When most people think of carry-on bags, what immediately comes to their mind is a suitcase with either two or four wheels and a long telescoping handle. An underseat bag – such as the Samsonite Silhouette Xv – is essentially a shrunk version of that, one that can fit under your airplane seat rather than in just the overhead bin.
There are both wheeled underseat bags as well as wheel-less ones. In this article, though, I’ll focus on the latter which can often be more compact and lighter. I’ll take a look at what some of the best underseat bags without wheels are and at what things you should consider when choosing an ideal one for you.
Before continuing, though, below is a quick overview of my top 3 picks.
TOP PICK: Hynes Eagle Backpack
40-liter backpack with stowable shoulder straps. Available in multiple colors.
Gent Supply Adventure Bag
Luxury bag made out of Buffalo leather. Equipped with a shoe compartment.
Narwey Foldable Duffel Bag
Affordable duffel bag that’s easy to store when not in use. Available in multiple colors.
6 Best Underseat Bags Without Wheels for All Situation
Let’s start by taking a look at what I think are some of the best underseat carry-ons without wheels that I think you can get. They are in no particular order, although I personally like the first pick the most.
1. Hynes Eagle Flight Approved Carry On Backpack
If you’re looking to travel light, the Hynes Eagle Flight Approved Carry On is one of the best options.
With a generous capacity of 40 liters, this backpack has sufficient room to keep your essentials without having to carry an additional bag. That said, it also works great in conjunction with a larger carry-on suitcase or checked luggage if you are going on a longer trip.
The bag comes in a dozen different colors and so you will certainly be able to find one you like. It’s minimalist design makes it ideal for both female and male travelers.
One of the most noteworthy things about this bag is that it can easily be transformed from a backpack into a duffel bag and vice versa. As such, it is very versatile and you will be able to use it on a wide range of trips – whether for pleasure or business.
Lastly, the bag is equipped with two grab handles that make not only carrying your bag, but also accessing it from under the seat convenient.
- Can be carried in three different ways
- Has a large 40-liter capacity
- Comes equipped with adjustable waist and sternum straps
- The straps are not as sturdy as they could be
2. Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Boarding Bag
Considering that Samsonite is the largest luggage maker in the world, it would be hard to imagine a list of top luggage items without at least one of its products. Though the Samsonite Silhouette Xv is on the pricier end of the spectrum, it lives up to the brand’s reputation and is well worth its price tag.
Its main compartment is equipped with a U-shaped zipper allowing easy access to your belongings. The compartment can easily fit a laptop, a set of clothes, and more. There’s also a smaller exterior pocket which comes fitted with an organizational panel. It will help you organize your travel documents and other smaller items neatly.
The compact – yet spacious – bag is available in the pictured black and twilight blue colors. It’s made from durable nylon, and features a removable shoulder strap and a padded handle.
- Allows for neat organization of your smaller items
- Its main compartment is easily accessible
- Has a top handle padded for additional comfort
- Comes at a steeper price than some of the other bags on this list
3. Narwey Foldable Duffel Bag
Whether plan to travel for business or leisure, the Narwey Foldable Duffel Bag makes for a great underseat bag. Measuring just 17 x 14 x 17 inches, this bag can be carried on for free even on airlines with stricter luggage policies such as Spirit and Frontier Airlines.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this bag is foldable. As such, while in storage at home (or at your destination if you are staying for a longer time and are short on space), you can simply remove your items from the bag and fold it to a fraction of its size.
The bag is available in more than a dozen different colors and patterns (mostly stripes), and it has a capacity of 30 liters. It’s quite versatile, and besides using it as a carry-on bag for air travel, it will work well for carrying gym clothes, shopping items, or similar.
Being made of nylon, the bag is quite durable – and it is resistant to water, and wear and tear.
- Folds to free up space when not in use
- Equipped with exterior pocket for items you need quick access to
- Versatile, can be used as your gym bag, etc.
- Some users reported their zippers breaking quite easily
4. Simplily Co. Travel Weekender Large Duffel Bag
While most of the underseat bags prioritize functionality over style, the Simplily Co. Travel Weekender Large Duffel Bag proves that you can have it both ways. This carry on comes in three beautiful patterns including black and white polka dots, black and white stripes (pictured), and a simple black quilted one.
These different exterior designs certainly make a bold statement. However, the real elegance of this bag lies in the numerous pockets that it comes with to allow you to easily organize your belongings.
It is equipped with a tablet sleeve pocket to hold your tablet or a small, interior back and front pockets as well as an exterior front pocket. There’s also a trolley sleeve pocket on the rear which you can use to secure this bag to rolling luggage.
- Features chic exterior designs
- Has multiple pockets for easy organization of your belongings
- Has a trolley sleeve for securing to rolling luggage
- Fabric used to line the bag’s interior could be of higher quality
5. Gent Supply Adventure Bag
Don’t want to worry about your flip flops or sneakers soiling your best attire, your toiletries, or your travel documents? In that case, you might want to consider the Gent Supply Adventure Bag which is equipped with a dedicated shoe compartment.
Besides being practical, this bag also has luxurious feel to it as it is made exclusively from buffalo leather. Keep in mind that while this makes the bag durable, there might be a few imperfections in the buffalo hides – after all, it’s a natural product.
On the positive side, this underseat bag is equipped with quality YKK zippers throughout. This adds to its durability and makes it convenient to access your items. For easy portability, the bag comes with two leather handles and a detachable shoulder strap.
