With five size options and seven colors, it’s easy to find just the right suitcase for your needs.
After over 30 trips with the 21″ and 27″ bags, I never want to fly with any other luggage.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyCapri 21″ Spinner with a computer pocket Expandable (small)Capri 27″ Spinner Expandable (small)
I’m notoriously picky when it comes to suitcases and have returned several bags that didn’t work for me. But I was immediately impressed with the two bags I bought from Bric’s Capri suitcase collection. They’re easy to roll, lightweight, have sectioned dividers, and are chic yet unique, so I always know which suitcase is mine at baggage claim.
I have the Capri 21″ Spinner with Pocket Expandable and the Capri 27″ Spinner Expandable, both in matte blue. The smaller is just right for short trips and easily fits in overhead space for international and domestic flights, where the larger option holds everything I need for longer trips. And after my fantastic experience with bog of these bags, I’d highly recommend any other suitcases in this collection.
Specs and Design
The following specs are true for suitcases across the collection:
There are several varying specifications between the bags, outlined here:
All trips start with packing, so having a bag that simplifies the process is a huge help. With zippable sections, I avoid overpacking and can easily organize everything I’m bringing (I like to keep tops on one side, pants on the other).
Inside each of the zippable sections, there are buckles that keep everything in place even if you choose not to zip up the flaps, helping keep everything firmly secure. I’ve never had any issues fitting everything I needed in these sections, as the 51.5 and 85 liters of volume inside of the 21″ Expandable and the 27″ Expandable bags respectively, have always provided more than enough space, even for my bulkiest sweaters and puffiest ski gear.
I’ve been particularly impressed with the 27″ Spinner on longer trips since even when I’ve jammed it full it’s never exceed 50 pounds, which helps me avoid pesky overweight luggage fees.
The 21″ Spinner is also unique since not many hard-sided suitcases offer a front pocket. I’ve found it to be a huge help for easily stowing or accessing my laptop.
Both bags are incredibly easy to roll, drag, or turn and every bag in the collection has four 360-degree spinner wheels. I’ve found the bigger bag I own moves far more effortlessly than bags of a similar size I’ve owned.
While I don’t own the 30″, 32″, the Capri 21″ Spinner without Pocket, based on the quality of those I do own, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the others for flyers who are looking for the most space possible. The larger options, which are both currently 50% off, are great checked luggage options for long-haul trips. Without the pocket, the Capri 21″ Spinner also offers more space in the main compartment than mine, which may appeal more to travelers who don’t often fly with a computer (along with its lower price point of $295).
What makes Bric’s Capri luggage standout
These bags have a classic, even vintage, look that’s ripe for the Instagram jet-setter. The option for a front pocket, along with the bags’ durable exteriors and well-organized interiors makes them highly functional. This mix of style and utility at a mid-range price point is what truly sets them apart in my book. I’ve also been impressed by how easily these bags wipe down after use and how well they’ve held up after more than 30 trips.
The 21″ carry-on is also incredibly lightweight at just 6.6 pounds. The average carry-on bag is typically closer to 7.5 pounds, so getting those pounds back makes the bag easier to get into an overhead compartment and means you can pack more.
After three years of use, the bag has held up pretty well, especially on the inside, but there are a few deeper scratches where the color has come off on the outside of the bag. Because the color of the suitcase is so reflective and textured, these smaller scratches become more visible. However, these scratches are purely aesthetic and not very noticeable from far away.
On the inside, the fabric has held up reasonably well. In the matte blue bag, the fabric is a light tan color, making any dark stains visible. The inside fabric of the bag cannot be removed to be washed, so avoiding spills or stains is the best way to dodge an issue.
The suitcases also don’t come with any luxury features, like portable charges or laundry bags, though there is an internal pocket to store your own power bank.
Finally, I see the inside compartments as a plus that helps me organized and ensures I don’t over-stuff my suitcases. However, if you’re someone who tends to overpack, then you may run into difficulties zipping the pockets and see some straining at the seams.
The bottom line
The classic aesthetic and durable nature of Bric’s Capri suitcases make them ideal travel companions. The price tag is in the mid-range of our favorite carry-on bags, and they’re a smart choice in terms of price for the quality. After using these suitcases regularly for three years now, I’ve been consistently impressed and will certainly be looking to complete my set when I need checked luggage in the future.
Capri 21″ Spinner with a computer pocket Expandable (small)Capri 27″ Spinner Expandable (small)
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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
The Prime Day sales are almost over, so it’s time to get those items you’ve been thinking about. Big sales on robot vacuums and laptops are still live, but you can also make last-minute purchases on a budget. Everything on this list is under $25 through the end of Prime Day at midnight PDT.
