What Is the Best Carry On Backpack? 

 June 27, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Seasoned travelers know that a carry on backpack is essential for traveling. It saves you money from checked baggage fees, as well as time spent waiting for your bag. With all the different carry on backpacks out there, how do you choose the right one?

Size is the most important consideration for a carry on backpack. It should be no larger than 9 x 14 x 22 inches, though you should always check the size and weight restrictions of the airline you’re flying. A good carry-on backpack also has pockets and adequate storage, is comfortable, and is durable.

There are other things to consider when shopping around for the best carry on backpack. Read on below to learn more. 

Features of the Best Carry on Backpacks

Checking in your suitcase or backpack with the airline can be risky. 

It increases the chance of your bag getting lost or damaged, not to mention the fact that there’s a significant price to pay for checked in baggage fees. That’s why more travelers are opting to pack everything in a compact backpack or duffle bag which you can take with you on your flight. It saves both money and time.

Carry on backpacks also keep your hands free. The best carry on backpacks offers travelers greater mobility and flexibility. They can replace your suitcase and duffel bags entirely, and once you experience traveling with a carry on, you may never go back to checking in luggage.

Here’s what you should be looking for in the best travel carry on backpack:


Size is the most important factor when looking for the best backpack for air travel. There is no standard size accepted globally because each airline sets its own restrictions for carry-on bags that can be stowed in the overhead bin of a flight. However, most airlines will allow bags that are 9 inches in depth, 14 inches in width, and 22 inches long. 

Some travelers prefer to use their carry-on backpack as an under-the-seat bag, which is also known as a personal item. Keep in mind that personal items have smaller size restrictions, so you would be better off using a small daypack or backpack purse. If this is how you intend to use your carry-on bag, review the under-seat dimensions of the airline you are flying with before buying a bag. 

To be sure of the right size carry-on backpack to buy, always check the airline website. Budget airlines are typically stricter, so it always pays to do your research before buying a bag. Some backpacks have expandable storage, so be sure that it complies with the size requirements even when it’s expanded. 


In the United States, 45L backpacks are usually the maximum size allowed for carry-on. When traveling internationally, choose a backpack that’s under 40L. Again, it’s always recommended to do your research first on what the airline you’re flying with will allow.

Budget airlines that have very strict policies may require travelers to go with a 35L backpack or even smaller. 


Weight is another important consideration. Some airlines allow you to take just 7kg in your packed carry-on backpack, while others allow 10kg. The empty weight of your backpack matters because some durable and heavy-duty bags do tend to weigh more, so if you are planning to pack a lot, it’s always best to go with the lightest possible backpack.

Look for backpacks that weigh a maximum of 20% of the airline’s carry-on weight restrictions, or under 4 pounds when possible. Many lightweight carry-on backpacks are constructed with durable fabrics and comfortable features. 


The best carry-on travel backpack makes it easy for you to organize your clothes, toiletries, cables and chargers, and other belongings that you’ll need while on the road. Bags come with different organization systems: some are designed with several strategic pockets inside and outside, while there are those that are equipped with removable compartments such as pouches and packing cubes.

Pockets, Compartments, and Sleeves

Separate pockets, compartments, and sleeves placed in various areas inside and outside of your backpack are essential for staying organized. They make it easy for you to know where everything is at all times. 

Below is a list of pockets you may want to have in a carry on backpack:

  • Laptop sleeve, where you can segregate your laptop and some travel documents safely
  • Spacious main compartment, to pack your clothing and other travel essentials
  • Front access pockets, for keeping and accessing things you need quickly such as your passport, wallet, and mobile phone
  • Expandable side pockets, for storing water bottles, a map, umbrella, or other travel gear
  • Small sleeves and pockets inside the bag, where you can keep your cables, chargers, headphones, and other electronics
  • Dividers, which are beneficial for business travelers and digital nomads who need to organize several documents

Choose a pack based on its pockets carefully so that the bag is aligned with your needs. 

Packing Cubes

Whether your backpack comes with packing cubes or not, these are excellent organizational accessories. You may have found a backpack that lacks the right pockets you need, but the good news is that cubes can be purchased separately. 

Packing cubes are available in an array of sizes to cater to all kinds of organizational needs. They particularly do a great job at helping you separate your clean clothes from the dirty ones, as well as organizing clothes based on categories. For example, you can have a separate packing cube for all your t-shirts, and another one for your shoes, underwear, toiletries, and so on. 

