The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2024 for Your Next Trip

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Travel light with picks you'll use for years

<p>People / Jhett Thompson</p>

People / Jhett Thompson

What's one staple every traveler needs? A good piece of carry-on luggage. Whether you're going away on a short trip or don't want to deal with the hassle of checking a bag, a piece of quality carry-on luggage is indispensable. Any seasoned traveler will tell you that easy-gliding wheels are crucial for an efficient travel day, and many of the newest suitcase models come with handy details like combination locks and USB-enabled charging capabilities.

With so many different types of luggage (and each touting its own special features), it can be hard to know what to pick — that's why we turned to travel specialist Rebecca Mazzaro for her expert opinion. "I do like a hardside carry-on to protect my items," Mazzaro tells PEOPLE. "But a soft carry-on can be molded a bit more to the space."

To find the best options, we tested 18 pieces of carry-on luggage to see which ones earned top marks on things like organization, size and weight, maneuverability on different surfaces, and durability. (It was a fun day in the PEOPLE Tested lab for the testers who got to push suitcases off a six-foot ladder and swing a baseball bat at them!)

Read on to discover our picks for the best carry-on luggage that PEOPLE tested.

Best Overall: Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner

$149 at

$268 at


  • The full-rotational, 360-degree spinning wheels glide smoothly over every surface.

  • The lightweight, sturdy hard-shell design was easy for us to lift to the height of an overhead bin.


  • This suitcase comes with only a few internal organization pockets.

When you're rushing through the airport to make a flight, you need a bag that's dependable, easy to maneuver, and tough enough to handle every knock and bump, and the Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable Carry-On is exactly that. Equipped with four full-rotational, 360-degree spinning wheels, this luggage aced our tests. We were blown away with this bag's easy glide, whether using all four wheels or tilting on two.

This bag is made from a lightweight yet sturdy hard shell and comes in a variety of unique colors that will help your suitcase stand out from the rest on the checked luggage conveyor belt. Because this bag is compliant with most carry-on size restrictions, you can skip the frantic rush and stressful wait at baggage claim altogether. This luggage has a built-in TSA-compatible combination lock to ensure that you arrive at your destination with all of your belongings intact.

Some good news for all the over-packers out there: This expandable bag is notably spacious, with a simple but roomy interior that includes two interior sections, a cross ribbon divider, and a small zip-up pocket that could easily fit delicates. We would prefer the bag to include an extra pocket to stash your shoes, but despite that small qualm, we would still recommend this bag to family and friends.

Dimensions: 21.25 x 15.25 x 10.0 inches | Weight: 6.5 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: No

Best Overall, Runner Up: Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-on Expandable Hardside Spinner

$315 at

$392 at


  • The sleek hard shell was tough enough to power through our drop tests and easy to wipe down.

  • This suitcase comes with a TSA-approved combination lock to keep items safe.

  • Two zippered clamshell pockets help us feel confident that our items won't slide around inside.


  • It has charging capabilities but doesn't come with a power bank.

This carry-on luggage from Travelpro lives up to the brand's name: It can make even the novice traveler feel like an expert. The sleek and stylish hard-shell exterior is resilient and easy to clean, made from flexible 100 percent polycarbonate to resist dents and cracks. An external USB charging port means no more scrambling through the airport with a dead device, and a TSA-approved combination lock helps protect your belongings.

This suitcase is thoughtfully designed with a practical layout, which features two zippable clamshell sections and multiple pockets for various travel accessories, plus a handy water-resistant pocket to store your toiletries or damp items.

This luggage is made with a zippered expansion to increase its depth by two inches. A comfortable contour grip handle easily pulls the bag on both two or four of the bag's PrecisionGlide spinning wheels. Though we love the USB charging option, we wish that the necessary power bank was included in the moderate purchase price. Even if you don't use the charging capabilities, we think this carry-on luggage is a great buy.

Dimensions: 23 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 8.1 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: Yes, but battery not included

Best Small: Delsey Paris Cruise 3.0 21-inch Carry-on Spinner

$140 at

See at


  • The dual-density spinner wheels maneuver easily on two or four wheels.

  • This small bag has a surprisingly spacious interior with a mesh-zip pocket and elastic crisscrossing straps.

  • Three handle options make this lightweight bag easier to lift into the overhead bin.


  • The telescoping handle feels a bit shaky when extended to its tallest height.

  • The USB-compatible case doesn't come with a charging battery.

The Cruise 3.0 Carry-On exceeded expectations across all of our tests. The wheels glided smoothly over every surface on two wheels and four. It tackled any curve or spin like a pro and felt lightweight in hand through each maneuver. We were worried that the shell might be flimsy because of how lightweight it was, but we were swiftly proved wrong: The luggage looked nearly spotless after a brutal meeting with our baseball bat.

