The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

Whether weekend road-tripping or jet-setting around the world, you’re going to need a pack to toss over your shoulder. Here are the best travel backpacks for every adventure.

travelling the world in a backpack

There are a lot of great travel backpacks out there, but not all of them are created equal. A travel pack needs to be comfortable to carry, easy to organize, and durable enough to withstand being toted from place to place.

From hitting the road for the weekend to spending months traveling abroad, we’ve put nearly 30 different travel backpacks through the wringer. We tallied our airline miles, punched our tickets, and put our tray tables in the upright and locked position for close to half a decade now, taking domestic and international flights to as far as Iceland and as close as 30-minute island hops. And while there isn’t a single pack that suits every traveler, we’ve highlighted a variety of designs and price points to help you find the perfect travel backpack.

Choosing a travel backpack can be a dizzying experience, and we’ve shaken down the best to sort through the static. Each pack has seen its time on the baggage carousel, hostel luggage cart, and we’ve even had a few go missing for the full experience. We fully pack and live out of these bags to test them, and in the end, we’re confident that the 15 packs collected here are the best travel backpacks available today. Check in and check them out.

For all your travel pack questions, consult our buyer’s guide , where we’ve laid bare all the essentials. Compare each of the packs using our handy comparison chart , and if you’ve still got questions, check out our FAQ section.

Editor’s Note: We updated our travel backpack guide on May 21, 2024, adding the JanSport Journey Pack as our new best budget travel pack, as well as the feature-rich and burly Able Carry Max Backpack .

  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: JanSport Journey Pack
  • Best Carrying Travel Backpack: Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs
  • Best Organization in a Travel Backpack: Matador SEG45 Travel Pack
  • Best Shoulder Bag: Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L
  • Best Commuter-Style Travel Backpack: Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L
  • Best Personal Item Travel Pack: TimBuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

  • Capacity 45 L (collapses to 35 L)
  • Weight 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13" x 9.5" standard, 22" x 13" x 11" expanded
  • Compartment access Back panel clamshell design with #10 zipper
  • Material Weatherproof, 100% recycled 400-denier nylon canvas shell; 900-denier waterproof bottom

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  • Compresses down to maximum airline carry-on size, and then expands once you’ve hit your destination
  • Burly construction
  • No details are overlooked in the design
  • Side-carry handles are offset in an awkward position

Perfect is a dirty word in product design, but we’re about stumped when it comes to drumming up a quibble about the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45 L ($300). This redeye-ready clamshell design is made to the highest of standards.

It’s made of quality materials, utilizing aluminum hardware and a burly 400-denier nylon canvas — and it easily ticks all our boxes for the best overall travel backpack. The interior of the bag is split into two compartments: a larger main area for storing the majority of your kit and a secondary sleeve at the front of the bag with five zippered pockets. The main pocket also sports a foam-padded laptop sleeve and three more pockets.

One of the more impressive aspects we discovered along the bag’s inaugural leg from Seattle to Anchorage was how easily the straps of the Travel Backpack stow away into the bag. Two foam panels on the back of the bag flip away to secure them and then close with a magnetic closure — very slick. This was our favorite strap-stowage system, with the zippered panels of the Matador GlobeRider45 coming in a close second. We find the Peak Design bag compresses smaller.

Then there are the little details. An ID-size sleeve on the back panel provides all the information should your bag get separated from you. Zipper pulls thread through one another to keep what’s yours safe. And a collapsible system adjusts the bag from a full 45 L to 35 L.

In our review, there’s little about the Peak Design pack that misses the mark. The company leans heavily toward the camera-toting travelers among us, but the 45 L Travel Backpack makes no compromises and works just as well for any user group. The high price is undeniable, but for the scope of the travel pack, it’s a buy-once-cry-once purchase we would make again.

Also available in a 30L size , the range of Travel Backpacks from Peak Design is so well-thought-out that you can practically see the cogs turning in their creators’ heads. We think they make the best travel backpacks on the market.

JanSport Journey Pack

  • Capacity 28 liters
  • Weight 1 lb., 13.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 19.5" x 12.5" x 7"
  • Compartment access Zippered top access
  • Material 100% 600D recycled polyester + 1680D ballistic boot
  • Electronic storage 15" laptop sleeve

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Compact and clean profile
  • Plush foam back panel and shoulder straps
  • Compression straps on bottom of pack tote around a jacket
  • Smooth-running zippers
  • Good internal organization
  • Laptop sleeve won't fit some large modern laptops
  • Water bottle pockets sized for slimmer vessels

At $95, the JanSport Journey Pack does a lot for a little. As a campus commuter, airline personal item, or do-it-all backpack, this pack leverages its lack of specificity to make it amenable to being used on just about any day. Part of a trio of new travel packs from the legendary campus bookbag brand, the Journey surprised us with a more high-end build than expected, and for the money, it made an excellent travel companion.

While the Journey isn’t trimmed out in some of the more boutique fabrics, it is still solidly built and uses the good stuff where it counts, such as the 1680D ballistic boot material that’s reinforced with recycled car windshield liners (news to us). The 600D polyester used elsewhere has a rugged nailhead finish, and shoulders wear well.

The thick EVA foam used in the shoulder straps and back panel is cushy and applied liberally. On the inside, the laptop sleeve is lined with plush tricot material, along with an organizer pocket for stashing your readers or sunnies.

The organization of the pack is similarly uncompromising and is broken down into a spacious main compartment, front stash pocket, small bits and bobs organizer pocket, and a 15″ laptop sleeve — which easily toted our tester’s MacBook Pro safely.

When packed as a carry-on, we were able to stuff in an assortment of layers we might need along the way (rain jacket, warm puffy, hat), along with our headphones, book, travel pillow , and lunch for the flight, and still had space for an empty water bottle or two.

As a 28-liter pack, there’s no alternate sizing available and no hip belt to go along — though, in our opinion, loads this light doesn’t need one. Compression straps are limited, though you do get a set at the bottom of the pack that doubles as a dock for your beach towel, picnic blanket, or rolled-up jacket.

Like the TimBuk2 Never Check , the side water bottle pockets on this pack are really only ideal for thin bottles or flasks, and while we could shoehorn a Nalgene in there, it didn’t look happy.

Compromises aside, for less than $100, the JanSport Journey Pack doesn’t take the easy way out and phone it in with fewer materials or a more simple organizational layout. We had a pocket or sleeve for anything we needed to stash (besides a dedicated passport pocket), and the Journey made for an easy personal item on the handful of flights we took it on — easily stashing beneath the seat. If you’d rather ball out on your big-ticket luggage and just need a travel backpack that’ll plain work, this is the bag for you.

Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs

  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 7.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 14" x 9"
  • Compartment access Zippered back panel clamshell design
  • Material Bluesign-approved 450-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Supreme suspension system offers the best carry of any pack we tried
  • External compression straps limit the volume well
  • Comfortably padded grab handles
  • Not much internal organization

No stranger to producing supremely comfortable suspension systems, Osprey injected a good bit of its tech into the Farpoint and Fairview packs ($185), which both sport LightWire frames, load lifters, and breathable framesheet and suspension straps. Our Farpoint pack was easily the best load carrier of any we tested and a close contender for the best travel backpack overall.

Far beyond what any of the other travel packs offer, the pack even allows you to adjust the torso length — unheard of in the typical travel pack. Newly updated, these packs have been tweaked to ride the line between traditional backpacks and functional luggage, a claim we can substantiate.

The 40-liter capacity is just about the sweet spot for domestic carry-on luggage limits, and these packs make good use of the space. We could easily pack away a long weekend’s worth of travel essentials into the bag with a little space to spare.

Whereas many other travel packs stash straps away into the body of the pack, the Farpoint and Fairview move in the opposite direction with a deployable strap cover that neatly seals in the suspension for safekeeping when checked. This produces a clean profile that’s ready to be slung around, but it’s not quite as easy and quick as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design Travel Backpacks, as you need to unclip straps to tuck them away.

The interior of the pack is rather spartan, incorporating only one zippered pocket, a laptop sleeve, and two internal compression straps. We would have rather seen a bit more organizational features involved like those that the Matador GlobeRider and Topo Designs Global Travel bags incorporate, but for those who stuff more than pack, the Farpoint and  Fairview may very well punch the ticket.

With one foot on the platform and one on the trail, these packs from Osprey will get you where you’re going and carry a trip’s worth of kit with ease.

Matador SEG45 Travel Pack

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13.4" x 10.2"
  • Compartment access Full clamshell interior, additional front zippered access
  • Material 420-denier nylon exterior, 100-denier Robic Dynatec interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Excellent storage organization options
  • High-quality, strong, and lightweight construction
  • No frame to speak of
  • Shoulder straps don’t pack away

Aiming to do more with less, the Matador SEG45 Segmented Backpack ($200) proposes a future free of packing cubes and splits up the bag for you, making the organization of your travel pack a breeze.

The full 45 liters of volume is shared among the five segments (6, 9, 15, 9, and 6 L) and trades volume between the full clamshell compartment and the segments. Each of these segments is accessible via its own water-resistant zippers and can be collapsed as your needs change.

We found organizing by clothing type made the most sense in our own packing, but you could even pack based on the day of the week or the use. The clamshell-accessed main compartment was ideal for holding larger items like spare shoes or quarantining spent outfits.

Known for its overbuilt but lightweight bags, Matador didn’t spare the SEG45, utilizing 420D UHMWPE-reinforced nylon in the pack body, as well as 100D Robic Dynatec weave on the interior. It should be noted that this travel backpack doesn’t have any kind of frame and will rely on being packed well to carry correctly. Because of this, this pack won’t carry as well as bags like the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, so consider packing mostly clothing in the SEG45.

Our testers felt this bag excelled as a travel bag you might deploy once you’ve hit your destination, as it packs away into larger bags so well. Unfortunately, however, the shoulder straps don’t pack away into the bag itself, so you’ll have to wrangle them into place to keep things tidy.

No matter what you’re up to, everything has got a spot to live in the SEG45 . Need a bit less space? Matador offers the SEG28 ($250) for that.

Read Review: Dresser in a Backpack: Matador SEG42 Review

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.3 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5"
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design
  • Material 900-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Multiple ways to carry the pack
  • Many different storage and internal organization options
  • Burly external fabric
  • Doesn’t carry the best as a backpack

Looking to squeeze out every last liter of allowed space? Patagonia named this pack in honor of the cause: the Patagonia Black Hole Maximum Legal Carry-On 45 L ($239). This bag can be carried in a number of different ways, but we found it shined during travel as a shoulder bag.

Borrowing fabric from Patagonia’s line of burly Black Hole Duffels , the MLC 45 is made for the long haul. The 900-denier polyester ripstop is coated in a TPU laminate and feels ready to take on the surliest baggage carrier. We certainly felt no remorse in tossing the bag around.

At 45 L, the MLC is certainly right at the cusp of the maximum allowed size, but thankfully that space is well divided up inside the pack. Inside the main clamshell-accessed compartment is a blizzard of zippers and mesh pockets and dividers. Anything we tossed inside was well-stabilized.

Because there isn’t much of a frame to speak of, the Black Hole MLC doesn’t carry the best when slung over both shoulders and can sag when not entirely full. But over a shoulder with the included shoulder strap, this pack feels great and can be easily accessed on the go. This is one of the only packs in our testing to feature a shoulder strap (the other being the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag).

On top of all this, we greatly appreciate that the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45 L is made with 100% recycled body fabric, lining, and webbing. Perfect for grabbing and going, this pack is ready to move.

Read Review: Patagonia Black Hole MLC Bag Review: An Organized, Carry-On-Size Wonder

Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L

  • Capacity 24 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 1.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 18" x 7: x 11.5"
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell
  • Material 840D ballistic nylon 6, 420D HT nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Functions as both a laptop backpack and suitcase
  • Well-structured and protected
  • Full panel loading access
  • Limited colorways

With an understated look that betrays the truly impressive fit and functionality inside, the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L ($279) doesn’t need to brag — it knows it’ll tote your kit through the worst of your travel or everyday commutes without missing a beat. This bag is our newly anointed best commuter-style travel backpack.

From a fabrics and materials standpoint, it’s clear that someone at Evergoods truly nerded out when they brewed up this bindle. The 840D ballistic nylon 6 that makes up the exterior of the pack is burly (errantly spilled coffee wipes right off), and complements the thick #10 zippers and spacer-mesh back panel. Even the Evergoods logo is low-key: a simple 2×2” patch on the front of the bag with a slash. That’s it — and we dig it.

Bar none, the Civic Panel Loader has the best laptop sleeve we’ve ever encountered in a backpack, and that’s saying something. The side-accessed zippered aperture can hold a 17” Macbook Pro, and nestles into a fully padded space at the rear of the pack.

This sleeve is suspended from the bottom of the bag, as we’ve seen in many forward-thinking bags, but goes a step further and protects the laptop from the side with an aluminum stay — the primary functionality of which is to support the side handle on the bag. Genius.

The high-polish finish on the CPL24 feels reminiscent of the attention to detail we loved about the Tom Bihn Synapse 25, but we ended up enjoying this pack even more for a simple reason: side carry. The broad handle on the side of the pack is reinforced by that aluminum stay, and it creates a perfectly supported carry for jostling through crowded terminals.

On the interior of the pack, two large pockets are subdivided with a few smaller sleeves and pockets, which are oriented to be accessed with the bag on its side. We carried this pack for a month straight of remote work, lugging it to coffee shops and co-working spaces, and it supplanted all other packs we’ve used previously.

“It’s hard not to love a pack that makes your life easier,” says Senior Editor Nick Belcaster. “This pack does that. Laptop, headphones, notebooks — a whole lot goes into the pack without a care.”

Up there with Nomatic, GORUCK, and Tom Bihn, Evergoods is certainly among the pack-makers that put intelligent design and smart material choice above all else. The Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L is the final word when it comes to a travel pack you can carry every day. We certainly do.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

  • Capacity 27.5 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Dimensions 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.9"
  • Material 420x2000D Cordura nylon, 135D polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Dang good looking
  • High-quality trim and details, including anodized G hooks and supple webbing
  • Supper cushioned back panel
  • Exterior expandable water bottle pocket is a bit slim
  • Pack straps don't stow away.

Pulling off a good expandable backpack can be a tough task, with fabric accordion folds often taking up valuable real estate on the interior when collapsed in lesser bags. Not so with the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), which takes a simple backpack shape and elevates it with premium materials and design to create one of our favorite travel backpacks for tucking under an airliner seat.

Unlike a lot of the pure-function rectangular bags in our lineup, the Never Check is a real looker — easily one of the best styled in our testing so far, and we’d have no qualms about bringing it along as a business bag. Small details like rubber-covered zipper pulls, anodized G hooks, and supple webbing keep it looking sharp. The 27.5-liter size is just about dead-on for most airline ‘personal item’ size requirements, and this bag easily slides under a seat.

The main compartment is accessed through a clamshell zipper on the front of the bag, which is gusseted to hang open while you’re loading it up. During the few national and international flights our Senior Editor Nick Belcaster deployed the bag on, this was easily enough space for everything you might want during a plane ride. And for everything else, a front pocket is lined with multiple drop and zip pockets for organizing small gadgets like chargers or keys.

The back panel of the Never Check is a plush ½-inch of comfortable foam, and combined with the equally padded shoulder straps made for a very nice carrying bag. The straps unfortunately do not stow away, but on a lower volume pack such as this, it’s a much less useable feature in our opinions. 

And finally, one of our favorite features: the wide laptop sleeve. This 15” opening is generous enough to accommodate the larger laptops of today, and is suspended from the bottom of the backpack to ensure bumps don’t turn into bruises.

Just like the name suggests, the Never Check Expandable Backpack provides a svelte solution to bringing a bag with you during airline travel — or even just to the office. Its clean profile and attention to detail impressed us, and it would make an excellent work-to-weekend bag.

Able Carry Max Backpack

  • Capacity 30 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 14.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 20.4" x 12.6" x 7.9"
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell design
  • Material X-Pac and 1000D nylon face fabric, ripstop 420D nylon interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • High-quality fit and finish with top-shelf materials
  • Dedicated work compartment is well organized and padded
  • Shoulder straps and back panel are cushy Zotefoam
  • Fits 17" laptops
  • No hipbelt can be nice for storing, but needed for heavy carries
  • On the higher end for travel pack pricing

Sporting many of the same features and functionality as the leading travel packs in our review, the Able Carry Max Backpack ($278) leaves little on the cutting room floor, decked out with ultra-durable Cordura nylon and X-Pac materials to pull together a travel pack that you could kick, throw, or loft across the airport to no ill effect. This is one tough pack.

At 30 liters, the only thing not ‘Maxed’ out on the Max is the capacity, which lands at less than the maximum legal carry-on size for most domestic airlines, but will be ideal instead for those who are operating with a little more room in their checked baggage, freeing up the Max for the important stuff. We also find slightly smaller packs such as this fly much easier on worldwide flights, where carry-on sizes can be a bit more diminutive.