- Has a large shoe compartment
- Made from buffalo leather for increased durability
- Comes with a luggage tag
- Pricier than many other bags on this list
- Being a natural product, the buffalo leather might have some imperfections
6. Inateck Travel Backpack
Whatever the purpose of your trip, there are likely some valuable items that you need to travel with – a laptop, a cellphone, your passport, and money – that you will need to travel with. To ensure the safety of all these items, you should consider getting an anti-theft underseat bag like the Inateck Travel Backpack.
Although it looks like your ordinary backpack, it’s much more than that. It has special features – lockable zippers and compression straps among other things – that prevent thieves from accessing your valuables.
The straps not only protect your bag but they also help reduce its size when it’s not filled to the brim. This ensures that your packed items don’t get jumbled around.
While the 40 liter bag is large enough to accommodate many of your personal belongings, it is also compact enough to be used as an underseat bag on many airlines.
- Has two handles so can be carried like a briefcase as well
- Has lockable zippers to secure your items
- Comes with a rain cover
- Too long to be stowed under seat on some smaller aircraft
What to Consider When Buying an Underseat Bag Without Wheels
Regardless of the type of bag you are looking to buy, if you plan to take it on a plane as a carry-on, there are many things to take into account. With underseat bags it’s no different – in fact, you have to be careful about some of the criteria even more.
You have to think about the airline’s luggage policy – including size and quantity restrictions – among other things. Below is a look at some of the most important things to consider when choosing the best underseat bag without wheels for you.
Travel comes with many different expenses – and I would think that rather than spending on a bag, you would prefer to direct as much of your money as possible towards actual travel activities and experiences.
However, most quality carry-ons don’t come cheap. As such, you will want to set aside a reasonable budget for your bag before you start shopping. Also, remember that you might be able to get a cheaper bag now, but it will likely last you much shorter than a good quality more expensive bag, and so in the long run might end up costing more.
The one thing that qualifies a bag to be called an underseat bag are its dimensions. After all, this type of luggage needs to be compact enough to fit under a plane seat. Otherwise it would have to be put in the overhead bin or checked in.
Choosing the right dimensions might be challenging since each aircraft seat type has slightly different dimensions. And, the size of luggage airlines allow to be placed under seat – rather than in the overhead compartment for a fee – differs from airline to airline.
As such, you will want to check with the airline you plan to fly with. If you want to be on the safe side, though, go for a smaller bag rather than bigger so that regardless of the airline you fly with or your specific seat, the carry-on will fit under your seat easily.
In case you are flying with Frontier or similar airline and do not want to pay for a large carry-on luggage, you will want to keep the size of your bag under 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
Apart from size, it’s important to think about the shape of your underseat bag. This is vital in case you end up in one of those unfortunate seats with an in-flight entertainment box under it or with other things that limit the available space.
The easiest way to solve the problem is by looking for a soft-sided bag that is flexible enough to be fit in whatever space is available under the seat. Just make sure you don’t pack it to the brim as otherwise that will not be an option.
As much as you want to look for a compact bag, you will also want one that has the maximum amount of space possible so that you will have enough room to accommodate all of the items you might need on your trip.
You will want to look for an underseat bag that strikes a good balance between size and capacity – typically in the 25 to 40 liter range.
When choosing bag for air travel, another factor that shouldn’t be neglected is its empty weight. While that is not much of an issue with your checked bags, it is crucial when choosing a carry-on, especially one that you plan to carry as your personal item.
Airlines have specific weight limits on the items you can carry on the aircraft. If you choose a heavy bag, you’ll be limited on the number of items you can pack in it. Instead, you should pick a lightweight luggage that allows you to pack more for your flight.
There’s also the added convenience of transporting a lighter bag. Remember that you’ll be carrying it on your shoulders in your hand so keeping its weight down is in your best interest.
Handles and Straps
The type of handles and straps incorporated in your underseat bag will determine how comfortable it will be to carry. You shouldn’t opt for a bag with just a simple handle – carrying your belongings in such a bag would get uncomfortable quite quickly.
At the very least, look for a bag with a comfortable padded handle.
However, the best underseat travel bags are fitted with shoulder straps similar to those found in duffel bags. Some also come with adjustable backpack straps that allow you to carry the bag over your shoulders. This way, you can keep your hands free to hold your boarding pass or make a phone call.
Pockets and Compartments
Since underseat bags are meant to fit in the space under airplane seats, they’re significantly smaller than regular carry-ons, which translates to less storage space.
This is where the compartments and pockets come in handy. A quality underseat bag will have several compartments to help you organize your items – especially smaller ones like travel documents and accessories for your electronics – neatly. You should also look for a bag with an external pocket that will allow you to access selected things quickly without having to dive into the main compartment.
If you are a road warrior and plan to use the underseat bag exclusively for air travel, you don’t have to worry about it too much. But, if you don’t fly that often then – to avoid just having the bag sit at your home – you should look at whether the bag can be used for other purposes as well.
When choosing your underseat bag, think about things such as whether you can use it in your daily life as a gym bag or similar.
If you are looking to get an underseat bag without wheels, one of the first bags you should look at is the Hynes Eagle Flight Approved Carry On. It has a ton of features that make it appealing to both male and female travelers, minimalists and the widely extravagant, as well as to tourists and business travelers.
In case you are not a big fan of the bag above, any other of the six bags mentioned in this list will be a good starting point in your search for the right underseat bag without wheels for you. Just don’t forget to consider all the things such as capacity, weight, and so on before choosing your final pick.