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  • Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On

  • American Tourister Triumph NX 20" Spinner

  • Briggs & Riley Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

  • Tumi Merge International Front Lid 4 Wheeled Carry-On

  • Travelpro Crew VersaPack Global Carry-On Expandable Rollaboard

Product image of Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On

The Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On might be the ideal bag. It’s a durable, lightweight carry-on that you can pack a lot into.

Made using 6061 aluminum alloy tubing and 400 denier nylon double-coated PTU fabric, the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On is lightweight, tough, and offers some resistance to wet weather conditions. With its rugged 3.5” wheels and a very respectable amount of ground clearance, this carry-on can be pulled along over almost any terrain.

It’s worth noting that unlike most wheeled carry-on bags, which trundle along on four wheels, the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On only comes equipped with two. While this leaves it less maneuverable as a four-wheeled spinner, fewer wheels built into the bag means more space for your belongings. During testing, the Osprey rolled well over every surface we subjected it to. What’s more, at 5.07 pounds empty, it’s light enough, even fully loaded, to pick up briefly to surmount stairs or lift into an overhead compartment.

Rather than the double-barreled extendable handle seen with most other wheeled suitcases, the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On uses a single, sturdy aluminum retractable handle. That means, when retracted, it takes up somewhat less space and adds less weight. The retractable handle offers two different height settings, making it comfortable for most people to use. When using the retractable handle isn’t practical, grab handles on the top and sides of the bag provide several carrying options, and the aluminum frame forms a metal handle at the bottom to make lifting it with two hands easy.

Aside from its aluminum frame and retractable handle, the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On is completely soft-sided. So, there’s lots of room to expand it to its full 38 liters (2,319 cubic inches) if needed and, when empty, the carry-on compresses quite flat to take up minimal storage space. The bag has a large, slightly padded external pocket on the front that fits a laptop plus other miscellaneous stuff; it’s got a zippable RFID pocket too. On the top of the bag is an externally accessed water-resistant pouch ideal for shoes or liquids. On the back, there’s another pocket for a book or a magazine that includes an ID sleeve.

Inside, the main compartment is large, though the retractable handle rib does take up some space. You can zip a mesh divider closed to keep everything secure, plus there are two compression panels. The bag’s top flap has two interior mesh compartments.

One drawback of this bag is that the laptop compartment isn’t as theft-proof as it could be. While you can thread a TSA lock through the pocket’s tough plastic pulls, they’re attached to the zipper by thick fabric rather than metal, which a thief could cut through when you’re not watching. The main compartment is much more secure—its double zipper and pulls are 100% metal and you can close it securely with a lock.

Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 9

Our bag sizer says: It fits!

Pros

  • Sturdy retractable handle

  • All-terrain wheels

  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Not a spinner

  • Easy to overstuff

Product image of American Tourister Triumph NX 20
American Tourister Triumph NX 20" Spinner

The American Tourister Triumph NX 20-inch Spinner surprised me with how much stuff I could fit in it, despite its compact size. And, at 6.39 pounds, it was the lightest of all the spinners we tested for this guide.

The NX 20 is a hard-sided spinner, with a clamshell design. The exterior is made from 100% ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, lighter but not as durable as polycarbonate) material with a wavy honeycombed texture to resist dents and scratches. Our fork test left very faint scratch marks, but you’d have to know where to look to notice them. Once opened, the NX 20 offers two large compartments, though ribs from the retractable handle do take up a little bit of space on one half of the bag. You can store things flat in the other half. A mesh panel and one tie-down strap help keep things packed tight, and there’s one long pencil case-sized interior pocket to keep small items organized. The bag will supposedly expand in the zipper area an additional 1.5”, but it won’t fit the sizer if you overstuff it.

Like the other spinner carry-ons in this guide, the NX 20 comes equipped with an extendable handle, designed to retract into the bag when not in use. Its retractable handle wasn’t as smooth to operate as the ones on other bags I tested. However, it gets the job done—mostly. During testing, I found that when pushing the NX 20 along on rougher surfaces, the bag occasionally threatened to tip over. Additionally, I sometimes needed to give it a nudge to get it rolling on carpet—but some of the more expensive spinners I tested suffered from these same issues too.

