Best Carry-On Luggage for Women & TOP 11 Carry-On Backpack Reviews 2023

I think we can all agree that traveling with carry-on luggage is the best way to go.

You save on baggage fees, you don’t have to worry about your bags getting lost or ending up in a different country, and you don’t have to wait for it to arrive on the baggage carousel at the end of the journey.

But even if you are checking in a bag as well, you still want to make sure that your hand luggage allows you the most comfortable and convenient travel experience.

So, how do we go about choosing the best carry-on bag for a woman?

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This may sound sexist, I’ll admit. Why should women have any different requirements than a man when it comes to carry-on luggage?

women travel with carry-on backpack

Well, depending on your personal preferences and personality traits, there may be no differences. But, usually, there will be some things that we women will be more specific about.

These might include style (yes – it matters), practicality (easy to carry and lightweight), a decent number of pockets for gear organization, soft or hard shell, whether it has lockable zips, and whether it is water-resistant in case you arrive in the rain.

Let’s go into a little more detail…

Factors To Keep In Mind When Choosing The Best Carry-On Luggage For Women

women traveling with carry-on luggage

Suitcase with Wheels vs. Backpack

This really depends on the kind of traveling you’re going to be doing when you reach your destination.

But it also comes down to personal preference and whether or not you’ve checked in any other luggage.

If you’ve already checked in a suitcase with wheels, wheeling the second one behind you with your hand luggage once you arrive may not be the most convenient way to go.

In this situation, a backpack may make more sense.

But if you haven’t checked in any other luggage and your travels are going to be mainly urban or in developed countries, then a small suitcase with wheels will save you having to carry your things on your back, and may be easier to live out of once you arrive than a backpack with top-only access.


When considering the size of your carry-on luggage, it depends whether you want it to fit in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you.

Only a small backpack will fit under the seat in front of you well enough that one of the airplane staff won’t ask you to stow it in the overhead locker instead.

But, having a bag that fits comfortably under the seat can be a huge advantage if you want to be able to access your stuff easily during the flight, or if the flight is busy and there is limited space in the lockers.

hardside carry-on luggage with wheels

Hard or Soft Shell

Aside from personal preference, there are some practicality considerations when it comes to choosing between hard and soft shell suitcases.

Hardshell cases will protect your things more from being bumped around.

So if you have any fragile cargo or plan to purchase breakable souvenirs, a hard case might be the way to go.

Hard cases are also almost guaranteed to be waterproof and very secure from a locking point of view, but they are also heavier and so may eat into your weight allowance more than you’d like.

Soft-shell cases are sometimes more convenient if you want the option of being able to squeeze more things into your suitcase or compress it when you’re carrying less.

They also tend to have more pockets on the outside for easy access to certain items. However, they are less likely to be waterproof and won’t be as secure from a locking point of view.

Number of Pockets

There are different reasons for having a good number of internal and external pockets on your hand luggage.

However, this does depend on whether you want your bag to be in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you.

Theft of personal items in flight is becoming an increasing problem, so for this reason, you may want to have less rather than more external pockets on your bag if it will be going in the overhead locker.

If your bag will be under the seat in front of you, plenty of pockets will be helpful in organizing your stuff so that you’ll have easy access to the essentials in flight.

4 Wheels or 2?

If you’ve decided to go with a suitcase with wheels, you may be surprised to find that there are even more options!

4 wheeled suitcases allow for a 360 degree spinning action which could be handy when navigating a busy airport and turning tight corners.

They also mean that all of the weight is on the ground and you have the option of pushing the case beside you as opposed to just pulling it.

2 wheeled cases, on the other hand, make for a slightly smaller, sleeker case, are often cheaper and just as easy to tow behind you even though you bear a little more of the weight yourself.


This is something that could be easily overlooked or forgotten about.

But I can assure you, a waterproof bag is very important if you want to keep your valuables safe and dry!

Traveling often means arriving in foreign places where you’re not familiar with the weather patterns, so it’s definitely better to be prepared and make sure that your luggage is at the very least water-resistant.

Women solo traveler with carry-on bag


None of us want to pay good money for a bag that will fall apart after its first trip.

But durability is important for a number of reasons.

