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The Best Travel Bags for Wherever You’re Headed

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Maxlite luggage on white backdrop

Best Carry-On for Most People Travelpro Maxlite 5 Read more

Image may contain Luggage and Suitcase

Best Hard-Shell Carry-On Away Carry-On Read more

YETI Crossroads Luggage

Best Soft-Shell Carry-On Yeti Crossroads 35L Read more

Briggs Riley Baseline luggage

Best Bag for a Lifetime Briggs & Riley Baseline CX Read more

Whew! You've made it all the way across the globe. But have your toothbrush, pajamas, and running shoes made it, too? If you're a frequent traveler, it's easy to obsess over the logistics of getting your stuff clean, organized, and in good working condition upon arrival. Paying for a decent travel bag and a few useful accessories means buying a little peace of mind, especially when a few yards of zippers and some nylon are the only barriers between your precious belongings and the belly of an airliner.

Whether you're slinging a duffel into a car trunk for a weekend trip or packing for a whirlwind jaunt across Asia, we've got you covered. Need a bag for your passport or groceries? Don't forget to check out our other guides, like the Best Laptop Backpacks and the Best Recycled Bags , for more picks.

Updated April 2024: We reorganized this guide and added new picks, such as the Yeti Crossroads, Tom Bihn Aeronaut and Trinity, the Frame Carry-On Max, the Lo & Sons O.G. 2, the Camelbak A.T.P. 20, the Calpak Luka Duffel, and the Rux 70. We also updated the information on sizing and checked links and prices.

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Best Carry-On for Most People

Look around any airport—if you see flight attendants or pilots, they will probably be rolling around a Travelpro suitcase. We like Travelpros because you get a lot of bang for your buck. They're durable, light, and not too expensive.

For only a little over $100, the Maxlite 5 is one of the more affordable Travelpro suitcases, and at 5.4 pounds, it's very light! The exterior toiletry pocket is a nice touch for when you go through security and need to take out your liquids, and the zippers are also quite strong and don't tend to get stuck. The wheels also rolled nicely on both the spinner and roll-aboard versions. Reviewer Matt Jancer did note that the aluminum handle extensions did sometimes stick and the main grab handle on the bag is only single-stitched, which may cause durability issues farther down the line. However, he has seen no issues yet. This probably the best bag you can get in the $100 to $150 price range.

Best Hard-Shell Carry-On

Away's business practices may have raised some eyebrows , but there's no denying that this company changed the travel market entirely. It has increased in price since we first tested it, but multiple WIRED staffers still use the classic Away hard-shell carry-on ( 9/10, WIRED Recommends ) as their travel suitcase.

Hard-shell suitcases tend to be heavier. There's also not as much give in the case, so you may find it hard to squeeze in more items than in a soft-shell bag, bu they look a lot sleeker than their soft-shell counterparts and protect fragile items better. The Away weighs 7.5 pounds, which is pretty standard for a hard-shell carry-on. When I tested it, I liked that it had multiple height settings and that the polycarbonate shell wiped clean and stayed mostly scuff-free (it helped that my tester was in the darker navy color). Away's suitcases also come with a built-in TSA-approved combination lock, four spinner wheels capable of rotating 360 degrees, and an included laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate from the rest of your stuff. The handle did feel a bit wobbly, though.

★ Alternatives: So many companies now offer a direct-to-consumer, stylish, hard-shell carry-on similar to the Away's. We've tried ones by Monos ($255) and July ($295) . Besides price, the differences are mostly negligible. I like July's aluminum bumpers, but they do add weight. The Monos's handle rolls out more smoothly, but the July's pebbled surface doesn't show scuffs as badly. Both have survived multiple cross-country trips, being checked as baggage, and being ridden on by two small children with no damage.

Paravel also offers an Aviator carry-on ($395) that touts itself as the world's first carbon-neutral carry-on; it has an interior lining made of recycled plastic bottles, a telescoping handle made of recycled aluminum, and vegan leather trim to help it stand out from all the plain black bags at the airport. Product reviewer Jaina Grey fell in love with its roomy interior and durable, anti-scuff hard-shell exterior.

Best Soft-Shell Carry-On

Yeti's coolers and cups are famous for being bomb-proof. The company recently launched a luggage line that's similarly overbuilt. The Yeti Crossroads 35L is a 22-inch roller bag that's carry-on size for most major airlines. It weighs 7.7 pounds, on par with soft-sided competitors of the same size.

I recently spent a week dragging the Crossroads up and down grimy subway station escalators, thumping it across cobblestones, and scrunching it into overfull overhead bins during a trip to London, Paris, and Brussels. The blue 700D nylon on the front and sides looks just as fresh as it did out of the box while the molded polycarbonate shell on the back has a few well-earned battle scratches. The two extra-large fixed wheels are rolling as smoothly as ever and hopped up curbs so well that I grew to favor them over smaller spinner wheels. The Crossroads has a half-dozen well-placed pockets and sturdy zippers that didn't give me any anxiety even as I tugged them hard while smooshing down to fit souvenirs into a carry-on with 8 days of clothing. —Martin Cizmar

Best Bag for a Lifetime

Do you only want to buy one suitcase and never think about it, ever again? Briggs & Riley is one of the few companies with a lifetime unlimited warranty. I bought a Briggs & Riley carry-on as my first and only post-college purchase. Right now, it has lasted over 20 years. Periodically, I bring it into the one Briggs & Riley-approved dealership in my town to get a zipper pull put back on, and it's fixed for free in a few days. Its components are top-of-the-line. The face fabric is a heavy-duty ballistic nylon that’s water-repellent and abrasion-resistant. After having been dragged all over the globe, from the Philippines to Turkey to Iceland, the gleaming red is just as bright.

The low-profile wheels nor handles have never broken. The grab handles are also luxuriously smooth and padded, and there's an interior folding garment bag for my husband's suits. The only downside is that at 9.3 pounds, it’s pretty heavy.

★ Alternatives: If you need an absolutely bomber-tough rolling suitcase and don't mind its 9.6-pound weight, the Pro Front-Access Carry ($799) will stand up to more abuse than most rolling bags, with its aluminum frame and 70-percent-recycled polycarbonate body. WIRED reviewer Chris Haslam says it's his favorite rolling bag in years. Jancer also likes Travelpro's Platinum Elite carry-on ($315) , which he calls one of the most high-end polycarbonate bags on the market.

travel bag to

Best Backpack

When I reviewed the Cotopaxi Allpa in 2018 ( 9/10, WIRED Recommends ), it had only recently launched. Now, a half-dozen years later, it is one of the most popular travel backpacks that I see online and in airports all over the world. It's a combination of a camping backpack, a suitcase, and a soft, frameless duffel. You can splay it open like a sandwich to pack it easily; access items through a side zip; put it on your backpack and secure its weight with a sternum strap; or squash or stomp it into any overhead compartment or corner of your car trunk. The use case for this bag is extremely specific—the same people who are bopping around Thailand for several weeks in one backpack are not the same people trying to look professional at a work conference. But it is sturdy and comfortable.

★ Alternative: I took the Ekster Packable Duffel ($250) on several weekend trips this spring, and found that it more than upheld its claims of being built for “smoother journeys, on and off the grid.” This travel bag converts from a backpack to a duffel, with two separate compartments that also splay open for easier packing. The 600-denier exterior and water-resistant zippers are so sturdy that when we ran out of space in the car, we lashed it to the roof rack with surf straps and drove for hours in the rain. It, and its contents, remained pristine.

Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 bag

Best Convertible Bag

Every serious traveler knows the name of Seattle-based Tom Bihn, manufacturer of bomber bags that will last you a lifetime. The Aeronaut 45 is the classic Tom Bihn convertible carry-on, which the size of the maximum allowable carryon bag on a plane.

You get everything from a Tom Bihn bag that you pay for. It’s made of incredibly sturdy 1050 denier ballistic nylon, with bombproof YKK zippers. It has both hidden backpack straps and an extremely comfortable cross-body strap. This is commerce director Martin Cizmar's bag, and he's tossed it around and lugged it down rough streets and through crowds where roller bags are a liability. He owns two and the first lasted for more than a decade. This is the bag that both he and I would use, if we didn't have to constantly test other bags.

Small bag with several zippers 2 handles and 1 strap

Best Personal Item

Some airlines are not content with charging you extra for checking a bag and now charge you for overhead bin space . The Tom Bihn Trinity ( 7/10, WIRED Recommends ) addresses that problem by providing a space for you to pack everything you need while still fitting underneath the seat in front of you. As the name suggests, it has three main compartments and three ways to carry—either as a briefcase with padded grab handles, a backpack, or as a shoulder bag with two attachment points.

It has three main compartments which can be arranged to your liking; for example, on one of the side compartments, you can zip a water bottle holder into place or unzip it for more room. It wasn't quite as versatile as I expected; I found that I prefer a small duffel with one main compartment that I can organize as I like. However, it does fit under the seat in front of me, even with clothes, laptop, and four (four!) hardcover books that I somehow stuffed inside it.

Lo  Sons OG bag

Best Work Bag

I've been traveling a lot for work and for family reasons in the past few months, and the bag I prefer for my personal item is the Lo & Sons O.G. 2, which is the larger version of the brand's Nouvelle purse ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ). It comes in a medium and a large version; the medium is adequate as an everyday bag, but the large turns it into a versatile work/travel bag. It’s low-profile and has both smooth leather grab handles as well as a shoulder strap. I have kicked it under plane seats and around airports, and the nylon doesn't show any damage. There's a hidden separate compartment if you spill water on yourself, and it has sturdy feet so you can put it on an airplane bathroom counter and dig for your makeup without it falling over or getting the bottom of the bag too disgusting. The toothed zippers do tend to crinkle and snatch at your knuckles when the bag gets overstuffed, but I suppose you could always, uh, avoid overstuffing your bag.

★ Alternatives: We have plenty of recommendations in our guide to the Best Laptop Totes , but we love Lo & Sons. The Catalina Supreme Tote ($338) is also great for weekend trips. Again, there's also a bottom compartment for a pair of shoes, or anything else you need to keep separate.

Camelbak A.T.P. 2.0 Backpack

The Best Hiking Daypack

The Camelbak A.T.P. is so useful that I’m always startled to realize it only has a 20-liter capacity. I have it in the 100 percent recycled white color, which saves water and only emits half the greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the dying process. It’s a panel loader, which means you can unzip the top and see exactly where everything goes, like a duffel. This is convenient when packing for trips—I was able to fit clothes, a Dopp kit, and electronics for an overnight trip. (I know these types of zippers fail more often than top loaders, but it does make it easier to arrange and sort items near the bottom of the pack.)

I particularly like how narrow it is. It fits my back and goes under airplane seats that even my children’s backpacks can’t. The bottle pocket has a zipper that makes it expandable so it can fit a little coffee thermos or my giant Yeti water bottle . Exterior compression straps also help squeeze my clothes even smaller. This is a great backpack if you want something that looks sleek enough for a work bag but is durable enough to take on a weekend trip to Yosemite.

★ Alternative: I also love the Patagonia Black Hole Backpack ($149) . This 25-liter bag is the perfect combination work/adventure bag. The suspended 15-inch laptop pocket clips shut, and the rest of the pockets are thoughtfully placed. It’s extremely light (a little over a pound) and is made from 100 percent recycled ripstop fabric.

REI CoOp Big Haul 40L duffel bag

Best Duffel Bag

The Big Haul ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) is our favorite duffel because it hits the right balance of robust build materials and pockets without being too heavy to lug around all day. The standout feature of the Big Haul series, which comes in 28-liter to 120-liter options, is the ability to easily reposition the carrying straps, which feature plastic fishhook-style ends that slip into fabric loops. You can connect one strap end-to-end or double up on two straps in an H pattern for more stability with heavy loads. Adding and removing the straps isn't super fast, but it's not difficult, either, and six low-profile loops seems less intrusive than six rattling plastic buckles.

Two small interior pockets and an exterior pocket keep small things organized, and its water-resistant fabric is thick and tough without being stiff. All the sewing around the grab handles feels very robust too. Padded backpack straps hide away under a padded pocket on the top of the bag. This means that when you sling the Big Haul over your shoulders to give your arms a rest, your back is against the relatively clean top of the duffel, rather than a wet, dirty bottom side that's been set down on the ground. The current iteration of the Big Haul is also made with recycled nylon. What's not to love? —Matt Jancer

★ Alternative: For slightly more money, the classic duffel in this category is the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel ($159) , which also comes in a variety of colorways and sizes. You can either carry it by the grab handles or with the shoulder straps, and it's made from 100 percent recycled polyester with a TPU-film laminate. I (Adrienne) have had the 40-liter version for almost 15 years now and the laminate has yet to peel. It also fits as a carry-on on flights.

Red Oxx travel bag

The Best Expedition Bag

If you like outdoor sports, you probably need a good expedition bag—that is, a huge, burly duffel that you can just throw all your pointy ice axes, trekking poles, or camp chairs into that you can take anywhere and everywhere. Reviewer Matt Jancer's expedition bag of choice is the Red Oxx PR5. He's used it for whitewater paddling trips and to lug mountain climbing equipment from coast to coast without a single frayed thread. Everything about Red Oxx is overbuilt. The zippers are huge, its thick pieces of nylon webbing are robustly sewn, and chunky metal rings hang the detachable carrying strap. All that said, it's not abominably heavy. At 3.4 pounds it's still lighter than many wheeled bags.

★ Alternative: If you've ever gone to a popular outdoor destination, like Yosemite or Everest, you've probably seen stacks of North Face Base Camp duffels . This is the quintessential expedition bag. My own personal bag is the OnSight Tarmac EPO , but the company no longer exists; I also have a Mountain Hardware duffel ($180) and after 20 years, the coating has finally started to peel.

Rux 70L storage box

Best for Camping

We love everything from Rux; I'm currently testing the waterproof adventure tote ($150) and I use it for everything from my climbing gear, to picnic gear, to bringing my kids' roller skates and soccer balls to the park. I have also leaked an entire water bottle in it and it stayed contained and out of the bottom of my car.

But for camping (or any outdoor pursuit, really), what you need is a Rux storage system , which, as the artist and filmmaker Van Neistat puts it, will help you kit your shit . It holds its frame shape, which means you can stack and organize inside of it just like a box, but it folds down like a bag for easy storage once you're at your destination. It's also light and waterproof and comes with a wide array of accessories . This is an upgrade for everyone who currently sorts their camping, climbing, or snowboarding gear in a series of $5 plastic totes and stacks them in their trunk.

The Frame CarryOn Max Aluminum Edition

The Best Aluminum Suitcase

Perhaps you've seen those Instagram-friendly, shiny aluminum suitcases and wonder whether it's worth the investment. Aluminum is extremely durable and can be machined with precision. That means it will protect your belongings better, and you can close them with latches instead of zippers. Your suitcase will last longer and be more secure— zippers are pretty easy to break into —and generally have fewer points of failure.

In my opinion, the cost-benefit analysis generally weighs against them. Aluminum suitcases are usually heavier and won't flex as much if you have overpacking tendencies, and I find them painfully conspicuous. Any suitcase with a decent warranty policy will painlessly cover any repairs. If you must have one, we like Arlo Skye's the Frame. Arlo Skye was founded by alumni from Louis Vuitton and Tumi, and reviewer Matt Jancer says that everything about the Frame screams robust quality, from the leather grab handles to the combination-lock latches. It also comes with a removable battery bank and has a few more liters of carrying capacity than the similarly-sized Away. The main disadvantage is that the interior organization is a bit lacking.

★ Alternative: Do you want the benefits of an aluminum suitcase without the drawbacks? You might want to consider Monos's Hybrid Carry-On ($325) . You won't fool anyone into thinking you've shelled out for a 100 percent aluminum suitcase, but Jancer notes that it's only a pound or so heavier than the competition and the aluminum frame offered better protection than any 100 percent polycarbonate suitcase that he tried.

Luka Duffel Bag

A Good Emergency Go Bag

To be clear, any bag here could be considered a go-bag—even a grocery bag works when you have to leave the house imminently. But reviewer Nena Farrell used Calpak's duffel for an emergency surgery, and she is kicking herself for not getting it sooner. It was big enough for everything from makeup bags and extra outfits to a massive book and Nintendo Switch, and was comfortable to carry thanks to the large straps.

The shoe compartment was big enough for sandals and slides, but not big enough for shoes with an ankle. It was also a great place to stash haphazard Ziplocs of emergency toiletries and medications. There are some side pockets inside too, plus an exterior side pocket and a pass-through panel to place it on top of your luggage. It was a great hospital companion, but Farrell can't wait to take the Luka somewhere a little more fun.

Solgaard CarryOn Closet Plus luggage

Other Bags We Like

Not every good product can snag a best-in-category title, but there are several more bags we've tested that get our thumbs-up.

Osprey Ozone 40L for $280 : At 4.47 pounds, Osprey claims this bag is the lightest carry-on suitcase. It's also made from 400D recycled bluesign-approved nylon and is treated with DWR. This bag is light enough to easily hoist above my head and has also been checked multiple times.

Gregory Alpaca 40 Duffel for $140 : This duffel weighs a scant 2.7 pounds, but the water-resistant fabric and extraordinarily beefy (though plastic) buckles make it a solid bag for adventuring. There's an exterior pocket for storing shoes or dirty clothes. The backpack straps don't tuck away for storage—you have to unclip them—but might be the most well-padded, comfortable straps I've encountered on a duffel. Exterior daisy chains and an interior zippered pocket round out the impressive features list.

Land's End Waxed Canvas Duffel for $180 : Most duffel bags these days are made of nylon, and while it's tough to call a material that's been popular since the 1940s “modern,” nylon bags don't have the old-school charm that this waxed canvas bag does.

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 40L for $149 : This bag weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces, which is only slightly heavier than air. It also has backpack straps that stow away in a front pocket.

Skyway Epic Carry-On for $160 : At 7.1 pounds, the Epic is an average weight. The handle is a wee bit more finicky than our top pick, and the Travelpro's wheels glide a little more nicely. Still, the Epic is a solid choice.

Target Signature Weekender Bag for $81 : Looking like a cross between a duffel and a handbag, the Weekender has a structure that product reviewer Louryn Strampe says can become overfilled, so keep that in mind if you plan to bring it onto a plane as a carry-on. She appreciates its durability and the many internal pockets for organization, though, and its rather long five-year warranty.

Solgaard Carry-On Closet Plus for $345 : It's a tiny bit over what most airlines list as the maximum dimensions, but the difference is so small that it's accepted 95 percent of the time. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe praises its optional clip-in closet clothing organizer, which makes for efficient packing. The built-in TSA lock is easy to use, and there's an internal power-bank pocket. This suitcase is included in our Favorite Recycled Products guide.

Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On for $200 : This is a hard-side, four-wheeled spinner carry-on made from an outer shell of durable polypropylene. Standout features include an interior fabric made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and a “WetPak” storage pocket for keeping damp items separated from the rest of your luggage.

Adidas Defender Duffel for $40 : If you're looking for an inexpensive duffel that'll handle some light-duty traveling, this is a good way to save $100. The fabric is significantly thinner and less sturdy than that of other duffels in this guide, and it lacks backpack straps. But for taking on the train or tossing into a car trunk, it'll do the trick.

Eagle Creek Caldera Convertible Backpack

Bags We Don’t Like

Some bags just aren't worth the asking price, especially with so many good alternatives at all price points.

Peugeot Voyages Carry-On Spinner for $595 : What a price tag for a plastic-case suitcase. You can see where Peugeot tried to imbue the Voyages with some luxury, such as the metal riveting and built-in travel locks, but the case felt no more solid than a budget hard-sided bag, and the USB charging port felt cheap, like an outlet you'd find built into a seat in an airport terminal.

Eagle Creek Caldera Convertible International Carry-On for $469 : At 6 pounds, 2 ounces, this bag is a bit heavy. There's a zip-off 19-liter backpack that you can separate from the rest of the 37-liter bag, but when they're zipped together, the combined size doesn't meet carry-on restrictions.

Ebags CTS Carry-On Spinner for $200 : This one wasn't awful, but there are much better options for the money. Its hard plastic sides felt more brittle than the hard-sided plastic Away suitcases. The handle rattles a lot and it didn't roll quite as smoothly as other bags.

portable UrPower Clothes Steamer

A Few Travel Accessories

Once you've got your bag, you'll want to pack it with a few more useful items:

Apple AirTag for $24 : If you have an iPhone, it's one of the best ways to keep a digital eye on your bags. Drop an AirTag into an interior pocket to make sure you and your luggage are reunited at your destination. Don't have an iPhone? We suggest the Chipolo in our guide to the Best Bluetooth Trackers .

Eagle Creek Specter Pack-It Cubes Three-Pack for $35 keep everything inside your bags organized by allowing you to separate it into different cubes, so you won't ever have to hunt through seven pairs of socks to find your bathing suit again.

Calpak Clear Cosmetics Case for $75 : Calpak’s viral clear cases come in three sizes and a ton of colors for the edge trims. Reviewer Nena Farrell loved the small size for my gym bag and traveling with a smaller carry-on bag, while the medium was a great size for my daily makeup or larger suitcases.

Troubadour Buddy 2.0 Tech Case for $75 : You probably need a case to organize your spare charging cables and power banks. I've been testing this compact, waterproof, and recycled bag that fits neatly into my personal item.

UrPower Portable Steamer for $24 beats a travel iron because it's far lighter and you don't need to hunt down an ironing board at your hotel. WIRED reviewer Medea Giordano and I both have been using UrPowers for years. For a tiny thing, it's powerful and effective at steaming practically anything. You just need to refill it often.

Samsonite Manual Luggage Scale for $15 is handy when you're packing a heavy bag for an upcoming trip. Use it to weigh your luggage and make sure it's within the weight limits. International airlines are sticklers for carry-on weight, and even American airlines will be unforgiving about weight for checked bags.

InCase MacBook Sleeves for $50 will keep your laptop from bearing the damage caused by airport security lines. Travel through an airport without a case and it's only a matter of time before a bare laptop or tablet picks up nasty scratches and dents. Check our guide to the Best MacBook Accessories for more.

Carryon luggage in stowaway overhead container on airplane

How to Pick the Right Size Bag

Every airline sets its own dimensional requirements for carry-on baggage, so if you want to be safe, you should check your airline's requirements before packing. But broadly, they're split into two categories: domestic and international.

Domestic flights by US airlines (and a few others) have standardized on 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

International carry-on bag sizes tend to be about 21 inches tall and a bit narrower, but they're all over the place. It's tough, because many international airlines will measure your bags at the airport and reject anything even slightly bigger than the allowed size. If you fly outside the US a lot, you may as well buy a bag sized for international flights.

You'll also want to check each airline's weight limits. They vary wildly, but some international airlines restrict you to 15 or 20 pounds, including the weight of the bag itself. For example, there are some East Asian airlines that limit carry-on bags to 11 pounds. Once you subtract 6 or more pounds for the bag, you're not left with much wiggle room to put stuff inside.

USB cable plugged into removable battery bank on luggage

When to Remove Battery Banks

Battery banks, also known as power banks, are a travel must-have. Whether you're using a tablet to watch movies on your flight or relying on your phone to coordinate rideshares, hotel check-in, and handle your boarding passes, you've got to keep those devices charged and topped up. Many bags offer a removable battery bank that slides into a special pocket or notch of the suitcase.

For carry-on luggage on a flight in the US, you're allowed to bring a lithium-ion battery of 100 watt-hours or less. You don't need to remove it from the suitcase's pocket if you're storing your bag in the overhead bin.

Lithium-ion battery banks are not allowed in checked luggage. If you check your bag or have to gate-check it, make sure to remove the battery bank before you give your suitcase to the gate agent. Slip the battery bank into your purse, backpack, or pocket for the duration of the flight.

travel bag to

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Home » Gear » best travel bags

31 Best Travel Bags: Duffels, Backpacks and Suitcases (2024)

We’ve reviewed hundreds of the best travel bags throughout the years – from the best hiking backpacks to the best laptop bags, we know bags. 

This article is for you if you don’t know where to start when it comes to travel bags. Are you a dedicated backpacker, a fan of the duffel bag, or maybe a devotee of the wheelie suitcase? Perhaps you’re not sure which type of travel bag you should buy or if you should make a switch.

Whether you’re a newbie or looking to upgrade and replace your existing travel bag, choosing from the best travel bags can be something of a minefield.

How on earth do you choose? The best way is to simply read on!

Keep scrolling and you’ll discover a wealth of detailed information on all the latest travel bags – backpacks, duffel bags, carry-ons, backpacks with wheels, and anti-theft bags; the list goes on! By the end of the article you’re sure to have found the best travel bag ever… for your needs!

Quick Answer: The Best Travel Bags of 2024

How to choose the best travel bag, best travel backpacks, best travel duffel bag, best travel daypacks, best travel luggage with wheels, best carry on travel bags, best anti-theft travel backpacks, best foldable travel bags, best travel duffel bags, best laptop travel bags, how and where we tested to find the best travel backpacks, faq about the best travel bags.

  • Best Travel Backpack – Nomatic 40L Travel Bag
  • Best Travel Daypack – Tortuga Laptop Backpack
  • Best Travel Backpack Runner-Up – Aer Travel Pack 3
  • Best Leather Travel Pack – MAHI Leather Overnight Bag
  • Best Eco Luggage – Monarc Brand Settra
  • Best Travel Luggage with Wheels – Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 45
  • Best Carry on Travel Bag – Stubble & Co Adventure Pack
  • Best Anti-Theft Travel Backpack – Pacsafe Metrosafe X
  • Best Foldable Travel Bag – Wandrd Veer 18L
  • Best Travel Duffel Bag – Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag
  • Best Laptop Travel Bag – Aer Commuter Brief 2

nomatic 40l travel pack

NOMATIC 40L TRAVEL BAG

  • Price > $289.99
  • > Lifetime Warranty
  • > Full of unique storage features

travel bag to

Tortuga Travel Backpack

  • Price: > $350
  • > Laptop and tablet sleeves
  • > Made with water proof sailcloth

aer travel pack 2 backpack

Aer Travel Pack 3

  • Price: > $249
  • > Carry on friendly
  • > Sleek, minimalist design

travel bag to

Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 45

  • > Carry on size
  • > Detachable day pack

travel bag to

Tortuga Laptop Backpack

  • Price: > $250
  • > Book-style opening
  • > Dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves

travel bag to

Pacsafe Metrosafe X

  • Price: > $169.95
  • > RFID-blocking pouch
  • > Interlocking zips

travel bag to

WANRD Veer 18L

  • Price: > $148
  • > Lightweight
  • > Multiple pockets

Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag

Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag

  • Price: > $160
  • > Excellent all-round duffel bag
  • > Protected pocket for tech

AER Commuter Brief 2

Aer Commuter Brief 2

  • Price: > $145

When deciding between all of these great travel bags, how do you choose the best bag for travel? Here are some pointers…

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One of the easiest ways to narrow down the choices is to consider the size of bag you require. If you’re searching for a bag that will see you through the daily commute you’re almost certainly going to need a smaller travel bag than if you’re heading off vacation away from home.

Generally, good travel bags of somewhere between 30 and 45-liters, unless you plan to use air travel check-in. If you have a lot of electronics, camera gear, camping equipment, or clothes (we’ve all been there!), then a larger bag makes much more sense.

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If you have a travel bag you’re looking to replace or upgrade, ask yourself what sort of style it is – and whether of course, you like that style!

If you’re comfortable with a backpack-style travel bag, then focus your search on the same; whereas, if you prefer the ease of a duffel bag or wheelie suitcase, that’s the way you should be leaning. Want something in between, have a look at a duffel-backpack hybrid bag instead.

best travel duffel bags

Will you be carrying your travel bag for long distances? Because if so, every gram (or ounce) of excess weight matters. While wheelie suitcases are a great idea for city movement, wheels always add weight to a bag and are a pain if you are heading off-road (or even onto the cobbles of a city like Paris).

Also, remember that weight is often a trade-off for durability, especially when it comes to travel and hiking backpacks. The more durable a bag, the more it tends to weigh. Understand how you plan to use your bag before buying the lightest or most heavy-duty pack! Overall, the higher-quality luggage brands tend to be able to keep things lighter whilst still being durable.

nomatic laptop compartment

Are you traveling with Tech?

Are you traveling with tech? These days you probably are, whether you’re traveling for pleasure or for work.

In which case, do you want a rigid travel bag that provides protection, or perhaps a padded laptop sleeve or compartment? We have an entire section dedicated to good travel bags for laptops.

If this is the case, make sure the sleeve is large enough for your particular laptop or tablet too!

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Are you Hiking?

While some of the best travel bags are geared for travel, they’re often not designed for hiking. Some backpacks are designed for both travel AND hiking, but that usually means it’s not the best at either, just manageable.

If you want a backpack that you can take on the trails, then pay attention to how the backpack holds its weight, the suspension system (if it even has one), the shoulder straps, and waist strap comfort. Remember, some of the really nice traveling bags that look great for city hopping aren’t going to cut it on the trails!

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tortuga travel backpack

For those who need a larger, more conventional backpack that can handle all sorts of trips. These come in all shapes and sizes though our top choices are around 40 liters.

For more information on these sorts of bags, visit our IN-DEPTH guide on how to choose a travel backpack . There are some really great travel bags to choose from.

Looking to Find Your Tribe?

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Introducing Tribal , Bali’s first purpose designed co-working hostel!

A unique coworking and co-living hostel for those that want to travel the world while working from their laptops. Make use of the massive open-air coworking spaces and sip on delicious coffee.

Network with other like-minded travellers all day and if you need a quick screen break, just take a refreshing dip in the infinity pool or go grab a drink at the bar.

#1 Nomatic 40-Liter Travel Bag

Nomatic Travel Bag 40 L

Nomatic bags have 20 innovative features to make your travels all the easier, such as a dedicated shoe pocket that keeps dirty soles away from the rest of your luggage, and a fleece-lined RFID-blocking pocket that will keep your electronic data and passports safe from illegitimate scanning by scammers. Pretty much it is the only travel bag under 40 liters you will ever need; which is why we chose it as your top pick.

This bag also incorporates a dedicated laptop sleeve, and is carry on approved for a plethora of international airlines!

Our testers thought this was, well, to put it bluntly, the best travel bag out there! There are so many features they could point to in terms of what they loved the most but because I’m limited on the wordcount I’ll focus on one. Organisation! They loved the different pockets, zippered sections and show well the shape of the bag fits packing cubes inside.

We have so much to say about this bag that we wrote an entire Nomatic Travel Bag review.

  • Perfect carry-on size
  • Tons of features for the modern traveler
  • RFID-blocking pockets
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Weight is a tad heavy for some (1.8 kg)
  • Hip belt must be bought separately

#2 Tortuga Travel Backpack

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With their Travel Backpack model, US-brand Tortuga promises to deliver a travel bag that has the portability and ergonomic qualities of a hiking backpack with the organizational stance and ease of packing that comes with a suitcase.

That said, we do not recommend this backpack for hiking… refer to our reviews on hiking backpacks instead.

Having said that, our team of testers especially loved how easy to pack this bag was. With the rectangular shape and clamshell opening it was perfect for fitting in packing cubes and keeping everything neat and organised. The smaller size also fits perfectly into overhead compartments.

sComing in 30 and 40-liter versions, which you might consider weekend and max-sized, both sizes of the Outbreaker carry 15” laptops, and also tablets of up to 9.7”.

  • Suitable for laptops up to 15”
  • Comprises additional tablet sleeve
  • Carry on compliant
  • Made in China
  • Rectangular shape
  • Not for adventures

#3 Aer Travel Pack 3

aer travel pack 2 backpack

The Aer Travel Bag 3 is one of the best travel bags, ever. We have no doubts about that. Pound for pound, we consider the Aer Travel Pack to be as good as the Nomatic Travel Bag. They’ve designed and engineered a built-in solution to all of the previous problems we’ve had with travel bags.

This bag is great for digital nomads, backpackers, and business travelers alike. It is designed with your laptop and organization in mind. It’s 35 liters of backpacker perfection.

Use this bag as a daypack, a carry on, or both. You’ll appreciate the many pockets and storage features. Wear it around town to camp on your laptop at your favorite coffee shop or bring it on a plane without needing to check your bag.

I recently took this bag on a trip over to France and I totally fell in love with it. The real stand-out feature for me, travelling with my camera and laptop, was the strong and smooth zippers that can be locked for extra security.

For more details about the Aer Travel Pack 3, read our Aer Travel Pack review .

  • Carry on friendly
  • Shoe pocket
  • Many organization features
  • Small water bottle pocket
  • Not entirely waterproof
  • No raincover

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#1 MAHI Leather Overnight Bag

The Overnighter Mahi

Leather travel packs are stylish and hard wearing. Whilst note created for outdoors and not ideal for “backpackers”, they do suit urban, business an weekend travellers. MAHI leather is the company to beat in the leather bag market and this weekend sized 30L duffel is a cracking carry on companion.

