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Carry On

Looking for 22" soft sided carry on. Suggestions for brands. Thanks

Posted by
136 posts

Over three weeks in Europe earlier this year with our family of four; each of us carried on a Travel Pro Max light 5–22 inch soft side suitcase. We had multiple flights, train trips and hotel stays (walks from train stations to hotels and back); the luggage held up well and worked great for each of us.

Posted by
13684 posts

I looked at the TravelPro Max Lite but in the end went with the Osprey Ozone 2-wheel 21.5 inch bag. It’s not been tested yet as I travel Sunday for 3 weeks. It weighs 4.5#.

Posted by
392 posts

Like Pam, I too have the Osprey Ozone 2 wheeled carry-on. It holds quite a lot, more than what it looks like it would hold, and is lightweight but seems to be very sturdy. I bought it shortly before the pandemic and have used it domestically for probably five or six trips and used it when I went to Italy in August. Even fully packed, it was lightweight enough for me to be able to put in the overhead compartment on my outbound flights. I have checked it for the return flight home several times and it has so far held up really well. What really sold me on this particular bag was the fact that it has two large and very sturdy wheels that are not fazed by cobblestones. On a trip in Sept. 2019, my old four wheel roller bag's wheels broke while going over cobblestones at the beginning of my two week trip. I don't have to worry about that possibility with the Osprey Ozone.

Posted by
11178 posts

I love our Osprey Ozone 22 bags but I don’t think they are made any longer. 😢 Osprey makes a great product so you might see what they offer now,

Posted by
8023 posts

We're on our second set of Travel Pro. We have one set of 22" rollers and a set of 21" with swivel wheels (which we prefer.) We buy them on Amazon.com for very good prices.

22" bags are often measured by overzealous airline reps, and they won't fit in the airline's racks. This is more prevalent with the discount air carriers than the legacy air carriers.

With 21" bags, I've had a number of discussions when airlines try to charge $50 to check it. The wheels make them not fit in the racks. But they're slightly more manageable than 22" bags and carry the same amount..

We find TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning to be great places to buy suitcase at discount prices.

Posted by
14615 posts

Osprey makes good products. One note on their wheeled bags. They only have one telescoping handle. If you plan to piggyback a personal item on top of the bag with a pass thru sleeve, it will not stay in place.

I also suggest taking a trip to one of the discount retailers like TJMaxx or Marshalls or Ross or Tuesday Morning. They usually have a decent selection of bags. Bring a tape measure as the dimensions they list may only be for the bag and does not include the wheels.

I'm making the assumption, I hope correctly, that you want a wheeled bag. If so, do you want two wheels or four?

What is your budget?

Posted by
1259 posts

Looking for 22" soft sided carry on. Suggestions for brands. Thanks

Heheh, big topic, this.
Budget? two or four wheels? Backpack? Combo wheeled backpack? Expected lifespan/durability? International or domestic specs?

My suggestion is (automatically) Tom Bihn's Aeronaut 30L bag, about $300. 19.7" (w) x 12.6" (h) x 7.9" (d) / 500 (w) x 320 (h) x 200 (d) mm it will easily pass any sizer.
Budget: high. Wheels: 0. Lifespan: forever. Fits anywhere.

The larger version, A45, is only another $10, 21.9" (w) x 14" (h) x 9.1" (d) / 555 (w) x 355 (h) x 230 (d) mm so will also fit your 22" spec.

Tom Bihn A 30L. Tom Bihn A 45L

There are, of course, many 22" bags that you can acquire for less than $100 all the way to $700. Just takes research and some driving time. As FrankII suggests, visit your local discount stores where there is always a good selection of clearance merchandise. Department stores are clearing out their remaining luggage, too. Take photos of the tags; you cannot remember the huge variety and where you found each one.

Try to have fun shopping.

Posted by
884 posts

After looking at some of your other posts, what about a soft sided backpack like a Tom Bihn Aeronaut or other similar bag?

Posted by
13684 posts

"Osprey makes good products. One note on their wheeled bags. They only have one telescoping handle. If you plan to piggyback a personal item on top of the bag with a pass thru sleeve, it will not stay in place."

I had seen this as one of the major complaints about this bag on various sites. I have the newest model, just came in stock in late August. It does have an "add-a-bag" attachment clip under the top handle. As mentioned I have not used the bag yet and probably would not use this feature anyway but it might be important to others when considering this bag.

My old Rick Steves 20 inch 2 wheeler has the ability to accommodate a personal item with a trolley strap but the handle is so wobbly that after 1 use I realized that was a no-go. The Osprey mono-pole so far seems sturdier than the RS handle with just a test pull around the house fully packed.

