11 Best Men’s Carry-On Luggage for Any Kind of Trip

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Travelling can be stressful: from getting to the right gate to the endless, endless delays.

But one aspect that needn’t contribute to your stress is luggage.

In this review, we’re going to help you find the very best carry-on luggage to make the whole process streamlined, simple, and completely calm.

With our list of the 11 best products on the market, you’ll be able to find just the right model for your needs – giving you all the storage you need, as well as ensuring you look as stylish as possible.

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
Timbuk2’s Co-Pilot Luggage Roller

Our no.1 choice – Timbuk2’s Co-Pilot Luggage Roller. It’s our choice for the best overall carry on, with its durable design and an integrated ID window for extra security.

IT Luggage’s 22” World’s Lightest 8 Wheel Spinner

Our IT Luggage’s 22” World’s Lightest 8 Wheel Spinner is the best lightweight carry-on you’ll find, with its 8-wheel 360 rolling system and easy-to-carry wide handle.

So you should find exactly what you need to take a load off your mind when preparing for your travels.

And there’s more:

We’ve also thrown in an illustrated guide to properly pack your carry-on with ease, as well as a detailed discussion of the differences between suitcases, duffels, and backpacks.

But before we go any further, let’s quickly look at the 7 big factors you need to consider when buying a carry-on.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageTimbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller
  • Easy to roll
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to pack and repack
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bb2-table__imageIT Luggage 22" World's Lightest 8 Wheel Spinner
  • 360 wheels
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Wide handle
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bb2-table__imageAmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Suitcase Luggage
  • Affordable
  • Different colors to choose from
  • Expandable design
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bb2-table__imageRockland Luggage Melbourne 20 Inch Expandable Carry On
  • Robust design and very durable
  • Lightweight for easy transportation
  • Multi-directional wheels
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bb2-table__imageTravelpro Maxlite 5-Lightweight Underseat Carry-On Travel Tote Bag
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Easy to store
  • Water-repellent and stain-resistant
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bb2-table__imageHynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry On Backpack
  • Suitable for domestic and international flights
  • Can carry it in multiple ways
  • Stylish but useful and comfortable
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bb2-table__imageOlympia Apache Li 21” Carry-On Spinner, Black+Purple
  • Looks great on the eye
  • Secret compartment for important items
  • 4-wheel spinner mechanism
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bb2-table__imageDinictis 40L Flight Approved Carry on Travel Laptop Backpack
  • Spacious
  • Water-repellent exterior
  • Cool design
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bb2-table__imageDelsey Paris Luggage Chatelet Hard+ 21-Inch Carry-On
  • Chic, luxury look with leather trims
  • Elegant but also very durable
  • Quality, innovative componentry
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bb2-table__imageLEVEL8 Carry-On Luggage, 20” Hardshell Suitcase
  • Built in TSA lock
  • Premium, high-end design
  • Spacious, lightweight and durable
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bb2-table__imageLeather Town Duffel Bag
  • Good size for all types of travel
  • Made from strong, robust leather
  • Helps keep your packing organised
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Before you buy: 7 Things to consider when purchasing carry-on luggage

1. Quality

Quality is always king. If you can buy yourself an item of high quality, then you’re almost guaranteeing that it’ll last, and you won’t have to buy it again and again in the future.

That’s why we believe that quality is the first thing you should look into when purchasing carry-on luggage.

First of all, we can look at the build itself. The interior of a carry-on will tell you a lot.

Does it have plenty of room for organization? Does it have pockets, zips, or anything else to keep your things separated and safe?

On the outside, you can look at the quality of the material used. We’ll get onto this in a bit in more detail, but briefly, you’ll just want to make sure that your things won’t get damaged by small knocks and drops.

Picking carry-on luggage that isn’t going to struggle with this should be top of your priorities.

Inevitably, you’ll want to think about the security of your carry-on.

The highest-quality luggage cases will make sure that your things are safe with the incorporation of travel locks, covered zips, and more.

These will be rarer with duffels, but you should still look out for them if you’re ever worried about your things going missing.

Finally, we can go ahead and look at the reviews of any particular carry-on luggage.

Finding out what others think about the carry-on case that you’re looking at will make sure that you’re happy with your selection.

