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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
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!
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.”
Also available in a beautiful 2-piece luggage set.
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.”
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!
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.”
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.”
Osprey Transporter 22” Carryon Suitcase
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!
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Softside Luggage Product Comparison Chart
|BRAND | MODEL||FEATURES | REVIEWS||RATING | PRICE|
|Travelpro Maxlite 5 21” Soft Luggage Bags Suitcases||“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.”||Check Price|
|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. 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.”||Check Price|
|Travelpro Crew Versapack 21” Soft Shell Luggage||“Travelpro Crew is solid and used by most crew members.”||Check Price|
|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. Worked really well on planes, trains, and having to change destinations frequently.”||Check Price|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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). It’s to move and can roll down plane aisle sideways ahead of you. Fits in overhead bin well.”||Check Price|
|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. Over many, many cobblestones. Then I used it as carry-on to Paris in October. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s held up well.”||Check Price|
|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. Half of the time I don't even need to have a carry on 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.”||Check Price|
|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. 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.”||Check Price|
|Rockland Pasadena 20” Spinner Soft Luggage||“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 fit easily into the overhead compartments. The bag held up well and still looks like new.”||Check Price|
|Tumi Alpha 3 Continental 4 Wheeled 22” Carry-On Soft Luggage||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.”||Check Price|
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!
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!
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:
- How to Choose the Best Luggage for Travel Abroad: Smart Buying Guide
- Best Under Seat Luggage and How to Pack with Minimal Space
- Best Rolling Duffle Bags: Great Alternative to A Suitcase
- Step by Step Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Backpack
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