The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

best travel backpacks 2022

There are a lot of great travel backpacks out there, but not all of them are created equal. A travel pack needs to be comfortable to carry, easy to organize, and durable enough to withstand being toted from place to place.

From hitting the road for the weekend to spending months traveling abroad, we’ve put nearly 30 different travel backpacks through the wringer. We tallied our airline miles, punched our tickets, and put our tray tables in the upright and locked position for close to half a decade now, taking domestic and international flights to as far as Iceland and as close as 30-minute island hops. And while there isn’t a single pack that suits every traveler, we’ve highlighted a variety of designs and price points to help you find the perfect travel backpack.

Choosing a travel backpack can be a dizzying experience, and we’ve shaken down the best to sort through the static. Each pack has seen its time on the baggage carousel, hostel luggage cart, and we’ve even had a few go missing for the full experience. We fully pack and live out of these bags to test them, and in the end, we’re confident that the 15 packs collected here are the best travel backpacks available today. Check in and check them out.

For all your travel pack questions, consult our buyer’s guide , where we’ve laid bare all the essentials. Compare each of the packs using our handy comparison chart , and if you’ve still got questions, check out our FAQ section.

Editor’s Note: We updated our travel backpack guide on May 21, 2024, adding the JanSport Journey Pack as our new best budget travel pack, as well as the feature-rich and burly Able Carry Max Backpack .

  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: JanSport Journey Pack
  • Best Carrying Travel Backpack: Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs
  • Best Organization in a Travel Backpack: Matador SEG45 Travel Pack
  • Best Shoulder Bag: Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L
  • Best Commuter-Style Travel Backpack: Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L
  • Best Personal Item Travel Pack: TimBuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

  • Capacity 45 L (collapses to 35 L)
  • Weight 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13" x 9.5" standard, 22" x 13" x 11" expanded
  • Compartment access Back panel clamshell design with #10 zipper
  • Material Weatherproof, 100% recycled 400-denier nylon canvas shell; 900-denier waterproof bottom

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  • Compresses down to maximum airline carry-on size, and then expands once you’ve hit your destination
  • Burly construction
  • No details are overlooked in the design
  • Side-carry handles are offset in an awkward position

Perfect is a dirty word in product design, but we’re about stumped when it comes to drumming up a quibble about the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45 L ($300). This redeye-ready clamshell design is made to the highest of standards.

It’s made of quality materials, utilizing aluminum hardware and a burly 400-denier nylon canvas — and it easily ticks all our boxes for the best overall travel backpack. The interior of the bag is split into two compartments: a larger main area for storing the majority of your kit and a secondary sleeve at the front of the bag with five zippered pockets. The main pocket also sports a foam-padded laptop sleeve and three more pockets.

One of the more impressive aspects we discovered along the bag’s inaugural leg from Seattle to Anchorage was how easily the straps of the Travel Backpack stow away into the bag. Two foam panels on the back of the bag flip away to secure them and then close with a magnetic closure — very slick. This was our favorite strap-stowage system, with the zippered panels of the Matador GlobeRider45 coming in a close second. We find the Peak Design bag compresses smaller.

Then there are the little details. An ID-size sleeve on the back panel provides all the information should your bag get separated from you. Zipper pulls thread through one another to keep what’s yours safe. And a collapsible system adjusts the bag from a full 45 L to 35 L.

In our review, there’s little about the Peak Design pack that misses the mark. The company leans heavily toward the camera-toting travelers among us, but the 45 L Travel Backpack makes no compromises and works just as well for any user group. The high price is undeniable, but for the scope of the travel pack, it’s a buy-once-cry-once purchase we would make again.

Also available in a 30L size , the range of Travel Backpacks from Peak Design is so well-thought-out that you can practically see the cogs turning in their creators’ heads. We think they make the best travel backpacks on the market.

JanSport Journey Pack

  • Capacity 28 liters
  • Weight 1 lb., 13.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 19.5" x 12.5" x 7"
  • Compartment access Zippered top access
  • Material 100% 600D recycled polyester + 1680D ballistic boot
  • Electronic storage 15" laptop sleeve

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Compact and clean profile
  • Plush foam back panel and shoulder straps
  • Compression straps on bottom of pack tote around a jacket
  • Smooth-running zippers
  • Good internal organization
  • Laptop sleeve won't fit some large modern laptops
  • Water bottle pockets sized for slimmer vessels

At $95, the JanSport Journey Pack does a lot for a little. As a campus commuter, airline personal item, or do-it-all backpack, this pack leverages its lack of specificity to make it amenable to being used on just about any day. Part of a trio of new travel packs from the legendary campus bookbag brand, the Journey surprised us with a more high-end build than expected, and for the money, it made an excellent travel companion.

While the Journey isn’t trimmed out in some of the more boutique fabrics, it is still solidly built and uses the good stuff where it counts, such as the 1680D ballistic boot material that’s reinforced with recycled car windshield liners (news to us). The 600D polyester used elsewhere has a rugged nailhead finish, and shoulders wear well.

The thick EVA foam used in the shoulder straps and back panel is cushy and applied liberally. On the inside, the laptop sleeve is lined with plush tricot material, along with an organizer pocket for stashing your readers or sunnies.

The organization of the pack is similarly uncompromising and is broken down into a spacious main compartment, front stash pocket, small bits and bobs organizer pocket, and a 15″ laptop sleeve — which easily toted our tester’s MacBook Pro safely.

When packed as a carry-on, we were able to stuff in an assortment of layers we might need along the way (rain jacket, warm puffy, hat), along with our headphones, book, travel pillow , and lunch for the flight, and still had space for an empty water bottle or two.

As a 28-liter pack, there’s no alternate sizing available and no hip belt to go along — though, in our opinion, loads this light doesn’t need one. Compression straps are limited, though you do get a set at the bottom of the pack that doubles as a dock for your beach towel, picnic blanket, or rolled-up jacket.

Like the TimBuk2 Never Check , the side water bottle pockets on this pack are really only ideal for thin bottles or flasks, and while we could shoehorn a Nalgene in there, it didn’t look happy.

Compromises aside, for less than $100, the JanSport Journey Pack doesn’t take the easy way out and phone it in with fewer materials or a more simple organizational layout. We had a pocket or sleeve for anything we needed to stash (besides a dedicated passport pocket), and the Journey made for an easy personal item on the handful of flights we took it on — easily stashing beneath the seat. If you’d rather ball out on your big-ticket luggage and just need a travel backpack that’ll plain work, this is the bag for you.

Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs

  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 7.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 14" x 9"
  • Compartment access Zippered back panel clamshell design
  • Material Bluesign-approved 450-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Supreme suspension system offers the best carry of any pack we tried
  • External compression straps limit the volume well
  • Comfortably padded grab handles
  • Not much internal organization

No stranger to producing supremely comfortable suspension systems, Osprey injected a good bit of its tech into the Farpoint and Fairview packs ($185), which both sport LightWire frames, load lifters, and breathable framesheet and suspension straps. Our Farpoint pack was easily the best load carrier of any we tested and a close contender for the best travel backpack overall.

Far beyond what any of the other travel packs offer, the pack even allows you to adjust the torso length — unheard of in the typical travel pack. Newly updated, these packs have been tweaked to ride the line between traditional backpacks and functional luggage, a claim we can substantiate.

The 40-liter capacity is just about the sweet spot for domestic carry-on luggage limits, and these packs make good use of the space. We could easily pack away a long weekend’s worth of travel essentials into the bag with a little space to spare.

Whereas many other travel packs stash straps away into the body of the pack, the Farpoint and Fairview move in the opposite direction with a deployable strap cover that neatly seals in the suspension for safekeeping when checked. This produces a clean profile that’s ready to be slung around, but it’s not quite as easy and quick as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design Travel Backpacks, as you need to unclip straps to tuck them away.

The interior of the pack is rather spartan, incorporating only one zippered pocket, a laptop sleeve, and two internal compression straps. We would have rather seen a bit more organizational features involved like those that the Matador GlobeRider and Topo Designs Global Travel bags incorporate, but for those who stuff more than pack, the Farpoint and  Fairview may very well punch the ticket.

With one foot on the platform and one on the trail, these packs from Osprey will get you where you’re going and carry a trip’s worth of kit with ease.

Matador SEG45 Travel Pack

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13.4" x 10.2"
  • Compartment access Full clamshell interior, additional front zippered access
  • Material 420-denier nylon exterior, 100-denier Robic Dynatec interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Excellent storage organization options
  • High-quality, strong, and lightweight construction
  • No frame to speak of
  • Shoulder straps don’t pack away

Aiming to do more with less, the Matador SEG45 Segmented Backpack ($200) proposes a future free of packing cubes and splits up the bag for you, making the organization of your travel pack a breeze.

The full 45 liters of volume is shared among the five segments (6, 9, 15, 9, and 6 L) and trades volume between the full clamshell compartment and the segments. Each of these segments is accessible via its own water-resistant zippers and can be collapsed as your needs change.

We found organizing by clothing type made the most sense in our own packing, but you could even pack based on the day of the week or the use. The clamshell-accessed main compartment was ideal for holding larger items like spare shoes or quarantining spent outfits.

Known for its overbuilt but lightweight bags, Matador didn’t spare the SEG45, utilizing 420D UHMWPE-reinforced nylon in the pack body, as well as 100D Robic Dynatec weave on the interior. It should be noted that this travel backpack doesn’t have any kind of frame and will rely on being packed well to carry correctly. Because of this, this pack won’t carry as well as bags like the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, so consider packing mostly clothing in the SEG45.

Our testers felt this bag excelled as a travel bag you might deploy once you’ve hit your destination, as it packs away into larger bags so well. Unfortunately, however, the shoulder straps don’t pack away into the bag itself, so you’ll have to wrangle them into place to keep things tidy.

No matter what you’re up to, everything has got a spot to live in the SEG45 . Need a bit less space? Matador offers the SEG28 ($250) for that.

Read Review: Dresser in a Backpack: Matador SEG42 Review

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.3 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5"
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design
  • Material 900-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Multiple ways to carry the pack
  • Many different storage and internal organization options
  • Burly external fabric
  • Doesn’t carry the best as a backpack

Looking to squeeze out every last liter of allowed space? Patagonia named this pack in honor of the cause: the Patagonia Black Hole Maximum Legal Carry-On 45 L ($239). This bag can be carried in a number of different ways, but we found it shined during travel as a shoulder bag.

Borrowing fabric from Patagonia’s line of burly Black Hole Duffels , the MLC 45 is made for the long haul. The 900-denier polyester ripstop is coated in a TPU laminate and feels ready to take on the surliest baggage carrier. We certainly felt no remorse in tossing the bag around.

At 45 L, the MLC is certainly right at the cusp of the maximum allowed size, but thankfully that space is well divided up inside the pack. Inside the main clamshell-accessed compartment is a blizzard of zippers and mesh pockets and dividers. Anything we tossed inside was well-stabilized.

Because there isn’t much of a frame to speak of, the Black Hole MLC doesn’t carry the best when slung over both shoulders and can sag when not entirely full. But over a shoulder with the included shoulder strap, this pack feels great and can be easily accessed on the go. This is one of the only packs in our testing to feature a shoulder strap (the other being the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag).

On top of all this, we greatly appreciate that the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45 L is made with 100% recycled body fabric, lining, and webbing. Perfect for grabbing and going, this pack is ready to move.

Read Review: Patagonia Black Hole MLC Bag Review: An Organized, Carry-On-Size Wonder

Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L

  • Capacity 24 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 1.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 18" x 7: x 11.5"
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell
  • Material 840D ballistic nylon 6, 420D HT nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Functions as both a laptop backpack and suitcase
  • Well-structured and protected
  • Full panel loading access
  • Limited colorways

With an understated look that betrays the truly impressive fit and functionality inside, the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L ($279) doesn’t need to brag — it knows it’ll tote your kit through the worst of your travel or everyday commutes without missing a beat. This bag is our newly anointed best commuter-style travel backpack.

From a fabrics and materials standpoint, it’s clear that someone at Evergoods truly nerded out when they brewed up this bindle. The 840D ballistic nylon 6 that makes up the exterior of the pack is burly (errantly spilled coffee wipes right off), and complements the thick #10 zippers and spacer-mesh back panel. Even the Evergoods logo is low-key: a simple 2×2” patch on the front of the bag with a slash. That’s it — and we dig it.

Bar none, the Civic Panel Loader has the best laptop sleeve we’ve ever encountered in a backpack, and that’s saying something. The side-accessed zippered aperture can hold a 17” Macbook Pro, and nestles into a fully padded space at the rear of the pack.

This sleeve is suspended from the bottom of the bag, as we’ve seen in many forward-thinking bags, but goes a step further and protects the laptop from the side with an aluminum stay — the primary functionality of which is to support the side handle on the bag. Genius.

The high-polish finish on the CPL24 feels reminiscent of the attention to detail we loved about the Tom Bihn Synapse 25, but we ended up enjoying this pack even more for a simple reason: side carry. The broad handle on the side of the pack is reinforced by that aluminum stay, and it creates a perfectly supported carry for jostling through crowded terminals.

On the interior of the pack, two large pockets are subdivided with a few smaller sleeves and pockets, which are oriented to be accessed with the bag on its side. We carried this pack for a month straight of remote work, lugging it to coffee shops and co-working spaces, and it supplanted all other packs we’ve used previously.

“It’s hard not to love a pack that makes your life easier,” says Senior Editor Nick Belcaster. “This pack does that. Laptop, headphones, notebooks — a whole lot goes into the pack without a care.”

Up there with Nomatic, GORUCK, and Tom Bihn, Evergoods is certainly among the pack-makers that put intelligent design and smart material choice above all else. The Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L is the final word when it comes to a travel pack you can carry every day. We certainly do.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

  • Capacity 27.5 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Dimensions 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.9"
  • Material 420x2000D Cordura nylon, 135D polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Dang good looking
  • High-quality trim and details, including anodized G hooks and supple webbing
  • Supper cushioned back panel
  • Exterior expandable water bottle pocket is a bit slim
  • Pack straps don't stow away.

Pulling off a good expandable backpack can be a tough task, with fabric accordion folds often taking up valuable real estate on the interior when collapsed in lesser bags. Not so with the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), which takes a simple backpack shape and elevates it with premium materials and design to create one of our favorite travel backpacks for tucking under an airliner seat.

Unlike a lot of the pure-function rectangular bags in our lineup, the Never Check is a real looker — easily one of the best styled in our testing so far, and we’d have no qualms about bringing it along as a business bag. Small details like rubber-covered zipper pulls, anodized G hooks, and supple webbing keep it looking sharp. The 27.5-liter size is just about dead-on for most airline ‘personal item’ size requirements, and this bag easily slides under a seat.

The main compartment is accessed through a clamshell zipper on the front of the bag, which is gusseted to hang open while you’re loading it up. During the few national and international flights our Senior Editor Nick Belcaster deployed the bag on, this was easily enough space for everything you might want during a plane ride. And for everything else, a front pocket is lined with multiple drop and zip pockets for organizing small gadgets like chargers or keys.

The back panel of the Never Check is a plush ½-inch of comfortable foam, and combined with the equally padded shoulder straps made for a very nice carrying bag. The straps unfortunately do not stow away, but on a lower volume pack such as this, it’s a much less useable feature in our opinions. 

And finally, one of our favorite features: the wide laptop sleeve. This 15” opening is generous enough to accommodate the larger laptops of today, and is suspended from the bottom of the backpack to ensure bumps don’t turn into bruises.

Just like the name suggests, the Never Check Expandable Backpack provides a svelte solution to bringing a bag with you during airline travel — or even just to the office. Its clean profile and attention to detail impressed us, and it would make an excellent work-to-weekend bag.

Able Carry Max Backpack

  • Capacity 30 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 14.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 20.4" x 12.6" x 7.9"
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell design
  • Material X-Pac and 1000D nylon face fabric, ripstop 420D nylon interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • High-quality fit and finish with top-shelf materials
  • Dedicated work compartment is well organized and padded
  • Shoulder straps and back panel are cushy Zotefoam
  • Fits 17" laptops
  • No hipbelt can be nice for storing, but needed for heavy carries
  • On the higher end for travel pack pricing

Sporting many of the same features and functionality as the leading travel packs in our review, the Able Carry Max Backpack ($278) leaves little on the cutting room floor, decked out with ultra-durable Cordura nylon and X-Pac materials to pull together a travel pack that you could kick, throw, or loft across the airport to no ill effect. This is one tough pack.

At 30 liters, the only thing not ‘Maxed’ out on the Max is the capacity, which lands at less than the maximum legal carry-on size for most domestic airlines, but will be ideal instead for those who are operating with a little more room in their checked baggage, freeing up the Max for the important stuff. We also find slightly smaller packs such as this fly much easier on worldwide flights, where carry-on sizes can be a bit more diminutive.

That space is wisely dispersed, organized, and split between the laptop and main compartments. The laptop sleeve won’t hold any remote worker back, as it will host up to the 17″ mondo laptops of the modern age. It is flanked by an accessories pocket lined with four stretchy pockets for swaddling your chargers, cords, memory cards, and wireless mouse.

The main compartment leaves the organization up to you and is accessed through a broad clamshell opening that gives you full access to the entire space. A couple of packing cubes won’t go to waste in this space, and while Able Carry doesn’t supply the straps themselves, a couple of daisy chain webbing loops run the length of either side of the interior, meaning you can wrangle unruly items if need be. The back panel tucks away a few more zippered pockets, and a water bottle pocket also collapses away when not needed.

On the exterior, the Max is crisscrossed by seatbelt webbing on almost every facet, which will appeal to those who are looking for a modular pack for attaching and switching kit around as it’s needed. The VX21 X-Pac material is a rough and tumble weave that might not have the slick finish of the canvas on the Peak Design Travel Backpack but is easily as weather and abrasion-proof. We also highly appreciated the 1000D Cordura nylon on the boot of the pack, which made shuffling it around a worry-free exercise.

There are a lot of high-quality travel backpacks in the 30-liter space, and while most all will get the job done, it’s the construction of the Able Carry Max Backpack that keeps drawing us back to it. The stitching on this pack is exact and plentiful and works to hold a number of high-quality materials together in a thoughtful design.

Fully loaded, we did sometimes wish for a removable hip belt to help shoulder the weight a bit, but only the most jammed-full load-outs elicited this desire. For anyone after a dialed-in travel pack, the Max lives up to the name.

Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack

  • Dimensions 22" x 12.8" x 11"
  • Material 420D UHMWPE-reinforced ripstop nylon, 100D Robic nylon mini-ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Incredible density of pockets and sleeves
  • Tough UHMWPE outer fabric can be tossed around
  • Shoulder straps tuck away in a novel and smart manner
  • Laptop sleeve opening is a bit tight
  • Price is up there

With a pocket or sleeve for pretty much everything, the new Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350) gives the Peak Design Travel Pack a run for its money when it comes to the best overall travel pack. 

Our Managing Editor raved about the GlobeRider after serious testing where she pretty much lived out of it for 3 months: “If you travel often and look for crucial components like internal and external pockets, laptop storage, and backpack and hip straps, consider the Matador GlobeRider 45. It’s a unique design in that the [pack] seems to have it all — every feature I’ve needed so far, both living out of it and in my travels — in a pretty packable size.”

What impressed us most was the way the GlobeRider was able to balance both an eye-watering amount of organization and versatility, and burly durability that ensures that this pack won’t shy away from tough travel conditions. In total (and we double-counted) there are 19 individual pockets on the pack, in all types of stretch mesh, zippered, and collapsible configurations. When good organization is key, the GlobeRider reigns. 

On the back panel of the GlobeRider, one of the more novel stowage systems we’ve seen packs away the shoulder straps and hip belt for when you want to slim down the bag. Two zippered panels — similar to the structure of the Peak Design packs, save for the closure — envelop the straps when not in use, and provide a lump-free panel for toting around. 

When it comes to downsides, the GlobeRider doesn’t miss much. The laptop sleeve aperture is a bit small at 9.5”, which in today’s age of mondo-screened computers may be limiting to some with larger devices. There also is no ability to convert the pack to a shoulder bag like the Patagonia MLC does, which can be handy when moving quickly through the airport.

Dang-near the top of the list, the Matador GlobeRider 45 would be an excellent choice for anyone who practices one-bag travel, or desires to have a place for everything in their journeys. The price does sting a bit, but based on the long-term testing we’ve completed so far, we’ve seen no indications that this pack will fade away anytime soon.

Read Review: I Lived Out of This Backpack for 3-Plus Months: Matador Globerider45 Review

Thule Aion 40L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Dimensions 13" x 9.1" x 20.5"
  • Material Waxed P600 polyester canvas

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Maxes out on carry-on-compliant space
  • Internal roll-top TPU bag separates the clean from the to-do laundry
  • Waxed canvas exterior has a classy look
  • Centered side handle carries well
  • Well-cushioned back panel
  • No shoulder strap stowage option
  • No hipbelt on a 40L is pushing it

Better known for their roof boxes and racks, it’s fair to say that Thule knows travel, and the addition of smart, organized, and comfortable travel packs like the Thule Aion 40L ($200) makes all the sense in the world to us. This pack is a finely-honed bag for international and local travel alike, and is decked out in some high-class materials.

Like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC pack, the Aion 40L aims to go for the maximum allowed capacity, and at our measurements (21.5” x 15” x 8”), the pack slides in just half an inch less than the normal 45 linear inches typically allowed. That’s efficient. The space is split up into two main compartments and a laptop sleeve, with the larger opening with a full clamshell zip.

This inner compartment hosts a few zippered pockets and internal compression straps, but the star of the show here is the integrated TPU rolltop bag. This sack can be used to cordon off your liquids (and easily presented for inspection), as well as separate your pile of ‘to-do’ laundry. This reminds us of the ActiveShield compartment in the Gregory Border Traveler pack, but we enjoy the removable aspect here even more. 

Round the back of the pack, the spacer-mesh swaddled laptop sleeve rivals the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader , and has an additional sleeve for items like tablets, notebooks, or chargers. The back panel itself is impressively cushioned (one of the more luxe in our testing) and that extends to the shoulder straps. 

Unfortunately, there’s no shoulder strap-stowage system here, so you’ll have to wrangle those yourself, and while we typically enjoy the lack of a hip belt in smaller travel packs, the absence in a 40-liter pack is a little puzzling. Fully loaded, the Aion could certainly benefit from one, and while a separate sling bag can be added to function as one, you’ll need to fork over $50 for it.

Ranking high up there with your Peak Designs and your Ospreys, the Thule Aion 40L nails the style and material departments, and with a full 40 liters of space on board, has all the room to pack for your week-long trips — no roof box required.

Osprey Archeon 30L

  • Weight 3 lbs.
  • Dimensions 20.5" x 13" x 11.4"
  • Compartment access Zippered top-access
  • Material 840D ballistic polyester with carbonate coating

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Extra-tough exterior fabric with carbonate coating
  • High-polish details such as seatbelt webbing straps
  • Mini-wing hipbelt tucks away easily when not needed
  • Smart internal storage pockets that lay flat when not needed
  • Laptop sleeve opening is a bit too snug
  • Compression straps lay over the main zipper

First off, one word: Rugged. The Osprey Archeon 30L ($250) is a high-end build that spares little in the material department, and looks dang good while it’s at it. The 30-liter size makes this bag weekend travel-ready, and we greatly appreciated the fit and finish.

The overall design of the Archeon reminds us a good bit of the Peak Design Travel Bag (certainly the all-waterproof exterior zippers and curved side-entry pockets), but it’s the exterior fabric that really impressed. The 840D ballistic polyester is coated with a carbonate polyurethane coating, a bolstered recipe that increases durability by a magnitude over traditional PU coatings. In testing, we wore out before putting a dent in it.

The pack itself breaks down into two main compartments, with the main pocket opening behind a curved clamshell zip (we did have a little trouble with the zipper passing behind the exterior straps. Removing them fixed that). Inside, three expandable tech pockets tuck away all of your small kit, and do a good job of keeping things tidy on the interior.

On the exterior, Osprey doesn’t disappoint when it comes to suspension straps, which are comfortable, adjustable, and stashable. The mini wing-style hip belt earns special praise on packed flights, where we find traditional hip belts to be a hassle to store, and combined with the slick shoulder-strap stash pocket, the Archeon converts to minimal mode in under a minute.