We’ve found some hidden gems this year, and we’re especially excited about the discounted Tile Pro, Dash Deluxe Egg Cooker, and Mario Badescu facial spray set.
These are the best Amazon Prime Day 2021 deals under $25 still available on day two. Keep an eye on this list as the deal day wraps up – we’ll keep updating it with new deals we uncover.
If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Sure, you can save big on that robot vacuum or that laptop this Prime Day, but if you’re looking to spend less and save more, there are plenty of deals to be found on a budget. Everything on this list is under $25 while on sale during Prime Day, which continues through June 22. We’ve found some hidden gems this year, and we’re especially excited about the discounted Tile Pro, Colgate Hum electric toothbrush, and Mario Badescu facial spray set.
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in July like Hallmark or looking to treat yourself to something special, these are the best Amazon Prime Day deals under $25 in 2021. Keep an eye on this list as the two-day shopping event progresses – we’ll keep updating it with new deals we uncover.
For more on Prime Day, check out our explainer on all you need to know about the event and how to shop to your fullest potential.
A durable and reliable carry-on suitcase is a must-have for any traveler.
Hard-side vs. soft-side luggage and budget is a personal preference, so we’ve included options.
Our top hard-side carry-on is from Samsonite and our top soft-side carry-on is from Travelpro.
Waiting in a long line when running late for a flight, having to pay hefty baggage fees, and your shoulder hurting from carting around a heavy duffle bag are all hassles that make quality carry-on luggage a must-have.
The best carry-on suitcases are reliable, durable, easy to pack, hold plenty of clothes, and fit on both domestic and international planes of all sizes.
As a travel editor who pre-pandemic frequently took more than 50 flights per year and was often in a destination for just a day or two before moving on, I practically live out of my carry-on at times. I’ve also had checked luggage lost or arrive late enough times to avoid going that route whenever possible, making a carry-on my go-to item even for longer trips.
While my luggage may go through a few more rigorous trials than the average leisure traveler, most people are looking for these same qualities in any good piece of luggage.
Pros: Excellent price for the quality, durable, scratch-resistant, wheels easily, expandable
Cons: Handle wiggles a decent amount when fully extended, slightly heavier than other options available
This hard-side carry-on suitcase will fit in just about any overhead bin for domestic and international flights with the exception of tiny jumper planes. The twill texture is scratch-resistant with a slightly shiny finish that helps it stand out in an airport crowd.
I’ve used this bag consistently for more than two years, and while it has a couple of very small white marks upon close inspection, it has overall remained in remarkably good shape — especially in comparison to other hard-side cases I’ve tried.
It’s easy to lift into overhead bins and a rubberized grip under the top and side handles add extra comfort when lifting. The zippers have good grip and run smoothly without catching and the expansion zipper even has a finger hole for extra ease and agility. There is also a TSA-approved lock on the right side.
The four multi-directional wheels are quiet and making rolling the bag in front of you, beside you, or behind you on almost any surface a breeze, though it was harder to pull on thick carpet.
Despite its small size, I’ve been able to pack a week’s worth of clothes in and the 1.5-inch expansion capability comes in especially handy if you’re like me and always end up coming back from a trip with more than you originally packed. While there aren’t any fancy extras when it comes to interior storage, it’s more than sufficient with a mesh zip close on one side and a strong buckle to keep clothes packed in tight on the other.
The bag’s one downside is the adjustable push-button handle. While I’ve never had any major issues with it and it does have two different heights it can lock into, the handle is a little bit wobbly when fully extended. As is the case with most suitcases, the handle poles do also take up some space in the interior compartment, making it harder to lay items completely flat on that side.
After multiple lengthy trips with this bag, it has stood up incredibly well in terms of durability. There are no dents or major scratches, and from a cursory glance, the bag still looks practically brand new both inside and out. As an added bonus, the bag is also backed by a 10-year warranty.
For the affordable price, this Samsonite carry-on is a serious winner.
Pros: Durable and high-quality materials, leather detailing, doesn’t tip forward even when fully packed
Cons: Easy to overpack
Travelpro is well regarded among serious travelers for a reason. The brand was pioneered by a pilot who knew exactly which small details make a world of difference in a bag, and that thoughtful care and attention is apparent in the Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On. The brand offers a warranty against defects for life.
This particular bag meets FAA regulations for carry-on sizing and the high-density nylon fabric is durable, stain-resistant, and has not torn or ripped at all in the time I’ve used it. Leather detailing not only adds a sophisticated look but also makes the top lifting handle extremely comfortable compared to those made from plastic. However, the additional handle on the side is a little bit tight even for my small hands.
