This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through these links. See our full disclosure here.
“What is the best carry-on luggage?” is a question on every traveler’s mind these days. For me, there is nothing quite like a chic retro-inspired suitcase to induce that sense of wanderlust. For you, it could be a striking designer piece, a professionally looking hardside spinner packed with all technical conveniences, or the best carry-on backpack to take on your next flight. In the end, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, but rather different needs and preferences.
Luckily for all of us, with high demand comes even higher competition, and that means innovation, creativity, and choice. Top luggage brands around the world are building better and better carry-on bags each year in order to satisfy every traveler’s taste and budget.
Whether you prefer your cabin companion stylish and classic, chic and feminine, or exceptionally practical and equipped with a bevy of tech features, we’re pretty sure you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the list below.
Here you have them, our handpicked recommendations for the best carry-on luggage in 2021 for every type of traveler. Bon voyage!
Lightweight, contemporary, and beautifully functional, the Monos Carry-On Pro is the perfect accessory for the 21st-century traveler. With an unbreakable polycarbonate shell, a padded exterior compartment for easy access to trip essentials, and the highest quality (Hinomoto) wheels in the luggage industry, this stylish piece really is the full package.
Canadian luggage brand Monos may be a newcomer to the scene, but this thoughtfully designed suitcase proves it’s here to stay. Characterized by noteworthy attention to detail, its simple, minimalist aesthetic is complemented by quality materials and intuitive features like the soft, anti-microbial fabric lining its interior or the reimagined ergonomic handle with the release button on the underside. By far the bag’s most brilliant detail is the uber practical exterior pocket, which can fit a 15-inch laptop, as well as documents, chargers, and other small on-the-go necessities, making it easier to get through TSA checkpoints.
Given the current travel situation, I haven’t had the chance to use the Monos Carry-On Pro at full potential but still managed to take it on a day trip to a nearby town, and worked like a dream.
Best Carry-On Luggage in 2020: M5 Cabin Luggage
Loaded with tech features and enhanced with a personal travel assistant, you’d be hard-pressed to find a smarter luggage piece for short trips than this tough, beautiful carry-on bag from Horizn Studios.
Designed especially for frequent flyers, the M5 Cabin Luggage is crafted with premium aerospace-grade polycarbonate and features an easy-access front pocket made from Italian leather and waterproof nylon – perfect for holding a 15” laptop and other journey essentials.
Each case comes with upscale Japanese 360° spinner wheels and offers one-year access to Horizn GO – your dedicated travel agent. Tech-savvy travelers will also love the built-in/removable smart charger, which is compliant with all international flight regulations.
The M5 was our choice for the best carry-on luggage in 2020 and continues to be a strong contender in 2021 because it has it all – smart design, innovative features, and killer looks.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Women: Paravel Aviator Carry-On
There is a lot to love about this stunning hardside carry-on from Paravel: it’s durable and lightweight, comes packed with modern features, and its design is worthy of a luxe trip to Italy.
Beyond its beautiful retro-inspired look, the Aviator Carry-On is also crafted with the planet in mind. Its recycled polycarbonate shell, zippers, and aircraft-grade aluminum handle, along with the charming vegan leather details and an interior lining made from 15 upcycled plastic water bottles, make it one of the most sustainably made suitcases on the market. Oh, and did we mention that it rolls on impossibly smooth double spinner wheels and comes with a removable accessories pouch?
The perfect women’s carry-on suitcase must be equal parts style and substance, and this gem is a superb interweaving of the two.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Men: Lexicon Hardside Frequent Flyer Carry-On
This futuristic cabin size trolley case from Victorinox (the maker of the Swiss Army Knife) is constructed from durable 100% virgin polycarbonate with a scratch-resistant matte finish and comes with ultra-recessed wheels to maximize both maneuverability and packing capacity. Combine that with sleek, minimalist aesthetics and renowned Swiss quality and it’s easy to see why this is our favorite carry-on suitcase for men.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Kids: Jetkids by Stokke Bedbox
Thanks to its ingenious design, with a foot ledge, extendable lid, and a mattress, this 19″ ride-on suitcase from Stokke Bedbox converts into a leg rest or in-flight bed for children during flight.
One of the best carry-on bags for boys and girls on the go, the Jetkids can be pulled, pushed, or ridden, and comes with shock-absorbing swivel wheels for easy maneuverability through the airport. The interior provides plenty of space for your child’s must-haves and there’s also an adjustable strap for parents to carry it over their shoulders.
Compact, lightweight, and decidedly fashionable, this hardside kids’ carry-on luggage adds a bit of fun and comfort to any family travel plan.
