We all know someone who has a horror story of how the airport lost their checked luggage or how it ended up on the wrong plane and went to the opposite side of the earth.
More often than not, it’s probably better to travel with a carry-on luggage to avoid these sorts of headaches. Traveling with a carry-on suitcase means you’re in control of your luggage at all times and will ensure that the airport (or airline) won’t lose your stuff.
If you’ve never traveled using a carry-on, the natural question you might ask is, “which carry-on luggage is best?”
We are here to help:
In this guide, we’ll review several of the best carry-0n luggage for men that work well for a variety of situations and scenarios so you can find the perfect one to meet your needs.
Furthermore, we will go over considerations that frequent travelers cite as extremely important when selecting a carry-on which includes the following: casing, handle(s), compartments, power banks, wheels, and more.
After, we’ll explore how a carry-on differs from other types of bags and suitcases, and then we’ll touch on the most frequently asked questions men had when selecting and using a carry-on.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Best Carry-On Luggage For Men 2020 Reviewed
1. Best Overall: Away – The Bigger Carry-On
The Bigger Carry-On by Away is widely regarded by travelers as the best carry-on luggage around. We definitely agree and call it our best overall carry-on.
There is so much to love about this carry-on. It is, as the name suggests, a bigger version of its smaller carry-on, but should still be able to fit in most overhead compartments of major airlines.
Made to last you a lifetime, it is made of a polycarbonate material that both durable and sturdy. The quality extends to the wheels as it comes with four ultra-smooth, spinner wheels and a comfortable-to-grip, telescopic handle.
A few extra features make this luggage great. Your mobile device will always have some life thanks to the ejectable battery inside. Inside the luggage, you’ll find a handy laundry bag and a fantastic interior compression system that gives you that extra bit of packing space.
At 8.4lbs, it’s still fairly lightweight and shouldn’t weigh you down whether you are traveling via train or plane. While it’s not the most affordable carry-on out there, it should be well worth the investment, especially for business travel. Lastly, the hidden laundry bag is great for those looking for easy organization to keep their dirty laundry separate.
- Weight – 8.4lbs
- Shell – Polycarbonate
- Combo Lock – TSA Approved
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Dimensions – 22.7″ x 14.7″ x 9.6″
- Sleek, solid, and sturdy design
- Loaded with extra features
- Smooth spinner wheels
- Tremendous value
- May not fit in all airplane overhead compartments
What You Need To Know
2. Best Budget Carry On: AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Carry-On
If not spending a lot of money on a new carry-on is your primary concern, there are tons of great value buys. Our favorite is the AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Carry-On.
It sits right at the bottom of our pricing range and you get excellent value with this suitcase.
First off, it meets most airline requirements for fitting in overhead compartments and its hardside casing is made of extra-thick ABS that gives it some sturdy protection on short and long-haul international journeys.
It has four spinner wheels and a telescopic handle to seamlessly guide you through airports, trains, and bus stations. Inside the suitcase, there’s more than enough space (39 liters) for a quick vacation or international getaway. With the 21″ model available in both black and blue, it won’t standout like a sore thumb and can be easily used when on either vacation or a business meeting.
- Weight – 7.34lbs
- Shell – ABS
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Best value buy
- Extra hardside casing protection
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Could use more packing space
- No extra features
What You Need To Know
3. Best Business Friendly Carry On: Bric’s 21 Inch Spinner Carry-On
For frequent business travelers that hop in and out of cities for quick meetings, it’s better to have a suitcase that is light, easy to transport, and can fit the necessities of a short trip.
Enter Bric’s 21-Inch Spinner Carry-On, our pick for best business-friendly carry-on.
It will fit in to most overhead compartments thanks to its standard size of 21 in x 14 in x 9 in and should be able to squeeze into more restrictive spaces because of its lightweight but durable design.
It comes with two handles, one at the top and the other on the side, as well as four spinning wheels that rotate in a full circle and a telescopic handle to help you navigate through the airport.
Its lightweight material and casing make it the best choice for business travelers that need an easy to transport bag.