That space is wisely dispersed, organized, and split between the laptop and main compartments. The laptop sleeve won’t hold any remote worker back, as it will host up to the 17″ mondo laptops of the modern age. It is flanked by an accessories pocket lined with four stretchy pockets for swaddling your chargers, cords, memory cards, and wireless mouse.

The main compartment leaves the organization up to you and is accessed through a broad clamshell opening that gives you full access to the entire space. A couple of packing cubes won’t go to waste in this space, and while Able Carry doesn’t supply the straps themselves, a couple of daisy chain webbing loops run the length of either side of the interior, meaning you can wrangle unruly items if need be. The back panel tucks away a few more zippered pockets, and a water bottle pocket also collapses away when not needed.

On the exterior, the Max is crisscrossed by seatbelt webbing on almost every facet, which will appeal to those who are looking for a modular pack for attaching and switching kit around as it’s needed. The VX21 X-Pac material is a rough and tumble weave that might not have the slick finish of the canvas on the Peak Design Travel Backpack but is easily as weather and abrasion-proof. We also highly appreciated the 1000D Cordura nylon on the boot of the pack, which made shuffling it around a worry-free exercise.

There are a lot of high-quality travel backpacks in the 30-liter space, and while most all will get the job done, it’s the construction of the Able Carry Max Backpack that keeps drawing us back to it. The stitching on this pack is exact and plentiful and works to hold a number of high-quality materials together in a thoughtful design.

Fully loaded, we did sometimes wish for a removable hip belt to help shoulder the weight a bit, but only the most jammed-full load-outs elicited this desire. For anyone after a dialed-in travel pack, the Max lives up to the name.

Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack

  • Dimensions 22" x 12.8" x 11"
  • Material 420D UHMWPE-reinforced ripstop nylon, 100D Robic nylon mini-ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Incredible density of pockets and sleeves
  • Tough UHMWPE outer fabric can be tossed around
  • Shoulder straps tuck away in a novel and smart manner
  • Laptop sleeve opening is a bit tight
  • Price is up there

With a pocket or sleeve for pretty much everything, the new Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350) gives the Peak Design Travel Pack a run for its money when it comes to the best overall travel pack. 

Our Managing Editor raved about the GlobeRider after serious testing where she pretty much lived out of it for 3 months: “If you travel often and look for crucial components like internal and external pockets, laptop storage, and backpack and hip straps, consider the Matador GlobeRider 45. It’s a unique design in that the [pack] seems to have it all — every feature I’ve needed so far, both living out of it and in my travels — in a pretty packable size.”

What impressed us most was the way the GlobeRider was able to balance both an eye-watering amount of organization and versatility, and burly durability that ensures that this pack won’t shy away from tough travel conditions. In total (and we double-counted) there are 19 individual pockets on the pack, in all types of stretch mesh, zippered, and collapsible configurations. When good organization is key, the GlobeRider reigns. 

On the back panel of the GlobeRider, one of the more novel stowage systems we’ve seen packs away the shoulder straps and hip belt for when you want to slim down the bag. Two zippered panels — similar to the structure of the Peak Design packs, save for the closure — envelop the straps when not in use, and provide a lump-free panel for toting around. 

When it comes to downsides, the GlobeRider doesn’t miss much. The laptop sleeve aperture is a bit small at 9.5”, which in today’s age of mondo-screened computers may be limiting to some with larger devices. There also is no ability to convert the pack to a shoulder bag like the Patagonia MLC does, which can be handy when moving quickly through the airport.

Dang-near the top of the list, the Matador GlobeRider 45 would be an excellent choice for anyone who practices one-bag travel, or desires to have a place for everything in their journeys. The price does sting a bit, but based on the long-term testing we’ve completed so far, we’ve seen no indications that this pack will fade away anytime soon.

Read Review: I Lived Out of This Backpack for 3-Plus Months: Matador Globerider45 Review

Thule Aion 40L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Dimensions 13" x 9.1" x 20.5"
  • Material Waxed P600 polyester canvas

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Maxes out on carry-on-compliant space
  • Internal roll-top TPU bag separates the clean from the to-do laundry
  • Waxed canvas exterior has a classy look
  • Centered side handle carries well
  • Well-cushioned back panel
  • No shoulder strap stowage option
  • No hipbelt on a 40L is pushing it

Better known for their roof boxes and racks, it’s fair to say that Thule knows travel, and the addition of smart, organized, and comfortable travel packs like the Thule Aion 40L ($200) makes all the sense in the world to us. This pack is a finely-honed bag for international and local travel alike, and is decked out in some high-class materials.

Like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC pack, the Aion 40L aims to go for the maximum allowed capacity, and at our measurements (21.5” x 15” x 8”), the pack slides in just half an inch less than the normal 45 linear inches typically allowed. That’s efficient. The space is split up into two main compartments and a laptop sleeve, with the larger opening with a full clamshell zip.

This inner compartment hosts a few zippered pockets and internal compression straps, but the star of the show here is the integrated TPU rolltop bag. This sack can be used to cordon off your liquids (and easily presented for inspection), as well as separate your pile of ‘to-do’ laundry. This reminds us of the ActiveShield compartment in the Gregory Border Traveler pack, but we enjoy the removable aspect here even more. 

Round the back of the pack, the spacer-mesh swaddled laptop sleeve rivals the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader , and has an additional sleeve for items like tablets, notebooks, or chargers. The back panel itself is impressively cushioned (one of the more luxe in our testing) and that extends to the shoulder straps. 

Unfortunately, there’s no shoulder strap-stowage system here, so you’ll have to wrangle those yourself, and while we typically enjoy the lack of a hip belt in smaller travel packs, the absence in a 40-liter pack is a little puzzling. Fully loaded, the Aion could certainly benefit from one, and while a separate sling bag can be added to function as one, you’ll need to fork over $50 for it.

Ranking high up there with your Peak Designs and your Ospreys, the Thule Aion 40L nails the style and material departments, and with a full 40 liters of space on board, has all the room to pack for your week-long trips — no roof box required.

Osprey Archeon 30L

  • Weight 3 lbs.
  • Dimensions 20.5" x 13" x 11.4"
  • Compartment access Zippered top-access
  • Material 840D ballistic polyester with carbonate coating

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Extra-tough exterior fabric with carbonate coating
  • High-polish details such as seatbelt webbing straps
  • Mini-wing hipbelt tucks away easily when not needed
  • Smart internal storage pockets that lay flat when not needed
  • Laptop sleeve opening is a bit too snug
  • Compression straps lay over the main zipper

First off, one word: Rugged. The Osprey Archeon 30L ($250) is a high-end build that spares little in the material department, and looks dang good while it’s at it. The 30-liter size makes this bag weekend travel-ready, and we greatly appreciated the fit and finish.

The overall design of the Archeon reminds us a good bit of the Peak Design Travel Bag (certainly the all-waterproof exterior zippers and curved side-entry pockets), but it’s the exterior fabric that really impressed. The 840D ballistic polyester is coated with a carbonate polyurethane coating, a bolstered recipe that increases durability by a magnitude over traditional PU coatings. In testing, we wore out before putting a dent in it.

The pack itself breaks down into two main compartments, with the main pocket opening behind a curved clamshell zip (we did have a little trouble with the zipper passing behind the exterior straps. Removing them fixed that). Inside, three expandable tech pockets tuck away all of your small kit, and do a good job of keeping things tidy on the interior.

On the exterior, Osprey doesn’t disappoint when it comes to suspension straps, which are comfortable, adjustable, and stashable. The mini wing-style hip belt earns special praise on packed flights, where we find traditional hip belts to be a hassle to store, and combined with the slick shoulder-strap stash pocket, the Archeon converts to minimal mode in under a minute.

Something the Archeon certainly could use, however, is a slightly larger aperture into the laptop/tech compartment. As-is, the zipper doesn’t quite extend down far enough to truly open up the pocket, and as such it can feel a bit like rummaging around in the dark looking for cords and chargers in the bottom of the pack. Extending these zippers down to the middle of the pack would seem to fix the issue, and we hope a later iteration might address this.

Nonetheless, we were still impressed by the Osprey Archeon 30L . There’s also a 40-liter version if you’re looking for a max-capacity carry-on, and even a smaller 24-liter for kicking around coffee shops day-to-day.

Read Review: Hack Carry-On Rules: Osprey Archeon Kit Gives Power Back to Passengers

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.5" x 14" x 7.5"
  • Material 1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Overbuilt design with tough materials and chunky zippers
  • Plenty of organizational pockets
  • Bright interior
  • Not the cleanest strap stowage

Chunky zippers, an overhead-savvy profile, and multiple ways to sling it over your shoulder: The Topo Designs Global Travel Pack ($229) has honed in on much of what we love in a travel backpack.

During a recent trip from Seattle to Southern California, we were heavily saddled with the maximum the airline would allow. But this pack made use of every inch of space and reached the allowance of what we could check as our carry-on. The 40 liters of internal capacity is broken down into a series of dividers and pockets, which made condoning off things like electronics from the rest of our kit easy. And the interior of this pack is a cheery canary yellow, which helps with ease and visibility.

On the exterior of this pack, three separate carry styles are available to get you through the concourse in whatever way you choose. We found the full-featured backpack straps to be our go-to, which even sport load-lifters for a comfy carry. This suspension system does tuck away for when you might want to check the bag, though we found the hipbelt to be a bit tricky to fully retract.

Rounding out this travel-ready backpack is a tough build that makes use of 1000D recycled nylon and heavy-duty zippers, and we had no qualms with tossing this bag around during our trip. Perfect for anyone who subscribes to the one-bag travel ethos, the Global Travel Pack from Topo Designs makes the grade for those who want the most out of their carry-on.

And if you’re only going to be away for a short trip, the Global Travel pack is also available in a 30L capacity .

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack

  • Capacity 28 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Dimensions 19" x 12" x 9"
  • Material TPU-coated 1,000-denier polyester, 840-denier nylon paneling

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Burly exterior material holds up for the long run
  • Plenty of zippered mesh storage pockets
  • On the heavier side
  • TPU-coated nylon can feel grabby

The Allpa 28L Travel Pack ($170) will change the way you travel. It’s sleek, durable, and able to fit an incredible amount of stuff in a small space. The zippered mesh pockets keep clothes organized. And the compression straps maximize what you can pack.

The tough polyester and nylon construction can take a beating without any signs of wear. And we appreciate that the externally accessed, padded laptop sleeve makes pulling out your electronics at security checkpoints a breeze. There’s also a small outer compartment to keep essentials at hand.

You can completely tuck away the backpack straps and carry the pack like a briefcase, or wear it comfortably as a backpack. We’ve stuffed this pack to the gills countless times and have never had a problem with the zippers. Light rain showers or spills roll right off the TPU-coated exterior, but for legit rainstorms, just pull out the included rain cover.

The Allpa also comes in 35L, 42L, 50L, and 70L capacities. As our editor noted in the 42L review , “Building on its fun and functional ethos, Cotopaxi beefs up its bestselling product. The Allpa Travel Pack earns big points for clever design, clean aesthetic, and a surprising number of handy — and hidden — features.”

Yes, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs are an investment, but anyone who travels regularly will find it a worthy one. These powerhouse travel backpacks are sturdy, versatile, and built to last.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

  • Capacity 25 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 13 oz.
  • Dimensions 13.4" x 20" x 9.1"
  • Material 400-denier Halcyon, 420-denier nylon ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Many different fabrics and color schemes are available
  • Built to last design and materials
  • Removable webbing hip belt
  • Suspension doesn’t pack away
  • Side wing pockets are a little awkward to access

Refined and clean-looking, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($250) is a high-end travel backpack we just can’t stop staring at. It just looks that good. Made of burly textiles and zippers, this pack was built to stand the test of tough travel and come out shining on the other side.

The Synapse 25 is the larger version of Tom Bihn’s Synapse 19 , a popular backpack made for daily carry. The bump in volume is appreciated in this travel-oriented version and is doled out in one large compartment as well as a set of pockets on the front of the pack.

We found all the pockets easily accessible, save for the side wing pockets. While these were excellent for the organization of smaller bits and bobs, the openings were a bit awkward to jump into.

Topped off by a cushioned suspension (the foam is a half-inch of supple EV50), this travel backpack didn’t weigh us down on long days of travel when fully packed. And when we wanted to go light, even the webbing hip belt was removable. In terms of the ability to bop around town as a daily driver, this pack is up there with the TimBuk2 Never Check (we liked the back panel on this pack the most).

Along with being carry-on compliant, the Synapse is also one of the few bags on our list that are compact enough to fit under most airline seats without hogging too much precious legroom.

Osprey Nebula 32 Daypack

  • Capacity 32 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 1.7 oz.
  • Dimensions 19.2" x 12.2" x 11.4"
  • Material 420-denier recycled nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • TSA-compliant laptop sleeve
  • Many options for organization
  • Water bottle pockets fit 32 oz. bottles
  • Need to release two buckles in order to unzip the main pocket all the way

When it comes to backpacks, Osprey has put in the time — and it shows. The Nebula 32 ($140) feels like all the brand’s most popular packs morphed into one. Most of all, we love how it seamlessly goes from city streets to trails.

This backpack can do it all, whether you’re hauling your laptop and books around town; water, food, and layers on an easy hike; or all of the above and then some for a weekend away.

The internal storage pockets are great for organizing all of your things for easy access. And while the Nebula 32 is top-loading, the main pocket opens up wide enough so you won’t have to unload everything to get to the one thing you want at the bottom. The sternum strap and hip belt are comfortable as well, especially when carrying a heavy load.

On smaller volume packs like this, sometimes design concessions need to be made to accommodate all the functionality, and on the Nebula, it’s in the side compression straps. Like on the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, the compression system of the pack overlays across the main compartment zipper, meaning you’ll need to undo some straps before rifling around in the storage area. Not a deal breaker, but a little annoying when the TSA line starts to back up behind you.

Overall, the Nebula 32 won’t disappoint if you make it your go-to smaller-volume travel backpack.

Travel Backpack Comparison Chart

travelling the world in a backpack

How We Tested Travel Backpacks

The staff of GearJunkie is a hot-footed bunch, restlessly plodding across the country or around the globe in search of adventure and whatever else comes our way. And we have a lot of stuff, which necessitates having a travel bag or four in the stable.

Surely any old bindle will do in carrying your kit around, but having a travel backpack that is dialed into the needs of travel can turn a stressful situation into a manageable one. We’ve been testing travel backpacks since 2019 and have put the market slice through the wringer on thousands of miles of travel to weed out the best of the best.

Senior Editor Nick Belcaster has a zeal for international travel, and he leads up our current travel pack testing, logging almost 10,000 flying miles in the last year alone. From Iceland to Utah, Belcaster has carried these packs and lived out of them for weeks, relying on them to support back-to-back travel excursions.

In testing, we looked for a number of features in our travel backpacks, including overall capacity, carry style, durability, and aesthetics. It’s important to think about how you’ll use your travel pack, and as such, every pack on our list is carry-on compliant for the worst-case scenario.

We know no trip will be like the next, so we took a broad swath of the travel backpacks on the market in order to create a list that will suit many different travelers. Packs in hand, over our shoulders, or on our backs, we hit the four corners and tested the best travel backpacks of 2024.

Curious about what we pack in our travel backpacks? We’ve penned up a list for both domestic and international trips .

Peak Design Travel Pack 45L at SEATAC

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Travel Backpack

Travel backpack user profiles.

The International Jet-Setter: The term ‘One Bag Travel’ is no stranger to you, and you’ve just about got your life distilled down into 45 liters of space. If international travel is your bag, then a backpack that’s up to the task will be essential to see you through to further time zones.

Efficiency will be the name of the game here, and going with a pack that is dang-near the carry-on maximums for international flights will mean you can make it through without checking a bag. Look for near to 45-liter packs with plenty of organization baked in, as well as a comfortable (and stashable) carry system.

For international travel, the bag we reach for most often had to be the Peak Design Travel Backpack , with a razor-thin second place going to the Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack . For an emphasis on organization, the Matador SEG45 splits up the volume well, and if you’ll be schlepping bags around a long way, the Osprey Farpoint & Fairview Packs have all the Osprey suspension we love.

Osprey Farpoint Travel Pack in Iceland

The Weekend Warrior: Maybe it’s a work trip, and maybe it’s just for fun, but it’s only going to take 2-3 days total, and you’ll need a bag that can pack it in. For weekend excursions, we find packs in the 25-35 liter range work well for the minimalists among us, and the 30-40 liter range for those who like a bit more options.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 is easily one of the most stylish packs in our review, only slightly edged out by the Timbuk2 Never Check , and both make the grade for a single overnighter in a foreign locale. For a bit more space, you can’t go wrong with the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L , a fun pack that is a lot tougher than the multi-colored exterior would let on.

