If you ask a bunch of people what they would do if they suddenly come into money, one of the most common answers you get is travel. Whether it is traveling for work - which doesn’t seem too exciting - or for leisure, everyone wants to spend some time exploring new places and stacking up experiences.
However, getting stuck with bulky suitcases and uncomfortable backpacks can really ruin a perfectly good vacation, which means you really need to invest some thought in purchasing the right kind of luggage.
While suitcases are a different deal altogether, getting your hands on the right travel backpack that also doubles up as you carry-on can do wonders for the way you travel. Backpacks are light but that doesn’t mean they won’t offer enough space for all your belongings.
If you master the art of packing, a simple backpack can fit in a majority of the things that an average suitcase could fit. You will not have to drag around a hefty suitcase. Just pack your backpack and throw it over your shoulders for a vacation of your lifetime.
If you are wondering what makes an ideal backpack for travel, this buyer’s guide will walk you through all the main elements that need to be considered.
Table of Contents
Peak Design Travel Line Backpack
Osprey Packs Transporter Carry On Luggage
Samsonite Xenon 3.0 Large Backpack
Tumi Alpha T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack
Eagle Creek Global Companion Travel Backpack
Thule Subterra Backpack
Osprey Packs Porter 46 Travel Backpack
Hynes Eagle 42L Travel Backpack
Inateck 40-44L Professional Carry on Travel Backpack
SOLO New York Crosstown Travel Backpack
Considered one of the best luxury travel backpacks, the Peak Design Travel Line Backpack has a 35-liter capacity but can be extended to 45 liters. This means that it will easily fit all your belongings for a trip out of the city while staying within the carry-on baggage limit. If you are a budget traveler, the one thing about this travel backpack that may not suit you is the price, which is significantly higher than many of the other backpacks on this list.
The Peak Design Travel Line Backpack is one of the best travel backpacks that you can get your hands on. The exterior is very sturdy, built using 400D nylon that continues to hold its shape even when it is empty. Despite this, the bag weighs just about 2.05 kilos or 4.5 pounds. The company has not tried to overload the backpack with a senseless number of features.
One of the best things about this backpack is that it is expandable. In its original state, the backpack has a capacity of 35 liters but can be expanded to 45 liters if you unzip the expansion area in the backpack. This means that it will fit the bill of a carry-on bag but also give you additional space when you need it.
Finally, the company offers a large number of accessories - for example, packing tools, camera cubes and more - that can be bought separately.
This is, by far, one of the best travel backpacks that you can get your hands on. It has been cleverly designed to give you tons of space and just enough extra features without going overboard, which is often a problem with high-end backpacks. The expandable nature of this backpack allows you to pack quite a bit extra in case of an unforeseen increase in luggage. If you want a backpack that lasts you a lifetime, this Peak Design variant should be considered.
The first Osprey backpack on this list is the Transporter Carry-On, a beautifully designed piece of luggage that can transform into whatever you need it to - a backpack, duffel and more. When it comes to storage, this backpack offers you tons of space as well as organizational panels that you can use to store all your personal items with great ease.
If you are looking for a compact backpack that can be taken as your carry-on luggage when you take your next flight, the Osprey Transporter Carry-On should be the first name on your list. The straps are removable, which means you can carry it as a regular backpack or even as a duffel with a shoulder strap.
There are many pockets all over the backpack, including an organization panel on the front, security pocket at the back, a rear access panel to get to your laptop sleeve and more. There are also zippered mesh pockets in the main compartment of the backpack.
The backpack is available in many different colors, including black, red and teal, which means there is something for everyone’s style.
If you are looking for a backpack that can be carried in multiple different ways, the Osprey Transporter is a fantastic option. While you can keep the detachable straps and waist belt on to carry it like a backpack, you can also attach the single shoulder strap or use the back panel to carry it on top of your wheeled suitcase.
You may be familiar with the Samsonite Xenon 3.0 backpacks, which come in a “Slim” and a “Large” variant. The latter features on this list, simply because of the amount of space you can get your hands on with this backpack. This is a relatively lightweight backpack that has plenty of different pockets and a fantastic organization panel along with a lot more.
The biggest advantage of this backpack is that it offers you a good quality build at a very affordable price point, especially when considered in comparison with a lot of the high-end products on this list.
In terms of weight, you don’t have to worry about carrying too much on your shoulders, as the backpack weighs just over 2 pounds. This is despite the fact that this backpack has a separate pocket and sleeve for your laptop and tablet, the main compartment and a front pocket with an organization panel. All in all, you will never find yourself short on space.