A durable bag is going to provide more security and protection for your valuables, is better for the environment as it will last you a lot longer than a cheap, less durable bag, and will save you money in the long run!

Lockable Zips

Unfortunately, security is something we need to think about in order to keep our belongings safe.

If you think you may at some point take an overnight flight, I would highly recommend getting luggage with zips that you can lock together so that you can sleep soundly knowing your belongings are safe.

There is nothing worse than a broken night’s sleep because you’re worried about your stuff!

Now that we’ve gone over some things to consider, here are some reviews to help get you started on your hunt for the best carry-on bag for a woman 2023.

11 Reviews of the Best Women’s Carry-On Luggage 2023

Samsonite Omni Hardside Spinner

The Samsonite Omni is hard to beat in the world of hard-shell suitcases. It’s top-quality in terms of durability, security, waterproofing and packing organization.

The handle is sturdy and stable, the wheels roll smoothly, the zip is slick and the whole thing does exactly what you need it to.

22”x15”x9.5” exterior dimensions fit most airline standards but maybe a little big for some so it would pay to check this specifically.


  • The micro-diamond textured shell is scratch-resistant keeping your case looking sparkly new no matter how many trips you’ve been on.
  • The side-mounted TSA lock means you won’t have to worry about security or purchasing any of your own padlocks.
  • Packing and organizing your things will be a breeze with its full-zip interior, dividers, and cross-straps.
  • It’s expandable in case you need a little extra space while on your trip.


  • May be a tiny bit too big for some airline’s requirements.
  • 81 lbs. weight will eat a little into your weight allowance.
  • No side handle may make lifting into the overhead lockers a little awkward.


This one top of the line suitcase, being stylish and secure but priced reasonably, it is among the best carry-on luggage for women.

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Extra Capacity Carry-On

Victorinox are known for top quality products, and this hard shell suitcase is no exception.

The comfort grip aluminum handle system locks in 3 different positions allowing you to adjust for different heights and whether you’re pulling or pushing the case.

The zippered mesh dividing wall inside makes organizing your belongings easy while compression straps keep everything in place.

Its 16.3”x21.7”x9.3” dimensions meet IATA carry-on regulations while providing maximum interior packing capacity.


  • The break-resistant polycarbonate shell is durable and likely to carry your belongings safely over many flights.
  • 8 Dual-caster spinning wheels make for ultra-convenient 360-degree maneuverability.
  • The Travel Sentry Approved Combination Lock will have you sleeping peacefully knowing your things are safe.


  • 1lbs. is a little on the heavy side for an empty case.
  • This a rather an expensive suitcase.


If you have the budget for it, this suitcase won’t let you down.

It is strong, durable, well designed and probably the best carry-on luggage for women with back problems as a result of its excellent maneuverability.

Eagle Creek Tarmac Carry-On

Built for security and durability, the Eagle Creek Tarmac is another excellent wheeled suitcase option.

It is a two-wheeled alternative to the 4 wheeled spinners above, finding the middle ground between pocketless hard shells and complete soft shells.

The lightweight polycarbonate shell provides structure and durability underneath the fabric outer while the 3 pairs of lockable YKK zippers provide security for the main compartment and 2 front pockets.


  • 2 exterior front pockets allow for quick access to certain items and are also lockable so you won’t have to worry about your pockets being a weak point from a security perspective.
  • Includes a padded sleeve for things like a laptop or tablet, and compression straps to help keep everything contained.
  • 2 larger than usual wheels have added tread to cope with any uneven terrain at your travel destination.
  • The padded side handles compress easily so won’t cause problems with exceeding dimensions of hand luggage.


  • The telescope handle takes up a little interior space.


This is another fantastic option when looking for the best women’s carry-on luggage, being a great blend of security, convenience and easy maneuverability.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Expandable Carry-On

Being one of the most popular carry-on bags for business trips, this stylish Briggs & Riley case is a great choice for professional women.

The ballistic nylon outer is durable, water-resistant and tough against wear and dirt accumulation, while the 2 sturdy wheels roll easily over variable terrain.

22”x14”x9” external dimensions including the wheels and handles should fit most carry-on regulations but check your airline to be sure.