You can do all of the quality checks you want, but nothing quite compares to finding out what others actually think about the luggage after owning it.

It sounds obvious, but hearing opinions from those who have actually given the case some wear and tear is definitely the most important.

2. Type

The type of carry-on luggage is greatly important. It sounds strange, but let us explain.

When it comes to carry-on luggage, you’ll be spoiled for choice. You have a huge array of choices – from suitcases to duffel bags and backpacks.

All of the aforementioned count as carry-ons, because they can be taken onto a plane, train, or in a car and can act as travel luggage.

Ultimately, the choice belongs to you, but your preference will come down to your personal requirements and needs from a carry-on.

For example, if you’re a businessman who’s just looking to pick up a classy and sleek carry-on for your weekly conference trips around the country, then maybe look for something like the best carry-on suitcase.

After all, you’ll likely be traveling via car if not flying, and you’d rather have some hard luggage than something that’s made to be carried long distances.

On the other hand, you can select something like a backpack if you’re someone who will be toting their carry-on around with them for the entirety of their travels. For the casual traveler, this could be a great choice.

You’ll be able to double it up as a day pack and carry your goods whilst visiting new places. Again, this won’t be for everyone.

3. Material

As with anything, the type of material will make a huge difference.

However, it’s not as simple as just avoiding one type of material and always selecting another.

Unfortunately, carry-on luggage can be made from almost anything – from leather to ballistic nylon.

Again, you’ll want to take your personal requirements into consideration.

If we think about it, you probably won’t want to be walking around with a duffel bag that’s made from hard shell, extra-thick ABS. If you want a suitcase, on the other hand, then it’s perfect.

More expensive does not always mean better, but it can be used as a rough guide.

Aluminum carry-on cases will be more expensive, but it’s a classic material that is durable and will stand the test of time.

At the end of the day, choosing carry-on luggage based on material is easier said than done, but if you’re looking at a case that is made from a material that you don’t recognize or know as being reliable, then you may be better off looking elsewhere.

4. Size

In the carry-on world, size matters. Whilst it may not run true in other aspects of life, we need to remember this when choosing a carry-on.

There’s a fine line between buying a carry-on and crossing over into “may as well just be a suitcase” territory.

If you just want a case that’ll be used as a “weekend” carry-on, then you probably don’t need something that’s huge, and vice versa, if you’re looking for a carry-on that can double up as a “full week of vacation” case.

A tip that is one of my favorites requires careful execution, but, as men, we prefer convenience. If we look at a case that’s small, we will only pack enough to fill it and not go over.

So, if you’re in doubt in regards to sizes, just select something that’s slightly smaller, and you’ll be good.

Also, before we forget, all airlines have specific guidelines and restrictions for their carry-ons.

Sounds ridiculous, but different planes have different sizes of overhead compartments, so you may be turning up at the airport with your new swanky case feeling like a million bucks, just to find out you’ve had to check it and send it away with everyone else’s regular baggage anyway.

Just be wary of that before continuing.

5. Durability

Durability really can take something from being worth a purchase to not worth it at all. After all, a durable carry-on will last many travels.

Something that we have probably all experienced is a case wearing down quickly whilst traveling. It happens, and it often cannot be avoided. However, it’s slightly different with carry-on luggage.

Since it rarely leaves your sight and can be tightly packed into an overhead compartment, you’ll be able to treat it with a lot more respect.

Regardless, you want to pick a case that is made from durable materials and built to last. A good quality case should last years, and we want to keep it that way.

You can choose between hard- and softshell cases with carry-on luggage.

For those of you who are a bit more clumsy and likely to let it take a few bumps, you may want to choose hard shell.

Again, a lot of choices comes down to your personal preferences, but we highly recommend that you look at the quality, material, and price point before coming to a decision.

The junction of these three will give you the most durable case within your budget, making you very happy.

6. Brand

You’ve probably heard the advice: don’t judge a book by its cover. Yeah, it’s good advice, but, without a good cover, it’s never going to grab your attention.

We feel that it’s the same with brand names and carry-on luggage.

When shopping for your new carry-on, you’re not likely to just turn around and fall in love with a case from an unknown brand.

We understand. It’s safer to put your money into a company that’s already known for great quality.

