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The “best carry-on luggage 2022” is the perfect travel accessory for anyone. It has a number of features that make it easy to use and maintain.
Hundreds of carry-ons are available these days, with options from both established baggage manufacturers and startups trying to disrupt a costly industry with low-cost, high-quality luggage. Choosing the proper luggage for your vacation might be difficult with so many choices available. We’ve already done the research on the finest checked baggage for your trip. We chose 12 of the most popular baggage bags with particularly high acclaim from reviewers after investigating hundreds of cases (reading both editorial and user evaluations) and putting them through the ringer to select the finest carry-on suitcase.
We only looked at hardside baggage since it has shown to be the most effective at actually safeguarding your belongings in our experience. Today’s hardside baggage is frequently exceedingly lightweight and flexible, allowing it to be packed to the brim. We also only tested four-wheel spinner cases since two-wheel cases are more difficult to manage (and any difference in packing space is negligible).
After weeks of testing, we’ve selected four cases that will meet the demands of almost every traveler. Take a look at our selections, reasoning, and testing methodology in the sections below.
The best hard-shell carry-on baggage in general
The Away Carry-On offers everything you want in a suitcase: toughness, careful organization, smart features, and a stylish design – all at a reasonable price.
The runner-up is a luxury hard-shell option.
The outside shell of the Delsey Chatelet is composed entirely of polycarbonate, an extraordinarily robust but lightweight and flexible material that has become the gold standard for hardside baggage.
Hard-shell carry-on baggage that is the most Instagrammable
The Calpak Ambeur Carry-On has a sleek, monochrome appearance that is Instagrammable to the max. The wheels and telescoping handle are also in keeping with the rest of the case.
The best hard-shell carry-on baggage for the money
The Samsonite Omni boasts a completely polycarbonate exterior with a micro-diamond structure that resists scuffing and makes the back seem less bulky.
Away Carry-On ($225; away.com) is the best overall hard-shell carry-on baggage.
The Away Carry-On offers everything you want in a suitcase: toughness, careful organization, smart features, and a stylish design – all at a reasonable price.
Even before taking into consideration the fact that it’s less expensive than its high-end rivals, it matched for the top overall score from our tests with the Delsey Chatelet. Away’s product held up to our abuse well, with just slight scuffing and no permanent damage after being kicked, jumped on, and dumped down the stairs. This is because of the materials used in its construction: The hardside luggage’s exterior shell is made entirely of polycarbonate, an extraordinarily strong but lightweight and flexible material that has become the industry standard.
Smooth YKK zippers, an aluminum telescoping handle, and the Rolls-Royce of luggage wheels: four double Hinomoto spinners, which ran effortlessly on pavement, hardwood, and grass in our tests. Even when completely filled, the bag never felt like it was going to tip over.
To be honest, Away’s top and side carry handles are a little flat and rigid, which isn’t a big deal because the bags are usually rolled rather than carried. We found the telescoping handle to be one of the most shaky. However, Away says that the handle is designed to be thus flexible to help absorb impact, and we had no problems with it throughout our testing. We also appreciated how the handle is black rather than the brushed steel hue seen on most cases, since it suits the bag’s trim and design better.
However, it’s when it’s time to pack that Away truly shines. The case has the greatest inside design of the lot, with a basic but efficient system that keeps your belongings organized without being too complicated or taking up important packing space. On one side, there’s a deep pocket with a full-zip partition for hard or bulky goods, and on the other, there’s a detachable, buckle-down compression board to help you squeeze every last ounce of room out of the 39.8 liter bag. The compression board also has a bigger zip pocket that’s ideal for slipping your laptop inside; since the board is designed to lie over your clothes, this provides additional protection for your sensitive electronics.
This and other thoughtful tweaks helped propel the Away to the top of our list. Many bags, for example, have clamshell designs with one completely zippered side and the other with a strap to keep garments in place. The Away, on the other hand, features a mesh covering on the zipped side, allowing you to view everything you’ve packed without having to search around in your bag. A concealed, water-resistant wash bag and a leather baggage tag are also welcome additions.
