Whether you carry on a bag to save money or want to keep certain valuables safe, we tested out over a dozen hard-shell carry-ons to find the ones you can depend on. For about $130, you can snag the durable Samsonite Omni PC Hardside, which came out as our pick for the most affordable hard-shell carry-on.
Best affordable hard-shell carry-on luggage
The Samsonite Omni has a fully polycarbonate shell with a micro-diamond texture that prevents scuffing and keeps the back from feeling bulky.
• Related: Read more from our full testing of hard-shell carry-ons
What we loved
Polycarbonate is among the best hardside suitcase materials, but you’ll usually have to pay a premium for it. Not so with the Samsonite Omni, which has a fully polycarbonate shell yet can be snagged for about $130. The micro-diamond texture is similar to that of other bags we tested and prevented any serious scuffing in our testing without excess bulk. The Omni weighs just 6.8 pounds and has a huge 41-liter capacity. This is a very sturdy bag with plenty of space, and also comes with Samsonite’s 10-year warranty.
What we didn’t like
The internal organization is pretty bare-bones, with one deep mesh divider, a small accessories pocket and a containment strap that proved a bit tricky to snap open and closed. This also isn’t nearly as stylish as our top three bags, but that’s certainly not a dealbreaker for many travelers.
What was a concern for us, though, was the Omni’s lack of a horizontal side handle. This handle really comes in handy when lugging a case up and down stairs and when removing it from an overhead bin, and its absence is a disappointing oversight here. The wheels are also single, rather than double, spinners, which are slightly less sturdy and more prone to getting caught in cracks in the sidewalk.
How it compares to other hard-shell carry-ons we recommend
|Best overall hard-shell carry on luggage||A luxurious hard-shell runner-up choice||The most Instagrammable hard-shell carry-on luggage||Best affordable hard-shell carry-on luggage|
|What we loved||Made with a strong but lightweight 100% polycarbonate outer shell, smooth YKK zippers, an aluminum telescopic handle and the Rolls-Royce of luggage wheels: four double Hinomoto spinners, which in our testing glided seamlessly on pavement, hardwood and grass alike.||Classic and glamorous design with a luxurious-feeling. Comfortable handles, easy break system and scuff-proof.||Gorgeous bag with a sleek, monochromatic exterior, a squishy cushioned grip that made for an ultra comfortable carry and exceedingly lightweight.||Affordable and sturdy with a fully polycarbonate shell and lots of internal space.|
|What we didn’t like||Heavier than other bags we tested.||Heaviest of our top picks and slightly bulkier than the Away bag. The excess weight could cause trouble when trying to carry this bag onto certain international flights.||Can surpass size and weight restrictions on some airlines when using the expandable part of the bag. The expandable part of the bag is also made of fabric, which is inherently less durable than the hard shell itself.||Omni lacks a horizontal side handle, which really comes in handy when lugging a case up and down stairs and when removing it from an overhead bin.The wheels are also single, rather than double, spinners, which are slightly less sturdy and more prone to getting caught in cracks in the sidewalk.|
|Key Specs||8.1 lbs, 39.8-liter capacity, two device charging ports, lifetime warranty||9.3 lbs, 44.9-liter capacity, 10-year warranty||6 lbs, 46-liter capacity that expands up to 2 inches, 2-year warranty||6.8 pounds, 41-liter capacity, 10-year warranty|
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The bottom line
The Samsonite Omni still makes a solid budget carry-on, however, because it does exactly what a suitcase is supposed to do: fit lots of stuff, and keep that stuff safe. It’s lightweight and sturdy, comes from a trusted travel brand, and is a good value given its materials.