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Everyone has their own particular suitcase needs and preferences; some travelers prefer softside for carryon travel, so if you’re on the lookout for a reliable, lightweight one, check out these reader recommendations for the best soft suitcase!

 


Best Soft Sided Luggage


 

 

Table Of Contents

 

 

When it comes to preparing for your upcoming travels, making sure you have a trusty carryon is absolutely essential. While there are so many options out there and great points on both sides of the hard vs soft luggage debate, a soft shell suitcase is a timeless classic! They’re lightweight, super packable, and tend to be easier to work with overall. 

 

Should you need more assistance on what is the best suitcase for you, check out these comprehensive resources:

 

  • How to Choose the Right Travel Luggage – If you’re new to traveling carryon only, this handy guide will help you determine what luggage to choose and what features to look out for.
  • Top Suitcase Recommendations – If you’re unsure what carryon luggage brands are best, readers (the experts) share the top brands to buy!
  • Best Carry-on Suitcases for Traveling Europe – This roundup is helpful when deciding what is the best size and type of luggage to travel around European cities that involve restrictive budget airlines, train travel, and navigating endless stairs, and the infamous cobblestone streets!
  • Best Lightweight Luggage Under 5 lbs – While the size of a carryon is vital so is the weight! An overweight bag can put a damper on your trip if you have to pay overweight fees. This article shares the best lightweight luggage out there! 
  • Hardside vs. Softside Luggage: Pros and Cons – If you’re on the fence between the two, readers offer insight into the pros and cons. Ultimately, what you choose is solely up to you!
  • Best Checked Luggage – If you’re taking a longer trip, traveling with others and sharing luggage, or simply just like having options, check out the best checked bags that readers swear by!

 

Our well-traveled readers have helped us compile this list of the best soft side luggage and have come up with the most lightweight, user-friendly brands! 

 

Readers agree that the best tool for organizing and compressing clothes is by using packing cubes! See this tutorial video on how to use carryon packing cubes!

 

 

Best Soft Luggage With Wheels for Carryon Travel

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Travelpro Maxlite 5 21” Soft Luggage Bags Suitcases

 

So many of our readers say that Travelpro makes some of the best softside options! And this 21” Maxlite 5 was the #1 selling suitcase on the blog last year! The Maxlite is incredibly lightweight and the name refers to its weight, at only about 5.4 lbs it won’t be an annoyance to haul around. At the same time, the packing capacity is outstanding, able to expand up to 2” if you need a little extra room! 

This suitcase rides like a dream, with a sturdy handle (that expands up to an impressive 42.5”!) and smooth spinner wheels. Interior and exterior compartments keep things super organized, and the overall quality and durability make it an amazing investment. It also comes in a range of pretty colors! 

 

While the 21” is a top pick, our readers have raved about many of the other carryon sizes, too:

  • The 19” Maxlite 5 is a perfect carry on size for European flights. 
  • The 20” Maxlite 5 has all the same great features but is a little more compact to fit in almost any overhead bin with ease.   
  • The 22” Maxlite 5 upright model is a slightly bigger option, so it’s ideal for domestic flights or longer getaways where you’re packing carryon only. 
  • Their soft side luggage sets are highly rated, too, and look so amazing all together! 

 

One TFG reader shares her adoration for this brand, “I love my Travelpro Maxlite 5! Easy to pack, cubes fit great. Use it carryon domestically all the time for work travel. Easy to lift in/out of overhead with handles.”

 

Read TFG’s review to out why our readers can’t stop raving about the Travelpro Maxlite 5!

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Travelpro Platinum Elite 20” Soft Sided Suitcase 

 

The  Platinum Elite 20” Suitcase is equipped with so many incredible features, and it certainly doesn’t sacrifice on style, either! At a light 8.4 lbs, this TravelPro is sleek and sophisticated and rolls along effortlessly. There are also leather top and side handles for easy carrying. And bonus, it has a 15″ padded laptop sleeve and RFID blocking pockets (great for Europe). 