With an expansion option of two full inches, this bag holds a lot more than just your weekend essentials. There are three front pockets of varying sizes, including one that can hold a laptop. The main compartment has the standard layout of a soft-side bag with one deep side for packing most items and a smaller zipper compartment that is half mesh on the other side.
While the handle poles do take up some space, the bag is deep enough that it’s not much of an issue. Once buckled, there are also two additional mesh pockets available that are good for holding small items.
Large chrome zippers are super easy to maneuver and the four, large PrecisionGlide wheels made this bag one of the easiest to wheel on every surface, including carpet. The adjustable handle is very sturdy and has a contoured grip making it extra comfortable. At 7.8 pounds, it’s a pretty standard weight for a carry-on and is easy to lift.
The bag also comes with several handy extras, including a garment bag, a built-in USB port (battery pack not included), and a removable clear plastic bag attached to the inside for holding toiletries and liquids.
However, I did find that with so many front pockets, the bag was very easy to overpack, especially when fully expanded, which defeats the purpose of having a carry-on if you end up having to check it in after all.
Pros: Very affordable, durable for the price, solid adjustable handle that doesn’t wobble
Cons: Marks up easily, may not hold up well over time, no lock
For a bag that costs much less than our top picks, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality and look of this carry-on. It was sturdier than I was expecting and the material only had a little bit of give when I pressed on the top and sides.
Though it is expandable up to 15% for additional packing room, I found that it held less overall than the similar Samsonite suitcase we recommend in this guide, making it a good option for shorter or weekend trips.
The interior has one mesh zip side and one side with a buckle. The buckle isn’t too sturdy, but it will do the trick of keeping clothes in place as long as you don’t overpack that side. The adjustable handle is comfortable and surprisingly didn’t wobble very much. The wheels also glided smoothly on nearly every surface (thick carpet gave it a bit of trouble), though they were just a little bit louder than others I tested.
The ribbed exterior has a shiny finish, and other than the AmazonBasics logo on the front, is stylish enough that it won’t give away how little it costs. The zippers ran smoothly and for the most part, the bag held up throughout my tests, though it did get marks relatively easily and had a mark on the back after just one use.
That said, some reviewers have complained that after about five or six trips the bag starts to break down, with complaints of broken handles, wheels, and zippers. It’s also missing a notable feature: There’s no lock, TSA-approved or otherwise.
But for the casual traveler who only takes a couple of trips a year, this is an extremely affordable option that still gets the job done.
The best high-end hard-side carry-on
True to its name, the Rimowa Essential Lite sets itself apart with its under 5-pound weight without compromising on durability or quality.
Pros: Incredibly lightweight, durable
Cons: Not as good for organization, expensive
Rimowa is best known for its distinctive aluminum suitcases frequently spotted on celebrity Instagram accounts. While those bags will set you back a cool grand, the luxury travel brand has alternative high-quality options that won’t cost more than your monthly rent.
I was particularly impressed with the newer Essential Lite bag. When it first arrived, I actually assumed a vase I had ordered around the same time had come in an inexplicably large box because it never dawned on me that a suitcase would be that light.
The Essential Lite weighs less than five pounds, which is especially great for chronic overpackers who worry about their bag being overweight. Shockingly, the Lite suitcase actually holds slightly more than the classic aluminum suitcase, too.
To achieve this light-as-a-feather feat, the brand didn’t sacrifice when it comes to the quality of the materials. Although the bag has some give at the top when pressed, the suitcase is plenty sturdy. Its thicker glossy coating also keeps it from scratching or marking up as easily as matte-finished suitcases. I tossed it around several times and even after getting jostled around in a moving van, it came out the other side with no dents, scratches, or marks.
If an aesthetically pleasing or eye-catching bag is important to you, you’ll also likely enjoy the glossy finish, subtle vertical ribbing, and array of rainbow-hued color choices that range from a candy apple red to a deep teal, along with classic black and white options.
The bag has a TSA-approved lock on top, a rubberized top handle that’s comfortable to grip, and a sturdy telescopic handle. The wheels are whisper quiet thanks to cushioned axles and worked beautifully on every surface from hardwood to carpet. I also liked that both sides of the interior had a mesh zipper, which I found made keeping everything organized and in place easier than the typical one-sided buckle system.
The suitcase also comes with a complimentary leather luggage tag and is backed by a five-year warranty. One added bonus of owning a Rimowa bag is that the company not only does in-store and send-away repairs, but also works with a network of luxury hotels that do repairs onsite should anything happen to your bag while you’re traveling.
