Have travel on the brain? So do we. With vacations and weekend trips moving beyond the summer months and into fall, there are more and more reasons to find the perfect luggage to accompany you on your next trip. And with the holidays ahead, not only are you going to want to make travel as stress-free as possible with enough room for all your essentials, but you can also start shopping for giftable carry-ons (aka probably the most perfect gift for any kind of traveler).
Whether you're looking for a carry-on or check-in luggage, we tested seven luggage brands to help you find your next go-to travel accessory.
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Who: Laurie Gunning Grossman, editorial director
Specs: Here's what to know: the interior measurements are 21 inches by 14.5 inches, so that's really what you're working with when packing. For the exterior, this luggage is made of an aerospace-grade, water-resistant German polycarbonate hard shell. As you can imagine, it's very hard. (Your stuff will be protected.) It has a TSA-approved combination lock, an adjustable telescopic handle with four height settings, silent 360-degree wheels (a must-have when running through the airport!), and several interior pockets for storage and organizing.
One other thing to love: the leather details are vegan, and it also includes an anti-microbial laundry bag and two shoe bags.
Review: So pretty, so sleek, so user-friendly. While my business trips have decreased in the past years, my personal trips to Florida (hi, Mom) have increased. I fly to Florida several times a year, and since my trips are usually about four days, I can pack what I need in this carry-on. Keep in mind that you do need to pack everything with care and precision if you want to fit in several days' worth of clothing, shoes, and toiletries. This cute luggage is compact. On the site, Monos says that the Carry-On Pro Plus is good for a three to seven-day trip, but personally, I wouldn't be able to fit in a week's worth of all my items, unless I had access to a washing machine at my destination, and I only needed one extra pair of shoes. This really is for the minimal traveler or those going away for three to four days, and you won't need a lot of wardrobe changes.
One thing I appreciate is not having to worry about whether it'll fit in the overhead compartment — it fits on major U.S. airlines. And here's one of the coolest parts of this luggage: it has a built-in front compartment that opens to reveal zippered pouches for organizing items you'll want to keep close at hand, such as your computer (it fits a 15-inch laptop), chargers, pens, and more. So handy! If you're going on shorter trips and don't want to put your luggage through (who does these days?), and you like easy access to things like your computer, the Monos Carry-On Pro Plus is a perfect travel companion.
Overall Grade: A-
Who: Jackie Ku, influencer marketing manager
Specs: The Paravel Aviator Carry-On weighs 8.2 pounds, has a 43.7-liter capacity, and is 21.7 by 13.7 by 9 inches. According to the brand, it meets TSA carry-on size restrictions and can fit in the overhead compartment of most airlines.
Review: I've used a duffle bag for all my trips all my life. Now, I travel almost every other weekend for weddings and spontaneous weekend trips, so it was about time that I upgraded my carry-on. The Paravel Aviator Carry-On initially caught my eye due to its chic design. What grabbed my attention next was their promise to fight climate change. The Aviator is the first-ever carbon-neutral suitcase. It's made completely from recycled materials including 15 upcycled water bottles! Paravel has measured its carbon footprint and offsets all of the emissions that come from sourcing, assembly, shipping, and its final delivery to the buyer.
I had a difficult time choosing between the Aviator Carry-On and the Carry-On Plus but went with the standard option as it meets the guidelines for all carry-on requirements. The carry-on was pretty small, but it worked out perfectly since I was going to a lake house in the summertime. The website states that you can fit two to four days' worth of clothes and one to two pairs of shoes, but I was able to fit three pairs of shoes and about a week's worth of tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits. In hindsight, I wish I also opted for Paravel's packing organizer bags, as they seem like they would help you get the most out of the luggage space.
I was hesitant to choose white luggage as everyone warned me that it will scuff, but I had a friend tell me "I have black luggage that scratches anyways, so just get the one you want." Luckily for me, Paravel's Aviator luggage line is made with a scuff-hiding textured finish, meaning I got on and off my flights scratch-free and the bag could be effortlessly wiped clean.
I also love the 360-degree wheels. It made it so easy to get across the airport with my little luggage gliding next to me. Overall, this is a great piece of luggage for short trips. It's durable and easy to carry around with you. While Paravel is slightly pricier than other luggage brands, they make up for it with their commitment to sustainability and lowering carbon emissions.
Overall grade: A-
Who: Tiffani Villafranca, visual designer
Specs: The Calpak Hue Carry-On weighs 8.4 pounds, has a 38-liter packing capacity, and is 21.5 by 13.75 by 9.25 inches.
Review: This is the best carry-on luggage I've ever used! It's modern, lightweight, and I can see myself using it for a long time. My favorite feature was the hardshell pocket that fits my 16-inch laptop. When you open the luggage, it has plenty of room. I was able to fit a week's worth of clothes on one side, and on the other, I was able to fit my toiletry kit and a pair of running shoes, and there was still extra room for souvenirs. The inside also has a few zip-up compartments to put smaller items in and it really helped me keep organized while traveling.
Overall grade: A
Who: Pauline Lacsamana, associate commerce editor
Specs: Roam's The Carry-On weighs only 7.3 pounds, meets the carry-on requirements for all U.S. airlines at 22 by 14.25 by 9 inches, and has a 37.5-liter capacity.