One reader shares, “I have the TravelPro with the charging option and I love it. I travel at least three to four international trips a year. What’s great is you don’t need to worry about losing a cable, grabbing or dropping your battery pack when rushing to board as it’s all contained.”

For a size guaranteed to fit in domestic overhead compartments, the 21” will have your back. Or, if you need something even smaller for European travel, opt for the 19” version. 

Also available in a beautiful 2-piece luggage set.

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Travelpro Crew Versapack 21” Soft Shell Luggage

 

The Crew Versapack 21” from Travelpro is another highly rated option. This carryon size fits most overhead bin restrictions, is super lightweight at 7.99 lbs, and is easy to maneuver. The wheels and handle are sturdy and smooth, and readers say Travelpro luggage holds up super well. This option also features a complimentary toiletries bag that’s TSA compliant! 

For a smaller alternative, the 20” is a popular pick that fits 80% most international carryon standards and gives you a little extra packing space! One reader reports, “Travelpro Crew is solid and used by most crew members.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Briggs and Riley 22” Carry-On Luggage Softside

 

There are a lot of Briggs and Riley luggage fans in the TFG community! Their 22” carryon is highly rated for its quality and performance, and readers say it’s SO worth the investment. This luxurious suitcase features a strong fiberglass frame, spinner wheels, an adjustable handle, corner guards, and it’s expandable, so there’s no question that this piece can handle anything! 

There’s a TSA lock, a power compartment for charging on the go, and amazing organizational features inside. And despite it being on the bigger side, it’s quite lightweight at 8 lbs. It’s a great domestic carryon option, though some readers have been able to use it on international flights, too! 

One reader shares, “The features, durability, and warranty were deciding factors for me. I have the international expandable carry on size—used it for two weeks in France along with a backpack and didn’t check bags. Worked really well on planes, trains, and having to change destinations frequently.”

 

Read these tips on how to pack for 5kg baggage allowance!

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Delsey Paris Sky Max 21” Soft Shell Suitcase 

 

The Delsey Paris Sky Max 21” is a stunner at 5.67 lbs, with silver metal accents, cushioned top and side carry handles for easy lifting, and a beautiful exterior and interior! The spinner wheels roll smoothly, and exterior pockets allow easy access to essentials. Your belongings will stay safe with the zipper locks, and its constructed of lightweight and durable DuraTec fabric that stands up to rigors of travel and looks great. 

Another popular Delsey suitcase is the 20” Helium DLX carryon, which is made of a Duratec fabric, Ergonomical handles, with hanging, removable bi-fold organizer, and many pockets for major organization! It’s lightweight but very resilient. 

TFGers adore their softside Delsey. One reader says, “Not a huge fan of hard shell, I can get more in a soft side and love this brand.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Samsonite Solyte DLX 20” Soft Luggage With Wheeled 4-Spinner

 

The 20” Samsonite Solyte DLX is an easy, lightweight option at 6.97 lbs. that works with most domestic airlines. Samsonite is known for its incredible quality, and this carryon is no exception. It’s made of durable polyester that users say holds up extremely well, and the spinner wheels and handle stay firm and easy to use, even after years of use! 

The built-in interior organization is wonderful, and there’s even a USB port so you’ll never be without power! It’s a great compact bag that you can fit so much in! 

The Samsonite Ascella carryon is another great 20” option with slightly different dimensions that make it a bit more compact. It’s simple, super easy to maneuver, and is really spacious inside! 

One reader says about her Solyte DLX, “This is a really great and wonderfully built bag. It’s expensive, but I love mine.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon | Osprey

 

Osprey Transporter 22” Carryon Soft Luggage  

 

If you do a lot of international travel, the Osprey Transporter is a stellar option! This suitcase is a globally accepted carryon size, so the Transporter will be by your side no matter where you travel to!  However, check with the airlines you plan to fly on to double-check the requirements.

