When you are planning your trip, besides accommodations and flights, the important part is choosing the right travel backpack. Great carry-on backpacks doesn’t limit you to your freedom and mobility as a carry-on suitcase would. But, choosing a great backpack can be a challenge because you need a backpack that can keep your essential travel items without skipping a beat.
In terms of finding the right backpack for you, it is a personal choice. There are so many travel backpacks that appeal to any traveler. So many factors that can make a great backpack. It could be based on budget, size of the backpack, functionality of the backpack that travelers look for in a great travel backpack.
Tips On Choosing The Right Travel Backpacks For Your Next Journey
Why do we need the best backpacking backpacks for travel?
Packing at travel backpack is like packing a checked in suitcase. If you decided to go for a travel backpack that is too big, you will end up packing more than you need which causes extra weight to carry around.
Plus, the overhead bins on airplanes tend to fill up quickly with new class fares. If you purchased a low-class fare that makes you board last, you might not be able to find space for it at all.
On the other hand, if you own a small backpack, you will need to fit for any space inside to get anything important inside the travel backpack.
What about the material the travel backpack is made of? Pick the wrong material, and your stuff will be soaked in the rain.
Why does choosing a travel backpack have to be so hard? There has to be an easy way to figure this out right? Good news for everyone, there is.
I rarely travel with anything other than a travel backpack. If I know I will be traveling for business or an extended period of time, I will use a carry-on, but most of the time my good old reliable travel backpack always comes to the rescue.
My latest backpack purchase a few months ago wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. The process of picking out the right backpack for my purposes took a few months.
If it wasn’t for me picking something in my bag that I shouldn’t have, I would still have my backpack and wouldn’t have been placed on this search.
Word of advice, if you have electronics that could cause battery explosions while travel just recycle the product and get a new one. Battery acid eats right through things. Who knew?
What I have noticed in my recent search for a reliable travel backpack is there are tons of options available in the market today and more than just one retailer that sells backpacks.
How do you pick the best travel backpack?
These are the simple steps I used in choosing my most recent backpack. These steps I hope will save you a bit of time and effort in research.
I will list off features that a travel backpack should have, which brands are the most reliable, and where to purchase a great travel backpack that will last you for many travel years to come.
What To Look For In Good Travel Backpacks
What are the things you should know about the best backpacking backpacks for travel?
Hereʼs a breakdown of how you can choose a great travel backpack for your trip:
The greatest backpacks are the ones that last the longest and stay in great condition no matter how much you abuse it.
The Travel Backpack must have all the following characteristics that make them durable, long-term, and will protect your stuff from the rain. Donʼt get a travel backpack that doesnʼt check off all the boxes on this list:
What should you be looking for in trying to find the best backpacking backpacks for travel?
While your pack does not need to be 100% waterproof (that is unless you are going on some long multi-day hike), make sure your bag is made out of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesnʼt get wet in a drizzle.
Most travel backpacks come with tarps that you should put over them in case of a harsh downpour.
Also, make sure the material won’t stay wet long and thereby get the musk smell that nobody wants. I look for thick but lightweight material. Treated nylon material is great. You can be able to pour a cup of water over it without the insides getting wet.
Iʼm not traveling a lot during torrential downpours or monsoons, but I have been caught in tiny rainstorms many of times and I want a bag that will keep my clothes dry.
Plus, I live in the pacific northwest which rains a lot, so this back needs to help me when traveling and at home.
Make sure every compartment has two zippers, so you can lock them together. While most of the times in my everyday life, I usually have sweaty gym clothing inside my backpack, so locking up the backpack isn’t a regular thing for me.
But when I travel, I have more than just weary gym clothing, and paranoia usually kicks in because I don’t want someone sneaking illegal things into my backpack.
Also, I get extra weird around large gatherings of people in tourist destinations because that’s when thieves are at work.
Side note: When purchasing locks, make sure the package says they are TSA- approved locks — these locks have a special release valve that allows the TSA to open the lock without breaking it to check your bag.
If a travel backpack you like doesn’t have two zippers, you can always get Pacsafe backpack & bag protector.
The Pacsfe protector is a Stainless steel bag protector wraps and locks 360-degrees around backpack, duffel bag, or luggage up to 120 liters.