Another reason to love this easy-rolling suitcase is the spacious interior. One side of the clamshell-style suitcase can be zipped up with a mesh divider to keep your items safely in place. The other side is crisscrossed by elastic straps, and the entire lining is removable and washable. The exterior of the bag has a classic telescoping handle, a loop strap on the top, and one on the side to make it easier for you to lift into the overhead bin.

The Cruise 3.0 rolls smoothly, has a spacious layout, and fits easily into standard overhead bins. We struggled to find anything that we didn’t like about this bag but did notice that the handle felt slightly wobbly when extended to its fullest height. We were also a little annoyed that though the case has a slot for a portable charger and a USB port on the outside, it doesn’t come with a battery. But, other than a few small qualms, the Cruise 3.0 is worth its reasonable price.

Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 22.75 inches | Weight: 7.4 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: Yes

Best Investment: Tumi Alpha International Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

$975 at

$975 at


  • This smartly designed suitcase offers plenty of organization pockets, including a removable hanging garment sleeve.

  • The smooth-rolling, 360-degree wheels roll easily over every surface we’ve tried, including dirt and gravel.

  • The soft case is sturdy and durable and comes with a 5-year warranty.


  • This is one of the most expensive carry-on suitcases we tested.

For frequent fliers who value an organized suitcase, the International Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On from Tumi is the best splurge pick we’ve tried. Every detail of this soft-sided case has been carefully planned to create a smooth, user-friendly travel experience. The case has pockets aplenty — a front U-zip pocket,  a gusseted straight pocket, and even a hanging mesh zipper pocket with a removable garment sleeve to hang up your finery.

We love that this suitcase has two convenient entry options and a dual-access section that’s the perfect place to keep a jacket for easy access mid-flight. It also has smooth, 360-degree rotating wheels that made it a breeze to roll around the airport. The band glided over dirt and rocks without a hitch, and the outer soft shell looked as good as new after all of our testing. Plus, it has a USB port, three handles, and a TSA-approved combination lock.

Through all of our tests, the Tumi International bag proved to be top of its class. But the smartly designed bag does come with an eyebrow-raising price tag. So, the question stands — do we think the bag is worth the price? For frequent travelers who want a long-lasting, organized piece of luggage, we think the International Dual Access bag is worth its high price if you can swing it, especially since it comes with a five-year warranty.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 10.7 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: Yes

Best Soft-Sided: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Carry-on Spinner

$315 at

$740 at


  • This soft-sided suitcase can be squeezed into tighter spaces than its hard-shell counterparts.

  • It has 360-spinning wheels, which glided and pivoted easily in our tests.


  • The interior doesn't offer as many organizational options as some of the other suitcases we’ve tested.

  • The zippers are difficult to distinguish and didn't work as intended in our tests.

This bag compares well to similar, much more expensive bags. It performed amazingly in our durability tests, sustaining no noticeable scuffing or damage with the ladder or baseball bat. It also performed well on different surfaces, and the 360-degree spinner wheels pivoted nicely. The handle can be adjusted to five different heights, and the exterior handles are well-placed for lifting the bag.

There are a few downsides — for one, the interior doesn't come equipped with much in the way of organization, so you may want to spring for your own packing cubes. When packing, we also found it difficult to distinguish between the zipper that expands the interior and the zipper that closes the bag. Lastly, the bag we tested came with one of the two external zippers broken.

All that said, this bag looks and mostly performs just as well as its pricier counterparts. Based on its sleek look and the fact that there were no major issues during testing, it's easy to recommend this bag. It's not perfect, but it's more than good enough.

Dimensions: 21.75 x 13.75 x 9.75 inches | Weight: 6.9 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: No

Best Hard-Shell: Away The Bigger Carry-on Flex

$345 at


  • This bag comes with smart technology, with three charging ports, including one "fast" port.

  • The sleek exterior suffered no damage during our ladder drop test.

  • It comes with handy organizational features like a shoe bag and interior pouch compression pad.


  • We found the exterior zipper to be slightly sticky.

  • The included cleaning sponge didn't remove all the scuffs caused by our drop-testing.

We loved how easily this bag rolled indoors, and it also fared well on cobblestones during testing. The hardside exterior pays off in durability. There was no damage after our ladder test! And there was no denting when we took a baseball bat to it.

As far as "smart" bags go, this one is a great choice. It comes with three charging ports, one of which is a "fast" charger that we found worked very well. If you're traveling with lots of devices, this is a really nice feature.

