I've seen comments in old threads telling people to just look, that there are "lots" of alternatives. I've been looking and looking, and I'm a little stumped. It's easy to find 22x14x9 bags, yes. But ITA Airways says carryon 55x35x25 which converts to 21.6x13.8x9.8. Now United says 56 and converts that generously to 22. So will ITA let a 22" total carryon go through?
The Bric's B/Y spinner is 21x14x9 but has miserably tight handles from the looks of it. Not sure how I'm supposed to carry that up stairs to a hotel if I can't fit my fingers in the handles. The Travelpro compacts are closer but either 22 or have bad handles.
The only actual competitors I've found are the LL Bean Approach med (about the same specs as RCO, more money, a few less features) and the Osprey Daylite wheeled 40 (is the material thin?). I looked at backpacks but when I actually looked at the data, I'd be paying more money and going through more hassle and not actually gaining anything. The packs just go a fuzz smaller, generally, so they carry about the same as the wheeled units just without wheels. I wore a backpack today with 16 pounds of weight for an hour while walking the dog, doing 9 flights of stairs, etc. to see what I thought. I also carried a 16 pound carryon up and down 3 flights with the backpack and pulled the carryon a while. The weight is not an issue, plenty strong to do it. But the MATH isn't there.
LL Bean Approach 45L=2412, 20x11.75x9, 3.3 lb
Osprey Fairview 40=2441, 22x14x9, 3.7 lb
So those backpacks have the same storage as the RCO not expanded. They would give me 3 extra pounds of stuff, but no extra. And the Fairview has that same issue of being 22, not 21.6. Will it matter?? I legit don't know.
The thing I concluded is necessary is good handles on the carryon. That's why I'm down on the Bric B/Y spinner. How do you pick a square box up with no handles to go up stairs, put it on a rack, etc.? Or maybe I'm overthinking it and it's fine and the handles aren't that important? It's just what I noticed hauling the carryon up and down the stairs today, that how you carry it will make it feel easier or harder.
See anything there? Would I be ok going with a 22" carryon for ITA or do I need to be careful to keep it 21.6"? Are there more options with those specs I've missed? Has anyone used the Osprey Daylite wheeled 40 or the LL Bean Approach medium to have an opinion on them vs. the RCO?