- Weight – 5.5lbs
- Shell – Nylon
- Dimensions – 21.5″ x 14″ x 9″
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Lightweight and durable
- Will fit into just about any overhead and some underseat compartments
- No extra features
What You Need To Know
4. Best Carry-On Duffel: Rockland Luggage Rolling Carry-On Duffel Bag
Sometimes it’s all about comfort when traveling and for some men, that means their go-to type of suitcase is a good ol’ duffel bag. Take the simplicity of a duffel bag and add a few elements of a carry-on suitcase and you have our choice for best carry-on duffel bag, the Rockland Luggage carry-on duffel bag.
This unique bag comes with a retractable telescopic handle and two large, fixed wheels that both come in handy for dragging the bag behind you when it gets too heavy while walking to your flight’s gate.
But it also gives you the flexibility of picking it up and carrying it or slinging it over your shoulder like a regular duffel bag when people refuse to move on those escalators and you’re in a rush to make your flight.
It’s made of tough polyester material and should be able to fit into most airlines’ overhead compartment and possibly even under the seat in front of you.
In terms of packing space, there’s plenty of it to cram your things into this duffel bag, plus a few extra pockets for loose items and charging cables. The only downside is that there isn’t a dedicated compartment for your laptop or tablet device, if you’re traveling with one.
- Weight – 10.4 ounces
- Shell – Durable Polyester
- Dimensions – 22″ x 12″ x 11″
- Wheel Type – Fixed
- Provides more flexibility than a regular duffel bag
- Can fit in almost any storage compartment
- Lots of packing space
- No organized compartments
- Provides little protection
What You Need To Know
5. Best Underseat Carry-On: Samsonite Spinner Underseat Carry-On
Some men may prefer to travel with a bag that is more compact so that they can keep it near them at all times.
With the Samsonite Spinner Underseat Carry-On, our top pick for best underseat carry-on, you’ll easily be able to have it near you and store it safely under the seat in front of you.
This compact carry-on measures out to 16.5 in x 13.5 in x 9 in, comes in seven different, solid colors, and is incredibly affordable.
It has the standard features of a typical carry-on with four spinner wheels for easy mobility as well as a telescopic handle.
For a suitcase this small, it has a surprising number of extra features. A USB charging port at the top of the carry-on will give your phone a quick charge, a protective compartment inside will store your laptop and tablet devices, and there are multiple pockets and compartments for more organized packing.
Since it is much smaller in size your packing space is limited, but if you’re taking a quick trip and prefer this luggage size, this will be just fine.
- Weight – 7lbs
- Shell – Durable 1690D Polyester
- Dimensions – 16.5″ x 13.5″ x 9″
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Can fit comfortably into any storage compartment including underseat
- Pass through sleeve allows for stacking on top of a rolling suitcase
- Samsonite is a trusted brand for travelers around the world
- Only good for a quick trip (2-3 days maximum)
What You Need To Know
6. Best International Carry On: MVST Select International Carry-On Spinner
If you plan on taking that much deserved but long international trip but you want to travel with a carry-on, you absolutely can with the MVST Select Carry-On spinner.
Big in size with generous space inside, this black-only colored Select Carry-On is a must have for those overseas trips because it helps to keep your belongings safe and secure.
First, the dual combination locks help seal your belongings keeping sensitive items like your passport, cash, and electronic devices safe inside.
Not only will your belongings be secure inside the luggage, but the exterior itself can also take quite a bit of abuse from the hazards of traveling long distances. The aluminum-magnesium alloy shell makes the casing of this luggage incredibly resilient and robust.
Because it is made of such dense materials, it is heavier than most carry-ons and weighs nearly 10 pounds. Despite this, the dimensions of this carry-on meet the standard airline requirements.
High-quality telescopic handle and smooth spinner wheels give this suitcase an easy means to get through those massive overseas airports and train stations without much of a hassle.
- Weight – 9.6lbs
- Shell – Aluminum-magnesium Alloy
- Dimensions – 22″ x 14″ x 8.7″
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Dual combo lock keeps sensitive belongings secure
- Can withstand the rigors of international travel
- Will fit in most airline’s overhead compartments
- Sleek and unbreakable aluminum exterior
What You Need To Know
7. Best Carry On Travel Backpack: Nomatic Travel Bag Carry-On
Part backpack, part duffel bag, and part carry-on luggage, the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag hits a home run with this forward-thinking, hybrid suitcase that we’re naming our best carry-on travel backpack.