Packing cubes, or compression cubes, can be used in lieu of pockets in the backpack's main compartment. Just be sure that there is enough room for your packing cubes. It helps to measure out the interior and get appropriate packing cubes that can fit inside it. 

Comfort and Fit

An ill-fitting, uncomfortable backpack can take a toll on your body. Long-term use of a poorly fitted backpack can put your spine at risk for injury, or result in a painful neck, back, and shoulders. The good news is that you can look out for certain features that will improve the comfort and fit of your carry-on backpack as you use it:

Torso Length

The bottom of the backpack should be along the curve of your lower back. It should not exceed four inches below your waistline. 

A backpack that is too long will be uncomfortable to wear, while a backpack that is too short will cause the weight of the back to add pressure and stress on your shoulders. Look for these features in a carry on backpack:

Wide, Adjustable Shoulder Straps

Backpack shoulder straps must be wide, padded, and adjustable. The padding prevents the fabric from pinching and digging into the skin or exerting pressure on it. Adjustable buckles enable you to fit the pack in such a way that it’s closer to the center of gravity.

Using your backpack may often mean that you will carry varying weights behind you. Being able to keep the load close to the spine no matter how much it weighs, makes it easier for your body to carry it.

Padded Back Panel

Padding on the back panel protects your back in many ways. For one, it prevents any sharp items in the bag from poking you. Two, it provides support and comfort for your back while helping to cushion the pack’s weight. 

The padding on the back panels varies from one backpack to another. It's more important to have some kind of padding rather than none at all.

Ventilated Back Panel 

Breathable and ventilated back panels are beneficial for those who plan to use the pack in hot, humid conditions or for long periods of time. It greatly adds to comfort because the ventilation improves airflow, preventing the accumulation of sweat in your back. 

Durable, Quality Material

Carry-on backpacks come in a wide array of designs and fabrics. Choose carefully, because the materials used to construct your backpack have a significant bearing on how well it holds up to use, as well as how long it will last. 

When analyzing fabrics used in backpacks, you’ll notice that manufacturers often provide a denier rating in the form 500D, 450D, 1000D, and so on. These refer to the fabric’s Denier rating, which is used to measure its weight and thickness. The higher the denier rating, the stronger the fabric is.

Higher denier ratings are always recommended, but you don’t necessarily need a 1000D backpack for a carry-on. Bags with a denier rating of over 600D are usually reserved for heavy-duty tactical and military backpacks. The higher denier rating is also associated with a much heavier backpack weight.

For carry-on backpacks, a denier rating of 250 to 500D is appropriate. This is a good measure of its strength and durability without taking up too much of your weight allowance. But aside from Denier ratings, do research on the manufacturer or brand, and the kind of fabrics that are used.

Below are some common materials to look for in carry-on backpacks as well as their pros and cons:


Polyester is the most widely used synthetic fabric in the world. It’s an excellent pick for backpacks because of its ability to resist wrinkles, water, and stains while being durable, lightweight, and affordable. Polyester is commonly used in hiking, school, and laptop backpacks; it can last as long as 15 years with proper care and maintenance. 

However, polyester is not breathable. Stains, especially oil-based stains, can be difficult to remove.


Nylon is another common fabric used in backpacks, especially for travel backpacks. Many people choose nylon for hiking and travel bags because they are strong and resistant to water and abrasion. It can also withstand high temperatures, making it suitable for a wide range of activities.

Nylon is not recommended for use under the hot sun because its quality will degrade with long exposure to ultraviolet rays. 

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic nylon was originally invented by DuPont for World War II, with the intention of helping protect soldiers from the dangers of shrapnel. Though it turned out not to be as effective as they had hoped for this purpose, it was discovered that Ballistic Nylon was extremely durable and strong, much more than regular nylon.

There are many different kinds of Ballistic Nylon used in backpacks today. It isn’t waterproof, but this fabric is great for any traveler that prioritizes durability. 


Ripstop is a manufacturing technique used to describe a special weave involving nylon, polyester, or polypropylene. Ripstop woven fabrics are made using certain intervals and stronger fibers that result in a tough, wear-resistant fabric that also has the unique benefit of preventing tears from spreading – hence its name.

Since Ripstop fabrics are reliable and effective, they are widely used in camping gear, hot air balloons, and boat sails. It’s an excellent fabric for travelers who need ultra-durable backpacks. 

Cordura Nylon

Cordura is a high-quality type of nylon that is popularly seen in many military-grade and high-end backpacks. Due to its excellent abrasion and water-resistance qualities, as well as strength, Cordura is a good choice for an all-around backpack that you expect to put through a lot of wear and tear. This fabric is much heavier than nylon, and it’s also more rugged, making it an efficient fabric for protecting backpack contents from the elements.

Kodra Nylon

Kodra nylon is similar to Cordura nylon, also used by the military as well as travel backpacks. Many consider Kodra nylon to be the gold standard in strong travel bags since it possesses world-class puncture and abrasion-resistant qualities. It is the material of choice for people whose bags will be used for carrying heavy things because of its reliable strength.

Kodra nylon is lightweight and weatherproof too. 


Genuine leather made from the skin of cows, pigs, and goats is used for making luxury travel bags. They are significantly more expensive since they are considered a luxury item. Leather is also high-maintenance but it’s soft and comfortable to wear, more so over time. 

However, due to the heavy weight of leather backpacks, they are not suitable for long-term travel use. Leather is not water resistant, since animal skin is porous. Having said that, if you use a leather carry-on bag, it’s important to go to great lengths to take care of this bag. 

If you don't mind spending money on a luxurious carry-on bag that will last a lifetime but requires more care and maintenance, then leather may be a good choice for you.

Vegan leather backpacks are an eco-friendly option to genuine leather. They are more affordable and water-resistant, though less sturdy. 


X-Pac is a modern synthetic fabric manufactured out of polyester mesh, a nylon layer, a taffeta layer, and waterproof film. These fabrics are combined through a lamination technique, resulting in a strong, quality yet thin material. 

Aside from being durable and thin, X-Pac fabrics can hold their shape well. It’s an ideal choice for travelers and mountain climbers because it can shed moisture and does not fade over time with UV exposure. 


Dyneema is another modern brand of fabric made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Originally created for use in sails, Dyneema is used by the military and other industries due to its light weight and terrific strength. 

In fact, Dyneema is renowned for its superior strength-to-weight ratio. However, it’s quite stiff

Quality Zippers

The quality of a zipper used in a carry-on backpack plays an important role in the pack’s convenience and durability. It’s worth checking what kind of zippers are used before you buy a carry-on backpack, because they play an integral role in the safety and security of the pack’s contents. They also keep dirt and dust out of the backpack.

There are few things worse than traveling with a backpack that has faulty zippers. You can risk losing your valuables in transit because a zipper leaves your gear exposed, or you can be left vulnerable when you’re on a trip and a zipper refuses to close properly. 

Backpacks with YKK zippers are always recommended. YKK is a trusted zipper manufacturer which is widely used by reputable backpack companies because of its strength and durability. They are available in various sizes and weights, which can differ based on the design of the travel pack as well as the area of the bag it’s used in.

Other reputable zipper manufacturers include Riri, Zoom, Talon, and Coats & Clark among others. 


A multipurpose carry on backpack is great value for money. Whether it can be worn in different ways or used in situations other than for carry-on travel, you may want to consider these features for added versatility and flexibility:

  • Convertible straps: A backpack that comes with straps that enable you to use it as a messenger bag, crossbody bag, duffle or tote bag is extremely useful. It will come in handy as you travel in crowded cities or packed trains, allowing you to move with ease and comfort. In these situations, carrying a backpack behind you may not always be the most practical choice.
  • Wheeled backpacks: Carrying a backpack for several hours at a time can be uncomfortable and painful. However, a backpack that converts into wheeled luggage is an ideal solution for this. The best backpack for air travel can give your back a rest once in a while, so you can pull it around in the streets or in the airport, then wear it on your back when walking on rough streets or rugged terrain.

Just keep in mind that wheeled backpacks weigh more because of the heavier handles and wheels used in their construction. If convenience is something you prioritize more than the number of clothes you need to pack, a wheeled backpack may be the right carry on choice for you.

  • Trolley attachment: If you’re going on a long trip or simply need more belongings than what would fit inside a carry-on backpack, using a pack that you can easily attach to your trolley handle is a convenient feature. This way, you don’t always have to carry it on your shoulders.
  • Outdoor and travel use: A carry-on backpack that can double as a hiking, camping, and travel backpack is a wonderful choice for individuals who live active lifestyles. Many of the most popular carry on bags were actually initially designed for outdoor use. However, they do have the specifications and features that also make them great carry ons.

Consider the style of the carry on backpack and how you plan to use it, too. For example, if you plan to do a day of sightseeing with your carry on, a laptop backpack with a rigid shape may not be the best design; you’d be better off with a vibrant hiking day pack. 

Clamshell Opening

Frequent travelers prefer the convenience of carry on backpacks that have a clamshell opening. This kind of opening allows you to open the backpack the same way you would a suitcase, to pack and unpack more efficiently compared to top-loading backpacks that have a narrow opening.

Clamshell backpacks, or at least those that allow you to unzip the whole perimeter, make packing more efficient. It opens up flat and allows you to see what’s inside within seconds. 

Another benefit to clamshell backpacks is that they are usually more durable and protective compared to top-loading backpacks. They are typically designed with tougher fabric too.

Top-load openings are also common in many of the best carryon backpacks. It isn’t necessary to have a clamshell opening though, in any case, it definitely simplifies packing and unpacking.

Water Repellency

For any travel bag, water repellency is important. All of your valuables and belongings will be kept inside your carry on backpack, so using a water repellent bag is worth it for protection and security. You never know when you’ll be exposed to light rain, so give yourself and your belongings the protection you deserve. 

Keep in mind that water-resistant backpacks are more common than waterproof bags. Waterproof bags are much more expensive than water repellent ones due to the technology and engineering that goes into manufacturing waterproof bags. But the truth is that there really is no need to spend money on pricey waterproof backpacks unless there is a risk of leaving it out in a torrential downpour, or if you plan to go on boat trips with it. 

Most backpacks with water-resistant coatings are sufficient to protect your gear while preventing water from penetrating the fabric.

Water-resistant and waterproof backpacks are usually indicated as DWR or PU by the manufacturer. DWR, which means Durable Water Repellent, is much more common; it refers to a type of coating that has been added to the material to prevent it from absorbing water. Just keep in mind that the quality and water repellency of DWR fabrics degrade over time, much quicker when they are exposed to the sun, dirt, and abrasion over long periods of time. 

Alternatively, PU or Polyurethane coating is also added to other fabrics to make them waterproof. 

Backpacks without water-repellent or weather-resistant features can still be protected with the use of a rain cover. Some packs come with detachable or hidden rain covers, usually stored in the bottom exterior pocket for easy deployment when needed. There is also the option of buying a rain cover separately.

Anti-Theft Features

If you travel or commute often, anti-theft features are necessary for protecting your valuables against the risk of theft. Thieves often target unsuspecting backpack users, so if you want to safeguard your belongings, use a carry on backpack with at least one of these anti-theft features:

  • Slash proof or notch proof fabric: Thieves use sharp knives to cut through the fabric of backpacks and access your valuables. You’ll have peace of mind when using a carry on with slash-proof or notch-proof fabric, which is a specialized material that can’t be cut through. Bags may use slash-proof fabric either in its entire construction or in certain pockets where you can keep your valuable things such as your credit cards, passports, and sensitive documents. 
  • Locking zippers: Without a lock, opening zippers from an unattended backpack is like stealing candy from a baby. Locking zippers are available in different styles, though it's more common to see it used with a combination lock and strong zippers. When only you know the combination to open the zippers, it provides another layer of security. 
  • Locking cable: Stainless steel locking cables enable you to attach the backpack to a chair, table, or just about any fixture. For example, if you're working on your laptop in a busy cafe, you can attach your backpack to a table. That way, you don’t have to worry about thieves running off with your bag when you aren’t looking.
  • Hidden pockets: Secret pockets inside of a backpack are the perfect place to keep your money, credit cards, sensitive documents, and other kinds of valuables. Even if an attempted thief was able to get hold of your bag, they wouldn’t know where the secret pocket is located, so your things are safely protected while in there. 

Suspension System

The best carry-on backpacks have a well-designed suspension system, which consists of shoulder straps and one or more of the following: a sternum or chest strap, load lifters, and a hip belt. Padded and adjustable straps are non-negotiable when it comes to comfort. 