Fortunately, some high-end, quality brands produce carry-on luggage, and you’ll be glad to know there’s a great list to select from.

We’ve tried to include a couple of them in our best carry-on luggage collection, later on, making them perfect for those of you who would prefer to stick to brands that have a good reputation.

7. Price

Finally, we didn’t want to seem deluded, as the price point is a key thing to consider when purchasing a carry-on.

Everyone has a different budget, and each one of our readers is likely to be comfortable spending different amounts.

When it comes to affordable carry-on luggage, we believe that you’re spoiled for choice.

At the same time, we also feel that carry-on luggage is one of those things you aren’t buying on a retainer basis. You don’t need to keep making this purchase if you just go out there, bite the bullet, and spend some cold, hard cash on a worthwhile case.

Regardless of your preference, you want to get the best quality for your price range.

Of course, you aren’t likely to find a top-quality, impenetrable carry-on for less than 50 dollars, but you can find cases for 50 dollars that are worth that and then some. That’s what we want to look for.

The 11 best carry-on luggage for men

1. Timbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller

Timbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller

Timbuk2 helps take the hassle out of traveling with its Co-Pilot Luggage Roller.

The Co-Pilot is just that, a co-pilot for your travels thanks to its many cool features.

Storage space is always a concern of any traveler, and the Co-Pilot answers the bell with a sizable main compartment you access with a large front zipper opening.

There’s also an expandable, waterproof top stash pocket that you can access when the bag is in an overhead bin.

Meanwhile, a front zipper pocket has room enough for a 13” MacBook Pro.

It’s easy to transport the Co-Pilot thanks to its bike-inspired handle system, reinforced grab handles, and skateboard wheels. The grab handles make it easier to lift the bag to an overhead.

The Co-Pilot’s clamshell structure and design is easy to pack, unpack, and repack, while an internal mesh divider helps to keep items separate and organized.


  • It’s made from durable nylon fabric and is lighter than many other bags.
  • It includes an integrated ID window for easy identification.
  • The expandable top pocket is ideal for storing shoes and toiletries.


  • The handle could be a bit sturdier.

Bottom Line

The Timbuk 2 Co-Pilot is lightweight, easy to transport, and offers all the space you need for when you travel. It’s also durable and should last you a long time.

2. IT Luggage 22″ World’s Lightest 8 Wheel Spinner

IT Luggage 22" World's Lightest 8 Wheel Spinner

The whole point of carry-on luggage is to take the burden off and make traveling light and easy. Yet so many carry-on cases actually end up being heavy – tiring to carry, difficult to maneuver, and ultimately a total buzzkill.

IT Luggage’s carry-on is the absolute antidote to this: its ultra-lightweight design makes it as easy to carry as possible. Although this does make it somewhat less sturdy than other products we’ll discuss here, if your main concern is making traveling as light and simple as possible, this is the case for you.

It boasts an innovative 8-wheel 360 rolling system which – combined with its lightweight – makes maneuvering a dream. It’s particularly great for last-minute dashes to the gate!

Its fiberglass frame is highly durable and tough without sacrificing that lightweight effect. And as far as storage space, there’s plenty here, with 2 zip pockets as well as a large interior featuring 2 tie-down straps.

Style-wise, it’s probably best described as minimalist – understated and simple. It comes in a variety of colors, so whilst not exactly a style icon, you’ll still be able to match it to your general style.


  • Ultra-lightweight design
  • 8-wheel 360 rolling system
  • Easy to carry – Wide handle design


  • Not as sturdy as many

Bottom Line

Extremely lightweight and easy to maneuver, this is an ideal case for weekends away.

3. AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Suitcase Luggage

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Suitcase Luggage

Sometimes, what you really need is an affordable, straightforward product that does the job and doesn’t fall apart.

While that doesn’t make this case sound sexy or cool, it’s actually surprisingly stylish looking – and with 4 colors to choose from, you can hardly go wrong.

With its protective hard shell – made from polycarbonate, which is both flexible and durable – this case offers a fantastic price and plenty of good features, too.

It features 4 double spinning wheels to ensure your movements are smooth and easy. And its expandable, too, which means you can add 15% extra space if you’re really pushed for room.

Not that you’re likely to need it: it offers 3 zippered pockets for smaller items as well as a fully lined interior with a divider to space out your possessions.

