25 Best Carry-On Luggage and Travel Bags of 2023, From Duffels to Spinners

High-flying spinners, backpacks, and duffels that go the distance. 

January 25, 2023

Image: Getty; Collage: Brittany Loggins

All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The quest to find the best carry-on luggage shouldn’t be as onerous as the quest to find the perfect vacation destination—Instagrammable, but not, like, too Instagrammable—but it absolutely is. And though vacation destinations might be beholden to ongoing travel restrictions these days (or maybe you’re not comfortable venturing much farther than your own state lines), at suitcase options abound. Even the most cursory search for a good carry-on turns up a bewildering mixture of products from established luggage brands to agile fashion houses to venture-capital infused juggernauts. These days, it seems like everyone is trying to sell you a carry-on.

Luckily for you, we love a challenge. We here at GQ have been scanning this wild world of retailers to find the luggage you can comfortably roll up the cobblestone steps of Lisbon, zip-line with through the canopies of Belize, or begrudgingly leave at the gate on the way home for your nephew’s “graduation” from elementary school. We’ve combined our knowledge of the best luggage across a range of prices, styles, and construction types—ones that we’ve taken on planes, trains, and automobiles—to figure out which offer the best combination of solid construction, useful features, and magnificent looks. (We’ve also added a couple stylish bags that we haven’t had the pleasure of testing ourselves, but tick off plenty of those same boxes.) After all that, here are our top picks that we’d be happy to drag behind and beside us on every single one of our upcoming trips.

The Best Carry-on Luggage, at a Glance

Gotta get to the airport ASAP? Don’t run through the airport like a fool—our top picks for the best carry-on luggage are right here.

The Best Softside Luggage: TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner, $170 $144The Best Hard Shell Luggage: Away Carry-On, $275Another Solid Hardside Spinner: Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-On Max, $375For the Budget-Conscious Menswear Bro: Horizn Studios H5 Essential Cabin Case, $354The Last Carry-On You’ll Ever Buy: Moncler Genius x Rimowa Reflection Silver Suitcase, $3,200The Ultimate Travel Flex: Louis Vuitton Horizon 50 4-Wheel Carry-On, $3,700The Best Duffle Bag, Overall: Lotuff No.12 Weekender, $1,200The Streamlined Duffle For Short and Long Trips: Porter Yoshida & Co. Tanker Two-Way Luggage, $780The Convertible Travel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag, $159

Soft vs. Hardside Carry-On Bags: A Primer

First, a short guide on how to shop for the best carry-on luggage, from indestructible aluminum-shell bags to slightly squishier softside luggage that you can squeeze under an airplane seat. Hardside luggage used to be a bit of a novelty. If you had any 15 years ago, it probably came from a luxury brand like Rimowa, and you might have been one of the few people in the airport hauling around their characteristic sleek shells—which made finding your bag at the luggage carousel a lot easier. But as these models started to become available in polycarbonate plastics, hardside options become just as ubiquitous as their soft shell counterparts. If you’ve only ever had one, you might genuinely wonder whether the grass is greener on the other side. The answer to that question, after spending years with both suitcases, is a resounding maybe

The main advantage of soft fabric luggage is actually its durability. That might seem counter-intuitive: shouldn’t something with a hard protective shell last longer? But in our experience, after the same amount of use softside luggage looks more like it did when you bought it than hard shell luggage. Think about it: If you toss a soft fabric cube back and forth against a wall for a year, it might look a little bit busted on the corners, but its stretchy-soft surface would probably absorb a lot of the impact. But if that cube was made out of thin, hard plastic, you’d probably see a bump mark or nick in the paint basically anywhere it hit the wall. 

That said, a bunch of fabric luggage options (save for the super expensive models) leave a lot to be desired aesthetically. Even when they’re new, pulling a fabric suitcase behind you makes you look, at best, like someone who knows their way around a day planner. At worst, especially when they’re covered in all sorts of metal rivets and extra zippers, they can look dinky—the tuxedo T-shirt of things to put your clothes in. So it makes sense that hard shell luggage almost always looks much better. Their glossy shells catch the light really nicely, as they float alongside you while you glide through the terminal to your gate. And in recent years, companies have gotten a lot better at making them. The models you buy today aren’t quite as durable as fabric ones, but they’re almost there. 

Fabric luggage does have one other advantage over hard shells, though. Thanks to their stretchiness, soft suitcases tend to be a little bit more accommodating to over-packers, while still maintaining the same carry-on size. You’ll find it a little bit easier to actually zip them shut, even when they’re filled to the brim with extra pairs of underwear. Hard shell suitcases offer a lot less give in terms of packing space, which makes them less than ideal if you tend to accumulate endless tokens of your trip while you’re traveling. It might not be big enough problem to be a dealbreaker, but it’s something to consider.

The Best Softside Luggage: TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner

Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 x 9 inchesWeight: 5.4 poundsCapacity: 46 litersWarranty: One-year warranty

Big on practicality and low on cost, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 offers the best value of any softside bag out there. It’s the brand’s lightest four-wheel spinner suitcase at five pounds, maximizing on maneuverability for when you’re sprinting to catch your flight. The cavernous, expandable interior includes tons of weird little zippered sections and mesh pockets for you to cordon off your toiletries, small items, dirty clothes, and shoes from your clothes without busting out the packing cubes. And after you’ve racked up plenty of miles on those wheels, the Platinum Elite comes with a limited lifetime warranty for repairs and replacements. 

The only ding against the TravelPro is its humdrum looks, which evoke the dated carpeting of one of the airports it’ll be dragged through. But that hasn’t kept it from becoming a favorite of frequent flyers. If the TravelPro logo looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve spotted it on the luggage of the flight attendants and pilots that spend most of their lives in the sky.

