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Best Lightweight carry on

Traveling to London and Paris and want to get a lightweight carry-on bag. Hoping to avoid any checking in. Any suggestions? I will be using my small backpack as my personal item. Flying on United only.

Posted by
961 posts

I've been using the RS convertible bag for the last year and really like it, but if you think you might might fly soon within Europe you need a smaller bag than that. I've seen several mentions of the RS 20" rolling bag as a good bag. I'm sure others will chime in with other brand favorites so you will have several choices.

Posted by
9914 posts

Well, part of it depends on what your definition of best is. I've got:

  • the Campmor Essential Carryon which is very inexpensive, lightweight but few bells and whistles.

http://www.campmor.com/Product___60795

  • I've got the Eagle Creek Weekender which I like better. It's a little heavier, much more expensive. I like how it opens so you have 2 halves and one of the sides has a panel that zips it closed.

http://shop.eaglecreek.com/ec-adventure-weekender-bag/d/1200_cl_-1

  • I've got the RS 22" convertible carry on that has gone on 4 trips to Europe and is pretty spacious but I've found I can pack it so heavy I can't lift it. I am fine once it's on my back but have trouble swinging it to that position. I generally have carried this on going over and checked it coming back home. I always have to gate check from my local airport on the small commuter jets that come in there.

https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/carry-on-backpack

  • I've just gotten the RS 20" wheelie bag because I'm thinking my carrying-on-my-back days for 6-8 weeks in Europe are over. I've taken this on 2 Road Trips and it is working great for them.

https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/rolling-carry-on

Best bag?? At the present time I think it's the new one but I wish it opened like the EC weekender!

Posted by
646 posts

We like our RS Rolling CarryOn (Made for & fits European guidelines - we got 2 when they were on sale). We also have a some EagleCreek bags that we really like that are also European CarryOn - easy to 'search' their website for European CarryOns - you can also 'compare' bags. For NONrolling, we love our Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45.

Posted by
6950 posts

There are many different brands of great rolling bags. Travel Pro seems to be a very popular brand--decent quality at a decent price. Our latest purchase came from Tuesday Morning, and it weighs 6 lbs., 3 oz.
We're also big on shopping at TJ Maxx and Marshalls for really good luggage at great prices.

Posted by
3551 posts

I have been using a JanSport lightweight roll carry on. So far they have not stopped me and made me put it in baggage area. It is very smalll and jansport will replace or repair free if u have a tear or problem.
United is famous for making customers on international flights put there carry on in baggage, not for fee but they are trying to get even carry on out of the cabin. I guess to speed up boarding and less accidents. Anyway i will no longer use their carry on dimensions i go even smaller with my jansport .

Posted by
11440 posts

Asking what the best lightweight carry on is like asking what is the best small car.

First, you didn't specify if you want wheels or not.

Since you said youll be using a small backpack as your personal item, does that mean it will go on your back or will your hand carry it?

What is your budget?

Let's start with that and we can start to narrow it down.

Posted by
18376 posts

Lightweight and roller do not belong in the same sentence. Ops, I think I just did it. Well, anyway, lightweight and roller cannot be used to describe the same bag. A light bag should weigh less than 3 lb. Rollers weigh more like 6 lb and up.

I used the same Essential Carryon bag for years, and was very satisfied with it. As I learned to take less and less stuff, the Esssential Carryon became too large. I would have loved to find a bag at around 1600 to 1800 cu in, with all the feature I need, but, sigh, it was not to be. I now have an eBags eTech Weekender Junior. It weighs a little more than the Essential Carryon, but it's cinch straps and sternum strap make up for the extra weight, plus it has a waist belt to take the load off your shoulders, if that is a problem. And, it is reasonably priced.

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks everyone!

I see I might need to give you some more info--
--I know it adds weight but want a 2 wheeler. I really do not understand the use of those 4 wheel ones
--budget would be $175 or less as we need to buy 2. Less is better!

--I would like to stay within Intl size even though I won't need it this time. Hopefully more overseas travel is in my future
--I will carry on the backpack but would love to be able to add it to my wheelie carry on during walking time

Has anyone used IT luggage. They look like the lightest, even with the wheels

Posted by
9914 posts

Upthread David mentioned shopping at TJMaxx. I have seen the IT luggage there but it's always been the ones with the spinner wheels.

The RS 20" that I mentioned may meet your criteria. It is about 6# though. If you are not going any time soon, watch for Rick's sales. You can sign up for emails for their weekly deals.

Posted by
11440 posts

IT Luggage---I have a two wheeler and I wouldn't suggest it for airline travel. Very flimsy. It might survive being checked which could happen regardless of what size bag you bring.

RS luggage is under $175. I have the Rolling Backpack and it will meet almost all international size limits. I had the rolling carry on for a few days but found it very heavy for light travel.

Travelite Maxlite 3 22" meets many inernational standards but not all. It weighs less than 6 lbs.

Lipault has a new 22" folding two wheeled carry on that is about 21.6 x 14.2 x 8 and weighs about 5 1/2 lbs. It retails for $199.

Another bag is the Eagle Creek Flatbed Duffel in either 20" or 22".

Posted by
5697 posts

On the "less-is-more" side, you could see what bags are at your local thrift store (or better, the store in an affluent suburb) -- if you pay $15 for a bag it's not so hard to dump it if you want to upgrade for a later trip and, who knows, you may like it.

Posted by
943 posts

I use a Patagonia MLC wheelie that I've had for 4 years and love it, small enough that I've never had to check it and it stores everything I need. My wife uses a RS Rolling Backpack and while it has more room than my bag it is slightly more difficult to get into a tight overhead bin. We also have a Patagonia Transporter 25L shoulder bags that fit over the handle on our carry on's and (so far) the airlines have allowed us to take that on board with our carry-on's when we need extra things with us (winter clothing,etc.) If I was going to just be gone for 3 days I will only take the Transporter 25L and it works perfectly. It will be interesting to see how the regulations evolve over the next two years, I would not buy a expensive new bag at this time till things are more specific as to what the airlines are going to do. Your travel bag is probably one of the most essential items you will purchase if you intend to travel a lot in the future and you will get a wide variety of opinions on this forum. My feeling is that I would rather spend the money to get a bag that truly fits my needs instead of a cheap bag at a thrift store, but each to their own.