Can you carry on a garment bag? If you’re looking for the best carry on garment bag for suits, dresses and other formal wear, forget about those tall and wide bags that used to be allowed as carry on luggage many years ago. In those times, planes had a small storage area that you could use to hang up your garment bag during the flight.
These days, airlines are a lot stricter, and carry on garment bags have to fall within the same size restrictions that all other bags do, i.e. 45 linear inches all around. The normal dimensions for most carry ons allowed on U.S. domestic airlines are 22” by 14” by 9”. This rules out traditional travel garment bags in favour of newer designs that are especially meant for carry on. Some airlines allow a few more inches on a garment bag if it is soft-sided, but you have to check with your airline to be sure.
In order to narrow down our list for best travel garment bag for carry on, we eliminated the ones that don’t do a good job of keeping wrinkles to a minimum. We also selected bags that a majority of existing owners have said were not a problem to carry on on most planes. There are a few in our list that comes slightly over the maximum allowable limit and are sometimes gate checked by stricter airline personnel. In those cases, we let you know in our reviews. Last but not least, our picks not only hold your formal clothes but also all necessary accessories. A good garment bag should at least hold a pair of shoes, belts, toiletries and undergarments in separate pockets without adding bulk to the bag.
- 1 Can You Carry On a Garment Bag and What are the Rules?
- 2 Types of Carry On Luggage for Suits and Dresses
- 3 Horizontal Carry On Rolling Garment Bag
- 4 Vertical Garment Bag for Carry on
- 5 Tri Fold Garment Bag Carry On
- 6 Carry On Wedding Dress Garment Bag for Travel
- 7 Flat and Unstructured Bi-fold Garment Bag for Travel
Can You Carry On a Garment Bag and What are the Rules?
Most airlines do not specify anything regarding garment bags. A few like JetBlue and Southwest do say that their planes do not have a closet space to hang one up so if you bring a suit or dress in any piece of luggage, it must conform to their carry on size restrictions and fit in the overhead bin.
American Airlines states explicitly that soft-sided garment bags up to 51 inches all around are fine.
You should assume that the airlines that do not specify dimensions will treat your garment bag as regular carry on baggage.
Types of Carry On Luggage for Suits and Dresses
There are four styles that you can choose from but we’ll include only three of those styles here – a carry on wheeled garment bag, a tri-fold garment bag that you carry over your shoulder, or a large but thin bi-fold shoulder garment bag. These three types are best if you’re looking for professional looking luggage. There’s another style that’s even better at avoiding creases but it looks like a duffel and may not be appropriate for business travel, so we’ve reviewed those duffel garment bags separately.
There are upright suiters and hybrids available that take the middle ground between upright carry on bags and garment bags, but except for one or two, they’re designed more for those who just need to pack one formal garment along with their other clothes and travel essentials. We’ll review one upright garment bag that is designed for several suits, but the rest of the best are horizontal styles that are better for your formal garments but still come under the carry on dimensions. If you intend to check your garment bag everytime or only travel by car or train, then invest in a bigger wheeled garment bag that can be checked.
Rolling Garment Bag Carry On
Not everyone wants to travel with a separate garment bag in addition to a carry on bag. In that case, it makes sense to have one solid bag that can hold a few suits or dresses with as little wrinkling as possible as well as all other items needed for a 3-4 day trip. This kind of bag would have to be roomy enough, so its final weight would make it a good candidate to have roller wheels and a telescopic handle for easier transportation.
Most wheeled garment bags are wider than they are tall to accommodate the shoulder width of a suit placed across the width of the bag. However, these are too wide to roll down the aisle of a plane and will need picking up. These are bi-fold bags with the top half of the bag folding over the lower half, so your garment will be folded at least once inside. Big and tall suits and most dresses will be folded inside once more at the bottom with the aid of an extension panel.
Not counting regular vertical carry on wheeled uprights that come with a detachable suiter bag, there are very few proper vertical rolling garment bags, but we have selected one that is designed well. This kind can be rolled down airplane aisles, just like a regular upright carry on. In this case, the suit would have to lie sideways on a panel that folds twice or thrice for packing.
Some of the best roller garment bags are quite heavy, so you should make sure that the airline you’re flying with doesn’t specify a weight limit for a carry on. Some international airlines do.
Over the Shoulder Tri-fold Carry On Garment Bag
While bags with wheels are easy to transport, they can be bulky and heavy. If you can forgo the wheels and carry the bag in your hand or on your shoulder, a tri-fold bag is your best bet for carry on. These are more likely to fall under carry on restrictions too.
This kind of bag folds three times to become a more compact option so you will get an additional crease in your clothes from the extra fold. You may find that you can carry fewer suits and other items in this type of bag as well, but the good models are still well designed and durable.
