels. While a plethora of internal and external compartments speak to the bag’s effortless organization.
The softside, roll-on silhouette means that you have the versatility (and packability) of a duffel but also the convenience of wheels. And we appreciate the luggage brand hasn’t skimped on any details—including TSA-approved locks and a USB port for charging devices on the move. Our only concern is that the handle doesn’t seem like it can handle (pun intended) a very heavy load, but the fact that the Samsonite Solyte is covered by a 10-year warranty helps put our minds at ease.
Nomatic Navigator: Best hybrid carry-on roller
|Capacity||37 L to 44 L expansion|
|Weight||7.8 lbs (3.54 kg)|
- Hybrid design (soft and hard) maximizes space and security
- 37 L interior expands to 44 L
- Compartmentalized with multiple slips and sleeves for tech and smaller items
- Protected laptop sleeve holds a 17” laptop
- Include RFID safe pocket
- Internal handlebars take up a little too much space
- Wheels aren’t 360º
This hybrid roller maximizes space, security and organization, so if those are the main things you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the Nomatic Navigator. It is slightly more expensive than others, but it’s also covered by a lifetime warranty.
Typically, hardside luggage maximizes protection, while softside maximizes space. However, hybrid hand luggage can be a total game changer for wanderlusters looking to maximize both capacity and security simultaneously—especially the Nomatic Navigator.
What sets it apart from other hybrids? We think it’s the bag’s ultra-organized interior. Featuring a clamshell opening, the one compartment is organized into countless slips and sleeves for every device, beauty essential and smaller item. This includes a 17” laptop sleeve, as well as an RFID-safe zipped pocket. The other compartment is designed for clothing with compression straps to fit in more. And making the most of the expansion zip, we could fit in five unique outfits, which is quite a bit more than most carry-ons we’ve packed.
In short: when you’re packing for a couple of nights and only want to pay for one cabin bag (for all your clothes, tech and toiletries), the Nomatic Navigator is a cabin hero.
JanSport Driver: Best wheeled backpack carry-on
|Weight||5 lbs (2.26 kg)|
- Incredibly lightweight and compact for its packing capacity
- Comfortable to carry as a backpack or roll on
- Laptop sleeve fits a 15” laptop
- Super organized with two main compartments and plenty of pockets
- Polyester exterior is robust and durable
- Foot stands wear over time but are covered by limited lifetime warranty
This wheeled backpack is every digital nomad’s delight. With a protected 15” laptop sleeve, many pockets and two spacious main compartments, the dual carry cabin bag is suitable for any terrain—from smooth airport floors to the rugged outback.
Founded in 1967, JanSport is the world’s largest manufacturer of backpacks. And while it often gets side-lined for more fashionable labels, when it comes to function and performance, we believe that the old-school brand is unparalleled. The JanSport Driver exemplifies this.
Made from lightweight (yet incredibly durable) polyester, the 5-pound bag has an uncanny ability to pack 36 liters worth of gear without appearing or feeling bulky at all. Featuring a smooth telescopic handle and gliding wheels, the convertible carry-on functions flawlessly as a roll-on. While padded, adjustable back straps and an organized interior perform just as well as a backpack.
Over time, we have noticed the footstands begin to call, but this is a minor detail and one that is covered by the brand’s limited lifetime warranty. Therefore, the JanSport Driver is still undeniably one of our best carry-ons—and one of our best travel bags in general.
Calpak Stevyn: Best wheeled duffel carry-on
|Weight||5.75 lbs (2.61 kg)|
- Maximizes packing capacity while still meeting airline restrictions
- Carrying options include duffel handles, wheels and luggage sleeve
- Shoe compartment separates your sneakers from your shirts
- Super lightweight for its size
- Only covered by 1-year warranty (although we don’t see it needing repair any time soon)
You’ll be surprised how much you can fit into hand luggage without upsetting airlines. This ultra-light, spacious, multi-carry cabin bag shows us how it’s done.