Pros: Durable, high-quality materials, smart and unique features to help fit more in
Cons: Pricey, heavy
With a hybrid fiberglass frame, ballistic nylon exterior, reinforced corners, and smooth YKK zippers, this Briggs & Riley bag is made to withstand the test of time. The bag is incredibly durable and mine has experienced no rips, tears, or marks to speak of.
This suitcase is also full of ingenious tricks that make packing it a breeze and help you sneak in those extra outfits. For starters, the bag has a CX compression-expansion system that increases packing capacity by 25% before compressing back down to fit carry-on size regulations. I tried the feature out myself and it worked beautifully.
The main compartment is extremely spacious and unlike every other bag I tested, Briggs & Riley has taken the smart step of making sure the adjustable handle is entirely on the outside of the bag so no packing room is lost to the poles. That said, it does mean that the poles are visible on the outside of the bag and may make it slightly harder to slide the bag into the overhead compartment.
Like other soft-side bags, it has one deeper side and a smaller side with a zippered compartment. But another smart feature that adds packable room to this bag is a fold-out divider in the smaller zippered compartment so you can stack clothes, fold it in, and then stack more clothes before zipping it all up. The zippered compartment also has an additional small mesh pocket. Sturdy mesh panels clip together to keep the deeper compartment secure.
The wheels expertly navigated every surface, and the handle is sturdy and easy to grip. Two outer pockets on the front add additional space, but I found they didn’t expand quite as much as the Travelpro front pockets, which was actually a plus since it wasn’t as easy to overpack. There’s also a small zippered pocket on the back ideal for keeping your phone (especially when going through security) that also comes with a hideaway ID tag.
The biggest downside to this bag is the weight. It’s heavier than the other bags I tried and could be hard for some people to lift into the overhead, especially when fully packed. It also became front heavy and tipped forward slightly when completely full.
The best carry-on for extra space
If you’re not restricted to smaller overhead bins, the Monos Carry-On Pro Plus is a sleek suitcase with extra room inside and a smart front pocket for easily stowing accessories.
Pros: Significantly more packable space, smart front pocket that doesn’t protrude when packed
Cons: Doesn’t meet all carry-on size requirements, marks up easily
At 23 inches, the Monos Pro Plus is just a hair too big for many standard flights. However, if you mainly take larger cross-country or transatlantic flights where overhead bins are bigger and space isn’t usually an issue and relish every last ounce of packable space, this carry-on is worth a look.
It offers more packable space than any other bag on this list. It features one side with a zippered mesh compartment and an alternative side that has a fold-out mesh pocket and two wide and sturdy buckles that help to seriously compress clothes when pulled tight.
But what really sets this bag apart is the front pocket space, which is unusual for a hard-side suitcase. The padded pocket holds a 15-inch laptop and has additional pockets of varying sizes for easily organizing everything from your phone to headphones. Unlike soft-side bags with front pockets, this pocket also zips up to fit its original size even when items are inside rather than protruding out. While some Away bags also feature a front pocket, this one has significantly more pockets for far superior organization. It’s also cheaper than other suitcases with front pockets like Arlo Skye and Rimowa.
The bag itself has a simple and chic look and comes in an array of attractive colors like pale pink and royal blue. However, my bag did get several small white marks rather quickly. Though the company does include a small eraser with the bag that worked remarkably well when I tested it out. The adjustable handle is sturdy and doesn’t wobble, the YKK zippers didn’t catch, and the wheels glided smoothly on all surfaces.
As an additional bonus, the bag is guaranteed for life and has a 100-day trial period.
For those who want to ensure their carry-on fits on all flights, Monos recently launched a smaller carry-on option with a pocket, the Carry-On Pro. However, you do lose 10 liters of packable space, so the Pro is best for shorter trips.
Pros: Durable, sleek look, dual locks, ample packing space
Cons: Heavy, expensive
Aluminum suitcases are more expensive than standard polycarbonate options. However, they’re supremely durable and built to seriously last. They also have a sleek and shiny look that stands out from the crowd at the airport.
Though I’ve only been testing Away’s The Carry-On: Aluminium Edition for about two months, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite suitcases. I was worried it wouldn’t easily fit into all overhead bins because it has a bulkier look, but I was even able to fit it on a small regional plane recently.
As for that shiny look, I receive compliments every time I take this bag out. And on durability, this carry-on has held up remarkably well so far, with no scratches, dings, or dents to speak of, even after I also threw it around on my rooftop to simulate the wear and tear that comes with typical plane travel.