Over the Shoulder Softsided Bi-fold Garment Bag
These garment bags look like flat square cases and are usually not of standard dimensions but their overall dimensions when added up fall within or close to the standard 45″. This bag is folded down just once and has minimal structure, just enough to keep your clothes protected, and therefore is quite thin. However, because there is just one fold, the height of the bag will be around the same as that of the length, and therefore look quite large. Still, this kind of bag is usually quite easy to carry on your shoulder, though, and its soft-sided design makes it lighter than the other types of travel garment bags.
Most airlines allow this bag as carry on because it will fit into most overhead bins.
Most garment bags are styled conservatively, as luggage for suits is meant to be unisex and able to pack suits for both men and women. However, the following options do come in black and at least one other professional-looking color. Here are options for a horizontal wheeled garment bag carry on, one option for a vertical wheeled bag, some options for a tri-fold garment bag without wheels, and one for a carry on garment bag for wedding dresses or gowns.
If you’re looking for the bundle wrapping style of garment bag where you roll up your clothes, take a look at two options here where we also give you tips on how to keep your clothes as crease-free as possible.
Horizontal Carry On Rolling Garment Bag
Briggs & Riley Baseline Carry-On Wheeled Garment Bag
If you’re looking for a garment bag that is easy to pack while almost completely keeping your clothes wrinkle-free, then this Briggs and Riley carry on wheeled garment bag is the best available today. Its structured and durable ballistic nylon case protects your clothes while being tossed around.
The bag is 14” by 21” by 8.5” and weighs 9.9 lbs. It is ideal for a 2-3 night trip and will hold most women’s jackets without having to fold the bottom. It will fit into most overhead bins but not in those of small commuter aircrafts. Its frame is lightweight honeycomb structured to maintain flexibility and retain its shape after impact.
The aluminium telescopic Outsider handle bars are fixed on the outside so as to maximize packing space on the inside and eliminate creases that are caused by bars fixed on the inside. If you want to use this handle to support another bag on top, the Smartlink strap system facilitates this.
The main section features a Wally clamp from which you can hang 2-3 suits or dresses. There are foam centered garment panels that keep your garments smoothed out and crease free. Two corners house Velcro mesh pockets that will hold belts or under garments. The door panel features two zippered mesh pockets, a tie or scarf pocket, and a zippered shoes pocket. For longer garments like dresses, there is a removal extender panel that folds inwards.
The front of the bag has two pockets – a large U-zip pocket and a smaller zippered pocket over that to keep last minute things while moving through security. All zippers are top of the line YKK.
Pros: Includes complete lifetime warranty even on airline damage.
High quality and durability.
Clothes remain wrinkle-free.
There is space for a pair of shoes.
Cons: Cumbersome to roll down narrow aisles.
A bit expensive.
Travelpro Crew 11 Carry-On Rolling Garment Bag
A very new entry in this category comes from the luggage powerhouse Travelpro and its latest Crew 11 line carry on garment bag. This ballistic nylon bag with DuraGuard coating resists stains and abrasion and there are extra features to protect the bag from damage, like sealed ball bearings for the inline skate wheels and the patented PowerScope extension handle that is strong enough to support another bag that piggybacks over it.
The inside of the bag is well organized with two large zippered mesh compartments on the inside of the cover panel, zippered corner pouches for accessories, and a wally clamp that can hold 4 hangers for your suits and dresses. The longer garments are kept relatively wrinkle-free by the extension panel and foam roller bar. A restraining strap across the width of the bag keeps all the hanging garments in place.
The exterior front zippered pocket is a good place to store a pair of shoes or you can pack them into the bottom corners on either side of the garments.
This carry on wheeled garment bag measures 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and weighs 9.3 lbs. It will fit into the overhead bin of most US carriers but cannot be wheeled down the aisle of the plane as it is a bit too wide.
Last year the previous iteration from Crew 10 found a place on this list and it’s still available so you can take a look at our full review of that one here.
The Crew 11 is good but if you can afford a more expensive bag, the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 rolling carry on garment bag is even better. It is from the well rated luxury Platinum Magna collection and is more high end than the Crew 11 collection.
And the Travelpro Maxlite 4 Carry-on Garment Bag is a less expensive and lighter option to both of the above from the same brand. Anyone that usually has trouble lifting heavy luggage into overhead bins will appreciate how light this bag is compared to most other structured and wheeled garment bags, coming in at 8.1 lbs.
Vertical Garment Bag for Carry on
Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Upright Garment Bag
This one may just be the best carry on garment bag for suits. The Briggs and Riley Baseline Carry On Upright Garment Bag can pack up to 2 suits or even 3 if it’s a woman’s, but is in the vertical style, so wheeling it down narrow plane aisles or taking it into a tight bathroom stall at the airport is easy. It provides great organization for all your suits, clothes and accessories.