The Best Hard Shell Luggage: Away Carry-On

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.1 poundsCapacity: 39.8 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

There are plenty of good reasons why the Away team has just about upended the luggage industry since it launched. Instagram-ready looks? Check. Durable shell? Check. Smooth Hinomoto spinner wheels, top and side handles, clothes straps, a mesh zip pocket, a laundry bag, sturdy YKK zippers, and—maybe most game-changing of all—a built-in USB charger so you don’t have to screw around with airport outlets? Yeah, check. At just under three hundred bucks and spanning a range of handsome, low-key colorways, Away’s carry-on means you don’t have to choose between getting something cheap and ugly and spending a rent check on something luxe. For an industry that never really did the low-to-mid-tier thing well, that’s a very welcome change of pace. Our testers have taken theirs on planes across the country and halfway across the world, and never run into issues. Provided you do, there’s a limited lifetime warranty that’ll cover any functional damage. 

Another Solid Hardside Spinner: Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-On Max

Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 9.6 inchesWeight: 7 poundsCapacity: 45 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty

The Arlo Skye Zipper carry-on is a winner for a couple reasons. The bag’s polycarbonate shell isn’t as hearty as the fabric on the TravelPro or the aluminum of a Rimowa, say, but we found the suitcase a bit more capable of withstanding regular use than many other hard-shelled suitcases we’ve tested. (It’s also much cheaper.) All of Arlo Skye’s carry-on sized suitcases boast internal pockets for organizing your travel gear, including a few zippered areas for separating out dirty clothes and shoes. The company also makes a version with an easy-access front pocket, presumably for a laptop or magazines, but we’d imagine you’d rather store those things in a backpack or tote rather than in the suitcase you’re hauling into an overhead bin. Arlo Skye’s luggage features a removable external charger, but unlike the USB port from Away that can only juice up your phone, it comes with a USB-C connection for keeping your laptop charged up, too. Still, the five-year warranty that Arlo Skye offers doesn’t compare to Away’s limited lifetime warranty, which is why the latter is still our top choice for long-hauler luggage that you’ll want to keep dragging around a decade from now.

For the Budget-Conscious Menswear Bro: Horizn Studios H5 Essential Cabin Case

Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.8 x 7.9 inchesWeight: 6.8 poundsCapacity: 35 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty

Listen, we’re all for splurging on some baller luggage when appropriate. (Clearly.) But sometimes you need a suitcase that will securely get you from point A to point B—and look good doing it—but won’t call for you dropping well over a G. Enter this stealthy, blacked-out carry-on. It’s made out of a scarily durable polycarbonate, lined with water-resistant nylon, and comes with 360-degree spinner wheels, a built-in charging station, and a four-stage telescopic handle—all at a price that belies how methodically designed it is. It doesn’t have quite the same curb appeal as the Away spinners, or the carrying capacity of the massive Arlo Skye Max carry-on, but it’s a very solid alternative in the same budget category. Buy this and save your coins for a better AirBnB.

The Last Carry-On You’ll Ever Buy: Moncler Genius x Rimowa Reflection Silver Suitcase

Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.8 x 9 inchesWeight: 9.5 poundsCapacity: 35 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

Rimowa, the storied German luggage company founded in the late 1800s, has been on something of a collaborative spree. Few have yielded better results than the suitcase the brand cooked up with the Italian skiwear gods at Moncler, which sees Rimowa’s iconic aluminum suitcase polished to a mirror-like sheen. The futuristic spinner the duo released through Moncler’s “Genius” program comes packed with the sort of details that made Rimowa a powerhouse in the luggage space for over a century: A single-stage telescoping handle, a hinged double latch lock by the main compartment, elastic compression straps with magnetic pull-release fastenings, the works. It’s definitely an investment, but if you’ve ever been stuck traveling with a lackluster piece of luggage and thought, Man, I wish my suitcase could do that, chances are Rimowa’s can, and masterfully.

The Ultimate Travel Flex: Louis Vuitton Horizon 50 4-Wheel Carry-On

Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 inchesWeight: 6 poundsCapacity: 28 litersWarranty: None

Before Louis Vuitton became the biggest name in luxury fashion, it was a humble trunk maker servicing well-heeled Parisians in need of superlative travel furnishings. In the years since, the company has expanded its purview to include all the hallmarks of a contemporary lifestyle brand, but luggage remains the house specialty. The Horizon is the maison’s sleekest carry-on, introduced with the help of the legendary industrial designer Marc Newson and engineered to withstand the rough and tumble nature of TSA check-in. Lightweight, airtight, and done up in that instantly recognizable damier pattern, it’s a downright ritzy spinner worth the splurge.

The Best Luxury Duffle Bag: Lotuff No.12 Weekender

Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 9 inchesWeight: 4.5 poundsCapacity: 33.6 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

Lotuff’s handsome, all-American No. 12 duffle bag is our favorite of the genre, with all the details that matter (or matter enough to justify this $1,200 price tag). Take the zipper closure for one, which runs from end to end for extra security, and a wide opening that allows you to shove in a glut of your equally fancy sweaters and toiletries without breaking a sweat. Unlike other cheaply-made and poorly-designed duffles, the vegetable-tanned leather also gives it a first-class patina that only gets better with every trip. But should the leather break or that zipper snag, Lotuff will repair it for a fee, so this bag will stay in your family for many, many flights to come. The interior of the bag features a zip pocket for corralling your loose miscellanea, and the bottom of the bag is also reinforced with double leather for durability. With this bag, you’re looking at an investment piece that, if you’re treating it right, won’t ever need to be replaced. 

