Best Travel Backpacks
Finding just the right travel backpack for you can be a hard task. This is true whether you’re a business traveler making shorter trips, or someone who is looking to go backpacking in a foreign country for extended periods. There are many different styles, sizes, materials, and makes when it comes to travel backpacks.
Depending on the size of your torso and/or overall body size, it may be a challenge to narrow down which one will be more comfortable. It is also important to take in mind the type of terrain to weight capacity for each choice. Below we have listed the top ten best travel backpacks in the market currently. We have reviewed detailed criteria to pros and cons for each product to help you decide which one suits your traveling needs best.
- Osprey Waypoint 80
- Detachable day bag
- Osprey Farpoint 55
- Comfortable belt straps
- Kelty Redwing 44
- Extra cushioning
- Breathable material
10 Best Travel Backpacks
Osprey Waypoint 80
Although this backpack is very large, it's comfortable to wear. But, for the times that you don't want to carry it on your back, there's a handle on the side and one on the top, and they're both cushioned so your hands don't get tired. The back of it is closed up, and easily unzips to expose the shoulder and belt straps, both of which have cushioning. The compartment concealer rolls down easily and tucks neatly into the bottom of the bag. You have to adjust this backpack to your unique torso size, and you can do so easily in just a few seconds.
This bag is a two-in-one ensemble. There’s a day bag that attaches and reattaches in just a few seconds. Four clips are around the day bag when it's attached to the larger one, and the only way that you could get access to the smaller bag is to unclip all four of them, which is a good security feature. The day bag is small in comparison to the larger part, but when you open it up surprisingly it has a lot of space on the inside, a few good storage compartments, and a nice place for your laptop.
While wearing the smaller day bag and carrying the larger part, there's a chance that you may be able to get onto the plane with the entire ensemble. But, worst case scenario, if you can't, you always still have the smaller one that you can bring on board.
- Detachable 15L day bag
- Comfortable to wear for a large bag
- You will not be able to bring the entire bag as a carry on
Osprey Farpoint 55
Some people don't think so initially, but belt straps are so necessary with large travel backpacks like this one. This one is 55 liters large, so when filled to capacity it can get quite heavy depending on what you have on the inside. Good thing it has a belt strap for that extra added support. This way, all of that weight from your backpack won't be focused just on your back and shoulders, but can now be evened out to use more of your hips while carrying it.
A Detachable Bag
One of the coolest features about this Osprey Farpoint 55, is that it has a nice detachable day bag. It has his own shoulder straps for easy carrying, and has the compartments that you expect, such as one for your laptop. The smaller bag makes your traveling experience so much more convenient, because you can leave the larger part of the bag back at the hotel, and carry the smaller one for souvenirs that you pick up while you're out and about, maps, travel guides, and brochures.
You'll also like the way that you get to wear this day bag. Airports, bus stations, train stations, and other crowded areas are filled with pickpockets, thieves who are just waiting on someone with a big backpack that they can walk behind, unzip, and retrieve valuables from such as cell phones and tablets. With this Osprey Farpoint 55, you get to wear the bag on the front of your body. It attaches easily, and allows you to keep an eye on it. Not only is this a great security feature, but you'll also probably wear your day bag on the front when you have a little more items than usual, because the weight will be distributed more evenly across your body.
- Good for long-term travelers
- Handy detachable 15 liter day bag
- Material is not so breathable
Kelty Redwing 44
One thing travel backpack consumers complain about is the fact that theirs doesn't have enough padding. This one comes with soft cushioning on the waist and shoulder straps, but what most backpacker's love the most about this one in particular is the lower back padding. If you're going to be doing a lot of walking during your tours (as most backpacker's do in the most scenic destinations), this padding lessens your chances of having back pain at the end of your journey. The material this backpack is made of is also very breathable, so when you visit those humid destinations, you'll hardly get that icky, sweaty feeling between the backpack and your back.
Padded Inside Compartments
When you're out and about enjoying your vacation destination, there will be several bumps to your backpack, whether you notice them or not. You want to have the piece of mind of knowing that expensive items such as your laptop and tablets won’t end up with cracked screens or other damages. Good thing this Redwing 44 has extra cushioning in those specific areas where these items will be kept.
