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Our Top Picks For The Best Carry-On Suitcase In 2022

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Tom Goward | 25/03/2022

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Selecting the right carry-on suitcase can seriously upgrade your travel experience.

As frequent travellers, the team at Flight Hacks has combined our knowledge to figure out which carry-on-size suitcase offers the best combination of useful features, durability and stylish looks. Here are our top picks for the best carry-on suitcase in 2022.

A few things to consider

Before we talk about our favourite bags, there are a few points to consider when choosing your new carry-on luggage.

Baggage allowance

While many airlines adopt similar baggage policies, you’ll want to pay close attention to the carry-on restrictions of the airlines you fly most often. Hefty charges may apply if you get caught, especially if you are travelling with a budget carrier where bags are more regularly checked.

The rule of thumb for most Australian airlines is that your bag must not exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm including wheels and handles. If you’d prefer to take two smaller bags, stay within 48cm x 34cm x 23cm. Weight allowances differ between airlines, for example, Qantas allows single bags up to 10kg, whereas Virgin Australia maxes out at 7kg per item.

Softside vs Hardside

Softside bags generally hold up best to wear and tear and tend to be more accommodating to over-packers. Hardside cases can be difficult to zip shut when overpacked, but offer far better protection to whatever is inside.

For me, I prefer hardside bags for their superior aesthetic and features. I’m also a fan of the clamshell design which allows for neat packing. As someone who has spent time handling bags at an airport, the main downside of hard cases is durability. No matter how strong the material is, there is no getting around the fact that it’s easier to scratch and dent a hard bag than a fabric one. While the exterior might become scratched, the upside is that hardside luggage offers superior protection to your valuables packed inside.

Two-wheel vs Spinner

Spinner luggage has four wheels allowing for full control of the bag as you glide through the terminal to your gate. This is especially helpful if you’d rather walk alongside the bag instead of hauling it behind you. Although, two-wheeled suitcases are less easily damaged and don’t lend as much space to the wheels, saving packing space if you opt-out of a spinner.

July Carry On

July Carry On

The July Carry On is very well built, with aerospace-grade polycarbonate used to withstand the hardest knocks. Every touchpoint has a satisfying tactile feel, and the case glides with ease and minimal noise. There’s a power bank hidden underneath the handle, with USB-A and USB-C ports to keep your devices charged. Unlike other bags, you have the option to remove the battery for easy charging, and in the event you decide to check-in the bag as power banks can’t travel in checked luggage. Inside you will find a water-resistant and stain-proof nylon lining, the July Y-Strap compression system that includes a document holder and an odour-proof laundry bag.

July offers luggage customisation with a short message between 5 and 20 letters, for a $65 fee. Keep in mind that this voids the 100-day trial.

The only downside is that July tips the scales at 3.6kg, which is huge for a case of this size. That significantly eats into your maximum per-bag carry-on allowance of 10kg with Qantas or 7kg with Virgin Australia. Yet, this remains one of my favourite carry-on bags you can get in Australia right now. It perfectly blends style and practicality into a reasonably priced package.

Key Features:

  • Removable power bank with USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Crush-proof polycarbonate German shell
  • 20-height multi-stop handle
  • Integrated TSA lock
  • Included laundry bag
  • Double spinner wheels
  • July Y-Strap compression system
  • Water-resistant and stain-proof nylon lining

Specifications:

  • Size: 55cm x 38cm x 22cm
  • Weight: 3.6kg
  • Capacity: 46L

Find it here: July Carry On

July Carry On Light

July Carry On Light
If you tend to pack right on the limit, this one is for you. July says their Carry On Light is the world’s lightest spinner suitcase. Clocking in at just 1.8kg this bag is sure to cater to even the strictest weight limits.