You can transport this backpack one of two ways: you can sling the straps over your shoulders and carry it like a backpack, or you can flip it horizontally and carry it like a duffel bag, using those same straps.
Even though it is a backpack, it still measures out to a similar size as a regular carry-on and can fit in tight quarters of overhead and underseat compartments.
If you’re on a long backpacking trip, you’ll be glad to know that this bag comes with a laundry bag to separate your clean and dirty clothes. There are many compartments with this bag including one for your laptop and one on each of the four sides of this bag to fit everything from water bottles to shoes, notepads, and other small items.
- Weight – 3.42lbs
- Shell – Nylon
- Dimensions – 9″ x 21″ x 14″
- Provides more versatility to transport in uneven terrain
- Spacious packing space from multiple compartments
- Durable and can fit in tight cabin spaces
- More strenuous to transport especially if its heavy
- Only comes in one color
What You Need To Know
8. Best Hardside Carry On: Arlo Skye Carry-On
If you like your luggage built like a tank, you’ll definitely enjoy Arlo Skye’s Frame Carry-On. Our top choice for best hardside carry-on, The Frame’s casing is truly spectacular.
A blend of polycarbonate and aluminum materials are used to create this impact-resistant carry-on, providing you with a casing made of premium quality materials to combat against the wear and tear of traveling.
Despite its sturdy build, it meets the requirements of standard carry-on sizes and measures out to 22 in x 14 in x 9 in, including the wheels. Speaking of the wheels, they are of the spinning variety and can rotate the full 360 to give you good maneuverability.
There are a couple of neat features to note with this carry-on. One is that it does not have a zipper to enclose it as it uses two lockable latches on the side. Second, the telescoping handle will automatically retract back into the luggage with the simple push of a button and it won’t require you to push the handle back in.
While its lightweight design can work for domestic flights, we think this is a perfection international carry-on given it’s durability and security focused design.
- Weight – 8.4lbs
- Shell – Polycarbonate & Aluminum
- Clasp – TSA Approved
- Wheel Type – Spinner
- Hard to open due to the two locks
- Sturdy construction that is built to last
- Sleek design that is timeless
- Lacks extra features
What You Need To Know
Other Carry-On Luggage Reviewed
A sleek little carry-on spinner that offers a large internal compartment. The bag is expandable and is available in three colors. The Briggs and Riley Baseline is a functional carry-on bag that is perfect for the domestic traveler.
The Travelpro Platinum Elite Luggage is a great international carry-on. With an expandable main compartment and several zippered pockets, you should have no problem keeping all your gear organized and accessible in the Travelpro Platnium.
With a polycarbonate exterior shell, this stylish and luxury carry-on by TUMI was built with function in mind. With plenty of pockets and storage compartments, it’s zippered closure will keep all your stuff well organized.
This lightweight carry-on by Travelpro is perfect for those travelers where weight is a concern. The Maxlite only weighs a modest 6.1lbs – making it easy to carry up a set of stairs or running to catch your plane on time.
This handheld leisure carry-on / duffel bag by Samsonite is the ideal piece of travel luggage for the minimalist businessman. With a built-in compartment to store your pair of shoes, it offers sensible compartments and large side zip pocket. Great for those looking for smart functionality from their carry-on.
With a larger interior compartment and tons of little built-in pockets, this combo backpack and rolling carry-on is perfect for domestic travel. Able to work with most airlines given the small size it will become a travelers best friend.
What to Know When Buying A Carry-On Suitcase
We found that there are 12 things you must know when considering which carry-on is best for you.
They are as follows:
Carry-on suitcases come in various sizes from different manufacturers and there is no one-size-fits-all model. However, some companies produce carry-on suitcases in sets and oftentimes, you’ll be able to find the right carry-on size you’re looking for from that set.
