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Best Carry-On Luggage in 2018 – Buying Guide and Reviews


Last updated: March 13th, 2018

Best Carry-On Luggage 2018 - Buying Guides and Reviews

Best Carry-On Luggage By Price, Durability and Style

Are you looking for the best Carry-On Luggage in 2018. At top 10 travel we have spent 120 hours reviewing some of the Best carry-on’s from some of the worlds best luggage brands to help make your decision easiest.

Our Current Favorite
Are you traveling soon and do not have time to read our in-depth article?  We believe the Samsonite Omni 20″ Carry-On Hardside Spinner is currently the best overall carry-on suitcase you can buy in 2018. Lots of features make it a perfect option for business travelers or your next family vacation. It is durable, lightweight, affordable and also includes a TSA Lock as well as some awesome color options.
Traveling has never been a more prevalent activity than now – travel by land, sea, or air, whether for business or leisure. But your grandmother’s heirloom luggage is no longer useful as a traveling companion. You need carry-on luggage to get you through your weekend getaway, 4-day sales conference in some part of Asia, or 1-week cruise to the Caribbean. But with so many kinds and brands to choose from, your head is already reeling about which one will suit you and your purpose best.

SMART LUGGAGE BAN: A few airlines in the United States including Delta, American, Alaska and Hawaiian have banned carry-on smart luggage effective January 15, 2018 due to issues with the internal lithium batteries.

Carry-on luggage should be versatile because they are utilized for different purposes, aside from clothes and personal effects. They are great for packing sales samples and products for client presentations and demos, or fragile materials that you want to keep an eye on when traveling.

We’ve narrowed down the choices of the best carry-on luggage for you by price, durability and style, but first, here are some criteria and key features to consider and help you in your selection:

Size Does Matter

Carry-on sizes range from 19 to 22 inches. Currently, the maximum standard size accepted by airlines for a carry-on is 22 inches. If you are a savvy traveler and find waiting for your luggage at the airport carousels a drag, 22 inches will need to suit you for 4 days to 1 weeks’ worth of clothes, shoes, and personal effects.

Structure (Hard or Soft Material)

Older styles of luggage have deep compartments with dividers. New ones are sectioned into two compartments for easy organization and access. You can separate the clothes from shoes and toiletries. Carry-ons come in two types of materials, hard and soft cover. Hard covers are made from polycarbonate material with a polished or matte finish that gives a unique luxurious look as well as sturdiness, with anti-dent, anti-scratch, and waterproof features. Soft covers are usually made with polyester fabric that’s been treated for abrasion and water resistant features. They are more expandable compared to hard covers.

Two-wheel or Spinner-type

Two-wheel luggage can be moved to 2 directions, forward and back. The advantages of the two-wheel type are that they are less prone to snapping or falling off; better maneuvering on curbs and rough/uneven surfaces. Their disadvantage is the two directional maneuvering. Spinner or four-wheel luggage can be moved to any direction. They are especially advantageous when moving in tight spaces such as on an airplane or train. They also take the pressure or load off your shoulders and back. They enable you to put all the weight on the luggage – handy when you add on the weight of another bag such as laptop, camera, and tote bags along with other attachments you may carry.


Typically, carry-ons have 3 handles – top and side handles for carrying, and a retractable or telescopic handle for maneuvering.

TSA-approved Lock

This type of locks allows TSA to open the luggage when necessary without the code combination. This means your carry-on is secured from unwanted prying or opening, except for TSA personnel.

Smart Luggage Ban

A few airlines in the United States including Delta, American, Alaska and Hawaiian have banned carry-on smart luggage effective January 15, 2018, and other airlines may follow suit eventually. Most types of Smart luggage has batteries, for cell phone and laptop re-charging, that are either permanent or detachable. Airlines request these batteries to be removed in-flight. We have ntot included any smart carry-on’s in tin our selection to save you time and money looking into these, but if you prefer smart carry-on luggage with a GPS feature via smartphone connection, make sure the lithium batteries are detachable.

