Updated May 2017
Whether you're traveling for work or pleasure, the 2017 update to our carry-on review is your first stop before you shop. We bought and tested the latest version of the Editors' Choice winner from Eagle Creek, which was updated this year and proved to be even better than its predecessor. Each test metric in this review now has a chart for quick and easy comparisons in key areas of performance, and the rating table summarizes these scores to see which models came out on top overall.
Best Overall Carry-On Luggage
Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On
Loaded with features
Large storage capacity
"Technical" styling not for everyone
Our Editors' Choice Award winner for 2017 is the Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On
. Its predecessor won this award last year, and we are stoked to see the manufacturer upping their game with the latest iteration in the Tarmac line. Improvements come in the form of internal compression straps for streamlined packing and a new fabric on the outer pockets. With Eagle Creek's signature outdoorsy styling, this bag works for adventure tourism, family vacays, and everything in between. Easy to maneuver and not too heavy, its packing capacity is large. What really set it apart, though, were its features. There's an add-a-bag strap, a "Coat-Keeper" strap that holds your jacket to the top of the bag, an expandable zipper, easy pulling zipper tabs, and so on. The bag is backed by Eagle Creek's No Matter What warranty, which means they'll repair or replace your bag "no matter" the cause. The Tarmac retails for $339, and also comes in larger sizes if you need a checked bag. For anything but dedicated business travel (see our Top Pick below) where you want to have an integrated suiter to keep your business wear in good shape, the Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD
is tough to beat. Eagle Creek makes this model in a two-wheeled version, the Eagle Creek Tarmac Carry-On
, so if you prefer to push rather than pull your luggage, they've got you covered.
Read full review: Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD Carry-On
Best Bang for the Buck
SwissGear Meyrin 20
Easy to wheel on hard surfaces
Large capacity and ability to expand
Handle is a little sticky
Poor wheel performance on uneven surfaces
Simple, functional, and best of all, affordable. That sums up our Best Buy Award winner, the SwissGear Meyrin 20
. The swiveling four wheels break from traditional carry-on design, allowing the user to push it along terminal corridors instead of pulling, saving your shoulders. Its large capacity was sufficient for a week's worth of travel with our testers. It features an expandable zipper, too, in case you return home with more than what you initially packed. A removable wet bag for toiletries and outside pockets for storing odds and ends is another excellent feature.
This bag retails for $120 and only comes with a five-year warranty against manufacturer defects. Unfortunately, we had an "incident" with the bag (accidentally let go of it on an escalator, and it fell all the way to the bottom!) that did damage. If this were an Eagle Creek or Briggs and Riley model, it would be repaired or replaced under their comprehensive warranties, but with SwissGear, we're out of luck. But considering the low price, we'd be surprised if there were a "no questions asked" warranty. Long story short, this is a great, inexpensive piece for the infrequent traveler, but if you are clumsy (like us), fly a lot, or are hard on your gear, consider a more expensive model that will cover damage that you or the airline cause.
Read full review: SwissGear Meyrin 20
Top Pick for Business Travel
Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic
Loaded with travel-friendly features
Not as maneuverable as a four-wheeled bag
The $499 Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic
is our Top Pick for the business or heavy traveler. It's a traditional two-wheeled bag, but the handle tubes are on the outside, creating a flat interior packing surface that maximizes storage capacity. The Baseline Domestic is made with longevity and ease-of-use in mind: it uses ballistic nylon to resist scratching and dirt, has self-repairing, lockable zippers, and other well-crafted features. The built-in, tri-folding suiter keeps clothes wrinkle free, and the internal expansion system is a unique way to add 25% more capacity to the bag. This expensive piece is the Cadillac of carry-on luggage models, and it comes with a no-questions-asked guarantee; Briggs and Riley will repair, for free, any damage done to this bag for life. With a guarantee like that, it might be worth paying more upfront to get a piece that will last a lifetime.
Read full review: Briggs and Riley Baseline Domestic