When using the retractable handle is less than ideal, like when you’ve got a flight of stairs to climb, the NX 20 can be picked up and carried using the comfortable handle built into the top of the bag. You should know that this is the only carry handle built into the bag—that it’s on the top of the NX 20, instead of the side, is unusual. However, the suitcase’s compact size makes carrying it vertically, by the handle, easy.

Given its hard-sided clamshell design, the NX 20 has no external pockets. This could be a dealbreaker for those who want to travel with just a single bag but do want their laptop and reading material easily accessible. Additionally, while the bag’s performance didn’t degrade during our tests, the durability of this carry-on will likely become an issue over time. However, if you take fewer than a handful of trips each year, the NX 20 should serve you well for a long time.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9

Our bag sizer says: It fits!

Pros

  • Surprisingly spacious

  • Interior organization aids

Cons

  • Questionable build quality

  • No external pockets

Related content

Product image of Briggs & Riley Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner
Briggs & Riley Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

The Briggs and Riley Domestic Carry-On offers plenty of packing space (35.4 liters and up to 46.4 when expanded). This, along with its durable construction featuring a hybrid fiberglass frame, reinforced corners, and a 1680D ballistic nylon fabric exterior, make it a great choice for frequent travelers.

Of all the bags we tested for this guide, the Domestic Carry-On performed best on our obstacle course and quarter-mile walking tests. Whether pushing the bag on its four double swivel wheels or dragging it on two, it rolled extremely smoothly—even on carpet, the most challenging of our test surfaces. Unlike other bags, the Domestic Carry On’s three-height retractable handle’s hardware is placed almost entirely on the outside of the bag, which ensures that it doesn’t take up valuable packing space. When the time comes that the bag must be carried, the Domestic Carry-On’s comfortable handles, located on the top and side of the bag, make it easy to do so.

The bulk of the Domestic Carry-On’s storage capacity is found in its cavernous main compartment, which is accessed by unzipping the bag’s lid. The inside of the main compartment’s lid is equipped with two nearly full-length zippered pockets, stacked on top of one another. The main compartment boasts compression straps to help you fit more into the suitcase. For those who need to travel with clothes that look fresh out of the closet even after they’ve been pulled out of a suitcase, the Domestic Carry-On boasts a ‘suiter’ bar, designed to help keep garments wrinkle-free. Finally, if you packed too much to allow you to bring home any mementos from your travels with you, this carry-on has an internal mechanism that makes it possible to expand the thickness of the bag from nine inches to 11.5 inches. Should you take advantage of this expandability, don’t be surprised if the suitcase no longer fits into an airport sizer.

To help you whisk through airport security, the Domestic Carry-On’s exterior pocket is large enough to fit a laptop and your quart-sized bag of liquids. There’s an additional (unlockable) pocket for smaller items too. At the back of the bag, beneath the discrete luggage tag receptacle, there’s another pocket between the ribs of the retractable handle which would fit a water bottle or perhaps a collapsible umbrella. The main compartment and laptop pocket can be secured with lockable zippers.

While the high-quality materials that the Domestic Carry-On is made out of ensure that it provides most people with a lifetime of use (absolutely no damage was left by our fork or hammer tests), this suitcase’s excellent build quality comes at a cost: out of all of the carry-on bags we’ve tested over the years, the Briggs and Riley Domestic Carry-On is the heaviest, at 9.3 pounds.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9

Our bag sizer says: It fits!

Pros

  • Built to last forever

  • Very expandable.

Cons

  • Heavy

Product image of Tumi Merge International Front Lid 4 Wheeled Carry-On
Tumi Merge International Front Lid 4 Wheeled Carry-On

The Tumi International Front Lid 4 Wheeled Carry-On is a well-built, high-end spinner bag with a structured frame covered in fabric made from post-consumer recycled bottles and post-industrial ballistic nylon. It’s aimed at the eco-conscious luxury traveler.

