If you are a frequent traveler you will know that it is important to consider every little detail, and key among these is good carry-on luggage. Especially today, flying can be very economical if you choose to fly with low-cost airlines, but you have to consider their luggage restrictions.

Hand luggage dimensions must certain guidelines set by the airline, which is the reason why we developed this guide, so you know everything about these useful accessories that let us travel easily and comfortably. Next, we will reveal all the secrets about carry-on bags to make your travels easier. Ready? Set? Well, here we go!

Key Facts

  • Carry-on luggage is an essential accessory for your weekend getaways or flights to nearby destinations, although in the latter case you should check with your airline regarding the maximum allowed measurements and weight.
  • When buying carry-on luggage it is important to keep some key factors in mind, such as whether you will choose a hard or soft suitcase, its measurements and the maximum weight it can carry.
  • In the Shopping Criteria section below, you will see some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when buying carry-on luggage. These include the durability of the hand luggage and its ease of use, the last being very important if you will spend a long time at the airport or at a train or bus station.

Ranking: The best carry-on luggage on the U.S. market

Whether you are buying a present or urgently need carry-on luggage for a spontaneous trip, it is important to have an idea of the best products around. To help you out, we’ve put together a selection of the best carry-on luggage you’ll find on the market today.

No 1: Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Set

This 3-piece luggage set from Coolife has three quality travel suitcases measuring 20, 24 and 28 inches respectively. It is made from durable and impact-resistant ABS material which has been forged into a stylish hardshell case. The interior compartment of these suitcases is spacious, well divided and, fitted with a handy adjustable compressor strap.

It has two opposing zippers that are locked into a combination TSA lock. The handle is telescopic—having a push button that is used to adjust its height. It is easy to manoeuvre thanks to our spinner wheels are multi-directional. With this Coolife luggage set is designed to give you a stress-free travel experience.

No 2: AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage

The Hardside Spinner Luggage set from Amazon Basics is a quality 20-inch suitcase. It is designed to protect all your travel essentials irrespective of their treatment by bag handlers. Its protective hard shell is made from an extra-thick ABS material and is scratch-resistant.

The interior is spacious and fully lined with a durable 150D polyester material. It has three zippered pockets and an adjustable strap for exceptional travel organization. The spinner wheels are placed in pairs and could move in any direction along 360 degrees. The user-friendly telescopic handles add to the ease of movement. This luggage is perfect for every kind of travel, and it comes at a reasonable price.

No. 3: Rockland Luggage Melbourne 20 Inch Expandable Carry On

This luggage from Rockland Melbourne is a quality hard shell suitcase that is designed for every traveler. It is durable and made from the highest-quality ABS material. It is expandable to accommodate more travel essentials, which is great for your return journey. The zippers of this luggage are sturdy and it features a TSA combination lock. The interior of this case is fully lined. It has both an elastic pocket and a zipper pocket, which helps you stay organized on your travels.

Rockland Melbourne Luggage has eight multi-directional spinner wheels. In addition to these 360-degree wheels, the telescopic handle of this luggage helps you to move it anyhow, anywhere. Rockland Melbourne Luggage is a travel companion, and you need to have.

No. 4: COOLIFE Luggage Expandable Suitcase

Looking for a piece of hardshell luggage that will resist all the rigors of modern travel and bag handlers? Coolife Expandable Suitcase Luggage could fit the bill. They are built from ABS and PC materials. It has a quiet airplane spinner wheels and a 3-level adjustable, aluminium telescopic handle that makes it easy to manoeuvre.

The interior of this luggage is fully lined, spacious, and multi-compartmental. It has quite several sizeable pockets, which help with carrying small items like paper, pens. It has a TSA combination lock that ensures the security of your travel essentials. It is expandable, fashionable, and suitable for all kinds of travelers.

No. 5: Rockland Luggage 2 Piece Set

Rockland 2-Piece Set Luggage is made from a durable and reliable 600 denier fabric. The set consists of an upright bag and a tote flight bag. The upright luggage has inline skate wheels and a stability bar. It has a top and side padded grip handles and, a telescopic gliding handle for easy mobility. This luggage has two external front pockets and three internal multi-organizational pockets in the interior.