Restricted by the ever-shrinking requirements of airlines, large carry-on bags are almost impossible to come by. That’s why we were so elated by this one. The Calpak Stevyn combines the packing capacity of a duffel with the convenience of a roll-on to create one of the most versatile and functional cabin bags we’ve tried.
The large bottom compartment fits our trainers, an extra pair of espadrilles and a hairdryer, all while protecting our white dresses and linen shirts from the aftermath of a muddy trail run. While the spacious main compartment has ample room for at least a week’s worth of clothing.
Like all Calpak luggage, the Stevyn Rolling Duffel features a smooth telescopic handle that adjusts to your height. And the grab handles are well cushioned for the times you wish to protect the wheels from uneven terrains.
Bellroy Transit Plus: Best travel backpack carry-on
|Material||Recycled dura nylon|
|Weight||3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)|
- Comfortable, cushioned shoulder straps
- Breathable, contoured back panel eliminates back sweat
- Secret external pockets make passports and other essentials easily accessible and safe
- Removable sternum strap and hideaway waist belt distribute weight
- Internal compression straps allow you to pack more and reduce bulk
- Recycled nylon is sustainable, durable and unbelievably lightweight
- A luggage sleeve would be good for when you’re transporting wheeled luggage too.
In the age of remote working and quick travel, a stellar backpack is a non-negotiable. Featuring a laptop sleeve, zipped pockets and a spacious main compartment, we highly recommend this one by Bellroy in particular.
As one of our best backpacks for everyday and travel, the Bellroy Transit is a masterclass in highly functional sustainability. Made from recycled dura nylon, the barely-there backpack is as light as your shoulders as it is on the planet.
But don’t let that fool you into leaving behind your favorite sweats. The spacious backpack packs a punch—38 liters to be exact—while perfectly organizing your tech and smaller essentials into designated sleeves. We love that there’s a soft-lined sunglasses sleeve for our favorite shades, as well as a digital-nomad-approved laptop slip big enough for a 16” device.
The Bellroy Transit Plus is perfectly proportioned as a cabin bag. And we really appreciate how comfortable it is to carry with its cushioned straps and breathable (sweat-free), contoured back panel.
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall: Best weekender carry-on luggage
|Weight||3 lbs (1.36 kg)|
- Perfectly sized for two nights away
- Removable shoe bag is made from recycled fabric
- Multiple pockets, including a detachable air mesh pouch and 16” laptop sleeve
- Neoprene is super lightweight, water-resistant and scratch-proof
- Padded shoulder strap and grab handles
- Doubles up as a gym duffel
- Laptop sleeve is on the same side as luggage sleeve which can make it difficult to slide over when fully packed
We love this weekender for its multiple pockets, comfortable cushioned straps and super durable materials. And while it may be too small for a longer trip, it’s all you need for two nights away.
If you’re familiar with our better brands, you’ll already know that we’re massive fans of Dagne Dover—and the Landon Carryall in particular. Already mentioned as our best women’s weekender, the durable duffel has accompanied us on many camping trips, city breaks, coastal retreats, and even plays double duty as our favorite everyday gym bag.
Why we love it? The compact carryall is the perfect size for a night or two away. And we never have to worry about scuffing it up or protecting it from unexpected rainfall. The cushioned loader strap is super comfortable and adjustable. And weighing only 3 lbs, the Landon Carryall is unbelievably lightweight without compromising packing capacity. Plus, it’s organized—a big box ticked for us.
Harber London Weekender: Best duffel cabin bag
|Material||Full grain leather|
|Weight||4.4 lbs (2 kg)|
- Handcrafted in Spain with meticulous attention to detail
- Spacious interior with internal and external pockets
- Cushioned handles and shoulder strap are incredibly comfortable to carry
- Premium full grain leather is sophisticated and unbelievably durable
- Only covered by a 1-year warranty (although we don’t see it needing repair any time soon)
- Not entirely waterproof so less suited to outdoor adventures
If you’re willing to invest in a bag that is both sophisticated and highly functional, this gorgeous leather duffel bag is our top choice. Yep, it’s more expensive, but we think it’s worth the splurge.
