Beat the Ryanair easyJet cabin hand luggage restrictions: My top 5 carry-on backpacks

It started as a personal endeavour 7 years ago but now searching Google, seems after so many years of flying low-cost airlines, many of us are still on that nightmare quest to find the perfect Ryanair-Vueling-easyJet approved hand luggage that fits within their strict restrictions. Travelling hang luggage only can not only save you money but also save you time on a weekend short break. You can check in online and save the hassle of queuing at a check-in desk. Plus once you arrived at the destination, you don’t have to piss around at the luggage carousel. You can jump on the bus or a cab and start your holiday.

So driven by personal need and to help you,  I researched and pulled together a guide to the top hand luggage only rucksacks option that fit within Ryanair easyJet restrictions. Plus on top of that I am offering you the chance to win one of the cool backpacks featured. Scroll below for details!

First of all, lets check out what these hand luggage restrictions are and what key factors to look out for.



Size matters. To Mr O’ Leary. He’s very strict.

With Ryanair, if your hand luggage exceeds the restricted size of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm even by 1cm in any aspect you’re in trouble. They will make you check in your hand luggage which at the airport costs £50 ( £13- £24 online) so beware. Also, if you are using a soft case, don’t overpack as that pushes travellers over the size limit.

Ryanair has become much more relaxed in recent years and now allows a small cabin bag as well as your standard carry on luggage. 35 x 20 x 20cm is the maximum size for additional small bag. This means you don’t have to stuff everything into your hand luggage and can have a small bag/man bag/weekend bag to keep your iPad, magazines, passport and other key travel essentials.

easyJet on the other hand allows carry on luggage with dimensions of 56 x 45 x 25cm and this includes handles and wheels.

If you do over exceed this dimensions, you face a £30 excess charge at check-in or £45 at the boarding gate. So be aware.

However, even if you are within dimensions,  if the flight is busy and there is a lack of space in the overhead cabins, the airline may ask you to check-in your luggage, free of cost . It just means if you are carrying anything fragile like I do: laptop or camera-then its a pain in the arse. To avoid that nightmare scenario you want to ensure you that your luggage is 45 x 36 x 20cm in dimension to qualify for the new easyJet cabin bag guarantee. This size allows you to fit your bag under the seat in front of you.

Vueling on the other hand allow carry-on hand luggage that must not exceed the external dimensions (H+L+W) of 55cm X 40cm X 20cm, similar to Ryanair. However if your are an Excellence Fare passenger, you are allowed to bring up to 14kg of hand luggage. In addition, you are allowed to bring one of the following items at no additional charge: a small purse or wallet, a coat or travel blanket, a laptop, or camera.


2. Weight

Weight is also an issue with Mr O Leary and Mr Prieto ( CEO Vueling) but not with Mrs McCall ( easyJet CEO) It’s such an issue with O Leary that at some point he was considering a fat tax and charging overweight passengers. Those days are long gone. Thankfully, he’s now just concerned with the weight of your hand luggage.


10 kgs is the ‘generous allowance’ offered at the moment by Ryanair and Vueling. Vueling are not OT but Ryanair in the past have charged passengers at the rate of £20 per kilo for every excess kilo so stay within that 10 kgs limit. So again, pack well: checkout the One Bag website which shares with you tips on how to pack light.

easyJet on the other hand do not have any weight restrictions for land luggage.

So what are the best options for hand luggage out there that are within Ryanair easyJet and Vueling’s restrictions.


Here’s are my top 5 choices (by no means a definitive list but a good idea of what’s out there, be great to hear of what you have, comments please below!)



1.) Novaya

The Novaya bag has been my trusted companion for the last 2 months. Dimensions are 50cm X 30cm X 20cm so well within Ryanair and easyJet restrictions. What I love about the Novaya is that it has dedicated pockets for laptops, chargers and passports. I have never been a fan of  wheeled bags so there are no wheels here.

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There are nice adjustable straps. If you wish, you can hide these away which means you can convert it into a briefcase and checkin if required. Cool accessory included in the Novaya is the laptop ‘harness’ which you can adjust to fit the exact size of your laptop. I don’t have an extra laptop case ( lost mine a few months back ) so besides giving extra protection, it easy for me to pick out of my bag at airport security. The Novaya also opens up like a suitcase which allows you easy access to everything in the bag. There is a neat inner pocket where you can store documents or socks/underwear. You have 35 litres of space here but it feels far more generous. Plus it weighs only 800 grams. The other thing I was looking for in my perfect carry-on luggage was the style factor and is this where the Novaya makes a backpack look cool. Its made with a durable herringbone fabric that gives it a smart yet understated look. The bag also comes with a 5 year warranty which is great and a testament to the quality.

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If I was to pick any fault with the Novaya is that it is not waterproof and the laptop case was too small- otherwise perfect.