There is a lot of space on the inside of this backpack, but some buyers feel they still need more organization. It doesn't have a whole lot of separate compartments on the inside, so, depending on your personal preference, you may want to purchase some compression cubes, small pouches that you can add to the inside of the backpack to separate smaller items from the bigger ones. You also may want to get yourself some zipper locks, because this one doesn't come with them.
- Extra cushioning inside and out
- Breathable material
- No locks on zippers
- Limited compartments on the inside
You want your backpack to be durable, whether you're out in nature on long scenic hikes, or if you're going to mostly be on and off trains or in and out of airports and hotels. This backpack is durable, so if you were to get caught in the rain, as long as you're not purposefully standing in it for a long period of time you don't have to worry too much about your stuff getting wet. The bag itself weighs around 4 lbs, and that's because of the materials that is made out of. Still, some people feel that the extra weight is okay because of the backpack's durability.
When you flip this bag open, you'll see lots of space, enough that if you roll your clothes up you can probably make two layers, unless they're thicker items like sweaters or jeans. There are also a good bit of compartments, like the one with the zipper on the back. There's another zipper compartment on the top that's a good place to put your passport or your phone, and you can access it by either flipping open the top lid or from the outside of the bag.
Comfortable and Easy to Transport
When you first see this bag the shoulder and waist straps seem like they're all over the place, but the good thing is that you can tuck them away. There's a zipper over the top of the bag where you can open and store in the shoulder straps, and the waistband has its own private compartment at the bottom. This is even more convenience for when you want to actually wear the belt, because you can either pull it out and around your waist, or stuff the belt easily in the pockets, depending on how much back support you need. There are even clips on the shoulder straps you can use to take the pressure off your shoulders while carrying it.
- Compact with lots of space
- Weather resistant
- Attached built-in rain fly
- Some may consider the bag itself heavy on its own
If you are going to be traveling internationally, this bag is going to save you a lot of time and money, because you don't have to check it in at the airport. When you open it up, you'll be surprised how similar to a suitcase it is. Packing and unpacking is a breeze, and this bag also has pockets on both sides for increased organizational ability. It has a laptop holder of up to 17 inches that'll fit your computer snugly, but if you need to pull it out quickly, such as at the airport for security, the zipper provides easy access.
The front pocket is also easy to access and it can be used for items that you may want on the plane, like maybe a small book to read. It's also good for storing extra items such as toiletries. Most folks use the side pocket for water bottles, but you could also stick a magazine or a guidebook in there. The interior pockets are see through, and can be used for things that you don't want to get mixed up with your clothes, such as flash drives or phone chargers.
- Stows easily
- Has a lot of interior compartments
- May not be as comfortable to wear for smaller people
The North Face Overhaul 40
If you plan to carry your laptop, some hiking gear, and clothes, this is a great option for you to make sure you fit everything comfortably.
- Fits airline specifications well
- Not wuitable for wearing long distances with heavy loads
Deuter Transit 65
This bag allows you to be flexible, because you can carry it in a lot of different ways. For example, if you get tired of it on your back, you can switch to the shoulder strap. There's a handle on the side that allows you to carry it like a suitcase if you wanted to, along with another handle on the top of the backpack. The straps for both shoulders along with the waistband are tucked neatly inside of the back of the backpack out of sight. The cover for the straps and waistband is thin and light, and when you want to carry the bag on your back, it rolls down easily and fits underneath into a lower pocket.
Convenient Day Pack
With the day bag removed, the rest of the bag actually acts as a suitcase. You have full panel access to the larger bag with one zip of a zipper, and the top easily flips open to expose the very spacious interior. There's even a compartment that is specially made to store your sleeping bag, or you could use that space for other items instead.
There are also internal compression straps that you could use to create more space for clothing, or to hold an important item in place inside of the bag. There's also a front panel pocket for extra organization.
- Wonderful for trips abroad
- Multiple color options
- May be too big for smaller people
The very outside compartment on this backpack is where you would put those items that you reach for all the time. For example, it's a great spot to put your boarding pass or passport because of its quick zipper access. The second compartment right behind it has a little more space for storage, and it has a few more organizers and pockets. It's padded, so you can feel safe putting, say, an iPad in there.
The third section is a bigger, and when you open it up you'll notice a large see-through pocket along with two pockets that sit side-by-side (a normal sized hand could fit down into each one of these). This section is good if you had, say, extra phone chargers, and there's also enough space in this section in the bottom where you could store a small jacket if you needed to. There's also a small opening up top that you can put your sunglasses in that has tree coat lining to protect smaller, fragile items. The back compartment is where you keep your laptop. It's also padded, and is especially made for computers and iPads.
When you approach the conveyor belt at the airport, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. Being that this Timbuk2 Uptown travel backpack is compact and TSA compliant, all you really have to do is unzip the back, lay the backpack down open on the conveyor belt, and let it roll through. Then you just pick it up on the other side, zip it back up, and keep it moving to catch your plane! This is why business travelers love this backpack so much.
- Lots of organizational space
- TSA compliant
- Not recommended for long term trips
Patagonia Headway MLC 45L
How much organizational space you have on the inside is going to determine whether or not you buy a particular travel backpack. This Patagonia Headway MLC gives you enough so that your items don't get all mixed up. Travelers want to be able to have good organization for their clothes instead of having them in a big cluttered mess when they open their suitcase. Although this is not a suitcase, it functions like one, which is one of the most loved features. If you place your shoes on the far right or left, you can roll up your shirts and jeans, place them side-by-side, and see them all at once in the see-through net compartment.
In that same large compartment, there is a net and a sealed pocket on the part that opens up. And, you can unzip that area and have even more space in yet another hidden compartment! For example, let's say you have a shirt that's sweaty that you don't want to mix up with your clean items. You could slip it easily into that internal pocket, and keep it away from your clean gear as well as everything else in the bag. The outside section is what makes this feel like a briefcase. You never have to completely open your backpack to get to your pens, day planner, or passport phone. Everything that you would normally put in your day bag is right there in that easy to access compartment
Maximum Luggage Carry-On
This is what the MLC in the name of this briefcase stands for. It's a pretty low-profile backpack, and is very compact. The straps can be tucked easily on the inside of it, and it also is good if you have a roller bag, because there's an opening that allows you to slide it down the handle, sitting it nicely on top of a bottom bag. Although this backpack doesn't have a whole lot of cushioning or protection from the rain, it would be perfect for a business traveler who isn't planning on backpacking across Europe.
- Excellent storage compartments
- Sleek looking
- Not a lot of cushioning
Sometimes travel backpacks can have a lot of loose straps that can get caught up and hung on things as you walk down train or airplane isles. These straps also get in the way when you are at a checkpoint trying to put your backpack on an airport conveyor belt. External straps can be tucked in easily with this backpack.
When you're traveling abroad, there's already a whole lot of things that you have to pay for. For example, there are fees for your Visa, vaccinations, plane tickets, and other various travel costs This means that you don't want to overspend on a good travel backpack, but you still want to get one that is of good quality and will suit your needs well. With this one, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get one that's going to last you for a long time, and get you through many future businesses and/or leisure trips.
An Office on Your Back
This Osprey Porter 46 L has so much space is unbelievable. When you open up the 'office section' there's room for your pens, notebooks, tablets and a laptop, and they all can fit in there at the same time. The best part about it is that it's at the front part of the bag, so you don't have to open the large part just to grab something quickly, such as a phone or a tablet.
- Wonderful organization
- May or may not be airplane carry-on friendly, it just depends on the airline you're flying with
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Having multiple compartments simply makes it easier to manage things in your travel backpack. Many travelers keep their clothes and shoes in the main largest compartment, the one that they won’t open that much while moving from place to place. Items that they may grab multiple times during their trip they will keep in the compartments nearest the front/outside.