Something the Archeon certainly could use, however, is a slightly larger aperture into the laptop/tech compartment. As-is, the zipper doesn’t quite extend down far enough to truly open up the pocket, and as such it can feel a bit like rummaging around in the dark looking for cords and chargers in the bottom of the pack. Extending these zippers down to the middle of the pack would seem to fix the issue, and we hope a later iteration might address this.

Nonetheless, we were still impressed by the Osprey Archeon 30L . There’s also a 40-liter version if you’re looking for a max-capacity carry-on, and even a smaller 24-liter for kicking around coffee shops day-to-day.

Read Review: Hack Carry-On Rules: Osprey Archeon Kit Gives Power Back to Passengers

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.5" x 14" x 7.5"
  • Material 1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Overbuilt design with tough materials and chunky zippers
  • Plenty of organizational pockets
  • Bright interior
  • Not the cleanest strap stowage

Chunky zippers, an overhead-savvy profile, and multiple ways to sling it over your shoulder: The Topo Designs Global Travel Pack ($229) has honed in on much of what we love in a travel backpack.

During a recent trip from Seattle to Southern California, we were heavily saddled with the maximum the airline would allow. But this pack made use of every inch of space and reached the allowance of what we could check as our carry-on. The 40 liters of internal capacity is broken down into a series of dividers and pockets, which made condoning off things like electronics from the rest of our kit easy. And the interior of this pack is a cheery canary yellow, which helps with ease and visibility.

On the exterior of this pack, three separate carry styles are available to get you through the concourse in whatever way you choose. We found the full-featured backpack straps to be our go-to, which even sport load-lifters for a comfy carry. This suspension system does tuck away for when you might want to check the bag, though we found the hipbelt to be a bit tricky to fully retract.

Rounding out this travel-ready backpack is a tough build that makes use of 1000D recycled nylon and heavy-duty zippers, and we had no qualms with tossing this bag around during our trip. Perfect for anyone who subscribes to the one-bag travel ethos, the Global Travel Pack from Topo Designs makes the grade for those who want the most out of their carry-on.

And if you’re only going to be away for a short trip, the Global Travel pack is also available in a 30L capacity .

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack

  • Capacity 28 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Dimensions 19" x 12" x 9"
  • Material TPU-coated 1,000-denier polyester, 840-denier nylon paneling

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Burly exterior material holds up for the long run
  • Plenty of zippered mesh storage pockets
  • On the heavier side
  • TPU-coated nylon can feel grabby

The Allpa 28L Travel Pack ($170) will change the way you travel. It’s sleek, durable, and able to fit an incredible amount of stuff in a small space. The zippered mesh pockets keep clothes organized. And the compression straps maximize what you can pack.

The tough polyester and nylon construction can take a beating without any signs of wear. And we appreciate that the externally accessed, padded laptop sleeve makes pulling out your electronics at security checkpoints a breeze. There’s also a small outer compartment to keep essentials at hand.

You can completely tuck away the backpack straps and carry the pack like a briefcase, or wear it comfortably as a backpack. We’ve stuffed this pack to the gills countless times and have never had a problem with the zippers. Light rain showers or spills roll right off the TPU-coated exterior, but for legit rainstorms, just pull out the included rain cover.

The Allpa also comes in 35L, 42L, 50L, and 70L capacities. As our editor noted in the 42L review , “Building on its fun and functional ethos, Cotopaxi beefs up its bestselling product. The Allpa Travel Pack earns big points for clever design, clean aesthetic, and a surprising number of handy — and hidden — features.”

Yes, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs are an investment, but anyone who travels regularly will find it a worthy one. These powerhouse travel backpacks are sturdy, versatile, and built to last.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

  • Capacity 25 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 13 oz.
  • Dimensions 13.4" x 20" x 9.1"
  • Material 400-denier Halcyon, 420-denier nylon ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Many different fabrics and color schemes are available
  • Built to last design and materials
  • Removable webbing hip belt
  • Suspension doesn’t pack away
  • Side wing pockets are a little awkward to access

Refined and clean-looking, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($250) is a high-end travel backpack we just can’t stop staring at. It just looks that good. Made of burly textiles and zippers, this pack was built to stand the test of tough travel and come out shining on the other side.

The Synapse 25 is the larger version of Tom Bihn’s Synapse 19 , a popular backpack made for daily carry. The bump in volume is appreciated in this travel-oriented version and is doled out in one large compartment as well as a set of pockets on the front of the pack.

We found all the pockets easily accessible, save for the side wing pockets. While these were excellent for the organization of smaller bits and bobs, the openings were a bit awkward to jump into.

Topped off by a cushioned suspension (the foam is a half-inch of supple EV50), this travel backpack didn’t weigh us down on long days of travel when fully packed. And when we wanted to go light, even the webbing hip belt was removable. In terms of the ability to bop around town as a daily driver, this pack is up there with the TimBuk2 Never Check (we liked the back panel on this pack the most).

Along with being carry-on compliant, the Synapse is also one of the few bags on our list that are compact enough to fit under most airline seats without hogging too much precious legroom.

Osprey Nebula 32 Daypack

  • Capacity 32 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 1.7 oz.
  • Dimensions 19.2" x 12.2" x 11.4"
  • Material 420-denier recycled nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • TSA-compliant laptop sleeve
  • Many options for organization
  • Water bottle pockets fit 32 oz. bottles
  • Need to release two buckles in order to unzip the main pocket all the way

When it comes to backpacks, Osprey has put in the time — and it shows. The Nebula 32 ($140) feels like all the brand’s most popular packs morphed into one. Most of all, we love how it seamlessly goes from city streets to trails.

This backpack can do it all, whether you’re hauling your laptop and books around town; water, food, and layers on an easy hike; or all of the above and then some for a weekend away.

The internal storage pockets are great for organizing all of your things for easy access. And while the Nebula 32 is top-loading, the main pocket opens up wide enough so you won’t have to unload everything to get to the one thing you want at the bottom. The sternum strap and hip belt are comfortable as well, especially when carrying a heavy load.

On smaller volume packs like this, sometimes design concessions need to be made to accommodate all the functionality, and on the Nebula, it’s in the side compression straps. Like on the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, the compression system of the pack overlays across the main compartment zipper, meaning you’ll need to undo some straps before rifling around in the storage area. Not a deal breaker, but a little annoying when the TSA line starts to back up behind you.

Overall, the Nebula 32 won’t disappoint if you make it your go-to smaller-volume travel backpack.

Travel Backpack Comparison Chart

best travel backpacks 2022

How We Tested Travel Backpacks

The staff of GearJunkie is a hot-footed bunch, restlessly plodding across the country or around the globe in search of adventure and whatever else comes our way. And we have a lot of stuff, which necessitates having a travel bag or four in the stable.

Surely any old bindle will do in carrying your kit around, but having a travel backpack that is dialed into the needs of travel can turn a stressful situation into a manageable one. We’ve been testing travel backpacks since 2019 and have put the market slice through the wringer on thousands of miles of travel to weed out the best of the best.

Senior Editor Nick Belcaster has a zeal for international travel, and he leads up our current travel pack testing, logging almost 10,000 flying miles in the last year alone. From Iceland to Utah, Belcaster has carried these packs and lived out of them for weeks, relying on them to support back-to-back travel excursions.

In testing, we looked for a number of features in our travel backpacks, including overall capacity, carry style, durability, and aesthetics. It’s important to think about how you’ll use your travel pack, and as such, every pack on our list is carry-on compliant for the worst-case scenario.

We know no trip will be like the next, so we took a broad swath of the travel backpacks on the market in order to create a list that will suit many different travelers. Packs in hand, over our shoulders, or on our backs, we hit the four corners and tested the best travel backpacks of 2024.

Curious about what we pack in our travel backpacks? We’ve penned up a list for both domestic and international trips .

Peak Design Travel Pack 45L at SEATAC

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Travel Backpack

Travel backpack user profiles.

The International Jet-Setter: The term ‘One Bag Travel’ is no stranger to you, and you’ve just about got your life distilled down into 45 liters of space. If international travel is your bag, then a backpack that’s up to the task will be essential to see you through to further time zones.

Efficiency will be the name of the game here, and going with a pack that is dang-near the carry-on maximums for international flights will mean you can make it through without checking a bag. Look for near to 45-liter packs with plenty of organization baked in, as well as a comfortable (and stashable) carry system.

For international travel, the bag we reach for most often had to be the Peak Design Travel Backpack , with a razor-thin second place going to the Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack . For an emphasis on organization, the Matador SEG45 splits up the volume well, and if you’ll be schlepping bags around a long way, the Osprey Farpoint & Fairview Packs have all the Osprey suspension we love.

Osprey Farpoint Travel Pack in Iceland

The Weekend Warrior: Maybe it’s a work trip, and maybe it’s just for fun, but it’s only going to take 2-3 days total, and you’ll need a bag that can pack it in. For weekend excursions, we find packs in the 25-35 liter range work well for the minimalists among us, and the 30-40 liter range for those who like a bit more options.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 is easily one of the most stylish packs in our review, only slightly edged out by the Timbuk2 Never Check , and both make the grade for a single overnighter in a foreign locale. For a bit more space, you can’t go wrong with the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L , a fun pack that is a lot tougher than the multi-colored exterior would let on.

Peak Design Travel Backpack on the Back of a Traveller in Seattle International Airport Looking out on the Tarmac.

The Commuter: No flight involved! Duty calls, and sometimes you’ll need to lug around a bit more kit than the old briefcase can allow for. Commuting with a travel backpack is a great way to stay comfortable on longer rides, as shoulder and handbags are cumbersome over the long run. Focus on a bag with a more traditional backpack shape that puts an emphasis on ease-of-access, and is in the 20-30L range.

For bumping around town, we’ve come to love the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24 , which not only lugs our remote office around with ease, but also looks pretty slick doing it. The drawstring opening here is a huge boon for quickly stashing a jacket, and the tough exterior fears no weather forecast. For a budget just-get-it-done choice, the JanSport Journey Pack will make it happen for less.

best travel backpacks 2022

The right size pack for you depends on a few things. First, where are you going? And, how long do you plan to stay? Winter travel often comes with more gear, so you’ll need to pack extra layers. Longer trips often require larger bags.

That said, your personal packing style will be the most important factor. We know minimalists who happily travel for months with only a single backpack in tow and others who want the largest travel backpack possible in addition to a totally stuffed duffel bag . One method isn’t better than the other, but knowing your style is helpful when choosing a bag.

In general, we’ve found that something in the 28-45 liter range is ideal for comfort and packability. Many packs will also offer a compression system to allow you to limit the overall volume of the backpack. We’ve seen many different ways to accomplish this, but the most effective by far were the button snaps and expanding zipper of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . Packs toward the 40-45 liter range will be your carry-on bags of choice, and the 45-liter Peak Design, Patagonia MLC , and Matador GlobeRider are perfect for maxing out your allowed space. The 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs give up a little internal room for the luxe suspension system they’re carried with.

Packs in the smaller end of the range, from around 25-30 L, make better personal items, and the TimBuk2 Never Check , Tom Bihn Synapse , and Patagonia Black Hole backpacks all fit snugly underneath an airliner seat. These small bags move through a city gracefully and look more like everyday carry backpacks than traditional luggage.

Peak Design Travel Backpack Clamshell Access

What good would a bag be if you couldn’t get into it? From a simple drawstring to a thicket of Velcro and zippers, there are plenty of ways to keep your bag closed while you’re on the go, but not every one will be amenable to travel.

Zippered Clamshells: Most travel backpacks will use a clamshell-style design that opens up the backpack like a suitcase, allowing you to pack intentionally as opposed to stuffing things in. Oftentimes, an internal strap system will help keep your items contained while you’re on the move.

Packs with this clamshell design may also opt to add internal dividers to the main storage area, and make these dividers removable — should you need the entire storage area uninhibited. For packs without internal dividers or straps, consider adding a few packing cubes to keep your items organized.

In addition to the rear entry, some backpacks will offer additional entry points through the top or front of the pack. This can be helpful when you need to quickly retrieve something like a passport from your bag, without the need to totally spill the contents. The majority of packs in our review close in this clamshell manner, and a few of our favorites are the Peak Design Travel Backpack , Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs , and Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack .

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

Zippered Top-Access: Much like many traditional backpacks, zippered top-access packs load and unload from the topside, and generally only offer one point of entry/egress into the pack. For this reason, packs of this flavor are generally left packed during travel, as digging around for something at the bottom can be a hassle.

Bags of this stripe, including the uber-nice Tom Bihn Synapse 25 and expandable Timbuk2 Never Check , most often make better personal items over carry-ons, as their smaller volumes make for easier searching within.

Drawstring Top-Entry: While not quite as common as a zippered clamshell or top-access pack, drawstring top-entry packs can make for very quick and easy access to your kit if you’re on the move. These packs will integrate an extended fabric collar to the top of the storage area, which can be compressed when needed, or overstuffed with bulky items like jackets.

Carrying Options

Patagonia MCL 45L Travel Backpack Carry Options

There are plenty of ways to lug your kit to your boarding gate, but not all of them will be comfortable for everything. Over-shoulder backpack straps can support a good bit of weight but typically will need some type of frame to truly be supportive. The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs were the best-carrying packs in our testing, owed largely to the wire frame and Airscape mesh back panels, but we also enjoyed the carry of the aluminum frame stays on the Matador GlobeRider.

A shoulder strap travel backpack, like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L , can be slung across your body and provide a great amount of accessibility on the go. Don’t expect to carry too much weight this way, however.

And then there’s the classic suitcase style, easily towed anywhere. It’s good to note many travel backpacks will have stowable straps to better streamline the pack for a trip through an X-ray machine or stowed under a seat. The strap storage design of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L impressed us most of all, utilizing magnetic closure flaps to pack away the shoulder and hip straps neatly.

Pockets & Organization

Matador SEG30 Travel Backpack Storage Options

There’s an organizational saying: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And we couldn’t agree more. Keeping track of everything while you travel is key for organization. And while more pockets always seem better, there is a threshold where having too many simply becomes more places to misplace things. Instead, we recommend packs with three to six pockets.

The Cotopaxi Allpa and Topo Designs Global Travel Bags both have ingenious inner organization systems complete with large zipping “pockets.” It has just enough space to find room for everything but not so many compartments that you’ll be hunting all day for your misplaced passport. For even more organization, the Matador SEG45 splits into five different segments that are accessible from the exterior of the pack.

Bringing along a laptop is a necessary evil for some travelers, and having an incorporated laptop sleeve in your travel backpack can keep it safe during travel. Most laptop sleeves will be padded with some type of foam and nestle in close to the back for maximum protection. In order to be TSA-compliant, a laptop sleeve will need to fold entirely flat away from the pack to be scanned.

Because flying with liquids over 3.4 ounces is prohibited in the U.S., carrying all of these items in a separate toiletry bag can make your foray into the screening line a breeze. Many of the packs on our list incorporate many external pockets where such a bag could be stashed and produced when needed.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Travel Backpack

Travel luggage takes a beating, so durability is a top concern. Luckily, gear manufacturers realize this and are making increasingly burly yet portable packs. The fan-favorite Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L pack is made with a 900-denier ripstop nylon outer with a TPU laminate for extra durability. It’s nearly indestructible, water-resistant, and versatile.

If you’re traveling somewhere with inclement weather or if your pack needs to double as a climbing bag or hiking pack, durability is extra important. And it’s worth paying more for a backpack that is water-resistant.

Space Efficiency & Carry-On Compliance

Peak Design Travel Pack at SEATAC

Astute observers will note many of the packs in our review sport a rectangular shape, which is certainly due to designers aspiring to create a more space-efficient pack. This isn’t to say that more shapely packs won’t make it happen, but when you’re struggling to make every liter of space count, maximizing dimensions matters.

Carry-on luggage is any bag that you plan on bringing into an airplane and storing in the overhead bins. Because space is limited, airlines dictate the maximum size that any carry-on can be. In the U.S., the most common size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). However, this is just a rough guideline; some airlines differ from these dimensions, and you should refer to their information directly.

In general, these dimensions provide a travel backpack with around 40-45 liters of internal volume, so buying a pack that’s as close to that as possible will provide the most space allowed. Many of the packs on our list have the ability to compress to a smaller size, such as the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L .

Be mindful as well, that any protrusions from your travel pack such as shoulder straps or handles will also need to fall within the maximum allowed size. Many travel backpacks today incorporate some type of strap-stowing ability, such as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design packs, the zippered cover of the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, and the hybrid zipper/panel of the Matador GlobeRider 45. All of these provide a more streamlined profile that should both hit the mark, and fit better into overhead bins.

best travel backpacks 2022

Travel backpacks run the gamut of prices — from affordable to downright pricey. There are a number of factors that play into what you get for the money.

Budget-Minded Travel Packs

Travel backpacks, as a category, are generally a bit pricer than your average luggage, as they incorporate tough materials that can put up with extensive wear over the lifespan. Travel is tough on bags, so it’s unsurprising that even budget travel backpacks will cost you around $100-150.

These packs often will incorporate more traditional architectures such as a zippered top access, as opposed to the more complicated (and spendy) full-zip clamshell designs. For example, the JanSport Journey Pack ($95) is pretty much your average school bag.

Volumes, too, will be a bit limited in this price range — added material adds cost. The 32-liter Osprey Nebula ($140) is about the best price-to-volume ratio you can get.

Mid-Range Travel Packs

Mid-range packs make up the bread and butter of travel packs, and can be had for around $150 to $200. These designs are often more of the full carry-on variety, and aim to capitalize on permitted volume as much as possible. The 45-liter Matador SEG45 ($200), Patagonia Black Hole MLC ($239), 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview ($185), and Topo Designs Global Travel Bag ($229) all shoehorn in just about as much space as a friendly gate agent will let you get away with.

For the price, you also get a good variety of functionality that makes travel easier, such as stowable pack straps, interior segmented pockets and sleeves (done excellently on the $170 Cotopaxi Allpa ), and an external compression system that limits the space your bag takes up. Some packs, like the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), don’t exactly hit these parameters, but instead make up for it in high-quality design and materials.

best travel backpacks 2022

Premium Travel Packs

Above $250, you’re likely paying for premium materials or a to-the-hilt design that leaves absolutely nothing on the cutting room floor. The Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300) is a great example, and utilizes super high-quality nylon canvas, custom aluminum hardware, and supple seatbelt material webbing in its build, as well as fitting in just about every conceivable feature you could want in a travel pack. The same can be said of the Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350), which uses high-tech UHMPWE-reinforced materials and sports a total of 19 pockets.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($250) is a bit of an outlier, as it commands a high dollar amount not for the extreme amount of space it offers or amount of features, but for being a hyper-customizable, hand-made bag that uses the nicest textiles available, as well as the best zippers, webbing, and foam in its design. If you’re a fan of the finest materials, this is your daily driver pack.

What Is One Bag Travel?

The ‘One Bag Travel’ ethos and travel backpacks go hand-in-hand. Simply put, to travel in one-bag style is to be minimalist in your luggage choices, and only take what you can carry onto the plane/train/pack animal. Not only does this do away with the fuss of deciding what exactly to bring along with you, but it also allows for breezing through airports — skipping the need to check baggage, wait at baggage claim, or fear for lost luggage.

In order to most effectively travel with one bag, be sure to read up on exactly the baggage size allowances provided by your transportation. This can affect both overall size and weight, and having an expandable pack is a large benefit here. In this way, you can carry just enough to skirt through under the limit, and then expand the bag when you’ve hit your destination for more breathing room. If you aim for a 35-40 liter backpack, you’ll be right on the money for one-bag travel.

Finally, remember that this bag is going to be the only item of luggage you’ve got, so ensure it’ll be comfortable enough for the long haul. Look for padded back panels and hip belts that’ll transfer the load correctly, and if they stash away — all the better.

Our team unanimously agrees that the best travel backpack is the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . It’s extremely durable, and it offers plenty of organizational pockets to stash your kit away in. The clamshell opening makes packing a breeze, and we really appreciated the unique shoulder strap storage options available to turn the pack into a stripped-down bag that would slide into any overhead compartment.

Peak Design Travel Pack in Denver

The best size bag for traveling depends largely on your travel itinerary and mode of transport. The Cotopaxi Allpa packs range from 28 to 42 liters.

The 28-liter option makes for a compact and comfortable backpack that easily fits in overhead airplane compartments. The 42-liter option is a bit more like carrying a duffel bag on your back, but it still manages to fit in overhead compartments. It’s a great option for maximizing carry-on capacity in backpack form.

While both have their place in travel, a backpack can offer some advantages over a suitcase. Since they’re much more portable, backpacks can be brought to many more places where a suitcase won’t work. Suitcases can be your large load carriers, but a good travel backpack gives you the freedom to strike out on daily adventures.

Travel backpacks absolutely can be carry-on luggage, given they meet the size requirements. In the U.S., the most common maximum size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). But this is only a common size, and different airlines will have different specifics. Consult with your airline specifically to determine what they allow.

While different body types will find different travel packs comfortable, we can all agree that a good support system and ample foam make for a comfortable carry. In our own testing, we found the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 Travel Packs were by far the most comfortable due to their plush suspension systems.

Because many different airlines operate a slate of different planes, there isn’t a standard under-seat luggage size, although there is an average: 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches. Some airlines allow personal items larger than this, but you should consult with their customer service for specifics. Our favorite personal item-sized travel pack was the Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack , which, at 24 liters compressed, easily slides under a seat.

best travel backpacks 2022

The Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024

Whether you’re headed to the office, class, or even the trailhead, here’s our top picks for the best laptop backpacks of 2024.

best travel backpacks 2022

The Best Daypacks of 2024

We tested the best daypacks of 2024 with options for every budget. Top picks include Osprey, Cotopaxi, and more.

best travel backpacks 2022

Hailing from the hemlocks and hanging mosses of Washington State, Senior Editor Nick Belcaster is an adventure journalist following threads of stories across the West. Cruelly stolen from the alpine swales of rural Wisconsin at a young age, Nick made do ascending the snows and granite of the North Cascades while completing a journalism degree. A long stint on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 codified a life bent on sleeping on minor slopes and picking devil’s club out of his shoes.

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best travel backpacks 2022

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How To Choose The

Best Travel Backpack

The minimalist's guide to selecting a carry-on backpack for one bag travel.

  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Our Picks
  • 04. Function
  • 05. Aesthetic
  • 06. Conclusion

Fitting your life into one bag is no small task. We’re here to help.

Find your adventure essentials at Public Lands. Check it out →

Best Travel Backpacks

Click to learn more about why we love these top picks.

  • 9.2/10: Aer Travel Pack 3 (Best for one bag travel)
  • 9.1/10: GORUCK GR2 (40L) (Best for rugged adventures)
  • 8.9/10: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L (Best for travel photographers)
  • 8.8/10: TOM BIHN Synik 30 (Best for built-in organization)
  • 8.6/10: Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L (Best for suitcase-like organization)
  • 8.5/10: TOM BIHN Techonaut 30 (Best for multiple carry modes)
  • 8.3/10: ULA Equipment Dragonfly (Best for lightweight carry)
  • 8.3/10: Able Carry Max Backpack (Best for daypack-like feel)
  • 8.2/10: Osprey Farpoint 40 (Best for budget travelers)
  • 8.2/10: Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Bag (Best for business travelers)
  • 8.0/10: EVERGOODS Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35) (Best for carry comfort)
  • 7.6/10: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L (Best built-in packing cubes)
  • 7.5/10: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack (Best for showing a little personality)

See all reviews: Travel Backpacks

How to Select The Best Backpack for One Bag Travel

There’s something so freeing about traveling with only one bag. All of your important stuff is within arm’s reach, and it forces you to cut down on many of life’s seemingly necessary consumer goods that you can probably live without. With one bag, you easily glide from location to location, always having just enough but never too much.

Digital Nomad Packing List ATP Tom

Choosing the perfect travel backpack for one bag travel can be a challenging endeavor. There are so many brands and models to choose from with varying degrees of durability, price, and try-on-ability (we made this word up for trying something out before buying it online). Add varying views and opinions into the mix from folks with different values, needs, and body types—and you’ve got a veritable clusterf*ck of options to wade through. Whether you’re a new traveler gearing up for your first trip, a digital nomad going through a “sell-all-my-stuff-and-put-it-in-a-backpack” phase, or somewhere in between, it’s essential to have the best travel backpack that works for you.