The shell is made from strong polycarbonate, and the interior features the same water-resistant and stain-proof lining as found on July’s premium bags. Some features are cut to save weight, but you’ll still get spinner wheels, proper handles, and a selection of beautiful colours.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Strong German polycarbonate shell
  • Water-resistant and stain-proof nylon lining
  • Double spinner wheels
  • Integrated TSA lock

Specifications:

  • Size: 55cm x 36cm x 20cm
  • Weight: 3.6kg
  • Capacity: 46L

Find it here: July Carry On Light

Antler Clifton Cabin

Antler Clifton Cabin
I’ve always loved Antler cases, and the Clifton Cabin is no exception. It’s a simple case that provides everything you need, including the option to expand when what you packed seems to take up more space on the way home. The case is comparatively light and glides along like a dream. Clifton is also colour-fast, meaning any scratches and bumps will stay true to the colour of the shell.
Key Features:

  • Expander zipper
  • TSA combination lock
  • Double spinner wheels
  • Interior packing dividers

Specifications:

  • Size: 56cm x 35cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 2.9kg
  • Capacity: 43L

Find it here: Antler Clifton Cabin

Herschel Highland Carry On

Herschel Highland Carry On
Lightweight and durable, Herschel’s softside Highland Carry On case is available in four different colours. There are standard Raven and Black options as well as Black Cordura and Ivy Green Cordura which add leather accents and a quick-access laptop sleeve.

If you find yourself on short business trips and overnighters and prefer softside bags, the Herschel Highland is for you.

Key Features:

  • Fleece-lined 16″ laptop sleeve (Cordura)
  • Zippered interior mesh pocket and garment strap
  • Front and top-access zippered storage pockets
  • Four muted polyurethane wheels

Specifications:

  • Size: 54cm x 33cm x 21cm
  • Weight: 3.1kg
  • Capacity: 35L

Find it here: Herschel Highland Carry On

American Tourister Applite 4

American Tourister Applite 4
The American Tourister Applite 4 is the perfect unpretentious carry-on. As a global best-seller, you can expect a basic, lightweight softside case that protects against minor scratches and bumps. Packing is a breeze with interior organisation and cross straps, plus two slip pockets on the front for easy access to essentials.

Pictured is the 50cm Applite 4 which has two safeguarded wheels to protect against damage. If you’d prefer a spinner case, the 55cm Applite 4 has you covered and is slightly larger while remaining within airline carry-on restrictions.

For an inexpensive (tip: AT bags are regularly marked down) softside carry-on with basic features, look no further than the American Tourister Applite 4.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight design
  • Internal organisation
  • Double wheels
  • TSA combination lock
  • Lockable front pocket

Specifications:

  • Size: 50cm x 33cm x 22cm
  • Weight: 1.9kg
  • Capacity: 38L

Find it here: American Tourister Applite 4

Rimowa Original Cabin

Rimowa Original Cabin
Rimowa’s iconic aluminium design with its distinctive grooves makes for one cool looking suitcase. Made from high-end anodised aluminium, the Rimowa Original Cabin stands strong. On the inside, a flex divider with internal mesh pockets keeps packed items in perfect order.

You get all this plus a complimentary leather bag tag and sticker set for just $1,610.

Key Features:

  • Flex divider
  • TSA combination lock
  • Double spinner wheels
  • Strong aluminium exterior

Specifications:

  • Size: 55cm x 40cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • Capacity: 35L

Find it here: Rimowa Original Cabin

Comparing the best carry-on suitcases of 2022

Whether you’re after the most stylish bag money can buy, something light or an all round affordable suitcase, there is a carry-on bag for all situations. To help you choose, we’ve created a handy table to compare the best carry-on suitcases of 2022

 DimensionsTypeWeightVolumePrice
July Carry On55 x 38.5 x 21.5cmHard3.4kg41L$295
July Carry On Light55 x 36 x 20cmHard1.8kg38L$245
Antler Clifton Cabin56 x 35 x 23cmHard2.9kg43L$249
Herschel Highland Carry On54 x 33 x 21cmSoft3.1kg35L$359
American Tourister Applite 450 x 33 x 22cmSoft1.9kg38L$219
Rimowa Original Cabin55 x 40 x 23cmHard4.3kg35L$1,610

Full disclosure: Some suitcases in this article were provided as test units. The author’s comments remain their own.

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Tom Goward

Senior Editor and Chief AvGeek at Flight Hacks

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