Best Travel

Best Carry-On Luggage 2022

Whether you’re crossing state lines or country borders, having the best carry-on luggage for your trip can help you enjoy the journey before the destination. The trick is to find a suitcase that’s big enough to stash your essentials, portable enough to walk (run?) through the airport and compact enough to stow on the plane. Our choice for the “Best Carry-On Luggage Overall” is the Calpak Ambeur because it’s expandable, lightweight, easy to maneuver, equipped with a TSA-approved lock and looks good, to boot. (And yet, there are several other suitcases that made the cut for this list too.)

The fact is, quality luggage can be pricey but a carry-on you can depend on is worth the investment. You also want to consider size and maneuverability plus other features like interior pockets, TSA-approved locks and built-in portable chargers if you want to top off your travel-worthy tech. You probably want something that’s attractive, too; after all, it’s important to have a bag that’s easy to spot (and worthy of an appearance on the ‘gram).

Based on research, Vetted team recommendations and insights from Amy Brueckner, COO of the travel planning company CIRE Travel, we compiled a list of the best carry-on luggage for any trip. Bon voyage!

Best Carry-On Luggage Overall

A Chic, Lightweight Bag That Expands For More Room

Editor’s Pick

Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: 2-year limited warranty; accident protection can be purchased

Looking for a trendy yet functional carry-on for your Instagram-worthy travels? Calpak has you covered with its Ambeur 20-inch Rolling Spinner Carry-On, available in black and three shimmering metallic colors. Practicality-wise, it features an integrated TSA-approved lock, interior compartments and the ability to expand an extra 2 inches, giving you plenty of space to stuff souvenirs. It’s also incredibly lightweight. Says one Vetted editor, who owns the Ambeur, “It fits a TON of stuff. It’s like a Mary Poppins bag.”

If you’re an avid traveler who’s rough on your luggage, consider purchasing 2-, 3- or 5-year accident protection for $23 to $44 dollars; it covers the repair of stains, rips, broken pieces and more.

Best Carry-On Luggage For International Travel

A Durable Aluminum Exterior Makes It Worth The Splurge


Dimensions: 21.7 × 15.8 × 9.1 inches | Weight: 9.5 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: Register online for a 5-year manufacturer’s guarantee

This aluminum shell suitcase is ultra durable for the most avid (and rough-on-their-luggage) travelers. It’s also proof that you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for utility. While you’ll pay a pretty penny for this bag, you’ll enjoy effortless maneuverability with its innovative multi-wheel system and telescopic handle. Inside, there’s a flex divider for organization and a built-in TSA-approved lock for extra security no matter where your travels take you.

The Cabin automatically comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, but if you register online, it extends to 5 years. Just keep in mind that the width and depth of this pick may be slightly bigger than some airlines allow, so be sure to double-check the flight guidelines before purchase. To that, there are some smaller versions of this suitcase that you can check out instead.

Best Carry-On Backpack

A Polished Leather Backpack With Convenient Pockets

Gives Back

Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 6 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: No | Warranty: None; unused items may be returned within 30 days

While virtually any backpack within size guidelines qualifies as a carry-on, the key is to keep your in-flight necessities easily accessible. Plus, you probably want something that looks polished and grown-up (as opposed to a book bag you’d shlep to school). Of course, durability should be top-of-mind, too. Enter, Parker Clay’s Atlas Backpack, which checks all the boxes and then some.

Made of supple Ethiopian leather, the Atlas is handsome, tough and designed with travel in mind. Although it’ll sustain creases and scuffs—as all leather does—its unique patina will bear the marks from your travels. Inside you’ll find convenient pockets for stashing must-haves like an iPad, smartphone and business cards. The cherry on top is that Parker Clay is a company worth supporting; it provides fair employment to women in Ethiopia so they can safely support their families.

Best Carry-On Luggage For Business Trips

A Thoughtfully-Design Suitcase That’s Travel Expert-Approved

Dimensions: 22 × 14 × 9 inches | Weight: 9.7 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime Guarantee

Travel expert Amy Brueckner never leaves home without this soft shell suitcase. “I love, love, love my Briggs & Riley Baseline carry-on in black,” says Brueckner. “It has a lifetime guarantee, it expands [and] it has a hanging bag element for when I’m packing dresses, etc. It has a little pouch in the back that holds my umbrella so I’m never without one on the road.”