Its 360-degree spinner wheels are a breeze to roll on numerous surface types, though they are a bit louder than some other carry-ons I own and have tested. Rather than a typical zipper, this aluminum suitcase features two sturdy TSA-approved locks that easily click into place.
What most impressed me was the huge amount of packing space. I took this bag on a weekend ski trip and was able to fit my long underwear, sweaters, ski pants, gloves, and a light jacket on just one side. I easily fit a weekend’s worth of everyday clothes on the other side.
However, that durability and packable space does come with a price: the weight. At just under 11 pounds, this bag is heavy. While that isn’t too big of an issue on car trips, train trips, or some flights, with airlines that have stricter weight limits I would hesitate to use this carry-on.
As with almost all Away bags, you have the option to choose a standard bag or one that comes with a removable and TSA-approved battery. While the battery isn’t totally necessary and you will have to remember to remove it each time before you get on a plane, it can be a handy perk for on-the-go charging.
The best carry-on luggage for travel with kids
Traveling with kids makes it significantly more complicated to bring just a carry-on bag. You have no choice but to think of every single thing your kids might possibly require, then pack it where you can actually find it.
You also need space for snacks, entertainment devices, and materials to change your child’s bottom mid-air. And of course, you’ll need several extra outfits on hand and within reach during the trip — you know, just in case your kid vomits unexpectedly or spills chocolate milk at the worst possible time.
That means your carry-on needs significantly more pockets for organizing and space-saving options will reign supreme. Here are some carry-on options to consider for family travel:
Genius Pack G4 Carry On Spinner ($219): This carry-on has a compartment for everything. Extra pockets you can use to stay organized include a hidden interior lining pocket perfect for shoes, a removable laundry compartment, and separate spaces for chargers, socks, underwear, and more. If you wind up needing extra room on the ride home, a simple pull of a zipper will garner a 20% increase in space.
Biaggi ZipSak Boost ($89.99): If storing bulky luggage is an issue for you, this bag will wow you by folding down so small that it can easily fit under your bed or inside a drawer. It also features a flexible outer shell that makes packing in lots of stuff a breeze. Its exterior pockets are perfect for storing baby wipes, tablets, or snacks, and you can haul this bag in more than one way — either wheel it along like a regular carry on or use the side handle to carry it like a briefcase.
Timbuk2 Quest Rolling Duffel ($139.30): Ideal for families with toddlers and babies, this rolling duffel has multiple exterior compartments perfect for diapers and wipes, bottles and formula, and extra onesies and sleepers. Not only does it roll like a spinner, but you can throw it on your back like a backpack if you need to free your hands. Extra exterior storage compartments are ideal for everything you’ll need for your baby in the air, and this bag is still appropriately sized as a carry-on.
— Holly Johnson
What else we tested
What else we recommend:
Away Carry-On ($225): I’ve had an Away bag for years and it’s another good option. I have found that over the years it’s gotten quite a few marks and scratches though, and it’s more expensive than the Samsonite bag and not as high-quality or lightweight as the Rimowa bag. That said, I would recommend this bag to anyone who absolutely wants charging capability for their phone or who wants a wide array of fun color options.
Tumi International Carry-On ($750): This is a high-quality, premium bag that will likely last you years. However, the extremely high starting price point is prohibitive for many.
Target Open Story 21-inch Hardside Carry-On($149.99): Travel Editor Emily Hochberg tested out this bag and found it to be another great option at a similar price point to the Samsonite bag. It features a durable but lightweight polycarbonate shell, heavy-duty zippers, quiet spinner wheels, and a telescoping aluminum handle. She also liked the multiple interior compartments for easy organizing and the built-in USB port for use with a power bank or battery charger, though that’s not included. However, the lighter colors especially show marks easily and more than one reviewer has noted that the lock didn’t work properly. It also doesn’t have an option for expansion.
Roam The Jaunt ($495): This bag is on the pricey end and didn’t hold quite as much as other options I tested, though it would be just right for a long weekend trip. However, when it comes to being able to customize, this bag stands out. If you want to be able to mix and match colors from the handle to the spinner wheels, this may appeal to you.
What we don’t recommend:
London Fog 20-inch Spinner Carry-On ($139.99, currently out of stock): I couldn’t fit in quite as much to this bag as other options I tried. Additionally, it comes in very limited color options and there is no plain black.
Roam The Jaunt ($495): Lightweight and fully customizable when it comes to color options for the shell, wheel caps, stitching, and more, we’ll be seeing how this bag compares to those we already tested.
