Hardshell luggage is a great choice for traveling because it's durable, lightweight, and better equipped to protect your belongings. When shopping for the best hardshell carry-on luggage, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.
First, you'll want to know what size luggage to look for. Size restrictions vary widely across airlines — the most common carry-on size restrictions among U.S. airlines are 22 by 14 by 9 inches, but international carriers are often less generous. Be sure to consult the airline you'll be flying with, and before you buy any carry-on, double-check that the dimensions listed include the wheels and handle (sometimes they don't!).
You'll also want to make sure your luggage is made from strong materials. Polycarbonate variations are usually best because they're durable without being heavy, which means you can pack more while still complying with the airline's weight restrictions. It's also important to have a sturdy handle (aluminum is typically the way to go) and stable, spinner-style wheels that allow you to glide in any direction (as opposed to roller-style wheels, which are less agile).
To help you out, I've put together a list of the best hardshell carry-on luggage available on Amazon. All of my picks feature sturdy spinner wheels and adhere to the most common restrictions for U.S. airlines. Read on to find the carry-on that's best for you.
1. The Best Overall
Genius Pack 21" Aerial Hardside Carry On Luggage
Dimensions: 21.5 by 14 by 9 inches
What's great about it: On top of being super lightweight and extremely durable, this Genius carry-on luggage is cleverly designed with tons of extras, such as a built-in packing list, handy compression straps, a laundry compartment to keep your dirty clothes separate, and specially labeled compartments for socks, underwear, and phone chargers. Its rubberized push-button handle is constructed from 100 percent aluminum with two sturdy lock positions, and both the top and the sides of the suitcase have easy-grab handles for convenience.
What fans say: "Wow! Who would have ever thought you can get so much from a carry on? I love everything about this bag. Well manufactured, plenty of space for your things, this carry on provides everything you need ... Super lightweight and the wheels are heavy duty which is a huge plus especially if you need to run to the gate (I am always that guy for some reason). I have to say that this is by far the best carry on I have ever owned."
2. The Most Spacious
eBags Fortis 22' Hardside Spinner Carry-On
Dimensions: 22 by 14 by 9 inches
What's great about it: If you're someone who wants the absolute maximum amount of space possible in your carry-on that will still meet the size restrictions for most airline carriers, this roomy hardshell carry-on is a stellar option. With an impressive five stars from all of its reviewers, the lightweight suitcase features strong polycarbonate and a sleek exterior with a ribbed-mirror finish. Inside, there's a practical compression system that allows you to pack even more things, and the expandable hard-shell provides the option of increasing the width by an extra 1.5 inches (though you should make sure you're still complying with the airline you're flying if you choose to take advantage of this extra space). Lastly, it has a secure, TSA-friendly combination lock and four sturdy yet silent 360-degree spinner wheels.
What fans say: "Did a lot of comparison shopping before this purchase and am pleased with the value for money. Well-made, expandable, with good wheels and handle."
3. The Best Luggage Under $100
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 20" Luggage, Orange
Dimensions: 20 by 13.5 by 9 inches
What's great about it: For folks who are on a budget, this affordable hardshell carry-on suitcase offers a wonderful combination of quality and price. The petite bag, which only measures 20 inches in length, is built with 100 percent shock-absorbing polycarbonate that's designed to flex under stress, so your belongings stay protected. On the exterior, the brushed pattern offers an elegant look while also minimizing the appearance of any minor scuffs. Inside the suitcase, there are cross-straps to hold things in place, as well as a useful privacy curtain with zippered pockets for organization. As a bonus, it has a side-mounted, TSA-friendly lock.
What fans say: "I was so impressed! This suitcase is beautiful, scratch resistant, and fit perfectly in the overhead compartment on both an American 737 and A-321. It rolls easily and is more Omni-directional than other carry on bags I have used. I travel a lot, so this bag will come in handy!"
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