Here’s the bottom line: There is no “best” backpack that is perfect for every traveler in every scenario. However, we believe everyone can find a pack that’s perfect for their unique needs. In this guide, we’ll break down the factors we think are most important when choosing the ideal one-bag travel backpack for you.

This guide is written and informed by Pack Hacker staff, many of whom are frequent travelers and digital nomads. That means we’re using and testing these products every day to better understand what’s available out there and how each bag may appeal to different types of travelers.

If you’d rather skip all this info and get straight to the backpacks we’ve reviewed, you can take a look at our highest-rated travel backpack list in the next section, or all of our Travel Backpack Reviews . We’re constantly updating this list as we review and rate new bags frequently.

Is It Better To Travel With a Backpack or Suitcase?

We’ve found that backpacks give you much greater mobility. You can breeze through airports. You’ll never stand around a baggage carousel after a long haul again. And as long as your pack is carry-on size compliant, you’ll never lose your luggage, ever. Depending on your travel style and what you’re hauling, it comes down to your personal preference—both roller luggage and backpacks can be good options. In this guide, we’ll focus on travel backpacks for a couple of reasons:

They Feel Freeing

You’ve got both of your hands-free, and you’re not constantly dragging something behind you. No matter what terrain you’re walking on, you’ll never have the annoyance of loud or unsteady wheels behind you from standard travel luggage. Sure, roller bags work like a charm on smooth airport and hotel floors, but how about the winding cobblestone roads of Paris or a sandy beach in Ko Pha Ngan? You can traverse almost any terrain when you’re wearing a backpack.

Best Travel Backpack | Traveling with the Osprey Farpoint 40 in India.

Travel Backpacks are Versatile & Usually Lightweight

If you pack light enough, you can comfortably have all of your belongings with you at once . Did you arrive earlier than your hotel or Airbnb check in? No problem, just take your pack around with you for the day—no need to stop by and drop your luggage off. Versatility at its finest.

We can’t necessarily guarantee the pack will be lightweight if you fill it up with a bunch of heavy stuff (like camera gear), so we made a Travel Camera Guide too 🙂.

They Provide Flexibility

You’ll take up less room on the airplane or in public transit. You’ll generally feel more agile vs needing to drag around rolly luggage, with the added benefit of not looking like an out-of-place tourist. It caters to a more adventurous lifestyle by always being ready to go. And, you can easily catch that train that’s about to depart without awkwardly side-running with a roller bag or two.

Heimplanet Travel Pack 28L (V2) in Cambridgeshire, England

Utilizing a Backpack in Travel Contexts

In this guide, we’re going for travel versatility. We want you to look good carrying these bags around in an urban environment and have the flexibility to head out on a hike for a couple of days of camping without having your backpack ruined by the elements. If you’ve got a piece of roller luggage, it’s going to be hard to do that spontaneous half-day trek on the trail to the neighboring city you’ve been wanting to check out. Likewise, if you’re going to post up at a coffee shop for a day of office work, you’re going to look out of place with a bulky, multi-colored hiking bag. The packs mentioned in this article will blend into most city environments and are durable enough to withstand the abuse of longer excursions.

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Some of our top-rated bags for your travel backpack consideration.

Aer Travel Pack 3 Review

The Aer Travel Pack 3 takes some of our favorite travel backpack features and puts them into one bag: helpful load lifters, easy-to-engage compression straps, and easy access to different compartments. It has Aer’s sleek signature style and is made with quality materials like CORDURA® ballistic nylon and YKK zippers, which add a ton of durability and make this a reliable bag that can withstand extended travel. In fact, this is one of our highest-rated bags and a Pack Hacker Pick because of how it’s held up on trips across the U.S., Thailand, South Korea, and more.

The organization is streamlined for easy packing, and it even includes a hidden pocket where you can tuck a smart tracker—a great feature for keeping track of your bag if it’s stolen or gets lost in transit. The harness system is super comfortable even when the bag is fully loaded and includes wide, cushioned shoulder straps with keepers to cut down on dangling. We also like that there’s an option to add a hip belt because it helps take a ton of weight off your shoulders when the bag is loaded. If you don’t need as much liter space, we recommend the Aer Travel Pack 3 Small because it takes key features from its bigger sibling and puts them in a smaller package built for shorter trips and smaller frames.

Why We Like It

  • It has just-right organization and open space
  • Compression straps don’t impede access to the compartments, so it’s easy to grab gear quickly

What You Should Know

  • Magnetic compression buckles sometimes come undone on their own
  • There isn’t a huge false bottom to the laptop compartment, which impacts tech protection—more of a nitpick, as we’ve found it’s still reliable

GORUCK GR2 In Detroit, Michigan

If you’re looking for a durable pack that can handle any adventure you throw at it, look no further than the GORUCK GR2. It’s a little on the heavier side (courtesy of the CORDURA® Nylon and beefy YKK zippers), though we think the durability is worth the weight sacrifice. We’ve fit its boxy shape under the seat in front of us on some budget airlines, which is great if you’re trying to avoid fees while you travel the world (who isn’t?). In fact, this is the bag that Pack Hacker’s founder Tom used to travel the world for over 2 years.

Though the organization inside is simple, there’s still plenty of room for packing cubes and pouches. It’s covered in PALS webbing, which we use to attach MOLLE accessories like pouches that we fill with items we want quick access to on the plane or while exploring. The customization options mean you can make the pack fit your specific needs, whether it’s Digital Nomad travel or a weekend fishing trip with your family. Plus, GORUCK has one of the best lifetime warranties in the business and a killer repair program, so if you have any issues, contact their customer service.

  • The external fabrics are some of the most durable we’ve seen—it even held up when we dragged it behind a car
  • Plenty of PALS webbing, so it’s easy to add modular MOLLE attachments to customize your organization
  • The rugged materials and hardware add a lot of weight to the pack
  • It has a tactical look and feel that’s hard to disguise if that’s not your style

Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L Review

Since this is a bag from Peak Design, it has some great camera features. There are plenty of attachment points inside and out for your photography gear. However, it’s an excellent travel backpack even if you don’t take a DSLR on every trip, thanks to its clean lines and clever design.

The main compartment has well-structured sides and opens clamshell to make it easy to pack, although we’ve noticed that anything we store on the bottom blocks built-in mesh pockets, so you’ll have to choose between gear storage or smooth access. They’re useful for gear you won’t need until you reach your destination, and side pockets help you get to things that you need as you travel, like your passport. There’s a well-padded sleeve for your laptop, and the front pocket has organizational features for tiny gear, which is great for getting to your essentials while sitting in your airplane seat or waiting at the gate. For times when you’re not packing as much, the compression system does an excellent job at holding gear in place.

If you find that 30L isn’t enough space or you want bring more of your photo kit, we recommend the Peak Design Travel Backpack , which has the same great features and added room for your gear. It expands to 45 liters if needed and has compression snaps to lock it down if you want to use it as a daypack.

  • It has a comfortable harness system, with a sternum strap that won’t slip out of place
  • Structured sides and clamshell opening create a bucket shape that’s easy to load with gear
  • ID pocket on the back panel is easy to overlook, so a stranger may not see it if they find your misplaced bag
  • Some main compartment pockets aren’t as accessible as we’d like, which slows you down when searching for gear

Tom Bihn Synik 30 In Detroit, Michigan

Going with a lower-capacity pack reduces size and weight, meaning you can even use it as a daypack once you arrive at your destination. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be short on features. Enter the TOM BIHN Synik 30. It’s a smaller version of the Synapse and features the same top-notch and customizable organization we’re used to seeing from TOM BIHN. That means it has multiple exterior pockets for storing gear and numerous attachment points on the interior for attaching modular pouches. While we like the ballistic nylon options because they’re sleek and durable, you can opt for a different material if you want (TOM BIHN has a ton to choose from).

The style won’t be for everyone, and its round shape can make it more challenging to pack some packing cubes and pouches, causing you to lose out on some storage space in the corners (or lack thereof). However, once you’re used to the internal organization, this is one of the smartest-designed internal layouts we’ve seen in a travel backpack.

  • The internal organization is great for both travel and daily carry
  • Plenty of options to add modular pouches to customize gear organization
  • Has a heritage look that may not be everyone’s taste
  • Rounded edges can make it harder to pack with some organizers and pouches

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 30L Review

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L has a thickly padded harness system, from the shoulder straps to the hip belt and the back panel, along with vertical height adjustment and load lifters for extra support. All of these features together make for a comfortable carry even when the backpack is completely full. There are plenty of places to pack your gear, including water bottle pockets on each side, a top pocket for small items like keys, a front pocket for wide but flat items, and smaller pockets on the hip belt. You can stash your tech accessories in a well-organized admin panel, and there’s a dedicated laptop compartment as well. It includes a zippered pocket for accessories, which we love for the trips where we don’t need to bring a separate tech pouch.

The large bucket space of the main compartment is simple, with no dividers to get in the way. This means you can pack however you please, whether you load up on packing cubes or fold your clothing into neat piles—though we recommend packing cubes so that things don’t get too jostled. A mesh compartment hinges along the main compartment opening for some built-in segmentation, and you’ll find a similar feature on the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L . While the 30L is great for smaller frames, we think the larger version is excellent if you want more space to pack. It’s even a Pack Hacker Pick !

  • The smaller size means this travel backpack doubles as a daypack if desired
  • Simple organization in other pockets while the main compartment is open to organize as you see fit
  • Can be slow to access the large mesh pocket in the main compartment because it opens toward the inside of the pack, not the outside
  • The harness system can feel a bit overkill for a bag of this size if it’s not full

Tom Bihn Techonaut 30 Review

The Techonaut 30 is a classic example of what makes a TOM BIHN bag great. There are a ton of durable fabric and colorway options—we like the 525D ballistic nylon because of its strength-to-weight ratio, though there are stronger and lighter-weight options available depending on your preferences. Plus, it has clever, functional organization that’s easy to load with all your gear. When we need to keep even more small items in check, we add TOM BIHN pouches to the included O-rings around the bag (we’re partial to the Ghost Whale pouches because of their size, but almost any will work).

You can carry the Techonaut 30 like a backpack, briefcase, or messenger bag, although you’ll have to get a separate strap to carry it as a messenger. We prefer backpack mode because the back panel is supportive even when all 30 liters are fully packed.

Inside, it has a variety of pockets, including an integrated water bottle pocket and two quick-grab pockets, which work in either horizontal or vertical orientation, meaning you can store gear based on the way you’re carrying the bag. Briefcase mode? Use the top pockets. Backpack? Go for the sides. However, if you need to carry some hydration, we find that the integrated water bottle pocket can cut into the main compartment, so you’ll have to trade some storage space. Though the main and bottom compartments are separated, you can expand the former via a collapsible floor, which is handy if you need a bit of flexibility with the available space. This is great if you like traveling with shoes but don’t want to buy a separate shoe pouch.

  • Bottom pocket unzips to merge with the main compartment for even more storage space
  • It can be carried three ways, and all of them are comfortable
  • It’s tricky to see inside the top pocket because of its sideways opening
  • The dedicated shoe pocket struggles to fit large shoes, which isn’t ideal for those with large feet

ULA Equipment Dragonfly Side

At less than 2 pounds, the Dragonfly is one of the lightest travel backpacks we’ve tested (and we’ve tested hundreds), yet it’s not lacking in features. The reason it’s so light is the Ultra 800™ Fabric. It’s 15 times stronger than steel by weight, twice as abrasion-resistant as nylons of the same denier, and waterproof to 200 psi, so you don’t have to worry about a rainstorm ruining your gear. The bag also has quality YKK AquaGuard zippers and Duraflex hardware. While it’s missing a ULA logo on the front, we appreciate the minimalist aesthetic.

As for gear storage, there’s a built-in carabiner and leash for your keys in the top quick-access pocket, and there are both internal and external UltraStretch™ mesh pockets to organize your gear, including large water bottle pockets. In fact, they’re so large that we’re even able to hold things like a travel tripod. Inside is a sleeve that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop or a hydration bladder, depending on what you plan to do that day. Once you’re all loaded up, internal compression straps help to hold your clothing or packing cubes in place.

However, you sacrifice a little in the harness system in the name of weight. A sturdy back panel has thin padding with aeration, and the shoulder straps have similar aeration but not as much padding. The sternum strap is also thin but helps take a little weight off when the pack is full. Plus, there are a lot of attachment loops all over the pack, which is great for modularity.

  • The oversized bottle pockets fit a variety of bulky gear and up to 64-ounce bottles
  • It has a quite spacious main compartment
  • It can be hard to zip when fully packed
  • The shoulder straps aren’t overly padded, which may not be suited for all body types

Able Carry Max Backpack | Using the backpack in Detroit

The VX21 X-Pac material on the Able Carry Max Backpack gives it a sporty look that we like, and there’s also 1000D CORDURA® nylon on the underside for durability. You won’t have to worry about the sturdiness of this bag, as it’s well-constructed, with reinforced stitching in key areas. There is plenty of room in the laptop compartment for up to a 17-inch computer and organization for your tech gear. Loops and strips of webbing around the bag give you the flexibility to pack it however you wish, and there are two quick-grab pockets for gear you want to get at as you travel. You can even get a third quick-access spot if you use the internal bottle pocket instead of the one outside the bag for hydration.

The Max Backpack is really comfortable to carry and easy to adjust. The shoulder straps have dense padding and breathable mesh undersides, with X-Pac on top for durability and style. While the tablet pocket is a bit shallow, we don’t have too many problems during regular use.

  • It’s easy to customize organization thanks to webbing and loop attachment points
  • The durable fabrics are held together with equally-sturdy stitching
  • The X-Pac material may not suit everyone, though you can always opt for CORDURA® nylon
  • A rear pocket is a bit narrow and tricky to access

Osprey Farpoint 40 V2 Review

This durable bag is made with recycled and bluesign® approved polyester and a PFAS-free DWR coating, which is great if you’re an eco-friendly traveler. It has a bit of an outdoorsy look, which is to be expected from Osprey. However, the external storage is hard to beat if you’re the adventurous type. A large front stash pocket holds a water bottle or damp gear like a rain jacket or towel, and there’s also a decent-sized top pocket for smaller accessories. We like that it’s big enough to tuck your 3-1-1 bag inside to keep it within reach through the security line at the airport. The main compartment opens fully clamshell, and is easy to pack since you can see all the space at once. A couple of mesh pockets inside help organize your gear, and compression straps hold clothing or packing cubes in place as you travel. The large laptop compartment is accessible from the outside of the bag, so you can get some work done as you wait for the plane to board.

What’s really great, though, is how comfortable you’ll be while carrying this bag. The breathable mesh back panel keeps things airy, and the harness shifts higher or lower so you can adjust it to your height and torso length. If you have a more petite frame but want to carry the same amount of gear, try the Osprey Fairview 40. As opposed to coming straight over your shoulders, these curve in and around, making it easier to carry for more petite users of any gender.

  • The harness system is comfy even when the pack is fully loaded
  • An ample-sized main compartment makes this a great pick for one bag travel
  • You can’t remove the bulky hip belt even if you don’t need it
  • There aren’t any dedicated bottle pockets, and the front pocket can be tight for larger bottles

Minaal Carry-On 3.0 in Detroit Michigan

The 35L Minaal Carry-On 3.0 for one bag travel is aesthetically sleek and has smart features to improve quality of life on your trip. If you carry a lot of tech, you may appreciate that the laptop compartment lays completely flat, making it easy to load and access on the go. It has a suspended laptop sleeve that you can adjust to different sizes, so your 13-inch MacBook Air isn’t drowning in a pocket designed for a big gaming computer. Plus, the shoulder straps hide away behind a zipping panel, which we find makes it easy to slide this backpack into an overhead bin.

The main compartment opens clamshell for easy packing and includes some built-in organization. However, unlike most other backpacks, you load the bag into the “scoop” section (the front of the bag) instead of the back. This takes a little getting used to, though it’s easy to use once you do. While we recommend taking advantage of packing cubes for most of your gear, there is a large mesh pocket at the top, along with a nylon pouch below it where you can pack shoes. Two external pockets give you quick access to your wallet, phone, and small accessories, and there’s also a security pocket behind the back panel for your passport. Just be careful when using the water bottle pocket, as they can slip out even when the bungee is tight.

  • It’s great to be able to securely carry devices of different sizes in the adjustable sleeve
  • Excellent accessibility since both compartments open fully clamshell
  • You have to pack it “scoop side down,” which can get unwieldy without packing cubes
  • The bungee designed to hold a bottle in place doesn’t always work as intended, and some bottles slip out

EVERGOODS Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35) Review

Some packs are designed with a specific use in mind, and others are designed to be as versatile as possible. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a bag that does both (and does it well). The features on EVERGOODS’ Civic Travel Bag 35L, or CTB35, make it one of the most versatile travel backpacks we’ve seen on the market.

There’s plenty of organization to choose from without going over the top, meaning there’s a spot for large and small gear alike. The main compartment has ample space, so we’re able to fit everything from a camera cube to bulky shoes inside, and it even has a few zippered pockets for small items like tech. As for external storage, there’s a built-in yoke pocket on the top and a vertical zippered pocket on the front that we like to use as a dump pocket for our phone, wallet, keys, and more while going through airport security. Plus, there’s an easily accessible laptop compartment if you work on the go. The harness system is contoured nicely, which makes this backpack incredibly comfortable to wear even when fully packed, so we have no problem carrying it all day long.

We like the 35-liter option because it’s big enough to work for long trips. However, if you’re into the organization but want something smaller, it also comes in a 26-liter size (which we like equally as much).

  • The harness is well-padded and comfortable even when the pack is completely full of gear
  • It strikes a balance between built-in organization and empty space, so you’re not pigeonholed into packing your gear a specific way
  • Since the organization is so minimal, you’ll need to find a way to manage things like clothing—we recommend utilizing packing cubes
  • We find it difficult to stow the hip belt without it twisting a bit, so it takes a bit of finesse to get right

Topo Designs Travel Bag 40L In Use

We like the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag so much that we chose it for the first iteration of our Vacation Packing List . The large size makes sense because you can fit more gear; however, there’s a smaller 30-liter size that we find is better for smaller-framed folks and people who want to save space. Why do we like it so much? We’re happy you asked!

These packs have built-in organization options inside the main compartment, including a divider with zippered pockets that we use to stow smaller items like socks and underwear, but it’s also great for tech or miscellaneous gear. There’s also a large second compartment, a dedicated laptop compartment, and a quick-grab pocket on the front that’s handy for gear you’ll need throughout the day. While all of this organization is great, it’s worth mentioning that all of these zippered pockets are pretty shallow, so you’ll have to pack strategically to ensure your bag will zip up when everything is loaded in. On the plus side, the liner is brightly colored, which makes finding your stuff that much easier!

If all of that space isn’t enough for you, there are attachment points on the front of the bag where you can attach an additional daypack. The harness system isn’t our favorite because there’s no frame sheet to add structure and it can feel pretty heavy when it’s all packed out, but the hip belt does a good job taking some weight off your shoulders.

  • There’s ample organization to segment your gear, making it easier to find
  • The bright liner material adds a ton of visibility when we’re looking for our stuff in the multiple zippered pockets
  • Can be difficult to slide a laptop into the dedicated compartment when the bag is fully packed because of how it starts to bulge
  • It’s not the most comfortable bag we’ve worn for extended periods because the back panel lacks significant structure

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack Review

While some travel backpacks fit best in an urban setting, the Allpa 35L Travel Pack works as a hiking or work bag as well as a travel pack. However, just because it can serve other purposes doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the travel department. It has a refined design and ample space that make it easy to pack for vacation, with mesh dividers and organizers inside to help you keep your gear sorted. While the exterior materials aren’t very structured, you’re unlikely to reach for this large of a bag unless you plan to pack it out, so it’s not always noticeable. The polyester is coated with TPU for water resistance, so your gear is safe as you walk in nearly any weather.

If you’re getting started on your journey into one bag travel, you can get the Allpa with an accessory bundle that includes mesh laundry bags, a nylon shoe bag, and a snap-on mesh water bottle sleeve. You also have the option to add-on Cotopaxi’s Batac Daypack, so you can have a complete travel system ready with just one click. And in case you needed another reason to consider Cotopaxi, you should know that their bags are made in the Philippines in a factory committed to fair labor and environmentally-sound practices, so you can feel good about your purchase, too.

  • It’s a ruggedly durable backpack if you’re a more adventurous traveler
  • The bag feels roomy and conveniently-placed pockets for small gear storage
  • Hip belt isn’t removable if it doesn’t fit, and the pockets often feel too snug when wearing the bag
  • It’s on the heavy side for its size

Decisions, decisions… Navigating the not-so-clear world of travel packs.

Video Guide Part 2: Form

Feel free to watch this guide section in video format. We’ll keep the written content on this page up to date.

Be sure to subscribe to Pack Hacker on YouTube and never miss a video. We also have these videos in a series playlist format on YouTube so you can watch them easier.

Best Backpack Size & Weight for Carry-On Air Travel

We favor smaller bags that fit in the overhead bin. Yes, it can be a challenge to fit your entire life into a 40L bag, but wow, is it worth it!. Trust us—you can fit your entire life into an 18L backpack if you’re disciplined, and we highly recommend staying under 50L for one bag travel. Life is just easier with a smaller & lighter backpack. If you want to cheat a bit and get some extra space, you can also go the sling bag on the front, backpack on the back route.

Airlines can get pretty stingy around the amount of weight you can bring on board. It’s essential to make sure your backpack itself isn’t too heavy, or you won’t be able to fit in as much clothing and other travel gear. We’re all for less clothing and gear, but we are not for getting hit with extra fees if your carry-on is overweight. Starting out with a bag that’s already too heavy before you’ve packed it is just setting yourself up for failure! We calculate a carry-on compliance score for every travel backpack reviewed on our site using its dimensions and data we collect from most airlines worldwide.

True Volume

It’s easy to get caught up in all this talk around liters of a backpack. There’s really no “industry standard” around this, and the liter size of a pack can vary from brand to brand. What’s more important is the “True Volume” of a backpack and how usable the space is. Some weird, trapezoid-shaped backpack will certainly be more of a challenge than something with a larger, rectangular compartment. The thickness and flexibility of the material matter as well. A thin, strong material will leave you with more space inside of a backpack than something with thick padding in the liner. However, a rigid material—Dyneema, for instance—doesn’t have much additional flex and isn’t very forgiving when you’re trying to pack your bag to the brim. The efficiency of space can make or break the usefulness of a pack.

Pack’s Exterior Profile

The slimness of a pack can help out quite a bit. Not only does it seem less heavy because the weight is close to your back, but it has the added benefit of giving you a smaller, slimmer form factor. With this, you won’t be taking up too much room on public transit or smacking people in the face when you’re boarding the airplane—it’ll be a better experience for you and everyone around you.

Max Legal Carry-On

Otherwise known as “MLC,” Max Legal Carry-On size covers the largest acceptable backpack size for carrying on most airlines. Make sure to check with your airline before arriving at the airport, though—size limits can vary based on the airline you’re flying with.

Peak Design Travel Backpack in Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Peak Design Travel Backpack is a well-executed travel bag from a company with an excellent track-record of bringing innovative and unique designs to the backpack world. This maximum legal carry-on can easily handle one bag travel, photography, or digital nomading with ease—and it will be a joy to use for any of those activities.

Top-loading vs Panel-loading (Clamshell) Backpacks

There’s a big debate around clamshell and top-loading packs. We’re personally a fan of clamshell for one-bag travel, as it gives you more open space to work with. Clamshell functions more like a suitcase and opens literally like a clam. You can easily open it up flat and see everything inside, so it tends to be easier to organize all your travel gear.

The Able Carry Max Backpack is a clamshell-style backpack that opens to give you easy access to a spacious main compartment—this works great for packing cubes or rolled up clothing—whichever you prefer! Also, it’s got a large but low-profile water bottle pocket.

Top-loading packs are great if you’re on a long, multi-day trek or participating in other outdoor-focused activities as there’s no main zipper that can fail you (which could be catastrophic if you’re halfway up Mt. Everest).

Thule Subterra in Spain

The Thule Subterra 34L is a top-loading backpack with a roll top opening. A top loader’s usual pitfalls are fixed by an easy to access side zip that allows entry to the main compartment. This zip comes in handy when you don’t have time to mess around with the roll top, or you want to grab something located at the bottom of the bag.

Weather Resistance

Best Travel Backpack | The GORUCK GR2 features “weather resistance” but it’s not “waterproof.”

Weather resistance is another key component to consider for one bag travel. With all your tech gear and expensive possessions in your pack, you don’t want it to get wet. We look for packs with some great weather resistance that’ll easily get you through light rain and ideally through 20 minutes of a monsoon in Southeast Asia. There’s a big difference between waterproof and water-resistant bags. We’re mainly focused on the latter, as this will be plenty in most situations. Sure, waterproof is more secure, but unless you’re leaving your pack outside in a torrential downpour for hours on end or plan to go snorkeling with your laptop on your back, there’s no need for that extra tech.

Mission Workshop Fitzroy VX

The Mission Workshop Fitzroy VX utilizes weatherproof materials and weather-resistant zippers. We’ve found it to hold up decently in a downpour. Even if you’re caught in a pretty torrential rainstorm, you should be okay with the PET waterproof membrane.

Got something that needs some additional weatherproofing? Consider picking up a DAKA Pouch . It’ll give your valuables that extra layer of protection without requiring you to purchase an entirely waterproof bag—plus, these pouches double as organizers, separating your precious gear from the rest of your loadout with some additional protection to boot. It’s a win-win.

Durability and Quality

Whether you’re traveling for a week, a month, or a year plus, your backpack is pretty much your home, so you don’t want it to break. Take it from us—the last thing you want is to find out that you lost your phone charger because your zipper broke during the journey to your next accommodation. Investing in a good backpack will prevent loss and damage to your gear, and higher quality products will last for several years. It can be a challenge to tell if a backpack is durable right out of the box, which is why we test bags as much as possible to notice any faults. Higher durability usually means higher weight, but not always. Here are a couple of key considerations we’ve found when it comes to durability.

When it comes to durability, the Topo Designs Travel Bag 40L doesn’t mess around. The 1000D nylon, beefy YKK #10 zippers, and simplistic design all come together to create a bag that won’t let you down.

Best Travel Backpack YKK Zipper

YKK zippers are some of the best around, so naturally, the best travel backpack brands tend to use them. They’re super strong and have different weights depending on the area of the pack they’re used. A YKK #10 will keep a main compartment secure, whereas a YKK #5 may be suited for smaller side pockets that don’t receive as much use or tension.

YKK is obsessed with quality, and they do everything in-house. They smelt their own brass, forge their own zipper teeth, and even make the machines that make their zippers and the cardboard boxes they ship in! Needless to say, you probably won’t end up with any broken zippers with YKK on your side. YKK zippers also account for about half of all zippers in the world, so that says something. Although less popular, RiRi zippers are pretty great too. Both RiRi and YKK are superior to any other zipper made in-house by a bag manufacturer, and Zoom Zippers are climbing up on that list as well, though we still find intermittent issues with them.

Backpack Fabric and Material

There are a ton of fabrics and materials out there, too. When looking at fabrics, you’ll often see a number followed by a D—250D, 950D, 1500D, etc. The D stands for denier, a term used to measure the fabric’s thickness and weight—specifically the yarn. The formal definition is the mass (in grams) per 9,000 meters of thread, so lightweight fabrics (like silk) have a very low denier, while heavier fabrics have a higher denier. When it comes to backpacks, a higher denier is not necessarily better. In general, a higher denier will be more durable (depending on the fabric & weave) but also heavier. While the denier can tell you the weight and thickness of a material, the type of material, weave, and manufacturing involved will ultimately tell you more about its strength and durability. Here are some materials you’ll come across when selecting your pack, along with the pros and cons of each one.

Ripstop Nylon

Rip-Stop Nylon

Pretty close in property to standard nylon, “ripstop” nylon has a unique square weave that prevents further tearing from happening after a puncture. It has an incredibly high strength-to-weight ratio, and, as the name implies, it is highly resistant to rips and tears. The reason why it’s so strong is that additional fibers are sewn into the weave. Ripstop Nylon was developed in World War II as a more robust alternative to silk parachutes and is currently used in ejector seat parachutes for fighter pilots!

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon refers to any nylon fabric with a “ballistic weave,” a variation on the simple basketweave. This gives it excellent tensile and tear strength—especially when layered—and makes it heavier than a lot of other materials. Keep in mind that ballistic nylon almost exclusively comes in black. Why is it called ballistic? It was initially used on flak jackets for World War II airmen to protect them from artillery-shell and bullet fragmentations. PSA: We do not recommend the use of backpacks for protection in war zones.

CORDURA® Nylon

CORDURA® Nylon

CORDURA® is not a fabric in and of itself—it is a brand covering a whole host of different materials, from cotton to nylon to polyester. What they do is take fabric from various mills, inspect it to make sure it’s up to their standards, and then slap that CORDURA® tag on it. Yes, it’s a bit deceiving, but they do put out some high-quality stuff. You’ll mostly always see a “®” next to “CORDURA” (in all caps) because #branding and #lawyers.

Kodra Nylon

Kodra Nylon

Kodra is virtually synonymous with CORDURA® but made in Korea. Peak Design opted for this in V1 of their Everyday Backpack.

Polyester

Polyester is one of the most common fabrics on the planet. It’s made from plastic fibers, and you can find it pretty much everywhere—in clothing, pillows, seat belts, upholstery, rope, the list goes on… Oh, and backpacks. Polyester is not the most durable fabric, so you’ll usually find it on lower-end packs (think of those classic Jansport backpacks everyone had in high school). It’s really not the most suitable choice for a travel pack—as it just won’t hold up through the years. Besides lacking in durability, polyester is also fairly heavy compared to other fabrics like nylon. If you’re looking for a low-budget day pack, polyester is fine. If you’re looking for something more serious, stay away from it.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene & Nylon Blend

Polypropylene is a polymer that is used to make fabrics. This stuff is seriously everywhere—it is the world’s second most widely produced synthetic plastic! It’s used to make ropes, carpets, labels, plastic lids on tic-tac containers, plastic chairs, long underwear…basically, if you see something made of plastic, there’s a solid chance there’s some polypropylene in it. You’ll find it mostly in minor backpack components, but it’s also used to make drawstring bags and totes like the ones that are handed out for free at a college fair or festival. Polypropylene fabric has a few things going for it. It’s cheap, it’s a good insulator because it doesn’t transfer heat very well, and it won’t absorb water since it’s hydrophobic. The major problem with polypropylene is that it is not very UV resistant. If it’s repeatedly exposed to sunlight, the fabric will fade and break down over time. This is not great for backpacks. You may, however, see polypropylene used as a liner on the inside of some packs as it won’t be affected by UV light and adds some additional protection.

Canvas

You could say that canvas is the OG backpack material. Back in the day, canvas was just about the only thing you would use for a “backpack,” outside of maybe a burlap sack thrown over your shoulder. In World War II, GI’s carried all their equipment around in canvas packs and slept in canvas tents. Canvas very thick and sturdy and was historically made from cotton, linen, or hemp coated in wax for waterproofing. Today, canvas tends to be made from things like nylon and polyester. Most modern backpack companies shy away from canvas because it’s usually heavy, not overly water-resistant, and easily damaged by abrasion. If you’re looking for a canvas one-bag travel pack, you’re not going to find much out there. However, if you want the nostalgia factor, you can still find a bespoke canvas bag to satisfy that.

Leather

We may need to scrap our statement on canvas because leather is arguably as OG as it gets. Its use has been traced back as far as Ancient Greece and Rome! Like canvas, you’re not going to see many travel packs made of leather. While a leather bag can make for an excellent, stylish daypack, it’s not ideal for a long-term travel pack, mainly because of its weight. There is also a lot of potential care involved. Between protective oils and various cleaning techniques, it can be a hassle to deal with if you’re on the move. There are three grades of leather—genuine, top-grain, and full-grain.

Contrary to popular belief, genuine is the lowest grade of leather while full-grain is the highest. Full-grain is used for heavy-duty use-cases like weapon holsters and work belts, so if you’re dead set on a leather pack, we’d recommend looking for full-grain leather. Ideally, you’ll want to find something thin enough to not be overly heavy while still thick enough to ensure durability.

Sailcloth

The actual material is called ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene… but most know it as sailcloth (yep, the same material used on a sailboat). A relatively rare material for backpacks, brands like Tortuga have taken advantage of sailcloth due to its lightweight and water-resistant properties. It is by far the most lightweight and waterproof material on our list (no need for DWR or liners), but it does have some drawbacks. It’s stiff and crinkly with zero stretch, which can cause problems if you’re trying to utilize every nook and cranny of your pack. It isn’t quite as indestructible as some other materials listed, but it’s reasonably durable and can be patched. It also tends to be one of the most expensive backpack materials out there.

Dyneema® Composite Fabric

Dyneema® Composite Fabric

In May 2015, Dyneema purchased Cubic Tech, the creator and manufacturer of Cuben Fiber, and rebranded it as Dyneema® Composite Fabrics. So, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics = Cuben Fiber. This stuff was initially designed for high-tech sails on racing yachts because it is ridiculously light and robust. As such, it has been adopted wholeheartedly by the ultralight backpacking community. It’s sort of like the carbon fiber of the backpack world—high-tech, super strong, super light, and…super expensive. While Dyneema® Composite Fabric is popular within the ultralight backpacking community, it has yet to become commonplace in the one-bag travel scene. That being said, if you do see Dyneema® Composite Fabric, you should know that you’re getting some of the best stuff around.

tpu material best travel backpack guide

Thermoplastic polyurethane —TPU for short—is a polymer used to add strength to a material, either through a manufacturing process or coating. You’ll recognize it on products like inflatable rafts, phone cases, wire cables, and footwear. Think stuff that needs to be as durable as possible to avoid things going south for the user. It easily sheds water and oil, resists abrasions, and won’t crack in high or low temps, making it ideal for frequent outdoor use. Unlike polypropylene, TPU is UV-resistant and won’t be subjected to the same amount of fading over time. If you’re the type of traveler who wants extra peace of mind on the go, you’ll want to keep an eye out for TPU because of the extra strength it adds to a pack, but we wouldn’t consider a lack of TPU a deal-breaker.

x-pac material best travel backpack guide

X-Pac is not so much a fabric as it is a bunch of fabrics smooshed together. With the help of lamination technology, it combines complementary materials to make an overall higher-performing product. Though there are variations in denier and waterproofing, it’s most commonly made up of a nylon face for durability, polyester mesh for strength, and waterproof film that won’t disappear over time. Like Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, it was inspired by the efficiency of sailcloth but is a less costly option that provides a similar level of ultralight performance. It holds its shape over time, won’t fade with UV exposure, and easily sheds moisture, making it great for outdoor enthusiasts who hike and bike with their pack on the regular. However, it may be a bit overkill for casual travelers unless you’re looking for a backpack for epic mountain climbing adventures.

Ultimately, the production process and design will dictate whether your gear will stay together. If a bag is made with 1000D CORDURA®, but it doesn’t have good zippers to match, it doesn’t matter how good the fabric is. Look for brands that proudly back their product with generous warranties, like GORUCK and their “SCARS warranty” or Patagonia and their “Ironclad Guarantee.” These brands know they make quality products, so they’re happy to back it up. If a brand offers no warranty or a short warranty, there’s probably a financial reason for that, and the quality may not be as high. We’re all about buying quality pieces that last versus something that’s going to need repair or replacement year after year.

Whether you’re hopping on a plane or navigating city streets, you need a backpack that can hold up.

Video Guide Part 3: Function

Best Backpack for Comfortable Wear and Extended Travel

Comfort is a big deal when it comes to one-bag travel—especially if you plan to carry the bag around with you for hours on end. You’ll want a high-quality harness that works with the shape of your body. When selecting a bag, it’s crucial to take your height and body type into consideration. Although this matters more for hiking backpacks where you’re carrying a ton of gear, it’s less important for smaller, one-bag travel packs. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it before you make a purchase. A backpack suited for someone that’s 6’5″ and 250 pounds probably isn’t the best travel backpack for someone that’s 5’3″ and 140 pounds. Buying something that doesn’t fit your frame correctly will make for some seriously uncomfortable travel.

Men’s Focused Fit Vs Women’s Focused Fit

Osprey Farpoint vs Osprey Fairview

Some backpacks are only available with a “one size fits all” harness system, but there is an ever-increasing number of women’s focused fit and men’s focused fit travel backpacks on the market. For example, the Thule Landmark 40L , REI Ruckpack 40 , and Deuter AViANT Carry On Pro 36 are all available in two different fits. The differences are subtle but have a big impact on how comfortable the harness system is on your frame. Compared to a men’s focused fit, a women’s focused fit backpack will typically feature:

  • Smaller hip belt with a more pronounced curve

Backpack Straps

You’ll want to look for bags with high-quality straps that work for your body type. A mismatch here could lead to an uncomfortable carry, even with only a little weight inside.

Matador Globerider45 Review

Even though the GlobeRider45 has the functionality and looks of a travel backpack, it carries more like a daypack. Its shoulder straps feature dense padding that curves and falls naturally to the body. A relatively high top area does give it a very slight hiking backpack feel, but it’s an overall tameable bag to travel with, considering its 45-liter storage capacity.

The thickness of straps doesn’t necessarily matter. Thinner straps that use high-quality foam may be more comfortable than thicker, bulkier straps.

If you’re concerned with weight, look for bags that include load lifters – these are the adjusters that appear at the top of the straps. This concept is borrowed from larger hiking backpacks and does wonders for fitting the bag well to your back with different loads.

Some straps swivel and pivot to cater to different shoulder widths and make it easier to quickly flip the pack around to access the goods you’ve got inside.

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L (V4) Strap

We’re middle-of-the-road on hip belts for one-bag travel backpacks. They can help a ton if you’ve got a heavier load or plan to carry your pack for long stretches but aren’t necessary if you pack minimally in a smaller pack.

A good hip belt should be comfortable and secure without becoming too cumbersome. There are few things worse than hitting people with your bulky hip belt while walking down the aisle of an airplane. We’d recommend taking a look at travel backpacks that feature a detachable or hideable hip belt, so you don’t have to use it when you don’t need to.

Sternum Straps

Nearly all travel backpacks include a sternum strap. They’re designed to distribute some weight away from your shoulders and secure the shoulder straps across your chest.

While sternum straps are all pretty similar across the board, there are a couple of things we’d recommend looking out for. First, some will feature an elasticated portion that allows the strap to flex with your body as you walk. We’re big fans of these. Second, some sternum straps can be detached, leaving them vulnerable to falling off when not in use. We’re not kidding; this has happened to us on multiple occasions. Not good, especially when you’re traveling halfway around the world in remote locations! A detachable sternum strap is great when you don’t always need to use one, and it makes adjusting the height easy. Just make sure it’s secure and adequately anchored to the shoulder straps.

Osprey Fairview 40 Back Water Bottle

A well-designed back panel can make things much more comfortable. Although it’s hard to avoid the old sweaty back with more extended periods of wear in hotter climates, well-ventilated mesh and foam can help with this. A curved frame can help with ergonomics and ventilation, but we don’t see this on many travel-focused backpacks. Sometimes, it seems like overkill.

How Do you Pack the Thing?

With all these fancy features, it’s essential to consider how you should use them and how you pack your bag. Generally speaking, you want to load the heaviest items closest to your back. This’ll ensure the heaviest bits of your bag are the closest to your center of gravity, pulling you down less from the back of the bag.

Best Travel Backpack | Configuring a backpack.

If you’ve got all the features mentioned above, you want to strap and tighten your hip belt first, then adjust the shoulder straps, then tighten the load lifter straps (the straps on top) to a 45° angle, and finally, adjust and tighten the sternum strap.

Heimplanet Travel Pack 34L V2 Review

The Heimplanet Travel Pack 34L (V2) has a horseshoe zipper at the top front of the pack, which opens up to allow you to reach into the main compartment and grab essential items rather than opening up the full clamshell. It also features liter independent compartments and pockets, which are great for packing to the absolute limits. Check out the smaller 28L version, too.

Modular Backpack System

If you want more options for customization, check out modular gear. To put it simply, this is gear that brands design to work with their bags. They allow you to make a bag suit your preferences, adding and swapping parts as needed instead of trying to fit your gear into the organization already installed in your pack. Anyone who uses a bag with PALS webbing, for example, will tell you how convenient it is to have loops ready where they can stick MOLLE accessories. Whereas PALS webbing and MOLLE attachments are one of the better-known standards out there, brand-specific modularity and attachment systems also exist.

In fact, some brands, like ALPAKA , TOM BIHN , Boundary Supply , and Roark , are known for it. We like to count how many O-rings we can find on each TOM BIHN bag we buy because that’s where we can clip the brand’s key leashes, admin pouches, packing cubes, and more.

Tom Bihn Ghost Whale Pouches On A Desk

These great for carrying tiny travel accessories wherever we go. Sizes range from Super Mini, which can hold AirPods, chapstick, and similarly sized items, to A5, which is big enough for an A5-size notebook and pens. They’re made from scrap fabric, so you can feel good about saving them from the cutting room floor. They clip to the O-rings in a TOM BIHN bag or a loop on another backpack to save you from digging for small gear.

ALPAKA Elements Backpack Pro Accessories

ALPAKA’s HUB Ecosystem lets you swap your keys, sanitizer, card holder, and more between your bags. Pull the Hypalon tab to release the magnetic fastener to swap your gear, then attach it to different points throughout their bags or the HUB ModPanel hanging in your house. Then you’ll always be able to find your keys.

Boundary Supply Prima System In Detroit

The Prima System includes a 30L travel backpack, the Fieldspace admin panel, and Verge Camera Case. The Fieldspace holds a tablet or small laptop, plus small accessories, docking to the laptop compartment with a magnet, so it’s removable if you don’t need it. The camera case is also fully customizable and can sit inside the pack, connect to its exterior, or be carried separately.

Organization: Multiple Travel-Focused Features or One Big Compartment?

Some backpacks take the approach of having a massive inner compartment with no organization. This is great if you’re planning on using some packing cubes or compression sacks, but not so great if you want a little more internal organization out of the box. More things to consider: is there a dedicated place to put a pen or two for those pesky customs forms? Is it easy to grab? How about a dedicated laptop compartment (or, for that matter, a dedicated laptop bag )?

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L (V4) Review

This iteration of Tortuga’s travel backpack design gives more control to the user. It has fewer organization options than its predecessors, but the extra space and weight savings can be better used for packing cubes and organizers. Those already invested in such accessories will find the wide and spacious main compartment easy to fill and navigate.

Packing Cubes

Packing Cubes Flat Lay

Packing cubes can be a great addition to your luggage regardless of whether the bag is one massive compartment or has a couple of smaller pockets inside. Packing cubes allow you to organize clothing between type, outfits, clean or dirty, and much more.

Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On Back

The Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On’s size and shape make it easy to pack with cubes. Plus, the light gray interior makes it easy to find your gear.

Compression and Expandability

If you’re going with one bag, versatility is essential. Ideally, your pack will cater to different amounts of items that are packed in the bag.

Some packs even offer detachable daypacks, but they tend to be slightly larger in liters to justify the additional use of materials (extra zippers and extra straps.) If you’re looking for a small travel daypack , consider some highly compressible bags from Matador . There won’t be any padding on these, but you could also pair these with a padded field pocket from GORUCK or a padded laptop compartment if you want to cafe-hop and work for the day.

If you are looking for a more padded daypack, a Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable Daypack , or something like a Fjallraven Kanken 13″ Laptop Backpack could work. At the end of the day, you’re packing another set of straps, padding, and zippers—all space and weight that’s being subtracted from your main pack.

We like sticking to one bag whenever possible, and there are some bags out there with the right size and look that can be used as a daypack and for one bag travel.

Thule Aion 28L Backpack Review

The Thule Aion 28L Backpack expands to 32L when you need more space for a trip. Use the extra room when you’re traveling, then empty it and compress it back down when you arrive at your destination to have a slimmer bag that can be used as a daypack while walking around.

Another great option is the Osprey Farpoint 40 , mentioned above. One of our team members has utilized the compression straps to carry his tripod while traveling to numerous countries.

Security Backpacks

Be on the lookout for packs with great security features. Are the zippers lockable with TSA approved locks? Are there separate secret security compartments to place your passport and other valuables in hard-to-reach places? Is it made of a solid material to prevent the quick slash-and-grab? Are the outer pockets minimized to make it hard for a thief to unzip and grab what they want quickly?

A lot of safety when traveling comes down to common sense and your own self-awareness, but there are a couple of pack features that can make your trips a little bit safer.

Lockable Zippers & Anti-Theft Backpacks

Peak Design Travel Backpack Lockable Zips

Some packs offer lockable zippers, or special looped zipper pulls that can be configured to deter thieves. Locking the zippers on your pack won’t turn it into an anti-theft backpack—someone can still take it or cut through the fabric—but it can help stop wrongdoers from quickly unzipping your bag for a quick-grab, or make them move to the next easily accessible bag on a train or bus. No backpack is impenetrable, though, and some of these features on backpacks can be gimmicky—included just so the purchaser has some peace of mind—even if the benefit isn’t that great. Peak Design’s security features (example below) and PacSafe’s Tough Zip put a lot of emphasis on that extra layer of security.

The zippers on the Peak Design Travel Backpack come with multiple locking features. This won’t necessarily deter all theft, but it’ll stop anyone from the old unzip & grab trick, and it won’t be against TSA Guidelines.

Anti-Theft Backpack Materials

Some bags offer more robust fabric that naturally enforces the bag. As we mentioned before, materials like Ballistic Nylon, CORDURA®, and others are super helpful with this. Some companies even include special mesh wiring, like Pacsafe’s eXomesh®, that almost theft-proof your backpack, allowing you to lock it to a fixed object for added security. EXomesh® is either lined inside the fabric and can also be purchased externally with other backpacks. For the type of traveling we do, we think this is a little paranoid and adds some weight plus another thing to carry. But depending on your situation, it could be helpful. Strolling through Tokyo? Probably not necessary. Heading to Barcelona for the first time? Yeah, we’ll take that extra layer of security.

RFID Blockers (Identity Theft-Proof Backpacks)

We feel that having a bunch of RFID-blocking tech covering an entire backpack is overkill. Sure, it’ll stop folks from electronically scanning your passport, but If you’re concerned with this, you could get a special wallet or wrap your passport & cards in aluminum foil. Let’s face it—it’s much less effort for a thief to physically grab what they want from you than dicking around with RFID technology. But again, whatever helps you sleep at night. If it’s a 100% secure backpack you seek, we’re not going to stop you.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP35 Travel Backpack Review

If you’re looking for a secure travel pack, the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP35 offers some great features for exactly that. From the eXomesh® slash-proof material to the secure zippers and RFID secure pockets, there is some great thinking that went into this pack along with some solid materials.

You know what they say—“It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look.” Or something like that...

Video Guide Part 4: Aesthetic

Finding the Best Travel Backpack Style For You

At the end of the day, the look and feel of a travel backpack should be right for you and your tastes. There are many things to consider as far as aesthetics go we’ll pull in here for consideration. Stylish “urban travel” backpacks became a lot more popular within the last couple of years, and that’s the look we prefer. Gone are the days of international travel with a big blaze-orange hiking backpack. Those certainly have a utility, but that utility is in the wilderness. Here are a couple of overall style points for your consideration:

Minimalist Travel Backpacks

minimalist travel backpacks

When you’re in a new country, think a bit about how you want to be perceived. If you’re heading to a more crowded or dicey area, nothing screams tourist like having a large, colorful backpack while looking up at tall buildings or a landmark in awe. It’s easier to keep a low profile and blend in a little if you’re not carrying around a monstrosity of a bag that acts as an advertisement for thieves and wrongdoers looking to target travelers for their own gain. It’s an added bonus if you can roll into a meeting wearing one of these things. As one-bag travel has become increasingly popular in recent years, we’re seeing many solid urban packs coming out that are built specifically with one-bag travel in mind.

  • Minaal Carry-On 3.0

Tacticool Backpacks

tacticool travel backpacks

There are a ton of great, high-quality bags out there that are made to military spec. There’s some really great utility to things like MOLLE for customizing your pack and including other accessories on your bag, and the stronger materials make for highly durable bags. Keep in mind that some folks may perceive you as being in the military if your bag has too much digi camo going on. It’s one thing if the pack is all black & subdued, but another if it’s camo and filled with patches. If this is your look, go for it, but this type of pack might also bring about some “unwanted attention” in certain parts of the world.

