If you’ve ever flown with the budget carrier, you know that Spirit Airlines’ baggage limit for a personal item is uniquely small. Customers who haven’t paid the mandatory fee of $35 (online) or $65 (at the gate) for a carry-on are only allowed a personal item about the size of a tote bag, day pack, or very small duffel—under 18 x 14 x 8 inches, to be exact.
It’s difficult to fit everything you need for a weekend into those dimensions, but it’s not impossible; I’ve done it many times with the help of a near-maximum (or ever-so-slightly over-the-maximum) personal item like the ones below.
The Best Personal Items for Spirit Airlines’ Baggage Limit
Here are the best bags for maximizing Spirit Airlines’ baggage allowance and avoiding a paid carry-on bag.
Note: Because in recent years Spirit has become much more lax about actually measuring cabin bags, I’ve included a couple that are technically slightly over the limit in one measurement—but make up for it in another measurement that’s under the limit, and will still fit under the seat.
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, Size Large
My personal go-to bag for all my Spirit flights to date is one that somehow feels much bigger than it actually is. Dagne Dover’s Landon Carryall in size large is 16.5 x 11 x 9 inches of packing space with a zip top that unclips from the base so you can open it as wide as possible to see what’s inside. Yes, it’s nine inches deep (as opposed to the limit of eight), but the flexible neoprene outer makes it adaptable.
A cushioned tablet/laptop sleeve, zippered side compartment, and the nylon laundry/shoe bag that it comes with mean you can stay super organized to take even more advantage of the space. I’ve used it for a weekend’s worth of clothes even when I need to bring a small spare pair of extra shoes along—and I’ve never been flagged by airport gate staff to measure it in the airline’s sizer. As an added bonus, this mid-size duffel looks super stylish and comes in an array of colors.
Nordace Siena Smart Backpack
A smart backpack that clocks in under Spirit’s baggage limit in every way, the Nordace Siena Smart Backpack 16.5 x 11.5 x 6.5 inches. Stylish and compact with a water-resistant outer, it can fit a 15-inch laptop, has a clear zippered compartment inside for all your necessities, and will charge your electronics on-the-go with a built-in USB port. At 19 liters of space, it’s also possible to pack for a weekend in it if you forego an extra pair of shoes.
American Tourister Rolling Tote
Committed to making a rolling suitcase work under the Spirit baggage limit? Enter the American Tourister Rolling Tote, which is exactly the maximum possible bag size at 18 x 14 x 8 inches. It opens like a backpack but is truly a carry-on with its telescoping handle, four spinning wheels, and interior packing straps that will help you pack down clothes to make room for all your other necessities.
Wild Fable Patch Work Weekender Bag
For something stylish that still has the packing power you need, the Wild Fable Patch Work Weekender Bag from Target has a tie-dye patterned outer and measures 18 x 12 x 7 inches. Zippered pockets on the interior are perfect for toiletries and accessories, and double tote handles plus an adjustable duffel-bag shoulder strap make it easy to carry around.
Osprey’s Talon 22 Pack
Backpacks are popular solutions to the Spirit baggage limit since they’re virtually guaranteed to fit under the seat in front of you. Try an option that comes in both women’s and men’s versions so you can pack a lot and still comfortably carry it through the airport thanks to specialized harness and hip-belt supports. Osprey’s Talon 22 Pack is 18 x 11 x 11 inches of super-organized packing power with lightweight construction so you can carry more. Its depth is slightly over the Spirit baggage limit—but it’ll fit under the seat in front of you just fine.
OGIO Alpha Convoy Backpack
A backpack with not one but three sets of outer compression straps is perfect for meeting the Spirit baggage limit, and OGIO’s Alpha Convoy Backpack is just on par at 18.5 x 12.5 x 8.5 inches. Made of recycled plastic, this sustainable bag has a plethora of zippered compartments plus separate sleeves for both a tablet and a 15-inch laptop. It also boasts two water bottle compartments, and the electronics sleeve features a waterproof zipper closure.
Camelbak Pivot Tote Bag
Waterproof-material bags also happen to be perfect for the plane, where you’re throwing your trusty personal item bag onto the filthy ground. Camelbak’s Pivot Tote Bag is made of a water-resistant fabric that’s made from 25 recycled plastic water bottles. It turns into a backpack thanks to hidden seatbelt-style woven straps, and has four zippered compartments plus a padded electronics sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch laptop and an additional documents sleeve. It also comes with Camelbak’s lifetime guarantee, so you’ll never have to buy another back-pack-converting tote bag.
Incase ICON Backpack
Another option that’s ever-so-slightly over Spirit airlines’ baggage limit but will fit under the seat in front of you, Incase’s Icon Backpack is 19 x 13 x 9 inches of packing power with a place for everything. Three large compartments including a 15.5-inch-laptop sleeve hold a documents sleeve and smaller pockets for chargers, pens, sunglasses, keys, spare chargers, and anything else you need. Softly padded shoulder straps also make this backpack comfortable to carry.
Solo New York Parker Hybrid Backpack Tote
A stylish women’s option for a tote-to-backpack converting bag, Solo New York’s Parker Hybrid Backpack Tote has stylish gold hardware on its outer zippered compartments and cushioned backpack straps that can hide away into the bag’s interior. A padded laptop sleeve, hidden rear zippered travel pocket, and still more interior pockets plus woven tote-bag handles make it a roomy commuter bag that can fit a weekend’s worth of items into its 16 x 15 x 4.5 interior.
Eddie Bauer Zen Travel Tote
Fitting squarely under the Spirit airlines baggage limit at 18 x 11 x 8, Eddie Bauer’s Zen Travel Tote is a durable zippered duffel bag designed for both travel and the gym. It has an easily accessible and insulated water-bottle sleeve, interior sleeves for both a laptop and tablet, and outer zippered pockets for travel necessities. The 100-percent nylon outer and woven shoulder straps are durable, and it has a rear outer sleeve so you can stash it over a telescoping suitcase handle.
What to Pack on Your Next Trip
Women’s Jeans and Cardigan Outfit for a Flight
Men’s Casual Travel Outfit for the Fall
Women’s Casual Oversized Scarf Outfit to Wear in the Fall
Men’s Super Comfortable Fall Outfit
Women’s Casual Everlane Dress Outfit to Wear in Mexico
Men’s Peach/Navy Outfit for Mexico
Women’s Romper/Swimsuit Outfit
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
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SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her adventures on Instagram @shanmcmahon.