A traveler rolling a carry-on suitcase

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.

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“Our survey respondents know a thing or two about durability,” says Debra Kalensky, senior research associate in Consumer Reports’ survey division. After all, 7 in 10 reported owning their most-used carry-on luggage brand for at least three years, and about 1 in 6 have owned it for more than 10 years.

Members also told us how easy their luggage is to carry, pack, and stow in airplane overhead bins. Below are the details on the four brands that earn the highest overall satisfaction ratings, along with price ranges for carry-ons measuring 14x9x22 inches (WxDxH)—the maximum allowed for domestic travel on three of the biggest U.S. airlines: American, Delta, and United.

To see how other suitcase brands stack up in our survey, see our carry-on luggage ratings; there, you also can see ratings for checked suitcases and for luggage stores. And for more on choosing the right luggage for you—hard- or soft-sided, two wheels or four—read our luggage buying guide

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. 

Away
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 only 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!)

Eagle Creek
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. 


Check our updated luggage ratings and buying guide to find the best brands and advice on selecting bags that meet your needs.
 

eBags
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).