Let’s put the carry-on-vs.-checked-bags debate to the side for a moment and concentrate on the crucial role of that first type of suitcase. This is the luggage that will go through the travel battles with you: the quest to pack every last item in, the mad dash to the gate, the heave into the overhead bin.
We put a few to the test, asking the important questions. How spinny are the wheels? How sturdy is the handle? What’s the deal with all the zippers? How complicated are the locks? How easy is it to heft? And, importantly, how much can you fit in?
The contenders were the Away Bigger Carry-On ($245); the Calpak Davis 20-inch Hardside Spinner (not on the manufacturer site anymore, but $80 elsewhere; the similar-size Trnk model is $145); and the 21-inch Samsonite Vibratta Hardside Spinner. (Vibratta is discontinued, but the similar Freeform style is listed at $120 on sale or $340 regular price.)