Peak Design Travel Backpack on the Back of a Traveller in Seattle International Airport Looking out on the Tarmac.

The Commuter: No flight involved! Duty calls, and sometimes you’ll need to lug around a bit more kit than the old briefcase can allow for. Commuting with a travel backpack is a great way to stay comfortable on longer rides, as shoulder and handbags are cumbersome over the long run. Focus on a bag with a more traditional backpack shape that puts an emphasis on ease-of-access, and is in the 20-30L range.

For bumping around town, we’ve come to love the Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24 , which not only lugs our remote office around with ease, but also looks pretty slick doing it. The drawstring opening here is a huge boon for quickly stashing a jacket, and the tough exterior fears no weather forecast. For a budget just-get-it-done choice, the JanSport Journey Pack will make it happen for less.

travelling the world in a backpack

The right size pack for you depends on a few things. First, where are you going? And, how long do you plan to stay? Winter travel often comes with more gear, so you’ll need to pack extra layers. Longer trips often require larger bags.

That said, your personal packing style will be the most important factor. We know minimalists who happily travel for months with only a single backpack in tow and others who want the largest travel backpack possible in addition to a totally stuffed duffel bag . One method isn’t better than the other, but knowing your style is helpful when choosing a bag.

In general, we’ve found that something in the 28-45 liter range is ideal for comfort and packability. Many packs will also offer a compression system to allow you to limit the overall volume of the backpack. We’ve seen many different ways to accomplish this, but the most effective by far were the button snaps and expanding zipper of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . Packs toward the 40-45 liter range will be your carry-on bags of choice, and the 45-liter Peak Design, Patagonia MLC , and Matador GlobeRider are perfect for maxing out your allowed space. The 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs give up a little internal room for the luxe suspension system they’re carried with.

Packs in the smaller end of the range, from around 25-30 L, make better personal items, and the TimBuk2 Never Check , Tom Bihn Synapse , and Patagonia Black Hole backpacks all fit snugly underneath an airliner seat. These small bags move through a city gracefully and look more like everyday carry backpacks than traditional luggage.

Peak Design Travel Backpack Clamshell Access

What good would a bag be if you couldn’t get into it? From a simple drawstring to a thicket of Velcro and zippers, there are plenty of ways to keep your bag closed while you’re on the go, but not every one will be amenable to travel.

Zippered Clamshells: Most travel backpacks will use a clamshell-style design that opens up the backpack like a suitcase, allowing you to pack intentionally as opposed to stuffing things in. Oftentimes, an internal strap system will help keep your items contained while you’re on the move.

Packs with this clamshell design may also opt to add internal dividers to the main storage area, and make these dividers removable — should you need the entire storage area uninhibited. For packs without internal dividers or straps, consider adding a few packing cubes to keep your items organized.

In addition to the rear entry, some backpacks will offer additional entry points through the top or front of the pack. This can be helpful when you need to quickly retrieve something like a passport from your bag, without the need to totally spill the contents. The majority of packs in our review close in this clamshell manner, and a few of our favorites are the Peak Design Travel Backpack , Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs , and Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack .

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

Zippered Top-Access: Much like many traditional backpacks, zippered top-access packs load and unload from the topside, and generally only offer one point of entry/egress into the pack. For this reason, packs of this flavor are generally left packed during travel, as digging around for something at the bottom can be a hassle.

Bags of this stripe, including the uber-nice Tom Bihn Synapse 25 and expandable Timbuk2 Never Check , most often make better personal items over carry-ons, as their smaller volumes make for easier searching within.

Drawstring Top-Entry: While not quite as common as a zippered clamshell or top-access pack, drawstring top-entry packs can make for very quick and easy access to your kit if you’re on the move. These packs will integrate an extended fabric collar to the top of the storage area, which can be compressed when needed, or overstuffed with bulky items like jackets.

Carrying Options

Patagonia MCL 45L Travel Backpack Carry Options

There are plenty of ways to lug your kit to your boarding gate, but not all of them will be comfortable for everything. Over-shoulder backpack straps can support a good bit of weight but typically will need some type of frame to truly be supportive. The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs were the best-carrying packs in our testing, owed largely to the wire frame and Airscape mesh back panels, but we also enjoyed the carry of the aluminum frame stays on the Matador GlobeRider.

A shoulder strap travel backpack, like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L , can be slung across your body and provide a great amount of accessibility on the go. Don’t expect to carry too much weight this way, however.

And then there’s the classic suitcase style, easily towed anywhere. It’s good to note many travel backpacks will have stowable straps to better streamline the pack for a trip through an X-ray machine or stowed under a seat. The strap storage design of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L impressed us most of all, utilizing magnetic closure flaps to pack away the shoulder and hip straps neatly.

Pockets & Organization

Matador SEG30 Travel Backpack Storage Options

There’s an organizational saying: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And we couldn’t agree more. Keeping track of everything while you travel is key for organization. And while more pockets always seem better, there is a threshold where having too many simply becomes more places to misplace things. Instead, we recommend packs with three to six pockets.

The Cotopaxi Allpa and Topo Designs Global Travel Bags both have ingenious inner organization systems complete with large zipping “pockets.” It has just enough space to find room for everything but not so many compartments that you’ll be hunting all day for your misplaced passport. For even more organization, the Matador SEG45 splits into five different segments that are accessible from the exterior of the pack.

Bringing along a laptop is a necessary evil for some travelers, and having an incorporated laptop sleeve in your travel backpack can keep it safe during travel. Most laptop sleeves will be padded with some type of foam and nestle in close to the back for maximum protection. In order to be TSA-compliant, a laptop sleeve will need to fold entirely flat away from the pack to be scanned.

Because flying with liquids over 3.4 ounces is prohibited in the U.S., carrying all of these items in a separate toiletry bag can make your foray into the screening line a breeze. Many of the packs on our list incorporate many external pockets where such a bag could be stashed and produced when needed.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Travel Backpack

Travel luggage takes a beating, so durability is a top concern. Luckily, gear manufacturers realize this and are making increasingly burly yet portable packs. The fan-favorite Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L pack is made with a 900-denier ripstop nylon outer with a TPU laminate for extra durability. It’s nearly indestructible, water-resistant, and versatile.

If you’re traveling somewhere with inclement weather or if your pack needs to double as a climbing bag or hiking pack, durability is extra important. And it’s worth paying more for a backpack that is water-resistant.

Space Efficiency & Carry-On Compliance

Peak Design Travel Pack at SEATAC

Astute observers will note many of the packs in our review sport a rectangular shape, which is certainly due to designers aspiring to create a more space-efficient pack. This isn’t to say that more shapely packs won’t make it happen, but when you’re struggling to make every liter of space count, maximizing dimensions matters.

Carry-on luggage is any bag that you plan on bringing into an airplane and storing in the overhead bins. Because space is limited, airlines dictate the maximum size that any carry-on can be. In the U.S., the most common size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). However, this is just a rough guideline; some airlines differ from these dimensions, and you should refer to their information directly.

In general, these dimensions provide a travel backpack with around 40-45 liters of internal volume, so buying a pack that’s as close to that as possible will provide the most space allowed. Many of the packs on our list have the ability to compress to a smaller size, such as the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L .

Be mindful as well, that any protrusions from your travel pack such as shoulder straps or handles will also need to fall within the maximum allowed size. Many travel backpacks today incorporate some type of strap-stowing ability, such as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design packs, the zippered cover of the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, and the hybrid zipper/panel of the Matador GlobeRider 45. All of these provide a more streamlined profile that should both hit the mark, and fit better into overhead bins.

travelling the world in a backpack

Travel backpacks run the gamut of prices — from affordable to downright pricey. There are a number of factors that play into what you get for the money.

Budget-Minded Travel Packs

Travel backpacks, as a category, are generally a bit pricer than your average luggage, as they incorporate tough materials that can put up with extensive wear over the lifespan. Travel is tough on bags, so it’s unsurprising that even budget travel backpacks will cost you around $100-150.

These packs often will incorporate more traditional architectures such as a zippered top access, as opposed to the more complicated (and spendy) full-zip clamshell designs. For example, the JanSport Journey Pack ($95) is pretty much your average school bag.

Volumes, too, will be a bit limited in this price range — added material adds cost. The 32-liter Osprey Nebula ($140) is about the best price-to-volume ratio you can get.

Mid-Range Travel Packs

Mid-range packs make up the bread and butter of travel packs, and can be had for around $150 to $200. These designs are often more of the full carry-on variety, and aim to capitalize on permitted volume as much as possible. The 45-liter Matador SEG45 ($200), Patagonia Black Hole MLC ($239), 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview ($185), and Topo Designs Global Travel Bag ($229) all shoehorn in just about as much space as a friendly gate agent will let you get away with.

For the price, you also get a good variety of functionality that makes travel easier, such as stowable pack straps, interior segmented pockets and sleeves (done excellently on the $170 Cotopaxi Allpa ), and an external compression system that limits the space your bag takes up. Some packs, like the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), don’t exactly hit these parameters, but instead make up for it in high-quality design and materials.

travelling the world in a backpack

Premium Travel Packs

Above $250, you’re likely paying for premium materials or a to-the-hilt design that leaves absolutely nothing on the cutting room floor. The Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300) is a great example, and utilizes super high-quality nylon canvas, custom aluminum hardware, and supple seatbelt material webbing in its build, as well as fitting in just about every conceivable feature you could want in a travel pack. The same can be said of the Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350), which uses high-tech UHMPWE-reinforced materials and sports a total of 19 pockets.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($250) is a bit of an outlier, as it commands a high dollar amount not for the extreme amount of space it offers or amount of features, but for being a hyper-customizable, hand-made bag that uses the nicest textiles available, as well as the best zippers, webbing, and foam in its design. If you’re a fan of the finest materials, this is your daily driver pack.

What Is One Bag Travel?

The ‘One Bag Travel’ ethos and travel backpacks go hand-in-hand. Simply put, to travel in one-bag style is to be minimalist in your luggage choices, and only take what you can carry onto the plane/train/pack animal. Not only does this do away with the fuss of deciding what exactly to bring along with you, but it also allows for breezing through airports — skipping the need to check baggage, wait at baggage claim, or fear for lost luggage.

In order to most effectively travel with one bag, be sure to read up on exactly the baggage size allowances provided by your transportation. This can affect both overall size and weight, and having an expandable pack is a large benefit here. In this way, you can carry just enough to skirt through under the limit, and then expand the bag when you’ve hit your destination for more breathing room. If you aim for a 35-40 liter backpack, you’ll be right on the money for one-bag travel.

Finally, remember that this bag is going to be the only item of luggage you’ve got, so ensure it’ll be comfortable enough for the long haul. Look for padded back panels and hip belts that’ll transfer the load correctly, and if they stash away — all the better.

Our team unanimously agrees that the best travel backpack is the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . It’s extremely durable, and it offers plenty of organizational pockets to stash your kit away in. The clamshell opening makes packing a breeze, and we really appreciated the unique shoulder strap storage options available to turn the pack into a stripped-down bag that would slide into any overhead compartment.

Peak Design Travel Pack in Denver

The best size bag for traveling depends largely on your travel itinerary and mode of transport. The Cotopaxi Allpa packs range from 28 to 42 liters.

The 28-liter option makes for a compact and comfortable backpack that easily fits in overhead airplane compartments. The 42-liter option is a bit more like carrying a duffel bag on your back, but it still manages to fit in overhead compartments. It’s a great option for maximizing carry-on capacity in backpack form.

While both have their place in travel, a backpack can offer some advantages over a suitcase. Since they’re much more portable, backpacks can be brought to many more places where a suitcase won’t work. Suitcases can be your large load carriers, but a good travel backpack gives you the freedom to strike out on daily adventures.

Travel backpacks absolutely can be carry-on luggage, given they meet the size requirements. In the U.S., the most common maximum size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). But this is only a common size, and different airlines will have different specifics. Consult with your airline specifically to determine what they allow.

While different body types will find different travel packs comfortable, we can all agree that a good support system and ample foam make for a comfortable carry. In our own testing, we found the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 Travel Packs were by far the most comfortable due to their plush suspension systems.

Because many different airlines operate a slate of different planes, there isn’t a standard under-seat luggage size, although there is an average: 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches. Some airlines allow personal items larger than this, but you should consult with their customer service for specifics. Our favorite personal item-sized travel pack was the Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack , which, at 24 liters compressed, easily slides under a seat.

travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024

Whether you’re headed to the office, class, or even the trailhead, here’s our top picks for the best laptop backpacks of 2024.

travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Daypacks of 2024

We tested the best daypacks of 2024 with options for every budget. Top picks include Osprey, Cotopaxi, and more.

travelling the world in a backpack

Hailing from the hemlocks and hanging mosses of Washington State, Senior Editor Nick Belcaster is an adventure journalist following threads of stories across the West. Cruelly stolen from the alpine swales of rural Wisconsin at a young age, Nick made do ascending the snows and granite of the North Cascades while completing a journalism degree. A long stint on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 codified a life bent on sleeping on minor slopes and picking devil’s club out of his shoes.

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travelling the world in a backpack


The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

Kit Dillon

By Kit Dillon

Kit Dillon is a writer focused on bags and travel gear. He has worked for Wirecutter for a decade and lost count of the number of bags he has tested.

When you open up your favorite carry-on travel backpack, it should feel like you’re opening the door to a well-organized closet or sitting down at a clean desk, with everything in the right place and easy to reach.

This is your moment to center yourself, no matter how chaotic the journey.

What we considered

A 45-liter bag maximizes overhead space but can get heavy when fully packed; 35-liter bags tend to be more manageable.

A bag with a clamshell design opens like a book and is the easiest to pack, but a bag that opens traditionally tends to have more structure.

Ideally, a travel backpack has handles on all sides—especially the bottom—so you can pull it out of overhead bins or from under seats.

Some internal pockets are useful, but major organizing is better managed with packing cubes.

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack and the larger Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L offer the best combination of features, quality, and durability. Both bags are exemplary carry-on travel backpacks that are designed for comfort, durability, and organization. Though these backpacks are great as companion bags for any trip, they’re designed to ultimately replace all of your other luggage and become your exclusive bag as you travel.

This style of packing is not for everyone, but once some people try it, they’re forever hooked. Finding the right bag is a personal choice, though, and no single bag will appeal to everyone. That’s why we also have picks that are great for people who travel for work , others that are designed to be carried over long distances , and a bag that’s basically luggage on your back .

The research

Why you should trust us, who this is for, best small carry-on bag for most situations: cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack, best large bag for most situations: peak design travel backpack 45l, best mobile office: patagonia black hole mlc 45l, best bag for long journeys on foot: osprey farpoint 40 and fairview 40, best bag if you need a large suitcase on your back: tortuga travel backpack pro 40l, other good carry-on travel backpacks, how we picked and tested, the competition.

I’ve been covering aspects of luggage and travel bag design for Wirecutter for nearly a decade, and I have personally researched, tested, and compared hundreds of bags in that time. I personally try to do most of my travel with a single backpack, whenever possible. I spent nine months roaming around Hawaii with not much more than that, and I spent another six months nomadically couch-surfing in New York City.

I reached out to writers who specialize in traveling the world carrying everything they need in a single bag: Eytan Levy, the owner and operator of the Snarky Nomad travel website; James Feess, founder of The Savvy Backpacker ; and Sharon Gourlay, of the Where’s Sharon? travel website. I also spoke with moderators of Reddit’s r/onebag and r/heronebag forums, as well as with Chase Reeves, bag fanatic, reviewer, and owner of Matterful .

We researched and tested bags designed for those who want to travel light and stay flexible while flying, without the burden of checking luggage. For some people, the challenge of cutting down a packing list is intimidating. But if you can get past that initial hurdle, traveling with a single bag is a revelation. With fewer items, you have more time to concentrate on and appreciate the journey.

  • When you’re not loaded down by heavy luggage, it’s easy to remain more mobile. And it’s easier to adjust your plans mid-trip. If you’re willing to do laundry on the road, then one bag is all you need to travel indefinitely. At its heart, one-bag travel allows you to discover more—not just about the places you’re going but also about yourself and what you really need day to day.
  • Size and weight still matter. If you desire more creature comforts or more gear, or if you plan to be away for a long time across multiple climates, you’ll want a bigger travel backpack . These larger bags tend not to be carry-on-friendly, however, especially in Europe, so be prepared to check them.
  • No single backpack is perfect for everyone. Before you make any purchase, consider some basic points. How much can you carry? And where do you usually visit: the city or outback? Travel gear should feel like a welcome companion—there to support you when you need it but unobtrusive when you don’t.

45-liter bag vs. 35-liter bag

A graphic comparing the difference in capacity between a 45-liter and a 35-liter backpack.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A versatile small pack for a week or a weekend.

This durable bag’s clamshell design makes it easy to organize your stuff. And due to its strap design, this bag can be worn on your back or carried in your hand while you’re on the move.