Best Carry-On Backpack: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
Crowning our list of the best travel backpacks, this versatile luggage piece fits a week’s worth of clothing, plus your photography equipment, all while meeting international carry-on standards. Equipped with rotating shoulder straps & hip belt, a detachable sternum strap, 360-degree grab handles, and one of the most innovative harness systems we’ve come across, it offers the ultimate in carrying comfort on the road.
Able to compress to 35L and even transform into a 30L day bag, Peak Design’s 45L Travel Backpack is tough, stylish, and gloriously functional, which makes it an ideal companion for digital nomads, traveling photographers, weekend warriors, and pretty much anyone consistently on the move.
The recycled 400D nylon canvas exterior is durable and weatherproof, while the interior is smartly organized, with easily accessible laptop and tablet sleeves, a clever front panel perfect for grab-and-go essentials, as well as all sorts of perfectly placed pockets for gear and accessories. A full-perimeter zip enables a wide opening for easy packing and access to contents, a zippered dividing panel separates the bag into two compartments, and dual side zippers allow for instant camera and other items access.
Its sleek, urban design, expandable capacity, and thoughtful, ingenious features place it amongst the best carry-on bags on the market. It comes in two colors (Black and Sage) and is backed by a lifetime warranty. Pair that with high-density foam padding throughout and Peak Design’s dedicated travel accessories & packing cubes, and you’ve got yourself a brilliant carry-on backpack that’s as good for one-bag travel as it is for photography adventures.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Millennials: Calpak Hue Carry-On Luggage with Pocket
A wonderful pick from Calpak, the Hue Carry-On Luggage with Pocket checks all the boxes of today’s travelers. It’s got a tough polycarbonate shell, a convenient front compartment with laptop sleeve, and a clean, contemporary design that’s easy on the eyes.
Available in 4 Millennial-inspired colors, including Moss green, Pink sand, and Hazel, this hard-shell spinner will keep you organized and on-trend during your next adventure. It also includes 360-degree wheels, an adjustable trolley handle, and TSA-approved lock.
Best Hardside Carry-On Luggage: Bric’s Capri 21″ Carry-On Spinner
Marrying fine Italian craftsmanship with contemporary features, not only will this suitcase add a touch of class to any trip, but it’ll also offer the best protection for your belongings with an innovative Makrolon polycarbonate shell that’s both durable and lightweight.
Otherwise, Bric’s Capri 21″ Carry-On Spinner is trimmed with luxurious vegetable-tanned Tuscan leather for an elegant, classic look, and glides effortlessly on four Japanese Hinomoto wheels. Its generous satin-lined interior is divided into two double-decker compartments with intuitive zip pockets for organizing your essentials. It also includes a TSA-approved combination lock and an ergonomic telescoping handle.
Best Softside Carry-On Luggage: Away The Expandable Carry-On
Part of Away’s first-ever softside luggage collection, The Expandable Carry-On shares many of the same virtues as its hardside counterpart, yet it’s strikingly different.
The exterior is made from durable, water-resistant nylon and features an easy-access front pocket suitable for a 15″ laptop. Also here, a built-in zipper increases the bag’s capacity up to 4.5 cm., making it perfect for those who can’t resist shopping when on vacation. Apart from that, Away’s interior compression system and removable laundry bag are still there, along with the TSA-approved combination lock and 360-degree spinner wheels.
Best Lightweight Carry-On Luggage: Bellroy Flight Bag
Weighing in at 1.35kg, this convertible travel companion is for light packers who don’t want to compromise – neither on performance nor on style.
Made of recycled, water-resistant fabric and enhanced with tons of practical organizational features, the Bellroy Flight Bag makes an easy transition from the airport to the meeting room. And the best part? It can be carried as a briefcase, backpack, or on your shoulder – that when you don’t slip over your suitcase handle.
Best Carry-On Luggage with Laptop Compartment: Navigator Carry-On 37L
Keep your laptop safe while traveling with the Nomatic Navigator Carry-on 37L. Launched earlier this year, this polished two-wheeled bag has room for both your clothes and tech within its neatly organized sections. A separate laptop compartment accommodates 17-inch devices in a padded sleeve, as well cables, power banks, and other small gadgets thanks to a combination of mesh and zipper pockets.
Built from water-resistant materials, with a hard Makrolon plastic shell, the bag looks like a sleek backpack on wheels but has all the strength and practicality of a suitcase. Complete with built-in compression straps and zippered pockets, the main compartment fits up to 5 days’ worth of outfits and opens wide for easy packing and access to items. Another big advantage is that you can expand its capacity from 37L to 45L whenever you need some extra packing space.
Best Affordable Carry-On Luggage: Samsonite Freeform 110 Carry-On Spinner
One of Samsonite’s coolest carry-on suitcases, the Freeform 110 Carry-On Spinner combines strength and maneuverability with retro flair. Part of the brand’s 110th Anniversary Collection, the lightweight 21″ hardcase design comes in nostalgic candy colors, with a vintage-inspired interior lining featuring the iconic black and white Fashionaire print.
