We’re sure that all seasoned travelers will agree with us when we say that, one-bagging it is the best way to go. It just takes the traveling experience to a whole other level because you’re going into it with the mindset of having the best time possible without having all the things that weigh you down.

Yes, the point is to allow yourself to be free from unnecessary inconveniences, so you can focus on whatever is necessary – living in the moment, and it requires the best travel backpack.

Before you proceed, check my Carry On Size Chart for over 180 airlines to see if your bag is allowed as a carry-on.

Quick Selection


ProductDescriptionSee It Now

nomatic travel backpack

Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack - For the Digital Nomad and Business Traveler

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osprey stratos

Osprey Stratos - Best Backpack For Hiking (Men)

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north face terra

North Face Women’s Terra 40L - Best Backpack For Hiking (Women)

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hynes eagle

Hynes Eagle 44L Carry On - Best Backpack Jet Setters

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Lowepro Pro Tactic 450 AW

Lowepro Pro Tactic 450 AW - Best Backpack For Photographers

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rei co-op ruckpack

REI Co-Op Ruckpack - Best Budget Travel Backpack

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patagonia black hole pack

Patagonia Black Hole - Best Backpack For The Ultralight Adventurer

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knomo beauchamp

Knomo Beauchamp - Best Travel Backpack For Fashionistas

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tls motherlode

TLS Mother Lode - Best Travel Backpack For Heavier Packers

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arcido faroe

Arcido Faroe - Best Backpack For The Minimalist

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osprey daylite plus

Osprey Daylite Plus - Best Backpack For Urban Travel

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One bag travel may seem like it’s only fit for a digital nomad or the extreme minimalist, but that’s not the case. Often, you carry way more than you think you need. A good rule of thumb in packing for travel is: “Pack all the things you think you need inside your bag and then take out half of those things out.”

best travel backpack

The Nomatic backpack can carry most items you would fit on a traditional carry-on luggage

Packing light forces you to cut down on what you’re told you can’t live without. It makes you rethink what you need. It might surprise you to find out that you don’t need that much at all to be happy and comfortable. For most people who make the switch to one-bag traveling, they find out a lot about themselves. Stripping your stuff to the bare essentials does tend to do that.

It also makes one a more carefree traveler. In the most traditional sense, you really would have all your possessions on your back, with the whole world ready for your taking. The best part? You’ll always be that person who has everything within reach. So no more digging around in suitcases and finding stuff in there that you didn’t even really need in the first place.

Plus, for the more active traveler, this allows you to location hop with ease without having much to repack.

Now, choosing the right backpack is not easy. Having to choose from all the available brands and models on the market right now can be quite confusing. You should be looking for a bag that is best suited to YOU, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack

travel backpackFirst of all, let’s get one thing clear: it’s not very likely that you’ll find a bag that will suit ALL your travels.

However, it is possible to find one that fits a unique scenario.

For example, the bag that you’ll want to take on your trip to the Alps isn’t going to be the one that you want to take on your work trips.

Similarly, a bag that might be perfect for a photographer isn’t going to be the same as a surfer’s.

Before you start panicking, we can tell you that we’ve done your research for you.

Below, we’ve broken down the factors that you should keep an eye out for when browsing around for the right bag for you.

It depends on what kind of traveler you are or what kind of traveling you will do most. 

Are you going on trips only on weekends?

Are you going to hit the backcountry for some hiking excursions?

Do you want to look stylish while you’re walking the streets of Paris?

Are you more practical and take only the most basic items on your trip?

These are important questions that we will have answers to in this detailed guide.

All you have to do is focus on the factors that are tailored to your needs. We’ve also tested out a couple of products on our travels as well, so we can let you know what we think about these specific bags.

Why should it be a backpack anyway?

A backpack would give you better mobility, and, ideally, it would be small enough to be your carry-on, so you won’t have to check it, and you won’t have to wait around the baggage carousel upon landing. We all know that it takes a lot of time.

This also means no lugging around heavy rollers in the airport and never having to worry about airlines losing your baggage ever again.

By no means, we’re not telling you what kind of bag you should bring. It all boils down to your preference. However, we’re going to highlight travel backpacks for the following reasons:

They’re hands-free

You’d be free to walk around without having to pull something behind you constantly. You’ll also never have to worry about damaging your luggage wheels if you ever find yourself walking through a not so ideal terrain.

They’re also noiseless. Imagine going down the cobblestone streets of Paris, making a racket with your roller bag. Not very romantic.

