This Is the Best Carry-on Suitcase You Can Buy for Under $250
These days, we ask a lot of our carry-on luggage. We want it to be spacious, but not heavy; smart, but not cumbersome; and as of late, we want it to look good as we tow it from terminal to hotel check-in.
If you picture a suitcase that incorporates all of these requests, it likely looks a lot like eBags' newest carry-on, the Fortis Pro. This upgrade to the brand's former Fortis bag was designed using customer feedback from thousands of travelers, and we tested one to confirm it really does have everything you want in a domestic carry-on.
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First, it's easy to handle. The telescoping handle has three stops and feels sturdy. Its four smooth-rolling Hinomoto wheels are quiet enough to fly under-the-radar on city sidewalks and tiled floors. The ribbed polycarbonate shell is designed to distract from scratches and scuffs and comes in five metallic colors: black, gray, red, blue (which is pictured in this story), and teal. Empty, it weighs just over seven pounds.
At 22" x 14" x 9", its best suited to domestic airlines, but make sure to check the carry-on size restrictions of the airline you're flying. It's also expandable, with an extra 1.5 inches of width hiding in the zip-around perimeter, which is useful when your travel circumstances allow for it.
Instead of coming with a battery pack (feedback showed most travelers already own one), there's a charging port built into the top of the case, right next to the TSA combination lock. It connects to a small mesh pouch inside where you can attach your portable power bank of choice via a USB cord.
Where the Fortis Pro really shines is in keeping you organized. When you unzip the bag, clamshell-style, one side is open, with a mesh zippered cover and the other has a few different organizational components. It's equipped with a removable divider, which attaches to a Velcro track that runs along both sides of the bag and allows you to create compartments sized however you need them. The compression straps on that side have two packing cubes attached, one with a mesh top and a semi-transparent wet bag assumably intended for swimsuits or toiletries. These can't be removed — they're stitched into the sides of the bag — but I've found that you can easily roll them up to make space for larger items when you need it. There's also a separate laundry bag included.
Finally, a few notes on capacity: If I'm packing smart (hi, compression cubes) and don't need that much in the way of toiletries, the Fortis Pro can definitely fit a week's worth of clothes. But if I need a larger shoe or want to bring my DSLR camera, it might work better for just a few days.
To buy: ebags.com, $230