Recently acclaimed as our best overall men’s weekender, our ongoing love affair with the Harber London weekender is no secret. So it should come as no surprise that it’s also our top duffel cabin bag.
Handmade in Spain from premium, full grain leather, the sumptuous silhouette is timeless—both aesthetically and functionally. And while it’s only covered by a one-year warranty, we’ve used ours for many weekend getaways and can’t see it needing repair in our lifetime. In fact, the leather exterior seems to age better with time, developing a much-coveted patina to commemorate your travels.
When it comes to comfort and convenience, the grab handles and adjustable shoulder strap are well-cushioned. And we really appreciate the multiple external pockets making smaller essentials easily accessible on the move. All in all, the Harber London Weekender is a worthwhile investment into a lifetime of sophisticated, effortless travel.
KAAI Helix: Best travel tote cabin bag
|Material||Italian grain leather|
|Weight||2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)|
- Made from the finest Italian leather to last forever
- Luggage sleeve slips over your roll on
- Scratch proof, waterproof and UV resistant
- Organized with various slips and sleeves
- Fits under airplane seat
- Timeless and sophisticated aesthetic
- Smaller interior than other carry ons
- Laptop sleeve only fits a 13” laptop
If you’re looking for a sophisticated, organized travel tote to accompany your cabin bag, the KAAI Helix is our top choice. With plenty of pockets and a convenient luggage sleeve, it makes gliding through the airport seamless.
With some of our best women’s backpacks and handbags, KAAI never fails to disappoint in all things function and fashion. And made from the finest Italian leather, the Helix is no different—earning its rightful position as our best travel tote for many different reasons.
First up: we adore the bag’s minimalist, elegant aesthetic. And whilst we’ve distinguished it as a travel tote, it’s just as beautiful as an everyday carry. Next is the bag’s effortless organization. From its interior pockets to its cute external pouch, the compartmentalized interior eliminates scrabbling (and reduces stress.)
We also appreciate that the compact tote fits under our airplane seat and that the luggage sleeve makes it effortless to roll aboard. And while you’ll likely need another cabin bag for your clothes, the KAAI Helix is the perfect carry-on companion for all your smaller essentials.
Samsara Luggage: Best convertible carry-on luggage
|Weight||9 lbs (4 kg)|
- Convertible bag can be carried as backpack or duffel
- Charging cable connects to portable battery
- Three main compartments, including a separate shoe compartment
- Padded pockets for laptops and other devices
- Super affordable
- Not waterproof
- Slightly heavier than some of our other carry-on options
While we’re all for investing in lifelong luggage, sometimes you just need an affordable option to carry you through your upcoming trip. In which case, you won’t find one more durable and versatile for such a low price tag.
This tech-savvy companion may just be the holiday helper you didn’t know you needed. Featuring an internal charging cable, the Samsara carry-on connects to your portable battery, keeping your devices alive while you’re on the move. While various slips, sleeves, and even a side shoe compartment help organize your belongings.
We also love that the tactical backpack converts from duffel to backpack, giving us the best of both worlds from both silhouettes. The spacious (40 liters) interior is a lot easier to pack as a duffel horizontally and the grab handles are handy when you’re jumping on and off trains. But for long journeys, it’s a lot more comfortable to carry as a backpack, especially when you need your hands free to GPS around a new city.
Still unsure? Well, this Samsara travel bag only costs $75, so you don’t have to put too much thought into it.
Buying guide to carry-on luggage
If you ask us, finding the right carry-on for you can be done in 3 simple steps:
- Wheels or not?