Buying Options

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack is an easy-to-organize, comfortable-to-carry bag for getaways lasting just a few days or a whole week.

It’s one bag that can do it all. This is a great all-around bag for any traveler who’s dedicated to packing light, or for a smaller person who wants less to carry. There are handles on all four sides of this bag, so it’s easy to grab no matter where you’ve stowed it. It’s also protected by a full lifetime warranty, and it has the build quality to back that up. After more than four years of testing, this single backpack (plus a personal item ) has replaced nearly every travel bag or piece of luggage I use.

It comes in various sizes, but we think the middle-of-the-road version is the best. Cotopaxi also makes the Allpa in 28-liter and 42-liter sizes. But for us, the 35-liter bag is the best option. At 42 liters, this bag becomes heavy for most people to carry when it is fully packed, and we’d prefer that it had a more-robust hip belt. At 28 liters, the bag becomes a touch small for most people, and its internal organization feels fussy for shorter trips, such as an overnight. Cotopaxi also makes a hip pack , which is designed to fit snugly into the Allpa bag’s front top compartment. It’s a neat little addition to the bag, and it is worth getting if you like wearing fanny packs while you travel.

It’s organized, easy to pack, and easy to carry. The Allpa bag has a clamshell design, so it opens like a hard-sided suitcase—a large YKK zipper runs around three sides of the bag, allowing it to fall open into two halves when unzipped. On the right side is a deep compartment, spacious enough for two large packing cubes or half a suitcase’s worth of clothing (which you access through a mesh zippered flap). On the left, there’s space for one more medium-size packing cube behind a zippered flap. Above that there are two smaller pockets with high-visibility backing—useful when you’re looking for hard-to-differentiate personal items.

The packed Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack, shown fully open so that the contents are accessible.

It’s secure but still accessible. The Allpa pack has two side-access zippers—great for on-the-go access, especially when the bag is hanging from your shoulder. One of these reveals a flat computer pocket with a padded false bottom; so if you drop the bag, it won’t land on the corner of your computer. The other reveals a “secret” pocket with a hidden zipper and access to the main compartment. All of the main compartment zippers are protected by security loops, which you thread the zipper through at the end of its run. This prevents anyone from subtly or quickly grabbing a zipper and opening your bag when you aren’t paying attention.

It’s comfortable to carry. The Allpa bag’s hip belt—which can be removed while the bag is on your back—is substantial enough that it’s comfortable to wear when you need it. With or without the hip belt, the Allpa bag is comfortable to carry over long distances. However, folks who have longer torsos (over 19 inches) may find that the waist belt sits a little high off the hips, unless you fully extend the shoulder straps. Speaking of shoulder straps, unlike the ones on our other picks, the Allpa bag’s straps are contoured to fit people who have large or small chests. It’s not a specifically gendered design, but our female tester noticed the improvement right away.

The Allpa pack is made with 1680-denier ballistic nylon, similar to the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 . (Denier is a measure of a fabric’s fiber thickness.) It feels similar to a strong canvas, but it has a more prominent weave. This is the type of bag that’s as easy to toss into an overhead compartment as it is into the back of a rusty pickup truck. And it also includes a rainfly, which is unique in this category.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • Though this pack is well organized for packing, it’s less ideal as a mobile office. The Allpa pack has a minimal amount of administrative organization—places to keep pens and papers, spaces to hold tickets, and so forth. This is where a good personal item comes in handy. However, if you want to travel with just this one bag, there are a few nooks you can hide things in. The front organizer is deep enough that you can also fit several small organizing pouches, if you want, or the aforementioned fanny pack.
  • We prefer the model without the TPU front. Cotopaxi does enjoy playing around with fabrics and colors. Sometimes the company has released the Allpa pack without the TPU-lined front panel. The TPU panel improves water resistance, but after many years of traveling with our bag, we’ve found that the TPU layering can begin to flake in spots.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight: 3 pounds 5 ounces Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: adventurous Colors: assorted

A person stands by a wooden fence outdoors while wearing the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L, our larger pick for the best carry-on travel backpack.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

An easily customizable large bag for long trips and expensive gear.

This bag was built with photographers in mind. Yet most travelers will appreciate its easy accessibility, clever tuck-away straps, and the elegant way the bag expands and contracts. The accessory cubes cost extra, though.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is a good choice for those carrying more expensive gear—especially camera gear. It’s also great for those who prefer a large, backpack-based packing system.

One bag provides many configurations. Some bags in this category are built to do one thing extremely well—be carried on your back. But the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is built to adapt. It’s the Swiss Army knife of backpacks: adjustable, customizable, and (if you spring for the extra cubes and organizers) an almost perfect system for a photographer or gearhead on the move. Most bags’ expanding mechanisms aren’t worth the extra zipper they’re built on, and they look about as attractive as a boiled ham splitting out of its plastic packaging. That’s not the case with the Peak Design: This bag looks just as good fully packed at 45 liters as it does compressed to a 30-liter daypack.

It’s expandable, with clever folds and zippers. You can access the bag through a back panel (which doubles as a computer and tablet pouch) as well as a front one (if you unzip the pass-through divider). You can also get into the main compartment via two wing-like trapezoidal flaps, which run along each side of the pack. In its natural shape, the Travel Backpack holds 35 liters, but an expansion zipper lets the bag swell to 45 liters. If you want to use the bag as a daypack, you fold in the top corners and snap them down, reducing the bag’s volume to a slim 30 liters. In this configuration, it will still feel larger than a normal daypack, but we think that’s a small compromise for being able to use one backpack as both your travel bag and your daily explorer. The bag itself consists of 400-denier nylon and polyester fabrics. It feels tough but not as tough as some other bags we’ve tested, such as the Cotopaxi Allpa.

It has fold-away straps, for easier storage. The Peak Design lets you tuck its shoulder and hip straps away when you’re not using them. But unlike any other bag we’ve ever tested, this pack has magnetic flaps on the back panel that open and close with an almost magical snap. Once you’ve played with them, you’ll wonder why every backpack doesn’t have something similar. A small, childish part of me still gets excited about tucking away the straps when I put the Peak Design into an overhead bin. Although the straps are thin, they’re still comfortable. The hip belt isn’t quite as plush as the one on the Tortuga pack; still, even when the Peak Design is fully loaded, the belt doesn’t pinch or dig into the body.

It’s great for carrying expensive gear. If you travel with a camera, you don’t have to use Peak Design’s camera cubes , but they do make carrying that gear a whole lot easier. The cubes come in five sizes. And if they’re situated properly in the bag with the provided clips, they line up with the Travel Backpack’s side-access flaps for quick access. Caleigh Waldman (a photographer for this piece and, full disclosure, my spouse) took this bag across the country for a wedding shoot. “I want this backpack,” she said after three weeks of travel. “I want to travel with it everywhere. With my cameras. Without my cameras. It doesn’t matter. I want to travel with it.”

  • It’s expensive—especially if you commit to the entire system of packing and camera cubes.
  • More complexity means more things that can break. The adjustable design and multiple zippers do add complexity, and complexity adds potential weaknesses. Peak Design covers all of its bags with a lifetime warranty , which should alleviate most people’s concerns. But if you’re particularly hard on your gear and still need to carry as much as possible, you might consider the Tortuga bag instead.

Capacity: 45 liters Weight: 4½ pounds Main compartment access: back-panel loader Style: minimalist and unobtrusive Color: black, sage

The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L, our also-great pick for the best carry-on travel backpack, is held in midair by a person wearing a plaid shirt.

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

Combines more organization with a simple interior.

This bag’s split interior makes organizing easy. Those who travel for work will appreciate this bag’s dedicated panels for organizing tech, books, papers, and assorted miscellaneous items.

If you travel often for business and prefer a bag that’s much easier to work out of than most of our other picks, you may like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L . This bag has a front panel and assorted pockets that make it feel like a small traveling office.

It’s built like luggage but organized like your office. Of all the bags we recommend, the MLC (short for Maximum Legal Carry) comes closest to being a suitcase on your back, due to its large size, simple interior, and minimal external features. The MLC is also one of the simplest bags we tested, divided into two leaves (imagine a book with only one page), with a main compartment for packing and a second compartment for document organization and tech storage. The MLC has a built-in laptop compartment that fits 17-inch laptops and is situated close to your back; this protects the computer and keeps its weight closer to your body.

Despite its size, it’s comfortable enough to carry. Most carry-on backpacks of this size, without frames, become somewhat unwieldy when fully packed. Thankfully, the Black Hole MLC bag, like the Cotopaxi Allpa, is a welcome exception to this rule. The MLC has two shoulder straps, a hip belt, and an optional shoulder strap, for easy carrying. When they're not in use, or when you’re checking your bag, all of the straps can be stowed away easily. When fully loaded, the bag was pleasant to carry—not as comfortable as the Peak Design or the Osprey, but decent enough. I wouldn’t want to carry it all day across a city, but I wouldn’t mind carrying it through an airport to a car and to a hotel.

It’s built from high-quality materials, with durability in mind. This pack is made from recycled polyester, and the fabric is woven in a cross-weave that’s very similar to what Patagonia uses in its long-lasting Black Hole series of duffle bags . This is a material I’ve come across a bunch with Patagonia gear, and I’ve tested it thoroughly; it’s very tough. The front of the bag is coated in a weather-resistant TPU, for extra protection from the elements. The bag has large YKK zippers (the industry leader) and smaller YKK zippers throughout. Unlike the Cotopaxi Allpa pack, the Black Hole MLC bag has no security loops.

It comes with one of the best repair programs and a lifetime warranty. Similar to our other picks, the MLC is backed by an excellent lifetime warranty , and we’ve always found that Patagonia’s repair program goes above and beyond other comparable companies.

  • We wish the Maximum Legal Carry (despite the name) came in a few more sizes. The 45-liter capacity may be intimidating for some people, and there is no alternative.

Capacity: 45 liters Weight: 3 pounds 10 ounces Main compartment access: clamshell Style: retro Colors: tan, black, olive, green

The Osprey Farpoint/ Fairview 40 Travel Pack, one of our also-great picks for the best carry-on travel backpack, shown in black.

Osprey Farpoint 40

For long distances on foot.

A great starter option for one-bag travel, this bag is easy to pack, adaptable to most situations, and sturdy enough to take with you as you travel the world.

travelling the world in a backpack

Osprey Fairview 40

For long distances and smaller torsos.

A scaled-down version of the Farpoint, this bag has shoulder straps that are slightly lower, to keep the bag’s bulk more aligned with smaller torsos.

Updated in 2023, the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 packs are both built around a hiking backpack frame that’s easy to carry over long distances.

It’s built for travel but designed for hiking. The Farpoint 40 bag is well made, easy to pack, and comfortable to carry over most mid-length distances—such as walking across a city for an afternoon. (For simplicity’s sake, everything we say here about the Farpoint bag also applies to the Fairview bag.) Osprey makes excellent backpacks for hauling around, and its lifetime warranty is renowned within the industry . The Farpoint pack also has an optional messenger bag–style strap, which offers some flexibility when you’re maneuvering tight spaces like subways or crowded city centers.

View of the straps on the reverse of the Osprey travel backpack.

It’s simple to pack, but not as spacious as it seems. Opening the bag reveals a clamshell design; it’s deep enough to accommodate most large items, yet you won’t have to fumble awkwardly with zippers once it’s time to close up the bag. The feeling you get is not unlike when you’re packing a bit of sturdy luggage, and that’s something we love about bags like this one—especially when you use packing cubes . Osprey says this bag, when fully packed, can carry 40 liters. But after using the Farpoint bag for a few years, we’ve decided that its rounded shape seems to cut into that theoretical packable space more than other bags do. In practice, the Farpoint pack’s available space is closer to—but still less than—that of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L .

It’s the easiest bag to carry among our picks. Like all Osprey bags, the Farpoint 40 has very comfortable shoulder straps. The years of design and consideration Osprey has put into its hiking backpacks are quite evident in the Farpoint 40. After more than seven years of long-term testing this bag, we’re still surprised by how great it feels to wear when fully packed. Crucially, the straps of the Farpoint 40 stow away neatly behind a zippered panel. However, when you’re using the shoulder straps, the design forces you to also use the hip straps. Though this isn’t a huge issue, if you prefer a sleeker look or would rather have the option of using shoulder straps without hip straps, the Cotopaxi Allpa pack is more flexible, and it lets you hide the waist straps while the bag is on your back.

The Fairview 40 has the same features, in a scaled-down size. The Farpoint 40 and the Fairview 40 packs basically have the same design, but the Fairview pack is made for someone with a more-diminutive torso. It’s also slightly lighter. However, it has the features and durability of the Farpoint bag. It also has the same hip belt and adjustability. On both, the chest-strap clip is also equipped with a small security whistle that’s surprisingly loud. It’s a handy feature for anyone traveling in unfamiliar environments.

  • For a smaller carry-on travel backpack, this one has little to not like. However, we do wish Osprey would trade some of the sleeker contours for a little more interior space.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight (Farpoint): 3 pounds 3 ounces Weight (Fairview): 3 pounds 2 ounces Main compartment access: front-panel loader Style: active Colors (Farpoint): green (Gopher), gray (Tunnel Vision), blue (Muted Space), black Colors (Fairview): blue (Winter Night), red (Zircon), blue (Night Jungle), black

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L, our also-great pick for the best carry-on travel backpack.

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L

A suitcase to carry on your back.

For dedicated single-bag travelers, this water-resistant, durable bag is easy to pack and to travel with. And it’s comfortable to wear over endless miles—as long as you don’t mind the heavier weight.

The Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L maximizes packing space in a bag that’s durable, water-resistant, and customizable to fit most torso lengths (there’s also a 30L version ), with plenty of organizational features to suit any digital nomad.

It’s like a suitcase, with backpack straps. The Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L is built to occupy the maximum carry-on space available. It’s a nearly perfect blend of backpack and luggage. On the outside, its tear-resistant sailcloth and sealed zippers provide ample protection from sharp objects and the elements. Opening the main clamshell zipper reveals a cavernous interior and a few organizational features that make the bag a cinch to pack. The front panel is a particular standout, great for keeping track of electronics and chargers. Of all the bags we tested, the Tortuga strikes the closest balance between the carrying comfort of a hiking backpack and the space and organization of a piece of luggage.

The Tortuga Backpack Pro shown with the front clamshell lid in the open position.

It’s as easy to pack as luggage. When it comes to packing, the Tortuga pack has a soothingly minimal interior, as any good suitcase should. In addition to the bag’s cavernous main pocket, its interior lid has a large vented panel. The panel is too narrow to hold additional packing cubes, but it’s great for holding light jackets or doubling as a dirty-laundry bag (if you’re really committed to one-bag travel). The Tortuga is available as a 40-liter pack (the maximum space for a carry-on bag), which we tested; there is also a 30-liter version, which is compliant with some intra-European flights. The more-diminutive version is a decent choice for weekend travel or for minimalist travelers—but for those uses, we prefer the space-saving profile and extra internal organization of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L bag.

It’s very customizable. The Tortuga pack is the most adjustable model we tested, thanks to its adjustable torso length, shoulder straps, and waist-belt system. The adjustable strap system lets you manipulate the location of the shoulder straps (video) to fit a wider variety of body sizes, in both the 30- and 40-liter versions. Of the packs we’ve tested, this one (with its included load-adjuster straps at the top, to prevent the bag’s weight from sagging toward your lumbar region) is the best at distributing its weight (4½ pounds when empty—roughly 1½ pounds more than most of our other picks, except the Peak Design ). The hip straps are removable if you need, but the shoulder straps are not stowable.

  • Its straps don’t stow away. Some people, especially those who are hard on their gear, may consider not being able to remove or stow the shoulder straps (as they can with our other picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa ) a disqualifying factor. But after years of testing, traveling with, and occasionally checking our bag, we haven’t had an issue. However, if these mysteries beneath the airport also make you nervous, you might prefer our picks with easy-to-stow straps, such as the Peak Design.
  • It's heavy. We’ve fielded complaints from some testers who said that older models of this bag were too heavy for them to carry, even with the padded hip belt and adjustable straps. The additional padding does add weight. At 4½ pounds, this latest Tortuga bag is more than half a pound lighter than it used to be (the difference is noticeable), and it weighs the same as the equally large Peak Design pack. We are currently testing a new, lighter, and less-expensive version of this pack—aptly named the Travel Backpack Lite 40L —and will report back soon.  In the meantime, if you think you would struggle carrying the Tortuga, we strenuously encourage you to consider one of our more-manageable picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L.

Capacity: 40 liters Weight: 4½ pounds Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: minimal, with a rigid construction Color: black

If you want to travel like a backpacker but also fit in at a board meeting (and you have the budget for it): Consider the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 . This bag’s reputation for durability, adaptability, and a low-key aesthetic make it a favorite among many dedicated one-bag travelers. And after testing it, we think it’s a great bag too. That said, for the bag to really stand out against other backpacks—and to take full advantage of its carrying adaptability—you need to buy the internal frame , the hip belt , and (if you’re traveling with a suit or jacket) the shoulder strap . On a bag that already costs $330, all of this adds up. Everything about the Tom Bihn bag (the fabric, the zippers, the quality of construction) feels like an upgrade from other bags, but it’s simply too pricey, and its design is too rarified and specific for most people. The biggest flaw, from our perspective—apart from the price—is that the Tom Bihn bag lacks a dedicated laptop pocket. In its place, the company sells laptop sleeves (a fine version if you don’t have one) that clip into the bag’s central compartment. Not everyone needs a dedicated laptop pocket, but we prefer the more secure feeling of bags that do.

If you want a budget pick (but only when it’s on sale): The eBags Mother Lode Travel Backpack (our former budget pick) is still your best budget option, if you can catch it on sale for at least half off the list price. It’s not comfortable enough for trekking long distances on foot, but there are plenty of external pockets for organization, a laptop sleeve (which holds the weight of your computer high up on your shoulders), and an easy-to-access main compartment. This pack also has the largest capacity of any bags we tested, expanding to 65 liters—well beyond any airline’s regulated 45-liter limit. However, the bag’s casual-to-basic looks might not be to everyone’s taste. In 2024, eBags raised the price of the Mother Lode to $200. We have seen it on sale for $100, and in our opinion it’s worth getting only at the sale price.

We’ve narrowed our specifications for a great bag to the following list of features, ordered from most relevant to least:

  • Front- or back-panel loader or clamshell opening, for the main compartment: As with any good piece of luggage, with this type of bag, you should be able to open it and see everything you’ve packed. When you have a bag with a panel-loading or clamshell design—rather than a traditional, top-opening design—you can pack and unpack it just as you would a suitcase.

A graphic illustrating a clamshell bag opening

  • Backpack strap comfort and design: You never know when you’ll be walking farther with your bag than you’d intended. The more comfortable and well designed the straps are, the easier traveling will be. “Ideally, you want a bag’s shoulder straps to adjust to the angle of your shoulders,” said Eytan Levy of Snarky Nomad. “Good shoulder straps are the difference between an easy trip and a hard trip.”
  • Hip-belt comfort and design: A hip belt transfers heavy loads from your back and shoulders onto your hips, letting your legs—not your back—bear the brunt of the weight. Just having a waist belt is a plus, but having a padded and sculpted one—especially on bags with over 40 liters of volume—makes a world of difference.
  • Material quality: Durability is critical for any type of luggage, but especially for a backpack that will be your only bag. Most bags worth considering are made of nylon, which resists abrasion more than polyester fabrics of similar density. Spending more, however, can get you exotic, light, and strong materials, such as Dyneema or sailcloth.
  • Weight: Once the bags arrived, we weighed each one ourselves. Most of the bags weighed within a few pounds of one another. But unless you’re very strict with yourself, by the time you’re packed for a two-week journey, all bags are going to feel equally massive, even if one is just 2 pounds heavier than another when empty.
  • Stowable straps: These are nice to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary. “The more often you need to check a bag, the more often you need to hide away the straps,” Levy said. “But if the straps are tough enough, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Accessory pocket layout and design: Some people will love an accessory pocket that has a specific space for everything; others may find that feature constricting and unadaptable. We prioritized bags with simple designs that guided our packing without constraining us.
  • Style: This is purely subjective. We preferred bags that had a minimalist exterior style, but not all of our picks will please everyone. Most of the people we spoke with, however, preferred not to stick out like a tourist wearing a large, colorful backpack, if they could avoid it.

During testing, we flew across the country with these bags, took weekend trips to nearby cities, lived out of them on extended trips, and tried them locally in our daily routines. We also packed and unpacked each bag, using a standardized set of weeklong travel necessities and accessories, to see how well the internal organizational features (or lack thereof) aided or got in the way of efficient packing.

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the carry-on travel backpacks we have tested. We have removed any models that have been discontinued or that no longer meet our criteria.

The Away Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L is a rare miss from the Away team. This bag is resoundingly average for the price. Although it’s made from excellent materials, the bag is let down by its overall design, which lacks any kind of structure or attention to comfort. There are better options.

The cheap, no-frills Cabin Max Metz bag is intriguing for the price. Any bag at this price should almost be considered disposable. That said, if you need a simple bag that costs less than a seat upgrade, this might be the way to go—unless you can pick up the eBags Motherlode bag for under $100, which we think is a better deal at that price.

The GeniusPack Travel Backpack is the only model we came across that tried to fit a suit into a travel backpack. Though some people might need that, we think those who have to travel with a suit (or clothes that require pressing) would be better off with a piece of carry-on luggage . GeniusPack now offers a second version of this bag, but our conclusion hasn’t changed.

For certain people, the GoRuck GR3 is almost worth the cost. It’s strong and simple and covered by an iron-clad repair guarantee. The removable hip belt is comfortable to wear, and it’s good at displacing the weight of a 45-liter backpack. This is a decent bag. After testing it, however, we weren’t thrilled with the internal Velcro lining for compatible Velcro packing cubes. Velcro isn’t great: It wears out, it’s difficult to keep clean, and it clings to dirt. That might seem like a small thing, but for the price, this bag should feel perfect.

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 was designed to be a backpack for business people. But if you’re carrying it for business, you’re probably wearing at least a blazer, so you wouldn’t use a backpack in any case. If you’re a business traveler who falls more on the casual end of the business-casual spectrum, and you’re not on a budget, this is a well-thought-out pack. But we think our picks are more versatile for world travel, and they come at a better price. Minaal has since introduced a 3.0 version of this bag ; our thoughts about it remain the same.

The Osprey Sojourn Porter 46L is a slightly larger sibling of the Farpoint pack. The Sojourn Porter bag is about 2 inches longer, and it pushes right up to most airline limits. If you don’t mind possibly having to check your bag at the last minute, this would be an excellent alternative to the Farpoint pack.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Chase Reeves, , phone interview , October 10, 2018

Addison Ryan, moderator, r/onebag , email interview , September 8, 2018

Lindsay Lorraine Calderón, moderator, r/heronebag , phone interview , September 28, 2018

Meet your guide

travelling the world in a backpack

Kit Dillon is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He was previously an app developer, oil derrick inspector, public-radio archivist, and sandwich shop owner. He has written for Popular Science, The Awl, and the New York Observer, among others. When called on, he can still make a mean sandwich.

Further reading

Four Osprey travel backpacks, two blue, two green, sitting next to each other.

The Best Travel Backpack

by Geoffrey Morrison

For trips ranging from a week to multiple months, the Osprey Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 carried everything we needed comfortably.

Three of our favorite backpacks, totes and duffle bags on display

Wirecutter’s Favorite Bags, Totes, Backpacks and Carryalls

by Truth Headlam

Whether you’re going to school, work, the gym, the store, or on vacay, you need a bag. Here’s the Wirecutter-recommended carrying gear we love most.

A person in an outdoor environment wearing one of our picks for best buy it for life backpack with a minimalist look, the GoRuck GR1.

The Best Buy It for Life Backpack (Please Don’t Call It Tactical)

by Kit Dillon

A buy-it-for-a-lifetime backpack should last you for years of heavy use. But as with all investments, you need to decide if it makes sense for you.

A person wearing the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L travel backpack.

I Took 5 Trips in 6 Months. My Go-To Weekender Bag Was This Surprisingly Spacious Backpack.

by Elissa Sanci

Struggling to pack for your weekend away? The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L fits so much more than you’d expect.


Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

From short weekend getaways to far-off international adventures, our top travel packs make it easy and comfortable to organize and carry the essentials.

Travel backpacks (walking around El Chalten with Topo Designs and Cotopaxi packs)

Switchback Travel ( Brian McCurdy )

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us . 

Whether you’re traveling across the globe or headed out on a quick weekend getaway, a thoughtfully designed travel pack can help you stay comfortable and organized while on the move. Key considerations include carry-on compatibility for air travel, enough capacity to stash your belongings, pack weight, and preferences on storage and organizational layouts. Below we break down the best travel backpacks of 2024, ranging from minimalist options for a couple nights away to larger bags with removable daypacks for extended trips. For more background information, see our detailed comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

Editor’s note: We updated our travel backpacks guide on March 29, 2024, to add The North Face Base Camp, which is a fully featured option at a competitive price, along with swapping the Patagonia Black Hole MLC from the 45-liter capacity to the 30-liter version due to its more manageable shape and size.  

Our Team's Top Travel Backpack Picks

  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L
  • A Close Second (That's Great for Carrying Electronics): Peak Design Travel Backpack
  • Excellent Carrying Comfort for Gear-Intensive Trips: Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 L
  • Best for Staying Organized: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack
  • Best High-Capacity Travel Pack for Long Trips: Osprey Farpoint 70

Best Overall Travel Backpack

1. cotopaxi allpa 35l ($200).

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L travel backpack

When compiling our list of the best travel packs, we prioritized functional organization, easy on-the-go access, durable materials, and carry-on compatibility. Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L Travel Pack checks all those boxes emphatically, earning it our top spot for 2024. Along with the vibrant styling and multi-colored patterning that the brand is known for, the Allpa is exceptionally durable with a mix of 1,000-denier, TPU-coated polyester and panels of 840-denier ballistic nylon. In use, we found the Allpa to be remarkably tough and highly water-resistant, and the pack also comes with a stowable rain cover for truly inclement weather. We also love the dual access to the main compartment, including a full wraparound zipper and secondary side zip next to the backpanel for easily retrieving items while on the move. And the electronics sleeve is big enough to handle both a laptop and tablet at the same time, which isn’t often the case. Overall, the Allpa is well made, stylish, and very nicely appointed for travel.

What’s not to like with the Cotopaxi Allpa? While the 35-liter variation here is nicely sized for long weekend trips or shorter getaways abroad, it’s smaller than competitors like the Peak Design Travel Backpack, Osprey Sojourn Porter 46, and many other carry-on-friendly designs below (Cotopaxi does sell a larger 42L version for $220 that still meets most airline requirements). Further, while overall carrying comfort is good, there are no load-lifter straps to bring the pack closer to your body. Additionally, the interior pockets are a little awkwardly sized, and the lack of external compression straps makes it hard to secure bulkier loads. A final omission is water bottle storage, although it’s not a critical feature for most and does little to dampen our enthusiasm for an otherwise well-rounded and great-looking bag. And for those looking to check their luggage, the Allpa roller bags are equally tough and user-friendly. See the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A Close Second (That's Great for Carrying Electronics)

2. peak design travel backpack ($300).

Peak Design Travel Backpack

Peak Design’s Travel Backpack may look relatively unassuming on the outside, but don’t be fooled: This bag is packed with thoughtful travel-ready features. First is the expandable design, which allows you to alternate between 35 and 45 liters by simply zipping or unzipping the frontmost zipper. Access is another highlight, including entry points at the top, side, front, and rear for easily retrieving items pretty much anywhere in the pack. Storage is also excellent with padded laptop and tablet sleeves, a divisible main compartment, large and stretchy dual side pockets (not common on travel packs), and multiple interior pockets. And it’s all wrapped up in a thick nylon canvas shell that’s durable, streamlined, and very modern.

What complaints do we have about the Peak Design Travel Backpack? Price is the most glaring downside: At $300, it’s one of the most expensive designs on our list. And while the bag is undeniably sleek, it’s pretty utilitarian-looking and less everyday-friendly than more vibrant options like the Cotopaxi Allpa above and Topo Designs Global Travel Bag below. It’s also on the heavy end at 4 pounds 8 ounces, which isn’t unreasonable but does add considerable heft compared to many competitors. Finally, the Travel Backpack is technically not carry-on compliant when expanded, measuring 22 x 13 x 11 inches (the standard U.S. domestic carry-on limit is 22 x 14 x 9 in.). But it works at the compressed 35-liter size (or smaller 30L option) , and photographers in particular will love the shape, which nicely accommodates multiple camera cubes, lenses, and other accessories. If you fall into that group, another staff favorite is Wandrd's Prvke , which features a more modular design with specialized add-ons for camera gear. See the Peak Design Travel Backpack

Excellent Carrying Comfort for Gear-Intensive Trips

3. osprey sojourn porter 46 l ($195).

Osprey Sojourn Porter 46L travel pack

Osprey is a leader in the backpacking pack market, and much of that technology and expertise has trickled down nicely into their travel pack collection. The Sojourn Porter 46 L is case in point, combining the impressive carrying comfort that the brand is known for with a practical, carry-on-friendly build and feature set for travel. Starting at the outside, you get a rigid foam backpanel with well-cushioned shoulder and hipbelt straps that feel reminiscent of Osprey’s backpacking designs, a handy compression system to effectively cinch things down, lockable zippers for the main compartment, and a beefy side handle for hauling the pack duffel-style. The inside is a similar story with ample pockets of varying sizes, compressions traps to keep clothes tidy, and padded sidewalls to help protect valuables during travel.

Despite offering 11 more liters of capacity than our top-ranked Cotopaxi Allpa 35L (for $5 less), the Sojourn Porter 46 L is still carry-on compliant, making it the largest option here that still meets most domestic and international airline restrictions. It’s also impressively sturdy and durable and includes reinforced cord loops to attach to Osprey's Daylite or Farpoint/Fairview daypacks (sold separately). We do wish Osprey offered the design in a women’s version for those with smaller torso and waist measurements, but the unisex sizing is standard in the travel market (their Farpoint/Fairview below is one of the few models to come in a separate women’s version). In the end, if it fits you well, the Sojourn Porter offers a hard-to-beat mix of capacity, features, and comfort for the price, making it our favorite option for longer, gear-intensive adventures. See the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 L

Best Travel Pack for Staying Organized

4. topo designs global travel bag 30l ($199).

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L travel backpack

Topo Designs flies a little under the radar compared to well-known brands like Cotopaxi and Osprey, but don’t let that deter you—this company makes exceptionally built and good-looking packs for everything from commuting and travel to more technical pursuits like biking and climbing. Their Global Travel Bag 30L here is a shining example and stands out in one major way: internal organization. Put simply, there’s no shortage of options for divvying up your belongings, from the vertical daisy chain webbing on the front to the expandable side water bottle pockets, ample zippered storage inside and out, a laptop sleeve along the backpanel, and several interior mesh pockets. Like the Cotopaxi Allpa above, the Global Travel Bag is also well equipped for rough use, including a mix of 1,000- and 1,680-denier ballistic nylon that gives the pack a noticeably burly, confidence-inspiring feel—at a very manageable 2 pounds 10 ounces to boot.

That said, the extensive feature set does add some complexity when it comes to organization. We like the big clamshell opening to the main compartment, but we had to reorganize to make everything fit into the various compartments (they're optimized for Topo Designs' Pack Bags , which are smaller than our standard packing cubes). The tall and slim shape is also best suited for clothing rather than bulky gear, which may be limiting for outdoor adventures that involve camping or backpacking. We also wished there were a little more padding along the shoulder straps and hipbelt while walking through airports with the pack stuffed full, but it distributed the load pretty well (and the hipbelt can be tucked away when not in use). In the end, no pack is perfect, but the Global Travel Bag 30L is a well-built, durable, and stylish option for overnights, short weekend getaways, and even minimalist adventures abroad. It’s also sold in a larger 40-liter variation for longer trips, although we found the smaller pack to be much more manageable. See the Topo Designs Travel Bag 30L

Best Budget Travel Backpack

5. amazon basics carry-on travel backpack ($46).

Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack

Travel packs are an expensive bunch, but Amazon makes an affordable but still surprisingly capable option in their Carry-On Travel Backpack. We’ll start with the good news: As its name implies, the bag is carry-on compliant, and it comes with most of the standard features we look for in a practical travel pack. These include a zippered laptop sleeve, internal and external compression straps, easy-access pockets for travel documents, and good organization in the main compartment. Like the Peak Design Travel Backpack above, the Amazon Basics can also be expanded to boost packing space while still meeting carry-on restrictions. And at just around $50 at the time of publishing (colorways vary on Amazon), the 40-liter Carry-On Travel Backpack is a great value for what you get, undercutting most similarly sized models on this list by $100 or more.

Now for the bad news: This Amazon Basics pack is far less capable than many of the picks here for shuttling a full load. The shoulder straps are lightly padded, while the hipbelt is a thin and basic webbing design that won’t feel comfortable under the weight of a full pack. The rest of the design has a cheaper feel, too, including a shiny and dated-looking exterior, a lot of plastic (read: breakable) components, and standard, non-lockable zippers. You don’t get dedicated water bottle storage either, which isn’t a necessary feature but certainly is nice to have. But if you’re an occasional traveler and aren’t yet ready to make a more sizable investment, the Amazon Basics pack is a perfectly serviceable entry-level option at a great price. For another capable budget design that comes with packing cubes and lots of colorway options, we also like Asenlin’s 40L Travel Backpack . See the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack

Best High-Capacity Travel Pack for Long Trips

6. osprey farpoint 70 ($230).

Osprey Farpoint 70 travel pack

The packs above are great for vacationers and travelers headed out for a week or two, but those embarking on longer and/or gear-heavy trips abroad will almost certainly need more storage and capacity. Enter Osprey’s Farpoint 70, which comes with a 15-liter daypack that can be attached to the front to maximize capacity or used separately for around-town adventures once you reach your destination (Note: The travel pack itself is 55L). Importantly, both come well appointed: The daypack boasts a dedicated tablet/hydration sleeve and water bottle pockets, while the main pack has great cushioning along the straps and backpanel (it’s an Osprey, after all), a well-ventilated backpanel, easy access via the large front panel, and an adjustable torso system for dialing in a good fit. It's all wrapped up in a thoughtful and sustainable package, including recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics, along with a dedicated women's version called the Fairview.

All that said, there’s one glaring downside to opting for a larger-capacity design like the Osprey Farpoint 70: It doesn’t meet most carry-on size requirements. For reference, the standard domestic carry-on limit within the U.S. is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, while the Farpoint measures 25.6 x 15 x 12.6. Another complaint is that the daypack obscures the pack’s main compartment when attached, making it tedious to access your belongings. Even so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile and comfortable system for less (the daypack is a $65 investment on its own), making the Farpoint 70 our favorite high-capacity pick of the year. It’s also available in a larger 80-liter version, as well as smaller 40- and 55-liter capacities, although only the Farpoint 55 and 70 include the detachable daypack.  See the Osprey Farpoint 70   See the Women's Osprey Fairview 70

Best of the Rest

7. eagle creek tour 40l ($159).

Eagle Creek Tour 40L

Eagle Creek first started making packs in the mid 1970s, and their Tour 40L travel pack reflects that longstanding history in the market. From the get-go, we were immediately impressed by its highly practical design. The bag has great exterior storage, including a stretchy side water bottle pocket and expansion zipper for 5 liters of additional capacity in the main compartment. Additionally, the book-style opening provides quick access to the contents of the bag, and interior and exterior compression straps make it easy to snug things down. We also appreciate that it comes in two torso sizes (S/M and M/L) for maximizing fit, which is uncommon in the travel pack market and a really nice plus at this price point. And the cherry on top: The Tour checks in at a very competitive 2 pounds 10 ounces, which is tied with Topo Designs’ 10-liter-smaller Global Travel Bag above as the lightest on our list.

Other notable features on the Eagle Creek Tour 40L include side and top grab handles for easy loading and carrying, an integrated rain cover that stows away at the bottom and doubles as a backpanel cover if you check the bag, puncture-resistant and lockable zippers that are easy to operate even with gloves, and good overall carrying comfort. It’s not the toughest design out there—the water bottle pocket started to fray on our pack after just one trip—but uses durable 600-denier polyester elsewhere and is reasonably hardwearing overall. Final nitpicks include no pass-through sleeve for securing to a suitcase and a fairly bland exterior, but those do little to detract from the Tour’s otherwise well-rounded build.  See the Eagle Creek Tour 40L

8. Gregory Border Carry-On 40 ($190)

Gregory Border Carry-On 40 travel backpack_0

Like Osprey, Gregory is a leader in the hiking and backpacking markets, and their Border Carry-On 40 retains many of their well-loved technical features in a travel-friendly design. The big news here is the pack’s split-case design, which creates two distinct areas within the main compartment accessed via one large, clamshell-style opening. On one side, a zippered mesh panel with added zippered storage and compression straps keeps your clothing and some accessories organized, while an odor-resistant “ActiveShield” compartment at the opposite side effectively separates dirty clothes. As expected from Gregory, carrying comfort is also great with good adjustability at the sternum, a well-cushioned backpanel, and thick straps. You don’t get load lifters for bringing the pack closer to your body, but we didn’t have any issues, even when running through the Montreal airport to a connecting flight en route to Patagonia.

That said, the Gregory Border Carry-On’s split-case design does have a noteworthy pitfall: With both compartments zipped, storage feels pretty limited. Unzipping the larger mesh panel does help maximize space (especially when stuffing the pack to the brim), but it also defeats the purpose of the dual compartments. Compared to the competition, the Border also uses thinner materials than Osprey’s Sojourn Porter and Farpoint offerings, although the rest of the feature set stacks up similarly. In the end, it’s another comfortable and well-built travel pack, and the split-case design has its merits for those who pack light. See the Gregory Border Carry-On 40

9. Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L ($350)

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

Travel packs are a dime a dozen in 2024, but Tortuga’s Travel Backpack 40L—which replaced their Outbreaker 35L—stands out as one of the most well-appointed and thoughtfully built options on the market. Organization is a clear highlight, including a large front pocket with several sleeves for divvying up small valuables and documents, a convenient clamshell-style opening with zippered compartments for separating clothes and shoes, and padded laptop and tablet sleeves with zippered mesh pockets at the other side for storing cords and accessories. Rounding out the feature set are easy-to-access water bottle pockets that can fit most standard-mouth bottles (our wide-mouth Hydro Flask was too big), zippered hipbelt storage that can accommodate a smartphone and passport, and lockable, water-resistant zippers. Finally, the design is well padded with thick cushioning along the backpanel, shoulder straps, and hipbelt, which is fairly uncommon among travel-specific brands. 

It's worth noting that the Tortuga Travel Backpack has a slightly more streamlined storage layout than its predecessor, although you do get an additional 5 liters of capacity and a bump in usable space. However, the Tortuga is no featherweight at 4 pounds 8 ounces, which is a notable downside for long treks through the airport and around town. It’s also tied with Matador’s GlobeRider below as the priciest on our list at a steep $350. On the bright side, Tortuga does offer a lifetime warranty against defects, and they will repair/replace the pack or refund your money if a replacement isn't available. All told, it’s a nice dose of added assurance and helps justify the steep price, but the hefty build and lack of value push the Tortuga slightly down in our rankings. For another well-executed design with all the requisite travel features, check out Aer’s Travel Pack 3 , which is cheaper at $249 but 5 liters smaller and doesn’t include a hipbelt with purchase. See the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

10. Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack ($250)

Yeti Crossroads travel backpack

Yeti's coolers and insulated drinkware are their bread and butter, but the focus on premium craftsmanship doesn’t end there. On the travel side, their Crossroads 35L Backpack is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the brand: excellent durability and functionality in a modern package. The body of the pack is made with Yeti's tough and confidence-inspiring TuffSkin nylon (which was inspired by motorcycle gear), while the PU-coated base adds a nice dose of assurance when setting it down. All of the other components have an equally durable and supportive feel, from the foam-heavy shoulder straps to the thick, protective backpanel. It’s all wrapped up in a sleek and streamlined design that’s offered in a nice selection of colorways, from bright Harvest Red to subdued Alpine Brown (shown in the photo here).

Yeti clearly put a lot of thought into the outside of the Crossroads, but the interior is well executed, too. The clamshell opening folds back to reveal a pocket-equipped mesh panel and generous main compartment that still can be accessed when wearing the pack. You also get dedicated storage for a water bottle and laptop, as well as a pass-through sleeve for securing to a roller bag. Our biggest gripe is the lack of padding: The detachable hipbelt is made of thin webbing and doesn’t offer much support, and the shoulder straps and backpanel have a noticeably thick and rigid feel, which is great for durability but detracts from overall comfort. And as with most Yeti products, the pack isn’t particularly cheap or light at $250 and nearly 4 pounds. Finally, the 35-liter Crossroads is on the smaller side and will require precise packing to fit more than about three to five days’ worth of belongings. But again, build quality is top-notch, and minimalists used to packing light may not mind the small sacrifices in comfort and storage. See the Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack

11. Matador GlobeRider45 ($350)

Matador Globerider45 travel backpack

Matador may lack the name recognition of brands like Osprey and Cotopaxi, but don’t let that fool you: This Boulder-based upstart is quickly growing thanks to their outside-the-box thinking. From their travel collection, the new GlobeRider45 stands out as a very intentionally built design that spares no expense in terms of features. In addition to being on the larger end, the carry-on-compliant GlobeRider offers solid comfort and support with good padding along the straps and backpanel, a light but sturdy aluminum frame stay, and a well-executed suspension system that’s reminiscent of a backpacking pack. Organization also abounds with a large external stash pocket, thoughtfully designed electronics pockets, vertical daisy chain webbing, and a practical interior layout that includes a packing cube-like space on one side and open clothing storage on the other. All told, it's an intriguing new pack that does a great job merging the utility of both backpacking and travel designs.

It's worth noting that we previously had Matador’s cheaper and lighter Seg45 ranked here, which boasts a unique segmented design that allows you to customize organization by day or activity. When unzipped, the five compartments at the front of the pack reveal independent (and stowable) storage cube-like areas for clothes and other soft items, while the main compartment below provides added space for dirty clothes, shoes, and other bulkier gear. While innovative, however, the Seg45 falls well short of the GlobeRider in carrying comfort, which is largely a result of the thin webbing hipbelt and lack of frame. The pocket-heavy exterior also made it hard for us to remember where we put certain items and detracts from the amount of usable space inside the main compartment. Both packs are arguably overbuilt for infrequent travelers, but the GlobeRider stands out as the more balanced option for those willing to splurge. See the Matador GlobeRider45

12. The North Face Base Camp Travel Pack ($169)

The North Face Base Camp travel backpack

The North Face’s expedition-ready Base Camp duffels have long been popular among serious adventurers, and the Base Camp Travel Pack is a logical and carry-on-friendly addition to the collection. We found a lot to like about the pack during testing, including its burly and abrasion-resistant exterior and myriad storage options. We particularly enjoyed the Base Camp’s front pocket layout, which makes it easy to divvy up travel documents and electronics with a variety of mesh, zippered, and fleece-lined pockets. The smaller details are equally well sorted, from the well-padded shoulder straps and backpanel to the fleece-lined laptop sleeve and generous daisy chain system for attaching gear externally. Finally, despite being a little smaller than many of our top picks, the 35-liter Base Camp includes water bottle pockets that easily swallowed our 24-ounce Hydro Flask.

However, despite checking all the boxes for most travelers, the Base Camp starts to look a little less competitive when stacked up against options like the Eagle Creek Tour above. For $10 less, the Tour boasts an additional 5 liters of capacity and includes helpful additions like a hipbelt, load-lifter straps, and a rain cover—all for around a pound less. Another alternative worth considering is REI’s Ruckpack 40 , which costs the same as the Base Camp and is more capable of crossing over for hiking: The laptop sleeve can fit a 3-liter reservoir, there are attachment points for trekking poles, and the suspension system is more in line with standard daypacks. Depending on your needs, the Ruckpack might be the better option, but the Base Camp offers better organization for travel in a more modern-looking package than the Eagle Creek. A final note: Those with broader builds may experience discomfort where the shoulder straps meet the backpanel, but our narrow-framed female tester had no comfort-related issues. See the TNF Base Camp Travel Pack

13. Thule Aion Travel Pack ($200)

Thule Aion travel backpack

Swedish brand Thule is best known for their bike and roof racks, but they make sneaky-good packs, too. Our favorite in their collection this year is the 40-liter Aion, which combines the premium build quality that Thule is known for with a nice assortment of travel-ready features. One unique—but very functional—addition is the removable TPU rolltop bag for stashing dirty laundry, which prevents odors and dirt from making their way to the rest of your belongings. The rest of the design is nicely appointed, including dedicated water bottle storage, an easy-to-access clamshell opening, plenty of zippered spaces for electronics and valuables (including a padded laptop/tablet sleeve), internal compressions straps to keep items secure and tidy, lockable zippers, and carry-on-compliant dimensions. 

What pushes the Thule Aion down to a mid-pack finish? At this price point and capacity, we’re surprised to see that the bag doesn’t come with a hipbelt. You can purchase Thule’s compatible Aion sling bag separately, which can pull double-duty for around-town use, but it’s a fairly expensive addition at $50 (and a feature we consider critical for a pack of this size). To be fair, the rest of the build is very well executed, including a noticeably thick and robust 600-denier waxed canvas shell and PFC-free DWR coating for fending off moisture. If you don’t mind the added investment for the waist belt/sling bag, it’s a promising design with competitive specs to match. Of note, if you’re looking for something a little different for travel, the Aion collection also includes a roller bag and a 35-liter duffel . See the Thule Aion Travel Pack

14. Pacsafe EXP45 ($290)

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 travel backpack

Travel can be an exhausting endeavor, especially if you’re constantly worried about your luggage or valuables getting stolen. That’s why anti-theft designs like Pacsafe’s EXP45 are becoming increasingly common, particularly for international trips. Like most of Pacsafe’s offerings, the EXP45 is packed with protective features, from cut-resistant materials to lockable and puncture-resistant double zippers and built-in stainless steel cable locks. Importantly, these are nicely integrated and don’t detract too heavily from the Pacsafe's functionality as a travel pack—it’s still well organized with ample interior and exterior pockets and compression straps, offers multiple carry options, and is carry-on compliant.

That said, the Pacsafe EXP45 is a pretty niche design that prioritizes safety over carrying comfort and access. The pack is on the heavier end at over 4 pounds due to all the protective features, the padding along the shoulder straps and hipbelt is firm (albeit decently thick), and there are no load-lifter straps to pull the pack closer to your body. Another downside is that the laptop sleeve is positioned at the front of the bag—we prefer when heavier items are situated close to the back for better weight distribution—and accessing items here can be difficult due to the half-length zipper design (we wish it had a clamshell opening like the main compartment). In other words, comfort- and convenience-focused travelers will likely want to look elsewhere, but the Pacsafe has its place for those who prioritize safety and security. For a cheaper and lighter option that doesn’t skimp on safety features, we also like Pacsafe’s Go 44L , although frequent travelers will likely prefer the more premium EXP45. See the Pacsafe EXP45

15. Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L ($199)

Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L travel backpack

Patagonia’s Black Hole is legendary in the world of duffel bags, and the Mini MLC 30L travel pack variation shares that bag’s excellent durability and good looks in a more organized and carry-on-friendly design. Like the duffels, the Black Hole pack is made of strong (and recycled) polyester ripstop that’s highly tear-resistant with a TPU film on the exterior for fending off precipitation. It also boasts the signature daisy chain webbing along one side for securing extra gear. Importantly, however, the travel focus is clear: You get three carrying options (backpack, over-the-shoulder, or briefcase-style), compatibility with a roller bag, and a generously sized opening with two separate chambers for customizing organization.

Why do we rank the Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L here? The most glaring downside is its 30-liter capacity, which is undersized for trips lasting longer than a few days (unless you’re a staunch minimalist). Patagonia does offer a larger 45-liter variation for $40 more, although we found it to be lacking in structure, which caused the pack to feel noticeably bulky and cumbersome when stuffed full. Thankfully, both options feature the same well-executed backpanel design that we love, which comprises sleeves at one side for a laptop and tablet with zippered and drop-in pockets at the other for divvying up cords and accessories. Again, the Mini version is underbuilt for extended trips abroad but remains an excellent pick for commutes, daily use, and as a secondary bag for travel. See the Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC 30L

16. Nomatic Travel Bag 40L ($290)

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

Many of the picks above are built by reputable backpacking manufacturers, but Nomatic is a travel company first. Their Travel Bag 40L embodies that focus, combining thoughtful organization and storage with easy access in a sleek and minimalist package. Feature highlights include a customizable strap design that allows you to easily alternate between backpack and duffel carry, dedicated compartments for shoes and clothing at the top and bottom of the bag, and even a mesh laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate during travel. We also love the exterior pocket at the right side, which opens wide for easy access and features an array of mesh, fleece-lined, and zippered spots to organize electronics and cords, along with an RFID pocket for passports and other scannable documents. All told, it’s clear that Nomatic put a ton of thought into the design. 

It’s worth noting that Nomatic offers another intriguing option in their Navigator , although we consider the Travel Bag the more competitive all-around design. In parsing out the differences, the Travel Bag costs $110 less and is lighter by nearly 2 pounds, although it forgoes the Navigator’s expandable main compartment that allows you to alternate between 32 and 41 liters depending on your storage needs. The Navigator also includes load lifter straps and a sculpted foam backpanel for a boost in carrying comfort, but the Travel Bag is no slouch. And from a features perspective, we appreciate the Travel Bag’s dirty shoe compartment and included laundry bag. Those with smaller frames may have trouble dialing in a secure fit—our female tester (5’6” and 135 lb.) maxed out the Travel Bag’s hipbelt, for example—but the intentional organization layout and travel-ready feature set are undeniable selling points. See the Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

17. Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45 ($249)

Mystery Ranch Rover 45 travel pack

Along with Osprey’s Sojourn Porter 46 above, Mystery Ranch’s Mission Rover 45 is a great option for those of us who aren’t particularly adept at packing light. Touted as a “workhorse gear hauler,” the Mission Rover offers three functional carry options (as a suitcase, shoulder bag, or standard backpack), has a well-organized main compartment with zippered dividers and a wraparound clamshell opening, and even includes separate areas for shoes and dirty laundry. As expected at this price point, you also get most of the standard travel-ready features that we look for, including a stowable hipbelt, lockable zippers, a sleeve to secure to a rolling suitcase, and a padded laptop space that can accommodate computers up to 15 inches wide. Finally, like many of Mystery Ranch's backpacking offerings, the Mission Rover has a premium feel with a thick nylon exterior and water-resistant YKK zippers.

However, as with the Pacsafe EXP45 above, the Mission Rover’s laptop sleeve is situated at the front of the pack, which detracts from carrying comfort and convenience. The Mystery Ranch is also on the heavier and pricier end of the spectrum at 4 pounds 4.8 ounces and $249, although the 45-liter capacity is undeniably generous (and the pack is still compliant with most carry-on size restrictions). Finally, the bag is relatively dated-looking and lacking in modern appeal compared to offerings from Topo Designs, Peak Design, Cotopaxi, and others above. In other words, the Mission Rover doesn’t stand out in any one area (hence our ranking), but it’s another durable travel pack with a nicely executed feature set. See the Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45

Travel Backpack Comparison Table

Editor's note: "Carry-on" refers to whether or not each pack meets standard domestic and international air travel restrictions, which must be under 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H.

About Our Testing Process

True to our name, globetrotting is a big part of what we do at Switchback Travel. Managing editor Sarah Nelson put together our initial list of 16 picks in 2022 after a trip to El Chaltén in southern Argentina with fellow staff members and gear testers. From takeoff to our return flights home, we put our packs through their paces by stuffing them to the brim with two weeks’ worth of clothing and gear, schlepping them through domestic and international airports, shoving them into overhead compartments and below our seats, and getting intimately familiar with organizational layouts for divvying up our documents and electronics. Upon our return, we also evaluated each pack closely for signs of wear like tears and stains.

Our current list of 17 picks reflects our own experiences as well as feedback from our freelancers, travel-savvy friends, and the online travel community. We continue to test travel packs on adventures near and far, adding and removing designs as the market shifts and as we get firsthand experience with more options. For example, on a recent trip to Chilean Patagonia in February 2024, we brought along two new-to-us travel packs: The North Face Base Camp and the Nomatic Travel Pack, both of which are now featured in the guide above. We’ll be sure to add any other standouts and favorites to the list above with each update.   

Travel backpacks (walking around El Chalten with Matador%2C YETI%2C and Patagonia packs)

Travel Backpack Buying Advice

Size and capacity.

  • Carry-on Size Restrictions

Organization: Pockets and Main Compartment Access

Carrying comfort, grab handles and alternate carry methods.

  • Other Features

Construction and Durability

Fit and sizing, women’s-specific travel backpacks, sustainability, packing cubes and other accessories, do you need a travel backpack.

The first question to answer when choosing a travel pack is how much capacity you anticipate needing. For reference, the options above range from 30 liters on the small end (the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag ) all the way up to 70 liters for the Osprey Farpoint 70 (with the 15L daypack attached). Most travelers will land on something in the middle, with the sweet spot for many being in the 40- to 45-liter range—it’s no coincidence that well over half of the models above fall into this grouping, which is largely due to their carry-on-compliant dimensions.   

Travel backpacks (lineup on the ground)

In general, we’ve found that packs of this size can easily accommodate a week or two of clothing, toiletries, and other travel accessories (and even more if you pack light). For reference, we had no issues fitting 14 days’ worth of belongings into the 40-liter version of Topo Designs’ Global Travel Bag on a recent trip to Patagonia. If you stick to weekend adventures, you can keep things lighter and more compact (and save some cash in the process) by opting for the smaller, 30-liter variation. On the flip side, those embarking on longer expeditions abroad might need to step up to a larger design like the Osprey Farpoint 70 or 80 (at the sacrifice of carry-on compatibility).  

Travel backpack (interior of the Eagle Creek Tour 40L)

Travel Backpack Dimensions

Dimensions are a crucial consideration for most travelers, and especially those headed abroad. With that in mind, we’ve listed the length, width, and height measurements for each travel pack above both in the write-ups and in our comparison table . As you may notice, similarly sized travel packs don’t vary too considerably in terms of dimensions. This is mainly due to carry-on size restrictions, which we break down more in depth below. Carry-on Size Restrictions Right off the bat, we’ll note that there is technically no standardized size requirement for carry-on luggage domestically or abroad. That said, the universally accepted dimensions within the U.S. are 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H. We’ve indicated whether each travel pack above meets these requirements in our comparison table, and REI Co-op does the same on each of their product pages. The only exception above is the Osprey Farpoint 70 , which measures 25.6 x 15 x 12.6 inches.  

Travel backpack (walking through airport)

It’s also important to call out expandable models here like the Peak Design Travel Backpack , which is carry-on compliant when compressed to 35 liters (22 x 13 x 9.5 in.) but not when expanded to its maximum 45-liter capacity (22 x 13 x 11 in.). You may be able to get away with carrying these bags onboard, but don’t count on it, especially if you’re traveling during peak season to a popular destination. When in doubt, you can always check with your airline ahead of time.  

All of the packs above are purpose-built for travel with extensive organizational layouts and thoughtfully placed pockets for separating valuables, electronics, and other accessories. That said, some layouts are more functional than others, and a final decision will largely come down to your intended use and what works best for the items that you plan to bring along. For instance, sleek options like the Peak Design Travel Backpack and Nomatic Travel Bag are great for digital nomads and remote workers who need to organize a lot of electronics, while backpacking-inspired designs like Osprey’s Farpoint and Sojourn Porter offerings have fewer tech-focused features but work great for adventure travel. We break down some of the key organizational components below, from laptop and tablet sleeves to water bottle storage and pack opening styles.  

Travel backpack (backpanel layout inside Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45)

Laptop and Tablet Sleeves Laptop storage is a requisite feature in a travel pack, and all of the picks above come with a dedicated spot to stash larger electronics. In terms of dimensions, most sleeves can accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop, and many come with separate smaller compartments in the same space for a tablet, too. This area is typically well padded to protect electronics and positioned along the backpanel for the best access and weight distribution (keeping heavier items closest to your back will help maximize comfort and balance). A couple exceptions to this rule are the Pacsafe EXP45 and Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45 , both of which have the laptop sleeve at the front of the pack and can feel a little less well balanced with heavier electronics situated farther away from your body.  

Travel backpack (pulling laptop out of the Cotopaxi Allpa)

Water Bottle Pockets Unlike laptop sleeves, side water bottle pockets aren’t a standard feature on travel packs. Some models that include them are the Topo Designs Global Travel Pack, Peak Design Travel Backpack, Osprey Farpoint 70 (on its removable daypack), Eagle Creek Tour , and Thule Aion, while the Cotopaxi Allpa and Amazon Basics Carry-On leave them out. And it’s worth noting that the Farpoint’s removable daypack is also compatible with a hydration reservoir, including a sleeve and access ports at either side for a tube (Note: This area on the daypack doubles as the laptop sleeve).   

Travel backpack (YETI Crossroads 35L water bottle pocket)

Opening Styles and Access Easy access is a hallmark of a good travel backpack. The clamshell-style opening is far and away the most popular design and for good reason: With the pack laid flat, you can easily see and access the entirety of the main compartment. Some backpack-inspired designs, like Osprey's Sojourn Porter 46 and Farpoint 70, utilize generous U-zip designs instead, which are pretty functional but make it a little harder to reach contents at the very bottom of the bags. Finally, it's important to note that some bags come with multiple access points: The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L, for instance, includes both a full wraparound zipper and “shortcut” side zip next to the backpanel for easily retrieving items while on the move.  

Travel backpack (organizing clothing in the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L)

Comfort can be somewhat subjective, but a few features help certain travel packs stand out from the rest of the market. Typically, the most comfortable designs boast shoulder straps and hipbelts with thick padding and good adjustability for dialing in fit. Sternum and load-lifter straps can also be very helpful in effectively distributing a heavy load. One brand that stands out in this area is Osprey, which makes sense given their expertise in the backpacking pack market. One of our favorite options for shuttling heavy loads over long distances is Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 , which features thick cushioning and good adjustability at the shoulders and waist belt and comes with load lifters for bringing the weight closer to your back.  

Travel backpack (revealing shoulder straps and hipbelt)

On the flip side, models without hipbelts are generally the least comfortable, especially when wearing them for extended stretches. From the list above, only the Thule Aoin doesn’t come with one, although their Aion Sling Bag (sold separately for $50) can be attached to serve as a hipbelt. Thin webbing designs—like what you get with the Amazon Basics Carry-On and Yeti Crossroads —aren’t much better, providing very little support and structure for keeping the weight of the pack on your hips (rather than your back). If you plan to be walking long distances with your pack through airports or city streets, we consider a well-padded waist belt a critical feature and worth the added investment.   

Travel backpack (standing at bus station with Cotopaxi Allpa)

The models above are designed to be worn on your back as backpacks, but many travelers appreciate the ability to carry their pack suitcase-style or over the shoulder. These options are especially helpful when standing in line to check in at the airport or retrieve travel documents. For instance, the Peak Design Travel Backpack boasts 360-degree grab handles that make it quick and easy to take the pack off and carry it one-handed through security checkpoints or narrow airplane aisles. Designs like the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L also come with detachable straps for shoulder carry, which can be helpful when you need to access items inside but want to keep the pack off the ground and remain hands-free. Finally, many of the offerings here can be secured to a roller bag via pass-through sleeves, which we cover more below.  

Travel backpacks (different ways to carry)

Other Travel Pack Features

In addition to pockets and electronics sleeves, there are a few other features specific to travel packs that are worth having on your radar. Lockable zippers are fairly standard at the mid to upper end of the market (budget designs like the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack forgo them), as are removable and/or stowable straps and compression straps or dividers to keep things tidy in the main compartment. As is common with backpacking models, some travel packs also come with built-in rain covers that stow away when not in use, including Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L and Eagle Creek’s Tour 40L. Finally, many will appreciate the ability to attach their travel pack directly to a rolling suitcase via a pass-through handle or sleeve (like what you get with Yeti Crossroads 35L and many others above).  

Travel backpack (lockable zippers on Eagle Creek Tour)

Given the inherently rough nature of travel, all of the packs above are well built and hardwearing enough to withstand frequent use. That said, some are certainly more durable than others, and looking at denier (a measurement of fabric thickness) can help differentiate between models. For instance, the Gregory Border Carry-On 40 is pretty average with a mix of 210- and 450-denier (D) materials, while the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is one of the thickest and most abrasion-resistant options on our list with a combination of 1,000D polyester and 840D ballistic nylon (Topo Designs' Global Travel Bag uses a similar combo but with 1,000D nylon and 1,680D ballistic nylon). Pacsafe’s EXP45 is another standout, with stainless steel wire mesh built into the 400D nylon body to guard against theft. At the thinner end, Matador’s GlobeRider45 uses a mix of mostly 100 and 420D fabrics, although the nylon body is coated with a PU laminate to boost weather and abrasion resistance, and Matador included reinforcements in high-wear areas.  

Travel backpack (closeup of Topo Designs Global Travel Bag exterior)

Other durability-related additions to keep an eye out for are thick padding along the interior to promote structure and protect your belongings, weather-resistant details like YKK zippers and DWR coatings on the outside to fend off precipitation, and thicker materials at the base to help protect the pack when you set it down. And we should note here that cost often correlates pretty closely with overall quality. In other words, a budget pack like the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack feels noticeably cheaper than most other options above and will likely wear down far more quickly. If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s almost certainly worth investing in a pricier and more premium option that will last.  

Travel backpack (YETI Crossroads 35L backpanel)

The weight spread isn’t huge among travel pack designs, but even a 1-pound difference may still be noticeable during long treks across town or the airport. For reference, the lightest options on our list are Eagle Creek’s Tour 40L and Topo Designs’ Global Travel Bag 30L (both 2 lb. 10 oz.), while the Osprey Farpoint 70 is the heaviest at 5 pounds 6.6 ounces. Most models fall somewhere in the middle, with the majority of 40- to 45-liter designs hovering somewhere between 3 and 4.5 pounds. In the end, weight won’t be a primary consideration for many travelers, but those backpacking through Europe or expecting to cover serious ground will probably want to shop toward the lighter end.  

Travel backpack (ordering coffee with Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

Unlike their backpacking pack counterparts, travel packs are most often only offered in a single unisex option. This can make it difficult to dial in fit, especially for those with particularly narrow or broad builds. One exception above is the Eagle Creek Tour 40L , which is offered in both S/M and M/L torso sizes, while a couple others (which we cover below) are sold in dedicated women’s models for better customizing fit. Regardless of which option you choose, we always recommend trying on multiple packs before buying to see which fits you best (or at least purchasing from a reputable manufacturer with a generous return policy). You’ll want to be sure that you can adjust the shoulder straps and waist belt to be snug around your torso and waist. Sternum straps and load lifters can also be helpful for bringing the load closer to your back to maximize comfort and weight distribution.

Travel backpack (wearing Matador GlobeRider at airport)

As we mentioned above, most travel packs are unisex by design. In fact, only one model on our list is offered in a dedicated women’s-specific version: the Osprey Fairview (the Farpoint’s counterpart). Key differences include varying colorways, minor weight variations, and slightly smaller torso and waist measurements. The Fairview also has more contoured shoulder straps and a curved hipbelt to better conform to narrower torsos/shoulders and larger hips, although the packs share an otherwise identical overall construction and feature set. Regardless of designation, we always recommend choosing the pack that fits you best.  

Travel packs (sitting at bus station)

In 2024, it’s pretty common to see pack manufacturers incorporating eco-friendly practices into production, including measures like recycled and bluesign-approved fabrics and PFAS/PFC-free DWR coatings. A couple examples include Pacsafe’s Venturesafe EXP45, which uses polyester that's made from recycled water bottles and other plastics, and Patagonia’s Black Hole Mini MLC 30L, which uses recycled and bluesign-approved (i.e., environmentally safe) polyester and is certified to the Fair Trade standard. A final feature to look out for is a PFC-free DWR coating, which forgoes the use of per- or polyfluorinated chemicals—"forever chemicals" known to be harmful to the environment. With many states stepping up to ban the sale of items that include PFCs, the outdoor industry is seeking better solutions for water- and stain-resistant finishes (for more, you can read about Patagonia’s take on the issue ).  

Travel backpack (Gregory Border Carry-On 40 closeup)

Packing your travel pack can often feel like playing a hard game of Tetris, especially for those of us who aren’t great at traveling light (this author included). To help, many of the brands above offer compatible accessories for their packs, from packing cubes to protective hard cases for electronics and more. Importantly, these add-ons are often modular and fit neatly into the main compartment of a compatible backpack. Some of our favorites include Topo Designs’ Pack Bags , Peak Design’s Packing Cubes and Tech Pouches, and Eagle Creek’s Pack-It compression cubes. In the end, these accessories aren't a necessary purchase for many travelers (and you certainly don't need to buy them from the same manufacturer as your pack), but they can go a long way toward maximizing organization and space and streamlining your load.  

Travel backpack (packing cube closeup)

The packs above make it easy and comfortable to shuttle your belongings across the globe, but not everyone needs a specialized design for travel. Duffel bags are another popular way to fly with a lot of clothing and gear, and many modern designs come with deployable backpack straps for more easily hauling through airports and around urban areas. However, duffels lack the impressive assortment of dedicated storage compartments and pockets for items like keys, passports, and electronics, are generally less comfortable to carry over long distances, and often don’t meet carry-on size requirements.  

Travel backpacks (duffel bags alternative)

Alternatively, some travelers may opt to use a standard backpacking pack . This can make a lot of sense when you’re traveling to hike, backpack, or embark on other adventures and plan to use your pack both for travel and for outdoor use when you arrive. Again, however, the lack of travel-specific features and organization options can make it harder to effectively divvy up your belongings. In the end, if you plan to fly domestically or abroad with any regularity (more than a couple times a year), we think most will find the investment in a dedicated travel pack worth it. Back to Our Top Travel Backpack Picks   Back to Our Travel Pack Comparison Table

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16 BEST Travel Backpacks – Ultimate Buyers Guide [2024]

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: March 22, 2024

Searching for the best travel backpacks for your next adventure can be challenging. But we’ve got our top recommendations laid out for you in this post so you can buy with confidence!

Living out of a backpack has never been more fun. Hell, we’ve been doing it for 15 years full-time and still love it more and more every day!

And boy have things changed since we first hit the road. Back then all we needed was a simple bag to throw some clothes in.

Now though us modern travellers have more pockets than ever to carry all our cameras, tech and everything else we can think of, which brings more ways to enjoy our time spent on the road.