Finally, the backpack boasts of padded air mesh shoulder straps and back panel with the company’s air channel system, which helps in providing you comfort and breathability in the long run.
If you are on a budget and want a backpack that will allow you to carry all your personal items without any shortage of space, the Samsonite Xenon 3.0 Large Backpack is one to consider. Relatively larger than the “Slim” variant of the same backpack, this backpack is not just suitable for commuting to work but also for trips out of town.
Tumi is a name that has become synonymous with high-quality luggage over the years. Therefore, it is no surprise that the company’s T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack has made it to our list of the best travel backpacks. While this particular backpack costs significantly more than many of the other backpacks on this list, the unique construction, features and checkpoint friendliness make it worth your while.
The most interesting part about this backpack is the laptop compartment at the rear end, which can be unzipped to lie flat when your backpack is going through TSA screened. This way, you don’t have to bother with taking out your laptop and exposing it to damage at this time.
This is a good looking backpack made with premium materials. The zippers are large and convenient. There are multiple different pockets located all over the backpack, including large pockets on the side, removable accessory pouch, tablet sleeve and more.
Despite the kind of features offered by Tumi with this backpack, it remains relatively lightweight and easy to carry, which is very important when it comes to travel backpacks.
If you are looking for a stylish backpack to carry with you on the airplane and have the budget for it, the Tumi T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack is definitely worth considering. The build of this backpack is stellar, to say the least, and the features offered go a long way in making this the bag of your choice on your next trip out of the city.
Travel backpacks are available in a range of different types and sizes. If you are looking for one that can also double up as a hiking backpack, the Eagle Creek Global Companion Travel Backpack is worth considering. Available in a range of colors and two sizes - 40 liters and 65 liters - you can choose which variant suits you before making a decision.
This is a well-constructed travel backpack with plenty of space for all your belongings. The most interesting part about the Eagle Creek backpack is that it opens up like a book to lie flat. This way, you can put all your belongings in with great ease and better organization.
There are multiple pockets all over, including an organization panel at the front of the backpack. To make life easier for you, the backpack also offers dual access so that you can get your hands on important items with less work.
The backpack has one of the largest laptop sleeves out of the travel backpacks on this list. If you have a laptop larger than the standard 15-inch laptop - even 17 inches - it will fit well into the backpack’s laptop sleeve.
The Eagle Creek Global Companion Travel Backpack is an impressive alternative, especially because you get to choose the size - 40 liters or 65 liters - that suits your needs in the best way. The backpack opens up to lie flat in two parts, book-style opening, which makes packing and finding things so much easier. This can double up as a hiking backpack because of the handy hip belt.
If you are going to carry a backpack on vacation or even for a short trip out of town, it should be a functional but also good looking one. The Thule Subterra Backpack is the perfect amalgamation of both style and utility, with 34 liters of capacity, multiple storage pockets and a removable packing cube included. The real winner, however, is the internal power bank.
The Thule Subterra is has a capacity of 34 liters, which is just enough for a travel backpack that you can carry for an overnight trip or as your carry-on luggage. The design of this backpack is impressive, to say the least. Instead of using zips to close the backpack, there are magnetized strips on either side. You roll up the top of the back and secure it along these strips.
Another fantastic tool is the internal power bank pocket. There is an in-built route that holds your power cords, preventing any harm that could otherwise ruin your cables. As we are always using some or the other gadget, travel becomes so much easier with this power bank.
There is a padded laptop sleeve as well as a packing cube included in the backpack.
The Thule Subterra Backpack is a fantastic option for people looking for a smart daypack that can also double up as a backpack. As it is a 34-liter backpack, it fits the carry-on luggage specifications of most airlines. With plenty of storage and an internal power bank to keep all your gadgets charged, this is a fantastic backpack for people on the go.
Osprey is one of the most popular companies for travel backpacks and you can never really go wrong with an Osprey backpack. The Osprey Packs Porter 46 Travel Backpack gives you the feeling of a duffel bag that has grown to increase its utility and functionality with great straps and padding. While there are better Osprey backpacks for adventure travel, the Porter 46 backpack is perfect if you are looking for an option for city or general travel.
This is not an adventure or hiking backpack and that is one of the biggest reasons why you must consider it. While the Osprey Porter 46 does not come with a ton of attachments on the outside for gear, this is a classic travel backpack that you can take for weekend trips or longer travel.
The backpack is loaded from the top, which can otherwise be very inconvenient. As this is front-loading, it opens up like a duffel bag, which means you can easily put in - or take out - all your stuff.
The Porter 46 is built using high-quality material and the padded walls stay up to give you additional protection. There is space for your laptop, which is always an advantage.
