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Three of the best carry-on suitcases

From the budget to the expensive, here are three of the best.

carry on luggage away travel anko samsonite luggage
Last updated: 18 November 2019

If CHOICE had a dollar for every time one of our testers said "price isn't necessarily an indicator of performance", we'd be printing our magazine on gold leaf.

Our recent carry-on luggage test was one such example. All products we tested performed well, despite coming in at drastically different pricepoints, with all suitcases scoring between 81% and 89%. 

To illustrate these results, we compare three models from the lower, middle and top of the price range: a $49 Kmart case, a $295 Away suitcase with an inbuilt travel charger, and a $625 lightweight Samsonite bag. 

Have a different pricepoint in mind? Check our full luggage reviews to find what you're after. 

03Anko455cm Soft Lightweight Case 1 of 6

At $49, the Anko 45.5cm Soft Lightweight Case scored 86% for performance in our rigorous luggage tests.

The bargain

  • Kmart Anko 45.5cm Soft Lightweight Case
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 81%
  • Price: $49

This bargain Kmart marvel scored a perfect 100% in our lift and drop test, which puts it through 300 rounds of being lifted and dropped 90cm onto a concrete floor while packed with 4kg of clothes. Only bags that survive completely unscathed receive a score of 100%. 

It scored a very respectable 86% for its overall performance score, and 73% for ease of use. 

Its performance was less breathtaking in the rain test (where we simulate a 10-minute deluge), puncture test (we drop a heavy, pointy weight on the bag) and stability test (we use a tilt platform to see what will make them fall over), but it still does a pretty good job and our experts recommend it, especially at this price. 

"You could buy the Kmart carry-on plus return flights from Sydney to Melbourne and you still wouldn't have spent as much as the RRP of the Samsonite," says CHOICE luggage tester Matthew Tung. 

05AwayThe CarryOn 1 of 10

This carry-on from Away comes with an inbuilt power bank for phone charging on the go.

The mid-range marvel

  • Away The Carry-On
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 84%
  • Price: $295

Like the Anko case, this Away carry-on scored 100% in the lift and drop test, but also performed well in the puncture test. It comes with a laundry bag, leather name tag, sponge and storage bag, but most importantly it's supplied with a power bank with adapter and cable and battery, so you can charge your phone on the go. The power bank hides under the extendable handle. 

05AwayThe CarryOn 9 of 10

The power bank is hidden away under the extendable handle.

The only downside is that the power bank makes it heavier than many other carry-on suitcases, but if you're attached to your phone it might be a trade-off you're willing to make. Just bear in mind that if you need to check the bag in, you'll need to remove the battery: you can't put batteries in checked baggage.

10SamsoniteLiteShock Sport 1 of 7

The Samsonite Lite-Shock Sport 55cm will set you back a cool $625, but it delivers on performance.

The splurge

  • Samsonite Lite-Shock Sport 55cm
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 87%
  • Price: $625

Costing more than some international flights, this suitcase fortunately delivers on performance – although you'd hope so for that price! 

It scored 100% in the lift and drop test, 95% in the puncture test and 75% in the rain test. Our experts couldn't find any negative points to comment on, and added it to our recommended list.

A note on pricing

Our luggage experts say that, similar to mattresses, you'll probably never have to pay full price for a top-brand suitcase – they'll often be heavily discounted or on sale at major retailers. 

"The RRP of this Samsonite is $625, but you'll almost certainly never see it for sale at that price. Our expert buyers were able to pick this one up for $375," says luggage expert Kim Gilmour. 

"In fact, virtually all the suitcases we bought for this test were purchased below RRP."

How we test luggage

Read more about how we test luggage.

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