15 Carry-On Bags That Make Flying a Breeze

With increased airline scrutiny over carry-on luggage size and fees to check bags, these luggage pieces will save you time and money while keeping your travel necessities organized and right at hand.

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February 12, 2019

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Cotopaxi

Photo By: Gregory

Photo By: Patagonia

Photo By: The North Face

Photo By: Filson

Photo By: Thule

Photo By: RMU

Photo By: Ogio

Photo By: Backcountry.com

Photo By: Granite Gear

Photo By: Matador

Photo By: Decathlon

Photo By: Away

Photo By: Tortuga

Photo By: Morel

Adventure Travel Carry-Ons

Many great adventures begin with a flight, and steamer trunks don't cut it on the trail or city streets once you land. Adventurers want to keep travel costs down and still have the gear they need when hitting roads less traveled. Most airlines use the dimensions of 22-inches by 14-inches by 9-inches as the general rule for luggage allowed in the overhead, and as more and more people try to stuff bigger bags into the overhead compartment, airlines are strictly enforcing these dimensions. These bags are designed by adventurers for adventurers to maximize your allowable overhead space and be comfortably mobile once you land.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Backpack

Cotopaxi's Allpa 35L features a suitcase-style opening in a rugged backpack design with theft-proof zippers. It easily slides into the overhead with tuck-away shoulder straps, and zippered inner compartments keep your gear and clothes secure and organized. A padded laptop compartment and grab handles make this a favorite of urban adventurers.

Buy It: Cotopaxi, $220.00

Gregory Praxus 45L Backpack

Gregory's Praxus 45L travel backpack comes in both men's and women's ergonomic styles with 45 liters of space sized perfectly for the overhead. Padded compartments keep your laptop and other electronics safe, and the odor-resistant Active Shield Compartment stores dirty clothes and shoes for after your adventures. The FlipGuard Compression Panels hug your pack's contents to keep them snug during travel, and they flip away for easy packing and unpacking. The shoulder and belt straps stow away if needed, and the sturdy handle on the front of the pack makes grabbing it from the overhead easy.

Buy It: Backcountry.com, $169.95

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

As the name implies, the Patagonia Black Hole backpack duffel bag seems to absorb everything. Made of weather-resistant polyester that keeps weight down but handles rough traveling with ease, this pack has a mesh pocket in the lid and a zippered side pocket. Shoulder straps can be removed, and gear can be latched to the exterior daisy chains. The Black Hole can even pack itself, as the entire bag packs into its own pocket, so it takes up little room on the trip out and can be unpacked to carry home treasures and dirty clothes.

Buy It: Backcountry.com, $119

The North Face Rolling Thunder

The North Face's Rolling Thunder 22-inch, two-wheel roller features a robust-yet-flexible top shell welded to a polycarbonate back shell for durability that can still be squeezed into tight overhead compartments when necessary. Measuring at 14-inches by 22-inches by 8.5-inches fully packed, the Rolling Thunder has 40 liters of space and weighs only 7.5 pounds. Side and top handles make it easy to grab, bumpers protect the corners from wear and shock, and two external pockets and an internal mesh pocket keep you organized.

Buy It: Zappos.com, $268.95

Filson Dryden Roller Bag

Filson is known for their tough-yet-stylish hunting and fishing gear, and their new Dryden carry-on roller fits right into the Filson line. Made of scuff-resistant ballistic nylon, the 36-liter two-wheeled bag comes in at 21.75-inches by 14-inches by 9.25-inches. The bridle leather handle, base and strap stays give the Dryden a distinct look, and compression straps keep everything nice and tight.

Buy It: East Dane, $295

Thule Subterra Wheeled Duffel

Thule's Subterra duffel bag is a three-for-one carry-on. It's a smooth, two-wheel roller that easily fits into overheads. But if necessary, it zips apart into two pieces for smaller regional aircraft, with the roller portion fitting into the limited overhead and the front piece sliding under your seat. The under-seat section also slips over the roller's handle for easy transport in the airport.

