The Samsonite Flexis 21" Spinner is the best carry-on bag of the moment. The Flexis’s total dimensions, at 22.5 x 15.0 x 9.0 inches, allowed it to fit into our airport carry-on sizing device, wheels and all, with no difficulties. That said, not all airlines have the same sizing requirements. Make sure to check in with your preferred carrier, before heading to the airport.
The Flexis 21 features tough, nimble wheels that should last for years of hard use. I found that they made crossing over the sun-cracked pavement, concrete sidewalks, wood floors and tile comfortable and easy. As it’s a four-wheeled spinner, you’ll have no trouble maneuvering the Flexis around obstacles. The handle on the side the bag is oriented to make grabbing it out of an overhead compartment a breeze, while the one on the top is cushy enough to carry the bag comfortably for a long time. It's locking, retractable handle offers multiple height adjustments, making this bag easy to wheel along, no matter how tall you are. That the expandable handle can be unlocked by either of the two buttons built into it makes it easy to use and provides a bit of redundancy.
The 21-inch version of the Flexis offers 2520 cubic inches of packing space. There are three pockets on the outside of the bag: the large exterior pocket is ideal for stuffing a light jacket, iPad, or magazines into. Two smaller zippered pockets—which are well-sized for an e-reader, passport, and charging cables—are built into the bag’s zippered lid. Speaking of charging cables, you should know that one of the pockets comes with a smaller, zippered compartment designed for storing a rechargeable battery pack in. Plug your power pack into the Flexis’ integrated USB port and you’ll be able to use it to charge your phone or other small electronics, without a mess of cables getting in your way. As your battery pack isn’t integrated into the bag, as it is with some smart luggage, you can easily remove your battery to keep in another carry-on or personal item should the Flexis need to be stowed in your flight’s cargo hold.
The inside of the suitcase boasts a large open area with elastic retention straps for securing your clothes or packing cubes into place, as well as mesh stash pockets for organizing smaller items. On the inside of the bag’s lid, you’ll find a zippered, mesh compartment that’s perfect for jamming socks or underwear in.
The Flexis comes equipped with self-healing YKK Strong Grip Zip zippers, which are significantly more reliable than traditional coil zippers; if one of the bag’s zippers gets messed up (but doesn’t break), zipping and unzipping it should make it as good as new. The main compartment can be sealed up using a TSA-approved luggage lock—an important feature, should you ever need to check the bag. Without anything in it, the 21-inch version of the Flexis weighs seven pounds. It strikes the perfect balance of affordability, features, and build quality. I highly recommend taking it for a spin (sorry).
I’ve only got a couple of complaints about this bag: the Flexis 21 doesn’t come with a built-in waterproof bag for sealing up your toiletries in—but if you own a good toiletry bag, it’s no big deal. In addition to this, when not in use, the Flexis can’t be compressed down for storage. If that’s a deal breaker, you might prefer a soft-sided carry-on bag, instead.
See more of the best carry-on luggage we tested and reviewed.