The great thing about the Pacsafe protector is your travel backpack will be protected in situations where you have to leave your bag unattended at a tourist location for an extended period of time.
Keep in mind that the Pacsafe protector can add weight to you backpack when you are carrying it around. It’s a great product for photographers and business professionals who may be carrying expensive cameras or laptops around with them.
A good travel backpack should have multiple compartments. This way while you are packing, you can break up your belongings into smaller sections so itʼs easier to access and find the stuff you desire.
For example, my clothes are in the main compartment of my bag, my umbrella, and flip-flops in the top, and my shoes in the separated side compartment (that path they donʼt get everything dirty). It saves having to dig around your bag.
The majority of backpacks today are internal-frame packs, meaning the support rods and frame are built into the knapsack and stowed from supposition.
However, there some are still external-frame knapsacks, where the rods are separate from the definite crowd and stick out (think of those backpacks you see in old hiking movies or movies as to people backpacking Europe in the 1970s — a big, clunky metal frame). Donʼt get one of those.
Make sure you buy a Backpack with an internal frame. It not only looks better but the rods wonʼt get caught on anything and your bag will also be slimmer, making moving around easier.
Additionally, internal-frame packs tend to be lighter as the frame is composed of a carbon roughage or tough synthetic, which makes them easier on your back as well as more durable.
Padded Hip Belt
Many of the weight you will be carrying around will be pushing down on your hips, so youʼll need a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable.
The padded hip belt will help aid support and disperse the load more evenly on your back, causing fewer strain. The hip belt can also be adjustable so you can tighten it for extra support.
Padded Shoulder Straps
These make carrying your load more comfortable, as the weight of your pack will also be pushing downward on your shoulders. The pads will put less pressure on your shoulders and also help take pressure off your lower back. Make sure the padding is very thick and made of one piece material to avoid fraying.
A lumbar-shaped pack makes carrying the travel backpack more comfortable, as it helps distributes weight more evenly.
Also, a contoured backpack creates a tiny space between your back and the bag, allowing air to move through and help keep you slightly cool to avoid excessive back sweat from carrying the backpack all day.
A front loading backpack is single that allows you to zip open the face from the side and access all your stuff. A top loading bag only allows you to access your stuff from a hole in the top.
This makes getting your stuff towards the bottom of the backpack really difficult.
What Size Should You Be Looking For?
What is the perfect size for a travel backpack? Size really doesn’t matter as the most important thing about a travel backpack is how it fits your body.
If your travel backpack is too big or too tiny, the weight wonʼt be balanced properly and will cause back soreness or maybe even make you collapse over. While funny to the observers when this happens, it’s not so much fun to you.
You want to look for a big travel backpack to hold just a bit more than the stuff you are bringing and not more than that. If a backpack fits everything you want, has a bit of extra room, and feels comfortable, then you have found the perfect travel backpack size.
When you are at the store (and any good camping/outdoors store will do this), they must be able to stuff your backpack with the equivalent of 30 pounds (15 kilograms) so you could notice how that much weight feels on your back.
Itʼs important to don’t forget that the bigger your backpack is, the less likely it is that youʼll be able to carry it on the airplane.
You wonʼt face any baggage fees from the major airlines for checking your bag when flying internationally.
Budget airlines, on the other hand, charge a fee for checking a bag based on weight, so the more your bag weighs, the more you will have to pay to check it at the gate.
Question – Travel Backpacks or A Carryon Bag w/ Spinner Wheels?
How do the best backpacking backpacks for travel help in your journey?
If youʼre traveling around the world, your luggage is going to get thrown around everywhere and It will get used and abused. If you are in a foreign country with horrendous paving, a carryon suitcase can be extremely hard to walk on uneven sidewalks and hills.
Plus, if you are staying in a hotel that doesn’t have an elevator at all, and stairs are your only option, it becomes a pain.
Suitcases are good for weekends away or if youʼll be staying in single place for a long time. I always use a carry on suitcase on my short trips.
But, if you are moving around a lot and backpacking around the world, Traveling is so much better with a backpack. They are versatile, easier to carry up flights of stairs, pack into tight places, and make life simpler.
