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carry on

I'm looking to buy my 26 year old son a carry on for travel. He travels out of the country once a year and then various trips within the States during the year. Suggestions please on best choices. Thanks so much.

Posted by
79 posts

I haven't purchased a new bag myself yet. I do have the original RS convertible, but my girlfriend will use that and I will buy something new. Ebags has a convertible as well called the Mother Lode Weekender that i'm considering along with a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 (a bit pricey). So you may want to check those out.

Posted by
734 posts

I bought my husband the Mother Lode Weekender from eBags and myself the convertible RS carryon. I really love the fact that mine will wheel but i cannot pack it too full or use the outside pockets for anything other than'll make it too fat to be considered a carryon (9"). The eBag is really really a nice bag but it doesn't have wheels. It fits a LOT of stuff and has a couple sets of compression straps to make sure it doesn't get too fat!

Posted by
1068 posts

I like RS luggage myself, but also have some by Red Oxx. Their stuff is built like iron.

Posted by
16894 posts

The vast majority of travelers in both the USA and Europe use wheeled bags. Rick's latest Rolling Carry-On is very compact, as well as expandable when you need more space.

But a sturdy young man may fall into the category that is happy with a back pack, such as Rick's Convertible Carry-On. It's similar to the Eagle Creek back pack that I've carried for years and I particularly appreciate both the expanding function and the waist belt. Note that the waist belt won't sit at the waist on taller people. If he has an opportunity to try on a travel back pack in a store, that's better. Another feature of a travel (versus hiking) back pack is usually the way that it zips open, like a suitcase, instead of stuffing everything in from the top.

Posted by
5697 posts

When my 28-year-old daughter needed a new suitcase (wheels on the old rollaboard made noise that could be heard for blocks! ) I checked what was available at local Ross, Sears and Costco -- found one at Sears on sale for about $30 and had her decide whether she wanted it as a gift. For her, a rolling suitcase works. If your son has a different travel style, he might prefer a backpack case or a duffel. Have you asked him what he wants?

Posted by
2081 posts


this is my 0.02 so take it as you want.

But buying someone luggage is like, to me, trying to buy clothes for someone or to find a mate for someone. I think its a nice gesture, but unless you do your sons packing for him, i will bet he will have his own idea on what he wants to use/carry.

When i was looking for my carry on bag i went to a couple luggage shops and then at our local REI store where i felt they had some better knowledge. Also, by then i had an idea on what i wanted too.

he may want or have an idea on what he wants to take with him and then go look for something that fits his needs. Some people can travel with 1, 2 or 3 days change of clothes while some others have a lot more to pack. I got a backpack/bag type carryon since i can use it as a "bag" and when I'm doing a lot of walking in airport terminals or to/from train station to my hotel, i can pull out the straps and carry it as my "backpack". i dont mind the weight on my back since i wore/used one when i was in college and it allows me to keep both hands free.

note that there are 2 so called "standard" sizes that are allowed for carry on. I choose the smaller of the 2 since i figured it would be less hassle.

good luck and happy trails.

Posted by
507 posts

Marie in Boise,is this supposed to be a Christmas gift? You might want to go back to Joel's post & see if you can purchase a gift card from,, or maybe a Samsonite outlet if there is one near you. Then he can choose his own.

I know it is not like buying it yourself. Does he have a wife or girlfriend who would know his tastes?

I am purchasing jackets for ppl ranging in age from 30 yrs to 78 yrs. I needed to ask each one their size & color preference. All they know is they are getting travel jackets.

Ask your son his preference in travel bags, then take it from there.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by
19 posts

I really like my Red Oxx Air Boss. When not over packed it fits in the overhead on most regional jets. I rarely have to gate check.

Posted by
32264 posts


You may find it helpful to have a look at the One Bag, One World website as there are lots of good reviews on various types of luggage. You could also have a look at some of the luggage websites, such as..... (located in Billings, Montana)

These manufacturers have many different types of luggage, and you should be able to find one that fits what you're looking for. A few questions and comments.....

  • What type of luggage is he using now, and does he prefer wheels or without?
  • Soft-sided luggage might be best, as it's able to fit overhead bins better if tightly packed.
  • With wheeled luggage, the type with two large skateboard-style wheels seem to be a bit more robust than the models with four "spinners".

Good luck with your shopping!

Posted by
15662 posts

I run the website Ken mentions and have done reviews on most of the non-wheeled bags mentioned.

Just saying he needs a carry-on leaves a lot to the imagination.

Does he want a bag with wheels or no-wheels? If wheels, two wheels or a four wheel spinner

What is your budget?

Is he concerned about weight?

What features does he want in a bag? Lots of pockets? Expandability?

If he wants a wheeled bag, does he want the option of also wearing it as a backpack?

Posted by
141 posts

Joel, is the Campmor Essential bag collapsible/squashable when empty? I'm looking for an extra bag to take with me (packed in my regular carryon), to use for bringing back extra stuff. Heck, for $30, I might just buy two of them and use the other one as my new carryon!

Posted by
981 posts

Does the RS wheeled carry on comply with the new stricter European guidelines. I believe it is 22 " including wheels and handle. I've never used a carry on before, and I like the 6 lb. Weight if the one on this website.

Posted by
684 posts

riverain, the Campmor bag is collapsible.

Posted by
132 posts

thank you very much for all your suggestions. my son and i went shopping after Christmas and he "tried" out various ones. we ended up ordering the rick steve's backpack and he loves it!
thanks again everyone.