The sleek rolling luggage piece is extremely lightweight and made from strong, high-quality materials to provide long-lasting durability. Numerous pockets coupled with interior cross-ribbon and divider make for easy, effective packing and organizing, while contemporary features such as multi-directional double spinner wheels, telescopic handle, and TSA lock add comfort to your journey.
Best Carry-On Garment Bag: Hook & Albert Garment Luggage Carry-On
If you are on a lookout for the best carry-on luggage for suits, then your quest can stop at Hook & Albert. Pairing function with style, their handsome Garment Luggage Carry-On keeps packed items in perfect condition thanks to its integrated extended-length garment bag and innovative compression system with height adjustability.
Crafted from durable ballistic nylon and detailed with elegant leather accents, premium Durable Hursen wheels, and strong handles, this is one of the best designed garment bags for traveling professionals.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Organization: The Carry-On Closet
Taking proper care of your precious clothes when on the road is no easy job. But, what about a valise that doubles as a portable closet?
Aptly named The Carry-On Closet, this creative, cabin-approved hardshell spinner luggage designed by Solgaard has built-in retractable shelves to keep your garments nicely separated and wrinkle-free wherever the day may take you.
Best Carry-On Luggage for International Travel: Briggs & Riley ZDX 21”
True to its name, the ZDX 21” International Carry-On Expandable Spinner from Briggs & Riley is your best bet if you’re often flying internationally. Besides a handy zip expander, which allows for 2.5” of extra packing space, it’s equipped with an outside battery pocket for charging your phone in transit, smooth-rolling spinner wheels, and an easy-access pocket that allows you to breeze through airport security checkpoints.
The 800D ballistic nylon fabric makes the bag water, moisture, and tear-resistant, while reinforced, low-profile corner guards add to its durability.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Business Travel: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Smartly styled and sturdily constructed, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro answers the needs of connected, style-conscious business travelers with an instant access tech compartment and a padded, pocket-filled tech case that doubles as shoulder bag for your laptop and gadgets once you arrive at your destination.
The outer shell is made of 100% Makrolon polycarbonate and comes accompanied by smooth-rolling Hinomoto wheels and a strong three-stage aluminum handle. The interior is just as neat, with novelties like space-savvy compression cubes, custom magnetic compression straps, and a folding panel that can be adjusted to fit your needs.
Best Designed Carry-On Luggage: Topo Designs 35L Travel Bag Roller
Topo Designs’ iconic travel bag just got a pair of wheels, transforming itself into the perfect softshell carry-on.
The new Travel Bag Roller 35L has stowable backpack straps, a telescopic handle, and grab handles on three sides so you can carry it in whatever way feels comfortable.
With front zippered slip pockets, spacious internal compartments, and mesh pockets for small gear, this versatile roller will fulfill all your organizational needs. Designed with one bag travel in mind, it also features heavy-duty, crush-proof wheels, a rugged molded back, and PackFast bag attachment clips.
Most Durable Carry-On Luggage: Zero Halliburton Pursuit International Carry-On Case
Zero Halliburton’s original suitcases were used to carry rocks back from the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, so to say their International Carry-On Case is sturdy and well made would be an understatement.
Part of the new Pursuit collection, this badass travel case is crafted from premium anodized aluminum, with a matte finish that minimizes scratch marks, as well as premium ball-bearing controlled wheels and draw-bolt latches with two TSA-approved combination locks. As a novelty, the valise allows the customization of virtually every component and is enhanced by patent-pending ZH Concave Edging architecture for added strength and durability.
Most Customizable Carry-On Luggage: The Jaunt by ROAM
Meet the world’s first fully customizable luggage! Made of 100% virgin Polycarbonate with a trademarked nano-coating finish, The Jaunt by ROAM steals the show with its sleek, sturdy design, unparalleled lightness, and personalized looks.
Thanks to a bevy of configurable components, you’ll be able to design your own dream suitcase from scratch online and have it delivered right at your door. You can basically personalize everything, from outer shell colors to wheel caps, stitching, zipper/zipper pulls, binding, carry-handle, and telescoping handle rods. You can even choose a shade for the patch from the 11 options available and then add a monogram with your initials.
Bespoke aesthetics aside, this wheeled carry-on roller suitcase sports a soft mesh interior with two zip pockets, and comes appointed with TSA-approved lock, ergonomically designed handles, and top-grade Hinomoto wheels.