The large front pocket features a padded laptop sleeve that will fit laptops up to 16”, and the internal pockets and mesh dividers make organization a breeze! The oversized wheels make for an impressive ride, too. Overall, this option is super durable and functional for all types of travel, to all destinations! You can buy the 22” at Amazon or on the Osprey site

One Osprey fan shares, “If you are thinking about buying it: DO IT! This is about as perfect of a bag and company as you are going to find in this price range.”

The popular Osprey Daylite wheeled duffle makes a fantastic alternative as well. This 40L duffle fits most airline carryon requirements and has a super handy collapsible design. The Daylite is sturdy and durable, constructed with sustainable materials, and one of the coolest features is the detachable backpack straps to change how you carry it! 

 

Here are the best carryon suitcases for traveling Europe!

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Steve Madden 20” Carry-On Soft Luggage 

 

While designer luggage may not be an immediate thought, this Steve Madden 20” carryon is chic, lightweight (7.8 lbs!), and can fit in the smallest of overhead bins! 

Because of its compact size, readers say this choice is great for both domestic and international travel. This suitcase is crazy durable, made with high-quality polyester. It also has a wide wheel base so it won’t fall over, which is a common complaint of softside users.

One reader says, Love this bag!!!! Lightweight but sturdy and quality materials. Love the tassels, and the unique color (easy to spot). It’s to move and can roll down the plane aisle sideways ahead of you. Fits in the overhead bin well.” 

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

IT Luggage 22’’ Citywide Carry On Softside Suitcase

 

This Citywide 22” carryon from IT Luggage lives up to its name, and its high ratings! It’s a great budget option that our readers love! This 22” style is light yet super durable, with unique base structure and EVA front panel. Readers love the flat packing interior with no pipes, and one reader says that it holds her Compass Rose packing cubes very well!  

It has a embossed text panel creates stunning in-store appeal and great protection, and is available in two colors. With superior wheel control and sturdy trolley system, users say the suitcase is easy to roll and ideal for uneven surfaces! 

While a 22” is likely better for domestic travel, one TFG reader shares their international experience with it, “I first used it in May this year. Did carry-on on planes and then on trains all over Italy. Venice, Florence, Rome, Cinque Terre. Over many, many cobblestones. Then I used it in Paris in October. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s held up well.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Kenneth Cole Reaction 20” Soft Sided Carry-On Luggage With Spinner Wheels

 

Kenneth Cole’s Chelsea 20” suitcase is super stylish! The polyester-twill exterior not only looks great but holds up super well. It has 8 multi-directional spinner wheels for the smoothest of rides where you won’t feel the weight! The good interior organization allows you to perfectly fit everything you need, and at a mere 6.4 lbs, it definitely won’t weigh you down! 

This option is definitely on the smaller side, and some users have actually reported being able to use this as their personal item! 

One traveler says, “It’s held up great over the past year I’ve had it, it looks stylish, the wheels and handle work great and it holds all of my stuff. Half of the time I don’t even need to have a carryon with me because I can fit everything I need for a week-long beach vacation in here! I also love the little detail of the gold zippers which makes it stand out in the luggage return.”

 

Read my guide on how to stop overpacking and learn how you, too, can travel carryon only.

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

American Tourister 4 KIX 21” Soft Sided Carry On Luggage 

 

You’ll be surprised how much you can fit in the 4 KIX 21” from American Tourister! It’s lightweight at 7.1 lbs and spacious to maximize your packing capacity, which is awesome if you’re flying carryon only. The outer pocket is super handy, with an extra zipper on the front for easy access to essentials. The four spinner wheels glide steadily, making zipping through an airport so easy!

This is a great domestic travel option, as it’ll meet most restrictions for domestic flights. It’s also expandable, giving you extra space on the way back for souvenirs! 

