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Searching For The Perfect Carry-on Bag

Perfect Carry-on Bag

Saying Good-Bye To My Current Carry-On Bag

After 20 years with my Skyway carry-on luggage, it was time I put it to rest. The wheels kept jamming up and the lockable zipper portion had broken. It also weighed 8.2 pounds. I did love it as it expanded; however,  I really needed something new.

Pacsafe Toursafe AT21 Carry-on Bag. Luggage, packing

Pacsafe Toursafe AT21 Carry-on Bag. Photo: J. Chung

I recently purchased a new carry-on bag: PACSAFE Toursafe AT21 Wheeled Carry on.  I have been searching for ages for the “perfect” carry-on that would meet not just Air Canada’s requirements. I was surprised to see how many bags measured 22 inches in height.

  • My Pacsafe:  21.5″ X 14.0″ X 9″
  • Air Canada:  21.5″ X 15.1″ X 9″
  • Lufthansa:    21.6″ X 15.7″ X 9″

Every airline is different so you can’t assume your carry-on bag will be accepted by all. The Pacsafe is by no means my perfect bag; however, it comes close, particularly after doing a trial run filling it up. I am very happy with the results. Here are some of the pros and cons which may help you when you decide to get a (new) carry-on bag.

Pacsafe Toursafe AT21 Carry-on Bag.


  • Good height: meets the carry-on requirements yet is still close to the maximum for most airlines (particularly with the height).
  • Good capacity: 42 Litres volume
  • Lightweight: 6 pounds. You may think that 2.2 pounds less is not a big deal, but try carrying around a 2.2 pound ham all day. Nuff said.
  • Light but tough material: soft-sided tough nylon top and sides. This bag is actually a semi-collapsible bag which allows me to expand it or keep it pretty flat (as compared to hard-sided cases where there is NO wiggle room)
  • Compression: interior drawstring compression system. I was really surprised how much it compressed all my belongings and kept everything neatly packed (no spilling out when I open the case)
  • Puncture and rip-resistant: Pacsafe has this technology that prevents my bag’s contents from being stolen through slashing or puncturing the zipper. Just an added benefit which I really like if I want to lock my camera or iPad in it (especially if there isn’t a hotel safe)
  • Pockets: 2 exterior zippered (lockable): 2 interior zippered
  • Handles: 2 padded top and side handles


  • Wheels: only a 2 wheel rolling carry-on; not a spinner—but I can live with that if it means it’s lighter and gives me lots of room
  • Handle: mono tube handle (I will not be able to comfortable put a bag ontop, but that’s just something I will have to live with)
  • Expansion: can’t truly expand it like other carry-on bags; however, due to the material being soft on top and on the side, in a way I can expand it.
  • Warranty: 5 year (not 10)

So, the Pacsafe carry-on isn’t for everyone, but I like it. It may also force me to pack a little better next time. As they say, lay out everything you WANT to take and then put away half.

Questions To Consider:

So how to search for YOUR perfect carry-on?

  1. Do you want to do carry-on? Some people just refuse as they have too much to bring. Keep in mind that I was able to do carry-on for a 6 week trip to 4 countries.
  2. What are the carry-on requirements for the airline(s) you usually use?
  3. Are you going to take a chance and get something even 0.5″ greater than the requirement, or will you always be under?
  4. What size capacity do you want?
  5. Do you really need a spinner carry-on (4 wheels)? Try it out. I actually found the 2-wheeler easier to maneuver.
  6. Should it have a single or double telescoping handle?
  7. What is the bag’s maximum weight?
  8. Soft-sided or hard-sided?
  9. How many pockets inside? outside?
  10. Locks on all exterior pockets?
  11. Are there enough handles on the outside?
  12. Can the bag expand?

P.S. I take back what I said in a previous post (Advice About Luggage And Locks): I AM going to use packing cubes. They just seem to work well with this new bag! Everything is organized and easy to get.

Disclosure: The recommendations in this post contain affiliate links. Should you purchase using our link we will receive a small commission which doesn’t affect the price you pay.

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