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The 13 best carry-on backpacks of 2024, tested & reviewed.

Enjoy hands-free travel with a versatile carry-on backpack.

The Best Carry-on Backpacks

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L in blue in field.

Leilani Osmundson | U.S. News

Not sure whether to take a rolling suitcase or a travel backpack on the plane? Both types of carry-on luggage certainly have their merits, but if you like keeping your arms and hands free when traveling, a backpack is the right choice for you. Furthermore, compared to a hard-sided suitcase , it's easier to squeeze a malleable backpack into an overhead bin or under the seat. And if your vacation is focused on adventure travel, you might value a durable pack on your back over wheels on the ground.

U.S. News compiled this list from extensive research and testing along with consumer reviews. Whatever your reason for choosing a backpack, there are plenty on the market to satisfy your needs. Read on for the best carry-on travel backpacks.

Best Overall: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

  • Jump to features and expert insights ↓

Best Budget: ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack 20L

Best lightweight: mz wallace metro utility backpack.

  • Best for Business Travel (tie): Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack – Large
  • Best for Business Travel (tie): Aer Travel Pack 3

Best for International Travel: Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Pack

Best for weekend getaways: solo grand travel tsa backpack, best for women: tumi voyageur celina backpack, best for men: peak design travel backpack 45l, best for adventure travel: kelty redwing 36, best with wheels: samsonite tectonic nutech wheeled backpack, best organization: augustnoa classic noa, best leather: monos metro backpack in vegan leather.

(Note: Prices and availability were accurate at the time of publication; they may fluctuate due to demand and other factors. Dimensions of backpacks are height by width by depth.)

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L in purple.

Price: $200 or less

When it comes to bag travel, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs a serious punch. The carry-on backpack is available in three sizes – 42L, 35L and 28L – and a variety of colors, including the vibrant multicolor Del Día style. The 35L size not only fits everything you need for your next getaway, but it's also TSA-compliant as a carry-on item . On the outside, the Allpa features a removable waist belt, a padded laptop sleeve on the side, anti-theft zippers, carabiner lash loops for extra gear, a sternum strap and a front zippered pocket. The backpack straps can be tucked away if you're looking to save more room in the overhead bin or you want to carry the bag via its grab handles.

The bag opens suitcase-style; inside, you'll find one large zippered mesh compartment on the right and a subdivided zippered mesh compartment on the left, providing ample space for all your clothes, shoes and accessories. What's more, the bag comes with a rain cover (though it's already water-resistant).

What our editors say:

I've taken my Cotopaxi Allpa on countless adventures, from a road trip around Iceland to camping all over Colorado. It fits more than expected, is comfortable to wear (especially if using the waist belt) and is extremely durable. I just wish the 35L had an exterior water bottle pocket like the 42L does! – Leilani Osmundson, Senior Digital Producer

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack 20L in black and gray.

Erin Evans | U.S. News

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack 20L in black and gray.

Price: $15.99 or less

This backpack has three excellent things going for it: It's affordable, lightweight and durable. It's a great option for a weekend getaway bag and is an excellent little backpack to have on hand for tours and day trips once you make it to your destination. If you're planning to hike or kayak on your next getaway, you'll definitely want to have the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Backpack in your back pocket – literally. It can be folded into a compact pouch and tucked away in a larger carry-on bag if you're planning to only use it as a daypack.

The lightweight travel bag is both tear- and water-resistant. With all of its pockets – including one on each side for water bottles or umbrellas – you'll be able to fit everything you need for an adventure-filled trip.

It can fit enough for a weekend trip, plus it's super useful for hiking, boat excursions and more once you're in your destination because it's so light and water-resistant. I've used it for years and it has held up incredibly well; it comes in so many fun colors, too. I love it so much, I bought two so my husband has one he can use as well. – Erin Evans, Managing Editor

MZ Wallace Metro Utility Backpack in black.

Rachael Hood | U.S. News

MZ Wallace Metro Utility Backpack in black.

Price: $345 or less

Constructed with recycled bluesign-approved quilted nylon, this chic bag is packed with pockets and organizational details. The interior has a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, a large zip pocket with two slip pockets, two water bottle pockets and two removable pouches. On the front of the bag there's a deep phone pocket and multiple zippered pockets of various sizes, including a small one that's ideal for a boarding pass, earbuds or wipes.

A water bottle pocket sits on each side of the bag, and the back of the bag has a luggage trolley sleeve that can be zipped shut on the bottom to be a pocket when not attached to your suitcase. This backpack has a top-zip design, and can be carried by the two top handles or the adjustable padded backpack straps.

This bag has completely changed my mind about backpacks. It's extremely spacious and works so well for my laptop, change of clothes, toiletry bag and other carry-on essentials. I love all of the pockets and that I can carry this like a north-south tote in addition to using the trolley sleeve or backpack straps. But what truly sets this apart is the beautiful fabrication that is so soft and the luxurious Italian leather details. – Rachael Hood, Senior Editor

Best for Business Travel: Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack and Aer Travel Pack 3 (tie)

Dagne dover dakota neoprene backpack – large.

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack in brown.

Catriona Kendall | U.S. News

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack in brown.

Price: $215 or less

This sleek, professional backpack by Dagne Dover is perfect for professional and casual settings alike, with a vast array of organizational features and a 20-liter capacity for the large size. On the outside, you'll find a zippered padded pocket for up to 16-inch laptops and a slip pocket for your phone, while an interior sleeve can fit a tablet or a second laptop, allowing you to travel with multiple devices. The inside of the bag has two mesh slip pockets and a zip-top pouch attached with a leash, as well as three zippered pockets in the front panel.

To help you stay even more organized, the exterior also features a zippered front pocket with pen loops and a key clip; two zippered side pockets; two slip side pockets; and straps to secure a small bottle. The water-resistant bag comes with adjustable shoulder straps, a luggage sleeve and a separate shoe bag.

I adore bringing this bag to work and using it as a personal item on flights. I don't think I've ever used a backpack with better organization than this one – there's a dedicated place for every little thing, from keys to pens to my devices. I also love that the neoprene material is extremely lightweight and water-resistant. – Catriona Kendall, Editor

Aer Travel Pack 3

Aer Travel Pack 3 in black.

Price: $249 or less

With a pocket for everything, the clamshell-style Aer Travel Pack 3 keeps you organized to the max on business trips. Keep your laptop (up to 16 inches) safe in the padded, zippered laptop sleeve, and stow your passport in the quick-access side pocket. The front compartment features several sizes of pockets perfect for chargers, notepads, pens and more. Along with the lay-flat main compartment for clothes, there's also an interior pocket for small accessories as well as a hidden luggage tracker pocket.

Designed for one-bag travel, the durable Aer Travel Pack 3 also features a water-resistant nylon exterior along with load lifters for a more comfortable fit. You can purchase a hip belt separately.

The Aer Travel Pack 3 has one of the sleekest designs when it comes to carry-on backpacks. I also appreciate all the pockets: The sizable laptop pocket is perfect for someone like me who uses a huge laptop; the eight pockets in just the front compartment are so handy for everything you could need while traveling; and the bag even comes with a zippered water bottle pocket on the side. – Leilani Osmundson

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Pack in blue.

Price: $185 or less

The Osprey Farpoint is truly an all-in-one travel pack that combines quality with minimal weight. The clamshell-style carry-on bag features a substantial main compartment across from a large mesh pocket. There's an easy-to-access zippered laptop sleeve on the side for devices up to 16 inches.

For extra support and comfort, the backpack includes a sternum strap, back panel, harness and hip belt; the latter three can be zipped up for fully streamlined travel, and compression straps help slim the bag down even more. The Osprey Farpoint 40 meets most domestic carry-on size requirements and is compatible with the Farpoint/Fairview Travel Daypack , which can be brought onto the plane as a personal item .

This is one of my favorite backpacks. I love how the back can be zipped up so the bag more resembles a duffel; this makes it easy to stow away without having to deal with a lot of straps. Additionally, the interior compression straps can really help cinch down belongings, especially if you're using packing cubes . – Leilani Osmundson

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Solo Grand Travel TSA Backpack in gray.

Amanda Norcross | U.S. News

Solo Grand Travel TSA Backpack in gray.

Price: $117.99 or less

Perfect for weekend getaways , the Solo Grand TSA Travel Backpack opens like a regular suitcase. In the main compartment, you can secure several outfits with compression straps and store accessories and toiletries in two zippered mesh pockets. In the back, a padded compartment protects laptops up to 17.3 inches in size, and on the front there are a variety of pockets – even pockets within pockets – for your phone and other essentials. This backpack is also equipped with two side mesh pockets, a trolley sleeve, and side and top carry handles.

This backpack is flawless. It's big without the bulk and has plenty of pockets, which not only makes it ideal for weekend getaways but also prevents me from having to awkwardly rummage through my bag when I need something on the plane. – Amanda Norcross, Senior Content & SEO Strategist

TUMI Voyageur Celina Backpack in black.

Price: $475 or less

This backpack blends function and fashion with a compact design. On the front of the bag are two zip compartments and a U-zip pocket with a card slot, a slip pocket and a pen holder. The interior of the bag is divided into two separate compartments: one zippered section with a padded laptop compartment (holds up to a 15-inch PC or 16-inch MacBook), and another large compartment with a zippered pocket and two slip pockets (ideal for glasses or charging cords).

There is also a zippered compartment on each side of the bag, one of which has a water-resistant lining for a water bottle. On the back of the bag you'll find a hidden phone compartment and a trolley sleeve to attach to a roller bag.

This style oozes sophistication, especially the black with the gold hardware. From its sleek material to its many pockets and details, this backpack looks and feels like a chic handbag that can go from the office to a beach resort with ease. I especially like that there are two places you can access the front compartment of the bag, and I like that the laptop section is separate from the rest of the backpack so it's easier to take out my computer and go through airport security (which makes me less likely to drop something from inside my bag). – Rachael Hood

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L in black.

Price: $299.95 or less

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is a solid, rugged choice that will last. The nylon canvas shell of the backpack is weatherproof and water-resistant, with a waterproof bottom liner as well. You can unzip the back panel to access the main packing compartment, which is also accessible via zippers along each side of the bag and can be divided in two by a mesh sleeve. To keep you organized, this backpack has quick-access pockets for small items like passports and glasses, plus expandable side pockets for water bottles, tripods or umbrellas.

The bag meets carry-on size requirements but can expand by 1.5 inches if you need the extra room; the shoulder straps and hip belt tuck away if you plan to check it instead. If you prefer a smaller bag, the Peak Design Travel Backpack also comes in a 30-liter size .

If you only want to bring one bag on a short trip, you can't go wrong with this backpack. It's sturdy, reliable and able to fit a ton while still being carry-on-sized. It served me well on a recent trip to New Zealand, and I'd definitely recommend it for travelers who like hands-free luggage. – Catriona Kendall

Kelty Redwing 36 in blue.

Price: $134.95 or less

If you'll be adventuring in the great outdoors for your next trip, consider purchasing the Kelty Redwing 36 backpack. You'll find two exterior water bottle pockets as well as a hydration-friendly inner pocket (for storing a water bladder). Tool loops can hold hiking poles, fishing poles, ice axes or other adventure gear. Organization is made easy with plenty of zippered pockets, including one on each side of the bag, a large one on the front and one on top that's perfect for storing travel documents such as a passport. Plus, a ventilated back panel helps keep you cool when you're hurrying through airports or hiking up a mountain.

If you need a bigger backpack, the Kelty Redwing 50 Tactical is a great checked bag option and has many of the same features as the Redwing 36 along with more straps and pockets.

The Kelty Redwing 36 can be cinched down quite a bit for truly streamlined travel and to better meet carry-on size guidelines. However, I'll caution that the waist belt is difficult to remove. – Leilani Osmundson

Samsonite Tectonic NuTech Wheeled Backpack in black.

Price: $159.99 or less

If you want the flexibility to either carry or wheel your luggage, a wheeled backpack style may work best for you. The Samsonite Tectonic NuTech Wheeled Backpack transforms from a rolling bag into a backpack by just tucking in the handle, pulling out the stowed straps and using the wheel cover. The durable polyester material is water-repellent and has red accents.

There are three sections to this bag: a main compartment with space to pack for a weekend trip, a dedicated sleeve for both a laptop up to 15.6 inches and a tablet up to 11 inches, and a front pocket equipped with various organizational features. There are various small pockets, pen sleeves, card slots and a key leash within. You can tuck a water bottle and umbrella into the exterior pockets on either side of the bag. Just keep in mind that this bag may slightly exceed carry-on size restrictions on some airlines with stricter rules.

I expected a wheeled backpack to be uncomfortable to carry, but this convertible bag has proved surprisingly convenient. I like having both the rolling and hands-free options for different circumstances, and it has ample packing space. – Catriona Kendall

augustnoa classic noa in cream.

Price: $148 or less

This sustainable water-resistant backpack is constructed with 100% recycled materials and has 10 pockets to organize everything. The spacious interior compartment has a 17-inch padded laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve with a strap to secure it in place, as well as an interior mesh pocket for small items or charging cords and a removable shoe bag.

On the exterior, the front pocket has a built-in mesh organizer for pens, and there are mesh water bottle holders on each side of the backpack. The back of the bag has two adjustable padded straps, each with a built-in zippered compartment ideal for keys, ID or tickets. A hidden zip pocket makes for a secure space for a wallet or passport, and the trolley sleeve provides added versatility.

This backpack is great for travel or everyday use. I especially appreciate the comfortable backpack straps with the small zip pockets. They are easy to reach and perfect for small items like lip gloss, cash or a transit card. Durably constructed, the water-resistant exterior performs well in any weather, and I love that there's a padded space for both my laptop and iPad. – Rachael Hood

Monos Metro Backpack in Vegan Leather in brown.

Price: $230 or less

For an upscale backpack that can be dressed up or down, this Monos style is an ideal choice. Constructed with sustainable vegan leather (there's also a nylon version with vegan leather accents), this structured style is both water- and scratch-resistant. The 15-inch laptop sleeve is separate from the main packing compartment so you can access your device easily. The brand's QuickSnap Modular Kit System means you'll have a detachable Metro Kit for small items that attaches magnetically to the front of the bag; this kit is interchangeable between Metro bags and can be swapped out for a different kit or removed entirely, depending on your needs.

The backpack's main compartment is designed for maximum functionality with a felt-lined document sleeve, a large zippered pocket, two slip pockets, and a waterproof zippered privacy compartment for a rain jacket or gym clothes. On the back, you can make use of a hidden slip pocket for your phone, a trolley sleeve and adjustable padded straps. There's also two top carry handles if you'd prefer to carry this backpack like a tote.

I really like the elevated styling and durability of this vegan leather bag. But what sets it apart is the separate laptop compartment (I don't like to have to open my entire bag to get out my laptop while on the go), and the modular Metro Kit system that can be removed when it's not needed. It's full of value-added design elements, and the material looks classic and appropriate with any attire. – Rachael Hood

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on its size, a backpack is considered a carry-on item. To be able to put it in the overhead bin, you generally don't want it to exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches, but that sizing varies by airline, and since backpacks are soft-sided, the dimensions can be somewhat malleable. If it fits under the seat in front of you on the plane ( check your airline's specific size requirements ), it is typically considered a personal item. If the backpack can fit under the seat, then you can often bring it in addition to a larger carry-on bag (based on your airline ticket type and inclusions).

For a backpack to be a carry-on for most domestic airlines, it should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches (or should be able to be squished to approximately those dimensions). To be considered a personal item, it must fit under the seat in front of you. Underseat size and space varies by airline and airplane type, so it's best to check with your airline's size restrictions.

How We Tested

From the comfort of the straps to the capacity of each bag, our team tested more than 20 carry-on backpacks from a variety of brands at a range of price points. We tested to see how the overall structure of the bag works for travel needs, along with the durability and details that make a difference. After taking these backpacks on a variety of adventures, we've selected these carry-on backpacks as the best for 2024.

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The 11 Best Carry-on Travel Backpacks of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

These spacious and comfortable carry-on backpacks can easily replace a suitcase.

large travel bag rucksack

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks
  • Others We Liked

Our Testing Process

  • Tips For Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure/Joy Kim

Skip the stress of checking a bag or lugging a traditional carry-on suitcase around an airport by adding a carry-on backpack to your travel gear. Practical, functional, and hassle-free, a carry-on backpack can fit up to a week’s worth of clothes, depending on your wardrobe and packing prowess. Whether you’re backpacking through Europe or embarking on a weekend getaway, this style helps make your trip as efficient and enjoyable as possible.

We evaluated 89 carry-on backpacks in more than seven separate tests in our New York City lab and even utilized our airplane set — complete with a row of real plane seats and overhead storage bins — during the process. We then took each bag out into the world for at least six months to test its worth on a variety of trips.

Why I'm the Expert

After taking part in every single backpack test we've done since 2022, personally testing more than 50 bags, and even owning two packs from this list, including our best overall winner, I'm confident there is a carry-on backpack for every type of traveler here.

Best Overall

Cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5
  • Comfort 5 /5

I've used this pack for over four years and I'm confident I can fit more in it than a carry-on.

There isn’t a designated water bottle holder.

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack earned our top pick as the best carry-on backpack with its perfect performance in all categories of our testing. We loved its high capacity and thought the unstructured style was ideal for wedging clothes into every corner, maximizing packing space in the clamshell-style compartments. The shell is made of a TPU-coated 1000D polyester with a rubbery feel, and although it feels resistant to liquids, the backpack comes with a rain cover to ensure that your belongings stay dry while traveling. Handles on all four sides of the backpack make it easy to carry and lift into an overhead bin from any angle. The only downside to the bag is that it doesn't have a water bottle holder on the sides, so you'll have to carry one or try to fit it in the top pocket in the front.

During testing, we weren't surprised to see that the durable-feeling materials weren't damaged at all after we repeatedly tossed the bag onto the ground. Aside from testing this bag in our lab, I personally own it and have used it for countless trips in the last four years. The quality hasn't wavered in the slightest and I typically reach for the bag since I can fit more than I could in a carry-on. Plus, with the rising costs of bringing luggage on an airplane, this bag has been a real money-saver since I can usually fit my personal items inside, too.

The Details: 35 liters | 20 x 12 x 8 inches | 3.8 pounds | TPU-coated 1000D polyester, nylon | Padded laptop sleeve

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Travel + leisure / Jhett Thompson

Best for Long Trips

Away the outdoor convertible backpack 45l.

  • Design 4.5 /5

We love how comfortable it is on your shoulders and back thanks to the soft materials and cushioned shoulder straps.

At nearly 22 inches tall, this pack may be too long for those with shorter torsos.

You'll be surprised by just how spacious this backpack is. The main compartment opens up like a clam shell for easy access to items that allowed us to fit an entire four-day packing list with ease — plus a few extra items. There are multiple large compartments, compression straps, and a few pockets in this backpack that are ideal for organizing clothes, gear, and accessories. While the 45-liter backpack can grow heavy when completely filled, the padded shoulder straps are supportive and keep you comfortable when walking for long periods of time. Plus, the convenient duffel handles allow you to switch up your carrying style if you do grow fatigued.

This backpack also sports a well-padded laptop sleeve that protected our testing laptop when we threw the fully packed bag off a counter three times. There was also no sign of rips, scuffs, or tears in the bag's fabric after our tests. This water- and abrasion-resistant backpack would be perfect for avid travels who are looking for a sleek backpack to take them from city explorations to camping adventures.

The Details: 45 liters | 21.7 x 13.6 x 9.5 inches | 3.32 pounds | Water-resistant

Travel + Leisure / Joy Kim

Best Budget

Asenlin 40l travel backpack.

It’s spacious and comes with three packing cubes to stay organized while traveling. 

After six months of use, the bag is scuffed up with noticeable scratches.

Perfect for travelers on a budget, the Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack impressed us with its packing features and comfortable fit. We thought the bag provided excellent organization thanks to the interior and exterior compression that provided extra room for packing. The backpack comes with three different packing cubes in small, medium, and large. We also like that this backpack includes both a suitcase strap and a handle to hold it horizontally. The backpack itself also features straps inside and a laptop sleeve to easily hold down items and pack electronics.

The design didn’t blow us away like those from some of the more costly brands, but it does have a laptop sleeve and a water bottle holder. We also liked the flexibility of being able to wear the Asenlin as a backpack, hold it like a briefcase, or use the trolley sleeve to slide it onto a roller suitcase’s handle. However, a bigger adjustment range for the chest strap would have been ideal. During our durability tests, the backpack didn’t scuff or show signs of damage. We think this budget pick is well worth the low price for those looking to get a durable, comfortable, and spacious carry-on backpack. 

The Details: 40 liters | 18.5 x 12.5 x 9.5 inches | 2.7 pounds | Polyester | 17-inch laptop pocket

Best for Photographers

Peak design travel backpack 45l.