It’s a personal choice whether or not you want a smart suitcase, but it’s wonderful to have the option. The only case we evaluated that came with a battery pack was Away (a 10,000 mAh travel-friendly charger, to be precise). It also features by far the simplest battery removal method of all the cases tested, since you can just take the battery out while the case is still closed. The case also features two charging ports, while all of the other cases we examined (with the exception of the Genius Pack Supercharged) only had one.
The Away wasn’t the lightest bag we tested, weighing in at 8.1 pounds, but we believe the additional (actual) luggage is an acceptable trade-off considering everything else you receive. If you’re certain you don’t want a smart suitcase, get the Away without the battery pack to save a few pounds.
Finally, Away’s lifetime guarantee and 100-day hassle-free return policy demonstrate the company’s commitment to its product. And, of course, the finished result is stunning: You can select something that won’t seem like every other black luggage on the conveyor belt thanks to a clean design and nine stylish color choices (plus frequent limited-edition colours).
If you expect to bring home a lot of mementos from your trip, consider getting an expanded case like the Calpak Ambeur or upgrading to Away’s Bigger Carry-On (bearing in mind the risk that this might meet all international carry-on requirements). Otherwise, we’d choose the Away Carry-On as our go-to hardside suitcase. As important as a comfortable travel pillow, this bag will meet practically all of a traveler’s demands for years to come while looking great.
Delsey Chatelet Hard+ 21-Inch Spinner ($256, originally $321.48; amazon.com) is the runner-up hard-shell carry-on baggage.
As previously stated, the Delsey Chatelet Hard+ 21-Inch Spinner tied with Away’s case in our tests. Because of its Bayer pure Makrolon polycarbonate shell, Hinomoto wheels, and aluminum handle, the Chatelet received very good reviews for durability. The case’s outer shell is thicker and less flexible than Away’s, making it heavier and less flexible overall, but less dent-prone. In fact, the Chatelet rebuffed all of our efforts to harm it. The shell also includes a diamond pattern that is softly textured to lessen the appearance of scratches and scuffs, and it was definitely more scuff-proof than the Away in our testing.
This was also the most opulently designed of the lot. Soft-touch polyester lining and ultra smooth zippers with fake leather pull tabs are included on the inside. The top and side handles are likewise padded fake leather, making them quite comfortable to grip for extended periods of time. The tight wrapping around the handles, however, makes it difficult for other objects to sit flat on the case, which is a problem for folks who prefer to put tote bags or pet carriers on top of their baggage when flying.
Delsey’s telescoping handle is particularly commendable: It’s gleaming, black, and very smooth – so silky, in fact, that after using it, we couldn’t award any other case’s grip a perfect score. The Chatelet also has a simple braking mechanism, which came in handy while stopping on a slant or carrying the luggage on the metro.
The Chatelet has a gorgeous, traditional style. Although there are just three color possibilities, there’s no disputing that this bag looks and feels high-end. There’s also a wash bag, a shoe bag, and a foldable hanger included. Inside, there are two compartments with tie-down straps and full-zip partitions; it’s a good technique, but we like Away’s mesh zipper section since we can see everything we’ve packed.
The Chatelet’s warranty isn’t as good as the Away’s, but it’s still extremely good at ten years. In the event that the Chatelet is lost or stolen, it has a built-in tracking plate that you can register online.
So, what exactly is the issue? The Chatelet weighs 9.3 pounds, which is approximately 1.5 pounds more than the Away Carry-On and over 3 pounds more than the Calpak Ambeur. And when it comes to extra luggage taxes, weight is king. The bag, like the Away, has a large internal capacity of 44.9 liters, but it is physically larger. While the Chatelet should be safe for local travel, it may cause problems if you attempt to take it on certain international flights. Before flying, it’s usually a good idea to double-check an airline’s published carry-on dimensions.