Plus, you’ll have no security concerns, with its built-in TSA lock.

Is this the world’s great carry-on case?


But what it is an exceptional deal, ideal for anyone looking to save a little but not compromise too much on quality, security, or ease.


  • Great price
  • Expandable
  • Variety of colors to choose from


  • Some reviewers complain that the handle is too loose

Bottom Line

A great value carry-on case that offers you everything you need for a weekend or business trip at a very affordable price.

4. Rockland Luggage Melbourne 20 inch Expandable Carry On

Rockland Luggage Melbourne 20 inch Expandable Carry On

This case from Rockland Luggage is the epitome of lightweight carry-on luggage. It’s incredibly light, yet the durable ABS material makes it a long-lasting and exceptionally-produced carry-on option.

You’ll be walking around in style, as the color options are excellent, and the ‘supreme’ organization inside ensures that you’ll be able to place your clothes, valuables, and passport in their own pockets to make sure that you’re not going to lose anything.

For those of you who are often traveling, you know how frustrating it is to be only packing half of a case (and vice versa).

Fortunately, this case makes the most of some expandable technology, meaning that, when you don’t need to pack much, it’ll take a much smaller form than if you need to take a lot.

The thousands of online reviews reiterate the opinion that we have on the case. It’s an excellent option for travelers looking for a case that is safe, sturdy, and, above all, convenient.


  • Rigorous design and durable
  • Lightweight design
  • Multi-directional wheels


  • May not fit in all overhead compartments

Bottom Line

A great choice if you’re looking for the best carry-on luggage for business travel. It’s got plenty of space for storage of clothes, electronics, and more.

5. Travelpro Maxlite 5-Lightweight Underseat Carry-On Travel Tote Bag

Travelpro Maxlite 5-Lightweight Underseat Carry-On Travel Tote Bag

Stuffing your carry-on bag – or any bag, for that matter – under the seat in front of you on an airplane can be a bit challenging. With Travelpro’s Maxlite Carry-On/Travel Tote Bag, you won’t face that challenge.

This bag features a compact, ultra-lightweight design that makes it easy to stash under a seat, or anywhere that has a limited amount of space. It’s very stackable and features a polyester fabric design that’s stain-resistant, water-repellent, and ergonomic.

The bag’s rear strap allows for secure stacking, while you have plenty of carrying options thanks to a top carry handle and a removable padded shoulder strap.

You’ll appreciate this bag’s storage space, as well. It has a front flap and a roomy interior with built-in pockets, and it’s easy to keep your contents organized and accessible. There are also mesh zippered pockets on one side of the bag.

We appreciate that Travelpro offers a limited lifetime coverage warranty that covers the cost of repair if the bag is damaged by the airline.

Plus, there’s a Trusted Companion Promise in which Travelpro reimburses shipping costs when you send your bag to them for warranty repair or replacement.


  • Compact and easy to store, including under plane seats.
  • Very lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Stain-resistant and water-repellent.


  • The trolley strap is a bit flimsy.

Bottom Line

The Maxlite 5 travel bag lives up to its name because it’s so lightweight. It also offers good storage space, and you can store it easily.

6. Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry on Backpack

Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry on Backpack

A universal option for traveling men worldwide, this Hynes Eagle backpack is a flight-improved ‘weekender’ option that is going to be comfortable, convenient, and all-round useful.

Made from 600D polyester, it’s a durable bag that boasts an impressive 38L capacity – enough for most of your belongings and gadgets.

Not only that but for those of you who love packing, you can fit 3-piece packing cubes inside, ensuring that things won’t get creased whilst on your back.

You’ve got a wide array of carrying options, highlighting why we love backpacks so much. With a top and side handle, you can carry it comfortably around the airport or in and out of taxis without breaking stride to throw it onto your back.

Not only that, but you won’t have issues trying to fit this one on the plane or in the overhead storage.

It is designed to fit in with the maximum size of most flights, including the under-seat storage – a great option for those of you who don’t need massive amounts of storage.


  • Perfect size for all flights
  • Multiple carrying options
  • Good looking, comfortable, and convenient
  • Many color options


  • Can get heavy over long distances

Bottom Line

Not everyone wants to be carrying a duffel or a suitcase with them, particularly young travelers.