@slws...good to know your Osprey did well with being checked. A forum friend who worked at REI in the past took a look at it and thought it would be fine checked as well. I like the look of the wheels too...should work fine on Italy's cobbles, lol!

Posted by
65 posts

I have a 19” delsey clavel hard side expandable. Along with that i have minestry of supply (strange name) lunar pack. Both fit as carry on for international flights. I was able to do 3 weeks with biking shorts and regular clothes.

The Delsey was $130 from amazon. I think the lunar bag may be out of stock. I had to look long and hard for a rectangular backpack that had the strap so it could ride on the suitcase. I am happy with this combo.

I also really looked for light suitcases. I am 70 and was surprised how often i had to carry my suitcase. Seemed like every escalator in Munich was broken.

I wanted hardsided. I bought my other Filson soft sided bag at Sierra. They had a great selection.

Posted by
19026 posts

The OP did specify "soft sided". To me that means wheeless. A spinner cannot be softsided, because it needs outside structure to stand upright. Two-wheel luggage can have softer sides, but it still need so structure around the handle well so it can be wheeled. The only truly soft sided luggage is a bag without wheels.

I've been using a series of non-wheeled "backpacks" for twenty years (24 weeks of European travel) (RS Convertible, OPEC, and most recently, a Weekender Jr). When I say backpack, I don't mean a school bookbag, one that opens at the top, but a full suitcase, that opens like a book, but that has hide-away shoulder straps so you can carry it on your back.

There are a number of benefits to using this kind of bag.

  1. It leaves you hands free for other things.
  2. Without the weight of a structure or wheels, it weighs a lot less. My eBags eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr. (no longer sold), weighs only about 2½#. I pack less than 10# of stuff (for 3 weeks in Europe), so the bag I'm carrying around weighs about 12#.
  3. Being soft side and flexible (if not completely stuffed), you can often squeeze it into a small space in an otherwise filled overhead bin. I've found that I can sometimes squeeze my bag in front of an oversized roller bag that some jerk selfishly brought on and, since it wouldn't fit wheels first into he bin, had to put in sideways, taking up space that other wise would have been sufficient for at least 2 regulation sized bags.

The lightest bag I ever used was the OPEC (Outdoor Products Essential Carry-on), at 1#13oz. It was great, except that it was almost regulation carryon size (2772 ci), and as I learned to pack less, it was only partially filled and sagged badly. It also didn't have a sternum strap, so I had to keep my hands on the shoulder straps to keep them from sliding off my shoulders. I finally settled for the eTech bag because it had external cinch straps to tighten the load and a sternum strap to keep the shoulder straps on my shoulders.

A lot of manufacturers of wheel bags don't include the wheels and handle in the overall dimensions, so although they say the bag meets airline maximum dimensions, the airlines do count the wheels and hangle in overall length could very likely reject some of those bags as meeting the carryon regulations.

The Tom Bihn 30 is a little small for most packers at under 2000 ci (although I could use it). Although Tom Bihn says that the 45 meets the size regulation of most airlines, most US airlines limit the thickness to 9.0". At 9.1", the TB 45 is slightly oversized for most US airlines, but so close it would probably fit in a sizer. Anyway, as long as you don't pack it to tightly, it should deform enough to conform.

Bottom line: If what you want is a soft sided (non-wheeled) bag, I'd look very hard at eBags' Mother Lode Jr. Travel Backpack. I've analyzed a lot of backpacks, and it had everything I thought was important to me.

Posted by
5985 posts

Lee, I think the OP was using the term "soft sided" to differentiate it from the hard shell carry ons. I may be wrong, but I've heard this term used by many people about bags like that.

alikras, I have the TravelPro Maxlite 5 21" expandable soft-sided spinner and love it. It's lightweight (a little over 5 lbs), durable and attractive. Both my brother, who is a pilot for a major airlines, and my sister-in-law, who is a flight attendant (and they are not married to each other) use TravelPro and have for decades. I pack light enough that I don't use the expandable section but it's nice to have just in case.

And I second David's suggestion for looking on Amazon and in TXMaxx and Tuesday Morning. If you have a Sierra Trading Post nearby, they also have bags. I included a link to the bag so you could see it, but look elsewhere for cheaper pricing. I think I found mine at Lexington Luggage online.

Posted by
14615 posts

A "soft sided" bag has nothing to do with wheels. It means the opposite of hard shell. Most wheeled soft sided bags have a frame but the material is soft.

Posted by
540 posts

Another vote for Travel Pro Max lite bag, we use the 2 wheeler. Amazon had a great price about 3 years ago. Thinking TJ Maxx if Amazon has raised their prices.

