The Best Carry-On Luggage in 2021: Monos, Solgaard, Amazon, Travelpro - Rolling Stone
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Hate Checking in Luggage? These Are the Carry-Ons You Should Take Instead

Invest in a carry-on bag designed to keep your vacation gear secure and last a long time

Sologaard Carry-On Closet

Sologaard

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As travel season begins this summer, now is the right time to upgrade your older luggage, or get a good set that’ll last a lifetime. Whether you’re planning some long weekend trips this summer, or one full-blown vacation, you’ll want a solid carry-on.

The right carry-on should be big enough to hold all the essentials (always pack some clothes in case your checked bag gets lost), plus some luxurious items that you may want to keep on you at all times. One important thing to note: Carry-on size limits can vary, so make sure to check the current rules on the airlines you fly most frequently before picking a piece of luggage.

If your carry-on is deemed too large, or there’s no space left in the overhead bins, you’ll likely be asked to check the bag in at your gate. If that’s the case, make sure to keep a tag on your carry-on, just in case.

We’ve done research and hands-on testing to find the best carry-on luggage available right now. Our picks come in a variety of sizes with an assortment of features, but all of them will keep your gear safe in transit.

What Is The Best Carry On Luggage?

Size: All of the luggage in this guide meets the TSA regulations for a carry-on bag, and and won’t have to be checked on a domestic or international flight unless there’s no room left in the overhead bins.

Weight: Our carry-on luggage recommendations weigh between 6.4 and 8.3 pounds.

Hardshell vs. Soft: Hardshell luggage offers more protection, but will make your carry-on a little heavier. Soft luggage weighs less, and has more give, so you can fit more stuff.

Lock: Most of the carry-on luggage we’re recommending have a built-in combination lock, which keeps its zippers in place. The TSA can get into these bags using a key if necessary.

Wheels: All of the carry-on luggage in this guide have 360-degree rotating wheels, which allow you to maneuver it easily through airports, and on public transportation.

1.  Travelpro Platinum Elite

Travelpro Elite Carry-On

Travelpro

Travelpro’s new Platinum Elite Hardside Luggage is a piece of luxe, carry-on luggage that’s large enough to replace a typical checked bag. It’s 23-inches tall, 14.5 inches wide, and 9.5 inches deep, which means it’ll fit the guidelines set by most domestic and international airlines. It’s one of the heavier bags in our guide, weighing in at 8.1 pounds, but the extra weight is totally worth it. Travelpro says you should be able to fit roughly 7-11 outfits, which is enough for a four to six day trip. In our experience, this is totally accurate.

We’ve traveled with this suitcase, and it passed all our tests with flying colors. Its wheels moved smoothly, the handle lifted easily to the appropriate height, and it was simple to program the luggage’s three-digit lock. We were especially impressed by this bag’s inner pocket, which is designed to house a battery pack. Once connected, you can plug your gadgets into a USB-A and USB-C port on the side of the luggage.

It’s that commitment to practical, forward-facing convenience features that help the Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On stay one step ahead.

Buy: Travelpro Platinum Elite at $314.49

2. Sologaard Carry-On Closet

Sologaard

Sologaard’s Carry-On Closet is a dream come true if you like to organize as much as possible when you travel.

The hardshell luggage is 20-inches  tall, 13.5-inches wide, nine inches deep, and weighs in at 8.3 pounds. It may be a little heavy, but that extra weight is due to its marquee feature: A removable shelf that lets you organize all of your clothes by type or outfit.

When you get to your destination, all you have to do is remove the shelf, hang it up, and pick out which day’s clothes you’d like to wear. Best of all, your organized closet only takes up half the bag’s space, leaving the other half free for all of your other gear.

In practice, this made a big difference in how we thought about packing, and made traveling less stressful. Sologaard says this carry-on holds enough clothes for between three and six days, which we found accurate.

This carry-on has a three-digit lock, with a TSA-approved lock. It also has a pouch for an external battery pack, which connects to a USB-A port on the side of the bag. This pouch is designed for Sologaard’s Solarbank, which is sold separately. If you’d like to minimize the amount of time you spend worrying about clothes on your trip, Sologaard’s Carry-On Closet is the clear choice.

Buy: Sologaard Carry-On Closet at $245

Note: The company also offers a slightly larger version that’s 20% bigger, but it’s heavier and may not fit the carry-on size restrictions for all airlines. 

3.  Monos Carry-On Pro

Best Places to Buy Luggage Online - Monos

Monos

Monos’ Carry-On Pro has quickly become our go-to carry-on for shorter trips.

It’s 22-inches tall, 14-inches wide, nine inches deep, and weighs 7.8 pounds. Monos says the Carry-On Pro was designed for trips up to five days, and we found it to be the perfect size for a long weekend getaway.

It holds a little less than the other carry-ons in this guide, but we like it for its outside pocket, which can be used as a laptop holder, saving space in our backpack. This compartment also has a dedicated mesh pockets for tech accessories like battery packs or cables.

This carry-on has a three-digit combination lock, but doesn’t have a USB port despite having a battery pack compartment. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it’s something to consider if your phone routinely runs out of juice during your layover.

If you like to pack light, and want a piece of hardshell carry-on luggage that suits that style, Monos’ Carry-On  Pro is an excellent choice.

Buy: Monos Carry-On Pro at $275

Note: The company also offers a slightly larger version of this bag called the Carry-On Pro Plus.

4. Amazon Basics Hybrid Carry-On

Amazon Basics Hybrid Exterior Carry-On

Amazon

Amazon Basics’ Hybrid External Carry-On is a hybrid soft and hardshell carry-on, which comes with one distinct advantage: it’s lighter.

The luggage is 22.2-inches tall, 14.3-inches wide, 10.6-inches deep, and weighs 6.4 pounds. That may not seem a lot lighter than our other recommendations, but you’ll notice it when you’re lifting the bag into an overhead compartment. Amazon doesn’t say how many days worth of clothes you can fit into its luggage, but notes it’s suitable for a vacation or business trip.

True to its name, the Hybrid Exterior Carry-On is fairly basic. It doesn’t have a combo lock or USB port, but it’s also one third the price of some of the other luggage we’re recommending despite holding roughly the same amount of gear. If budget and weight are your two main concerns, this is the carry-on we recommend.

Buy: Amazon Basics Hybrid Exterior Carry-On at $275

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