Going to the airport is always a huge hassle. Security checkpoint, luggage check-ins, and boarding passes mean that you’re always juggling something or another. Checking luggage is particularly stressful, because while most of the time it arrives at your destination at the same time you do sometimes you’re not always that lucky. We all have experienced or know someone who has experienced checking in their luggage only to find out there wasn’t enough room on the plane or it was placed on the wrong plane or wasn’t placed on a plane at all.

In times like these that a carry-on bag is so useful. It can be used to store toiletries, clothing, passports, and whatever personal items you would need immediately. Carry on bags are a must no matter if you’re a frequent traveler or a now-and-again vacationer. By owning carry on luggage, you won’t be stranded without anything to your name if something were to happen to your checked luggage.

While buying a carry-on bag is necessary, it can be rather difficult to buy the right one for you. There exist many brands and varieties, each with their distinct features that you may or may not need. Not to mention all the TSA regulation that decide what you can take onto the plane. It would be devastating to buy an expensive piece of carrying on luggage only to find out you can’t take it with you on the plane and need to check it in.

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There are several things to consider when buying luggage and it can be overwhelming. Things like price, size, and wheel type all play an important role in the decision-making process. Hopefully, reading this will simplify things a bit. What follows are features and attributes that you should look out for when buying carry-on luggage, and the ways certain varieties of luggage can suit your needs. There are also reviews of the top four carry on luggage bags you can buy right now. Feel free to use it as a jumping point to research which product is right for you.

Which Carry on is Right for You?

What you first need to do to pick the right carry on luggage is to assess your needs. What’s your budget? How often do you travel? What kind of wheels do you prefer? Asking yourself these questions will allow yourself to hone in on the features you need and the features you don’t.


Perhaps the very first consideration many of us take into account is the price. Carry on luggage has a wide range in price from 150 dollars to 500 dollars. A good carry-on bag can be found at any price point, but the saying you get what you pay for’ is very true when it comes to luggage. This isn’t to say that a 150 dollar carry on is cheaply made or won’t last you a good long while, it simply means that a 500 dollar carry on will probably last you longer.

With that said, the amount you should pay for a carry on will depend on how much travel you do. People who travel only once or twice a year if that will do just fine with a bag at a lower price point. If it’s properly cared for while not in use, a cheaper bag will last you years. If, however, you travel quite often for business or pleasure, then investing in a more expensive bag is a must. More expensive bags are built for more continuous use and so are made with materials and designs that can easily stand up to that use.


The next quality you need to keep in mind is perhaps the most important: size. Usually, the size of the luggage doesn’t matter much so long as it can carry everything you need. However, size is incredibly important when it comes to carry-on luggage because many airlines have restrictions on size. What makes this especially difficult is that different airlines will usually have different size requirements.

On airlines such as Delta, United, and American Airlines, carry on bags can’t be any larger than 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches high. Meanwhile, Southwest and Jetblue can accept slightly bigger bags that are 24 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 10 inches high.

If you travel with only one preferred airline, or if you have some loyalty program with a specific airline, then find out the maximum dimensions a carry-on bag can be and get one that fits. Since you usually only use one airline you only need to worry about one regulation. If, however, you use multiple airlines, then the smaller, the better. Research which airline has the smallest allowable measurements and pick a bag that will fit that. Though this will mean that you can pack less clothing and other items.

Many luggage manufacturers have provided ways to make the size of their carry-on bags a bit adjustable. Many have zippers that when unzipped allows the bag another inch or two of height to allow more packing space and others have compressors and straps that press down clothes for them to take up less space. These bags allow you to adjust the size of your bag in case it’s too big or can be a bit bigger without going over airline requirements.

Also, it is extremely important to note that the size advertised when choosing carry on luggage is not always the actual size. Sometimes the advertised dimensions of a bag do not include wheels or handles, and only measure the compartment itself. Airlines, however, do count wheels and handles when checking to see if a bag fits their requirements. Always make sure to get the right measurements. Bring your tape measure if you have to.


Price and size are important, but so is figuring out how you’re going to get your carry on bag from point A to point B. This is where wheels come in. There are two types of wheel styles you will find on carrying on luggage: rollers and spinners.

Spinners are four wheels evenly spaced on the bottom of the carry-on. These wheels can turn in any direction and roll in any direction. This means that when you are moving your luggage, you’re moving it as you would floor dolly or a shopping cart. Spinners are convenient because it allows you to simply push your luggage without supporting any of the weight.

