Carry-on luggage buying guide: What you should know before you buy your next suitcase

How to find the right piece of carry-on luggage for your next trip.

The right piece of carry-on luggage can help you have everything you need on hand to reach your destination without breaking a sweat. We'll help you compare soft and hard cases, airline size requirements and all the extra features you might want to help you find the right bag for your travel style.

Compare some of the best carry-on luggage

Data obtained January 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Average price (AUD) Body TSA lock Height (cm) Weight (kg) Capacity (litres) Purchase Today
Lanza Ziggy
Lanza Ziggy
$89
Hard
No
65
3.3
75
The Lanza Ziggy is a hardside case with four spinner wheels and a seven year warranty.
Flylite Spin Air II
Flylite Spin Air II
$99
Soft
Yes
83
3.6
103/119
The Flylite Spin Air II is a softside bag that grows 16L when expanded, and has a built-in TSA lock.
Paklite Twilite Cabin
Paklite Twilite Cabin
$159
Hard
Yes
56
2.7
42/49
The Paklite Twilite Cabin has soft carry handles and twin zips on the main compartments.
American Tourister Curio
American Tourister Curio
$196.95
Hard
Yes
69
3.7
88
The American Tourister Curio is an expandable bag fitted with a premium TSA lock.
Antler Oxygen
Antler Oxygen
$208.95
Soft
Yes
81
2.5
124
The Antler Oxygen is a lightweight softside bag that comes in three different colours.
High Sierra Rocshell
High Sierra Rocshell
$239
Hard
Yes
67
3.7
62/75
The High Sierra Rocshell is a hardside case with both top and side handles.
Delsey Paris Chatelet Air
Delsey Paris Chatelet Air
$249.95
Hard
Yes
55
3.3
39
The Delsey Paris Chatelet Air comes with free linen and shoe bags, as well as a 10 year warranty.
Australian Luggage Co TOSCA So Lite 3.0
Australian Luggage Co TOSCA So Lite 3.0
$269.95
Soft
Yes
74
2.6
120
The Australian Luggage Co TOSCA So Lite 3.0 is expandable on all sides and has anti-theft zippers.
Samsonite Cosmolite 3
Samsonite Cosmolite 3
$319
Hard
Yes
55
1.71
36
The Samsonite Cosmolite 3 is fitted with four spinner wheels and comes with a divider pad for easy organisation.
Lojel Cubo
Lojel Cubo
$389
Hard
Yes
77
5.2
120/130
The Lojel Cubo comes in seven colours and has a flat-top opening system for easy accessibility.

Compare up to 4 providers

Why should I use a carry-on bag?

Carry-on luggage can make flying easy and convenient. The benefits of using a carry-on bag include:

  • Save time. If you only bring a carry-on bag on your next flight, you won't have to wait in line to check your bags or spend an extra half an hour waiting for your bags to be unloaded after you land. If you aren't going away for too long, a well-packed carry-on bag can save you a lot of time. Keep in mind, there are some items that you cannot pack in a carry-on bag.
  • Access your essentials. Having a carry-on bag with designated compartments for passports, valuables and other documentation can remove one layer of travel-related stress and make sure all your essentials are within reach at all times.
  • Make flights more comfortable. With carry-on luggage, you can easily pack a book for taxiing, a pillow for overnight flights, toiletries to freshen up and an extra jumper for when the air conditioner is cranked all the way up. Having a few comforting items on hand on a long flight can be a lifesaver. For inspiration, check out our recommendations for seven in-flight beauty essentials to stash in your carry-on luggage.

Soft vs hard bags

Soft-sided bags form the majority of the luggage market and are often made from nylon or canvas-like materials. Hard-sided, or hard-shell, cases are traditionally made from polycarbonate and can offer sturdier protection for your belongings.

Each case type has its advantages and disadvantages.

ProsCons
Soft-side
  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Extra pockets and compartments
  • Can rip if low quality
  • Less protection
  • Harder to find four-wheeled models
Hard-side
  • Protective
  • Often comes with built-in locks
  • Flat lay packing
  • Inflexible
  • Prone to scratches and dents
  • Does not typically include side pockets

How to compare carry-on luggage

Basic carry-on luggage can start at around $35, while more-expensive options from luxury retailers can set you back over $1,000 or more.

When choosing carry-on luggage, consider the following features:

Carry-on weight limits

Many airlines enforce strict weight limits for carry-on luggage, with most Australian airlines capping carry-on luggage at 7kg. These limits are put in place to ensure that there is space on board for all passengers to safely stow a piece of carry-on baggage. Weight limits can depend on the ticket you've purchased and often vary from airline to airline. Check your carrier's policy before you start packing, especially if you're changing airlines mid-journey. Next time you travel, check out the best airlines for baggage in Australia to see if you can bring more while paying less.
Carry-on luggage allowances for Australian airlines

What can't I pack in my carry-on bag?

Some items shouldn't be packed in a carry-on bag because they take up too much space or weigh too much. There are also many items that are outright banned for air travel. These may vary from airline to airline, especially if you're flying with an international carrier. Items that are regularly banned include:

  • Knives
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Sporting equipment
  • Metal cutlery
  • Tools
  • Straight razors
  • Letter openers
  • Golf clubs
  • Cricket bats
  • Pool cues
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Fireworks
  • Aerosols
  • Handcuffs
  • Cable ties

If you're ready to upgrade your carry-on, start browsing today or grab a deal on carry-on luggage using Finder's coupons and promo codes.


 

Jacob Stern

Jacob Stern is a writer for finder.com.au. He enjoys putting his words to good use, and can't say no to fish and chips.

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