Buying The Right Carry-On Duffel Bag

It’s no surprise to anyone who travels that airlines are the worst things going.  They may seem nice at first, but look behind their eyes and you see money hungry lunatics raising travel prices every minute.  These days, travelers are forced to stuff their carry-ons to the brink of explosion.  But there’s only so much overhead space.  In turn, carry-ons need to have ample interior room, while being more compact than ever.

The biggest choice you face while deciding to buy your new carry-on is whether to get a wheeled suitcase or go with the new trend of duffles and weekender bags.  Once into the duffle segment, how many carrying straps do you need?  It all depends on how much weight you’re willing and able to carry, or simply, how much weight you’re willing to pull behind you.

Must Haves:


Hard, structured wheeled suitcases are great for check-in luggage, but that's not what we are looking for when on a mission to buy the best carry-on.  Hard-case carry-ons are extremely hard to fit in the overhead compartments and especially under your seat.  For carry-ons, we always recommend a soft-case bag with that “squishability” factor, even if it has wheels.

Packing a Laptop?

As frequent fliers, we are very aware that laptops must come out of your bag while going through airport security.  If you want to carry a laptop, your best bet is having a separate padded compartment that's easily accessible.

Style Above All Else:

If you’re traveling for business, odds are a client will see your carry-on at one point or another.  Don’t make a fool of yourself, go for business appropriate and splurge on leather.  You’ll thank us later.

Must Avoid:

Heavy (Empty) Bags:

If your bag weighs a ton and a half BEFORE you pack, you’ve got a problem.  Running to catch your flight with a 30-pound weight in your hand wouldn't be fun; neither is carrying/pulling an unnecessarily heavy bag.  Find a bag that's the perfect mix of sturdy and lightweight to get the best of both worlds.

Single Compartment Bags:

Many carry-ons don't have added pockets for your smaller, get to quick items.  Having easy access internal AND external pockets make security checkpoints must easier.

Thin Strap Bags:

Many carry-ons come with a single shoulder strap.  While this is fine for lighter loads, carrying a weeks worth of clothes on one thin strap will not feel like a massage; it will hurt!  Many bag brands will create an alternative heavy weight strap that you can buy.  You may think it’s redundant to buy another strap when your bag comes with one, but take our word for it; the thicker straps are typically worth every penny.

District Grain's Favorite Carry-On Duffels

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