One user says, “I was pleasantly surprised with this suitcase. It’s deep so my running shoes didn’t take up all the room. I like that it has a plastic pocket for shampoo and other products. I was able to pack a lot into this suitcase. Rolls easily and not heavy.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon

 

Rockland Pasadena 20” Spinner Soft Luggage 

 

This Rockland Pasadena 20” is perfect for a short trip and is only 7.43 lbs. It’s small and simple, but has everything you need for a quick vacay! The sturdy handle and wheels make it easy to maneuver, and because it’s small and lightweight, it’s also really easy to lift and carry. 

The two exterior pockets are handy, and it’s quite packable for its size! Plus, this cutie will fit in almost any overhead compartment. Also comes in a variety of colors! 

A traveler says, “I took it with me on a cross-country flight to California and back. It handled beautifully! I was able to fit in everything I needed without having to ‘stuff and squeeze’ things in. It was so much easier navigating the center aisle in the planes, and it fits easily into the overhead compartments. The bag held up well and still looks like new.”

 

 

best-soft-carry-on-luggage

Shop: Amazon

 

Tumi Alpha 3 Continental 4 Wheeled 22” Carry-On Soft Luggage 

 

Though at a higher price tag, the Tumi is a big hit with TFG readers for frequent trips and its ability to last  years and years. The Alpha 3 Continential Carry On is 22” and weighs a light 11.1 lbs. It’s roomy too, expanding to 11” when packed and the compartments are well designed to accommodate a wide range of clothes and shoes (having a garment sleeve and a hanger bracket). 

With extras like a USB port and dual TSA locks, this also moves like a dream down plane aisles. One TFG reader speaks to the Tumi longevity, My Tumi is 15 years old and going strong after use nearly weekly for work or travel… I absolutely love it.”

 

 

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Shop: Amazon | Bloomingdales

 

Hartmann Legend Global Carry On Expandable Spinner 

 

The Legend Global Carry On from Hartmann is all about the details, from the ergonomic, 12-position contoured pull handle, the removable garment bag, multiple pockets, and a stunning tweed and leather exterior. It’s sized to fit in most major international and domestic airlines while offering ample packing space. This beauty is definitely a splurge, but one that many travelers say is well worth it for the impeccable design, durability, and great warranty!  

It’s quite lightweight, given its ultra-sturdy design at 8.7 lbs, and its dimensions are 21.65″ x 14″ x 9”.

 

 

best-soft-carry-on-luggage

Shop: Target

 

Swissgear Zurich Carry On Small Soft Suitcase 

 

Swissgear’s Zurich 19” carry on is tiny but mighty, with effortless mobility from its eight spinner wheels and highly robust material that travelers confirm can take a beating and still look amazing! Inside, you’ll find a wet pocket, tie-down straps, and tons of packing space, as well as a roomy zippered front pocket. To top it off, this bag is incredibly light at 6.8 lbs. 

The dimensions are 12.75 x 10.25 x 21, so it’s an excellent option for international travel, while its zippered expansion system will maximize your packing potential all the more!

 

 

best-soft-carry-on-luggage

Shop: L.L. Bean

 

L.L. Bean CarryAll Softside Luggage 

 

L.L. Bean luggage is known for being rugged and ready for adventure, and this cute Carryall Spinner suitcase is no different! The material is sleek and abrasion-resistant, and combined with its sturdy base and smooth spinner wheels, it can handle the roughest of handling and is super easy to roll around. The organization is great, too, with a side pocket that has an organizer panel and key fob, a large front pocket, and an interior mesh compartment.  

With dimensions of 22″x 14″ x 9″, it’ll meet most airline carry-on requirements, and it weighs just 7.9 lbs.

