The Best Carry-On Luggage in 2022, for All Types of Travelers
best carry on luggage

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OBVIOUS STATEMENT of the day: post-Pandemic travel can be pretty stressful. But the silver-lining is you can eliminate—or at least minimize—stress if you do your traveling right. That means plenty of pre-trip preparation, arriving to the airport early, making sure you have on comfortable clothes (not pajamas), and packing efficiently.

Which brings us to arguably the most vital piece of luggage a person can own: a carry-on bag. The first step to finding your personal best carry-on luggage is by deciding what kind of travel you will be embarking on. If it’s a short weekend trip, a backpack or duffel bag will suffice, but if you’re going away for, say, a week then a carry-on suitcase (or travel bag) will likely be more efficient.



  • Best Carry-On Duffel Bag

    Medium Rugged Twill Duffle Bag
    Filson

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  • Best Carry-On Travel Backpack

    Travel Bag 40L Carry-On Backpack
    Nomatic

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  • Best Carry-On Suitcase Overall

    The Carry-On
    Away

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  • Best Luxe Carry-On

    Hybrid Cabin Carry-On
    Rimowa

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  • Best Adventure Travel Bag

    Radical 45L Travel Pack
    Exped

    Read More

Before upgrading your carry-on bag there are a few factors to consider. First, make sure your bag’s measurements are TSA-approved—most airlines allow carry-ons no larger than 22 inches long by 14 inches wide by 9 inches tall, including the wheels and handle. If you’re a heavy packer, you’ll want an expandable bag to maximize space. If you’re storing your suitcase in a small closet, you might want a bag that flattens when empty.

Read more: Best Luggage Brands

We curated the top carry-on bags for all types of flyers. The pieces of luggage below represent a wide range of budgets, travel styles, and aesthetic preferences. But the common denominator is that each carry-on prioritizes function above all else. Your carry-on luggage probably won’t be able to help you tune out the screaming baby across the aisle, but it will certainly get your gear from point A to point B safely and with as low amount of stress as possible! Here is the best carry-on luggage for every type of travel in 2022.


About the Expert: I’ve spent most of my life hiking, kayaking, camping, and exploring the great outdoors. For more than a decade, I’ve traveled the world, including all seven continents, and covered outdoor and adventure travel, sharing my advice on Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. These days, I personally evaluate adventure travel gear (like carry-on luggage) and tech gadgets for Men’s Health from my home base south of Boston. So, you might say I’m a little gear-obsessed.

Best Carry-On Duffel Bag

Filson

Medium Rugged Twill Duffle Bag

Material Rugged twill and bridle leather
Dimensions 20″ x 12″ x 13″
Capacity 43 liters

Best Carry-On Travel Backpack

Nomatic

Travel Bag 40L Carry-On Backpack

Material Nylon
Dimensions 21″ W x 14″ D x 9″ H
Capacity 40 liters

Best Carry-On Suitcase Overall

Away

The Carry-On

Material Polycarbonate shell
Dimensions 21.7″ x 13.7″ x 9″
Capacity 39.8 liters

Best Luxe Carry-On

Rimowa

Hybrid Cabin Carry-On

Material Aluminium-magnesium alloy with polycarbonate
Dimensions 21.7″H x 15.8″W x 9.1″D
Capacity 37 liters

Best Adventure Travel Bag

Exped

Radical 45L Travel Pack

Material Recycled 210-denier Robic HD ripstop nylon carbonate
Dimensions 25.2″ x 13.4″ x 9.1″
Capacity 45 liters

Best Budget Carry-On Suitcase

Samsonite

Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage

Material Textured polycarbonate
Dimensions 22″ x 15″ x 9.5″
Capacity 41 liters

Best Carry-On Garment Bag

Modoker

Convertible Garment Bag

Materials Polyester fiber
Dimensions 22.8”L x 11”W x 11.8”H
Capacity 45 liters

Most Durable Carry-On Luggage

The North Face

Base Camp Voyager 42L Duffel Bag

Material 300D recycled polyester tarpaulin
Dimensions 23” x 14.67” x 10.2”
Capacity 42 liters

How to Find the Best Carry-On Luggage (for You)

Of course, there’s no one best carry-on bag. But, there is a best carry-on for you. Here’s what to look for when shopping for your perfect luggage.

Consider Your Travel Style

Above all else, your personal travel style is likely the most important consideration. Think about how you travel and what you like to do when you land. If you’re an adventurous traveler who values function over flash, a rugged backpack or duffel might be for you. If you’re a weekend warrior jetting off to cross-country business meetings every few weeks, a rolling garment bag would be ideal. For occasional vacationers who travel a few times a year, a traditional rollaboard with a telescoping handle, a durable outer shell, and decent interior organization should do. It’s all about what works for you.

Durability

For hard-sided carry-ons, you’ll likely want an aluminum (or aluminum alloy) or polycarbonate shell. These offer the best value in terms of durability and price. Either material is tough enough to endure modern travel, and will be fine in those rare instances where the airline forces you to—gasp—check your bag at the gate.

Soft-sided carry-on travel bags, like backpacks and duffels, are typically made from some sort of ripstop nylon. Ideally, you want one with a DWR (durable water-repellent) finish that fends off rain, splashes, and light snow. While this material is built to take a beating, it’s less than ideal if you’re forced to check your bag. So you’ll want to measure it when it’s fully packed before heading to the airport to be absolutely sure it fits in the overhead bin.

Budget

In our experience, it rarely makes sense to spend more than $300 on a well-made carry-on. That includes everything from backpacks and duffel bags to hard-sided luggage and rollaboards. Brands like Samsonite and Away make excellent, durable luggage designed to last a decade or more, and many of their best products are in the $150-$300 range. Spending any more than that is usually just a splurge, and you’re typically paying a premium only for the name.

Other Features

The best modern luggage offers a long list of features. TSA-approved combination locks are a great security feature, ensuring your belongings stay safe while in transit. Easy-rolling wheels are critical for rollaboard travelers—these allow your suitcase to glide through the airport with minimal effort. Some suitcases these days even feature a built-in USB battery bank for topping up small gadgets on the go without having to scramble to find a power outlet at your next layover.

For the past year, we consulted with Men’s Health‘s editors and travel-savvy writers on the best carry-on luggage. Our experts—including our Gear and Commerce Editor, John Thompson—put a number of carry-on luggage pieces to the test and evaluated their storage capacity, organization features, durability, weight, and price. We also considered well-reviewed carry-ons with high customer ratings on etailer websites we trust. The list above represents our honest picks of the best of the best carry-on luggage for every type of traveler in 2022.

Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008.

Gear and Commerce Editor
John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology.