12 Top Personal Item Bags & Underseat Luggage in 2024

Six black personal item sized bags, backpacks, and duffels sitting against a concrete wall with moss on it
Our Favorite Personal Item Bags for Underseat Carry-On Travel in 2024

As a steadfast minimalist one-bag traveler who avoids baggage fees like the plague, I’m pleased to share with you the best personal item bags of 2024.

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit frugal and curmudgeonly when it comes to paying extra for carry-on or checked luggage. The money I spend on my plane ticket should mark the end of my airline-related expenses, dang it.

To help you find the right bag, I’ve rigorously tested and reviewed a variety of backpacks, totes, shoulder bags, duffels, and rolling luggage so you don’t have to. And I stuck to upper-echelon brands like TOM BIHN, GORUCK, Matador, and Zpacks. There are no cheap knockoffs here.

This buyer’s guide will also discuss the features to consider and which bags will best match your style of traveling. Toward the end of this post, you’ll find a summary of permissible luggage sizes for various popular airlines.

Table of Contents

Best Personal Item Bags of 2024

Types of Personal Item-Sized Bags
• Ultralight & Ultra-Efficient Backpack: Zpacks Bagger ULTRA 25
• Full-Featured & Comfortable Backpack: TOM BIHN Techonaut 30
• Lightweight Packable Daypack: Matador Freerain22
• Camera + Tech + Electronics Pack: Lowepro Flipside BP 300 AW III
• Durable & Functional Duffel: GORUCK Aviator Kit Bag 2.0
• Minimalist Ultralight Duffel: UltraLiteSacks
• High-End Personal Item Tote: Mission Workshop Drift
• Tried-and-True Shoulder Bag: Timbuk2 Messenger
• Ultimate Shoulder Sling: Peak Design Everyday Sling
• Simple & Stylish Briefcase: TOM BIHN Daylight
• Hard Cover Luggage with Wheels: Samsonite Novaire
• Mini Rolling Soft Luggage: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside
Why I Travel with Only a Personal Item Bag
Factors We Consider When Choosing Products
Final Thoughts: Best Personal Item Bags of 2024

Types of Personal Item Sized Bags

Not all bags are the same. Not all travelers are the same. Each bag on this list has specific pros & cons to consider. Here are the most popular styles of underseat luggage:

Backpack

I like to move nimbly when I travel, and a wheeled bag or duffel makes me less agile. I fit everything I need conveniently onto my back, so that’s how I roll. Backpacks make life on the go much more doable.

I understand some people can’t wear backpacks because of back pain or other health issues. Consider a duffel bag, tote, or wheeled suitcase instead if that’s the case.

Duffel Bag

Duffel bags are a great no-fuss solution to personal item-sized bag travel. A duffel is ideal when you need extra space to bring a few extra things outside your main luggage. They also help maximize your storage space compared to the other two options above.

A duffel can be slightly more annoying to carry than a backpack; however, you can fit a wider variety of stuff inside one since they’re reasonably malleable and fit into oddly shaped spaces (like beneath airplane seats).

Messenger/Tech/Shoulder Bag

I recently traveled to Vietnam for a month with only a messenger bag. I’d have chosen no bag at all if I didn’t need my laptop and other work essentials. I could fit my laptop, a change of clothes, and a few personal items in my messenger bag, but nothing else.

But not everyone is a minimalist travel junkie. Even so, if you still have an extra bag in addition to your carry-on, a messenger is a quality solution and should fit all the stuff you need during your flight.

Roller Bags & Hard Cases

We’ve included some top-shelf options for wheeled mini carry-on bags that’ll fit under the seat ahead of you. Soft- or hard-roller bags are best for those wanting more protection for their belongings or anyone who doesn’t want to carry a backpack or duffel bag for long periods.

If you’re flying frequently, however, a hard case may not be the best style of bag for you. A roller case is awkward to carry, and not every destination is roller luggage friendly. I’ve visited bustling locations where this luggage style simply wouldn’t work.

Ultra Lightweight Personal Item Backpack
Zpacks Bagger ULTRA 25

Black Zpacks brand backpack sitting on the concrete with wood panels in the background
Man in blue shirt wearing a black rucksack facing a concrete wall
Close up of the open zippered top of a Zpacks Bagger ULTRA 25
Open zippered front pocket on a Zpacks Bagger ULTRA
Close up of a titanium water bottle inside the side pocket of a black backpack
Black sternum strap against a mesh background
Rear view of a black backpack with a titanium water bottle
Slide 1
Slide 2
Slide 3
Slide 6
Slide 4
Slide 5
Slide 7
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $249
Capacity
: 25L
Weight: 10.7 oz

Zpacks is far and away my favorite ultralight minimalist gear brand, as they’re consistently raising the bar for lightweight and functional equipment. The Bagger ULTRA 25 is a backpack designed for fast and light trips, as it’s made from waterproof ULTRA fabric and weighs in at a minuscule 10.7 ounces.

This is my go-to travel backpack for trips I take without my bulky camera gear. For trips where I do bring my camera along, I use the slightly more spacious and well-padded TOM BIHN Techonaut 30, the following recommendation on this list. Between the two bags, I slightly prefer my Zpacks.

Thanks to its super durable, lightweight, and waterproof ULTRA material, the Bagger is perfect for ultralight gear nerds or anyone aiming to cut their pack weight and brave the elements. It’s an incredibly functional and versatile option for personal-item-sized bag travel, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Why We Like the Bagger ULTRA 25: It’s as lightweight a backpack as you’ll find at 25 liters. It’s completely waterproof, has dual water bottle holders, and is surprisingly comfortable to haul, considering its lightweight shoulder straps.

What to Keep in Mind: This isn’t the most visually appealing bag, and it’s not cheap either.

BUY ON ZPACKS

Full-Featured & Super Comfortable Backpack
TOM BIHN Techonaut 30

Black Tom Bihn brand travel backpack on a wood floor
Man wearing a black rucksack looking towards the forest in the distance
Water bottle sticking out the top of a black zippered pocket
Looking down into a zippered laptop pocket
TOM BIHN logo on a black personal item bag
Bottom shoe pocket with waterproof grid fabric
Padded side handle on the TOM BIHN Techonaut 30
Side view of a black rucksack sitting on a wooden floor
Backside view of black carry-on luggage
Slide 1
Slide 7
Slide 2
Slide 7
Slide 3
Slide 5
Slide 6
Slide 4
Slide 8
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $392
Capacity
: 30L
Weight: 2 lb 9 oz

The TOM BIHN Techonaut 30 is a 30-liter backpack ideal for digital nomads like myself or for one-bag personal item travelers who crave the best gear. Made from high-quality, water-resistant materials, it features a padded back panel and cushy shoulder straps for maximum comfort. It can also be converted into a shoulder/duffel bag by purchasing an Absolute Shoulder Strap.

I love this bag’s isolated laptop compartment and the abundance of well-placed pockets that help keep travelers organized. It’s a well-balanced bag that’s effortless to wear, easy to adjust, and can haul significant weight comfortably thanks to its internal frame.

My one nitpick is its zippered water bottle pocket, which can get a bit tight when the bag is fully packed. I’d have preferred a more accessible pocket (or two) as you’ll find in the Bagger ULTRA, but I understand entirely TOM BIHN keeping to their sleek and zipped-up style. All in all, this is a heck of a bag.

Why We Like the Techonaut 30: It’s an incredibly versatile, comfortable, stylish, and functional bag that can also serve as a duffel. We think it’s the perfect pack to consider if you’re pondering becoming a one-bag traveler.

What to Keep in Mind: The nearly $400 price tag is high, but think of this bag as a decades-long travel investment.

READ OUR REVIEW

Packable Daypack
Matador Freerain22

Black packable backpack with a Matador logo against cement steps
Man wearing a black and grey bag and looking into the distance
Black waterproof fabric with a 'Matador' logo
View of a side zipper and water bottle pocket
Titanium water bottle poking out of a pocket on the Freerain22
Close up of black mesh breathable shoulder straps
Black and grey load lifter
Black and white ripstop grid fabric with dual gear loops
Label that reads "FREERAIN 22 | ADVANCED SERIES | PACKABLE BACKPACK
Back view of black and grey rucksack against concrete steps
Slide 4
Slide 2
Slide 7
Slide 1
Slide 6
Slide 3
Slide 5
Slide 7
Slide 7
Slide 8
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $100
Capacity
: 22L
Weight: 10.6 oz

The waterproof Freerain22 packable daypack from Matador has a tiny footprint when compressed and can be stashed away in your carry-on or checked luggage. It’s perfect for someone who needs space for extra items on the return trip and wants weatherproof protection when exploring.

Although small and lightweight, this bag packs a punch. Its 22-liter capacity is excellent for carrying all your necessities, whether in-flight or as an around-town daypack. It is, however, on the small side for single-bag travel, so look elsewhere if you’re only taking one bag.

Much like any other packable daypack, the Freerain22 forgoes padding on the back panel and shoulder straps to maximize its compression capabilities. No, this bag won’t be the most comfortable on the list, but it is the most packable.

Why We Like the Freerain22: This bag packs down very small and can function as a daypack or a vessel to haul around extra stuff you accumulate on the road. It’s completely waterproof and has an impressive set of features.

What to Keep in Mind: There is zero back padding, and the shoulder straps are thin mesh; this isn’t designed to be the most comfortable bag in the world.

BUY ON MATADOR

Camera + Electronics + Tech Backpack
Lowepro Flipside BP 300 AW III

Black and grey camera gear backpack
Man wearing a Lowepro brand camera bag and looking towards a bridge
Expensive camera gear loaded into a backloading pack
Laptop and tablet sleeve with a grey velcro strap
Mesh pouch with a rainfly inside
Two black zippers and a hip belt
Back view of a grey and black personal item camera backpack
Slide 1
Slide 3
Slide 5
Slide 4
Slide 2
Slide 6
Slide 8
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $179
Capacity
: 27L
Weight: 3 lb 3 oz

Depending on where and why I’m traveling, I like to keep my fragile gadgets close at hand. Cameras, lenses, chargers, laptops, and tablets all deserve a safe and secure home during my wanderings. If you pack expensive cameras and tech gear like me, look no further than this beauty.

Popular among photographers and videographers, the Lowepro Flipside BP 300 AW III keeps gear safe and snug without unnecessary frills that add to its size. Its padding is generous but not cumbersome, and its back panel zipper access to the main compartment is an unconventional yet effective feature.

For rare trips that require me to bring all of my cameras, lenses, and tripods, I’ll pack my tech gear in this bag and throw my clothes and other belongings in my Bagger ULTRA 25.

Why We Like the Flipside BP 300 AW III: From its smooth zippers to its ample (but not bulky) padding, we love every single feature on the Flipside. This is an extremely well-made bag that will thrive for photographers and videographers.

What to Keep in Mind: This pack’s main compartment is accessed through the back of the pack. For larger photography setups, consider a bigger bag (like the Flipside 500 AW II).

BUY ON AMAZON

Durable & Functional Duffel Bag
GORUCK Aviator Kit Bag 2.0

Black duffel bag resting on a park bench
Man in green hoodie carrying a black duffel bagwalking towards an Anytime Fitness gym
Black duffel bag full of gym supplies: protein, shaker, drinks, creatine, and clothing
Close up of two black canvas handles atop a duffel bag
Close of up of a zipper on a black carry-on duffel
Tan colored internal mesh pocket
Close up of a zipper on a yellow backpack
Slide 1
Slide 5
Slide 7
Slide 4
Slide 2
Slide 6
Slide 3
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $150
Capacity
: 32L
Weight: 2 lb 9 oz

Pro travelers who need more features than the UltraLiteSacks duffel listed below should check out the GORUCK Aviator Kit Bag 2.0 for their next adventure. It’s a sturdy and practical piece that’ll thrive during your travels, everyday life, and anywhere between.

This duffel is made from burly 1000D Cordura nylon and sports three exterior and three interior zipper pockets (six total) to keep your gear organized and accessible during travel. It’s protected by a ‘You Break It, We Fix It’ guarantee, though it’s so durable, I doubt you’ll ever need it.

Though I don’t use my Aviator Kit Bag for one-bag travel (I definitely could), it has become my all-time favorite gym bag. It’s remarkably durable and has the perfect amount of internal storage to stash my beverages, shoes, protein powder, extra clothing, and other odds and ends. I love it so much that I’m actively seeking out my next piece of GORUCK gear.

Why We Like the Aviator Kit Bag 2.0: In terms of build quality, durability, functionality, and attention to detail, it doesn’t get much better than GORUCK. If you like traveling with a personal item duffel bag, this is the one for you.

What to Keep in Mind: GORUCK doesn’t offer free shipping, no matter how much money you spend.

BUY ON GORUCK

Minimalist Ultralight Duffel Bag
UltraLiteSacks

Black duffel bag made from ULTRA material and an ULTRALITESACKS logo
Man in blue hoodie with a black duffel slung over his shoulder
Close up of a black and grey buckle and strap
Two small YKKs with a seam-sealed zipper
Black shoulder strap on top of luggage
Slick and shiny interior waterproof ULTRA material
Top view of an open duffel with a 0-degree sleeping bag and down jacket inside
Slide 1
Slide 2
Slide 3
Slide 4
Slide 5
Slide 4
Slide 8
 previous arrow
 next arrow
 

MSRP: $149
Capacity
: 35L
Weight: 11.4 oz

Like the Zpacks Bagger, the UltraLikeSacks duffel is made from space-age ULTRA fabric. And while this bag doesn’t offer all of the fancy features of the GORUCK duffel above, it’s still very functional for use as a carry-on or under-seat bag. It’ll thrive for those who need a lightweight duffel that can haul serious loads.

I’m visiting Japan next winter, and I plan to use this bag to pack all of my ski apparel — gloves, insulated pants, puffy jacket, collapsible poles, boots — and will slide it underneath the seat in front of me. Certain bags serve specific purposes in life, and this one’s calling is a gear hauler.

This is a no-frills duffel, which begs the question: why is it 150 bucks? Well, you’re paying for cutting-edge materials, impeccable attention to detail, and hand-made-in-the-USA build quality. This bag shouldn’t fray, tear, or explode when stuffing it, and it’s as lightweight and packable as you could ask for.

Why We Like the UltraLiteSacks Duffel: It’s just like our favorite ditty bag but jumbo-sized and fitted with handles and straps. It’s incredibly lightweight, fully waterproof, and will pack down into your main bag with ease.

What to Keep in Mind: With one main compartment and zero frills, this duffel is as minimalist as they come.

BUY ON ULTRALITESACKS

High-End Personal Item Tote
Mission Workshop Drift

Mission Workshop Drift travel tote

MSRP: $335
Capacity
: 28L
Weight: 2 lb 13 oz

What can I say? I’m a sucker for top-shelf products that are made in the U.S.A. Just like the Aviator Kit Bag I mentioned earlier, this functional tote from Mission Workshop offers second-to-none quality from a brand that keeps business in America and supports hard-working fabricators.

The Drift is tailor-made for professionals who demand performance from everything in life, including the bags they carry. This tote will stash away your electronics, clothes, travel necessities, and other fixings in its array of thoughtful pockets and sleeves.

Versatile totes like this can be carried like a briefcase, slung over your shoulder like a duffel, and (you guessed it) slide underneath the airplane seat in front of you. So, why not take all that money you’ll save on baggage fees and invest in a slick bag like this?

Why We Like the Drift: We’re gear snobs who value attention to detail and handmade products from high-end materials; this bag checks all the boxes for us. It’s a technical work of art and will last for a very long time.

What to Keep in Mind: It’s pretty expensive, but just like the TOM BIHN Techonaut, you’re getting an exceptional bag that’s made in America.

BUY ON MISSION WORKSHOP

Tried-and-True Shoulder Bag
Timbuk2 Messenger Bag

Red and black Timbuk2 brand messenger bag

MSRP: $129
Capacity
: 25L
Weight: 1 lb 11 oz

I considered traveling “bagless” on a recent trip to Vietnam, but I still needed something to hold my laptop and carry-on items. I purchased a cheap knockoff messenger bag and quickly regretted not grabbing this Timbuk2 instead.

I won’t name names, but the knockoff bag was frumpy and dug painfully into my shoulder. Reviews of the Timbuk2 Messenger told a different story, however: It’s comfy to wear, looks fantastic, and puts a little extra glide in your stride. It pays to buy quality.

Those who travel frequently for work would find a messenger bag like this perfect for hauling their laptop, tablet, cords, chargers, and other mobile office essentials. Pair it with a well-packed overhead carry-on, and you’ll be in great shape.

Why We Like the Timbuk2 Messenger Bag: It comes in a variety of different sizes and colors, so you can pick the perfect match to suit your travel style. It’s reasonably priced, weather-resistant, and has top-notch internal organization.

What to Keep in Mind: It’s hard to find any nitpicks with this bag!

BUY ON AMAZON

Ultimate Shoulder Sling
Peak Design Everyday Sling

Blue shoulder sling for underseat carry on travel

MSRP: $120
Capacity
: 6L
Weight: 1 lb 3 oz

Being a minimalist and writing about minimalist gear can be challenging. Not wanting to be weighed down by my possessions is constantly at odds with all the nifty minimalist gadgets and gear I found while researching these articles.

That rings especially true with this shoulder sling from Peak Design. The Everyday Sling is a sleek and stylish shoulder sling that keeps your EDC essentials and valuables close at hand, safe from the elements, and sitting comfortably on the small of your back.

Savvy travelers could wear the Everyday Sling around their waist and rock a personal item sized backpack as they board their flight to avoid baggage fees. Why not try? Doing so could add a few extra liters of storage to your minimalist packing setup.

Why We Like the Everyday Sling: We lug mirrorless cameras around when we travel, so we appreciate products that protect our expensive gear. This rock-solid crossbody sling comes in three sizes and is protected by a lifetime warranty.

What to Keep in Mind: At six liters, this is the smallest bag on this list. Don’t expect it to hold much more than a camera, tablet, snacks, and other small travel essentials.

BUY ON PEAK DESIGN

BUY ON AMAZON

Simple & Stylish Briefcase
TOM BIHN Daylight

Tom Bihn Daylight briefcase

MSRP: $93
Capacity
: 8L
Weight: 12.7 oz

TOM BIHN makes its second appearance on this list of the best personal item bags for 2024. That’s because the Daylight is a well-designed and functional briefcase suitable for travel, work, and trips to the coffee shop.

The Daylight’s main compartment and multiple organizing pockets keep your businessy stuff exactly where you need it. With comfy straps, well-placed pockets, and a lightweight design, you’ll glide around airports with ease.

Much like the Timbuk2 Messenger Bag, I’d recommend the Daylight for digital nomads and those who embark on frequent work trips. Pair it with one of TOM BIHN’s exceptional carry-on travel backpacks if you’re feeling especially frisky.

Why We Like the Daylight: What’s not to love? We’re big TOM BIHN fans, and this bag highlights their commitment to practical, well-made travel gear. It’ll work great for coffee shop hopping with your laptop, tablet, headphones, and other essentials.

What to Keep in Mind: At the time of writing this, the Daylight is unfortunately out of stock. Sign up to get notified when it’s available again.