For this guide, I narrowed down the field to the 10 top contenders based on my own considerable travel experience and knowledge as a travel editor, as well as additional research and user reviews. While some of these bags I’ve personally owned and used for several years, others I tested extensively specifically for this guide.
I put all 10 of the bags through the same tests, which considered durability, packability (both ease and how much the bag could actually hold), maneuverability across multiple surface types, as well as the weight of the bag. I also took into account the price point, style, quality of materials, and any extra features the bags included.
Due to the pandemic, I have not been flying recently, but I still mimicked the conditions carry-ons would typically go through in a number of ways. I packed each bag to capacity, rolled them for several blocks on the street, tested the wheels on wood floors, thick carpet, and concrete, stress-tested the zippers, and lifted each bag onto a high closet shelf roughly the same height as an overhead bin.
I even used all of the bags in a recent move where they were thrown around the back of a moving van in a similar fashion to how they might be tossed around on and off a plane by bag handlers to test durability.
What to consider when buying carry-on luggage
While this may be the most obvious thing to consider, it’s also the most important. Think about how you’ll be using your carry-on most frequently and factor that in. For most standard domestic flights, anything 22 inches and under will suffice. However, if you frequently travel on short jumper flights or often fly on budget airlines overseas, you may want to consider going even smaller. On the flip side, if you mostly take large cross-country or transatlantic flights, you might prefer a bag with a little extra space since overhead space won’t be as much of an issue.
Hard-sided vs. soft-sided luggage
While people on both sides of this debate swear their preference is the right one, this is pretty much a matter of personal choice. Soft-sided bags tend to have more front pockets you can stuff extras into, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how prone you are to overpacking and going over weight limits. Hard-sided bags tend to have two compartments of equal size, one on each side, while soft-sided bags usually have one deep side and one small zipper compartment on the other. Your personal packing style will largely dictate which option is best.
Of course, in general, the lighter the bag, the better. But if weight isn’t a huge concern for you, you might like a bag that comes with some extra bells and whistles in lieu of one that’s more minimal to save on weight. However, if you frequently take small flights where every last ounce matters, you may want the lightest bag you can get your hands on. If you have mobility issues or trouble lifting bags into the overhead bin, weight will especially be a consideration.
I am a staunch believer in the four-wheel systems that most newer bags have. While some are still adamant in their use of two-wheel bags, I have found four-wheel bags to be lightyears ahead in terms of maneuverability. If you are still living in the two-wheeled past trust me on this: Being able to easily wheel your bag in front of you, beside you, or behind you will change your life.
Materials will be dictated largely by your budget and choice of hard- or soft-sided suitcase. It can be worth splurging on a more durable option if you travel frequently or just want to invest in a suitcase you’ll have for years to come. In general, look for bags that are tear- or scratch-resistant. The most common materials for hard-sided suitcases tend to be aluminum, polycarbonate, and ABS. Aluminum is extremely durable, but also extremely pricey, and ABS is less durable but more affordable. A good polycarbonate bag can hit the sweet spot of price and quality. When it comes to soft-sided suitcases, ballistic nylon is one of the most durable options, but again can mean a higher price point. Regular nylon can still be high-quality while being more affordable, while polyester tends to be a good budget option.
The look of your bag is a very personal choice. Some suitcases are all about function but a bit of an eyesore, while others prioritize aesthetics and come in pleasing pastels practically made for Instagramming. How important a chic bag is, and what exactly that means to you, should be taken into consideration when choosing luggage.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEssential Lite Cabin Suitcase (small)
Premium luggage brand Rimowa is probably best known for its eye-catching aluminum suitcases that you may have seen celebrities from Julianne Moore to the Kardashians sporting. However, it’s Rimowa’s polycarbonate Essential Lite carry-on that’s a true standout.
Ultra-lightweight, durable, and available in glossy, eye-catching colors, the suitcase features plenty of packing space while making it much easier to meet strict airline weight limits.
After testing this bag out for several months, it will likely become my go-to carry-on for many international trips or trips with interconnecting flights on small planes.
True to its name, the Rimowa Essential Lite is ultra-lightweight. It will fit in just about any standard overhead bin, including smaller jumper planes and international flights. It also has enough space that packing for four to five days is a breeze.
Made of a thin but durable polycarbonate, the Rimowa Essential Lite doesn’t sacrifice quality or durability to achieve its light weight. The carry-on features ball-bearing mounted spinner wheels with cushioned axles that ensure the suitcase is easy to maneuver and incredibly quiet. It also boasts KK metal zippers, an adjustable telescopic handle, and a TSA-approved lock. The suitcase is scratch- and scuff-resistant.