As was mentioned before, the Porter 46 by Osprey is a dream backpack for people who enjoy organization and want to know where exactly they have placed what. If you need a backpack that could replace a duffel because of how comfortable or handy it is, this is the right one for you. The main structure of the backpack is very sturdy and padded walls keep standing, adding a degree of protection for your things. However, this also makes it a little tougher to store the backpack in smaller spaces.
The Hynes Eagle travel backpack - available in a range of sizes and colors - is another travel backpack that you should consider if you are looking for a multipurpose piece of luggage. While it is primarily designed to act as a backpack, the attachments and straps that come with it can be used to carry the backpack in three different ways.
The Hynes Eagle travel backpack has a very spacious main compartment, which opens up to lie flat. This offers a very easy way for you to stash away all your personal items in a way that is easy to access when you reach your destination.
The company has used RFID-blocking technology for the front pocket. This means there will be a way to lock your valuables and precious items, keeping them safe from any possible theft.
As there are a number of different straps that come with the backpack, which allow you to carry it as a backpack, a tote or even a crossbody bag, depending on your preference. You can also place it over the handle of your luggage for easier transportation.
If you are looking for an affordable backpack that you can carry on your next trip out of town, the Hynes Eagle 42-liter travel backpack may be the right option for you. The main compartment opens up to give you considerable space, along with a number of separate compartments for everything from shoes to your laptop.
Another good travel backpack that will serve well as your go-to carry-on luggage when you leave for your next trip is the Inateck 40-44L Professional Carry on Travel Backpack. Offering tons of space for all the things that you may want to carry for your work or leisure trip, the backpack even has secret pockets to keep your valuables safe.
The Inateck backpack is perfect for people who want a bag that will fit all the items they need for a short trip out of town. Designed to look almost like a small suitcase on your back - without being uncomfortable - this backpack gives you tons of storage in the form of compartments and pockets.
Most travel backpacks can only accommodate - at most - 15-inch laptops but this Inateck backpack is capable of holding even larger laptops, as long as they are 17 inches or less. The laptop compartment can be unzipped to lie flat when you are going through the TSA screening process.
The backpack also has a number of other interesting compartments, like one for your shoes, a back zipper pocket for valuables and more.
Despite not being the best looking travel backpack on this list, the Inateck backpack is an affordable, good quality piece of luggage that offers a range of terrific features, including a TSA-friendly laptop compartment, secure pockets, high-quality zippers and more.
The last travel backpack on this list is the SOLO New York Crosstown Travel Backpack, one of the most lightweight backpacks that you can turn to when you are looking to avoid bulkiness. There is a good amount of space to begin with but the option to expand - by almost 25% - helps further.
The expandable space is one of the biggest advantages associated with the Solo New York backpack. This is extremely helpful in cases where there is an increase in luggage suddenly.
There is a padded laptop compartment in the backpack, which can house 15-inch laptops with great ease. The is a smaller compartment for tablets under the expanding zip. The backpack also has padded shoulder straps and a sternum strap that makes it more secure. There is also a strap at the back that can be slipped over luggage handles.
If you aren’t looking to spend too much money but want a decent backpack for travel, the SOLO New York backpack is worth considering. There are no fancy bells and whistles attached but you will get your hands on expandable space, which is always welcome.
A common mistake that many people make is confusing travel backpacks with hiking backpacks. While hiking backpacks are usually made with lighter materials and ergonomic padding so that your journey in the wild can be as comfortable as possible, travel backpacks are the suitable alternatives for carry-on luggage despite being slightly heavier in some cases. Hiking backpacks are often used for other types of travel, but we will stick to travel backpacks for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, travel backpacks usually open like suitcases when they are lying flat on the floor. On the other hand, hiking backpacks are usually top-loading and need to be stuffed while they are standing and then closed with a drawstring. This can be particularly inconvenient when you have to take anything out, but more on that later.
Hiking backpacks usually have better-designed suspension systems and padding, which means that they are ideal for times when you have to walk a lot. Travel backpacks may not be designed that way, but a good quality travel backpack will be comfortable enough for you to wear as you explore a city or take flights. They are also much better looking - or just chicer - than an average hiking backpack.
Just any travel backpack that you find lying around may not work for your needs and requirements. In this section, we will be looking at some of the different features that you need to keep an eye out for when you go travel backpack shopping, so keep reading!
No one likes a heavy or bulky backpack that will leave you with an aching back after you carry it around for a day. One of the biggest factors that make up a good travel backpack is how lightweight it is. The lighter the backpack, the better it is for you in the long run.