When you see a bus that you might miss if you don’t run, and the next bus that comes after that is an hour after that, Backpacks just make more sense.
If you have back problems and canʼt use a travel backpack, a smaller suitcase with wheels and a long handle may be a great substitute.
It will still be difficult carrying it up and down stairs, and annoying as you roll it across uneven sidewalks, but many companies make fairly good and lightweight travel cases.
Additionally, you should get a hard knapsack with wheels thatʼs sort of a hybrid between the two so you may get the most excellent of both worlds.
Related Article: Samsonite Framelock Hardside Carry On Luggage – Is it the real deal?
Travel Backpacks: How Much Should They Cost?
A Travel Backpack price depends on size, fabric, and brand. Most reliable Travel Backpacks cost between $99–300 USD.
The medium-sized store brands prevalently cost around $199 USD. Store brands are cheaper than big-name brands like North Face, Osprey, and Gregory.
Plus, I don’t believe a travel backpack should cost more than $300.00. Once you hit this price range, there are so many features added into the backpack that you will never use while traveling.
Keep in mind, that quite a few travel backpacks are hiking backpacks as well. These type of backpacks are designed for camping and multi-day treks in the woods.
They are meant to be used in the Rockies instead of the streets of New York, but these type of backpacks are pretty interchangeable these days, and getting a knapsack designed for the outdoors merely means youʼll have a stronger and more durable pack.
The price point you really stick with is around $100–250 for a travel backpack.
So, what are the best backpacking backpacks for travel?
Choosing The Right Travel Backpack: My Favourite Travel Backpacks
Product Description: For backpacking, thru-hikes and alpine expeditions, the Aether AG Series has a pedigree.
We set the bar for technical backpacking packs by combining Anti-Gravity technology with customizable fit and innovative features like our new convertible top lid to create a more capable and comfortable pack for long-haul load carrying on any multi-day excursion.
When you need a pack that can carry heavy loads for up to a week, there is no better option than the Aether AG 60.
One of the best backpacking backpacks for travel for Men.
Amazon Review:”This is the second pack for my son. He spent an lot of time researching the features and durability on top of his six years of regular nearly monthly use with his old pack.
Now that he has it, I wish my pack had all the features for light weight packing that it does. We’ll see if it holds up as well as his last one, but it appears to have the critical straps secured with double and triple stitching.
The waist belt is more evenly balance with the criss crossing straps and much easier to adjust while walking. What it lack in exterior gear hooks, it more than makes up for with deep and well placed water pockets and belt pockets.”
Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack, Volcanic Grey, Medium/Large
- Large panel zip access to main compartment
- Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper
- Stowaway backpanel, harness and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection
- Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment
- Two internal compression straps hold contents securely
- Heat-embossed scratch-free zippered slash pocket
- Padded top and side handles
Osprey’s Farpoint 40 is perfect for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness and is built to meet most airline carry-on requirements.
The LightWire frame suspension transfers the load from harness to hipbelt. A mesh backpanel improves ventilation and the mesh on the harness and hipbelt reduces chafing under load. The entire suspension stows away under a zippered panel creating a sleek silhouette for transport.
Outside you’ll find a zippered front panel slash pocket to keep you organized and sewn attachment points to lash on extra gear.
Amazon Review: “This backpack was perfect for my travel throughout Europe during “March 2017”!!
I had no problem with airlines such as Ryanair, british airway, Wow airlines, and Easyjet! So if you are taking any of these airlines and want the perfect carry on backpack this is it! For Wow airlines it was considered a paid for carry on bag.”
Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Backpacking Backpack
- Anti-Gravity suspension – feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack
- Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment allows you to stow your poles in steep terrain or whenever you need your hands free
- Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt to dial in perfect fit
- Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir
- Removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets and web attachment points
Product Description: The Atmos AG 65 is the best-fitting and comfortable pack for traditional backpacking trips up to a week or more.
The innovative AntiGravity suspension makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight and seamlessly wraps around your body. With easy to use stretch side pockets, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, and FlapJacket for lidless use.
Changes for 2018 include improved durability in high wear areas, key adjustments to fit and new color.
Amazon Review: “Just returned from a 60 mile, back country Montana trip. Bag was fantastic, comfortable, and breathable.