Buy It: Backcountry.com, $299.95


Rocky Mountain Underground is best known as a ski and winter-gear manufacturer, and it brings its tough-gear concept to the new BRFCS35.50. This bomber bag is tough enough to carry ski boots, but its weatherproofing, backpack harness, false interior floor and expandability from 35 liters to 50 liters is making this a go-to for adventure travelers. Its front webbing slips over a roller-bag handle for travel ease, and its padded laptop sleeve protects your electronics. Its metal buckles with built-in bottle opener and exterior helmet strap keep it true to its snow-sport roots.

Buy It: Huckberry, $199

OGIO Alpha Convoy Spinner Bag

The OGIO Alpha Convoy 522s four-wheel spinner has a 33-liter interior that can be divided into two sections depending on your packing needs. The laptop pocket fits computers up to 15 inches, and the two front pockets are perfect for shoes or items you need easily accessible from the overhead.

Buy It: Amazon, $299.99

Backcountry Trekker 40L Duffel

The Backcountry Trekker has a cavernous 40-liter interior and a rugged, weather-resistant shell to protect against the elements. An internal pocket is perfect for shoes, and a lid and end pocket store toiletries and keeps electronics at hand. Its backpack shoulder straps are removable, and compression straps cinch the bag to fit the tightest of overhead compartments.

Buy It: Backcountry.com, $74.96 (Originally $99.95)

Granite Gear Cross-Trek 2

The Granite Gear Cross-Trek 2 is a 22-inch duffel/roller/backpack with a removable 28-liter pack. The complete bag holds a total of 78 liters in a 22-inch by 14-inch by 13-inch package, and the front bag zips off and stows under the seat in front of you if the airline can't accommodate those three extra inches. The backpack shoulder straps and hip belt stow inside the pack for use as a two-wheel roller. Plenty of organizing pockets and a weather-resistant shell have you going from the airport to rough roads or backcountry without missing a step.

Buy It: Amazon, $198.95

Matador Transit30 2.0

Weighing only five ounces, the Matador Transit30 2.0 is the lightest travel duffel on the market. But don't let its weight fool you. Made of waterproof ripstop nylon with sealed seams and sealing zippers, this bag is tough enough for your adventures. Its 30-liter capacity is perfect for the essentials, and it packs down tight into a hand-sized storage sack for when it's not needed or as an addition to your other gear.

Buy It: Holabird Sports, $49.95

Decathlon Quechua Backpack

Decathlon's Quechua backpack duffel expands from 40 liters to 60 liters and has handles strategically placed around the bag for easy grabbing. Its zipper is positioned between the backpack straps, adding extra security when traveling on crowded trains and busy streets.

Buy It: Decathlon, $44.90

Away Aluminum Edition Carry-On

Hip luggage maker Away goes retro with its new aluminum edition four-wheel roller carry-on. Its striking metal exterior is designed to show the dings of travel and is perfect for travel stickers, too. It looks old-school, but the TSA-approved removable battery will keep your electronics charged throughout the longest of trips, and TSA-approved locks keep your contents safe. A boxy interior has straps and zippered compartments to keep everything organized.

Buy It: Away, $475

Tortuga Setout Backpack

Tortuga is a leader in the carry-on travel luggage business, and its Setout 45L backpack is a go-to for seasoned travelers. Weighing in at a little over three pounds, this 45-liter backpack offers room for a 17-inch laptop and a spacious interior that maximizes packing space. It measures 22-inches by 14-inches by 9-inches and can squeeze into the tightest of overhead compartments.

Buy It: Tortuga, $199

Morel Nomadic Audio Speakase

Don't be without your beats when traveling. Winner of the Consumer Technology Association's 2018 Innovations award in its portable media player category, Morel's Nomadic Audio Speakase features removable, TSA-compliant Bluetooth speakers that can be further amplified by the shell of the suitcase for home-system level sound. Both the speakers and case are water-resistant, and the speakers can be removed if the case needs to be checked. The suitcase measures 21.7-inches by 14.6-inches by 9-inches to easily fit in most airplane overhead compartments. Beyond allowing you to play DJ at your destination, this four-wheel roller has a TSA-compliant lock, and a shock-absorbent frame protects your gear.

Buy It: Nomadic Audio, $659