Which Carry-on Luggage Holds The Most?

Packing a carry-on bag can be a little complicated, especially if you have to pack as much as you can in a limited size. Looking for carry-on luggage that has the most packable space can be a little hard. Fortunately, we've looked into this topic and we're listing down the best options for you.

The carry-on luggage that holds the most packable space is softside luggage that fits within the allowable carry-on airline dimensions. The second most packable carry-on luggage is hardside luggage, but it offers more protection for your clothes and other items.

We know that the search for the best carry-on that can carry a lot of stuff can be a little tiring. Keep reading because, in this post, we will share with you the best carry-ons you can find for your travels. We will also give you tips on how to choose the right travel bag for your needs.

A two unrecognizable tourists with their bags in front of the hotel, Which Carry-on Luggage Holds The Most?

Which Carry-on Luggage Holds The Most?

Short travels often require that you bring just a few sets of clothing and your most important items with you. For many travelers, all of these can fit in a carry-on suitcase. You can easily stow them in the airplane's overhead cabin and there is no need to get in line to check your bags in.

Woman packing travel bag for summer vacation

However, some travelers find that it can be a little hard to pack in a carry-on suitcase. This is because carry-ons often have size restrictions imposed by the airlines. Travelers who tend to overpack often need to pare down their suitcase contents, unless they want to check their luggage instead.

If you prefer to travel comfortably with all your necessary items in your bag, then you'll need a carry-on suitcase with the most packable space. There are a lot of choices, but you can easily narrow them down to your specific needs.

For carry-on luggage, the maximum allowable size for bags is 22" x 14" x 9", including the handles and the wheels. Depending on the airline you are taking, you might have to check if they have weight restrictions. However, most airlines do not have weight restrictions as long as the bags fit the right dimensions.

Softside luggage

Tidy room with packed roller suitcase

For many travelers, the carry-on luggage that has the most packable space is softside luggage. This is because the material of the bag is lighter and thinner. They also are typically expandable, which gives travelers that extra space they need when traveling back home.

Softside luggage fall within the typical required carry-on dimensions for many airlines, even when the bag expands. Many travelers can also get away with packing a little bit more than usual in soft side luggage because it doesn't look too obvious when you close the zipper.

However, while softside luggage can give you the most packable space for your luggage, they are not the most protective. The flexibility is great for packing a lot of stuff, but it can also pose a problem for you. The light material can cave under pressure from other luggage, which can crush your items.

Hardside luggage

Young girl walking with carrying luggage

Hardside luggage is pretty popular for many travelers because they are quite durable and easy to wheel around. However, compared to softside luggage, hardside luggage is harder to overpack because of the hard shell exterior.

The packable space of most hardside luggage usually falls within the dimensions of the bag itself. Some hardside luggage does come with the additional feature for expansion. It's only a few inches of additional space, but it is valuable if you are trying to pack more items.

One of the benefits of using hardside luggage is the protection it offers users. The hard plastic exterior is great at protecting the contents from outside pressure and from weather elements. It's also a lot easier to clean, which is why a lot of travelers choose hardside luggage for their travels.

Best Carry-on Suitcases

To help you narrow down your selections, we've listed some carry-on suitcases that travelers have loved using.

Expandable hardside carry-on

Get the most out of your packable space by using a hardside carry-on that can expand. This carry-on gives travelers an additional 2 and 1/4 inches of additional space when the expansion zippers are opened. However, fully flexing this luggage might go over the restrictions so check your airlines accordingly.

Check out the Away Bigger Carry-on Flex.

Carry-on with laptop compartment

If you are traveling with a laptop or other gadgets, pack them all in your carry-on to lessen the burden of carrying them. This hardside carry-on has an extra space where you can stow your laptop or even your business documents so you don't lose them during transit.

Buy this carry-on with laptop compartment on Amazon.

Lightweight expandable softside

For travelers who are looking for something more flexible, this softside spinner is perfect for you. With an expandable section that adds 2 extra inches to your bag, you can bring in more items with you when traveling back home.

Get this softside spinner on Amazon.

How Do I Pick The Right Travel Bag?

Travel bag sale on display in supermarket

There are many different kinds of travel bags available for every kind of traveler out there. When searching around for the best bags, you'll often find options like suitcases, duffel bags, or backpacks for travel. These bags are all great, but which one is the right one for you?

Rolling suitcases

The most convenient and most practical of all carry-on bags, a rolling suitcase is your best option for carrying all your items without strain. You'll only have to pull your suitcase along with you as you travel to your airport and hotel.

Most rolling suitcases are also easy to navigate and move around. They also serve as an additional carriage for your other bags, like a tote or small duffel that can rest on top of your suitcase. These bags are great if you are bringing a lot of belongings with you during your travel.

Unfortunately, while there are a lot of benefits to rolling suitcases, they can also have setbacks. These bags are quite big, so they will take up a lot of closet space. They are also a little hard to navigate on rough terrain, so for them to last, you'll have to invest in a really good set of rolling suitcases.

Duffel bags

Well-dressed man with a duffel bag

If you are traveling just for a weekend or overnight, another great bag for traveling is a duffel bag. These bags were popular for gym and other sports activities. However, more styles are now available for travelers to use, with their unique designs and colors.

Most duffel bags can be spacious, so you can pack a good amount of items in them. While this is great for people who need that packable space, it can be an issue when carrying them. Duffel bags only rely on handles and shoulder straps, and packing them full can be a problem when you need to move them.

The disadvantage of using a duffel bag for travel is the strain you might feel when using them. Unlike the rolling suitcase, you'll have to sling your bag over your shoulder and it can be difficult to move around with a heavy bag. They also don't offer much protection to your items, unlike suitcases.


For the adventurer, backpacks are the best bags to use when traveling around. Backpacks come in a multitude of sizes that can suit your needs. You can bring them in as a carry-on bag, as long as it follows the restrictions just like the other carry-on bags.

If you are a traveler who needs to move around quite a lot, backpacks are great for carrying your items. You can generally pack a good amount in them, but the space might be a little smaller than other bags. They are also easy to carry around because all you need is to sling it on your back and you can go.

The downside of backpacks is that it's hard to get your necessary items without disturbing everything else inside. Heavy backpacks can also mean trouble, as there is no other way to move them around other than carrying them. If you plan to use backpacks for travel, make sure that you are well-prepared.

Final Thoughts

While it is very tempting to pack as much as you can in your carry-on luggage, try not to overpack. Airline officers might tag it as overweight luggage, so you might have to check it in. Also, traveling with too many things can be troublesome, so always remember to stay within your limitations.