Plus, everything is easy to access. We all know that checking in for your flight or entering another country will make you reach for your passport and itineraries a couple of times. You’ll be free to reach for whatever you need without having the added hassle of minding all your stuff.

They’re lightweight and optimized for travel

We can’t say this about all travel backpacks, but we certainly can about the best ones. Some of these backpacks are made from the lightest materials, and they’ve been designed specifically for travel – meaning, compartments, compartments, compartments!

They’re space savers

If you’re going to be moving around a lot by way of public transit like trains and buses, then having a backpack would take up much less room.

Having a backpack would be much for suited for the more adventurous traveler who always likes being on the go.

It’s also smart to think about others as much as you think about your comfort. You don’t want to inconvenience anyone else by taking up more space than you should or hitting innocent bystanders with your roller bag.

They can look good anywhere

<sup>Travel Backpacks can be stylish</sup>

Travel Backpacks like the Knomo can be stylish and look good anywhere

Gone are the days when “travel backpack” means an unsightly mountaineer bag that looks like a log and screams, “I’m staying at a hostel, and I love patchouli.” We’ve all been there, and, hopefully, we’ve all graduated from that.

These days, travel backpacks can look chic and stylish in an urban setting while having the flexibility to bring it on a hiking trip. That also means that the bag would be suited for both conditions – meaning, it can get wet, it’s splash-proof, etc.

If you go for a roller bag, then it would not be wise to bring that along to a trek. By the same token,  you’re going to look out of place if you bring something bulky and neon to a café for a quick coffee break.

Let’s talk dimensions and specs

Ideally, you want to have a bag that’s small enough to fit under the seat in front of you in the plane. We understand that this poses a challenge for some people, but if you manage to do this, then you’re much better off.

Believe us, you can fit everything you need in one bag while staying well below 50L. It’s just a matter of finding the right lightweight bag that can accommodate all your stuff.

Make sure that the initial weight of the bag is not that significant. A heavier bag means less stuff you can pack. Also, make sure that it fits the airline’s required dimensions. There is a max legal carry on the rule that airlines will make you comply with.

Exceeding those dimensions means you’ll have to get your bag checked.

What does true volume mean?

The true volume of a backpack pertains to how much usable space it contains. This is where it can get quite tricky. Travel backpacks are measured in liters, but you can tell a lot about the usability of a bag just by looking at it.

You should also pay attention to the bag’s thickness and the flexibility of the material it’s made out of. A thin, strong material would allow for more stuff to go inside it while having a bag lined with padding would protect your belongings if you’re carrying around something fragile like a camera or a laptop.

Match these specifications for your needs.

Look out for additional flex. If you’re trying to cram more stuff into a bag and filling it to the brim, you’re not going to have much like with this if the bag that you chose has no give.

 

How the bag was designed and how you plan to utilize this space are the two key factors in determining the usability of a travel backpack.

As a general rule, backpacks that have more of a square or rectangular shape hold more stuff than other shapes. It’s cool and utilitarian too if you’re going for that look. It’s very in nowadays.

Take note of the profile

Choosing a slimmer travel backpack is better for your back. If a pack is close to your back, then it will feel less heavy than it is.backpack profile

We’re talking about a 40L bag, so that’s a lot of weight to be carrying around. That’s why it’s important to go for a more compact, slimmer form factor.

A bonus to this is that you won’t be taking up too much space, making you less likely to bother other people. We’re sure you’ve experienced having your face or shoulder nicked as you’re waiting for everyone to board the plane.

Don’t be one of those people.

What’s better, top loader or panel loading?

Panel loading or clamshell packs would be our pick. It functions much like a suitcase while combining it with the versatility of a backpack.

So if you plan to be a regular tourist and you’ll just be staying at an Airbnb or hotel, then this is the better choice.

However, this wouldn’t be convenient if you plan to go on a trek or to camp out. A top-loader pack would be better because you won’t have to open the whole bag up like a suitcase to get whatever you need.

Is it weather resistant?

The Osprey Stratos is a weather-resistant backpack

Another thing that you have to consider when selecting your travel bag is if it can withstand different weather conditions – meaning, how good of a job will it do of keeping your stuff safe and dry?

In a lot of traveling scenarios, you and your bag will be exposed to different kinds of weather. Particularly, if you plan to visit places where it’s rainy like all over Asia, this is going to have to be one of your top priorities.

First of all, let’s establish that waterproof and water-resistant mean different thing. For the average traveler, you’d be perfectly fine with a water-resistant bag. That will protect your stuff from a brisk walk in the rain.