  • Value 4.5 /5

You can access the main compartment on the bag from four different exterior zippers.

This is one of the most expensive backpack on our list.

This 45-liter backpack has a main compartment that is spacious enough to fit clothes for at least four days, and its expansive design is helpful for packing bulky items like jackets and shoes. Placing the clothes and shoes into the bag during testing was efficient and simple thanks to a removable divider sleeve and compression straps to hold everything down securely. Designed with photographers in mind, this backpack functions similarly to a camera bag . It can fit camera cubes, and it has four points of entry to the main compartment, allowing travelers to quickly grab clothes or accessories without unzipping the backpack. There is a padded laptop sleeve and stretchy side pockets for water bottles or a camera tripod. 

Peak Design didn’t let any space go to waste on its backpack, so even the hip belt has a small pocket on it for storage and can be packed away when you’re not looking for extra support. It’s also easy to adjust all of the straps to prevent weight imbalances and pinching. Made of weatherproof and water-resistant recycled nylon, the bag held up perfectly after we tossed it on the ground, showing no signs of scuffs or damage — exactly what you want in a durable backpack . Although the price of this bag is steep, it comes with plenty of helpful features for travelers, and the stellar performance leads us to believe that it would last a long time. 

  The Details: 45 liters | 13 x 22 x 9.5 inches | 4.8 pounds | Nylon, polyester | Laptop sleeve | Expandable

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

Best Compression

Tropicfeel shell backpack.

  • Design 4 /5
  • Comfort 4 /5

It can be converted from 40 liters for traveling to 22 liters to use as a daypack. 

The handle on the top of the bag wasn’t as comfortable to hold onto as we hoped. 

We love this backpack’s thoughtful features geared toward all types of travelers. The Tropicfeel Shell Backpack has the ability to store up to 42 liters worth of clothing for a weekend or week-long trip, but you can also use it as a 20-liter backpack for day trips, sightseeing, and everyday use. After regularly using the bag for six months, we found it to be incredibly sturdy and durable. We had no issues fitting our full packing list and found that there was plenty more room thanks to the variety of buckled straps that allow you to adjust the size of the bag. You can loosen the front buckle to allow the roll-up opening flap to expand to fit more items, and there is a kangaroo pouch at the bottom of the backpack that provides an additional six liters of space for shoes or other items you want to keep separate. There’s also a padded compartment in the back of the backpack that can fit laptops up to 17 inches long. We thought the backpack was comfortable to wear after adjusting the shoulder and waist straps, but we found that it might take some effort to get the buckles into your desired setting. 

The Shell Backpack didn’t show any signs of damage throughout testing, and the material is weather-proof. For travelers looking to add upgrades to their backpacks, the brand has an organization system and accessory pouches that you can add on for additional fees. If you need an all-in-one backpack, we think this backpack’s versatility makes it well worth the higher cost. Bonus, if you want a sustainable backpack , this one is made from made 100 percent recycled nylon and 64 percent recycled polyester. 

The Details: 20 to 42 liters | 12 x 20 x 7.5 inches | 3.3 pounds | Recycled polyester

Best Organization

Topo designs global travel bag 30l.

  • Capacity 4 /5

There are tons of pockets and a laptop compartment to help you organize your belongings.

After six months of use, we noticed the bag can feel quite heavy if packed full.

Packing for a trip can often feel tedious, but the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L helps make it easy and efficient. We loved how convenient it is to store a laptop up to 15 inches in the padded compartment in the back of the bag, and there are two front pockets for easy access to a tablet or phone charger. There are a ton of compartments and pockets that offer plenty of options for staying organized with small or loose items in the absence of packing cubes, with places to stash cords, travel documents, electronics, water bottles, and more.

The adjustable shoulder straps and straps that go across the chest and waist help evenly distribute the backpack's weight, making it more comfortable to carry around, although we noticed during our long-term testing that the bag can still feel heavy if you pack it completely full. The 100 percent recycled nylon material felt durable and would likely stay in good condition over time. 

The Details: 30 liters | 12.5 x 20 x 7 inches

Best Expandable

Nomatic travel pack.

  • Capacity 4.8 /5
  • Comfort 4.5 /5
  • Durability 4.5 /5
  • Value 4.8 /5

The expandable zippers add an extra 3.5 inches of space which increases the capacity to 30 liters.

Some of the pockets feel unnecessary.

The Nomatic Travel Pack is the ultimate versatile carry-on backpack thanks to its expandable zippers that add an extra 10 liters of space. Ideal for an overnight trip or a long weekend getaway, the bag has a variety of pockets and compartments to efficiently organize shoes, clothes, accessories, and technology. While the number of pockets on the interior was a bit overwhelming at first, travelers who like to be extra organized will appreciate the designated padded laptop sleeve, sunglasses case, discrete passport pocket, and plethora of slip and zippered pockets in the main compartment. The handles and padded shoulder straps are comfortable for carrying the bag, and the small-to-medium size of the backpack makes it super comfortable to carry since it doesn’t feel bulky or heavy. We used this bag on a variety of international trips throughout four months of testing, and it still looks new, despite rough handling and being shoved under airplane seats.

The Details: 20 liters (expands to 30 liters) | 18.5 x 12 x 6-9.5 inches | 4.16 pounds | 16-inch laptop pocket

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

  • Travel + Leisure/Jessica Juliao

Matein Travel Backpack

  • Comfort 4.8 /5
  • Durability 4.3 /5

It has several compartments for keeping clothing, shoes, tech, and accessories organized.

The materials feel a little lower in quality than other backpacks we tried.

If you’re not ready to invest in a pricier carry-on backpack, you can always dip your toes with this functional and spacious one for under $60. This 40-liter backpack has one large main compartment that can fit several tops, bottoms, and a toiletry case without any issues. We particularly love the separate footwear compartment to prevent the bottom of your shoes from coming into contact with clean clothes and that storage can even fit pairs up to size 12. In addition, there is a laptop pocket and a large front pocket with spots to put items like phone chargers, headphones, and other small accessories that could get lost easily. Compared to the pricier bags we tried, this one feels a bit lower in quality, but none of the nylon fabric tore and scuffed during our durability tests, so we still think this bag has a good lifespan ahead of it. 

The Details: 40 liters | 20 x 13 x 8 inches | 2 pounds | Water-repellent nylon

Best Waterproof

Tortuga travel backpack.

This bag is basically a suitcase without wheels thanks to its large capacity and clamshell-style opening.

The bag can feel a bit heavy to carry when it’s fully packed.

If you’re traveling somewhere with a rainy climate, you’ll want a carry-on backpack like this one from Tortuga that can ward off the elements. It’s made with the brand’s 100 percent recycled and waterproof Shell200 or “sailcloth” material to protect your belongings and prevent bad weather from putting a serious damper on your trip. During a rainy overnight camping trip, the Tortuga Travel Backpack essentially sat in a puddle for hours, yet none of our gear or clothing inside got wet at all, and the bag was easy to clean with just a wet cloth.

This is a seriously spacious bag at 40 liters, so we found that you can seamlessly fit a week’s worth of clothing (or more) between the two clamshell compartments. Because of the split style of the bag, packing it up is hassle-free since it’s easy to see exactly how much space is left on each side. And if you run out of space in the main compartments, there are top, front, and side exterior pockets to store a laptop, accessories, water bottles, and more items that you’ll want to have handy while traveling.

The Details: 40 liters | 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 inches | 4.5 pounds | Waterproof sailcloth | 16-inch laptop pocket

Travel + Leisure / Taylor Fox

Best for Foot Travel

Osprey fairview 40.

The compartments and various straps made packing effortless. 

It’s a large bag, but it wasn’t so heavy that it was uncomfortable to wear.

For travelers journeying on foot, the Osprey Fairview wowed us with its spacious interior and comfortable fit. The straps for walking longer distances are really the best part — making your bag feel like you're carrying less since the weight is so well distributed. The bags have the same storage capacity and general style, but Osprey’s women’s backpacks are designed to fit a smaller torso with waist and chest harnesses that sit upward and outward for a more comfortable carry. In testing, the main compartment and mesh zippered pouch on the front flap proved to be spacious. There are two internal compression straps and one external strap that kept belongings secure through our rough handling, so we think the bag would provide sufficient protection if you do need to check it in for a flight. 

We appreciated the padded shoulder straps and back that made wearing the backpack comfortable, despite the weight of its contents. The Osprey Fairview bags have an internal suspension the brand calls “LightWire” that distributes the weight from the harness to the hip belt, and our shoulders didn’t hurt after carrying the backpack since most of the weight shifted to the lower body.

The Details: 40 liters | 22 x 14 x 9 inches

Travel + Leisure /Jhett Thompson

Best Convertible

Calpak terra 26l laptop duffel backpack.

With a modular design, we loved being able to carry this spacious pack as a duffel or backpack.

We found it was most comfortable to carry as a backpack when packed full.

The two-in-one design of this carry-on backpack from Calpak makes it the perfect piece of luggage to add to your collection. If you need to carry the backpack long distances, the padded straps offer plenty of comfort to protect the shoulders from feeling the weight of the pack, and they can be tucked away when they're not needed. For rushing off an airplane or grabbing the pack quickly, the duffel bag strap makes it easy to sling the pack over the shoulder within seconds. In testing, senior commerce editor Lydia Price preferred using the backpack straps after noting that the generous padding in the back and on the straps made the bag noticeably more comfortable to carry. I also own this bag and prefer to use the backpack straps, but I love having the option to carry it multiple ways as my needs change on the go.

Although the bag is medium-sized with a 26-liter capacity, it still has plenty of room to fit enough clothing for four or five days' worth of traveling thanks to the numerous pockets. The clamshell-style opening also makes it easy to organize items between the two compartments. The ripstop polyester fabric didn't scuff or scratch during our durability tests and we especially love that the outer material is water-resistant, which is helpful for all types of adventuring from urban to outdoor settings.

The Details: 26 liters | 18 x 12 x 7.5 inches | 2.9 pounds | Recycled ripstop polyester | 17-inch padded laptop pocket

Other Carry-on Backpacks We Liked

While we tested plenty of high-scoring carry-on backpacks, there were some that almost made our list but didn’t quite make the cut due to several weaknesses revealed during testing. 

Bellroy Transit Backpack Plus : We loved the adjustable sternum and waist straps that you can tuck into the bag when not in use, but we think there are better bags out there for a fraction of the price. 

AmazonBasics Carry-on Travel Backpack : It had plenty of compartments for staying organized and the material felt durable, but there weren’t any standout features that made it a must-have backpack. 

Vancropak Carry-on Backpack, Extra Large 40L : This backpack fits all of the packing items, and it even fits under an airplane seat, but our budget pick performed slightly better and it costs less. 

On more than seven separate occasions, we tested carry-on backpacks in our New York City lab to make sure we were creating this list with the best options from trusted luggage brands. For our latest tests, we built a specially designed airplane set that includes a row of real airplane seats and an overhead storage bin. To date, we've put over 89 carry-on backpacks through a series of trials that compared capacity, design, comfort, durability, and overall value. After completing our in-house testing, we sent the backpacks out with our Travel + Leisure editors to give us insight into how they fared during real-world travel. We have been updating this article with long-term testing insights as soon as they become available. 

To test for capacity, we began by packing the bags with three shirts, two pairs of pants, one jacket, one pair of shoes, and a toiletry bag. We noted if any space was left over as well as how functional the compartments were for organizing the contents packed. We evaluated the overall design of the bags by paying attention to how they fold out, how well the zippers and buckles work, and the functionality of each pocket or compartment. 

Next, we put on the backpacks and walked around for 10 minutes to rate comfortability. The highest scoring backpacks were exceptionally enjoyable to wear with the weight evenly distributed on the shoulders or hips.

Then, we threw the backpacks a few feet or off a countertop to test for durability. The highest-rated bags had no scuffs or tears after rough handling, and the packed items inside remained unharmed as well. 

Our testers had no previous knowledge of the cost of each backpack until after testing was completed. This allowed us to give an unbiased rating of overall values, where the top bags were determined to be fairly priced based on a high-quality performance, especially for the pricier bags. After our lab tests, the backpacks were sent out for real-world testing for up to six months.

Tips for Buying a Carry-on Backpack

Consider under-the-seat versus carry-on bags.

Not all carry-on backpacks will fit under the seat of an airplane, but if that’s your intended use, we recommend checking an airline’s underseat dimensions before heading to the airport. Similarly, with a carry-on backpack for the overhead bin, you’ll want to double-check the airline’s carry-on size restrictions to avoid paying unwanted fees if the bag is stuffed full of clothes. 

Keep in mind what the bag will be used for

It may seem obvious, but to find the perfect travel backpack you need to first consider its primary function. For those traveling by foot, a smaller, lightweight backpack would be better for portability and comfort. For those traveling by air, a compression bag or backpack that has plentiful organization could be a better choice so you get the most out of the limited airline baggage space. When traveling by air, you might also want to consider an option with wheels for added convenience, like a rolling backpack, weekender, or duffel bag .

Frequently Asked Questions

During our test, we packed three shirts, two pants, one jacket, one pair of shoes, and a toiletry bag into each bag and often had extra space for more clothes. Many backpacks come with a laptop compartment , but you’ll want to make sure that feature is included before purchasing yours.

Carry-on size restrictions vary by airline, and it’s possible for a carry-on backpack to not fit within some limits. Most bags will have a product details section highlighting the dimensions of the backpack. If you’re looking to fit the bag solely under the seat , you should check to make sure the bag fits the dimensions while it’s packed.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

After moving to New York City in the spring of 2022 to test travel gear for T+L, Anna Popp has spent countless hours personally testing more than 50 backpacks including bags on this list from Cotopaxi, Calpak, Peak Design, and Nomatic. She has been traveling with our top pick for more than four years — and even had to get everyone in her family the same bag so they would stop stealing hers.

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TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

A solid backpack is key to a successful trip. Think about it: You can use it as a carry-on, and if you pack light, it'll be the only piece of luggage you bring on a trip. It won't weigh you down as you rush to catch the inter-terminal train at the airport, and it'll look good on you as you stroll the streets of your destination. Find a good travel backpack, and it will serve you for years to come.

There’s a lot to consider when looking for a backpack to take you through all kinds of situations and environments. Waterproof, anti-theft, stylish, lightweight, wheels or no wheels—all things to keep in mind as you shop. To help you make the right choice, we tested 32 carry-on backpacks in our New York testing lab and in the real world. We tested for capacity, design, comfort, durability, and value.

Final Verdict

Product selection, how we tested, other carry-on backpacks we tested.

  • What to Look For

Why Trust TripSavvy

Best overall, cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5
  • Comfort 5 /5

Super durable material

Very comfortable with multiple carry methods

Lighter and more rugged than previous models

Nothing yet

Does the perfect travel backpack exist? We’re not sure, but we can’t think of one that comes closer than the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L. This second version of Cotopaxi’s best-selling backpack is rugged and comfy, has excellent organization capabilities, and is the perfect size to throw in an overhead bin, toss in a vehicle, and huff around from train to hostel.

The pack uses burly TPU-coated 1000-denier polyester and lightweight 840-denier ballistic nylon paneling. It has excellent weight distribution with comfy shoulder and sternum straps and hip belts, or stow the straps and carry the pack with side handles. The inside features multiple pockets of different sizes that we found perfect for separating clean and dirty clothes, electronics, and shoes. Bonus: It comes with a rainfly to protect it from the weather.

Capacity: 35 liters | Weight: 3 pounds, 8 ounces | Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 8 inches | Materials: TPU-coated 1000-denier polyester and 840-denier ballistic nylon

TripSavvy / Jhett Thompson

Best Overall, Runner-Up

Osprey fairview 40.

Quite spacious while remaining carry-on sized

Keeps belongings secure

Good padding and weight distribution

Osprey’s women-specific Fairview 40 pack impressed our tester with its size, space, and compartments. “This bag has a lot of compartments and a lot of straps to hold everything in place,” our tester reported. Despite the bag fitting a bit large, our tester said it was still very comfortable to wear. Osprey employs its proprietary Lightwire Frame Suspension, which helps spread the weight across the back panel and from the harness to the hip belt.

Despite being a 40-liter pack, it weighs just about 3 pounds, thanks to the lightweight nylon ripstop material and frame. “It did not hurt my back, and I like how most of the weight was shifted to my lower back,” our tester mentioned. Besides the fit, we also appreciated that all straps are stowable, making it easy in case you need to check the bag on a plane (which is possible on smaller planes with this larger-capacity pack). For the men’s version of the same pack, check out the Farpoint 40 .

Capacity: 38 liters (extra-small/small size) | Weight: 3 pounds, 1 ounce | Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.8 x 8 inches | Materials: 210-denier nylon mini hex diamond ripstop and 600-denier packcloth

Best Budget

Vancropak 40l travel backpack.

  • Capacity 4 /5
  • Design 3 /5
  • Comfort 4 /5

Great for a short-to-medium-length trip

Could double as a business travel pack

Feature packed and user friendly

Lacks tech compartment

Cloth material could get dirty easily

This 40-liter pack checks all the boxes, including excellent value. Vancropak says it fits enough for trips between three and seven days, and we’d have to agree. “It fit everything even though I packed quickly and not thoughtfully or strategically,” our tester said. “It’s perfect for a weekend trip when you want to pack extra ‘just in case’ outfits or items. It even expands to provide more room. It has extra pockets, opens like a suitcase, has many different handles, and backpack straps that can be tucked and zipped away.” Compression straps also help shrink the bag back down after being packed.

And if you weren’t convinced yet of its value, it also includes packing cubes. “Its business-casual aesthetic makes it ideal for short business trips, too,” a tester added. One nitpick? There’s no laptop sleeve. But our testers thought the other features—and comfort—more than made up for that slight issue.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3.98 pounds | Dimensions: 20 x 13.7 x 6.2 inches | Materials: Water-resistant polyester

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack

Functional straps

Multiple ways to carry

Not too weighty

Our tester didn’t love the style

If you didn’t dig the budget pack above, behold another excellent value travel pack. Like the Vancropak, the Asenlin Travel Backpack also includes three packing cubes. Our testers found they could easily fit everything needed for a weekend trip. They also liked the internal straps for organization and the external straps for compression. “It offers three different carrying methods, which is nice,” the testers reported. “It has a lot of different pockets and storage areas. The bottle holder on the side also unzips to expand, which is a thoughtful addition.”

Our testers liked how comfortable the bag was to wear and that it wasn’t overly heavy (the brand claims it weighs less than 3 pounds). We also believe this could double as a business travel bag.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.5 x 9.5 inches | Materials: Water-resistant polyester Oxford cloth

Best for Business Travel

Nomatic travel bag.

  • Comfort 3 /5

Fits about a week’s worth of items

Loads of internal organization

Comes with an additional laundry bag

Uncomfortable to carry at times

Some scuff marks after tossing around

While we certainly love this bag's sleek and simplistic aesthetic, there’s a lot more to it than just looks. It’s durable and water-resistant and has multiple carry options (e.g., duffel and over the shoulders), a separate shoe compartment, lots of tech organization, and a TSA-ready laptop sleeve.

Our testers loved the capacity of this pack. “It easily fit everything on the list with plenty of room to spare,” one tester said. “I think everything you would need for up to a week away would fit easily.” The pronounced rectangular shape of the bag made it extra easy to pack and helped organize folded clothes. “The bag had two different shoe pockets, a laptop sleeve, and many other compartments for both smaller clothing items and even some work supplies,” a tester reported.

The one drawback of this pack was our testers didn’t find it the most comfortable. Specifically, the straps were stiff and dug into one tester’s neck. Overall, though, our testers were very pleased with the pack and thought it was worth the fit, especially for the design and ease of packing.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3.4 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 21 x 14 inches | Materials: Not listed

Best Multi-use

Peak design travel backpack 45l.

  • Value 4.5 /5

Excellent capacity

Easy to handle

Thoughtful storage solutions

This 45-liter travel pack from Peak Design debuted at the Outdoor Retailer Expo in 2018 and promptly won many awards. A few years later, it still holds up. Peak Design basically thought of everything when designing this pack. The outside features weatherproof recycled 400-denier nylon canvas and ultralight padded foam. It includes grab handles on each side, stowable hip belts, and a sternum strap. The inside has multiple pockets for organization and loads of room for trips of four days or longer.

Our testers loved the size and the zippers allowing access from four different sides of the bag. “It was super easy to pack, and there were just enough organization solutions to provide options for different packing strategies,” a tester said. “I also loved how many handles there were. A grab handle on all four main sides of the bag makes it super easy to maneuver, especially when putting it in the overhead compartment.”