When you buy a travel backpack, your goal should be to get one that’s going to last you for years to come. This is going to depend on what you put in it, how you pack it, and how frequently you use it. That being said, it is always good when you can find a backpack that has a lifetime guarantee. Only time will tell how long it will actually last, but do your research on the backpack brand itself.
Getting a backpack that has heavy-duty materials will be to your benefit. Generally, travel backpacks are made of nylon or polyester, but you can get a very durable one made out of canvas as well. A leather one is going to cost you a little more, but if that’s what you want, go for it. Still, no matter what materials it’s made out of, you have to always pack your backpack smartly. As with many material things, if you take care of it, it will take care of you, so don’t pack your backpack to capacity (only about three-quarters of the way full).
There are a few repetitive reasons why people normally will toss out a backpack. One of these reasons is the fact that shoulder straps sometimes tear. The person may have gotten the wrong sized backpack for their torso length, then carried it a long time with that uneven torso-to-back pack proportion, until one day the straps just began to give out. Or, the person may have bought the correct size travel backpack, but just continuously packed it too heavy. Don’t put weight in your bag that it can’t handle, or weight that you can’t carry without leaning too much to the front or back while walking. This can also be very hard on your zippers, and when they break it’s another reason travelers will simply throw away a backpack.
The last thing you want is a travel backpack that’s not going to protect what you have on the inside. So, don’t get a one that is not waterproof, or at least water resistant. And, padding is just as important on the inside as the outside of a travel backpack. For example, you may not feel comfortable sticking your laptop into a backpack that does not have padding in that particular area.
Your backpack overall has to feel good while you’re carrying it. It has to fit the proportions of your body. It doesn’t matter so much how much you weigh or how tall you are, but your backpack should line up more with the length of your torso. Travel backpacks come in different sizes, and some even have adjustable suspension for added comfort. The term ‘backpack’ can actually throw a lot of people off when it comes to the weight that they can safely carry for long distances. When initially purchasing a travel backpack, travelers may not realize that most of the weight is going to be supported by their hips, not their back, at least it should be. Someone walking around with a travel backpack that doesn’t have a waistband on it will be putting all that weight on their back. This can cause injury over an extended period of time, and the only way to be sure that you are safe from hurting yourself is to be sure that your travel backpack does have one that’s comfortable for your waist size.
Although most of the backpack weight is supported by your waist, you still want to make sure that yours has a padded back area. It will be generally located near the lower part of the backpack, and if you don’t think that it makes a difference, take a hike in your old travel backpack, then in one with this extra cushioning. An ideal one will have this padding contoured, with the middle portion of the padding cut low. This is so your backpack does not get sticky and sweaty in that area on long tours.
Travel backpacks generally fit people with regular waist sizes from the mid-20s to the mid-40s in inches around. But, there are folks out there who are extra small or large in physical stature, so they’ll have to search a little harder to find a travel backpack that’s right for them. If you’re one of these people with a very narrow or wide frame, some of these backpacks have hip belts that are interchangeable to meet your specific personal needs. These are good to have when getting a travel backpack for a child, because as they grow they could adjust it over time. And, of course your shoulder straps have to be comfortable up top, around and under your chest/shoulder area. Nothing feels worse on a long walk in a backpack than to have the shoulder straps feel like they’re pressing into your body. This is probably because the straps themselves are too thin, and even a little extra weight makes the pack painful to carry. Wide, comfortable, padded straps are what you need, ones that feel snug as you explore your destination.
Q: What size should my travel backpack be?
If you need a point of reference, people with 18-inch torsos should get small backpacks, folks with 18-inch to 20-inch torsos will feel comfortable in a medium one, and if your torso is larger than 20 inches you should go for a large travel backpack. Travel backpacks come in lots of different sizes, and the best choice for you depends on how long you’re staying on your trips, how you’re traveling, and what you know you need to carry with you for the entire stay. Travel backpacks are generally anywhere from 25 to 85 liters large, and most people find and ideal one to be between 40 and 50 liters. This size may seem to be right in the middle, but smaller is normally better.