However, don’t expect that you can submerge this bag in water or that you can trek with this bag in the middle of a storm. That’s asking a bit too much.

If you plan to pack something that absolutely cannot get wet like, say, for example, your laptop or your tablet, then we advise that you get something like a Daka Pouch.

It’ll fit perfectly in your water-resistant bag for the extra protection that you need for those certain items.

Pay attention to the bag’s durability and the quality of its make

You’re going to have to rely on this pack for a couple of days, so you have to make sure that it’s not made out of flimsy materials.

There’s nothing worse than losing stuff from a broken zipper or a torn bag. It makes for a bitterer situation because all it had to take was bringing along a sturdier bag.

You shouldn’t feel bad about shelling out a lot of cash for a bag because it’s insurance for your other stuff, and it will most likely last you a long time. You should also understand what you’re paying for here.

Bag manufacturers these days develop tech for better bags. Yes, research goes into the best kinds of materials for just about anything, travel bags included.

So you’re paying more for the tech and the best-resourced materials. Those sorts of things will never come cheap.

Plus, the more durable the material is, the more items it can carry. It makes perfect sense. Here are some specific things you should check out when considering a travel backpack:

The Fabric

When you’re looking around for bags, you might see numbers like 250D, 500D, and so on. At least, bag manufacturers who are serious about making the best products will be transparent with this. What does the D stand for? Denier – which refers to the thickness and weight of the material.

To get a little technical, it’s the mass per 9,000 meters of thread. That means lightweight fabrics like cotton will have a lower denier.

So when it comes to backpacks, the higher it is, the more durable it’s going to be. However, that also means that it’s heavier.

One fabric that you should look out for is Rip-stop nylon. Although it’s close to being just regular nylon, “rip-stop” nylon does just that. Its special weave in the form of squares will prevent your bag from ripping any further should it be punctured.

A bag made from this kind of material can carry a lot of weight. If you’re planning to go where there are warnings about muggings and theft on the streets, this will also come in handy.

As a little info tidbit, the rip-stop nylon was invented during World War II to replace silk parachutes. Even to this day, it’s still being used.

We’re talking military grade here, so that should be good enough for the well-worn traveler.

If you’re going for something a little more stylish, then consider getting a leather bag. Leather is known to be pretty stretchy and durable, so you can stuff more items in with a little elbow grease.

But leather can be a bit too heavy if you’re planning to move around a lot. Plus, it needs special care. You’re going to have to wipe it with oils, and it can’t get wet.

Don’t get anything made from polypropylene and canvas. Those bags are cheaper for a reason. It’s because they’re easily damaged and won’t last very long.

Let’s talk function

Below, we’ve provided you with a questionnaire that you can use to narrow down your choices.

1  – Is it comfortable?

If a bag can carry and protect all your stuff, but it’s a strain on your back and shoulders, then you can’t say that that’s the right one for you.

Always check the foam in the straps and how thick it is if you can’t carry much weight, scout around for a bag that has load lifters or hip belts.

Some bag manufacturers offer different options for different body types. It’s a smart idea to pay attention to what the experts have deemed to be the best for your specific body type.

2 – How well can you organize your stuff in it?

Check to see if it has compartments or if you would have to buy packing cubes for it. Either way is fine.

The point is that you have to be able to envision how you’re going to be using it. We’re all for being organized here, so throwing all your stuff in there without a thought won’t fly with us.

Also, take note of how easily items can be accessed.

3 – How secure is it?

There are anti-theft bags out there, and we recommend that you focus on those if you’re paranoid about that. But you should take precautions with normal bags as well.

Are the zippers exposed? How easy is it to access the laptop compartment? Are there layers to the bag to hide fragile items?

4 – Does it look good on you?

Bags are fashion items too. Yes, its main point is the utility, but you’re going to be seen with this thing. It must fit your overall style.

There are all sorts of bags for different aesthetics. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.

Now that we’ve got pretty much everything covered let’s get into our top picks for the best travel backpacks so you can find one that best suits your style of travel.

The Best Travel Backpack in 2019


Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack

For the Digital Nomad and Business Traveler
MSRP: $269
Bag Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
Weight: 4.55 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | nomatic travel backpackThe Nomatic Backpack is one of the most innovative travel backpacks on the market to date. This big pack is loaded with features, the proverbial bells, and whistles if you will. If what’s currently there wasn’t enough, you can add more optional accessories to make the bag even more compartmentalized.

All of these features probably look better in the demonstration video than a mere mention here. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the more of these features you add, the cramped and heavy the backpack becomes. We loved the detachable hip belt and has a zippered pocket for easy access to your passport or boarding pass.