Before you purchase a carry-on, it’s probably a good idea to consider researching the mode of transportation you’ll be traveling on most frequently and further researching the storage space provided by that vehicle.
The two most common storage spaces include:
Overhead – All airplanes and most buses generally have a standard overhead compartment allowing you to safely store your luggage. While they’re all different in storage space, a standard piece of carry-on luggage, which measures out to 9 in x 14 in x 22 in, should be able to fit in the overhead compartment.
Underseat – When space in the overhead compartment is not enough, you might be able to try your luck in the underseat compartment, which is under the seat in front of you where your feet rest. This space usually measures out to 11 in x 17 in x 20 in.
When it comes to the materials used to compose the carry-on suitcases, these are the most common types.
Canvas – this is one of the more traditional looks for the suitcase and that applies to the carry-on as well. Suitcases made out of canvas fabric are more durable and waterproof and are made of environmentally-friendly materials. Naturally, carry-ons made of this material will be more expensive.
Polyester – another common fabric used is polyester. Polyester is the complete opposite of canvas. It is less environmentally-friendly, less waterproof, and less durable. However, if you’re on the hunt for a budget or cheap carry-on, this might be the best buy for you.
Nylon – is perhaps the most pervasive kind of fabric used for carry-ons. You can find carry-ons made of nylon at a wide range of prices. While it is less environmentally-friendly, it is, however, more waterproof than polyester and is the easiest one to clean of the three fabrics.
ABS Plastic / Polycarbonate
Carry-on suitcases made of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic are a great choice because they are affordable, durable, offer good protection, and are very easy to clean. A common material beyond ABS will be polycarbonate – like ABS, this material is lightweight and provides a sturdy body for your essentials. Proprietary materials (i.e. makrolon polycarbonate by Bayer AG) may also be used in the construction of hard-shell carry-ons.
Lightweight aluminum casing provides the ultimate in security and durability. Unlike soft sided ballistic nylon carry-ons, trying to fit this suitcase into tight overhead bins may be impossible. Should you get a carry-on made from aluminum, make sure you are aware of the cabin luggage restrictions with your preferred airline.
The most premium material used in carry-ons is leather. Carry-ons made of leather sport a traditional look and are very durable. Better yet, leather is incredibly waterproof (of course you will want to wipe dry in order to maintain the natural patina that develops over time) and very easy to clean as well. Since it is made of leather, it is generally more expensive.
As for the grade of leather, we strongly recommend you go with a carry-on made from full or top grain leather as opposed to genuine leather. Full and top grain leather will last you for decades and will always look nice (assuming to care for the leather properly). Genuine leather on the other hand is made from bits of leather mixed with a binding agent (i.e. glue) and will crack and deteriorate with age.
The casing of a carry-on suitcase refers to the outer layer of the suitcase and can be either softside or hardside.
Softside – Carry-ons that have a softer casing mean you can fit a few more things inside. While it’s not as protective as harder casing carry-ons, one of the biggest benefits is that you can often cram these suitcases to fit into tighter spaces.
Hardside – Given that suitcases are often tossed around during the course of their travel, this rigid hard-shell design will do a great job at protecting everything in the main compartment. The biggest drawback a hard-shell carry-on is that it may not fit into the overhead bins – particularly with smaller aircraft used for regional flights.
It’s becoming more common nowadays to see carry-ons with wheels on them to help with their transportability. Here are the different options for wheels on carry-on luggage.
Spinner Wheels – Carry-on suitcases that have spinner wheels are much more easily maneuvered. Spinner wheels can easily and freely move around as these wheels can go straight and take corners well. However, because of the wear and tear, they are more likely to have issues than fixed wheels.
Fixed Wheels – Fixed wheels on carry-ons are wheels that are unable to rotate. They are simply stuck in place and are more difficult to use because of their lack of flexible mobility. Because of this, these wheels tend to be more dependable than spinner wheels.
Carry only – Carry-on suitcases (i.e. hand luggage) without wheels are slowly fading away but we’ll touch on them regardless. Since they don’t have wheels, you won’t have to worry about the wheels jamming or breaking off. However, the lack of wheels hampers its effectiveness as a carry-on as you’ll be unable to push and pull your luggage around.