This leather bag is the flagship duffel for a proven company, and its clean appearance and durable straps have earned it the highest place on our list. The bag can be carried with handles or a shoulder strap, and brass hardware ensures you can walk with confidence no matter how you hold it. 

You won’t lose anything inside the bag, thanks to the zip and phone pocket. You can pack everything you need this weekend in this lightweight and stylish leather bag that checks off all the boxes. 

This bag might not be for everyone and it did split our team somewhat, but for those who loved it, it was the outer material that was a real winner. They felt the feel of the soft and supple but strong leather used provided both great protection whilst looking super stylish and professional.

#2: Monarc Brand Setra

Monarc Settra

Travel can really take it toll on the planet – I mean jet fumes are not exactly good for anybody right? The good news is that Ecological and Sustainable travel initiatives are now really gaining serious momentum and ecological travel products are popping up everywhere.

So, the Monarc 2-in-1 Duffle-Backpack is the world’s first backpack made from 100% recycled bottles and the producers have been awarded a highly coveted “plastic negative” rating.

As well as being eco friendly, the Monarc Settra is also a seriously cracking great pack. Its 2-1 concept design means it can be worn as a backpack or carried as a duffel using the comfortable handle. If you do wear it on your bag, there are adjustable straps to help carry the weight.

Then there are the organizational possibilities. Its’ 40L of storage can go pretty far and the pack offers a shoe compartment and a 17” laptop sleeve. Coming in at $149.00, it’s an absolute bargain although if you have the budget we also recommend picking up the full set including camera cube, compression cubes and laundry bags.

Anything else? Oh yeah, it’s also water-resistant, TSA Carry-on compliant and comes with a lifetime guarantee!

When our team gave this a test run they really loved how comfortable the straps and handle were however the bag was configured. Sometimes these types of bags are more suited to one use over the other but this guy feels great either way.

Small travel bags that are meant for shorter journeys. These typically hold less than 30 liters and are designed to be easy and lightweight.

If you’re interested in buying a smaller bag and want to learn more, we’ve written a  comprehensive daypack post as well!

#1 Tortuga Laptop Backpack

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Daypacks have become a vital way of carrying all you need when you’re out and about for the day but can falter for two reasons.

Firstly, they don’t always provide enough space for a laptop. Secondly, what do you do with it when its no longer needed? The Tortuga Laptop Backpack answers both of these problems!

It will take a laptop of up to 16” and a tablet of 12.9” in dedicated sleeves, and folds flat so it can be easily be packed into your main luggage. We think this is such an awesome feature!

Weighing a very light 2.1 lb (0.95 kg), it won’t add much extra weight to your luggage, but is still made with waterproof sailcloth to keep your tech and other kit safe even on drizzly days!

Much like the larger Tortuga, this bag was well-loved on our team. They loved the fact that it still has clamshell opening which is pretty uncommon for smaller bags and helps when you’ve got organisational needs.

  • Laptop and tablet sleeves
  • Folds flat for packing
  • Weighs just 500 grams
  • Made with water proof sailcloth
  • Won’t fit larger laptops
  • Volume limited to 21 litres
  • Just one colour
  • White interior may stain quickly

#2 Osprey Daylite Plus

Osprey Daylite Plus

For a daypack orientated towards hiking and outdoor adventures, this is one of the best bags for travel on the market. Made from a durable ripstop and water-resistant nylon, it’s very capable of taking on the great outdoors.

Its frame helps to spread the weight evenly, taking the stress further off your shoulders, which will already feel the benefit of the padded and ventilated shoulder straps. 20-liter packs with frames and waist straps are virtually unheard of, meaning this pack is perfect for day hikes.

Lightweight at just over half a kilo, the Osprey Daylite Plus boasts dedicated spaces for laptops and tablets, in addition to ‘standard’ hiking bag features such as an emergency whistle and chest strap!

Our testers can confirm how well the mesh ventilation system works to keep your back dry. They loved how much this bag made their time on hikes or exploring cities like Bangkok much more comfortable.

  • Made with durable ripstop nylon
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight travel bag
  • Buckle closure top flap
  • Lacks external webbing or anchor points
  • Front pocket is unlockable
  • May be too small for some users

#3 WANDRD PRVKE 31

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

The WANDRD PRVKE 31 is one of the best camera backpacks on the market for non-professional photographers. The bag is extremely versatile and extremely durable. Its versatility and durability mean the WANDRD PRVKE 31 can be used for more than just a camera bag.

It’s good for hiking, a daypack, or even a small travel bag – the magic is in the WANDRD’s ability to be more than just a cam era backpack .

The photographers on our team really fell in love with the functionality of this bag. The removable camera cube that straps in and connects with the side opening in practical use worked a treat. It meant assessing your camera on the go was easy and quick.

Looking for the best camera bag , check out our guide for some more options.

  • Very durable and robust
  • Great design
  • Tons of pockets
  • Comes with handy accessories
  • Limited space for cameras/equipment
  • Magnetic handles are just OK

Sometimes, having a set of wheels on your bag can be really useful. Not having to carry around a big ol’ bag can really save your back, especially when you’re in the airport or on some really nice pavement.

We’ve only covered a few bags in this section – read more about wheeled backpacks if you’re interested!

#1 Osprey Sojourn Shuttle 45

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One of the main reasons you should invest in a backpack with wheels is for convenience. Well, this backpack takes convenience to an entirely new level with its super comfortable carrying system.

With this luggage, you will have a backpack, and rolling luggage all in one! The StraightJacket compression system helps keep the load tight, compact and neat for those long travel days jumping on and off transport.

A few more great features include padded top and side handles, a removable shoulder harness, and the HighRoad Chassis that gives you great clearance over any rough ground you might encounter.

This item meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines (size does not exceed 45 linear inches).

Our team are most used to backpacking but they were pretty keen to give this hybrid number a go. Well, the vast majority were converted and they just loved how well this bag functioned as a backpack and then easily converted to rolling luggage without looking too much like a suitcase.

  • Carry on size
  • High clearance wheels
  • Heavy! Over 6 Lbs.

#2 Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Convertible Carry-On Wheeled Pack

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This 37-litre rolling luggage that doubles as a backpack is perfect for international travel. It was built to be weatherproof and dirt-resistant for all of your adventures. Not only that but it also comes with a detachable 18l day pack too!

Plus, it’s probably the coolest looking backpack with wheels – something I haven’t said since the fourth grade! A few of its awesome features include the top quick stash pocket, multiple grab handles, and treaded off-road wheels so you can roll this bag on challenging terrain!

The main drawback is its weight. There is always a trade-off for durability and weight… and in this case, it’s a few pounds! This backpack may be overkill if you aren’t going on an adventure…

Our team felt this bag was more suited for rolling than carrying but appreciated the additional functionality. However, their favourite feature was the quality feel of the outer material and how much punishment the wheels could take.

  • Perfect carry on size
  • Weatherproof and extremely durable
  • Treaded off-road wheels
  • Heavy! 6+ Lbs.

#3 Aerolite Superlight Hard Shell Carry on

Aerolite Superlight Hard Shell Carry on travel

A traditional wheelie suitcase, the four-wheeled Aerolite Superlight Hard Shell Carry on offers its users supreme protection of its contents thanks to its rigid form of ABS plastic.

Accepted by all the major airlines in Europe and North America as carry on compliant, it weighs 2.5 kg and has a mid-range capacity of 33 litres.

Its wheels rotate a full 360°, giving you effortless movement across airport departure halls. Inside, the case includes packing straps to hold all your baggage in place, two elastic shoe pockets, a slim mesh pocket for documentation, and a zipped divider to keep items separate from one another.

Finally, there’s a five-year guarantee to protect against manufacturing defects!

Our team loved the durability of these bags and just how high quality they felt. The hard exterior provided great protection whilst remaining compact and light. The four wheels also made rolling the case, even on the cobbles of Prague, super easy.

If you’re looking for some more options, check out this rundown of the best luggage from Level8 instead.

  • Rigid-form carry on
  • Easy wheel movement
  • Five year guarantee
  • Weight of 2.5 kg
  • Wheels protrude and cannot be retracted
  • Cannot be used as a backpack
  • No padded laptop sleeve

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Now, you  could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card!  REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

For those who fly very often and NEED to make sure that their backpack will can be taken on the plane. Generally speaking, 20-30 liter bags can almost always be used as carry ons. 40 liter bags are a little bit more risky but, because we like to toe the line, we’ve included some 40-liters that we believe can be used as such.

If you’d like, you can also read more about carry ons here!

#1 Stubble & Co Adventure Pack

Stubble & Co Adventure Pack

This nifty and compact carry on ready backpack is ideal for both city breaks and outdoor time.

This innovative, super uber cool, brand new to-the-market hiking daypack is tough, durable, and also highly functional. It is designed to be a go-anywhere, do-anything bag that is equally adept when out hiking in the woods, hitting the gym, or undertaking the daily hell that is the wretched commute to work!

It zips fully open almost like a suitcase and offers a raft of different compression-compartments separated by mesh netting and zips that make packing and squeezing stuff in a dream. There are also a few external pockets for leads, charges, passports and cigarettes as well as a deducted 16″ laptop sleeve.

Have a look at our Stubble & Co Adventure Bag in-depth review for more information.

  • Durable Material
  • Padded Laptop and Tablet Compartment
  • Great organisation
  • Cushioned Shoulder Straps and Hip Belt
  • Quite heavy
  • Kinda expensive

#2 Osprey Farpoint (40 liter)

Best carry on travel bags Osprey Farpoint 40

If you are trying to decide between the Tortuga and the Osprey, then it simply comes down to one thing – your personal travel style

Do you need a carry on travel bag for camping and light hiking, or for urban travel? If you picked the former, then the Osprey Farpoint is for you!

Here’s the thing, the Farpoint is somewhat of a hybrid travel and hiking backpack. I’d never pick it primarily for hiking when Osprey carries so many specific hiking backpacks, but if you want a bag that can do a little bit of everything and accompany you on flights, then look no further.

The Farpoint range has been a popular choice amongst our team for years and this updated version lived up to its reputation. One of the features our crew loved the most was the combination of internal and external compression straps that help minimise the size of the bag when packed and keep everything from shifting.

This bag caters Digital Nomads and backpackers. Read our full Osprey Farpoint 40 review here.

  • Duffel bag or backpack
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Not as much tech-organization as Nomatic
  • Looks a bit like a turtle shell

#3 Osprey Stratos (33 or 36 liter)

Osprey Stratos best travel bags

Unlike the Farpoint reviewed above, the Osprey Stratos is a hiking bag first, and a travel bag second. If you love to hike, then you’ll love this bag for many reasons.

This bag is a go-to for short hikes and overnight camping excursions. It comes with an integrated rain cover, is quite lightweight, and has an impressive amount of organization capacity for it’s minimal design.

At 33 or 36 liters (depending on the size you buy), this bag is ALWAYS carry on compliant – just tighten up the compression straps. If you aren’t sold on the Stratos, the Osprey Cirrus 36 is another great option.

Our testers loved how comfortable this pack was to wear even fully loaded on the trails. Its super padded shoulder and hip straps alongside the mesh back panel made it great for hiking and long treks wearing the pack.

Read our  full Osprey Stratos 36 review here.

  • Always carry-on compliant
  • Awesome ultralight hiking backpacks
  • New updated design
  • Ventilated mesh back panel
  • Likely too small for most travelers
  • Not made for regular travel
  • Mixed reviews on the pocket sizes

#4 Peak Design 30L Travel Pack

Peak Design travel backpack review

Tailored for the contemporary traveler, the Peak Design 30L Travel Pack offers a 30-liter capacity that is ideally suited for brief escapes or minimalist extended journeys. Its elegant design extends beyond aesthetics; it’s a reflection of functionality. With adjustable compartments for a tailor-made fit for your possessions, and clever side openings for easy item retrieval, this bag offers superior convenience. Expansion zippers allow you to modify the bag’s size to suit various travel needs, adding to its adaptability.

  • Carry on compliant – even Ryanair
  • Packs a lot in and extends to 33:
  • Sleeves for laptop and tablet
  • Not waterproof

Most travel bags have some sort of security against theft. For extra protection though, you’ll need a special backpack with more features than usual.

#1 Pacsafe Metrosafe X

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The Australian brand, Pacsafe, is dedicated to creating fully-functional travel bags that also protect you from theft. The Metrosafe X has a reasonable daypack size of 20 litres, while weighing less than a kilogram.

There’s an RFID-protective pocket to keep your credit cards, identity card and passport safe from data theft, and a PopNLock security clip that secures the Metrosafe X to any immovable object.

An interlinking zip closure system also makes it impossible for anyone to open any of the bag’s zips without you noticing! The Metrosafe X is also protected from the slash and grab tactics of some thieves due to its hidden wire mesh, and shoulder straps that incorporate steel wires.

Pacsafe is the gold standard when it comes to keeping your valuables secure when travelling. Our testers loved how lowkey the bag looks and how simple the exterior is. It means with one lockable zip their gear felt safe and secure.

  • Weighs less than a kilo
  • RFID-blocking pouch
  • Interlocking zips
  • Embedded steel mesh
  • Fairly plain exterior
  • Too small a volume for some
  • Some users report zips jamming
  • Not for adventure travel

#2 Oscaurt Anti Theft Backpack

Oscaurt Anti Theft Backpack

With a stylish modern design and 12.5 litre capacity, the Oscaurt Anti Theft Backpack has both hidden zips to make it harder for pickpockets to make a quick grab for your kit, and additional hidden pockets.

The water repellent and slash proof outer material will see splashes of water just run off, while the interior has space for laptops up to 15.6” in size and tablets of up to 10”.

Further, the Oscaurt Anti Theft Backpack also includes an integrated USB charging port into its design, enabling you to charge your smartphone and still use it by connecting it to a powerbank stored safely inside the bag.

Our testers loved the adjustable internal divider system which could easily be configured for a whole heap of different uses from camera equipment storage to keeping clean and dirty clothing apart. They felt it far from gimmicky and felt it worked well in practical use.

  • Ideal for commuting or day travelling
  • Hidden zips for main compartment
  • Slash proof material
  • Integrated USB charging port
  • 12.5 litre capacity not for longer travels
  • Water repellent rather than water proof
  • Fits laptops up to 15.6”
  • Powerbank not included

#3 Kopack Lightweight Anti-theft backpack

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In the Kopack Lightweight Anti-theft backpack, we have another travel bag with anti-theft features that is able to carry laptops up to 15” in size.

Like the Oscaurt, this model from Kopack has a hidden zip design that makes it difficult for pickpockets to target, while this bag is nice and comfortable thanks to the padding added to the shoulder straps and other areas of the bag that touch the body.

A sleeve on the inside means you can keep your laptop safe and in a convenient location, while the outer materials are deliberately made from tough nylon that is resistant to tears and anti-slash too!

Our testers loved the internal storage and how there was a dedicated slot to store battery packs that then connects to the external USB charger in seamless fashion, as well as the overall look of the bag; bridging the gap between hipster style and professional functionality.

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Hidden zipper design
  • Tear resistant nylon construction
  • No RFID-protection pocket
  • Not fully water proof
  • The Bottom Has No Extra Padding
  • Fits laptops up to 15” only

These are the ultimate packable backpacks – ones that can fold and collapse into a sleeve that is usually the size of a purse or tablet! These make for excellent additions to backpacking gear lists and are usually very affordable as well.

#1 Wandrd Veer 18L

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Wandrd make some of the best gear on the market today and have now added their packable backpack to the range. It has a sturdy main structure which is resistant to general wear and tear as well as protection against rain and other weather conditions.

Weighing just a few hundred grams, there are two zip-shut front pockets for smaller items of kit, pockets on either side for water bottles or an umbrella, and a mesh pocket with zip closure on the inside. An access point has been incorporated for use with water hydration systems.

Our team loved how comfy this bag was for how small it folded down. They felt the blow-up back panel really works well to great some structure and padding to the bag.

  • Nice colour options
  • Sturdy structure
  • Multiple pockets
  • No padding for laptop or tech
  • Mesh pockets could be stronger

#2 Outlander Packable

best foldable daypack and travel bag

The Outlander is a foldable daypack with multiple compartments! This bag has an internal security zippered pocket to protect valuable items. The fabric is water and abrasion-resistant and it is reinforced to be ultra-durable. It’s also extremely affordable!

Our team loved how the fabric, stitching and zippers felt really high quality and super strong given how lightweight and compact the bag is.

  • Multiple compartments
  • Durable for a packable
  • Not for proper hikes/athletics
  • Simple style

#3 BAGSMART Folding Travel Bag

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The Bagsmart Folding Travel Bag is a foldable duffel bag with a 46 litre capacity! Coming with a detachable shoulder strap, the Bagsmart still only weighs 1.2 pounds when empty.

Folding into a flat pack roughly the size and shape of a tablet computer, it can easily be slipped into a larger piece of luggage or even a daypack or handbag.

Each of the metal zips have strong metal tags for grip, which contrasts nicely against the otherwise plain black nylon material. The manufacturers report it to be strong enough to be placed in the hold of an aircraft without issue, but we’ve yet to test this out for sure.

The team loved how robust and strong the material of this bag felt given how lightweight it felt to carry and how easy it was to fold.

  • Comes in two sizes
  • Just 1.2 pounds in weight
  • Folds down to size of tablet computer
  • Tough enough to act as hold luggage
  • Soft shell design without rigidity
  • No padding or dedicated tech sleeve
  • No backpack handles
  • Not a wheelie suitcase

Duffels are tried and tested bags that are still useful these days. Grabable, packable, tossable, and stowable, for some travelers, duffel bags are the way to go.

#1 Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag

Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag

Duffel bags don’t have to be foldable to be a great way of transporting kit from place to place, with the Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag an excellent example of this.

Not only does it have all the features of a standard duffel bag – a large main compartment accessed via a large top opening – it also has a set of padded shoulder straps that can be pulled out when you want to use this duffel as a backpack.

There’s also a padded internal compartment for keeping your laptop protected; the tough double zips are lockable, and the materials are long-lasting and durable.

Our team of testers loved the high-quality feel across all features of this duffel. The material felt durable and strong and the hefty zippers with their lockable holes make your gear feel super secure.

  • Excellent all-round duffel bag
  • Packable padded shoulder straps
  • Lockable zips
  • Protected pocket for tech
  • Has rain flaps but not fully water resistant
  • Mid-sized bag of 40 litres
  • Rigid construction
  • Locks must be bought separately

#2 Peak Design Travel Duffel

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This duffle is one of the best travel bags for air travel. It really shines when it comes to internal organization, even though it’s a duffel bag! It includes a compartment for your laptop and chargers, and also comes in a super stylish colorway with comfortable handles and straps.

Our team loved that, unlike many other duffel bags, the Peak Design Travel Duffel had separate pockets for your laptop and general organisation. That left the large main compartment free for bulkier items and allowed for easier access to their accessories.

  • 35 L perfect carry on size
  • Wonderful design
  • Laptop compartment
  • Tons of organization
  • No luggage pass through
  • Straps are not as comfortable as their backpack!
  • Only fits 13″ laptop
  • No water bottle pocket

#3 Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler comes not only with backpack shoulder straps, but also with grab handles, making this duffel-style travel bag simple to lift, move, and transport. Fantastic, no?

But there’s more! The 40 litre capacity version of the Cargo Hauler comes with an empty packed weight of just 2 lbs, making it a very lightweight travel bag, while 600 Dernier synthetic materials that are also water resistant make it durable and tough. Though there is no dedicated padded compartment for delicate items, the Cargo Hauler does boast a padded bottom section, so you should have little worry when placing your duffel on uneven ground.

Our testers loved how hard-wearing and durable the Eagle Creek duffel bag felt. The thick water-resistant material was durable and well-made, making the bag ideal for carrying outdoor equipment.

  • Incorporates backpack straps and grab handles
  • 600 Dernier material
  • Padded base
  • Water resistant rather than water proof
  • 600 Dernier thinner than some duffel materials
  • No rigid structure
  • Not for business travel

#4 Patagonia Black Hole

Patagonia Black Hole best duffel bags

Patagonia is the doyen of the outdoor market, and The Black Hole series of duffel bags are made with even thicker, more durable synthetic materials than the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler. Each version of these duffels is constructed with a 900 Dernier ripstop nylon material which has been treated in to be highly water-resistant as well as tear-resistant – liquids really do just roll off this bag.

Despite the thicker materials used in these quality constructions, the Black Hole series still offers an impressive balance between usage and weight, with the 70-litre version hitting the scale at less than 3 lbs. It has backpack straps too! Perfect if you want to travel with a checked bag that you won’t be able to carry into the cabin. What’s more, they also offer a wheeled duffel version too.

If our team thought the Eagle Creek was hardy then they were blown away by this offering from Patagonia when it came to durability. Given the quality of the material, they were also impressed by how the bag stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage.

Want something different from Patagonia? Check out the best Patagonia backpacks instead.

  • 900 Dernier ripstop construction
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Come with backpack straps
  • Soft shell design
  • Not fully waterproof
  • No detachable cross body shoulder strap
  • Not a guaranteed carry on

These days, lots of people travel with laptops . If you do as well, make sure that you have the right bag to protect. A laptop can be a big investment, and it’d be a shame if it was broken because it was carried in the wrong kind.

#1 Aer Commuter Brief 2

AER Commuter Brief 2

Many of our other reviewed travel bags have dedicated laptop compartments of one form or another, but that doesn’t mean a specialised laptop travel bag isn’t useful for expensive tech.

Taking the standard form of a modern briefcase laptop bag, the Aer Commuter Brief 2 is made up of durable and waterproof materials and zips. It has a reversible padded shoulder strap for easy transportation and side pouches that can be used for packing water bottles or other accessories.

If you are a bike commuter, you will appreciate the relatively small size of the Commuter Brief 2 – not too bulky – but big enough to carry what you need for the day. You can also easily combine it with a stylish travel purse to keep your documents, passport and phone at hand too.

Our team loved how this bag felt super professional and compact to boot. They felt it was the ideal pack to take on busy public transport into the office or on a business trip.

  • Reversible shoulder strap
  • Capacity of just 13 liters
  • Solely a laptop bag
  • Cannot be used as main bag

#2 Tortuga Laptop Backpack

Tortuga Set out

The Tortuga Laptop Backpack is the smaller version of their first laptop backpack – and it’s just as awesome! This bag is a 25-liter masterpiece for anyone looking for a smaller laptop bag that feels and looks great.

The Laptop Backpack has plenty of organizational features including mesh pockets and a secure area for your laptop.

The Laptop is marketed as a laptop bag for those who do a lot of air travel. If this sounds like you, then this may be your backpack from heaven.

One of the standout features of the bag for our testers was the separate compartment for their laptops. Having it away from the main section made them feel like their computers were safer from both accidents and theft.

Read our complete Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack Review here.

  • Minimalist design
  • Dedicated Laptop and Tablet Area
  • Pricey for 25 liter bag
  • Might be too small for some

#3 Incase City Compact Backpack

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The Incase brand is known for making stylish business backpacks. This bag is made for people on-the-go and on business trips. The City Compact Backpack accommodates a 15-inch laptop and has tons of options for internal organization.

The bag itself is made out of 300D polyester, and the black option has a triple coated weather-resistant front panel. The shoulder straps are made with breathable mesh, and the back panels are padded too.

The main compartment has plenty of storage space whilst remaining compact for a speedy commute around the city.

Our team loved the organisational features of this bag, from several different sections for keeping your laptop, accessories and main gear, it’s the perfect pack for digital nomads.

  • Fits up to a 17-inch laptop
  • Padded back panels
  • Main compartment expands by 35%
  • Zippable laptop compartment makes security checks a breeze
  • For minimal travelers only
  • No strap to attach to suitcase handle

#4 Kroser Laptop Backpack

Kroser Laptop Backpack

Not only does the Kroser Laptop Backpack offer some protection from the rain with its water-resistant qualities, but it also boasts some environmental credentials with its use of environmentally-friendly poly fabric!

It weighs in at just over 1 kg, and consists of several large compartments, with dedicated padded sleeves for laptops up to 17” in size and standard-sized tablet computers.

It also includes an integrated USB charging port, so that you can continue to use a smartphone while it is being charged with a powerbank hidden inside the bag.

Our team were pretty blown away by how high quality this bag felt given the budget price. The material, zips, sewing and water resistance are really top-notch for such a reasonable price.

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves
  • USB charging port
  • Not for longer journeys
  • Does not boast TSA approval

The Nomatic Travel Pack is another superb offering from this brand! We think it’s one of the best day bags due to its size and versatility.

This 20-litre daypack can be expanded to 30 litres, making it extremely adaptable for your trip!

To test these packs, we laid our mitts on some of the best bags to travel with and gave them a good old test drive. Over several trips and adventures, our team members put each travelling bag well and truly through its paces all in the name of scientific discovery, or something like that!

Packability

A backpack is designed to carry gear, so we specifically looked at how packable each one was so you could be sure you’re picking the best travel bag for your needs. Any decent pack maximises its available space and has features for making packing more economical. So basically we packed and unpacked the bags for this test!

Equally though, we also paid close attention to how easy the pack was to unpack – being able to get to your gear quickly and easily was also an area we awarded points for when reviewing these bags.

Weight and Comfort of Carrying

If a pack is overly heavy or awkward to carry then taking it along on trips becomes uncomfortable and ultimately unenjoyable! All the best travel bags minimise weight whilst maximising comfort and storage capacity. So we’ve awarded full marks to those that can tick those boxes well.

Functionality

In order to test out how well a pack fulfilled its job of holding clothes, gear and other accessories, well, we threw all that in there! We also gave those rated as carry-on compatible the famous “Ryanair test!” For cycle backpacks, we strapped them on and got on our bikes and went for a ride. You get the idea right? 

Some people say that travel gear doesn’t need to look hot AF if it completes its primary function. Well, we’re not those people, hell nah, we’ve got higher standards here. We believe you can look sexy whilst hauling your stuff around the world! So we’ve added extra beauty points!

Durability and Weatherproofing

Ideally, in order to really test out how durable a backpack is we’d run it over with a truck in the middle of a hurricane. But unfortunately, that’s not entirely practical. So the next best thing was the pour a litre of water over it and take it for a challenging trip out.

When assessing these bags we paid particular attention to the quality and hardiness of the materials used, the traction of the zippers, seam sewing and pressure points that often break.

Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know when looking for the best bags to travel with:

Is it more professional to carry a backpack?

It is definitely not more professional – such a thing doesn’t exist. However, it’s the easiest way to carry all of your gear if you’re out and about on adventures.

What kind of travel bag should I get?

That depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. For city travel, you can opt between duffels, sling backpacks, daypacks and even wheeled backpacks. If you’re in more secluded areas, there’s no way around a professional and well-fitting backpack.

What are the best overall travel bags?

Check out our favorites: – Nomatic 40-Liter Travel Bag – AER Travel Pack 3 – Osprey Transporter 40 Duffel Bag

How can you keep your travel bag safe?

Simple – buy an anti-theft backpack. The Pacsafe Vibe 25 is protected from the slash and grab tactics of thieves due to its hidden wire mesh, and shoulder straps that incorporate steel wires.

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The Best of the Best Travel Bags Revealed!

Osprey Aether

Whatever your preferred choice of travel bag, our epic list of the best travel bags has undoubtedly brought the latest and most impressive bags to your attention.

We’ve covered all manner of travel bags in this review, from traditional backpacks to laptop bags and the staple wheelie suitcase. Having scoured the world for the very best, our selection includes some of the globe’s biggest travel brands, but also lesser-known labels we think you should pay attention to! In fact, we’ve covered what we think are all the best travel bags for 2020 and beyond!

Need help packing once you’ve bought the bag? Check out our how to pack your backpack guide for some advice.

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The Best Carry-On Luggage

Kit Dillon

By Kit Dillon

Kit Dillon is a writer focused on bags and travel gear. He has worked for Wirecutter for a decade and lost count of the number of bags he has tested.

Traveling well is not always easy. Keeping your suitcase with you when you fly not only protects your belongings from loss or damage but may help you avoid extra fees as well.

If you decide to do so, you need a good carry-on bag.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve handled, tested, and traveled with 67 bags from more than 35 brands, and we remain convinced that the Travelpro Platinum Elite offers the best balance of value and quality for most travelers.

It packs five days’ worth of clothes into standard US carry-on dimensions 1 and has premium touches you might expect from a $600 bag at about half the price.

It’s a bag that you can rely on for life, even if it’s damaged by airlines —a rarity at any price.

Everything we recommend

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Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Carry-On Spinner

The best soft-sided carry-on.

This spinner carry-on offers the best balance of size, value, reliability, and durability, plus high-end details. It’s backed by a lifetime warranty.

Buying Options

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Travelpro Platinum Elite 22″ Carry-On Rollaboard

A bit more capacity and extra wheel durability.

This two-wheeled carry-on bag isn’t as maneuverable, but it offers slightly more space, a garment folder, and larger, more durable wheels.

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Away The Carry-On

The best hard-sided carry-on.

This great-looking and relatively resilient piece of hard-sided luggage has top-of-the-line components—including wheels as smooth-rolling as any we’ve tested.

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Away The Bigger Carry-On

Slightly more room, but you might get checked.

With more capacity than Away’s standard carry-on, this suitcase is sized appropriately for most flights. On smaller planes, though, you may get gate-checked.

Budget pick

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Travelpro Maxlite 5 21″ Carry-On Spinner

Lightweight and appealingly inexpensive.

Remarkably well priced for a reputable brand, this is an ideal lightweight pick and provides many features of luggage costing nearly twice as much.

With clipped on-page coupon (limited colors)

Upgrade pick

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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22″ Carry-On Expandable Spinner

A soft-sided carry-on that fits more in less.

This carry-on bag offers superlative build quality, plenty of expandable room, and a uniquely effective compression system. It’s a buy-it-for-life suitcase.

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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22″ 2-Wheel Expandable Carry-On

More room, bigger wheels, less maneuverability.

If you’re willing to give up maneuverability for more space and bigger wheels, this is also a great option.

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Carl Friedrik The Carry-On

A more luxe hard-sided carry-on.

Luxury touches and a strong polycarbonate and aluminum design give this bag a standout look with exceptional feel and performance. It does cost nearly $200 more than the comparably sized Away bag, though.

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Yeti Crossroads 22″/35L Wheeled Luggage

A bag built for tough conditions.

A polycarbonate back and rugged wheels make this design suited for rougher travel over difficult surfaces. However, it has a limited warranty, and it’s somewhat unwieldy to handle.

What to consider

Four-wheel bags, aka spinners, are easier to maneuver down tight airplane aisles, but two-wheel bags will always be more durable .

Hard-sided looks better to most people, but soft-sided luggage withstands the bumps and knocks of travel for longer .

Plenty of reputable brands offer lifetime warranties; it’s generally worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind .

Depending on where you travel, you might need to look for specialty luggage sizes .

We’ve also included picks that stood out for their form and individual functionality: an upgrade with best-in-class compression, a pick made of polycarbonate , an upgraded hard-sided case with latch closures and an aluminum frame, a rolling soft-top hybrid , and a budget pick that’s also the best ultra-light suitcase we can find.

Travelpro’s Platinum Elite line of luggage is still our top pick after 10 years of testing. It addresses the concerns of most travelers for an affordable price while offering the best warranty against potential airline damage in the industry (as long as you register the luggage within 120 days of purchase, which you can do in minutes).

The Platinum Elite features smooth-rolling, replaceable wheels, as well as solid and comfortable telescoping handles and a hard-wearing nylon exterior propped up by a solid internal chassis. Travelpro also provides a full catalog of other replaceable parts . Instead of chasing the smart-bag moment, Travelpro added an exterior pocket with a USB pass-through extension that lets you insert your own battery pack for charging your phone. And weighing less than 8 pounds when empty, the Platinum Elite is dead in the center of average weight for bags this size.

In our view, soft-sided luggage lasts longer and shows less wear, but if you prefer the look of a hard-sided bag, Away’s The Carry-On is our choice. Like our other picks, this bag stands out for its high-end components: YKK zippers, smooth-running wheels, and a well-braced handle. Its strong but flexible polycarbonate shell shows scratches—however, after seven years of using the Away Carry-On, our testers have found that it is capable of enduring most of the trials of travel with fewer knocks than other similar models we’ve tested.

Away also makes a slightly larger version of the same model: The Bigger Carry-On . It conforms to carry-on size for most major airliners, but you might be asked to gate-check it on smaller planes.

Similar to our soft-sided picks, this Away bag is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. And though the coverage doesn’t explicitly protect against airline damage, it does apply to any damage that an airline could possibly dish out—specifically, but not limited to, the shell cracking or wheels breaking off.