Tips on How to Remove the Plastic and New Luggage Smell of Your Carry-On

After purchasing a new carry-on, you have the task of removing the plastic smell that lingers in the air when you open your luggage. When clothes and other items are packed for hours or days inside the carry-on it can cause your clothes and other essential items to smell like plastic or “new luggage odor” too. These tips will help keep your clothes and things from stinking even before you wear them:

  •  Air out the bad smell by keeping the carry-on open days before you use it. It is best to get some sun action, although take caution with placing the luggage directly under the sun, especially for hard-covered carry-ons. Place it in the shade – you just want the dry weather and air to do the freshening up. Pack some clean sheets inside for a few days after sun and air exposure.
  • Baking soda is the mother of odor removal. Open a box of it and place it inside the luggage for a few days to remove all kind.
  • Some people recommend white vinegar to absorb the plastic odor. Fill up a deep bowl with white vinegar, up to ¼ cup. Keep it inside the carry-on and place the luggage in an area where it won’t be moved or tripped on, such as a vacant room or under the bed. Be careful not to spill the vinegar or you’ll end up with two scent dilemmas.
  • Use car air fresheners, then after a day or two, expose it to open air like in tip number 1.

The Best Carry-On Luggage Compared

To help make your decision easier our team of experts have reviewed over 100 different models of carry on luggage and found what we believe to be the 10 best. Each bag has a unique style or feature that you may prefer. The following are the 10 Best Carry y-on Luggage for 2018.

Samsonite Omni 20″ Carry-On Hardside Spinner – Best Carry-On Luggage 2018

The Omni PC Hardside Spinner 20” is a hard-cover carry-on from the Samsonite Omni PC collection. It’s been tested to withstand wear and tear with its scratch resistant quality and 100% polycarbonate material. Samsonite has been the trusted brand of briefcases and luggage since 1910. Jesse Shwayder, founder of Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, named it’s vulcanized fiber suitcase Samsonite in 1939, after the biblical man of strength. When the Samsonite suitcase became their best selling product in 1965, the company decided to adopt Samsonite as the enterprise name. The brand still makes high quality luggage, bags, and other merchandise including the Omni PC Hardside Spinner 20”. The polycarbonate material ensures strength and protection from harsh elements and rough handling. It also has four spinner wheels that allow 360-degree maneuvering even in tight spaces. Its expandable construction allows for additional loading but still meets the airline standards. Omni PC Spinner 20” has TSA-approved locks for security. Its lack of side handle makes it harder to store in the cabin compartment – a minor disadvantage – but because of its sleek style, sturdiness, and easy maneuvering features, the Omni PC Spinner 20” still makes the list. You can buy this online at Amazon or view our reviews of the Best Samsonite Luggage.

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Travelpro Maxlite 3 Expandable Carry-On Rollaboard – Best Soft Cover Carry-On Luggage 2018

The Maxlite 3 Expandable Rollaboard is a two-wheel, soft-cover made from polyester. Travelpro founder Bob Plath revolutionized luggage standards in 1987 when he made, in his garage, the first vertical luggage with 2 wheels – the Rollaboard. Like wildfire, this caught the attention of fellow pilots and flight attendants, who started using the luggage. Later, passengers caught the trend and started to buy Rollaboard. The rest, as they say, is history. Travelpro continues to innovate and develop different luggage and travel bags with convenient features that make traveling a breeze. Maxlite 3 Expandable Rollaboard is the lightest luggage line. It is a 2-wheel rollaboard that meets airline carry-on size standards at 21″ x 9″ x 14″ – but be careful with filling it to full capacity. Although the design does not include laptop protection, it is still a winner in terms of storage capacity with inner and outer pockets and compartments for easy organization, plus a ticket pocket for easy access to travel documents. It has an adjustable telescopic handle that can be locked at two lengths to suit different heights. It offers a limited lifetime warranty that allows you to send damaged handles and wheels to repair facilities. Check out the latest price on Amazon.

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Tumi Alpha 2 Expandable 22” – Best Business Carry-On Luggage

The Alpha Expandable 22” by Tumi is the perfect choice of business travelers for its durable material and extensive features. Tumi was established by Charlie Clifford in 1975, after his term as a Peace Corps volunteer. At first, his leather bags catered to the hippie crowd. Later, they pivoted towards traveling bags and luggage with business travelers in mind. They’ve constructed cases and luggage with durable material, ballistic nylon, with modern features and design. Tumi is part of today’s business travelers’ uniform. Alpha Expandable 22” is just what any frequent traveler will use on a 3-day to a week’s trip for a business conference or client meetings. It is constructed with ballistic nylon that’s scratch, spill, and rip resistant. The telescopic handle is made with aircraft standard aluminum that makes it more lightweight while maintaining strength over the course of going through different airports and hotels. It has bumper protection on all corners to protect it from your harsh handling as you lug it up and down airline cabins. Another great feature of Alpha 2 Expandable are the 4 recessed spinning wheels. Tumi designers are thoughtful enough to think of how vulnerable spinner wheels are to cracks and breaks when exposed. Alpha 2 spinners recessed design makes them less prone to breakage from too much manhandling by the owner. Alpha 2 Expandable is truly worth every dollar and you can see the latest pricing online at Amazon.

