Best Small Backpacks for Travel

10 Best Small Backpacks for Travel in 2023 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Although the biggest or most costly backpacks are often promoted by many companies, having the best small backpacks for travel is also ideal for most trips. It’s easier to get something light and easy, than something to weigh you down. The days are gone when a backpack was intended merely to hold your things. Today’s innovations are more trendy, functional, and smarter than ever, with features that match any lifestyle and operation you might think of.

There are ultra-lasting adventure packs made for tough outdoor use, styles specially designed for hiking or biking, revolutionary backpacks complete with built-in electronics, and even trendy designer items that will turn you into an icon of style. They secure the necessities of your journey, abound in smart, exclusive features, and are built to suit everything from laptops and camera equipment to your frizzy little dog.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 12 hrs of research

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • This is the perfect day pack for the price
  • It is pretty useful and sturdy
  • Extremely light and compact
  • Can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Travel Backpack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • Useful security features like zipper hooks/locks
  • This one does have a neoprene padding against your back
  • It has nice division of space with pockets inside the two sections
  • The two pockets on the sides of the bag will easily hold a 16-24 oz bottle of water

Best Small Backpacks for Travel – Overview

Despite the ability to roll around the floor, or bear on your back, your small backpack can’t go with you anywhere. It can hold as many, but it will weigh considerably less, if not more than the suitcase does. Small backpacks for travel are ideal for urban travel or short trips, while larger carry-on travel backpacks may carry equipment for adventures of all kinds. Sturdy, well-made, and full of secret bonuses such as daisy chains, mesh pockets, bottle holders, and so many more, your backpack provides enough space to carry everything you need for some sort of adventure.

Small Backpacks for Travel Reviews

1. Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack – Best Value

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack is made of high-quality water and tear-resistant nylon material, with abrasion-resistant SBS metal zipper and reinforced more than 14 places with bartack process. Like a sandwich size after being folded, easy to carry, convenient and practical.

It fits into an ultra-compact pouch, so you can easily pack it in your suitcase for use at their destination as an extra bag for the trip. There are 8 trendy colors for your selection, just choose the color(s) you like. Perfect for day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping, and shopping, etc. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best packable backpacks for travel.

Key Features:

  • Three zippered compartments
  • 8 colors to choose from
  • SBS metal zipper
  • Made of high-quality water and tear-resistant nylon

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gonex
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 17.3″ H x 11.8″ W x 1.9″ D
  • Weight: 0.40 lbs
Pros
  • This is the perfect day pack for the price
  • It is pretty useful and sturdy
  • Extremely light and compact
  • Can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff
Cons
  • The straps are not the most comfortable when worn all day

2. Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Travel Backpack – Premium Pick

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Travel Backpack

The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Travel Backpack will get you and your belongings from point A to point B, and everywhere in between safely! Made of durable 210D nylon FD hitra. Adjustable padded shoulder straps with padded carry handle. Zippered main and front compartments with organization for cards, phone, and passport.

It comes with YKK zippers with zipper pullers that can be attached to discreet security hooks or placed under & through a secure tab to prevent pickpockets from reaching into your bag. Award-winning RFIDsafe™ blocking material prevents your data from falling into the wrong hands by blocking out virtually all transmissions between 10 MHz – 3 GHz. The Lockabout™ security clip offers 3 levels of security to prevent pickpockets from sneaking their way into your bag and running off with your valuables.

Key Features:

  • Padded shoulder straps
  • YKK zippers with zipper pullers
  • Two side stretch pockets
  • RFIDSafe blocking material

Specifications:

  • Brand: Pacsafe
  • Capacity: 15L
  • Dimensions: 16.54″ H x 11.61″ W x 5.12″ D
  • Weight: 1.46 lbs
Pros
  • Useful security features like zipper hooks/locks
  • This one does have a neoprene padding against your back
  • It has nice division of space with pockets inside the two sections
  • The two pockets on the sides of the bag will easily hold a 16-24 oz bottle of water
Cons
  • Cannot stand up on its own

3. Knomo Luggage Women’s Beauchamp Travel Backpack

Knomo Luggage Women's Beauchamp Travel Backpack

The Knomo Luggage Women’s Beauchamp Travel Backpack is loved and worn by women the world over. It stays sleek and slim, no matter what goes in. Weather-resistant, whatever’s thrown at it. Beautifully finished, and organized to a T. Your perfect companion, day or night.

Fits up to a 14-inch laptop. A designated laptop section means your laptop is easy to grab on the go and kept separate from your other possessions. The RFID blocking is essential for storing your phone, bank cards, and passport to ensure you’re not prone to identity theft. With the Knomo id, you can register your bag and if it’s lost, the founder can return it to you through their portal.