Posted by
19026 posts

If you want to stuff your bag into tight spaces, go with soft-sided luggage.
... soft-sided luggage has the benefit of being more pliable
than hard-sided luggage (think about stuffing it in overhead bins
on airplanes or the trunk of a car).

REI.com

Soft backpacks
... These soft bags basically hang on your shoulders. ...
They're also well-suited as carry-ons, since they can squish down to fit
virtually any overhead bin, provided you've packed light enough.

Rick Steves

It's hard to imagine a half full TravelPro 21" Spinner fitting in a volume of say, 1800 ci, because it's sides are "semi-rigid", not soft. Look at it's pictures. Even empty, the 21" Spinner has form. My truly softsided carry-on bags have no form of their own; they lie flat when not packed.

This is not a binary world. Just because a bag is not hard shelled, doesn't make it soft sided. There is a continuum of side striffness, and the 21" Spinner, which retains it's volume when empty, is closer to a hard shelled bag than it is to a soft sided bag.

Posted by
1259 posts

This is not a binary world.

Some things are.
For instance, the event of one's checked bag being on the carousel upon arrival is, in fact, binary. And, like flipping a coin, itself a binary event, the outcomes of all previous events have zero influence on the outcome of the event presently under observation. (For simplicity, I have ignored the questions of odds and probabilities, which result in interesting ratios, but they also have zero influence on whether one's bag arrives at the same time or, even if loaded and sorted properly, perhaps it was lifted from the carousel deliberately or by mistake.)

Binary Baggage Event: maybe the best reason to go carryon-only.

Posted by
124 posts

I just spent the past month doing endless research for a 22" rolling suitcase. I have been using a Victorinox 22 inch soft-sided two wheel rolling suitcase that I loved. It expanded when I needed it and I could use it as a carry on. However on my recent 5 week, carry-on only trip to Europe, the bag started having problems and since it is over 15 years old, I knew it was time to get a new bag. I also decided it was time to get spinner wheels because I am older and was jealous of seeing so many people easily pushing their suitcases along. I bought a Monos 22 inch carry-on and was less than excited when it arrived. It seemed heavier than my Victorinox bag and I just didn't think what I had taken on my recent trip would fit in the Monos suitcase. I also realized I really liked having outside pockets so the search for a new suitcase continued.

I ended up getting the ZDX 22” Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner by Briggs and Riley. With discounts, it was $400 which is more than I usually pay, but the warranty by Briggs and Riley seemed worth it. My husband had their luggage and B&R has stood behind his bags. More importantly, I simply was not finding any suitcase that fit my requirements. I wanted to like the TravelPro suitcases many on here like, but I did not like how it did not expand entirely around the suitcase and only expanded in the lower half. Plus having a bag that was 40L or more was important to me since I wanted the option to expand when I fly home. Call me crazy, but I did a packing test using my Eagle Creek Compresison Cubes and Pack-It Sleeves and all the clothes I took to Europe. So eventhough the B&R ZDX suitcase looked smaller, it fit all my clothes (even without expanding it) and I struggled to get the same items in the Monos suitcase. I thought that was an interesting find because Monos claims to be 48L while B&R is 42L. Perhaps it is because the handle of the B&R suitcase is on the outside. I also realized that I am a soft-sided luggage person, I like having multiple pockets on the outside. I really do have a system with what I take on a trip and how I pack and the soft sided suitcase just fits my "system" better. Adding either my Knackpack backpack or my new Lo & Sons tote to the top as my personal Item, I hope to be gliding through the airport tomorrow when I take my new suitcase on its first trip.

My suggestion, look at the ZDX 22" expandable suitcase and do a packing test. Although more expensive, I figured with all the trips I take and my wanting to do carry-on only from here on out, and wanting a bag I could carry easily now that I am over 60, it was worth the extra expense of ZDX suitcase. Good luck.

Posted by
14615 posts

Briggs & Riley make great bags and their warranty is the best in the businss.

But the bag weighs nearly 7.5 lbs.

Posted by
124 posts

@Frankll I weighed it and it was around 7 pounds but it feels much lighter. Great mobility especially compared to the Monos suitcase. What is interesting is that the Monos and B&R were suppose to weight the same, but the Monos felt much heavier.

Weight is what I always look at first with luggage. At the same time if the suitcase doesn't have all the pockets and features I want, then a pound or two more to get the features I want doesn't bother me. I do weight my clothes now and make my selection based on the lighest clothes. When I took my 5 week trip recently, having only carry-on luggage saved me a lot of troubles especially if you read my post about my three day "adventure" to get to Heathrow.

Posted by
581 posts

Are you looking for one with or without wheels?

Years ago I bought the Ebags Motherload but they they are out of stock.
It was a similar to RS backpack carryon with no wheels but at the time much cheaper.