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Briggs and Riley Baseline International Carry-On

The Briggs and Riley Baseline International Carry-on is below the typical standard size, but its perks make up for it. Briggs and Riley was established in 1993 by Richard Costa in Hauppauge, NY. Their unique design feature Expandable System was the first of its kind, adding more room to the luggage. Their trademark design of handles on the exterior part of the carry-on allows for packing on flat interior surface to protect clothes from wrinkling. But their warranty stands out the most – the “simple as that” lifetime guarantee covers all types of damages and dents, even from the brutal handling of airline personnel. The Baseline International Carry-on fits perfectly into overhead plane compartments however the distinctive feature of the carry-on is the CX technology enabling the bag to expand 34% and squeeze back to its original size. It is made from 100% nylon with a fabric-lined interior. The telescopic aluminum handle can be expanded to 4 different lengths to adjust to its owner’s height. The zip pocket on the top cover of the luggage is designed to fit suit jackets and pants and prevent them from wrinkling. The interior zipped pockets and compression straps keeps everything in place and organized. The Briggs and Riley Baseline International Carry-on is available to buy online at Amazon.

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Victorinox Avolve 2.0 22”

Swiss Army Victorinox’s Avolve 2.0 22” Spinner is the perfect carry-on for business travelers as it has space for everything from laptops to clothes and personal essentials. Swiss Army Victorinox started out as the manufacturer of the famed Swiss Army knives. It has branched out to include different merchandise including travel essentials such as luggage, bags, and other travel items. Victorinox is a name derived from Victoria, the founder, Karl Elsener’s mother, and inox, an abbreviation for stainless steel in French. The Avolve 2.0 22” offers a padded front compartment can hold a 17” laptop that is easy to access for those situations you need to pull out your laptop quickly. The interior has organizational zipped pockets and straps to compress clothes and items to make more room. It is also expandable to 1.5” without disqualifying it from airline carry-on standards. The Avolve 2.0 22” has the same limited 10-year warranty that allows for repair and replacement at no cost within 10 years for material and factory defects. It is made with polyester fabric that is abrasion, dirt, and water-resistant, and has 4 spinner wheels and a telescopic handle for easy maneuvering. There are 2 carry-on handles for easy storage in airline cabins and this bag is available online at Amazon.

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Delsey Helium Aero 20.5” Spinner – Best Delsey Carry-On Luggage

The Delsey Helium Aero 20.5” Carry-on is a thing of beauty in style and durability. Delsey is a French brand to be reckoned with, considering it’s been around since 1946, as makers of high quality camera cases and bags with the Parisian flare. This has been the trademark of Delsey, which continues today – high quality not compromised by the price. Helium Aero’s carry-on is made with 100% polycarbonate that’s crack and break resistant but still lightweight. The metallic finish gives it a sleek and stylish look that’s a characteristic of high end brands. It has a TSA-approved locking mechanism. And the four spinner wheels ensure that you can move the luggage in any direction you need to. Another notable feature is the 2” expandable design that is rare for hard-case luggage. This means you get more room for your trip back home without worrying about being oversized by airline carry-on standards. Helium Aero’s carry-on also has 10-year limited warranty worldwide. This 10-year limited warranty grants you repairs and replacement within these years for defects in material and manufacturing, at no extra cost. The Delsey Helium Aero 20.5” Carry-on is available to purchase online at Amazon. You can also check out our review of the Best Delsey Luggage.

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Kenneth Cole Reaction (KCR) Out of Bounds 20”

The KCR Out of Bounds 20” 4 Wheel Upright is quite a surprise, in quality and price. It is by far the best looking carry-on for its price range. Kenneth Cole Productions was formed to enable Kenneth Cole to sell shoes out of a trailer 2 blocks from the Hilton Hotel. The full-length film, “The Birth of a Shoe Company” paved the way for him to sell 40,000 pairs of shoes while documenting the beginnings of the company in 1982. Since then, Kenneth Cole has designed shoes, bags, and clothes, including luggage. KCR Out of Bounds 20” is made with ABS – a common thermoplastic that’s lighter than polycarbonate, but less durable. It has a telescopic handle for easy rolling as well as side and top handles for carrying and storing in compartments and cabins. The interior is fully lined with side zipped pocket and garment restraints for easy organized packing. The two-shell design with zippers enables easy access for garment bags or cubes. The 4 spinner wheels enable rolling in all directions. The Kenneth Cole Reaction (KCR) Out of Bounds 20” is a good buy for people frequently traveling for business and who pack clothing that must be protected from wrinkling. It can be purchased online at Amazon.