Key Features:

  • Padded laptop section
  • Pocket with RFID blocking
  • Full-grain leather sections
  • Splash-resistant material

Specifications:

  • Brand: Knomo
  • Dimensions: 16.5″ H x 11.5″ W x 3.7″ D
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
Pros
  • The weight is distributed very well
  • This is a great professional commuting bag
  • Many pockets and compartments
  • Easy to get to things
Cons
  • No water bottle side pockets

4. Incase ICON Laptop Backpack

Incase ICON Laptop Backpack

The Incase ICON Laptop Backpack is an all-around favorite, not just for its organizational flexibility and security, but also for its overall versatility. The simplistic style is trendy for the workplace and across the area. It features two side-access secure and separate compartments that can fit both a 15″ laptop and a tablet or iPad.

You will not only sort all of your techy toys but also store directories and flat items in the main compartment. This pack contains over 14 different pocket styles and a capacity of 17 liters. It is our pick if you’re hunting for a rugged, elegant, and outstanding laptop travel bag that’ll do it all.

Key Features:

  • Fits up to 15″ MacBook Pro and iPad
  • Durable 840D nylon construction
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Organizer pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Incase
  • Capacity: 17L
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 13″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 2.51 lbs
Pros
  • Stands up right even empty
  • Aesthetics are clean and professional
  • Dedicated pockets for laptop and glasses
  • Fits well under an airplane seat
Cons
  • No pass through to put the bag on a roller bag suitcase

5. Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday

The Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday was initially crafted for Swedish school children in 1978 and holds your everyday needs safely packed in classic Scandinavian form. In light rain, the water-resistant Vinylon F fabric holds books and notepads covered, and the removable seat pad allows you a comfortable spot to lean back while waiting for the bus.

Top carrying handles and shoulder straps provide flexible carrying possibilities. Removable seating pad allows you a nice spot to relax while sitting at the bus stop or enjoying lunch outside. Zippered front pocket makes for easy access to important items.

Key Features:

  • Made of Vinylon F
  • Two-way zipper with rain flap
  • Ergonomic shoulder straps
  • Dual top snap handles for quick carry
  • Reflective logo

Specifications:

  • Brand: Fjallraven
  • Capacity: 16L
  • Dimensions: 14.9″ H x 10.6″ W x 5.1″ D
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
Pros
  • The bag material is fairly thick
  • The handles on the top have a thick band
  • Color is great and large variety for colors
  • Thin straps, but very durable
Cons
  • Straps are not adjustable

6. Herschel Travel Backpack

Herschel Travel Backpack

The Herschel Travel Backpack is a modern on-the-go style intended for tech-savvy journeys. Featuring a convenient luggage trolley sleeve, three main compartments are outfitted with a variety for organizers for devices and in-flight essentials. Keep your laptop on-the-ready when you’re on the go with this bag.

The main zip compartment comes with storage sleeves for specialized storage. Dual water bottle pockets are there for convenience. And the front compartment comes with organizers and key clip for easy access to your gear. Our guide to the best Herschel backpacks offers more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Padded, fleece-lined 15 in laptop compartment
  • Front compartment with organizers
  • Front storage sleeve with reinforced zipper flap
  • Concealed top pocket with hook-and-loop closure
  • Airmesh luggage trolley sleeve

Specifications:

  • Brand: Herschel
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 12.5″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
Pros
  • Well constructed and designed
  • Very comfortable straps with decent airflow through back section
  • Compartments are thoughtfully designed
  • Interior color provides the right level of contrast
Cons
  • The zippers clink loudly when walking

7. Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

The Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack is the one small, do-all bag you can use on any trip. Designed to attach to a number of Osprey’s larger packs and travel bags for use as a separate pod pack on day trips away from base camp, it is the perfect companion on any trip. Access to the main compartment is easy with a large zippered panel.

Side mesh pockets hold water bottles and other sundries while a front pocket with a mesh organizer and key clip secure small items in a single secure spot. The mesh-covered die-cut foam backpanel provides both comfort and ventilation. The multi-function interior sleeve functions for hydration or a tablet.

Key Features:

  • Large panel-loading main compartment
  • Attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey packs
  • Side mesh pockets
  • Front pocket with mesh organizer and key clip
  • Spacer mesh shoulder straps with integrated handle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 13L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 9″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 1.05 lbs
Pros
  • The bag itself is very lightweight
  • The bag has some odly shaped side nets which can be used to hold water bottles and stuff
  • It also has chest and hip straps which thankfully are removable
  • The back of the bag is very resistant to sweat
Cons
  • The top part of the straps where the straps join kinda cuts into the back of your neck

8. SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack

SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack

SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack has you covered with side compression straps, bottom lashing loops, and heavy-duty MOLLE webbing for attaching a variety of optional pouches, accessories, and modular tactical gear. This Ninja Daypack sits comfortably on your shoulders thanks to the yoke-style adjustable, padded shoulder straps, which feature an adjustable sternum slider for added security and comfort.

