Travel Savvy: The Best Carry-On Luggage

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Travel gear has changed more in the last ten years than in the previous hundred. Suitcases, in particular, are getting lighter, better, stronger — even smarter. The decision to pick just one has never been harder. Here, we narrow the list to five of our favorite carry-ons, broken down by travel style.

For the Weight-obsessed

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Salsa Air Cabin Multiwheel by Rimowa

If your goal is lightweight and hard as nails, that’s Rimowa’s entire product catalog. They make some of the lightest, sexiest, most durable hard-sided luggage on the market. With a 38L capacity, their Salsa Air Ultralight Cabin Mulltiwheel is generously sized with just enough interior pockets to keep you reasonably organized. But, the real win for those seriously concerned with protecting their gear is the polycarbonate shell, which is far stronger than aluminum. It’s also sleek as hell and weighs just 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

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For Gear Junkie

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Load Warrior Carry-On by Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek has long been known for crafting ultra-durable, go-anywhere gear designed for serious adventure-seekers. Packing days worth of outdoor gear into a carry-on can seem like an impossible task. The brand’s aptly named Load Warrior Carry-On is built to do just that. Its dimensions (14” x 22” x 9”) are maxed out for both domestic and most international travel, and it boasts a 42L capacity that expands to 45.5 with a single zipper. It weighs less than five pounds, but the rip-stop nylon and poly exterior is far more durable than its weight should allow. Thoughtful touches — an Exo-Skeleton to protect the bag at strategic wear points, a lightweight, folding handle, and an equipment clip to tether helmets and jackets to the outside of the bag — are all welcome additions.

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For Penny Pinchers

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Meyrin 20” Expandable Spinner Suitcase by SwissGear

If you’re looking for bang-for-your-buck factor, look no further than SwissGear. The brand has quietly made a name for itself as a go-to among travelers for affordable, reasonably reliable luggage without a lot of pretense. Case in point: their Meyrin 20” Expandable Spinner. Sure, it lacks the fancier craftsmanship, pretty colors, or any swanky features at all. But, if you’re looking for an inexpensive, dependable carry-on spinner, this will do the trick.

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For Design Buffs

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The Carry-On by Arlo Skye

Arlo Skye’s The Carry-On is still our go-to for travelers seeking the perfect balance of design, features, and price. The sleek, metallic exterior is sexy as hell — it’d feel right at home in the hands of a Bond villain smuggling nuclear launch codes. It features a removable backup battery (so you don’t run afoul of some airlines’ new hatred for such things), ultra-quiet wheels, and a zipper-less design. It’s all wrapped in a sleek, anodized aluminum-magnesium shell that feels almost bulletproof.

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For Frequent Travelers

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Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright by Briggs and Riley

We’ve previously lauded Briggs and Riley for having, not just some of the most durable luggage on the market, but also for boasting a phenomenal lifetime warranty to boot. Their Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright is a classic carry-on bag with traditional looks and a tank-like design. It’s pricey and heavy, but it also packs a ton of essential features for road warriors and frequent travelers. The “Outsider” handle is designed into the exterior of the bag, ensuring a flat interior for easier packing. The clever CX Compression-Expansion system also balloons by 25% should you wind up with more souvenirs than you planned on bringing home. Plus, the integrated garment bag is a must for business travelers looking to maintain a wrinkle-free look fresh off the plane.

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