Testers also liked the sheath built into the pack to stow the hip belt and the small pocket on the belt for stashing quick-grab items like lip balm, keys, or cards. They also enjoyed the water bottle pockets on both sides and the pack's comfort. Oh, and this pack is 100 percent carbon neutral. The only issue they saw was the price—it’s one of the most expensive on this list. But if you can look at this as an investment, the durability suggests it should last for many years. It's certainly carry-on luggage that any travel-savvy guy can appreciate.

Capacity: 45 liters | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 9.5 inches | Materials: Weatherproof 100 percent recycled 400-denier nylon canvas external shell and 900-denier waterproof bottom liner

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Most Comfortable

Topo designs global travel bag 40l.

Topo Designs

Excellent internal organization

Many different carrying options

Great for long travel days

Could be roomier

If your travel involves carrying your backpack for long periods, we recommend Topo Designs' Global Travel Bag. This super durable pack is also super comfortable with plush and padded shoulder straps and a hip belt. We also love that there are multiple ways to carry this pack with a comfy and padded sling. Its construction includes durable and recycled nylons with a canvas feel. And it meets Fair Wear certification standards, ensuring fair labor practices.

“There are a ton of compartments and pockets, so a lot of options for staying organized with small or loose items in the absence of packing cubes,” one tester said. “I could easily see places to stash cords, travel docs, electronics, water bottles, and more.”

While our testers liked a lot about this bag—including its durability—the comfort won them over. “All the features built into the bag suggest it's intended to create maximum comfort for someone who anticipates carrying the bag for a more extended period of time,” our tester concluded.

Capacity: 40 liters | Weight: 3 pounds, 10.4 ounces | Dimensions: 22.5 x 14 x 7.5 inches | Materials: 1000-denier recycled nylon, 400-denier recycled nylon, 210-denier recycled nylon, 1680-denier recycled ballistic nylon

Best Splurge

Bellroy transit backpack plus.

Flat opening made for easy packing

Comfortable to carry

Long lasting

Minimal internal organization

If you weren't convinced by our business travel pick above, consider this your alternative. This pack's sleek, durable, and comfortable design makes it ideal for business and formal travel. Our testers found it easy to fit enough items for up to three or four days away. Lighter packers could stretch this to five days. The inside is designed more like a typical carry-on pack with one large compartment.

“This bag felt super light on my back and was padded in all the right places,” a tester reported. “It has adjustable sternum and waist straps that you can tuck into the back of the pack when you don't want to use them, which is a genius feature.” Our testers were also impressed with the bag's durability, as it survived being tossed around our lab with zero marks or scuffs.

Capacity: 38 liters | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Dimensions: 21.7 x 15 x 9.4 inches | Materials: Recycled Dura nylon

Samsonite Silhouette 17 Backpack

  • Design 4 /5
  • Durability 4 /5

Suitcase-like opening allows easy access

Eco-friendly materials

Suitable for long travel days

Internal organization may be overcomplicated for some

Launched in 1958, Samsonite’s Silhouette collection is likely the oldest on our list. But those six decades of innovation have helped make this one of the best and most versatile bags out there—not to mention one with excellent style. You can also feel good about your purchase knowing that it features 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET bottles.

Our testers liked the size of the bag and the opening, similar to a suitcase, which made it easy to pack and access items. There were many—almost too many—pockets and compartments. And our testers loved how comfortable and supportive this bag was to carry, noting its excellent weight distribution. “I would recommend this bag to someone looking for a backpack they can use as a primary form of luggage,” a tester concluded. “It has enough room and compartments to fit all of the essentials and keep them organized. It's also comfortable, supportive, and easy to carry.”

Capacity: Not listed | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Dimensions: 20 x 12.5 x 7 inches | Materials: Polyester and Recyclex

Best for Techies

Thule subterra backpack 34l.

Functional and looks good

Bag included for dirty laundry

Portable charger

Not the most comfortable

We’ve been pleasantly surprised with Thule’s line of luggage. And that certainly includes the Subterra backpack. This rugged pack could also be a good commuter option as it has a magnetic rolling top closure, a padded laptop sleeve, and a PowerPocket for charging items on the go. We love that it has many access points and comes with a packing cube and garment bag for dirty clothes.

"I loved being able to put my normal packing cubes inside the big cube that comes with the bag, and I was able to use the bag as a day bag anytime I needed to carry extra, and it never felt super bulky,” a tester reported—however, they noted that the bag didn’t particularly help their already-sore back. Not surprisingly, considering its construction, the pack aced our durability tests.

Capacity: 34 liters | Weight: 2.75 pounds | Dimensions: 20.5 x 12.2 x 9.1 inches | Materials: 800-denier nylon

Best for Storage

Mystery ranch mission rover.

Mystery Ranch

Sturdy with grab handles around the pack

Well-designed internal storage

Different ways to carry

A bit heavy

If you’ve never heard of Mystery Ranch, let us introduce you to the Bozeman, Montana-based brand, which makes super rugged packs for backpacking, hunting, the military, and firefighters. This travel-focused pack is incredibly solid on the outside and has many excellent organization and design features inside.

Highlights include a stowable hip belt and shoulder straps, multiple carrying options, a dirty clothes compartment, three inner divided pockets, and lockable zippers.

Capacity: 30, 45, and 60 liters | Weight: 4.3 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 12 inches | Materials: Plain spun nylon, 210-denier nylon

We recommend the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack thanks to its incredibly durable polyester and nylon materials, well-designed internal storage, and included rainfly. Another great pick is the Vancropak Travel Backpack , which rings up at a fraction of the cost of some other options on the market.

We selected products to test based on the expertise of TripSavvy editors and writers and on internet research. Not surprisingly, TripSavvy editors and writers travel a lot. And they have many carry-on backpacks they like and don’t like.

To ensure we weren’t missing anything, we also researched what other prominent sites have featured and looked at top-rated and reviewed backpacks on sites like Amazon and REI. Once an initial list of products was selected, we narrowed it down to the final 28 for testing based on style, function, and price.

We tested the backpacks for capacity, design, comfort, durability, and value. In our New York City-based testing lab, we asked testers to pack each backpack with three shirts, two pants, one jacket, one pair of shoes, and a toiletry bag to test for capacity. We asked the testers to consider all aspects of the backpack’s construction, organizational capabilities, and any design innovations.

Testers then carried each backpack around using the different carrying styles. We asked the testers to rate how comfortable the bag felt fully packed. After the comfort test, we asked testers to toss and throw the bag several feet multiple times. We looked for damage on the outside of the bag and any damage to products inside the bag. Lastly, we asked testers to rate the bag for overall value after a price reveal.

We have since sent the backpacks to testers to continue testing as they travel. We will update this document accordingly as their insights are submitted.

Aer Travel Pack 3 : This pack was comfortable to wear thanks to its supportively firm and cushioned back, while its rugged fabric stood up well to rough handling. Our tester subtracted some points for capacity, as it was a squeeze to get everything on the list to fit, and for the more function-forward style.

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack : This bag is very nice to look at and proved quite durable. However, it's on the small side and the features aren't particularly travel-oriented—namely, the inflexible bottle holder and the magnetic flip top that is easily displaced when the pack is full.

Minaal Carry-on 3.0 Bag : Our tester appreciated the comfort of the straps and the practical capacity of this bag, though the price was on the higher end and the packing experience was a bit of a learning curve.

Monos Metro Backpack : Another looker, the design of this bag got high praise. We liked the 270-degree opening, the easy-release front pouch, and the comfortable straps. At 18 liters, this back is more of a complement piece to other luggage and could use a better weight distribution system.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable : The expansion feature was a hit once we figured out how to use it and the durability of this pack was undeniable. It was difficult to look past a faulty zipper design that got caught frequently when trying to close.

What to Look For in a Carry-on Backpack

Prices for carry-on backpacks vary widely, so consider what your greatest needs are. You can find a spacious travel backpack for under $100—often under $50—but if you plan on facing harsh outdoor environments , consider investing a bit more money for something waterproof. Leather backpacks can cost hundreds of dollars; keep this in mind if that material is important to you. Anti-theft travel backpacks can be a bit more expensive but are often essential in highly trafficked destinations.

There are so many styles out there you could spend days filtering through the different backpacks on the market. Keep it simple: How will you be using this backpack? If you’re interfacing with clients or business partners, look for something minimal and sleek that doesn’t showcase a million pockets. If you plan on living out of your backpack for most of your trip, pockets are more of a priority. You'll want a bag that zips open flat like a suitcase for easy packing and unloading (this also makes going through security easier).

If you are using your travel backpack for hiking, find something with a removable hip harness to distribute the weight of your pack better when you’re on the move. If you plan on wearing your travel backpack casually—only in the airport or to work—seek out a style with adjustable straps and a padded back. This will help ward off any back pain, especially if you carry a lot of weight. When you’re trying on backpacks, test out the shoulder straps and imagine how they would feel if the pack was filled to capacity. Is there ample padding? Will the material cut into your shoulders? Does the back of the backpack feel like it would be breathable?

The size of backpacks is generally measured in volume (liters) or dimensions (inches or centimeters). While it is essential to refer to the specific requirements of the airline you'll be flying, a good starting point for a carry-on when flying domestically is 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 total linear inches (115 centimeters) including all handles and wheels. This size comes out to a 43-liter pack, so anything smaller should easily meet any U.S. airline size restrictions. However, this is only the beginning, and several factors may increase or decrease your allowance, such as the size of the plane and flight class you book.

This will vary based on your backpack's materials. For nylon and other water-resistant fabrics, get a damp cloth and spot-clean your pack. A damp cloth will also do the trick if your bag has plastic or metal elements. For leather backpacks, you’ll want to purchase a special leather conditioner and cleaner to maintain the integrity of your backpack.

This is an excellent feature if you plan on hiking or spending long periods carrying your backpack. It will help distribute the weight of your pack better across your body, ultimately providing more comfort. Most backpacks that are focused on outdoor adventures will have this feature.

Many backpacks are marketed as anti-theft, meaning it’s tougher for someone else to get inside your pack. Some backpacks have zippers that allow you to open the main interior compartment while wearing it—so you don’t have to take it off and risk having someone else pick it up. Others are designed with webbing over the zipper openings, making it very hard for someone to locate and unzip the bag while you have it on.

No, this is not the norm when it comes to backpacks. Compression cords make packing easier and function the same way a compression strap or cord would work in a regular suitcase. Some travel-focused carry-on backpacks do have this built-in. But if you want to squeeze in more items, consider investing in some packing cubes . These will help organize your backpack, too.

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy’s Outdoor Gear Editor. He has traveled to five continents, including plane, train, and bus travel. For most travel scenarios, he prefers backpacks over spinners or roller suitcases because of their ruggedness and different carrying methods. He currently uses Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L, Thule’s Subterra, and Topo Design’s Global Travel Pack the most. Each product recommended in this review was thoroughly researched and tested.

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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

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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

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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.

large travel bag rucksack

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.

large travel bag rucksack

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

large travel bag rucksack

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

large travel bag rucksack

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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Packing for the vacation of a lifetime? Don’t forget to put a good camera in your bag. We have picks for travelers (and vacations) of all kinds.

Four tripods that we tested to find the best tripod, each with a camera attached to the top.

The Best Tripod

by Erin Roberts, Arriana Vasquez, and Phil Ryan

If you want to shoot sharp photos while using a slow shutter speed, we think the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 tripod is the best choice.

An array of our top picks for the best portable bluetooth speakers against a beige background.

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker

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The UE Wonderboom 3 is the all-around best portable Bluetooth speaker because it sounds good and looks cool, and it’s the most rugged model we’ve tested.

Three of our favorite backpacks, totes and duffle bags on display

Wirecutter’s Favorite Bags, Totes, Backpacks and Carryalls

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Whether you’re going to school, work, the gym, the store, or on vacay, you need a bag. Here’s the Wirecutter-recommended carrying gear we love most.

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

large travel bag rucksack

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

Product Badge

  • 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Best Daypacks of 2024

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

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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 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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13 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024, Tested by Experts

Keep all your belongings safe and organized in a lightweight backpack.

four travel backpacks side by side on a blue background

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Our top picks:

Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Best Overall Travel Backpack

Cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

Travel Backpack

Best Value Travel Backpack

Coofay travel backpack.

Travel Backpack 45L

Most Versatile Travel Backpack

Peak design travel backpack 45l.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab evaluates backpacks both in Lab and with consumer testers for durability and comfort. From the best laptop backpacks and backpacks for college students to the best duffels and daypacks , we've seen it all. To find the best travel backpacks, we test everything from tear strength to strap strength and abrasion resistance to make sure the bag can stand up to rough handling for years to come. We also work with consumer testers who try them out on various trips under real-world conditions. We also consider the amount of padding in the straps, useful extras and overall weight to find the most comfortable backpacks.

Our picks are top performers from testing along with new styles that have exciting features and rave reviews. Check out our top travel backpack picks below and keep reading to learn all of our ultimate backpack shopping tips to find the best pack for you. Pair your new travel backpack with packing cubes and a hard-side suitcase for your next vacation.

We were shocked by just how much we could fit inside this travel backpack during our packing tests. In fact, it outperformed multiple carry-on suitcases for its generous capacity and well-designed interior. Similar to hard-side luggage, the bag completely unzips for easy packing and, in this case, features helpful mesh to help separate compartments.

On top of that, we liked the helpful ergonomic features, from the padding along the back to the hip strap and sternum strap, which offer comfort and support. Plus, when testing the laptop sleeve, we found there was room to spare after placing a 16-inch laptop in it. The only note of caution is that the bag doesn't have a luggage sleeve, so if you're hoping to stack it on top of rolling luggage, it may not be the right fit.

a close up of the interior of the cotopaxi backpack, including many organization components

When we surveyed our own editors and staff for their favorite bags, this one from Coofay was a hit for its organizational pockets and personal-item-friendly size. One staffer told us, "This backpack can definitely fit a week of clothing if rolled properly."

Like many popular travel backpacks, this one unzips like a suitcase for easy packing and has tons of small compartments to help keep your belongings in order. We particularly appreciate the compression straps on the side, allowing you to pack more while keeping the bag within the personal item size limit of most domestic airlines. Plus, there's a wide range of colors to choose from.

Designed with intention, Peak Design's travel backpack is truly a standout within the industry. While it's hard to find a travel bag that can tackle all sorts of trips, this one manages to do just that . It's truly one-of-a-kind and allows you to access your belongings from the front (like a suitcase), the back (like a top-loading traditional backpack) and the sides.

Compression features allow you to easily convert it from a 30L capacity to a 35L or 45L bag for all your travel needs. The backpack straps can be hidden away to keep it streamlined while using the simple luggage sleeve. The only challenge comes with packing: While the interior is spacious, there aren't too many separate compartments, so if that's important to you, the brand offers a selection of compatible packing cubes , including protective ones for camera equipment.

a shot of a completely open peak design travel bag

Away F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L

F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L

With a massive 45L interior, this bag from Away can hold everything you need for a weekend away, including multiple outfits, toiletries and even an extra pair of shoes. It's the go-to travel backpack for GH's Home & Apparel Reviews Analyst Amanda Constantine , who's brought it on everything from short weekend getaways to longer trips abroad.

Constantine notes, "The straps are comfortable and feel sturdy, and I love that the backpack straps can be tucked away if I'm carrying the bag like a suitcase instead of on my back." In addition, this pack also has all the top-notch organizational features you'd expect from Away, from compression straps to convenient mesh pockets. The caveat? The zippers are a little too easy to open and sometimes have a tendency to come undone.

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack

40L Travel Backpack

This backpack includes the ultimate organizational system: Three packing cubes , a laptop case, a water bottle/umbrella pocket and a small front pocket. The packing cubes are ideal to keep your clothes compact and wrinkle-free while traveling. We also love the padded straps and side buckles to make sure everything stays in place.

It has a clamshell opening and both sides lie down flat, which makes this backpack easier to pack and organize as you don't have to stuff items in from the top. This pick is ideal as a carry-on for international travel as you can easily pack your clothes and what you'll need on the flight.

Osprey Porter 46L Travel Pack

Porter 46L Travel Pack

Finding a good backpacking bag can be a challenge. You'll want a bag that's spacious and supportive enough that it won't cause injury. Luckily, Osprey is known for its ergonomically designed packs, making it a favorite brand amongst some hiking enthusiasts at GH. One GH analyst has even taken the brand's bags on a two-week backpacking trip to Thailand, calling them comfortable and well-designed.

This model comes with a generous 46L capacity and helpful compression straps, both on the exterior and interior, allowing you to bring everything you'll need and then some. Additionally, this bag features the brand's helpful chest and hip straps for support, along with helpful pockets throughout. Take note, however, that it comes in a unisex style, so users accustomed to women-specific packs may find the shoulder straps stiff.

TUMI Alpha Bravo Search Backpack

Alpha Bravo Search Backpack

Carrying a TUMI backpack is a status symbol no matter where you are — the brand is known for its luxury travel products worldwide, particularly for its long-lasting quality and service . Buying a travel product (e.g. a bag or luggage) from the brand typically comes with a five-year warranty and free repairs plus a lifetime registration and tracking service for finding lost bags. Even after five years, you can ask the brand to repair your bag for a small cost.

TUMI's Search Backpack is sleek enough for conferences and work trips, making it great for business travel or everyday use. One GH analyst has used this bag for over 10 years, throughout school and work and on multiple domestic and international flights. While the top-loading configuration isn't as seamless for packing, testers were still impressed by how "surprisingly spacious" and "high quality" it felt.

a person wearing the tumi search backpack

Thule Aion Travel Backpack

Aion Travel Backpack

Having the right backpack can make all the difference when going through airport security. This one from Thule, one of our favorite luggage brands, comes equipped with helpful features like a small easy-to-reach pocket for your passport and boarding pass plus a convenient laptop compartment . Within the bag, there's a helpful divider for organization along with other mesh pockets and panels.

The bag also comes in two sizes — 28L and 40L — each of which makes the perfect personal item or carry-on respectively. And if 28L sounds a bit too small, this size expands to 32L to accommodate more essentials. The only caveat is that the 40L version doesn't come with any hip straps, which is rare for a backpack of its size. The brand suggests pairing the bag with the Aion Sling , which slots in easily for support.

Samsonite Silhouette 17 Backpack

Silhouette 17 Backpack

Ideal when traveling for business or even everyday commuting to work, the Silhouette 17 backpack has all the essentials and then some. In fact, it's designed to replace your carry-on, which can slow you down when on a last-minute business trip. Moreover, Samsonite's soft-side luggage has proven be abrasion-resistant and strong in our tests , staying in great shape, so we are confident in the durability of the brand's similar products.

Beyond the durable nature, it opens up like a hardshell suitcase, complete with functional sections, and has a padded laptop sleeve for easy access. Plus, it easily convert from a backpack to a briefcase or shoulder bag. For longer trips, you can even slide it onto checked luggage instead of maneuvering two suitcases through the airport.

Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Daylite Plus Daypack

Often used on day hikes for its lightweight design, a daypack can be a great option for those in search of a not-so-heavy travel backpack. And when it comes to the best daypacks , Osprey reigns supreme as the top-performing brand, earning especially high scores for their amazing ease-of-use features and fitting everything in our packing test .

Recent testers have loved that Osprey bags have "lots of compartments" and "comfortable cushioned shoulder straps." Some even highlighted the helpful sternum strap, which keeps the weight evenly distributed, preventing shoulder pain. You can also expect an interior sleeve to fit a laptop or tablet or a hydration reservoir for hikes, plus a slew of pockets in the front including two mesh water bottle pockets.

Herschel Kaslo Backpack Tech

Kaslo Backpack Tech

When we tested this laptop backpack , we were surprised by how lightweight yet protective it felt. The detail and care are evident throughout: The bag has reinforced stitching in areas where you'd expect extra tugging like the top handle, straps and luggage sleeve. There's also a separate laptop compartment with a fleece lining to help minimize potential scratches.

One Textiles Lab analyst swears by this bag, using it as both her everyday bag for commuting as well as her go-to travel backpack, especially on business trips when she'll need her laptop handy. In our packing test, we found the 30L capacity large enough to fit a 16-inch laptop plus three to four days of clothes and toiletries. If that’s not the right size for you, it also comes in a 20L capacity for those with more petite frames.

an unzipped black backpack from herschel with a separate laptop component

patagonia Patagonia Black Hole Pack - 25 L

Patagonia Black Hole Pack - 25 L

Whether you're backpacking through a new country or flying to a nearby city, this Patagonia pack is up for the adventure. It's made with polyester that has a durable water-repellent finish to keep all your belongings protected. One tester shared that this bag is the "backpack to end all backpacks" because it's great for all types of vacations and features a sternum strap you can easily adjust to suit your height.