It’s not without issues, however, as some of these optional features seem to add more problems than what they solve when the bag is full. The duffel strap system is which is one of the selling points of this bag; it allows you to carry the backpack like a duffel with the way the shoulder straps are designed; it, however, it is clunky and awkward in use.

The laptop compartment isn’t as accessible as it looks. It’s not as easy to access as other backpacks on this list that have this feature. Bells and whistles aside, the business traveler seems to be the target market for this backpack. It has that look. It’s pretty and can keep things very well organized. It’s also a good bag for digital nomads too, it can organize lots of electronics and has room enough for other necessities.

Features:

  • Can be carried backpack or duffel bag style
  • Made from high-quality waterproof materials
  • Customizable straps
  • Separate laundry bag for dirty clothes
  • A pocket for a water bottle
  • Compartment for socks and underwear
  • Compartment for shoes
  • A laptop compartment
  • RFID protection
  • Detachable waist straps
  • Fleece-lined pocket for valuable items

Pros

  • Perfect dimensions for maximum legal carry-on size
  • Waterproof pocket, isolated shoe compartment and laundry basket
  • Hip-belt is detachable and comes with slanted-zipper pockets for easy access
  • Made of very durable tarpaulin material making it able to withstand the elements
  • Separate padded laptop sleeves

Cons

  • Notebook compartment isn’t designed to be easy for quick-access
  • The water bottle pocket isn’t outside the backpack
  • The features and the material it’s made to make the backpack heavy
  • Duffel and shoulder conversion method is clunky
  • Features can be overwhelming, creating clutter instead of order

Osprey Stratos Backpack

Best Backpack For Hiking (Men)
MSRP: $159
Bag Dimensions: 22.4 x 11.8 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 2.95 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | osprey stratosThere is no denying Osprey’s reputation as a great adventure backpack maker in operation today. Our editor in chief has used the Osprey Stratos through several sections of the JMT (John Muir Trail) on multi-day hikes.

The Stratos series comes in different cubic volumes of 50, 36, 34, 26, and 24 liters and comes in two different sizes, S/M and M/L; check your airline’s carry on requirements as some sizes of this bag may not be ideal for international travel. What it’s ideal for is hiking and outdoor adventures, and it’s one of the highest-rated backpacks for this purpose. The stow-on-the-go system makes it easy to attach hiking poles while you are on a hike.

The Osprey is a pack with dual access points to the main compartment: top access with a lid and zippered front access. Because it’s designed for being hauled in harsh terrain, the backpack has a suspension system that is based on a light aluminum frame with a trampoline-style mesh wrapped around it. This allows ventilation because the mesh is not touching the back of the pack. There are 7 in total pockets that come with the Stratos plus the rain cover pocket.

However, there are zippered side pockets that would have been useful to carry gadgets, and there are no front pockets on this design. The harness isn’t adjustable as well, so you have to make sure you have the correct fitting and size when you buy the pack; in this instance, it’s better to hop on to REI and get fitted by staff with the backpack on your body. The Stratos is the best backpack for travel if you’re hiking a lot in your travels.

Features:

  • Compression straps
  • Stretch mesh pockets
  • Ice tool loop
  • Raincover included
  • Hip belt pockets with zipper
  • Dual, side compression straps
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Dual, side stretch mesh pockets
  • Ice tool loop with bungee tie-off
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Zippered hip belt pockets
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve
  • Dual-zippered panel access to the main compartment
  • Huge top panel zippered slash pocket

Pros

  • The included rain cover
  • Three major access points
  • Built with quality materials
  • The amazing stow-on-the-go system

Cons

  • There are no zippered side pockets
  • There are no front pockets
  • The harness isn’t adjustable

North Face Women’s Terra 40L

Best Backpack For Hiking (Women)
MSRP: $149
Bag Dimensions:24.6 x 14.4 x 5.9 inches
Weight: 3.62 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | north face terraThe North Face Terra is ideal for roughing it out in the wilderness and still be appropriate in urban travels. The 40L fits on all domestic airlines carry on requirements. For international travel, it might be a little tricky, especially if you have bigger models.

It comes with two compression straps on the side so you can make it compact as much as you can. However, you will probably end up checking it in if you fly around in Europe with budget airlines if you have the bag stuffed; measure the size yourself in person at REI, to be sure.