Keeping a minimalist attitude when it comes to your backpack will be to your benefit, especially at the airport. This is going to save you money, because you don’t have to check in your bags. It’s also going to save you a lot of time, being that you don’t have to wait at baggage claim. Carrying this size bag will also save you a lot of stress. Have you ever noticed how, when traveling, if you carry less stuff you lose/misplace less things?
Q: What type of travel backpack should I get?
What you want to do first is be sure that what you’re buying is actually a travel backpack. Some people do not know the difference, and may feel that anything that resembles a regular book bag will do just fine. The thing that you have to remember is that a travel backpack loads up from the front. This means it has more of the characteristics of a suitcase, and you won’t always have to open your entire bag just to get one thing that you regularly use.
Getting the correct amount of support is also a feature that a travel pack will have versus other types. Have you ever noticed when you’re carrying your regular book bag styled backpack that your lower back begins to hurt at times if it’s loaded up heavily? This is because it very likely does not have a waistband on it. This evens out the weight and allows you to walk for longer distances without feeling pain and/or a lot of fatigue. The way that the shoulder straps are designed on travel backpacks compared to other similar types of bags also contributes to your personal comfort while wearing it from destination to destination. Every backpack in the above review list is an actual travel backpack.
Q: Should I get a travel backpack that’s waterproof?
The first thing you should realize is the difference between a travel backpack that’s waterproof and one that’s water-resistant. If you are mostly going to be in and out of airports, up and down city streets, in and out of museums, and touring different other destinations, then a water-resistant backpack will be good for you. This is because when you go out to visit these places you will normally make sure beforehand that the weather is going to be nice, and the worst you’ll probably expect is a light drizzle of rain, or maybe a passing vehicle that splashes some street puddle water on to you while you’re window shopping on the sidewalk!
If your travel backpack is waterproof, it means that you expect to get wet on your trip. Technically, the word ‘waterproof’ means that the material of the backpack could actually be submerged in water, and keep all of your things dry. This type of backpack is ideal if you were, say, rafting on a river in a canoe, or if you wanted to walk through or underneath a waterfall. Still, with the amount of electronic gadgets that people carry with them on trips today (laptops, phones, tablets etc.) some travelers still feel the need to get a backpack that’s labeled waterproof to protect these high priced, valuable items.
Alternatively, you could get a rain fly/cover for your travel backpack. These come in all sizes, from extra small to extra large, and some even come with a lifetime warranty. They are very light and easy to store in your backpack. It’s recommended that you store it in a compartment that’s easy to get to, so you don’t have to go through all of your things just to quickly grab it in a situation where you encounter spontaneous rain.
Q: Is there a limit to how much I should put inside of my travel backpack?
If you’re visiting a major tourist destination, then there are going to be several places where you’ll pick up small souvenirs and other items. This is why it’s important to not pack your backpack all the way full. You should try to leave about 25% of your travel backpack empty. This is unless, of course, you’re on the way to the airport, and taking every single one of your belongings with you to your next destination.
Q: What features should my travel backpack have?
One of the first things buyers look for in a travel backpack is a laptop holder. These holders are not just good for laptops, but also for magazines, books, and other items that have that similar flat shape. You want to also be sure that your backpack has waist wraps. If you do a lot of traveling, these are going to save your lower back in the long term. Getting a backpack that has extra padding on the back of it for back support as well as padding on the waist belt, shoulder straps, and inside compartments is also recommended.
You should also keep an eye out for a travel backpack that has locker zippers on them, or ones that come with combination locks. There are a lot of pickpockets in airports and unfamiliar distant locations, and in a very crowded area its easy for a thief to unzip your backpack (from behind you while you’re wearing it), grab something quickly, then head in a different direction without you ever knowing, at least not to you get back to your hotel and notice something missing.
For those of you who travel often a good durable travel backpack is a necessity when it comes to adventuring. Now that you have read our top ten best travel backpacks in the market today you have a better idea which one suits your needs best. Make sure you keep in mind the weight capacity, the comfort, the size and most importantly the strength of the bag. Also to make sure the bag is right for the type of terrain and voyage you are going on. So for your next journey you can be ready for anything!