While the 25L capacity may look small, the bag lives up to its "Black Hole" name, fitting much more than you'd expect, especially when you roll your clothes up , or you can opt for the 32L style . Plus, in Lab tests, water rolled right off the main fabric of the bag with ease, so you can rest assured it'll protect your belongings even in unpredictable weather.

a patagonia backpack with an adjustable sternum strap

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dakota Neoprene Backpack

No one wants an uncomfortable backpack, which is why we loved this bag from Dagne Dover. It's made of neoprene fabric, which feels soft and squishy instead of stiff like some other bags. The brand also does not skimp when it comes to details like an interior pocket to hold a water bottle or cell phone and a pouch that can be attached on a leash inside the main compartment to find small stuff quickly.

The main compartment has a laptop sleeve and is large enough for a weekend trip. Plus, it even has a sleek luggage sleeve, slipping easily onto a carry-on suitcase at the airport. Take note: We found that if you’re rough with the bag, the neoprene fabric may pill (though pills can easily be removed with a fabric shaver ). This pick comes in small and medium sizes too.

a tan backpack with a luggage sleeve on a pink carry on suitcase

How we test travel backpacks

line break

The Good Housekeeping Institute has been testing travel products and backpacks for decades.

Headshot of Grace Wu

Grace Wu (she/her) is a product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute 's Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab, where she evaluates fabric-based products using specialized equipment and consumer tester data. Prior to starting at Good Housekeeping in 2022, she earned a master of engineering in materials science and engineering and a bachelor of science in fiber science from Cornell University. While earning her degrees, Grace worked in research laboratories for smart textiles and nanotechnology and held internships at Open Style Lab and Rent the Runway.

Headshot of Emma Seymour

Emma Seymour (she/her) is a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute 's Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab, where she has led testing for luggage, pillows, towels, tampons and more since 2018. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of science in fiber science and apparel design and a minor in gerontology, completing research in the Body Scanner Lab on optimizing activewear for athletic performance. 

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Home » Gear » best travel backpack

The BEST Travel Backpacks: (2024)

Did you know that the average human makes upwards of 35,000 decisions every single day? That’s a whole lotta deciding right? But in truth, some of life’s (many) decisions are more important than others. BIG decisions include what career to  pursue, who to marry and of course whether you should take the red pill, the blue pill (or both…_

So, in the grand scheme of things, choosing which travel backpack to buy may not seem all that important and yet take it from us (the experts), having the right backpack can sometimes make or break a trip. Seriously peeps, choosing which backpack to bring on a given trip is almost as important as choosing where to go.

Your travel backpack will carry every single one of your possessions on the road and will become your home. You need your chosen backpack to be strong, durable, comfortable, and compact enough to save you some space! Over the years, I have personally tried countless different backpacks and pushed them far past their limits.

So in this post I am going to channel all of that experience and knowledge in order to help you deuce what is the best travel backpack for your trip? Let’s go find out.

Quick Answer: These are the Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

So why choose to travel with a backpack, travel backpack: the best overall for 2024, the best carry on travel backpacks, best travel backpacks for hiking, best backpacks for digital nomads, the best backpacks for travel photographers, other special travel backpacks worth considering, what makes a good travel backpack, the great backpacker debate (must read), faq about the best travel backpack, conclusion of the best travel backpacks mega-list.

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you . Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more .

  • #1 Nomatic 40L Travel Bag – The Best Overall Backpack
  • #2 Tropicfeel Shell  – Best Organised Travel Backpack
  • #3 Osprey Aether Plus 70L  – Best Long Term Travel Backpack for Men (Large)
  • #4 Osprey Farpoint 40L   – Best Travel Backpack (Carry on)
  • #5 Osprey Aura 50L  – Best Large Long Term Travel Backpack (Womens )
  • #6 Osprey Airscape UNLTD – Best Travel & Hiking Backpack
  • #7 Tortuga Travel Pack  –Best Full-Size Carry On (Unisex)
  • #8 Osprey Ozone  – Best Travel Bag with Wheels
  • #9 WANDRD PRVKE 31  – Best Camera Backpack for Travel
  • #10 Tortuga Laptop Backpack  – Best Travel Bag for Laptops

nomatic 40l travel pack

Nomatic 40L Travel Bag

  • Price > $289.99
  • Liters > 30L and 40L
  • Material > Tarpaulin/Ballistic Weave
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, weekend trips

Osprey Aether Plus 70 Pack - Men's

Osprey Men’s Aether Plus 70

  • Price > $410
  • Liters > 70L
  • Material > 210D high-tenacity nylon
  • Best Use > Backpacking

Osprey farpoint 40

Osprey Farpoint 40

  • Price > $185
  • Liters > 40L
  • Material > 450D recycled twist dobby polyester
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle

Osprey Aura AG 50 Pack - Women's

Osprey Aura 50

  • Price > $315
  • Liters > 50L
  • Material > 210D honeycomb recycled nylon
  • Best Use > Trekking, backpacking, hiking, international travel

Osprey Airspace UNLTD

Osprey Airscape UNLTD

  • Price > $700
  • Liters > 68L
  • Material > 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use > Hiking, international backpacking,

Tropicfeel Shell Backpack

Tropicfeel Shell

  • Price > $249
  • Liters > 22-40
  • Material > Polyester – 60% recycled material, 100% recycled nylon

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

Tortuga Travel Pack

  • Price > $350
  • Material > SHELL200D Recycled Polyester

Osprey Ozone 4-Wheel Carry-On Wheeled Luggage

Osprey Ozone

  • Price > $320
  • Liters > 38L
  • Material > 100-denier recycled high-tenacity NanoFly nylon
  • Best Use > Travel, international wheelpacking

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

WANDRD PRVKE 31

  • Price > $239
  • Liters > 31-36L
  • Material > Combination of tarpaulin and robic nylon
  • Best Use > Travel photography

large travel bag rucksack

Tortuga Laptop Backpack

  • Price > $149
  • Liters > 25L
  • Material > 900D heathered polyester
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, carry on, day pack

Osprey Aether

Ok so why should you travel with a backpack rather than suitcase? Well, ultimately it depends on where you are going and your travel style.

For example, the cobbled streets of Europe, dirt roads of Nepal, and busy bus stations around the world are quite simply not suitcase friendly. In these environments your suitcase is likely to get damaged, get in the way and, in general, piss you off. Trust me, carrying your suitcase because the wheels have fallen off while you search for the hostel, is not a great start to a trip.

And, if you are planning to visit multiple destinations and using public transport, a suitcase is simply not practical and you will hate yourself for bringing one!

Backpacks also look kind of cool whereas suitcases just make you look like a tourist.

large travel bag rucksack

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Now, for just $30, get a lifetime membership that entitles you to 10% OFF on most items, access to their trade-in scheme and discount rentals .

Crucially, when traveling with a backpack your hands are free to use Google Maps to find your hostel, tackling stairs is not a problem, and you can officially join the backpacker hordes! No one likes a suitcase.

Still not convinced? What if I told you that once you invest in the best travel bag you shouldn’t ever need to buy another one! A good quality travel backpack lasts years and does not get damaged as easily as suitcases. I’ve been dragging my pack around the globe for nearly ten years and it’s still going strong.

The best backpacks for travel will be flexible in size and shape so when they are not full, there is more chance that you can take them on board planes. Some traveling backpacks even come with detachable day packs to make things even easier.

Why Should You Trust Us?

The Broke Backpacker team have been travelling and living out of their own backpacks for years now. Collectively, we must have 200+ years of travel experience and, by now, know what it takes to be successful on the road. We are experts in our field and take great pleasure in presenting the best possible gear to you.

Let’s kick this off with what I feel are the absolute TOP backpacks to travel with.

#1 Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

nomatic 40l travel pack

  • Price: $289.99
  • Dimemsions: 22.86 x 53.34 x 35.56 cm
  • Weight: 1.55 kg
  • Looks sexy!
  • Modern and efficient
  • Tons of room
  • Lots of awesome features
  • Carry on size

Nomatic bags are designed to be modern, sleek, and provide ultimate packing efficiency. This is accomplished by great design: tons of features, and more pockets and sleeves than you’ll know what to do with.

The Nomatic Travel Pack 40L is widely acclaimed as the perfect travel pack for several compelling reasons. Firstly, its meticulously designed organization system sets it apart. The pack features an array of compartments and pockets that are intelligently laid out, ensuring that every item has its specific place. This includes a dedicated laptop and tablet compartment, a secure RFID safe pocket, and a versatile main compartment that can expand or contract based on your packing needs.

The bag can seamlessly transition from a 40L check-in bag to a slimmer, day pack by simply adjusting the expansion zipper, making it incredibly versatile for different types of trips. The thoughtful design extends to the inclusion of a cord management system and a magnetic water bottle pocket, making it incredibly convenient to stay organized and access essentials on the go. Whether you need a backpack for a business trip  or are a digital nomad traveling the world, this will keep your laptop and valuables well secured all while looking stylish.

Read our full review of the Nomatic Travel Bag!

#2 Aer Travel Pack 3 – Our Favorite Backpack to Travel With Runner Up

AER Travel Pack 3

  • Price: $249
  • Volume: 35 liters
  • Dimemsions: 55 x 33 x 22
  • Weight: 1.87 kg
  • Multiple compartments for organization
  • Lots of potential customization

aer flight pack 2 review

Here at The Broke Backpacker, we are big fans of Aer – and the Travel Bag is one of their best backpacks to date. This bag has gotten a ton of (much-deserved) hype and it’s our pick for the best overall travel backpack!

The Aer Travel Pack 3 is a testament to functional design and urban style, ideal for the modern traveler who values efficiency and aesthetics. This pack is crafted from high-quality, water-resistant materials, ensuring durability and protection against the elements. a wonderful backpack for digital nomads on the go. It can fit your laptop as well as any other travel gear you tote around. Use it as a daypack around town or bring it on the pane for one bag travel.

There are many different compartments, pockets, and zippers to keep you organized. There’s a laptop sleeve and a very handy place just for shoes. With its blend of durability, organization, and style, the Aer Travel Pack 3 stands as an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable and fashionable travel companion.

The minimalist outer design helps deter thieves, and what the outside lacks in pockets it makes up for with well-designed internal storage.

Read our Aer Travel Pack 3 review to learn more about this bag!

large travel bag rucksack

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#3 Osprey Men’s Aether Plus 70 – Best For Backpacking (Men)

Osprey Aether Plus 70 Pack - Men's

  • Price: $410
  • Dimemsions: 83.82 x 38.1 x 35.56 cm
  • Weight: 2.81 kg
  • Convertible top-lid day pack.

Aether Backpack

The Osprey Aether is in our view, the quintessential backpackers backpack. If you headed to Southeast Asia for a few month, or maybe going on a backcountry hiking trip, then this arguably the PERFECT backpack.

It’s offers a whopping 70 litres of storage and has all the advantages that every pack from the Osprey brand offers. (the Osprey ‘All-Mighty Guarantee’ , durability, comfort). Several of us here at TBB use this pack for all of our backpacking trips and I have carried mine across 5 continents now. It has plenty of pockets and compartments to keep things extra organized plus An AirScape back panel to keep you cool on the warmest adventures. I can guarantee it’ll last a lifetime, if you don’t believe me, just ask Osprey!

Literally guys, they put a lifetime guarantee on every single product they sell to prove it. The only downside to this pack is you can’t avoid checked luggage fee’s with this bad boy as its too big. But at least you don’t have to dump any stuff! This is hands down one of the best backpacks for traveling around the world on a longer adventure.

Check out our review of the Aether 70 backpack to learn more!

#4 Osprey Aura 50 – Best For Backpacking (Women)

Osprey Aura AG 50 Pack - Women's

  • Price: $315
  • Dimemsions: 81.28 x 38.1 x 30.48 cm
  • Weight:  1.86 kg
  • Anti-Gravity Suspension
  • Floating top-lid replaceable with FlapJacket
  • Multiple organisation options.

The ladies-specific Osprey Aura is the best travel backpack for the female form. This is a high-quality backpack for women traveling on epic short or long haul adventures. Osprey as a brand are awesome and they guarantee to last many adventures! Seriously, all Osprey travel bags come with a lifetime guarantee making them undeniably the best value backpacks.

With the unique built-in Anti-Gravity suspension system, this bag is designed to carry up to 40lbs without the carrier even noticing! Meaning this travel backpack is stable, strong and can carry the weight without you having to suffer for it! If you’re a lady hitting the road, this is the travel backpack I recommend.

Overall, you should get the Osprey Aura 50 if you are traveling in a variety of weather (humidity and snow) and hike and backpack often. This backpack will be a great fit if you are looking for a high-quality backpack that can handle wear and tear.

Check out our awesome Osprey Aura 50 review!

#5 Osprey Airscape UNLTD – Best Hiking & Travel Backpack

Osprey Airspace UNLTD

  • Price: $700
  • Dimemsions: 81.28 x 40.64 x 38.1 cm
  • Weight:  2.72 kg
  • Cutting edge super comfy back support
  • Lid detaches into a day pack

The Osprey Airscape is one of two spanking hiking packs launched by the world’s leading backpack brand’s as part of its UNLTD series. The Airscape UNLTD is a 68 litre hiking and travel backpack that utilises cutting edge, 3D printing technology to create an ultra comfy, supportive and breathable lumbar, back support.

Whilst there are too many little features to list in this section (read on for the full run down), another major bonus is the 8l top lid that converts to an 18l day pack which brings a whole new dimension to the pack. 

Alas, the Osprey Airscape UNLTD also comes with a hefty $750 price tag which by far makes it the most expensive backpack that I have ever come across. Whether it is really worth that amount of money is of course debatable but what I can say is that this is by far the most comfortable hiking backpack that I have ever tried.

Osprey

I have about four different travel backpacks now. For longer trips I generally use my Osprey Aether, but I also have a number of carry on backpacks which I use for shorter trips.

And hear this, these days it is increasingly common for airlines to charge separately for checked bags and it can often increase the price of the ticket by 50%. As such, if you only travel with a compact backpack you can save a fortune on luggage fees and simply take your backpack on a flight as carry-on. Budget backpacking win right there!

Below are some of my favorite backpacks that I use as a carry-on. If you’d like to learn more about these sort of bags, then be sure to head over our comprehensive guide on the top carry-on backpacks to take traveling!

#1 Osprey Farpoint 40 L  – Best Carry-on Backpack (Men)

Osprey farpoint 40 review

  • Price: $185
  • Dimemsions: 55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm
  • Weight: 1.59 kg
  • Large panel zip access to main compartment.
  • Stowaway backpanel, harness and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection.
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment.

Overall, you should get the Osprey Farpoint 40 if you are traveling the world, and like to pack super light (like me). If you are looking for a nearly indestructible carry on backpack which can actually carry, and compartmentalize, a lot of stuff – this backpack might be your match made in heaven.

Because of it’s 40 liter size, the Farpoint 40 is a near-guarantee to carry on no matter the airline. This will save you hundreds of dollars in checking fees, and countless hours waiting in baggage claim. And as we will look at later, there is plenty of space to make sure that light-traveling does not mean bad-traveling.

In my opinion, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is the best value carry on backpack on the market right now. Check out our epic Osprey Farpoint review here . 

#2 Osprey Fairview 40  – Best Carry-on Backpack (Women)

Osprey Fairview 40

  • Size: 40 Liters
  • Dimemsions: 53.34 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm
  • All of the pros of the Osprey Farpoint 40.
  • A hiking and carry-on backpack specifically designed to fit women!

The Osprey Fairview 40 was designed specifically for girls and women – making this category an easy choice! To clarify for the ladies… ANY of the bags mentioned prior can be used for women. Whether you are interested in Minaal, Tortuga, Aer, or any of the others – all of these bags are unisex. Except for the Osprey Fairview 40, which was designed specifically for women.

Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack

This travel backpack can transform into a duffel bag, which is made even more awesome by the included shoulder strap, and the ability to stow the bag’s harness and hip belt. At a square 40 liters, you’ll rarely have to worry about this bag being checked.

If you are a lady, and want all of the glory of Osprey in a bag that is specifically designed for you, then hell yes! Please, don’t be hesitant to purchase any of the other bags (as they are all unisex!) but if you want a badass hiking pack that also functions as a carry on backpack, this is an easy pick.

#3 Peak Design Travel Pack – Best 30l Carry On Travel Pack

large travel bag rucksack

  • Price: $229.95
  • Capacity: 30 litres
  • Dimemsions: 53cm x 34cm x 20cm
  • Weight: 1.44 kg
  • Great organisational capacity
  • Extends to 33L
  • Amazing for organization
  • Comfy to carry and fits under the seat

The Peak Design 30L Travel Pack is built with the modern traveler in mind. Its 30-liter capacity is perfect for weekend getaways or even extended travel if you pack light. The bag’s sleek design isn’t just about looks; it’s also about function. Its adjustable compartments allow for a customized fit for your belongings, while its innovative side access points provide convenience in retrieving items without having to dig through the entire bag. The expansion zippers give you the flexibility to accommodate extra items when needed, making it an adaptable companion for various travel durations.

tbbteam - Peak Design Travel Pack 30

I have been incredibly impressed by this travel pack and it has now accompanied me on a free weekend rips already. What I really love about it is how well organised I can get with my packing – everything has its place and there are enough zips and pockets to stash all of those little odds and ends. In terms of downsides, the packs material is thick and robust but not all that nice to the touch. The bag does also feel a bit heavier than it looks.

Finally I personally find that 30 litres is only ever enough storage for a few nights worth of traveling but perhaps thats just me – I do after all travel with a hair-dryer. Fortunately though there is a 40 litre version available.

#4 Tortuga Travel Pack  – Best Full Size Carry-on

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

  • Price: $350
  • Size:  45 litres
  • Dimemsions: 47 x 30 x 23
  • Weight:  1.5 kg
  • The design will leave you fairly impressed
  • It has tons of pockets/compartments
  • It packs huge – you can put A LOT in it

The first thing I noticed when packing my new Tortuga Travel Pack, was just how massive the main compartment was. It has the capacity to carry a ton of clothes. If you are a world traveler, then this is great because it means you have to do less laundry – score! And yet despite its generous capacity, the new and improved version of the Tortuga Travel pack was custom designed to for carry on meaning that it complies with the limits for pretty much every airline in the world.

Its a cleverly designed pan too. The Travel Pack by Tortuga’s design enables its the main compartment to be opened like a suitcase; this is far more convenient than a traditional backpackers backpack. Reaching my stuff was simple, and because of the organization of the compartments, it was easy to know what was where.

Inside the main compartment are six smaller compartments. The first four smaller compartments are enclosed within the main compartment. The Tortuga Travel Pack is still without a doubt one of the best backpacks on the market. It’s quality build, intuitive design, fantastic organization, and smaller size make it the perfect compact travel bag for anyone who wants to travel light, but travel in style.

Check out out our must-read full Tortuga Travel Pack review .

#5 Tropicfeel Shell Backpack – Best Backpack for Organizing

Tropicfeel Shell

  • Size: 22-40 litres
  • Dimemsions: 51 x 30 x 19 cm
  • Really fucking versatile
  • Packs up easily
  • Fairly priced

The Shell by Tropicfeel is a little to medium backpack sized with a big concept. Firstly, it is a 3 in 1 extendable backpack that begins life as a 22 liter pack, rolls up to 30 litres and then with the addition of a detachable pouch goes all the way to 40 litres.

As well as being a 3-in-1 backpack (which you can easily adapt to use as day pack, overnight pack and carry-on pack), the Shell also has another awesome feature – a little, mini drop in pull out travel roll up wardrobe! With multiple compartments, you can easily pack and unpack all of your belongings. For a quick outfit change at the airport, this is ideal.

This is a VERY unique and special pack and it seriously impressed me. While not all of you will want this kind of pack, it has won itself a delisted fanbase. I also just love how mega-stylish this bag is too. Keeping everything tidy, easily accessible and organized during your travels has never been so easy. On top of that, the recycled material is also weather and water-resistant.

Want to know more about the company, we’ve done a full review of TropicFeel just for you!

A lot of people like to go hiking while they are out traveling the world. To do so, they need a special type of travel backpack, one that can go further, carry more, and last longer.

Aside from the Osprey Aether and Aura, here are a couple more options when looking for a good bag to go traveling and hiking with. If you would like to read more about these special pieces of gear, then be sure to check out our ENORMOUS hiking backpack guide !

#1 Osprey Aether Plus 85 Backpack – A BIG Travel Backpack

Osprey Aether

  • Price: $440
  • Dimemsions: 86.36 x 40.64x 40.64 cm
  • Removable top lid w/compartment and waterproof zipper
  • Converts to a lumbar pack with AirScape lumbar pad

Looking to head into the back country in search of adventure? Whether it is a couple of days hiking or an epic adventure The Osprey Aether Plus 85 backpack is the best travel backpack on the market by far.

I’ve been adventuring with my Aether for nearly ten years now. The best thing about Osprey is that they operate an all-mighty guarantee. This means that they will repair any damage done to your pack, no questions asked, for free. However, note that in recent years they have amended this guarantee and it now excludes wear & tear, water damage and airline damage.