With a shiny finish and elegant vertical lines, the carry-on is more subtle than Rimowa’s famed aluminum suitcases. It also doesn’t come with any extras or premium features, and some might be surprised that details are plastic rather than leather given that it’s from a luxury travel brand. However, all that is to be expected from a carry-on that’s main goal is to be as light as possible.
In addition to the carry-on size, the Rimowa Lite collection also includes a medium and large checked size, as well as a kids carry-on. The suitcase also comes with a five-year manufacturer warranty, once registered online.
What it’s like to use
When the Rimowa Essential Lite was first delivered to my apartment, I actually assumed a vase I had ordered around the same time had come in an inexplicably large box because it never dawned on me that a suitcase could be that light. Suffice it to say I was immediately impressed.
The polycarbonate material has some give at the top when pressed and doesn’t feel as thick as other hard-sided bags I own. However, this suitcase is plenty sturdy. In fact, its glossy coating keeps it from scratching or marking up as easily as similar matte-finished suitcases. Over the passed six months, I’ve used it on road trips, flights, and even to move when it got tossed around in the back of a moving van and it still looks pristine.
The wheels are easy to maneuver on every surface I’ve tested from hardwood to carpet, and they’re also whisper quiet. While the carry-on is fairly bare-bones and doesn’t come with any extras like a charger or laundry bag, it does come with a chic leather luggage tag.
Of course, the most important part of any carry-on is packability. I like that both sides of the suitcase’s interior have a mesh zipper. I find that this makes it easier to keep my belongings secured and organized than the typical one-sided buckle, one-sided zip system most hard-sided carry-ons use. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to find that the suitcase holds more than I was first expecting. However, I do wish it had a divider with a separate pocket for items like socks and underwear.
Due to the pandemic, I’ve only used this bag on two flights so far, but lifting into the overhead bin was a breeze, even when it was stuffed full.
What makes the Rimowa Essential Lite standout
The standout feature of the Essential Lite is its weight. While your typical carry-on generally clocks in somewhere around seven pounds, the Essential light is under five pounds. When you’re taking flights with strict weight limits, that is a major perk. Not only can you pack more since you’re not sacrificing extra weight to your bag, but it can also save you from having to pay hefty baggage fees.
The Essential Lite especially stands out among Rimowa’s other offerings. The brand is largely known for its shiny, eye-catching aluminum suitcases, but many of Rimowa’s other suitcases are extremely heavy.
In fact, the Essential Lite is almost half the weight of Rimowa’s classic Original Cabin aluminium carry-on, and still over two pounds lighter than the standard Essential carry-on, the brand’s other polycarbonate offering. Shockingly, the Lite is also able to hold more than either of those two suitcases, making the Essential Lite one of Rimowa’s best offerings – especially when you take into account that it’s also significantly cheaper (the Original Cabin and Essential come in at $1,080 and $650 respectively).
Despite being significantly cheaper than many of Rimowa’s other suitcases, the Essential Lite carry-on is still an expensive suitcase. It also doesn’t come with many high-end features or extras that one might expect for the steep price. There’s no perks like a battery pocket, laundry bag, or garment bag included, and many of the details are plastic as opposed to leather.
However, all of that is also largely how it’s able to achieve being one of the lightest hard-sided carry-ons available.
Bottom line: Is the Rimowa Essential Lite worth it?
There’s no getting around the fact that the Rimowa Essential Lite is an expensive carry-on, even though it’s cheaper than many of Rimowa’s other luggage options. However, it’s a highly durable bag, especially given how lightweight it is. There are few suitcases on the market that come in under five pounds and are able to hold as much as the Essential Lite. If you frequently take flights on airlines with low or strict weight limits, this bag is absolutely worth it, especially when you consider the potential baggage fees savings.
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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Away is a luggage brand popular for its simple yet eye-catching suitcases and accessories.
Away suitcases also stand out because many include easily removable battery chargers.
I’ve been using the Carry-On for three years and have found it to be a favorite suitcase.
Right now, you can get the Carry-On for $157, down from $225, as part of the Away sale.
I had been using my old suitcase for nearly 15 years when I first tried the Away Carry-On. I was long overdue for a new carry-on, and in the end, I found a worthy replacement that I’ve now been using for three years.
Away, a direct-to-consumer startup led by retail mavens Steph Korey and Jen Rubio, makes the “it” suitcase that many travelers love and even more travelers want. It takes all of our most important concerns about moving our belongings from Point A to Point B into consideration: ease of transport, durability, organizing ability, security, and reliability.
In fact, I’ve found that Away has done the seemingly impossible and made packing and carrying a suitcase downright enjoyable.
