As a regular traveler, I know that having the best carry on luggage is non-negotiable. I mean, having a bag break on the road is just not a fun time.
So, with a million and one options out there, I put 4 of the best carry on bags to the test so I could review and rank them.
In this guide, I’ll give you all the info you need to choose the best carry on bag for you. You can also check out our guide to the best travel backpacks if that’s more your style.
Table of Contents
- 4 Best Carry On Luggage Bags
- How to Choose the Best Carry On Luggage
- FAQs about Carry On Luggage
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4 Best Carry On Luggage Bags
Now that we’ve summarized the best carry on luggage options, let’s dive into full reviews of each of the carry ons to help you decide which is best for your needs.
Based on our reviews and testing, here are the 4 best carry on luggage bags of 2022:
- Nomatic Navigator Carry On 37L
- Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Carry On
- Level8 Textured Carry On
- Level8 Road Runner Carry On
Let’s cover them each in turn:
A luxury carry on luggage option perfect for frequent travelers looking for a long-term investment bag.
Pros of Nomatic Navigator 37L
- Front pocket for laptop and other business items
- 7L of expandability
- Water-resistant shell
- Zippered interior pockets and large compartments
- Four external handles for easy grabbing
- Tamper-resistant zippers
- RFID-safe pocket
- 3-tier telescopic aluminum handle
Cons of Nomatic Navigator 37L
- High price tag
- Two roller wheels, not four
The Nomatic Navigator Carry On is one of the sleekest and most functional luxury carry on luggage options on the market. With an outer pocket that makes accessing documents or electronics easy, an expertly-designed interior, and well-thought-out features, it’s perfect for business travelers and frequent fliers.
But it is an investment piece. Made with high-end materials, this top carry on luggage is sure to last you years to come – no matter if you’re staying in airport hotels or dragging it over the cobblestone streets of Europe. Just be ready to shell out.
Further, the Nomatic Navigator features a kind of hard shell / soft shell hybrid. The tech compartment is padded, yet the main compartment is made with 100% Makrolon polycarbonate to keep your things safe. The whole bag is waterproof.
👉Need more info? Check out my full Nomatic Navigator Carry On review.
- Durable and water-resistant materials
- 7L expandability
- Tech compartment
- Tiered aluminum handle
- Tamper resistant zippers
- Multiple interior organizational compartments
- Double roller wheels
Key Factors & Ratings
- 💪 Durability (4.8/5 Stars) – It’s undeniable, this is one of the most durable carry on bags on the market. The only slight docking of points is due to the tech compartment not being hardshell, which is something to consider when packing your laptop.
- 🌊 Weather-Proof Materials (5/5 Stars) – It just wouldn’t be a full review if I didn’t splash the bag in a puddle for good measure. Can confirm, this bag is weather-proof.
- 🗂️ Organization (5/5 Stars) – As someone who likes to take long trips carry-on only, I have to say that the organization of this bag is top-notch. The compartments are well-thought-out and will keep your things organized.
- 💻 Tech Compartment (5/5 Stars) – The 16.5″ x 12.5″ laptop pouch on this bag is probably the best I’ve come across. The laptop pocket is padded and there are multiple smaller pockets (RFID safe) for gadgets and office supplies.
- 🎡 Wheels & Ergonomics (4.4/5 Stars) – With four external grab handles, hauling this bag up into a plane’s overhead bin is easy. However, it does only have two wheels, so be prepared to tow it behind you.
Nomatic Navigator Carry On Info
- Weight: 7.8 lbs (3.5 kg)
- Carry On Dimensions: 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm)
- Material: 100% Makrolon polycarbonate shell
- Color Options: Black
- Capacity: 37L to 44L expansion
- Warranty & Guarantee: Lifetime manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, additional warranty plans offered for a fee
2. Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Carry On
One of the best carry on luggage picks for casual and economically-minded travelers.