Some companies have tried to shave off a few pounds from their standard luggage designs to make so-called ultra-light luggage. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 21″ Carry-On Spinner is the best of these bags we’ve seen, and it comes with the pedigree of our top pick but not quite as strong a warranty.

The Maxlite 5 is just over 2 pounds lighter than our top pick—that’s the weight of two or three pairs of jeans. It’s not a huge difference, but if you have trouble lifting luggage over your head and prefer an easier-to-manage suitcase, the Maxlite 5 may be your choice. This bag is also the best one we’ve found under $200, with almost all the benefits of luggage nearly twice the price.

For the more frequent flyer who is willing to invest in a higher-quality bag, we recommend the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Carry-On . Every detail of this bag, from the zippers to the wheels to the wrinkle-resistant suit compartment, is made to the highest standards, and it has a higher proportion of usable space than any other spinner bag we tested.

Briggs & Riley boosts this extra capacity with a ratcheting compression system that easily presses an entire extra outfit (if not more) into the same external dimensions as most other carry-ons. It’s simple, impressive, and unmatched by any other brand’s compression system.

The Expandable Spinner version is also the only spinner luggage model we tested with a built-in garment folder, which helps shirts and pants stay wrinkle-free if you pack them well. If things go awry, Briggs & Riley has a catalog of replaceable parts and a global network of repair centers , as well as a reliable lifetime warranty covering repairs for airline damage.

For some people, Carl Friedrik’s The Carry-On may be worth the extra cost. Behind the maturity of Italian leather accents and polish of higher-end Hinomoto wheels, the Carl Friedrik Carry-On bypasses the biggest compromise in most polycarbonate designs: the stitched-in zipper. Incorporating an aluminum frame around the center of the case and two latch locks, it feels comfortingly secure and well structured where other luggage tends to sag or bend away.

There’s a potential catch, however: The flex in a polycarbonate design (and most luggage, incidentally) is its strength. The more robust a piece of luggage becomes—by replacing, for instance, a zipper with an aluminum frame—the greater the chance that if something hits the case hard enough, the frame can bend or break. That said, you need to hit a frame like this with an extreme amount of focused force for that to happen. And Carl Friedrik provides a lifetime warranty that appears to cover airline damage in the event that an airline doesn’t compensate you within 14 days.

The Yeti Crossroads 22”/35L Wheeled Luggage represents the best of a relatively niche type of luggage design. Call it a hybrid model—a blend of a soft-sided luggage on top and hard-sided luggage on the back—that lends itself to fairly specific circumstances. It’s ideal for tough roads, broken streets, and slamming your luggage into uneven curbs with abandon. Do most people need this kind of luggage for their day-to-day travel? Absolutely not, and it can feel heavier than it really is. But if you do, this is the best there is—at least for the moment.

The Yeti Crossroads has everything you might expect from a brand that has built its reputation for over-the-top toughness and durability. The two heavy-duty wheels are among the largest and broadest that we’ve seen. Externally, Yeti blends a polycarbonate shell back with a water-resistant 700-denier nylon front and waterproof zippers. However, Yeti backs its luggage with only a three-year warranty and no mention of airline damage. That’s very limited protection, especially for the conditions this bag was designed for and definitely in comparison with the standards that our other picks set.

The research

Why you should trust us, how we picked and tested, our pick for the best carry-on luggage: travelpro platinum elite, our pick for the best hard-sided carry-on luggage: away the carry-on, budget pick: travelpro maxlite 5 carry-on spinner, upgrade pick for the best carry-on: briggs & riley baseline essential, upgrade pick for the best hard-sided carry-on: carl friedrik the carry-on, also great for tough conditions: yeti crossroads 35l wheeled luggage, other good carry-on luggage, what to look forward to, the competition.

I’ve been covering luggage and travel bag design for Wirecutter for nearly a decade and have personally researched, tested, and compared hundreds of bags in that time. Over the years we’ve also spoken with plenty of experts: flight attendants for major airlines, product designers and creative directors for luggage and gear companies, and travel and gear writers. My conversations with these people have helped shape our coverage, and we owe much to their collective knowledge.

Six of the carry-on suitcases we tested, shown lined up.

In the 10 years we’ve been covering this category, luggage has evolved, and so has our thinking about what makes the best carry-on for most people. After spending well over 200 hours doing research and interviews and easily twice that time conducting hands-on testing, we’ve seen a few truths become clear. First, at a certain threshold—roughly over $200—most luggage is fine. It will more than likely get you from point A to point B without incident many times a year for many years. What distinguishes great luggage from everything else is mostly an attention to detail—the quality of a bag’s handle, its wheels, the frame, and stitching—and a company’s guarantee that it will stand behind its product.

Every year we try to refine our testing and find new ways to consider what it means to be the best luggage. We’ve weighed and measured suitcases, comparing our results with company claims. We’ve calculated true internal capacity with hundreds of Ping-Pong balls 2 and some decently complex math for a writer to scratch out. We’ve packed and unpacked more bags than I care to remember. We’ve studied and compared wheel bearings, wheel sizes, pocket counts, pocket quality, the curious subtleties of garment bags that will (or more often won’t) keep your clothes wrinkle-free, the strength of warranties, and repairability.

A person pouring white plastic balls into the Travelpro Platinum Elite Spinner.

We believe that any maximally sized carry-on should be capable of holding enough clothes to last you five days with room to spare for miscellaneous necessities. Most years we aim to have two testers, one male and one female, pack two bags individually as if headed to the same wedding. 3 What we included isn’t representative of a family traveling or a couple splitting a bag, but we erred on the side of bulky, and we hope it gives you a clear idea of how much of your own stuff these bags will hold.

Women's clothes, shoes, and accessories packed for a five-day trip and a fancy gathering.

We looked at how each bag loaded. Was there an easy way to keep smaller items (such as socks and underwear) organized? Did it have compression straps to keep things in place? Were the straps thick enough to avoid creasing the clothes? Just how much would the bag compress? How much room was left over? Once packed, was the bag prone to tipping over?

An obstacle course and mock fuselage in Virgin America’s old training facility.

Over the years I’ve torn bags apart to see how the frames were put together, taken apart wheels, dismantled handles, and more or less treated luggage as poorly as one person could. I’ve wheeled loaded bags around many neighborhoods, looking at how well each bag rolled and how well it handled broken sidewalks, uneven pavement, grass, bricks, dirt, and curbs. I’ve dragged bags up and down two flights of concrete stairs, noting how easy this task was and how much damage the bags sustained. For our finalists, I’ve repeated the torture test along a second, even rougher route because I like the sound that polycarbonate luggage makes when it bounces down cavernous stairwells.

The twenty carry-on suitcases we tested lined up against a fence.

In fall 2023, we asked a panel of paid testers with a wide range of body types, dexterities, and mobilities to examine our picks and share their perspectives. We’ve incorporated their feedback in this review.

Our top picks for the best carry-on luggage, The Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Carry-On Spinner and the Travelpro Platinum Elite 22-inch Carry-On Rollaboard.

The Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Carry-On Spinner is our pick for a soft-sided carry-on; if you need a little more room, we also recommend the Travelpro Platinum Elite 22″ Carry-On Rollaboard .

It has a history of great performance. Travelpro’s Platinum Elite line has been our top pick for almost every iteration of this guide because it addresses the concerns of most travelers for an affordable price: In addition to smooth-rolling, replaceable wheels, it features solid and comfortable telescoping handles and a hard-wearing nylon exterior propped up by a solid 7.8-pound internal chassis. Travelpro backs it all with a lifetime warranty that covers airline damage and shipping to the repair facility (as long as you register the luggage within 120 days of purchase). Additionally, Travelpro supplies a full catalog of other replaceable parts .

It moves well across most surfaces and through most situations. The spinner bag’s configuration stands out in particular because of its MagnaTrac wheels, which magnetically snap into a forward position when the bag is moving. The small tracking assistance makes a large difference when you’re navigating the Platinum Elite through a crowded airport or down a busy street. It also has an easy-to-use, removable garment bag. After years of testing, we think the superior maneuverability of spinner luggage, along with improvements in manufacturing processes, makes four-wheel bags a better choice for most people. However, if you prefer slightly more packing capacity (the equivalent of squeezing in two more sweatshirts), larger wheels that run more smoothly over rough terrain, and a more protective built-in garment folder, 4 you may appreciate the two-wheeled 22-inch version of the Platinum Elite. One of our paid testers, who’s 6-foot-6, told us that although he could see the appeal of a spinner, “I would still choose the two-wheeler. It has a little more space, and when you’re my size, packing is just so horrible.”

Our pick for best carry-on luggage sitting in front of an American Airlines carry-on size diagram to show that it will fit in the overhead bin.

It’s sized to maximize your space, but you have options. Measuring 23 by 13.5 by 9 inches, the Platinum Elite carry-on bag (in either wheel configuration) hits the upper margins of actual carry-on size limits and could get you gate-checked by an overzealous agent. However, it fits into most standard-size baggage caddies at check-in, including that of American Airlines and United Airlines. I’ve personally traveled with Travelpro carry-ons this size for more than 45,000 miles spread across 50 flights, from regional to long-haul to international routes, and I’ve never had an issue fitting within gate-side luggage sizers. If you’re nervous about getting caught at the gate or often fly in very small regional planes, Travelpro makes a 20-inch Platinum Elite as well as a slimmer international size, but they hold less (naturally) and lack a suiter insert.

An opened Platinum Elite Carry-On Spinner next to its removable garment bag.

It keeps clothes compacted but not creased. Inside, the Platinum Elite has a pair of tie-down straps and two broad panels with pockets that cinch down, similar in design and function to what you’d find in much more expensive Briggs & Riley luggage . Compared with the simple tie-down straps you often find in cheaper luggage, the panels do a great job of keeping things compacted without creasing clothes—a problem we’ve encountered in numerous other bags we’ve tested. Beyond that, the Platinum Elite’s internal organization system is about average. It will be familiar to anyone who has used a suitcase before, which means there’s no learning curve for optimizing the storage capacity. One long mesh pocket sits on one of the bag’s sides, and a smaller removable transparent plastic bag sits on the other side for easy TSA inspection of toiletries.

It’s tough yet flexible. The exterior is made of a hard-wearing nylon fabric, a key feature of all the bags we’ve tested. It hides scuffs and scratches, and it’s much more versatile than hard-sided bags. An expansion zipper lets you increase storage by about 30% in a pinch—although the bag is no longer carry-on compliant at that point. We prefer to use the expansion zipper as something of an ad-hoc compression system: We unzip the expansion zipper while packing the bag and then zip it at the end, tamping everything down tight. The Platinum Elite carry-on also has a variety of convenient exterior pockets, including two in the front, suitable for a sleep mask and other small miscellaneous items, and one on the side for a battery, though it can fit a bit more if necessary. It also has an accordion pocket on the front for magazines and electronic tablets.

It’s well balanced and spacious. This luggage has an 1,856-cubic-inch interior, which we measured using hundreds of Ping-Pong balls . In real-world terms (the needs of Ping-Pong champions notwithstanding), the Platinum Elite swallowed up five days’ worth of clothes with no problem and had a good deal of room to spare—and that’s without our resorting to the expansion zipper.

It has an excellent warranty. Should anything go wrong, you can take advantage of Travelpro’s generous lifetime warranty, which covers airline damage . The sole other company we’ve seen offering this extensive a warranty is Briggs & Riley, whose carry-on suitcases start at about $500. Travelpro bags have owner-serviceable parts and multiple repair centers . To get repair service, you can either drop the bag off at a repair center or ship the bag to Travelpro, the cost of which the company will cover. Keep in mind that the warranty doesn’t cover cosmetic wear.

Travelpro has a history of fixing production errors remarkably quickly. In 2019, we noticed a small uptick in Wirecutter reader complaints about zipper tabs breaking. We reached out to Travelpro, and a representative told us that a production error expanded the capacity of the front pocket of the Platinum Elite; this allowed travelers to overpack the pocket, which put excessive strain on the zipper. Travelpro identified and fixed the issue before it had reached the threshold of more than a few comments online.

Dimensions: 23.5 by 14.5 by 9 inches (HWD) Weight: 7.8 pounds Volume: 46 liters

How the Platinum Elite has held up

After nearly a decade of testing the Platinum Elite line of bags from Travelpro, we have yet to encounter a single serious issue. The fabric exterior brushes off scrapes and is easy enough to clean. Simply, it is a remarkably built bag that continues to travel well, year after year.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The back of a Travelpro Platinum Elite carry-on suitcase.

  • Though the Platinum Elite rolled well in general, we are still concerned when dragging the bag up stairs. Some of the other bags we tested had long plastic bumper strips running most of the way up the length of the bag; this Travelpro model’s skid plate isn’t as big or as protective. I haven’t had an issue, but if you’re particularly rough on your luggage or uncomfortable lifting the bag over curbs or up stairs, it’s something to be aware of.

Close-up of the battery pocket on the side of the Travelpro Platinum Elite.

  • In 2018, Travelpro added a USB-A pass-through cable to the Platinum Elite as a way to compete with so-called smart bags. We like the battery pocket, but the built-in cable itself, which routes from the pocket to a USB port less than 6 inches away, is an unnecessary item, which at best adds a potential point of failure to the bag—USB cables do not last forever. Does it ruin the bag? No. Is it a feature? Not really.

Our picks for the best hard-sided carry-on luggage, an Away The Carry-On and the Away The Bigger Carry-On.

If you prefer the look of hard-sided luggage or the security of knowing that you can’t overpack your suitcase, Away’s The Carry-On is the carry-on we recommend. If you want to maximize your available carry-on space, it also comes in a slightly larger size: The Bigger Carry-On .

It can take wear and tear. Most travelers are still better off with one of our soft-sided picks than a hard-sided carry-on; soft-sided luggage shows less wear and typically lasts longer than hard-sided luggage. But the Away Carry-On’s wheels and zipper are as well made as those of our soft-sided picks, and its polycarbonate showed fewer scratches than that of hard-sided competitors.

We’ve tested the Away Carry-On for six years, traveling with it ourselves across the country and lending several units to testers and frequent travelers to see how they enjoyed using the bag. Its polycarbonate feels similar to that used on more high-end (and significantly pricier) suitcases such as the Rimowa Essential Cabin , which is more than three times as expensive.

An opened Away The Carry-On suitcase.

You have options if you need extra space. Away makes a similar model of suitcase with an expandable zipper, The Carry-On Flex . The Flex is the same bag as the standard Carry-On except for the expanding center zipper and the price (it’s about $50 more). Personally, I’m not a fan of expanding zippers on suitcases. It feels like just one more thing to break. But some people may prefer having the extra flexibility.

It feels great to use. The bag itself feels good in the hands, and the wheels are noticeably better than those on any of the hard-sided competitors we tried. Away also uses YKK zippers, outclassing our top pick in that regard (Travelpro moved to Supra zippers in 2015). At this point, we’re pretty comfortable saying that years of debate over the best zipper are largely redundant, but YKK still sets the standard.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Away has sparked more imitators and outright duplicates than any other brand in the past decade, in part due to its appeal with younger travelers. I’ve thought about why, and as best as I can guess, a simple polycarbonate cube dripped in limited-edition soft hues does exude a certain calm; the fact that some of those same colors also coat the exteriors of pills ending in suffixes -ax and -il is not, one assumes, accidental.

It has a great warranty. The Away Carry-On is backed by a limited lifetime warranty that protects against defects and parts breaking. Though the warranty doesn’t specifically mention airline damage, the damages it does list—cracks or breaks in the shell, wheels or handles becoming unusable, zippers that don’t work, fabric tears that render any pocket unusable—basically outline anything an airline could possibly dish out.

Dimensions (for The Carry-On): 21.7 by 14.4 by 9 inches (HWD) Weight: 7.5 pounds Volume: 40 liters

  • The Carry-On’s sleek style comes at a cost: Its polycarbonate shell is ultimately more likely to break than the nylon fabric of our other picks.
  • It lacks certain amenities, such as external pockets and a suiter, that our top picks have.
  • The clamshell design, which splits down the middle and opens into two parts, can make the bag frustrating to pack and unpack. Packing cubes help, but after years of packing and unpacking soft-sided luggage with a single lid, I personally find a clamshell design to be more finicky when packing.

Our budget pick for best carry-on luggage, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 21-inch Carry-On Spinner.

The Travelpro Maxlite 5 21″ Carry-On Spinner is one of the lightest pieces of luggage we’ve tested, at a great price.

It’s lightweight. We have a hard time imagining how anyone could make a suitcase much lighter than this without breaking certain laws of physics. A few years ago, I took apart a Maxlite suitcase to see how the internal frame was built. What I found beneath the fabric was a clever lattice of plastic supporting the frame, which offered the best balance between weight-saving and structure.

For some people, especially those with limited upper-body strength, a lighter bag—even by just a few pounds—may be easier to lift or manage. That said, most people don’t need extremely light luggage, but just to pack less. For all the innovative design, the Maxlite 5 shaves only 2.4 pounds off the weight of our top pick. That’s the equivalent of a couple of pairs of jeans.

It’s inexpensive. My general advice to friends is to spend more than $200 but less than $500 to get good, if not great, luggage. The Maxlite 5 is the one piece of luggage I’ve found that breaks that rule. You can usually find it for about $150 or less, which is a remarkable price considering the bag’s quality.

Top view of an opened Travelpro Maxlite 5 21-inch Carry-On Spinner.

Simple is good. This model doesn’t have any real bells or whistles—no battery pass-throughs or magnetically tracked wheels, as with our other Travelpro picks. Instead you’ll find two simple front pockets, a few well-placed handles, and a cavernous main compartment with a couple of pockets and two light straps to hold your stuff in place.

It comes from a trusted brand. We haven’t covered, examined, and interrogated a single luggage brand at Wirecutter for as long as we have Travelpro. For a decade, Travelpro has done a premier job of maintaining trust with its customers and with us—we’ve watched the company make small changes in design, catch flaws quickly, and address warranty concerns promptly. This is not something we say lightly: Travelpro is a name you can trust.

Dimensions: 23 by 14.5 by 9 inches (HWD) Weight: 5.4 pounds Volume: 46 liters

  • The Maxlite 5’s warranty isn’t as robust as that of our top pick: Manufacturing defects in the wheels, zippers, and handles are covered for as long as you own the bag, but airline damage and shipping to a Travelpro repair center are covered only for the first year. (And you do need to register the bag.) Considering that this bag costs half the price of the Platinum Elite, this makes sense, but it’s something to be aware of.

Two Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22-inch Carry-On Expandable Spinners, the four- and two-wheeled versions, shown side by side.

If you’re a frequent flyer and willing to invest in higher-quality gear, we recommend the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22″ Carry-On Expandable Spinner (also available in a two-wheeled version with more capacity).

It’s the best of the best. Every detail of this top-rated bag, from the zippers to the wheels to the wrinkle-resistant suit compartment, is made to the highest standards, and we found that it had a higher proportion of usable space than any other spinner bag we tested. Briggs & Riley keeps its design consistent, adding, at most, small improvements such as this year’s upgraded lifting handle. Our 6-foot-6 paid tester pointed out that the Baseline Essential’s handle extended an inch and a half farther than that of the Travelpro Platinum Elite, which made it less likely to hit his heels as he pulled it.

Although the wheels don’t snap into alignment, they are exceptionally smooth-rolling and easy to maneuver. If you fly more than 25,000 miles per year, it’s worthwhile to invest in luggage that goes beyond merely being sturdy and actually improves your overall travel experience. That’s why we’ve been recommending it since we first covered this topic in 2014. The Baseline Essential is one of the best carry-on luggage options available today.

Close-up of the plastic handle of the Briggs & Riley’s CX expansion and compression system.

Its compression system is truly a marvel. The most ingenious part of the Baseline Essential bag is its CX expansion and compression system. Pull upward on two plastic handles inside the bag, and you can extend its depth a full 2.5 inches. Load the bag as full as you need to, and zip it closed. Then you push down on the bag, which compresses it as a clip mechanism secures it in place. Unlike other expansion systems, which are either open or closed, this one locks into incremental positions. It’s a unique design and very satisfying to use.

The inside of a Briggs & Riley and a Travelpro Platinum Elite spinners.

It’s the easiest to pack. Briggs & Riley placed the tracks for the Baseline Essential handles on the outside of the bag, which allows for a flat surface in the interior of the bag, with no small crevices to work around for simple packing. And in our tests, after packing 10 bags and trying to figure out strategies for each nook and cranny, packing on a broad flat surface felt like a luxury. According to our measurements, the bag, unexpanded, offers 1,905 cubic inches of storage room (and that accounts for the space occupied by the wheel wells and such). Expanded, it can stow 2,110 cubic inches. That’s remarkably efficient for a bag that does so much. All of these features add up to a carry-on that is easier to pack than any other bag we tested.

The Baseline Essential spinner is also the only spinner luggage model we tested with a built-in garment folder. It’s similar to the folder in Travelpro’s two-wheeled Platinum Elite bag, and that’s a good thing. It’s easy to pack and has an anchor point for hangers. Each of the three folds has a bit of padding that helps to keep a suit from pinching onto itself and creasing, though much of that depends on how well you pack. You can fit a week’s worth of clothes in the Baseline Essential, including some puffy gear for colder weather. A wide, wrinkle-free tie-down system completes the package.

It’s understated. On the outside, the Baseline Essential is pretty unremarkable. There’s nothing eye-grabbing about the bag, which is good if you’re trying to avoid being gate-checked (or having it stolen). Its outer, nylon fabric seems to be of a tighter weave than that used on the other bags we’ve tested. We also noticed a robust feel to the zippers, which are a self-repairing type made by YKK.

Similar to our top pick, the Baseline Essential includes a charging pocket. However, Briggs & Riley skipped the internal USB wiring, instead opting for a simple pocket arrangement (video) on the back of the bag for discreetly storing a charge pack and your phone. It’s an elegant solution.

It comes with an excellent warranty. All Briggs & Riley bags come with a lifetime warranty that covers any damage to the “functional aspects” of the bag, even if caused by an airline (like Travelpro, Briggs & Riley does not cover cosmetic wear or cleaning). Although Briggs & Riley handles warranty-covered repairs at no extra cost, you do have to pay to ship the bag to the company to carry out any repairs; it will ship your bag back to you for free. Or you can drop off the bag at one of the many repair centers . Briggs & Riley emphasizes that returning your bag to you in its original condition, even after repairs, is not always possible. The bags are easy to service and repair, so you can also order the parts you need and replace them yourself at home.

We’ve put in the miles, and the Baseline Essential is in a separate league. Over a five-year period before the pandemic, Wirecutter founder Brian Lam carried a two-wheeled Baseline Essential carry-on while traveling 150,000 miles and farther. After considering all the bags in our test and logging an additional 40,000 miles with a similarly priced bag by Tumi, he was convinced that this model is the best for anyone who’s always on the move. “I love this bag. It carries so much,” Brian said. “Sometimes I check it. Sometimes I carry it. It always fits.”

Dimensions: 22 by 14 by 9 (expands to 11.5) inches (HWD) Weight: 10 pounds Volume: 37 liters (expands to 48 liters)

  • Despite the plastic shielding, the exposed rails on the exterior could use more protection. While dragging the bag up stairs (which we don’t advise doing), we felt more scraping than we’d like.
  • At first glance, the handle feels too loose for a roughly $700 bag. We spoke to Briggs & Riley representatives, and they explained that this is a deliberate choice: The looser tolerances allow for the handle to retract by itself when you click its button, without your having to force it down. In practice, this is very helpful for scaling stairs and could save you some hassle in tight quarters, such as in the aisle of an airplane.
  • At 10 pounds, the Baseline Essential is the heaviest bag we recommend. In this price range, weight often equals durability, which equals quality. But if you’re uncomfortable with a heavier bag, this isn’t the best pick for you.

A Carl Friedrik The Carry-On, our upgrade pick for the best hard-sided carry-on.

Carl Friedrik’s The Carry-On is an impressive polycarbonate case that improves in areas where most other companies tend to cut corners.

It’s robust and durable. It improves the usual hard-case design primarily by replacing the zipper with an aluminum frame sealed with two metal latches incorporating TSA locks. This trim makes the case feel far more robust, which is a very satisfying feeling when you’re wheeling luggage around an airport.

An opened Carl Friedrik The Carry-On suitcase showing its removable compression pad.

Clasping shut an aluminum frame with a metal lock is pleasing—it feels like closing a safe and locking it tight. The polycarbonate shell has an equally rigid feeling but exhibits plenty of flexibility under strain. Although it’s difficult to compare polycarbonates between brands, higher-end polycarbonate feels dense to the touch even as the material flexes; in this piece of luggage, Carl Friedrik offers impressive quality.

Additionally, the Carl Friedrik Carry-On has YKK zippers internally and Hinomoto spinner wheels from Japan—both considered the top of their class.

It’s thoughtfully styled. The soft leather accents and bolted frame all have a certain maturity that’s often lacking in other, competing cases. This look carries to the inside of the luggage as well. A simple gray polyester lining accompanies two sets of compression straps and a removable compression pad, which has a zippered pocket.

It has an excellent warranty. As you might expect for the price, Carl Friedrik backs up its luggage with a lifetime warranty that protects against airline damage (assuming the airline hasn’t responded to your request for compensation within 14 days).

Dimensions: 21.6 by 14.5 by 9 inches (HWD) Weight: 8.6 pounds Volume: 40 liters

  • This is a brand-new pick—so far we haven’t found any flaws, but we’re keeping an eye on the latches. Luggage latches are small, complicated mechanical devices that have a myriad of ways to fail.
  • The handle feels just a touch loose, which, as with our upgrade pick from Briggs & Riley , can be a benefit. It can also sometimes be a hazard. Again, we’ll continue testing it.

A Yeti Crossroads 22-inch/35-liter Wheeled Luggage.

Hybrid designs like the Yeti Crossroads 22″/35L Wheeled Luggage aren’t for everyone, but if you like the flexibility of a soft-sided luggage with the hard-hitting ruggedness of a polycarbonate back and two large fixed wheels, then this bag is just right.

It’s made from tough materials and easy-to-repair parts. Yeti has a reputation for using tough, sometimes cutting-edge, materials in all its gear. The Crossroads is no exception. The 700-denier nylon is one of the better nylons we’ve tested—tightly woven and exceptionally durable. (Denier is a measure of the fiber thickness in a fabric.)

View of the inside of a Yeti Crossroads 22-inch/35-liter Wheeled Luggage.

The Crossroads comes in only a two-wheeled design, which is usually able to withstand more damage than a four-wheeled design. The wheels are also easier to service on the road and often replaceable. 5

It’s well organized. It includes a front panel organizer, similar to that of modern laptop backpacks, with two slots for your laptop and tablet plus a mesh pocket for spare gear. Fully packed, it still has room for a few magazines as well, if you like. Internally, the soft top has a zippered main compartment with a decent amount of packing space, as well as two mesh organizing pockets.

It’s a pleasure to pack. As the Crossroads is built around a molded polycarbonate base, the entire suitcase becomes, in essence, a large tray to pack and then zip shut. It’s a very satisfying design—easier to manage than many of the clamshell designs that are currently popular. Yeti’s packing cubes are designed to fit snugly in the Crossroads’s main compartment, and the bag does come with one small cube. But if you choose these, you’re spending a premium for additional packing cubes when almost any packing cube will work.

Dimensions: 22 by 14 by 9 inches (HWD) Weight: 8 pounds Volume: 40 liters

  • We’d love to see a better warranty. Three years is very limited when compared with other luggage brands selling similarly priced suitcases—especially for a bag that claims to be as tough as the brand’s reputation.
  • Occasionally, Yeti’s tough-gear reputation veers almost into absurdity, as with the inclusion here of self-sealing zippers on a bag that isn’t actually waterproof—merely weather resistant. They’re top-of-the-line zippers. But self-sealing zippers can be hard to operate and require regular lubrication, which most people aren’t used to providing.
  • The front-facing laptop organizer is woefully unshielded. If you’re traveling with a laptop, place it deep within the bag if you want it properly protected.
  • The bag feels heavy—by our measurements, it weighs about a half pound more than Yeti’s 7.5-pound estimation. It’s not the heaviest of our picks, but something about the weight distribution and shape of the bag makes it feel heavier when you’re swinging it around.

If you need a hard-sided budget bag: Look at the Gregory Quadro Hardcase 22″ , an unexpectedly high-quality suitcase from an outdoor-gear company. Gregory offers a lifetime warranty with service and repair. Although the warranty doesn’t explicitly mention airline damage, Gregory’s good reputation speaks for itself in this matter. However, the Quadro Hardcase is a pound heavier (at 6.5 pounds) and about $60 more than our budget pick.

If the Away Carry-On is sold out: Consider the Monos Carry-On Plus . Picking between these two models came down to splitting some very fine hairs. Both use YKK zippers. Both have lifetime warranties. The handles and interiors are almost identical. Monos even hides the stitching that attaches the zipper to the polycarbonate frame, which is a nice aesthetic touch. The difference came down to the Away Carry-On’s wheels, which spun just that much more freely in our testing, and the underside handle, which made it easier to pull out of overhead bins. And we’ve tested the Away Carry-On for longer. However, if it’s unavailable, the Monos model is a good, nearly identical substitute.

If you want a bag made of recycled materials: We suggest the Paravel Aviator Carry-On . Paravel is attempting to design luggage with recycled materials and some environmentally minded transparency to the company’s production methods. However, you pay a premium for the effort. Quality-wise, the bag is similar to our other hard-sided picks, for about a hundred more dollars. And much of the Paravel branding is built on carbon offsets, which we are deeply skeptical of (though we wish they worked).

If you’re an infrequent adventurer: Try the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag Roller , which could almost be an also-great pick under our hybrid pick . It’s cheaper, has a better warranty (but no explicit coverage for airline damage), and is made from recycled materials. However, the overall build quality is wanting. For example, the polycarbonate shell doesn’t fully cover the tubes for the extendable handle as it does with our hybrid pick. It seems an oversight for bags that are built to knock around.

If the best possible suit-packing experience is all you want, and money is no object: The Vocier C38 Carry-On Luggage is worth a look, despite a few flaws and an $800 price tag. The C38 takes a unique, fold-free approach to packing clothes. Rather than folding garments in on themselves to fit in the bag, it bends the suit around the outside of the luggage frame in a U shape. This packing method creates no creases and therefore no wrinkles. The case is protected by a limited lifetime warranty that doesn’t cover airline damage.

We hope to take a look at the European brand Floyd , which is currently popular on Instagram. At first glance, it’s another piece of luggage looking to appeal to a younger mass audience. But the easy-to-replace polyurethane wheels and bearings—similar to skateboard wheels—do have “user-serviceable parts inside” curb appeal.

We’re currently testing Level8’s Voyageur series of luggage, which features an extra-wide handle. It’s a design trend we’re starting to track with a few lesser-known brands (and, incidentally, a Louis Vuitton case costing several thousand dollars). A wide handle should do two things: It should free up a little more space inside the luggage, and it should improve handling.

Lastly, we’re considering expanding our coverage to include equipment cases like those made by Pelican . Though their appropriate use is very specific, when you need to travel with high-end gear or fragile valuables, Pelican cases more or less set the standard.

Soft-sided carry-on luggage

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag : We’re generally fans of Cotopaxi’s Allpa line, but this two-wheeled bag falls short. Specifically, the bottom of the bag is split by the zipper, which gives the bag an unstable feeling when it’s standing upright.

Eagle Creek Tarmac XE 4-Wheel 22″ Carry On Luggage : If this bag were about $150 cheaper, it would be a good price for the quality. We like the recycled materials, but the bag lacks framing.

Solo Re:Treat Carry-On Spinner : I appreciate any bag made entirely out of recycled materials, but this model (from a brand owned by the same company that manages Briggs & Riley) felt awfully flimsy. Even with its five-year warranty, I just don’t trust that this bag can go the distance.

Thule Subterra : The clamshell design—similar to the ones you find on hard-sided bags—makes this bag difficult to close if you’re trying to fill it to its full capacity. It just isn’t as easy to use as our soft-sided picks.

Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller : The balance on this bag was decent, and it stood up well unloaded or loaded. Its wheels had a cheap ball-bearing rhythmic chatter, though, and the abundance of zippers and internal compartments made it tedious to pack.

Tumi Aerotour International Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-On : At about half the price, this would be a great bag. But paying nearly $700 for a five-year warranty and a bag that doesn’t do nearly as much as a Briggs & Riley suitcase seems a bit silly.

Hard-sided carry-on luggage

Amazon Basics 24-Inch Hardside Spinner : This bag is a surprisingly good carry-on for about $90. However, its ABS plastic shell is not as tough as a polycarbonate shell. It’s worth investing more in your luggage—the bag you choose will last longer and work better.

Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On : The Arlo Skye carry-on is a decent piece of luggage, but it’s hard to square the bag with its cost: $200 more than our pick from Away .

Away The Carry-On: Aluminum Edition : 10 pounds! At this weight, you’ve lost a quarter of your allowable luggage weight to the suitcase alone, unpacked. And it’s nearly as expensive as our upgrade pick, with a much less satisfying compression system.

Briggs & Riley Torq and Sympatico : Though these collections seek to solve a different problem, neither is as impressive as the Baseline series.

Calpak Ambeur Carry-On Luggage : We preferred sturdier polycarbonate shells over Calpak’s blended ABS polycarbonate shell. Also, the bag’s handling felt jittery against normal airport floor surfaces.

Delsey Rempart Expandable Spinner Carry-On : At just around $200, the Rempart is a decent budget option. However, the external styling (like layers of pressed sheet pans) is an odd choice. It has some practicality, but only if you’re stacking identical Delsey cases one on top of another, which might happen, I suppose, at some point … maybe.

July Carry On : In the lineup between July, Monos, and Away, July falls just short. We appreciate the lifetime warranty, YKK zippers, and flexible but dense-feeling polycarbonate. But the overall design doesn’t do much to improve on the category (as the Monos bag subtly does).

Level8 Road Runner Pro Carry-On 20″ : This is potentially a decent budget pick at just around $200. But the one-year warranty and the somewhat fiddly TSA lock and front latching panel give us pause.

Lojel Cubo Medium : Although we liked the uncommon top-loading design, the internal organization of the lid made packing this carry-on difficult. We also weren’t impressed by the zippered expansion system, which made the suitcase feel bulkier than our picks.

Lojel Voja Medium : An odd suitcase, this would be a great children’s suitcase or a budget pick—especially if it were under $200. But its current price is steep for a polypropylene blend with a couple of latches.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Chris Ryan.

Airline policies vary, but a general rule is that the bag must be under 45 linear inches—the total sum of the bag’s length, width, and depth. Here’s the current sizing breakdown among the major US airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
  • Allegiant Air: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
  • American Airlines: 22 by 14 by 9 inches (the dimensions of soft-sided garment bags are allowed to add up to 51 inches)
  • Delta Air Lines: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
  • Frontier Airlines: 24 by 16 by 10 inches (and less than 35 pounds)
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
  • JetBlue Airways: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
  • Southwest Airlines: 24 by 16 by 10 inches
  • Spirit Airlines: 22 by 18 by 10 inches
  • Sun Country Airlines: 24 by 16 by 11 inches
  • United Airlines: 22 by 14 by 9 inches

We double-checked the measurable packable space of our top picks against the manufacturers’ listed volumes by filling each piece of luggage with hundreds of Ping-Pong balls: 144 Ping-Pong balls weigh exactly 0.5 pound, and each Ping-Pong ball represents approximately 2 cubic inches (PDF) . After weighing each piece of luggage three times to establish an average empty weight, we filled the bags as full as we could with Ping-Pong balls and measured the change in weight. For every half-pound increase in weight we estimated 288 cubic inches of packable space.

His five-day travel kit included the following:

  • 1 two-piece linen suit on a hanger
  • 1 dress shirt on a hanger
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of khakis
  • 5 medium-weight to lightweight shirts
  • 1 heavy sweater
  • 2 flannel shirts
  • 5 pairs of boxer briefs
  • 5 pairs of sport socks

Her five-day travel kit included the following:

  • 1 dress on a hanger
  • 1 blazer on a hanger
  • 1 blouse on a hanger
  • 1 pair of heels
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of light sneakers
  • 5 pairs of underwear and 3 bras
  • 1 pair of yoga pants
  • 1 flannel shirt
  • 1 hair dryer
  • 1 curling iron
  • 1 jewelry/makeup kit
  • 3 pairs of sport socks
  • 4 lightweight shirts

You use a garment folder by laying a suit or dress across the panels, folding them into themselves, and zipping up the inner compartment. A folder should be wide enough that a suit isn’t cramped, and it should include hanger straps (which should fit around everything, even larger plastic hangers) to keep things from shifting around too much. Some folding boards have 0.75-inch-diameter foam rolls in them to help prevent creases along the packed clothes’ fold lines. When you aren’t traveling with fancy clothes, you can take the whole apparatus apart and use it as luggage dividers in the main bag itself, or leave it at home, converting the suit/dress compartment into an extra packing cube.

Yeti doesn’t seem to have an easy way to order replaceable wheels. But the 3.5-by-1-inch wheels are fairly common, and we’re looking at the best possible alternatives.

Meet your guide

travel bag to

Kit Dillon is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He was previously an app developer, oil derrick inspector, public-radio archivist, and sandwich shop owner. He has written for Popular Science, The Awl, and the New York Observer, among others. When called on, he can still make a mean sandwich.

Further reading

An illustration reading "our 100 most popular September picks."

Wirecutter’s 100 Most Popular Picks in September 2022

by Wirecutter Staff

These 100 useful things were the most-purchased Wirecutter picks in September 2022.

Our six choices for best luggage tags displayed on a wooden surface

The Best Luggage Tags

by Geoffrey Morrison

We chose five luggage tags that will help you identify your belongings in a sea of similar suitcases.

A person standing outside in a light blue short sleeve shirt wears the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L backpack, in black with a gray llama-head logo and aqua accents.

The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

by Kit Dillon

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is our backpack pick for most travelers. We also have picks for other travelers, including those who want to carry a bit more.

A Travelpro rolling suitcase, next to clothes and a purse.

We’ve Loved Luggage From Travelpro’s Platinum Elite Line for a Decade. Here’s Why.

Travelpro Platinum Elite is our most loyal travel companion.

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The 21 Best Travel Bags, According to Frequent Fliers

Young woman preparing for road trip packing suitcase

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Whether you have travel lined up or your friend’s recent travel posts are inspiring your next out-of-office getaway, it’s high time to shop for the best travel bags. The type of travel bag you decide to get will depend on your travel destination, your budget, and your personal style. But with so many choices, it's hard to know what to pick. We spoke with frequent fliers and travel experts on the best tips to pick the right travel bag for comfortable, secure, and easy travel. Below are the expert-recommended picks and tips to help you choose. And if you’re flying, remember to try to keep up with safety travel precautions as best as you can.

  • Makeup and Toiletry Bag

How to choose a travel bag

When it comes to shopping for luggage , experts agree that you should never sacrifice quality. “If you plan to travel often or take longer trips, it’s worth investing in higher-quality luggage,” Ciara Johnson , full-time travel blogger at Hey Ciara , tells SELF. Big-ticket items like suitcases should be long-lasting and durable. Otherwise, you’d be shelling out way more to keep replacing damaged bags. 

We know that wear and tear can’t be avoided, especially with luggage taking a beating on planes and buses. Megan Homme , a travel blogger who also works in the airline industry, has a tip for that. She says to opt for a dark-colored suitcase to hide scuffs better. “Lighter colors will show wear and age much more quickly,” she says. Pro tip: Add a unique luggage tag to make your bag stand out from the others at the conveyor belt seat.

If possible, try to opt for carry-ons to save time at check-in lines and speed through baggage claim—just make sure it passes the size requirement. “These days, it’s more important than ever to use carry-on because of the chaotic systems at understaffed airports,” says Caroline Eubanks, writer and author of This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States . “You should ideally be able to manage your own bags and not rely on flight attendants.” Her pro tip: Always look up what type of plane you’ll be on. She notes, “for small, regional routes, the standard carry-on bag won't fit in the overhead bin.”

Shopping tips

When it comes to the actual shopping part, Johnson recommends shopping by need and tendencies. Will you be staying in hotels or hostels? Will you be taking shorter or longer trips? Will you be traveling in places with an established or developed infrastructure? Spinner wheels are easier to haul through airports, but if you’re backpacking in Europe, ditch the spinners for a backpack to avoid the cobblestone streets that will surely wreck the wheels.

Johnson also adds, “If possible, you should examine the product in-store. However, the most innovative luggage brands typically only exist online." She recommends doing research and comparing various luggage brands before you make a purchase. She adds that some brands even offer a “try-before-you-buy policy, along with a lifetime warranty.” Generally speaking, travel bags are not the place to save some money on your travels, but there are ways to find deals, especially during shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And if you enjoy the thrill of secondhand shopping, Eubanks says she’s gotten a deal or two shopping thrift. “Secondhand can be a good way to save money.” 

You also don’t need to be a pro packer or inherently organized to pack well. All you need are pockets. Johnson says a good rule of thumb when shopping for any travel bag is “the more pockets [and] organizers, the better.” Use them for separating clean clothes from sullied ones. You can even separate gifts for loved ones to take home after your vacation. According to Johnson, you can’t go wrong with the following features for luggage options: 360 spinner wheels, expandability, compression straps, endless pockets, a side handle, built-in TSA locks, and polycarbonate material.

Best travel bags

Here are 21 expert-recommended travel bags for every kind of traveler to help you narrow down your options and focus all that logistical planning on your itinerary. We broke it down by luggage and suitcases, carry-on bags, backpacks, fanny packs , crossbody bags, tote bags, and makeup and toiletry bags.

Beis The 29 Inch Rolling Spinner Suitcase

Béis The 29-Inch Rolling Spinner Suitcase

As far as check-in bags go, Johnson says the Beis 29-Inch Large Check-in Roller is “one of the most functional suitcases on the market.” Beis is owned by Pretty Little Liars alum Shay Mitchell and has been a hit since its launch. Its many features include everything you’d need in a check-in suitcase: multiple pockets and organizers, a built-in TSA lock, a laundry and shoe bag, and an ergonomic handle for easy lugging. Her favorite feature? “There's a built-in weight indicator that tells you if your bag is overweight.”

Black Hartmann Ratio 2 Global Carry On Expandable Spinner on white background

Hartmann Ratio 2 Global Carry On Expandable Spinner

For soft-side suitcases, the technologically-advanced Hartmann Carry-on comes highly recommended. Eubanks loves the bag’s “flexibility,” including the pockets for reading materials and documents that are often lacking in hard-shell cases. The best features are the padded, trifold garment suiters it comes with for keeping formalwear or business outfits tidy and pressed, and the bag has built-in USB ports, so you can charge your gadgets while in transit.

Black Away The Carry-On Flex on white background

Away The Carry-On Flex

Away Travel

Frequent fliers love Away’s suitcases. Homme, who always travels carry-on only, prefers Away’s The Carry-on Flex because its expandable feature ensures extra storage allowance for shopping. Plus, she points out, “I recommend hard-shell luggage because you never know what could leak out of someone else’s bag in the bins.”

Away The Bigger Carry On with Pocket

Away The Bigger Carry-On with Pocket

“The quality of Away luggage is incredible across the board,” says Johnson, who is a fan of the brand and prefers The Bigger Carry-on with Pocket. Most hard-shell suitcases in the market don’t have external pockets, but this one features a water-resistant front pocket—perfect for keeping your travel documents and boarding passes available for easy access. It can even hold a 15-inch laptop. It has a removable, washable lining and a hidden laundry bag.

Black LuggageWorks Stealth Premier 22" 737 Rolling Bag on white background

LuggageWorks Stealth Premier 22" 737 Rolling Bag

Luggageworks

Cierra Mistt, a flight attendant and TikTok travel influencer , only has one carry-on go-to: LuggageWorks’s Stealth Premier 22-Inch 737 Rolling Bag. Apparently, her crew feels the same way. “I know pilots and flight attendants who have had the same roll-aboards for 10 years and never had to get another,” she says, adding, “Durable is an understatement.”

Black Tumi Alpha 3 Continental Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-On on white background

Tumi International Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-On

Another expert favorite brand is Tumi for “extremely resistant and durable” bags. Though just in case it breaks when you’re on the go, Tumi offers worldwide support anytime, anywhere. Mar Pages, co-founder of Solo Female Travelers and Solo Female Travelers Tours, says the Tumi Carry-on in particular is a popular choice for vacationers for a reason. “You will recognize this bag because they have been making it for well over 20 years with minimal improvements.” She particularly enjoys the “nifty details” like “outside hooks to hang your laptop bag” and “double bar handles so you can slide your laptop bag.”

Black Béis The Backpack on white background

Béis The Backpack

Another Béis favorite is The Backpack. “It is really, really spacious,” Kristina Rodulfo , beauty content creator and former Elle editor, tells SELF. Rodulfo notes that the bag “opens really wide which makes for easy packing” while still looking sleek as a solo bag for short getaways. It's designed to carry everything from your laptop to your gym stuff. If you want to pair it with a trolley, use the sleeve to attach it to your luggage.

Black Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 Anti-Theft Compact Backpack on white background

Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 Anti-Theft Compact Backpack

This Pacsafe Citysafe backpack is a great hands-free, anti-theft option thanks to its slash guards, smart-zipper security, and an RFID-safe pocket. “The zippers can be attached with a clip, and one shoulder strap has a locking mechanism if you want to secure it around a table leg,” adds Eubanks. There are also a ton of pockets and compartments, including a laptop sleeve and two side pockets for holding water bottles or umbrellas.

Dark green Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack on white background

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

If you're looking for an outdoor backpack , check out the Osprey Porter Travel Pack 46. Kristen Bor, founder of Bearfoot Theory Outdoor , recommends it if you're going on an adventure or outdoor trip and need a bag that can double as a daypack. “The U-zip compartment allows for easy packing and access to your gear, while the stowaway shoulder harness and hip belt give you options on how you want to carry your luggage: backpack style or over the shoulder like a duffel.” Osprey has been continuously perfecting the bag with slight improvements yearly, and it’s built with recycled fabrics making it an eco-friendly option.

Grey and purple Osprey Daylite Daypack on white background

Osprey Daylite Daypack

Think a short hike will be on your itinerary? According to Bor, Osprey’s smaller Daylite Pack is a great find for light outdoor adventures. The lightweight backpack has compartments for a laptop and two water bottles for an itinerary that’s incredibly versatile. Take it to a coffee shop, a festival, or to a mountain summit.

Multicolored Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack Del Dia on white background

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack Del Dia

Bor dubs the Cotopaxi Allpa 35 Del Día Travel Pack an “all-around functional, rugged carry-on bag” that can weather rougher terrain. “The exterior polyester and nylon shell resists moisture and defends your belongings against rough scrapes or tears during transit,” says Bor. It even comes with a rain cover.

Dark green Herschel Seventeen Hip Pack on white background

Herschel Seventeen Hip Pack

Fanny packs are a great option for hands-free travel, and this versatile Herschel Seventeen Hip Pack Fanny comes highly recommended by Eubanks, who wears it on her hip and as a crossbody. Plus, she loves that there are some 25 colors to choose from. You could even wear it with a backpack like she does to have easy access to essentials like documents or a camera. 

Lululemon Clean Lines Belt Bag

Lululemon Clean Lines Belt Bag

This Lululemon bag is another great, stylish option with several pockets that make grabbing smaller items like lip balm, credit cards, and headphones easy. “I always recommend a belt bag for the airport to breeze through security and keep your ID and ticket easily accessible,” says Homme. Keep it on your hip during your flight if you’d rather not dig through the bag under the seat. 

Burgundy Travelon Hobo Crossbody Bag on white background

Travelon Anti-Theft Parkview Hobo Crossbody

Many frequent fliers prefer anti-theft bags for venturing out during travels—especially when traveling alone. Pages recommends using the Travelon Anti-Theft Parkview Hobo Crossbody for places where pickpocketing might be a concern. “These bags are specifically designed with these types of thefts in mind and have added security features such as anti-slash straps to avoid the common motorbike run theft.” The bag also features other security features like secure zip locks and anti-RFID mesh compartments to keep credit card information safe.

Lululemon Easy Access Crossbody Bag

Lululemon Easy Access Crossbody Bag

Here's another great crossbody bag option. “I normally keep my passport, cards, and phone in there when I’m walking through the airport and can easily access that when I get off the plane. In fact, it’s so easy that when we’re boarding, I can easily just slip it into my personal item and stow it under my seat with no worries," says Mistt.

Tde. Mini Black Saffiano Leather Cross Body Bag with gold monogram in center

The Daily Edited Mini Black Saffiano Leather Cross Body Bag

“Everyone needs a crossbody purse for travel,” Rodulfo insists, and her choice is TDE’s mini leather bag. It fits daily essentials including documents, a camera, and even sunscreen . The bag’s minimalist style also allows for outfit versatility. "It works for evenings out as well as during the day,” says Rodulfo. It helps not to look like a tourist all the time. Another cool feature? TDE items can be monogrammed, making it a great travel gift .

Dark turquoise Tumi Everyday Tote with leather straps on white background

Tumi Everyday Tote

Lord & Taylor

If roomy tote bags are more your style, check out Tumi’s Everyday Tote. The lightweight nylon material makes it easy to lug around without hurting your back. The small details are what make it stand out, such as its pen loop, key ring, and magnetic snap phone pocket to ensure you don’t spend time rummaging through your belongings each time you need to get something. Pages likes to slide her tote on top of her Tumi Carry-on when traveling.

Dark pink Travelpro Maxlite 5 Travel Tote Bag on white background

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Travel Tote Bag

The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is a great hybrid tote with several organizational compartments. "It’s roomy enough to fit all of my actual personal items including electronics, chargers, and even snacks,” says Mistt. And it’s compact enough to fit comfortably under the plane seat or in the overhead bin. 

Makeup bag

Kusshi Makeup Bag Plum Collection

You don't have to strip down your beauty or skin-care routine on vacation—at least, not with Kusshi’s Vacation Makeup Bag, which can hold 20 to 25 products. “Kusshi [bags] are by far my favorite because they are washable, fit a ton (including full-sized products), and have plenty of pockets for easy organization,” says Rodulfo. If you have a bigger beauty arsenal that includes makeup brushes and other skin-care tools , just add the attachments. “You could even include attachments like the makeup brush organizer for less fuss and digging while getting ready.”

Herschel Travel Kit

Herschel Travel Kit

Another option for toiletries big and small is the Herschel Travel Kit. Johnson laments that it’s surprisingly difficult to find the perfect toiletry bag. She recommends this bag because it is extremely spacious with multiple pockets and slots for easy organization. It also comes in multiple colors, proving that toiletry kits don’t need to be boring.

  • The Best Weekender Bags for Last-Minute Getaways
  • 19 Packing Tips Frequent Flyers Swear By
  • What to Bring on a Road Trip to Make Your Time So Much Better

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What’s the Best Personal-Item Bag for Flying?

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Between finding a carry-on that will fit in most overhead compartments, a toiletry bag or Dopp kit for your tiny bottles of shampoo, and an under-the-seat personal item to hold everything you’ll need for in-flight comfort and entertainment, solving the packing equation isn’t easy. To make things even more complicated, there aren’t even standard regulations for what counts as a “personal item” — as my fellow writer Rachael Griffiths explains here , each airline has its own particular requirements. If you’ve purchased a basic fare on a no-frills carrier like Frontier or Spirit, you’ll generally want to stick with a bag measuring 8 x 18 x 14 inches or smaller (and if you’ve purchased a personal-item-only fare, I’ve written a minimalist packing guide to help you figure out how to travel with just one small bag). On most other airlines, there’s a lot more you can get away with. Below, find advice from stylish frequent fliers (and Strategist staffers) about the totes, duffels, and backpacks they slip over the handles of their suitcases.

The best personal-item tote bags

Parker Thatch Medium Mimi - Medium Mimi - Leather Butterscotch

Yolo Journal ’s Yolanda Edwards likes travel bags that don’t look like travel bags and can therefore be used for everyday sightseeing and shopping upon reaching your destination. Parker Thatch’s roomy totes fit the bill, and while they don’t have a luggage sleeve, Edwards has no problem slipping the handles of this one over her Rimowa suitcase. “And it’s great for going to the farmers’ market once I arrive where I’m going,” she adds.

Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote

“I look for a bag that can sit on top of my carry-on, fit a lot of items, and be easily stored when not in use,” says Daniela Velasco, the creative director of Drift magazine. That bag, for her, is Longchamp’s forever classic Le Pliage tote, which flattens and folds up for storage. Strategist senior editor Hilary Reid owns one in orange and is also “always surprised by how much fits inside.”

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote, Zip-Top

Is there a more quintessential carry-all than the L.L.Bean Boat and Tote? Writer and influencer Harry Hill doesn’t think so. “As someone who is usually drawn to more uppity travel bags, this trusty tote is a delight because of how unfussy it is,” Hill tells us. “It fits a ton, it’s super-lightweight, and I don’t have to worry about spilling coffee on the vachetta or putting it on the ground.” Hill suggests monogramming your name — or a crude joke, depending on personal preference. For additional customization, “the colorways are constantly changing, so keep an eye out if you have a specific vision for your tote.” While Hill adds that it’s impossible to go wrong, because any L.L.Bean “will make you look like a Kennedy skipping town,” the zip-up version of the bag will give more peace of mind at the airport.

Cuyana Easy Travel Tote

Strategist contributing writer Mya Gelber spent a day asking stylish strangers on the subway about their work bags, and Cuyana’s Classic Easy Zipper Tote was the one she ended up purchasing for herself. So when the brand announced this larger travel-friendly version of the popular bag, I immediately ordered one to test out. Made from soft and slouchy leather, it’s a big bag that can definitely fit an outfit or two alongside your laptop, passport, and other essentials. While it can’t be worn as a cross-body, the tote’s shoulder straps are long and thick enough to be comfortable for long periods of time. There’s no luggage sleeve, either, but this means that the bag can be used more seamlessly in everyday life — it would be an excellent investment for anyone who is commuting gym-to-office.

Pacific Tote Company

Sewn in California from leftover sailing canvas, Pacific Tote Company’s bags are similar to L.L. Bean boat totes, except more brightly colored. The company is co-owned by director Roman Coppola (brother to Sofia, who carries Pacific Tote bags on set ) and beloved by bi-coastal film industry insiders. If you work in film and fly between L.A. and New York every other week, you carry your laptop in this pleasingly sturdy bag . Strategist style columnist Chris Black is also a fan .

Kule The Over the Shoulder Tote

When she’s not traveling with her Parker Thatch bag, Edwards also likes to use Kule’s roomy totes as personal items. Saturday Night Live ’s Chloe Fineman travels with one of these too, and says it fits both a laptop and extra outfit inside. She adds that the New York brand’s designs are “a little cheeky and a little funny,” as well as a nice reminder of home when she’s on the road.

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote Deluxe

Here’s another professional-looking, multi-purpose travel tote, as recommended by Strategist writer Lauren Ro. She says it makes a great carry-on personal item because it’s lightweight and custom-designed for air travel, with a luggage sleeve and exterior pockets for stashing chargers and tidbits, as well as a removable crossbody strap.

Baggu Cloud Carry-on

At least two friends that I know of ended up immediately purchasing a Baggu Cloud Carry-on after I flaunted mine at a destination wedding this past May. Made from weightless but durable nylon, the airplane-friendly version of the brand’s original Cloud Bag can hold a lot of stuff, and the bright colorways stand out in a sea of boring navy duffels at the airport. Puffy shoulder straps make standing in line at security a bit more tolerable, and generous external pockets are handy for stashing a book or water bottle. This bag’s dimensions are actually rather large (14 × 20 × 8 inches) for a personal item, but its bulkiness really depends on how much stuff you pack inside. I’ve taken mine on a personal-item-only Spirit flight with no issues at all, and on longer trips I have also slipped it over the handle of a Samsonite carry-on suitcase using the attached luggage sleeve.

The best personal-item duffel bags

Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC

Former Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw calls this Patagonia duffel his “ secret second suitcase ,” because its unassuming-yet-roomy interior lets him pack heavy without checking a bag. The Black Hole’s 30-liter capacity is about as large as a bag can be while still qualifying as the “personal item” you can bring onboard with your main carry-on suitcase and slide under the seat in front of you, Cheslaw notes. “Within that capacity, I can easily fit two pairs of shoes as well as a week’s worth of underwear, socks, and thin shirts, relieving a ton of pressure on my suitcase.”

Halfday The Garment Duffel

This new-school garment bag, which made our Travel 100 list of the best products to take on the road, can keep a suit or gown unwrinkled while also cleverly storing several other outfits. My fellow Strategist writer Rachael Griffiths loves taking hers on weekend trips with friends, especially when packing satin dresses and pleated shirts for nights out. It’s ideal for destination weddings, and Moonflower wine bar co-owner Rebecca Johnson even took one all the way to Tasmania for a romantic antipodean getaway with her husband. Going ’s travel spokesperson, Katy Nastro, told me that it’s very popular among her exceedingly well-traveled colleagues.

Dagne Dover Landon Neoprene Carryall - Medium

For both carry-on backpacks and duffels, former Paper fashion editor Mario Abad turns to Dagne Dover’s neoprene travel bags. “They’re the best,” he says. “They’re really lightweight, and they’re made of this scuba material that looks sleek and modern and is nice to the touch.” The bags aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, though. “You can fit a lot of stuff inside — it’s a minimal aesthetic, no busy details or anything, just all the compartments you need.” Jessica Morrobel of  Traveling With Jessica agrees that the Landon is an “absolute lifesaver,” and  Going ’s travel spokesperson, Katy Nastro, is also a fan, especially for quick overnights. The duffel comes in five sizes, but medium is the best option if you know you’ll be flying on budget carriers with strict rules.

The best personal-item backpacks

Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe 2 Travel Backpack

This is my current personal item backpack of choice. It is designed to slip over the handles of a carry-on suitcase, but over Christmas I took it as my only luggage on a weeklong train trip across Turkey and Georgia and it fit everything I needed, including an extra pair of shoes. The neutral design is as appropriate for day hiking and office commuting as it is flying. But the capacity is the biggest drawcard. Creator Jessica Wright of Bon Traveler is a longtime user and says she is “shocked” by how much it can hold. Great for packers who like to compartmentalize, the interior is separated into various sleeves and sections for a laptop, clothing, and tech items. But you can also remove these compartments and just use it as a black hole bag if needed.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

My fellow Strategist travel writer Rachael Griffiths prefers this sleek Timbuk2 backpack with even more sleeves and compartments for organizing items on the move. It, too, can store “a week away’s worth of clothes and a fat beach read if you’re strategic,” she says. Which is ideal if you’re traveling personal-item-only .

Gregory Rhune 25

The “clown car of personal items” is what writer and film wrangler Maggie Slepian calls this top-loading backpack from hiker-beloved brand Gregory. When she used it as her only luggage item for a four-day trip to the East Coast last fall, it fit a laptop, notebook, sandals, running shoes, rain jacket, jumpsuit, two pairs of leggings, two pairs of shorts, several shirts, toiletries, socks, undergarments, five pairs of headphones (over-ear, noise-canceling earbuds, white-noise only, corded for the plane, and AirPods for Zoom calls), and snacks. Her water bottle was stashed in the stretchy side pocket.

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack

Patagonia’s Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack is “a really good bag,” as Strategist contributing writer Molly Dektar observes . Popular among globe-trotting art world types, it can be carried as either a tote or a backpack, depending on the situation, and it folds into its own internal pocket, for easy storage. It is practical without sacrificing style: “Though it is crafted of black ripstop, it does not scream, ‘I hike!’ and though it has a large number of pockets and adjustable straps, it does not scream, ‘I code!’”

Patagonia Black Hole 25L Daypack

Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens is a fan of Patagonia’s Black Hole bags too — but she uses this more traditional-looking one. “ There are one zillion separate little pockets and perfectly sized compartments for things like chargers and night guards and passports and AirPods,” she explains, “as well as slim sleeves for a laptop and magazines.” The bag opens at the top, which means things won’t come tumbling out when you need to grab something. And while there’s a high level of organization happening on the inside, the bag has a smooth exterior: “ I quite like that the outside doesn’t look all that tricked out. ”

Fjallraven Kanken Mini

Despite fears of looking like a Scandinavian school child or 2012-era hipster, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso is loyal to her Kanken — and she’s not alone among our staff . “This backpack is so light, so compact, and so durable it really is ideal for stuffing under tiny airplane seats,” she explains. “Plus, you can fit way more stuff inside than seems humanly possible given its petite size.”

The best personal-item cross-bodies and fanny packs

Ratio et Motus Eclipse Bag

Crescent-shaped bags have been everywhere over the past couple of years, but here’s one that’ll stand out from the crowd. Writer and artist Ludwig Hurtado says it’s big enough to fit your phone, headphones, passport, sunglasses, snacks, and even a book or two. And the cross-body strap makes it ideal for travel: “In theory, I love the look of a large tote bag, but when I’m running around the city or the airport, they tend to fall off my shoulder way too easily.” He took his to Paris Fashion Week as well as on a quick trip to Berlin, where it successfully helped him gain entry to Berghain.

Baggu Medium Nylon Crescent Bag

On the more affordable side of things, Baggu’s take on the crescent trend is excellent for travel. I’ve had mine for a couple of years now and would be lost without it at the airport. It’s comfortable to wear, with a highly adjustable strap and two zippered internal pockets for securing your phone, passport, and wallet. The capacity is huge: I can fit a book and water bottle inside and still have room left over for other items. I’ve machine washed it several times with no issue. And while the bag looks smart, especially in the black colorway, it’s also low-key enough to avoid the attention of pickpockets. Hairstylist Teddi Cranford, who has visited Marrakech five times , says that it’s “essential for the souk,” because you can “just easily grab stuff out and zip it back up.”

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

Less sporty-looking than the ubiquitous Lululemon belt bag, and constructed from stretchy neoprene fabric that lets you stuff it full if you need to, our favorite fanny pack is perfect for the plane. As Strategist editor Maxine Builder explains, it’s made of “forgiving, easy-to-clean” neoprene, and “it expands a fair bit” so she can stuff more into it.

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15 of the Best Travel Bags You Need for Your Next Vacay

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Whether you’re a first-time or frequent flyer, the right bags can mean all the difference. Is your carry-on too big? Is your dop kit leak-proof? Is there enough room in your purse for all-day adventure? To help you get ready to take off—and thereafter—we went ahead and compiled a list of 15 of the best travel bags around, from hard-shell and soft-shell suitcases to weekend duffles and toiletry bags . So get those passports ready and read on to find your next favorite travel bag. Bon voyage!

How To Choose The Best Travel Bag

Domestic vs. International Travel Carry-Ons

We know that you’ve probably gotten away with taking a suitcase that definitely was not regulation carry-on size. Typically, domestic flights are a bit more lenient with your luggage dimensions, but a good rule of thumb for domestic flights is to make sure your carry-on bag fits within 22-inches by 14-inches by 9-inches. This size ensures that your bag—along with everyone else’s—is going to fit in the bins overhead on your flight. If you’re flying internationally however, these airlines are more likely than not going to be stricter. We suggest finding a carry-on that is 20 inches or shorter to take on your international flights. And always check with your airlines.

Soft Shell vs. Hard Shell Luggage

If you’re a no-fuss kind of traveler, a soft-shell suitcase is for you. They’re able to withstand a bit more wear and tear whether you’re taking it glamping or stuffing it in the overhead compartment. On the other hand, if you are packing items that need some added protection (think: a pair of heels you don’t want to break or a beloved designer bag), we suggest going with a hard-shell suitcase so that none of your valuables sustain any damage.

Two-Wheel Luggage vs. Four-Wheel Luggage

If you have ever been down-to-the-last-second late for a flight and almost missed it because you had to drag your heavy suitcase behind you, we suggest you get a spinner suitcase. A spinner has four wheels, which tend to be multidirectional, helping you not only have full control over your bag, but also allowing you to comfortably glide your luggage alongside of you as you maneuver through security to your gate. On the other hand, two-wheeled suitcases typically have wheels that are inside of the main compartment and required being tilted on their side to drag through the terminal.