The Streamlined Duffle For Short and Long Trips: Porter Yoshida & Co. Tanker Two-Way Luggage

Dimensions: 21.9 x 11.2 inchesWeight: 1.9 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: None

Calling the team at Porter-Yoshida & Co luggage experts is a bit of an understatement; they’re bona fide obsessives. Since the ’60s, the Japanese brand has painstakingly crafted military-inspired bags designed to last. This one, done up in a sleek, three-layer navy nylon fabric and lined in hi-vis orange, takes its cues from the US Air Force’s legendary MA-1 jacket, but will help you travel like you’re a megawatt celebrity in 1996. This isn’t really an all-terrain bag you can pair with your Gore-Tex, but we guarantee you won’t find a better-looking duffel out there. 

The Convertible Travel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

Dimensions: 21 x 13.7 x 10.6 inchesWeight: 2 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: Patagonia offers an “Ironclad Guarantee” that allows for repairs, replacements, or refunds depending on the source of your beef with one of their products.  

Remember that hapless kid in fifth grade the whole class mocked for showing up with a rolling backpack the first day of school? (People don’t forget!) Well, if you still holding onto some secondhand trauma from the incident, Patagonia’s streamlined duffel might be good enough to risk straining your back to carry. The body fabric, lining, and webbing are all made out of water-resistant recycled materials designed to keep your valuables dry, while two padded straps make for an easy switch if you’d rather sling it over your shoulders like a carry-on backpack. Jokes aside, the bag’s handles are also specially reinforced to make for comfortable hand-carrying so your lower vertebrae will hold up fine no matter how far your terminal is from the gate. With all due respect to your childhood classmate (who you definitely owe an apology), sometimes carrying your bag just looks cooler than wheeling it around.

16 More High-Quality Spinners, Rollers, Backpacks, and Duffels to Consider

We’ve also assembled a number of other worthy alternatives that’ll help you jet off in style, even if you’re on a Frontier budget. These may be slightly less accessible or less well-rounded than our top picks—and some of these we haven’t had the luxury of testing ourselves—but they boast many of the same features you’d hope for in a well-traveled suitcase, from easy-gripping telescoping handles to a roomy, organized interior.

Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.9 poundsCapacity: 38 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty

Perhaps no other suitcase brand on the planet has the same name recognition as a Tumi, the workhorse luggage of choice for the business class, and plenty of celebrities, since it first came on the scene in the ‘70s. Beyond the absolute basics—trustworthy zippers, a bevy of pockets and dividers, and locks for keeping everyone else out except the TSA—this shellacked spinner has style in spades. Add to that a Lever Lock system that fully enables your overpacking tendencies, and Tumi’s tracing system (in case you ever lose sight of your bag), and you have hardly any reasons not to scoop one. 

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inchesWeight: 11.5 poundsCapacity: 32 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty

The makers of James Bond’s briefcase crafted a sleek carry-on that looks as polished as an Aston Martin, with all the gadgetry to make a special agent proud—including two cushion-cut locks to keep interlopers out, plus a magnetized ID tag. This one’s sized for international travel, with a shock-absorbing design, plus slick, ball-bearing wheels that’ll help close the gap between gates as you rush to catch your connecting flight. 

Dimensions: 22 x 12.5 x 9 inchesWeight: 4.1 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

Goruck bills itself as the “hell and back” travel bag, and this bag pulls out all the stops for true gearheads. This 40-liter trekker can fit a bunch of equipment, or a couple days’ worth of clothes in its innards if you’re enjoying a weekend in the wilderness. The exterior is water-resistant, padded for comfort, and includes top-of-the-line YKK zippers (designed to self-lubricate the more you use ‘em) so you can keep it in rotation for many backpacking trips to come. We like that the bag opens flat so that’s almost like packing and unpacking an actual suitcase, and if you ever happen to find yourself in a war zone, there’s a bombproof compartment meant for storing laptops up to 17 inches.

Dimensions: 22 x 16.9 x 7.4 inchesWeight: 9.3 poundsCapacity: 34 litersWarranty: 5 years

The posh luggage experts at Britain’s Globe Trotter specialize in handsome, old-school suitcases that are practically begging for you to stuff them with exotic curios (read: tourist-trap tchotchkes) on your next trip. The trunk-style cases are beloved by actual royalty, which is a better endorsement than any for well-heeled normies who want to buy their own. All the small details, from the flashy gold hardware to the leather exterior, feel like a little slice of luxury. 

Dimensions: 20 x 13.5 x 9.5 inchesWeight: 6.7 poundsCapacity: 51.9 litersWarranty: 10 years

Samsonite’s bags aren’t exactly flashy first-class choices, but we’d prefer to think of them as trend-resistant stalwarts. The shiny, textured Winfield 2 is one of the brand’s most solid trekkers for racking up miles—durable, with a ding-resistant polycarbonate body to withstand years of rough and tumble travel. Plus, if your luggage needs some tuneups somewhere down the line, you can fall back on your 10-year warranty to fix that wonky zipper. 

Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.1 x 9.6 inchesWeight: 11 poundsCapacity: 36.6 litersWarranty: 5 years

Tough-as-nails is always the objective of a hard-shell spinner, but FPM Milano’s extremely metal aluminum number takes that to heart. The Italian luggage specialists cooked up a virtually impenetrable long-hauler with plenty of locks (padlocks and combination), plus interior belts instead of compression straps to secure all of your valuables.

