Anyone who flies with some frequency knows that having the right carry on bag can make or break a trip. If the goal is to avoid checking a bag, then the carry on you choose should offer the maximum space without exceeding size limitations of your airline.
Then there are other important factors such as style and durability. Does it roll whisper-quiet across the floor or wobble like a janky supermarket cart? Does it have enough space-saving pockets for all you need to pack?
Our friends at SmarterTravel recently released their editor-selected picks of the best new carry-on bags for 2019. Bags were rated for price, size, weight, ease of packing, style, and durability. Only bags that cost under $500 and measure 22 inches or less were considered.
Below, a look at this year’s top-rated carry-on bags.
The Winners: Best Carry-On Luggage of 2019
If you’re packing style tends to change with the trip you’re taking, the VersaPack interior packing system allows you to zip in extra organizers, making for up to 4 internal configurations.
Price: $203.99 on Amazon.com
By now, you’ve undoubtedly seen or heard of Away carry-ons, but you may have missed their latest model, the shorter, squatter, daily carry-on with pocket. It's an excellent option for business travelers who want to carry only what they absolutely must. An accordion-style interior allows easy inside access without having to open entirely.
Price: $245 on Away.com
The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior is every bit as durable as it sounds, with water-resistant ripstop fabric, reinforced corners, and more zippered compartments than you have stuff to stash in them.
Price: $279 at EagleCreek.com
The Finalists: Best Carry-On Luggage of 2019
This hard-shell bag features an exterior zipped compartment for laptops, a USB-charging port, and a built-in garment bag. Best of all, it comes with a lifetime repair guarantee, even if damaged by the airline.
Price: $499 on Briggs-Riley.com
Tired of alternating your devices to charge from just one USB-port? This case features not one, but two USB-ports, allowing for simultaneous charging.
Price: $239 on GeniusPack.com
If you just want a well-constructed bag with plenty of interior space, the EcoLite is your bag. Made of recycled water bottles, the EcoLite is super lightweight at just over 6lbs.
Price: $119.99 on Amazon.com
The Fairview from Osprey is not only the lightest bag on the list at 5.5lbs but also the only one that works as both a wheeled bag or a backpack. While the Fairview is designed to suit the bodies of female travelers, the Farpoint bag is made with male frames in mind.
Price: $239.95 on Amazon.com
Heavy-packers will get a lot of use out of this 40L behemoth from Patagonia, which doubles as both a rolling back or a duffle. The exterior shell is made of recycled water-resistant polyester. Plenty of zipped exterior compartments for easy access to passports, keys, and the like.
Price: $299 on Patagonia.com
The tourwinder roller from camping outfitters REI is durable enough for scrappy outdoor adventuring but stylish enough for the city. The interior includes four zippered pockets, one of which is large enough for storing shoes.
Price: $219 on REI.com
Tend to underestimate how much space you’ll need in your carry-on? The Samsonite Silhouette expands to hold all your last-minute souvenirs. The USB-port includes a secure pocket to hold your phone as it charges, and a waterproof interior pouch keeps wet items separate on the go.
The unfussy Victorinox Connex makes for an attractive alternative to some of the more outdoorsy bags on the list. At 6.5lbs, the Connex is lightweight, and, when you need it, an expansion zipper allows for extra space.
Price: $299 on Amazon.com