Best Travel Bags At A Glance:

  • Best Overall: Calpak Hue Luggage
  • Best Checked Travel Bag: Béis Check-In Roller
  • Best Carry-On Travel Bag: Away The Carry-On
  • Best Backpack Travel Bag: Rains Waterproof Backpack
  • Best Duffle Travel Bag: Dagne Dover Landon Carryall Bag
  • Best Laptop Travel Bag : Lo & Sons The Seville Aire Tote
  • Best Purse Travel Bag: Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag
  • Best Eco-Friendly Travel Bag: Paravel Aviator
  • Best Soft Shell Travel Bag: Yeti Crossroad Luggage
  • Best Travel Bag Set: Samsonite 3-Piece Luggage Set
  • Best Budget-Friendly Travel Bag: Amazon Basics Spinner Suitcase
  • Best Splurge-Worthy Travel Bag: Rimowa Cabin Suitcase
  • Best Toiletry Travel Bag: Everlane The ReNew Catch-All Case
  • Best Weekend Travel Bag: Baboon to the Moon Small Go-Bag
  • Best Customizable Travel Bag: Roam the Jaunt

9 Best Travel Pants (Tested by Our Comfort-Obsessed Staff)

calpak suitcase

1. Calpak Hue Luggage

Best Overall

She’s sleek, she’s stylish and she has a little bit of everything: A TSA-approved lock that keeps your valuables safe in transit, multi-directional wheels for back-ache-free transportation, interior compartments for peak organization, a large front pocket to stow any essentials you need in close reach and a price tag that won’t make too big a dent on your checking account.

beis suitcase

2. Béis Check-in Roller

Best Checked Travel Bag

You get to the airport, lift your suitcase onto the scale, stare in horror as the red numbers flash “58 lbs” and proceed to spend the next five minutes on the floor, suitcase open, stuffing as much as you can into a spare bag. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. So while this bag has all of your usual perks, the red light that turns on to indicate it's over the 50-pound weight limit makes this guy unbeatable as a checked suitcase.

away carry on hard shell suitcase

3. Away The Carry-on

Best Hard Shell Suitcase

This is one of our tried-and-tested favorites. We love how protective its sleek styled shell is and it earns extra points for having a security lock for extra safety. Plus, it has a USB charging port so no more desperately searching for an outlet that’s close to your gate.

rains waterproof backpack

4. Rains Waterproof Backpack

Best Travel Backpack

This is made of durable, waterproof neoprene and has enough room to fit all your gadgets and gizmos. Bonus points for its hidden back pocket to help keep your valuables safe and secure.

dagne dover duffle

5. Dagne Dover Landon Carryall Bag

Best Duffle Travel Bag

Whether you’re taking this by bus, train or plane, this duffle’s expandable design offers ample room so you’ll have a spot for literally everything. Case in point: the pocket specifically made for holding your phone and interior compartments for storing water bottles, shoes and everything else in between.

lo and sons laptop bag

6. Lo & Sons The Seville Aire Tote

Best Laptop Travel Bag

Cushioned padding protects the thing most precious to you: your laptop. Plus, the thoughtful pockets keep things organized while you're on the go—no more franticly digging through your bag for your AirPods for a Zoom you have to join in two minutes.

longchamp purse

7. Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag

Best Purse Travel Bag

This cutie is going to keep you looking stylish whether you’re grabbing after-work drinks or jet-setting to Europe. It’s the ideal size if you’re searching for a style-savvy carry-on that can easily stow your laptop alongside other daily essentials and makes for a roomy tote even when you’re not using it for travel.

paravel suitcase

8. Paravel Aviator

Best Eco-Friendly Travel Bag

Looking to get your hands on a sustainably sourced option? This fashion-forward carry-on may be easy on the eyes, but it's entirely made up of recycled material—from the interior lining and exterior polycarbonate shell to the zippers.

yeti suitcase

9. Yeti Crossroad Luggage

Best Soft Shell Travel Bag

Yes, Yeti delivers some of the best on-the-go travel mugs, but did you know Yeti produces some stellar luggage, too? This one in particular is especially worth the investment, thanks to its durable hard-shell exterior, 70/30 split dividers for keeping all your things secure, packing cubes for added organization and front pocket for stashing all the things you need to keep within close reach.

samsonite suitcase set

10. Samsonite 3-piece Luggage Set

Best Travel Bag Set

Durable hard shell? Check. Spinner wheels? Check. Three different sizes? Also check. This set comes in three different sizes, with one carry-on and two checked size suitcases.

amazon basics suitcase

11. Amazon Basics Spinner Suitcase

Best Budget-Friendly Travel Bag

Luggage is notoriously expensive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t budget-friendly options out there to help you glob trot and save some money. Case in point: Amazon Basics’ travel bag line. This one in particular caught our eye, thanks to the durable hard shell, multiple packing compartments, TSA-approved lock and array of pretty colors.

rimowa suitcase

12. Rimowa Cabin Suitcase

Best Splurge-Worthy Travel Bag

Before luggage brands started producing aluminum suitcases by the dozen, there was this one. The first of its kind, the Rimowa Cabin Suitcase’s iconic silver exterior is made from anodized aluminum and built with ball-bearing mounted wheels. Translation: this durable workhorse is going to last you for years to come.

BUY IT ($1,200)

everlane toiletry bag

13. Everlane The Renew Catch-all Case

Best Toiletry Travel Bag

Don’t be fooled, this toiletry bag might not be massive, but it can fit way more than you think. It’s got interior pockets to keep products nice and tidy, low maintenance fabric that’s easily cleaned and an expandable design that can handle being packed to the max with your skincare and beauty goodies.

baboon to the moon small go bag

14. Baboon To The Moon Small Go-bag

Best Weekend Bag

We love this guy for more reasons than we can list. Not only is it TSA-approved for carry-on size, but its water-proof shell has backpack straps, different sized handles, an over-the-shoulder strap, a lockable zipper, comes with four different pockets and easily stashes three-to-five day’s worth of your gear.

roam the juant suitcase

15. Roam The Jaunt

Best Customizable Travel Bag

If your goal is to avoid mixing up your suitcase with someone else's, having a personalized travel bag is where it’s at. From the option to monogram the exterior shell down to custom colors you can select from, you can personalize this puppy in a myriad of ways for luggage that matches your vibe perfectly.

The 17 Best Luggage Brands For Your Long-Overdue Trip

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The Best Carry-On Luggage for Every Budget And Destination

Image may contain Baggage Accessories Bag Handbag and Suitcase

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The quest to find the best carry-on luggage shouldn’t be as onerous as your search for the perfect vacation destination —Instagrammable, but not, like, too Instagrammable—but it absolutely is. And though vacation destinations might feel beholden to your limited budget and even more limited OOO days, suitcase options abound at every price point.

Let’s face it, we’re living in an age where trusting any airline with checked baggage is not only a risk, but an inconvenience. Who has time to wait at a luggage carousel when you have a (hopefully!) vacation to get to?

That said, finding the perfect piece of carry-on luggage can be a tall order. Not only are there plenty of established luggage brands to choose from, direct-to-consumer brands like Away and fashion-fueled juggernauts like Rimowa have entered — and, frankly, started dominating — the chat. Sure, they’ve diversified the market, but they’ve also made it a whole lot more difficult for those of us that just want a workhorse of a bag that’s as durable as it is versatile.

With the goal of finding that perfect piece of luggage in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most tried-and-true options that range from hardshell stunners to leather duffels. All of the specs are included so that you never have to worry about your luggage squeezing into the overhead bin—and we’ve even thrown in some photos from pieces that have stood the test of travel.

The Best Carry-on Luggage, According to GQ

Gotta get to the airport ASAP? Don't run through the airport like a fool—our top picks for the best carry-on luggage are right here.

  • The Best Softside Luggage : TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner , $170
  • The Best Hard Shell Luggage : Away Bigger Carry-On , $295
  • The Convertible Travel Bag : Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag , $159
  • The Best Budget Carry-On Bag : Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner , $83
  • The Best Splurge Carry-On Bag : Rimowa Classic Carry-On , $1,525
  • The Best Customizable Carry-On Suitcase : Roam Carry On , $550
  • The Best Travel Backpack: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag , $415
  • The Best Do-Everything Duffel : Peak Design Travel Duffel , $140

Jump To : What's the Difference Between Hardside and Softside Luggage? | What Makes a Good Carry-On Bag? | How We Tested

The Best Softside Luggage: TravelPro MaxLite 5 Expandable Spinner

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Maxlite 5 Softside Expandable Spinner

Big on practicality and low on cost, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 offers the best value of any softside bag out there. It's the brand's lightest four-wheel spinner suitcase at five pounds, maximizing on maneuverability for when you're sprinting to catch your flight. The cavernous, expandable interior includes tons of weird little zippered sections and mesh pockets for you to cordon off your toiletries, small items, dirty clothes, and shoes from your clothes without busting out the packing cubes. And after you've racked up plenty of miles on those wheels, the Platinum Elite comes with a limited lifetime warranty for repairs and replacements.

The only ding against the TravelPro is its humdrum looks, which evoke the dated carpeting of one of the airports it'll be dragged through. But that hasn’t kept it from becoming a favorite of frequent flyers. If the TravelPro logo looks familiar, it's probably because you’ve spotted it on the luggage of the flight attendants and pilots that spend most of their lives in the sky.

The Best Hard-Shell Luggage: Away The Bigger Carry-On

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The Bigger Carry-On

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Away The Bigger Carry-on, tested and reviewed by Brittany Loggins

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Away really took the luggage industry by storm when it launched in 2015. And while the brand has launched a lot of colorways and collabs since its early days, the streamlined hardshell design has stayed basically the same. We've had the Bigger Carry-On size since 2017, and it’s traveled with us on more than 50 flights in that time. While the light blue color makes scratches and marks somewhat inevitable, the structure, wheels and inside lining are truly as good as new. We also think the outside doesn’t look nearly as bad as it could given the amount of times it’s been used, and we suspect that it could be shined up a bit if I ever decide to take on such a task.

Now for the specifics: the bags have smooth Hinomoto spinner wheels, top and side handles, clothes straps, a mesh zip pocket, a laundry bag, and sturdy YKK zippers. They also have a built-in USB charger, which was a little more exciting before airlines started requiring them to be removed from the luggage itself before takeoff. While our tester took out the mesh insert long ago to maximize the amount of items they could cram in the bag, that’s also an option to use as a clothing compressor if you need it.

Another Solid Hardside Carry-On Suitcase: Monos Carry-On

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Monos carry-on, tested and reviewed by Tyler Chin

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In the war between direct-to-consumer suitcases, Away is the clear winner by sheer popularity. But for anyone trying hard to not cave into peer pressure, Monos makes a comparable hardside suitcase that doesn't scream Instagram-obsessive-millennial. It's built with nearly the same specs as Away's carry-on and features nearly all the same design details from the interior compression, included laundry bag, 360-degree spinner wheels, and ribbed exterior. It's a whole Andrew Jackson less than the Away if that's enough to sway you to shop a suitcase from a lesser-known brand. And there's less of a chance of someone else grabbing your bag from the overhead bin, which—joking or not—should be enough to get someone on the no-fly list for at least a year.

The Ultimate Travel Flex: Rimowa Classic Carry-On

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Classic Cabin Suitcase

Rimowa, the storied German luggage company founded in the late 1800s, has been a powerhouse in the luggage space for over a century, with a litany of perks to its name: A single-stage telescoping handle, a hinged double latch lock by the main compartment, elastic compression straps with magnetic pull-release fastenings, its signature ridged exteriors, the works. Couple that with some choice collabs with the likes of Dior, Off-White, Moncler, and beyond, and you'll see why Rimowa's become a status symbol among elite travelers and celebs like Rihanna and LeBron James. Each bag will set you back at least a grand, but if you've ever been stuck traveling with a lackluster piece of luggage and thought, Man, I wish my suitcase could do that , chances are Rimowa's can, and masterfully. We fully love the aluminum model, but if you're balling on a budget (but still can afford to drop a few hundo), Rimowa makes this exact shaped suitcase in a polycarbonate option, which makes it more comparable to your typical DTC-style suitcase (ahem, like Away). We went deep on the legacy brand's signature bag here in case you want to hear more about the intricacies of how it maneuvers and exactly how it compares to something more pedestrian like the Away.

The Best Customizable Carry-On Suitcase: Roam Carry On

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Roam carry-on, tested and reviewed by Brittany Loggins

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For Roam luggage, customization really is key. Our tester opted for a model that featured different shades of pink, and that's because Roam's level customization is truly impressive, from the outside shell to the zipper lining and handles. If you want to keep it subtle, these cases look amazing with basic colors but a fun pop for the zipper lining and wheels. You can truly make it as loud and bright or as subdued as you want. No matter what colors you choose, the glossy or matte options for the hardshell, as well as the overall design and silhouette, are brought to you by the same team that built the iconic Tumi luggage, so it’s gonna look great.

Our tester had their carry-on for five years, lauding its small-but-mighty design. The brand recently added an expandable option, too, which offers 37% more space when activated. But even without the expansion, our tester has been able to fit a on of stuff, including bulky jackets and snow pants for a five-day ski trip and a tuxedo, suit, two pairs of shoes, and regular daily wear for an even longer Europe excursion.

The Best Luxury Duffle Bag: Lotuff No.12 Weekender

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No. 12 Weekender

Lotuff's handsome, all-American No. 12 duffle bag is our favorite of the genre , with all the details that matter (or matter enough to justify this $1,200 price tag). Take the zipper closure for one, which runs from end to end for extra security, and a wide opening that allows you to shove in a glut of your equally fancy sweaters and toiletries without breaking a sweat. Unlike other cheaply-made and poorly-designed duffles, the vegetable-tanned leather also gives it a first-class patina that only gets better with every trip. But should the leather break or that zipper snag, Lotuff will repair it for a fee, so this bag will stay in your family for many, many flights to come. The interior of the bag features a zip pocket for corralling your loose miscellanea, and the bottom of the bag is also reinforced with double leather for durability. With this bag, you're looking at an investment piece that, if you're treating it right, won't ever need to be replaced.

The Best Travel Backpack: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag

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Topo Designs

Global Travel Bag 40L

Backcountry

Topo Design has built up a loyal following of rugged adventurers over its 16 years of business. The Colorado-based brand is making some of the best mountaineering, hiking, and travel packs and gear in the Mountain Standard Time zone, and we've found its Global Travel bag to be an excellent pack for doing exactly as the name implies. The bag actually offers three ways to carry it—whether you use it as a backpack, briefcase, or shoulder bag—but what it really has going for it is its plethora of pockets and U-shape entry, which means the bag unzips to fold in half.

The Best Dress Shirts Will Earn You That Promotion

That means no longer having to blindly and aimlessly rummage through your bag in the overhead compartment for one tiny thing before takeoff. Topo Designs put padding almost everywhere this bag touches your body, which also makes running through the airport with two minutes to board less torturous on your frame. Almost everything about the Global Travel bag has been configured to allow you to customize it with the brand's assortment of packing gear: The daisy chain lets you hook on accessory packs; the sizing of the compartments is perfectly measured to accommodate storage cubes; and attachment clips further turn you into a pack mule for even more baggage options.

The Best Do-Everything Duffel: Peak Design Travel Duffel

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Peak Design

Travel Duffel 35L

Peak Design Travel Duffel tested and reviewed by Tyler Chin

If you have duffels reserved for specific purposes—travel, the gym , schlepping your everyday goods—then you have more space than us, friends. Peak Design, a brand that's become famous for its ingenious storage solutions for hauling camera and video gear, makes a travel duffel that fits the bill for every purpose. Available in 35- and 65-liter options (only the former can be used as a carry-on), the Travel duffel is one of the nicer bags we've seen in the sub-$150 price bracket.

There's also something every satisfying about the way the hand-carry straps snap together with a magnet, and if your arms are getting tired, those straps can be work on your back. The extra-wide zipper allows for great access to your goods, and some internal pockets make it easier to know where you've put your chargers, passports, and other miscellaneous travel goods. While the duffel doesn't fold into itself like the Patagonia bag below, it does fold down fairly flat. One of our staffers brings this duffel with him on his travels and stores it in his other carry-on in case the travel shopping bug bites him and one bag isn't enough to get his goodies home.

The Best Convertible Travel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

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Black Hole Duffel Bag, 40L

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag, tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth

Remember that hapless kid in fifth grade the whole class mocked for showing up with a rolling backpack the first day of school? ( People don't forget! ) Well, if you still holding onto some secondhand trauma from the incident, Patagonia's streamlined duffel might be good enough to risk straining your back to carry. Late last year, Patagonia updated its popular line of Black Hole bags , swapping out the high-gloss finish for a new matte look that makes good on the eco-conscious brand's commitment to sustainable sourcing. Aside from the new 100% recycled thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) finish, essentially everything about this bag is the same. While we miss the look of the OG bags, we're happy to say the duffel loses none of the specs or details that made the originals so damn great.

The body fabric, lining, and webbing are all made out of water-resistant recycled materials designed to keep your valuables dry, while two padded straps make for an easy switch if you'd rather sling it over your shoulders like a carry-on backpack . The bag's handles are also specially reinforced to make for comfortable hand-carrying so your lower vertebrae will hold up fine no matter how far your terminal is from the gate. Best of all, the whole thing folds into itself for storage. With all due respect to your childhood classmate (who you definitely owe an apology), sometimes carrying your bag just looks cooler than wheeling it around.

The Best Truly Budget Carry-On: Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner

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Amazon Basics

20-Inch Hardside Spinner

We've all been there: You forgot to pack for your trip in two days, and wait, you don't have a suitcase. Take advantage of that Prime membership burning a monthly hole in your credit card statement, and scoop up the most popular carry-on Amazon from its namesake brand. With over 45,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews to its credit, this 20-inch hardside spinner has earned more than its fair share of compliments like “perfect for the price,” “light and sturdy,” and “great, all-around suitcase.” For an suitcase that costs less than a Benjamin, this spinner is built pretty well and features everything you'd want from a quality spinner: an expander, interior zippered pocket with additional storage, and smooth-rolling wheels for breezing through that moving walkway like you're The Flash.

3 More Carry-Ons We Like

We've also assembled a number of other worthy alternatives that'll help you jet off in style, even if you're on a Frontier budget. These may be slightly less accessible or less well-rounded than our top picks—and some of these we haven't had the luxury of testing ourselves—but they boast many of the same features you'd hope for in a well-traveled suitcase, from easy-gripping telescoping handles to a roomy, organized interior.

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22-Inch 19 Degrees International Expandable Spinner Carry-On

Perhaps no other suitcase brand on the planet has the same name recognition as a Tumi, the workhorse luggage of choice for business travelers, and plenty of celebrities, since it first came on the scene in the ‘70s. Beyond the absolute basics—trustworthy zippers, a bevy of pockets and dividers, and locks for keeping everyone else out except the TSA—this shellacked spinner has style in spades. Add to that a Lever Lock system that fully enables your overpacking tendencies, and Tumi's tracing system (in case you ever lose sight of your bag), and you have hardly any reasons not to scoop one. The polished diagonal ridges on this spinner give it some subtle Rimowa vibes, too, without entreating you spend more than $1,000.

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The North Face

Base Camp Duffel

Upgrading from the $30 Carhartt duffel you've had since college to something slightly more distinguished? North Face's base camp bag is the next logical progression, with a similar rugged style for outdoorsy folks, plus a water-resistant, recycled exterior that can handle a little dirt and distressing. It's extremely generous with a 50 liter capacity for tucking in gear, clothes, and beyond. Plus, the price point at under $150 is just right. It's probably the next best thing if for some reason Patagonia's high-vis logos aren't to your liking and you'd prefer something stealthier to haul your stuff into the great outdoors or onto the main cabin.

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Cabin Luggage

Help your suitcase stand out in a sea of black nylon by copping a polycarbonate spinner in robin's egg blue. Floyd's retro carry-on spinners are inspired by ‘70s skating culture (peep the wheels!), with a breezy, laid-back sensibility that’ll help ease you into the vacation mindset. The glaringly orange, well-apportioned storage section inside only amplifies the brand's ethos of good vibes and great design. If you want swervier luggage that doesn’t look like everyone else's in the terminal, this one's a solid bet that perfectly blends high-vis colorblocking and design chops.

What's the Difference Between Soft and Hardside Carry-On Bags?

Hardside luggage used to be a bit of a novelty. If you had any 15 years ago, you might have been one of the few people in the airport hauling around their characteristic sleek shells—which made finding your bag at the luggage carousel a lot easier. But as these models started to become available in polycarbonate plastics, hardside options become just as ubiquitous as their soft shell counterparts.

On the other hand, the main advantage of soft fabric luggage is its durability. That might seem counterintuitive because shouldn't something with a hard protective shell last longer? But in our experience, after the same amount of use, softside luggage looks more or less like it did when you bought it. Think about it: If you toss a soft fabric cube back and forth against a wall for a year, it might look a little bit busted on the corners, but its stretchy-soft surface would probably absorb much of the impact. But if that cube was made out of a thin, hard substance, you'd probably see a dent or nick in the paint basically anywhere it hit the wall.

That said, a bunch of fabric luggage options (save for the super expensive models) leave a lot to be desired aesthetically. Even when they're new, pulling a fabric suitcase behind you makes you look, at best, like someone who knows their way around a day planner. At worst, especially when they're covered in all sorts of metal rivets and extra zippers, they can look dinky—the tuxedo T-shirt of things to put your clothes in. So it makes sense that hard shell luggage almost always looks much better. Their glossy shells catch the light nicely as they float alongside you. And in recent years, companies have gotten a lot better at making them as durable as can be.

Fabric luggage does have one other advantage over hard shells, though. Thanks to their stretchiness, soft suitcases tend to be a little bit more accommodating to over-packers, while still maintaining the same carry-on size. You'll find it a little bit easier to actually zip them shut, even when they're filled to the brim with extra pairs of clothes. Hard shell suitcases offer a lot less give in terms of packing space, which makes them less than ideal if you tend to accumulate endless tchotchkes while you're traveling. It might not be a dealbreaker, but still something to consider.

What Makes a Good Carry-On Bag?

Size : According to the TSA, carry-on size restrictions vary by airline, but generally, the dimensions max out at 22 by 14 by 9 inches. Another important number to note regarding carry-on sizes is the capacity, usually denoted in liters. Considering size restrictions, the most capacity you'll have is around 40 liters, which is good for a week-long trip, but we did find one duffel bag that has a 50-liter capacity but can fly under the size restrictions because of its shape.

Style : Rolling bags, suitcases, luggage—those are probably the most popular style of carry-on bag. They easy to move around and don't require a rock-hard body to transport around the airport. However, some folks might prefer a lighter-weight duffel bag or backpack to trek into the great outdoors or keep close at home for short weekend sojourns. It all depends on where you're traveling, how much you're hauling, and

Two wheels vs. four wheels : Generally, four wheels have become the norm and that’s because they can be both pushed and pulled. It also makes it easier on all four wheels to manage the weight of the luggage, which can ensure that they’re still running smoothly for years.

With two-wheeled luggage, you have to pull it, however it does have pegs on the front so that it can stand upright on its own. It used to be the case that larger suitcases would be two-wheeled because it was assumed that it would have to be pulled along. That said, today even larger pieces like trunks and checked bags tend to have four wheels.

How We Tested

We here at GQ have been scanning the wild world of luggage retailers to find the carry-on bags you can comfortably roll up the cobblestone steps of Lisbon, zip-line with through the canopies of Belize , or begrudgingly leave at the gate on the way home for your nephew’s “graduation” from elementary school. We’ve combined our knowledge of the best luggage across a range of prices, styles, and construction types—ones that we've taken on planes, trains, and automobiles—to figure out which offer the best combination of solid construction, useful features, and magnificent looks.

We also added some runner-ups that we haven't had the pleasure of testing, but think combine the right features, price point, and reputation to go toe-to-toe with other contenders in their price range. Not so into the Away? Spring for a slightly more innocuous Monos. Want a heritage bag without blowing more than a grand? Tumi's got your back. After all that, here are our top picks that we’d be happy to drag behind and beside us on every single one of our upcoming trips.

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The 12 Best Travel Bags That Will Make Your Journey a Breeze | Tested & Reviewed

Guaranteed to make you enjoy packing.

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In This Article

  • Our Top Picks

Our Testing Process

What to keep in mind.

  • Your Questions, Answered

Why Shop With Us

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

Allow me to start this article by saying I’m on a plane roughly eight to ten times a year. I absolutely adore travel, and even made it around the world backpacking by myself for a year. Needless to say, I know a thing or two about smart packing . When the world shut down and the option to travel was removed from our fingertips, it became all the more important to exercise our freedom to take a trip when it opened up again. Knowing this, more and more brands conveniently began crafting travel bags that accommodated the new wave of travelers — simplifying, organizing, and smoothing out suitcases and bags.

We tested said bags in our labs and in real life, doing so much as throwing suitcases onto the floor and seeing how they endured. As we boarded planes, we observed how quickly we could reach for our passports, and whether there was a safe space for our laptops to fit into. We took note of how smoothly wheels rolled over the French cobblestone streets or how heavy a duffel bag felt on our shoulders. Thus, we were able to compile this handy dandy list of 12 best travel bags and carry-on suitcases, based on our own personal experiences.

Best Overall

Dagne dover landon carryall bag.

  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Portability 4 /5
  • Value 3.5 /5
  • Durability 3.8 /5

What We Love: It comes with ample amounts of sleeves, pockets, and even a shoe bag.

What We Don’t Love: Neoprene is prone to creasing.

We’re big fans of Dagne Dover’s neoprene collection, having tested their belt bags and backpacks already. We weren’t surprised, therefore, when this Carryall Bag impressed us just as much as their other products. With inside pockets (both slip and zip), we were able to place a laptop into the sleeve in addition to a water bottle and a passport into their dedicated slots. Still, there was plenty of room in the main compartment for all our clothes. Included in the bundle are two removable pouches — a shoe bag and a mesh zip pouch — as well.

Most notably, the top zip extends out an extra few inches, maximizing the space to stuff our cute weekend outfits. If we didn’t need the extra space, we could clip the sides down to keep everything looking compact. Dagne Dover also offers the bag in five sizes, ensuring there’s an option that’s just right for you. Lastly, there’s an outer slip intended to be used over a suitcase handle, so the bag could stay safe and flush against our carry-on. While neoprene is very soft and lightweight, it is prone to creasing, we noticed. Still, its durability makes up for it, and we know we’ll be using this year after year.

Dimensions: 20.5” L x 10” W x 10.5” H | Materials: Premium neoprene | Colors:  9

Best Budget

L.l. bean boat and tote, zip-top.

  • Capacity 4 /5
  • Portability 5 /5
  • Ease of Use 3 /5

What We Love: You can add a personalized touch by getting it monogrammed.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have any compartments for organization.

The L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag is considered a staple beach bag for a reason. After owning this bag for just six months, InStyle ’s Associate Fashion Commerce Editor Hayley Prokos came to learn just how sturdy the canvas tote is. Not only that, but it’s become her go-to for basically all occasions, be it a personal item on a plane, a carryall for the beach, or an overnight tote to hold a change of clothes, shoes, and toiletry bag. (She uses the large size.) “Since the canvas maintains its shape when open, it’s extremely easy to pack. The only drawback is that it doesn't have any built-in compartments, but that hasn’t really bothered me, as I tend to keep small things in removable pouches that I can shuffle around in the bag,” she says. The large is fairly deep, so users can likely fit their things into it sans-problem. The fact that it’s monogrammable is just the icing on the cake. Choose between four different sizes and even two different top handle lengths — Prokos owns both the long and the short, swapping between them based on her needs.

Dimensions: 10.5” L x 5” W x 9.5” H  | Materials: Polyester | Colors: 13

Best Splurge

Coach gotham duffle.

  • Ease of Use 4 /5

What We Love: The high-end leather and stitchings feel substantial, ensuring the bag will last a lifetime.

What We Don’t Love: There aren’t a lot of compartments.

We want the items that we splurge on to be items we keep forever, like this Gotham Duffle bag from Coach. While visiting the Coach store we had the pleasure of handling this deliciously smooth leather duffle and were impressed with how spacious it was. It’s likely that Mary Poppins bought her infinity bag from the same maker, considering how much we could fit in it. Although it’s not boasting a lot of compartments, it’s ideal for rolling up all of our clothes and shoes into the open space. The glove-tanned leather feels sturdy and substantial, making us feel confident it would endure a ton of tossing, shoving, and rough TSA handling. The minimalist and unisex aesthetic also ensures it won’t go out of style, so while the initial payment might seem like a lot, it’s really a steal if you divide it by the number of years for which you’re about to use it.

Dimensions: 19.75” L x  9” W x 11.5” H | Materials: Leather | Colors:  2

Best Leather

Madewell overnight bag in leather.

What We Love: The leather has only gotten better after four years of use.

What We Don’t Love: There is no laptop sleeve.

While many people are familiar with (and in love with) Madewell’s tote bag , we found all the similar great qualities in their overnight bag, plus Alpha. This option is a lot larger than their tote, but still small enough to fit under the seat in front of us. We’ve had this bag for over four years now, and the exterior leather has only gotten better in our opinion. It has endured all our not-so-gentle trips, protecting what’s inside even as we threw it into the trunk of a car.

Although there are two slip pockets in the interior where we typically keep our passport and phone, it doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, unfortunately. The bag gets rounded out as we stuff it with clothes, so it’s not the most laptop-friendly. Still, the combination of this weekender with a carry-on suitcase has saved us tons of money by not needing to check in a bag, while probably bringing the same amount of stuff as we would with a large suitcase.

Dimensions: 22.75” L x 13.37” W x 18” H | Materials: Leather | Colors:  2

Béis East To West Tote

  • Ease of Use 5 /5

What We Love: There is a compartment for absolutely everything.

What We Don’t Love: The top zipper doesn’t close all the way.

Shay Mitchell’s company dedicated to all things travel didn’t miss a thing when it came to designing the perfect travel tote — it’s compartment-galore in and around this bag. We found pouches for our water bottles, a sleeve for our laptop, a zippered slit for our on-flight toiletries, two slots for our passport and phone, and even two pen hooks (key for someone who loves to journal on the plane).

Inside the exterior zipped pocket, there is a key leash, so that we may never have to rummage through our million things at the door. In the past year that we’ve owned this bag, it quickly became a life-saver of a tote, especially as people who are never on time and can’t be sorting through a black hole when we’re being pushed through a line. And yes, it comes with a slit for a suitcase handle as well, so even though we could carry it by the top handle or the shoulder strap, we don’t have to. The only con is that the top doesn’t zip all the way, which means extra attention needs to be paid in high-theft areas.

Dimensions: 9.06” L x 7.13” W x 14.17” H | Materials: Recycled polyester | Colors:  2

Best Compartmentalized

Lipault lost in berlin 24h bag.

What We Love: The cushiony exterior keeps everything safe on the inside.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not big enough to carry a range of shoe options.

We’ve been using this bag not just on our travels, but to the gym as well, giving it a bigger bang for its buck. It’s got two generously sized and zipped pockets on the exterior, making items like passports, phones, and chapsticks easy to grab and safe from theft. Thanks to the cushiony and soft exterior, our valuables on the inside always remain safe. There are even more compartments on the inside that are either zipped or meshed. And of course, a laptop sleeve can be found for anyone looking to use it on a business trip. As a little extra bonus, we love how the bag folds flat when not in use — it’s easy to store it away without taking up too much closet space. Overall, it’s not as big as some of the other bags we tested. At most, we’d feel comfortable packing one extra pair of shoes, but not a whole lot more.

Dimensions: 17.3” L x 9.8” W x 11.4” H | Materials: Polyester | Colors:  6

Best Convertible

Caraa studio tote.

What We Love: You can convert the tote into a backpack.

What We Don’t Love: The shoe compartment can only fit smaller or flat shoes.

At first glance, this black leather tote looks like any standard bag. But upon further inspection, we fell deeper and deeper in love with all the smart benefits it offers. There are removable straps that turn the tote into a backpack, so we could move around with our hands free. Because they are removable, they don’t dangle around and get in the way when we simply want to use it as a tote either.

We found a side zip that we used as a shoe compartment, although it only fits flat sandals or smaller shoes (i.e. no high heels). The interior is extremely spacious, too, which allowed us to roll multiple shirts and sweaters in. And so nothing goes missing, there is a laptop sleeve, a water bottle cinched pocket, and two larger slip pockets for passports, wallets, and phones. All in all, we could organize, bring a ton of items, and still look chic — a true win-win situation.

Dimensions: 10” L x 18” H | Materials: Leather | Colors:  1

InStyle / Joy Kim

Best Carry-on

Muji adjustable handle hard shell suitcase.

What We Love: The wheels run very smoothly and can be locked into place when not in use.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t come with any additional pouches or perks.

We didn’t know how smooth wheels could roll until pushing this carry-on suitcase through rough pebbled European streets. No matter how heavy the case was packed, it would still roll as though it only carried a feather. Muji has an extensive travel collection which we all adore, but this simple yet elegant suitcase has to take the cake. We could easily fit enough items for a week-long getaway. The two interior compartments are divided by a zippered mesh flap, where we keep miscellaneous items like notebooks. When the suitcase is closed, we could clip the zipper handles into its designated clasp on the side and lock it with a key, giving it an extra layer of anti-theft protection. And the best part? We could lock the wheels from rolling, allowing us to leave it standing on a moving train without it skedaddling down the aisle. While many modern suitcases come with additional pouches or even charging pods, this suitcase does not.

Dimensions: 14.6” L x 9.4” W x 21.3” H | Materials: Recycled polycarbonate, recycled polyester, polyester | Colors:  5

Best for Organizing

Paravel aviator carry-on.

What We Love: It comes with a compression board that helps to save space.

What We Don’t Love: It’s slightly heavier than your average carry-on suitcase.