This suitcase is expandable and features two rolling wheels, an extendable handle and a built-in TSA-approved lock. Because of its clever trifold garment feature, this case is especially suited for anyone traveling for business or a formal occasion. While it’s certainly an investment, the brand’s Lifetime Guarantee covers repairs free of charge, meaning you can confidently take this bag wherever your job (or life) takes you.

Best Expandable Carry-On Luggage

A Sleek, Affordable Option From A Top Name In Travel

Editor’s Pick

Dimensions: 21.25 × 15.25 × 10 inches | Weight: 6.5 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: Limited 10-year global warranty

Recommended by our Vetted deals editor (who “loves” this bag), the Freeform spinner is compact but expandable for when you need a little extra packing room. It also has interior pockets and a divider to keep everything in its place. Four wheels make it easy to tote and a push-button handle pulls out and retracts as needed.

Other notable features include a recessed TSA-approved lock, a built-in ID tag and a modern color palette that includes amethyst purple, sky blue and this sleek all-black colorway. In short, it’s everything you need with an under-$200 price tag.

Best Customizable Carry-On Luggage

Monogram Your Carry-On And Add A USB Charger

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.1 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: 100-day return policy and limited lifetime warranty

Away is one of today’s trendiest luggage brands and its easy to see why: The bags come in a spectrum of Instagram-worthy colors with clever bells and whistles at an attainable price point. For instance, you can pick and choose upgrades like suitcase or luggage tag monogramming or an ejectable USB charger that keeps tech juiced up. (FYI, the USB add-on is not offered with select colors.) Other convenient features include swiveling wheels, a TSA-approved lock and a hidden laundry bag. Brueckner mentions that her husband has The Bigger Carry-On: Aluminum Edition and “is really happy with it.” She continues, “Sometimes when we travel, we’ll buy a bottle of wine or two and check our bag on the way home. Our precious vino is definitely protected in his hard shell suitcase!”

If you’re still on the fence, the brand states you can “put this piece to the test on your next trip and make sure it’s right for you—if not, you can return it anytime within the first 100 days of purchase.” Take note that monogrammed items cannot be returned, however all items are covered under the company’s limited lifetime warranty.

Best Value Carry-On Luggage

Score Steep Discounts On Select Colors

Dimensions: 23 × 14.5 × 9.5 inches | Weight: 6.7 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: Limited 10-year global warranty

An established brand in luggage, you can never go wrong with a Samsonite. The Winfield 2 is sturdy and sleek, offering plenty of room for your belongings plus interior dividers, cross straps and a TSA-approved lock to keep everything secure.

Multidirectional wheels and a retractable handle make it easy to maneuver through busy airports then stash under a seat or in an overhead bin once you’ve boarded the plane. It also comes in an array of colors, and while prices vary, right now you can snag this trendy brushed anthracite shade for $154.

Best Statement-Making Carry-On Luggage

A Bold Collaboration That Stands Out From The Crowd

Editor’s Pick

Dimensions:  23 x 15 x 9.6 inches | Weight: 7.1 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: 5-year warranty on manufacturing defects

If you’re looking for a carry-on that really stands out, check out the Arlo Skye X Dusen Dusen Zipper Carry-On Max, a favorite of Vetted’s data director for this very reason. In addition to its eye-catching sunshine yellow shade—courtesy of a limited-edition collaboration—the Carry-On Max is equipped with a TSA-approved lock and an antimicrobial material that’s as chic as it is functional. Techies will also enjoy its “blazing-fast” built-in charger, which can fill a phone battery halfway in 30 minutes.

For easier access to your in-flight necessities, upgrade to the front pocket version for $25 more and you can grab your stuff without unzipping the entire suitcase.

Best Carry-On With A Laptop Compartment

A Tough-As-Nails Option To Keep Your Computer Safe

Dimensions:  22 × 14 × 9 inches | Weight: 7.8 pounds | TSA-Approved Lock: Yes | Warranty: limited lifetime warranty

Anyone who’s flown with a laptop knows how stressful it can be. From the moment you enter security, traveling with a laptop is a hassle, but the Monos Carry-On Pro makes it exponentially more convenient. This bag has a built-in, padded front compartment for easy access to your computer. This pocket makes pulling out or putting away your laptop a breeze, plus you can travel without anxiety knowing your very expensive cargo is safe behind the same aerospace-grade polycarbonate that the rest of the case is made out of. And it comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers the bag in case anything ever breaks.

This bag is designed to fit in the overhead bin of “almost any flight, anywhere in the world” according to Monos, and is outfitted with an ultra-sturdy telescopic handle, TSA-approved lock, quiet wheels and vegan leather details.