The Terra is fairly waterproof, even without an extra rain cover. The ventilation system is good for long walks and hot days. There is good padding on the shoulder straps that make it comfortable to carry the backpack around. But what we liked is the ability to adjust it on the fly so you can have a perfect while you’re on the move or whatever else you are doing with anyone’s assistance.

There is a sleeping bag compartment that you can also use to separate your dirty clothes from your clean ones. There is one design that we didn’t like, the backpack is a top-loader, so there is no way to access your things from the front, and while there zippered access from the sides, it makes it difficult to get to things that you packed in the middle. Overall, the backpack is made of quality materials with excellent design, that’s why it’s our top pick for the best backpack for travel for women who do a lot of hiking.

Features:

  • Improved ventilation (vertical channel)
  • Padded shoulder straps for comfort
  • Soft air mesh lining for the hip belt
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Eight pockets
  • Made from ripstop nylon and polyester

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Good padding on the shoulder straps
  • Excellent suspension
  • Very adjustable, even on the go
  • Good capacity
  • Can fit on most airlines making it ideal for urban travel too

Cons

  • Hard to access things packed in the middle of the pack
  • Likely have to check it in on international budget airlines

Hynes Eagle 44L Carry On Backpack

Best Travel Backpack For Jet setters
MSRP: $74.99
Bag Dimensions: 13.8 x 9.8 x 20.5 inches
Weight: 2.78 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | hynes eagleAs the moniker suggests, the Hynes Eagle 44L bag is made for airline carry on compartments.  This backpack/bag has four carrying shapes giving you the ability to carry it around busy airports the way that suits you best. It holds a lot; it’s quite a roomy bag for being IATA compliant.

You can carry it as a backpack with the adjustable sternum strap and have the choice of a removable waist strap for greater stabilization. You can even attach it to a suitcase with the back trolley strap to make maneuvering around the airport easier; for jet setters, this is the best travel backpack available.

The material is made from waterproof crinkle nylon and with a soft exterior structure that can protect your travel items from damage and moisture. While the material is great, we do observe that the zippers aren’t made as good as the rest of the bag. The shoulder straps also don’t adjust enough; this could make it uncomfortable for some taller users. The manufacturer states that it could fit under the seats; we found this to be not the case.

There is a large main zip mesh compartment, with two smaller zip mesh pockets, a smaller zippered compartment toiletry case, with quick access front zippered pockets and a side pocket for a water bottle. There four compression buckle strap if you need to compress it further to fit in the overhead bins on some budget airlines.

Features:

  • Four carrying options in 1 carry-on backpack, back trolley panel for securely stacking on wheeled luggage
  • Dual hide-away contoured backpack straps, top, and side carry padded handles
  • Padded back panels with breathable mesh for added comfort
  • One adjustable sternum strap and removable waist strap for stabilization and maximum carry comfort
  • Four exterior compression buckle straps help to pack more compact; upgraded shoulder straps buckle for long-lasting and durability
  • Two quicker access front zip pockets and one middle zip pocket with multiple slip pockets for better organize travel accessories, one side pocket is designed to keep beverage or water bottle
  • Added back laptop compartment is up for 17 inches laptop

Pros

  • Holds a great deal of volume
  • Carry on compliant
  • Great versatility for carrying options
  • Compression straps to compress further
  • Good organization

Cons

  • Questionable zipper material
  • The straps don’t adjust enough for taller people
  • Will not fit under the seats

Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW II Camera Backpack

Best Travel Backpack For Photographers
MSRP: $217.75
Bag Dimensions:11.8 x 7.1 x 18.5 inches
Weight: 4.67 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | lowepro tacticIf you’re a photographer who owns plenty of expensive gear you need a travel backpack that can protect your investment and still fit perfectly fine on the overhead bin to avoid rough handling from check-in, the Lowepro ProTactic 350 is such a bag. It the smaller of two models with the bigger one being the 450 – to which the size will already spill over the border of a standard carry on. Lowepro has been around and is a well-known brand amongst photographers.

The ProTactic 350 Camera Backpack purely marketed towards the traveler whose focus is mainly photography. There’s still space to store the essentials, as well as a space for a tiny laptop for photo editing and other purposes.

We do notice that with mid-sized DSLRs, the fit is a bit snug. It’s fine with Mirrorless Cameras otherwise. Since all the space is taken mostly from photography equipment and all the padding required to protect these items, the ProTactic won’t have much room for anything else outside the essentials.

If we had to nitpick, the laptop compartment doesn’t seem to be able to accommodate laptops bigger than 13 inches. The rain cover also isn’t detachable, which seems like an unseemly design since it will be a hassle to dry if you do get caught in a downpour. If photography is your focus, this is the best travel backpack for you.