This lightness is based on the quality of materials used to build this backpack. The lighter the materials, the more expensive the backpack could be. Just keep in mind that it should not be flimsy or there could be tears that develop over time.
The most common way in which companies advertise the size of their travel or hiking backpack is in liters, depending on the volume that the backpack is capable of holding. If you are looking for daypacks, they usually stand at about 15 to 30 liters. This is enough for the times that you are out for the day.
Slightly larger backpacks - between 30 liters and 40 liters - are more suitable for carry-on luggage or a short trip out of town. If you are going away for longer and only carrying that backpack, it should be anywhere between 50 to 65 liters.
Most hiking backpacks are filled up from the top. This means you hold the backpack and add things from the top. This also means that you will have to rummage through the entire backpack to get to those essentials that you have placed at the bottom of the backpack.
Travel backpacks, on the other hand, open like a suitcase - from the front. If you make these bags lie down, it is much easier to zip it open and take out whatever you need without messing up the entire backpack.
Good quality shoulder straps are important if you want to stay comfortable when you are traveling. There needs to be enough padding so that the straps don’t dig into your shoulders and become a nuisance. A number of travel backpacks also have padded waist straps. This strap helps in distributing the otherwise heavyweight of the backpack, preventing injuries in the long run.
Many people complain of backaches and sore shoulders after wearing backpacks for long periods and padded straps are helpful in avoiding that. Keep an eye out for duffel-bag straps and handles.
Good quality zippers are important if you want your things to be safe and secure when you are traveling. Instead of tiny, flimsy zippers that are easy to break, keep an eye out for larger zippers that are much easier to use. If you want to go the extra step with security, there are also lockable zippers that will allow you to use a small lock and keep it safe.
Hiking backpacks tend to have a lot of different pockets and attachments for all your hiking and trekking gear, but this isn’t of much use when it is a simple travel backpack that you are carrying as a carry-on. Avoid one with too many different pockets, as things tend to get lost a lot more this way.
There are, however, some key pockets that will come in use when you are traveling. Look for organizers that have a place for your keys, passport, sunglasses, tablet and more. A pocket for a water bottle always comes in handy.
You need to keep your body type in mind when you choose a traveling backpack, as even the best travel backpack will do you no good if it doesn’t fit your body in the right way. For example, if shorter women go for travel backpacks that are gender-neutral or meant for men, they may find them to be too long for themselves. This can also lead to discomfort and pains in the long run. Choose a backpack that is right for the length of your torso.
Travel backpacks are available in a range of different colors and finishes. For example, there may be some sleek, leather-like options, or others that are sturdier and maybe even waterproof. In many cases, travel backpacks seem to have a more boxy look about them - so that you can fit in a lot of your things - but you will have enough options to choose one that is more in line with your aesthetic.
You never know when you come across a sudden downpour while you are out exploring a new city. It is always helpful when your backpack is built using water-resistant material so this is one thing you should keep your eye out for. In many cases, backpacks also come with rain covers, which can act as an additional barrier against rainwater.
When you are traveling by air, you may need to have a dedicated backpack that can double up as your carry-on luggage on the plane. There are strict restrictions that airlines place on the dimensions of luggage that can be carried onto the airplane with you.
Even if you don’t have a measuring tape to check the dimensions of your backpack, it will be wise to avoid anything over 45 liters when it comes to travel backpacks that have to be taken into a plane.
Not all travel backpacks have their own dedicated laptop compartments but there are a few that have padded compartments that will house your laptop and other gadgets, for example, your smartphone, tablet, and others.
The regular compartments of the backpack can also be used for storing these gadgets, but the padding does a long way in keeping them safe. You can also use these padded compartments for books, journals, and other items.
You will find a backpack at many different price points, depending on what material it is made of or the size of the bag. Brands also make a big difference in the price. On average, a travel backpack may cost you anywhere between $99 and $300. A good quality travel backpack - medium in size - should not cost you over $199 in most cases. Bigger brands may be more expensive, which means you need to analyze whether it is worth the money you are spending.
If you are apprehensive about buying a backpack for traveling, you need to start off by gauging your own requirements. Even if you aren’t a regular traveler who is out of the city every month or so, you will need a good quality piece of luggage when you do choose to go on vacation.
All the products on this list have been chosen after a great amount of research but not all will be right for you. After going through this list of the best backpacks for travel, you will be able to find one that is better suited for your needs than the others.
Once you have your hands on a good quality traveling backpack, you can fall back on this trusty bag whenever you are making a short trip out of town or need carry-on luggage for your next exotic vacation. Picking up the right backpack can make traveling a breeze, so there is no reason to wait anymore!