Anyone looking to book a luxurious trip should have an equally luxurious suitcase to match. Owning the Paravel Aviator Carry-On felt like a beautiful travel experience in itself. Dare we say we actually enjoyed packing for once? That’s because it comes with multiple interior pockets, a separate laundry bag, and an interior compression board, which helps to press down clothing and allow for more space. And packing cubes made separating shoes from clothes a breeze. All of the details are beautifully designed, with vegan leather finishes and buttery smooth zippers — which by the way, could be locked and sealed for anti-theft. Much like the Muji option, the wheels on this suitcase glided so smoothly it was as though it were floating.

Yes, it’s a little pricier than other options, but it does come with a 10-year warranty that allows you to get manufacturing defects fixed, free of cost. We did notice that at 8.2 pounds the suitcase is a little heavier than some of the others we tested. Considering it’s a carry-on, it plays less of a role at TSA. But if you’re trying to slim down your luggage weight as much as possible perhaps this is not the one for you.

Dimensions: 13.7” L x 9” W x 21.7” H | Materials: Recycled polycarbonate, recycled aluminum handles, recycled zippers, vegan leather | Colors:  5

Best Weekender

Calpak hue laptop duffel.

  • Capacity 4.5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5

What We Love: A padded laptop sleeve saves us from needing to bring an extra bag for our laptop.

What We Don’t Love: We wish there were a few more color options.

Duffel bags are a favorite go-to for little weekend getaways, and this option from Calpak offered far more than just a big empty space for clothes. If you're looking for something that also functions as a laptop bag , this option has a padded laptop sleeve that protected our laptop during transportation. A discreet phone slit made answering phone calls easy, and various pockets in and around the bag offered more ways to organize our valuables. A little slot fit for suitcase handles allowed us to keep everything together and our hands free. When we’re not traveling, the bag doubles as a great gym bag, giving us more chances to use it in everyday life. We would have loved a few more color options, like navy and white, but the four currently available will suit most tastes.

Dimensions: 18” L x 9.5” W x 10” H | Materials: Polyester, polyurethane | Colors:  4

Best for Business

Away the everywhere bag.

  • Organization 5 /5
  • Portability 3.5 /5

What We Love: Its sleek appeal makes it easy to go straight from the airport to a meeting.

What We Don’t Love: We wish it were a tiny bit bigger to fit an extra outfit.

Going somewhere for business? This bag from Away looks like a large briefcase and functions partly as one, too. With a separate compartment for laptops, pouches for notebooks and pens, a zippered section for wallets and passports, and a mesh pocket for a water bottle, the Everywhere bag has been a sleek way to organize all our business essentials. The center compartment is large enough to pack enough clothes for a two-day trip, we found, but not more. With how sleek and minimalist the bag looks, we could easily carry it from the plane to the meeting without stopping by a hotel. After accidentally spilling some water onto the bag while being served by a flight attendant, we were happy to find the exterior was completely water-resistant.

Dimensions: 16.3” L x 7.3” W x 10.2” H | Materials: Nylon, leather | Colors:  5

Best Duffel

L.l. bean adventure rolling duffle.

  • Design 3.5 /5
  • Portability 3 /5
  • Durability 4 /5

What We Love: You could roll the bag like a standard suitcase.

What We Don’t Love: The zip doesn’t open up very wide.

L.L. Bean has been a trusted destination for all things adventure. Although this rolling duffle bag didn't open as wide as we had hoped, the interior is deceptively large. It felt as though we could keep placing items in it and it would magically expand internally. On top of being able to hold it using the top handles, it could also be rolled like a regular suitcase. It surely made whizzing from point A to B much lighter. Thankfully, the wheels were incredibly smooth. And because the material is water-resistant, we didn’t break a sweat when rolling over any surprise puddles.

Dimensions: 12” L x 9” W x 23” H | Materials: Nylon, polyurethane | Colors:  7

First, we tapped into our rich pool of editors, writers, and travelers to see which travel bags were being bought and used organically. We rounded up our personal favorites and dropped a few of those selections here. Next, we called in multiple suitcases and bags into our testing lab and put them through a series of tests, including stuffing them to the brim to see how much they hold and weigh, checking how easy it is to utilize the compartments, observing how smoothly everything zipped, and feeling how well they rolled on the floor. We even threw the suitcases on the floor to see if anything would break, snap, or scratch. Those who passed all of our tests were then recommended in this article.

Did you know there isn’t one universal carry-on size requirement that all airlines adhere to? It’s actually up to individual airlines to determine carry-on and checked luggage size requirements, as opposed to TSA. This means that different restrictions may apply from flight to flight (though a commonly accepted maximum carry-on size is 22 x 14 x 9 inches). If you don’t mind checking a bag, then no need to worry, but if you, like us, dread the baggage claim carousel, be mindful of dimensions when selecting your next bag (the Paravel Aviator Carry-On should do just the trick, no matter your travel plans). For shoulder bags like the Madewell The Essential Overnight Bag in Leather , they should be compact enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

Travel bags come equipped with many features, like dirty laundry dividers, specific pockets for tech devices, weight indicators, and more. “I do believe that form follows function,” says Nteta. “When it comes to functionality, I always look for my carry-on to be expandable and have organizational features so that I can separate things out properly and easily access must-haves like my laptop and wallet.” Options like the Paravel Aviator Carry-On features a compression board and a laundry pouch, while the Dagne Dover Landon Neoprene Carryall Bag comes with two additional pouches for delicates. The L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Ziptop may not come with any compartments, but it does give you various size options to choose from including different handle lengths. Add on the fact that you can add a monogram, its personalization capabilities make it stand out from the rest.

When shopping for luggage, really try to imagine yourself carrying this bag throughout various lifestyle scenarios. Can you schlepp the thing through an airport, onto a train, then onto a subway, and then up the four flights of stairs to your Airbnb? If it’s lightweight like the Muji Adjustable Handle Hard Shell Suitcase , you should be just fine! Meanwhile, a non-wheeled duffel like the Calpak Hue Laptop Duffel might be better suited for car travel like road trips or packing for that pet-sitting gig you have several towns over.

Your Questions, Answered 

What type of bag is good for international travel .

If you’re making the trek outside of the country, you’re likely staying for more than a weekend, requiring a larger checked bag. For international travel, we recommend looking for a suitcase with TSA-approved locking capabilities (such as the Muji Adjustable Handle Hard Shell Suitcase and the Paravel Aviator Carry-On ), weight indicators (weight restrictions for checked luggage can vary from airline to airline — research ahead of time), and smooth 360 wheels (international airports require a lot of walking). A bag that expands isn’t a bad idea either, just in case you come home with souvenirs. We’ve seen plenty of options where the tote or duffel bag actually attaches itself onto a suitcase, like the Beis The East to West Tote or the Away the Everywhere Bag . The feature makes them especially great for when you're rushing between connections and need to move quickly.

How do you pack a carry-on-sized bag for a multi-night trip?

Most carry-on-sized bags can accommodate three to four days' worth of clothes… if you know how to stretch your base layers, shoes, and accessories. “I do my best to keep to one suitcase by packing versatile clothing pieces that I can pair and style differently,” explains Nteta. Though she notes it does take a bit of planning, it creates a more stress-free travel experience overall. “For example, I select a pair of trousers and work out all the different tops and looks I can create with that one pair of trousers,” she says. “The key is to consider how you can layer foundational items and then elevate with accessories.”

How do you safely transport makeup and other liquid toiletries?

“When I travel, I don't compromise on my skincare routine, so I need a lot of pockets to organize things like cotton pads, Q-Tips, tweezers, and more,” says world-traveling content creator Kristina Rodulfo. (We’ve tested a bunch of toiletry bags and found the seven best (and safest) options here .) “When you have liquid makeup like foundation, you want to ensure none of your clothes or other valuables get messy.” As an additional suggestion, she recommends the Ries Essential Travel Bottles for their airless pump and ability to securely stash 3.4 ounces of all your favorite products. “I have my Ries bottles filled and always ready to go for my next trip,” she says.

Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer with three years of experience covering fashion and beauty. She’s an avid traveler and has explored the world solo for a year. Linne Halpern is a freelance fashion, beauty, and lifestyle writer. For this story, she interviewed travel expert and influencer Thithi Nteta and world-traveling beauty expert-turned-content creator Kristina Rodulfo . Their invaluable insights (plus, some personal travel experience and tons of research) inform our favorite picks.

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The 11 Best Carry-on Backpacks of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

A solid backpack is key to a successful trip. Think about it: You can use it as a carry-on, and if you pack light, it'll be the only piece of luggage you bring on a trip. It won't weigh you down as you rush to catch the inter-terminal train at the airport, and it'll look good on you as you stroll the streets of your destination. Find a good travel backpack, and it will serve you for years to come.

There’s a lot to consider when looking for a backpack to take you through all kinds of situations and environments. Waterproof, anti-theft, stylish, lightweight, wheels or no wheels—all things to keep in mind as you shop. To help you make the right choice, we tested 32 carry-on backpacks in our New York testing lab and in the real world. We tested for capacity, design, comfort, durability, and value.

Final Verdict

Product selection, how we tested, other carry-on backpacks we tested.

  • What to Look For

Why Trust TripSavvy

Best overall, cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5
  • Comfort 5 /5

Super durable material

Very comfortable with multiple carry methods

Lighter and more rugged than previous models

Nothing yet

Does the perfect travel backpack exist? We’re not sure, but we can’t think of one that comes closer than the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L. This second version of Cotopaxi’s best-selling backpack is rugged and comfy, has excellent organization capabilities, and is the perfect size to throw in an overhead bin, toss in a vehicle, and huff around from train to hostel.

The pack uses burly TPU-coated 1000-denier polyester and lightweight 840-denier ballistic nylon paneling. It has excellent weight distribution with comfy shoulder and sternum straps and hip belts, or stow the straps and carry the pack with side handles. The inside features multiple pockets of different sizes that we found perfect for separating clean and dirty clothes, electronics, and shoes. Bonus: It comes with a rainfly to protect it from the weather.

Capacity: 35 liters | Weight: 3 pounds, 8 ounces | Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 8 inches | Materials: TPU-coated 1000-denier polyester and 840-denier ballistic nylon

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

Best Overall, Runner-Up

Osprey fairview 40.

Quite spacious while remaining carry-on sized

Keeps belongings secure

Good padding and weight distribution

Osprey’s women-specific Fairview 40 pack impressed our tester with its size, space, and compartments. “This bag has a lot of compartments and a lot of straps to hold everything in place,” our tester reported. Despite the bag fitting a bit large, our tester said it was still very comfortable to wear. Osprey employs its proprietary Lightwire Frame Suspension, which helps spread the weight across the back panel and from the harness to the hip belt.

Despite being a 40-liter pack, it weighs just about 3 pounds, thanks to the lightweight nylon ripstop material and frame. “It did not hurt my back, and I like how most of the weight was shifted to my lower back,” our tester mentioned. Besides the fit, we also appreciated that all straps are stowable, making it easy in case you need to check the bag on a plane (which is possible on smaller planes with this larger-capacity pack). For the men’s version of the same pack, check out the Farpoint 40 .

Capacity: 38 liters (extra-small/small size) | Weight: 3 pounds, 1 ounce | Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.8 x 8 inches | Materials: 210-denier nylon mini hex diamond ripstop and 600-denier packcloth

Best Budget

Vancropak 40l travel backpack.

  • Capacity 4 /5
  • Design 3 /5
  • Comfort 4 /5

Great for a short-to-medium-length trip

Could double as a business travel pack

Feature packed and user friendly

Lacks tech compartment

Cloth material could get dirty easily

This 40-liter pack checks all the boxes, including excellent value. Vancropak says it fits enough for trips between three and seven days, and we’d have to agree. “It fit everything even though I packed quickly and not thoughtfully or strategically,” our tester said. “It’s perfect for a weekend trip when you want to pack extra ‘just in case’ outfits or items. It even expands to provide more room. It has extra pockets, opens like a suitcase, has many different handles, and backpack straps that can be tucked and zipped away.” Compression straps also help shrink the bag back down after being packed.

And if you weren’t convinced yet of its value, it also includes packing cubes. “Its business-casual aesthetic makes it ideal for short business trips, too,” a tester added. One nitpick? There’s no laptop sleeve. But our testers thought the other features—and comfort—more than made up for that slight issue.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3.98 pounds | Dimensions: 20 x 13.7 x 6.2 inches | Materials: Water-resistant polyester

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack

Functional straps

Multiple ways to carry

Not too weighty

Our tester didn’t love the style

If you didn’t dig the budget pack above, behold another excellent value travel pack. Like the Vancropak, the Asenlin Travel Backpack also includes three packing cubes. Our testers found they could easily fit everything needed for a weekend trip. They also liked the internal straps for organization and the external straps for compression. “It offers three different carrying methods, which is nice,” the testers reported. “It has a lot of different pockets and storage areas. The bottle holder on the side also unzips to expand, which is a thoughtful addition.”

Our testers liked how comfortable the bag was to wear and that it wasn’t overly heavy (the brand claims it weighs less than 3 pounds). We also believe this could double as a business travel bag.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.5 x 9.5 inches | Materials: Water-resistant polyester Oxford cloth

Best for Business Travel

Nomatic travel bag.

  • Comfort 3 /5

Fits about a week’s worth of items

Loads of internal organization

Comes with an additional laundry bag

Uncomfortable to carry at times

Some scuff marks after tossing around

While we certainly love this bag's sleek and simplistic aesthetic, there’s a lot more to it than just looks. It’s durable and water-resistant and has multiple carry options (e.g., duffel and over the shoulders), a separate shoe compartment, lots of tech organization, and a TSA-ready laptop sleeve.

Our testers loved the capacity of this pack. “It easily fit everything on the list with plenty of room to spare,” one tester said. “I think everything you would need for up to a week away would fit easily.” The pronounced rectangular shape of the bag made it extra easy to pack and helped organize folded clothes. “The bag had two different shoe pockets, a laptop sleeve, and many other compartments for both smaller clothing items and even some work supplies,” a tester reported.

The one drawback of this pack was our testers didn’t find it the most comfortable. Specifically, the straps were stiff and dug into one tester’s neck. Overall, though, our testers were very pleased with the pack and thought it was worth the fit, especially for the design and ease of packing.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3.4 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 21 x 14 inches | Materials: Not listed

Best Multi-use

Peak design travel backpack 45l.

  • Value 4.5 /5

Excellent capacity

Easy to handle

Thoughtful storage solutions

This 45-liter travel pack from Peak Design debuted at the Outdoor Retailer Expo in 2018 and promptly won many awards. A few years later, it still holds up. Peak Design basically thought of everything when designing this pack. The outside features weatherproof recycled 400-denier nylon canvas and ultralight padded foam. It includes grab handles on each side, stowable hip belts, and a sternum strap. The inside has multiple pockets for organization and loads of room for trips of four days or longer.

Our testers loved the size and the zippers allowing access from four different sides of the bag. “It was super easy to pack, and there were just enough organization solutions to provide options for different packing strategies,” a tester said. “I also loved how many handles there were. A grab handle on all four main sides of the bag makes it super easy to maneuver, especially when putting it in the overhead compartment.”

Testers also liked the sheath built into the pack to stow the hip belt and the small pocket on the belt for stashing quick-grab items like lip balm, keys, or cards. They also enjoyed the water bottle pockets on both sides and the pack's comfort. Oh, and this pack is 100 percent carbon neutral. The only issue they saw was the price—it’s one of the most expensive on this list. But if you can look at this as an investment, the durability suggests it should last for many years. It's certainly carry-on luggage that any travel-savvy guy can appreciate.

Capacity: 45 liters | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 9.5 inches | Materials: Weatherproof 100 percent recycled 400-denier nylon canvas external shell and 900-denier waterproof bottom liner

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Most Comfortable

Topo designs global travel bag 40l.

Topo Designs

Excellent internal organization

Many different carrying options

Great for long travel days

Could be roomier

If your travel involves carrying your backpack for long periods, we recommend Topo Designs' Global Travel Bag. This super durable pack is also super comfortable with plush and padded shoulder straps and a hip belt. We also love that there are multiple ways to carry this pack with a comfy and padded sling. Its construction includes durable and recycled nylons with a canvas feel. And it meets Fair Wear certification standards, ensuring fair labor practices.

“There are a ton of compartments and pockets, so a lot of options for staying organized with small or loose items in the absence of packing cubes,” one tester said. “I could easily see places to stash cords, travel docs, electronics, water bottles, and more.”

While our testers liked a lot about this bag—including its durability—the comfort won them over. “All the features built into the bag suggest it's intended to create maximum comfort for someone who anticipates carrying the bag for a more extended period of time,” our tester concluded.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3 pounds, 10.4 ounces | Dimensions: 22.5 x 14 x 7.5 inches | Materials: 1000-denier recycled nylon, 400-denier recycled nylon, 210-denier recycled nylon, 1680-denier recycled ballistic nylon

Best Splurge

Bellroy transit backpack plus.

Flat opening made for easy packing

Comfortable to carry

Long lasting

Minimal internal organization

If you weren't convinced by our business travel pick above, consider this your alternative. This pack's sleek, durable, and comfortable design makes it ideal for business and formal travel. Our testers found it easy to fit enough items for up to three or four days away. Lighter packers could stretch this to five days. The inside is designed more like a typical carry-on pack with one large compartment.

“This bag felt super light on my back and was padded in all the right places,” a tester reported. “It has adjustable sternum and waist straps that you can tuck into the back of the pack when you don't want to use them, which is a genius feature.” Our testers were also impressed with the bag's durability, as it survived being tossed around our lab with zero marks or scuffs.

Capacity: 38 liters | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Dimensions: 21.7 x 15 x 9.4 inches | Materials: Recycled Dura nylon

Samsonite Silhouette 17 Backpack

  • Design 4 /5
  • Durability 4 /5

Suitcase-like opening allows easy access

Eco-friendly materials

Suitable for long travel days

Internal organization may be overcomplicated for some

Launched in 1958, Samsonite’s Silhouette collection is likely the oldest on our list. But those six decades of innovation have helped make this one of the best and most versatile bags out there—not to mention one with excellent style. You can also feel good about your purchase knowing that it features 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET bottles.

Our testers liked the size of the bag and the opening, similar to a suitcase, which made it easy to pack and access items. There were many—almost too many—pockets and compartments. And our testers loved how comfortable and supportive this bag was to carry, noting its excellent weight distribution. “I would recommend this bag to someone looking for a backpack they can use as a primary form of luggage,” a tester concluded. “It has enough room and compartments to fit all of the essentials and keep them organized. It's also comfortable, supportive, and easy to carry.”

Capacity: Not listed | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Dimensions: 20 x 12.5 x 7 inches | Materials: Polyester and Recyclex

Best for Techies

Thule subterra backpack 34l.

Functional and looks good

Bag included for dirty laundry

Portable charger

Not the most comfortable

We’ve been pleasantly surprised with Thule’s line of luggage. And that certainly includes the Subterra backpack. This rugged pack could also be a good commuter option as it has a magnetic rolling top closure, a padded laptop sleeve, and a PowerPocket for charging items on the go. We love that it has many access points and comes with a packing cube and garment bag for dirty clothes.

"I loved being able to put my normal packing cubes inside the big cube that comes with the bag, and I was able to use the bag as a day bag anytime I needed to carry extra, and it never felt super bulky,” a tester reported—however, they noted that the bag didn’t particularly help their already-sore back. Not surprisingly, considering its construction, the pack aced our durability tests.

Capacity: 34 liters | Weight: 2.75 pounds | Dimensions: 20.5 x 12.2 x 9.1 inches | Materials: 800-denier nylon

Best for Storage

Mystery ranch mission rover.

Mystery Ranch

Sturdy with grab handles around the pack

Well-designed internal storage

Different ways to carry

A bit heavy

If you’ve never heard of Mystery Ranch, let us introduce you to the Bozeman, Montana-based brand, which makes super rugged packs for backpacking, hunting, the military, and firefighters. This travel-focused pack is incredibly solid on the outside and has many excellent organization and design features inside.

Highlights include a stowable hip belt and shoulder straps, multiple carrying options, a dirty clothes compartment, three inner divided pockets, and lockable zippers.

Capacity: 30, 45, and 60 liters | Weight: 4.3 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 12 inches | Materials: Plain spun nylon, 210-denier nylon

We recommend the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack thanks to its incredibly durable polyester and nylon materials, well-designed internal storage, and included rainfly. Another great pick is the Vancropak Travel Backpack , which rings up at a fraction of the cost of some other options on the market.

We selected products to test based on the expertise of TripSavvy editors and writers and on internet research. Not surprisingly, TripSavvy editors and writers travel a lot. And they have many carry-on backpacks they like and don’t like.

To ensure we weren’t missing anything, we also researched what other prominent sites have featured and looked at top-rated and reviewed backpacks on sites like Amazon and REI. Once an initial list of products was selected, we narrowed it down to the final 28 for testing based on style, function, and price.

We tested the backpacks for capacity, design, comfort, durability, and value. In our New York City-based testing lab, we asked testers to pack each backpack with three shirts, two pants, one jacket, one pair of shoes, and a toiletry bag to test for capacity. We asked the testers to consider all aspects of the backpack’s construction, organizational capabilities, and any design innovations.

Testers then carried each backpack around using the different carrying styles. We asked the testers to rate how comfortable the bag felt fully packed. After the comfort test, we asked testers to toss and throw the bag several feet multiple times. We looked for damage on the outside of the bag and any damage to products inside the bag. Lastly, we asked testers to rate the bag for overall value after a price reveal.

We have since sent the backpacks to testers to continue testing as they travel. We will update this document accordingly as their insights are submitted.

Aer Travel Pack 3 : This pack was comfortable to wear thanks to its supportively firm and cushioned back, while its rugged fabric stood up well to rough handling. Our tester subtracted some points for capacity, as it was a squeeze to get everything on the list to fit, and for the more function-forward style.

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack : This bag is very nice to look at and proved quite durable. However, it's on the small side and the features aren't particularly travel-oriented—namely, the inflexible bottle holder and the magnetic flip top that is easily displaced when the pack is full.

Minaal Carry-on 3.0 Bag : Our tester appreciated the comfort of the straps and the practical capacity of this bag, though the price was on the higher end and the packing experience was a bit of a learning curve.

Monos Metro Backpack : Another looker, the design of this bag got high praise. We liked the 270-degree opening, the easy-release front pouch, and the comfortable straps. At 18 liters, this back is more of a complement piece to other luggage and could use a better weight distribution system.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable : The expansion feature was a hit once we figured out how to use it and the durability of this pack was undeniable. It was difficult to look past a faulty zipper design that got caught frequently when trying to close.

What to Look For in a Carry-on Backpack

Prices for carry-on backpacks vary widely, so consider what your greatest needs are. You can find a spacious travel backpack for under $100—often under $50—but if you plan on facing harsh outdoor environments , consider investing a bit more money for something waterproof. Leather backpacks can cost hundreds of dollars; keep this in mind if that material is important to you. Anti-theft travel backpacks can be a bit more expensive but are often essential in highly trafficked destinations.

There are so many styles out there you could spend days filtering through the different backpacks on the market. Keep it simple: How will you be using this backpack? If you’re interfacing with clients or business partners, look for something minimal and sleek that doesn’t showcase a million pockets. If you plan on living out of your backpack for most of your trip, pockets are more of a priority. You'll want a bag that zips open flat like a suitcase for easy packing and unloading (this also makes going through security easier).

If you are using your travel backpack for hiking, find something with a removable hip harness to distribute the weight of your pack better when you’re on the move. If you plan on wearing your travel backpack casually—only in the airport or to work—seek out a style with adjustable straps and a padded back. This will help ward off any back pain, especially if you carry a lot of weight. When you’re trying on backpacks, test out the shoulder straps and imagine how they would feel if the pack was filled to capacity. Is there ample padding? Will the material cut into your shoulders? Does the back of the backpack feel like it would be breathable?

The size of backpacks is generally measured in volume (liters) or dimensions (inches or centimeters). While it is essential to refer to the specific requirements of the airline you'll be flying, a good starting point for a carry-on when flying domestically is 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 total linear inches (115 centimeters) including all handles and wheels. This size comes out to a 43-liter pack, so anything smaller should easily meet any U.S. airline size restrictions. However, this is only the beginning, and several factors may increase or decrease your allowance, such as the size of the plane and flight class you book.

This will vary based on your backpack's materials. For nylon and other water-resistant fabrics, get a damp cloth and spot-clean your pack. A damp cloth will also do the trick if your bag has plastic or metal elements. For leather backpacks, you’ll want to purchase a special leather conditioner and cleaner to maintain the integrity of your backpack.

This is an excellent feature if you plan on hiking or spending long periods carrying your backpack. It will help distribute the weight of your pack better across your body, ultimately providing more comfort. Most backpacks that are focused on outdoor adventures will have this feature.

Many backpacks are marketed as anti-theft, meaning it’s tougher for someone else to get inside your pack. Some backpacks have zippers that allow you to open the main interior compartment while wearing it—so you don’t have to take it off and risk having someone else pick it up. Others are designed with webbing over the zipper openings, making it very hard for someone to locate and unzip the bag while you have it on.

No, this is not the norm when it comes to backpacks. Compression cords make packing easier and function the same way a compression strap or cord would work in a regular suitcase. Some travel-focused carry-on backpacks do have this built-in. But if you want to squeeze in more items, consider investing in some packing cubes . These will help organize your backpack, too.

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy’s Outdoor Gear Editor. He has traveled to five continents, including plane, train, and bus travel. For most travel scenarios, he prefers backpacks over spinners or roller suitcases because of their ruggedness and different carrying methods. He currently uses Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L, Thule’s Subterra, and Topo Design’s Global Travel Pack the most. Each product recommended in this review was thoroughly researched and tested.

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11 Best Luggage Pieces for International Travel, Tested by Experts

These are the top-tested soft and hardside carry-ons, checked bags, duffels and more to take on your next adventure abroad.

best luggage pieces for international travel

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Freeform Hardside Expandable Spinner

Best Overall

Samsonite freeform hardside expandable spinner.

20-Inch Hardside Spinner

Amazon Basics 20-Inch Hardside Spinner

The Carry-On

Best Carry-On

Away the carry-on.

As you start planning your next trip abroad, looking into hotels, flights and tourist attractions, don't forget that the key to a smooth travel experience is a great piece of luggage. When you're traveling internationally, it's especially important to bring a suitcase that complies with airline restrictions, is comfortable to carry or roll throughout your journey and has plenty of room for all of your belongings and your souvenirs for the trip home.

This top-performing suitcase from our best overall luggage brand Samsonite has repeatedly stood out in the Textiles Lab's and our consumers' tests and is priced under $200 — an incredible value. The hardside carry-on is made of polypropylene and weighs in at just 6.5 pounds, which is one of the lightest bags we've tested, so it won't eat too much into the lower weight restrictions set by many international airlines.

I was impressed by how easy it was to lift and roll the bag around, even when filled with our standard packing load. Despite the lightweight design, this carry-on is spacious with a butterfly-opening, unfolding into two primary compartments for easy packing, and there's an additional one inch of expandable storage with the pull of a zipper.

During our Lab evaluations, we liked how easy it was to pull the bag through our luggage obstacle course. While some testers said the telescopic handle felt a bit loose, the suitcase earned high scores for maneuverability, with testers sharing feedback including "very smooth rolling" and "the wheels moved really well." The material was more prone to scratching than some others we evaluated, but the suitcase proved to be durable overall in our drop tests, resisting major damage.

Listed dimensions: 21.25" x 15.25" x 10" | Weight: 6.5 lbs | Material: Hardside polypropylene | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

samsonite suitcases in a hallway

With more than 34,000 five-star ratings, t his best-selling suitcase from Amazon Basics is loved by both real users and our consumer testers who say it's worth every penny. Made of lightweight ABS plastic, the hardside suitcase isn't quite as durable as those made of polycarbonate, but the material helps to keep the cost low — under $100 — so I recommend it for someone shopping on a budget.

During our Textiles Lab evaluations for durability, there were some noticeable markings in our scratch tests, but we were impressed by how well the bag maintained its shape after being released repeatedly from our drop tester. Amazon reviewers who regularly use the suitcases say they hold up over time, as well.

When our consumer testers rolled the suitcase through our obstacle course, they were wowed by how smooth the wheels were, with one describing the bag as "very easy to move." We gave the carry-on high scores for packability, as we were able to pack our standard load of belongings (clothing, accessories and toiletries) for a short trip inside with room to spare. Plus, there are interior zippered mesh pockets for easy organization, and the bag expands up to one extra inch for additional packing space.

Listed dimensions: 22" x 14.9" x 10" | Weight: 7.3 lbs | Material: Hardside ABS plastic | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a suitcase from amazon basics closed and open in a hallway

One of the most popular suitcases on the market, Away's standard carry-on is definitely worth the hype . The bag is available in 11 colors, including on-trend options like green and red, along with neutral hues like gray and black.

Not only is the suitcase simple and stylish from the outside, it's also full of functional features inside to make packing for your next international trip a breeze. The bag unfolds into two separate primary compartments to fit all of your things: one fully zippered side and one with adjustable compression straps, and there are mesh pockets to stash smaller items.

Consumer testers and GH analysts alike love to travel with the Away carry-on, including one who shared, "It fit all of the clothes I needed for a long weekend. It rolled really easily and was light enough to pop in and out of the overhead bin." Testers said the telescopic handle felt flimsier than others they tried, but they were impressed with the bag overall, saying that it was easy to maneuver and roll over different types of flooring, including wood, carpet and tile. And it looked great after our drop and scratch tests, showing no major signs of damage or dents.

Listed dimensions: 9" x 13.7" x 21.7" | Weight: 8.1 lbs | Material: Hardside polycarbonate | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 100 days, unused

suitcases from away open and closed

Briggs & Riley 31-inch Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

31-inch Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

The innovative design details of this softside checked bag from Briggs & Riley help to simplify packing for extended trips abroad. The bag features a unique push-button expansion system unlike any other we've evaluated , which allows you to easily expand the bag, fill it with everything you'll need and then compress it back down to its standard size.

One tester who was impressed with the amount of space in the carry-on version of the bag shared, "It fit clothing and accessories for two people for a seven-day summer vacation." And this checked bag offers more than double the packing capacity. Other innovative features include a built-in trifold garment folder for formal attire and reinforced corners for added protection.

At 15.6 pounds, the suitcase does weigh more than other models we've evaluated, but it is made with a nylon material that resisted wear and tear when I tested it in our abrasion machine. It also earned top marks in our latest round of drop testing. Along with performing well for durability, the suitcase received high scores for maneuverability, with smooth wheels and a sturdy telescopic handle.

Listed dimensions: 31" x 22" x 13.8" | Weight: 15.6 lbs | Material: Softside nylon | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a briggs and riley suitcase opened and closed in a hallway

July Checked Luggage

Checked Luggage

Rolling a bag through the airport has never been easier than it is with July's classic luggage , including this spacious checked suitcase and its popular carry-on bags . One GH analyst who took the checked bag on a vacation abroad said, "I've never used a suitcase with wheels this smooth." I've personally traveled with luggage from the brand and was blown away by how effortless it was to roll the suitcases, even over carpet and concrete sidewalks.

The telescopic handle technically locks at 20 different heights to prevent it from falling down on its own, and most testers appreciated the slanted grip on the handle, sharing that it was comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver with.

Made with a polycarbonate shell, the suitcase is lightweight and durable, and the corners are reinforced with aluminum bumpers for an added level of protection. The bag held up well after being released repeatedly from our drop tester, but testers noted marks and scuffs on the surface after taking the bag on just one trip.

It boasts 80 liters of packing space and features one fully zippered compartment and one open compartment with a compression panel and Y-strap for security. Even more, it weighs just 8.3 pounds, which is similar to many of the carry-on sized bags we evaluate.

Listed dimensions: 26" x 18.75" x 11" | Weight: 8.3 lbs | Material: Hardside polycarbonate with aluminum corners | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 100 days, unused

a july suitcase opened and closed against carpeting

Travelpro Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Checked Luggage

Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Checked Luggage

Travelpro luggage was created by a pilot who wanted to make bags specifically for other pilots and airline crewmembers who were always on the go. The result is a collection of highly durable, quality suitcases including the popular Platinum Elite medium checked suitcase.

Built to last, the luggage is made of heavyweight nylon material that performed well when I tested it for abrasion resistance. When I released the bag repeatedly from our drop tester, it showed no signs of damage or dents. Our testers also gave the suitcase high scores for ease of use and appreciated the sturdy feel of the telescopic handle. The suitcase does have a more traditional look, though, which some testers described as "old-fashioned," sharing that they wished it were sleeker.