Pros of Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Carry On Bag
- Luggage straps
- Multiple compartments
- Expandable up to 15%
- Dimensions are within most international carry on regulations
- Smooth-rolling with 4-wheels
- Scratch-resistant hard shell
- Can be purchased as a multi-piece luggage set
Cons of Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Carry On Bag
- No external compartments
- Quality reflected in the price
- Doesn’t come with TSA locks
The Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner is the perfect carry on if you’re a budget traveler looking for expandability. Though I wouldn’t recommend this carry on bag if you’re constantly on the move, it does provide quality for the cost. It’s one of the best affordable carry on luggage options.
The bag doesn’t feature any external compartments, which is perfect if you prioritize internal room and don’t travel with a laptop. However, there are multiple zippered internal compartments (perfect for making one side a laundry bag as you go), as well as compression straps to keep everything in place.
Plus, the four multi-directional wheels mean that you can glide the carry on bag around with ease.
👉 Need more info? Check out my full Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner review!
- Extra-thick ABS hard shell exterior
- 40.5” tall telescoping handle
- Scratch-resistant hard shell exterior
- Multiple zippered internal compartments
- Expandable shell up to 15%
- 4 double spinner wheels
Key Factors & Ratings
- 💪 Durability (3/5 Stars) – Though I wouldn’t expect this bag to last you decades, it does provide some quality for the price. In particular, the exterior is made of extra-thick ABS, which will keep your stuff extra safe.
- 🌊 Weather-Proof Materials – (3/5 Stars) – First and foremost, this bag does not claim to be waterproof. So, don’t expect to be caught in a rainstorm and have your stuff stay dry. However, I will say that this bag does reasonably protect from the elements due to the hardshell exterior, so we can’t completely dock it points here.
- 🗂️ Organization (4.5/5 Stars) – Without a tech pocket, this bag will give you ample interior space, and offers pockets for excellent organization. It has stretchy compression straps on the right and multiple polyester zippered pockets on the left.
- 🎡 Wheels & Ergonomics (4.3/5 Stars) – With four multi-directional wheels and two external handles, moving this carry on suitcase around is a breeze.
Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Carry On Info
- Weight: 7.34 lbs (3.33 kg)
- Carry On Dimensions: 14.96” x 10.04” x 21.65” (38 cm x 25.5 x 55 cm)
- Material: Extra-thick ABS hardshell exterior, fully-lined polyester Interior
- Color Options: Black, Blue, Navy Blue, Orange
- Bag Capacity: 39 liters with 15% expandability
- Warranty & Guarantee: 30-day refund or replacement eligibility
3. Level8 Textured Carry On
A sleek weather-proof bag perfect for frequent travelers who want to get the most out of their interior space.
Pros of Level8 Textured Carry On
- 41L packing space
- Anti-scratch & waterproof materials
- Durable hardshell
- Multiple interior zipped compartments
- Lightweight carry on luggage
- Four multi-directional spinner wheels
- TSA approved lock
Cons of Level8 Textured Carry On
- No exterior pockets for easy access
- No expandability
The Level8 Textured Carry On is a stylish carry on bag that’s perfect for frequent travelers looking to maximize their interior space. One of the most trusted luggage brands, Level8 delivers on durability and functionality. This particular bag doesn’t have expandability or external compartments, but it does contain 41L of volume.
The no-fuss exterior is complemented by the multi-compartment interior. With four zippered compartments, you can skip the packing cubes and organize 3-5 days’ worth of clothes with ease. This is also one of the best carry on luggage options if you prioritize security – it features a TSA-approved lock and durable waterproof shell.
👉 Need more info? I’ve detailed all of this and more in my full Level8 Textured Carry On Review.
- 41L capacity
- 4 zippered interior compartments
- TSA approved locking system
- Telescopic handle
- Anti-scratch and waterproof exterior
- 4 multi-directional spinner wheels
Key Factors & Ratings
- 💪 Durability (4.5/5 Stars) – The Level8 brand is lauded for its durability, and the Textured Carry On is no slouch. The hardshell Germany Makrolon material and quality wheels make for one of the most long-lasting carry ons around.
- 🌊 Weather-Proof Materials – (5/5 Stars) – Whether you plan on taking this carry on to the rainforest or the tundra, its weatherproof materials are guaranteed to keep your things dry. Can confirm, I splashed it in some Canadian slush.