Its construction is the same as the Briggs & Riley horizontal bag shown above, right from the body to the wheels and telescopic handle. Where it differs is in the layout design. There are two compartments in this bag and both open book style.
The front compartment is for your suits and features a tri-fold panel with restraining side panels to keep your suit in place. There is a wally clamp to hold your own wire hangers and two removable triangular zipped mesh pockets that fit into the two corners of the compartment. These are good for underwear, socks and a belt. The main compartment is similar to a regular suitcase’s main compartment and is good for your other clothes, accessories and toiletries. It can be opened while in the upright position, as there are side gusset straps to keep the front section from opening all the way. Another restraining feature in this compartment is the pair of adjustable restraining panels with two small mesh pockets built in. These keep all your clothes from falling out if you open this compartment while the case is upright. Half of the lid of this compartment features a zipped mesh pocket for soiled garments and the other half features two elastic top slip pockets for a pair of shoes.
There are two front zipped pockets as well. One is a large U-shaped one and the other is a small single zipped one. It comes with a Smartlink strap to let you wheel this bag along with another if needed.
This garment bag is 22″ tall, 14″ wide and 9″ deep and comes in olive green and black.
Tri Fold Garment Bag Carry On
If you don’t want to wheel your bag everywhere, you can choose a tri-fold type of bag instead of the standard two-fold that you get with wheeled garment bags. This compact design makes it easy to carry on board with you.
Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 WT Porter
While a tri-fold design makes it possible to carry a garment bag over your shoulder, many options are quite bulky, making it awkward to do so for a prolonged period of time. However, this Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 WT Porter is sleek, streamlined and extremely light, weighing just 3.17 lbs and measuring 21.5 x 12 x 4 inches. It unfolds to 39″ in height. You’d think that it couldn’t hold more than 2 sets of clothes but it amazingly can hold 3-4 full sets of clothes, plus a coat if you use thin wire hangers, underwear and miscellaneous travel accessories!
There are three different ways to carry this bag. One is using the removable and adjustable padded shoulder strap, the second is via the double haul handles that can be held together via the snap closure, and the third way is to slip the bag over a wheeled bag’s telescopic handle using the zippered back pocket that converts to a sleeve for this purpose.
The front features two zippered pockets while the interior features two zipped mesh pockets – one for your ties and the other is for larger accessories, and a small zipped pocket for keys, loose change or any other small items. The main compartment features a hanger clamp to keep your clothes in place and two foam bar compression straps that minimize wrinkling. The polyethylene foam lining throughout the bag also helps minimize wrinkles.
A removable J-hook allows you to hang the entire set of clothes up in the hotel room closet without having to unpack each piece separately or just hang the entire bag up in the open position via the inside snap hook.
Pros: Very compact and light. Well made.
Very good value for money.
Easy to transport and fits into overhead compartments.
Cons: The space left above the shoulders of a suit is not utilized for packing small items so you’ll need to use your own small pouches for those.
No special place to pack shoes.
A. Saks Deluxe Expandable Tri Fold Carry On Garment Bag
Even though it’s made of durable ballistic nylon, the A. Saks Deluxe Expandable Tri -Fold Carry-On Garment Bag is a very lightweight garment bag with dimensions of 8.5 x 22 x 14 inches when closed and 46 x 22 inches when open. It weighs just 5 lbs. What’s great about this choice is the large number of pockets. There are also some extra features on this bag that add to its value.
This bag can hold a pair of dress shoes and up to 3 suits that are secured on their own hangers by a wally rack on top. There are two pairs of adjustable snap clips, one pair on the side and one pair on the bottom that can be loosened or tightened depending on how full you have packed the bag. This helps keep the bag compact and doesn’t allow anything to shift and cause extra creases inside. One pair of adjustable tie-down flaps in the middle keep your clothes in place and two top corner pockets keep your accessories secure. The inside of the lid features several zippered mesh pockets of various sizes for undergarments, toiletries and more accessories.
The front exterior features a large u-shaped zippered pocket and a smaller horizontal zippered pocket. Once the bag is closed and folded up, there is a dual purpose zippered sleeve at the back. When closed it serves as a pocket and when open you use it as a piggy back sleeve to slide the bag over another bag’s telescopic handle. There is a detachable wire hook on the top of the open bag that is meant for hanging the bag up over a door hook or closet rod. The velcro wrapped grip handle is the next best way for you to carry the bag. There’s also a basic detachable and adjustable shoulder strap.
Pros: Lots of storage compartments and pockets for organization.
Will fit in even the smallest overhead bins.
Cons: The shoulder strap is not padded, so you won’t find it comfortable to carry it this way for too long.
Mercury Luggage Executive Series Tri-Fold Garment Bag
If you’re looking for a simple less structured bag that is lighter than most structured ones, then this Mercury Luggage Executive Series Tri-Fold Garment Bag is the one for you.
