Watch out, wobbly handles. Back off, boring colors. These five compact cases are making their way to an overhead compartment near you.
Where in-line fixed wheels and rickety handles were once the standard, sleek and sturdy luggage options have rolled in to steal the show. They’re compact and colorful but spacious enough to pack what you need for a getaway. With all the bells and whistles, though, one question remains: Which carry-on is actually right for you? We tested five of them to make your decision easier.
For the fashionista
Roam: Jaunt Carry-On
Inside, Roam’s 40-liter bag (pictured above) is simple: two big compartments with two removable accessory pockets and a laundry bag. However, it’s a showstopper in more ways than one. The Jaunt Carry-On features Hinomoto wheels–arguably the highest quality wheels in the luggage industry and made with ball bearings to ensure an ultra-smooth ride. And Roam leaves the appearance of the bag to you. With seven whimsical colors to choose from, such as Pacific blue and Arabian purple, it’s completely customizable–the shell color, accents, zipper, binding, wheels, carry handle, right down to the stitching. You can even monogram the leather patch on the back of your case. With details like a water-repellent zipper and a precise fit of the handle to minimize wiggling, this 5.8-pound carry-on is a solid contender.
Buy Now: $450, Roam.com
For the budget-conscious heavy packer
Away: The Bigger Carry-On
Away expertly amped up its former carry-on in linear measurements and capacity without compromising the weight of the bag itself. The 7.8-pound Bigger Carry-On holds a whopping 47.9 liters and is separated into two larger compartments, a removable mesh bag, and a hidden laundry bag, which is easily compressible and waterproof, so it can be used for, say, a wet bathing suit. Plus, this bag is the most budget-friendly of all the luggage on the list. Despite its low price, the bag has top-tier Hinomoto wheels, specially built for a smooth roll, and looks really sleek. The polycarbonate exterior is available in a number of matte-finished colors, including blush, brick, sand, green, and several shades of blue. Aside from which color to buy, your toughest decision will be whether to buy the bag with or without the ejectable phone-charging battery.
Buy Now: $245, Away.com
For the tech-savvy traveler
Arlo Skye: Polycarbonate Carry-On
Weighing in at 8.5 pounds, Arlo Skye’s Polycarbonate Carry-On is a bit bulkier than others on the market, but the polycarbonate shell is reinforced with an aluminum frame, making the bulk more bearable. The zipperless, 38-liter bag latches with two TSA-approved combination locks and is decked out with a compact charging station, portable charger, charging cable and adapter, two shoe bags, and a laundry bag. It rolls nicely and features several different-sized compartments, ideal for separating the contents. Structurally, the bag looks a bit industrial, but more delicate color combinations–navy, rose gold, and champagne with silver accents–ensure you’ll be rolling around the airport in style.
Buy Now: $450, Arloskye.com
For the traveler who’s just trying to get from point A to point B
Rimowa: Essential Lite Cabin
Potentially the lightest carry-on you’ve ever traveled with, Rimowa’s Essential Lite Cabin bag lives up to its name. Weighing 30 percent less than its predecessor, the Essential Lite is refined with portability in mind. The 4.8-pound, 38-liter carry-on is only separated into two big, zippered sections on the inside, but what it lacks in interior compartmentalization, it makes up for in exterior flash and durability. With a polycarbonate shell, it is built to withstand wear and tear but bend depending on its environment. The bag is available in five eye-catching colors, including a Ferrari red and electric blue, and it has a smooth roll and comfortable T-handle.
Buy Now: $575, Rimowa.com
For the traveler who needs something more heavy duty
Tumi: Latitude International Carry-On
The sporty Latitude International Carry-On comes with a hefty price tag, but Tumi made sure to deck out this Corvette of carry-ons to make it worth your while. The roll is smooth, the retractable handle is sturdy, and the hard shell–specially crafted with Tumi’s trademarked self-reinforced polypropylene (SRPP) ballistic material–is durable enough to bear high impact while still being flexible. Built to hold 35 liters, the 6.24-pound bag allows you to neatly separate and secure your items with two fully-lined packing compartments, two smaller zip pockets, a mesh zip pocket, and tie-down straps. Extra corner protection comes in handy during those inevitable rough patches at the airport (like shoving your suitcase into the metal measuring bin), and it keeps your luggage looking fresh.
Buy Now: $750, Tumi.com