Howdie travelers and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best softside carry-on luggage cases to push into those overhead lockers this year. Whether travelling for business or pleasure, the ability to take ‘carry-on only’ can not only save us time, but often luggage costs as well.

best softside carry-on luggage - header

However of course there are quite a number of options out there to choose from so to help you out, I have had a good look around and come up with three decent choices below.

Let’s check them out…

My Three Recommended Softside Carry-On Luggage Cases

I will review these in more detail below however if you just want to get travelling without all the carry-on (no pun intended haha), my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

03/13/2024 05:28 am GMT Lasso Brag

What are Soft side Carry-On Luggage Cases?

Also known as soft shell carry on cases, softside cases provide a number of advantages for those who either like to travel light or on a budget. They are generally light in weight and with the dimensions allowable by most airlines for on board stowage.

Oh, and the softside option simply means that it is made from a soft material on the side that allows for greater ‘give’ when packing as well as maintaining the ability to be ‘squished’ a little easier than their hardside cousins.

best softside carry-on luggage - woman on travelator

Check out these: Hardside Carry-On Cases

What Should You Be Looking For?

The following factors should be considered as you look around for the best soft carry on case for your travel needs.

  1. Dimensions
  2. Weight
  3. Durability
  4. Internal pockets
  5. Additions

Dimensions

Let’s get real here. If your case does not match the dimensions set out by most airlines around the world, then its usefulness as a carry on bag is moot. So as part of this post, I took the time to look up allowable carry on bag dimensions for 20 odd of the highest profile airlines around the world and they all outline the following as allowable (or close enough to):

9″ x 14″ x 56″ or 23cm x 36cm x 22cm

Put simply, if your case does not meet these dimensions, then you are taking the risk of being sent to check in. Oh, and don’t forget the wheels – In my experience some airlines include then in the size and some don’t

Weight

The second most important factor when it comes to luggage is weight. As more and more airlines start to police the weight of carry-on, the heaviness of your suitcase can severely reduce the amount of gear you can take.

Many airlines here in Australia restrict carry-on luggage to 7kg (14.4lb) meaning then that the lighter the case, the more you can take with you and still get it into the cabin.

best softside carry-on luggage - man pulling softshell case

Durability

As we all know, travel can be especially tough on luggage. And whilst carry-on may not get the rough treatment of check in luggage, it will still be bumped and bashed around the plane, car, hotel and airport.

To counteract this, look for a case with a strong polyester or nylon material that is resistant to cuts and scratches and water resistant as well. In any cases, material durability is measured by its Denier rating where the higher the number, the stronger it is.

Front and Internal pockets

Even though they are small, many of the best softside luggage cases come with internal pockets and cross straps for better packing ability and roominess and some also include padded pockets and satchels for tablets and laptops as well.

And in another differentiation from hardsided options, many softside cases come with front pockets for extra storage and ease of access too.

Additions

Other potential additions include:

  1. Wheels: Some like them, some don’t, but wheeled carry-on bags make it a lot easier to move it around. Just be aware of their influence on bag size.
  2. Telescoping handle: To be honest, you will hard pressed to find a bag without it but a telescoping handle assists in pushing the bag along on the wheels
  3. TSA locks: TSA locks are used in the United States to allow the TSA to check inside bags without the need to damage the padlock. Some carry on luggage options have these built in.
  4. Expandable zips: These allow the bag to carry more via an internal extension panel. This will however increase the dimensions.

Check out these: 3 Best TSA-Approved Carry-On Suitcases

FAQ

What is the best softside carry on luggage?

The best softside carry-on luggage is light in weight, durable and easy to move around. Most importantly, it fits within the dimension limitations of the major airlines. Look for something around 9″ x 14″ x 56″ in size with a high Denier rated Polyester that is cut, scratch and water resistant.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Roller Luggage

This first option is light weight and durable with dimensions that meet airline dimension requirements even with the wheels. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: SwissGear
  • Dimensions:  22.75 x 14.25 x 10.25 inches including wheels
  • Weight: 8lb
  • Construction: 600 Denier scuff-resistant polyester fabric
  • Internal pockets: Interior flat, mesh pockets with adjustable tie downs and a zipper wet bag
  • External pockets: Two external zippered pockets

Other inclusions:

  • 360 degree spinner wheels
  • Telescoping handle
  • Side handle
  • Reinforced zipper
  • Exandable zip
  • Available in 11 colors and larger sizes as well

Why have I chosen it?

With this first option, the spinner wheels rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuverability with strong zippers and an internal locking telescoping handle. It will fit all airline dimension limitations and allows for maximum packing for little weight. A great option for intermittent and frequent travelers alike.

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03/13/2024 05:28 am GMT

2. Travelpro Maxlite Softside Expandable Upright 2 Wheel Luggage

This second option is another super durable option that can handle anything thrown at it with smooth wheels and fantastic internal organization as well. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Travelpro
  • Dimensions: available in  20 x 15 x7.7″ and 21 x 14 x 9″ options (including wheels)
  • Weight: 7.25lb
  • Construction: Polyester fabric with stain resistant, water repellant duraguard coating
  • Internal pockets:  Mesh zippered lid pocket and adjustable hold down straps
  • External pockets: Full length pocket at front

Other inclusions:

  • Single line ball bearing wheels
  • Telescoping handle
  • High tensile external zippers
  • Low profile side carry handles
  • Expandable zipper for 2″ extra space
  • Available in 12 colors and medium size as well

Why have I chosen it?

This is another great lightweight option with a scratch resistant shell with durable zippers. It comes with great internal options for ease of packing as well as double wheels for great maneuverability. It also comes with an expandable zipper setup providing for an extra 2″ in internal space as well.

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03/13/2024 06:21 am GMT

3. Samsonite Solyte DLX Softside Expandable Luggage

My last carry-on option comes from a well known and trusted luggage brand with everything needed for long lasting use trip after trip. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Samsonite
  • Dimensions: 22.0″ x 14.0″ x 9.5″ (including wheels)
  • Weight: 7.11lb
  • Construction: 100% rugged polyester weave
  • Internal pockets:  Mesh zip and wet pockets with adjustable tie down straps
  • External pockets: Two external pockets on front

Other inclusions:

  • Multi-directional 360 degree double spinner wheels
  • Telescoping handle
  • Side mounted USB port
  • Expansion zip for .75″ extra space
  • Available in 5 colors and larger sizes

Why have I chosen it?

This third softside suitcase is light weight and built to last with a polyester weave case that is strong and scratch resistant with a USB port built in (battery not included). The oversized spinner wheels make for excellent mobility at a size that meets all airline limitations. This is a fantastic option for frequent travelers who need quality in their luggage needs.

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03/13/2024 10:17 am GMT

Conclusion

There you have it, my three best soft side carry on luggage cases to meet your in-cabin needs. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

Paul

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