Best Two-Wheel Carry-On Luggage: Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller
Modern road warriors will fall in love with the Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller, an ultra-lightweight softside carry-on spinner with a unique clamshell design and various easy-access compartments for shoes, dirty clothes, and cosmetics. Not only that, but this cool 2-wheeled luggage roller sports removable skateboard wheels and a bike-inspired handle system; comes in two carry-on sizes; and is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Best Luxury Carry-On Luggage: RIMOWA Original Cabin
As one of the most iconic luggage pieces of all time, the RIMOWA Original Cabin has all the makings of the perfect wheeled carry-on: a high-end multiwheel system, stageless telescopic handle, and TSA-approved locks. Moreover, its anodized aluminum shell is engineered with German precision to offer you the ideal balance of lightweight and sturdiness, while the patented Flex-Divider system keeps contents organized during transit.
Best Underseater: Murphie Underseat Carry-On Luggage
Compact, efficient, and decidedly chic, the Murphie Underseat Carry-On Luggage is the perfect choice for travelers craving comfort and convenience during their flight. Not only does it fit perfectly under the seat, but it also has a roomy, fully-lined main compartment, as well as multiple interior/exterior pockets for keeping small items organized.
Made from durable polyester, this Calpak soft-sided underseater features smooth-rolling wheels and a push-button telescoping handle system for hassle-free mobility. The pass-through sleeve on the back is a nice touch too, as it lets you attach it to the handle of larger-sized luggage and converts into a zippered pocket when not in use.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re after drop-dead gorgeous carry-on luggage under 100$, look no further than the Murphie!
Best Carry-On Luggage for Frequent Travelers: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Softside Carry-On Spinner
Designed with pro travelers in mind, the Platinum Elite 21″ Softside Carry-On Spinner from Travelpro is the epitome of practicality. Equipped with a fold-out suiter and a variety of pockets for fitting in all your essentials, it helps you pack like a flight attendant and stay organized while on the road.
This versatile, high-quality travel bag comes with a variety of smart features too: think patented 360-degree dual spinner wheels, a dedicated power bank pocket, and an external USB port to power up your devices on the go.
Add a rugged stain and abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon exterior, plus premium leather top & side carry handles, an expandable zipper section, and a PowerScope extension handle that adjusts to multiple heights, and you have one of the best cabin bags for frequent travelers.
Most Stylish Carry-On Bag: Ted Baker Eville
Complement your luggage collection with a sophisticated cabin case that adds a touch of class to any journey. From British luxury designer brand Ted Baker, Eville is as stylish as it is practical.
Available in black 100% polyester twill, with eye-catching rose-gold metallic accents, this exquisite carry-on suitcase rolls on 360-degree wheels for smooth mobility and boasts an extendable handle with molded handgrip. Its roomy main packing compartment will fit all your vacation outfits, while the additional interior sections and zip-up front pockets are perfect for securing small personals and accessories.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Standing Out at Baggage Claim: Delsey Chatelet Hard
No jetsetter’s summer essentials list would be complete without a chic suitcase that really gets them in the holiday mood. With the elegant, vintage-inspired Delsey Chatelet Hard, you will be the envy of the crowd around the baggage carousel!
This nostalgic French beauty brings to mind glamorous Parisian breaks and sunny French Riviera getaways, while also providing functionality and durability. Aside from 4 quiet, easy-running double wheels and an inbuilt TSA lock, the cabin trolley case has a patented integrated brake that locks your wheels, preventing it from rolling away on the steep, cobbled streets of Montmartre.
If you want a well-designed suitcase that’s both sturdy and stylish, this is it!
Best Aluminum Carry-On Luggage: Away The Bigger Carry-On Aluminum Edition
Travel the world in style with the beautiful Aluminum Bigger Carry-On from Away. This sleek, unbreakable piece of luggage has all the bells and whistles of a traditional Away carry-on but features an innovative zipperless design with TSA-approved clasp locks. As its name implies, it is also one inch taller and wider, giving you a little extra packing room without having to check it in.
Complementing its splendid, monochrome aluminum hard shell is the brand’s signature interior compression system, as well as whisper-quiet 360° wheels, elegant leather accents, and a removable battery for charging your devices on the go.
Best Carry-On Luggage Deal Right Now: Samsonite Xylem 2.0 Carry-On Spinner
Crafted from ultra-strong, high-quality anodized aluminum and adorned with state-of-the-art details such as embossed jacquard interior lining and the patented Aero-Trac suspension wheel system, the Xylem 2.0 Carry-On Spinner is sleeker than any other Samsonite suitcase. On top of that, it’s discounted right now, bringing the $420 price tag down to a spectacular $279.
For further suitcase sales, check out our Best Luggage Deals section, where we constantly add the latest offers from top brands like Briggs & Riley, Horizn Studios, Herschel Supply Co., Calpak, Delsey, Travelpro, and more.
That’s all, folks! These are our recommendations for the best cabin luggage in 2021. If you still haven’t found your favorite bag, get in touch with us with some extra details about your request, and we will reply with personalized recommendations.