Choosing the best lightweight carry on luggage that is within the regulated size while still being efficient and stylish is hard. 

Long gone are the days of checking luggage for most trips. While you still might need the large suitcase for your month traveling through Europe, lightweight carry on luggage has taken its place. Rather than waiting at the carousel for your luggage, you’ll have all you ever need with you at all times. With the carry on luggage options getting roomier, more efficient, and incredibly good looking, you won’t be able to stay away. Pair these lightweight luggage options with a cute weekend bag or duffel and you’re all set to carry it all on the plane.

While shopping for the perfect lightweight carry on luggage, you have to choose between hard shell and soft, extra pockets versus a roomier main compartment. You’re searching for something more than just a weekend bag, but you’re not ready to deal with checked bag fees. We understand. Finding the best lightweight carry on luggage can be a little tricky, so we’ve put together a list of what to look for, along with our favorite picks. So, go ahead and book that long weekend getaway. We’ll have you set up with your luggage in no time.

Here’s the Best Lightweight Carry On Luggage of 2018

The chart below displays my top picks for the best lightweight carry on luggage, along with their ratings. Click “See Today’s Price” if you want to know the current price for each one.

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Carry-On Bag

Rating

Prices

lightweight carry on luggage - Hartman

Hartman 7R Global Spinner

3.4 out of 5

​​See Today’s Price

Kenneth Cole Reaction

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds

4.3 out of 5

See Today’s Price

lightweight carry on luggage - Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek Expanse International Carry On

4 out of 5

See Today’s Price

lightweight carry on luggage - Samsonite

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner

4.3 out of 5

See Today’s Price

lightweight carry on luggage - IT Luggage

IT Luggage World’s Lightest

4.3 out of 5

See Today’s Price

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Benefits of Having Lightweight Carry On Luggage

No Waiting at the Carousel for a Checked Bag

We’ve all been there. You’re waiting at the endlessly turning carousel for your bag to appear. You think you see it, but that one is someone else’s, even though it looks just like yours. Then you start to worry, did it even make it on the plane? Was my layover to short? Well, if you were able to put everything in a piece of lightweight carry on luggage, you wouldn’t have to deal with this. By having everything you need in the carry on luggage plus a personal item, you can say goodbye to the stresses of checked bags, carousel lines, and lost luggage.

Saving Money by Avoiding Weight and Checked Bag Fees

Have you seen it before? I have. Someone is so excited to get on their plane, but they are stopped at the gate. They’re asked to place their not so lightweight carry on luggage into the measuring device. Guess what? It’s too big. They are then charged a fee to check the bag at the gate or told not to board. You do not want to add this stressful story to your next traveling adventure. That is just another reason we love lightweight carry on luggage. Between it’s regulated size and leaving you extra weight for your things, you will say goodbye to large suitcases forever.  

Easy Maneuverability Takes Away Stress

Coming in usually under five pounds, these lightweight carry on luggage choices are easy to hoist into an overhead bin. You won’t need to deal with awkward straps of a large backpack or the saggy bottom of a duffel. Your back will thank you when you have a few less pounds to bring down from the bins after the flight. Most of these options have stellar wheels as well to glide effortlessly to and from the gate. So, step into the happy world of lightweight carry on luggage today for an easier travel day. 

Common Features of Lightweight Carry On Luggage

There are a myriad of features and options for your lightweight carry on luggage. Think carefully through these common features. Each one may add a little weight, so keep in mind the more bells and whistles you have, the heavier it will be. 

  • Conforming to TSA Approved Carry On Dimensions of 21.5” x 13.5” x 8.5”
  • Two or Four Wheels for Pulling Behind or Alongside You
  • Telescoping Handle with Multiple Locking Heights
  • checkExterior and Interior Pockets for Fine-Tuned Organization
  • checkHard Shell for Added Protection When Traveling
  • checkTwo Attached Handles for Maneuverability
  • checkLightweight Design to Optimize Comfort and Capacity

How to Choose the Best Lightweight Carry-On Luggage for Your Travel Style

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Beginning Your Search 

How lightweight am I willing to go?

The majority of carry on luggage will weigh between eight and twelve pounds. This will all depend on how many features it has and the quality of the material. When you start approaching the under five pounds range, the price will go up exponentially. This is due to the technology and price of the material involved. You’ll also most likely sacrifice extra pockets, wheels, and other bells and whistles. However, what you lack in features will be made up for in lightweight glory. So, pick up a few things around your house to see how heavy or light you are willing to go.

What features are a must-have for me?