If you’re not intending on seeing a lot of different places on your vacation, or if you’re going by car or train and weight isn’t an issue, the Delsey Chatelet is still a good option. With a large capacity, smooth wheels, a solid shell, and that amazing telescoping handle, it’s a delight to use. Above all, even if you’re trapped in coach, the Delsey Chatelet will make you feel like a first-class passenger.
Hard-shell carry-on baggage that is the most Instagrammable: Calpak Ambeur Carry-On ($156, originally $195; calpaktravel.com)
The Calpak Ambeur is a stunning bag that has definitely put a lot of effort into the design elements. The case’s sleek, monochrome shell is endlessly Instagrammable, and even the wheels and telescoping handle are in keeping with the rest of the case. With a spongy cushioned grip that allowed for an incredibly pleasant carry, the Calpak Ambeur featured some of our favorite top and side handles of the lot. To top it off, the bag is very light, at just 6 pounds.
Overpackers will appreciate the case’s ability to stretch up to 2 inches, bringing its total capacity to 46 liters – even more than the Delsey Chatelet, but in a more stylish design. Of course, the disadvantage of expandability is that you may mistakenly exceed certain airlines’ size and weight constraints. Fabric is also used for the inflatable portion of the bag, which is intrinsically less durable than the hard shell.
Calpak’s exterior isn’t fully polycarbonate, making it more susceptible to dings and scuffs than the Away and Delsey. Some reviews also describe cracking, dents, and broken wheels after a few months, however we didn’t have any of these concerns throughout our testing. The inner is a crinkly polyester (though the deep blue color is gorgeous), and the internal zipper snags easily. The warranty period is likewise limited to two years.
Overall, this is a really elegant bag that will hold a lot of items. The Calpak Ambeur is a good option if you’re looking for a case around $200 and don’t intend on constantly throwing it down a flight of stairs.
The best hard-shell carry-on baggage for the money: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside 20-Inch Spinner ($109.99, originally $149.99; amazon.com)
Polycarbonate is one of the most durable hardside luggage materials, but it comes at a price. The Samsonite Omni, on the other hand, features a completely polycarbonate cover and costs about $100. The micro-diamond texture is comparable to that of the Delsey Chatelet, and in our tests, it avoided substantial scuffing without the bulk of the Delsey. The Omni is a lightweight backpack that weighs just 6.8 pounds and has a massive 41-liter capacity. This bag is very durable and spacious, plus it comes with Samsonite’s 10-year guarantee.
With one deep mesh divider, a tiny accessories pocket, and a confinement strap that was a little tough to snap up and closed, the inside organization is rather bare-bones. This bag isn’t quite as stylish as our top three, but for many travelers, it isn’t a deal breaker.
The Omni’s absence of a horizontal side handle, on the other hand, was a source of worry for us. When dragging a case up and down stairs or taking it from an overhead bin, this handle comes in useful, and its lack is a sad error here. The wheels are also single spinners rather than double spinners, which are significantly less robust and more likely to get trapped in pavement cracks.
The Samsonite Omni, on the other hand, is a great cheap carry-on because it does precisely what a suitcase is meant to do: hold a lot of things and keep it secure. It’s lightweight and durable, comes from a reputable travel brand, and represents excellent value for the materials used.
How did we do our research?
Suitcases must be able to resist a lot of damage, hold a lot of belongings, and roll smoothly. We divided all of the variables that affect passengers into groups, then assessed how each instance fared.
Durability and materials
- Outer materials: We looked examined the outer shell, zippers, telescoping handle, and wheels of each case.
- Internal materials: We tested the suppleness of the fabrics used in case linings and stretched and bent any internal compression straps.
- We jumped on the casings and did a dent and scuff test. We stomped on the crates with hammers and kicked them. We threw the cases down a flight of steps, much to our neighbors’ chagrin. Then we checked at how scuffed and dented each bag was, as well as how simple it was to remove scuffs and pop out dents.
Organization and Capacity
- Internal volume: We measured the bags’ packable interiors and recorded their claimed capacity in liters while ensuring they complied with carry-on size restrictions.