More on different types of suspension systems can be found below:

  • Sternum or chest strap: These function to disperse the backpack weight, protecting your shoulders from discomfort. They also ensure that the backpack straps are held in place and don’t slide off your shoulders.
  • Load lifters: Load lifters are small straps that are usually located on top of shoulder straps. When pulled, they tighten and bring the top of your pack closer to your body, stabilizing the load and preventing it from swaying. 
  • Hip belt: Hip belts are important when you are carrying heavy loads. When fastened properly, the use of hip belts transfers weight from the backpack to your hips, relieving your shoulders and back from pain and pressure. Hip belts are common in travel and hiking bags because they are efficient in redistributing weight for comfort, a valuable feature that travelers can also benefit from.

Using two or more kinds of suspension systems in a carry on backpack will make it more comfortable and reduce your risk for injury. As a result, you can enjoy more mobility and comfort. These come in handy when navigating airports, walking streets, and even in outdoor activities such as hiking, running, or mountain biking.

Our Recommendations for the Best Carry On Backpack 

You’ll come across many of the best carry-on backpacks when looking around. Doing some research is always the best way to find out what the market offers. It may take some time but do check out these popular models below. Click through the links to learn about their pros and cons, as well as their specifications, to determine if it’s the best backpack for your needs. 

Best Carry On Backpack for Women

Osprey Fairview 40L: The Osprey Fairview 40 has a cult following among seasoned female travelers who need a reliable carry-on. As one of the best personal item backpack models out there, this pack has numerous outstanding features.

With a generous volume of 40 liters, plus 22 x 14 x 9 inches dimensions, the Osprey Fairview complies with carry-on restrictions for several airlines. It weighs 3.41 lbs and is constructed out of 450D recycled polyester which has been finished with a water-repellent coating for extra protection. This bag has all the bells and whistles you need from a trusty carry-on, including premium hardware such as YKK zippers.

A clamshell opening makes packing more efficient. However, the spacious interior compartment doesn’t have that many pockets, so you can benefit from using packing cubes for extra organization. The interior compression straps found in the main compartment come in handy for securing your belongings in place. 

Women who use this bag will find it a breeze to stay organized. It even comes with roomy zippered mesh pockets on each side of the interior compartment, allowing you to segregate even more of your things. These pockets are a great place to stash your toiletry kit, sunglasses, towels, and other travel essentials. 

The Fairview has a dedicated space for laptops up to 16 inches. You can access it with the zipper found on the left side of the pack for added convenience. Additionally, one of the unique features of this pack is that the water bottle holders aren’t located on the sides, unlike in other backpacks: it’s found in the front pocket. 

The front pockets can also double as extra storage for small things such as your tickets and portable jackets. Women will find that the padded carry handles: one at the top and the other on the left side. These are extremely useful for pulling your bag out of the overhead cabin in the airplane. 

Overall, the Osprey Fairview 40 is an excellent choice for women. It comes in beautiful, vibrant colors and has the right shape to accommodate women’s bodies, making it comfortable and practical – not to mention long-lasting.

Best Carry On Backpack for Men

Osprey Farpoint 40: The Osprey Farpoint is hailed as the best carry on backpack for travel by many; even though it was originally designed for men, women can fit this pack too. Take this with you on any vacation around the world: this unisex backpack is certainly strong enough to withstand the abuse that comes with years of rugged traveling.

The bag’s overall design allows you to use it in many ways: as a carry on as well as a city bag, day pack, travel backpack, and hiking bag. Weighing in at just 3.47 lbs, this is perfect for any adventure requiring you to go far and light. The 40L capacity is accepted by many airlines as a carry on though it also has enough storage for all the items you need for a day out. 

The Farpoint has many convenient features, including compression straps located on the front panel. In addition to helping compress the pack, they also keep your bag secure because they pull the fabric in front of the zipper when fastened, concealing the zipper from plain sight. The top and side carry handles on the pack also make it so much simpler to pull the bag out of the overhead cabin, or grab it quickly whenever you need to.

It seems Osprey has thought of many ways to make this bag more versatile – no wonder it has the reputation for being one of the best carry-on backpacks on the market. Several attachment points located on the front of the bag allow you to fasten gear on securely. You can use these to attach a carabiner to hold up other travel accessories.

There are numerous options to fit the pack correctly, which comes in handy for both men and women. The pulley system found on the left and right side allows you to hold the backpack in place. Meanwhile, the harness system can be slid up or down for the proper fit. When not in use, the straps, hip belt, and harness can be zipped up behind the backpack. 

Travelers appreciate that the shoulder straps aren’t just padded, but are also breathable. The ergonomic, curved design adds a great deal of comfort, though this may not be suitable for individuals with short torsos. 