The flight tote bag has a front external pocket and an adjustable, non-slip and, detachable shoulder strap making it easy to carry. Notwithstanding, it has an ergonomic grip handle too. Rockland 2-Piece Set Luggage is expandable and offers great value for money.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about carry-on luggage

Comfort, materials used in its manufacture and locking capabilities are crucial factors when buying a carry-on bag. Keeping our belongings safe will help you relax and enjoy your travels. So in this section we answer the most frequent questions among potential buyers of this type of luggage.

There are many styles of luggage, so you can choose the one you like the best.
(Source: Anyaberkut: 77333817/ 123rf.com)

What is carry-on luggage exactly?

A suitcase is a rectangular container with an external handle which function is to house clothes and other necessary items during a trip. When we talk about carry-on luggage or hand luggage, we are referring to those suitcases which most airlines allow you to take in the cabin with you, generally with restrictions or limitations regarding their measurement.

For example, the usual measurement (22 x 18 x 10 inches) is not allowed by Spirit airlines without making an additional payment, but you can carry a small bag (a “personal item”) not exceeding 18 x 14 x 8 inches.

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Remember it is required that you put your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you or in the overhead lockers.

What measurements are allowed by the top ten airlines?

As we mentioned in the previous section, Spirit Airlines charges for the usual hand luggage, but other low cost companies have no problem with them. Find a table below with the measures allowed in ten major airlines (updated July 2019), so that you can be well informed:

Company Carry-on luggage measurements Additional fees payable?
American Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 in No
Delta Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 in No
United Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 in No unless basic economy
Southwest Airlines 10 x 16 x 24 in No
JetBlue 22 x 14 x 9 in No
Alaska Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 in No
Spirit Airlines 22 x 18 x 10 in Yes, $26
Frontier Airlines  24 x 10 x 16 in No
British Airways 22 x 18 x 10 in No
Hawaiian Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 in No
Air Canada 9 x 15.5 x 21.5 in No

Carry-on luggage are very handy for people for people with an adventurous spirit.
(Source: David Prado: 87730832/ 123rf.com)

What is the maximum weight allowed for carry-on luggage?

Again, it all depends on the airline, each one has its own specifications and limitations. Overall, all airlines set ten kilograms as the maximum allowed weight for hand luggage, but not all companies follow this limitation. Here is a table with the maximum weight allowed by main airlines:

Company Maximum weight of carry-on luggage
American Airlines N/A
Delta Airlines N/A
United Airlines N/A
Southwest Airlines N/A
JetBlue Airlines N/A
Alaska Airlines N/A
Spirit Airlines N/A
Frontier Airlines 35lbs
British Airways 52lbs
Hawaiian Airlines 25lbs
Air Canada N/A

Are handles or wheel weight included in hand luggage weight?

Yes, be careful with this. The measurements allowed by each airline generally include all the protruding accessories, such as wheels or handles. Actually, some manufacturers incorporate wheels to have more space in the lower area. Remember that hard suitcases weigh more, but your luggage will be safer.

Lao-TseChinese philosopher

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.”

How are hand luggage classified?

For sure, you can figure it out. There are stronger and lighter ones, but if you are going to make a trip of several days it is convenient to choose the first type. Next, we will see in the table below the most common types and features of this first classification of hand luggage. Pay attention:

Flexible or semi-rigid suitcase Hard suitcase
Advatages Lighter More resistant
Volume More volume Less volume
Material They are usually made of textile fabrics Generally, they are made of prolipylene (PP)
Disadvantages They are not recommended for air travel because luggage can be damaged They are suitable for car trips, among others
Price More economical* More expensive*

*Although there are various differences in price, the costs are more or less the same so this should not be a major factor in your decision.

What are the advantages of hand luggage?

Carry-on luggage, also called cabin luggage or hand luggage are the ideal complement for short trips, but also have additional advantages over large suitcases. In the following list we show you some of the most important benefits of this type of luggage:

  • A good complement. Especially if you make long trips by plane, carry-on luggage is irreplaceable to store important items during the journey.
  • Thanks to its size, it is easier to handle, especially if it has wheels.
  • Short trips. It is ideal for weekend trips or destinations where a large suitcase is not needed.

