Best Carry-On Luggage Brands
CR members share their experiences using more than 12,000 bags. They'd take these brands to the ends of the earth.
The right piece of carry-on luggage is a stellar travel companion. It’s easy to deal with and doesn’t give out—even if you do. That’s important when you’re dashing through airports or bumping along cobblestone streets.
In CR’s fall 2018 survey on members’ travel behaviors and luggage preferences, we gathered data on 12,626 suitcases representing 21 brands, including American Tourister, Briggs & Riley, Delsey, Samsonite, Travelpro, and Tumi.
Members told us the features they care about most, with the top two being a suitcase’s wheelability, cited by 64 percent of respondents, and its durability, cited by 58 percent. Of these, durability—how well zippers, handles, fabric, and other features hold up—had the strongest correlation to members’ overall satisfaction with their carry-ons, as it has been in the past two years of CR’s luggage ratings.
Top Carry-On Luggage Brands in CR's Ratings
Briggs & Riley
Price: $399 to $599
Warranty: "Simple As That" lifetime guarantee for functional, not cosmetic, aspects of the bags.
CR’s take: As in years past, Briggs & Riley carry-ons receive top marks in our most recent member survey. The brand excels in all aspects of our ratings: ease of carrying and packing, wheelability, stowability, and durability. The company offers several ways for customers to get free repairs: mail-ordered self-repair kits, walk-in repairs at authorized locations, and the option to mail the bag back to the manufacturer. If you need to send your bag in, though, you’ll have to pay for the shipping. However, the company pays for return shipping.
Price: $195 to $495
Warranty: Lifetime limited, covering damage to the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, and anything else that impacts your use of the suitcase; 2-year warranty for electronic components.
CR’s take: This is the first time that Away, a 3-year-old luggage brand, appears in CR’s carry-on luggage ratings. Away sells primarily hard-sided suitcases, including “smart” bags that have removable battery-powered chargers for travelers’ electronics. Its carry-ons receive the highest ratings for ease of carrying and packing, wheelability, stowability, and durability. The company offers a generous 100-day trial period, after which you receive a full refund if you decide to return your suitcase. (In case you needed an excuse to finally book that weekend trip!)
Price: $169 to $349
Warranty: “No Matter What” lifetime warranty on workmanship and materials.
CR’s take: Eagle Creek carry-ons soar in ease of carrying and packing, stowability, and durability. They score slightly lower for wheelability but still earn high marks. The company offers a variety of carry-ons, including wheeled duffels and traditional suitcases. Most are soft-sided, though one line, Tarmac, features luggage with a hard back.
Price: $140 to $250
Warranty: Lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, with some limitations related to wear and tear; 1-year warranty on the eBags Lifeboat battery pack for its smart bags.
CR’s take: The online retailer’s own brand of carry-ons garners top scores for stowability, ease of packing, and durability. They also do very well in ease of carrying and wheelability. eBags sells soft-sided wheeled duffels and suitcases, as well as hard-sided bags. It also sells several “smart” carry-ons with USB ports and pockets to integrate a removable, battery-powered charger for travelers’ electronics (batteries cost extra).
Correction: This article has been updated to indicate that Away sells primarily hard-sided luggage.