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it Luggage Valiant Hardside 8 Wheel Carry-On

The fantastic it Luggage Valiant 22” give you a vintage look with modern sturdy materials. The it Luggage brand started in 1985 by Landor Ltd. It was a family owned and run business that first imported quality materials from China which allowed them to provide high-quality, functional, and stylish products at affordable prices. Landor Ltd. integrated with Hawa International and formed Landor & Hawa International Ltd. The business was rebranded to it Luggage, an abbreviation for “International Traveler” in 2011. Considered one of the newer brands in the market, it Luggage is all the rage in Europe for its high-quality design and style. Valiant 22” 8-wheel follows the modern design in luggage, made from 100% polycarbonate for lightness and strength, with a classic vintage look. The interiors are divided into two halves with a zippered center compartment and garment straps. This makes for easy and organized packing – separating clothes from other personal essentials and protecting them from wrinkles. The 8-wheel spinner feature enables you to steer the luggage in any direction and is easy on your shoulders and back because you don’t have to drag or lift the carry-on. The Valiant Hardside 22” 8-wheel by it Luggage has the old school aesthetic design with modern luggage conveniences with secure construction, easy organization, all for a reasonable price.

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American Tourister xLite Xtreme Spinner 21”

The American Tourister iLite Xtreme Spinner 21” is the best choice for the budget conscious who still know value for money. American Tourister has been a household name for inexpensive luggage with quality. It has been in the market for 75 years. Under the wings of Samsonite, it is definitely flying high on the list of quality carry-ons, luggage, and bags. The iLite Xtreme Spinner 21” has the trademark of American Tourister’s style and bold colors, made from polyester and nylon fabrics for that extra strength and protection from wear and tear of outside elements and harsh handling. The carry-on expands for extra room with zipper pulls and two large front compartments. Sadly it doesn’t have a padded pocket to store laptops and other gadgets. At 21”, it passes most airline carry-on size standards. Be mindful that filling it to fullest capacity including the front compartments might make the carry-on too large for cabin space. The four spinner wheels’ multi-directional airflow allows for free movement in all directions. The interior is fully lined and have two zipped compartments on it’s flap. The large packing area enables you to pack cubes and other essentials with ease. Check out the latest pricing for the American Tourister xLite Xtreme Spinner 21” carry-on luggage online at Amazon.

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Lipault 4-wheeled 22” Carry-On Luggage

The awesome Lipault 4-wheeled 22” provides lightweight traveling convenience at a fairly good price. Lipault is a French brand of high-crafted bags and luggage, with trendy, chic designs and rich colors, and was established in 2005 by Francois Lipovetsky. Later on, the brand became part of the Samsonite family. Their bag and luggage construction, designs, fabric and colors are carefully crafted to meet modern French standards. Lipault bags and soft side luggage are made with luxurious nylon twill fabric that’s strong and can withstand abrasion and spills and nylon interior lining. It has one telescopic handle and side and top handles for ease in carrying and storing in airline cabins. Lipault 4-wheel 22” Carry-on is for the no-fuss traveler who wants maximum space without too much features. The 4 spinner wheels ensure ease in moving in all directions. Lipault 4 wheeled 22” has a worry-free warranty that ensures replacement for factory or material defects and is available online at Amazon.

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Choose a carry-on luggage that will suit your needs, price range and style. Pricier carry-ons such as Tumi and Briggs & Riley are investments both in years of use and warranty. But the other luggage brands on the list carry different features depending on the necessities and how much you are willing to shell out for a carry-on. All of the carry-ons presented here have premium style and luxurious looks with rich colors. This proves that quality and design can be achieved, even on a budget.

Husband and Dad of 2 Richard is the founder of Top 10 Travel and loves everything travel related. Born in the UK and now living in Australia he has trekked Annapurna and parts of Western China and also spent time in Europe. As a family they have traveled to the USA several times, Canada, Europe and China. Next Stop is Iceland in September 2018.

1 Comment
  1. […] out all the options like checked luggage and meal service. However they are quick to charge for any carry-on bags that are over the set luggage weight limit. There is nothing worse than getting go the the airport […]

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