BUY ON TOM BIHN

Hard Cover Luggage with Wheels
Samsonite Novaire Wheeled Underseater

Samsonite Novaire Wheeled Underseater

MSRP: $220
Capacity
: Not listed
Weight: 6 lb 12 oz

Do you need extra protection for your belongings or have trouble carrying backpacks or shoulder bags? If so, a classic roller bag might be the solution. This Samsonite Novaire Wheeled Underseater is a shining example of mobile hardside style.

It has all the classic design features of a roller carry-on, but it’s minified. The Novaire fits under most airline seats while taking full advantage of every last square inch allowed by travel regulations. Yeah, it’s a bit like a tiny tank, but that can be a good thing on the road.

Because it’s sturdy, rigid, and has wheels, you will sacrifice some space inside the bag to adhere to personal item dimensions requirements. That said, it’ll work wonders for those who don’t want the strain of a backpack, duffel, or messenger bag.

Why We Like the Novaire: Wheeled underseat luggage is hard to come by, but Samsonite has executed it well. This bag has integrated USB ports, a feature you won’t find on any other bag on this list.

What to Keep in Mind: At 6.8 pounds, this is the heaviest bag on the list (and it’s also the most rigid). It might be a tight squeeze under the seat in front of you when fully packed.

BUY ON SAMSONITE

Mini Rolling Luggage
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside underseat travel luggage

MSRP: $170
Capacity
: 26L
Weight: 5 lb 8 oz

Like the Samsonite above, many people choose this style of roll-around bag because it’s often more convenient and comfy than totes, backpacks, and duffels that hang off the body. But unlike the rigid Novaire, the Maxlite 5 is soft-sided and can be shaped and flattened as needed.

Despite its soft sides, the TravelPro Maxlite still offers plenty of protection. It comes in a compact, 5-pound version that slides easily under airline seats and a spacious 9-pound model that should trigger gate fees on many airlines. Choose your size carefully.

If I were torn between the hard-sided Samsonite and the soft-sided Travelpro, I’d lean towards the latter. As long as you don’t absolutely beat up your bag, hard-sided carry-on luggage can be a bit overkill. Oh, and did I mention the soft-sided roller is half the price?

Why We Like the Maxlite 5 Softside: Assuming you don’t overpack it, the Maxlite 5 Softside should fit like a glove underneath the seat in front of you. It’s well-reviewed, priced to sell, and backed by a lifetime warranty.

What to Keep in Mind: Like the Samsonite above, this bag will be a bit heavier and bulkier than a backpack, messenger bag, tote, or duffel.

BUY ON AMAZON

Why I Travel With Only a Personal Item Sized Bag

Black minimalist pack sitting on a metal light rail bench
Less is more in the world of minimalist travel

I choose to travel with less. Less stuff means less weight dragging me down. That makes it easier to navigate crowded airports or to flag down my Uber. I shudder at the sight of folks pulling their entire wardrobe around in a 50+ pound monstrosity on wheels.

What’s the secret of being a light and nimble traveler? Bring. Less. Stuff. Obvious, yes, but packing light isn’t always easy to execute. Years ago, I could be seen lugging around an 80-liter behemoth, but eventually, I embraced a minimalist lifestyle, and everything fell into place. I recently returned from Europe after six weeks carrying only a 25-liter personal item bag.

I now save significant time and money by never paying gate fees for a bag. I use the extra cash to treat myself to better meals and memorable travel experiences. And I don’t miss the time I used to waste chasing lost baggage or standing shoulder-to-shoulder around the luggage carousel, hoping my bag would emerge in one piece.

The ‘secret’ of being a nimble traveler is to always avoid checking your luggage. Commit to fitting everything you need in your overhead compartment bag or the personal item bag by your feet. “Easier said than done,” you may say, but try it the next time you fly. It’s liberating.

Factors We Considered When Choosing Products

What qualifies a bag for our ‘best of’ list? After getting our hands on several products, putting them through their paces, scouring numerous forums, product reviews, and videos, we decided to use the following criteria:

Size & Dimensions

First and foremost, carry-on bags must fit in the space regulations allow. Specifically, a “personal items” handbag, backpack, or purse must fit under the seat in front of you, not in the overhead bin.

Some budget airlines measure your bag at the gate by testing whether it fits inside an official sizing slot. If it doesn’t fit, your only options are to pay a hefty gate fee to bring it or to leave the bag behind.

Here are the maximum allowed sizes for personal item bags for airlines that charge for a carry-on:

  • Frontier: 18” x 14” x 8”
  • Spirit: 18” x 14” x 8”
  • United: 17” x 10” x 9”
  • JetBlue: 17” x 13” x 8”
  • Allegiant: 16” x 15” x 7”
  • Norwegian: 15” x 12” x 8”
  • Wizz Air: 16” x 12” x 8”
  • Ryanair: 16” x 10” x 8”
  • Easyjet: 18” x 14” x 8”

Note: Before you travel, confirm the current allowed sizes for the airline(s) you’ll be using. Specifications and policies sometimes change. The folks at NerdWallet created this useful policy guide if you have more questions. 

Airlines that don’t charge for carry-ons are a bit more lenient towards the size of your item as long as it fits under the seat ahead of you. For these airlines, having a carry-on and a personal item is convenient because it may give you just enough cargo space to prevent the need to check a bag.

Weight

Consider the weight of your empty bag. The less your empty bag weighs, the less it contributes to the overall weight you’ll handle as you travel. Your feet and shoulders must endure every extra ounce or pound you drag around the globe, so put your luggage on a diet and leave your barbells at home.

Materials/Durability

A bag is only as good as its components. That’s why I picked bags made from proven backpack fabrics that will withstand abuse. I also preferred double-stitching, YKK zippers, and heavy-duty puncture-resistant fabrics.

The most durable bags on this list are the TOM BIHN Techonaut, the GORUCK Aviator Kit Bag 2.0, and the Samsonite Novaire Underseater. The least durable bags are the Matador Freerain22, UltraLiteSacks duffel, and the TOM BIHN Daylight briefcase.

 Weather Resistance

I’ve dragged my stuff through a blizzard in Detroit, a downpour in Budapest, and a sandstorm in Africa. At the very least, choose a bag rated as water- and weather-resistant. And even with a sturdy bag, I still sometimes wrap some of my more delicate stuff in a plastic bag before it goes into the luggage.

Price

The best bags provide more peace of mind. The savings from buying a flimsy knockoff bag vanish as soon as that cheap bag splits open halfway around the world, and you have to replace it. Travel light, but always bring the peace of mind that comes from spending a bit more to get a higher-quality product.

Which Underseat Travel Bag is Best for You in 2024?

Man seated in an airplane with a backpack between his legs and a tag that says "CABIN GUARANTEED"
Grab your ideal bag, store it underseat, travel light, and avoid fees

It’s your turn to decide on one of these best personal item travel bags for 2024. Will it be an ultra-lightweight and efficient backpack from Zpacks? A simple and stylish briefcase from TOM BIHN? A futuristic tote from Mission Workshop? Choose carefully because whatever you choose will be your joined-at-the-hip travel companion for the next few thousand miles.

And remember: when traveling, it’s best to avoid nasty surprises. Do your research and only buy bags that will fit comfortably in the sizing slots of the airlines you actually use. And travel light. Surprise yourself with how little ‘stuff’ it takes to travel comfortably.

Finally, combine the money you save by avoiding luggage gate fees with the time you save by skipping the luggage carousels and treat yourself by splurging on the good stuff the next time you travel.

Please let us know if you’ve enjoyed this list of the best personal item underseat bags for 2024 by sharing your comments below. We wish you wheels up and calm, clear skies.

Last Updated on June 6, 2024

Photo of author

Noel Krasomil

Hey, I'm Noel Krasomil, the founder of The Packable Life. I pack light and explore the globe searching for awe-inspiring hiking trails, rich cultural experiences, and ways to continue traveling indefinitely.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate links help support this website and keep it 100% ad-free.