Best Carry On Luggage for Europe: Suitcases & Backpacks


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Finding the best carry on luggage for Europe can be a bit tricky if you want to get the most bang for your buck and still comply with the countless different airline regulations that are out there. Whether you plan to travel carry-on only or just want a supplementary bag to your typical luggage, finding the best European carry on luggage is a paramount step to ensure that your trip to Europe is comfortable and convenient.

There are countless different options for bags to take with you that it can be confusing to figure out what the best kind and models are for you. Are you looking for a backpack or a suitcase? Are you after a small bag for only a few personal items or are you packing light and want to fit all of your items inside? There are lots of things to consider when searching for the best carry-on bag for Europe.

Luckily, if you’re hunting for luggage, you’ve come to the right place. After having travelled and flown all over Europe for a number of years, we know exactly the types of bags that are perfect for European travel.

We know what to look for and what to avoid, so if you need to find the best carry-on luggage for Europe travel, look no further. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for a small backpack, a wheeled suitcase or something in between.

Want a quick answer? Our choice for the best carry on luggage for Europe is the Samsonsite Winfield 2 (also available direct from Samsonsite here) if you’re after a traditional suitcase.

Our choice for the best carry on backpack for Europe is the Osprey Farpoint for men (also available on REI here or directly from Osprey here) or the Osprey Fairview for women (also available on REI here or direct from Osprey here).

Best Carry On Luggage for Europe Comparison

LuggageDescriptionPrices
Samsonite Winfield 2
Type: Suitcase
Weight: 6.7lb/3.04kg
Capacity: 52L
Sex: Unisex
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Check on Samsonite
Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Spinner
Type: Suitcase
Weight: 7.8lb/3.5kg
Capacity: 46L
Sex:
Unisex
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Check on Travelpro
Osprey Farpoint Wheels
Type: Wheeled Backpack
Weight: 5.3lb/2.4kg
Capacity: 36L
Sex: Male
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Check on REI

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Osprey Fairview Wheels
Type: Wheeled Backpack
Weight: 5.3lb/2.4kg
Capacity: 36L
Sex: Female
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Check on REI

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LEVEL8 Textured Carry On
Type: Suitcase
Weight: 7.7lb/3.5kg
Capacity: 35L
Sex: Unisex
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Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner
Type: Suitcase
Weight: 7.0lb/3.2kg
Capacity: 26L
Sex: Unisex
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Osprey Farpoint
Type: Backpack
Weight: 3.2lb/1.4kg
Capacity: 40L
Sex: Male
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Check on REI

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Osprey Fairview
Type: Backpack
Weight: 3.2lb/1.4kg
Capacity: 40L
Sex: Female
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Check on REI

Check on Osprey
Peak Design Travel Backpack
peak design travel backpack 30l
Type: Backpack
Weight: 3.2lb/1.4kg
Capacity: 30L
Sex: Unisex
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Pacsafe Vibe
Type: Backpack
Weight: 2.1lb/1.0kg
Capacity: 25L
Sex: Unisex
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Check on REI

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Nomatic Navigator Premium Backpack
Type: Backpack
Weight: 2.7lb/1.22kg
Capacity: 21L
Sex: Unisex
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What To Look For In Carry On Luggage

Carry-on luggage can typically be split into two different categories: wheeled suitcases and backpacks and whichever one you want really depends on your preferences and travel style. For instance, we’ve been using backpacks for ages and love the ease and mobility that come along with them, but many others find that a traditional wheeled suitcase is a better and a more convenient bet for them.

Regardless of which kind of carry-on you want, you’re going to want to make sure that it is lightweight and durable. Whether you’re looking to avoid adding to weight requirements on aeroplanes or you don’t want to be carting around excess weight on your back, this is of the utmost importance.

Durability is also super important because luggage takes on a lot of wear and tear during the course of a European adventure, and you certainly don’t want to be dealing with a broken zip, busted wheel or torn bag during your trip.

All of the following bags fit these criteria and you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Waiting for your flight with your carry on luggage
Waiting for your flight with your carry on luggage

Best Carry On Suitcase for Europe

Samsonite Winfield 2

The Samsonite Winfield 2 (also available direct from Samsonite here) is a sleek, cool spinner suitcase is an excellent choice for those looking for the best wheeled carry-on suitcase for Europe.