  • Mission Workshop Radian

Outdoor & Hiking Backpacks

Outdoor & Hiking Travel Backpack Aesthetic

Think sportier packs with lots of pockets, brighter colors, and louder material. For a long time, outdoor backpacks were the only option for long-term one-bag travelers. They tend to be bulky and are built to carry big, heavy loads over long distances. This typically means lots of straps and a tall pack that will peek up over your head. Great for an extended camping excursion, not so great for a trip through the airport or a newly-discovered city square. They also tend to scream “TOURIST.” No one casually walks around with a giant hiking backpack.

  • Gregory Zulu 40

Backpacker Backpacks

Backpacker Travel Backpack Aesthetic

If it’s not already obvious, the “Backpacker Backpack” is designed specifically for backpacking around the world. Typically from manufacturers that also make outdoor and hiking backpacks, this is the go-to style for anyone on a gap year looking to tick off as many countries in Southeast Asia as possible. And because of that, they’re some of the most popular bags on the market today. Sure, you’ll still look like a tourist—albeit not as much as you would wearing a hiking backpack—but that’s fine because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

  • Gregory Detour 40

Heritage Backpacks

heritage travel backpacks

These bags are engineered with a classic look in mind. Most will be some variation of the one-compartment style with leather straps, subdued colors, and some type of canvas-y material. These packs look great but can sometimes lack functionality and comfort. Although there are a few bespoke style travel bags (we like Vinta and Rivendell Mountain Works), most will fall into the daypack category.

  • Red Oxx C-ruck Carry-on Rucksack

Having said all of this, aesthetic is subjective, and beauty remains in the eye of the beholder. This is why we conduct weekly polls over on our Instagram to get our communities’ take on the look of bags. Follow us on Instagram to cast your votes! You can find all the results of the polls on our individual review pages too, so you can see how well a bag you’re looking for has performed.

The humble backpack: It’ll get you through anything and everything...

There Really is No “Best Travel Backpack”

Although, there is a best travel backpack for you. All this boils down to your preferences.

When we first started creating this guide, we admittedly thought there would be one best bag for travel, but the deeper we dug, the more we realized it depends on your needs as an individual traveler. Sure, there are generally guiding principles to follow, and a bag made out of cardboard objectively won’t last, but there are too many quality backpacks out there to pick just one. If you’re on a short trip, a lighter, less durable pack will suit you well. If you’re headed to Southeast Asia during the monsoon season, you may want some heavy-duty weatherproofing.

We wish you the best of luck moving forward with your selection. Still want more? Be sure to check out our other guides and travel gear reviews too!

Our team at Pack Hacker developed the “best travel backpack” guide in partnership with our friends (and bag experts) at Carryology . We’re constantly updating this guide as new backpacks are released, and the travel landscape changes.

mm

Author: Tom Wahlin

Tom has lived out of a 40L backpack for 2 years of travel, helping him learn what to pack and what to leave behind. His top achievements include designing for Apple and eating large quantities of ramen (ongoing).

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The Best Travel Backpack

Geoffrey Morrison

By Geoffrey Morrison

A travel backpack easily carries all your stuff while letting you navigate airports, subway stations, and city streets. After traveling with travel backpacks for years across dozens of countries, we recommend the new versions of Osprey’s Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 travel packs.

These bags fit everything we need for trips ranging from just a week to months of continuous travel. They come with a sizable daypack and are even airline-carry-on friendly.

They’re also highly adjustable and well padded, meaning that not only can you get a perfect fit, but the packs will also remain easy to carry and comfortable to wear for long treks, even if there are stairs, cobblestones, or narrow alleys in your way.

Everything we recommend

best travel backpacks 2022

Osprey Farpoint 55 Men’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with taller torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Farpoint has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

Buying Options

best travel backpacks 2022

Osprey Fairview 55 Women’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with shorter torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Fairview has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

best travel backpacks 2022

REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack (Men’s)

Larger, for people with longer torsos.

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this pack just as comfortable and easy to fit as any other we tried for people with longer torsos. However, it’s too big to carry on a plane.

best travel backpacks 2022

REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack (Women’s)

Larger, for people with shorter torsos.

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this pack just as comfortable and easy to fit as any other we tried for people with shorter torsos. However, it’s too big to carry on a plane.

Upgrade pick

best travel backpacks 2022

Salkan The Backpacker

More stylish, with more padding.

This attractive but expensive travel backpack has customizable straps and great, cushy padding. It comes in only one size, however.

I traveled with a Farpoint 55 for years, across dozens of countries for months at a time. In 2023, Osprey released new incarnations of the Farpoint 55  and the sized-for-smaller-torsos Fairview 55 .

These new versions mostly kept what we liked about the previous ones and fixed what we didn’t. Best of all, they’re among the least expensive travel backpacks available. After several years as runner-ups, the packs are once again our top picks.

The front of the main pack still unzips like a suitcase, so you can easily fit and access a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries. The daypack, which attaches to the front of the larger pack, has room for camera gear, daily essentials, and a small laptop (via a built-in sleeve). The main pack’s straps can tuck behind a zippered flap, so they won’t catch on anything if you check your luggage.

The best change: The main packs are now overhead-bin-sized for most airlines. (You’ll have to use the daypack as your underseat bag.) Other notable updates include height-adjustable shoulder straps and big exterior pockets on the daypack. Previous versions of these bags used ripstop nylon. The current one uses a heavy-duty recycled polyester, which held up well during a six-week trip across Europe.

Osprey offers a lifetime warranty.

If you want something a little larger than the Osprey packs, the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Men’s (for travelers with longer torsos) and the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Women’s (for travelers with shorter torsos) are just as adjustable and comfortable. The Ruckpacks had been our top picks for several years—we now prefer the new Ospreys because they’re carry-on sized.

The Ruckpacks have a smaller daypack than the Ospreys, which isn’t as good for photographers and digital nomads, but the main packs are larger, which can be good if you’re carrying bulkier items like a heavy jacket. While not carry-on-sized, the main pack’s overall dimensions are still manageable. The Ruckpack 60+ is also a little cheaper than the Osprey packs.

The Ruckpacks are made from a tough, recycled ripstop nylon that stands up to wear. REI offers a return period of up to a year if you’re a member (90 days if you’re not). However, if the problem is a manufacturing or materials defect, the packs are covered by REI Co-op’s warranty, which has no specified expiration date.

The Salkan The Backpacker looks and feels like a higher-end travel backpack. The polyester cloth feels extremely rugged, and there’s extensive padding in every place the pack touches your body.

Available in black and lightish green, The Backpacker has nine color options for its exterior compression straps, so you can mix and match based on your preferences—or even change them up. This gives The Backpacker the most customizable palette of any of our picks.

While looking more stylish on TikTok and Instagram isn’t generally a primary consideration for us, overall The Backpacker feels well made, and it has many of the same thoughtful features as our top and runner-up picks, including lots of pockets, smooth zippers, and height-adjustable shoulder straps.

These are offset, however, by a much higher price. Also, the main pack is technically too large to be a carry-on for most airlines, and the bag comes in only one size. (Salkan says it’s best for people 5-foot-6 to 6-foot-4).

The research

Why you should trust me, who this is for, how we picked, how we tested, our pick: osprey farpoint 55 travel pack and fairview 55 travel pack, runner-up: rei co-op ruckpack 60+ recycled travel pack, upgrade pick: salkan the backpacker, the competition.

A selfie of this guide's writer on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, with a picturesque view of the sea and the city behind him.

I’ve lived, worked, and visited 60 countries on six continents, as well as all 50 US states. I spent the majority of 2014 through 2020 traveling. Over the last few years, I’ve done a mix of extended road trips and multi-month international adventures. For all those years, I lived out of a backpack while abroad. I’ve also traveled in Africa, China, and throughout Europe with a variety of terrible backpacks and luggage, so I know what’s best to avoid.

In addition to covering travel gear here at Wirecutter, I write about travel and tech for CNET , Forbes , and The New York Times itself, and I have my own YouTube channel . My first travel book, Budget Travel for Dummies , comes out in January.

A travel backpack is for people who want to travel around the world unencumbered by heavy, slow-moving wheeled luggage. An internal-frame backpack in the 50- to 65-liter range has more than enough room for all of the possessions you need to travel anywhere for an indefinite amount of time—as long as you’re okay with doing laundry once you get to a destination. (If you’re going to carry heavy jackets, going-out clothes, multiple pairs of footwear, or other bulky gear, you may want something a tad bigger .)

A travel backpack is not for business travelers who’d like to maintain appearances, nor is it for outdoor enthusiasts looking to spend six weeks hiking in Patagonia. If you prefer something that rolls, check out our guide to the best carry-on luggage . And if you want something that you can carry on your back for shorter periods of time, that’s business-casual-friendly, and that you won’t ever need to check, see our review of the best carry-on travel bags .

Based on my experience and research, we looked for travel backpacks with the following qualities:

  • Fifty to 65 liters, including a daypack: We looked at bags between 50 and 65 liters (including an integral, removable daypack). Packs this size can easily hold everything you need for any length of trip, while being small enough to remain manageable while you’re wearing it.
  • Clamshell opening: For extended travel use, backpacking backpacks have annoying qualities, including that they tend to load only from the top and are sealed with a drawstring. This design saves weight and means there’s one less thing to break. But it’s a total hassle when you want something from the bottom of the bag because you have to unload and reload the entire pack. We looked for bags where the front zips fully open like a suitcase, making it easy to pack or repack and find things during your trip.
  • A well-framed structure: A fully loaded backpack, even a small one, can easily weigh more than 20 pounds. My old Farpoint 55 usually hovered in the mid-30s, though that included a DSLR, three lenses, a battery pack , a laptop, a 360 camera , and other work-related gear. A fully supported internal-frame pack distributes the weight onto your hips, which are much stronger than your back and shoulders. If you’re going to be doing a significant amount of walking, you’ll want something with a frame.
  • Durability: We looked for features to help the pack last, like some sort of cover to contain the straps (for easier storage on planes and trains), as well as lightweight and water-resistant materials.
  • Plenty of storage (and separation): I’ve done all of my traveling in the past five years with a 55-liter backpack (which includes a 15-liter daypack). I tend to overpack a bit, but 55 liters lets me carry everything I need (the full list is below) for weeks, or even months, at a time.

Here’s what I usually bring for any length of trip (and this is our standard kit for testing):

  • main pack (the command module , if you will)
  • daypack (the lunar excursion module )
  • pair of walking shoes or sneakers (along with the shoes I’m wearing)
  • five shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of jeans (not shown because I wear them in transit), one merino wool underlayer
  • warm hat (because my head lacks insulation)
  • five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, one extra T-shirt for laundry day, one bathing suit (I really recommend packing cubes )
  • rain jacket in an Eagle Creek bag
  • various adapters , camera batteries, chargers, etc.
  • various toiletries, vitamins, etc.
  • Osprey rain cover
  • razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • well-worn flip-flops
  • travel towel
  • portable Bluetooth speaker
  • prescription dive mask
  • merino wool jacket
  • inflatable pillow
  • smartwool half-zip midlayer
  • sun hat (because my head hates sun)
  • extra travel adapter for daypack (when the daypack is my carry-on)
  • pen (vital!)
  • a small laptop (a 15-inch MacBook fits in all of our picks)
  • GoPro batteries and filters
  • earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones
  • Writer Emergency Pack
  • USB battery pack #1
  • USB battery pack #2
  • backup headphones
  • iPod Classic (because you can’t always stream music)
  • USB charger
  • Sigma 30 mm f1.4 (with a wireless mouse to its right)

For our first version of this guide in 2016, we narrowed our choices to 11 possible contenders. For that initial round of testing, I poked and prodded the different packs to sort out whether they had any obvious flaws or issues. I had adults of various sizes try each pack to get a sense of what short and tall people preferred.

For each subsequent update, including this one, I tested with similar methods whatever new or substantially redesigned packs were available. In between updates, I took one of our picks on some extended travels.

The Osprey Fairview 55 and the Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpacks.

The Osprey Fairview 55 and the nearly identical Osprey Farpoint 55 have been one of our picks since the first version of this guide came out in 2016. (The Fairview is for people with 15- to 19-inch torsos, as measured from the top of your hip bone to your C7 vertebra, the one that sticks out when you press your chin to your chest. The Farpoint is for those with torsos from 17 to 22 inches long.) They’re now our top picks again, and here’s why.

Two green Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpacks - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

You can carry them on the plane. Once you detach the daypacks, the main packs are now carry-on-sized, making them the most versatile travel backpack we’ve tested. Interestingly, the total capacity remains roughly the same as those of our other picks—that is, we were able to stow the same amount of clothing in this bag as we could in the REI Co-op packs and the Salkan . The daypack, in this case, would count as your personal item—on most airlines, this would mean you couldn’t also bring a large purse or a briefcase.

Or check your bag—your choice. The shoulder straps can be secured behind a zippered panel, so if you want to check the bag or put it in a packed luggage compartment on a train or bus, they won’t catch on anything. Doing this essentially turns the main pack temporarily into a duffle bag, complete with sturdy and well-padded handles on the top and side.

The straps of the Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpack.

They’re adjustable. Like our other picks, the main pack has height-adjustable shoulder straps. This crucial feature lets you get an all-important personalized fit that makes carrying the pack for any length of time far easier. The straps were padded enough for our testers’ comfort (though not as cushy as the Salkan’s, and slightly less so than the REI Co-op’s).

They have comfortable, easy-to-use daypacks. The daypacks are roughly the same size, or a little larger, than those of our other picks, something travelers who plan to cart lots of camera gear or other daily essentials will appreciate. The top of the shoulder straps connect to form a sturdy handle, which is extremely, ahem, handy. Each daypack easily holds a 15-inch MacBook and is comfortable to wear over long treks. There are two large exterior mesh pockets for water bottles . Though the daypack is a little short on organizational slots and pockets, its comfort made it the best overall.

The backpacks are tough. The Farpoint and the Fairview are made from 450-denier recycled polyester, which feels thick and sturdy, though more “plasticky” compared to the Salkan. (Denier is a measure of the fiber thickness in a fabric.) I put the Farpoint through six weeks of train, bus, and airplane trips across Europe, and it didn’t show any signs of wear or breaking.

You can attach a lock, if you want. Unlike the Salkan The Backpacker, both the main pack and the daypack’s main zippers are lockable.

The backpacks come in more color options than our other picks. Currently, the Farpoint comes in black, green, blue, and grey. The Fairview comes in black, green, red, and purple.

The packs include a lifetime warranty. Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee covers repair of any damage or defect for life—or replaces the pack, if repair is impossible. If you just want to return the pack unused, you have 30 days.

It’s been a pick in this guide for seven years—and counting. I have put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. After testing this 2023 pack, I liked it so much that I bought one for myself, replacing an Osprey Farpoint that had been my go-to pack for years of travel.

It comes in additional capacities. If you already have a daypack that you like, the Farpoint 40 and the Fairview 40 are just the main pack from the 55 (they’re also picks in our guide to carry-on travel backpacks ). You can add the daypack later if you want. If you want more space and don’t mind checking your luggage, the Osprey Farpoint 70 and the Osprey Fairview 70 are slightly larger versions of their Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 counterparts—anything we’ve said about the Farpoint 55 and the Fairview 55 also applies to them. They would work well for those who want to go with the Osprey but need more room in the main pack for, say, clothes for multiple climates, bulky items like ski parkas, and the like.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The U-shaped opening of the daypack is surprisingly small, restricting access. You can’t easily spot things at the bottom or carry bulky items. On the other hand, this does limit what might spill out of the pack if you forget to fully close it, something that has happened to me several times with the old half-clamshell design.
  • Previous versions of the Farpoint and the Fairview had large zippers that basically fused the daypack to the main pack. With this version, the daypack hangs off the back, secured only by the nylon compression straps. The straps loop through reinforced parts of the daypack, so it seems reasonably secure, and this new design does let you stuff more things in both packs—but as someone who carries a lot of expensive gear in the daypack, I’m less than excited about it.
  • The pack isn’t as comfortable as the heavily padded Salkan. Osprey seems to have prioritized weight and breathability over padding. In warmer climates, though, this could be a good thing.
  • Unlike our other picks, the Farpoint and the Fairview don’t include a rain cover. One is available separately, however. Osprey recommends the large size for the 55 L packs.
  • The new design is slightly smaller than the old one, as well as being a little smaller than the REI Co-op and Salkan packs.
  • Lastly, while looks are entirely subjective, the Farpoint and the Fairview are very much “backpack-looking backpacks.” The dark color choices are safe, to put it mildly.

Two blue REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Packs - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

The REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Men’s and the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Women’s were previously our top picks, until they were replaced this year by the improved Osprey packs.

It’s easy to get just the right fit. The Ruckpack has well-padded and height-adjustable straps, closer in size and padding to those of the Salkan than those of the Osprey . Like the Osprey but unlike the Salkan, the Ruckpack comes in two models, one marketed toward men and the other toward women. The men’s model, available in black or blue, is for people with torsos between 17 and 21 inches. The women’s model, available in black or reddish orange, fits torsos between 15 and 19 inches.

It’s sturdy. The Ruckpack uses a recycled, 210-denier ripstop nylon. It feels similarly sturdy as the Osprey, though not as sturdy as the Salkan. Previous versions of the Ruckpack have held up well over time, and we’ll continue testing to see how the 2023 version wears.

It’s bigger than the Osprey, although the daypack is smaller. Capacity wise, there’s a bit more room in the Ruckpack’s main pack than in the slightly smaller Osprey’s. The daypack, however, is a little smaller. Which backpack works better depends on what gear you carry and how you want to carry it. If you have a lot of things you want on your person at all times, the Osprey is better. If you have more or bulkier clothes, and no camera or less-bulky daypack gear, the REI might be better.

The blue REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel pack daypack.

It has more pockets than our top pick. These pockets are on the inside (three are accessible via external zippers) and the outside (on the hip belt, for instance). This is especially convenient if you want to quickly stash items or get to them without having to open the main compartment. And, unlike the Osprey packs, the Ruckpack includes a rain cover.

You will have to check it. The Ruckpack’s dimensions make it too large to qualify as a carry-on, even if you detach the daypack from the main pack. The main pack’s straps can be stored behind a zippered panel when you check your bag.

The main pack’s zippers are easily lockable. However, the daypack’s zippers don’t have the standard holes for easy locking. Instead, you have to thread the lock through the holes in the pull tabs. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s an odd oversight.

REI has a good return policy. REI has a one-year “ 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed ” return policy if you’re a member (90 days if you’re not). This is not quite as epic as Osprey’s lifetime guarantee, but you should have enough time to determine whether or not you like the pack. However, if the issue is a manufacturing defect, you should be able to return it any time.

The gray Salkan The Backpacker travel backpacks - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

The Salkan The Backpacker is a higher-end travel backpack for people who want the comfort of our top pick but are willing to pay more for swappable design options and more organization.

It has more organization than our top pick. The capacity of the main pack is 45 liters, basically the same as that of our main picks . It has more organization and compartments than the Osprey packs, however. There are two large water-bottle compartments on either side and a laptop compartment inside, as well as several other small, zippered compartments. In addition to the main zippered hatch, the top opens with a drawstring like a hiking backpack, allowing fast access or storage. This drawstring design does allow you to stuff a bit more into the pack than the Osprey or REI Co-op packs. However, the main pack is technically too tall to be a carry-on for most airlines.

The straps of the Salkan The Backpacker travel backpack.

It has the best padding. The shoulder straps are well padded—the best I’ve seen—and height adjustable. The back panel and hip straps are generously padded, too. All this does make the pack nearly twice as heavy as the Osprey, though we’re talking only a few pounds (under 8 pounds compared with the Farpoint’s 4-plus pounds). For reference, the Farpoint, fully loaded with all my clothes, heavy camera gear, and so on, was around 35 pounds, including the bag itself.

You can customize it. The pack is available in two main colors: black and light green. In addition, the straps have complementary color options, including orange (shown above), pink, and maroon, plus five other choices. This allows for more personalization and flair compared to the Osprey and REI Co-op packs. Salkan also sells several accessories to go with The Backpacker, such as packing cubes, water bottles, and a laundry bag that attaches to the inside of the main pack.

It’s sturdy—but has not-so-great attachments. The bag’s 900-denier polyester fabric (even stronger than our top pick’s 450-denier fabric) is extremely strong and should resist rips or tears. What zippers The Backpacker has run smoothly, but the design oddly eschews them in key places. While the main compartment has a zipper, as do multiple smaller compartments, the main and daypack’s top openings do not, using drawstrings and a flap instead. These flaps are secured with aluminum “G”-shaped hooks (Salkan calls them buckles) that slide into nylon straps. The hooks feel nice in your hand and could well last longer than the plastic clips on the Osprey and REI Co-op packs. However, connecting them takes a few moments longer than using a clip or zipper would—time that adds up. They also feel less secure, like they could slide loose under load and movement. (These hooks are also what connect the daypack to the main pack.)

It has a great warranty. Salkan has a “ ‘No Landfill’ Lifetime Guarantee ”: “If there is something wrong with your backpack that shouldn’t be, then we’ll try to repair it, and if we can’t, we’ll replace it.” In addition, the company has a 100-day trial period within which you can return or exchange the pack if you don’t like it.

But it’s pricey. The Backpack costs much more than the Osprey or REI Co-op packs. While it’s arguably better-looking than either, this doesn’t add much functional difference. The pack’s comfortable, but so are the others. It’s adjustable, but so are the others. It comes with a rain cover, but so does the REI Co-op pack, and Osprey’s is $40. Is the Salkan’s extra cost and organization worth the better aesthetics? That’s not for me to say.

And we couldn’t attach a lock. There’s no way to lock either the main pack or the daypack. There’s no way to attach a lock to the “G” hooks. The nylon drawstrings at the main pack’s top opening, as well as the daypack’s, offer no practical way of attaching a lock. For such a well-designed and feature-rich pack, this is a surprising oversight. Is this a dealbreaker? Probably not, at least for most people. With the daypack buckled and the drawstring closed, it’s highly unlikely someone could reach in while you’re wearing it without you noticing. However, I frequently leave my pack in luggage rooms at hotels or the occasional hostel without lockers, and not being able to lock it when it’s out of sight would concern me.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything we tested in previous iterations of this guide—just what’s still available.

During our research, we checked out a number of companies that make great packs, but none of those packs met all of our criteria. In most cases this was because the company specialized in top-loading bags, bags with wheels, bags that were too big, or very large bags that didn’t include daypacks. These companies included Black Diamond, Berghaus, Dakine, Eagle Creek, eBags, EMS, Ferrino, Gregory, High Sierra, Kathmandu, Kelty, Minaal, MEI, The North Face, Ortovox, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Rick Steves, Thule, Timbuk2, and Victorinox.

The Deuter Aviant Access Pro has many of the features we liked, but its daypack is too small. The pack’s also more expensive than our top picks.

The men’s and women’s Thule Landmark 60L are well-made, sturdy packs, with a wide main-pack opening and most of the same features that we like in the other packs. They’re more expensive, though, and the daypacks aren’t as comfortable.

The Tropicfeel Shelter Backpack is a highly customizable pack to which you can add “modules” that expand capacity or change its use. It’s a cool idea, and the pack seems well designed, but it’s extremely expensive and doesn’t really add that much practical use over our main picks.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Meet your guide

best travel backpacks 2022

Geoffrey Morrison

Geoffrey Morrison is Wirecutter’s former AV editor, current editor-at-large, and a travel writer and photographer. He covers action cameras, gimbals, travel backpacks, and other gear. He has been to all 50 states and 60 countries, and he is the author of Budget Travel for Dummies and the sci-fi novel Undersea .

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Table of contents

10 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

best travel backpacks 2022

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Back view of a guy wearing the Cotopaxi Allpa travel backpack in a green park with a bridge overhead

Paring down to the essentials into one single travel bag, whether you’re heading a few hours away or traveling thousands of miles, can be fun and freeing as long as you have the right gear – and the right backpack to pack it in.

Our team at CleverHiker has spent the last 10 years traveling all over North America, from Calgary to Cancun and Hawaii to Hartford, testing more than 20 of the top travel backpacks. This guide represents the best of the best backpacks when it comes to price, comfort, and durability, as well as considerations like carry-on size and weight.

If you’re looking for more room and versatility out of your travel bag, pop over to our guide to the best duffel bags . For those who love a well-organized backpack, consider picking up some durable, compressible stuff sacks or packing cubes . And when you need easy access to your small essentials, you can’t beat a quality fanny pack .

