There seems to be an abundance of suitcases, mostly roller or spinner types, which are made to an exact size to satisfy the common airline limit of 22 x 15 x 8 inches.

However, I am looking for a much lighter bag without wheels, telescoping handles or other hard parts so that it can be folded flat, while maximizing the space inside it when unfolded. I would be putting in it a small day back and other bag which I normally use as a personal item but am not allowed on some flights during my next journey.

Is there a duffel or similarly soft bag with almost 22 x 15 x 8 inches dimensions?

Searching online for carry-on bags yields tons of results but it is surprisingly hard to narrow down to those matching a specific size. Even Amazon allows one to filter bags by color but not dimensions which seems backwards to me in terms of priority.

  • Most duffel bags are tubular, so the two smaller dimensions would be close to the same. REI has one they claim is carry-on legal - rei.com/product/870769/rei-roadtripper-duffel-small
    – user13044
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 2:15
  • What do you mean by sailmaker exactly? Google search does not turn up anything relevant to this.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 2:47
  • 1
    Depends on your definition of a duffel bag, which is/was traditionally a cylindrical bag. These days many stores erroneously label all soft sided bags as "duffels", thus diluting the meaning of the word. And subsequently consumers continue to spread this mislabeling.
    – user13044
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 8:46
  • 1
    @Tom Thanks! That makes sense. I suspected that duffel might have a particular meaning, which is why I put or similarly soft bag in the body of the question.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:04
  • 1
    @pnuts - What I didn't mention is that I live at 3000m of altitude with no navigable body of water nearby, so there are no sailmakers around but I was told I can try a tent-maker instead.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


In general, duffel bags are not specifically designed for carry-on purposes. They are designed as a general purpose soft-sided case for just about anything.

You can find one that when filled (by this I mean, by volume) meets whatever size requirements there are for your arline, you can carry it on board - assuming you keep it below the allowed weight.

There are some duffel bags that are designed specifically as carryons; but these come in two main flavors.

The designer type, high quality material - do-only-one-thing duffel. This is basically a soft case with one (maybe two zip enclosures) and a handle to carry it; here is an example from a company that I have used before for bags called Waterfield Designs. The smaller one is what I would recommend for carry-on:

enter image description here

Then there are duffel-type bags that are specifically designed for carry-on travel; and these come with additional travel-friendly features (such as dedicated pockets for travel documents, and straps to carry the bag as a backpack).

Here is an example of one such bag, from Nomatic:

enter image description here

Any of the bags above will serve you well as carry-ons, but they are not secondary bags - they will not collapse and are designed to be your primary carry-on luggage item.

As the Nomatic is a kickstarter project and not yet available, there are some other alternatives.

The one I personally have is the Travel Pack from Aer. It is not strictly a duffel bag, but rather a flat-loading, expandable backpack - which was more practical for my tastes.

They also make the traditional duffel pack - a hybrid duffel and backpack and the more traditional gym duffel.

  • That Nomatic looks really neat. It does not seem to exist yet though!
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 6:35
  • That gym duffel looks pretty good and is very close to the maximum carry-on size. The duffel looks a bit too busy for what I need.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 18:38
  • Good options. It's the duffel pack which comes closest to maximum carry-on size while not exceeding it.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 16:44

Duffel bags generally have one thing in common - they are "soft" walled and flexible.

The requirements airline publish as the size that the bag needs to be at the time you take it onto the plane - not the maximum size that the bag could be at it's extremes. Presuming your bag, at the time you're boarding, could be made fit within the size requirements (or within the sizer that is frequently available at the gate) then you should be allowed to take it onto the plane.

Thus most duffel bags less than 22" will be suitable for carry-on bags, as long as you only fill them enough that they can be moulded to be below the 22" x 15" x 8" size requirements (for whatever the airline you're flying allows).

If you were to fill the bag so that it can not be compacted to below the 8" 'depth', then it would likely not be allowed on-board.

  • So basically, try to find one slightly bigger and squeeze it instead of one made to the exact dimensions. Seems fair to try that.
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 18:39

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