  • The aircraft-grade aluminum handle has 4 lockable heights and retracts externally so that it doesn’t take up interior packing space.
  • The suitcase expands for 25% of extra volume if needed during the trip and then retracts easily to fit the requirements of carry-on luggage.
  • The built-in suiter provides storage space for 2 suits to prevent creasing.
  • Interior mesh pockets provide convenient storage.
  • Briggs & Riley bags come with an amazing lifetime warranty so you can be sure you’re purchasing a top quality product.


  • Weighing over 8 lbs. this case is on the heavy side.
  • It’s a little pricey!


With the perfect balance of style and practicality, this suitcase is the best carry-on bag for women traveling alone.

IT Luggage – 8 Wheel Spinner

This 9”x14”x22” soft shell spinning wheel suitcase will be so much fun to wheel around airports you’ll almost want to buy it just for that reason.

The main drawcard of this case is its lightweight, which makes it easy and convenient to travel with while not eating into your weight allowance.

Designed for maximum interior packing space, the handle doesn’t steal any of that space from you, leaving you with a flat, spacious surface for packing your belongings.


  • 8 Wheels make wheeling this suitcase up the aisle of a plane a breeze.
  • The fiberglass frame is strong and lightweight.
  • Mesh interior pockets and 2 exterior pockets allow for plenty of storage options.
  • High-density polyester is durable while the aluminum handle is sturdy and locks into place.
  • 4 lbs. is heavier than a backpack but very light for a suitcase on wheels.
  • There is a side handle for extra lifting convenience.


  • Exterior zip pockets can’t be locked.
  • Not as durable as a heavier model.


If you’re looking for a lightweight suitcase on wheels that is affordable and will allow you plenty of space for arranging your belongings, this is a great choice.

CalPak Silverlake Hardside Carry-On

To add a more affordable option to the list of hard shell carry-on suitcases, the CalPak Silverlake is a great choice when looking for the best women’s carry-on bag.

CalPak is a Californian brand that produces good quality luggage at an affordable price.

The Silverlake is an ideal piece of carry-on luggage for women who are after a hard shell, 4 wheeled suitcase that is lightweight and inexpensive.


  • 4 Spinner wheels allow for easy maneuvering down narrow aisles or through busy airports.
  • The mounted combination lock provides convenient security.
  • 2 internal compartments and zip pockets allow for easy organization.
  • Main compartment expands up to 2 inches for extra versatility.


  • The combination lock is not TSA friendly.
  • It won’t be as durable as some of the more expensive suitcases.


The Silverlake is the best women’s carry-on luggage for those women on a budget who want a hardshell case that will do the job without breaking the bank!

Cabin Max Metz Flight Approved Backpack

The Cabin Max Backpack is a great choice for those who want the capacity of a suitcase designed for the overhead locker, but the carrying style of a backpack.

Weighing only 1.5 lbs. and with dimensions of 21” X 14” X 9”, this bag is designed to meet the maximum size requirements of IATA flights while not taking up too much of your weight allowance.

It is easy and comfortable to carry with adjustable, padded shoulder straps and a carrying handle.

What is really great, is that this backpack opens like a suitcase, so once you’re safe in your hotel room, you can access all of your stuff easily without having to rummage.


  • The impressive 44L capacity is rare in a backpack that fits carry-on luggage size requirements.
  • 2 Internal zipped compartments and an additional external compartment allowing for easy organization of your belongings.
  • Compression straps at the side help to reduce pack size and contain your belongings.
  • Zips can be locked together, although you’ll need 2 of your own padlocks to lock both sets of zips.
  • The composite nylon material is durable, strong and shower-proof.


  • This backpack won’t be comfortable to carry if it’s packed with heavy gear as it doesn’t have the support system of hiking backpacks, but provided you’re sticking to the carry-on weight limits, you shouldn’t have an issue.


This is the best carry-on backpack for women who want a backpack style bag for the overhead locker but don’t intend to walk with it for long distances.

Osprey Packs Farpoint Travel Backpack

Osprey is renowned for producing some of the best hiking backpacks on the market, so it’s exciting for travelers that they have also produced more travel-focused bags.