Features:

  • Fits two DSLRs
  • Four access points for a quick photo op
  • Laptop compartment
  • compartment for tripod cup and cinch straps
  • Never miss a critical mission thanks four access points: the molded, turret-loading top, quick-grab from both sides, and full, back entry for set-up and security
  • Create limitless set-ups with a robust, SlipLock compatible strap system
  • Get versatile with five modular accessories – water bottle pouch, accessory case, tripod cup and two cinch straps – all Slip Lock-compatible and included with the pack
  • ProTactic features ActivZone System technology to deliver targeted support at shoulder blades, lumbar and waist for comfort on the move.

Pros

  • Exterior features expand functionality, including a tripod and water bottle holder
  • Lowepro craftsmanship
  • Fits as an airline carry on
  • Modular

Cons

  • Bigger laptops than 13 inches won’t fit
  • Bigger DSLR cameras will be a snug fit
  • The weatherproof cover isn’t detachable.

REI Co-Op Ruckpack

Best Travel Backpack For Those On A Budget
MSRP: $139.00
Bag Dimensions: 24 x 13 x 10 inches
Weight: 4.3 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | rei co-op rucksackREI has a winner on the Co-Op Ruckpack. This is a backpack that’s made for urban travel yet actively designed as a technical pack. It looks very minimalistic, but that’s only skin deep. There’s a lot of hidden little features on this bag that tuck away from the outside. This pack can organize your things well, and the.e excellent suspension system will keep you comfortable on the go.

The hip-belt is just the right size for walking around in the city yet still usable in the wilderness. Whether you’re up for an impromptu day hike or one-bag traveling it around the world, Ruckpack would be an ideal choice.

What sets the Ruckpack apart the pack (pun intended), is the inclusion of a hydration reservoir, rain-cover, and even straps for trekking poles if you were to use it or hiking. What we liked and found useful is the large zip (top loader) that provides easy access to your things. The Ruckpack has a side pocket where you can put a water bottle, but with a strap above it, you can place a tripod and hold it in place if you want to do some photography.

There are a few things we didn’t like, mainly the laptop compartment – it looks like it was just thrown in there with no thoughts (maybe it can be improved in the next iteration). There is also no way to tuck away the hip-belt if you weren’t using it in urban travel, and the backpack is might be just too heavy for multi-day hikes. But we’re just nitpicking at this point; the Ruckpack is a great backpack that’s sure to make the majority of its users happy. For those on a budget, the Ruckpack is the best travel backpack

Features:

  • Made from rip-stop durable nylon
  • Ventilated mesh back
  • Full-zip design for easying packing and unpacking
  • Hidden daisy chain
  • Side panels are easy to access
  • Laptop compartment
  • Bottle compartment can hold two
  • Raincover included
  • Zippers can be locked
  • Padded shoulder straps for carrying comfort
  • Removable Waistbelt
  • Bottle holder with easy access
  • Sternum-strap buckle you can use as a survival whistle
  • Access port on the left side of the pack that can hold a hydration reservoir tube

Pros

  • Minimal design with great functionality and organization
  • Side pockets a nice touch and offers many functions
  • Excellent suspension system
  • Fast and easy access from the top
  • Integrated hydration system

Cons

  • Laptop compartment
  • Too heavy for pure hiking use

Patagonia Black Hole 30L Backpack

Best Travel Backpack For The Ultralight Adventurer
MSRP: $119.00
Bag Dimensions: 17 x 7.9 x 23 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | patagonia black hole packThe Patagonia Black Hole Cinch looks like a mountain climbing backpack. It feels like one, too, because of how lightweight it is. The design is something like the open and shut style of climbing chalk bags. The 210D ripstop nylon its made of is coated with TPU coating, which makes shiny but also makes it very abrasion-resistant. There are a big exterior pocket and a small internal one with a key clip.

If you do want to use it for mountain climbing, you can fit a helmet in there too and it, with your other things are easy to get to. There’s even a hydration reservoir if wanted to take it for a hike; however, it lacks a way to secure the reservoir with doesn’t help with the water flow; it can also fit a 15-inch laptop if wanted.

For downtown use, it’s perfectly trendy. It’s one of the better-looking backpacks on this list. It’s also a well-padded pack for how light it is. Although there is no hip-belt, it’s fairly comfortable on longer walks due to its light design, though some big, broad-shouldered travelers should try it out at REI first to see how it fares.