- 🗂️ Organization (4/5 Stars) – With four internal zippered compartments, packing cubes are unnecessary with this carry on suitcase.
- 🎡 Wheels & Ergonomics (4.5/5 Stars) – This bag features four multi-directional smooth wheels and two external handles for easy lifting.
Level8 Textured Carry On Info
- Weight: 10.6 lbs (4.8 kg)
- Carry On Luggage Dimensions: 21.5” x 14.6” x 9.3” (54.6 cm x 37 cm x 23.6cm)
- Material: Germany Makrolon Polycarbonate
- Capacity: 41 liters
- Color Options: Grey, Black, Light Blue, Olive Drab, Pink, Floral White, Navy
- Warranty & Guarantee: Lifetime warranty for functional manufacturing defects
4. Level8 Road Runner
A sleek and durable international carry on suitcase perfect for business travelers.
Pros of Level8 Road Runner
- 20” laptop pocket
- Room for 3-5 days’ worth of clothes
- Can easily access the outer pocket for airport security
- Made with aerospace-grade Bayer Makrolon
- Four multi-directional spinner wheels
- 3 interior zipper pockets plus compression straps
- Lightweight at 8.9 lbs
Cons of Level8 Road Runner
- Can’t expand or compress
- May need to check it on small commuter planes
The Level8 Road Runner is all about providing one of the best carry on luggage options for business travelers. Though the laptop compartment does take away from internal space, the genius design allows for easy (no spill) access to business materials or other travel documents.
Of course, even if your primary reason for travel isn’t business, the Level8 Road Runner could still come in handy. Though the outer shell doesn’t compress, the internal compartments can squeeze into the laptop compartment, allowing for more internal room. So, you can use the outer compartment for your travel documents and still get internal space. It’s the best of both worlds.
And of course, we have to talk about how sleek and durable this international carry on luggage bag is. Available in both black and navy, this carry on suitcase will take you from the boardroom to the beach.
It can fit 3-4 days worth of clothes and features TSA locks, four multi-directional smooth wheels, multiple zippered interior pockets, a trolley handle, and a waterproof shell.
👉 Need more info? Check out my full Level8 Road Runner review.
- Front laptop pocket
- TSA lock
- 360° spinner wheels
- Multiple internal pockets
- Telescopic trolley handle
- Waterproof & anti scratch exterior
Key Factors & Ratings
- 💪 Durability (4.8/5 Stars) – Made with Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate, this bag was built to last. Plus, the zippers and wheels are both strong and sturdy.
- 🌊 Weather-Proof Materials (5/5 Stars) – When it comes to weatherproofing, Level8 does an excellent job. In fact, I’d say they have some of the best carry on luggage options for keeping your stuff safe and dry.
- 🗂️ Organization (4/5 Stars) – With three zippered pockets on the left hand side of the bag, and tie down straps for compression on the right, organizing your stuff without packing cubes is a breeze.
- 💻 Tech Compartment (4.5/5 Stars) – With a lockable laptop compartment featuring multiple slots, I have to admit this is excellently designed. Plus, the compartment features velcro on both sides, so when you open it up, your stuff won’t spill everywhere.
- 🎡 Wheels & Ergonomics (4.5/5 Stars) – This bag features two grab handles and multi-directional spinner wheels for easy handling. I know how important having good wheels is, and the Level8 promise that the wheels can withstand even the cobblestone streets of Europe.
Level8 Road Runner Info
- Weight: 8.9 lbs (4 kg)
- Carry On Dimensions: 14.5” x 9.1” x 21.9” (36.8 cm x 23.1 cm x 55.6 cm)
- Material: Bayer Makrolon (polycarbonate)
- Capacity: 38 liters
- Color Options: Black, Navy Blue
- Warranty & Guarantee: Lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects
How to Choose the Best Carry On Luggage
Choosing the best international carry on luggage very much depends on who you are and why you’re traveling.
Do you travel for business or often bring your laptop along? Then spring for a tech compartment. Do you often get yourself in fun situations involving nature and bumpy buses? Then make sure you get a waterproof hard shell.
