The Best Carry-on Suitcases With a Separate Laptop Compartment

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Keep your laptop protected and easy to access when you pack in one of these carry-on suitcases.

Traveling with a laptop gives you the freedom to get work done or enjoy entertainment on the go, but they can be tricky to safely store when flying. With so many varying restrictions on carry-on luggage sizing, bringing your laptop along on a trip can become a bit of a headache if you don’t have a solid spot to house it, particularly if it doesn’t fit within your one personal item bag. Cabin-friendly suitcases with a separate laptop compartment are the perfect solution, providing a designated space specifically designed to protect your computer.

With so many choices for carry-on suitcases with laptop compartments on the market, we helped narrow down the options with a series of tests conducted in our testing lab and out in the real world. We tried out more than 150 carry-on suitcases and researched dozens of additional products. After packing each suitcase for a four-day trip, we maneuvered them through obstacle courses to test the agility of the wheels and sturdiness of the handles. We also dropped them off shelves and hit them with baseball bats to test durability. All bags were evaluated based on their capacity, value, design, and durability, as well as the ease of maneuverability, comfort, and portability.

Our top pick is the Carl Friedrik The Carry-on Pro for its sleek design, included compression pad, and excellent maneuverability. We’ve included our other favorites as well, each with its own allure for various types of travelers.

Best Overall: Carl Friedrik The Carry-on Pro

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Buy at

Why We Love It

  • It comes with a compression pad to maximize the capacity and a hardside laptop sleeve.

What to Consider

  • It’s a few hundred dollars pricier than most of the other models we tested, but the luxe design and built-in organization is worth it.

We love the high-quality materials and intuitive design of the Carl Friedrik The Carry-on Pro suitcase. Crafted from a polycarbonate shell with a sleek gunmetal gray finish and Italian leather details, this case is compliant with most airline restrictions and features a stylish, zipperless aesthetic. The aluminum locking mechanism for the main compartment keeps your belongings secure as well.

This carry-on suitcase is ideal for the regular traveler who needs durability and functionality and prefers not to check a bag. We think the standout feature is that the hardside laptop compartment is located in a separate section at the front of the bag so it doesn’t eat into the real estate of the main compartment. No matter how fully packed the interior of the bag is, travelers will still be able to fit their laptop in the roomy front pocket. The flat pocket on the compression straps assist in maximizing this space and extra organization is possible with smaller zipped pockets and zipped pockets. Thanks to a pocket with a USB cord inside, you can charge the computer from the exterior via a portable power bank, too. You can feel confident storing your electronics inside the hearty laptop compartment while wheeling this carry-on around and putting in the overhead compartment for your flight.

Price at time of publish: $565

The Details: Fits laptops up to 16 inches | Dimensions: 21.7 x 15 x 10.6 inches (expanded) | Weight: 9.5 pounds

Best Style: Monos Carry-on Pro

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Why We Love It

  • It rolls well over all types of surfaces and is lightweight, making it easy to lift overhead even when full.

What to Consider

  • It tends to scuff easily.

We love the upgraded Monos Carry-on with this “Pro” version’s secure laptop storage, designed to fit in almost any overhead compartment, on any flight. It’s a very sturdy and durable, dent-resistant case that houses your laptop behind an all-over aerospace-grade polycarbonate shell. Quiet, spinnable wheels and vegan leather are just some of the high-end materials used in crafting this cabin-friendly suitcase. We noticed the wheels roll easily over a wide array of surfaces, including gravel, cobblestones, dirt, grass, and asphalt on a trip to Japan. The wheels have an impressive weight capacity, too, enduring when we used the carry-on as a scooter to roll down a hill. The fact that the carry-on comes with a laundry and shoe bag is an added bonus. The front laptop compartment does infringe on one side of interior space, but offers zippered pocket storage for additional items such as your passport, charging cords, e-reader, etc., while giving you quick access to those things. Although the outside scuffs easily, we found the material easy to clean with soap and a sponge.

Price at time of publish: $295

The Details: Fits laptops up to 16 inches | Dimensions: 22 × 14 × 9 inches | Weight: 7.8 pounds

Best Budget: Coolife ABS+PC Spinner Trolley

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Why We Love It

  • The exterior is very durable, standing up to potential scratches and dents.

What to Consider

  • The interior material is lower quality than other models and the wheels are not always easy to maneuver.

For a carry-on with a front tech pocket that offers solid value, the Coolife Carry On with Pocket fits the bill. It’s one of the more lightweight bags we tested and it's durable as well. We noticed the exterior materials were flexible and hearty enough to stand up to multiple tests, like hitting it with a baseball bat and shoving it off tabletops, without paint chipping, denting, or scratching. While the price is the lowest of all our picks, we found that the 360-degree spinner wheels were not as easy to maneuver when compared to other bags we tested. The bag rotated smoothly around tight corners only when all four wheels were used, but had some issues traveling smoothly over bumps unless only two wheels were used. The interior materials for the zip pockets don’t have much flexibility so there could be a risk of ripping them if the bag was overpacked. The laptop compartment only fits a computer or tablet up to 13.3 inches, and if the interior is overpacked, it’s possible it’d be too tight to fit the laptop safely.