Made from an ultra-light polycarbonate material complete with durable wheels and handles, this bag is perfect for both walking over cobblestones and wheeling down airplane aisles alike.

It complies with carry-on requirements and also has a number of great features that make this a fantastic carry-on suitcase for Europe. There is a TSA-compliant lock incorporated into the case and there are smaller compartments within to organise your items. There are also compression straps to keep your things more secure.

The Samsonite Winfield 2 is perfect for those looking for travel carry-on only or who want to bring a few more things along with their checked luggage.

Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On Spinner

One of the top names in luggage is Travelpro and if you’re on the hunt for the best carry-on luggage for Europe, you really can’t go wrong with the Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On Spinner (also available direct from Travelpro here). This soft-sided suitcase is perfect for those who would have a wheeled travel bag than a backpack as a carry-on and who are looking for a versatile and durable suitcase.

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On Spinner has numerous features that make it perfect for travelling in Europe. For now, it has a durable set of four wheels that can withstand significant wear and tear.

There is also an external USB port with a power bank pocket so you can easily charge your devices on-the-go. The suitcase is also expandable, meaning that you can cram in a bit of extra stuff if need be.

All in all, if you’re looking for a really solid carry-on for Europe, the Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On Spinner is a perfect choice for you.

Osprey Farpoint Wheeled / Fairview Wheeled

If you like the idea of a travel backpack but also love the option of having a wheeled travel bag, then the Osprey Farpoint Wheeled (also available on REI here or direct from Osprey here) backpack for men or the Fairview for women (also available on REI here or direct from Osprey here) is the perfect option for you!

Giving you the best of both worlds, this is one of the best carry-ons for Europe travel as it combines the functionality and ease of a backpack with the wheels and handlebars of a suitcase.

This backpack combines everything we love about the classic Farpoint backpack along with some super durable wheeled and a telescoping handle. The bag opens up like a traditional suitcase and also has fully lockable zippers.

It is also equipped with a supportive and advanced harness that is comfortable to wear if you choose or zips completely away if you plan to use it as a wheeled suitcase.

So, if you’re looking for a durable hybrid carry-on bag, you seriously cannot go wrong with the Osprey Farpoint Wheeled 36.

LEVEL8 Textured Carry-On

If you’re looking for an excellent carry-on suitcase option, then you can’t go wrong with the LEVEL8 Textured Carry-On 20” (also available direct from LEVEL8 here).

We have gone into great detail about this particular suitcase in our LEVEL8 review, however, some things are worth repeating here.

This suitcase is lightweight – with the weight clocking in at 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs) unpacked and has dimensions that meet the vast majority of airline’s carry-on requirements, although it’s always worth double-checking to ensure it is compliant as all airlines are different.

The case features four 360° spinner wheels that make maneuvering the easy no matter where you are – even on uneven or cobbled streets! The suitcase also has a 38L capacity, so you can fit quite a bit inside without much cramming.

Another great feature is that the case features an in-built TSA compliant lock, so you can ensure your belongings have an extra level of security. The case comes in a range of colours that can suit any style or personality.

All in all, if you’re on the hunt for the best carry-on luggage for Europe, the LEVEL8 Textured Carry-On is an excellent choice.

Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner

If you’re looking for a smaller wheeled bag, then we will round out this list of the best carry-on luggage for Europe with the Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner (also available direct from Samsonite here).

The compact bag packs a lot inside of it (both literally and figuratively) and, as the name would suggest, is small enough to fit underneath your seat on the plane.

The bag is equipped with four spinning wheels, making it easy to navigate down the aeroplane or train aisles, water-resistant nylon material and durable handles and zippers.

It also comes with a built-in USB port so you can charge your devices and there is a padded laptop sleeve to store your electronics. The handle is also fully adjustable to eight different heights, meaning that even if you’re short or tall, the bag will be comfortable.

If you’re looking for the perfect small wheeled carry-on for European travel, you really cannot go wrong with choosing the Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner.