Quick Picks for Travel Backpacks

Check out this quick list of our favorite travel backpacks, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best travel backpack overall:  Cotopaxi Allpa ($200)

Best budget travel backpack:  Ebags Mother Lode ($100)

Most organized travel backpack for one-bag trips:  Tortuga Outbreaker ($350)

Best travel backpack for photographers:  Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300)

Most versatile & stylish travel backpack:  Nomatic Travel Pack ($300)

Best travel duffel bag:  Patagonia Black Hole Duffel ($159)

Travel backpack with the best safety features:  Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 ($290)

Durable & highly compressible travel bag:  Osprey Farpoint Men’s ($185)  / Fairview 40 Women’s ($185)

Most protective travel backpack:  Osprey Sojourn Porter ($195)

The CleverHiker team has been testing tons of new travel backpacks against our go-tos while we’ve traveled across the country on planes, trains, and automobiles – and there’s been quite a shakeup in the order of our list.

  • The Cotopaxi Allpa moves to the number one spot due to it’s excellent balance of organization, functional pockets, cushy padding, and upbeat colorways.
  • Thanks to impressive affordability and a burly build, the Ebags Mother Lode  is a close second that stands out for it’s expandable design and efficient compression straps.
  • We added the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 for it’s industry-leading durability, precise sizing as an airport carry-on, and cavernous main compartment.

best travel backpacks 2022

Cotopaxi Allpa 35

Best travel backpack overall for organization, durability & style

Price: $200

Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 20 X 12 X 10 in.

Options: Allpa 28 & 42

  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Streamlined organization
  • Hideaway straps
  • Raincover included
  • Material marks easily

The Cotopaxi Allpa has everything we look for in a travel pack – streamlined organization, easy-access pockets, a comfortable carry, and unique style. The main compartment organization is about as close to perfect as it comes for us. There are four zipper compartments of different sizes for keeping things tidy – s0 there’s no need to add organizing cubes or stuff sacks – and they’re all made of mesh which makes it easy to see what’s inside. The trendy colorways stand out but aren’t abrasive, offering a more interesting design and flair than the endless wash of black backpacks out there. We’ve been using the durable Allpa pack for several years of travel now, and the stitching, hardware, and outer materials look just as good as the first time we used it.

best travel backpacks 2022

  • Ebags Mother Lode

Best budget travel backpack

Price: $100

Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 10

Other Options: Mother Lode Jr.

  • Fits large laptops (up to 19")
  • Lightweight
  • Laptop compartment isn’t as padded as others

With the features of a premium bag and a price tag from the bargain bin, the  Ebags Mother Lode travel backpack is an incredible value for the money. This expandable bag opens up suitcase-style to a tidy internal organization system with one large mesh zipper pocket and a modular “shelf” with compression straps. The shelf helps keep things, like clean and dirty clothes, separate, or it can be unclipped to make one large compartment for packing whatever way you like. We love a well-organized and durable bag, and this model from EBags has an impressive number of smartly-placedpockets, burly zippers, and 4 highly effective compression straps. As long as you don’t mind the lack of a hipbelt, the Mother Lode is an excellent choice for travelers with expensive taste and a small budget.

best travel backpacks 2022

Tortuga Outbreaker 40L

Most organized travel backpack for one-bag trips

Price: $350

Weight: 4 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 in.

Other Options: 30L Weekender

  • Tons of organization
  • Adjustable & supportive suspension system
  • Heavily padded TSA laptop pocket (up to 16”)
  • Lots of electronics storage
  • Large waistbelt with compartment
  • Sleek design
  • Heavier than others

If you’re the type of traveler who wants everything to have its own designated space, the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L will be your new favorite travel companion – you won’t find a better organization system on this list. The spacious main compartment opens up fully like a suitcase and has a handy mesh pocket to separate dirty clothes. It also has quick-grab pockets on the exterior for wallet items, small essentials, and a huge TSA-ready electronics compartment. If you’re carrying electronics on every trip, this bag has our favorite laptop compartment; it’s heavily padded and fleece-lined to keep your valuables protected, and can fit laptops up to 16 inches.  So many pockets may be overkill for some, but it’s perfect if you have a lot of little things to keep tidy or you love a solid, intuitive storage system. All of these features make this travel pack feel much larger than it is, and at 40 liters you’ll be able to fit everything you need for up to a wee – or longer.

best travel backpacks 2022

Peak Design Travel 45

Best travel backpack for photographers

Price: $300

Dimensions: 2 x 13 x 11 in. (fully expanded) / 22 x 13 x 9.5 in. (compressed)

  • Highly padded
  • Lots of access points
  • Handles on all sides
  • TSA laptop pocket
  • Hideaway harness
  • Theft-deterrent zippers
  • Heavier than some others
  • No compressions straps / bulky

The  Peak Design Travel Backpack is the epitome of smart, elegant design. With its multiple access points (back, side, and front) and slick expansion system, this bag can be tailored to countless uses whether you’re heading into a high-mountain expedition in Nepal or just taking a quick daytrip to your local trails. It really shines when you have a lot of camera gear, gaming equipment, or electronics to tote, but don’t think that this bag is just for the techy crowds. Its stylish look and streamlined organization will work well for anyone wanting a single bag that can fit many niches – our take on this pack is if you’re traveling anywhere, you’ll need a pack just like this to stay organized and stylish. The biggest downside is the steep price tag, but the heavy padding, weather resistance, and stellar safety features are worth every penny for a backpack that will last for years and years of travel.

best travel backpacks 2022

Nomatic 30L Travel Pack

Most versatile & stylish travel backpack

Weight: 4 lb. 2.3 oz.

Dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 9.5 in.

Other Options: 40L Travel Bag

  • Waterproof zippers
  • TSA laptop compartment
  • RFID safe pocket
  • Removable hipbelt / hideaway straps
  • Durable materials
  • Bulky profile

The  Nomatic Travel Pack is definitely the most sleek-looking bag we tested, and it’s also chock-full of useful features. This bag is a modern and sleek take on suitcase-style backpacks, and easily transitions from a professional business tip to a trendy daily carry whether you’re in the city, suburbs, or open country. It expands from 20L to 30L making it versatile enough to work as an everyday backpack, a commuter bag, and a travel bag. We also love how many different types of storage there are, including cleverly placed magnetically expandable water bottle pockets, TSA-ready laptop and tablet sleeves with plenty of padding, and a large zippered mesh internal pocket. The Nomatic Travel Pack is very expensive, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bag if style, durabilty and versatility are what you’re after.

best travel backpacks 2022

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 40

Best travel duffel bag

Price: $159

Weight: 2 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 21 x 13.7 x 10.6 in.

Other Options: 55L, 70L, 100L

  • Water-resistant
  • Multiple carry options
  • Fewer pockets
  • No padded compartment for electronics
  • Not the most comfy backpack

For those times when you want to just throw everything in a bag and go, you can’t beat the convenience and durability of the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel . We’re cheating a little bit here: while the isn’t a dedicated backpack, it easily turns into one thanks to beefy padded straps that can be tucked away when not in use. Made from burly 900-denier recycled ripstop polyester, you can put this thing through the wringer season after season without having to worry about it. The outside of the pack features 20 lash points, and seam-sealed zippered pockets on the outside of the duffel make access to smaller items fast and easy The Black Hole Duffel works great for quick trips when you need to just grab and go, or for packing those extra bulky things that won’t fit in your carry-on. Check out our list of the Best Duffel Bags  to see how it compares with our other favorites.

best travel backpacks 2022

  • Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

Travel backpack with the best safety features

Price: $290

Weight: 4 lb. 4.8 oz.

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13 x 7.9 in.

  • Built-in anti-theft & safety features
  • Comfortable carry
  • Takes a second to open due to safety features

The  Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is the ultimate pack for those travelling with valuables that need to be kept safe. It comes with locking zippers, a cable lock, and slash guards in the straps. The zippers take a minute to open when they’re in the locked position, but they open up to a nicely organized bag with simple pockets. In our experience, many travel backpacks aren’t necessarily designed with comfort in mind, but the Venturesafe was the most comfortable all-day carry for us thanks to a heavily padded back flexible hipbelt, and a sturdy chest strap – a more technical feature that’s common in hiking backpacks. If keeping your things secure is your main concern, but you don’t want to sacrifice a modern aesthetic, the Venturesafe is the pack for you.

best travel backpacks 2022

Osprey Farpoint 40 & Fairview 40

Durable & highly compressible travel bag

Price: $185

Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz. / 3 lb. 7 oz. (Farpoint/Fairview)

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 in.

Other Options: Farpoint 55 & 70 (Men’s sizes), Fairview 55 & 70 (Women’s sizes)

  • Comfortable
  • Good compression system
  • Laptop compartment is not as padded as some others
  • No internal organization / pockets

The Osprey Farpoint  (men’s sizes) and  Fairview 40 (women’s sizes) are comfortable bags with quality construction. They have some of the most burly hardware (zippers, buckles, straps) of all the backpacks we tested, so they’re especially great for folks who tend to be hard on their gear, and for the rigors of travel – from rolling around in overhead bins and trunks to laying on the dirt, cement, and train station platforms, these packs are built to last. The Farpoint and Fairview have a simple approach to organization with little in the way of internal infrastructure, so we recommend picking up inexpensive packing cubes to maintain order. No matter how packed your bag is, we’re big fans of the well-placed internal and external compression straps that cinch it all down into a neat package. The Farpoint and Fairview can be tailored to many different travel styles with the option to carry as a backpack, a briefcase, or a messenger bag.

best travel backpacks 2022

Osprey Sojourn Porter 46

Most protective travel backpack

Price: $195

Weight: 3 lb. 7 oz.

Dimensions: 18 x 15.8 x 12.2 in.

Other Options: 30L, 65L

  • Good compression
  • Good suspension
  • Streamlined pocket organization
  • A little large for carry-on with some airlines
  • Sidewalls can get in the way when packing

If you’re a rugged adventurer who needs an equally tough bag, you’ve found it in the Osprey Sojourn Porter . Whether you’re throwing it under your seat on a plane, carrying it on cross-country travels, or heading to the nearby park, you can rest assured that your things are protected thanks to the padded sidewalls. These rigid sidewalls can be a little cumbersome when trying to pack the bag, but they’re excellent for compressing the load, so the bag feels streamlined even when it’s packed to the gills. The opening of the Porter is more similar to a duffel, so the interior organization is minimal. Pair the Porter with some packing cubes  if you prefer things to be more organized. The Porter is great for those looking for a simple, durable bag for the most adventurous excursions.

best travel backpacks 2022

What’s Most Important to You in a Travel Backpack?

Traveling isn’t cheap: plane tickets, rental cars, hotel stays, and all of the essential gear can cost a pretty penny. That said, we’ve found that paying a little extra for a top quality bag means cost savings in the long run, since your bag will last for years. Luckily, a good travel bag doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll find stellar options at every price point below.

Best budget travel backpacks:

  • Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Best value travel backpacks:

  • Cotopaxi Allpa

Best high-end travel backpacks:

  • Tortuga Outbreaker
  • Peak Design Travel Backpack
  • Nomatic Travel Pack

CARRY-ON SIZE

We’re big fans of one-bag travel. Not only do you save money on checked-bag fees, but you also have less stuff holding you back from adventuring. While most of the backpacks on this list are carry-on friendly, these are our favorites that fit the most common dimensions. Be sure to check measurements ahead of time with your airline and airpot, because carry-on size varies between companies.

Best carry-on size travel backpacks for most airlines (22 x 14 x 9 in. / 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 in.):

Best small travel backpacks for small airplanes (ex. IcelandAir: 21.7 x 15.7 x 7.8 in.):

  • Cotopaxi Allpa 28
  • Ebags Mother Lode Jr.

ORGANIZATION

Dumping everything out of our packs as soon as we reach that hotel, hostel, or spare room is part of the experience of travel – but we want everything organized and efficient inside the bag until then. When it comes to traveling, we prefer streamlined backpacks that have a small number of highly functional and well-placed pockets. Bags with built-in dividers are also our top contenders when it comes to maintaining order.

Best travel backpacks for staying organized:

Best travel backpacks with a good balance of pockets & simplicity:

Your backpack is your constant companion for trips where you’re moving around a bunch, whether you’re on a plane, a train, or navigating your way to your next stop. It’s important to find a bag that’s comfy enough to carry all day, so that you can focus on enjoying the experience. Consider options that can be used as a messenger bag, briefcase, or backpack for versatility.

Most comfortable travel backpacks:

  • Osprey Farpoint (Men’s)  / Fairview (Women’s)

We’ve all been there before: you get your bag packed with your favorite outfits and hiking gear and that extra pair of shoes – and then you remember that pesky weight limit. We recommend starting with a lightweight bag to ensure you’ll use your weight allowance for the essentials.

Lightest travel backpacks:

VERSATILITY

Your bag may have to take on many different roles – daypack, purse, briefcase – so it’s good to look for one that can fill multiple niches. If you’re traveling for many hours or you’ll be hoofing it over large distances, a bag that can be carried multiple ways puts less strain on the body and is more comfortable throughout the day.

Most versatile travel backpacks:

We’ve also had our bags come out of the luggage carousel looking like they were thrown into the propellers – it’s not a good look. Travel is hard on bags, so we prioritize bags that have excellent stitching, durable fabric, and a sturdy frame.

Most durable travel backpacks:

  • Osprey Sojourn Porter

best travel backpacks 2022

THE CARRY-ON SIZED NOMATIC TRAVEL PACK IS HIGHLY ORGANIZED ON THE INSIDE & SIMPLE ON THE OUTSIDE

best travel backpacks 2022

THE TORTUGA TRAVEL BACKPACK 40L IS THE NEW AND IMPROVED VERSION OF THE OUTBREAKER

best travel backpacks 2022

PACKING CUBES HELP KEEP YOUR THINGS ORGANIZED IN YOUR BAG

best travel backpacks 2022

THE PATAGONIA BLACK HOLE DUFFEL CAN BE USED FOR TRAVEL, CAMPING, THE GYM – JUST ABOUT ANYTHING

best travel backpacks 2022

THE PEAK DESIGN TRAVEL BACKPACK IS WELL PADDED & MADE WITH DURABLE FABRIC TO PROTECT ELECTRONICS

best travel backpacks 2022

THE PACSAFE VENTURESAFE EXP45 HAS A TON OF SAFETY FEATURES BUILT IN

Critical Travel Backpack Considerations

What size to choose.

The right size backpack is going to vary from person to person, but we typically think less stuff equals more comfort. We usually go for travel backpacks that are between 30 and 40L to maximize capacity for necessities while keeping everything in a small, tidy package.

best travel backpacks 2022

GETTING ORGANIZED

Keeping things organized is key to a stress-free experience. Some travel backpacks come with a pocket or compartment for everything, but we prefer organizing our things in  packing cubes  for a more customizable way to keep everything neat.

best travel backpacks 2022

The most important travel safety tip we can give is to stay hyper-aware of your surroundings, especially in places with lots of foot traffic. For additional safety, consider bringing along  small luggage locks  to lock zippers and swap out your current wallet for a  RFID technology wallets  or  card sleeves  to protect sensitive information sitting in your back pocket.

best travel backpacks 2022

Carry-on size varies a lot between airlines, check your airline’s website to make sure your bag fits their dimensions. Also be sure your  toiletries and liquids  meet the standard of 3-1-1 (3.4 oz. liquids in 1 bag sized at 1 quart max) for carry-on. We love using refillable  GoToobs  for our shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries.

best travel backpacks 2022

Why trust us?

We understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously.

  • Our recommendations are completely independent and based on hands-on experience.
  • We test outdoor gear for a living – we’ve logged over 20,000 trail miles and 1,000 nights in the wilderness.
  • Our team has thru-hiked some of the most iconic long trails, including the Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, Arizona Trail, Pinhoti Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, as well as extensive peak bagging, and international treks.
  • We field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
  • We travel to industry trade shows to stay up-to-date on product innovations.
  • We continuously update our guides throughout the year and when new products launch.
  • We treat recommendations to our readers as if they were for our family and friends.
  • We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to feedback. If you think we’ve missed a worthy product or got something wrong, we’d love to know about it.

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16 Best Travel Backpacks for Day Trips, Outdoor Adventures, Commuting, and More

By Madison Flager and Paris Wilson

A collage.

Whether you're hopping on a bike, trekking across rugged terrain, sightseeing, shopping, or jetting off to a business meeting, the best travel backpacks give you the freedom to explore hands-free. With so many options to choose from, we've rounded up 15 of the best bags to throw over your shoulders, from chic carry-ons to super durable options, all of which prove there really is a backpack for every occasion. Our editors and contributors road tested dozens of backpacks for months to determine the best of the best for our readers. We considered each backpack's weight, capacity, price, comfortability, style, and how well its held up.

Ahead, discover our editors' and contributors' recommendations for the weather-resistant carry-on bags, ultralight hiking backpacks, and sleek business-friendly options to bring on your next adventure.

Our top picks:

Best for weekend trips: Quince Revive Nylon backpack Best for long vacations: Roam The Continental backpack Best for business travel: Monos Metro backpack Best for everyday use: Lo & Sons The Rowledge backpack Best splurge option: Peugeot Voyages Laptop backpack tote

This gallery is part of Condé Nast Traveler’s first-ever Luggage Week , for which dozens of suitcases, backpacks, and weekender bags were road-tested by our editors.

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

best travel backpacks 2022

Calpak Luka Laptop Backpack

Calpak's Luka collection is made of scratch-resistant material, so you can rest assured that this backpack will hold up for years. “I love this backpack's material because of how durable it is for travel. I’ve spilt coffee, food, and makeup on this bag and it's so easy to clean with a disinfectant wipe,” says associate commerce editor Meaghan Kenny . It's her go-to backpack because of its many pockets, roomy compartments, and ultra-soft material. Inside, there's a large zippered compartment, a small mesh pocket, and three compartments for keeping items like socks, beauty products, or tech essentials separate. “One of my favorite features is the shoe compartment on the bottom of the bag that fits a pair of slippers or sandals,” says Kenny. The Luka backpack can hold up to 22 liters of essentials, but it still feels so lightweight.

Pros:  Laptop compartment, trolley sleeve, water bottle pocket, soft adjustable straps Cons: Very narrow luggage trolley sleeve

best travel backpacks 2022

Quince Revive Nylon backpack

Made from 15 plastic bottles, the sleek recycled nylon on the Quince backpack is smooth to the touch, water-repellent, and lightweight. The nylon material is a selling point for senior commerce editor at Architectural Digest , Rachel Fletcher . “I love the black nylon because it’s basically invincible when it comes to stains and —two things I’m very prone to," she says. Though compact, it can still fit quite a bit—Fletcher has used it for commutes to the office as well as a weekend to Connecticut . She says "it fits an East Coast summer weekend’s worth of clothing pretty comfortably. It's best to bring on an airplane as your personal item, but if you’re a light traveler, it would definitely fit the bill for a quick trip."

Pros:  Thoughtful laptop sleeve, water-repellent material, accessible price point Cons: A little bulky

best travel backpacks 2022

eBags Mother Lode Jr. backpack

Traveler contributor Tori Harstein says the eBags Mother Lode Jr. backpack is “perfect for weekend trips and can save a buck for thrifty travelers limited to personal items. For longer vacations, it’s probably best to supplement it with an additional carry-on .” It's compact enough to fit under the seat in front of you on an airplane and comes with backpack straps that are easy to stow. It you need some extra room, you can use the 1.5-inch zipper expansion. Choose from a few different ways to wear it: enjoy hands-free travel on your back, tuck the traps away and carry it as a briefcase, or throw the bag over one shoulder with a convenient duffel strap.

Pros:  Many separate compartments, opens like a suitcase which makes packing easier Cons: Can feel heavy on your back

best travel backpacks 2022

Tumi Alpha Bravo Navigation backpack

With five colors and patterns to choose from, the customization is great for this Tumi backpack. The small, compact design hides the sheer capacity of the Navigator backpack—and it can be expanded for more space. Global director of audience development Lara Kramer says she can easily fit a weekend's worth of clothes and toiletries inside (and an extra pair of flats or sandals in the summer). “Tumi’s backpacks are the perfect combination of functional and comfort. The shoulder straps are well-padded and easily adjustable, and the bag also features a padded mesh back panel for additional support. For easy lifting, there is also a leather top carry handle that adds to its versatility,” says Kramer. Plus, it's made from recycled ballistic nylon, so you can feel good about your purchase.

Pros:  Many pockets (both inside and outside), padded mesh back panel, recycled material Cons: Hefty price tag

best travel backpacks 2022

Monos Metro Backpack

This design-forward vegan leather bag is just the thing for travelers looking for a more elevated backpack. According to senior commerce editor Madison Flager , “it’s a comfortable bag to wear, and fits a lot—I’ve used it as an overnight bag. I do think it’s a great backpack, especially for commuters or for work trips where you want the practicality of a backpack while also looking polished." Whether you're headed on a weekend trip, carrying necessities on your daily commute, or using it as a carry-on bag, the Monos Metro backpack is a smart choice. The inner laptop compartment fits a 15" laptop, and there's a built-in trolley sleeve, top carry handle, and adjustable shoulder straps. The bag also comes with a Metro Kit, a modular pouch that snaps securely onto the front of the backpack, so you can keep essentials like a phone, earbuds, and hand sanitizer nearby.

Pros:  Multiple pockets, trolley sleeve, and comes with a removable pouch Cons: Not very lightweight and can feel bulky

best travel backpacks 2022

Herschel Kaslo Daypack Tech

Although labeled as a tech bag, the simple and sleek design makes it versatile enough to wear just about anywhere. There’s two main compartments that give you plenty of room to pack clothes, toiletries, a laptop, iPad, and large over-the-ear headphones. There’s also multiple interior pockets that keep small essentials secure. Kenny was able to fit two days worth of clothing inside and says it's a great personal item for long-haul flights . “It’s so easy to carry, thanks to its buckle that connects the two straps which helps better distribute the weight and keep the backpack secure,” she says.

Pros:  Luggage sleeve, made from recycled materials, water bottle pocket Cons: Earbuds pocket is only compatible with Apple products or others that are similarly shaped

best travel backpacks 2022

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Former Traveler editor Alex Erdekian has traveled with the Dagne Dover backpack to Mexico, Italy , France, New Hampshire , and Boston to name a few. There are several pockets inside and it expands enough to fit a weekend’s worth of clothing. It’s extremely light when unpacked and the foamy exterior straps don’t dig into your shoulders and evenly distributes the weight of the backpack. It's made from neoprene and Performance Air Mesh which was a selling point for Erdekian. "The look of this backpack is a major part of why I use it so much. Something about the neoprene foam look feels really modern and fresh. It also looks so simple and free of distractions, whilst being tricked out with all these hidden bells and whistles on the inside,” she says.

Pros:  Spacious, comfortable, chic design Cons: There are almost too many pockets inside and the black neoprene can get a little scuffed

best travel backpacks 2022

Lo & Sons The Rowledge backpack

Traveler Contributor Lydia Mansel loves this sleek, convertible backpack for carrying all of her work essentials. It features a 13" laptop compartment and can easily transition into a tote, thanks to backpack straps that tuck into a back pocket. It has plenty of pockets for organization—including a hidden one at the top for slipping your passport and boarding pass into while at the airport—and a trolley sleeve. It's made of a mix of nylon and leather, and has memory foam straps for extra comfort.

Pros:  It can carry two laptops, plenty of pockets, luggage sleeve Cons: Offered in two sizes, but the smaller version is a little too small to store a day's worth of essentials

Read a full review of this backpack here .

best travel backpacks 2022

Pond LA Transform tote

Kenny has deemed it the most functional tote that she's ever used. You might be wondering why a tote deserves a spot on our best backpacks list—it transforms into a backpack with its adjustable straps. It's made from lightweight oxford fabric that's known to be durable and water-resistant. It can fit easily fit a 15"laptop and slides over your carry-on with its luggage trolley sleeve.

Pros: Can be worn as a backpack or tote, multiple pockets inside, large water bottle pocket Cons: The straps can feel a bit awkward

Read a full review of this bag here.

best travel backpacks 2022

Roam The Continental backpack

Each time Flager takes this backpack on vacation she's complimented on its aesthetic. The bag is fully customizable, so each customer can choose the colors used for the front, back, sides, and straps. The wide, deep side pockets are a highlight for Flager, who says “there’s a place for everything—I like to put my important documents, ID, phone, and AirPods in the top zippered pocket for easy access, my Kindle or a book in the largest exterior pocket, and my keys in the smallest exterior pocket. I like that there are two side pockets for a water bottle and an umbrella or other small item."

