CHOICE membership

Carry-on luggage review


Kmart and Big W suitcases scored comparably to much more expensive brands like American Tourister and Samsonite. Read our carry-on luggage review to find out more or check out our luggage buying guide to find out what to look for in a suitcase.

Share your thoughts about carry-on luggage in the comments below.


Just proves price isn’t everything!


The last time I saw a Choice carry-on luggage review I commented that with a 7kg weight limit a top criterion should be the case’s weight. I carry flight-needs, laptop and delicate gear in my cabin bag, and I handle it myself, so withstanding 3rd-party handling is not a criterion for me.
I cannot see the sense in recommending cabin bags weighing 4.2kg (so you can put 2.8kg of gear in them?) or 3.7kg or 3.0kg bags. In recent years I ignore anything over 2kg and really look for 1.8kg or less, but still with the ease of good spinner wheels.
The best cabin bag I’ve seen (but not in the review) is the Samsonite Uplite (black/grey), 1.8kg, expandable to 42.5 litre packing capacity. The reviewed Samsonite 1.8kg 72 Hour DLX is only 36 litres and its front pocket zip is too low; the Uplite’s is better placed. The Uplite also has good spinner wheels, a TSA lock (security if I’m sleeping) and it’s also better than the Antler Oxygen (which is light and as good as the 72 Hour DLX but wasn’t reviewed).
For the Uplite I paid $180 delivered ($329 retail haha). Also, you haven’t included IT Luggage in either review. My wife and daughter have used theirs for years (1.6kg and 1.8kg) and the luggage is still fine, because they handle it themselves (no airport or transport people thanks). The Uplite is better for me though.
So once more I say, for cabin bags WEIGHT is more important than you/Choice seems to think. For checked luggage, yes, robustness is more important. Maybe you assume you can always get away with over-weight carry-ons. In Europe with 2 of the budget airlines and here with Tiger and Jetstar we’ve sometimes been checked and we’ve been OK, even with our bags having spinner-wheels. We’ve seen other people not being OK and having to check their “cabin bag” and/or pay extra. Hope this helps some travellers.


My carry on bag is a soft Antler bag with wheels and a strap to allow it to be attached to my suitcase. I have found this bag very useful and easy to use for both short domestic and very long international flights. Being soft fabric means that the bag is very light maximising the amount I can pack in it.
I usually pack this bag with my essentials in case my ‘checked bag’ goes missing plus valuables like my camera. It is also useful for overnight trips as it takes a lot of ‘stuff’.

I also take a small backpack with me when I fly. It is small so I can slip in under the seat and therefore it is easily accessible. The backpack takes my laptop, a book and any medication I may need during the flight - no need to access the overhead locker. I only pack enough medication for the flight, the rest goes into the other carry on bag.
The backpack is easy to carry on my back over a long time, avoiding shoulder pain. It is also handy during checkin as the laptop can be pulled out for inspection and it has plenty of pockets for loose change and all those metal bits that set off the scanner!