Dimensions: 26.8 x 17.7 x 10.2 inchesWeight: 8.5 poundsCapacity: 66 litersWarranty: 2 years

Dings are inevitable during travel, so you may as well get ahead of them. Crash Baggage makes artfully pre-dented—and deceptively durable—suitcases you don’t have to worry about getting destroyed in the overhead compartment. They’re also remarkably lightweight for hoisting overhead, and this one keeps things interesting with an interior that can only be described as Minion yellow.  

Dimensions: 17.7 x 13.8 x 9.1 inchesWeight: 1.7 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: None

Longchamp’s Le Pliage bag is a masterclass in French elegance, dating back to 1975 but still enduringly stylish today. It’s the rare triangular bag that’s roomy but not clunky, and trades the brand’s signature nylon fabric with soft leather—which is ideal for flexing on red-eye business travel. 

Dimensions: 21.9 x 15.4 x 9 inchesWeight: 9 poundsCapacity: 41 litersWarranty: None

Help your carry-on stand out in a sea of black nylon by copping a polycarbonate spinner in robin’s egg blue. Floyd’s retro suitcases are inspired by ‘70s skating culture (peep the wheels!), with a breezy, laid-back sensibility that’ll help ease you into the vacation mindset. The glaringly orange, well-apportioned storage section inside only amplifies the brand’s ethos of good vibes and great design. 

Dimensions: 16.9 x 11 x 7.5 inchesWeight: 2.2 poundsCapacity: 22 litersWarranty: 2 years

Bric’s name might not carry the same cachet as those of its splashier Italian relatives, but the heritage label turns out premium luggage with the best of them. Founded in 1952 by Mario Briccola, its handsome duffels—handcrafted from specially-treated embossed PVC—take their cues from designs the brand first introduced in the early ‘50s, but they don’t feel overly retro. 

Dimensions: 22 x 14.3 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.3 poundsCapacity: 37 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

Roam was founded by two former executives at Tumi with a pretty simple proposition: Your luggage should be more colorful! So if you’ve ever thought, I love this bag, but wish it came in an aggressive shade of blue, you can probably make that happen. The company offers cute, robot-like suitcases with completely customizable color patterns, down to the zippers on the sides. It’s certainly one way to ensure that your luggage never looks like anyone else’s in the overhead bin. 

Dimensions: 13 x 21 x 13 inchesWeight: 2.6 poundsCapacity: 50 litersWarranty: Limited lifetime warranty

Upgrading from the $30 Carhartt duffel you’ve had since college? North Face’s base camp bag is the next logical progression, with a similar rugged style for outdoorsy folks, plus a water-resistant, recycled exterior that can handle a little dirt and distressing. It’s extremely generous with space at a 50 liter capacity, and the price point at under $150 is just right.  

Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inchesWeight: 7.4 poundsCapacity: 42 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty

July’s carry-ons, all in pastels and aesthetically-pleasing italics, look like something dreamed up by a millennial focus group—so it might be just the right thing for flying out to your rental casa in CDMX. The Australian-made spinners fall in the same price bucket as the Away and Arlo Skye bags, with many of the same perks (from a built-in battery that’ll keep your phone and computer juiced up on long layovers, to silent wheels and stretchy compression straps), if you want something a little less everywhere. Plus, the lifetime warranty makes it very solid competition for the unimpeachable value of the Away bags. And if you’re looking for something that will truly breeze through the airport (and make it super easy to get into an overhead bin), July makes the carry on light, a 3.9-pound suitcase with a 32-liter capacity.

Dimensions: 21.3 x 11.8 x 9.4 inchesWeight: 7.1 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: 2 years

Everyone loves a duffel bag until it actually comes to sprinting your 30-pound deadweight to your boarding gate. It’s great for the roomy inner cavity, and less ideal for your poor shoulders. Rains’ trolley bag, essentially a duffel on wheels, is a neat solution to that problem. Like any of Rains’ slickers, it comes in minimal waterproof materials, but also packs in a telescoping handle for easily wheeling around the terminal, plus two buckles on the side that keep everything strapped in for takeoff. 

Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inchesWeight: 8.2 poundsCapacity: 43.7 litersWarranty: 10 years 

Setting aside its bonafides as a great carry-on suitcase—slick wheels, ample storage, and an adjustable handle for short and tall folks—let’s look at what makes Paravel a great overall purchase: The carbon-neutral bag is made of mostly sustainable materials from the recycled aluminum handle to the recycled polycarbonate shell. Paravel has been around since 2017, and besides championing sustainability in the luggage market, its retro-inspired baggage bring that ‘50s look into the 21st century with upgraded details like a removable laundry bag. Don’t worry, Wes Anderson won’t think you snatched one of the props off his latest film set. 

Dimensions: 22 × 14 × 9 inchesWeight: 7.8 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: Limited lifetime warranty 

Monos is like Canada’s version of Away, bringing that whole direct-to-consumer model and aesthetic to its luggage. Its Carry-on Pro (a souped-up version of the brand’s regular compact spinner)  features a pull-out front, which allows for easy access to your most-needed items. So much so that you might nix your personal item on your next flight, but don’t—you are owed that under-seat storage space. Slip your laptop into the front sleeve, which accommodates laptops up to 15 inches, and bring it out after you’ve paid an arm and a leg for in-flight Wi-Fi. Another perk that makes that affordable price point even sweeter is the limited lifetime warranty which covers defects, as well as the brand’s overall streamlined design aesthetic. Plus, its telescopic handle that gives you four height settings for short kings and Talls. The bag is slightly more expensive than Away’s Carry-On and Carry-On Pro—which we still think trumps all when it comes to design and tech features—though Monos’ front pocket might seal the deal for some.