Full of thoughtful and functional features, the suitcase makes packing and traveling a breeze. The bag can be unzipped to reveal one large packing compartment with compression panels that secure your belongings in place, a removable wet bag for toiletries, a large mesh zippered pocket in the lid for breathable storage and a built-in suiter to help keep more formal clothes in tip-top shape. To prevent the suitcase from tipping over when it's full, it's also designed with a unique tapered expansion system, so the bag is narrower at the top and broader at the bottom.

Listed dimensions: 25" x 18" x 11.25" | Weight: 9.8 lbs | Material: Softside nylon | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

two travelpro suitcases open and closed

Delsey Paris Helium DLX Softside Expandable Luggage

Helium DLX Softside Expandable Luggage

While some softside luggage is bulky and pricey, this Helium DLX carry-on from Delsey is lightweight, as the name implies, and it's available for a great value. The polyester material isn't quite as durable or substantial as nylon styles we've tested, but the brand's polyester fabric has performed well overall in our abrasion tests without major wear.

Two external zippered pockets allow for easy access to travel essentials like your phone and ID, so you won't have to hold up the TSA line while scouring through your bag. While the bag unzips to expose only one main compartment for packing, it's equipped with a removable bi-fold organizer and expands by two inches for additional room. One tester said, "I love the pockets." Plus, the inner lining can be fully unzipped and removed for easy cleaning.

I personally carry luggage from Delsey and love the smooth wheels and sturdy telescopic handle, and our testers who tried Delsey's luggage found the handle to be comfortable to grip and use. However, they said the bags were more difficult to maneuver through our obstacle course than others they tested.

Listed dimensions: 12" x 17.75" x 28" | Weight: 8.4 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a delsey suitcase open and closed in a hallway

L.L.Bean Adventure Rolling Duffle Bag, 135L

Adventure Rolling Duffle Bag, 135L

A rolling duffel like this one from L.L.Bean is ideal for longer adventures abroad or for overpackers like me. The duffel isn't as structured as standard suitcases, meaning you can compress it and slide it under your bed or in a closet if you're pressed for storage space — and on the other hand, you can really fill it to the brim when you're packing. Just be careful that you're not stuffing it too much because it can be easy to exceed an airline's weight restrictions.

One GH analyst who loves to travel with this bag said that it's one of her go-to picks for family vacations. With just two wheels, our analyst said it's a little more cumbersome to maneuver than a spinner suitcase, but you also have the option to carry the bag with the padded strap.

The bag has a wide opening for easy access to everything you need inside, and outer compression straps keep everything in place. Made of durable polyester material with a reinforced base, the duffel lasts for years and years without signs of wear, according to our analyst. Plus, it's water-resistant inside and out — perfect for inevitable leaks or wet weather. If you're looking for something smaller, the brand carries a variety of sizes to meet your travel needs.

Listed dimensions: 14" x 17.25" x 32.5" | Weight: 8.8 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 1 year

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Allpa 35L Travel Pack

When we evaluated this bag in the Textiles Lab, we were amazed by just how much we could fit inside during our packing tests. Not only did it beat out other travel backpacks we tested, it also outperformed some of our carry-ons because of its spacious interior .

The backpack has a suitcase-style opening and fully unzips to expose a highly organized interior jam-packed with zippered mesh pockets for all of your belongings. It also features a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 17-inch computer.

Made of recycled nylon and polyester, the bag is durable and water-resistant. When I tested it for abrasion resistance in the Lab, there were no visible signs of wear. Details like a sternum strap, waist belt and padded mesh provide comfort and support. With backpack straps that tuck neatly inside the back of the bag and carrying straps on all sides, you can easily grab it to lift into an overhead bin.

Some online reviewers wished it was equipped with a water bottle holder and said the zippers can be finicky, but we didn't have issues with them in the Lab.

Listed dimensions: 22" x 12" x 10" | Weight: 3.5 lbs | Material: Softside polyester and nylon | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a backpack from cotopaxi unzipped and opened

Calpak Luka Duffel

Luka Duffel

Able to hold everything you need for a weekend getaway, this weekender from Calpak was the top performer in our Textiles Lab tests. Not only is the bag totally on-trend, thanks to the puffy padded design and fashionable color options, it's also full of functional features . One tester who used it as her personal item on a long trip said, "This bag fits everything I need and more!"

A GH analyst who used the bag added, "I appreciate the well-organized interior," which includes several zippered pockets and elastic storage. Outside, there's a separate shoe compartment, additional zippered pockets and a water bottle holder. Altogether, there are nine pockets, and the spacious bag aced our packing tests.

If you're pairing it with Calpak's popular luggage , this bag has a trolley sleeve that slides right over the telescopic handle of your suitcase. One tester noted that the stitching that secured the sleeve in place started unraveling a bit after just one use. The bag is made of a smooth polyester material that's comfortable to carry and water-resistant. A tester said, "It poured while I was traveling and everything inside this bag stayed perfectly dry."

Listed dimensions: 12" x 16" x 7" | Weight: 2 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a gh staffer carrying the calpak luka duffel

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 40L Duffel Bag

Cargo Hauler 40L Duffel Bag

This convertible duffel from Eagle Creek is the perfect adventure travel companion. The bag is durable, combining polyester and nylon for a water-resistant material that also held up well when tested for abrasion resistance . One GH analyst who travels with this duffel said that it still looks great after years of regular rough and tough use.

It's structured and maintains its shape for easy packing, but the duffel can be compressed to bring inside of your suitcase as an extra bag or for compact storage at home. According to our testers and GH analyst, the zippers have large pull tabs that are easy to use, and, according to the brand, they're covered in water-resistant strips for the ultimate protection in wet weather.

The duffel features a reinforced top handle and grab handles along the sides for carrying, and there are adjustable backpack straps for hands-free use that can be connected for an additional carrying strap or tucked inside the bag. Some online reviewers said the backpack straps are on the thinner side and weren't as comfortable as other traditional travel backpacks, but they appreciated the convenient option.

Listed dimensions: 11.5" x 23.25" x 11" | Weight: 2.5 lbs | Material: Softside polyester and nylon | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

Headshot of Amanda Constantine

Amanda (she/her) researches and reports on products in the Good Housekeeping Institute 's Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab, ranging from clothing and accessories to home furnishings. She holds undergraduate degrees in apparel merchandising and product development and advertising and marketing communications, as well as a master of science degree in consumer sciences from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping in 2022, Amanda was a lecturer for the fashion and retail studies program at Ohio State, where she taught fashion and textiles courses.

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Ready, Set, Jet: Shop the Season’s Most-Coveted Travel Bags

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You’ve booked the flight, scouted the hotel, and assembled a packing list of your very best vacation-ready essentials . But what to put them in? The best travel bags that complement your OOO aesthetic are among the most important investments for those with a penchant for stylish escapes.

The Designer Travel Bag Shopping List

  • The Durable Hero: Longchamp Le Pliage 18" travel bag , $160
  • The Cool Canvas: Hereu Cala canvas tote bag , $485
  • The Timeless Option: Staud Allora tote , $495
  • The Luxe Logo Bag: Gucci Jackie 1961 large duffle bag , $3,850
  • The Modern Marvel: Saint Laurent chain embellished weekend bag , $3,600
  • The Minimalist Magic: Khaite Perre weekender , $3,400
  • The Woven Warrior: Bottega Veneta Intrecciato duffle bag , $5,400
  • The Investment Piece: The Row George leather & canvas duffel , $6,190
  • The Foldable Find: Loewe Puzzle fold tote , $4,250

The season’s very best options check off all the boxes of a luxuriously-crafted bag that can weather even the most far-flung adventures. Saint Laurent’s giant quilted duffle remains a celebrity favorite (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Olivia Wilde are fans), while Prada’s geometric-pattern trunk will feel exquisite slung over your shoulder en route to somewhere beautiful. And there’s no denying the enduring appeal of The Row’s sleek, streamlined black leather tote bag.

If you’re heading somewhere close to home, an oversized tote might feel more appropriate—we love Totême’s leather-trimmed canvas option for this. And for a budget-friendly pick, Alex Mill’s vintage-inspired canvas bag (aptly named “the perfect weekend tote”) is always a favorite. From luxe leather duffels to timeless utilitarian silhouettes, shop 28 of the season’s best travel bags ahead.

Image may contain: Accessories, Bag, Handbag, Tote Bag, Canvas, and Purse

Saint Laurent

chain embellished weekend bag

NET-A-PORTER

NEIMAN MARCUS

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Perre weekender

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Cala canvas tote bag

BERGDORF GOODMAN

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Puzzle fold tote

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George leather & canvas duffel

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

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Jackie 1961 large duffle bag

travel bag to

Louis Vuitton

Keepall 55 bag

travel bag to

Brunello Cucinelli

canvas striped duffel bag

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Weekend XL leather-trimmed suede tote

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Hunting Season

The Weekender bag

OVER THE MOON

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Le Pliage 18" travel bag

travel bag to

ES giant YSL travel bag

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Caramella Transformable stripe duffle tote bag

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Bottega Veneta

Intrecciato duffle

BOTTEGA VENETA

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Allora snake-effect trimmed textured-leather tote

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large Book tote

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Main Line canvas duffel bag

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IVY striped tote bag

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Gotham duffle bag

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large travel bag

travel bag to

Leatherology

Kessler large duffle

LEATHEROLOGY

travel bag to

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NBC Select Travel Awards 2024: The best duffels, backpacks and weekenders

Bags from Calpak, Patagonia, Dagne Dover, Orvis and July earned NBC Select Travel Awards for their organizational features, durability and ease of use.

At NBC Select, we spend hours researching and testing products so you can be more selective with your purchases. For our first-ever NBC Select Travel Awards, we spent months thoroughly testing numerous products covering a variety of travel categories.

We flew across the globe to Japan and Paris with suitcases , took train rides around New York City with weekenders and duffels in tow and packed bags full of packing cubes , toiletry bags and noise-canceling headphones to road trip across the East Coast. After all that testing, our editors sat down to choose products deserving of NBC Select’s stamp of approval.

Below are our award-winning duffels, weekenders and backpacks , plus information about how we evaluated each product.

SKIP AHEAD How we picked the best bags | Best duffel bags | Best backpacks | Best weekender bags

travel bag to

select We tested over 50 travel accessories for our first ever Travel Awards — these are our favorites

How we picked the best travel bags .

The backpack, the weekender and the duffel are all bags that need to serve multiple functions while on a trip. We fill them with whatever we can’t fit in our suitcases, throw our essentials inside them for overnight getaways and use them to carry our laptops and water bottles on planes, trains, and automobiles. They are versatile and multipurpose, making it useful to keep at least one at home when traveling. Here’s how we evaluated travel bags to find NBC Select’s 2024 Travel Award winners.

  • Zippers, handles and straps : To ensure zippers glide smoothly and don’t get stuck at any point, we opened and closed each bag numerous times when it was empty and full. We also considered how strong the bags’ handles and straps were, including how they felt when we held or wore them on our bodies.
  • Structure and organization : We assessed how each bag’s structure impacted our ability to pack it easily — for example, whether it stayed open while we added clothing or flopped over and whether it was too stiff to overstuff or just flexible enough. We counted how many outfits (and, if applicable, how many pairs of shoes) fit inside the bags, plus what type of organizational features they offer, including built-in dividers, pockets, and pouches.
  • Comfortability : After filling our bags to the brim, we ensured they felt comfortable carrying for long and short periods. We carried them as the brand intended: on our backs or over our shoulders.
  • Durability : We noted the material each bag is made from and how well it withstands being tossed around during travel. We also considered water resistance.

The best duffel bags

Best overall: calpak luka duffel.

Calpak Luka Duffel

Calpak Luka Duffel

With its spacious main compartment, exterior and interior pockets, exterior shoe compartment and trolley sleeve, this bag makes for the perfect travel and daily duffel. “I love that I can use this bag for trips as well as in my everyday life as a gym bag. I didn’t find that with the other duffels I tested, so I appreciated this,” says Zoe Malin , NBC Select associate updates editor. “The size of this bag and how lightweight it is makes it a perfect workout bag for me. I put my sneakers, a change of clothes, weights, a towel, toiletries and a water bottle inside it to go to yoga after work.”

The soft and puffy polyester bag is also durable, easy to clean and water-resistant. “I had to walk to the train in the rain with this bag and everything inside was totally dry,” says Malin. “I just wiped water off the bag in the bathroom of the train station with paper towels.”

Best large capacity: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel comes in four sizes — 40L, 55L, 70L and 100L — so you can choose the capacity that’s best for your travels. The duffel is made from 100% recycled fabrics, plus it has a durable and weather-resistant exterior.

On the inside, this spacious bag has interior pockets that are similar to a carry-on suitcase. It also closes and opens easily since the zippers glide easily, says Mili Godio , NBC Select updates editor. “The only thing I wish is that it had more pockets, especially for smaller items like my wallet and keys, but the ones it does have are super spacious.”

The best backpacks

Best overall: calpak laptop backpack.

Calpak Laptop Backpack

Calpak Laptop Backpack

This Calpak backpack is great for frequent travelers looking for a large, durable bag to hold essentials of all sizes, as well as a laptop. The backpack has exterior and interior pockets, a water bottle holder and a trolley sleeve so you can slide it onto your luggage. “Calpak’s backpack has completely changed how I travel,” says Bianca Alvarez , an NBC Select associate reporter who’s a super commuter . She travels from Virginia to New York City every week for work. “I tossed my old backpacks after using this one because it makes my travel days easier,” she says.

Alvarez says storage and space are a guarantee with this bag due to its plethora of organizational features. She especially loves its interior pockets. They’re located near the top of the bag rather than the bottom, which prevents her from having to rummage through everything packed inside to find what she’s looking for.  Alvarez says the bag’s main compartment can easily fit clothes, shoes and cosmetics bags, and there’s a separate compartment for her laptop and notebooks.

Best for commuting: Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover’s Dakota Backpack is ideal for commuters, like NBC Select staff who brought it back and forth to the office. “I’ve been using this backpack for two months as my work bag and it’s been a major upgrade from my last situation,” says Rebecca Rodriguez , NBC Select editorial projects manager. The backpack has padded straps, making it comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and it has compartments and pockets to store whatever you’re traveling with.

Whether you’re commuting in the rain or accidentally spilled your morning coffee , no worries — this backpack will keep your items protected. “The backpack got dirty a couple of times while I used it, but the neoprene material was super easy to clean with soap and warm water,” says Rodriguez.

Best outdoors: Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

While the Orvis Trekkage backpack is specifically designed for outdoor adventures like hiking and camping, it has features that allow you to use it in everyday life, including a laptop pocket and a hidden security pocket for valuables. The bag is made from heavy-duty recycled, water-repellent fabric, and its main pocket is lockable making it easier to protect your items while outdoors camping or just traveling. There are also expandable side pockets and a built-in hydration reservoir.

“This bag is big without looking like it belongs on the 'Amazing Race,'” says Rosalie Sparaco, NBC senior social media editor. “It has a ton of space, although it could potentially use more internal pockets since it was easy to lose stuff.” She also says the backpack is comfortable to carry thanks to its padded back panel and curved ergonomic shoulder straps. If you need extra support, you can use the bag’s adjustable sternum strap and adjustable, removable waist strap. The backpack also fits under the seat of a plane.

The best weekenders

Best overall: dagne dover landon carryall.

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall

The magic behind Dagne Dover’s Landon Carryall lies in its structure, says Malin: “It has shape, so it stays open while I’m packing and never flops over, yet it’s flexible and soft, so I can overstuff it without any issues.”  The bag is also expandable. “You can unsnap the sides of the bag to make it bigger, which is such a great option,” says Malin. “I expand it for longer trips, but leave it snapped for overnight trips when I don’t need a ton of space.”

The organizational features this bag offers vary by size. It’s available in extra small, small, medium, large and extra large options — the bigger the bag, the more extensive its organization features are. Because of this, we recommend the medium, large and extra large options for traveling (the extra small and small Carryalls function more as everyday handbags, based on our testers’ experiences). They’re designed with a laptop carrier, an exterior phone pocket, interior side pockets, a key leash and an attached zip-top pouch. The larger bags also come with a shoe bag and a detachable adjustable crossbody strap.

Best for a long weekend: July Carry All Weekender Plus

July Carry All Weekender Plus

July Carry All Weekender Plus

If you need a weekender bag that fits enough clothes and toiletries to last you a few days, this one from July is exactly what you’re looking for. “I’m very impressed by how incredibly spacious this bag is,” says Ari Night, NBC Select editorial assistant. “Not only does it fit multiple outfits, but it also has segmented pockets that keep everything organized inside.” The bag’s clamshell opening allows it to lie flat making it  easier for packing, and there’s a padded pocket in the center to put delicate items like a laptop or tablet . This weekender also has a hidden internal pocket with a magnetic opening for valuables like jewelry, an exterior zip pocket and a luggage sleeve. It also  comes with a detachable adjustable shoulder strap.

Why trust NBC Select?

Products underwent an eight-week trial before being selected as our favorite in their respective categories. We utilized our editors as shopping and trying experts. Each editor was given the same criteria during the testing period to ensure each item was held to the same standards and procedures. We looked at spaciousness, durability, comfort, zippers and much more. You can read more about our process here .

What our badge means

When a product carries the NBC Select badge, you can trust that our team of editors as shopping experts and professionals vetted the item thoroughly. First and foremost, we are journalists, so we will always do our research and reporting.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance , tech and tools , wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

Select Staff on NBC News

7 Best Travel Toiletry Bags, Tested By Women's Health Experts

Travel pros approve, too!

best toiletry travel bags

Best Travel Toiletry Bags

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Best Overall

Pavilia hanging toiletry bag.

Roll-Up Travel Toiletries Kit

Best Roll-Up Travel Toiletry Bag

Lululemon roll-up travel toiletries kit.

Kanken Toiletry Bag

Best Durable Bag

Fjallraven kanken toiletry bag.

Some travel bags are smaller, with a simple interior, and others are larger with more pockets. What you decide to invest in comes down to how long you'll be traveling for and whether or not you like to travel light or heavy. Regardless of your preferences, just know that there are plenty of options out there for you. In fact, Women's Health editors tested and rounded up seven of their favorite picks to help you decide on the best one for you. Before you shop though, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What to consider

The goal is to find something that will fit all your personal care items without taking up a ton of space, being mindful that TSA rules will also limit the sizes of these products. "TSA’s 3-1-1 rule states that all liquids must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters or less and fit inside one clear, quart-sized, resealable bag," says travel expert and blogger at The Smart Travel Guide Peggy Carlaw. "The trick to packing a toiletry bag is decanting your own products into small containers or purchasing travel-sized containers." This hack will save you space while lowering your bag weight. Once you do this, choose a bag that's big enough to hold the amount of containers and makeup you're traveling with.

Finding a bag that fits within your budget is the priority. That said, certain materials are more travel-friendly than others. Carlaw recommends a bag made from either nylon or polyester. "These are long-lasting, lightweight, water-resistant, and easy to clean," she says. "Cotton and some other fabrics are not waterproof, hard to keep clean, and not sturdy enough to protect their contents," she adds.

Water-resistance

While this feature is optional, having a water-resistant bag will ensure that everything else in your suitcase will stay dry if any of your toiletries spill out or leak during travel. At the same time, if your luggage gets wet or clothes get damp, all the items in your toiletry bag (like powders, medications, and electronics) will stay dry. This is especially helpful if you're traveling somewhere where the humidity is high, Carlaw says.

How 'Women's Health' selected

For the past year, Women’s Health editors, including associate health and wellness editor Tianna Soto and lifestyle commerce editor Jasmine Gomez , tested the bestselling, most popular, and top-rated travel toiletry bags. Our team consulted one travel expert and evaluated bags based on size, fabric material, ease of use, and more to narrow down the seven best travel toiletry bags for a wide range of needs and preferences.

Below, check out the seven best travel toiletry bags, tested by Women's Health editors.

After testing several travel toiletry bags over the past few weeks, our best overall pick is this hanging toiletry bag from Pavilia. For starters, it hits all the callouts that our expert recommends—clear plastic pockets, a water-resistant shell, and polyester material.

The hook at the top makes it easy to see and access your items without having to take them all out, or having to dig through each pocket. Editors also like that this bag has a budget-friendly price of $24, which is a total steal compared to some of the more pricier options on this list.

Women's Health health editor Tianna Soto appreciates that this bag comes with eight pockets that fit all of her self-care products. For her, it makes organizing a breeze, and it folds up without taking up too much space in her luggage. However, she notes that if you over-pack it too often, there's a chance that the zipper can get stuck. Additionally, it might not be the best choice if you value your privacy while traveling with company. "If you’re sharing a hotel room with someone and don’t want everyone to see what you have in there, you may not love the clear pockets," she says.

Read more: Best Travel Coffee Mugs

If you swear by all things Lululemon, you'll be thrilled to know they have a toiletry bag that's perfect for your next trip. It comes with three main pockets that can be easily folded up. Unlike some other options on this list, this bag is closed using a security buckle, ensuring that your belongings won't fall out during travel.

WH lifestyle and commerce editor Jasmine Gomez is a big fan of this bag because of its waterproof-material and mesh pocket, which she says makes room for some items that need more breathability (think: makeup sponges and toothbrushes).

She also likes that it provides easy access to her products. "I love that it rolls out vertically with a hook at the top, making it easy to access what I need without having to dig through an entire bag," she says. One thing to keep in mind is that there isn't an added layer of protection for whatever is inside, aside from the pockets. So keeping this in your backpack or in a hardshell suitcase might be best.

When it comes to durability, this toiletry bag from Fjallraven is our top pick, especially if you're a frequent flyer. We like that the fabric feels sturdy, and it's on the thicker side, so it can easily stand up against frequent use or bumpy trips. The dark color makes any dirt or marks less noticeable, too. It comes with two spacious compartments that can fit anything from makeup to skincare or haircare. Because the pockets inside aren't clear like some of the other bags on this list, you might have to dig around in different sections to find what you're looking for, though.

Still, this option is well worth your dime, according to WH associate news editor Charlotte Walsh. "I typically have to pack two separate bags—one for my makeup and the other for shower products—but with this, I can fit it all in one!" she says. She also appreciates the waxed fabric liner inside, which serves as a barrier in case anything spills.

Victoria's Secret Travel Toiletry Bag

Travel Toiletry Bag

A personal favorite of WH beauty editors, this toiletry bag from Victoria's Secret has deep pockets that are perfect for those who prefer the perks of a roll-up bag with the structure of something more durable. It comes with two main compartments and one smaller one that sits closest to the hanging hook. While this bag isn't water-resistant, we appreciate that the clear pockets make it easy to find your belongings.

"It's easy to see everything that's in the bag without having to spread everything out on the sink and make a mess," says WH senior beauty editor Danielle Jackson. She adds that this bag eliminates the need to bring two toiletry bags with her since the pockets are extra spacious.

Mark & Graham Clear Coated Cosmetic Train Case

Clear Coated Cosmetic Train Case

Feel like a splurge? You will adore this customizable toiletry bag from Mark & Graham. While this is the most expensive option on our round up, the variety of prints to choose from, in addition to its durability and deep double pockets, make it worth every penny.

Its rectangular shape allows for a smooth packing process, as it can easily fit into the corner of a small suitcase or duffel. It also has a handle on top that provides "easy access when you're digging around in your bag after a late-night or early-morning arrival," says WH features editor Currie Engel. "[The bag] makes me feel like an incredibly put-together person even on my most hectic and chaotic trips." If you're not shopping for yourself, this bag also makes for a great gift for your jet-setting bestie or family member.

Herschel Milan Toiletry Bag

Milan Toiletry Bag

The most stylish option on this list, this toiletry bag from Herschel is great for quick weekend getaways. It's on the smaller side and made from vegan leather. The bag comes with an expandable internal and rear storage sleeve, and it's available in six colors and two sizes. It's worth noting that while this bag is fashion-forward, it doesn't have clear pockets and isn't big enough to guarantee that all your travel must-haves can be stored away.

Ultimately, it will securely store whatever you do travel with, though. WH executive digital director Amanda Woerner, who has been using hers for years, is a fan of this bag for its overall quality. "Herschel toiletry bags hold a ton of makeup and skincare products, and despite the fact that various tinted moisturizers, face washes, and who knows what else, have spilled inside there for years, it's still in great shape," she says.

Beis The Cosmetic Pouch Set

The Cosmetic Pouch Set

Some people prefer to have one bag, while others don't mind two. Whether it be for organizational purposes or for having two bags to use individually, you can't go wrong with this matching set from Beis. These are not water-resistant nor do they have clear pockets, but editors like that they're compact enough to fit in small suitcases, and that you're essentially getting two bags for the price of one. Plus, they're a sleek and stylish option for travel.

"I love the matching neutral color, and the bigger size means that I can still squeeze in some of my full-size products," says Walsh. She notes that one downside to the rounded shape of the bags is that you lose some of the extra space that you may get from a square pouch.

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Meet the experts

  • Peggy Carlaw is a travel expert and blogger at The Smart Travel Guide .

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Read more about the best travel gear

Best Gifts For Travelers | Best Makeup Bags | Best Travel Jewelry Cases | Best Carry-On Luggage | Best Travel Journals | Best Travel Pillows

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Sabrina is an editorial assistant for Women’s Health. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, training in mixed martial arts, or reading.

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Protect Your Trip »

The 10 best fanny packs and belt bags for travel.

Combine hands-free convenience with style and organization.

The Best Fanny Packs and Belt Bags

travel bag to

Courtesy of Cotopaxi

Fanny packs of the 2020s are not the same as they were in the 1980s and 1990s. Yes, you can still find packs adorned with wild shapes, fluorescent colors and styles to perfect your Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson costume, but many of them are more fashion-forward. Choose from neutral tones, an array of fabrics (from recycled fibers to leather) and unique features to keep you organized.

What's more, fanny packs are useful. They free up your hands while keeping everything at your fingertips. You don't have to worry about a pack sliding from your back to your front (like a crossbody bag), nor will you suffer the excess heat on your back that often plagues backpack users.

If you're still not convinced, perhaps one of the packs below will help. Based on consumer reviews and travel expert insights, these are the best fanny packs for travelers. Whether you're vacationing solo , heading out on a hike or taking the kids to Walt Disney World , there's something on this list for you.

  • Best Overall: Dagne Dover Ace Neoprene Fanny Pack
  • Jump to features and traveler insights ↓

Best Overall (at a lower price point): JanSport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack

Best men's: patagonia ultralight black hole mini hip pack 1l, best women's: lululemon everywhere belt bag 1l, best for kids: everest junior waist pack, best anti-theft: travelon anti-theft active waist pack, best plus size: attackcatbags waxed canvas sling bag, best clear: veckle clear fanny pack, best for hiking: cotopaxi bataan 3l fanny pack.

  • Best Leather: Lo & Sons Bond

(Note: Prices and availability were accurate at the time of publication; they may fluctuate due to demand or other factors.)

Best Overall: Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

Open Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack in gray against white background.

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

What sets this pack apart: Dagne Dover's neoprene fanny pack is made from recycled plastic bottles, making it an appealing option for eco-conscious travelers . The bag features three different sections: a front zip area, the main zippered compartment and a card slot on the back. Inside the main pocket, you'll find slots for both lip balm and cards or cash, plus a key clip. The fanny pack has an adjustable waist strap, weighs 9 ounces and is water-resistant.

This pack comes in classic colors, including mauve, olive, camel, black and gray. Special seasonal colors and patterns may be available, too. It also comes in a recycled air mesh version that weighs less than 5 ounces.

Travelers appreciate: Reviewers say the bag is excellent for everyday use and they love being hands-free while traveling or running errands. Others note that the bag can be small if you have a large phone plus other items inside.

Price: $95 or less

JanSport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack in black against white background.

Courtesy of JanSport

What sets this pack apart: This bag holds all your travel essentials in a main zippered compartment with a small zip pouch on the front and a fully adjustable waist strap. When empty, the pack weighs just 4.5 ounces, and it is available in a variety of colors and patterns, including lilac, camouflage, floral and black. You can also snag the bag in a corduroy material.

Travelers appreciate: Users of this bag praise the variety of colors and patterns, noting it's best for those traveling light (think: a few credit cards, your phone and lip balm). Many also mention that the bag is great to wear as a crossbody.

Price: $30 or less

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L in gray/green with neon green zippers against white background.

Courtesy of Patagonia

What sets this pack apart: Patagonia's pack has a classic style, with one large zip pouch and a smaller zippered enclosure on the front. It comes in multiple colors from basic black to blue to moss green. What's more, the pack stows away into a stuff sack for easy portability and weighs less than 4 ounces. It's also made with 100% recycled materials. Patagonia also makes a larger version of this pack.

Travelers appreciate: "This light pack is the perfect size for your phone, wallet, car keys, and any other adventure essentials (sunscreen, dog treats, etc.)," says Zach Watson , senior editor of travel at U.S. News. "I'm always misplacing small equipment, but Patagonia's eye-catching colors help this pack stand out from my more monotone gear. My pack is still going strong after more than four years of regular use in sun, rain and snow."

Price: $35 or less

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 1L in dark green against gray background.

Courtesy of Lululemon

What sets the pack apart: The bag features a water-repellent fabric with two zippered compartments: one main section (which includes a mesh pouch inside) and one along the back exterior. This crossbody comes in multiple colors, including gray, black, green, pink and white. It also comes in a clear bag style with white or black trim. Select colors feature fabric made from recycled materials. The regular bag's strap reaches 41.7 inches, but you can buy a version of the bag with a longer strap that extends to 55.5 inches.

Travelers appreciate: "I started using the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag when I would take my son to a park or playground because it allowed me to keep my hands free and also kept all my essentials at my fingertips (without being bulky)," says Ann Henson , assistant managing editor of travel at U.S. News. "Now I use this as my everyday bag. It's easy to wipe clean and the interior pockets keep everything organized."

Megan Wood , senior editor of commerce for U.S. News' 360 Reviews, adds, "I especially love the size for walking my dog. It holds keys, treats and poop bags, and frees up my hands for holding the leash and a cup of coffee." Other reviewers also like the color variety, with several noting they own multiple different colors.

Price: $38 or less

Also consider: Reviewers say the ODODOS Unisex Mini Belt Bag is a durable, stylish dupe of the Everywhere bag. Plus, it's a budget-friendly alternative at about $14 or less.

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Everest Junior Waist Pack in dark blue against white background.

Courtesy of Everest

What sets this pack apart: From snacks to fidget spinners, children have their own necessities during a trip. Everest's kid-sized waist pack could fit the bill. The pack itself measures roughly 8 x 2.5 x 3.5 inches and weighs 4 ounces when empty. The pack has two front-access zippered compartments. There are several kid-friendly color options, such as coral, purple, hot pink and turquoise.

Travelers appreciate:  Travelers say the pack is perfect for small children, noting it fits their kids well and gives them space to keep small objects such as rocks and seashells safe as they explore. Nevertheless, parents do warn the buckle can be finicky and that the excess strap is long after adjusting (it can adjust up to 60 inches).

Price: $21 or less

What sets this pack apart: AttackCatBags prides itself on offering not only stylish fanny packs, but also inclusive sizing. Its waxed canvas bags come in youth to 6X sizes as well as two styles: a 12-inch hip pack or a 15-inch sling bag. The bags are covered in organic beeswax, which makes the bag fashionable and water-resistant. Bags come in various colors and patterns, such as pink, a moons and clouds print, and Japanese-inspired designs.

Travelers appreciate: Reviews compliment the quality of the bag, noting both its durable construction and beautiful fabrics. They also appreciate how big both the hip pack and sling bags are, saying they're both perfect for carrying the essentials on a trip.

Price:  $70 or less

Also consider: Canvelle's Original Fanny Pack is another wonderful option as its strap reaches up to 61.5 inches (including the bag). It costs $95 or less for the original size. "Not only is this belt bag ideal for all body types, but it also offers a deceiving amount of space – even more so if you use one of the coordinating slim wallets," says Amanda Norcross , senior content and SEO strategist for travel at U.S. News. "I appreciate that it's machine washable, and that I can use it for literally anything: travel, concerts, everyday errands and more."

Veckle Clear Fanny Pack with rainbow strap against white background.

Courtesy of Veckle

What sets this pack apart: This clear fanny pack features a waterproof PVC material as well as two zip compartments. The strap adjusts up to 47 inches. The bag itself measures 11 x 6.5 x 5.9 inches, which meets the size requirements for events (most stadiums limit bags to 12 x 12 x 6 inches). Though clear, there are a few colorways such as black trim, gray trim, pink trim and white trim with a rainbow strap.

Travelers appreciate: Users say they've successfully taken this bag to concerts and stadiums that have clear bag rules. Many also appreciate the size of the bag, complimenting both its capacity and long strap.

Price: $12.99 or less

Travelon Anti-Theft Active Waist Pack in blue against white background.