For you, this could be perfect. It’s a backpack that boasts an impressive size while looking sleek and fitting in with your outfit for the day. We love this option.

7. Olympia Apache Li 21” Carry-on Spinner, Black+Purple

Olympia Apache Ii 21 Carry-on Spinner, Black+Purple

This funky-looking case is one that could be ideal for those of you looking to inject a little bit of style into your regular travel. It has a 4-wheel spinner design, meaning that it has free movement in all directions.

The interior is described as elegant, and it even has hidden compartments inside that make it ideal for packing your personal belongings or travel necessities.

You’ll also be able to comfortably fit a laptop inside this hidden compartment, meaning that you won’t have to worry about someone finding it and taking it out. They won’t even find the compartment in the first place.

It will fit many of your day and weekend packing items, and you won’t have to worry about the durability of the case, either.


  • 4-wheel spinner mechanism
  • Hidden compartment for expensive items
  • Looks great
  • Meets the majority of travel dimensions


  • Material isn’t massively-high quality

Bottom Line

Bridging the gap between suitcases and style, this carry-on will mean you look sleek whilst moving around the airport.

You’ll benefit from keeping your stuff safe inside of a hardshell case whilst not having to worry about your things getting stolen, as you have a hidden compartment for anything valuable.

8. Dinictis 40L Flight Approved Carry on Travel Laptop Backpack

Dinictis 40L Flight Approved Carry on Travel Laptop Backpack

There’s an awful lot to like about Dinictis’ 40L Carry On Backpack, not least of which is the surprisingly low price tag it carries. While this earns its place on our list on pure merit, it’s also one of the best options we’ve found for men on a budget, so you should bear that in mind.

But what of the quality?

Well, it’s super spacious, with 40L in full. The main compartment is nice and big, with plenty of room for several days’ worth of clothes. And there’s a separate laptop compartment which can fit whatever electronics you need to travel with.

There’s also a great front pocket, perfect for keeping your phone or travel documents, as well as an inner mesh compartment which is ideal for toiletries and an adjustable side pocket.

Overall, it has all the space you need for a long weekend and is well separated to keep everything safe and orderly.

The spaciousness is a bit of a mixed blessing though because a few reviewers do point out how heavy it ends up being on your back when completely full. And while our stronger readers won’t mind that, for those who are a little smaller and don’t travel light, this could be a liability.

As far as carrying it, there are back straps that combine traditional backpack design with carry on, so that you can move between the two.

Aesthetically, it looks and feels great, which is a bonus, with several colors to choose from.

And it’s designed in line with flight regulations, so you’ll be able to take it on board, even when it’s stuffed full.


  • Spacious 40
  • Very stylish
  • Water repellent


  • It’s very heavy when packed full

Bottom Line

A great budget option for a long weekend – high quality and great design.

9. DELSEY Paris luggage Chatelet Hard+ 21-inch Carry-On

DELSEY Paris luggage Chatelet Hard+ 21 inch Carry-On

This high-end luxurious carry-on case is described as a distillation of elegance and innovation.

It is made from 100% Virgin Makrolon polycarbonate, meaning that it is resistant to the highest levels of extreme temperatures and has the greatest resistance against heavy impact.

Japanese Hinomoto spinner wheels mean that you won’t be the person in the airport making the noise wheeling their case around, as they’re silent.

Inside, you’ve got a luxurious red interior that offers two separate compartments, meaning that you can utilize outfits for each day – or any other methods of item separation you may have.

Ultimately, this is a luxury case that is a great choice for those of you who can afford it. With the greatest carry-on case innovation, you won’t have to worry about it breaking on you any time soon.


  • High levels of durability
  • Luxurious design with soft leather trims


  • Can scratch easily

Bottom Line

This luxury case is a perfect option for those with a higher budget. The combination of innovation and elegance means you’ll be traveling in style and won’t have to worry about the state of your items.

10. LEVEL8 Carry-On Luggage, 20” Hardshell Suitcase

LEVEL8 Carry-On Luggage, 20” Hardshell Suitcase

LEVEL8 Carry-On Luggage is a pleasure to carry when traveling due to its very lightweight construction of just 7.7 lbs. It is also a fashion statement due to its elegant and minimalist look, making it perfect for men who value appearance.