Posted by
19026 posts

Sounds like what you bought was a Motherload Weekender. There was a full sized Motherload Weekender bag and a Jr. sized bag. Then they also had the eTech 2.0 Weekender, regular and Jr. My eTech Jr. weighs ~2#8oz.

None of those bags were wheeled.

It looks like the only thing in that line that eBags still sells is the Mother Load Jr. at 3#. It's only 19½" high, so a little smaller than regulation. I like the fact that it has cinch straps, since I don't pack it full, and a sternum strap, to keep the shoulder straps on my shoulder. If you can deal with the slightly smaller than regulation size, I would recommend this bag.

Lee,
I have the old etech 2.0 junior. It’s a great bag. Too bad ebags discontinued it a long time ago. Now, modern bags have computer sleeves (which I don’t need or desire). The junior size is great for medium to short gals like me. About 37 - 40 liters - perfect.

Posted by
1110 posts

Sun-baked, isn't this the new name for the old Etech 2.0 jr.?

https://www.ebags.com/backpacks-bags/travel-backpacks/mother-lode-jr-travel-backpack/117769XXXX.html?dwvar_117769XXXX_color=Garnet&cgidmaster=mother-lode

In 2015, I had ordered it from ebags and switched the order to the SOC Bugout Bag which has a hip belt and an internal frame.

Regarding sleeve and padding for laptop, these can be removed using a stitch remover. I did that for an old rolling carryon to free up some space and shed some weight.

Posted by
6932 posts

Yes, I did what Funpig mentioned for a backpack-style carry-on that I use domestically. Actually, I took some small scissors and sliced open a small spot along the edge and was able to slowly rip out pieces of the foam sheet that had been sewn into the backpack sleeve area. I really wish they would make those options as a separate sleeve to slide in only if we want to use it - too bulky & lost space otherwise!

Posted by
19026 posts

No, Funpig, it's not the same bag. When I ordered mine (probably around 2010), there were two models, eTech 2.0 and Mother Lode, both weekenders, in full sized and Jr. models. I'm not sure why I chose the eTech over the Mother Lode. And I don't think either one had a laptop sleeve at that time, although it wouldn't have mattered; I carry my netbook/pad in it's own small case as my personal item. I think the current Mother Lode Jr. is a more recent model, and a little heavier than what was offered when I bought mine.

My eTech came with a waist belt that I have never used. However, I tried it once with a fully loaded pack, just to see how it worked. I found that I was able to loosen the shoulder starps so that the weight of the pack was completely on my hips. Useful knowledge, but insignificant to me because the weight of my loaded pack is only about 12#, and not a strain on my shoulders, so I leave the waist belt at home. The cinch straps and sternum strap are the critical items for me.

Posted by
14615 posts

Has anyone besides me realized that with all this arguing and side conversations, the OP has never returned?

Lee,
Thanks for responding. I wanted to respond last night, but due to Hurricane Ian, my internet service is spotty.

Etech is a different bag. It’s less complicated than the mother lode and has a basic aesthetic for people who want to “blend in.”

Mother lode has had some neat colors though.

Frank, If the OP has disappeared, the rest of us can continue a conversation. It’s like sitting around a table and one person leaves.

I noticed there are some 40 liter travel backpacks on Amazon that are similar to the old etech for about $50, like the Matein or Hyne.

Posted by
884 posts

Has anyone besides me realized that with all this arguing and side conversations, the OP has never returned?

Yes.

Posted by
1259 posts

Has anyone besides me realized that with all this arguing and side
conversations, the OP has never returned?

Heheh. These luggage and carryon threads are never for THEM.

Posted by
818 posts

I also suggest looking at Tom Bihn. They some very nice bags. I have the Aeronaut 45, and love it. It is their largest carry on, and had zip away backpack straps. There is the smaller Aeronaut 30, and also backpack bags as well. Very high quality fabric, and well thought out designs.

Posted by
455 posts

The older Eagle Creek Tarmac was fantastic; you still might be able to find them online somewhere. The newer design is overly stylized and eliminated the pragmatic features the former generation had. They had right amount of pockets, especially a smaller pocket for items to dump when going through security. Enough expansion, not overly featured-out, one of the most copied designs in the luggage world. Wheels and trolley mechanism was flawless, zero zipper failure.

For an investment in quality and design, Briggs-Riley Baseline-series is the gold standard; their ZDK spinners are well featured and similar to the older Eagle Creek Tarmac. Should things go wrong, their warranty is also the best in the business; nothing worse than a blown zipper or, handle that doesn't retract.
Travel Pro's Platinum Elite and Crew VersaPack are also very good.

For a bit more style or, a femine-lean, check out Lipault.