The majority of the International Front Lid’s 32-liter storage space is found in its deep main compartment, which takes up almost the entire depth of the bag. If this isn’t enough space for you, the suitcase can be expanded by three inches to make room for extra cargo. Expanding the bag, however, will mean it won’t fit in the sizer—in fact, empty and at its unexpanded size, it’s a tight fit. The underside of the suitcase’s lid has a large interior pocket made from a lightweight material, ideal for flatter items like a jewelry case or chargers. A second, large interior pocket attached to the bag’s side runs almost the entire height and width of the whole bag.

There are two pockets on the lid’s exterior that are large enough to hold an ultrabook or small laptop, along with any liquids that the TSA might be interested in having a look at. Given their inability to be locked, these exterior pockets are best used for temporary storage, such as while you’re going through airport security.

The International Front Lid’s retractable handle proved very sturdy during testing. We liked that it provides three different height options. During our maneuverability tests, the suitcase’s spinner wheels rolled extremely smoothly but did need occasional minor course corrections to keep it on track. In addition to its retractable handle, Tumi also equipped the bag with two leather grab handles plus a fabric flap sewn into the bottom of the suitcase’s exterior. The flap can be used to assist in pulling the suitcase out of the trunk of a car or an airplane’s overhead compartment.

Our bag sizer says: It fits!

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9

Pros

  • Uses recycled fabric

  • Expandable design

  • Good interior organizational aids

Cons

  • Laptop pocket too small for larger devices.

Product image of Travelpro Crew VersaPack Global Carry-On Expandable Rollaboard
Travelpro Crew VersaPack Global Carry-On Expandable Rollaboard

The Travelpro Crew VersaPack Global Carry-On Expandable Rollaboard is a four-wheeled spinner that features a sturdy internal frame wrapped in a tough fabric shell. The Versapack Global Carry-On’s slightly padded lid offers three pockets, accessible from the outside of the bag. These are great for keeping items that you might need to show airport security, including a laptop, and for other items you want close at hand. However, putting too much into these compartments could prevent this carry-on from fitting into an airport sizing device.

Travelpro has equipped this bag with an external luggage tag compartment and an external side pocket designed to hold a portable power pack. We were disappointed, given the cost of some USB power packs, that this pocket cannot be locked. In fact, only the bag’s main compartment and the lid’s largest exterior pocket boast zippers designed to be locked together.

The VersaPack Global Carry-On’s 39-liter main compartment is divided into two sections by a removable zip-in “garment organizer”—a flat section of the bag that has room to expand a few inches. The bag also has compression flaps to help you fit in more clothes.

In addition to the garment organizer, this spinner carry-on comes packing a water-resistant, plastic toiletry bag marked as TSA compliant. For a deeper level of internal organization, the VersaPack Global Carry-on can be paired with a number of TravelPro accessories, including a laundry organizer, a fold-out suiter organizer, a packing cube organizer, and an all-in-one organizer. Of course, any packing cubes you may already own will work too.

The VersaPack Global Carry-On’s four-position retractable handle is sturdy and features a contoured plastic grip. The bag has both a top and a side carry handle, both nicely padded though not super wide. It also has a handle grip on the bottom to make grabbing the bag with two hands easier.

During mobility testing, the carry-on’s four sets of spinner wheels worked well enough. They rolled well over tiled and smooth surfaces. But, as with most of the spinner bags in this guide, it was easier to drag the carry-on along on two wheels, rather than push it on four wheels by its retractable handle over carpet. On pavement, I noticed that the wheels sometimes felt a little sticky rather than perfectly smooth in how they moved.

The retractable handles of most of the bags in this guide take up some space in the interior of the bag. The VersaPack Global Carry-On is no exception. The bars inside the bag make it impossible to pack anything flat in the main compartment.

Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 9

Our bag sizer says: It fits!

Pros

  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Using outside pockets may make it too large to fit sizer

  • Storage solutions must be purchased separately

Meet the tester

Johanna Read

Johanna Read

Contributor

Johanna Read is a freelance travel writer and photographer.

See all of Johanna Read's reviews

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