The Best Carry-On Luggage Will Make Plane Travel a True Pleasure (or at least, tolerable)

There was a time before $10 airport snacks and lunches of in-flight pretzels, when travellers would dress up to board Pan-Am planes, eating lobster while they cruised the clouds — or so we’re told. If you’ve braved the tarmac in recent years, you know that on-time departures and seats with ample leg room have become the unicorns of air travel. Post-pandemic travel convenience is now up to the passenger: the best investment for frequent flyers — aside from a private jet — is quality carry-on luggage. We’ve researched the best carry-on luggage for cabin storage, helping you skip the line at baggage claim (and look good doing it). From sleek aluminum hard-shells and durable leather duffels to eco-friendly weekenders and soft-shells on wheels, we’ve picked a bag and style for every occasion.

Hard Shell Carry-On Luggage

Hard shell carry-ons are best for those who like to keep things simple, with a straightforward design that opens like a book to rectangular storage compartments. They’re also good at reigning in over packers; you’ll have a tough time double-stuffing your hard-shell suitcase. Conventional hard-shells close with a zipper, but the latest, high-tech designs sport combination locks for added security. The most durable hard-shell material is aluminum, but it’s also the heaviest — polycarbonate is a suitable alternative for lighter travel. When you’re not on the road, hard shell bags are easily stored inside large checked suitcases.

Monos Hybrid Carry-On

Monos Hybrid Carry On Luggage Silver chrome small rolling suitcase
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Metallic and minimalist, this compact roller case from Monos is a sleek addition to your travel bag rotation. The shell is zipper-free and water-resistant, closing by way of two TSA-approved combination locks. If that’s not enough security for you, the bag also comes with a vegan leather luggage tag. ($395)

Louis Vuitton Horizon 55 Monogram

Louis Vuitton Horizon 55 carry-on bag, brown leather monogrammed with an abstract portrait
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Louis Vuitton bags are bonafide staples for stylish travellers, but the Horizon 55 takes things one step further, with an abstract portrait posterized in shades of brown over the brand’s classic logo print canvas. Cowhide leather trim, four wheels, and a wide cane handle make airport walks easy. Available in cabin size — with a combination lock system and the option to hot-stamp your name — this distinctive bag is safe and secure. ($5,800)

Rimowa Classic Cabin S

Rimowa aluminum classic cabin shiny grey Carry-on bag
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Rimowa’s Classic Cabin has all the highlights of a good hard shell carry-on. It’s compact enough for a cabin (as the name proclaims), yet it’s sturdy and well-constructed, with an aluminum exterior to keep your overnight supplies safe. Comfortable leather handles compliment the glossy silver finish, making airport style easy. (CAD $1672)

Fendi Cabin Size Trolley

Fendi Cabin Size Trolley hard shell luggage
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Made in collaboration with Rimowa, the Fendi Cabin Size Trolley boasts aluminum armour and black leather details. The FF motif appears in a shadowy dark pattern, adding intrigue to the textured exterior. With a combination lock and lightweight, adjustable handle, the Cabin Size Trolley is an excellent carry-on accessory. ($4,200)

Soft Shell Carry-On Luggage

Soft shell luggage is the traditional bag of choice, known for its lightweight material — usually a variety of woven nylon — and versatile form. You can figure out the weight (not durability) of any given nylon by taking a look at its denier count; higher counts signify a heavier fabric. Soft shells have a bit more give than harder options, ideal for packing extra clothing, books, and other non-fragile items. Plus, soft shell luggage will save you some extra weight on the all-important airport scale.

Hershel Outfitter Wheelie 50L

Hershel grey luggage bag upright from the side with handle up
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Hershel’s rolling Outfitter Wheelie is a lightweight travel buddy, ideal for short-haul trips or as a companion to checked luggage. With multiple side pockets, a long-necked handle and mesh interior sections, the bag has a place for clothing, books, tech, and toiletries — provided they’re under 100mL, of course. ($240)

Yeti Crossroads 56cm

Yeti carry on size 56 cm cross roads alpine brown colour small bag
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Crafted from water-resistant material, Yeti’s Crossroads carry-on bag is fit for even the most off-road escapades. Its real charm, though, is its stellar organization — the bag opens up wide to reveal detachable modular compression straps and mesh compartments fit for all adventures. ($450)

Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bag 40L

Patagonia Black Hole Rolling Duffel Bag
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The famously eco-friendly brand is back with carry-on-approved luggage. The shiny black bag is a “wheeled duffel,” a style that combines the soft-shell versatility of a duffel bag with wheels that glide across the gate. Plus, Patagonia sourced the lining, webbing, and body fabric from 100% recycled material; what’s not to love? ($449)

Weekender Carry-On Luggage

A fairly recent development, the “weekender” is exactly what it sounds like — a sleek middle ground between a hockey bag and a suitcase, designed for weekend trips and overnights. Unlike the hard and soft shelled bags above, these weekender options forego wheels in favour of an interior that’s optimized for storage; a plethora of compartments offer enough pockets for every traveller essential. While they’re similar in size and function to duffel bags, we’ve put weekenders in their own category to emphasize the diverse selection of styles and forms.

Discommon Accomplice

Discommon Accomplice weekender carry-on luggage bag grey
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Award-winning industrial designers from Discommon put together The Accomplice to make two and three day trips a breeze. Initially released as “The Weekender,” popular demand spurred Discommon to bring the convenient bag back as the slimmer and trimmer Accomplice. With a laptop sleeve and convenient front-end slot, the bag is optimized for short-haul travel. ($1,100)

Luca Faloni Weekender

Luca Faloni Weekender Bag
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In the world of luxury leather, this durable and vegetable-tanned bag from Luca Faloni reigns supreme. You can practically smell the fresh, made-in-Italy material straight from the bag’s deep-brown texture. The anti-slip strap makes it an easy carry while a cotton-lined interior keeps all your travelling essentials safe. With dimensions approved for hand baggage, the bag is a solid, quiet-luxury take on travel. ($1,050)

Dior Lingot 50 Bag

Dior Lingot 50 Bag Weekend Carry-on
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Nautical navy blues and river-stone greys come together for a masterclass in understated elegance. Dior’s Lingut 50 Bag incorporates the triangular pattern on a smooth calfskin, with the front’s Dior signature in ruthenium-finished brass. The closure is further enhanced by a magnetic Saddle flap, a classic emblem of the fashion house. ($4,100)

Porsche Design Urban Eco Weekender

Porsche Design Urban Eco Weekender Carry-on bag
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We already know Porsche as a leader in auto-craftsmanship, but with the Urban Eco-Weekender, they show their prowess in the world of design, too. Sustainably styled from recycled polyester, the Weekender boasts an expandable organizer and two slip pockets for business travel. Specs like an adjustable shoulder strap and trolley link maximize convenience and flexibility. ($415)

Duffel Bag Carry-On Luggage

No luggage guide is complete without a selection of classic duffel bags. They’re easily recognized by their flexible structure, which is tailor-made to fit clunky sports and workout gear. First popularized as military-grade bags, modern duffels are constructed from top-grade leather, polyester, or nylon in a cylindrical shape. They’re essentials for frequent travellers, as their small size easily slides into overhead storage or — if you’re lucky — under a cabin seat as a personal item.

PKG Rosedale 41L Recycled Garment Duffel Bag

PKD Rosedale 41L Recycled Garment Duffel Bag
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Billed by the brand as “an overnight traveller’s dream,” the Rosedale is sustainably-sourced and water-resistant. For the interior and exterior fabric, PKG uses yarn from 67 post-consumer, recycled water bottles accented by vegan leather and a padded shoulder strap. With a multitude of mesh-lined pockets inside, organization is a breeze. ($249)

Prada Black Re-Nylon and Saffiano Leather Duffel Bag

Prada Black Re-Nylon and Saffiano Leather Duffel Bag
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Leather and fabric make up this spy-core black duffel bag, complete with a chic Prada-branded lock on the double zip close. Paired with a trench coat and shades, Prada’s Re-Nylon duffel looks ultra-slick. For carrying extra-heavy (and top secret?) gear, it comes with a detachable shoulder strap. ($3,500)

Saint Laurent Nuxx Duffel in Nylon

Saint Laurent Nuxx Duffel Bag in Nylon
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Finishing off our curation of travel gear is Saint Laurent’s soft-yet-strong Nuxx Duffel in Nylon. Ultra convenient features include comfortable straps and a shoe-string exterior pocket, each complementing the matte-black hardware and canvas lining. ($1,555)