It is 100% constructed with tough polycarbonate material which offers great durability and has a very spacious interior to easily fit your essentials for a 3-4 days trip.

Its construction is also waterproof. This means you don’t have to worry about your laptop or other water-sensitive devices if you are traveling on a rainy day.

But there’s more: It also features a built-in TSA lock for maximum security, and it is easy to maneuver when rushing. This is possible due to its 360 ultra-quiet wheels and its 4 levels handle.

However, while the manufacturer mentions that it is scratch-proof (due to its micro-diamond texture design), this carry-on bag can still get badly scratched if mistreated.


  • Very lightweight (7.7 lbs)
  • Built in TSA lock
  • 3-layered hard shell for durability


  • Prone to scratches

Bottom Line

This is another high-end case that is suitable for those of you willing to invest a little extra into a case that has stylish looks and is very lightweight.

11. Leather Town Duffel Bag

Leather Town Duffel Bag

This genuine leather duffel is tough and sturdy, meaning that it’ll withstand all of your adventures with no worries whatsoever.

It features break-resistant YKK zippers and a thick, premium cloth lining that’ll caress your clothing like no other.

It looks small from the exterior, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised with all of the additional extras that make this bag so excellent. From the quick access pockets to the card slots and pen loops, you’ll have absolutely no problems with it.

In terms of actually using it as a travel bag, you’ll be able to fit it either overhead or under the seat, meaning that it can be used for business trips, leisure holidays, and anything in between.


  • Genuine, sturdy leather
  • Designed for packing efficiency
  • Perfect size for travel


  • Doesn’t have studs on the base. They would save the base from wearing out.

Bottom Line

This duffel is the absolute definition of style whilst traveling. You’ll have a carry-on that is made from genuine leather and fits all clothing and valuables.

How we chose the best carry-on luggage for men

Taking all of the carry-on luggage choices and picking out 11 of them to highlight is a difficult task.

After all, we don’t want to disappoint you.

So, we’ve calculated our choices off of a multitude of factors.

First and foremost, we wanted to take our own advice into consideration and ensure that we picked out carry-on luggage that was practical, durable, and made with great quality.

To ensure that we weren’t being fooled, we also looked for carry-on luggage reviews to choose options with great reviews all around the internet. If others agree with our opinions, then we’re even more confident in our selection.

We also wanted to take into consideration the fact that some people need different types of carry-ons.

We just explained the different types and the pros and cons of each, and that’s exactly it. Instead of just picking 11 duffels or 11 suitcases, we made sure to take at least 2 from each. This way, you’ll definitely find one that suits you.

And last but not least, we wanted to make sure that the price points were different. It’s easy for us to sit here and list you the very best carry-on luggage if we were selecting from high price points.

However, we also wanted to find the best affordable carry-on luggage options, so we selected a couple of those, too.

Carry-on luggage is increasingly becoming an art that needs mastering.

It’s cheaper to travel without checked baggage, and it’s certainly more convenient, too. No lost luggage and no breakages in transit.

The difficult part is choosing yourself carry-on luggage that gives the positives justice, and that’s what we’ve tried to help you with in this article.

We wanted this article to be a one-stop-shop for all things carry-on luggage. From purchasing tips to packing advice, we have you covered.

How to properly pack your carry-on in easy, illustrated steps

It’s all well and good owning a carry-on and ensuring that you pick out a good one.

For the majority, that’s the easy part. You may not want to hear it, but the time you’ve just spent picking out your perfect case is definitely the easy part.

The hard part is actually figuring out how to utilize it.

Sounds stupid, right? You just pack it.

Wrong. Well, half right, but primarily wrong.

Yeah, you can just throw all of your essentials into your carry on if you’d like, but it just doesn’t make sense.

Instead, you can go about your packing process in a selective and effective manner that will streamline your efforts. Convenience is key, and here’s how you can make the most of it with the following 8 tips.

Writing a list


Having a list of items that you need to pack isn’t actually a packing tip, but it will help you to properly pack when it comes down to it.

Packing a carry-on relying on a large portion of guesswork will not work out very well.

You need to make sure that you know what you need to pack before you actually start packing.