Travellers tend to be on one side or the other of the four wheel roll-along suitcase. While some people absolutely love having the suitcase upright, rolling directly beside them, others despise it. So, keep that in mind as you’re considering your lightweight carry on luggage options. Additionally, are two compartments a requirement for you? That will add a little bit more weight as well. Most people want to have the basics of at least two wheels, carrying handles to include a telescoping one, and solid zippers. I would recommend those being non-negotiable, but to each his own. Lastly, suitcases tend to blend in. Muted tones and often in the one shade of black, does style matter to you? Having a little spunk in your suitcase is always fun. So, consider that as well when choosing your lightweight carry on luggage. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

Hard Shell Versus Soft Shell

A hard shell all around provides ample protection for both clothes and gifts. If you need to make sure everything remains perfectly wrinkle free, stick with a hard shell carry on. Additionally, if you plan on carrying back many trinkets and souvenirs, a hard shell will give you more protection when putting the carry on in the overhead compartments and when it shifts during flight. However, take into account that softer shelled bags often weigh a little less. They also squish down more if you need to fit in under the seat in front of you or in other tight spaces. One of the cons of a soft shell bag is depending on how it is packed and designed, it may not stand up straight very well on its own. So, always read reviews of the users of these bags to weigh which is the best option for you.

Set a Realistic Price Range

With smart luggage becoming a trend these days, you can spend close to a thousand dollars on a piece of lightweight carry on luggage. If you’d like to lock your luggage from afar and track it with a GPS, then by all means invest in that. However, saving a few dollars on your luggage may mean taking another trip in a few weeks with the money you saved. So, make sure to by a quality piece of luggage that you will feel proud to roll around. However, don’t overspend your budget, because its the traveling that truly counts in the first place!

The Best Lightweight Carry On Luggage Options

1. Hartman 7R Global Spinner

Hartman 7R Global Spinner

Pros

  • plus Extremely tough shell, sculpted and styled from innovative metallic ‘Curv’ material
  • plusShock-absorbing spring wire steel wheels
  • plusFully recessed sleek and soft premium leather carry handles
  • plusRecessed combination lock for secure travel
  • plusUltra strong carbon fiber pull handle
  • plusExtra secure strong water resistant zipper
  • plusWeighs in at 4 pounds

Cons

  • close Highest Price Point

2. Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds

Kenneth Cole Reaction

Pros

  • plus Multi-Directional 4-Wheel Spinners
  • plus Self-Repairing Coil Zippers
  • plusConvenient And Flexible Top And Side Handles
  • plusWeighs in at 6.25 pounds

Cons

  • close Hard Shell does not allow suitcase to get smaller

3. Eagle Creek Expanse International Carry On 

Eagle Creek Expanse

Pros

  • plus Bi-Tech Armor Lite Fabric
  • plus #10 lockable, self-repairing zippers
  • plusPadded tablet sleeve
  • plusExpansion zipper for more capacity
  • plusHeavy-duty wheel housing with treaded wheels
  • plusWeighs in at 5 pounds, 11 ounces

Cons

  • close Soft Shell does not give as intense protection
  • Luggage falls forward when fully packed 

4. Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner

lightweight carry on luggage - Samsonite Omni

Pros

  • plus Micro-diamond textured Hard Shell
  • plus Lightweight spinner wheels
  • plusFull-zip interior
  • plusSide-mounted TSA lock
  • plusWeighs in at 6.8 pounds

Cons

  • close Oversized for a carry on when fully packed
  • No side handle for carrying and lifting

5. IT Luggage World’s Lightest

lightweight carry on luggage - IT luggage

Pros

  • plus Weighs in at 4.51 pounds
  • plus Multi-stage push button locking handle that packs flat
  • plus8 wheels for 360 degree maneuverability
  • plusFiberglass Structure with High-Tensile fabric

Cons

  • close Soft-Sided for less protection

Common Questions

It can be hard finally clicking the ‘buy it now’ button on such a critical purchase. But, hopefully by comparing the various lightweight carry on luggage options you’ve been able to come to a solid conclusion about what is best for you. Now that you’ve conquered your carry on luggage question, look to these other articles for tips and tricks for packing and luggage. 

1. How to Pack Light No Matter Where You’re Going

2. Best Checked Luggage Pieces for Your Travels

3. Best Luggage Sets for the Fashion-Minded Traveler

Weighing the quality, size, weight, and durability of carry on luggage can be difficult. But, choosing a lightweight carry on luggage option over checked bags will save you a lifetime of headaches.

We have walked you through the benefits of carry on luggage and what to look for. I hope that this has brought you confidence in your purchase as you peruse our list of the best lightweight carry on luggage. So, say goodbye to those carousel lines and checked bag fees. You just opened a whole new world of travel by switching over! So, have a safe flight, and best of travels to you!

Related Article: Best Lightweight Luggage Reviewed (Plus How to Choose Yours)

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