The luggage itself comes with a shoe bag, interior pouch compression pad, and enclosed compartment, which are all nice to have, but the interior space does suffer a little because the telescopic handle retracts inside. Still, this bag is Away's larger-size carry-on model, so you should have a decent amount of room. At 8 pounds, it was pretty easy to lift and store overhead.

The bag comes with a sponge to clean the exterior, but in practice, we found the sponge pretty useless, and it didn't do much to help with scuffing. The exterior zipper can also get a little sticky occasionally. Other than these minor complaints, it's a solid bag.

Dimensions: 22.75 x 15.25 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 8 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: Yes, two USB ports and an additional port

Related: The Best Away Luggage of 2024, According to Experts and Our Testing

Best Features: Tumi Continental Dual Access 4 Wheeled Carry-on

$1050 at

$1050 at


  • It has two entry points, which makes packing and unpacking more convenient.

  • The built-in garment bag and hanging rod allowed us to easily pack dress clothes without worrying about wrinkles.


  • This is one of the most expensive bags that we've tested.

If you're looking to shell out cash for a high-quality, thoughtfully designed suitcase, look no further than the Tumi Continental Dual Access 4-Wheeled Carry-On. This soft-sided bag is an organized traveler's dream, complete with a large mesh zip pocket, three smaller zip pockets, and a removable garment sleeve with a fiberglass rod to hang up your clothes once you arrive at your destination. To keep your belongings safe, this bag features a TSA-approved combination lock and comes with a complimentary Tumi Tracer code to track your suitcase if it's lost or stolen.

One of the features that set this carry-on luggage apart from the rest is the dual-access sections, which allow you to enter the bag through a front lid or traditional split-case section, both of which are closed with security zippers. This feature is especially handy when you need to access something in your bag at the airport.

Though we love the gambit of nifty features included with this luggage, including a built-in USB port, retractable top, side grab handles, and a complimentary monogram option,  this bag also comes with some sticker shock. But, for all of its handy, luxurious features, the price may just be worth it.

Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 9 inches | Weight: 11.1 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: Yes, but battery not included

Best Lightweight: Calpak Luka Soft-sided Carry-on Luggage

See at


  • The interior of this suitcase has one large compartment that keeps things simple and clean.

  • The front of the bag is covered in a puffer jacket padding that looks stylish and helps protect the external laptop sleeve.


  • Because this bag has a very simple design with few extra features, we think it’s priced a little higher than it should be.

If you’re looking for a basic, sturdy bag without all of the extra bells and whistles, we recommend this stylish choice from Calpak. It has one main compartment without a barrage of pockets and slots, so you can organize it however you like. The small, zip-flap carry-on is a great size for a long weekend trip. It’s also super lightweight, at just under seven pounds.

One organizational feature that this bag does offer is a padded laptop pocket that can fit a computer up to 17 inches in size. In fact, the whole front of the bag is padded with a puffer jacket-like casing that not only looks trendy and unique but also helps protect the suitcase from impact.

Overall, this suitcase isn’t the most expensive we’ve tried, but it costs a little more than we’d expect it to, considering the bare-bones design. But if you’re willing to pay for style, then this simple suitcase is a solid choice.

Dimensions: 21 x 13.75 x 9 inches | Weight: 6.6 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: No

Best Longevity: L.L.Bean Medium Carryall Spinner Pullman

$219 at


  • This softside carry-on was one of the sturdiest bags we tested, thanks to a thick, durable twill outer fabric and a sturdy inner frame.

  • It offers great organization options, with plenty of external pockets and two large internal zippered sections.


  • This bag didn’t roll as smoothly on carpeted floors as it did on linoleum and concrete.

Who says a softside bag can’t be sturdy? The L.L.Bean Carryall Spinner proves any nay-sayer wrong with durable rubber edges and sturdy wheels. The carry-on suitcase is made with an abrasion-resistant twill that looked as good as new after our vigorous drop-testing. Though it’s a soft suitcase, it’s made with a rigid base frame that makes it feel sturdier than other soft-shell carry-ons we’ve tested.

Another reason to love the L.L.Bean Carryall is its impressive organization. The bag has more external pockets than any other bag we’ve tested, including two outer side pockets that were the perfect size for us to slip in a pair of shoes so we could separate them from the rest of our clothes. The outside of the bag also has two front pockets that can hold a laptop, chargers, tablets, books, or anything else that you want to have easily accessible during your travels.

The only point-subtractions this bag garnered from us came from its performance in the roll test. This bag didn’t roll as easily on carpeted floors as we would've liked, but it did maneuver smoothly on hard surfaces. Overall, this bag’s sturdy construction and multiple organization options make it well worth its price.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.9 lbs. | Charging-Enabled: No

Things to Consider Before Buying Carry-On Luggage


Loyal to one airline? Check their guidelines on bag dimensions before purchasing — some luggage labeled "carry-on" may be too big for their overhead bins, especially if you tend to travel on smaller regional airplanes. Here is a guide you can reference that details the requirements of most major U.S. carriers. In addition to making sure the size is compliant, consider if you want an expandable bag, as well. If you are prone to picking up souvenirs, it's a good idea to have an expandable bag for the journey home.