Price at time of publish: $110

The Details: Fits laptops up to 13.3 inches | Dimensions: 19.29 x 30.71 x 12.6 inches | Weight: 6.7 pounds

Related: The 15 Best Laptop Cases For Your Traveling and Commuting

Best Underseat: Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote

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Why We Love It

  • This bag is large enough to fit a few days worth of items, yet small enough to fit under the seat.

What to Consider

  • This bag may get heavy to carry since it does not have wheels.

Skip using the overhead compartment when you pack light in the underseat-friendly, 22-liter Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote, ideal for weekend trips. The built-in padded sleeve is perfect for storing laptops up to 15 inches and the zippered opening allows for quick access, with enough room for 2-3 days of clothing. The bag is sleek and functional, with leather details and ample pocket organization, including two interior pockets inside the main compartment, as well as the exterior front pocket and luggage sleeve for attaching to a suitcase. It is versatile, with the option to carry it with the removable shoulder strap or handles. We love the magnetic closure of the front pocket, great for securely storing your passport or cell phone while keeping it easy to access. While it is compact enough to fit under a seat, it’s worth noting that this bag is significantly smaller in size than our other picks so it won’t fit as much, especially if you want to carry a laptop inside. However, it does make a more stylish alternative to a duffle bag and works well for a weekend trip.

Price at time of publish: $245

The Details: Fits laptops up to 15 inches | Dimensions: H: 9.25 x 16.5 x 9 inches | Weight: 2.3 pounds

<p>Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph</p>

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

Best Colors: Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-On Max with Front Pocket

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Why We Love It

  • It has a large capacity of 47 liters, one of the largest on this list.

What to Consider

  • It won’t fit in the overhead bins of a smaller aircraft.

We love the Arlo Skye The Zipper Carry-on Max with Front Pocket for its spacious interior as well as its spectrum of appealing colors. The hardsided smart suitcase is equipped with a speedy, removable charger, compatible with USB-C and A ports. This model allows you to overpack a little (because we’ve all been there) with flexible zipper technology. The included laundry and shoe bags help keep those items separate from the rest of your belongings, which you can expertly organize in the main compartments, complete with anti-microbial interior fabric to keep odors and germs at bay. We noticed that the compression straps helped with packing puffier clothes. The front hardside laptop compartment stores your computer and other fragile items safely and securely so if you do overpack and have to gate-check your luggage, you can feel confident.

Price at time of publish: $395

The Details: Fits laptops up to 15 inches | Dimensions: 23.0 x 15.0 x 10.3 inches | Weight: 8.1 pounds | Smart

<p>Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples</p>

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Best With Removable Sleeve: July Carry On Pro

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Why We Love It

  • It comes with a detachable, padded laptop sleeve.

What to Consider

  • Don’t rely too much on the compression straps if you plan on filling this carry-on to the brim.

We love the sturdy yet lightweight July Carry-On Pro SnapSleeve for its fantastic maneuverability, detachable laptop sleeve, and internal pockets for chargers and other cords. Our favorite feature was how simple it was to remove the laptop sleeve by unzipping it and pulling the internal tab, making it a breeze to access your laptop during security checks or in case you need to check your bag due to full overhead bins. A removable power bank is great for charging on the go via USB-C or USB ports. Other highlights include the twin strap compression system and hidden laundry bag inside. You won’t have to struggle to wheel this bag around either; the quiet spinner wheels and multi-stop telescopic handle with comfortable grip are a real treat. We found that the compression straps did not work as well as some other bags we’ve tested.

Price at time of publish: $345

The Details: Fits laptops up to 16 inches | Dimensions: 21.5 x 15 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds | Smart

<p>Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples</p>

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Related: The 16 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Best Customizable: Roam Carry-On Front Pocket Expandable

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Why We Love It:

  • You can personalize the suitcase with your own color scheme.

What to Consider

  • It has the highest price point of these suitcases and a longer delivery time to produce your custom color combination.

