Gone are the times when a backpack was intended simply to hold your things. Today’s models are sleeker, minimalistic, 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 commuting, revolutionary backpacks complete with built-in electronics, and even trendy designer items that will turn you into an icon of style. And, by the way, if you are looking for the best travel backpacks for carry on, we provide that too.
Choosing the best travel backpack for traveling with one bag can be a tough task. Too many brands and models are available to choose from, with differing degrees of reliability, size, and functionality. There is no best backpack in any situation that is ideal for every traveler. We believe however that everyone can find a pack that is ideal for their specific needs. We’ll break down the considerations that we think are most relevant when finding the right one bag travel backpack for you in this guide as well.
In a Hurry? The test winners after 12 hrs of research
Finding the best travel backpack is an essential part of planning your trip. Too big and you are going to get too much extra weight to carry around and maybe you don’t get to fit your bag on the plane! Too small and you’re never going to fit all of your stuff in that thing! Choose the wrong material and it will soak your items in the rain. There are so many backpacks out there that knowing how to pick the right one can be very confusing. But to save you hours of work, We’re going to set out all the positive attributes a backpack should have, the best backpack models, and where you can find them so you can save hours of time and only purchase one that will last you for years possibly.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Men’s Travel Backpack is perfect for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness. The Light Wire frame suspension transfers the load from harness to hip belt. A mesh back panel improves ventilation and the mesh on the harness and hip belt reduce chafing under load. The entire suspension stows away under a zippered panel creating a sleek silhouette for transport. Unzip the lockable sliders to access the main compartment.
Dual compression straps keep cargo from shifting during transit. Outside you’ll find a zippered front panel slash pocket to keep you organized and sewn attachment points to lash on extra gear. No matter how much you choose to carry, dual compression straps stabilize the load. The padded top and side handle give you purchase when you need to toss the Farpoint 40 into the back of the bus. No matter where you go, the Farpoint is backed by Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee. Love backpacks? Check out our review of the best backpacks for men for our top picks.
Lockable zipper access to padded laptop & tablet sleeve (fits up to most 15″ laptops)
Stowaway backpanel, shoulder straps, and hipbelt
Two front mesh water bottle pocket
Scratch-free pocket for sunglasses or devices
Dimensions: 21″ H x 14″ W x 9″ D
Weight: 3 lbs
Carry handles are very comfortable and low profile
The compression straps in the main compartment and the exterior can help save some space for carry on use
Packing up the shoulder and hip straps can help with the in/out for airplanes
Materials and construction seem durable enough to last through most abuse
While the hip strap is great when you are walking long distances, there is no way to store them and use the shoulder straps at the same time
Coated ballistic weave brings superior water resistance to this rugged Timbuk2 Men’s Wander Pack. Keep it organized with a padded 17″ laptop compartment, full-zip opening main compartment provides easy access of a duffel, internal compression straps for clamping down clothes, wet pocket or shoe compartment, internal mesh wall pocket helps keep things in place.
Other features of this pack include a grab handle for easy lifting, convert from duffel to backpack by stowing shoulder straps in the back panel, adjustable shoulder straps with an adjustable buckle strap at the body. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best men’s backpacks for work.
Large 2nd compartment for shoes or toiletries
Large zip clamshell opening
Tuck-able backpack shoulder straps
Air mesh back panel
Dimensions: 22.8″ H x 15″ W x 7.48″ D
Weight: 3.7 lbs
Supremely efficient use of space
The top compartment is perfect for quick grab items
The back pocket is deep and has dedicated space for a laptop, a book, and other small items
It can stand up by itself
The long pocket on the front of the bag, isn’t the best
Ultra-flexible, lightweight, and durable, the AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack makes a great choice for savvy travelers. Made of durable polyester, the travel pack functions as an unstructured suitcase that can be quickly converted into a backpack. This carry-on travel backpack offers a roomy and well-organized main compartment that’s secured shut with double zippers and four external compression straps. Unzipped, the inside flap offers a full-width zippered mesh compartment—great for larger items or keeping contents separate from the main compartment.
Designed with today’s traveler in mind, the backpack comes with an internal laptop sleeve. The laptop sleeve provides a zipper closure, and if not traveling with a laptop, the main compartment expands into the laptop area, so there’s no wasted space. The travel backpack comes with padded shoulder straps for comfortable carrying. For secure placement, the travel bag offers an adjustable sternum strap and a waist belt, both of which can be removed if preferred. The backpack shoulder straps disconnect easily and store out of the way in a zippered back pocket, allowing the bag to be checked or carried like a suitcase. The travel pack also comes with a removable shoulder strap for more carrying options.
Main compartment with zippered mesh space
Internal/external compression straps
Front pocket and front-top pocket for easy access
Padded shoulder straps
Dimensions: 21.5″ H x 15.75″ W x 8.25″ D
Weight: 3.64 lbs
Comes with shoulder strap, waist strap, sternum strap, backpack straps
Includes internal padded laptop storage compartment
The pull straps to tighten the inside & the pull straps on the outside to compact the bag
Great organization for the price
Laptop sleeve takes up space and weight that’s hard to get back if you aren’t taking a laptop
This WITZMAN Canvas Vintage Travel Backpack is made of high-quality classic canvas, matching with coffee color PU leather. Double zipper pulls are designed for the main pocket of this bag. You can see the delicate brand logo in the zipper pulls. High-quality parachute buckles allow for tightening to provide a compact, easy to open the front pocket, and the side parachute buckles are easy to transport pack.