How We Chose The Best Carry-On Luggage

To compile this list, we researched trendy brands, dug up bargains and asked Vetted team members which carry-on suitcases they use for their own travels. We also tapped Amy Brueckner, COO of travel planning company CIRE Travel, for her expert advice on finding the right suitcase for any kind of trip. She also gave us the scoop on her all-time favorite carry-on bag: the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 2-Wheel Carry-On, featured above.

What To Consider When Buying Carry-On Luggage

The best carry-on luggage for you depends on your trip and travel style. Here are some things to consider, along with expert insights from travel pro Amy Brueckner.


It’s crucial to make sure the size of the luggage you buy is compliant with airline rules. If you’re looking for an investment piece, check out the guidelines of whichever airline you usually fly. If it varies, it may be smarter to go with a smaller option that’s likely to work across the board.

Brueckner adds to be especially diligent if you’re flying internationally. “Some airlines have different size rules for domestic versus international,” she points out.


Brueckner prefers expandable bags that qualify as carry-ons when they’re compact. Often, she’ll only pack a carry-on during an outbound flight, and if she acquires souvenirs during her trip, she’ll expand it, stuff it full and check it on the way home.


If you’re an avid traveler and/or plan on investing in expensive luggage, make sure it comes with a good warranty. “I travel A LOT so I want my luggage to be durable. My current bag [the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 2-Wheel Carry-On] wasn’t cheap but it has a lifetime guarantee.” Further, if you plan on purchasing from a third-party retailer like Amazon, double-check with the brand directly to make sure the warranty still applies.

TSA-Approved Locks

For extra security, look for a carry-on with a built-in TSA-approved lock. These are usually combination locks that TSA agents can open with a master key so they don’t have to damage your luggage if it must be inspected.


While a bright color will make your bag pop, keep in mind that lighter shades are more likely to show scuffs and spots. Shares Brueckner, “I’m a big fan of black because it doesn’t show dirt or dings. But everyone has a black bag, so make sure to add some flair with a brightly colored ribbon or luggage tag so you know it’s yours!”

If black feels too generic, opt for another dark shade—the Away Carry-On comes in several deep hues. That said, sleek all-black styles like the Samsonite Freeform in Blackout can still stand out from a crowd.


While wheeled suitcases dominate this list, backpacks like the Parker Clay Atlast Backpack are a great choice if you want to be completely hands-free. This is especially true if you plan on checking a bag because your carry-on can be packed lightly. Duffle or crossbody bags can work but may not be the best option if you have a lot of walking to do between terminals, as they can feel cumbersome and cause shoulder and neck strain if they’re too heavy.

Built-In Chargers

If the possibility of your tech dying is cause for concern, consider suitcases that have built-in USB chargers, like the Arlo Skye X Dusen Dusen Zipper Carry-On Max or the Away The Carry-On, which offers this feature as an optional upgrade.

Frequently Asked Questions About Carry-On Luggage

What type of luggage is best for a carry-on?

In short, any luggage that fits most airlines’ size requirements should make for a suitable carry-on. After size, you’re going to want something that’s already light when empty since you’ll be lifting it above your head when it’s full, and then it’s helpful if the bag has the compartments you need for your stuff. It should also suit you and your travel style, which might mean a bag on 360-degree rotating wheels, one with a protective laptop sleeve or maybe one that’s going to charge your tech.

What size luggage is approved for a carry-on?

There’s no one standard size for carry-on luggage that’s approved for all airlines across the board (a traveler can dream). But it’s a safe bet to choose something that cites the requirements of airlines next to its own dimensions. All of our bags here fit the bill, and the general—but not all-encompassing—rule is that a bag should be no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and that all three of these measurements shouldn’t exceed 45 inches when added together. We recommend always checking your preferred airline’s size restrictions online before heading to the airport as these rules are subject to change.

Should I get a hard side or soft side carry-on?

Some might assume that this is a question of personal preference, but the correct answer here is a hard-sided case. On over-packed flights, there is always the possibility that the airline you’re flying might request—or require—you to check a bag, which means you won’t be the only one handling it. If this happens, there’s a solid chance your bag could take a tumble, putting your belongings at risk. Hard side carry-on bags also hold their shape in overhead bins next to your fellow passengers’ bags and can stay strong against the unceremonious shoving they might endure up there. Plus, if you get caught in the rain with your bag, a hard sided suitcase won’t turn into a soaked-through mess.

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