The dimensions of this bag are 21″ x 15″ x 3″ (folded) and weighs 3.2 lbs. It is guaranteed to be allowed as carry on as long as you don’t stuff it to the gills. To that end, you can easily pack clothes for 5 nights along with a pair of shoes or 3 nights if you’re also packing a suit.
The main compartment has a strong Velcro fastener to use with your own hangers for multiple garments and at the bottom are two zipped pockets that can hold one shoe each. An exterior front zippered gusseted pocket can hold a toiletry bag or dirty laundry. Another horizontal zipped pocket is on top of that can hold small accessories or chargers and cords. One zipped pocket on the side is good for an umbrella or water bottle.
A removable and adjustable shoulder strap and a top carry handle make transporting easy.
Pros: Great value and light. Clothes remain relatively wrinkle-free.
Cons: It won’t balance on top of another piece of luggage.
WallyBags 52 Inch Garmentote Tri-Fold with Pockets
If all you need is a simple garment bag for up to 6 garments, including long dresses, this budget durable and water repellent polyesterWallyBags 52 Inch Garment tote Tri-Fold will do the job.
This bag measures 22″ X 17″ X 9″ when closed and 52” long when open. It weighs just 2 lbs. You’ll be able to store it in an overhead bin on all aircraft, even the small ones.
This unstructured bag folds over and is secured by a Wally Lock that also secures your own hangers to the top. This way, you can hang up the whole bag itself in the closet. No need to unpack the garments, just open the bag to its full length. Three pockets are provided for your shoes and other accessories. A center main zip runs through the length of the bag for easy access. The two handles fasten up with velcro so you can easily carry it by hand and it comes with a velcro strap to attach to a rolling bag.
Perfect for various lengths of garments.
Light and easy to carry.
Cons: Not durable enough to handle being checked.
Does not have shoulder straps.
Carry On Wedding Dress Garment Bag for Travel
If you’re having or attending a destination wedding and don’t want to risk losing or damaging your wedding dress or evening gown by checking its bag, the only option is carrying it with you on board the plane. While it may seem impossible to get a wedding dress to fit into a bag that conforms to carry on size restrictions, there is one that manages to be the perfect solution.
WallyBags 66 Inch Tri-Fold Destination Bag
This polyester water repellent WallyBags 66 Inch Tri-Fold bag is durable and lightweight and can hold up to 6 gowns or a wedding gown and tuxedo. Even voluminous gowns can be packed into this because of its broad bottom.
Side release buckles secure this bag after it is tri-folded down. An adjustable padded shoulder strap and handles allow for easy carrying.
There are enough pockets to store shoes and accessories, and you can use your own hangers to hang your garments from the provided Wally hook for packing. There’s a front zippered pocket to store last minute items while traveling.
A zipper down the full length of the bag lets you access the contents easily. Your garments are well protected in the fully lined bag, and the padded roll bars help you pack the items without adding creases.
This bag weighs just 4 lbs and measures 22″ H x 24″ W x 9″ D when closed and 66″ H x 24″ W x 3″ D when open.
Pros: Large capacity
Garments remain wrinkle free
Flat and Unstructured Bi-fold Garment Bag for Travel
There is one bag that does not strictly conform to carry on restrictions but is allowed as one on most US domestic flights. The reason is that it is a bifold bag that is much thinner than the depth you find on a traditional carry on even though its height is more. It is essentially unstructured with just padding for protection of your garments. Think of it as somewhere between a fabric laundry garment bag and a travel bag.
ZEGUR Suit Carry On Garment Bag
The ZEGUR Suit Carry On Garment Bag measures 23”x 22”x 4” when folded and 43”x 22”x 4” when open and can hold up to three dresses or suits plus a pair of shoes, toiletries and accessories. Travelers love this inexpensive option because it fits into any overhead bin and is light enough that it doesn’t cause shoulder strain when carrying it.
Your garment hangers are held up by 3 loop holders in a velcro and buckle clasp on the top and a detachable hanger hook is provided to hook through this buckle and hang the bag up on a door or rod. The suits are kept in place by three tie down straps across, the middle one being padded to reduce wrinkling when the bag is folded in half. Side flaps go over the garments and zip together to close the bag. The outside of the flaps hold 4 pockets – 2 opaque zippered, 1 mesh zippered and one opaque velcroed. These hold your other travel items. The bottom half of the bag then folds over the top half of the bag and is secured via double zippers. The front exterior features a zippered and gusseted u-shaped organizer compartment for all your electronics and travel documents. It is also large enough to hold a tablet or small laptop.
There are three ways to carry this bag about. There are two short grab handles with a velcro wrap grip, an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap with an adjustable shoulder pad, and a piggyback strap at the back to slide the bag over another bag’s handle.
Pros: Very few wrinkles.
Lots of space for everything.
Cons: The long flap zipper is a bit weak.