Though water-resistant, there is no rain cover, and due to its cinch design, water can come in from the top. For the price, this pack is a good value. It’s not particularly very good at one thing, but it does well for just about anything. If weight is a factor, this backpack is a no-brainer.

Features:

  • Simple design
  • Made from rip-stop nylon
  • Micro daisy chain
  • Breathable mesh shoulder straps
  • Cavernous main compartment to hold books, or clothes for a weekend getaway
  • Back compartment features a padded pocket for your 15-inch laptop
  • Secondary compartment offers internal organization for electronics and other supplies

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Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Very scratch and abrasion-resistant
  • Water-resistant material
  • Can climb mountains with it
  • Fairly versatile

Cons

  • No hip belt
  • No rain cover
  • There is no way to secure hydration bladder

Knomo Beauchamp Business Backpack

Best Travel Backpack For Fashionistas
MSRP: $179.00
Bag Dimensions: 3.9 x 11.6 x 16.5 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | knomo beauchampThe Knomo Beauchamp is a beautiful champion of a backpack. It’s part of UK based Knomo’s Mayfair collection. The Beauchamp is slim, doing away with the bulky designs of other backpacks. Surprisingly, it can hold a lot for looking so slender as it is. The padded shoulder straps are not too big but fairly comfortable.

Any longer jaunts around a European city shouldn’t be a problem in terms of comfort because city jaunts are what this backpack is made for, and do it in style. The bag has three pockets in total with two small pockets up front, one of which as an RFID blocker to keep your phone or credit card protected. The bigger zipped compartment is useful for keeping passports and other travel documents.

The Knomo comes in different colors as it’s marketed for the more style-oriented traveler. However, we’d say it’s practically targeted towards a specific gender more so than the other, and you probably wouldn’t see anyone lugging this backpack on a trekking trip in Nepal either. It’s also a “designer” bag and, as such, comes at with a designer price tag. If you want a more practical way to travel and carry your stuff in style, ditch the Louis Vuitton and strap on the Knomo Beauchamp. This is the best travel backpack for fashionistas.

Features:

  • Made from leather and nylon
  • Padded laptop compartment
  • RFID protection
  • Water-resistant fabric  
  • Multipurpose pockets
  • Protects up to 14″ laptop
  • Padded s-shape straps

Pros

  • Gorgeous and stylish backpack
  • RFID protection
  • Very spacious
  • Water-resistant
  • Fairly robust-looking as good as it is

Cons

  • It’s gender-specific
  • Expensive

TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible 50L

Best Travel Backpack For Heavier Packers
MSRP: $109.99
Bag Dimensions: 9 x 22 x 14 inches
Weight: 4.1 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | tls motherlodeWe’ve hit the mother lode with the TLS Weekender. If you want to carry all your travel gear and the kitchen sink and still avoid a check-in (for the most part), this backpack is a jackpot. For domestic flights, this bag will slide right into the overhead compartment.

There are lots of ways to organize your stuff, and a dedicated laptop compartment means it’s good enough for the digital nomad. It’s a backpack first and foremost, but it’s also convertible to a duffel bag, much like the Nomatic design above. When you open the bag, it looks like your traditional carry on hard suitcase with a mesh divider to organize clothes.

We appreciate the fact that there is a front zippered compartment that allows you to access stuff without unstrapping the whole backpack easily. There is even a small zippered compartment on top of this to store things like passports and other travel documents.

It’s made of fairly durable material, but you wouldn’t find us traipsing around in the rain with it; there is no rain cover, and the material is water-resistant, not waterproof. Its design is kind of boxy, much like the hard suitcases it’s designed after, so it’s a rather bulky bag, especially when you start to expand it. For long jaunts around in cities, like in Europe, for example, this bag can’t be beaten.

Features:

  • Expands for an extra 1.5.”
  • Padded laptop compartment (can hold a 19” laptop)
  • Lockable rings on zippers for security
  • High visibility 210D orange nylon lining
  • Water bottle pocket; Secure TLS ID pocket for a luggage tag
  • Two main compartments with many organizational compartments
  • Fold-down shelf for splitting the main compartment in half
  • Zippered mesh panel inside the main compartment
  • Snap-out, easily accessible zippered pocket that can be separated and keep on person
  • Front compartment features travel organizer
  • Padded air-mesh back panel; removable, adjustable sternum strap

Pros

  • Lots of room
  • Expandable
  • Can hold a 19-inch laptop
  • Great organization

Cons

  • Too bulky for outdoor adventures
  • Will have to be checked in in some international budget airlines if expanded

Arcido Faroe Carry On Backpack

Best For Minimalists and Ultralight
MSRP: $125.00
Bag Dimensions:21.6 x 7.9 x 13.8 inches
Weight: 1.76 pounds
arcido faroeThe Faroe is a follow-up release after a successful kick-starter by Arcido. Their first bag had all the bells and whistles, and they wanted a more stripped-down minimalist version. The Faroe is made of gray blendex kodra material, which results in a lighter, much less expensive bag, and what’s more, it’s virtually watertight.

