I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are considering a new carry-on bag to see five popular bags, side by side:

Bag Comparison

From left to right:  Tom Bihn Western Flyer, Tri-Star, Aeronaut; Patagonia MLC, Red Oxx Air Boss.  Click on the image for a close-up.

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17 Comments on 5 popular carry-on bags, side by side

  1. Airport Runner says:

    Boy, am I green with envy! A tool for nearly every possible travel task. I’m afraid just picking the appropriate case would take up all of my packing time. BTW, how does the Patagonia Lightweight duffel compare? I notice that only the Air Boss has a strap attached, is that because you have a favorite that you migrate to the bag in use?


    Kevin Reply:

    @Runner: I didn’t include the Lightweight Travel Duffel because it’s such a different type of bag than the others. In terms of size and capacity, it’s somewhat similar to the Western Flyer. Click on this link to see a picture of the two together: http://bit.ly/hfMV9

    I tend to gravitate toward the Air Boss; the Tri-Star is also a favorite.

    Thanks for commenting!!


  2. Michael W. says:

    Hey thanks! Is it in order of size, left to right – ‘cuz the Aeronaut looks a little bigger than the MLC at least in this picture.

    The Western Flyer looks like an attache!


    Kevin Reply:


    The Aeronaut is a bit larger than the MLC. And yes, the Western Flyer although a fine bag, will not overwhelm with its size.


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim. Tim said: Rt @PracticalHacks 5 popular carry-on bags, side by side http://bit.ly/11Jevj […]

  4. Till says:

    Well, in a moment of severe procrastination and nerdiness I came up with this idea to create a BAG SELECTOR. The bag selector would have a number of pre-selected bags (no really bad choice possible) ranked in different criteria like practicality, durability and warranty. The bags would be all comparable in size and style, e.g. onebag style, square, 40-45 linear inches, no backpack straps. For other categories, say smaller or with backpack feature, a separate selector would be designed.

    Obviously, some of the criteria would be subjective to a certain degree. The fact that all criteria would be listed separately would ascertain that one can put one’s own weighting to the criteria. Hence, such a selector would be very useful for people trying to decide between the plethora of products out there without reading reviews for hours.

    So, I’ve started and partly finished this project on OBOW. The discussion turned into a bit of a slugfest because some members felt their favorite bags unfairly excluded from the selection or didn’t like my authoritative approach. Let’s say it’s an interesting read on many levels.

    Among the bags included in the first round of the bag selector are the Airboss and the Briggs Riley 235x.

    Here is the thread with the idea and the criteria as well as the weighting scheme:

    This is the thread that asks for nominations in two different categoires:

    And the results of the method applied to seven bags in the shoulder bag only category:

    Feel free to join the discussion and do a round of bag rating on your own with your own weighting or even your own methodology. Warning: this is a bit time intensive. :)


  5. Betty says:

    I like this post a lot, however I was wondering, if the MLC is the former generation or the latter. Supposedly the former is bigger, depth wise, than the latter. And the front pocket is different (former = elephant ear pocket, latter = straight pocket). Can you verify this for me, because it looks like the right size for me, but I need to know if I should get the bigger or the smaller. Thanks.


    Kevin Reply:


    The MLC pictured is the newer version. I’ve reviewed both the last version and this current version, and I’m 99% certain they’re the same dimensionally. The new one is a good bag, but I frankly prefer the model with the “elephant ear.”


    PS Just use the search feature on the site if you’d like to read the reviews of both bags.


  6. Edwin says:

    Kevin- I have thoroughly enjoyed your reviews on the different carry on bags. I’m in a conundrum though: I’ve narrowed down my choices to the Red Oxx Air Boss and the Patagonia MLC. Which would you choose? I want durability, style, lightweight, functionality, business like appearance and a size which will easily fit in an overhead or under a seat especially on regional jets. I travel about 1-2 times a month for business. Please advise! Thanks!


    Kevin Reply:

    Edwin: Thanks for the comment. Business casual? …or suits or sports jackets? Also, how long (in days) are your trips? kc


  7. Edwin says:


    Mainly business casual. My trips are usually 3-5 days. Some within North America, and some in Europe. I’ve been using an Eagle Creek Twist Pack 22 (45″ linear inches total) with wheels and it also converts to a backpack which I’ve never used. Additionally, I use an Eagle Creek packing cube, a packing tube and a pack it folder. I also carry a Patagonia Backpack for my laptop and electronics. The bag, and wheels are great on the Twist Pack, but I feel like it’s somewhat cumbersome and it ALWAYS has to be checked on a Regional Jet. I also feel I lose some packing space due to the wheel mechanism and handle assembly. I’d like to consolidate everything into one bag, and don’t know which bag to purchase. I’ve seen the new Patagonia MLC first hand. It’s a handsome bag, with great features however, the material construction seemed a little “weak” and I questioned the bag’s durability based on the handle stitching etc. When I pulled on both handles, I hear a slight ripping or tearing noise. Doesn’t necessarily mean the bag is ripping, but it was a concern of mine. So, there you have it. Your two cents?


    Michael W. Reply:

    Take a look at the GoLite carry-on, slightly bigger than the MLC but no laptop slot:


    Nicer material (appearance) than the MLC, imho, I have both.


    Kevin Reply:


    If you’re flying RJ’s a lot, I’d go with a smaller alternative to the Air Boss (which I love, but you’ll likely have gate agents wanting you to check it). Michael’s suggestion is a good one – the GoLite bag is handsome, well made, and less expensive than the MLC. Here’s a link to my review, in case you haven’t seen it: http://is.gd/dkIFu
    Also, it should certainly be well suited to the type of travel you do. Let us know what you decide – or if you have other questions.



  8. Elle De Wit says:

    I’ve come across your site a couple times in my quest for the perfect one-bag bag. I’m leaning towards the MLC over the Aeronaut for primarily aesthetic and cost reasons. I am in luck here in Seattle that I can make a visit down to the Tom Bihn factory and get my hands on both. I am curious though if you’ve given the Timbuk2 Wingman a look.



    Kevin Reply:

    Hey Elle,

    Thanks for the comment. I haven’t used the Wingman, so can only point out that it appears to be a BIG bag….

    Best of luck to you!


  9. […] find reviews from One Bag, One World, Practical Hacks, Macworld, Gadling, The Travelite FAQ, and The Gadgeteer, among […]

  10. Sarah says:

    I am so torn between Tom Bihn Aeronaut, Patagonia MLC, and TravelLite! I’m going to Europe for a month in the winter. I need it to be carry-on, comfortable in backpack mode, and durable. Any thoughts? I’ve been agonizing over this decision for weeks!


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