Carry-on luggage that will fit your style and your travel needs.
The following information from Skyscanner.com will answer all of your carry-on luggage questions. Scroll down to find the perfect carry-on bag for your next vacation or business trip. Do you need help figuring out how to pack like a pro? Check out our article on ‘How To Pack A Suitcase‘.
Before choosing the right cabin bag for you here are a few things to consider.
Should I buy a one or two wheeled travel bag?
This is a contentious point among Skyscanner staff, and indeed travelers everywhere. Wheels and a pull-handle take the weight off your shoulders, but they reduce your internal luggage space and add weight to the bag itself.
Do I choose a hard or soft sided case?
Hard cases provide better protection for your belongings, but they are heavier, thicker (so less internal space) and won’t squeeze into spaces making them harder (or unable) to fit into cramped overhead lockers or under the seat. On the other hand, soft-sided bags offer less protection from the rough and tumble of travel but are lighter, offer more space, and can be squeezed into small spaces and compressed so they’re not unnecessarily bulky when only partially full.
3 carry-on bags that Skyscanner staff use personally:
Cabin Max Carry On Backpack
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Traveller Communications Manager says:
“I wanted a bag that would allow me to travel without checking in a hold bag. I love the way the Cabin Max completely opens up like a suitcase. It’s enabled me to avoid charges and save money on flights all over the world. It has been on many trips, from Beirut to Istanbul, and now has a few tears, but for the price, it has served me well.”
Cabin Max Metz Backpack Flight Approved Carry on Bag is available from Amazon in lots of different colors for under $45.
True to its name, at 55 x 40 x 20 cm (weight 0.7 kg) the Cabin Max is designed to give you the maximum possible space while remaining within the luggage allowances of budget airlines. Be careful as maximum dimensions vary depending on airline/aircraft but unless you have it absolutely packed to the max, you’ll be able to squeeze it into the overhead locker, or under the seat in front.
The Cabin Max has two compartments; a large one for the main bulk of your clothes, and a smaller one with various zip and mesh pockets, which keep items like wallets and phone chargers nice and neat. On top is a handy carry handle; there are two adjustable shoulder straps, and the back has some light padding. There are also two quick release crush straps on the sides to help squeeze all your gear in.
This is a lightweight bag made of thin material. After several journeys, we found that some seams on the outer pocket had split. Tougher stitching is needed.
Style Factor 3/5
When full, the bag has a bulky, cuboid shape; it’s not going to win the ‘sexiest bag on the plane’ award. It’s not offensive, however, and apparently, black never goes out of fashion anyway.
Value for Money 5/5
For under $50, the Cabin Max is a steal and you only need to save the cost of checking in one bag to make your money back. This bag won’t last forever, but it’s so cheap it’s worth buying even if you have to replace it every couple of years.
Best For Budget-Conscious Travelers who want a functional bag; the Cabin Max is a popular choice for many Skyscanner staff.
Trunki Kids Carry-On Suitcase
Mary Porter, Skyscanner PR Manager and mother of two, swears by the Trunki: Flying with children can be stressful, so anything that keeps the kids happy will make your journey easier. Trunkis are a lifesaver for entertaining little ones when you’re in long queues as well as saving tired little legs if your walk to the departure gate is a long one. I’m just dreaming of a remote control version now!”
The Trunki comes in a several fun styles like Bernard the Bee and Harley the Lady Bug.
Capacity 3/5 At 46 x 20.5 x 31 cm (18 liters, weight 1.7 kg), the Trunki is smaller than other bags in this test, but of course, it’s designed for small people.
Functionality 5/5 The Trunki is not only a mini-suitcase for the kiddies but also a ride-on toy which keeps them entertained in the often stressful airport environment.
Durability 5/5 Trunkis are made of the same material as adult suitcases – tough stuff that will take a tantrum or ten, and will still keep rolling when the tears dry up.
Style Factor 5/5 From Bernand the Bee to Tipu the Tiger to the Gruffalo, there are 11 different Trunkis to choose from and the kids love ‘em!
Value for Money 4/5 At $77, there are cheaper kids’ cases out there, but you can’t put a price on a happy child. (Well, actually you can: $76.99…)
Best For Traveling With Kids, it keeps them quiet and makes your vacation a happier one.
Tom Bihn Empire Builder Laptop Bag
Bon Grimes, Skyscanner Co-founder, says:
“I’m very fussy about the bag I travel with. It has to be a shoulder bag and has to fit under the seat in front of me. My last bag only lasted six months before it fell apart, but my Empire Builder is an excellent and well-made bag; I have used this bag weekly to fly up and down to our Edinburgh office, and four years on, it’s still serving me well.”
Decades of design and build experience resulted in this travel bag, several add-ons are also available.
The Empire Builder is deceptively small, almost briefcase like, but it actually has a good capacity with 46.5 x 32.5 x 18 cm of space and weighs 1.8 kg.
There is a large central compartment, which has some light padding. The front flap has zip pockets and it has a comfortable over-the-shoulder strap.
Made of 1050 denier ballistic nylon, Tom Bihn’s website claims that the Empire Builder is ‘built to endure years of abuse’. After four years of weekly travel (flying four times per week), we can indeed confirm that this bag is as tough as a Glaswegian SAS Commando. It even comes with a lifetime guarantee to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the original owner.
Style Factor 5/5
A good looking business travel bag, well designed to provide maximum capacity without looking bulky. Serious enough to suit the business class set, but with an air of cool casualness.
Value for Money 4/5
It’s the most expensive soft-sided bag in our test, but for the extra cash you do get a fantastically functional bag for the frequent flyer, and with the lifetime guarantee this may well be the only carry-on bag you ever need buy.
Best For Business Travelers who want to get through that red eye flight without a fight over the dimensions of the hand luggage.
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