The Farpoint has fantastic organizational features too. A small pocket without any closure is found in the pack’s front exterior, ideal for keeping things like a map, jacket, and water bottle. However, the compression straps may not be maximized if you are stuffing large items into this pocket.

It also helps that the pocket is built with a drainage hole. This makes it a great place to store anything you may have that’s wet or leaking, such as a used rain jacket. 

The Osprey Farpoint 40 has innumerable uses, not just for men, but for women too. And given the warranty of Osprey, the brand definitely stands behind the quality of its products. It may not be the cheapest carry-on on the market, but it certainly has great value for money. 

Best Budget Carry On Backpack

Inateck 40L Carry On Backpack: Many of the best carry-on backpacks are quite expensive. The good news is that there are high-quality carry-on models that are affordable: the Inateck 40L Carry On Backpack is a perfect example of this.

The bag’s multi-purpose design can be used by different kinds of people. Whether you are a business or leisure traveler, or an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys going on adventures in different places, you’ll get many uses out of this backpack. It was designed to last a lifetime, thanks to durable zippers and ultra-tough fabric that is resistant to scratches, abrasion, and water.

The Inateck 40L Carry On has cabin-approved dimensions, plus a compartment for a 17-inch laptop and enough clothes for a quick trip. Its smart design includes several pockets for organization, strategically located in various areas inside and outside of the bag. Each of these compartments can be used in a number of ways.

Additionally, the bag comes with two handles: one on top as well as another on the side, allowing you more flexibility as you travel. It can also be attached to your trolley for added convenience. A detachable rain cover comes in handy for protecting your bag during rainy days too.

As a bonus, this bag also comes with dual lockable zippers. Anti-theft features usually cost more, but Inateck has successfully proven that there is no need to spend an arm and a leg on a long-lasting, secure, and convenient carry-on backpack. 

Best Carry On Backpack for Neat Freaks

Tortuga Outbreaker 35L: The Tortuga Outbreaker is a famous carry-on model that is available in a 35- and 45-liter version, though they do share the same features. It’s designed with a rectangular shape and has a clamshell opening, which makes packing easy and convenient. The 45-liter version is among the best weekender backpacks because it offers plenty of space and has versatile features. 

The bag is constructed with four layers of tough sailcloth fabric, which is also waterproof. You can be sure that your things are protected thanks to its super durable exterior. The lockable YKK zippers, which are equipped with splash guards, provide extra security.

It’s clear that the Tortuga Outbreaker is a well-thought-out bag: it has several features that travelers can really make use of, particularly neat freaks. For one, the front flap opens up into an organizational panel with useful sleeves and pockets for all your tech gear. It already includes a fleece-lined sleeve that’s perfect for keeping your mobile phone, a tablet, or a Kindle. 

Second, the main compartment offers plenty of room and features mesh, zippered pockets. Each side already comes with zippered pockets, which are excellent for segregating smaller belongings such as your toiletries or underwear. Third, the backpack has a large laptop compartment, though you can also keep important documents in there. 

There are several other design features that contribute to the excellent comfort of the Tortuga Outbreaker. The hip belt has been engineered to transfer 80% of the pack weight from your shoulders, though you can remove the hip belt whenever you no longer need it. Even more pockets can be found on the padded hip belt too: it’s a great place to store your mobile phone, wallet, snacks, and other small things.

The superior harness system, load lifters, sternum strap, and adjustable height ensure that the backpack is as comfortable as possible for all users. For anyone who believes that organization is the most important feature of a carry-on bag, you won’t be disappointed with the Tortuga Outbreaker. 

However, more pockets mean more weight. This bag proves that, since it weighs a hefty 4.5 pounds. But given the extremely practical benefits of each and every thoughtful pocket throughout the bag, many travelers may be able to forgive the Tortuga Outbreaker’s weight. 

It’s more important that you can’t feel the heavy weight of the pack even when you’ve loaded it. That’s why Tortuga made sure that this backpack was comfortable to wear. This is a carry on that was built to last, and has a fantastic array of compartments and pockets for just about anything you need.

The Tortuga Outbreaker is truly a good travel investment. 

Best Wheeled Carry On Backpack

Ambor Carry On Rolling Backpack: Jet setters have found the ideal wheeled backpack in the Ambor Carry On Rolling Backpack. Not only is it an affordable version, but the great breadth of features allows travelers of different preferences and lifestyles to appreciate it.