Courtesy of Travelon

What sets this pack apart: Thanks to RFID-blocking technology, locking waist straps, locking zippers and slash-resistant material, this Travelon fanny pack is ideal for jet-setters who want some extra security during their vacations. The bag features front and rear zippered pockets, and the interior has a key clip plus a small light. The strap can accommodate waists up to 48 inches in circumference. This pack comes in three colors: black, gray and teal. Keep in mind that to take full advantage of the security features, you'll have to relock the bag each time you get something out.

Travelers appreciate: The security features, plus the bag's classic style, appeal to reviewers. Some travelers say the bag was too small for their needs, while others say it was just the right size for essentials (like a passport, credit cards and a phone).

Price: $50 or less

Multicolored Cotopaxi Bataan Fanny Pack against white background.

What sets this pack apart: Each multicolor Cotopaxi fanny pack is one-of-a-kind. Possible colors you can combine include yellow, teal, olive or red. Purchasers have the option to select their own bag – or save a few dollars by receiving a mystery bag (and have no control over the colors). What's more, the materials are sustainably sourced: Packs are made from surplus nylon fabric that otherwise would've ended up in a landfill. The single zip compartment has two internal mesh pockets to help keep belongings organized.

Travelers appreciate: "Besides being fun to look at and wear, this durable fanny pack really packs a punch when it comes to outdoor activities," says Leilani Osmundson , senior digital producer for travel at U.S. News. "In addition to my phone, wallet and keys, I'm able to fit other hiking must-haves like snacks, first-aid supplies and even a small water bottle. Plus, with two mesh pockets inside, it's easy to keep things organized."

Price:  $37.50 or less

Also consider: If you'd like slightly more subdued color options, you can't go wrong with Eddie Bauer's Stowaway Packable Waist Pack . "I've worn this bag while traveling, during hikes, at concerts, to bars – basically any scenario where you would want to have all your necessities on-hand without feeling weighed down," says Victoria Sheridan , home goods editor for 360 Reviews at U.S. News. Sheridan also says the bag is subtle enough to not clash with her outfits and it's durable: She's had her bag for about three years.

Best Leather: Lo & Sons Bond

Lo & Sons Bond in black against white background.

Courtesy of Lo & Sons

What sets this pack apart: This sheepskin leather fanny pack comes in four neutral tones (black, navy, cognac and cream) to match any outfit. The main zippered compartment on the front features mesh pockets and a zippered pocket with card slots inside; it also has a key tether. The back of the fanny pack has a card slot as well as a zip compartment. The zipper pulls are designed to accommodate a TSA-approved lock, should you want some extra security for your belongings.

Travelers appreciate: Wearers point out the fine quality of the bag and note it is an excellent travel accessory that fits all the essentials. A few noted how lightweight the bag is.

Price:  $328 or less

Also consider: This leather fanny pack from Etsy gets great reviews for its quality and classic style. The bag costs around $86 or less.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Marisa Méndez   is an avid gear connoisseur who's constantly on the hunt for her next perfect travel item. Her current favorites are Knockaround's Deja Views sunglasses , a Portland Gear backpack (the compact size), a Quatish jewelry case and a Lands' End cargo jacket . She's also anxiously awaiting her next trip to break in her Solgaard Carry-on Closet . Marisa used her love of both organization and research to come up with this list of fanny packs.

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How to Ensure Your Carry-On Doesn't Get Gate-Checked This Summer

The overhead bins are hitting full capacity faster than ever, forcing people to check their bags at the gate. T&C investigates how to guarantee your suitcase makes it on that plane.

gate checked carry on

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

"There's more chaos at the airports now than ever before," says Michael Holtz, founder and CEO of SmartFlyer , a full-service luxury travel agency. "Things are coming back stronger than they've been, and people are bringing more stuff than they brought before Covid."

miami, florida, miami international airport mia terminal, flight departure passenger putting suitcase in overhead luggage bin

Aircrafts are clearly not designed to hold this many suitcases in the passenger cabin, and as summer travel picks up, we at Town & Country are wondering: how do we ensure our bag makes it on that flight?

Ahead, we tapped some of the industry's most reputable travel experts for tips and tricks on how to avoid gate-checking your carry-on bag in this overcrowded space.

Be loyal to one airline.

Joining a frequent flyer program can help mitigate the gate-checked bag dilemma. "If you try to concentrate your travels to one or two airlines, you're going to get status," says Holtz, noting that gate agents are likely to be more accommodating to loyal customers. "They will be nicer to people with status than say the Expedia crowd that's just booking to save 10 cents and they're not loyal to an airplane."

Status also often ensures you're among the first people on the plane. "You don't have to be the first to board, but you need to not be the last to board," says Gary Leff, an air travel expert and View from the Wing blogger. "It's important to understand what gets you into at least the middle boarding group." American Airlines 's AAdvantage mileage program, for example, is great, says Leff, because it offers members earlier boarding simply for signing up.

Holtz says Delta and United Airlines are some of the "smartest carriers" out there, too, and offer major benefits, like priority baggage tags for loyal flyers. So, if a gate agent does decide to send your luggage to the cargo hold, this perk will get your bag loaded on the carousel before others.

On the off chance you do want to check a suitcase ahead of time to avoid the gate-checking dilemma altogether, many airlines will give you a set checked bag allowance if you are an elite member. "There's this whole issue with getting to the gate and having palpitations because you're concerned that the gate agents are going to grab one of your bags and they might get left behind," says Holtz. "It might not be a bad idea to check a bag and this way you avoid the last-minute concern."

Whatever you do, do not buy a Basic Economy ticket.

The experts are unanimous: Choosing the cheap way out will not work in your favor. "Basic Economy fares generally come without the ability to bring on a bag and you're the last one to get on the plane," notes Holtz. "So, even if you do bring one, you're probably not going to have any overhead bin space."

"The difference in fare is minimal," he continues. "If people understand that and avoid Basic Economy fare, that will probably eliminate 50 percent of the aggravation."

The size of your carry-on does matter.

As a rule of thumb, carry-on bags should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches. If your bag meets those dimensions or is smaller, you should be allowed on the plane no problem (that is, if there is still space in the overhead bins). That said, when shopping for luggage, it's important to keep in mind that the dimensions listed online can sometimes be misleading. "Brands will frequently advertise the size excluding wheels," Leff points out. "In order to fit in the baggage sizer [at the airport], the wheels have to get in, too."

Travel Expert-Approved Carry-On Luggage

Original Cabin

Rimowa Original Cabin

Carry On Case

Globe-Trotter Carry On Case

Polyhedral Folding Travel Tote Bag

Valextra Polyhedral Folding Travel Tote Bag

Both Holtz and Leff are fans of Rimowa's Cabin suitcase . "The brand's cabin bag fits on any mainline jet, like the Boeing 717, Airbus 320, Airbus 321, and Boeing 737," says Holtz, while Leff says he's gotten "tremendous value" out of his over the years because of the "sturdiness of the handle and wheels, as well as what you can fit inside." Jaclyn Sienna India of luxury travel agency Sienna Charles likes Globe-Trotter's carry-on . It will set you back nearly $2,000, but "how you present yourself when you go to the airport is important," she says. "If you look well put-together and try to be kind to people, it goes both ways."

Choose airlines that prioritize experience and service.

While joining a frequent flier program can be beneficial, India—who has planned trips for presidents, prime ministers, and other public figures—is a proponent of choosing airlines and ticket designations that value customers and their overall experience. What that means is flying first class, but also choosing aircrafts that offer more space and larger overhead bins.

uae transport aviation

"The Airbus A380s are the most spacious," India says. "Airlines like Emirates , Singapore , or Etihad are thinking about the user experience from the beginning. They are thinking through how people get on the plane and where their stuff goes."

At the end of the day, "you have to go where you're going to be treated better," she adds. "It makes the experience a whole lot better, and I believe that the trip really does start with that airport experience."

Do your research.

Doing your research on the specific aircraft may help you in the long run. "Several airlines have added bigger bins because they don't want to be gate-checking bags if they don't have to at the last minute and causing delays," says Leff. He specifically cites American Airlines and United Airlines as two companies who have invested in bigger bins to accommodate more luggage.

Michael, a flight attendant from a major airline who chose to withhold his last name, says you can very simply find the aircraft information by looking up the details of your flight through an airline's app or FlightAware . "If you see that your plane is older, there's going to be less likelihood that your bag is going to make it on," he says. "If you see that you have a newer plane where the bins are much more accommodating, you have a very high chance of being able to get it on."

India, who also recommends doing research, adds, "You kind of have to be your own detective of which aircraft you're taking and looking at luggage sizes because you really don't know until you get there."

Being nice goes a long way.

Being kind to airport staff is a given, in any scenario. However, if you're faced with having to gate-check your bag at the 11th hour, being polite in this particular circumstance could work in your favor.

"People will sometimes come to me at the boarding door with their tagged bag and say, 'I know the gate agents said there's no more space, but this is really important to me,'" says Michael. "There's a huge difference between coming on and having the attitude of 'I can't believe they made me check' versus 'I would just really appreciate it if this can make it on board.' It usually almost always works. We're doing our best to guestimate how many bags we can fit and how many more spaces are left. We don't get it right, hardly ever, but we can almost always make something work."

If you're carrying precious cargo and are in a later boarding zone, Michael also recommends talking to the gate agent before the flight starts boarding: "Just having that polite conversation with the gate agent might help."

airport lost luggage and strike chaos with passengers checked baggage

That said, the agent assigned to your gate depends largely on the luck of the draw. "I've had people take my bags that are carry-on approved, and I've had people say 'Have a phenomenal flight!' when they aren't aircraft approved," says India. "You can catch somebody on a good day, you can catch somebody on a bad day, and you don't really know what you're getting. I think that's why sitting in a better class of service helps because they treat you sort of like a human."

As Holtz notes, the gate agent's primary job is getting the plane loaded as quickly as possible. "Just be nice, be kind, and little niceties go a long way," he says. "You can't fight them. You're never going to win."

Consider packing a duffle bag.

According to Michael, flight attendants normally notify gate agents when the overhead bins are at 70 percent capacity, which means bags need to start getting checked. However, even after the message is sent, soft bags are "almost always let through" but not hardshell suitcases.

"If you can get a big soft bag instead of a rolling bag as your carry-on, those are much more likely to make it through even at the very end," says Michael. "Even if you're the last person on the plane, they'll probably let that through. It's not as convenient, but I never see those kinds of bags getting checked."

India recommends the Valextra Polyhedral Folding Travel Tote Bag : "It's like an accordion and it's really big."

Ship your luggage.

If you're traveling for more than a week, India recommends shipping your luggage to your destination instead of just packing a carry-on. "If you're on a longer trip and trying to look amazing and you're going to events or doing a lot, I think it's really hard to pack everything in a carry-on and have options," she says. She recommends FedEx overnight shipping: "My luggage always arrives before me and it's in my room waiting for me. You can be a little bit more in control of it and put insurance on it."

Editor's Note : If this is a method you are considering, make sure to notify your hotel in advance to confirm that someone from reception or the concierge desk can receive your suitcase.

If you've followed the above and all else fails, invest in an Airtag.

While gate-checked bags can end up at the jet bridge upon arriving to your destination if you're lucky, more often than not they have to be claimed at the baggage carousel. In that case, Apple's nifty Airtag is only $29 (it's also often on sale on Amazon ) and can track your checked bag, offering more peace of mind. India says they can't hurt, but at the end of the day, "all you can do is hope for the best."

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Sophie Dweck is the associate shopping editor for Town & Country, where she covers beauty, fashion, home and décor, and more. 

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Travel Tips for Gulfport-Biloxi as Summer Passenger Volumes Heat Up

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are screening record numbers of passengers across the country. Passengers are reminded to arrive at the airport early and know what is in their bags.  TSA officers at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT) have already intercepted six firearms at the security checkpoint so far this year. 

“Passengers are reminded to be sure they are not carrying prohibited items before they enter our checkpoints,” said TSA Federal Security Director for the State of Mississippi Kim Jackson. “Make sure your firearm is not in your carry-on bag and also check that you do not have a pocketknife or other threats that are not permitted in the cabin of the aircraft.”  

Most items that are prohibited in your carry-on bag can be placed in a checked bag.  But anything that is flammable, corrosive or explosive cannot travel anywhere on the plane. Hand grenades, even replica ones, cannot travel on the plane in checked or carry-on bags.  

 If you are going to travel with your firearm it must be in your checked bag, unloaded and in a locked hard-sided case. You must declare it to the airline at check-in.  Travelers are responsible for being aware of what the firearm laws are on each side of their trip or they may be cited or heading to jail instead of to their vacation or business trip. Firearms may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.

The most recent firearm intercepted by TSA at the Gulfport-Biloxi checkpoint was on May 28th when a 57-year-old woman headed for Atlanta entered the checkpoint with a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P firearm.  On May 4th, a 61-year-old man headed to Charlotte entered the checkpoint with a Ruger 03500. The firearm was loaded with a round chambered.

“Last year passengers across the state of Mississippi brought 50 firearms to our security checkpoints with seven of those at GPT. So far this year we have stopped 25 firearms across the state,” Jackson said. “The trend is unfortunately escalating, including right here in Gulfport.”

The specific calendar year-to-date totals across Mississippi are 17 stopped at Jackson, six stopped at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, and one each at Greenville Mid-Delta Regional Airport and Hattiesburg Laurel Regional Airport.

“Thanks to the experience and vigilance of our TSA officers, each of these firearms was intercepted before they could make it into the cabin of an aircraft,” Jackson added.

Many of the passengers across the country who bring firearms to a federal security checkpoint are arrested or issued notices to appear in court. Regardless of whether the individual is arrested or cited by law enforcement, with whom we immediately partner, passengers face a civil penalty imposed by the TSA that can reach nearly $15,000.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck®  program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.

The TSA is seeing record-breaking numbers of passengers traveling across the country so be sure to arrive early  and do heed these travel tips for getting through the security checkpoint as efficiently and stress free as possible.

Tip 1: No firearms in carry-ons. Firearms must be in checked  baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared  to the airline at check-in, which means unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case. Contact your airline for additional guidance. And it is your responsibility to know what the firearm laws are on both sides of your trip.

Tip 2: Leave all prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of a bag search at the checkpoint, search your own suitcase, backpack, computer bag or purse before leaving home. Unsure if it’s allowed: use the “What Can I Bring?”  link on TSA.gov .

Tip 3: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card  readily available. If you are traveling with a carry-on bag follow the liquids, gels and aerosols 3-1-1 rule  of 3.4 ounces or less for each item and the items should be placed in a one-quart-sized bag, one bag per passenger. To simplify your screening and even before entering the checkpoint it is best to put your phones and any other content of your pockets into your carry-on rather than into a bin in the checkpoint.

Tip 4:   Help is available.  Get live assistance by tweeting your questions to @AskTSA  in English or Spanish or via Facebook Messenger . You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 .

Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck.  Travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, laptops and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.   

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The 9 Best Foldable Travel Bags to Stash Just About Anywhere

Here are the best just-in-case bags to use on your next trip, including backpacks, totes, and more.

travel bag to

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks
  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Joy Kim

Whether you tend to pack light — and hate the idea of lugging around any more than necessary — or always seem to come back from vacation with more than you arrived with, foldable travel bags can come in quite handy. They typically don’t take up much space but the extra room they provide makes all the difference. The best ones come in an array of shapes, sizes, and silhouettes at any price point — which means options abound, depending on your specific needs and preferences. 

To help narrow things down, we’ve gathered testing insights for our favorite foldable travel bags, plus researched others from brands like Baggu, Away, Lipault, and more. Our top picks combine fashion and function, while prioritizing key features like durability and portability at the same time. 

Best Overall

Paravel fold-up backpack.

Made with water-resistant nylon, this lightweight backpack offers plenty of built-in organization, making it ideal for those on the go.

The soft material means that larger items can sag down or poke out noticeably.

If you’re looking to dip a toe into folding bags for travel, it’s hard to get more practical than the Paravel Fold-up Backpack. Whether you’re using it at your destination or as your in-flight personal item, it’s roomy enough to hold an extra pair of clothes, a 15-inch laptop, and more in the main compartment, plus small essentials such as chargers, a smartphone, and travel documents in the zippered front pouch. There's an interior zip pocket to keep smaller items separated and safe like keys or a wallet, as well. 

We’ve used this bag on our travels and as a personal item and love that the back pocket doubles as a luggage sleeve as needed. It’s also worth mentioning that its lightweight, water-resistant nylon material is made from 15 upcycled plastic bottles. 

When it’s time to unpack, just fold and zip the backpack up into itself — with no extra pouch (to lose). Coming in six colors including canyon yellow, safari red, and scuba navy, you can also opt for personalized initial embroidery to add a custom touch to the shade of your choice.

The Details: 13 x 16 x 9 inches (unfolded); 6 x 6.5 x 2.5 inches (folded) | 0.63 pounds | Nylon

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Away The Packable Carryall

It folds down very small compared to its size when open.

The nylon material is ultra-thin and the bag has minimal structure.

Coming in at 43 liters, Away’s Packable Carryall is spacious enough to hold pretty much all of your essentials, from clothes to books to a laptop. It weighs around half a pound and folds down to around 4 x 6 inches, making it a compact and lightweight secondary bag, too. With that in mind, we recommend packing this inside your main carry-on or checked bag to use as a backup personal item for souvenirs and other travel trinkets. While the carrying strap is thick, we did find the bag itself lacks the structure that would allow it to stand on its own (so, if you set it down with your items inside, they all melt toward the ground). On a similar note, although the built-in luggage sleeve can come in handy, you’d have to make sure to pack well — with weighty things in the middle — to keep the bag from slipping off your suitcase.

Despite how thin the recycled nylon construction (which comes in four colors) is, it does happen to be water-resistant, making it an excellent choice for the beach or pool. Alternatively, because it’s so spacious inside, it could also serve as an overnighter or weekender bag as part of a longer trip. 

The Details: 15 x 19.7 x 9 inches (unfolded); 6.3 x 4.3 x 2.4 inches (folded) | 8.8 ounces (with pouch), 8 ounces (without pouch) | Nylon

Travel + Leisure / Joy Kim

Best Expandable Bag

Longchamp le pliage expandable travel bag.

This chic bag, which expands in height up to 20 inches, can be carried several ways, making it among the most versatile picks on this list. 

Overpackers may be burdened by how heavy it gets when stuffed with weighty items.

We’re big fans of Longchamp bags in general, and the Le Pliage Expandable Travel Bag in particular for its ability to be expanded and contracted in a matter of seconds. Leather trimming adds extra flair whether you’re using it as a daily bag at its shorter 14-inch height, or fully expanded at 20.5 inches for a trip instead. In fact, our team has used the bag in both sizes on nearly every occasion: A three-week trip to Europe, weekend visits to the beach, strolling around on hot summer days, long road trips, plane rides, or as an everyday purse.

This bag pulls double duty as both a handheld and hands-free bag thanks to top handles and a long adjustable strap (for crossbody or shoulder carrying instead). Meanwhile, the interior lining and zippered closure offer an extra sense of security, protecting against leaks and other mishaps. We found the nylon material incredibly easy to clean in the event of spilled water, coffee, or even food. We especially love how easy it is to use just about anytime since it folds up into a small square that can be thrown into another bag, perfect for trips where you return home with more than when you left.

The Details: 17.75 x 9 x 14-20.5 inches (unfolded) | 1.56 pounds | Nylon with leather details

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Best Duffel

Tumi voyageur just in case duffel.

This versatile duffel can be carried four different ways. 

The bag can feel flimsy if not filled completely. 

First off, there are not one, not two, but four different ways to carry the Tumi Just in Case Duffel — crossbody with one long strap, over-the-shoulder (with two medium-sized straps), by hand (with two additional two straps), and, lastly, hands-free (thanks to the sleeve, which slides onto your suitcase). Also, when fully open, the storage pouch actually snaps inside the duffel bag, serving as an extra interior pocket that’s roomy enough to store keys, a wallet, headphones, and other small but essential travel items. This clever design is especially noteworthy because, in many cases, the folding bags’ storage case ends up 1) becoming wasted space and 2) is only too easy to lose. An additional front slip pocket also offers easy access to essentials such as your smartphone, ID, and boarding pass. 

Additionally, despite the bag’s seemingly compact size, it offers a surprising amount of storage space: In fact, we were able to fit four dresses, two shoes, a pair of pajamas, and a toiletry bag — with room to spare! Available in four colors, this foldable duffel is constructed with lightweight nylon, which is water- and stain-resistant. Shoppers also have the option to add embroidery for an extra-special personalized touch. 

The Details: 10.3 x 18.9 x 10.3 inches (unfolded) | 1.1 pounds | Nylon 

Travel + Leisure / Morgan Ashley Parker

Best Water-repellent

Caraa baby hospital bag.

Made of water-repellent cotton, this oversized bag can be carried as a backpack or tote thanks to its long cushy straps. 

At around $300, this foldable bag isn’t exactly a bargain.

Don’t be fooled by its name: The Caraa Baby Hospital Bag is so much more than a hospital bag — in fact, this chic foldable bag is especially ideal for travel. The ultra-spacious bag is outfitted with several compartments, including a zippered interior pocket for magazines and other in-flight reading materials and two zippered side pockets that are roomy enough to hold shoes, water bottles, tablets, and more. The interior also features a water-repellent cotton lining to protect your belongings from accidental spillage. 

Travelers can carry the bag by the straps, which feature a fashionable bow detailing. It’s also worth mentioning that the straps are long enough for the bag to be worn as a backpack or carried like a tote bag. When not in use, simply roll, fold, and stash the bag away in the corresponding pouch. Oh, and did we mention it’s machine-washable, too?

The Details: 12 x 24 x 14 inches (unfolded) | 2.2 pounds | Cotton

Best Budget

Baggu nylon ripstop tote.

This machine-washable reusable tote can hold up to 50 pounds. 

There are no zippers. 

Baggu’s signature reusable tote is an editor favorite for its ultra-lightweight construction, and affordable price. In fact, several T+L staffers rarely leave home for vacation — or the day! — without one. The compact design, which folds into the corresponding pouch for convenient storage, is an added bonus. Despite the fact that it weighs less than 2 ounces, this one-of-a-kind bag is sturdy enough to hold up to 50 pounds, and we've used the same one for over nine years. It’s also machine-washable and made with recycled nylon so leaky groceries or drippy sightseeing lunches are no problem at all. Lastly, the durable bag is available in 20 colors and patterns to suit anyone’s style preferences from pistachio green to a raspberry print. 

The Details: 25.5 x 15.5 × 6 inches (unfolded); 5 x 5 inches (folded) | 1.9 ounces | Nylon

Best Suitcase

Lipault foldable plume cabin.

We can fold this down and pack an extra carry-on inside our checked luggage.

The collapsable material doesn't hold its shape very well when unfolded.

If you’re planning on bringing home a lot of souvenirs, you might want something sturdier than a duffle bag or a backpack. That’s where the Lipault Foldable Plume Cabin comes in: this bag works as a standard carry-on but can be folded to a more compact size at the touch of a button. It features two wheels instead of four, which can make it a little more difficult to maneuver but allows you to collapse the bag with minimal bulk. This also helps to keep the bag lightweight, which is helpful when packing it in a larger suitcase.

Although the bag is light enough to break down, it’s sturdy and durable, so you don’t have to worry about transporting it through the airport. Inside, you’ll find one bottom compartment and three pockets for organization in addition to a single exterior pocket. We like the versatility of this bag and appreciate that we can stash it at the bottom of our checked luggage to have an extra suitcase to use on the way home. The foldable design also makes this easy to store at home – just compress it, then slide it under the bed or into a closet until your next trip.

The Details: 8.7 x 21.7 x 14.6 inches (unfolded) | 5.2 pounds | Nylon

Best Sling Bag

Away the packable sling bag.

This bag takes up hardly any room when folded, so it's a no-brainer to pack.

It's on the larger size for a sling bag when unfolded.

A sling bag is a great travel companion, keeping small items like your phone and wallet easily accessible. The Packable Sling Bag from Away folds up and fits into a small zip pouch when not in use, so it’s easy to throw into your suitcase before a trip. It’s lightweight (under four ounces without the carrying pouch) so it’s an ideal second bag option to tote along on long travel days. But don’t let its weight fool you – heavy-duty nylon keeps it sturdy and durable, so you can trust it to carry your phone, wallet, keys, and other valuables.

This sling bag has other features we like to see in our bags, including an adjustable strap to accommodate various sizes, an interior organization pocket, and a zip closure to prevent items from falling out. The bag is also water-resistant, so it can stand up to a walk in the rain from the airport to the bus stop.

The Details: 12.6 x 5.9 x 2.4 inches (unfolded); 3.7 x 5.5 x 2.4 inches (folded) | 3.2 ounces | Nylon

Best Mini Backpack

Paravel mini fold-up backpack.

This lightweight yet sturdy bag contains multiple zippered pockets for organization.

The straps are difficult to adjust when the backpack is on.

Whether it’s being used for traveling or running errands, we loved this mini backpack from Paravel for its compact yet sturdy design. Made from water-resistant nylon, this compact backpack folds flat and can be stored in a small pouch between uses, making it easy to throw into another bag before heading out. Some folding bags can feel like a puzzle but during testing we found that this was a cinch to close back up – just two folds and a zip. The material felt high-quality but still lightweight, and we were impressed to find zippered pockets inside and outside – something we don’t always see in folding bags.

During our lab tests, we found this mini bag could fit a water bottle, hand sanitizer, wallet, keys, phone, and two T-shirts easily. Even when stuffed full, the backpack was comfortable to wear thanks to soft straps that didn’t chafe or rub. We did find it difficult to adjust the straps while the backpack was on, but this wasn’t an issue once we found our ideal size the first time.

The Details: 10 x 12 x 6 inches (unfolded); 4.5 x 5 x 2 inches (folded) | 7.04 ounces | Recycled nylon

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Tips for Buying Foldable Travel Bags

Decide how much space you need.

While shopping for folding travel bags, it’s important to consider how much room you’ll need for gear and other essentials. For example, if you want it for everyday use, you’ll want to prioritize a smaller bag you can easily carry as backup. If you tend to take a fair amount of shorter weekend trips, you likely won’t need a large piece of luggage. Instead, you can probably get away with a duffel bag , travel backpack , or even a large tote. On the other hand, if you often embark on longer trips, buying a larger bag, like a compressible checked suitcase, is a good idea.

Consider how compact the bag gets

As you narrow down your top picks for foldable travel bags, you’ll want to take into account how compact they actually get — because, in this case, size truly does matter. Can the bag fold small enough to fit in your pocket or purse? If it’s a bulkier piece, such as a rolling suitcase, make sure it can fold flat for easy storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Foldable bags function the same way as standard bags, except they’re even more convenient for travel. Put simply, what you can fit inside all depends on the size and type of foldable travel bag you’ve purchased. The folded bags can be carried inside another day bag while at your destination, and used for souvenirs, groceries, and other purchases. For fuss-free organization, consider snagging one equipped with built-in zippered or slip pockets to maximize space. 

Foldable travel bags come in an array of shapes and sizes. With this in mind, it’s worth flagging that foldable travel bags can serve as a carry-on or personal item , depending on the specific one you’ve purchased. Just keep in mind that in order for your foldable travel bag to count as a personal item (as opposed to a carry-on) it has to fit underneath the seat in front of you. As always, check with your carrier before bringing it on board.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+L contributor Lauren Dana Ellman used her personal experience as a freelance travel writer and editor to choose the very best foldable bags for every type of trip. 

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

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Related Articles

July is expected to be the Asheville Airport's busiest month; What to know for summer 2024

travel bag to

Over the past few weeks, the Asheville Regional Airport has announced several major milestones, including a new Transportation Security Agency lane due to open later this month, a new single-day passenger record for the airport, and the airport is on-pace to complete the first phase of its massive, $400 million new terminal expansion by the end of next summer .

A new north concourse is currently under construction at Asheville Regional Airport.

Airport spokesperson Tina Kinsey told the Citizen Times that the airport has seen between "between 8-12% more passengers each month" in 2024. For July, they expect it to be the busiest month in 2024 .

That could mean longer wait times, busier parking lots and service changes as the regional airport makes headway on its new terminal. This year is expected to be the busiest in the airport's history, Asheville Regional Airport CEO Lew Bleiweis said in late June.

Here are some summer travel tips to help ease your travel experience.

Consider arriving earlier than recommended, more than two hours

As security lines have lengthened due to more passengers traveling through the airport, the TSA will be adding a fourth line by the end of the summer, airport spokesperson Kinsey has said . Currently, the airport suggests arriving two hours before take-off.

However, the airport's July 2024 Window Seat newsletter notes that flights can begin boarding up to 45 minutes before departure, meaning that arrival three hours before estimated take-off may be more accurate in predicting when you should arrive at the airport.

"Summer is our busiest time, so passengers should plan accordingly," Kinsey told the Citizen Times.

Make a parking plan

Parking has been one of the most frequently asked questions about the airport's growth, with some customers expressing concern that there isn't enough of it. Over the past few years, the airport has opened several new lots to help address the concerns, and Bleiweis recently told City Council that the airport is "about to contract" the design of a new parking garage.

The airport provides live updates on parking lot occupancy and provides a guide to different parking lots on its primary website, https://flyavl.com .

Remember TSA, airline rules

In order to make it through the TSA line in a timely and reasonable way, you should familiarize yourself with some of the rules for what you can and cannot travel with.

The TSA is a stickler for liquids, allowing containers of 3.4 ounces or smaller being in carry-on luggage. If you must bring your mega-sized tube of sunscreen to a Florida beach vacation, it must go in a checked bag.

For a full list of prohibited or allowable items go to the TSA website at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all .

What can you bring through TSA lines? Eagles, ammo, live lobster and other things TSA allows through Asheville Regional Airport

Additionally, weight limits and size requirements can be confusing for travelers as each airline has its own weight limit and carry-on size limit. Allegiant Air, the airline that provides the most nonstop flight options from Asheville, gives passengers one free personal item for a basic ticket .

Checking a bag? Things to know

As construction continues, the airport has modified some check-in services with a temporary space under construction just outside the airport lobby. During the busiest times of day, check-in services will occur in this area, Kinsey recently told the Citizen Times.

If you are not checking a bag, however, your check-in process could be faster if you check-in online through your airline's website or mobile app. If you check-in online through a mobile app, you can proceed directly to the TSA security checkpoint.

Using Uber or Lyft? Renting a car?

The Asheville airport has recently pivoted to a new pick-up location for ride-app services as customers who plan to use apps like Uber or Lyft are now redirected to Shuttle Lot South for pick-up.

Currently, five shuttles transport customers to and from different parking lots across the airport campus. The shuttles pick up passengers on the curb outside of baggage claim, transporting them to the waiting area for ride app pick up just outside of Shuttle Lot South.

Alternatively, the walk from the terminal is estimated to take roughly 12 minutes, according to the airport website. The lot is at the end of Terminal Drive behind the Marathon gas station.

As for those planning to use rental car services, the rental car check-in counters have moved to a temporary location just outside of baggage claim.

Nonstop flight options?

Over the past 10 years, the airport has grown its flight options from 10 to 34 in just 10 years. During the summer, some nonstop flight options are rotated back into the airport's daily schedule, like the nonstop flight option to Minneapolis .

Here are the options offered by each airline.

Allegiant Airlines

  • Austin, Texas: year-round.
  • Baltimore: spring to fall
  • Boston: spring to fall.
  • Chicago: spring to fall.
  • Denver: spring to fall.
  • Destin, Florida: summer.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida: year-round.
  • Houston: year-round.
  • Key West, Florida: year-round.
  • Las Vegas: year-round.
  • Minneapolis: spring and summer
  • Orlando, Florida (starts May 2024): year-round.
  • Sanford, Florida: year-round.
  • Punta Gorda, Florida: year-round.
  • Sarasota, Florida: year-round.
  • St.Pete/Clearwater, Florida: year-round
  • West Palm Beach, Florida: year-round.

American Airlines

  • Chicago: summer.
  • Charlotte: year-round.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth: year-round.
  • Miami: summer.
  • New York: year-round.
  • Philadelphia: varies.
  • Washington, D.C.: year-round.

Delta Air Lines

  • Atlanta: year-round.
  • Minneapolis: year-round.

JetBlue Airways

  • Boston: summer to early fall.

Sun Country Airlines

  • Minneapolis: spring to fall.

United Airlines

  • Chicago: year-round.
  • Denver: year-round.
  • Newark, New Jersey: year-round.

More: Asheville Regional Airport smashes single-day passenger record; will get 4th TSA lane

More: Asheville homes cost 6.5x area median income, highest ratio in NC: Harvard study

Will Hofmann is the Growth and Development Reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Got a tip? Email him at [email protected]. Please help support this type of journalism with a  subscription  to the Citizen Times .

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