Although we did not test this item, we love the ability to customize your color combination that the Roam Carry-On Front Pocket Expandable offers, with different hues available for the front, back, zipper, lining, and trim. The padded front pocket isn’t just for your laptop; other pockets and slots keep cords, chargers, notebooks, and e-readers organized and secure. Smooth wheels and a lightweight profile make this luggage easy to navigate and the compression straps inside help to keep your items compact and secure during travel. While customizing your own color design is pretty cool and helps to identify your bag quickly if you need to check it at the gate, this feature comes at a higher price point than comparable models, though it also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Price at time of publish: $675

The Details: Dimensions: 22 x 14.25 x 11.75 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds

Best Softside: Calpak Luka Soft-Sided Carry-On Luggage

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Why We Love It

  • The compartment is large enough to fit larger-sized laptops up to 17 inches.

What to Consider

  • As a softsided carry-on, the material isn’t as durable as hardsided models.

While we did not physically test this item, we thought it was worth adding as a solid softside option with the largest laptop accommodation of all of our picks. The Calpak Luka Soft-sided Carry-on gives softsided luggage lovers the lightweight benefits of this style with the addition of a padded laptop sleeve for safe transport. Multiple exterior pockets, in addition to the laptop compartment, make organizing your items a breeze, and with a 41-liter capacity, you’ll have the opportunity to fit belongings for up to a week inside (depending). Everything will stay secured thanks to the TSA-approved lock, too. The 360-degree spinner wheels easily navigate the airport, so you don’t have to struggle as you make your way to your gate. Cushioned handles on both the retractable top and side prioritize comfort as well. Despite offering a spacious capacity, it’ll fit in most overhead bins, with the extra flexibility for squeezing it up there that a hardsided case just can’t offer.

Price at time of publish: $195

The Details: Fits laptops up to 17 inches | Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 6.6 pounds

Our Testing Process

The T+L team tested more than 150 carry-on suitcases either in our New York City lab or in real-world travel situations. A range of tests were performed to evaluate capacity, maneuverability, portability, design, and functionality. First, each suitcase was packed with enough essentials for a four-day trip, including multiple outfits, two pairs of shoes, and two toiletry bags. We took care to observe storage and organizational features, including the front laptop compartment, pockets, expanders, and compression straps. Next, we zipped up each suitcase and rolled it through a variety of surfaces and an obstacle course to test how easily the wheels maneuvered. After, other tests like lifting and storing it in the overhead bin and subjecting it to potentially damaging situations (a baseball bat in the lab) were performed to see how durable the case was. Using the insights and scores from these tests, the carry-on suitcases with the highest ratings were chosen for this roundup.

Tips for Buying a Carry-on With a Laptop Compartment

Be sure your laptop model will fit in the suitcase

One of the main things to consider when shopping for a carry-on suitcase with a laptop compartment is the sizing that it will accommodate. You don’t want to end up squishing your laptop inside, potentially damaging it, or not having it fit at all. It’s wise to leave a little extra room; if you have a 13-inch laptop, perhaps look into suitcase models that can hold laptops up to 15 inches, just to give yourself a little wiggle room.

Consider additional organization and access needs

Laptop compartments naturally allow us to access our computer and other items stored up front quickly and easily, though some models are designed for this better than others. A suitcase where you can access important items quickly without having to completely open the main compartment is paramount, particularly for business travelers. Consider your need to store other small items such as notebooks, pens, your passport, charging cords, etc. as well when you assess the front pocket’s organization and additional pockets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I measure my computer for a bag with a laptop compartment?

The first thing to do when shopping for a bag with a laptop compartment is to measure your laptop to make sure it’ll fit. You can do this quickly and easily by measuring it diagonally, from edge to edge, as well as measuring the height, width, and depth. Make sure the bag you purchase allows for a little extra room, as you don’t want a 15-inch laptop in a bag that fits only a 15-inch laptop, since it’ll be too tight a fit.

Can I check a suitcase with a laptop compartment?

Yes, though it depends on how protected your laptop is inside the compartment. You will need to make sure to remove any spare lithium batteries, as those are not allowed in checked luggage. Although the TSA allows travelers to transport laptops in checked luggage, it’s still highly recommended to keep it with you in a carry-on bag for protection against possible damage and theft, as well as lost luggage. Landing at your destination only to find out your suitcase has been lost or left behind when your laptop is in there is hardly ideal. Even in a hardside suitcase with a padded laptop compartment, you could end up with a cracked screen or other damage with all of the rough handling and heavy bag stacking that takes place.

Should I put my laptop in the bag without a case?

If your bag has a separate, padded compartment for a laptop, then it's okay to pack it without an additional case. If you prefer to use a case as well as the dedicated laptop sleeve, it’s important to factor in the extra room it will take up in your bag and whether it will fit in the sleeve or not. Make sure to measure well beforehand if you choose to use an additional case.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L contributor Lauren Breedlove scoured our testing insights to find the best carry-on suitcases with laptop compartments. She also tapped into her own experience with traveling regularly with a laptop in tow, and working on the go. Using these factors, she curated this list of top carry-on bags with separate laptop storage.

Related: The Best Carry-on Luggage of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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