The Ambor Carry On Rolling Backpack offers plenty of space with a 39-liter capacity and large compartments. This bag has ample volume for a two or three-day trip, plus extra space for other necessities. Inside, it has a padded computer sleeve to safeguard your laptop, as well as a tablet or iPad compartment that doubles as document storage. 

Give your shoulders a break during long trips. This bag lets you convert it into a wheeled suitcase with ease, which is extremely practical in airports too. The wheels can be covered up when not in use, so as to avoid getting any dirt on your belongings. 

The two inline rubber wheels are durable and long-lasting, allowing you to breeze through places easily. The unisex design is also elegant enough to be used by professionals or in school. Meanwhile, the bag is compact enough for storing in the overhead cabin. 

The Ambor Carry On Rolling Backpack is constructed with tear-resistant polyester material for durability. The water-resistant coating offers extra protection from the rains, while the steel frame and reinforced edges contribute to even better strength when you are carrying a heavy load. 

Best Carry On Backpack for Business Travelers and Digital Nomads

Nomatic 40L Travel Bag: If you are a business traveler, digital nomad, or someone who travels frequently with electronics and lots of tech, the Nomatic Travel Bag has all the features you need. More than 20 different features, in fact.

The Nomatic 40L Travel Bag is such a fantastic carry-on for many reasons. It has an elegant black exterior that is as professional as it is good-looking; you can take this bag with you to business meetings without looking out of place. 

Inside, it’s rich in pockets and compartments for all your things. Easily locate your things within seconds because there are specific pockets designed for toiletries, shoes, laptops, cables, water bottles, travel documents, and so much more. Sensitive valuables can even be stored in the bag’s waterproof pocket, while a soft-lined compartment is perfect for keeping tablets or your sunglasses away from scratches.

The Nomatic Travel Bag is 9 inches high, 21 inches wide, and 14 inches deep – it’s got just the right dimensions for a carry on. It will fit in the overhead cabin as well as under the seat for many airlines. Business travelers also appreciate the versatility of this pack since it allows you to switch from backpack to duffel within seconds. 

There are many ways to adjust the comfort and fit of this bag too. It’s designed with a removable waist belt, adjustable shoulder straps, and an adjustable chest strap. The waist belt is generously padded with ventilated foam, while the ergonomic, curved shoulder straps prevent the fabric from pinching. 

However, the straps lack the ample padding that many other great travel bags do. It doesn’t have a breathable back panel either, so this is not a bag you may want to wear for hours or use in hot weather. This was designed with business travelers and digital nomads in mind, so it’s certainly ideal for quick jet-setting business trips. 

Given all the incredible features, the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag is still an excellent choice. The price tag is a bit steep, but anyone who’s constantly working on the move will see the value of its fantastic features.

Best Weekender Carry On Backpack

Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Backpack: If you’re looking for a carry on backpack that has plenty of room for your clothing, shoes, and other travel necessities, the Hynes Eagle 38 is recommended. This compact travel bag is affordable but doesn’t cut corners when it comes to durability. 

This bag has a 38L capacity and it can fit in most IATA flights as a carry-on, though it’s far too large as a personal item. The spacious main compartment has enough storage to keep two weeks’ worth of clothing and other belongings on their own, though it also has ample space to segregate them into three packing cubes. Once you need to adjust your bag’s size, you can count on the side compression straps to do an efficient job for you. 

The Hynes Eagle 38 is made from strong polyester fabric and heavy-duty zippers. It’s also designed with other features to add to your comfort, such as a sternum strap, side handle, and top handle. Traveling in comfort is possible with the adjustable and padded shoulder straps. 

It would have been much better if this bag was designed with more padding. The lack of padding is evident around the bag, especially in areas that would do well to protect its contents with a little foam. That said, there are still many other excellent features in this bag. 

Keeping your backpack clean and in great shape is simple. All you need to do is hand wash or spot clean the bag in cold water, then leave it to dry. This is helpful since travel backpacks are so prone to getting stained and dirty easily. Overall, the Hynes Eagle 38 is a good all-around carry-on at a low price.


The best carry on backpack will fit airline requirements, is spacious enough for your trip, and is lightweight but also helps you stay organized. There are many high-quality options to choose from. Use this guide to help you locate the ideal carry on for your needs.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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