However, some may prefer that classic old-school style will like a traditional carry-on piece – especially one made from leather. We also think that this type of carry-on is best for those men you may find themselves going straight to business meetings after getting off an airplane or train as they present a bit nicer than a wheeled carry-on.
When it comes to the different ways to hold and move your carry-on, you need to look at the handle on the suitcase itself. Determining which handle you’re most comfortable with is important in picking the right carry-on for you.
Locations – The handles on carry-ons are generally located in two spots: the top and side. Neither one is considered better than the other, although the top handles make it simple to move your carry-on if it has wheels on them.
Telescoping Handle – Nevermind the fancy name, this handle is the retractable handle on the top of a carry-on suitcase. It can be pulled up by the simple push of a button and should stay locked in place. This is a convenient option for rolling your luggage.
Fixed Handle – Lacking the versatility of a telescoping handle, the fixed handle is set in place on the carry-on and can be in either the top or side location. The main benefit of this handle is that it cannot become jammed.
Hard Handle – This refers to the material of the handle itself and this option comes down to preference. It is more comfortable to hold than a cargo handle, but, is more likely to break.
Cargo Handle – this handle on cargo type bags is often a piece that wraps around the straps of carry-on luggage. Since this piece is detachable, it can easily become lost, but is less likely to break than a hard handle.
There are more and more carry-on suitcases that are beginning to incorporate more features to provide more value. Not all of them come equipped with extra features, but some of the more common ones now include the following:
Laptop Compartment – A laptop compartment is becoming more common in carry-ons. These pouches are slots you store your laptop computer in so it is fairly accessible. The only real hazard of this feature is that it can easily be exposed and put in danger, especially with carry-ons that have a softside casing.
Battery – Depending on the airport, it can be a challenge to find an outlet plug to charge your mobile device (typically USB). A handful of carry-ons now incorporate a removable battery that can charge your mobile device without an outlet. While it is incredibly handy to have – especially for business travelers, it too, can also become damaged if the suitcase falls or collides with other suitcases – so make sure you try to never check this type of bag.
Given the recent migration to USB type C – make sure that the battery contained within your carry-on is compatible with your device.
Laundry Bag – Some carry-ons might include a laundry bag which is helpful because it helps to keep your clothes compact and organized. It’s also a great way to separate your clean clothing from your dirty clothing for multi-day trips.
Combination Lock – One way of securing your belongings inside your carry-on is by having a combination lock. Some carry-ons now have this feature. Remembering your combination is obviously vital to this safeguard feature if you are traveling with private or personal items where security is a concern.
Interior Mesh Pockets – For easier organization, some carry-ons will contain inner mesh pockets. From laundry separation to storage of small essential items, they can be helpful when packing. Should you decide to get a carry on with just a large main compartment, then packing cubes can be a sensible alternative. These affordable mesh cubes can pack a lot of stuff in an organized manner.
Expandable Zipper – For many soft-sided carry-ons, the expandable zipper can be a lifesaver. An expandable spinner gives you a lot more room for small accessories, books, or even a souvenir or two. Weight distribution with an expandable suitcase is important as too much weight towards one side of the suitcase can cause it to tip over easily.
Hip Belt – For carry-ons intended to be carried like a travel backpack, a hip belt can provide additional support and comfort when worn extensively. This is commonly found in heavy duty carry-ons made for an long trip.
Exterior Zippered Pockets – Whether you are just on a weekend trip or one that will go for several days, zippered pockets on the outside of your luggage will be practical for storing easy access items (i.e. boarding pass, snacks, magazine, etc.).
As we researched a variety of carry-ons we found the sweet spot for the price rested in the range of $50 to $400. While this range is quite wide, those carry-ons under $50 often compromised in many qualities that would likely break after a few uses.
Carry-ons priced greater than $400 often provided no additional benefits when it comes to quality – instead those priced more than $400 were typically status symbol pieces from luxury designers (i.e. Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Off-White, etc.).
If you’re big on style, two of the most common ones include:
Solid Color / Dark Colors – Carry-ons with a solid, dark color are more formal and classic in appearance and style and it is harder to notice any stains or dirt on them.
