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20" or max 21" hard or soft carry on wheels included.

Hi all, looking to buy a small size carry on 20149 for international small aircraft travel. Do appreciate for any suggestion on brand/model.

Posted by
8 posts

I recommend Rick Steves’ own 2-wheel carryon. In the early ‘oughts I used his original 2-wheeler which was only slightly smaller than competitors, including the then-equivalent Kirkland, but a LOT lighter than the overbuilt Kirkland back then (when weight limits were rare),

In the past few years I’ve grown to be intrigued by the new generation Steves’ “hybrid” soft/hard replacement 2-wheeler, which is rated 1 inch smaller than the original.

When it arrived I was shocked by how much shorter it is.

It is really designed for Europe’s very strict size limits. 20” INCLUDING the bottom wheels and tip grab handle.

So I think it would work very well for you.

I should comment on the unusual design. The main structural piece at the floor is shaped like a toboggan that curves up at the wheels end; there are some structural sides, but not like conventional wheelies and spinners which form sides all the way around. Here, the sides only come up partway in the half of the bag next to handle. The bag, when stuffed, looks conventionally rectangle; but empty, the top portion sags down halfway to the floor. This lightens the bag by about a pound while style being more rugged than before (the fabric top corners take bumps better).

The lid pockets btw are the best in town. The full height slot takes my sport jacket.

One advisory: other makers sometimes off mid opening hybrids where the bottom is a polycarbonate or ABS bathtub and the top half is the usual plastic sheets and cloth panels. This Steves is cloth only on the front panel, mostly ABS (I assume) along the perimeter, part of the perimeter towards the handle is cloth too.

Posted by
687 posts

I've had very good luck with the TravelPro Maxlite spinner bag. Mine is 21" and soft sided.

Posted by
4419 posts

I have the international size of the MaxLite international size, which I believe is 20 inches and I expand it when flying airlines that allow the larger size.

Posted by
2845 posts

Like MWebb, I’m a huge fan of RS Rolling Carry-On. Will add to her description: it’s easy overpack with the expandable soft front. That’s good or bad depending which airline. Just be aware. Weigh and measure as you pack. Otherwise 9” depth quickly becomes 10” or more.

RS warranty is great. Last trip the handle quit retracting (fortunately on the way home), When I asked for a repair part referral, I was given a replacement suitcase. After 6 years but limited use, that far exceeded my expectation.

PS your original post probably wasn’t answered because there are lots of suitcase threads. Use the search function at the top to find more. Sort by “forum” and “one year”.

Posted by
434 posts

FYI: RS Rolling Carryon is 21”, 6 1/2lbs and RS Rolling Backpack is 20”, 5 1/2lbs. I don’t have either but I downsized to a 19 1/2” Hadaki 2 wheel bag 3 years ago. It’s 4 1/2lbs and I really love it. But unfortunately they don’t make it anymore.

Posted by
898 posts

I have the Travelpro Max lite Air hard side 21". I haven't had any issues with the size on short and long haul flights but would get the 20" if I was concerned. I wasn't sure about the fully enclosed zipper compartments on both sides but found it actually worked well. I didn't really need packing cubes. Also I was able to place my lined jacket in between the two halves before closing it up. Made it very easy to retrieve without fully unzipping the bag. And I didn't need to expand the bag to fit it in. Lots of color choices.