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If you are a frequent business traveller, you need the best carry-on luggage possible. Think about all the issues you’ve encountered with substandard carry-on luggage over the years: too big and heavy for the overhead compartment, not enough space for essentials, flimsy wheels and broken handles.
First world problems, I know. But if you’re a manager or an executive who is on the road for 8 months of the year, they matter.
Now that border restrictions are starting to ease here in Australia, it’s a good time to upgrade your trusty old carry on that’s been gathering dust for over 18 months. Here is my list of the best carry on luggage bags for business travellers; let’s find out which ones are awesome – and which ones are overhyped.
1. July Carry On Pro.
Best overall carry on luggage.
July Carry On Pro has taken the #1 spot in our review of the best carry on luggage in Australia because it offers the perfect balance of style, practicality and price. Let’s take a look at these in detail.
The first thing you’ll notice about the July Carry On Pro is the detachable laptop sleeve, which the company calls SnapSleeve. It attaches to the front of the bag with sturdy magnets. It’s scratch-proof, water and dirt resistant, and large enough to hold a 16” laptop.
Rest assured that once the sleeve is snapped into place, it stays there as long as you want it to. Miraculously, it’s both securely attached – and easy to remove.
Once you start walking with your July Carry On Pro, you’ll realise that you’re missing something … noise. That’s right, the July’s wheels are extremely quiet – even on rough surfaces – which means you won’t make a ruckus as you run to catch your flight.
They’re super smooth, too, so you’ll be able to push the bag around with one finger. If that’s your thing.
“It rolls around the nasty terrain like butter!” – Teah L, Verified Buyer
July gives you the option to customise your carry on bag with a short message (between 5 and 9 words, depending on size), for a $65 fee. Just keep in mind that this voids the 100-day trial and adds 3 days to shipping times.
The carry on has an onboard ejectable battery with USB and USB-C built-in, underneath the handle. Because it’s ejectable, you won’t need to keep your bag by a power outlet while you wait for your phone or laptop to charge.
This 10,000mAh battery contains up to 10 hours of charge (depending on how much energy your device uses) and is approved for all airlines; it’s covered by a lifetime warranty on manufacturing faults, but if you lose the battery, you’ll have to replace it on your own.
There is a hidden, stain-proof and odour-proof laundry bag that rolls up and tucks away in a small area of the luggage. You can even use it as a cable or accessories pocket when it’s not filled with your dirty clothes.
For extra security, the bag features a robust-looking combination lock, but that’s expected at this price point.
Let’s talk about weight. The July is very well built – but this comes with a weight penalty. Tipping scales at 3.6 kg, it consumes 36% of your maximum allowed per-piece carry on weight allowance on Qantas (10kg) and an eye-watering 51% of Virgin Australia’s paltry 7kg per-piece carry-on allowance.
This means you’re left with a 6.4kg payload when travelling with Qantas and only 3.4kg when travelling with Virgin.
Granted, you could kinda sidestep this issue by moving the bag’s ejectable battery, your laptop, its associated paraphernalia and some other heavy bits into the bag’s cavernous SnapSleeve prior to boarding, detaching it, and carrying it on as a separate item, thus technically giving yourself about an extra 2-3kg of weight to play with.
This does add a bit of fuss to the experience of travel and would only work if you’re not planning to carry on an additional item already (I’m looking at you, handbag).
Regardless, you’re going to exceed the airline’s per-piece weight limit long before you exceed the bag’s 46L internal volume.
This is a hard problem to dodge because even the flimsiest, cheapest carry on bags that you’d not want to be seen dead with often weigh in at about 2kgs. But the July Carry On Pro certainly takes it up a notch – and if you tend to travel with heavy items, this may not be for you.
The other weakness is the bag’s relatively small selection of colours. It’s available in white, black, green and blue, but I would have liked to see more options.
Since I’m not really a blue, green or white bag kind of guy (first world problems again, I know), I feel that I’m stuck with black.
The bag actually looks very smart in black. But since every suitcase out there is also black, it would have been nice to have some grey, charcoal – and, for the ostentatious types among us, teal and orange options.
The July Carry On Pro is our #1 recommended piece of carry on luggage in Australia because it provides everything a business traveller needs in a reasonably priced package.
Its large internal volume makes it particularly useful for business travellers who tend to take longer, 2-4 day business trips, but still want to travel with one bag. Businesspeople who mostly take 1-day trips are better served by our #2 best carry on luggage option – the Herschel Highland (see below).
The bag’s payload is modest, but can be dodged by using the SnapSleeve trick I described above.
You get a lot of internal volume, great build quality and a professional design that won’t look out of place in a business lounge.
Plus, it doubles up as a great weekender that will fit everything that you and your spouse need during a getaway.
✔ Generous 46L internal volume
✔ Onboard removable battery with USB and FastCharge USB-C
✔ 100 day trial with free returns
✔ Top-of-the-range YKK Japanese zippers
✔ Safely attached, but easy to remove SnapSleeve™
✔ Very quiet SilentMove™ wheels
✘ Relatively low payload due to heavy weight
✘ Only 4 exterior colours
At $365, the July Carry On Pro is definitely not a budget option, but its strong, yet lightweight polycarbonate outer shell and high-end zippers will ensure years of service. Poor man pays twice, as they say.
➤ Size: 55cm H x 38cm W x 22cm D
➤ Weight: 3.6kg
2. Herschel Highland Carry-On Luggage.
Best overall carry on luggage.
The Herschel Highland is our #2 overall best carry on bag and our #1 small carry on because of one major factor: its low weight.
If the July Carry On Pro is too heavy for your needs, this lightweight soft-shelled Herschel Highland is your next best bet.
Its soft shell construction keeps the weight down to 2.81 kg, which gives you a 7.19 kg payload with Qantas and 4.19 kg with Virgin. Unless you go down to super cheap, flimsy and nasty carry-ons (some of which weigh as little as 2 kg), this is as good as it gets.
The carry on’s lightweight, yet durable outer soft shell is available in four different colours to choose from: Raven, Ivy Green Cordura, Black and Black Cordura.
Which colour is best?
That’s a hard one. Quite frankly, I like them all, but if I had to choose one, I’d go for the Black Cordura because of added leather accents and a separate laptop section.
Herschell’s design attempts to balance modern urban sophistication with retro nostalgia hipster chic. In my opinion, it does this perfectly well. It won’t make you look like a stuffy tax accountant, nor an unemployed musician.
That being said, the design does communicate a hint of casualness, so if your business image must absolutely project formality and conservativism, it may not be for you. It’s more “I’m a CEO of Facebook” than “I’m a CEO of PwC” if you know what I mean.
The Herschel Highland’s internal volume is 34 litres, which is 26% less than the July Carry-On Pro’s 46 litres. This smaller size, combined with its soft shell, is how the bag achieves its low weight.
Herschel will sell you a larger version of this bag, aptly named Highland Carry On Large, but that bag exceeds the maximum size limits for most airlines by about 10cm. This is why we didn’t include it in this review.
The Herschel Highland is the best carry on luggage option for businesspeople who mostly do day trips and overnighters – and want to travel with one bag.
Its small size combines with a high payload to ensure that you can fill it to the brim and not worry about exceeding the airline’s carry on baggage weight limits.
Compared with the July Carry On Pro, it can carry more weight before hitting the aforementioned limits, but is capable of a lesser internal volume. This is an interesting predicament to wrestle with, and your final decision, all things being equal, will rest on the length of your trips and the mass of items you tend to carry.
If you find yourself on day business trips and overnighters, and tend to carry heavy but non-bulky things, the Herschell Highland is your best bet. But if the reverse is true – and you mostly do 2-4 day business trips while carrying bulky, but lightweight items, then the July Carry On Pro is still your best carry on luggage option.
✔ Very lightweight at 2.81 kg
✔ High payload
✔ Doesn’t exceed carry on size limits of any major airlines
Herchel will charge you $359 for Black or Raven colour options – and $499 for Black or Ivy Green colour options in Cordura.
Expensive? Well, it depends on how you look at it. At $499 for 34 litres of capacity, you’re paying an eye-watering $15 per litre. But who measures the value of a business carry on like that?
If you’re a business traveller, your carry on luggage piece is one of your key business tools, and a good one is worth every penny – because it gets out of your way, rather than adding friction to the already tedious process of business travel.
The Herschel Highland is an expensive small bag, but for the right person, this won’t pose an issue.
➤ Size: 54cm H x 33cm W x 21cm D
➤ Weight: 2.8kg
3. Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Expandable Global Carry On.
Best overall carry on luggage.
Number three on our list of best carry-on luggage is the Victorinox Spectra 2.0. Expandable Global Carry On. Quite a mouthful, right?
The Spectra 2.0 Expandable has two personalities. The first is a small, relatively lightweight carry on for trips where you need to stay under airline weight and size limits. The second is an expanded mode that can be activated after any “emergency” shopping trips push you over the limit.
In that sense, it can serve as both a nimble carry on bag AND a modestly sized checked-in bag.
Inside stabilising straps are a neat feature that keeps the lid upright for easier packing.
The carry on also contains an electronics panel that can hold a laptop, tablet, and any accessories you have. The panel is interchangeable with the internal mesh divider if you want extra security for your gadgets.
Additionally, each Spectra 2.0 Expandable has its own personal ID number that can help you locate your luggage should it get lost or stolen.
The outer shell is designed with corner guards to prevent any damage your bag could experience with rough handling.
At 32 litres capacity, this bag has the smallest internal capacity of all bags we’ve reviewed so far. While enough to hold your essentials, the
If locks are important to you, there are none included in this bag; however, since it’s a carry-on, you may not have to worry about having a lock at all.
While the wheels glide effortlessly, they’re not equipped to support more than 7kg. There’s a chance they may fall off if you exceed that weight.
Additionally, the handle doesn’t snap into certain heights for escorting the bag around. On top of that, the lowest setting of the handle is still too high, which may be a problem if you need a shorter height.
The best parts of this carry-on are the roomy interior space and how easy it is to maneuver; however, be aware the wheels may not support all of your belongings. I’d suggest checking out the July Carry-on Pro or the Herschel Highland Carry-on for something sturdier.
For those of you who enjoy travelling light, this piece is for you. As for the Victorinox $319 price tag, is it worth it? That’s for you to decide.
4. Delsey Paris Montrouge Spinner Carry-On
Best overall carry on luggage.
Delsey Paris Montrouge is a luggage range designed for women. This line includes several pieces, but the carry-on is the most elegant (and functional) of them all. Its black, vegan leather exterior and gold hardware make it the perfect choice if you’re looking for a stand-out carry-on.
One of the best features of this bag is its zippers. The first zips all the way around the bag, and a second zipper comes around the other side. Both snap into a three-digit code lock that you can program with your own combination for extra security; however, TSA can easily open it without damaging the lock. You can also use these zippers to expand your bag for extra room.
This bag is designed with two handles: one on the top and one on the side. The top handle extends very far, which makes it easy to pull behind you. It’s so smooth, it collapses with the use of one hand. Not only are the wheels multi-directional, but they glide like butter. Additionally, they are incredibly quiet (so all eyes aren’t on you).
It has a removable and washable lining, so you don’t need to worry about spills or dirt in your luggage (just make sure to wash it on a delicate cycle).
If you’re a fan of the bag, you can pair it with other pieces in the range, such as the backpack, laptop case, or duffle bag.
While the outside zippers are sturdy and the main compartment is roomy, interior compartments are fairly small, and secured with flimsy, plastic zippers. Additionally, the outside pockets only provide minimal expansion room.
This rivals the July Carry-on Pro, though both are great choices when you’re looking for the best carry-on luggage. Montrouge is chic, and well-made, which are only a few of the reasons we added it to this list. While this line is dedicated to women, don’t let that stop you from choosing this bag. It’s truly worth the purchase.
5. Samsonite 72 Hours Deluxe Spinner Small Softside Suitcase.
Best overall carry on luggage.
This is for all you softside fans out there. If you’re tired of the weight of the hard case and want something soft, like a nice pillow, here is a carry-on to fit those needs, and more. Let’s take a peak at its features, shall we?
One of the most unique things about this carry-on is its ticket pocket, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing your boarding pass or passport. Another convenient feature is the emergency protective travel bag in the main compartment. It doesn’t have its own pocket like some of the laundry bags on the list, but it’s small enough that it hardly takes up any room.
The zipper is not sturdy, and very likely to break shortly after purchase.
This carry-on is an excellent choice if you’re searching for a lightweight bag, and is durable enough to handle your frequent travels. While the zipper may cause you some issues, this luggage is worth checking out.