The best way to do this is to get out an old-school pen and paper and actually write down the bare essentials – like socks, t-shirts, and laptop – so that you are motivated to pack these first.

There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve filled all of your carry-on space with needless accessories and forgotten to include the socks.

Make sure valuables are protected


This may seem obvious, but you need to keep all of your valuables, such as electronics, protected. If you are bringing an iPad or a laptop, then it’s vitally important that you keep it tucked away in a safe cover.

Likewise, you’ll want to keep any other valuables safe if they are fragile and at risk of breaking. Whilst traveling with a carry-on, you always have to assume that it’s going to take a few bumps.

Being on a plane is never a bump-free ride, and the carry-on is more than likely to take a few knocks.

So, if you care for your things (and we’re sure you do), then you’d do yourself a disservice by just putting your valuables in a carry-on bag without considering the consequences first.

Pack shoes first


If you’re taking an additional pair of shoes in your carry-on, then it’s actually sensible to pack these first.

Packing them first and tucking them into the corners of the carry-on can help it to completely keep its shape and stop it from caving in or sticking out at the sides.

Keeping the shape is an important tip because you’ll be able to fit much more inside and actually remain comfortable whilst carrying it around.

Not only that, but we’d also recommend that you keep them in some “shoe bags.” That’ll make sure that you don’t get your clean clothes dirty. We’ve often made that mistake and ended up taking out our sneakers to realize that we’ve painted our pants in dirt.

Pack liquids correctly


This piece of advice is greatly important because there can be a catastrophic difference between packing your liquids correctly and incorrectly.

Unlike with the shoes example, you won’t just have a muddy pair of pants: you’ll have a soaked-through pair of pants.

Regardless of whether your liquid is your favorite moisturizer or your favorite cologne, you don’t want it seeping through your clothes for the entire duration of travel.

To be safe in all situations, it’s best to keep your liquids inside clear plastic bags.

You’ll have an extra layer of security provided by the bags, and you’ll also be able to easily identify any problems if anything explodes or begins to leak, as everything’s in the same place.

If you’re flying, then we’re sure that you don’t need reminding of the airline liquid restrictions. Some will limit you to a specific number (like 100ml), and some will limit you to a certain number of items.

Either way, make sure that you’re within limits, if you want to have a painless journey.

Put bare essentials in front or side pockets


If you’re looking for somewhere to store your passport, wallet, keys, or anything similar, then you may want to make sure that you pack them into a front or side pocket.

This provides you with simple and quick access at a moment’s notice, without the requirement of searching the bag top to bottom because it’s fallen between a bunch of your socks.

Following this advice will make your life easier and that, for us, is a good enough reason why you should. It’s all about convenience.

Customize for your requirements


The next key tip is to customize your carry-on cases to suit your personal requirements.

This is a very simple concept. If you’re someone who struggles to sleep without everything being pitch black and quiet, then consider packing an eye mask and some noise-canceling headphones.

Similarly, if you struggle from deep vein thrombosis, then you may find yourself needing to pack a few pairs of compression socks within easy reach to make your travels comfortable and easy.

Rolling and folding


Depending on the item of clothing, you can pack it slightly differently.

If it’s a smart shirt or pair of trousers, then you’ll probably want to fold it and ensure that it’s safely packed into a position where it’s not going to crease 150 times over on the journey.

On the other hand, if you’ve got your weeks’ worth of boxers and socks, then you can roll these up into the smallest balls you can manage.

Doing this will just mean that you will get more bang for your buck in terms of actual carry-on space.

Rolling and folding correctly, instead of just throwing it all in, will allow you to put more in.

Avoid the ‘heavy’ items of clothing


We have included this tip last because we felt that it still needed mentioning, even though it isn’t directly a part of the packing process. Rather, it is a method of making sure that you have enough space in the carry-on for your other necessities.

If you can prevent yourself from packing some of the heavier clothing items, like hoodies and coats, then you may find that wearing them for the bulk of your ‘travel’ days will make your life much easier.

This way, you’ll be able to fill the case up with more of the stuff you want on a daily basis, and you can just wear the heavy stuff without the risk of wasting lots of room.

However, If you’re reading this and thinking, “I need to pack purely for a short business trip, so these tips aren’t really cutting it for me,” then we would love to direct you to this video:

This details how many of the tips we have just discussed can be just as relevant to you whilst directly referring to many of the business essentials that you will need on your trip.