A long removable and adjustable shoulder strap are designed for this bag, you can carry this bag also as a backpack, and shoulder bag or crossbody bag or duffel bag with this long strap. High-quality polyester lining with WITZMAN logo which is super elastic, smooth, elastic and not wrinkled. Backpack shoulder strap with foam padding gives you the greatest comfort when taking heavy items. Make sure you also check our selection of the best canvas backpacks.
3 ways to carry
Removable and adjustable shoulder strap
Zippered pocket on the backside
3 front pockets
Dimensions: 22″ H x 12.5″ W x 8″ D
Weight: 3.01 lbs
Backpack straps conceal in a zippered compartment
It’s easily stowable in overhead bin on plane
The bag also handles the rain really well
Feels very durable and excellent craftsmanship
Just be warned main pocket opens on the side while in backpack mode which can make things shift around awkwardly
With padded sidewalls, convenient organization, and a substantial suspension for backpack-style carry that disappears when checking bags, the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack has set the standard for deluxe duffels. This season brings a relocated and dedicated zippered laptop and tablet pocket—and functional storage options for items both big and small—with multiple access points. When a duffel isn’t enough and backpacking bags are too much, the Porter is the answer.
The Porter harness and hipbelt deploy at a moment’s notice for backpack-style carry and quickly disappear into the backpanel for safekeeping when your bags are checked. StraightJacket compression straps with padded sidewalls to help protect your bag’s contents and allow you to fit more gear or compress the bag to a smaller size when it isn’t fully stuffed. A protected rear panel lockable zip laptop/tablet sleeve for quick access at security or while traveling.
Large panel lockable zip access to main compartment
Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack
Front panel vertical zippered pocket for books, travel documents and more
Padded top and side handles provide comfortable carry
Dimensions: 22″ H x 14″ W x 11″ D
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Roomy, cube shaped clamshell is ideal for packing cubes
Compression straps diminish the bag’s bulkiness when not packed full
Padding on straps is very comfortable even when filled to capacity
Good interior zippered areas for keeping specific items contained
Doesn’t come with shoulder strap for duffel bag carry
The Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack provides 3 carrying options for travelers’ multiple alternatives, convenient to switch from top/side carry to a backpack when on the go. The zippered front pocket is perfect for boarding passes and will not “walk open” no matter how long your journey. Features interior slot pockets for travel essentials, from passport to power bank.
Inner tie-down straps in the main compartment are generous in length and adjust from “high” to “low” cinch positions, keeping belongings from shifting. 1 mesh zip pocket provides another to store and easily find your items. Hide-away contoured shoulder straps are well padded with air mesh, easy convert backpack into a carry on duffel bag.
Front organizer pocket
Hideaway shoulder straps
Quick access water bottle pocket
Multiple carrying options
Brand: Hynes Eagle
Dimensions: 20.1″ H x 13.4″ W x 9.8″ D
Weight: 2.31 lbs
Lots of straps for securing it together and on your back
The back part of the bag functions just like a suitcase, fully opening up, and everything fits in there super well
Fits well under the seat of an airplane
3 cubes are really nice and convenient
No where to stuff some of the straps when you aren’t using them
The Pacsafe Citysafe CS350 Anti-Theft Backpack is versatile and functional for any travel or city inspired occasion. Durable with superb organization, this classic backpack is loaded with anti-theft features to help provide peace of mind while out and about. The bag’s fabric is embedded with exomes slashguard, a lightweight flexible, stainless steel wire mesh that protects your gear from a quick slash-and-run theft.
Flexible, lightweight stainless steel wire runs through the adjustable carry safe slashguard shoulder straps to help prevent slashers from slicing through and running off with your gear. The bag also includes a turn & lock security hook to secure the bag to a fixture for added security and zipper pullers that can be attached to discreet security hooks. The zippered main compartment includes an RFID blocking pocket that helps prevent your data (such as from e-passports, credit cards, and key cards) from falling into the wrong hands. Our guide to the best anti-theft backpacks for travel offers more great products like this.
Set for a getaway or business trip, this Eagle Creek Wayfinder Backpack has a spacious main compartment, TPU-coated gear loops, and bike attachment points. A fleece-lined pocket store sunglasses and side zip water bottle pockets help on-the-go hydration. A 17″ padded laptop compartment stows electronics and a hidden tech pocket on the back panel includes pockets for power bank and phone, cord organizer, and pass through the top clip to charge your device.
No matter where your travels make take you, help keep your goods dry. The laptop compartment features a water-resistant zipper to help protect electronics. A front zip pocket separates wet gear and a drain duct offers increased ventilation. Constructed using blusign approved fabrics, this sustainable approach sourcing PVC-free materials uses recycled materials harvested from landfills to minimize waste and lighten our footprint to preserve the planet.
The Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack has all the space, organization, and protection you’ll need in a day bag or carry-on. Stay organized with 3 compartments. The front compartment has RFID blocking card and passport slots, an open top and zip pocket, 2 pen loops, and a tethered key clip with LED light. The rear compartment is fleece lined to hold a laptop to 15.6 inches and has a padded pocket for an iPad or tablet.
The roomy main compartment has a wall pocket to hold large items. A top grab handle and add-a-bag strap make it versatile and easy to carry. Front zippered pocket for quick-grab items. Travel securely and confidently with Travelon’s anti-theft technology, including slash-resistant construction, locking compartments, and slash-resistant and locking straps to keep you and your belongings protected.
Zippered mesh water bottle pocket
Rear pass-through strap for sliding over wheeled luggage handle
Padded air mesh back panel and straps for cool comfort carry
Tethered key clip with LED light
Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 12″ W x 7″ D
Weight: 2.2 lbs
The laptop compartment is great
The interior material is awesome: soft, and great color
Great organizational features
Great zipper pulls and zippers
This anti-theft backpack has a thick metal like strap covered by the fabric strap
Highly utilitarian, the Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack has all the features and organization needed for simplified airport travel, hiking, or an overnight on the trail. Full-access U-zipper, the Redwing works both as top loader and a panel loader, depending on whether you have the top compression straps clipped or not, adding convenience to any adventure.
Organization is the name of the game for the Redwing with zippered side pockets, zippered stash pocket, large front pocket with organization for small items, and the large pocket on the top of the pack. You’ll also stay hydrated for any adventure with the hydration compatible design and the water bottle pockets on the side. When you are on the go, the carry handle makes it easy to grab your pack out of where you’ve stowed it for your trip. Finally, the Redwing suspension is designed for all-day carry comfort.
Full-access U-zipper for top loading and panel loading
Top compression straps clip and unclip
Zippered side and stash pockets for holding loose sundries
Large front pocket with organizing compartment
Dimensions: 24″ H x 15″ W x 12″ D
Weight: 3.08 lbs
The hip straps are removable
The pockets on the outside are great for staying organized
The material is good quality and the zippers are strong
The handle at the top and directly on the front of the bag made lifting the bag much easier
The pack doesnt hold shape very well, it tends to sag
A decent travel backpack needs to have many compartments. This way, you can divide your things into smaller pieces and it’s easier to reach them and locate the stuff you need. Your clothes, for example, are in your bag ‘s main compartment, umbrella and flips-flops in the top, and your sneakers in the different side compartment (that means they don’t make everything dirty). And a fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses. It prevents you from having to search your bag inside.
A front-loading backpack helps you to zip the face from the side to reach all your things. While a top-loading bag helps you to enter your things through a hole in the top. That makes it very difficult to get your stuff especially when it’s at the bottom of your bag. This is why we highly suggest a front-loading backpack in any case.
Most backpacks built for real travelers are made of sturdy, lightweight materials that will last for years. Rip-stop or ballistic nylon are common options because they have additional wear and tear protection. Pack-cloth nylon, “Cordura,” or air-treated nylon, are both lightweight and are engineered to be immune to scratching and abrasions, whereas cotton canvas offers a retro look and sound, but is harder to wear. You should always aim for sturdy, high-quality YKK zippers, clasps, and buckles as you don’t want to loosen your backpack along the way.
All the straps on your backpack should be comfortable to the body. The hip belt and torso belts should have strong, easy, and supportive padding, sometimes made with dual-density foam or EVA. For better support, the shoulder straps should be contoured to help reduce tiredness and aching muscles. Many backpacks may also have slightly angled backrests or padding gaps to allow airflow. This is particularly essential in hot countries where your back could get sweaty very quickly.
The best-sized backpack is down to your own choice and needs. Whether you’re bringing loads of gear with you and dealing for varying climates to various locations, or if you’re really not one for traveling light, you’ll definitely need to look at a 60-liter backpack or larger to bring it all in. Most 40-liter backpacks are carry-on style although certain 50-liter backpacks, which don’t have a sturdy frame, may even be compact enough for a carry-on.
Frequently Ask Questions
Why you need a travel backpack?
If your travel plans mean that you need to be ready for something, and large suitcases just won’t cut it, and the only way to go is with a travel backpack. Unlike bulky luggage, the travel and hiking backpacks can be incredibly lightweight, making it easy to carry and travel. They are built for comfort and various styles of travel and terrain, offering you an adaptable bag that can comfortably carry you from town to hills.
We find that something in the 35-45L range is perfect for carry-ons. They are big enough but not too bulky that it will overwhelm you on your travels, whether you’re taking a backpacking trip or just a holiday vacation.
How do you pack a travel backpack?
To make your life easier, we recommend the use of packing cubes for travel. They not only help you be more organized but they make the best use in your bag so you can fit more items if needed.
We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best travel backpacks as well as our guide on features to look for in a travel backpack. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.