The Osprey Aether Plus 85 is a big expedition backpack; it’s 85 liters, extremely comfortable thanks to the custom-molded hip belt, is compatible with hydration systems, has plenty of sections for storage and can easily be loaded up with a ton of stuff – I once strapped three tents to the outside and had a fourth tent on the inside plus cooking equipment, sleeping bags, food, clothes, electronics etc…

#2 Osprey Skarab 30 – A Smaller Backpack for Shorter Journeys

Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Mens Pack

  • Price: $150
  • Dimemsions: 53.34 x 27.94 x 25.4 cm
  • Weight: 0.74 kg
  • Walking pole attachments
  • Adjustable BIOFIT back system

For the days when you venture into the wilderness or walk the market streets, you need a pack that is both comfortable and practical. I’ve been using my Osprey Skarab for three years now as my go-to backpack for shorter adventures or hikes.

It’s one hell of a pack and is the best budget backpack I’ve come across. It’s pretty cheap considering the quality and it has plenty of pockets for storage, a padded hip belt, a safety whistle on the chest strap (always handy!) and an in-built rain cover.

The Osprey Skarab backpack is 30 liters so it’s a backpack best for weekends or ultralight hiking rather than long expeditions where you have to carry tents and food. It can just about handle long trips but space is limited so whilst it is one of the best backpacks for travel, it wouldn’t be my first choice for a long trip. For more intel check out our full-length Osprey Skarab review .

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Now, you  could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card!  REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

#3 Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack – A Cheaper Travel Backpack Osprey-Alternative

Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack - Men's

  • Price: $250
  • Dimensions: 84.07 x 32 x 27.94 cm
  • Weight: 2.25 kg
  • 15% perspiration control
  • Dimemsions:

Hands down, this is one of the best backpacks for hiking. This is a fantastic backpack for those looking for comfort, support, breathability and freedom of movement. This backpack is absolutely one of my best picks and if it wasn’t for my trusty Osprey, I would probably be a Deuter man.

These days, traveling without a laptop is just not going to happen. For many of us, a laptop is just as essential as a phone and if you are a digital nomad hitting the road, you need to protect your baby. So amigos, let me share the best travel backpacks for digital nomads and laptop lovers.

#1 Tortuga Laptop Backpack – Best Travel Backpack for Digital Nomads

Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack

  • Price: $149
  • Size: 25 liters
  • Weight:  1.27 kg
  • Very functional
  • High-quality manufacturing
  • Super organized

This one is pretty obvious – the Laptop Backpack is great for…. laptops! But seriously, if you are looking for a sturdy pack to carry your laptop around– look no further, this bad boy is as good as it gets. This is for a few reasons.

First off, Tortuga Backpacks are possibly some of the most well designed and durable backpacks on the market. We’ve reviewed tons of Tortuga products and they all have an incredible amount of detail to them, and are made of the highest quality materials. High quality/durable materials means your precious laptop will be safe and sound.

Simply put, this backpack has tons of organization features, all of which are designed specifically for laptops. Notice in the pictures above and below, that this bag is loaded with ways to keep your gear safe, and very organized. Tortuga markets this bag as an “organized daypack for air travel” – and it’s certainly true!

The design and features of this backpack make it perfect for air travel. Whether it’s the sleek laptop sleeve, the easy to lock zippers, the luggage handle pass through or the hideaway shoulder straps, this bag thrives in airports and airplanes.

Check out our in-depth Tortuga Laptop backpack review . 

#2 Arcido Akra 35L – A Large yet Lightweight Travel Backpack

Arcido Akra 35L

  • Price: $195
  • Dimemsions: 55 X 35 X 20 cm
  • Weight:  1.7 kg
  • Sleek, stylish design
  • Super lightweight makes travel easy
  • Organized + customizable

This is the perfect carry on travel backpack for urban travelers. Its laptop harness, organizational pockets, and integrative packing cubes (in the Arcido Akra and Vaga Daypack Bundle ) make this the perfect travel backpack for digital nomads too.

At only 2.4 lbs, this is a lightweight backpack for travel that can become even lighter when the sternum straps and waist belt are removed. In essence, Arcido makes simple, tough, and well-designed travel backpacks equipped with enough storage and organizational features make any modern traveler happy. We love that this is an affordable backpack for its high-quality design.

Check out our full Arcido Akra review!

#4 Incase Icon Pack – One of the Toughest Laptops Bags

Incase icon slim pack travel backpack

  • Price: $149.99
  • Size: 9 x 13 x 19 inches
  • Dimemsions: 48.26 x 33.02 x 22.86 cm
  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Multiple organisation options
  • Airflow channels in back panel

The Incase Icon Pack is a great travel backpack if you’ll be working on the road and need a sturdy, durable pack to keep your laptop safe while exploring new areas. Featuring multiple exterior and interior pockets, the Icon laptop backpack allows maximum organisation and easy access to your belongings, with a dedicated laptop compartment to stow your gear away safely.

Check out our in-depth breakdown of the best laptop backpacks for more intel!

Photographers need to be very mindful of their gear while traveling. Rough rides and constant movement can imperil sensitive camera equipment, so it’s very important to have a reliable backpack that can keep everything safe.

These are a few more good travel backpacks, this time with the photographers and aspiring photographers in mind. If these suggestions aren’t enough, we’ve also written an in-depth guide to choosing the best camera backpacks too!

#1 WANDRD PRVKE 31  – Best Travel Camera Backpack

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

  • Price: $239
  • Size: 31 Liters
  • Dimemsions: 48 X 30 X 18 cm
  • Expandable roll top
  • Large enough for travel camera + 3-4 lenses
  • Additional straps for accessories

For those who want a backpack that can does a little bit of everything, is durable, and looks damn good in the process, the WADNRD PRVKE 31 is an excellent investment. At 31 (expandable to 36) liters, this backpack can hold quite a bit and there are plenty more pockets to hold everything else. Thanks to its robust weather-resistant design, your belongings will be safe as well. Add in some customizable straps and sleek sexy design and you have a backpack that can do damn near anything.

Though the PRVKE 31 has lots of padding and additional straps for distributing weight, it lacks certain key features that make it truly adept at carrying heavier loads. During our tests, both of the women on our trip struggled somewhat while carrying this bag as it did not fit snugly against their bodies.

I was impressed with the number of customizable options that PRVKE 31 offered. Between the many loops found on the pack as well as the ability to attach adjustable accessory straps (sold separately), users will be able to find many alternative means of packing. Overall, a badass camera backpack!

Read our WANDRD PRVKE 31 review!

#2 Nomatic Peter Mckinnon Camera Bag  – Best Travel Camera Backpack

nomatic camera bag

  • Price: $399.99
  • Size: 35 liters
  • Dimemsions: 55.88 x 34.29 x 22.86 cm
  • Weight:  2.61 kg
  • Expands to 42 liters
  • Can hold a full-frame camera, multiple lenses, and a small drone
  • Doubles as a great short-term travel backpack

This is the first true camera bag offered by Nomatic. Inspired and designed by legendary Youtuber and renowned photographer Peter Mckinnon, this 35 liter backpack is already a top competitor of the Wandrd PRVKE 31.

Built to last and with the traveling photographer in mind, the Nomatic Camera Bag is ultra-functional, durable, and sleek. Small enough to be a carry on, yet big enough to support extended weekend trips, the 35 liters offered here makes this bag ideal for photographers who find themselves frequently out on overnight/ inner-city trips.

The drawback: to get the most of this bag, you really need to go for the bundle package – which comes with all of the nice accessories that make this backpack great. If you have the money, going for the Nomatic Camera Bag is an excellent investment and is probably an all-around better backpack then the WANDRD 31 when all of the accessories and features are added up.

Read our Nomatic Camera Pack review !

Sometimes traveling calls for a unique bag. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior who needs something both professional and rugged. Maybe you just like to mix things up. Either way, these backpacks maybe more appropriate for you.

#1 Osprey Ozone 4-Wheel – Top Wheeled Backpack for Travel

Osprey Ozone 4-Wheel Carry-On Wheeled Luggage

  • Price: $320
  • Size: 38 Liters
  • Weight: 2.27 kg
  • Will attach to any of the wheeled luggage by Osprey
  • Can be combined with other Osprey bags to make a nimble beast

Wheeled luggage sometimes get a bad reputation. We’ve all seen those travelers trying to roll giant pieces luggage around cobble stone streets or busy Asian alleys, clearly in over their head. But wheeled backpacks are different. …

Designed for the savvy traveler, Osprey Ozone 4-Wheel Carry-On Wheeled Luggage is pretty much one of the best travel backpacks out there. The padded hip-belt and shoulder harness stow away for easy transport. It can clip on to the wheeled range by osprey for easy transport and it is super breathable. It even has an inside zipped compartment perfect for smelly hiking boots!

I’ve been using this pack on and off for two years: you can fit a TON of stuff in it – a genuinely surprising amount considering it still qualifies as hand luggage most of the time – however, once it’s heavy it quickly becomes a tad uncomfortable – not ideal if you plan on taking it hiking. This is one of the best backpacks for travel if you have a ton of valuables you want to keep in your hand luggage – i.e. if you are a digital nomad!

#2 REI Co-Op Flash 55 – An Excellent Budget Backpack

REI Co-op Flash 55

  • Price: $199
  • Dimensions: 76.2 x 35.56 x 30.48 cm
  • Weight: 1.28 kg
  • Perfect-Fit suspension for on-body adjustments
  • Easy access
  • Budget-friendly

Although a little smaller than the Osprey Aether (and not as well-built), the REI Flash 55 still makes for a quality backpack for travel on long haul minimalist trips and weekend backpacking missions.

Ideal for use in both cities and in the mountains, the Flash 55 is a versatile, sturdy backpack with multi-functional pockets, a comfortable, suspension- supported fit, and easy access compartments allowing you to get to your essentials whenever you need to. This is one of the best hiking bags around for under $200.

Coming in just under $200, this pack features 8 external pockets plus a main compartment, making packing for your adventure a breeze. Combine this with a breathable back frame and comfortable hip belt, this is a great go-to for your weekend backpacking trips and more. I’ve used this pack primarily in desert climates, and typically tried to keep the overall packed weight under 35 lbs, and it’s yet to fail me.

All that being said, there are a few things I don’t love about the bag. For starters, the zipper pouch on the back side is made from a ripstop nylon material, which I found to be super inconvenient.. Another small complaint I had was the option to not include a rain cover for the bag. The nylon exterior can fend off small mistings of from mother nature, but anything more would more than likely render the bag (and your belongings inside) rather soaked and heavy.

Osprey Aether

Picking the best backpack to travel with doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive…

It’s easy to grab a great discount deal from a top brand and, to be honest, if you buy anything from Osprey, Aer, or Tortuga you won’t be disappointed. However, not all backpacks are created equal and there’s a few factors you should always look at when picking a backpack for traveling…

1. The Right Travel Backpack Size

Size is a personal choice and the best travel packs have no definitive size. If you are a medium to long term traveler who needs more space for camping gear, who wants to pick up lots of trinkets or who travels with a full wardrobe then you need a 60-liter minimum backpack. I have seen some backpackers make do with 50 litre packs, and while I applaud them, they are definitely freaks!

Larger backpacks however mean checked baggage fees and you are less likely to be able to take your backpack into the bus with you -instead you’ll have to strap it to the roof and hope it doesn’t rain (rain covers do exist mind).

Is Turkey safe to travel alone?

The smaller your travel bag, the less you can take, but the big bonus is no checked bag fees and it’s easier to keep tabs on your pack at all times. If you can keep your backpack below fifty liters you will save a fortune when flying. However the reality is that small bags are usaally too small for trips that last longer than a week to maybe two.

Think carefully about the size of your pack and what’s best for you – the best backpacks for travel are different for everyone. Personally, I travel with a seventy liter pack as I am often carrying camping gear.

2. Straps on Your Travel Backpack

Carrying everything you need to travel the world on your back doesn’t come lightly… even when you pack light! Wandering lost, trying to find a hostel in the heat of the day with a travel bag is not fun, even the lightest packers will agree.

To combat this, the best backpacks will include well designed load bearing straps to help turn that heavy backpack into a fairly light backpack.

The aim of the game is to take weight off your shoulders and onto the hips. This is significantly better for you and you can walk, climb and even jump around pretty comfortably if your pack’s weight is distributed evenly. These days most larger backpacks include hip belts as standard.

For me, quality hip belts are what makes a great travel backpack. Without a hip belt, even the best backpack in the world can turn into a nightmare. Some traveling backpacks have heat-molded custom made hip belts that may appear somewhat gimmicky but are very comfortable.

Your shoulder straps are equally important and should be comfortable to wear, without the hip belt. Look for shoulder straps that have plenty of padding.

A swagman with a durable backpack

3. Pockets, Pockets, POCKETS

Well organised travel bags make the best travel bags. There’s nothing more annoying than a typical backpack which only opens from the top meaning that each and every time you need something you’ll be pulling literally, everything else but that, out.

Pockets alleviate this problem; allowing you to assign certain segments of your travel backpack to particular items (e.g. clothes, toiletries, passport and money) for easier access. The best pocket is a U-shaped opening pocket as this allows easy access.

Nomatic bag features

4. Travel Backpack Weight

Great travel backpacks are those which are as light as a feather. Sadly these don’t really exist and instead, you need to consider the best weight for what you’ll be doing. Backpacks themselves are not weightless, the heavier the frame, the more weight you have to start with.

In general, you want to go for the lightest, but toughest, pack you can find. Gregory Packs are some of the lightest packs on the market but they are simply not as tough as Osprey or Aer and that is there downfall…

Osprey Renn 50: a light travel backpack

5. How Comfortable Should a Travel Backpack Be?

Your travel backpack will become your new best friend, it’s where you will store all of your shit, it will basically become your home; therefore you need to try and choose the most comfortable backpack.

You’ll find the best travel pack by trying it on in the store before buying. When trying it on, load it up with some weight to take it for a proper test drive. I strongly recommend trying a bunch of different backpacks on at an REI or Outdoor Store before making your choice.

When it comes to fitting a backpack , you want an even distribution of weight across your hips, shoulders and chest, and to make sure there are no pressure points that may cause the bag to rub or pinch as you walk. Cushioned shoulder pads and padded hip belts are always a winner my friends…

The better your hip belt, the better your pack will sit upon your body and the more comfortable it will be.

osprey exos 58 review: one of the most comfortable backpacks

6. Material and Construction of a Good Travel Backpack

So it’s raining and you’re still trying to find your hostel? Or you can see your backpack from the plane window waiting to be loaded and it’s sitting in the rain? ( Fuck you Kingfisher Airlines ). Water-resistant material is essential when traveling!

Your bag will be exposed to rain, puddles or leaks at some point. There’s nothing worse than opening the bag to find your clothes soaked and stinking or worse, your electronics damaged. The most durable backpacks are made from strong, durable, stretchy, waterproof material.

So look out for backpack material that will last for years – the last thing you want is a ripped bag halfway through your travels!

Does the sound of having a super-durable backpack speak to you? Check out our in-depth best heavy duty backpacks review!

a most durable backpack in snowy mountains

7. Best Travel Backpacks for Men vs Women

There are literally thousands of backpacks for traveling on the market and the best packs tend to be made with one gender or another in mind. Unisex backpacks usually will fit pretty much anybody but you can get a man’s backpack, which will take into account broad shoulders, for the same price so I definitely recommend finding a gender-specific backpack when you hit the road.

Finding the best female travel bag requires more research than nice colors and comfortable straps. I am, of course not a woman. So to help me out on this I spoke to a bunch of kick-ass women adventurers for advice.

A woman hiking with a medium size backpack

Size is perhaps the most important consideration along with comfortable straps and weight distribution. This doesn’t mean that women have to buy travel bags specifically for them, but the feedback from my girlfriend and friends; is that they’re so much better.

Other than the different design for a typical woman’s body, there is not much difference between the women’s and the men’s travel backpacks. Most of the points that you’ll below apply to both genders so keep these in mind.

Generally speaking, backpackers are some of the most warming, understanding, agreeable people on the planet.

But there is one decisive issue among backpackers.

To travel with a carry on backpack, OR to travel with a large backpack ?

This has proven to be quite the epic debate. Every backpacker has an opinion on the topic, making it difficult for newbie travelers to know which side to pick, and most importantly, which bag to buy.

Let’s go over both options.

In Favor of a Big Backpack (60L – 80L)

The most obvious reason to have a larger backpack is that you can carry more stuff! A 65-70 liter backpack can hold all kinds of extra items from food to gear to photography/videography equipment!

Now not everyone is going to want or necessarily need to deal with all of these extra pieces of kit. More kit means more weight, more check-in fees, and more tedious packing and unpacking sessions. Ultimatly, you should only be packing what you need.

How About 50 Litres?

Some backpackers prefer to use 50 litre backpacks. They offer the comfort and durability of “proper” big backpacks but obviously are lighter and carry less stuff making them lighter again. Honestly, a litre backpack feels really nice to carry and they are easy to throw on and take off bus roofs.

However. While some travellers a 50 litre backpack to be something of a “not too big not too small” sweetspot, I actually find them to occupy a bit of a neversphere. What I mean is that they are too big to take as carry on but (for me) not big enough for a proper long trip. Personally, my view is that you are going to go with a full sized pack, go with 60 litres. Even if you don’t use all 60, at least you have room for souvernirs.

  • Can accommodate extra gear for hiking, camping, etc
  • Great if traveling to colder destinations
  • Great when traveling off the beaten path
  • More room=more options
  • Additional strain on your back
  • Have to check it on airplanes and buses
  • Many travelers simply don’t need it
  • Not as ideal for urban travel

In Favor of a Carry On Bag (35L – 40L)

tortuga travel backpack

While traveling with a  60L+ bag might make sense for some people, it is completely unnecessary for other people. If you are a lighter packer, or maybe if you are just going away for the weekend, then need a 65L beast is too way much.

If this is you, then you may prefer a 40L, “carry on” size bag. To be fair, they are still a decent size and can carry a lot of stuff. If you are not any bringing camping or hiking gear, then a 40-50L bag can be more than enough to handle all of your stuff.

Traveling with a light bag means traveling with less stress. Less stress on your back, less stress in your bag, less stress in your life in general. Travelers who carry large bags often fill it with things they don’t need.

But traveling light does require a sense of dedication, and if this minimalist bag style doesn’t appeal to you, then go big baby!

  • Less shit to worry about
  • Less stress on your back
  • If your bag is under 40L, you don’t have to check it
  • Great for urban travel
  • Forget about camping, trekking or hitchhiking
  • Limited space means less stuff
  • Not a great option if you want to bring a lot of clothes

Should you get a Large or Carry On Backpack?

This is completely up to you and will ultimately depend on your travel style.

Take into consideration the type of person you are… is traveling super lightweight attractive to you? Do you plan to go camping around the world ? Do you plan to travel mostly to cities? Will you be flying a lot and want to avoid luggage fees?

By determining your travel plans and travel style, you’ll be able to better make a selection for which travel bag is best for you

large travel bag rucksack

If you still have some questions then no problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

How can you find the right travel backpack for you?

Comfort, durabilty, size and prize are the main factors that determine a good backpack. Make sure you measure your torso and find out how much capacity you need for your gear during your trip. Then choose from the remaining options accordingly.

Is a 40L backpack big enough for Travelling?

Unless you’re travelling extremely minimalistic, long term travel can be tricky with only 40L. For short term travel however, it’s abolutely enough.

What is the best value travel backpack?

The Nomatic Travel Bag 40L is a great value backpack since it offers the best bang for your buck that you could find on the market. However, the Aer Travel Pack 3 is a strong competitor.

Are there any good budget backpack options?

The REI Co-Op Flash 55 is an excellent budget option. With 55L and high quality material, the Flash 55 is a versatile, sturdy backpack.

Which is the best travel backpack brand?

For us, the obvious choice is Osprey as they hit the right price point, the backpacks are durable and they offer a big variety of styles.

REI Flash backpack

So there you have it amigos, the best tips to help you find the best travel packs for your upcoming adventures. The packs featured here are our personal favourites and we can vouch for each and every one of them.

Still not sure which backpack to buy? Well to nicely summarise it all for you, the best backpacks for travel are:

  • The Nomatic Travel Bag 40L is the best overall travel bag for 2024.
  • For the best hiking travel backpack, it is the Osprey Aether 70 …

You are now armed with all of the best options to find the best backpack for you! Our hope is that you find the backpack of your dreams and have many, many awesome adventures with your new best friend.

Now that you have your backpack, it’s time to check out our backpacking packing list for some ideas of what to put in it!

large travel bag rucksack

Aiden Freeborn

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59 Comments

You can backpack with a surplus military rucksack and do well. Poorly chosen footwear, tho, not so much.