We recommend you check with your airline for the permitted measurements of carry-on luggage that they allow.
(Source: Sebnem Ragiboglu: 74513351/ 123rf.com)

What is the difference between the Trolley bag and the Spinner bag?

The main difference between these two types of hand luggage is the number of wheels. The one with only two wheels is called Trolley, while Spinner is the hand luggage with four wheels in the lower area. Each of them will bring you benefits, but also some disadvantages, as we will see in the next question.

What advantages and disadvantages have the two and four wheels hand luggage?

If you do not want to lug heavy bags around with you on your trip, one of the best options is to choose hand luggage with wheels. This way, you will glide through airports hardly noticing that you are carrying luggage. The question is: which one to choose? To help you decide, here is a table with the advantages and disadvantages of each one type:

Advantages Disadvantages
Two wheels (Trolley) Cheaper

Greater capacity

Simple movements on curbs, gaps, stairs and ground irregularities

They are uncomfortable if you have multiple bags

Weight is only carried by two wheels, therefore we will carry part of the weight

They can be unstable if loaded with a lot of weight

Four wheels (Spinner) Easier to pull and ideal for children and the elderly

More stable as weight is distributed between the 4 wheels

The four wheels allow you to turn 360 degrees

More expensive

Greater discomfort in irregular or uneven ground, among others

Less capacity than 2 wheel cases

What materials are used to manufacture carry-on luggage?

The materials used to make carry-on luggage are more important than we think. They help determine their durability, among other aspects. Next, we offer you a table with the different materials, their features and what type of suitcases they are used for.

Type of material Characteristics Commonly used for what type of carry-on luggage
Polypropylene It is a commonly used material. It is heavy but resistant to scratches and hard Hard shell suitcases.
Polycarbonate Very light, resists high temperatures and shocks. It is used in the most exclusive and also more delicate bags. Hard shell suitcases.
Nylon Very light and scratch-resistant material. Semi-hard or soft suitcases.
ABS Light, hard, it barely scratches and is resistant to abrasion. Hard shelled suitcases.
Polyester Moisture and abrasion resistant material. Semi-hard and soft suitcases.

Is it important the wheels to rotate 360 degrees?

Carry-on wheels can move like in-line skates, or be omnidirectional, that is, fully rotate 360°. The first ones follow the direction of the march, but the second ones are more comfortable and also more modern. Logically, if you are going to buy new carry-on luggage, choose omnidirectional wheels to ease transportation.

Carry-on luggage is ideal for a short trip.
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Is there “smart” hand luggage?

Yes, although they deserve a separate chapter. In this guide, we will briefly touch on the subject enough to tell you that there is hand luggage that can be easily controlled from your smartphone. They include chargers so you do not run out of battery at any time and sensors to notify you if your luggage is already on the conveyor belt.

In any case, smart carry-on luggage aims to become an essential gadget to ease our lives.

What maintenance does my carry-on bag require according to the material?

If you want your hand luggage to last a long time, we recommend you to follow some maintenance guidelines to ensure its preservation. Therefore, here is a table with the most important recommendations when it comes to keeping your hand luggage clean as the first day, both inside and out.

Hard shell carry-on luggage Soft carry-on luggage Interior
First Whether for an ABS, polypropylene or polycarbonate carry-on bag, the steps are listed below. Whether polyester or nylon, first clean the entire surface from dust particles with a cloth or with a vacuum cleaner. The inside of the hand luggage is also important, so first empty all compartments.
Step 1 Prepare a solution of warm water and neutral soap. Prepare a solution with neutral soap and water. Take also a toothbrush with soft bristles. As always, prepare a solution with water and neutral soap. Use a cloth wet with the solution.
Step 2 Rub gently with a damp moistened with the previous solution. Gently rub the surface, emphasizing the most difficult stains. Clean the entire interior again with a drained cloth and emphasize on the most difficult areas.
Step 3 Dry gently with a clean dry cloth. Rinse and let it air dry. Rinse with a dry cloth and let it air dry.