High Visibility– Given that most carry-ons and suitcases look nearly the same, getting one that is bright and noticeable can be helpful in identifying your piece. Of course, these high-visibility carry-ons are not formal and will also show stains, scuffs, and other surface marks rather easily.
Patterned – Carry-ons with patterns on them have a bit more style and this can benefit you in that you’ll be less likely to confuse your bag with someone else’s without being a bright/loud or casual piece. Depending on the colors of your pattern, stains and dirt marks are generally harder to notice on these carry-ons.
While weight likely won’t be a huge deal should you go with a spinner or fixed wheel carry-on, a lightweight body can make it much easier when trying to fit the piece of luggage into an overhead bin or simply carrying it through a train car (especially important if you plan to travel through Europe).
When you aren’t traveling, a lightweight carry-on piece may make it a bit easier to store at home – especially if you plan on placing the luggage in the attic or at the top of a closet.
Some carry-ons are simple in design while some sport more compartments. For carry-ons that have multiple compartments, such as the aforementioned laptop compartment and laundry bag, they take up more room, leaving you with less space. Whereas, carry-ons that have just a single compartment make it easier to fit everything into your bag but harder to stay organized.
The goal here is to take a second and think which will compliment your natural packing habits and go with the right carry-on for you.
11. Return Policy & Warranty
If you plan on using your carry-on frequently and want to protect yourself from possible damage, you’ll want to dig up the information about that manufacturer or retailers return and or warranty policies before buying them. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two.
Return Policies – This policy will usually replace your product in the event it fails on you.
Lifetime Warranty – Will give you a refund without replacing your carry-on.
We found during our research that many of the larger brands will make their policy much easier to find and of course stand by them. Smaller or unknown brands that are often found on large online marketplaces, may say that they offer a warranty but have no information on their website for you to act upon (also contact info is elusive as well).
The takeaway for you here is that should you go with a brand not featured in our reviews, make sure that you your research beforehand so you don’t waste your money.
During your research, many different brands make carry-on luggage. Popular brands include Away, Briggs Riley, Bric’s, Samsonite, Tumi, Travelpro and many more. As we mentioned previously, these larger brands often make better quality luggage that was built with travel in mind. This includes sleek and stylish design, strong exteriors that won’t rip or crack, along with common dimensions that work across many different airlines.
Should you go with a brand outside of those reviewed in this guide, we recommend that you exercise caution in order to get a quality carry-on that won’t cause you issues.
Important Accessories For Your Carry-On
While selecting the perfect carry-on is important, also too is the complimentary accessories that we recommend that you have on hand. Below are a few recommendations you should consider upon checkout:
Packing cubes are a functional and perfect little accessory when traveling extensively. These little cubes can fold flat and are a great way to keeping everything organized when traveling either domestic or international.
With small packing cubes you can keep your articles of clothing separated (i.e. socks, shirts, pants, pair of shoes, etc.) from one another. This is extremely helpful when living out of a suitcase for a few days and you don’t want to always spend time sifting through your clothes and making a mess. It’s one of those things that you never realized you needed until you actually have a few.
When not in use during your travels, packing cubes are perfect for closet storage.
Compression straps (sometimes referred to as expandable straps) provide additional security when flying – especially if you plan on checking your luggage. Should the zipper on your over packed suitcase split, a compression strap is a backup measure to ensure that everything stays contained within.
Available in many different designs and colors – compression straps can be helpful in spotting your luggage easily as well.
If weight is ever a concern when it comes to packing your carry-on – especially on long haul international flights, a scale can be a great way to see how much weight you are carrying.
A scale like the one pictured above can go all the way up to 110 pounds – making it great for nearly all your needs.
If you experience swelling in your lower extremities while flying, a quality pair of compression socks for travel can help alleviate the discomfort. Able to push blood from your feet to the rest of your body, compression socks prevent pooling and leg fatigue.
Carry-On Suitcase FAQs
Can I bring an electric shaver with a rechargeable battery in my carry-on?