Pros:  Lightweight, many color options Cons: A water bottle sometimes slips out of the pocket

best travel backpacks 2022

Bagallini Soho backpack

This is has long been a go-to work bag for commerce producer Paris Wilson , “I've carried this non-stop since I got it. I just love how lightweight it is. It has a lot of storage space and a dedicated laptop sleeve," she says. It has one main compartment with a laptop sleeve and interior pockets that have hard inserts and pen holders. It's impossible to overpack with this bag which means that you don't have to worry about the weight straining your shoulders. Wilson notes that one of her favorite features of the backpack is the design: “it has a study build where it stands up on its own while I organize my things. The reinforced structure makes me feel put together when I wear it.”

Pros:  Multiple pockets, can stand on it sown Cons: Limited colors available

best travel backpacks 2022

Troubadour Apex backpack

If you're looking for a sleek yet functional bag that's polished enough for the office, look no further than Troubadour's Apex backpack. Made of waterproof fabric, Kenny says this lightweight backpack is perfect for busy commuters. It fits up to a 17" laptop and has multiple pockets for small essentials like AirPods, glasses, or a wallet. This stylish backpack also features a breathable back panel and ergonomic padded shoulder straps for added comfort. “This would be a great bag for business trip and thanks to its trolley sleeve, it fits nicely on your carry-on," says Kenny.

Pros:  Padded laptop compartment, waterproof material, trolley sleeve Cons: Not ideal for active days outdoors due to its sophisticated look

best travel backpacks 2022

Cotopaxi Tarak 20L Backpack

Contributor Rekaya Gibson raves about the amount of space that this backpack offers. “It includes dedicated space to carry heavy-duty gear like ropes and an ice axe with ease, and two exterior pockets to keep smaller items organized,” she says. The top of the bag has a convenient drawstring that secures your items on the top before covering it with the flap. Each bag comes from repurposed materials which vary slightly—this helps reduce waste, making it a more environmentally friendly pick, too.

Pros:  Has a lot of security elements (which is great for hikes) Cons: Shows wear quickly depending on your trek

best travel backpacks 2022

Lululemon City Adventurer backpack 20L

Although deemed a gym bag, the City Adventurer backpack takes characteristics from it's name and can be the perfect companion for days spent exploring. The water-repellent fabric makes it an easy choice when commuting on rainy days or when you are packing it into a suitcase with toiletries (don't worry we have you covered ). Flager likes using this backpack for days when she heads to the gym after work. The backpack has thick padded straps, a trolley sleeve, and an expandable laptop sleeve.

Pros:  Separate shoe compartment, trolley sleeve, padded laptop pocket Cons: When filled with shoes, your main compartment room is limited; no exterior water bottle pocket

best travel backpacks 2022

Peugeot Voyages Laptop backpack tote

Elegant and versatile, the Peugeot Voyages is an elevated option for travelers. The bag's exterior is made from leather and weather-resistant canvas and the interior comes from recycled plastic bottles. Travelers can carry the bag as a backpack or a tote. Plus, the shoulder straps and the back panel are padded for extra comfort. Associate social media manager Kayla Brock was on the hunt for the ideal laptop bag when she came across this. “I found exactly what I was looking for. A backpack that could hold my laptop as well as be an easy travel bag with several pockets for storage to get me through a week or two on the road without the back pain. With its price point, it's definitely worth the investment,” she says.

Pros:  Made from recycled materials, padded straps and back panel Cons: Can easily become bulky

best travel backpacks 2022

Radley London Dukes Place zip around backpack

This stylish leather bag is ideal for travelers looking for a chic backpack that's equally functional and comfortable. There are two large compartments inside, with two small open pockets in the front compartment and a pocket in the back compartment that zip closed. The double-button clasp over the top handles adds an extra layer of security. Contributor DeAnna Taylor says "it's large enough to fit a light jacket , a pair of flats or sandals, plus any other small items you’ll need for the day’s adventure including lip balm, hand sanitizer, sunscreen , and more."

Pros:  Lightweight, versatile, and durable Cons: Limited colors available

best travel backpacks 2022

Home

Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

From short weekend getaways to far-off international adventures, our top travel packs make it easy and comfortable to organize and carry the essentials.

Travel backpacks (walking around El Chalten with Topo Designs and Cotopaxi packs)

Switchback Travel ( Brian McCurdy )

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us . 

Whether you’re traveling across the globe or headed out on a quick weekend getaway, a thoughtfully designed travel pack can help you stay comfortable and organized while on the move. Key considerations include carry-on compatibility for air travel, enough capacity to stash your belongings, pack weight, and preferences on storage and organizational layouts. Below we break down the best travel backpacks of 2024, ranging from minimalist options for a couple nights away to larger bags with removable daypacks for extended trips. For more background information, see our detailed comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

Editor’s note: We updated our travel backpacks guide on March 29, 2024, to add The North Face Base Camp, which is a fully featured option at a competitive price, along with swapping the Patagonia Black Hole MLC from the 45-liter capacity to the 30-liter version due to its more manageable shape and size.  

Our Team's Top Travel Backpack Picks

  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L
  • A Close Second (That's Great for Carrying Electronics): Peak Design Travel Backpack
  • Excellent Carrying Comfort for Gear-Intensive Trips: Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 L
  • Best for Staying Organized: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack
  • Best High-Capacity Travel Pack for Long Trips: Osprey Farpoint 70

Best Overall Travel Backpack

1. cotopaxi allpa 35l ($200).

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L travel backpack

When compiling our list of the best travel packs, we prioritized functional organization, easy on-the-go access, durable materials, and carry-on compatibility. Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L Travel Pack checks all those boxes emphatically, earning it our top spot for 2024. Along with the vibrant styling and multi-colored patterning that the brand is known for, the Allpa is exceptionally durable with a mix of 1,000-denier, TPU-coated polyester and panels of 840-denier ballistic nylon. In use, we found the Allpa to be remarkably tough and highly water-resistant, and the pack also comes with a stowable rain cover for truly inclement weather. We also love the dual access to the main compartment, including a full wraparound zipper and secondary side zip next to the backpanel for easily retrieving items while on the move. And the electronics sleeve is big enough to handle both a laptop and tablet at the same time, which isn’t often the case. Overall, the Allpa is well made, stylish, and very nicely appointed for travel.

What’s not to like with the Cotopaxi Allpa? While the 35-liter variation here is nicely sized for long weekend trips or shorter getaways abroad, it’s smaller than competitors like the Peak Design Travel Backpack, Osprey Sojourn Porter 46, and many other carry-on-friendly designs below (Cotopaxi does sell a larger 42L version for $220 that still meets most airline requirements). Further, while overall carrying comfort is good, there are no load-lifter straps to bring the pack closer to your body. Additionally, the interior pockets are a little awkwardly sized, and the lack of external compression straps makes it hard to secure bulkier loads. A final omission is water bottle storage, although it’s not a critical feature for most and does little to dampen our enthusiasm for an otherwise well-rounded and great-looking bag. And for those looking to check their luggage, the Allpa roller bags are equally tough and user-friendly. See the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A Close Second (That's Great for Carrying Electronics)

2. peak design travel backpack ($300).

Peak Design Travel Backpack

Peak Design’s Travel Backpack may look relatively unassuming on the outside, but don’t be fooled: This bag is packed with thoughtful travel-ready features. First is the expandable design, which allows you to alternate between 35 and 45 liters by simply zipping or unzipping the frontmost zipper. Access is another highlight, including entry points at the top, side, front, and rear for easily retrieving items pretty much anywhere in the pack. Storage is also excellent with padded laptop and tablet sleeves, a divisible main compartment, large and stretchy dual side pockets (not common on travel packs), and multiple interior pockets. And it’s all wrapped up in a thick nylon canvas shell that’s durable, streamlined, and very modern.

What complaints do we have about the Peak Design Travel Backpack? Price is the most glaring downside: At $300, it’s one of the most expensive designs on our list. And while the bag is undeniably sleek, it’s pretty utilitarian-looking and less everyday-friendly than more vibrant options like the Cotopaxi Allpa above and Topo Designs Global Travel Bag below. It’s also on the heavy end at 4 pounds 8 ounces, which isn’t unreasonable but does add considerable heft compared to many competitors. Finally, the Travel Backpack is technically not carry-on compliant when expanded, measuring 22 x 13 x 11 inches (the standard U.S. domestic carry-on limit is 22 x 14 x 9 in.). But it works at the compressed 35-liter size (or smaller 30L option) , and photographers in particular will love the shape, which nicely accommodates multiple camera cubes, lenses, and other accessories. If you fall into that group, another staff favorite is Wandrd's Prvke , which features a more modular design with specialized add-ons for camera gear. See the Peak Design Travel Backpack

Excellent Carrying Comfort for Gear-Intensive Trips

3. osprey sojourn porter 46 l ($195).

Osprey Sojourn Porter 46L travel pack

Osprey is a leader in the backpacking pack market, and much of that technology and expertise has trickled down nicely into their travel pack collection. The Sojourn Porter 46 L is case in point, combining the impressive carrying comfort that the brand is known for with a practical, carry-on-friendly build and feature set for travel. Starting at the outside, you get a rigid foam backpanel with well-cushioned shoulder and hipbelt straps that feel reminiscent of Osprey’s backpacking designs, a handy compression system to effectively cinch things down, lockable zippers for the main compartment, and a beefy side handle for hauling the pack duffel-style. The inside is a similar story with ample pockets of varying sizes, compressions traps to keep clothes tidy, and padded sidewalls to help protect valuables during travel.

Despite offering 11 more liters of capacity than our top-ranked Cotopaxi Allpa 35L (for $5 less), the Sojourn Porter 46 L is still carry-on compliant, making it the largest option here that still meets most domestic and international airline restrictions. It’s also impressively sturdy and durable and includes reinforced cord loops to attach to Osprey's Daylite or Farpoint/Fairview daypacks (sold separately). We do wish Osprey offered the design in a women’s version for those with smaller torso and waist measurements, but the unisex sizing is standard in the travel market (their Farpoint/Fairview below is one of the few models to come in a separate women’s version). In the end, if it fits you well, the Sojourn Porter offers a hard-to-beat mix of capacity, features, and comfort for the price, making it our favorite option for longer, gear-intensive adventures. See the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 L

Best Travel Pack for Staying Organized

4. topo designs global travel bag 30l ($199).

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L travel backpack

Topo Designs flies a little under the radar compared to well-known brands like Cotopaxi and Osprey, but don’t let that deter you—this company makes exceptionally built and good-looking packs for everything from commuting and travel to more technical pursuits like biking and climbing. Their Global Travel Bag 30L here is a shining example and stands out in one major way: internal organization. Put simply, there’s no shortage of options for divvying up your belongings, from the vertical daisy chain webbing on the front to the expandable side water bottle pockets, ample zippered storage inside and out, a laptop sleeve along the backpanel, and several interior mesh pockets. Like the Cotopaxi Allpa above, the Global Travel Bag is also well equipped for rough use, including a mix of 1,000- and 1,680-denier ballistic nylon that gives the pack a noticeably burly, confidence-inspiring feel—at a very manageable 2 pounds 10 ounces to boot.

That said, the extensive feature set does add some complexity when it comes to organization. We like the big clamshell opening to the main compartment, but we had to reorganize to make everything fit into the various compartments (they're optimized for Topo Designs' Pack Bags , which are smaller than our standard packing cubes). The tall and slim shape is also best suited for clothing rather than bulky gear, which may be limiting for outdoor adventures that involve camping or backpacking. We also wished there were a little more padding along the shoulder straps and hipbelt while walking through airports with the pack stuffed full, but it distributed the load pretty well (and the hipbelt can be tucked away when not in use). In the end, no pack is perfect, but the Global Travel Bag 30L is a well-built, durable, and stylish option for overnights, short weekend getaways, and even minimalist adventures abroad. It’s also sold in a larger 40-liter variation for longer trips, although we found the smaller pack to be much more manageable. See the Topo Designs Travel Bag 30L

Best Budget Travel Backpack

5. amazon basics carry-on travel backpack ($46).

Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack

Travel packs are an expensive bunch, but Amazon makes an affordable but still surprisingly capable option in their Carry-On Travel Backpack. We’ll start with the good news: As its name implies, the bag is carry-on compliant, and it comes with most of the standard features we look for in a practical travel pack. These include a zippered laptop sleeve, internal and external compression straps, easy-access pockets for travel documents, and good organization in the main compartment. Like the Peak Design Travel Backpack above, the Amazon Basics can also be expanded to boost packing space while still meeting carry-on restrictions. And at just around $50 at the time of publishing (colorways vary on Amazon), the 40-liter Carry-On Travel Backpack is a great value for what you get, undercutting most similarly sized models on this list by $100 or more.

Now for the bad news: This Amazon Basics pack is far less capable than many of the picks here for shuttling a full load. The shoulder straps are lightly padded, while the hipbelt is a thin and basic webbing design that won’t feel comfortable under the weight of a full pack. The rest of the design has a cheaper feel, too, including a shiny and dated-looking exterior, a lot of plastic (read: breakable) components, and standard, non-lockable zippers. You don’t get dedicated water bottle storage either, which isn’t a necessary feature but certainly is nice to have. But if you’re an occasional traveler and aren’t yet ready to make a more sizable investment, the Amazon Basics pack is a perfectly serviceable entry-level option at a great price. For another capable budget design that comes with packing cubes and lots of colorway options, we also like Asenlin’s 40L Travel Backpack . See the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack

Best High-Capacity Travel Pack for Long Trips

6. osprey farpoint 70 ($230).

Osprey Farpoint 70 travel pack

The packs above are great for vacationers and travelers headed out for a week or two, but those embarking on longer and/or gear-heavy trips abroad will almost certainly need more storage and capacity. Enter Osprey’s Farpoint 70, which comes with a 15-liter daypack that can be attached to the front to maximize capacity or used separately for around-town adventures once you reach your destination (Note: The travel pack itself is 55L). Importantly, both come well appointed: The daypack boasts a dedicated tablet/hydration sleeve and water bottle pockets, while the main pack has great cushioning along the straps and backpanel (it’s an Osprey, after all), a well-ventilated backpanel, easy access via the large front panel, and an adjustable torso system for dialing in a good fit. It's all wrapped up in a thoughtful and sustainable package, including recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics, along with a dedicated women's version called the Fairview.

All that said, there’s one glaring downside to opting for a larger-capacity design like the Osprey Farpoint 70: It doesn’t meet most carry-on size requirements. For reference, the standard domestic carry-on limit within the U.S. is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, while the Farpoint measures 25.6 x 15 x 12.6. Another complaint is that the daypack obscures the pack’s main compartment when attached, making it tedious to access your belongings. Even so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile and comfortable system for less (the daypack is a $65 investment on its own), making the Farpoint 70 our favorite high-capacity pick of the year. It’s also available in a larger 80-liter version, as well as smaller 40- and 55-liter capacities, although only the Farpoint 55 and 70 include the detachable daypack.  See the Osprey Farpoint 70   See the Women's Osprey Fairview 70

Best of the Rest

7. eagle creek tour 40l ($159).

Eagle Creek Tour 40L

Eagle Creek first started making packs in the mid 1970s, and their Tour 40L travel pack reflects that longstanding history in the market. From the get-go, we were immediately impressed by its highly practical design. The bag has great exterior storage, including a stretchy side water bottle pocket and expansion zipper for 5 liters of additional capacity in the main compartment. Additionally, the book-style opening provides quick access to the contents of the bag, and interior and exterior compression straps make it easy to snug things down. We also appreciate that it comes in two torso sizes (S/M and M/L) for maximizing fit, which is uncommon in the travel pack market and a really nice plus at this price point. And the cherry on top: The Tour checks in at a very competitive 2 pounds 10 ounces, which is tied with Topo Designs’ 10-liter-smaller Global Travel Bag above as the lightest on our list.

Other notable features on the Eagle Creek Tour 40L include side and top grab handles for easy loading and carrying, an integrated rain cover that stows away at the bottom and doubles as a backpanel cover if you check the bag, puncture-resistant and lockable zippers that are easy to operate even with gloves, and good overall carrying comfort. It’s not the toughest design out there—the water bottle pocket started to fray on our pack after just one trip—but uses durable 600-denier polyester elsewhere and is reasonably hardwearing overall. Final nitpicks include no pass-through sleeve for securing to a suitcase and a fairly bland exterior, but those do little to detract from the Tour’s otherwise well-rounded build.  See the Eagle Creek Tour 40L

8. Gregory Border Carry-On 40 ($190)

Gregory Border Carry-On 40 travel backpack_0

Like Osprey, Gregory is a leader in the hiking and backpacking markets, and their Border Carry-On 40 retains many of their well-loved technical features in a travel-friendly design. The big news here is the pack’s split-case design, which creates two distinct areas within the main compartment accessed via one large, clamshell-style opening. On one side, a zippered mesh panel with added zippered storage and compression straps keeps your clothing and some accessories organized, while an odor-resistant “ActiveShield” compartment at the opposite side effectively separates dirty clothes. As expected from Gregory, carrying comfort is also great with good adjustability at the sternum, a well-cushioned backpanel, and thick straps. You don’t get load lifters for bringing the pack closer to your body, but we didn’t have any issues, even when running through the Montreal airport to a connecting flight en route to Patagonia.

That said, the Gregory Border Carry-On’s split-case design does have a noteworthy pitfall: With both compartments zipped, storage feels pretty limited. Unzipping the larger mesh panel does help maximize space (especially when stuffing the pack to the brim), but it also defeats the purpose of the dual compartments. Compared to the competition, the Border also uses thinner materials than Osprey’s Sojourn Porter and Farpoint offerings, although the rest of the feature set stacks up similarly. In the end, it’s another comfortable and well-built travel pack, and the split-case design has its merits for those who pack light. See the Gregory Border Carry-On 40

9. Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L ($350)

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

Travel packs are a dime a dozen in 2024, but Tortuga’s Travel Backpack 40L—which replaced their Outbreaker 35L—stands out as one of the most well-appointed and thoughtfully built options on the market. Organization is a clear highlight, including a large front pocket with several sleeves for divvying up small valuables and documents, a convenient clamshell-style opening with zippered compartments for separating clothes and shoes, and padded laptop and tablet sleeves with zippered mesh pockets at the other side for storing cords and accessories. Rounding out the feature set are easy-to-access water bottle pockets that can fit most standard-mouth bottles (our wide-mouth Hydro Flask was too big), zippered hipbelt storage that can accommodate a smartphone and passport, and lockable, water-resistant zippers. Finally, the design is well padded with thick cushioning along the backpanel, shoulder straps, and hipbelt, which is fairly uncommon among travel-specific brands. 

It's worth noting that the Tortuga Travel Backpack has a slightly more streamlined storage layout than its predecessor, although you do get an additional 5 liters of capacity and a bump in usable space. However, the Tortuga is no featherweight at 4 pounds 8 ounces, which is a notable downside for long treks through the airport and around town. It’s also tied with Matador’s GlobeRider below as the priciest on our list at a steep $350. On the bright side, Tortuga does offer a lifetime warranty against defects, and they will repair/replace the pack or refund your money if a replacement isn't available. All told, it’s a nice dose of added assurance and helps justify the steep price, but the hefty build and lack of value push the Tortuga slightly down in our rankings. For another well-executed design with all the requisite travel features, check out Aer’s Travel Pack 3 , which is cheaper at $249 but 5 liters smaller and doesn’t include a hipbelt with purchase. See the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

10. Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack ($250)

Yeti Crossroads travel backpack

Yeti's coolers and insulated drinkware are their bread and butter, but the focus on premium craftsmanship doesn’t end there. On the travel side, their Crossroads 35L Backpack is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the brand: excellent durability and functionality in a modern package. The body of the pack is made with Yeti's tough and confidence-inspiring TuffSkin nylon (which was inspired by motorcycle gear), while the PU-coated base adds a nice dose of assurance when setting it down. All of the other components have an equally durable and supportive feel, from the foam-heavy shoulder straps to the thick, protective backpanel. It’s all wrapped up in a sleek and streamlined design that’s offered in a nice selection of colorways, from bright Harvest Red to subdued Alpine Brown (shown in the photo here).

Yeti clearly put a lot of thought into the outside of the Crossroads, but the interior is well executed, too. The clamshell opening folds back to reveal a pocket-equipped mesh panel and generous main compartment that still can be accessed when wearing the pack. You also get dedicated storage for a water bottle and laptop, as well as a pass-through sleeve for securing to a roller bag. Our biggest gripe is the lack of padding: The detachable hipbelt is made of thin webbing and doesn’t offer much support, and the shoulder straps and backpanel have a noticeably thick and rigid feel, which is great for durability but detracts from overall comfort. And as with most Yeti products, the pack isn’t particularly cheap or light at $250 and nearly 4 pounds. Finally, the 35-liter Crossroads is on the smaller side and will require precise packing to fit more than about three to five days’ worth of belongings. But again, build quality is top-notch, and minimalists used to packing light may not mind the small sacrifices in comfort and storage. See the Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack

11. Matador GlobeRider45 ($350)

Matador Globerider45 travel backpack

Matador may lack the name recognition of brands like Osprey and Cotopaxi, but don’t let that fool you: This Boulder-based upstart is quickly growing thanks to their outside-the-box thinking. From their travel collection, the new GlobeRider45 stands out as a very intentionally built design that spares no expense in terms of features. In addition to being on the larger end, the carry-on-compliant GlobeRider offers solid comfort and support with good padding along the straps and backpanel, a light but sturdy aluminum frame stay, and a well-executed suspension system that’s reminiscent of a backpacking pack. Organization also abounds with a large external stash pocket, thoughtfully designed electronics pockets, vertical daisy chain webbing, and a practical interior layout that includes a packing cube-like space on one side and open clothing storage on the other. All told, it's an intriguing new pack that does a great job merging the utility of both backpacking and travel designs.

It's worth noting that we previously had Matador’s cheaper and lighter Seg45 ranked here, which boasts a unique segmented design that allows you to customize organization by day or activity. When unzipped, the five compartments at the front of the pack reveal independent (and stowable) storage cube-like areas for clothes and other soft items, while the main compartment below provides added space for dirty clothes, shoes, and other bulkier gear. While innovative, however, the Seg45 falls well short of the GlobeRider in carrying comfort, which is largely a result of the thin webbing hipbelt and lack of frame. The pocket-heavy exterior also made it hard for us to remember where we put certain items and detracts from the amount of usable space inside the main compartment. Both packs are arguably overbuilt for infrequent travelers, but the GlobeRider stands out as the more balanced option for those willing to splurge. See the Matador GlobeRider45

12. The North Face Base Camp Travel Pack ($169)

The North Face Base Camp travel backpack

The North Face’s expedition-ready Base Camp duffels have long been popular among serious adventurers, and the Base Camp Travel Pack is a logical and carry-on-friendly addition to the collection. We found a lot to like about the pack during testing, including its burly and abrasion-resistant exterior and myriad storage options. We particularly enjoyed the Base Camp’s front pocket layout, which makes it easy to divvy up travel documents and electronics with a variety of mesh, zippered, and fleece-lined pockets. The smaller details are equally well sorted, from the well-padded shoulder straps and backpanel to the fleece-lined laptop sleeve and generous daisy chain system for attaching gear externally. Finally, despite being a little smaller than many of our top picks, the 35-liter Base Camp includes water bottle pockets that easily swallowed our 24-ounce Hydro Flask.

However, despite checking all the boxes for most travelers, the Base Camp starts to look a little less competitive when stacked up against options like the Eagle Creek Tour above. For $10 less, the Tour boasts an additional 5 liters of capacity and includes helpful additions like a hipbelt, load-lifter straps, and a rain cover—all for around a pound less. Another alternative worth considering is REI’s Ruckpack 40 , which costs the same as the Base Camp and is more capable of crossing over for hiking: The laptop sleeve can fit a 3-liter reservoir, there are attachment points for trekking poles, and the suspension system is more in line with standard daypacks. Depending on your needs, the Ruckpack might be the better option, but the Base Camp offers better organization for travel in a more modern-looking package than the Eagle Creek. A final note: Those with broader builds may experience discomfort where the shoulder straps meet the backpanel, but our narrow-framed female tester had no comfort-related issues. See the TNF Base Camp Travel Pack

13. Thule Aion Travel Pack ($200)

Thule Aion travel backpack

Swedish brand Thule is best known for their bike and roof racks, but they make sneaky-good packs, too. Our favorite in their collection this year is the 40-liter Aion, which combines the premium build quality that Thule is known for with a nice assortment of travel-ready features. One unique—but very functional—addition is the removable TPU rolltop bag for stashing dirty laundry, which prevents odors and dirt from making their way to the rest of your belongings. The rest of the design is nicely appointed, including dedicated water bottle storage, an easy-to-access clamshell opening, plenty of zippered spaces for electronics and valuables (including a padded laptop/tablet sleeve), internal compressions straps to keep items secure and tidy, lockable zippers, and carry-on-compliant dimensions. 