How should I store my carry-on bag?

It seems obvious, but to avoid bad smells it is a good idea to keep your hand luggage, once clean, in a cloth case or a plastic one if the first option is not available. In addition, put some aromatic bags inside and, depending on the size of your bag, insert one bag inside the other to save on storage space at home.

Shopping criteria

When buying carry-on luggage, it is necessary to keep a few things in mind in order to make the right choice. We have already reviewed many of the factors that must be considered, but here we will summarize the key factors you should know about in order to make the best purchase when buying carry-on luggage.

  • Size
  • Durability
  • Weight
  • Comfort
  • Design
  • Accessories

Size

Size is a key criterion when choosing a carry-on bag, especially if you are going to make short trips by plane and on low cost airlines. You already know that airlines like Spirit will charge you for the usual size of the cabin luggage (22 x 18 x 10 cm), but for land trips, a few inches more or less will be the same.

Carry-on luggage is very compact and convenient.
(Source: Sebnem Ragiboglu: 74513354/ 123rf.com)

Durability

Having a strong, durable carry-on bag is essential to withstand the possible knocks and bumps it may sustain on your trip. There are some manufacturers who use reinforced stitching and especially robust designs particularly in the corners of the luggage to avoid it becoming damaged in between setting off and reaching your destination.

On the other hand, manufacturing materials obviously affect  the durability and resistance of carry-on luggage. Pay special attention to this before choosing which bag you will buy. Don’t forget to consider those with extra-strong or double zippers to avoid these breaking at high pressure.

Weight

In our selection of the best carry-on luggage on the market, the majority of the products weigh no more than 7 lbs. Most airlines will only allow you to have a carry-on bay of 22 lbs or less. Therefore, the less the weight of the bag itself, the more weight you’ll be able to carry in it!

Hay algunas maletas de mano que incluyen cargadores de batería.
(Fuente: Weedezign: 85085256/ 123rf.com)

Comfort

Carry-on luggage which is easy and comfortable to use means you can move through the airport with no difficulty. This is possible thanks to side and central handles, also called telescopic handle. The central handle should be adjustable in height and soft to the touch, as well as the central handles. Also, if you value agility, choose a suitcase with wheels.

We have already seen that carry-on luggage is available with two or four wheels. Choose the one that suits you best, but the one that will allow you move better and barely carry a little weight is the four-wheel, omnidirectional bag. Finally, do not forget to check if your hand luggage has several compartments of different sizes.

Design

It seems a bit senseless to talk about design when we refer to a practical and useful object, but it never hurts to consider design and aesthetics when choosing your carry-on bag. Currently, carry-on luggage is available in a wide variety of materials and colors, both in rigid and flexible models.

Choose a sturdy carry-on bag, but also one that matches your style, whether it is casual or business. Consider this item will be with you for a few years, if not your entire life.

In order to choose the best carry-on luggage, be sure to keep various factors in mind such as design, color, size and durability.
(Source: Andriano: 83100296/ 123rf.com)

Accessories

Finally, it is also important to consider the accessories carry-on luggage can come with, some essential ones such as the TSA lock (Transportation Security Agency), an approval that will allow you travel without problems to the United States, for example. They are numerical locks that will make you feel safer in your journeys.

Also, keep in mind that the hand luggage has space for an identification card, different fastening straps for your clothes and plastic legs if your hand luggage has two wheels. Thus, it will remain standing when you place it in an upright position.

Summary

Traveling is always a pleasure, but it is much more pleasant if you feel safe during the journey. To have this feeling, it is important that our hand luggage has the necessary measures to avoid unforeseen events in the airport. In addition, weight is a determining factor to get rested and happy to our destination.

Before buying a carry-on bag, keep in mind the purchase criteria that we have mentioned in the corresponding section. Measures and weight, resistance, comfort or design and aesthetics can be key factors when choosing this essential item for a trip without surprises.

If you liked our guide on the carry-on bag, share it on social media so others benefit from its contents. If you want, leave us a comment and we will be happy to answer. Thank you!

(Source of the featured image: Weedezign: 85291155/ 123rf.com)

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