Review: If there's one thing that can make traveling easier, it's an extra smooth rolling (and super stylish) carry-on and The Carry-On from Roam is just that. It's customizable, so you can pick out colors for the exterior shells, wheels, handles, and more. With ball-bearing wheels, it glides seamlessly, even on some not-so-smooth city streets. On top of the design, it has compression pads on each side so you can pack in all your clothes and travel essentials. At the most, I've been able to pack up to four days' worth of outfits in there with an extra pair of shoes, so it's ideal for shorter trips. However, if you think you'll need the extra space, you can always upgrade to the expandable version which has a 51-liter capacity.
After over a year of having the carry-on, it's in great shape, aside from some minor scuffs from checking it in (but that's bound to happen with a well-loved carry-on). It's the perfect design-forward option for someone who wants high-quality, customizable luggage that they can easily spot at baggage claim. Want to learn more? Check out my full Roam The Carry-On review.
Overall grade: A-
Who: Erin Lassner, associate commerce editor
Specs: This Away classic features 360-degree spinner wheels, an interior compression system, a water-resistant laundry bag, and an ultra-durable polycarbonate hard shell. It comes in eight colors plus limited edition seasonal colorways and has luxe leather details, including a black leather luggage tag. It measures 21.7 by 13.7 by 9 inches and meets the airline requirements for most major airlines as carry-on luggage.
Review: This suitcase is the perfect blend of fashion and function. It's also incredibly compact but still manages to carry a good amount of items. I do wish I got The Bigger Carry-On since that size also fits in the overhead bin of major U.S. airlines but has a 20% larger capacity. The original carry-on is ideal for a long weekend and I just love how effortlessly I can navigate it through an airport, thanks to its size and insanely smooth wheels. My model came with a charger but I actually removed it when I checked the bag and never put it back on. People do rave about it, though! The hard shell gets scuffed pretty easily (especially noticeable with lighter colors), but it looks good as new after wiping it with a wet towel. I would recommend this bag to anyone, especially those who pack light. I can't say enough good things.
Overall grade: A
Who: Katie Maguire, director of commerce content
Specs: The July checked bag is well-made, but I would say errs on the side of no-frills. It's made of a very lightweight German polycarbonate shell that weighs 8.3 pounds and the exterior measures out to 26 by 18.75 by 11 inches. It includes proprietary SilentMove wheels that glide very easily and are silent, a hidden laundry bag to use while traveling, and an interior Y-Strap compression system to help fit more.
Review: This bag was, in all transparency, gifted to me at a time when I was in a bind after my luggage was damaged by an airline, but I've truly come to love it. My favorite part is how truly lightweight this bag is compared to others that I've used in the past. Previous luggage I've tried has come in anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds when empty, compared to this case's 8.3 pounds, which may not seem that glaring, but makes a huge difference when trying to pack for a long trip. It's super sleek and easy to lug around while traveling and also fits a lot of stuff without losing its shape. One of the zippers did fall off after about a half-dozen trips, which isn't the end of the world but should be noted since I've only had it for about a year. It also feels a little flimsy, but I think that is a part of what makes it so lightweight and no-frills, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since it is made of sturdy material. Overall, I think this is a great bag and a cool brand, making it a comparable but unique pick if you're looking for a bit more of a unique suitcase than other travelers.
Overall grade: B+
Who: Katie Maguire, director of commerce content
Specs: This bag includes a split case zip entry to the main compartment, a large front U-zip pocket with security zipper, compression straps, four dual spin wheels, and three interior pockets for storage. It weighs 15.4 pounds, measures 26 by 19 by 13 inches, and is made of thick ballistic nylon. Although it's called a short trip case, it's a checked bag and wouldn't be accepted as a carry-on.
Review: This may not come as a surprise to anyone, but this bag is worth every penny. It's sleek, has a ton of compartments to keep everything organized, and doesn't show damage after many, many uses. I think if you travel a lot, it's worth investing in a bag that will last for years and years (maybe even decades), as well as investing in a brand like Tumi that offers great customer service and loyalty programs. It is on the higher end of the budget spectrum, but the brand really values its customers and is helpful with issues. An airline destroyed my original suitcase from Tumi (a story for another day) and the brand helped me replace it and was very responsive in getting me set up with a new one, which a smaller brand may not have cared to do. The one downside to this case is that it weighs 15.4 pounds while empty, which is significantly heavier than my July suitcase, but not a total dealbreaker for me.
Overall grade: A+
Who: Anna Gragert, senior lifestyle editor
Specs: Calpak's Hue Carry-On is 21.5 inches by 13.75 inches by 9 inches, which fits most overhead bins. The hard shell exterior is complemented with spinner wheels, an adjustable pull handle, cushioned top and side handles, a TSA-approved lock, and an expandable case up to 2 inches. The interior features a buckled elastic strap, a divider, and several zippered pockets. It also comes with a free luggage cover to further protect from scratches, dirt, and rain.
Review: The first reason to love this carry-on is the look – mine came in an elegantly textured, semi-gloss, all-black finish that accentuates its simple, modern form. Today's luggage comes in infinite shapes, ridges, and lines, so the minimal exterior detail and branding feels refreshing.
Its exterior features are just as impressive as the aesthetic. The pull handle is easily adjustable and feels sturdier compared to other hard shell luggage in its price range. Top- and side-mounted stationary handles feel effortless to lift. The spinner wheels are smooth and maneuver well on multiple surfaces, and there are even feet on the side to help with transporting and stowing. There is some flexibility to the plastic shell as expected, but certainly enough firmness to secure luggage along with the TSA-approved lock. The bonus luggage cover and two-year warranty are welcome additions to an already full-featured and ready-to-travel carry-on.
Overall grade: A