 

GQ Recommends. High-flying spinners, backpacks, and duffels that go the distance.. By The Editors of GQ. January 25, 2023. Image: Getty; Collage: Brittany Loggins. All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.. The quest to find the best carry-on luggage shouldn’t be as onerous as the quest to find the perfect vacation destination—Instagrammable, but not, like, too Instagrammable—but it absolutely is. And though vacation destinations might be beholden to ongoing travel restrictions these days (or maybe you’re not comfortable venturing much farther than your own state lines), at suitcase options abound. Even the most cursory search for a good carry-on turns up a bewildering mixture of products from established luggage brands to agile fashion houses to venture-capital infused juggernauts. These days, it seems like everyone is trying to sell you a carry-on.. Luckily for you, we love a challenge. We here at GQ have been scanning this wild world of retailers to find the luggage you can comfortably roll up the cobblestone steps of Lisbon, zip-line with through the canopies of Belize, or begrudgingly leave at the gate on the way home for your nephew’s “graduation” from elementary school. We’ve combined our knowledge of the best luggage across a range of prices, styles, and construction types—ones that we’ve taken on planes, trains, and automobiles—to figure out which offer the best combination of solid construction, useful features, and magnificent looks. (We’ve also added a couple stylish bags that we haven’t had the pleasure of testing ourselves, but tick off plenty of those same boxes.) After all that, here are our top picks that we’d be happy to drag behind and beside us on every single one of our upcoming trips.. The Best Carry-on Luggage, at a Glance. Gotta get to the airport ASAP? Don’t run through the airport like a fool—our top picks for the best carry-on luggage are right here.. The Best Softside Luggage: TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner, $170 $144. The Best Hard Shell Luggage: Away Carry-On, $275. Another Solid Hardside Spinner: Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-On Max, $375. For the Budget-Conscious Menswear Bro: Horizn Studios H5 Essential Cabin Case, $354. The Last Carry-On You’ll Ever Buy: Moncler Genius x Rimowa Reflection Silver Suitcase, $3,200. The Ultimate Travel Flex: Louis Vuitton Horizon 50 4-Wheel Carry-On, $3,700. The Best Duffle Bag, Overall: Lotuff No.12 Weekender, $1,200. The Streamlined Duffle For Short and Long Trips: Porter Yoshida & Co. Tanker Two-Way Luggage, $780. The Convertible Travel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag, $159. Soft vs. Hardside Carry-On Bags: A Primer. First, a short guide on how to shop for the best carry-on luggage, from indestructible aluminum-shell bags to slightly squishier softside luggage that you can squeeze under an airplane seat. Hardside luggage used to be a bit of a novelty. If you had any 15 years ago, it probably came from a luxury brand like Rimowa, and you might have been one of the few people in the airport hauling around their characteristic sleek shells—which made finding your bag at the luggage carousel a lot easier. But as these models started to become available in polycarbonate plastics, hardside options become just as ubiquitous as their soft shell counterparts. If you’ve only ever had one, you might genuinely wonder whether the grass is greener on the other side. The answer to that question, after spending years with both suitcases, is a resounding maybe.. The main advantage of soft fabric luggage is actually its durability. That might seem counter-intuitive: shouldn’t something with a hard protective shell last longer? But in our experience, after the same amount of use softside luggage looks more like it did when you bought it than hard shell luggage. Think about it: If you toss a soft fabric cube back and forth against a wall for a year, it might look a little bit busted on the corners, but its stretchy-soft surface would probably absorb a lot of the impact. But if that cube was made out of thin, hard plastic, you’d probably see a bump mark or nick in the paint basically anywhere it hit the wall.. That said, a bunch of fabric luggage options (save for the super expensive models) leave a lot to be desired aesthetically. Even when they’re new, pulling a fabric suitcase behind you makes you look, at best, like someone who knows their way around a day planner. At worst, especially when they’re covered in all sorts of metal rivets and extra zippers, they can look dinky—the tuxedo T-shirt of things to put your clothes in. So it makes sense that hard shell luggage almost always looks much better. Their glossy shells catch the light really nicely, as they float alongside you while you glide through the terminal to your gate. And in recent years, companies have gotten a lot better at making them. The models you buy today aren’t quite as durable as fabric ones, but they’re almost there.. Fabric luggage does have one other advantage over hard shells, though. Thanks to their stretchiness, soft suitcases tend to be a little bit more accommodating to over-packers, while still maintaining the same carry-on size. You’ll find it a little bit easier to actually zip them shut, even when they’re filled to the brim with extra pairs of underwear. Hard shell suitcases offer a lot less give in terms of packing space, which makes them less than ideal if you tend to accumulate endless tokens of your trip while you’re traveling. It might not be big enough problem to be a dealbreaker, but it’s something to consider.. The Best Softside Luggage: TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner. Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 x 9 inchesWeight: 5.4 poundsCapacity: 46 litersWarranty: One-year warranty. Big on practicality and low on cost, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 offers the best value of any softside bag out there. It’s the brand’s lightest four-wheel spinner suitcase at five pounds, maximizing on maneuverability for when you’re sprinting to catch your flight. The cavernous, expandable interior includes tons of weird little zippered sections and mesh pockets for you to cordon off your toiletries, small items, dirty clothes, and shoes from your clothes without busting out the packing cubes. And after you’ve racked up plenty of miles on those wheels, the Platinum Elite comes with a limited lifetime warranty for repairs and replacements.. The only ding against the TravelPro is its humdrum looks, which evoke the dated carpeting of one of the airports it’ll be dragged through. But that hasn’t kept it from becoming a favorite of frequent flyers. If the TravelPro logo looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve spotted it on the luggage of the flight attendants and pilots that spend most of their lives in the sky.. The Best Hard Shell Luggage: Away Carry-On. Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.1 poundsCapacity: 39.8 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. There are plenty of good reasons why the Away team has just about upended the luggage industry since it launched. Instagram-ready looks? Check. Durable shell? Check. Smooth Hinomoto spinner wheels, top and side handles, clothes straps, a mesh zip pocket, a laundry bag, sturdy YKK zippers, and—maybe most game-changing of all—a built-in USB charger so you don’t have to screw around with airport outlets? Yeah, check. At just under three hundred bucks and spanning a range of handsome, low-key colorways, Away’s carry-on means you don’t have to choose between getting something cheap and ugly and spending a rent check on something luxe. For an industry that never really did the low-to-mid-tier thing well, that’s a very welcome change of pace. Our testers have taken theirs on planes across the country and halfway across the world, and never run into issues. Provided you do, there’s a limited lifetime warranty that’ll cover any functional damage.. Another Solid Hardside Spinner: Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-On Max. Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 9.6 inchesWeight: 7 poundsCapacity: 45 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty. The Arlo Skye Zipper carry-on is a winner for a couple reasons. The bag’s polycarbonate shell isn’t as hearty as the fabric on the TravelPro or the aluminum of a Rimowa, say, but we found the suitcase a bit more capable of withstanding regular use than many other hard-shelled suitcases we’ve tested. (It’s also much cheaper.) All of Arlo Skye’s carry-on sized suitcases boast internal pockets for organizing your travel gear, including a few zippered areas for separating out dirty clothes and shoes. The company also makes a version with an easy-access front pocket, presumably for a laptop or magazines, but we’d imagine you’d rather store those things in a backpack or tote rather than in the suitcase you’re hauling into an overhead bin. Arlo Skye’s luggage features a removable external charger, but unlike the USB port from Away that can only juice up your phone, it comes with a USB-C connection for keeping your laptop charged up, too. Still, the five-year warranty that Arlo Skye offers doesn’t compare to Away’s limited lifetime warranty, which is why the latter is still our top choice for long-hauler luggage that you’ll want to keep dragging around a decade from now.. For the Budget-Conscious Menswear Bro: Horizn Studios H5 Essential Cabin Case. Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.8 x 7.9 inchesWeight: 6.8 poundsCapacity: 35 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty. Listen, we’re all for splurging on some baller luggage when appropriate. (Clearly.) But sometimes you need a suitcase that will securely get you from point A to point B—and look good doing it—but won’t call for you dropping well over a G. Enter this stealthy, blacked-out carry-on. It’s made out of a scarily durable polycarbonate, lined with water-resistant nylon, and comes with 360-degree spinner wheels, a built-in charging station, and a four-stage telescopic handle—all at a price that belies how methodically designed it is. It doesn’t have quite the same curb appeal as the Away spinners, or the carrying capacity of the massive Arlo Skye Max carry-on, but it’s a very solid alternative in the same budget category. Buy this and save your coins for a better AirBnB.. The Last Carry-On You’ll Ever Buy: Moncler Genius x Rimowa Reflection Silver Suitcase. Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.8 x 9 inchesWeight: 9.5 poundsCapacity: 35 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. Rimowa, the storied German luggage company founded in the late 1800s, has been on something of a collaborative spree. Few have yielded better results than the suitcase the brand cooked up with the Italian skiwear gods at Moncler, which sees Rimowa’s iconic aluminum suitcase polished to a mirror-like sheen. The futuristic spinner the duo released through Moncler’s “Genius” program comes packed with the sort of details that made Rimowa a powerhouse in the luggage space for over a century: A single-stage telescoping handle, a hinged double latch lock by the main compartment, elastic compression straps with magnetic pull-release fastenings, the works. It’s definitely an investment, but if you’ve ever been stuck traveling with a lackluster piece of luggage and thought, Man, I wish my suitcase could do that, chances are Rimowa’s can, and masterfully.. The Ultimate Travel Flex: Louis Vuitton Horizon 50 4-Wheel Carry-On. Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 inchesWeight: 6 poundsCapacity: 28 litersWarranty: None. Before Louis Vuitton became the biggest name in luxury fashion, it was a humble trunk maker servicing well-heeled Parisians in need of superlative travel furnishings. In the years since, the company has expanded its purview to include all the hallmarks of a contemporary lifestyle brand, but luggage remains the house specialty. The Horizon is the maison’s sleekest carry-on, introduced with the help of the legendary industrial designer Marc Newson and engineered to withstand the rough and tumble nature of TSA check-in. Lightweight, airtight, and done up in that instantly recognizable damier pattern, it’s a downright ritzy spinner worth the splurge.. The Best Luxury Duffle Bag: Lotuff No.12 Weekender. Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 9 inchesWeight: 4.5 poundsCapacity: 33.6 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. Lotuff’s handsome, all-American No. 12 duffle bag is our favorite of the genre, with all the details that matter (or matter enough to justify this $1,200 price tag). Take the zipper closure for one, which runs from end to end for extra security, and a wide opening that allows you to shove in a glut of your equally fancy sweaters and toiletries without breaking a sweat. Unlike other cheaply-made and poorly-designed duffles, the vegetable-tanned leather also gives it a first-class patina that only gets better with every trip. But should the leather break or that zipper snag, Lotuff will repair it for a fee, so this bag will stay in your family for many, many flights to come. The interior of the bag features a zip pocket for corralling your loose miscellanea, and the bottom of the bag is also reinforced with double leather for durability. With this bag, you’re looking at an investment piece that, if you’re treating it right, won’t ever need to be replaced.. The Streamlined Duffle For Short and Long Trips: Porter Yoshida & Co. Tanker Two-Way Luggage. Dimensions: 21.9 x 11.2 inchesWeight: 1.9 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: None. Calling the team at Porter-Yoshida & Co luggage experts is a bit of an understatement; they’re bona fide obsessives. Since the ’60s, the Japanese brand has painstakingly crafted military-inspired bags designed to last. This one, done up in a sleek, three-layer navy nylon fabric and lined in hi-vis orange, takes its cues from the US Air Force’s legendary MA-1 jacket, but will help you travel like you’re a megawatt celebrity in 1996. This isn’t really an all-terrain bag you can pair with your Gore-Tex, but we guarantee you won’t find a better-looking duffel out there.. The Convertible Travel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag. Dimensions: 21 x 13.7 x 10.6 inchesWeight: 2 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: Patagonia offers an “Ironclad Guarantee” that allows for repairs, replacements, or refunds depending on the source of your beef with one of their products.. Remember that hapless kid in fifth grade the whole class mocked for showing up with a rolling backpack the first day of school? (People don’t forget!) Well, if you still holding onto some secondhand trauma from the incident, Patagonia’s streamlined duffel might be good enough to risk straining your back to carry. The body fabric, lining, and webbing are all made out of water-resistant recycled materials designed to keep your valuables dry, while two padded straps make for an easy switch if you’d rather sling it over your shoulders like a carry-on backpack. Jokes aside, the bag’s handles are also specially reinforced to make for comfortable hand-carrying so your lower vertebrae will hold up fine no matter how far your terminal is from the gate. With all due respect to your childhood classmate (who you definitely owe an apology), sometimes carrying your bag just looks cooler than wheeling it around.. 16 More High-Quality Spinners, Rollers, Backpacks, and Duffels to Consider. We’ve also assembled a number of other worthy alternatives that’ll help you jet off in style, even if you’re on a Frontier budget. These may be slightly less accessible or less well-rounded than our top picks—and some of these we haven’t had the luxury of testing ourselves—but they boast many of the same features you’d hope for in a well-traveled suitcase, from easy-gripping telescoping handles to a roomy, organized interior.. Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.9 poundsCapacity: 38 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty. Perhaps no other suitcase brand on the planet has the same name recognition as a Tumi, the workhorse luggage of choice for the business class, and plenty of celebrities, since it first came on the scene in the ‘70s. Beyond the absolute basics—trustworthy zippers, a bevy of pockets and dividers, and locks for keeping everyone else out except the TSA—this shellacked spinner has style in spades. Add to that a Lever Lock system that fully enables your overpacking tendencies, and Tumi’s tracing system (in case you ever lose sight of your bag), and you have hardly any reasons not to scoop one.. Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inchesWeight: 11.5 poundsCapacity: 32 litersWarranty: Five-year warranty. The makers of James Bond’s briefcase crafted a sleek carry-on that looks as polished as an Aston Martin, with all the gadgetry to make a special agent proud—including two cushion-cut locks to keep interlopers out, plus a magnetized ID tag. This one’s sized for international travel, with a shock-absorbing design, plus slick, ball-bearing wheels that’ll help close the gap between gates as you rush to catch your connecting flight.. Dimensions: 22 x 12.5 x 9 inchesWeight: 4.1 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. Goruck bills itself as the “hell and back” travel bag, and this bag pulls out all the stops for true gearheads. This 40-liter trekker can fit a bunch of equipment, or a couple days’ worth of clothes in its innards if you’re enjoying a weekend in the wilderness. The exterior is water-resistant, padded for comfort, and includes top-of-the-line YKK zippers (designed to self-lubricate the more you use ‘em) so you can keep it in rotation for many backpacking trips to come. We like that the bag opens flat so that’s almost like packing and unpacking an actual suitcase, and if you ever happen to find yourself in a war zone, there’s a bombproof compartment meant for storing laptops up to 17 inches.. Dimensions: 22 x 16.9 x 7.4 inchesWeight: 9.3 poundsCapacity: 34 litersWarranty: 5 years. The posh luggage experts at Britain’s Globe Trotter specialize in handsome, old-school suitcases that are practically begging for you to stuff them with exotic curios (read: tourist-trap tchotchkes) on your next trip. The trunk-style cases are beloved by actual royalty, which is a better endorsement than any for well-heeled normies who want to buy their own. All the small details, from the flashy gold hardware to the leather exterior, feel like a little slice of luxury.. Dimensions: 20 x 13.5 x 9.5 inchesWeight: 6.7 poundsCapacity: 51.9 litersWarranty: 10 years. Samsonite’s bags aren’t exactly flashy first-class choices, but we’d prefer to think of them as trend-resistant stalwarts. The shiny, textured Winfield 2 is one of the brand’s most solid trekkers for racking up miles—durable, with a ding-resistant polycarbonate body to withstand years of rough and tumble travel. Plus, if your luggage needs some tuneups somewhere down the line, you can fall back on your 10-year warranty to fix that wonky zipper.. Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.1 x 9.6 inchesWeight: 11 poundsCapacity: 36.6 litersWarranty: 5 years. Tough-as-nails is always the objective of a hard-shell spinner, but FPM Milano’s extremely metal aluminum number takes that to heart. The Italian luggage specialists cooked up a virtually impenetrable long-hauler with plenty of locks (padlocks and combination), plus interior belts instead of compression straps to secure all of your valuables.. Dimensions: 26.8 x 17.7 x 10.2 inchesWeight: 8.5 poundsCapacity: 66 litersWarranty: 2 years. Dings are inevitable during travel, so you may as well get ahead of them. Crash Baggage makes artfully pre-dented—and deceptively durable—suitcases you don’t have to worry about getting destroyed in the overhead compartment. They’re also remarkably lightweight for hoisting overhead, and this one keeps things interesting with an interior that can only be described as Minion yellow.. Dimensions: 17.7 x 13.8 x 9.1 inchesWeight: 1.7 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: None. Longchamp’s Le Pliage bag is a masterclass in French elegance, dating back to 1975 but still enduringly stylish today. It’s the rare triangular bag that’s roomy but not clunky, and trades the brand’s signature nylon fabric with soft leather—which is ideal for flexing on red-eye business travel.. Dimensions: 21.9 x 15.4 x 9 inchesWeight: 9 poundsCapacity: 41 litersWarranty: None. Help your carry-on stand out in a sea of black nylon by copping a polycarbonate spinner in robin’s egg blue. Floyd’s retro suitcases are inspired by ‘70s skating culture (peep the wheels!), with a breezy, laid-back sensibility that’ll help ease you into the vacation mindset. The glaringly orange, well-apportioned storage section inside only amplifies the brand’s ethos of good vibes and great design.. Dimensions: 16.9 x 11 x 7.5 inchesWeight: 2.2 poundsCapacity: 22 litersWarranty: 2 years. Bric’s name might not carry the same cachet as those of its splashier Italian relatives, but the heritage label turns out premium luggage with the best of them. Founded in 1952 by Mario Briccola, its handsome duffels—handcrafted from specially-treated embossed PVC—take their cues from designs the brand first introduced in the early ‘50s, but they don’t feel overly retro.. Dimensions: 22 x 14.3 x 9 inchesWeight: 7.3 poundsCapacity: 37 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. Roam was founded by two former executives at Tumi with a pretty simple proposition: Your luggage should be more colorful! So if you’ve ever thought, I love this bag, but wish it came in an aggressive shade of blue, you can probably make that happen. The company offers cute, robot-like suitcases with completely customizable color patterns, down to the zippers on the sides. It’s certainly one way to ensure that your luggage never looks like anyone else’s in the overhead bin.. Dimensions: 13 x 21 x 13 inchesWeight: 2.6 poundsCapacity: 50 litersWarranty: Limited lifetime warranty. Upgrading from the $30 Carhartt duffel you’ve had since college? North Face’s base camp bag is the next logical progression, with a similar rugged style for outdoorsy folks, plus a water-resistant, recycled exterior that can handle a little dirt and distressing. It’s extremely generous with space at a 50 liter capacity, and the price point at under $150 is just right.. Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inchesWeight: 7.4 poundsCapacity: 42 litersWarranty: Lifetime warranty. July’s carry-ons, all in pastels and aesthetically-pleasing italics, look like something dreamed up by a millennial focus group—so it might be just the right thing for flying out to your rental casa in CDMX. The Australian-made spinners fall in the same price bucket as the Away and Arlo Skye bags, with many of the same perks (from a built-in battery that’ll keep your phone and computer juiced up on long layovers, to silent wheels and stretchy compression straps), if you want something a little less everywhere. Plus, the lifetime warranty makes it very solid competition for the unimpeachable value of the Away bags. And if you’re looking for something that will truly breeze through the airport (and make it super easy to get into an overhead bin), July makes the carry on light, a 3.9-pound suitcase with a 32-liter capacity.. Dimensions: 21.3 x 11.8 x 9.4 inchesWeight: 7.1 poundsCapacity: 40 litersWarranty: 2 years. Everyone loves a duffel bag until it actually comes to sprinting your 30-pound deadweight to your boarding gate. It’s great for the roomy inner cavity, and less ideal for your poor shoulders. Rains’ trolley bag, essentially a duffel on wheels, is a neat solution to that problem. Like any of Rains’ slickers, it comes in minimal waterproof materials, but also packs in a telescoping handle for easily wheeling around the terminal, plus two buckles on the side that keep everything strapped in for takeoff.. Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inchesWeight: 8.2 poundsCapacity: 43.7 litersWarranty: 10 years. Setting aside its bonafides as a great carry-on suitcase—slick wheels, ample storage, and an adjustable handle for short and tall folks—let’s look at what makes Paravel a great overall purchase: The carbon-neutral bag is made of mostly sustainable materials from the recycled aluminum handle to the recycled polycarbonate shell. Paravel has been around since 2017, and besides championing sustainability in the luggage market, its retro-inspired baggage bring that ‘50s look into the 21st century with upgraded details like a removable laundry bag. Don’t worry, Wes Anderson won’t think you snatched one of the props off his latest film set.. Dimensions: 22 × 14 × 9 inchesWeight: 7.8 poundsCapacity: 36 litersWarranty: Limited lifetime warranty. Monos is like Canada’s version of Away, bringing that whole direct-to-consumer model and aesthetic to its luggage. Its Carry-on Pro (a souped-up version of the brand’s regular compact spinner) features a pull-out front, which allows for easy access to your most-needed items. So much so that you might nix your personal item on your next flight, but don’t—you are owed that under-seat storage space. Slip your laptop into the front sleeve, which accommodates laptops up to 15 inches, and bring it out after you’ve paid an arm and a leg for in-flight Wi-Fi. Another perk that makes that affordable price point even sweeter is the limited lifetime warranty which covers defects, as well as the brand’s overall streamlined design aesthetic. Plus, its telescopic handle that gives you four height settings for short kings and Talls. The bag is slightly more expensive than Away’s Carry-On and Carry-On Pro—which we still think trumps all when it comes to design and tech features—though Monos’ front pocket might seal the deal for some.

 

​ 

Share on facebook
Share
Share on pinterest
Pin
Share on twitter
Tweet
Comments

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

instagram: