Best Carry-On Luggage For Australian Travellers

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best carry on luggage australia
Steven McConnell
21 min read

June 30, 2022

Last updated: August 7th, 2022

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If you are a frequent traveller, you need the best carry-on luggage possible. It’s an investment that makes your business journeys more smooth, efficient and far less stressful.

Think about all the issues you’ve encountered with substandard carry-on luggage over the years: too big and heavy for the overhead compartment, too small for your needs, too flimsy to cope with the realities of frequent travel.

First-world problems, I know. But they matter if you’re a businessperson or simply someone who likes to take frequent weekends away.

The Best 5 Carry-On Bags For Australians:

  1. July Carry On Pro – Best overall.
  2. Samsonite OC2Lite – Best for corporate travellers.
  3. Herschel Highland – Best for creative types.
  4. Victorinox Spectra 2.0 – Best if you fly with multiple airlines.
  5. Delsey Paris Montrouge – Best if you like bling.
  6. Samsonite 72 Hours – Best if you’re on a budget.
  7. American Tourister Frontec – Best alternative to the OC2Lite.

Now that Australian border restrictions have eased, 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 and leisure travellers. Let’s find out which ones are awesome – and which ones are overhyped.

1. July Carry On Pro.

Best overall carry-on luggage.

best carry on luggage in australia

Shown in photo: The July Carry On Pro’s exterior is sleek and minimalist.

The July Carry-On Pro has won the #1 spot in my review of the best carry-on luggage in Australia because it’s stylish, practical and not overpriced. Let’s unpack (excuse the pun) its features in detail.

Pros.

The July Carry On Pro is very well built. Unlike the “cheap and cheerful” mass-produced feel you get from most other brands (I’m looking at you, Samsonite) – the July surprises with wonderfully tactile and robust surfaces.

Every touchpoint – from top-of-the-range YKK zippers to chunky handles and crush-proof shell – has a very satisfying, expensive feel that reminds me of French hotels and German cars.

best cabin bag australia

Shown in photo: The SnapSleeve is securely mounted yet easy to access.

The carry-on has an onboard ejectable battery with USB and USB-C built-in, underneath the handle.

The battery’s 10,000mAh capacity isn’t massive. Still, it is the maximum allowed by airline regulations and will:

  • Extend the life of your laptop by 30%,
  • Recharge your phone 1.5 times

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. If you forget the battery at the airport, July will send you a replacement for $50.

July’s party trick, however, is its external, detachable SnapSleeve.

Mounted on the front of the bag, the SnapSleeve does two things:

  • First, it makes airport security checks a breeze. Unzip, take out your laptop and whack it onto the conveyor belt – without having to open the main compartment of your cabin bag (and reveal the colour of your underwear to unsuspecting fellow commuters).
  • Second, it acts as your day bag while the main carry-on stays at the hotel. Throw in your notepad, a notepad, a pen and a set of headphones, and you’re ready for a day of meetings.

You can make your July uniquely yours by customising it with a short message (between 5 and 20 letters, depending on font), for a $65 fee.

Important!

Customisation voids the 100-day trial – because no one else will want the bag after you emblazon it with “Top Dog Jane” – and adds 3 days to shipping times.

A hidden, stain-proof, and odour-proof laundry bag 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 clothes.

Speaking of clothes – how much can it hold?

Well, I’m about to fly to Europe for a 3-week holiday. Ideally, I’d like to travel only with a carry-on, which makes me the perfect guinea pig for answering this question.

Below is what I plan to take with me:

best carry on luggage australia
  • 1 X puffer vest
  • 1 X wool jumper
  • 2 X pants
  • 3 X shorts
  • 6 X T-shirts
  • 2 X collared dress shirts
  • 1 X shoes
  • 1 X thongs
  • 1 X beanie

And here it is, folded and compressed using July’s compression system. Everything fits – and the bag zips up without straining.

best carry on luggage australia

Shown in photo: Note that there’s still plenty of room in the top compartment for underwear, chargers and a toiletries kit.

Cons.

Let’s talk about weight, as it’s the July Carry On Pro‘s main drawback. Being a well-built hardshell carry-on bag, it comes with a slight weight penalty.

best carry on luggage australia

Shown in photo: July’s attention to detail is remarkable. Perforated mesh, stitched and embossed compression straps and logo-typed fabric make this look like a $600+ bag.

Tipping scales at 3.6kg, the cabin bag is about 200 grams heavier than other bags in its class.

  • This is not a huge problem if you tend to fly with light, bulky items (e.g., spare clothing and personal care products).
  • It could become an issue if you travel with heavy items (e.g., product samples and professional photography gear).

Expert Packing Tip.

Stash your laptop (and maybe some magazines) into the SnapSleeve and carry it on as a separate item. By doing this, you’re effectively reducing the empty weight of the July Carry On Pro by about 2kgs, as anything you split out into the SnapSleeve will not count towards the single-item weight limit.

best carry on bag australia

Shown in photo: how big is the SnapSleeve? My 14″ MacBook Pro and trusty A4 notepad slide in with ease.

If weight is a deal-breaker for you, the company offers a workaround in the form of a much, much lighter carry-on bag, appropriately named July Carry On Light.

Weighing in at a tiny 1.8kg, it also features strong German polycarbonate hard-shell construction, but misses out on the battery, the SnapSleeve and about 10L of internal volume.

july carry on light

Shown in photo: The July Carry Light is also available in a huge range of colours, is stylish and will not pose any payload issues.

The other gripe with my July is the somewhat wobbly handle. At full extension, it has a noticeable amount of wobble. Given how precise the rest of the bag feels, it’s somewhat out of character.

I suspect this may be due to a manufacturing defect with my specific bag, as one of the sides is looser than the other. Either way, it’s not ideal – but for different reasons.

Overall.

The July Carry On Pro is my #1 recommended carry-on cabin bag in Australia because it provides mountains of practicality and style in a reasonably priced package.

Its large internal volume makes it particularly useful for travellers who tend to take longer, 3-7 day trips but want to travel with one bag.

July’s build quality and design punch well above its price point.

the best carry on bag in australia

Shown in photo: Sleek and durable exterior looks professional without being stuffy or pretentious.

Finally, the bag doubles up as a great weekender that will fit everything that you and your spouse* need during a getaway.

✔ Huge 42L internal volume
✔ Onboard removable battery with USB and FastCharge USB-C
✔ 100-day trial with free returns
✔ Top-of-the-range YKK zippers
✘ Modest payload due to strong build

* Depends on the spouse.

Price.

At $425, the July Carry On Pro carry on represents outstanding value for money. Its premium construction and high attention to detail make it look and feel like a $600+ bag.

I suspect that this pricing is intentionally lowballed to help the company achieve market penetration. I will not be surprised if July increases the price of its bags by about 30% in about a year or two.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 38cm W x 22/24cm D (excl/incl Snapsleeve)
➤ Weight: 3.6kg
➤ Capacity: 42L

2. Samsonite Oc2Lite Hardside Spinner

Best carry on bag for corporate types.

which luggage should I buy

Shown in photo: Professional and sleek without screaming for attention, the Oc2Lite will appeal to corporate travellers.

The Oc2Lite Hardside Spinner is best for buyers who want the protection of a hardshell cabin bag, but don’t want to pay a huge weight penalty.

If the July Carry On Pro is a bit too heavy for your needs, this lightweight bag is a great alternative.

Pros.

The Samsonite Oc2Lite Hardside‘s most important feature is its incredibly light empty weight. At 2.6kg, the bag is one of the lightest hardshell carry on bags we’ve reviewed.

This feature translates into a huge payload capacity – 7.4kg with Qantas and 4.9kg with Virgin, to be exact. If you’re the type of person who tends to pack heavy, this bag is for you.

To help you pack everything you need, it can expand from 37 to 43 litres, edging out the voluminous July Carry On Pro by one litre in the process.

which carry on bag is best

Shown in photo: Polished contrast handle is a very welcome and unexpected detail at this price point.

Everything else is exactly what you’d expect from a well-known brand like Samsonite – sturdy spinner wheels, TSA locks, built-in ID tag and a limited 10-year warranty.

Cons.

The Samsonite OC2 is not a statement piece, and – while very modern-looking – it will not win design awards.

It’s simply a very smart-looking carry on bag that’s designed to look like it belongs on a business trip, and not draw attention to itself.

luggage-review

Shown in photo: The thin hardshell saves weight, but doesn’t feel as rigid as some of the other cabin bags in this review.

The construction is very good, but it’s obvious that the bag was put on a severe diet to make it lose weight.

The shell, for example, feels noticeably more floppy and thin than that of the July Carry On. You also won’t get any “nice-to-have” features like a battery and laundry bag.

Overall.

The Samsonite OC2Lite is the best lightweight hardshell carry on bag for people who need a high payload, but are not willing to sacrifice longevity to get it. It’s practical, modern and professional.

Think of it as the BMW 3 Series of business luggage.

In other words, it’s a supremely competent all-rounder that will complement your corporate business attire.

It doesn’t have the same “built like a tank” feel as you get from July Carry On Pro, but this is exactly what allows the bag to remain lightweight and relatively inexpensive.

✔ Very lightweight for a hardshell
✔ Expandable
✔ Modern exterior
✔ Has every feature you’d expect from a Samsonite
✘ Too corporate-looking for advertising and creative types

Price.

The Oc2Lite Hardside’s RRP is about $335, but can often be found on special for about $250. It’s a steal at that price.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 36cm W x 24/26cm D
➤ Weight: 2.6kg
➤ Capacity: 37/43L

3. Herschel Highland Carry-On.

Best cabin bag for startup and creative types.

carry on bag australia

Shown in photo: Front-facing quick-access laptop section on Cordura versions of the bag are a must for business travellers.

The Herschel Highland is my #2 overall best carry-on bag and our #1 small carry-on because of one major factor: its low weight.

Pros.

The Herschel’s softshell construction keeps its weight down to 2.81 kg. This translates into a 7.19 kg payload with Qantas and 4.19 kg with Virgin. Unless you go down to cheap, flimsy, nasty soft shell carry-ons (some of which weigh as little as 2 kg), this is as good as it gets.

This carry on’s lightweight, yet durable outer softshell is available in four different colours to choose from: Raven, Ivy Green Cordura, Black and Black Cordura.

Cordura options add leather accents and a quick-access laptop sleeve, which make this a no-brainer option for business travellers.

best cabin bags

Shown in photo: Reinforced edges improve the longevity of the bag while subtle stitched patches add visual appeal.

Herschell’s design balances urban sophistication with retro chic. It does a great job of this, but in terms of vibe it tilts more towards “contemporary/modern” than “traditional/corporate”.

It’s more “I’m a VP at Airbnb” than “I’m a partner at Deloitte”.

(If your business image must project formality and conservativism, you’ll be better served by the Victorinox Spectra, in position #4.)

Cons.

The Herschel Highland’s internal volume is 34 litres, which is about 20% less than the July Carry-On Pro’s 42 litres. Portable size, combined with its soft shell, are the keys to Herschel’s remarkably low weight.

best carry on bags

Shown in photo: Stylish, modern, well-built and lightweight, the Herschel Highland is as cool as it is capable.

Overall.

The Herschel Highland is the best carry on luggage option for business people who mostly do day trips and overnighters – and want to travel with one bag.

Its compact 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.

best cabin bag

Shown in photo: Attention to detail matters. Leather tabs on zippers are a nice touch.

Compared with the July Carry On, 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 will depend 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 make 2-4 day business trips while carrying bulky, but lightweight items, then the July Carry On Pro is still your best cabin bag option.

✔ Very lightweight at 2.81 kg
✔ High payload
✔ Doesn’t exceed carry on size limits of any major airlines
✘ Expensive

Price.

Herschel will charge you $359 for Black or Raven colour options – and $499 for Black or Ivy Green colour options in Cordura.

Expensive?

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?

cabin baggage australia

Shown in photo: The Herschel Highland’s interior helps you stay organised with separate zippable sections and an abundance of pockets.

If you’re a frequent business traveller, your carry on is one of your key business tools – and a good one is worth every penny – because it simplifies your life and gets out of your way.

The Herschel Highland is not a cheap cabin bag, but for the right person it offers a mountain of value.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 54cm H x 33cm W x 21cm D
➤ Weight: 2.8kg
➤ Capacity: 34L

4. Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Expandable Global Carry On.

Best cabin bag if you fly with multiple airlines.

best cabin luggage

Shown in photo: Classic lines of the Victorinox Spectra look great with casual attire as they do with a business suit.

The #4 on my list of best carry-on luggage is the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Expandable Global Carry On. It’s a serious-looking cabin bag that is small enough to carry on to any airline on the planet.

Pros.

The Spectra 2.0 Expandable Global Carry On is the best carry on bag if you travel with multiple airlines and never want to worry about checking in your luggage.

It’s small enough to fit within the size limits of even the most stingy airlines, yet can expand by 3cm to help you take advantage of more generous size allowances.

best cabin luggage in australia

Shown in photo: This cabin bag looks like it belongs in a first-class lounge or a boardroom.

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.

You can call the Victorinox hotline from anywhere in the world 24/7.

When (or if) your lost bag is found and identified, Victorinox will notify you and deliver it to you at no cost.

The front door of the Spectra 2.0 Expandable unzips with ease to reveal an organisational panel and provide rapid access to your laptop and other travel essentials.

The carry on’s outer shell is crafted from hard, matt, scratch-resistant polycarbonate that looks and feels like it will last a lifetime, while corner guards work to minimise damage from rough handling.

Cons.

At 29 litres capacity (when unexpanded), this bag has the smallest internal capacity of all bags we’ve reviewed so far. While enough to hold your essentials, the bag will force you to rethink what “essential items” really means.

Yes, the expansion feature does relieve this problem by expanding the bag to 32 litres, but that’s still 1 litre less than the Herschel Highland and a whopping 15 litres less than the July Carry On Pro.

best carry on suitcase

Shown in photo: Classic lines of the Victorinox have an unmistakable vintage feel.

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.

The zippers are arranged so that the front opens on the long side, which is okay at the hotel, but less OK when you’re being hurried through the airport security line. A top-opening quick-access panel would have been more intuitive.

Overall.

For those of you who enjoy travelling light, or travel with multiple airlines without hassle, this cabin bag is for you.

Design-wise, the Victorinox 2.0 Expandable Global is stylish without being ostentatious and professional without being stuffy. It will dress up your business suit during the week and will look funky with your sneakers during weekend getaways.

✔ Highly versatile due to expandable case
✔ Unique ID number and 24/7 lost bag hotline
✔ Nostalgic, iconic Victorinox design
✘ May be too small for some travellers

Price.

The price varies between $550 and $700, depending on the retailer and season.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 35cm W x 20/23cm D
➤ Weight: 2.95kg
➤ Capacity: 29/32L

5. Delsey Paris Montrouge Spinner Carry-On

Best overall carry on luggage for women who like bling.

best luggage reviews

Shown in photo: The gold details are limited to the cabin bag’s telescopic handles and zippers.

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 worth considering if you’re looking for a stand-out carry-on that has a sparkly, feminine vibe.

Pros.

The Delsey Paris Montrouge’s design is based around a Euro-style black and gold colour palette.

It’s not at all tacky, but is moderately blingy thanks to the gold plating on the handle and zippers.

Very Paris, c. 1995.

best cabin bag review

Shown in photo: Softside construction saves weight while two handles improve maneuverability.

Speaking of zippers, the first zips all the way around the bag, and a second zipper comes around the other side. It means you won’t have to open the entire bag to get to your laptop.

Both zippers snap into a three-digit TSA lock for extra security.

You can also use these zippers to expand your bag for extra 4 centimetres of depth.

Interestingly, this bag is designed with two handles: one on the top and one on the side. I like this feature because it adds another grab point you can use to maneuver the bag into the overhead locker.

Being a softside bag, it’s very light, which translates into healthy payload capacity. You get 7.4kg with Qantas and 4.4kg with Virgin, and this is backed up by a very cavernous 45 litres of internal volume.

Cons.

While the outside zippers are sturdy, the interior compartments and secured with flimsy, plastic zippers.

best carry on bag review

Shown in photo: TSA locks are a welcome addition at this price point.

Additionally, the outside pockets only provide minimal expansion room.

Overall.

Montrouge is a chic and stylish carry on bag aimed at female travellers. It’s best for women who want a change from the usual stark, black business cabin bags.

Its build quality is not as top-notch as that of the July, Victorinox and Herschel options above, but at 1/2 of the price, it also lives in a different price point.

✔ Chic European styling
✔ Relatively inexpensive
✘ May be too blingy for some women
✘ Cheap internal zippers

Price.

Speaking of price points, the Montrouge retails for between $200 and $250 dollars and, in doing so, exists in an awkward market segment.

It’s not a trashy cheap bag that you’ll be happy to throw away after a couple of seasons, and it’s not an expensive bag that you’ll hope to own for a lifetime, either.

Rather, it’s a moderately expensive, mostly good bag. Nor here, nor there, which is why I recommend you stick with either the July, Herschel or Victorinox carry on bags above.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 35cm W x 25cm D
➤ Weight: 2.6kg
➤ Capacity: 45L

6. Samsonite 72 Hours Deluxe Spinner.

Best cabin bag if you’re on a budget, but need high payload.

best carry on cabin luggage

Shown in photo: Ridiculously high payload is made possible by the carry on bag’s ultra-lightweight construction.

This carry on is ideal if you want a lightweight, inexpensive, unpretentious bag.

Pros.

This Samsonite’s party trick is its ultra-low weight that’s matched by its low price. At 1.8kg, it gives you a massive 8.2kg payload with Qantas and 5.7kg with Virgin. That’s the best carry on luggage payload figure in this round-up.

Apart from its Herculean payload, the bag has every feature you need – and none of the features that you don’t.

Reinforced handles, check. TSA lock, check. Cross straps, check.

“No-nonsense” is the word that springs to mind when looking for a description.

Unexpectedly for this price point, Samsonite also includes a handy external pocket to make sure that you don’t misplace your boarding pass and a folding laundry bag to keep your smelly stuff separate from the clean pile.

best carry on cabin luggage

Shown in photo: Practical and uncomplicated, this Samsonite carry on is a workhorse of hand luggage.

Nice touches, Samsonite.

Cons.

You’re not going to get excited about this cabin bag. If you buy it, it will be a 100% practical, 0% emotional type of purchase.

This is the Toyota Corolla of carry on cabin bags.

(This is not necessarily a weak point, by the way. After all, Toyota Corolla is one of the top-selling cars in Australia – and from a cost/benefit perspective, like the Samsonite 72 Hour Deluxe Spinner, it represents incredible value for money).

Overall.

The Samsonite 72-hour Carry On will happily haul huge amounts of payload everywhere you go. Its light construction may lead to its demise within a season or two of heavy use, but at this price point, it’s hard to complain.

✔ Very lightweight thanks to nylon construction
✔ Low price
✘ Zipper on the cheap side
✘ Boring

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 35cm W x 24cm D
➤ Weight: 1.8kg
➤ Capacity: 36L

7. American Tourister Frontec.

Best all-rounder cabin bag.

which cabin luggage is best

Shown in photo: Frontec keeps you organised with its zip-away front panel.

The American Tourister Frontec is the unsung hero of this luggage review because it is well-designed, robust and, highly organised and stylish.

Pros.

A lot of thought has gone into the design of the Frontec.

First, it has several compartments to make organising your belongings easier.

The laptop compartment resides in the front-most part of the bag, which you will find behind the first zipper.

best cabin luggage in australia

Shown in photo: Waffle-inspired design looks quite smart in the flesh.

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 clever wet pocket to separate your dry items from your damp, cold ones.

A USB port allows you to plug in an internally mounted battery bank (sold separately) and charge your devices by simply plugging them into your carry on bag. But be aware that this is just a port – not a dedicated, ejectable battery pack like you get on July Carry On.

Cons.

Like most mid-tier American Tourister and Samsonite bags, the Frontec is not exciting. In other words, it’s not a statement piece or a fashion item.

It does not draw attention to itself, so if you’re looking to stand out, you’re better served by one of the July, Victorinox or Herschel options above.

Overall.

The Frontec is one of the best carry-on bags for corporate travellers. It’s modest, yet professional in appearance.

which carry on luggage is worth it

Shown in photo: Waffle-inspired design looks quite smart in the flesh.

✔ Professional, stylish exterior
✔ Quick-access section
✔ USB port
✘ Not much!

Price.

The bag’s price ranges between $250 and $350, depending on deals at the time.

Specifications.

➤ Size: 54cm H x 36cm W x 25/28cm D
➤ Weight: 3.1kg
➤ Capacity: 38/43L

8. Victorinox Lexicon Hardside Frequent Flyer.

Best carry on luggage for style-conscious travellers.

victorinox luggage review australia

Shown in photo: Available in Titanium and Black, the Spectra looks like and feels like premium carry-on luggage.

This carry-on bag is jaw-dropping. For a number of reasons – both practical and purely emotional – I find myself simply wanting one. Let’s take a closer look.

Pros.

First of all, a word of warning – this carry on bag is not designed to blend in. Rather, it’s designed to communicate – subtly, but firmly – “I’m doing well, and I’m doing it with style”.

In this sense, the Lexicon takes the polar opposite approach to all the Samsonite and American Tourister cabin bags in this review.

I love how Victorinox leveraged its iconic brand design cues to create a cabin suitcase that is both retro and modern, yet timeless. Don’t believe me?

  • Imagine Elvis Presley with it, in Memphis, in 1960
  • Now imagine Elon Musk with it, on Mars, in 2060
  • Finally, imagine a corporate CEO with it, today

Works in all 3 scenarios, right?

best cabin luggage australia

Shown in photo: Clean, classic lines continue to the rear of the cabin bag. The bag’s unique identified ID is visible between the handles.

Cleverly, the bag’s four double wheels are semi-recessed to maximise the bag’s internal volume (in case you didn’t know, airlines include wheels when measuring up your carry-on suitcases).

Cross-shaped compression straps allow you to squeeze the most out of the bag’s internal space and YKK zippers ensure years of trouble-free service.

This might seem like a trivial detail, but for me, YKK zippers are a non-negotiable feature.

I’m the type of person that is allergic to hassle, and broken suitcase zippers on a trans-Atlantic flight are an off-the-charts type of hassle that I never want to deal with.

The bag has an integrated, external-facing USB port. Importantly, this isn’t a power pack – you will need to supply your own and store it (in a dedicated pocket) inside the bag.

Cons.

To help this cabin bag live up to the brand’s “Swiss army knife” reputation, Victorinox equipped it with a “multi-tool” that includes a pin for removing phone sim cards and a pen.

review of best lightweight cabin luggage

Shown in photo: The Lexicon’s internals leave little to be desired. Compression cross-straps, separate small pouches and a zip-away main compartment will meet the demands of most discerning road warriors.

Cool? Somewhat. Useful? Not really. An integrated battery back would have been much better.

The integrated USB port is USB 2.0, which is quickly becoming yesterday’s technology. If I buy a bag like this, I’ll be hoping to keep it for at least 5 years, by which point USB 2.0 will be ancient history. Why haven’t you updated the bag with USB-C yet, Victorinox?

The bag has zero external pockets and compartments.

If you want to get anything out of the bag, you will need to unzip the main compartment. This, unfortunately, is the biggest downside of the bag’s sleek, chunky design.

Overall.

Despite a couple of minor glitches, the Victorinox Lexicon is a stunningly attractive and useful cabin bag that is built well enough to withstand years of business travel.

It’s attractive, but it’s not just a stylish show pony. It’s a thoroughbred workhorse that is as beautiful as it is practical. And at 3.08kg in weight, it does an excellent job of walking the tightrope between build quality and payload.

best lightweight cabin luggage

Shown in photo: One more shot of the Lexicon in Black, just because it’s so pretty.

✔ Reliable YKK Zippers
✔ Super stylish
✘ No external compartments
✘ Integrated USB 2.0 will be obsolete in a couple of years

Price.

The Victorinox Lexicon typically retails for between $550 and $800, depending on season and retailer. Definitely not a cheap, throwaway piece of travel gear!

Specifications.

➤ Size: 55cm H x 35cm W x 23cm D
➤ Weight: 3.08kg
➤ Capacity: 34L

Airline Carry On Luggage Size And Weight Limits.

The world of airline cabin bag limits is frustratingly inconsistent. Each airline imposes its own rules and limits, and you better obey them if you want to avoid checking in your luggage.

See the table below to ensure your cabin bag works for your specific travel habits.

 
 Domestic EconomyDomestic BusinessInternational EconomyInternational Business
Qantas1 x 115cm bag, up to 10kg OR 2 x 105cm bags, one piece up to 10kgs, 14kgs total1 x 115cm bag, up to 10kg OR 2 x 105cm bags, one piece up to 10kgs, 14kgs total1 x 115cm bag, up to 7kg1 x 115cm bag, up to 10kg OR 2 x 105cm bags, one piece up to 10kgs, 14kgs total
Virgin1 X bag, up to 56 X 36 X 23, up to 7kg OR 2 X bags, 48 X 34 X 23, 7kg total1 X bag, up to 56 X 36 X 23, up to 7kg OR 2 X bags, 48 X 34 X 23, 7kg each1 X bag, up to 56cm long, 36cm wide, 23cm deep, up to 7kg OR 2 X bags, 48cm long, 34cm wide, 23cm deep, 7kg total1 X bag, up to 56cm long, 36cm wide, 23cm deep, up to 7kg OR 2 X bags, 48cm long, 34cm wide, 23cm deep, up to 7kg + 7kg each
Air New Zealand1 x 118cm bag, up to 7kg2x 118cm bags, with 1 bag up to 10kg and the other bag up to 7kg1 x 118cm bag, up to 7kg2x 118cm bags, with 1 bag up to 10kg and the other bag up to 7kg
EtihadN/AN/A1 X bag, up to 56cm long, 36cm wide, 23cm deep, up to 7kg1 X bags, up to 56 X 36 X 23, up to 12kg total
EmiratesN/AN/A1 X bag, up to 55cm by 38cm by 20cm, 7kg1 X bag, up to 55 X 38 X20, 7kg AND 1 X briefcase, up to 45 X 35 X 20, 7kg
American AirlinesN/AN/A1 X bag, 56 x 36 x 23, no weight limit1 X bag, 56 x 36 x 23, no weight limit
 

This is far less of an issue if you travel with one airline.

But if you tend to catch international flights with connections, remember that the magic size for your cabin bag is 55 x 35 x 20 cm. Keep to this limit to ensure that your carry on luggage does not trigger any alarms with any airline in the world.

This is easier said than done – because 20 cm of depth is quite restrictive. It limits you to a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a laptop and a few other small bits.

In our review of the best carry on luggage, only the Victorinox Spectra Global Carry On meets this requirement (but can also expand by 3 cm).

Note that some airlines take the “cm bag” approach to measure bags, which simply gives you a maximum number that the sum of your bag’s width, depth and length should not exceed.

For example:

  • A 115cm bag can mean 56cm + 36cm + 23cm or any combination thereof, as long as the total sum of its length, width and depth does not exceed 115cm

Other airlines give you concrete maximum dimensions for each side of your bag.

In almost all cases you’ll get away with bringing on a laptop sleeve or a small handbag in addition to the above items.

 

What To Consider When Choosing Carry-On Luggage.

1. How Much Payload Do You Need?

The lighter the bag, the higher its payload. Most airlines impose a 7kg per-item limit on carry-on luggage (with Qantas being a rare exception at 10Kg), and the weight of the bag itself is a “dead weight” that cuts into this allowance.

If your bag weighs 3.5kg, you’re left with 3.5kg of payload (assuming you’re not flying with Qantas).

The relationship between the carry on bag’s weight and its payload is mediated by its build quality.

  • Robust hard shell bags with plenty of features, like the July Carry On Pro and the Victorinox Lexicon that are featured in this review, usually weigh between 3.1 and 3.6kg.
  • Less robust hardshell bags, like the Samsonite Oc2lite featured here, weigh in at about 2.6kg.

But if the maximum payload is what you really need, you’ll need to sacrifice the durability of a hardshell by opting for a soft sided suitcase.

Some of these are extremely well-built and therefore offer very modest payload gains. For example, the Herschel Highland, tipping the scales at 2.8kg, weighs as much as some of the hardshells in this review.

But the Herschell is an outlier.

You won’t have trouble finding quality softside carry on bags that weigh between 2kg-2.5kg. For example, the Samsonite 72 Hours Deluxe Spinner, which made our list of best carry on luggage, weighs in at a remarkable 1.8kg.

2. Hardshell Or Softside?

Most people will make this decision based on aesthetics. While looks are very important – especially in the context of business travel – it’s more prudent to make this decision as a function of payload (see above).

There’s very little benefit in buying a good-looking bag that matches your image, but can’t support you on a business trip by carrying your essential gear.

3. Warranty?

Carry on luggage is a very competitive space. As a result, manufacturers offer very generous warranties that typically extend past 5 years. Realistically speaking, you’ll be replacing your carry on due to wear and tear long before the warranty runs out.

4. Size?

I’ve already covered carry on luggage sizes in detail, in the section above. The easiest option is to fly with one airline, and purchase a carry-on bag that fits within its limits.

If that option does not work for you, I suggest you buy an expandable carry on bag that fits under the limit of the airline with the most restrictive limits when it’s not expanded.

 
– Steven

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