Of course, you should consider your budget before making your definitive purchase decision but keep in mind the cost per use. A cheaper bag won’t last as long as a more luxurious one, and probably doesn’t come with a great warranty either. If you’re a frequent traveler, then getting the nicer bag almost always wins out.
Things to Consider Before Buying
- Cost – I’m sure you’ve already considered your budget in determining which bag to buy, but consider how much you can afford and if you’re willing to spring for an investment piece.
- Use – How and how often you’ll be using your new carry on luggage should be a factor in which kind of bag you buy.
- Durability – Considering the materials that the bag is made with is a good factor before purchasing. Better materials will give you longer use.
- Overhead Bins – Make sure that the bag you’re about to buy can fit in your most-frequented airline’s overhead compartment, or at least under the seat.
- Hardside Luggage vs Soft sided luggage– Hardside luggage hardly gives wiggle room, while soft suitcases tend to give a little leeway. Consider your packing style and the pros and cons of each.
- Laptop Compartment – Even if you don’t regularly travel for business, you might still want a laptop compartment in your carry on. Consider if this makes sense for you.
- Expandability – Are you a chronic over-packer or do you love buying souvenirs on the fly? Getting a carry on luggage option with expandability may be for you.
- Wheels – Making sure the wheels on your carry on luggage are top-notch is key to a smooth trip. Further, consider whether you need 4 wheels or are fine with 2.
- Telescopic Handle – As anyone over 6ft tall will tell you, not all handles are created equal. Make sure your carry on luggage handle can telescope up to comfortably fit your height.
How We Chose These Carry On Bags
I know that carry on luggage is not a one-size-fits-all kind of purchase, so I wanted to test out the most popular carry on luggage options to give readers a real review. I’ve given each carry on a score from 1-5, and although I only reviewed bags I knew I was going to somewhat like, I wanted to be as ruthless as possible.
I travel regularly and have had more than one bag bite the dust while on the road. Seriously, I know what it’s like to duct tape a bag together for airport security. I chose this list based on 1) durability, 2) functionality, and 3) bang for your buck.
I took the bags out on the road. I splashed them in water. I packed them up to see how much they could hold. We’ve also tested out some of the best travel backpacks for good measure.
Summary of Best Carry On Luggage:
That’s how we chose the best carry on luggage. Here’s a quick recap of my picks for the best carry on luggage:
- 1. Nomatic Navigator Carry On 37L (Best Overall)
- 2. Amazon Basics Harside Spinner (Best Budget Option)
- 3. Level8 Textured Carry On (Best for Adventure)
- 4. Level8 Road Runner (Best for Business)
FAQs about Carry On Luggage
What is a Carry On Luggage?
Carry on luggage bags are appropriately sized for taking inside the airplane’s cabin. These bags fit into both the overhead compartment as well as under the seat in front of you, meaning you don’t have to check your luggage.
What is the best Carry On Luggage?
The best carry on luggage options are the Nomatic Navigator, Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner, Level8 Textured Carry On, and the Level8 Road Runner.
What is the best Carry On Luggage for Business?
The best carry on luggage for business travelers is the Nomatic Navigator. This luxury carry on bag is perfect for frequent flyers who travel with a laptop and other business materials.
What is the best Carry On Luggage for Budget Travelers?
The best carry on luggage bag for budget travelers is the Amazon Basics Harside Spinner. This durable option is inexpensive yet highly-rated, making for a reliable bag that won’t break the bank.
What is the best size for carry-on luggage?
The best size for a carry on luggage is 22″ x 14″ x 9″. Different airlines have different specifications, although this is the standard for both domestic and international flights, and includes the handle and wheels.
Does a backpack count as a carry-on?
A backpack counts as a carry on bag as long as it can fit into the overhead compartment of the plane. Technically, you can bring any item as a carry on as long as it fits the predetermined dimensions of the air carrier you’re flying with.
Thanks for reading my guide to the best carry on luggage! If finding the best carry on backpack is more up your alley than a carry on suitcase, then check out this roundup of the best travel backpacks.
Enjoy your new carry on suitcases!
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