What pushes the Thule Aion down to a mid-pack finish? At this price point and capacity, we’re surprised to see that the bag doesn’t come with a hipbelt. You can purchase Thule’s compatible Aion sling bag separately, which can pull double-duty for around-town use, but it’s a fairly expensive addition at $50 (and a feature we consider critical for a pack of this size). To be fair, the rest of the build is very well executed, including a noticeably thick and robust 600-denier waxed canvas shell and PFC-free DWR coating for fending off moisture. If you don’t mind the added investment for the waist belt/sling bag, it’s a promising design with competitive specs to match. Of note, if you’re looking for something a little different for travel, the Aion collection also includes a roller bag and a 35-liter duffel . See the Thule Aion Travel Pack

14. Pacsafe EXP45 ($290)

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 travel backpack

Travel can be an exhausting endeavor, especially if you’re constantly worried about your luggage or valuables getting stolen. That’s why anti-theft designs like Pacsafe’s EXP45 are becoming increasingly common, particularly for international trips. Like most of Pacsafe’s offerings, the EXP45 is packed with protective features, from cut-resistant materials to lockable and puncture-resistant double zippers and built-in stainless steel cable locks. Importantly, these are nicely integrated and don’t detract too heavily from the Pacsafe's functionality as a travel pack—it’s still well organized with ample interior and exterior pockets and compression straps, offers multiple carry options, and is carry-on compliant.

That said, the Pacsafe EXP45 is a pretty niche design that prioritizes safety over carrying comfort and access. The pack is on the heavier end at over 4 pounds due to all the protective features, the padding along the shoulder straps and hipbelt is firm (albeit decently thick), and there are no load-lifter straps to pull the pack closer to your body. Another downside is that the laptop sleeve is positioned at the front of the bag—we prefer when heavier items are situated close to the back for better weight distribution—and accessing items here can be difficult due to the half-length zipper design (we wish it had a clamshell opening like the main compartment). In other words, comfort- and convenience-focused travelers will likely want to look elsewhere, but the Pacsafe has its place for those who prioritize safety and security. For a cheaper and lighter option that doesn’t skimp on safety features, we also like Pacsafe’s Go 44L , although frequent travelers will likely prefer the more premium EXP45. See the Pacsafe EXP45

15. Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L ($199)

Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L travel backpack

Patagonia’s Black Hole is legendary in the world of duffel bags, and the Mini MLC 30L travel pack variation shares that bag’s excellent durability and good looks in a more organized and carry-on-friendly design. Like the duffels, the Black Hole pack is made of strong (and recycled) polyester ripstop that’s highly tear-resistant with a TPU film on the exterior for fending off precipitation. It also boasts the signature daisy chain webbing along one side for securing extra gear. Importantly, however, the travel focus is clear: You get three carrying options (backpack, over-the-shoulder, or briefcase-style), compatibility with a roller bag, and a generously sized opening with two separate chambers for customizing organization.

Why do we rank the Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L here? The most glaring downside is its 30-liter capacity, which is undersized for trips lasting longer than a few days (unless you’re a staunch minimalist). Patagonia does offer a larger 45-liter variation for $40 more, although we found it to be lacking in structure, which caused the pack to feel noticeably bulky and cumbersome when stuffed full. Thankfully, both options feature the same well-executed backpanel design that we love, which comprises sleeves at one side for a laptop and tablet with zippered and drop-in pockets at the other for divvying up cords and accessories. Again, the Mini version is underbuilt for extended trips abroad but remains an excellent pick for commutes, daily use, and as a secondary bag for travel. See the Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L

16. Nomatic Travel Bag 40L ($290)

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

Many of the picks above are built by reputable backpacking manufacturers, but Nomatic is a travel company first. Their Travel Bag 40L embodies that focus, combining thoughtful organization and storage with easy access in a sleek and minimalist package. Feature highlights include a customizable strap design that allows you to easily alternate between backpack and duffel carry, dedicated compartments for shoes and clothing at the top and bottom of the bag, and even a mesh laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate during travel. We also love the exterior pocket at the right side, which opens wide for easy access and features an array of mesh, fleece-lined, and zippered spots to organize electronics and cords, along with an RFID pocket for passports and other scannable documents. All told, it’s clear that Nomatic put a ton of thought into the design. 

It’s worth noting that Nomatic offers another intriguing option in their Navigator , although we consider the Travel Bag the more competitive all-around design. In parsing out the differences, the Travel Bag costs $110 less and is lighter by nearly 2 pounds, although it forgoes the Navigator’s expandable main compartment that allows you to alternate between 32 and 41 liters depending on your storage needs. The Navigator also includes load lifter straps and a sculpted foam backpanel for a boost in carrying comfort, but the Travel Bag is no slouch. And from a features perspective, we appreciate the Travel Bag’s dirty shoe compartment and included laundry bag. Those with smaller frames may have trouble dialing in a secure fit—our female tester (5’6” and 135 lb.) maxed out the Travel Bag’s hipbelt, for example—but the intentional organization layout and travel-ready feature set are undeniable selling points. See the Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

17. Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45 ($249)

Mystery Ranch Rover 45 travel pack

Along with Osprey’s Sojourn Porter 46 above, Mystery Ranch’s Mission Rover 45 is a great option for those of us who aren’t particularly adept at packing light. Touted as a “workhorse gear hauler,” the Mission Rover offers three functional carry options (as a suitcase, shoulder bag, or standard backpack), has a well-organized main compartment with zippered dividers and a wraparound clamshell opening, and even includes separate areas for shoes and dirty laundry. As expected at this price point, you also get most of the standard travel-ready features that we look for, including a stowable hipbelt, lockable zippers, a sleeve to secure to a rolling suitcase, and a padded laptop space that can accommodate computers up to 15 inches wide. Finally, like many of Mystery Ranch's backpacking offerings, the Mission Rover has a premium feel with a thick nylon exterior and water-resistant YKK zippers.

However, as with the Pacsafe EXP45 above, the Mission Rover’s laptop sleeve is situated at the front of the pack, which detracts from carrying comfort and convenience. The Mystery Ranch is also on the heavier and pricier end of the spectrum at 4 pounds 4.8 ounces and $249, although the 45-liter capacity is undeniably generous (and the pack is still compliant with most carry-on size restrictions). Finally, the bag is relatively dated-looking and lacking in modern appeal compared to offerings from Topo Designs, Peak Design, Cotopaxi, and others above. In other words, the Mission Rover doesn’t stand out in any one area (hence our ranking), but it’s another durable travel pack with a nicely executed feature set. See the Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45

Travel Backpack Comparison Table

Editor's note: "Carry-on" refers to whether or not each pack meets standard domestic and international air travel restrictions, which must be under 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H.

About Our Testing Process

True to our name, globetrotting is a big part of what we do at Switchback Travel. Managing editor Sarah Nelson put together our initial list of 16 picks in 2022 after a trip to El Chaltén in southern Argentina with fellow staff members and gear testers. From takeoff to our return flights home, we put our packs through their paces by stuffing them to the brim with two weeks’ worth of clothing and gear, schlepping them through domestic and international airports, shoving them into overhead compartments and below our seats, and getting intimately familiar with organizational layouts for divvying up our documents and electronics. Upon our return, we also evaluated each pack closely for signs of wear like tears and stains.

Our current list of 17 picks reflects our own experiences as well as feedback from our freelancers, travel-savvy friends, and the online travel community. We continue to test travel packs on adventures near and far, adding and removing designs as the market shifts and as we get firsthand experience with more options. For example, on a recent trip to Chilean Patagonia in February 2024, we brought along two new-to-us travel packs: The North Face Base Camp and the Nomatic Travel Pack, both of which are now featured in the guide above. We’ll be sure to add any other standouts and favorites to the list above with each update.   

Travel backpacks (walking around El Chalten with Matador%2C YETI%2C and Patagonia packs)

Travel Backpack Buying Advice

Size and capacity.

  • Carry-on Size Restrictions

Organization: Pockets and Main Compartment Access

Carrying comfort, grab handles and alternate carry methods.

  • Other Features

Construction and Durability

Fit and sizing, women’s-specific travel backpacks, sustainability, packing cubes and other accessories, do you need a travel backpack.

The first question to answer when choosing a travel pack is how much capacity you anticipate needing. For reference, the options above range from 30 liters on the small end (the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag ) all the way up to 70 liters for the Osprey Farpoint 70 (with the 15L daypack attached). Most travelers will land on something in the middle, with the sweet spot for many being in the 40- to 45-liter range—it’s no coincidence that well over half of the models above fall into this grouping, which is largely due to their carry-on-compliant dimensions.   

Travel backpacks (lineup on the ground)

In general, we’ve found that packs of this size can easily accommodate a week or two of clothing, toiletries, and other travel accessories (and even more if you pack light). For reference, we had no issues fitting 14 days’ worth of belongings into the 40-liter version of Topo Designs’ Global Travel Bag on a recent trip to Patagonia. If you stick to weekend adventures, you can keep things lighter and more compact (and save some cash in the process) by opting for the smaller, 30-liter variation. On the flip side, those embarking on longer expeditions abroad might need to step up to a larger design like the Osprey Farpoint 70 or 80 (at the sacrifice of carry-on compatibility).  

Travel backpack (interior of the Eagle Creek Tour 40L)

Travel Backpack Dimensions

Dimensions are a crucial consideration for most travelers, and especially those headed abroad. With that in mind, we’ve listed the length, width, and height measurements for each travel pack above both in the write-ups and in our comparison table . As you may notice, similarly sized travel packs don’t vary too considerably in terms of dimensions. This is mainly due to carry-on size restrictions, which we break down more in depth below. Carry-on Size Restrictions Right off the bat, we’ll note that there is technically no standardized size requirement for carry-on luggage domestically or abroad. That said, the universally accepted dimensions within the U.S. are 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H. We’ve indicated whether each travel pack above meets these requirements in our comparison table, and REI Co-op does the same on each of their product pages. The only exception above is the Osprey Farpoint 70 , which measures 25.6 x 15 x 12.6 inches.  

Travel backpack (walking through airport)

It’s also important to call out expandable models here like the Peak Design Travel Backpack , which is carry-on compliant when compressed to 35 liters (22 x 13 x 9.5 in.) but not when expanded to its maximum 45-liter capacity (22 x 13 x 11 in.). You may be able to get away with carrying these bags onboard, but don’t count on it, especially if you’re traveling during peak season to a popular destination. When in doubt, you can always check with your airline ahead of time.  

All of the packs above are purpose-built for travel with extensive organizational layouts and thoughtfully placed pockets for separating valuables, electronics, and other accessories. That said, some layouts are more functional than others, and a final decision will largely come down to your intended use and what works best for the items that you plan to bring along. For instance, sleek options like the Peak Design Travel Backpack and Nomatic Travel Bag are great for digital nomads and remote workers who need to organize a lot of electronics, while backpacking-inspired designs like Osprey’s Farpoint and Sojourn Porter offerings have fewer tech-focused features but work great for adventure travel. We break down some of the key organizational components below, from laptop and tablet sleeves to water bottle storage and pack opening styles.  

Travel backpack (backpanel layout inside Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45)

Laptop and Tablet Sleeves Laptop storage is a requisite feature in a travel pack, and all of the picks above come with a dedicated spot to stash larger electronics. In terms of dimensions, most sleeves can accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop, and many come with separate smaller compartments in the same space for a tablet, too. This area is typically well padded to protect electronics and positioned along the backpanel for the best access and weight distribution (keeping heavier items closest to your back will help maximize comfort and balance). A couple exceptions to this rule are the Pacsafe EXP45 and Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45 , both of which have the laptop sleeve at the front of the pack and can feel a little less well balanced with heavier electronics situated farther away from your body.  

Travel backpack (pulling laptop out of the Cotopaxi Allpa)

Water Bottle Pockets Unlike laptop sleeves, side water bottle pockets aren’t a standard feature on travel packs. Some models that include them are the Topo Designs Global Travel Pack, Peak Design Travel Backpack, Osprey Farpoint 70 (on its removable daypack), Eagle Creek Tour , and Thule Aion, while the Cotopaxi Allpa and Amazon Basics Carry-On leave them out. And it’s worth noting that the Farpoint’s removable daypack is also compatible with a hydration reservoir, including a sleeve and access ports at either side for a tube (Note: This area on the daypack doubles as the laptop sleeve).   

Travel backpack (YETI Crossroads 35L water bottle pocket)

Opening Styles and Access Easy access is a hallmark of a good travel backpack. The clamshell-style opening is far and away the most popular design and for good reason: With the pack laid flat, you can easily see and access the entirety of the main compartment. Some backpack-inspired designs, like Osprey's Sojourn Porter 46 and Farpoint 70, utilize generous U-zip designs instead, which are pretty functional but make it a little harder to reach contents at the very bottom of the bags. Finally, it's important to note that some bags come with multiple access points: The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L, for instance, includes both a full wraparound zipper and “shortcut” side zip next to the backpanel for easily retrieving items while on the move.  

Travel backpack (organizing clothing in the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L)

Comfort can be somewhat subjective, but a few features help certain travel packs stand out from the rest of the market. Typically, the most comfortable designs boast shoulder straps and hipbelts with thick padding and good adjustability for dialing in fit. Sternum and load-lifter straps can also be very helpful in effectively distributing a heavy load. One brand that stands out in this area is Osprey, which makes sense given their expertise in the backpacking pack market. One of our favorite options for shuttling heavy loads over long distances is Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 , which features thick cushioning and good adjustability at the shoulders and waist belt and comes with load lifters for bringing the weight closer to your back.  

Travel backpack (revealing shoulder straps and hipbelt)

On the flip side, models without hipbelts are generally the least comfortable, especially when wearing them for extended stretches. From the list above, only the Thule Aoin doesn’t come with one, although their Aion Sling Bag (sold separately for $50) can be attached to serve as a hipbelt. Thin webbing designs—like what you get with the Amazon Basics Carry-On and Yeti Crossroads —aren’t much better, providing very little support and structure for keeping the weight of the pack on your hips (rather than your back). If you plan to be walking long distances with your pack through airports or city streets, we consider a well-padded waist belt a critical feature and worth the added investment.   

Travel backpack (standing at bus station with Cotopaxi Allpa)

The models above are designed to be worn on your back as backpacks, but many travelers appreciate the ability to carry their pack suitcase-style or over the shoulder. These options are especially helpful when standing in line to check in at the airport or retrieve travel documents. For instance, the Peak Design Travel Backpack boasts 360-degree grab handles that make it quick and easy to take the pack off and carry it one-handed through security checkpoints or narrow airplane aisles. Designs like the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L also come with detachable straps for shoulder carry, which can be helpful when you need to access items inside but want to keep the pack off the ground and remain hands-free. Finally, many of the offerings here can be secured to a roller bag via pass-through sleeves, which we cover more below.  

Travel backpacks (different ways to carry)

Other Travel Pack Features

In addition to pockets and electronics sleeves, there are a few other features specific to travel packs that are worth having on your radar. Lockable zippers are fairly standard at the mid to upper end of the market (budget designs like the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack forgo them), as are removable and/or stowable straps and compression straps or dividers to keep things tidy in the main compartment. As is common with backpacking models, some travel packs also come with built-in rain covers that stow away when not in use, including Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L and Eagle Creek’s Tour 40L. Finally, many will appreciate the ability to attach their travel pack directly to a rolling suitcase via a pass-through handle or sleeve (like what you get with Yeti Crossroads 35L and many others above).  

Travel backpack (lockable zippers on Eagle Creek Tour)

Given the inherently rough nature of travel, all of the packs above are well built and hardwearing enough to withstand frequent use. That said, some are certainly more durable than others, and looking at denier (a measurement of fabric thickness) can help differentiate between models. For instance, the Gregory Border Carry-On 40 is pretty average with a mix of 210- and 450-denier (D) materials, while the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is one of the thickest and most abrasion-resistant options on our list with a combination of 1,000D polyester and 840D ballistic nylon (Topo Designs' Global Travel Bag uses a similar combo but with 1,000D nylon and 1,680D ballistic nylon). Pacsafe’s EXP45 is another standout, with stainless steel wire mesh built into the 400D nylon body to guard against theft. At the thinner end, Matador’s GlobeRider45 uses a mix of mostly 100 and 420D fabrics, although the nylon body is coated with a PU laminate to boost weather and abrasion resistance, and Matador included reinforcements in high-wear areas.  

Travel backpack (closeup of Topo Designs Global Travel Bag exterior)

Other durability-related additions to keep an eye out for are thick padding along the interior to promote structure and protect your belongings, weather-resistant details like YKK zippers and DWR coatings on the outside to fend off precipitation, and thicker materials at the base to help protect the pack when you set it down. And we should note here that cost often correlates pretty closely with overall quality. In other words, a budget pack like the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack feels noticeably cheaper than most other options above and will likely wear down far more quickly. If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s almost certainly worth investing in a pricier and more premium option that will last.  

Travel backpack (YETI Crossroads 35L backpanel)

The weight spread isn’t huge among travel pack designs, but even a 1-pound difference may still be noticeable during long treks across town or the airport. For reference, the lightest options on our list are Eagle Creek’s Tour 40L and Topo Designs’ Global Travel Bag 30L (both 2 lb. 10 oz.), while the Osprey Farpoint 70 is the heaviest at 5 pounds 6.6 ounces. Most models fall somewhere in the middle, with the majority of 40- to 45-liter designs hovering somewhere between 3 and 4.5 pounds. In the end, weight won’t be a primary consideration for many travelers, but those backpacking through Europe or expecting to cover serious ground will probably want to shop toward the lighter end.  

Travel backpack (ordering coffee with Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

Unlike their backpacking pack counterparts, travel packs are most often only offered in a single unisex option. This can make it difficult to dial in fit, especially for those with particularly narrow or broad builds. One exception above is the Eagle Creek Tour 40L , which is offered in both S/M and M/L torso sizes, while a couple others (which we cover below) are sold in dedicated women’s models for better customizing fit. Regardless of which option you choose, we always recommend trying on multiple packs before buying to see which fits you best (or at least purchasing from a reputable manufacturer with a generous return policy). You’ll want to be sure that you can adjust the shoulder straps and waist belt to be snug around your torso and waist. Sternum straps and load lifters can also be helpful for bringing the load closer to your back to maximize comfort and weight distribution.

Travel backpack (wearing Matador GlobeRider at airport)

As we mentioned above, most travel packs are unisex by design. In fact, only one model on our list is offered in a dedicated women’s-specific version: the Osprey Fairview (the Farpoint’s counterpart). Key differences include varying colorways, minor weight variations, and slightly smaller torso and waist measurements. The Fairview also has more contoured shoulder straps and a curved hipbelt to better conform to narrower torsos/shoulders and larger hips, although the packs share an otherwise identical overall construction and feature set. Regardless of designation, we always recommend choosing the pack that fits you best.  

Travel packs (sitting at bus station)

In 2024, it’s pretty common to see pack manufacturers incorporating eco-friendly practices into production, including measures like recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics and PFAS/PFC-free DWR coatings. A couple examples include Pacsafe’s Venturesafe EXP45, which uses polyester that's made from recycled water bottles and other plastics, and Patagonia’s Black Hole Mini MLC 30L, which uses recycled and bluesign-approved (i.e., environmentally safe) polyester and is certified to the Fair Trade standard. A final feature to look out for is a PFC-free DWR coating, which forgoes the use of per- or polyfluorinated chemicals—"forever chemicals" known to be harmful to the environment. With many states stepping up to ban the sale of items that include PFCs, the outdoor industry is seeking better solutions for water- and stain-resistant finishes (for more, you can read about Patagonia’s take on the issue ).  

Travel backpack (Gregory Border Carry-On 40 closeup)

Packing your travel pack can often feel like playing a hard game of Tetris, especially for those of us who aren’t great at traveling light (this author included). To help, many of the brands above offer compatible accessories for their packs, from packing cubes to protective hard cases for electronics and more. Importantly, these add-ons are often modular and fit neatly into the main compartment of a compatible backpack. Some of our favorites include Topo Designs’ Pack Bags , Peak Design’s Packing Cubes and Tech Pouches, and Eagle Creek’s Pack-It compression cubes. In the end, these accessories aren't a necessary purchase for many travelers (and you certainly don't need to buy them from the same manufacturer as your pack), but they can go a long way toward maximizing organization and space and streamlining your load.  

Travel backpack (packing cube closeup)

The packs above make it easy and comfortable to shuttle your belongings across the globe, but not everyone needs a specialized design for travel. Duffel bags are another popular way to fly with a lot of clothing and gear, and many modern designs come with deployable backpack straps for more easily hauling through airports and around urban areas. However, duffels lack the impressive assortment of dedicated storage compartments and pockets for items like keys, passports, and electronics, are generally less comfortable to carry over long distances, and often don’t meet carry-on size requirements.  

Travel backpacks (duffel bags alternative)

Alternatively, some travelers may opt to use a standard backpacking pack . This can make a lot of sense when you’re traveling to hike, backpack, or embark on other adventures and plan to use your pack both for travel and for outdoor use when you arrive. Again, however, the lack of travel-specific features and organization options can make it harder to effectively divvy up your belongings. In the end, if you plan to fly domestically or abroad with any regularity (more than a couple times a year), we think most will find the investment in a dedicated travel pack worth it. Back to Our Top Travel Backpack Picks   Back to Our Travel Pack Comparison Table

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  2. 10 Best Travel Backpacks (2022 Buyers Guide Reviews)

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  3. 10 Best Travel Backpacks for Women of 2022

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  4. 10 Best Travel Backpacks for Women of 2022

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COMMENTS

  1. The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Here we test and review the best travel backpacks of 2024, including top picks from Peak Design, Patagonia, Osprey, Matador, and more.

  2. Best Travel Backpack: How To Pick In 2024

    Fitting your life into one bag is no small task. We’re here to help. Travel With Tessan. Recharge in over 200 countries and regions with a universal travel adapter. Check it out →. Best Travel Backpacks. Click to learn more about why we love these top picks. 9.2/10: Aer Travel Pack 3 (Best for one bag travel)

  3. The 3 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    A travel backpack easily carries all your stuff while letting you navigate airports, subway stations, and city streets.

  4. 10 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Best travel backpack overall: Cotopaxi Allpa ($200) Jump to Review. Best budget travel backpack: Ebags Mother Lode ($100) Jump to Review. Most organized travel backpack for one-bag trips: Tortuga Outbreaker ($350) Jump to Review. Best travel backpack for photographers: Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300) Jump to Review.

  5. 16 Best Travel Backpacks for Day Trips, Outdoor Adventures

    By Madison Flager and Paris Wilson. September 27, 2023. Whether you're hopping on a bike, trekking across rugged terrain, sightseeing, shopping, or jetting off to a business meeting, the best...

  6. 35 best travel backpacks 2024: Carry-on backpacks for light ...

    Whether your travel backpack is carrying a Kindle, laptop, travel snacks and a travel blanket or if you’re using it as a true carry-on, packing it like a suitcase with your trip’s wardrobe and...

  7. Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Best Overall Travel Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L. A Close Second (That's Great for Carrying Electronics): Peak Design Travel Backpack. Excellent Carrying Comfort for Gear-Intensive Trips: Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 L. Best for Staying Organized: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L. Best Budget Travel Backpack: Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack.

  8. The 5 Best Carry On Travel Backpacks of 2024

    The 5 Best Carry On Travel Backpacks of 2024. We thoroughly tested travel backpacks from Osprey, Cotopaxi, Tortuga, Peak Design, The North Face, and other brands to help you pick the ideal adventure partner. By Hale Milano, Liz Chamberlain, and Hayley Thomas ⋅ Apr 17, 2024.