The breathable padded mesh back keeps you comfortable over long hauls. Other features include durable water repellent construction, a hook-and-loop patch on the front for added customization, top carry handle, durable plastic buckles and zippers, four points for attaching a sleeping bag or roll, and dual bottom grommet drainage holes to help keep water from pooling around your gear. You may also be interested in some of the best small tactical backpacks from our list, so check them out.

Key Features:

  • Yoke-style adjustable, padded straps
  • MOLLE webbing
  • Hook-and-loop on front of the pack for attaching a flag patch
  • Stretchy side pouch fits most water bottles
  • Side compression straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
  • Capacity: 24.2L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 13″ W x 3.5″ D
  • Weight: 1.61 lbs
Pros
  • The little pockets are generous
  • The hydration bladder pocket works as advertised
  • There’s mesh lining long the straps and around the neck and three areas on the back
  • The mesh hides a very thick piece padding
Cons
  • The zippers aren’t YKK but still do the job

9. Eagle Creek Packable Daypack

Eagle Creek Packable Daypack

Eagle Creek Packable Daypack is the perfect size to be taken to the office or on your next adventure. Providing both convenience and comfort, this is the ideal bag for any traveler. Providing the best protection to all your valuables with two-way loackable ipper and two central lock points, you won’t have to worry about losing anything.

The pack-in pocket gives you the ability to carry this backpack on your back or snuggly in a larger bag. Breathable shoulder straps giving optimal air flow so no more worrying about those strap sweat marks after a long day in the sun.

Key Features:

  • Two-way lockable zippers
  • Pack-in pockets
  • Breathable mesh shoulder straps
  • Lightweight

Specifications:

  • Brand: Eagle Creek
  • Capacity: 13L
  • Dimensions: 17.5″ H x 11″ W x 4.75″ D
  • Weight: 0.35 lbs
Pros
  • There is a water bottle holder
  • The bag is fairly snazzy looking and doesn’t look like some sort of crappy parachute material
  • The front pocket is a nice feature
  • Folds into a small pouch
Cons
  • The shoulder straps are pretty thin and flimsy, but they have a tiny bit of padding

10. Herschel Supply Co. Nova Mini Backpack

Herschel Supply Co. Nova Mini Backpack

The Herschel Supply Co. Nova Mini Backpack is built for urban experiences and the ideal buddy for a fun-filled day! The versatile Herschel Nova mini backpack is improved with dual top carrying handles and slim shoulder straps to provide lightweight carrying for your needs.

Other features include the signature lining in printed fabric, split top carrying handles, internal sleeve for storage, exposed zippers made from silicon, and slim shoulder stra[s and adjusters for the webbing. Be sure to also check out our list of mini backpacks for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Signature striped fabric liner
  • Internal storage sleeve
  • Dual top carrying handles
  • Exposed metal zippers

Specifications:

  • Brand: Herschel
  • Capacity: 9L
  • Dimensions: 11″ H x 8″ W x 4.75″ D
  • Weight: 0.63 lbs
Pros
  • The Nova Mini is a good substitute for an everyday handbag when you want to keep it really casual
  • The fabric is sturdy
  • Plenty of room for your water bottle inside
  • The feel and texture of materials are top notch
Cons
  • Not a lot of color choices

Buying Guide

Shoulder Straps

You are going to want to look for bags with high-quality straps that fit on your style of body. A disparity here could lead to an awkward load, even with only a little weight inside. It doesn’t really matter how wide the straps are. It could be more convenient to use a thinner strap and use high-quality foam than heavier, bulkier straps.

Back Panel

A properly built back panel will make it much more comfortable. Though eliminating the old sweaty back for longer times of use in warmer environments is challenging, well-ventilated mesh and foam will assist with this. A curved frame will also assist with ergonomics and cooling but on many travel-focused backpacks, we don’t see that. Seems more like overkill sometimes.

Compartments

A decent bag needs to have many compartments. This way, you can divide your things into smaller sections, making it easy to reach them and find the stuff you need. Your clothes, for example, are in your bag’s main compartment, your umbrella, and flips-flops at the back, and your shoes are in the opposite side compartment (that way they don’t make all dirty). It saves searching in your bag.

Water Resistance

Although your pack doesn’t have to be 100% waterproof, be sure that your bag is made of a semi-waterproof material so that it doesn’t get soaked in a drizzle (most travel backpacks come with tarps that you can throw over them in case of a heavy downpour). In fact, make sure that the stuff doesn’t stay wet for a long time, and therefore become musty.

Lockable Zippers

Make sure you have two zippers in each compartment, so you can lock them together. While you do not need to be concerned about someone breaking into your bag and stealing your dirty laundry in a hostel, when you’re commuting, you want to lock your bag up.

Conclusion

We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best small backpacks for travel as well as our guide on features to look for in a small backpack for travel. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.