 

 

Softside Luggage Product Comparison Chart

 

BRAND | MODEL FEATURES | REVIEWS RATING | PRICE
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Travelpro Maxlite 5 21” Soft Luggage Bags Suitcases “Use it carryon domestically all the time for work travel. Easy to lift in/out of overhead with handles.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Soft Sided Suitcase  “I have the TravelPro with the charging option and I love it. I travel at least 3-4 international trips a year.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Travelpro Crew Versapack 21” Soft Shell Luggage “Travelpro Crew is solid and used by most crew members.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Briggs and Riley 22” Carry-On Luggage Softside “The features, durability, and warranty were deciding factors for me. I have the international expandable carry on size—used it for two weeks in France along with a backpack and didn’t check bags.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Delsey Paris Sky Max 21” Soft Shell Suitcase  “Not a huge fan of hard shell, I can get more in a soft side and love the Delsey.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Samsonite Solyte DLX 20” Soft Luggage With Wheeled  “This is a really great and wonderfully built bag. It's expensive, but I love mine.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Osprey Transporter 22” Carryon Suitcase  “If you are thinking about buying it: DO IT! This is about as perfect of a bag and company as you are going to find in this price range.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Steve Madden 20” Carry-On Soft Luggage  “Love this bag!!!! Lightweight but sturdy and quality materials. Love the tassels, the unique color (easy to spot).”  Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage IT Luggage 22’’ Citywide Carry On Softside Suitcase “I first used it in May this year. Did carry-on on planes and then on trains all over Italy. Venice, Florence, Rome, Cinque Terre.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Kenneth Cole Reaction 20” Soft Sided Carry-On Luggage With Spinner Wheels “It's held up great over the past year I've had it, it looks stylish, the wheels and handle work great and it holds all of my stuff.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage American Tourister 4 KIX 21” Soft Sided Carry On Luggage  “I was pleasantly surprised with this suitcase. It’s deep so my running shoes didn’t take up all the room.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Rockland Pasadena 20” Spinner Soft Luggage  “It was so much easier navigating the center aisle in the planes, and it fit easily into the overhead compartments. The bag held up well and still looks like new.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Tumi Alpha 3 Continental 4 Wheeled 22” Carry-On Soft Luggage  “My Tumi is 15 years old and going strong after use nearly weekly for work or travel… I absolutely love it.” Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Legend Global Carry On Expandable Spinner  This beauty is definitely a splurge, but one that many travelers say is well worth it for the impeccable design, durability, and great warranty!   Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage Swissgear Zurich Softside Carry On  Swissgear’s Zurich 19” carry on is tiny but mighty, with effortless mobility from its eight spinner wheels and highly robust material that travelers confirm can take a beating and still look amazing! Check Price
best-soft-carry-on-luggage L.L. Bean CarryAll Spinner The material is sleek and abrasion-resistant, and combined with its sturdy base and smooth spinner wheels, it can handle the roughest of handling and is super easy to roll around. Check Price

 

 

best-soft-carry-on-luggage

Apple AirTags

 

Luggage Tags

 

A super practical addition to your new suitcase is a luggage tag! TFG readers have been raving about luggage tags, and highly recommend them for every trip. 

Luggage tags are handy little trackers that you attach to your belongings and then track through an app on your phone. The most popular option in the TFG community is Apple Airtags, which hook up to the Find My iPhone app so you can see where your item is in real time. Readers say they’ve been lifesavers for finding lost luggage in an airport! 

For non-iPhone users, readers recommend the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag and the TilePro, which are compatible with Android devices, and the TilePro also works for iOS. 

Luggage tags are not only handy for your luggage, but for your purse, keys, wallet, or even your parked car. You can enjoy your vacation with the utmost peace of mind!

 

 

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Compass Rose Packing Cubes

 

Packing Cubes

 

When you’re ready to travel with your newly purchased items, start with packing cubes; they will seriously change the way you pack! We designed our own brand of slim packing cubes, with a unique color and numbering system, so it’s easy to remember where you’ve packed everything. See more in the video below.

 

Learn our packing hacks with packing cubes in this video!

 

We also put together a five-part YouTube series showing the different methods to use packing cubes for travel. If you use this specific packing strategy, packing cubes can also compress your belongings. This method has helped many women travel carry-on only!

 


What do you think is the best soft sided carry on luggage? Share with us in the comments!


 

For more tips on how to choose the best luggage, please read:

 


 

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