Yes and no. Yes, you can bring an electric shaver with a rechargeable battery in your carry-on on the condition that they are spare rechargeable batteries and not the one that comes with your shaver. On the other hand, the rechargeable batteries that do come installed with your electric shaver must be in your checked bag.
It’s also advised that you drain your battery as much as possible in order to avoid your shaver from being accidentally turned on in your luggage.
What is the difference between a carry-on and a personal item?
The difference between these two is quite simple and comes down to the size of the item.
Your carry-on luggage must be able to be able to fit in the overhead compartment or underseat storage spaces whereas your personal item, such as a purse or a backpack, must be able to fit in the underseat area or be small enough to be worn or carried in the main cabin area of the aircraft.
Can I bring both a backpack and a carry-on suitcase on my flight?
As we just mentioned, a backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you is considered to be a personal item and thus, for most airline companies, you should be able to bring both a backpack and a carry-on suitcase on your flight. However, if you’re flying on an older or much smaller aircraft, it’s always good to check their policies before your flight to be sure.
What are the carry-on luggage size restrictions?
The simple answer to this is that it depends. It can vary from airline to airline but the standard allowable dimensions for your carry-on should be 22 x 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep.
If your carry-on meets these dimensions or is, perhaps, slightly bigger, it might be wise to check out your airline’s allowable luggage dimensions online or to give them a call before your flight. There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport only to find out that your luggage is over the dimension limits and you’re forced to pay to check-in your luggage.
Spinner or fixed-wheels, which should I go with?
A carry-on spinner luggage has far better maneuverability when compared to it’s fixed-wheel counterpart. Naturally, with more wheels on the luggage, the chances for wheels to break increase.
If you are business traveler, we would recommend that you look for a carry-on with a lifetime warranty as you won’t have to worry should the wheels ever break.
Is a hard-shell or ballistic nylon (or other material) better for a suitcase?
When reviewing all the suitcase materials, hard-shell certainly has its advantages. It protects your belongings and can withstand a ton of abuse. Furthermore, hard-shell luggage is a bit more stylish and durable. However, if you travel regularly for business or you don’t want to ever have to check your luggage, then a soft-sided luggage can squeeze better into tight areas.
Our recommendation here is to ask yourself what you plan on packing within your luggage. If it’s just clothes, then a hard-shell probably isn’t necessary. However, if its expensive camera or computer equipment, then the extra durability found in the hard-shell design will be a better choice.
What does a TSA-Approved carry-on mean?
When selecting a piece of luggage, TSA-Approved is more of a marketing term rather than any sort of official designation. Per the TSA website, the size of the carry-on that is allowed onto the plane is at the discretion of the airline, not the TSA. Therefore, a TSA-Approved bag doesn’t necessarily exist – so don’t pay extra for this feature.
Now one feature that may be related is TSA-Approved combination locks. These are combination locks that work with a master key (which the TSA has on hand). While they do their best to never open your luggage, using a TSA-Approved lock will ensure that they don’t have to use a pair of clippers to break it open.
Should I get compression straps to go with my carry-on?
Compression straps (sometimes referred to as luggage straps) are helpful to those travelers who want their luggage to either standout or have an extra sense of security. Should the zipper seam ever split open due to an overstuffed piece of luggage, a compression strap acts as a backup measure to make sure that your belongings don’t fall out. It’s a little extra addition that you will wish you had on your luggage – especially if it has seen its fair share of travel.
Should I go with a piece of luggage that is durable or lightweight?
When selecting the perfect carry-on luggage, it can be tough to compromise on both durability and weight. Some of the most durable carry-ons will weigh several pounds – making them tough to use – especially if traveling internationally. However, lightweight pieces, while sleek, are susceptible to internal damage – especially if the luggage is checked.
Our recommendation here is to select a piece of luggage that is less than 10 pounds and one that compliments your natural physique. If you are a bit older or simply have a hard time lifting heavy objects above your head, a lightweight piece of luggage will likely make better sense for you. Furthermore, if you have delicate items in your luggage, then perhaps its better to put those into your backpack instead.
Zippers or clasps, which is better?
