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Waiting in a long line when running late for a flight, having to pay hefty baggage fees, and your shoulder hurting from carting around a heavy duffle bag are all hassles that make quality carry-on luggage a must-have.
The best carry-on suitcases are reliable, durable, easy to pack, hold plenty of clothes, and fit on both domestic and international planes of all sizes.
As a travel editor who pre-pandemic frequently took more than 50 flights per year and was often in a destination for just a day or two before moving on, I practically live out of my carry-on at times. I’ve also had checked luggage lost or arrive late enough times to avoid going that route whenever possible, making a carry-on my go-to item even for longer trips.
While my luggage may go through a few more rigorous trials than the average leisure traveler, most people are looking for these same qualities in any good piece of luggage.
For this guide, I put 10 carry-ons to the test. You can read our full testing methodology as well as tips on what to look for in a carry-on bag at the bottom of this guide. You can also find additional carry-on options for traveling with kids towards the end of this guide.
Here is the best carry-on luggage of 2021
Best hard-side carry-on overall: Samsonite Centric Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels, $164.99 at Amazon
Form, function, durability, and an excellent price all meet to make the Samsonite Centric Hardside Expandable Luggage a winner.
Best soft-side carry-on overall: Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On Spinner, $329.99 at Travelpro
The Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On holds everything you need and then some, but its attention to detail makes it stand out from the competition.
Best budget carry-on: AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner, $76.86 at Amazon
For the casual weekend traveler, the AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Carry-On is an attractive bag that does the job at an extremely affordable price.
Best high-end hard-side carry-on: Rimowa Essential Lite, $530 at Rimowa
True to its name, the Rimowa Essential Lite sets itself apart with its under 5-pound weight without compromising on durability or quality.
Best high-end soft-side carry-on: Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-on Expandable Spinner, $649 at Briggs & Riley
The Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On is worth the investment thanks to an impressive compression feature and high-end materials that stand the test of time.
Best carry-on for extra space: Monos Carry-On Pro Plus, $295 at Monos
If you’re not restricted to smaller overhead bins, the Monos Carry-On Pro Plus is a sleek suitcase with extra room inside and a smart front pocket for easily stowing accessories.
Best aluminum carry-on: Away The Carry-On: Aluminium Edition, $525 at Away
Away’s heavy-duty aluminum carry-on is as sleek and eye-catching as it is durable.