Many adjustments to fine tune fitting. Great storage and organization. Only complaint (which is very common) is the zipper situation, especially on the hip pockets.
They are nearly impossible to open and close with one hand, which is frustrating considering these pockets are designed to be accessed with one hand on the go. Other than that, the bag is awesome!”
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Backpack, Black
- ANTI-THEFT DESIGN – With securable and puncture resistant zippers (can also be locked with padlock). Fabric is cut resistant for max security (lightweight steel mesh). Includes stainless steel cable to lock bag to objects with padlock. Padlock not incl.
- ORGANIZATION – 2* Lockable Main Compartments: Roomy main one opens suitcase style plus smaller exterior one for fast access with 2* Zipper Interior Pockets and 1* Padded Laptop Sleeve (fits 15 inch notebook). 2* Side Pockets for Water Bottles or Umbrella.
- LARGE & COMFY – With padded & adjust. shoulder straps (25.2″ to 36.22″) and adjust. hip belt for better weight distribution when hiking. Back support padded with honey-comb fabric. Height adjustable sternum strap. Handles padded w/ high density foam.
Product Description: Seriously spacious, the Venturesafe EXP series of travel backpacks from Pacsafe help you keep it together when on the go as well as help keep your valuable secure. Side stretch pockets and internal mesh pockets keep water bottles, toiletries, and valuables organized.
Venturesafe backpacks also integrate several Pacsafe security features — from the flexible, stainless steel eXomesh slashguard built into the bag’s fabric to Carrysafe slashguard backpack straps.
Amazon Review: “This is my main bag for traveling! The security features are great and I like how the locking bar is hidden. Great size as well; works great as a carry-on and if not too stuffed, could fit under a normal airline seat.”
Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack
- Weight-distributing, low-profile harness system.
- Carry-on-compatible 28L capacity. TPU-coated 1000D polyester. 1680D ballistic nylon paneling. Suitcase-style, full-wrap zipper opening on the main compartment.
- Large zippered mesh compartment on the right side. Subdivided zippered mesh compartment on the left side. ~15in padded laptop sleeve. ~10in padded tablet sleeve.
- Top zippered pocket. Security YKK zippers.
- Carabiner lash loops. Tuck-away straps. Included raincover. 4 reinforced grab handles.
Product Description: The Allpa 28L is built with a blend of tough, TPU-coated 1000D polyester and durable 1680D ballistic nylon paneling.
To make the Allpa 28L comfortable to carry when fully loaded, we equipped it with a padded, low-profile harness. The harness comes with contoured shoulder straps, an airmesh back panel to keep your back cool, an adjustable chest strap, and a tough, lightweight nylon hip belt borrowed from our Nazca pack.
The pack’s main compartment is accessed through a suitcase-style, wraparound zipper that lets you easily view the contents. The two halves of the pack are secured with mesh dividers to keep everything secure in transit.
A compartment on the top is designed with passports and other small essentials in mind, which is subdivided for added organization.
One of the best backpacking backpacks for travel for Women.
Amazon Review: “This travel pack is perfect for my trip to Europe. It is easy to organize my clothes. I am using one small carry on suitcase and this travel pack for a 21 days trip. Just make sure you do not put heavy things in the travel pack. I found it easier to use the side handle while carrying the pack.”
Osprey Packs Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, Flash Black, 45 L/22″
- Lightweight, high-rolling clearance HighRoad Chassis provides a smooth ride over any surface
- Long haul capable deployable harness, hip belt and back panel for ultimate carry comfort
- Back panel suspension components are removable for increased packing capacity
- Dual Straight Jacket compression straps to secure contents and stabilize load.Dual tube extended handle for control of large loads on rough surfaces
- Volume:2746 cubic inches
Product Description: When you travel far and pack light, the Sojourn 45 Liter /22 inch is the pack for the job. Already a great roller, the stowaway AG inspired backpack suspension expands your trips horizons.
Built to fit most carry-on size requirements, you won’t have to wait at baggage claim before starting your adventure. Rolling luggage is great, but sometimes the terrain is too rough and you need a backpack.
The Sojourn’s quick deploy AG inspired ventilated backpack suspension allows this and it carries more comfortably than some competitors backpacking packs.