Weight and Maneuverability

Can you easily lift the bag to store it overhead? Bags we tested ranged from 5.1 to 10.8 pounds, but make sure you can lift your bag while it's both empty and full if you're traveling solo. In addition to lifting and storing your bag, you'll want to make sure it's easy to roll around. Do the wheels catch, or do they roll pretty smoothly? Does the bag easily handle sharp airport turns and weaving in and out of crowds? Can the bag roll on smooth surfaces like airport terminals as well as bumpy sidewalks? You'll definitely want to consider this. If your new carry-on bag arrives and it can't pass your own maneuverability tests, most luggage companies have flexible return policies.

Smart Capabilities

If you travel with a lot of devices, it can be really handy to have a bag that doubles as a charger. Some luggage comes with USB and USB-C charging capabilities, but keep in mind that you might need to purchase the power bank yourself if it’s not included.


Carry-ons go through a lot, especially if you end up in one of those "the bins are full, and we need you to check your bag" situations. A bag that can stand up to a battering is key. That's why we put our carry-on bags through numerous durability tests to see which ones showed wear and tear. Our best overall pick, the Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable Carry-On, is both lightweight and durable. That's the best-case scenario for a carry-on bag.

<p>People / Jhett Thompson</p>

People / Jhett Thompson

How We Tested Carry-On Luggage

We tested 18 pieces of carry-on luggage in our PEOPLE Tested lab (and 45 pieces of luggage total, including checked luggage, backpacks, and duffels). We assessed the suitcases on the following qualities:

  • Organization: We weighed and measured each bag, devoid of contents. Then, we packed for a weekend getaway, using the same amount of items for each bag. We took note of how many pockets the suitcases had, both internally and externally, and filled the pockets with items from our packing list to see how practically designed they were.

  • Maneuverability: Once the bag was packed, we closed it up and wheeled it around on multiple surfaces, including a smooth indoor floor, an outdoor sidewalk, and cobblestones. We also tested whether it rolled on two or four wheels. We used the bag’s external handles and straps to attempt to lift the bags overhead into our model standard-sized airline bins.

  • Durability: We put the packed bag on top of a six-foot ladder and pushed it off three times, checking after each fall to see if the contents of the bag had shifted. Finally, we took a baseball bat to the bag and hit it up and down the exterior. Once that was finished, we checked for dents and recorded our findings.

The pieces of luggage that passed our tests with flying colors made this PEOPLE-Tested list of the best carry-on luggage.

<p>People / Jhett Thompson</p>

People / Jhett Thompson

Frequently Asked Questions

What luggage is considered carry-on?

Technically, any piece of luggage could function as a carry-on as long as it does not exceed the airline's size and weight limits. Generally speaking, this means if it can fit in the overhead compartment, it can be carried onboard.

What size is carry-on luggage?

As mentioned above, the size limits of carry-on luggage vary from airline to airline. The standard carry-on size, however, is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, with a maximum size between 45 and 51 linear inches. To find the maximum size, add the height, length, and depth of the bag together.

What is a good weight for a carry-on bag?

Again, this is at the discretion of each airline, and many of them do not restrict the weight of carry-on luggage for domestic flights. Weight limits can go as low as 15 pounds on budget airlines and up to 35 pounds on others. Consult your company's policies before you arrive at the airport.

Can carry-on luggage fit under the seat in front of you?

That depends on the dimensions of your bag. If it does not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches, it will fit. Most commonly, personal items should be able to fit under the seat, and your carry-on should be able to easily fit in the overhead compartment.

Why Trust PEOPLE?

Cai Cramer is a commerce writer at PEOPLE, covering the best and buzziest products across the beauty, fashion, health, and lifestyle spaces. To inform this story, Cai spoke with travel specialist Rebecca Mazzaro about what to look for in a carry-on suitcase, which helped inform the winning categories. Cai did extensive research and consulted the testing insights from the PEOPLE Tested Labs, where we rolled, carried, and packed 45 different suitcases to choose the winning carry-ons featured on this list.

Meet Our Expert

Rebecca Mazzaro is a travel specialist at ATJ where she designs unique, custom travel experiences to Asia. She has also been named one of Travel & Leisure’s A-List Travel Advisors seven times.

What Is PEOPLE Tested?

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don't stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Related: The 12 Best Underseat Luggage of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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