The Novaya bag retails at £65 on Amazon.


2. Arcido


The designers of the Novaya have gone one better and just launched on Kickstarter their new Arcido carry on bag. In terms of layout and style it is pretty similar to the Novaya:


Dimensions are 20cm x 35cm x 55cm so perfect for all the low cost airlines. Capacity is 35 litres.

Key difference here is that the laptop compartment is close to the body. It is suspended above the bottom of the bag which means if you drop it, it doesn’t get damaged.


Other key differences with the Novaya is that it is made of 100% waterproof materials, which includes a traditional cotton canvas that’s lined with PVC and waterproof zippers. Other new features include an inner waterproof pouch for liquids. I also like the moulded EVA back plate which makes it comfortable for walking long distances.


Similar to the Novaya, the Arcido bag looks really cool as these pictures will testify. The Arcido will probably retail at a pricey £160 but you can get the bag at 50% of the price via their current Kickstarter campaign. plus you can win one of these via exclusive competition I am running with the guys at Arcido: details are below.


3.) Flylite. £20




















If you are looking for an ultra budget carry on option then look no further than the medium sized foldaway option of Flylite.

Their wheeled cabin holdhall bag has a Linear Length of 115cms (40 x 50 x 20) and weighs less than 625 gms: .Plus it also has a sizeable capacity of 40 litres. The bag also folds away into a much smaller manageable size for storage when not in use being secured by an integral strap with Velcro fastener. Cost is just £20


4. The North Face Jester Backpack


This backpack was my go to backpack for the last 5 years. At £44.99 on Amazon it represents good value. North Face rucksacks are excellent quality plus with a weight of just 600 grams this offers you the lightest carry on option. Plus you also have a generous 30 litres space. The Jester features a large main compartment with front accessory pocket with organiser and key clip, a bungee system on upper pack face, mesh water-bottle pockets, a removable hipbelt, a large reflective patch for nighttime visibility and a carry handle. Dimensions are H48 x W33 x D18cm.

5 Lefrik Nomad Backpack


If you are looking for something lightweight, stylish and perfect for weekend trips-my 5th and final recommendation is Lefrik’s Nomad Backpack. Product of a Madrid based startup, this is your perfect weekend carry on luggage option.


It comes with a handy computer compartment for keeping you laptop/iPad. The bag also comes with a removable plastic pouch which is very convenient during security. There are lots of mesh pockets to store your documents and other travel accessories.


The other cool feature is that it is made from ECO friendly fabric which has been made out of recycled plastic bottles. The Nomad Backpack retails at €69.90 and comes in three colors: navy, gray and mint. It has 25 litres of capacity and dimensions wise is 49x33x11cm.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  • Marcela Faé says:

    coool. hope i win =D

  • It’s amazing how much can go into one of the carry-on bags. We traveled to France a few weeks ago with EasyJet. Four carry-ons for four people were more than enough.

  • Lynsey Buchanan says:

    I love the The North Face Jester Backpack

  • Romy says:

    Hi Kash,

    don’t really like to fly RyanAir or EasyJet – I try to avoid booking them as much as I can, to be honest. But your choices of bags are really cool and an inspiration to pack light. Thanks.

  • Mary Lou Van De Bon says:

    We have worn out our current carry-on bags and are on the quest for replacements. As my husband and I are older (63 & 54) we want light weight bags that are easy to carry and lift over our heads. Thanks for a thorough review of some great option for us to consider.

  • Heather Desjardins says:

    We are looking for carry-on options and this was a helpful article. Before having our toddler I would get away with carry-on bags only as much as possible. Now there is so much gear for her that’s less possible, but a good carry-on that is well packed can get you through if your luggage is lost.

  • Kathryn says:

    10kg is okay. Most budget airlines flying out of Australia now give you 7kg total! That’s doable for a short term trip but not longer term.

  • Tammy Doty says:

    I just got back from going to Rwanda and Amsterdam. I checked bags for every flight and it was a hassle. Next time I travel, I plan on doing it with just a carry on, and this bag seems just the right package for what I need! What a great design. Thanks!

  • João Soeiro says:

    The performance of the Arcido bag is superb ! I surely recommend it !

  • Emnk says:

    I usually travel with just carry-on sized Rimowa and if needed, a day/work bag (purse or computer bag). But some of the hopper flights I have been taking are tempting me to go smaller.

  • Natalie Crossan says:

    I love carry on bags, means I don’t have to rely on my suitcase so much should the airport lose it! I’m always worried about that x

  • Gee says:


    Thank you for the share. I may be using one of these airlines in the winter for two destinations. Im terrible for overpacking. Ugh.

  • Germaine says:

    This is really handy to know. Even though I have never used those airlines, I need convenient carry-on luggage that is neat and easy!

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