In rolling mode the dual-tube extended handle controls unwieldy loads when the going gets rough, and multiple padded and molded handles make it easy to maneuver this pack out of taxis or tuk-tuks.
Amazon Review: “Took a 1-bag vacation to Italy for 2 weeks with this bag, and it worked flawlessly. It was small enough to carry on all but 1 of the flights (that particular flight they had everybody with rollers check them in at the gate). The wheel clearance was perfect for the cobblestone streets in downtown Rome.
I walked past several people with the smaller wheeled rollers and saw them struggling with dragging their bags along the cobblestone. I never got a chance to use the backpack function, but I liked the fact that I could if necessary. All in all, a great bag that I think will last years to come.”
Lowepro HighLine BP 400 AW – Weatherproof & rugged 36-liter daypack
- Premium Packing: The HighLine BP 400 AW contains premium packing solutions in a travel daypack. The lightweight clothes packing cube, mesh pockets, and a liquids pouch let you pack for adventure and travel in style
- Dedicated CradleFit Laptop Compartment: to suspend and protect up to a 15″ device
- Organized for Travel: The removable, folding JumpKit holds & protects essential devices & accessories. When you reach your seat, your bag goes in the overhead bin, while your devices stay with you
Product Description: Take off with a weatherproof, carry-on backpack designed for the smart and efficient traveler. Built with the same protective padding and materials, sturdy structure and thoughtful organization as our photo bags, the HighLine 400 AW backpack delivers a premium solution with components to ease packing and traveling.
Durable and weatherproof materials keep gear safe from the elements, and a built-in All Weather AW Cover adds an extra and optional layer of protection; it’s constructed with heat-sealed seams and covers entire pack to safeguard from rain, snow, dust and sand.
Amazon Review: “I purchased this because it is the near the maximum size allowed by airlines as a personal bag. Second, the dimensions are perfect for my digital camera and gear. The laptop container is perfect for a 13 inch MacBook Pro. You don’t have to go into the main compartments. The zippered top compartment is perfect to throw cell phone, glasses, backup charger, etc… just before going through the TSA checkpoint. Seems to be well made. Had to use it in Iceland in the rain – the slip cover protected the bag quite well. Highly recommend.”
Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack, Black
- Perfect Fit Suspension supplies you w/ customized comfort without the hassle, accurate on body adjustments w/ 3 simple steps for pack fitting success
- Features: Top Loading,Zippered side pockets, front pocket w/ organization, Stretch front pouch, Hydration Compatible, Side compression straps
- Suspension Features: Perfect Fit Suspension, HDPE frame sheet, Hex Mesh back panel, ventilating back , Sternum strap, Load lifter strap
Hybrid-loading U-zipper design works as both a top loader and panel loader, allowing easy access to all your gear.
An additional stash pocket on the front of the pack makes it easy to tuck away a jacket or hoodie, and inside we’ve updated the organizers for maps, electronics, pens, and other travel essentials.
The hydration sleeve is a dual-use pocket that can carry a laptop without worries. LightBeam single aluminum stay and Dynamic AirFlow back panel keep your load stable and comfortable. Whether your journey takes you to the streets of Chicago or the canyons of Colorado, the Redwing 50 has you covered.
Amazon Review: “Great backpack! I have had it for a couple years now and it has been to 5 different continents for months at a time. All the zippers and straps are holding strong, no tears or rips. It is small enough that if you don’t fill it too much, you can take it on a plane as a carry on, but big enough that I was able to use it for a three month backpacking trip across multiple continents and seasons.
Also the big pocket zippers go almost all the way down to the bottom of the bag to make it easier to pack and unpack. That way you can lay it on its back and open it almost like a normal suitcase. I would of loved if the zippers went just a few inches further down, so that it could open completely, but it is darn close.”
Buying a Travel Backpack for your vacation could be time-consuming. There are many options that you will probably have to look at to get the perfect backpack to match all your needs.
If you follow my guidelines on choosing the right travel backpack, the next travel backpack you purchase will be an investment that will last you many travel years to come. Now, get a travel backpack a just get out there!
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If you are looking for great carryon suitcase in case a travel backpack doesn’t work for you, I would suggest the products below. For more information on these products click the amazon link.
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