- Experience with packing and organization: How the space inside a bag is really utilised is just as significant as its capacity: Is the organization too much, too little, or just right? Internal pockets, belts, and dividers were evaluated for their usability. Then we packed and unloaded the bags with the identical set of stuff, noting how simple it was to keep our belongings organized, cram in last-minute items after shutting the case, and access items once it was closed.
- We weighed the bags to see how much they weighed (unpacked).
- We tested the bags’ maneuverability by rolling them through carpet, hardwood, cracked pavement, and grass to see how silently, steadily, and smoothly they went.
- Comfort of top and side handle grips: We tested the comfort of each bag’s handle grips by carrying it up and down a flight of stairs using both handles.
- We tested the comfort and stability of the telescopic handle by raising and lowering it and wriggling it about. We also utilized the handle to pull each suitcase over the hilly streets of Brooklyn, completely erect and solely utilizing the two front wheels.
- Internal and exterior zipper smoothness: We zipped and unzipped the bags many times, both full and empty, and noticed any snags or resistance.
- Multiple color possibilities: For each bag’s outer shell, we looked at how many color or design options are available.
- General impressions: We evaluated the bag’s overall appearance and feel, as well as any customizability choices.
Features Not Included
- Charging: We looked at whether each bag had charging capabilities, and if so, how simple it was to attach and disconnect the charger, as well as how many ports it had.
- We looked at the bag’s expandability to see whether it could expand and how readily it could.
- TSA-approved lock: We looked at whether the luggage featured a TSA-approved lock and how simple it was to configure and operate.
- Other features: We looked for things like washing or clothing bags, baggage tags, brakes, or electronic tracking systems, among other things.
How did we rate it?
We assigned each bag a score in each of the above-mentioned areas, then put the scores together to get an overall rating. We weighted our different categories appropriately since some elements are more crucial than others when it comes to picking the ideal travel bag for you; for example, style had less of an influence on a bag’s score than durability. The points were broken down as follows:
- Durability and materials were worth up to 15 points: feel and composition of outer materials (5); inner lining (5); resistance to dents and scuffs (5).
- Organization and Capacity were worth up to 15 points: internal volume (5), packing/unpacking experience (10).
- Top and side handle comfort (5), telescoping handle comfort and stability (5), smoothness of internal and exterior zippers (5), maneuverability (5) were all valued up to 20 points (5).
- Number of color/design possibilities (5), overall impressions (5), and style were all valued up to ten points (5).
- Features Not Included were worth up to 10 points: charging potential (3); expandability (3); TSA locking mechanism (2); break system (1); extras (1).
- A guarantee was worth up to three points: higher than five years (3); two to five years (1); bags without warranties or warranties of less than two years did not get any extra points, since you wouldn’t need a new suitcase that frequently.
- We also took into account the price and weight of each bag in addition to the aforementioned.
A note on the rankings: Differences in volume and materials were sometimes insignificant. For the ordinary traveler, a few more liters of room or a few ounces of weight won’t make a significant impact. Some nice features come with drawbacks. Expandable cases will clearly provide you more space, but they will also possibly tilt the scales in terms of what you can bring in your carry-on luggage (not to mention the fact that the expandable portion of the case is less durable than the rest of the shell). Charging is a personal choice as well.
That isn’t to imply that some bags aren’t better investments than others. It’s simply a friendly reminder to think about how you’ll really use a piece of baggage before getting too caught up in little variations that won’t effect your vacation experience.
Finally, a comment on the differences between polycarbonate and ABS exterior shells. Whether you’re wondering if the price difference between polycarbonate and acrylic is truly worth it, the answer is typically yes. Not only is it more durable than ABS, but it’s also lighter and more flexible. This means you can usually fit a few more items inside the case, dents pop out more readily, and you can ensure that your bag won’t shatter during baggage processing.
Finally, we looked at each bag with all of the above in mind, making sure to assess what aspects would be most important to most travelers.
We also tried other baggage.