Design and specs
The mere seven-pound Carry-On is a particularly good buy for travelers who embark on frequent, shorter trips and want a smart solution.
The Carry-On features a strong yet light outer shell, 360-degree rotating wheels, interior compartments designed to help you pack smarter, a built-in and removable battery charger, and more. At just under 22 inches, it will fit in almost any overhead bin. As an added plus, it comes with a 100-day trial period.
The exterior is made from a durable polycarbonate, and its minimalistic design with subtle horizontal lines gives it a sleek look. Inside, it has a liner that’s easy to wipe down in case anything spills.
The Carry-On comes in numerous color options that range from black and olive green to pastel pink and plum. The brand also often offers limited-edition colors and prints that sell out quickly.
What it’s like to use
You can very easily fit enough clothes for a weekend trip with Away’s carry-on. While some reviewers say they’ve been able to pack entire week’s worth of clothes into this carry-on, I’d say four to five days of clothes is attainable for most travelers.
In the zippered mesh compartment, I can pack two stuffed toiletry bags, one hair straightener, and two pairs of shoes (including, yes, chunky boots!). These are usually the problem items since they’re strangely shaped and take up a lot of space.
On a practical level, the physical separation makes sense: shoes are dirty and toiletry bags carry the risk of accidental spills. On a mental organization level, I now know that all my accessories are in one place, my clothes are in another, and I don’t waste time digging through the creative (read: nonsensical) arrangements that I usually resort to just to get everything to fit.
Meanwhile, the inner compartment, which is just as roomy, is designed for clothing. Dividing the two is a sturdy, lined layer for your electronics. I’m able to fit a 15-inch MacBook and my Kindle in this middle layer for safekeeping and easy access.
If you want to be even more organized, you can get packing cubes to store similar items together and make space out of thin air.
Tucked into a pocket at the bottom of the suitcase is a nylon laundry bag, which was a small, but thoughtful touch. It’s as wide as the suitcase itself and keeps your dirty clothes appropriately separated from everything else. It compresses when you buckle down the layer above it.
The outside of the bag has a number of noteworthy features. The TSA-approved built-in combination lock, for one, actually keeps your belongings completely safe.
The two zippers slot into this combination lock, deterring potential thieves from using creative methods to get into your bag. The combination takes seconds to set and since the lock is part of your actual suitcase, there’s no way you can lose it and waste money on buying a new one for every trip.
The included battery charger is easily removable and complies with airline regulations. Many airports now have outlets or dedicated charging stations in their terminals, but you can’t always rely on them – they might all be taken or simply don’t work. I love that I don’t have to stress about finding an open outlet or even bother digging out my own portable charger. So long as the suitcase’s battery is properly charged, it can charge anything that uses a USB cord. Just make sure to remember to remove it before boarding to comply with regulations.
Over the years, the exterior has developed some small cuffs from being tossed around in overhead compartments and on the ground, but overall, the suitcase still looks pretty good and hasn’t suffered any durability issues.
What makes the Away Carry-on stand out
With their glossy hard shells and eye-catching color options, Away suitcases already look distinctive. You can make one truly your own by adding leather stickers. In the past, the brand has also offered custom handpainted monogramming, but it’s unclear whether it will bring the option back.
Taken individually, features like a built-in battery or lined electronics compartment aren’t necessarily new or revolutionary, but it’s the combination of all the little things travelers care about and use the most that has made the suitcases stand out among the many we’ve tried.
Compared to those of other carry-ons I’ve tried, Away’s handles feel a bit loose. After three years of use, mine have never broken, nor have they gotten looser, but they’re definitely not as strong as sturdy as they could be. Additonally, while the wheels are nice and smooth, they’re not quite as whisper-quiet as some others.
The bottom line
After traveling with the Carry-On for three years, I believe the hype surrounding Away’s suitcases is completely deserved. It’s hard not to be a fan of Away’s smart design decisions and high-quality travel products. With a starting price of $225, it’s also an excellent value since many suitcases of similar quality are far pricier. Plus, right now you can get an even better deal thanks to the 30% off Away sale.
Luggage deals include 30% off top products, including carry-ons, weekenders, checked bags, and more.
Between now and March 30, Away luggage is running “The Surprise 30% Off” sale. As the name implies, the Away sale includes 30% off many of the brand’s most popular luggage, including their classic carry-ons, checked bags, weekenders, totes, packing cubes, and more.
The Away sale is a rarity. This is only Away’s second major sale ever, so it’s wise to take advantage of the savings and snap up these discounted luggage deals while you can.