This bag’s slim profile looks very simple but can carry quite a lot; there’s minimal padding but enough to protect your laptop or electronics inside. The bag can also convert easily to hand luggage because of the solid top handle.

Any business user would be happy with this bag, and we see some possibilities also to use it outdoors. By using a higher density foam, Arido has shrunk the volume of space the laptop harness occupies. There is a pull tab that gives you easy access to your laptop at the airline security gate; this is one of the most useful and convenient features! There are also an internal mesh pocket with pen holders and a sleeve for documents.

A top outer pocket that is deceptively large can carry toiletries and other things you need for travel. There is even a passport pocket on the back of the bag that keeps your most important valuables safe. It needs little improvements, but it could use a chest strap, and the suspension is virtually nil – but we’re nitpicking at this point because this design is meant to be as minimalist as possible. The Arcido is one of the best travel backpacks in circulation today and one of the lightest backpacks on this list.

Features:

  • Sleek and clean design
  • Quick and easy pull tab access to the laptop compartment
  • Watertight blendex kodra material
  • Expandable side pocket for water bottle or umbrella
  • Extremely lightweight and fits most airline overhead bins
  • Solid top handle to carry as hand luggage
  • Big  inner pocket with compression straps
  • Hidden passport and 3D pockets for easy organization

Pros

  • High-quality materials and solid design
  • Easy access to laptop especially at security checks
  • Fits most airline requirements
  • Side pocket for easy access to water bottle
  • Minimalist design

Cons

  • Poor suspension
  • No chest strap

Osprey Daylite Plus

Best Travel Backpack For Ultralight Urban Travel
MSRP: $125.00
Bag Dimensions:9 x 10 x 18 inches
Weight: 1.19 pounds
Best Travel Backpacks | osprey daylite plusThe Osprey Daylite is an extremely lightweight backpack, as the moniker conveys, and is made for urban travel with the occasional jaunts in the wilderness. It’s a fairly versatile travel backpack made for everyday use. The minimalistic design does make this one of the better-looking backpacks on this list.

The bag is made from 210D nylon oxford, which is weather-resistant, lightweight, and flexible. Considering this backpack can hold 20 liters, it only weighs 1.2 lbs. The material, however, isn’t as abrasion-resistant as the Patagonia Black Hole reviewed above. The zippers are high-quality YKK brand all the hardware on this bag is of good durable quality.

There are quick grab pockets for storing things you want quick access to like a water bottle, for example. There would be even a hydration bladder sleeve behind the back panel if you wanted to use it for trekking. The shoulder straps are curved and are very well padded with dense foam; it’s also designed to be well ventilated. You can store your 15-inch laptop in the integrated laptop sleeve inside, but we don’t think that’s the best function for this bag. Overall, the backpack is perfect if you’re doing the majority of your travels in urban areas with some outdoor adventures every now and again.

Features:

  • Mesh shoulder straps (can be tucked away)
  • Padded interior sleeve for laptop
  • Six organizer pockets
  • The back panel is mesh-covered for breathability
  • Would also work well on a light hike
  • Large panel loading main compartment provides accessibility to inside contents
  • Dual stretch mesh side pockets provide additional storage options
  • The multi-function interior sleeve can be used for either an osprey hydraulics reservoir or tablet
  • Attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey Packs
  • Front panel shove-it pocket is great for stashing a light rain shell and other smaller items

Pros

  • The harness system is comfortable
  • Quick grab pockets
  • Very Lightweight
  • Sleek minimalistic style
  • Lots of colors to choose from

Cons

  • The bag isn’t very abrasion resistant
  • Not great for storing your laptop

Summary

There you go, we hope you’ve found the best travel backpack for your style of travel. Finding the right travel backpack can be daunting, but armed with the knowledge you found in this article that decision should be easier to make. If you’re focused mostly on photography, check out the best camera bag for photographers’ guide. If you’re looking for a tent for any of your outdoor adventures, take a look at our guide: Best Tents for Backpacking. If you’d rather just travel with a rolling bag, read our guide: The Best Small Rolling Suitcase For Travel.

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