This 40L travel backpack is ideal for women wanting a backpack that will fit in the overhead locker but at the same time be a great travel companion, with enough space for clothes and travel essentials.


  • The harness and hip belt can be zipped away into the back panel of the bag keeping it out of the way when not in use while the padded side panel makes it easy to lift the pack into the overhead locker or into the back of a bus.
  • The whole bag unzips like a suitcase for easy accessibility once safe in your room.
  • Front compression straps allow for soft items to be compressed to reduce pack size.
  • Main compartment zips can be locked together for security.
  • Plenty of pockets allow for easy gear organization.


  • It’s hard to find a con for this bag if a travel backpack is what you’re looking for!


This is the best travel carry-on backpack for women owing to its light weight but supportive harness, and fantastic gear organization options.

Hynes Eagle Flight Approved Carry-On Backpack

The Hynes Eagle is another excellent choice for a carry-on backpack that doubles as a travel pack for short or light weight trips.

It will fit perfectly in the over-head locker while in flight and then function as a comfortable backpack once you reach your destination and continue your travels.

The large main compartment and front pocket and lockable zips while side compression straps keep everything snug and secure.


  • 600D Polyester outer material is tough and hard wearing.
  • Padded shoulder straps and sternum strap for extra support and stability.
  • Easy grab handles on the top and side will make lifting the bag into the overhead lockers easy.
  • Being very reasonably priced, this is an affordable and excellent value backpack.
  • The front pocket has interior slots for easy stowing of valuables while the main compartment has tie down straps to keep things from moving around.


  • A little less durable than more expensive bags.


This is the best women’s carry-on backpack for weekend trips or lightweight traveling.

Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

This is one stylish backpack that is also durable and practical for plane travel.

The Matein Travel Laptop Backpack could fit under the seat in front of you at a stretch, but will definitely be comfortable in the overhead locker too, being a fantastic piece of carry-on luggage if you’re traveling with a laptop.

2 main compartments include a specific padded laptop compartment, while the additional front pocket has extra compartments for small items such as pens and keys, meaning you’ll have no trouble keeping your things organized.

Weighing less than 2 lbs. and with space for laptops under 17”, this is a good, sturdy, lightweight backpack.


  • Water resistant material will keep your valuables safe in light rain.
  • External USB charging port allows you to connect your devices to a portable power bank (not included) for easy charging while on the road.
  • Padded, adjustable shoulder straps are breathable and comfortable to wear.
  • An additional anti-theft pocket is located on the back panel and zips up against the small of your pack for maximum security against pickpockets, while remaining main compartment zips can be locked together.
  • This is also a very affordable backpack.


  • It’s very hard to find a con for this backpack! It won’t be the same quality as a more expensive backpack but it is still very good value for money.


This is the best carry-on backpack for women who travel with a laptop.

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Travel Backpack

For those women wanting something that can easily fit under the seat in front you, the Outlander Ultra Lightweight backpack is a perfect choice.

Made of rip-proof and water-resistant nylon, this backpack is very durable and has plenty of pockets for convenient access.

What makes this backpack so awesome is the fact that when it’s not in use, it packs down to a hamburger-sized cube for easy storage while traveling. The two-way zips could be locked together if you have a very tiny padlock by hand but this might not be particularly effective.

And, if the bag is under the seat in front of you, you may not need to lock them anyway.


  • The backpack comes with an impressive warranty.
  • Weighing less than 0.5 lbs. this is one very lightweight backpack.
  • Durable material is wear and water-resistant.
  • 2 exterior pockets and an interior zippered mesh pocket for valuables.


  • The zips can’t be locked very easily.


Being one highly convenient travel companion, this backpack is the best carry-on bag for women, as it will fit under the seat and then tuck away conveniently into your main luggage when not in use.

That concludes this list of reviews for the best carry-on bag for a woman. I hope you found it informative and feel inspired to choose the best carry-on bag for you using the list above.

Feel free to comment if you’ve tried any of these bags, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And, if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe for more helpful articles and download our essential e-book for solo travel safety.



She runs her own blog about everyday womanhood struggles at, while still being a frequent contributor at Independent Wolf. She likes to think she’s somewhat funny (mainly cracks up at her own jokes) and she also loves traveling.

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