Lets not hype it too much. Any three of the comparable packs in size and intent would be usable for the length of that trip. For the experienced packer tho, you only get one pair of boots. Choose wisely – and carry extra socks.

I know most of the experienced packers would read right past the opening line, but someone wanting to try the trail for their first time to Devil’s Den would not be well served concentrating on a high end pack and hitting the trail head with flip flops.

Great detailed article. I ended up going with the Wandrd Prvke. I think i made an awesome choice. Really love the looks and functionality of the bag.

Hey Will, Thanks for your wounderful review. Actually I was using Pacsafe Metrosafe backpack and now I want to upgrade my backpack. I’ll go for Nomatic as exactly you said it is designed to be modern, sleek, and provide ultimate packing efficiency. Thank for this buying guide!

Glad you are enjoying the Nomatic Pack! Indeed, that pack is awesome. Cheers.

very informative article sir

Thanks for sharing. I’m the new in backpack travel. I was torn between nomatic backpack and zynego backpack. Although I know the popularity of these two bags cannot be compared, I am very interested in zynego’s ai intelligence system. I think I need help! hhh

Our top choice at the moment is the Nomatic backpack :). Cheers!

I use the Osprey Porter 30L as my Carry On, because I have NEVER had to check it in no matter what airline. Even on small regional flights, I had no issues with it as a Carry On. The Farpoint and Fairview are excellent bags, but depending on the airline, yoiu may have to check them in. That’s never an issue with the Osprey Porter 30L.

Same with my 35 liter Minaal 2.0 Never have to check it. Always allowed carry on. Best way to travel… light… quickly… easily.. one bag… carry on. Much more free feeling…

I missed Deuter act lite but I bought 60 + 10 liter for women and I am more than happy with it!

60 – 70 liters. WOW ! I would never want to be packing that much stuff. Why would you need to pack so much stuff and put so much strain on your body? I travel for months at a time with just a 35 liter convertible backpack and I find that’s plenty. Pick up and go. I never have to check a bag, always carry on. I used to travel with a 45 liter bag, but it was big, and I always had to check it at the airport and then hang around the carousel waiting for it at my destinations. Now I just carry my 35 liter bag on and toss it in the overhead and no waiting a carousels or wondering who’s handling my bag. One Bag…Carry On travel. I always travel for a minimum of two months at a time, and up to four months. One, 35 liter, convertible backpack.

Whoah, Thanks for the lovely post. A great help, hope you continue to do this more often. I really like studying your posts. Cheers!

Hey, I’m in a bit of a dilemma- I’m so used to suitcases and i’m doing my first backbacking trip around SE Asia for 5 weeks in aug-sept. I want to pack quite a few clothes and I’m travelling by plane between different cities. Should I still go for a backpack and what size would you recommend. I was thinking backpack because I want to get scooter Grabs, and also the terrain. I was thinking 60-70 because of the amount of stuff I wanna bring but I was told by a friend that it would break my back lol.

Pssshhhh!!! Don’t listen to them! You can totally take a 60L without a problem so long as you don’t have a pre-existing spinal problem. Just make sure the pack fitted right! Depending on how heavy you pack, you might not need all that stuff though. I’m in Thailand for 7 weeks with Nomatic’s 30L . (Don’t worry, they have laundry service everywhere!)

I’m in my 60’s and would never think of taking a 60 or 70 liter back pack. Too much stuff. And you will have to check it at the airport and possibly pay baggage fees. Why would you want to take lots of clothes? I take three pair of summer weight material zip off pants, three thin summer weight material Columbia shirts wit roll up sleeves and three pair of ex-officio underwear and a good pair of hiking sandals. So I wear one set of clothes, and my other two sets are “Ranger Army Rolled” and in packing cubes in my 35 liter backpack. There are cheap laundries everywhere there that will do a load for a buck or two. And you can even wash your clothes in the sink and shower and hang to dry in your hotel room or apartment. I go for months at a time in Southeast Asia and carry only my 35 liter Minaal 2.0 convertible backpack. So much easier to carry less stuff, and not have to check any bags. Just carry it on the plane and throw it in the overhead. No waiting at carousels, or worrying about other people being rough with your bag or having it being diverted to another country and not showing up. Minimalist, one small bag, carry on is the way to travel. And it’s becoming more popular.

60 – 70 liters. WOW ! I would never want to be packing that much stuff. Sounds like major Himalayan expedition for a few months. I travel for months at a time with just a 35 liter convertible backpack and I find that’s plenty. Pick up and go. Never check a bag, always carry on.

Hey thank you for writing this post. It’s really helpful 🙂

Hi I am not a frequent traveller though like travel. In a recent trip with a connection inDubai, i used an american tourister 35L backpack, which caused a heavy toll on my back. Is it due to the particular brand or backpacks as a whole. Please suggest a backpack that is Back’ frenly.

Hi Shephy, I don’t really know about that model specifically, but if you have no spinal issues normally, a well-made, well-fitted pack won’t give you problems. Make sure you have hip straps (and use them). You can have someone help you fit it properly and always pack the bag with the heaviest stuff closest to your spine. This helps maintain your normal posture.

Have you tried the Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L? I’m trying to decide between that one an the farpoint 40L. Thank you.

Hi Lucas, we have not tested the Eagle Creek backpack you mentioned, but we always recommend anything by Osprey…and the Farpoint is a solid choice!

Any suggestions for a woman with low back issues. I hurt my back last year and can no longer carry larger bags but love the freedom of having a backpack for travel. I’m also only about 5″3″ if that helps.

It’s recommended to have a backpack with hip straps if you’re traveling but in your case, I’d say it’s ESPECIALLY important to have sturdy and padded hip straps, even if it’s a smaller backpack. This will take most of the pressure off your back. The second key element will be to get it properly fitted, especially if you’re wearing a larger bag. You need to find the tension that works for your hip straps, shoulder straps, and stabilizers (if you have them). You can research this online or ask a professional at an outfitter – they’re usually willing to help, even if you didn’t purchase the pack in their store. Similarly, do research on how to mount the pack properly without doing more damage to your back. Lastly, manage the time that you’re carrying your pack. This will just take a little planning before you leave your hotel or get off your flight – take breaks when you need to and cut down on weight as much as possible. I hope you find that backpacking freedom again! See ya out there!

Jackie… take a look at the Minaal 2.0 It’s only 35 liters and is convertible to duffle or backpack. Get the optional waist belt for it. I did. It’s the only bag I take even when I go for months, and I never have to check it. No more waiting at carousels.. I’m 67, and still carry my own bag. No wheelie luggage. There are other 35 liter and even smaller bags out there. You don’t have to get a Minaal 2.0 It’s a pricey bag. But I love mine.

First of all, I’ve been scouring the Internet for any articles/blogs/videos/Reddit comments regarding backpacks that are optimal for people with lower back pain, as I have really bad lower back pain too. Second of all, I HIGHLY recommend you to check out a rolfer or a trained Structural Integration practitioner in your area. Saved me thousands in chiro fees and made me stand straight after years of lower back pain.

As for backpack choices, I suggest maybe 30L and below and with hip straps (maybe Tortuga Setout if you’re in the US) and/or load lifters. I personally am 6 ft and around 185lbs and decided to go with Thule Subterra 34L and Tortuga Setout 35L (for when I need to pack more stuff).

Hope your lower back issues can be fixed!

Thank you all so much!! I appreciate all of the advice!! I have seen a doctor and went through physical therapy for 3 months to get me pretty much back to normal. Unfortunately, heavy lifting still bothers my back and I need to be careful about how and how much I carry. With all of your suggestions I went to get fitted and learned even more about keeping your pack weighted correctly. They fitted me with the Osprey Sirrus 24 Hiking backpack which is a little too small for longer travel so I’m looking at getting the Osprey Fairview 40 Women’s Travel Backpack. Smaller than the ones listed here but I think should be a good option for me. I haven’t bought one yet so I can’t speak to how it works for someone with back pain but I’m hoping it works well. Thanks!!

Yes, 24 liter might be a bit small for long term travel, although there are some minimalists who do travel long term with bags that small. I downsized from a 45 liter bag to a 35 liter convertible backpack. It’s great traveling lighter and being able to carry it on the plane and just toss it in the overhead. I spend months at a time in Southeast and South Asia with only that one 35 liter bag. No waiting at carousels and worrying about it going missing or being mishandled. I feel better not being over loaded down with stuff, not paying baggage fees. Becoming a minimalist one bag, carry on traveler takes adjusting, but is so much more freeing and enjoyable.

You should also start backing up the data you store on your device(s). If you don’t know where to start, you’ll want to dig into our guides covering iCloud backups and iTunes backups. Data loss issues are pretty rare, but there’s always a chance something gets lost in the shuffle as you transition to a new version of iOS.

Hi. Just wanted to leave some information on my trip that I just returned from. I used the Osprey Porter 30. Carry On bag only. I had one connection both ways of the trip. My trip was for three days, and I had no issues fitting what I needed in the bag and I was able to fit it under the seat in front of mine, even on the smaller planes. I stowed away the straps to do it, and it worked out great. One of the best travel investments I made. It also wasn’t uncomfortable walking through the terminals to my connections. I highly recommend the Osprey Porter 30 for shorter trips as a carry on bag. I love it.

Amazing! This makes traveling easier.

Thanks for the recommendations. I really like Osprey and was going to get the Farpoint 40, which because of you and others I know, is said to be an excellent carry on bag. That said, I opted for the Osprey Porter 30 because I need a bag that will ALWAYS be carry on size, no matter what airline I am flying on. I usually only need a bag to get me by for a few days and I am pretty good at packing what I need. This bag looks small on the outside, but it is bigger than it looks. I have no problem packing everything I need. I won’t be hiking, camping, or anything like that. Just needed a carry on bag. I may attach an Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack to it, but I really don’t need to.

I travel one bag, carry on also. So many great bags out there. Used to travel with a 45 liter convertible backpack, but was made to check it too often. So I bought the 35 liter Minaal 2.0 with zip away backpack strap. Can carry it like a duffle bag when I want. I’ve always been able to carry on my Minaal. Never had to check it. Love being a one bag, carry on traveler. Even when going for months, I only take my Minaal 2.0. It’s so freeing not taking so much stuff. I can’t believe the travelers I see with huge 70 – 120 liter expedition backpacks on their back, a second, smaller backpack on their front. Why ? We call them “Turtle Backpackers” Some of them with all that stuff also pulling a big wheelie suitcase. Unbelievable! That can’t be a comfortable way to travel. Impossible. I just toss my little 35 liter backpack on…and gone. For months at a time. Have safe flights and happy travels.

Good content with great pieces of information on traveling bags with so much variety.

Hi Will! Do you have any thoughts or experience with the Osprey Talon 44 as a travel pack in comparison to the osprey packs you mention?

I plan to travel for 1-3 months, fairly light, so I’m hopeful I can use it as a carryon in some cases. I know I want to to some hiking so a travel-specific pack is a no-go for me.

Thanks for the great guide and your awesome website!

Thank you for the very detailed guide and for your recommendation. I’ve had an Osprey backpack for several years, but I am looking to upgrade to something new and I am browsing opinions from experienced backpackers. To be honest, Nomatic was not on my short list, I was looking at Tortuga and Osprey again, but after your strong recommendation, I may have to take it seriously into account. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for sharing this article. Really glad to read this article and I will refer this site to my friends. – hr staffing solutions in bangalore

Not a fan of the Osprey Ozone. It was weird, I expected to love it- my Osprey Vector 22 (a model they don’t make anymore, sadly) is an almost-perfect carry-on rollaboard type of bag.

But the T-handle is a pain in the ass if the bag rocks or a wheel catches just a bit- it twists too easily in your hand and you can’t steady it while walking. I live in Spain and travel Europe, and so there’s lots of cobblestones, and the Ozone wasn’t great there.

The frame is also a little bit weird. Their guarantee is excellent, which is good because the way the bag attaches *to* that bottom frame is with fabric straps and they’re going to get beat up and break.

Just all in all, wasn’t a fan, and I normally love Osprey stuff. I wish they’d bring the Vector back.

That’s why I like my 35 litre Minaal 2.0 backpack.. which I can also carry like a duffle if I wish just by zipping the backpack straps behind their panel. I don’t have to worry about handles and wheels, sand, mud, stairs, cobblestones. It’s going with me again this year back to southeast Asia. Traveling for much longer than the two months I did last time. Just pick up and go…. carry on… no checking baggage or waiting at carousels. It’s the only bag I take.. whether going for two weeks… or for a year or more.. 67 years old now.. 35 litre backpack… get up and go….

I am very thankful to you as your article has given me lots of ideas. I enjoyed a lot by reading this post. Thanks for sharing your blog.- staff providing agency in bangalore

I’m surprised you didn’t include the Minaal 2.0 in your reviews.. I’ve had a Tortuga bag and an M.E.I Voyageur….. both good bags..Both 45 liters. (They’ve been making the Voyageur since the early 1980’s..with a few tiny improvements over the years. Nothing says “Great Product” like longevity in production). But in early 2017 after a lot of research and comparisons, I bought the Minaal 2.0 …a 35 liter convertible backpack. I was made to check my Tortuga and Voyageur on many flights… but during a two month trip to Cambodia and Thailand in 2017… I was always able to carry it on and toss it in the overhead. Its clean lines and grey color with minimalized Minaal logo keep it from sticking out in the crowd.. discrete. Small… pick up and go.. Hide away backpack straps, rain cover in its own little hidden pocket, I like to use a single strap and carry it like a duffle at times.. Only using the backpack straps and hip belt if I do a long hike across a city… You might like to check out the Minaal 2.0

Your guide is phenomenal. I was looking to buy a Best Camera Backpack for my tactical gear trip and happy that I read your review! Love your other travel articles as well.

It is a very advantageous post for me. I’ve enjoyed reading the blog. It is very supportive and useful information. I would like to visit the post once more its valuable content. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.

Thanks for such a comprehensive post about travel backpacks, Will! Love how you managed to incorporate the important features of each backpack, the pros and cons, as well as links on where we can buy them. Thanks for also providing additional links on your detailed reviews for each product

thank you for share this blog with us. I also like travelling and also like hyking on mountains.

Hi Will, I’m a very tall girl 5’10 and travelling SE Asia for a few months next year. I used a bag with detachable dayback while in Australia and loved it. I noticed the Fairpoint doesn’t have an adjustable back system. Which would you recommend?

Hmmm… tough for me to recommend as you’re taller than me! 😛 I recommend going into a shop for this and testing a bunch out to find one that works for you.

Thanks for such a comprehensive post about travel backpacks, Will! Love how you managed to incorporate the important features of each backpack, the pros and cons, as well as links on where we can buy them. Thanks for also providing additional links on your detailed reviews for each product. It saves us time and headache when looking for the best travel backpack for us. Kudos!

I’m planning on travelling from Australia to Asia, and then on to Europe with total travel time of 9 months (potentially staying on to work). Would you recommend getting something bigger than the womens Osprey 55?

Love your website – it’s filled with really great and helpful information!!

Cheers, Ash

Hey Ash! Hmmmm… it really depends on how much stuff you need, and also how tall you are… but personally I would stick to 55 as the max size, if you have something bigger then you WILL fill the space, and you’ll have a real heavy pack!

Hi Will, How does a laptop fit into these travels bags? Im deciding between a 50l deuter bag and a 60l osprey. I think the 50l is enough for me right now but i think i will travel to some colder places in the future and may appreciate the larger size. However, i need to travel with my laptop as well. I dont want to check my laptop in with the checked backpack. Do you think carrying a smaller normal backpack just for my computer would be reasonable?

If you want to travel with a laptop in your main pack, I would honestly consider picking up a pack specifically designed for this, have a read of this post – https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/best-laptop-backpacks-for-travel/

A vote for the Farpoint here, I ‘ve bought two others since I first bought that and gone back to it each time.. so much better build quality and just so comfortable to carry.

Great review. Thanks. I’m torn between the Nomatic Travel Bag and the Osprey Farpoint 40. I’m going to be island hopping and diving in the Philippines, so it looks like I will be getting the obligatory ‘back sweat’ from wearing backpacks.. Is the Nomatic comfy? I see you have to purchase the hip straps separately and they are detachable, which leads me to believe thay won’t be particularly comfy or robust. Plus the price is probably swing it in favour of the Farpoint 40.. although I wish they did it in more colours.. I really like the green (that they only appear to do in the women’s version ‘Fairview’. Keep up the good work.

I personally think the Farpoint is the better pack…

hi will I am looking at the osprey farpoint 70-80 litres, I am going travelling for 6 weeks, I do however have a wedding to attend so I have 2 extra outfits plus 1 extra pair of shoes, It will be summer so not worried about a load of clothes, I love backpack so the travel backpack with the zip all the way around looks great, any suggestions?oh I am 5ft 5in, 68kilos medium build, & have always carried a backpack, oh yeah I do not need a day pack attached, thanks?

The Farpoint is a great pack, assuming you don’t plan on hiking and if you pick up the 70 litre Farpoint, you’ll have plenty of space for sure!

Finally – a comprehensive list of the best backpacks for travellers. I think you’ve persuaded me to pick up the Osprey Ozone. Firstly it looks beautiful but also 46 Litres is the perfect size for me. Thanks for the advice Will!

Happy to help – The Ozone is an epic backpack!

Thanks for sharing. Some great idea’s for backpacks. Love the detail you go into. Makes choosing a new backpack so much easier.

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18 Best Travel Backpacks, According to Frequent Flyers

Best travel backpacks for women collage featuring six different backpacks on black and white background.

As someone who frequently travels, I've slung duffels, totes , and travel purses on my arm, but nothing compares to using the best travel backpacks. Depending on the length of your trip, a suitcase can either be too bulky or not big enough, so you'll need the vital second bag to make sure all your clothes, tech, and gear securely arrive at your destination. Plus, traveling with a backpack can be more supportive for your back, freeing up your arms and hands to pull out directions on your phone or to hold an iced coffee. Backpacks can also be surprisingly roomy, so everything you need (or want) on your trip fits as comfortably as possible. The good news is there are a wide range of excellent options to suit any and all of your needs. Below, we found the most travel-friendly options and tapped Glamour editors and some of our frequent-flier friends to share the best travel backpacks.

What to look for in a travel backpack

When shopping for luggage items like a travel backpack, the comfort and capacity of the bag is key. You want it to feel easy on the body, which means wide straps or a hip belt to distribute weight, which comes in handy if you're running to catch a plane or carrying it through a crowded subway. Bonus points if the straps are they adjustable and padded. Consider the material: Is it lightweight, soft, and made of durable material like water-resistant fabric? As for size, think about the use of the backpack. There are weekender bags and carry-on size options you can use for long weekends or smartly packed weeklong vacations and styles for short day trips, hikes, or shopping excursions.

The best travel backpacks, at a glance

  • Best Overall : Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack , $210
  • Best on Amazon : Shrradoo Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack , $33
  • Best Daypack : Lululemon Everywhere Backpack , $78
  • Best Budget : Coofay Carry On Backpack , $30
  • Best for Commuters : Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack , $95
  • Most Stylish : Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack , $150

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Overall : Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack  Del Día

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack - Del Día

Here's a simple, sleek backpack with plenty of built-in organization. “My twin sister and I have traveled the world together, and this bag came in particularly handy on our trip to South America when we both needed more room besides our carry-on luggage. What I loved about this piece is it's essentially a suitcase with straps. The wrap zipper fully opens up, allowing you to see and organize your goods into the compartments. Crafted in repurposed nylon, the exterior is one of a kind, and the colors made it easier to spot one another through the crowds,” says Glamour contributor Gabrielle Porcaro .

Capacity: 42 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: Repurposed nylon body; suitcase layout; weight-distributing harness system
  • Cons: Can easily show dirt

Best on Amazon : Shrradoo Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

As a runner-up, consider this the Swiss Army knife of backpacks. Hidden in this compact, durable bag are 20 pockets and compartments to accommodate and organize everything from clothes to an umbrella to power cords. A practical standout feature of this travel backpack is an external USB port with set-in charging cables to charge your phone (just remember to charge your power pack before heading out on your trip). Another noteworthy aspect is the U-shaped 3D breathable mesh straps designed to relieve stress from shoulders and reduce a sweaty back.

Capacity: 52 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: So many pockets for organizing; USB charging port; comfortable
  • Cons: Chunky, technical look

Best Daypack : Lululemon Everywhere Backpack

Lululemon Everywhere Backpack 22L

Lululemon Everywhere Backpack 22L

Lululemon gets a lot of love for its Lulu leggings and activewear, but don't sleep on accessories like its laptop bags . A classic backpack with a modern design, the Everywhere Backpack has a clean appearance that will effortlessly match your look. Inside it's spacious and has a padded pocket that fits a 16-inch laptop. On the exterior is a front zipper pocket for keys, antibacterial wipes, headphones…whatever you need handy while on the go.