6. American Tourister Frontec Front Opening Expandable Hardside Small Suitcase.
Best overall carry on luggage.
This Frontec is one of many pieces in the American Tourister line. Its carry-on is for those who prefer hard-shell luggage for extra protection. Here are some of its standout features.
This bag is equipped with several compartments to make organizing your belongings easier. The laptop compartment resides in the front-most part of the bag, which you will find behind the first zipper. There are three additional pouches in there as well, that can hold a tablet or books/magazines and any accessories you may have. The main compartment contains an internal organiser and wet pocket to protect your dry items from your damp, cold ones.
Because of its weak durability, this bag is not ideal for frequent use. If you plan on using it once or twice a year for leisurely trips, it should last at least five to ten years. If you plan on using it more frequently for business, however, it won’t survive more than a couple of years. Go with the July Carry-On Pro for a longer-lasting case instead.
Though this carry-on has several positives, it begs the question whether or not it’s suitable for business travels, considering reviews have stated otherwise; however, American Tourister offers a safe and dependably warranty, should any destruction occur. It’s safe to say this luggage is better suited for leisurely use.
7. American Tourister Curio Hard case Carry-on Luggage.
Best overall carry on luggage.
This carry-on is priced at the lower end compared to the rest of the luggage on our list. It’s available in two colors to pick from, for whatever matches your mood. If you aren’t a fan of soft case bags, this piece has a hard outer shell to better protect your luggage. Below are some details worth taking a look at:
Though this is a hard-case carry-on, the shell is very thin with no padding, but don’t let this scare you; it’s more than capable of holding your fragile items, such as picture frames, ceramics, or silverware (why would you have silverware, it doesn’t matter–it’s safe). Because the shell is on the thinner side, it’s less likely to crack than one with a harder shell. The thinner shell has some spring to it, so heavier items will bounce off the case and protect your belongings inside. The case is expandable for extra packing capacity, though you may not need it because of the ample room inside.
The bag also includes a TSA-approved combination lock where you can create your own three-digit code.
It’s a small inconvenience, but there is no handle on the side. If you’re used to putting your bag in the overhead bin that way, you will be disappointed; but again, this is personal preference, and isn’t an important issue for most.
It has its issues, but worth checking out if you have a low budget; however, if you don’t mind shelling out some extra cash for a more reliable bag, check out the July Carry-On Pro or the Herschel Highland Carry-on Luggage for the best carry-on.
Airline Carry On Luggage Limits.
Carry-on Luggage Regulations.
Before you pack that suitcase and take off to your destination, keep in mind there are certain regulations for carry-on luggage. Stick to these rules if you want to prevent checking your bag, which can cost you a pretty penny. Check out the list below for some common requirements:
1. Typically, all international airlines have a 7kg weight limit for carry-on luggage; however, certain airlines allow 23kg, as long as the passenger can put their luggage in the overhead bins without assistance.
2. Most airlines allow a carry-on and smaller bag, such as a laptop case or handbag (weight and size limits still apply).
3. The size of your handbag depends on the airline. The common regulation for an onboard handbag is 56cm x 45cm x 25cm with an average 7g weight limit.
4.When it comes to liquids, there is a strict regulation against any container carrying more than 100 millilitres or less. If your luggage exceeds this limit, prepare to chug that drink or toss your bottle of hairspray.
For more information, go to your airline’s website for a full list of rules and regulations.
When you’re a frequent traveler (especially for business) it’s important to have the best carry-on luggage that fits your needs. You know as a business traveler, you need a piece that’s not only durable, but is big enough to hold all your belongings, and can easily fit in the overhead bin. Having the best carry-on luggage makes traveling a lot easier.
You’ll be happy you picked a trouble-free bag, knowing you’re going to endure the difficult part later: spending all your time in meetings. Do yourself a favor before your next trip, and get yourself the best carry-on luggage money can buy.
What To Consider When Choosing Carry-On Luggage.
Four wheels or two?
Four wheels or “spinners” are easier to maneuver down tight airplane aisles, but two wheel bags will always be more durable.
Hard sided or soft?
Hard sided looks better to most people, but soft sided luggage should withstand the bumps and knocks of travel for longer.
There are plenty of reputable brands with lifetime warranties; it’s generally worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind.
If you travel mostly internationally, within Europe, or within America, it’s worth looking for specialty luggage sizes.