Rollers, on the other hand, are two recessed wheels placed toward the handle side of the bottom of a carry-on bag. When transporting carry on luggage with rollers, you need to tilt the luggage and support a part of the weight with your arm strength.

Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, rollers are faster than spinners. If you’re rushing to your gate and need to go as fast as possible, then rollers are for you. However, if you regularly pack heavily and don’t want to tire yourself out by supporting a lot of weighing, then spinners might be more your style.

Picking what wheels to ultimately go with is a completely personal decision. One is not more beneficial than the other. It should be noted that spinner wheels stick out more than roller wheels. This not only adds an inch or two from the overall size (and subtracts and inch or two from packing space), it also means that these wheels are more exposed. Depending on how often you travel they will need to be replaced more often. Thankfully, many stores offer wheel repair and replacement kits at very low prices.


It may sound simple and not worth your consideration, but there has been so much innovation when it comes to pockets that it’s worth talking about. You may be familiar with the large and small pocket that decorate the front of the luggage. Well, because of the increasing prevalence of laptops and tablets these pockets can now be padded to better protect fragile electronics. Though, as a side note, you should be aware that overfilling these pockets might make your luggage top-heavy and fall over. That’s not all that luggage manufacturers have done with pockets.

Some carry on luggage backs have a pocket specifically designed for damp items such as lotions and filled baby bottles. These pockets ensure that if anything leaks then the spillage will be contained within the pocket. There are also bags with an added pocket to fit shoes.

These extra features might be nice if you’re a frequent traveler, but might also be utterly useless if you’re not. Either way, things like this are an extra bit of convenience that could make or break a purchase decision, so it’s always a good thing to keep in mind.

Now that you know what to look for in carry-on luggage, here are the top five best-reviewed carry-on bags in the market today. These bags have received rave reviews, are very well-constructed, and have features that are convenient. Any of these products are sure to satisfy. As well, they are also a great jumping-off point to do your research and figure out which bag is right for you.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Upright Carry-On

Briggs & Riley make exquisite luggage and the upright carry on from their Baseline collection is no exception. This bag looks sleek and sophisticated, and it measures 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches including the handle and wheels. This means it will fit within most airline requirements. Not only that, but this carry-on bag is also expandable giving you up to 25 percent more packing space when you need it. It also fits in the overhead compartments of most US airlines.

This carry-on bag features sturdy roller wheels, and many reviewers give it high praise for its sleek design and versatility. It’s a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at almost 10 pounds, but that is simply evidence of its impeccable construction.

Biaggi Contempo Foldable Spinner Carry On

The Biaggi Contempo carry on the bag has two features that make it particularly unique amongst luggage. It not only comes in the usual dark tones luggage bags usually feature, but also comes in bright colors like orange, yellow, and blue that make it stand out in a crowd. Not only that, but this bag folds flat for storage which means it takes up less space when not in use.

It also comes with its storage bag to keep it free of dust. This carry-on bag meets every airline requirement and has spinner wheels that make it easy to transport.

eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini

This bag is small at 21 inches by 14 inches by 4 inches. However, it also features an expansion zipper that gives you over 22 percent more packing space. This bag comes in many colors that reviewers love and features a removable divider so that you can store your clothing and other items separately. This bag also comes with a limited lifetime warranty that protects against defects in materials or workmanship.


Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner 21

The Silhouette offers a much deeper packing compartment, though it is only 21 inches long. This means you can pack just as much, if not more than, the usual 22 inches carry on the bag. However, this deeper compartment also makes it a bit wider which may be a problem with overhead storage, but many reviews report simply gate checking the bag and all being well. Unique to this carry on is a pocket for liquid items. If anything leaks then the pocket will contain any liquid and keep it from ruining your clothing or electronics.


Travelpro Platinum Magna 21” Suiter

This bag is small, so it’s sure to be well under an airline’s maximum carry-on dimensions. Unique to the Platinum Magna are spinner wheels that feature a magnetic system that keeps them aligned with the direction you’re going. Many spinner wheels will drift left and right as you transport them, but not this luggage.


A carry on is a must for any traveler to have so that they will always have necessary and important items with them at all times. By considering things such as price, size, wheels, and features, you can pick the right carry on bag for you. Any of these products would make an excellent purchase.

Useful Links

Carry-On Luggage Size Chart: 170+ Airlines