Capacity: 22 L / Waterproof : Water-repellent

  • Pros: Internal laptop sleeve; side water bottle pockets; lightweight
  • Cons: No luggage strap; not a ton of pockets

Best Budget : Coofay Carry On Backpack

Coofay Carry On Backpack

Coofay Carry On Backpack

This affordable, multifunctional pack is lightweight but can hold a lot and easily fit under an airline seat as a carry-on. “I loved the space and compartments of this bag. It's durable and packed a lot of room for so many things. The luggage handle strap is also a bonus if you're hauling a roller bag,” wrote one Amazon reviewer . Bonus: It has a shoes and a wet pocket compartment.

Capacity: 17 L / Waterproof : Yes

  • Pros: Separate shoe compartment, 29 color options; USB port design
  • Cons: Short luggage strap

Best for Commuters : Everlane the ReNew Transit Backpack

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

Whether you're a college commuter or in the office most days, this is an excellent option for everyday travel or work trips. It's a go-to for Condé Nast associate director of box business operations Haley Welch . “The separate laptop compartment makes organizing seamless, as does the front and upper zipper compartments, which is great for a Kindle,” she says. She likes that the chic and minimal look effortlessly mixes with every outfit, from comfy travel joggers and hoodies to a work-appropriate suit or dress.

Capacity : 27 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros : Internal and external water bottle holders; zipper pocket on top; made from renewed materials
  • Cons : Only holds a 15-inch laptop

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Most Stylish : Best Tumi Voyageur Just In Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

For anyone looking for a dressier option for their everyday commute or regular work trips, Tumi has a gorgeous style. Don't let the sleek appearance fool you; the zipper reveals a very roomy interior but still folds flat. A two-way zipper makes it easier to grab whatever you need from the inside with a smaller front pocket as well. There’s also a very convenient add-to-a-bag sleeve to secure this nicely over your suitcase handle, making it one to use on daily and international excursions. It's so stylish it can double as a cute work bag for office days.

Capacity: 15"H x 12"W x 4 1/2"D. (Interior capacity: large) / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros :Packable; folds down flat; lightweight
  • Cons: Doesn’t fit a ton

Best for Organization : Snoffic Travel Backpack

Snoffic Travel Backpack

Snoffic Travel Backpack

If remaining organized is of the utmost importance while traveling or in everyday life, look no further than this Snoffic backpack. This wallet-friendly pick has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon and under $35 price tag. “I was able to pack a week's worth of summer clothes in it, which included two summer dresses," says one Amazon reviewer . Not only does this bag offer ample space and waterproof material, but it also includes two clear toiletry bags (also waterproof) to help you reduce your zip-lock baggie usage. Plus, it comes in a wide range of pretty shades.

Capacity : 40 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros : Nicely priced; roomy; includes two toiletry bags
  • Cons : Boxy shape

Best for Pockets : Athleta Excursion Backpack

Athleta Excursion Backpack

Athleta Excursion Backpack

This pick, courtesy of Glamour commerce editor Malia Griggs , is one that can hold every little trinket or gadget you own. “I thought this backpack was going to my go-to for hiking, but it’s actually my go-to for pretty much everything. I love how sleek it is, and yet, despite its slim appearance, it manages to fit my 15-inch laptop, my secondary screen, charger, headphones, e-reader, and mouse. It has handy organizational features, like an inner key ring, zippered outer pockets for me to stash my lip gloss and phone, and not one but two mesh pockets that fit my water bottle and an umbrella. Its handles are also made of a breathable fabric—so useful when I’ve worked up a sweat while out and about.”

  • Pros :Lightweight; ripstop material resists snags and tears; mesh back panel for added support
  • Cons: Larger on top shape

Best Minimalist Design : Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

“On my last flight I saw not one, not two, but multiple travelers with this style hanging from their backs. As someone who regularly takes Dagne Dover bags on trips, I understand the popularity. The neoprene material is strong, soft, and stretchy, which causes the bag to flex to your body and whatever you put inside. It's forgiving, allowing you to fit in and possibly overstuff everything you need for a trip. It also washes well, ensuring it will always have that chic appearance even after some wear and tear,” says Porcaro. Dagne Dover also makes excellent diaper backpacks like this parent-approved Indi Diaper Bag .

Capacity: 16 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Packs a lot; machine washable
  • Cons: Neoprene is a bit heavier than other material; material creases easily

Best for Airplane Travel : Augustnoa Classic Noa

Augustnoa Classic Noa

Augustnoa Classic Noa

“So many features drew me to this bag: the eco-friendly (plus water-friendly) material, smart design, and luggage sleeve—a must for any travel carry-on piece. There are ten pockets and compartments to organize essentials, something I took full advantage of when using. As an active person trying to hydrate more, I also appreciated the side pockets that securely held my water bottle (I bent over, and it didn't budge). It also includes a removable drawstring bag, something I always forget to pack for morning workouts and overnight travels,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 21 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: Pockets on straps; laptop and tablet sleeve; two water bottle holders
  • Cons: Pockets in the back and on straps are small

Best Roll Top : Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Expandable storage is always a plus with any travel bag. This backpack, from super cool brand Roark, has an adjustable top to allow more room. The roll-top also has a magnetic entry, allowing for easy and secure access on the move. Interior and exterior pockets, including one for your tablet or laptop, sunglasses, and a hidden pocket for your passport, are specific details that make this a unique backpack. Ergonomic air mesh padded straps, a quilted back, and chest straps prevent this from adding any discomfort to your travels. The appearance calls for adventure, but it equally works in cities.

Capacity: 27 L / Waterproof : 100% Nylon

  • Pros: Streamlined look; quilted back; magnetic closure top
  • Cons: Could use more internal pockets

Best Large Travel Bag : Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 55L

Patagonia Black Hole® Duffel 55L

Patagonia Black Hole® Duffel 55L

The beauty of this bag is it says it right in the title—it's a black hole. With a 55-liter capacity, there's no doubt it will hold everything you need for a long weekend or even a long weekend trip. Ultra-comfortable to carry, it's perfect for hiking excursions, camping trips, or multi-city European backpacking adventures. Durably made with 100% recycled fabric, this fits in the overhead bin; if you want to check it, you can trust it will return to you just as you left it.

Capacity: 55 L / Waterproof : Water Repellent

  • Pros: Large, carry-on size, top and side handles; removable shoulder straps
  • Cons: Rugged design

Best for Laptop : Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

If you're looking for a laptop backpack , this is a top choice. Hershel backpacks are a go-to for marriage and family therapist and mom of two boys, Whitney Steller. “I have had this for almost six years, and the quality is amazing. No rips or anything and the straps are still comfortable. “The classic grade school look was also a draw and the fact that it fits perfectly under a plane seat. This style, in particular, is eco-friendly, made from post-consumer water bottles, and has a padded compartment to fit up a 15-inch laptop.

Capacity: 20 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Optional strum strap to help disturbed weight; padded compartment for laptop
  • Cons: No luggage sleeve

Best Y-Pack : Topo Designs Y-Pack Backpack

Topo Designs YPack Backpack

Topo Designs Y-Pack Backpack

This is an awesome option for anyone who ends up leaving a trip with more than they brought. “The adjustable Y-shaped strap can be tight and secure or loosened to allow for more room, which is the reason why this is a piece of heavy rotation for me. It always shocks me how much I can fit/shove into the main compartment yet still slide my laptop out of the back sleeve. No matter if it’s filled with a hoodie and various pouches holding makeup, power cords, and snacks; it's easy to access. I like to use the zip pocket on the top to store antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, headphones, and anything else I want easy access to once I arrive on the flight,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 23.8 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Drawstring closure offers more space; zip pocket on top for easy access; durable material great for travel and the outdoors
  • Cons: G-hook buckle closure can sometimes be tough

Best Waterproof : SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

The beauty of this piece is that it rolls up for easy packing within a suitcase or larger travel backpack. The fact that it's created from an extremely lightweight material also ups the packability and wear factor. Jen Ator, a personal trainer, used this on her honeymoon in Thailand. “Not only was it super sturdy and waterproof, but it fits everything we needed during day trips.” She also pointed out how handy the exterior pocket was for easy access to essentials like a phone to snap a picture of her and her husband.

Capacity : 18 L / Waterproof : Yes

  • Pros: Lightweight; stowable
  • Cons: No interior pocket

Best Convertible : Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Adaptability is vital when traveling, and this Thule convertible backpack offers various ways to hold it. If you're in a tight space, de-boarding, or want to give your shoulders a break, there is a longer shoulder strap and top handle to hold. Inside the backpack, you'll find compartments that look like your favorite easy-rolling carry-on suitcase, making it easy to keep everything with you secure and organized. Another standout feature is the exterior crush-resistant SafeZone compartment that's perfect for storing sunglasses or a phone.

Capacity: 21 ¾"H x 14"W x 8"D. / Waterproof : Water Resistant

  • Pros: Crust resistant, two-way zip closure, RFID-shielded pocket;
  • Cons: Expensive

Best for City Travel : PAK Large Nylon Backpack

PAK Large Nylon Backpack

PAK Large Nylon Backpack

“As a backpack I recently added to my collection, I was impressed by how many features were hidden in what seemed like a pretty basic bag. First, it’s worth noting how seamlessly this slid on and off my back, making it a breeze to sit on the subway or grab my wallet to buy coffee. At first glance, I was confused about the zipper on the bottom of the front pocket, but when I realized it was a coat sling, which, as someone who runs cold and always has an extra layer, is something I will use again and again. Another made-for-me feature is an extra large pocket for water bottles since it’s a personal pet peeve when they aren’t wide enough for standard sizes. Having only worn this around the city for daily life, I appreciate that the shape and look of the pack are city-ready and more polished. When I take this on international trips, I look forward to using the hidden theft-proof compartments,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 13.5”L x 7” W x 14” H / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Easy access pocket in the back, Coat sling, Large side pockets
  • Cons: Not super large

Best Customizable : Roam Continental Backpack

Roam Continental Backpack

Roam Continental Backpack

Anyone who is a fan of customization will appreciate this pick. Buyers can choose the color they want on the front, back, side, and straps to create a bag that is uniquely theirs. This is favorite of Glamour commerce editor Jenifer Calle , who has been using it for years. “It fits enough for weekend trips and vacation travel. I particularly like that the side zippers fit my Owala water bottle and there are plenty of zipper and pockets to hold my wallet, keys, chargers, lip balms, and more” says Glamour’s Calle.

Capacity : 26 L / Waterproof : Water Repellent

  • Pros : Customizable; 100-day trial period; soft material; luggage sleeve
  • Cons : Expensive

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NBC Select Travel Awards 2024: The best duffels, backpacks and weekenders

Bags from Calpak, Patagonia, Dagne Dover, Orvis and July earned NBC Select Travel Awards for their organizational features, durability and ease of use.

At NBC Select, we spend hours researching and testing products so you can be more selective with your purchases. For our first-ever NBC Select Travel Awards, we spent months thoroughly testing numerous products covering a variety of travel categories.

We flew across the globe to Japan and Paris with suitcases , took train rides around New York City with weekenders and duffels in tow and packed bags full of packing cubes , toiletry bags and noise-canceling headphones to road trip across the East Coast. After all that testing, our editors sat down to choose products deserving of NBC Select’s stamp of approval.

Below are our award-winning duffels, weekenders and backpacks , plus information about how we evaluated each product.

SKIP AHEAD How we picked the best bags | Best duffel bags | Best backpacks | Best weekender bags

large travel bag rucksack

select We tested over 50 travel accessories for our first ever Travel Awards — these are our favorites

How we picked the best travel bags .

The backpack, the weekender and the duffel are all bags that need to serve multiple functions while on a trip. We fill them with whatever we can’t fit in our suitcases, throw our essentials inside them for overnight getaways and use them to carry our laptops and water bottles on planes, trains, and automobiles. They are versatile and multipurpose, making it useful to keep at least one at home when traveling. Here’s how we evaluated travel bags to find NBC Select’s 2024 Travel Award winners.

  • Zippers, handles and straps : To ensure zippers glide smoothly and don’t get stuck at any point, we opened and closed each bag numerous times when it was empty and full. We also considered how strong the bags’ handles and straps were, including how they felt when we held or wore them on our bodies.
  • Structure and organization : We assessed how each bag’s structure impacted our ability to pack it easily — for example, whether it stayed open while we added clothing or flopped over and whether it was too stiff to overstuff or just flexible enough. We counted how many outfits (and, if applicable, how many pairs of shoes) fit inside the bags, plus what type of organizational features they offer, including built-in dividers, pockets, and pouches.
  • Comfortability : After filling our bags to the brim, we ensured they felt comfortable carrying for long and short periods. We carried them as the brand intended: on our backs or over our shoulders.
  • Durability : We noted the material each bag is made from and how well it withstands being tossed around during travel. We also considered water resistance.

The best duffel bags

Best overall: calpak luka duffel.

Calpak Luka Duffel

Calpak Luka Duffel

With its spacious main compartment, exterior and interior pockets, exterior shoe compartment and trolley sleeve, this bag makes for the perfect travel and daily duffel. “I love that I can use this bag for trips as well as in my everyday life as a gym bag. I didn’t find that with the other duffels I tested, so I appreciated this,” says Zoe Malin , NBC Select associate updates editor. “The size of this bag and how lightweight it is makes it a perfect workout bag for me. I put my sneakers, a change of clothes, weights, a towel, toiletries and a water bottle inside it to go to yoga after work.”

The soft and puffy polyester bag is also durable, easy to clean and water-resistant. “I had to walk to the train in the rain with this bag and everything inside was totally dry,” says Malin. “I just wiped water off the bag in the bathroom of the train station with paper towels.”

Best large capacity: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel comes in four sizes — 40L, 55L, 70L and 100L — so you can choose the capacity that’s best for your travels. The duffel is made from 100% recycled fabrics, plus it has a durable and weather-resistant exterior.

On the inside, this spacious bag has interior pockets that are similar to a carry-on suitcase. It also closes and opens easily since the zippers glide easily, says Mili Godio , NBC Select updates editor. “The only thing I wish is that it had more pockets, especially for smaller items like my wallet and keys, but the ones it does have are super spacious.”

The best backpacks

Best overall: calpak laptop backpack.

Calpak Laptop Backpack

Calpak Laptop Backpack

This Calpak backpack is great for frequent travelers looking for a large, durable bag to hold essentials of all sizes, as well as a laptop. The backpack has exterior and interior pockets, a water bottle holder and a trolley sleeve so you can slide it onto your luggage. “Calpak’s backpack has completely changed how I travel,” says Bianca Alvarez , an NBC Select associate reporter who’s a super commuter . She travels from Virginia to New York City every week for work. “I tossed my old backpacks after using this one because it makes my travel days easier,” she says.

Alvarez says storage and space are a guarantee with this bag due to its plethora of organizational features. She especially loves its interior pockets. They’re located near the top of the bag rather than the bottom, which prevents her from having to rummage through everything packed inside to find what she’s looking for.  Alvarez says the bag’s main compartment can easily fit clothes, shoes and cosmetics bags, and there’s a separate compartment for her laptop and notebooks.

Best for commuting: Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover’s Dakota Backpack is ideal for commuters, like NBC Select staff who brought it back and forth to the office. “I’ve been using this backpack for two months as my work bag and it’s been a major upgrade from my last situation,” says Rebecca Rodriguez , NBC Select editorial projects manager. The backpack has padded straps, making it comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and it has compartments and pockets to store whatever you’re traveling with.

Whether you’re commuting in the rain or accidentally spilled your morning coffee , no worries — this backpack will keep your items protected. “The backpack got dirty a couple of times while I used it, but the neoprene material was super easy to clean with soap and warm water,” says Rodriguez.

Best outdoors: Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

Orvis Trekkage LT Adventure

While the Orvis Trekkage backpack is specifically designed for outdoor adventures like hiking and camping, it has features that allow you to use it in everyday life, including a laptop pocket and a hidden security pocket for valuables. The bag is made from heavy-duty recycled, water-repellent fabric, and its main pocket is lockable making it easier to protect your items while outdoors camping or just traveling. There are also expandable side pockets and a built-in hydration reservoir.

“This bag is big without looking like it belongs on the 'Amazing Race,'” says Rosalie Sparaco, NBC senior social media editor. “It has a ton of space, although it could potentially use more internal pockets since it was easy to lose stuff.” She also says the backpack is comfortable to carry thanks to its padded back panel and curved ergonomic shoulder straps. If you need extra support, you can use the bag’s adjustable sternum strap and adjustable, removable waist strap. The backpack also fits under the seat of a plane.

The best weekenders

Best overall: dagne dover landon carryall.

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall

The magic behind Dagne Dover’s Landon Carryall lies in its structure, says Malin: “It has shape, so it stays open while I’m packing and never flops over, yet it’s flexible and soft, so I can overstuff it without any issues.”  The bag is also expandable. “You can unsnap the sides of the bag to make it bigger, which is such a great option,” says Malin. “I expand it for longer trips, but leave it snapped for overnight trips when I don’t need a ton of space.”

The organizational features this bag offers vary by size. It’s available in extra small, small, medium, large and extra large options — the bigger the bag, the more extensive its organization features are. Because of this, we recommend the medium, large and extra large options for traveling (the extra small and small Carryalls function more as everyday handbags, based on our testers’ experiences). They’re designed with a laptop carrier, an exterior phone pocket, interior side pockets, a key leash and an attached zip-top pouch. The larger bags also come with a shoe bag and a detachable adjustable crossbody strap.

Best for a long weekend: July Carry All Weekender Plus

July Carry All Weekender Plus

July Carry All Weekender Plus

If you need a weekender bag that fits enough clothes and toiletries to last you a few days, this one from July is exactly what you’re looking for. “I’m very impressed by how incredibly spacious this bag is,” says Ari Night, NBC Select editorial assistant. “Not only does it fit multiple outfits, but it also has segmented pockets that keep everything organized inside.” The bag’s clamshell opening allows it to lie flat making it  easier for packing, and there’s a padded pocket in the center to put delicate items like a laptop or tablet . This weekender also has a hidden internal pocket with a magnetic opening for valuables like jewelry, an exterior zip pocket and a luggage sleeve. It also  comes with a detachable adjustable shoulder strap.

Why trust NBC Select?

Products underwent an eight-week trial before being selected as our favorite in their respective categories. We utilized our editors as shopping and trying experts. Each editor was given the same criteria during the testing period to ensure each item was held to the same standards and procedures. We looked at spaciousness, durability, comfort, zippers and much more. You can read more about our process here .

What our badge means

When a product carries the NBC Select badge, you can trust that our team of editors as shopping experts and professionals vetted the item thoroughly. First and foremost, we are journalists, so we will always do our research and reporting.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance , tech and tools , wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

Select Staff on NBC News

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The 8 Best Diaper Bag Backpacks of 2024, According to Parents

W hile there are a variety of flattering yet functional diaper bag styles available – including crossbody options, totes and even fanny packs – the diaper bag backpack is arguably the most convenient. Not only can a diaper bag backpack hold all your essentials and free your hands and arms for carrying other important items (and your baby), but it works especially well for travel. The backpack style can easily attach to a stroller or fit neatly under the seat in front of you on the plane, train or wherever you need it to go.

Based on consumer reviews and family travel expert opinion, these are the best diaper bag backpacks on the market.

Category Navigation Box Enhancement : Table of Contents - Travel - The Best Diaper Bag Backpacks

(Note: Prices were accurate at the time this article was updated; they may fluctuate due to supply chain issues or other factors. All backpack dimensions are listed in order of height by width by depth.)

Best Overall: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack – Large

When it comes to diaper bag backpacks, the Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack comes out on top for its efficiency and style. This trendy bag comes with useful extras, including a washable zipper bag (a must-have when traveling with little ones ); the brand's signature Scout Pouch, which is ideal for small essentials; stroller clips; a mini changing mat; and two leashes for securing keys and pacifiers.

Convenient for travel, this backpack attaches to carry-on luggage via a trolley sleeve on the back. Because of its versatility, you'll be able to use it for years to come. "True story: This bag is perfect even if you don't have kids," says Summer Hull, mom and director of content at The Points Guy. "It has so many pockets so things can stay organized, has fab material that is easy to clean, holds a laptop, can clip to things, and doesn't look awful."

Constructed from recycled materials, this vegan bag is available in several neutral colors, in either neoprene or air mesh material.

Price: $215 or less

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Best for Travel: No Reception Club The Getaway Bag

Diaper bags don't get more efficient than this option by No Reception Club, introduced in 2022 as a packing solution for the seasoned traveler who is now navigating parenthood. The Getaway Bag features a built-in shelving system that can be customized to your needs as well as a variety of useful compartments, including an insulated lunch bag; a water-resistant, odor-proof compartment for soiled items; and a hidden back pocket for securing your passport and other valuables.