Clasps are more secure and are less likely to break over time given their mechanical nature. Zippers are susceptible to splitting, especially if the suitcase is over packed with clothes – so to prevent your suitcase from breaking or splitting – be sure to pack appropriately.
One advantage to zippers is that they are often paired with expandable carry-ons. Expandable zippers can significantly increase your interior storage space when on vacation or a business trip for an extended period of time.
Where is the best place to buy carry-ons?
Carry-on luggage can be purchased from a variety of places including big retailers (i.e. eBay, eBags, Nordstrom, etc.) and directly from the company (i.e. Tumi, Samsonite, Away, etc.). One advantage when purchasing a carry-on directly from a company is that you don’t have to worry about counterfeits or quality issues.
Here are a few companies that you should consider before making your purchase:
What is smart luggage?
Smart luggage simply refers to a piece of luggage with some sort of electronic device embedded within. Typically this will include either a RFID luggage tag or battery pack. Smart luggage helps to alleviate some of the annoyances of traveling (i.e. lost bags or waiting to use an outlet to charge your device).
Carry-on vs. All The Rest
There are many different means of transporting your belongings when traveling. We’ve taken a look at most of the different carry-ons but here is a snapshot of each type of luggage to help give you an idea of the advantages and disadvantages.
Carry-on – If you plan on traveling light, then using a carry-on is the best way to go. While packing space can be limited, the benefit of using a carry-on is that you can bring it with you into the main cabin of the aircraft and therefore won’t need to wait at baggage claim for your things.
Depending on the size of your carry-on, you should be able to fit it into the majority of airlines’ overhead storage compartments.
Large Suitcase – For overseas trips or long family vacations, using a large suitcase might be a better way of traveling as it will allow you to pack much more.
However, because of its large size, you’ll have to check your luggage as you cannot bring it with you onto the airplane. The benefit of checking in your luggage is the peace of mind that comes with you not having to worry about finding an overhead spot for it. The downside is that you’ll have to wait for it after your flight, and of course there is always the possibility it could be lost.
To help make traveling a bit easier, a spinner suitcase with four wheels can help to distribute weight and make navigating a crowded airport a bit easier.
Duffel Bags – Duffel bags can come in a number of different sizes, but classic duffel bags are generally too big to bring with you onto an airplane. The long shape of the traditional duffel bag offers ample packing space, but is often unable to fit into the overhead compartment or underseat storage areas. Traditional duffel bags often lack wheels and must be carried, although more rolling duffel bags are being sold as of late.
If you opt for a smaller duffel bag, such as the Rockland Luggage Rolling Carry-On, which also has wheels, you can still enjoy the convenience of using it as a carry-on. A nice small alternative to the duffel bag will be a weekender bag (more on this in a minute).
Backpacks – Depending on the size of the backpack, it can count as either a personal item or a carry-on. The bigger the backpack, the more space you will have to fit your things but the less likely you are to fit it under the seat in front of you.
Smaller backpacks that you can use as a personal item offer less space, so we recommend using them for items that you will want to protect and keep close to you, such as your laptop, passport, and perhaps a few spare pieces of clothing.
Weekender – Weekender bags are a bit smaller than duffel bags and are intended only to be used for a day or two (i.e. a weekend). Weekender bags are typically made from natural or synthetic fabrics (i.e. cotton, ballistic nylon, etc.) and often contain mesh pockets for small items. This can be an affordable carry-on option that will have no problem squeezing into small overhead bins.
Like a carry on bag, weekenders often feature a large main compartment for easy access to your clothes.
Garment Bag – Garment bags are designed for the transportation of dress clothes and suits that shouldn’t be folded. Preferred by business travelers, garment bags will either fold over (once) or roll up to ensure no creases are made. These can typically attach onto carry-ons and are are soft-sided.
Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Carry-On Luggage for Men
Each carry-on has its own unique features and benefits and the right one for you depends on the type of traveler you are. Regardless, when it comes down to the pertinent details of each carry-on, the three most important aspects we tend to look at are its size, materials, and casing.
We feel that these three things are what can make or [literally] break each carry-on, so it’s important to have a good understanding of these details in order to make a sound purchasing decision on your next carry-on luggage.
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