You’ll be carrying this bag around a lot, through airport terminals, probably on and off public transport, and across any number of streets, alleyways, and paths. So ensuring your bag is easy to transport will, quite literally, take a weight off your shoulders. But there’s more than one way to do it—with and without wheels.
Rolling carry-on suitcases are preferable for gliding through airports and smooth roads, but as soon as the terrain starts to get a little rougher, we recommend a backpack, travel tote, duffel or a convertible roller that can act as both, depending on your trip needs.
- Hardside vs softside luggage
Both hardside and softside luggage have unique benefits, making it difficult to choose between the two. A hardside suitcase is often more durable and offers more protection for fragile items, while a softback is more flexible and expandable, allowing more room for squeezing in last-minute airport purchases. If you don’t know whether to prioritize security or space, a hybrid carry-on (one that marries the best of both hardside and softside worlds) may be the solution.
- Your travel style
Your style of travel also plays a role in determining the right carry-on bag for you. If you’re more of an adventurer, look for a cabin bag that is weatherproof, stain-resistant, ultra-durable, and gear-friendly. If you’re a leisure traveler or urbanist, you’ll likely want a slick carry-on that is lightweight with space for a laptop and grab handles for hopping on and off trains and planes. Similarly, if you travel for business trips, a laptop sleeve and grab handles are imperative, as well as a sleek, professional aesthetic.
Your travel style will likely also determine the carrying style you opt for. Adventurers will most likely consider more rugged styles like backpacks, duffels and convertibles. While urbanists and traveling professionals are likely to prefer rolling bags and travel totes.
Things we specifically looked for:
While we appreciate the many differences between different styles of cabin bags, there are a few key aspects that distinguish the best from the rest.
- Packing capacity: Carry-ons are unique in that they have to adhere to airline cabin restrictions; however, some do so better than others. We looked for cabin bags that fit in the overhead bin whilst maximizing space through innovative designs.
- Materials: While our best carry-on luggage varies in materials, they are all incredibly durable and lightweight.
- Craftsmanship: We looked for high-quality cabin bags that are manufactured in small factories by expert artisans.
- Portability & maneuverability: Whether it be by wheels, a luggage sleeve, grab handles, shoulder straps or backpack straps, our best carry-on bags are all easy and comfortable to carry.
- Organizational features: We prioritized cabin bags that are compartmentalized with internal and external pockets.
- Durability & warranty: We paid careful attention to warranties and how long each cabin bag is expected to last. Most of our best carry-ons come with a lifetime warranty.
- Security features: We consider TSA-approved locks, RFID protection and GPS tracking technology to be desirable security features.
- Tech-friendly features: We love a carry-on with a padded laptop sleeve. And even better if it has an option for a charging port too.
Frequently asked questions about the best carry-on luggage
The best kind of carry-on is one that meets airline size regulations, suits your travel style, and offers convenience. Consider factors like durability, organization features, and ease of maneuvering. Versatile carry-ons with efficient packing space, sturdy construction, and smart compartments are best for most travelers. Check our list of the best carry-on luggage for inspiration.
Our best hand-carry luggage is the Horizn Studios H5. Made from recycled polycarbonate, the hardshell is incredibly lightweight for its size. It’s also ultra-durable and water resistant with 360º Japanese spinner wheels and a quality telescopic handle. Our other best cabin bags include the Rimowa Original Cabin Bag, Beis Cabin Bag, and Away The Carry-On.
The safest size for cabin bags is typically around 22 inches in length, 14 inches in width, and 9 inches in depth. Choosing a size within these dimensions ensures that your luggage is likely to fit in overhead compartments and comply with most airline policies while still maximizing packing capacity.
The best type of luggage to take on a plane depends on your reason for travel and unique preferences. If you’re traveling with breakables, a hardshell is likely to be more protective. If you need to prioritize packing capacity, a soft shell is best. If you need a hand-free cabin bag, a backpack is great. And if you’re looking for the most effortless carry, a roll-on is usually the most popular.