This style comes with detachable carabiner stroller clips, and a wide pass-through handle allows you to easily attach the bag to other luggage. Plus, it has both top and side openings so you can easily access whatever you need, wherever you are. Available in black and green, the backpack can be purchased on its own or as a bundle; the latter includes The Sidekick fanny pack and a changing pad.

Price: $235 or less

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Best Budget: Skip Hop Forma Backpack Diaper Bag

Ann Henson , assistant managing editor of travel at U.S. News, recommends this Skip Hop diaper bag backpack. "We've used it for three years and are still impressed with the quality," she says. The quilted bag features a spacious main compartment with a variety of pockets, including one designed for a smartphone and another for the included changing mat or a tablet or laptop (up to roughly 15 inches in size).

The bag also has two exterior pockets for baby bottles or cups, adjustable padded straps, and built-in stroller straps. "I also appreciate the packing cubes that came with this bag, especially the insulated one," says Henson, noting that she also likes how easy it is to keep the bag clean. This diaper bag backpack comes in sage, mauve, gray, black and navy.

Price: $79 or less

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Best Organization: BabbleRoo Diaper Bag Backpack

While parents praise everything about this backpack, it's the level of organization they appreciate most. The BabbleRoo Diaper Bag Backpack features a seemingly endless amount of pockets, which include two main compartments, five insulated bottle pockets, a sleeve for wipes, a hidden back pocket and a detachable pacifier case. With built-in clips, the bag can also be attached to a stroller.

This bag is available in around 20 different colors and a choice of either polyester or faux leather. It has more than 25,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating on Amazon.

Price: $59.99 or less

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Best Leather: Mina Baie Kinney Backpack

You'd hardly know this is a diaper bag. Constructed of vegan leather, this elegant backpack features five inconspicuous exterior pockets, with an insulated bottle pocket and a compartment that doubles as a luggage sleeve. Inside, the Mina Baie Kinney Backpack features 10 more pockets, including a 13-inch padded laptop sleeve. Other useful features include a key leash, D-rings for stroller hooks (vegan leather hooks are sold separately), a magnetic flap closure and a water-resistant lining. The bag is made in six neutral color styles, and a coordinating changing pad is available as an add-on.

Price: $221 or less

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Best Multiuse: Petunia Pickle Bottom 2-in-1 Provisions Breast Pump & Diaper Bag Backpack

"Simplicity is key when it comes to the best diaper bags for travel," says Gina Kramer, founder and director of content at Humble Boots . "My go-to is Petunia Pickle Bottom's 2-in-1 Provisions Diaper Bag Backpack for its no-frills, intentional design that keeps all my necessities within easy reach – plus, it's practical even beyond the baby stage."

This backpack features a discreet, insulated compartment for breast pump parts and a spacious central compartment, plus a padded compartment for a laptop. If or when you don't need to tote a breast pump around, you can use the lower compartment for one of the brand's cooler cubes (convenient for storing snacks and drinks), an extra change of clothing or whatever else you might need. This bag is currently available in four styles, including a Winnie the Pooh-themed Disney collaboration. (Disney parents, take note: Petunia Pickle Bottom specializes in other Disney diaper bag backpacks as well.)

Price: $189 or less

Button Enhancement : Travel - Petunia Pickle Bottom 2-in-1 Provisions Breast Pump & Diaper Bag Backpack

Best Small: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack – Small

As your little one grows, you might find yourself searching for a smaller diaper bag backpack that's less bulky but can still accommodate snacks, a water cup, a couple of diapers and the inevitable lot of random toys. Enter the Dagne Dover Indi (again), this time in the small size. The small version comes with all the same features as the large backpack: a washable bag, the Scout Pouch, key leashes, stroller clips, and plenty of exterior and interior pockets.

If you like this style but don't need all the extras and pockets, consider the Dakota Backpack .

Price: $165 or less

Button Enhancement : Travel - Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack – Small

Best for Dad: Herschel Settlement Backpack Diaper Bag 24L

For a simple yet reliable diaper bag that Dad (or Mom) will feel comfortable wearing to the doctor's office, playground and beyond, the Herschel Settlement Backpack is a top choice. This minimalistic diaper bag backpack comes with an easy-to-clean changing mat. It features a padded interior sleeve for a laptop up to 14 inches, an expandable water bottle compartment, an exterior zippered front pocket for small essentials and padded shoulder straps.

Made from recycled fabrics, the bag is available in black, gray and other neutral colors.

Price: $120 or less

Button Enhancement : Travel - Herschel Settlement Backpack Diaper Bag 24L

FAQ Module : FAQs - Travel - The Best Diaper Backpacks

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Amanda Norcross , senior content and SEO strategist for travel at U.S. News, purchased the Mina Baie Kinney Backpack and Herschel Settlement Backpack a few years ago while in search of the "anti-diaper bag." Both diaper bags have proven useful even beyond the baby stage. For her other recommendations, she talked to travel industry experts who are also parents.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Travel Cribs
  • The Best Kids Luggage
  • The Best Beach Tents
  • The Best Beach Wagons
  • The Best Family Vacations in the U.S.

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This article may contain affiliate links that Microsoft and/or the publisher may receive a commission from if you buy a product or service through those links.

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5 best travel backpacks in UAE, for 2024

Best buys lifestyle.

Do more on your travels with carry-on-compliant bags that easily pack everything you need

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One of the most stressful things about navigating an airport crowd is dragging your carry-on bag behind you. As if keeping travel documents close wasn't enough, the traveller also has to mind their luggage in a sea of bags. This is why solo travellers, and even people who go on trips locally, reach for a dependable backpack time and time again.

All your essentials are just over the shoulder, your hands are free to push the baby stroller , and it's the only carry-on you have to worry about - what's not to love? We spoke to a Dubai-based travel gear expert to help you single out the best backpack for the holidays ahead.

While you might be able to fit more in a roller suitcase , think again. Frequent globetrotters always advise travellers to pack lightly for good reason. Yaseen Tayyab, the founder of travelling community UAE Backpackers, leads a handful of hiking trips a year to scale summits in Tanzania, Nepal, Italy and elsewhere. In his travels, Tayyab often dons the role of an adventure consultant, advising on the right gear.

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"On our hikes, I notice how people with backpacks in the group look super comfortable, compared to the rest, who have hard-shell suitcases and big bags," said Tayyab, who uses his North Face Hydra 38 even on casual travels. "Backpacks fit easily in the overhead cabin, come with you on the Metro, and make putting things away a quick job. It's also great for families with small children, where parents can control the stroller while carrying everything they need."

But, what can a sizeable travel backpack fit? Tayyab's 38-litre bag, he tells us, packs his personal documents, toiletries, gadgets including a laptop, a towel, t-shirts, a couple of trousers and a fleece jacket. "I can fit about 15 to 20 items. If I'm staying for longer, I carry a duffle bag, as well," he added.

The capacity of your bag is one of the factors that should ultimately help you pick. Stick to backpacks between 30 to 40 litres, suggests Tayyab. If you'll be walking with the bag strapped to your back throughout a week-long trip, then anything above 40 litres would prove heavy and cumbersome. 

This ties into how comfortable the carry-on is going to be. Chest and waist straps can do a lot to offer relief from a strained back. Tayyab prefers a well-ventilated, padded back support, too. Before shopping our expert recommendations, consider these features, with the travel destination in mind. 

Below you'll find the best travel backpacks on Amazon, so make sure to shop with a Prime  membership to avail yourself of free, fast delivery.

1. Best Overall: The North Face Surge Backpack

  • Looks like an everyday backpack
  • Separate compartments for laptop, tablet, sunglasses and water
  • Water-repellent fabric
  • Waist and chest straps with a padded back
  • Capacity might be suitable for shorter trips

Inspired by Tayyab's hiking North Face backpack, we've picked the Surge model for retaining the best qualities of the Hydra in a smaller capacity. All 31 litres of this bag make space for dedicated compartments, which fit your 15-inch laptop, tablet, sunglasses and phone, water bottle and whatever clothes you can roll into the large main pocket. The durable, water-repellent nylon has 360-degree reflectivity to keep you safe at night. It wears securely with the chest and waist straps, and has a padded back that encourages ventilation. You could also set it down anywhere and have it stand on its own, thanks to the bottom compression. Reviewers use the Surge as a travel backpack for a few days away, noting its convenience on the flight. They bring it to hiking, work trips, and international travels.

Bonus:  Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh48.26 for 12 months with select banks.

2. Best Durable Backpack: Oakley Men's Kitchen Sink Backpack

  • Large capacity with several pockets, even for shoes
  • Fits up to 17-inch laptops
  • Water-repellent
  • Chest and waist straps, with a padded back
  • Metal accents and buckles can make it heavy
  • Doesn't give easy access to the main compartment

Offering a slightly larger capacity is the Kitchen Sink backpack by Oakley. Upon the recommendation of a Dubai-based travel blogger, Parikshit Balochi, Oakley was our go-to brand for a backpack in this list of travel essentials . Balochi depends on Oakley's impressive durability and heavy-duty performance on his holidays. The Kitchen Sink has 34 litres, distributed among specialised pockets for a 17-inch laptop, sunglasses and even sweaty shoes at the bottom. There are clasp links at the chest and waist, together with a moulded back panel. Repeat buyers come to replace their worn-out 18-year-old Kitchen Sink backpacks, so you can be certain of the quality at this premium price tag. Its top shell can be a hassle to flip open and close to access the main pocket, they note. Otherwise, it packs enough to last you weeks in a foreign country.

3. Best Mid-Sized Capacity: Osprey Porter 30 Travel Backpack

  • Clamshell main compartment opens up like a suitcase
  • Side grab handles for more carrying options
  • Compression straps for downsizing
  • Several pockets to store luggage trackers, laptop, toiletries, and more
  • Waist and chest straps
  • Misses a water bottle side pocket

Osprey is another premium brand that should be on your radar, says Tayyab. The Porter has a more minimalistic shell, compared to our previous picks. It's a 30-litre backpack with a simple construction, but this belies all the functions it has to offer. The main compartment zips all the way down to the base, opening up like a suitcase for easy packing. You can stash your toiletries inside the top pocket, while any 15-inch laptop or tablet device goes into the protected rear panel. If you've packed under its full capacity, there are compression straps at the sides to shrink the bag down to a compact size. This backpack is designed with travellers in mind, since it dedicates small internal pockets to luggage trackers. Side grab handles also transform the Porter into a duffle bag. Reviewers love that the interior is securely padded to keep valuables safe in transit. They've successfully tucked it under the seat on flights and used it on week-long trips. Others have backpacked across countries with their Porter, manoeuvring easily through train stations.

4. Best for Media Gear: Peak Design Travel Backpack 

  • Expands from 35 to 45 litres, as needed
  • Fits camera cubes easily, with side pockets for tripod
  • Tablet and laptop sleeves
  • Clamshell zipper
  • Lacks airflow in the back
  • Straps could have more padding, say reviews

Designed for creative professionals, the Peak Design 45-litre travel backpack stores photography and multimedia gear quite nicely. Expansion zippers bring the bag to its maximum capacity, though you can make use of the default 35 litres without them. It's got special compartments for your camera, audio and video equipment and small electronics, besides clothes. Like our Osprey option, the bag has a clamshell zipper, offering you a clear view when packing. You're also getting dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves, side pockets for water bottles or tripods and a top pocket to fit quick-access essentials. Rave reviewers tuck away their camera gear with satisfied results, and report no fatigue with the straps. Their only qualm is the lack of ventilation in the back panel, which can be uncomfortable in hot weather, so do rethink if you'll be wearing it for long hours at a time.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh88.25 for 12 months with select banks.

5. Best Large Capacity: Thule Landmark Travel Pack

  • U-zip compartment packs like a suitcase with internal straps
  • Large capacity with laptop compartment
  • Covert cash and passport pocket
  • Lightweight
  • Chest and waist links
  • Doesn't have a stand-up design

Flip the Thule Landmark on its side, and it turns into a mini 40-litre duffle bag. U-zip clamshell opening and laptop storage aside, the bag has a covert pocket called the CashStash, keeping your money and passport safe from theft. You'll even find tiny loops at the seams that can be used to secure zipper pulls to the bag, in the case of pickpocketing. It's so secure that your side pocket for bottles is also zipped shut. Once you've packed clothes and other belongings into the main compartment, strap them in with the internal belts, just as you would in a suitcase. This design, however, can make quick retrieval of a jacket or shirt complicated. Similar to our North Face pick, the Landmark has a built-in whistle on the sternum strap. For its large capacity, it's surprisingly lighter than the Peak Design bag. Reviews find it comfortable to carry for longer periods of time, and compare the Landmark to a small suitcase. Several backpackers take this to Europe as their carry-on.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

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Travel Backpack Carry on Flight Approved Mochila De Viaje Personal Item Travel Bag Large Backpack for Travel Backpacks for Men Women Carry on Backpack for Airplanes 18x14x8 Inches Travel Bag Grey

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  • 【Ample Storage Space】This travel backpack external dimensions: 14.4 "x7 .8"x17.7"/36cm x 20cm x 45cm (L x W x H), the main compartment can hold 5~8 pieces of daily clothes, Its space can fully accommodate your short-term travel and short-term business trips.There are more than 3 internal zipper pockets for iPad, credit cards,and other valuables in the backpack, and a separate wet pocket for wet toiletries and wet clothes. The backpack also has a separate computer compartment for a 15.6" laptop.
  • 【Multi-Pocket Function】This backpacks for travel has a special shoe compartment for shoes, which can hold sneakers (Hint: only one pair) and can accompany you out anywhere. This backpack for travel has 2 front pockets for iPad, cell phone, rechargeable keys and other small items; and 1 cup pockets for umbrella or cup. There is also a back anti-theft pocket which can effectively protect some valuable small items like credit cards from being stolen.
  • 【USB Charging Port】 Carry on luggage backpack has a USB charging cable inside, just connect your own charging treasure, outside the backpack and then prepare the charging cable belonging to your device, you can complete the charging of cell phone or lpad, realize the free switching of charging of multi-device, but also can be charging while you are walking, won't be because of no power and lead to miss the important information.
  • 【Mostly Supported on Airplane】The external dimensions of the tsa approved backpack basically meet the standard dimensions specified for boarding an airplane, for which you don't have to worry about the extra cost of delivering your luggage items over the specified dimensions for boarding an airplane and the time wasted by taking them to the check-in. In addition, the backpack has a luggage strap that can be attached to your suitcase to relax your shoulders.
  • 【Multifunctional Backpack】This travel back pack is simple and beautiful, colorful and fashionable. Suitable for daily commuting, work, fitness, traveling, camping and so on. It can be used as a casual backpack, sports backpack, work backpack.

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Customer reviews.

Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzed reviews to verify trustworthiness.

Customers say

Customers like the size, storage space, performance, value, and sturdiness of the backpack. For example, they mention that it meets the allowed dimensions, has lots of space and compartments, and works well as a personal item. Some appreciate the build quality.

AI-generated from the text of customer reviews

Customers like the storage space of the backpack. They say it has lots of space and compartments, and can carry a lot. They appreciate the separate space for their laptop and other work essentials, as well as the different compartments and places to pack within the bag itself. They also love the separate shoe compartment underneath.

"...This bag is made of thick, quality material and is large enough to carry the travel essentials for a 3-5 day trip...." Read more

"... Many pockets on outside and a usable water bottle holder. I liked the buckles for added security on the sides of the pack...." Read more

"...The separate shoe compartment is a great option although they would honestly take up a lot of room if used...." Read more

"...I'm planning on using it for a work trip so I love the separate space for my laptop and other work essentials that I'll be bringing with me...." Read more

Customers find the backpack great for travel. They say it has more room than it appears, and is perfect for a trip where you are packing lightly. They also say it's great for airline travel, and good for trips out of the US. Customers also say the backpack is extremely useful to be able to carry clothes, laptops, chargers, shoes, and toiletries.

"...You can pack the following with ease -- travel size toiletries (i.e. lotion, toothpaste, shower gel, perfume etc), several pairs of sandles or 1-2..." Read more

"...Many pockets on outside and a usable water bottle holder . I liked the buckles for added security on the sides of the pack...." Read more

"... Perfect for a trip where you are packing lightly although I'm sure I can fit a great deal of my stuff in this bag because it has a functional &..." Read more

"it’s very spacious. a lot of compartments. Great for an everyday commute , gym bag & carry on. I got the gray color...." Read more

Customers like the size of the backpack. They mention it meets the allowed dimensions, and it fits during the check. They also say it's the perfect size for personal carry on and that it expands a lot width wise.

"...I would recommend this backpack for its size , quality and price point." Read more

"...Was able to fit light clothes , small bathroom bag and small purse in the main compartment with my laptop and various chargers in the front pockets...." Read more

"... Fit under the seat really well . I love all the compartments it has and it didn’t hurt my back. Definitely buy it!" Read more

"...And the strap that could be used to slide over a suitcase handle is way too tight ...." Read more

Customers like the sturdiness of the backpack. They say the build quality is surprisingly great, the material feels durable, and the zippers seem sturdy enough to withstand. Some say the bag lasts a long time and the buckles for added security on the sides of the pack are a great feature.

"...I liked the buckles for added security on the sides of the pack. Nothing got wet in the rain either...." Read more

"This is my second bag. They last a long time and they are such great quality I still would be using my first one if coffee didn’t soak into the..." Read more

"This was a good quality product . The compartment for shoes will probably be a great idea for some people, but it just didn’t work for me...." Read more

Customers are satisfied with the color of the backpack. They mention that the color is rich, stylish, and nice looking. Some customers also say that the bag is too bright for traveling.

"...The bag came in two days as expected (which was awesome). The color is great and looks like the picture...." Read more

"...It has unlimited pockets and places to store things . I love the color . I stuffed it to the max and it still felt light on my back ." Read more

"...This bag has that and the quality as well as color are great !!! I love all the fasteners that allow me to hang my wet towel on the outer part...." Read more

"...The color is great . The padding provides support to your back and the weight is distributed evenly throughout your back...." Read more

Customers like the portability of the backpack. They mention that the shoulder straps are super comfortable and simple to adjust. They also appreciate the padding, and the fact that it has lots of pockets. Customers also say that the clasps on the sides make it easy to squish the backpack to a smaller size if need be. They say that it fits comfortably under the seat on the airplane, and is amazing when sitting on their lap.

"...The padded straps are very comfortable , even when the bag is filled to capacity, and the clips on the side help to compact the load...." Read more

"...Fully packed, it's also more comfortable to carry as the weight seems to ride higher on my back. (Also, there's good padding in the arm straps.)..." Read more

"...It was nicely padded as well and looked to be comfortable to carry . I was hoping it would be lighter than the backpack I currently use...." Read more

"... Feels comfortable on your shoulders as well.Would have rated it 5/5 if it weren’t for the cheap looking/feeling interior." Read more

Customers like the performance of the backpack. They say it works perfectly as a personal item on Frontier Airlines, is stylish and functional, with multiple pockets. It also works well as s a weekend bag and as thier personal item. Customers also mention that it's practical and multifunctional.

"...The padding on the back was great and there were no issues on the airline . All around, I’m very happy with this bag." Read more

"...sure I can fit a great deal of my stuff in this bag because it has a functional & practical design...." Read more

"I bought this for my husband and I’s trip to London and it worked amazing ! Fit under the seat really well...." Read more

"...It’s great for organizing, fits a bunch of stuff, very versatile . Feels comfortable on your shoulders as well...." Read more

Customers are satisfied with the value of the backpack. They mention that it is a nice quality bag for the price point, and a great investment for any traveler. They also say that it has very big space and can accommodate up to three outfits.

"...I would recommend this backpack for its size, quality and price point ." Read more

"...The price was perfect too." Read more

"...It also fits perfectly underneath a plane seat. It is 100% worth the money ." Read more

"... Great bag & price !" Read more

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COMMENTS

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    Best Overall: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack. Price: $200 or less. When it comes to bag travel, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs a serious punch. The carry-on backpack is available in three sizes - 42L ...

  3. Amazon.com: Extra Large Travel Backpack

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  14. Best Travel Backpacks 2024 Buyer's Guide (Tips + Top Picks)

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  15. 19 BEST Travel Backpacks (for Adventuring in 2024)

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  16. Large Travel Backpack Women, Carry On Backpack,Hiking Waterproof

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  18. 18 Best Travel Backpacks, According to Frequent Flyers

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  19. Our 35 favorite backpacks for travel

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  25. 5 best travel backpacks in UAE, for 2024

    5 best travel backpacks in UAE, for 2024 Do more on your travels with carry-on-compliant bags that easily pack everything you need Published: May 26, 2023 17:00 Sahar Ejaz, Staff Writer

  26. Amazon.com: Large Backpacks For Travel

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