Do you want a suitcase, duffel, or backpack?

Of course, so far, we’ve discussed how to choose your carry-on, what the best ones are, and we’ve given you advice on how to pack it once you’ve bought it.

The final question: what style do you choose?

After all, carry-ons can come in all sorts of designs, from hardshell suitcases to simple over-the-shoulder ‘gym-style’ duffel bags.

As with anything, there are pros and cons to each of the options. We’ll try to illustrate the differences for you now.


Suitcases are made specifically with travel in mind. When that’s the case, you know that they’re looking to make your life convenient.

That’s certainly true, too, when you consider that suitcases are incredibly easy to just open up, empty, pack, and you can waltz through airports without breaking stride since they’re always on wheels.

Given that they are made with travel in mind, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that suitcases are typically the ideal option for business travelers.

You can carefully pack your things into a suitcase and sit on your flight or long journey without worrying about your stuff getting knocked about too much.

Suitcases also are the ideal option if you’re looking for an option that combines protection with security.

You can get carry-on suitcases with locks, security zips, and more. In terms of actual item protection, your suitcase will typically be hardshell. This extra-thick material will keep your things safe the entire trip.

Unfortunately, suitcases are probably the least practical for those of you on the move regularly whilst traveling.

If you’re going through multiple cities in Europe, for example, then traveling with a suitcase carry-on is probably not the best idea.

On the other hand, if you only expect to be positioned in one spot for a trip, then it can work absolutely fine and probably keep all of your things flawless in the process.


A duffel bag is an ideal choice for the versatile traveler. If you’re looking for something to pack a lot of things and remain convenient, this could be the perfect choice for you.

To illustrate, you can sling a duffel over your shoulder or carry it, and you won’t be uncomfortable doing either.

The non-rigid design will mean that you’re almost guaranteeing it’ll fit in cars, buses, overhead lockers, and any other forms of storage.

You aren’t limited by the ‘shape’ it’s bought in. If you have to, you can squeeze it into almost anything.

You’re also going to look pretty smart with a duffel. Whether you’re on a business trip or just a little break with friends, carrying a good-looking duffel bag onto the plane will make you feel like you’re the main part of a movie.

However, with this level of convenience comes a few negatives.

First of all, you haven’t got as much protection. If you place your laptop in a precarious position, then it could take some damage with the rough and tumble of a journey.

Secondly, you may find that a duffel bag is not ideal for packing. It’s great if you’ve got plenty of items to pack, but you’ll find that space is just space for the sake of being space.

You’ll just be throwing items in there and hoping it fits, whereas, at least with a suitcase or backpack, you’ll be able to pack things in chronological order.


The third choice of carry-on is a backpack. This is a hugely popular choice for people who are always on the move whilst traveling.

Whether you’re skipping through different hostels as a teenager or just popping on a city break with your girlfriend, you can find that a backpack is a perfect choice.

They’re small (or huge, if you want it to be) and perfect for the bare essentials.

They’re perfect for a minimalist or a business traveler who just needs a couple of spare pairs of clothes and a laptop.

Not only that, but you can find some front and side pockets that are ideal for keys and other accessories.

You have a great deal of mobility with a backpack. You won’t need to worry about it getting in the way or holding it for long periods, as it’ll just fit on your back. This makes it perfect when catching a flight, running to catch a bus, or even walking down the street.

The negative of a backpack is that you’ll probably not have enough space for everything you need if you’re traveling for longer than just a short weekend.

That’s because, once you’ve put a laptop in your backpack, you’ve more than likely lost a bit of the space you would otherwise have for your clothing.

The harsh truth is that you’re unlikely to be able to pack for multiple weeks with a backpack carry-on, even if you know how to pack – that is unless you’re a seasoned backpacker or someone heading off on a gap year.

Ultimately, the choice will come down to you and your personal preferences.

We see all three as great and practical choices for your carry-on, and we feel that you cannot go wrong with any of them.


The only thing left is to hear from you, the readers. Do you prefer to just travel with carry-on luggage now? And if you do, then we’d love to hear what type of luggage you travel with. And of course, if not, then why not?


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About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

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