Aviator by Paravel ($350; tourparavel.com)
The Aviator’s interior design and compression method, which is quite similar to Away’s, were both very appealing to us. We particularly liked how the Aviator is built of recyclable materials and has an antique trunk-like appearance. We’d want to use this case, but it lacks Away’s lifetime guarantee and charging features, while being similar in weight and price. It’s still an excellent choice if pricing isn’t a concern and you don’t care about smart features, or if you’ve just fallen in love with the bag’s design and Paravel’s goal.
Delsey Aero (Amazon.com; $98.99)
Another case that did well in most of our tests and had a large capacity was the Aero. However, the case’s highly polished surface was prone to scratches, and the case itself was weighty and bulky in comparison to our top selections.
Supercharged Genius Pack ($238, originally $395; geniuspack.com)
This is a very light bag constructed of high-quality materials that holds a lot. Having said that, we didn’t care for Genius Pack’s built-in packing cubes. We will always push for basic internal organization so that you may load your suitcase anyway you like. It’s simple enough to buy your own packing cubes and then remove them as needed from your suitcase, which you can’t do here. The Genius Pack also lacks the lifetime guarantee of the Away, but it costs roughly the same, and the telescoping handle outperformed the other bags.
Crew 21-Inch Spinner by Travelpro ($199.99, originally $229; travelpro.com)
The Travelpro Crew 21 is a reliable, lightweight solution from a reputable manufacturer. Unfortunately, the case’s slanted top was a deal breaker, since it prohibited us from rolling it with a tote or pet carrier on top of it. We also didn’t like how the interior packing space was unequal (one side being considerably shorter than the other), and how difficult it was to seal the flap protecting the USB connection. The case’s top and side handles were also quite snug, making it difficult to move our hands through.
Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin ($560; rimowa.com) is a lightweight cabin from Rimowa.
This stunning bag is really light. However, at this money, we’d expect perfection, which this does not provide. The single barred telescopic handle, although space-saving, placed a lot of pressure on our hand while pulling the luggage behind us.
Expandable Spinner by Briggs & Riley International ($463.20, originally $579; briggs-riley.com)
This bag performed well in our durability testing, and it comes with an excellent guarantee and exquisite workmanship. Also noteworthy is the inbuilt compression-expansion mechanism. The discrepancy in packing space after you unzip the bag, however, was something we didn’t appreciate. One side is significantly deeper than the other, requiring more layers while packing and more searching among our belongings once the bag was unzipped to locate anything.
($159.99; ebags.com) Fortis Pro USB Spinner
A tough backpack that made the same mistake as the Genius Pack Supercharged: there’s just too much going on inside. The built-in packing cubes are inconveniently situated, making packing and unpacking a chore. The flap that covered the USB port on the outside was likewise fragile and difficult to shut.
Moonlight Hardside Expandable Spinner by American Tourister ($104.99, originally $124.99; amazon.com)
The Moonlight isn’t a terrible deal at its current pricing. It features a lot of storage capacity, a basic yet functional interior design, and a multitude of color and style possibilities. When jumped on, though, this bag readily dented and scuffed (it’s made completely of ABS rather than polycarbonate, which likely had a role). After any dents were pushed back into place, the outer layer rapidly crinkled up, and markings remained extremely evident. The appearance of this case is appealing, but don’t anticipate it to remain spotless for long.
Hardside Spinner by AmazonBasics ($74.99; amazon.com)
Despite its low price, this was our least preferred case. It’s a “simple” situation, and it certainly seems that way. This case, like the American Tourister, has a less robust ABS exterior that dented easily and left markings during our testing. The inside is lined with a crinkly polyester, and the expanded side also has a complete zipper divider – an unusual design decision that made packing more difficult. To utilize the case’s maximum capacity, you had to essentially zip it tight and then put items uncomfortably on top of that zipped section (which, interestingly enough, wasn’t flush with the bag’s exterior border). Overall, we’d rather spend a little extra money on a case that would last longer and be more pleasant to use; flying is already stressful enough.
The “best carry-on luggage affordable” is the best option for carrying your belongings. It’s a good choice for travelers who want to pack light and avoid spending too much money.
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