Best Carry On Backpack For Europe

Osprey Farpoint / Osprey Fairview

The Osprey Farpoint for men (also available on REI here or directly from Osprey here) or the Osprey Fairview (also available on REI here or direct from Osprey here) for women are really some of the best travel backpacks out there on the market and you cannot go wrong with purchasing one of them.

Michael and I both use the full-sized Farpoint 55 and 70 respectively, however, if you’re looking for the best carry-on backpack for Europe, then the Osprey Farpoint or Fairview 40 is the perfect choice for you.

The backpack is roomy and ideal for those on a short trip to light packers who want to travel carry-on only as it meets the size requirements for most airlines. It has a large main compartment that opens like a suitcase so that you can store all of your main belongings.

There is also a smaller compartment complete with a laptop sleeve to stash valuables and smaller items and the zippers are easily lockable to ensure that you can keep your valuables secure.

There is an advanced harness and comfortable suspension system and the harness also completely zips away under a panel in order to get the straps all out of the way. This backpack comes in two different sizes making the Osprey Farpoint or Osprey Fairview ideal for all body types.

Peak Design Travel Backpack

If you’re after a comfortable, sleek and practical carry-on backpack for Europe, then look no further than the Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L. This travel backpack is one of the best on the market and has an intelligent design that makes it perfect for a quick trip or a longer journey.

The backpack comes in a range of colours to suit plenty of personalities and it has a minimalistic and clean look that can easily blend into the stylish streets of Europe without calling a lot of attention to yourself. The backpack itself is also very comfortable to wear with nicely-padded shoulder streps and a chest-strap attached should you need it.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L has a panel opening into the main compartment, meaning that all of your belongings are easily accessed.

There are also plenty of zipped pouches inside the backpack to make organising smaller belongings more simple. The backpack also features a large laptop sleeve to safely stash electronic items along with a large top pouch, perfect for things like a wallet or keys.

The backpack is very roomy and is equipped with heavy-duty zippers. There is also an option to expand or compress the backpack should you need it. In general, if you’re looking for an excellent carry-on for Europe travel, the Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L.

Photo Credit: Peak Design

Pacsafe Vibe

No list of bags for Europe would be complete without including a Pacsafe option, and the Pacsafe Vibe 25 (also available on REI here or direct from Pacsafe here) is a strong contender for the best carry-on backpack for Europe.

This 25-litre backpack has so many incredible safety features that are sure to make your belongings feel secure while also having a cool and sleek look that will blend in well on the streets of a European city.

The bag comes equipped with interlocking zippers, slash-proof material, RFID-blocking technology and plenty of other anti-theft features that ensure you can breathe easy if you’re concerned about the safety of your belongings.

Like the Osprey and Tortuga bags, as well, this bag opens up like a traditional suitcase and also comes equipped with a padded laptop sleeve and a small (locking) compartment to store smaller items. In general, if you’re looking for a small yet convenient backpack for carry-on, the Pacsafe Vibe 25 is an excellent option.

Nomatic Navigator Premium Backpack

If you’re looking for a small and durable carry-on backpack for Europe, then the Nomatic Navigator Premium Backpack is an excellent choice. Better for those looking for a supplementary bag to their main (checked) luggage, this is one of the best backpacks for travellers out there.

At 21 litres (or 15 litres if not fully expanded), this is a great carry-on bag for a short city break in Europe or as a small carry on bag to keep your items safe when out and about for the day.

The backpack has plenty of pockets and handles, is incredibly lightweight at 2.7lb/1.22kg and is fully waterproof.

There are also great magnetic water bottle pockets in it and is fully RFID-blocking, so you can feel safe with your belongings.

All in all, the Nomatic Navigator Premium Backpack is an excellent option for more style-minded or professional travellers who are looking for the best carry-on backpack for Europe.

Finding the best carry-on backpacks for Europe, the best carry-on suitcases for Europe or just the best lightweight luggage for Europe can seem like such a struggle with so many options out there. Hopefully, this list helps narrow down your decision and you’re able to find the perfect bag to suit your needs!

Are you on the hunt for the best carry-on luggage for Europe? Have you already found the perfect bag? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

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