But shoving your entire life inside a thin nylon canvas isn’t without its challenges.

There are so many great backpacks out there, perfect for everything from a day spent climbing mountains to a day spent walking around a new city snapping Instagrammable photographs on your selection of top cameras for travel (check out our guide to see what we personally recommend).

So where do you even begin? How do you cut through the millions of styles, brands and features to find the backpack that is perfect for you?

Never fear, fellow traveler. That’s why we’re here!

This buying guide helps navigate a crowded field and highlights the best of the best when it comes to backpacks.

The best travel backpacks make your worst days that much easier. Whether you’re late for a flight, dog-tired with a few miles left to hike or starving on the train home, tiny differences in load-bearing technologies, pocket access points, and extra space for snacks make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.

You won’t always notice it when things are going well. But there is nothing more frustrating than a bad day made worse by faulty equipment. 

Don’t let shoddy craftsmanship hamper your next adventure. Follow along and find the travel backpack best for your next grand day out.


Peak Design Travel Backpack

Ok our ‘Editor’s Choice’ has now officially changed after months of testing! Enter the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45l – Our new all-time favourite travel bag!

This backpack is packed full of thoughtful features and air travel optimisation, and is perfect if you carry a bit of camera gear and a laptop too.

With a huge main compartment, separate tech areas and 45 litres of space, this is the perfect travel companion .

Peak Design Travel Backpack

Table of Contents


Patagonia black hole tote , fjällräven ulvö, pacsafe venture safe , arc’teryx granville 16, peak design everyday camera backpack, gregory paragon 58, matador travel pack, rei trailbreak 60 , kelty red wing, osprey aether plus 70, editor’s choice: peak design travel backpack, nomatic travel bag  , osprey farpoint 40, tortuga outbreaker, loading (front or top), padded straps, weather resistance, the best travel backpack – our expert guide.

With so many different lifestyles out there, it can be hard to nail down one perfect carry. That’s where we step in.

We’ve split up the industry leaders into their specific niches and let the best bags of all sizes rise to the occasion.

We’ve carried our lives on our backs over thousands of miles and dozens of countries and judged these packs on everything from security to scalability. 

The best travel backpacks in the business all provide a lightweight, affordable price, a few storage options and comfortable features at every corner.

Beyond that, the bags on our list excelled within their specific niches to earn their spot on our list. 

Best Day Backpacks

First we’ll kick things off with day backpacks. These are smaller than your full-size travel packs, but are essential if you’re planning on doing any exploring around the city.

Even if you travel with a suitcase, we recommend you get one of these day packs so that you can keep your personal belongings with you on the plane, then have something to carry water, cameras, a jacket, etc when out walking.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the options out there.

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If the Swiss Army Knife was a backpack, it’d be the Talon 22 .

From the extra pocket in the shoulder straps to the hydration pack reservoir, every inch of this travel backpack serves a higher power.

For us, the hip belt and sternum straps set this bag apart. These straps aren’t just a few buckles. They’re legitimate, load-bearing protections that help the bag accompany you through extreme situations while skiing, biking and kayaking.

This pack lives to be on a bicycle, and no matter the sport you’ll have a tough time finding a more able companion.

It’s built to reach the summit, but you don’t have to be deep in the woods to reap the benefits of this pack. The Airscape breathability ensures that no matter where you’re going, you won’t show up too sweaty.

The Talon 22 takes the comfort and packability of larger backpacking bags and shrinks them down to a size perfect for the day.

  • Hip belt and sternum straps
  • Comfortable on the back of a bike
  • Fits snugly underneath an aeroplane seat
  • Slightly small for a laptop
  • Expensive per litre

Men With Backpacks

Patagonia pumped out a bag as light as air made from 100% recycled nylon. This flexible behemoth can bend, twist, and be carried in one hand or over your shoulders.

You can stuff it down inside your larger luggage and arrive ready to hit the town.

Once unfurled, this hefty tote can support a surprising 27 litres whichever way you feel like it.

On days you’re ready to tote, tuck away the shoulder straps and start swinging.

A bag trying to carry this much in an ultralight shell can be a risky proposition, but with the Patagonia brand behind the construction, you know you’re getting an environmentally conscious and incredibly durable product.

And of course, they took care of the details. We’d love to see a hip belt on this bag, but it’s ultralight first so don’t expect much of a suspension system.

A true difference maker is the zippered exterior pocket that comfortably holds everything you need to get through security. That pocket elevates this bag from a sack into a minimalist day pack suitable as a carry on bag.

  • A stuffable bag that expands up to 27 litres
  • Three different carrying options
  • Comes with water bottle pockets and laptop storage
  • No frame support
  • The main compartment is a bit of a black hole

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The Ulvö stands out thanks to its Bergshell material. Its 400D rating is one of the highest in the industry.

And the shell provides enough weather protection to get your electronics through a surprise shower intact.

You don’t need to take our word for it, just look around! The familiar fox is a famous look amongst high-budget travellers, becoming so popular it can be hard to believe the travel backpack provides real value.

We’re here today to quell those fears! Fjällräven is much more than good marketing.

They take sustainability seriously by cutting their carbon footprint wherever they can and building travel backpacks meant to last. Two separate layers of recycled nylon yarn provide the highest tear resistance in the industry.

Don’t decide between style and function, get you a bag that does both.

  • Surprisingly water resistant
  • Scratch-proof recycled materials
  • Stable enough to run with
  • You’ll have to pay a little more for the name brand
  • Not many exterior pockets

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Meandering through crowded marketplaces is a great way to discover hidden gems, but not everyone showed up to haggle.

Wearing a typical travel backpack on foreign streets is going to draw some unwanted attention. That’s where the PacSafe Venturesafe checks in.

Some call it the Fort Knox of the travel backpack industry. Others simply call it home.

Wearing a front-loading safe on your back and take your security into your own hands.

These reinforcements certify the Pac safe as one of the best anti-theft business travel backpack options, but the bag has a surprising amount of outdoor-ready features.

You’ll find space for a hydration pack or reservoir and a breathable mesh back that keeps the temperature down. All the locking mechanisms make the bag a touch heavy for the summit. But it’s certainly no slouch.

You don’t have to be loaded down with valuables to benefit from extra security. Pacsafe stays low-key while protecting every corner so your backpack won’t stand out in a crowd, and won’t unzip without a key.

  • Cut-proof meshing
  • Double-covered with lockable zippers
  • Frequently voted best travel backpack for women with security concerns
  • Only one way to carry
  • Not many Pac Safe options larger than 30 litres

Arcteryx Granville

It can be hard enough to find a few partners willing to march through the muck, let alone find a laptop travel backpack that can handle all weather.

There are many daypacks out there that talk about their water-resistant nylon, but there are few bags that can say they are a truly waterproof backpack for travel.

The Granville 16 makes as good of a case as anyone.

This bag is storm-ready, and some users even call it bulletproof. Its weather resistance and ripstop technology mean it might survive a hailstorm in better shape than you could.

There’s no point in taking risks with the gear you could use every day. Arx’Teryx is one of the first names in weatherproofing and durability, so you can expect these backpacks to get the job done for a decade.

It’s just barely big enough to stow a laptop and brings a sternum strap to share the load. And every inch of this backpack has taped critical seams and water-tight pockets, so you can keep your phone, wallet, and keys close by in a storm.

Don’t waste precious seconds searching for your keys to get dry, and don’t stress about a surprise shower ruining your laptop, thanks to the handy laptop sleeve. Use this tough travel pack and go about your business with peace of mind.

  • Best water-resistant pack out there
  • Large enough for a laptop
  • Outer shell protects against cuts and scrapes
  • Only one large main compartment
  • No water bottle pocket

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Our final day pack is the best travel backpack for anyone who wants to keep their toys close by at all times.

There is no other travel camera backpack on the market that wants to serve the needs of modern digital nomads quite like Peak Design .

Perhaps that’s because this bag, and all of Peak Design’s’ products, were crowdfunded.

Over 13,000 people donated, suggested, and participated in the design process, and the result is magnificent.

You can totally transform your travel bag with three moveable dividers. Take them all out for a 20L laundry bag, set them up to comfortably organize camera gear, or keep your smelly shoes away from your work clothes.

This comfortable pack holds some serious weight. You can find a few different size options depending on your gear haul.

But even on the smallest size, there’s more than enough space for a DSLR camera, 3-4 lenses and a laptop.

And, most importantly of all, all of this performance comes from completely recycled materials. 400D nylon fabric will keep your bag’s interior dry through small storms.

This updated 2nd generation model implemented even more sustainable fabrics and improved straps based on user reviews.

Peak Design promise that these subtle changes will make the pack last for decades, allowing you plenty of time to maximise the insane potential of such a customizable day bag.

  • Plenty of storage options
  • Roll-top allows you to modify the size
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Unwieldy sternum strap
  • MagLatch is not easy to trust

Man Backpack Sunset

Best Backpack for Long-Term Travel

If you’re the kind of traveller that prefers to carry all their gear on their back rather than in a suitcase, then you’ll need something a bit larger than the ones we listed above.

That’s where these backpacks come in!

Keep your gear safe and your back strong with these high quality backpacks for long-term travel.

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Bring forty pounds of your favourite necessities with you on your next journey, no matter how far you are from the nearest baggage check.

The top-loading wide-mouth Paragon bag provides several key zippered access points that allow you to dig out your sweatshirt at the bottom of your bag without completely unpacking.

Six external pockets and several different looping connectors allow you to clip on solar panels, dirty boots or your sleeping pad to the outside of your pack.

And a reinforced waist belt makes sure you don’t feel all that extra weight directly on your lower back. No matter what weight you’re carrying, Gregory’s Free Float Suspension system and alloy fibreglass perimeter frame will take the load off.

Any backpack you plan on living out of has to hold all your gear and handle the weather. This pack, with its included rain cover, is a shining example of a great middle-class travel backpack.

It’s technically advanced, affordable, and comfortable enough to suit almost any trip.

  • Reinforced carrying straps
  • Affordable price
  • Comes with a daypack
  • Not very water-resistant without the rain fly
  • The day pack is just a drawstring

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Matador made this lightweight travel backpack for minimalists who want to live out of one bag and one bag only.

The bag features built-in packing cubes and segmented interior sections so you can turn your 40L backpack into a portable closet.

It’s one of the largest bags on our list that is still carry-on compliant, and the exterior laptop compartment will stow everything you need to get through the flight within easy reach.

Trying to live out of one travel backpack can get chaotic, fast. Matador has triumphantly offered up an easy to pack solution.  

Anyone looking to really shed weight can use the five individual segments and a laptop sleeve to make the most out of 40L travel. And the quick access pockets at the top and bottom of the pack are a perfect size to stow everything you need to get through security.

Minimalist adventurers who already have a packable backpack may find this is the best backpack for travel carry on size.

  • Five storage compartments
  • Powerful D rating and waterproofing
  • Several carrying options
  • Not great for long walks
  • Storage compartments have been known to run together

Rei Trail Break

The REI Co-op has produced top-quality products that reach every corner of life outside. So it’s no surprise to find one of the best travel backpacks on their shelves for a low price.

Our favourite affordable hiking backpack is the REI Trailbreak , which has a versatile fit that helps hikers grow alongside their bag.

Whether you’re gearing up for your first trip or 50th, you’ll find great value in the roomy main compartment and plethora of stash pockets.

The main attraction amongst the stash pockets is the oversized top lid, which can store all your personal items and then some.

Anything you buy from REI comes with one of the best return policies in the business, so these packs become an even safer choice for a burgeoning explorer.

The low price point and lack of commitment mean you can try out the bag for a few weekends and see if it’s right for your adventures.

  • Most affordable backpacking pack on our list
  • Adjusts to fit most bodies
  • Best return policy in the business
  • Not many special features

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We call this no-frills budget backpack the vagabond special. For good reason, the Kelty Red Wing is the bag of choice for hitchhikers, train hoppers, and rubber tramps of all ages.

The obvious reason for this bag’s popularity is the low price. But take a look beyond the surface, and you’ll be surprised about everything these hiking backpacks are capable of.

Just at the edge of ultra-lightweight rating, comfortable form-fitting straps and loads of zippered pockets allow you to fully customize your experience.

The ergonomic storage space inside these packs can have you packing for multiple week adventures all within an internal back panel frame.

This variety of features and affordable price has earned the bag a reputation as a jack of all trades. It’s not the most advanced option on the market, and Kelty doesn’t add on loads of comfort features.

But this pack has proven to last for years of wandering and will be beloved by anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of inconvenience to save a few bucks.

  • Cheapest bag on our list
  • Straps built to last
  • Seven different pockets
  • The smallest size that is too large for carry-on
  • Only one way to access the main compartment

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The granddaddy of them all, and the backpack of choice for the owners of NOMADasaurus for the last few years, the Aether series is Osprey’s largest line of travel backpacks.

At its largest size, the Aether is 100 Liters, but hopefully, you’ll never be needed a travel bag that big. 70 litres is good enough for most people, especially when each litre was this well thought out.

A bag this large requires quite the suspension system.

It starts and ends with Osprey’s signature Airscape series that keeps some space between your body and the back panel and plenty of form-fitting options. Designers didn’t just think good thoughts about the Aether model, they sprung into action, creating a top pocket that works as a removable daypack.

This day pack isn’t just a glorified piece of plastic. It’s a bonafide carry on size travel backpack, day trip extraordinaire and hiking companion.

Each water bottle pocket can fit an average bottle of water and a small can of bear spray at the same time, so be careful what you grab when you stop for a drink.

With 70L’s of efficiency, versatility, and load-bearing support systems, these are the best travel backpacks for getting lost deep in the woods.

  • Comes with a removable daypack
  • Tons of torso adjustment options
  • Can hold loads up to 60 lbs
  • Too big for a carry-on
  • Most expensive bag on our list

Man Hiking With Backpack

Best Carry-on Backpack for Travel

Take it from a couple who have been travelling the world for 13 years full-time – Carry-on luggage is the best.

Unless we’re going on a serious hiking expedition, or travelling to a winter destination where we need to pack specialist clothes, we always go with carry-on.

Saves time (and cost) at the airport, easier to navigate around towns and just much more manageable in every way, these are our personal recommendations for the best carry on backpacks for travel.

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Our last backpack built to conquer air travel can stretch out over 15 litres to provide anywhere from 30-45 Litres of storage, so don’t stuff it full if you’re flying budget!

No matter where you’re travelling, lockable zippers and plenty of easy access points make the Peak Design travel backpack worth the investment.

A muted grey exterior cap off this carry on travel backpack that is best suited for use as your only travel bag on quick trips.

The front-loading compartment can be accessed without taking off your shoulder straps if you just need to get out some paperwork and lock it shut once you’re through digging around inside.

Peak design travel gear started off to create modern camera equipment, but they just couldn’t help themselves from taking a deep dive into the backpack industry. Now, they have top products for everyday, travel, and professional use.

As their best backpack for air travel, this bag plays a pivotal role in the company. It’s one of the largest backpacks Peak Design produces and the clever use of space has earned the travel backpack several awards over the years.

This backpack knows better than anyone how important versatility is in your travel gear.

Read our full Peak Design Travel Backpack Review

  • Up to 15L of removable storage space
  • Everything from Peak Design Travel is made to handle modern equipment
  • Enough space for a weekend trip
  • Too heavy for long walks
  • At its largest size it could be rejected as carry-on

Peak Design Travel Backpack Jarryd Walking

There are a lot of travel backpacks out there you can carry onto a plane, but, until recently, there were few that were up to the job.

Nomatic took one look at that gap in the travel industry and filled it beautifully with this versatile travel companion.

Nomatic combed the guidelines and regulations of TSA and built a backpack that gets around those rules to give you more on our travel days.

The bag stays functional long after going through security. Take advantage of the padded laptop sleeve and anti-theft tablet storage spaces with quick access points, and use the cord pass through’s to give them a spot of juice without unpacking.

Once you’ve made it to paradise, this travel bag really starts showing off. An included laundry bag and shoe compartment help keep everything fresh and organized even if you’re checking in to a new place every night.

And like any good bag should, Nomatic has your back if you get caught in the rain. The weather-resistant tarp will give you enough time to get to cover while keeping your electronics dry.

That’s not even half of the impressive features that make this the best backpack for business travel.

  • Weather-resistant
  • Secret access back panel
  • Built to bend carry-on backpack rules to your will
  • Won’t work on challenging terrain

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We needed a modern solution for modern camera gear, and Wandrd finally found an easy to pack and carry answer.

To build a backpack ready for tomorrow, Wandrd put pockets anywhere they could find space . Even the back panel has a secret opening that brings a great cover to your passport or sensitive documents.

Stealthy and customizable, this carry-on travel backpack can bend and stretch with your needs and is capable of storing anywhere from 21 to 31 litres.

Your water bottle pocket is large enough to carry a tripod, and three main compartments sort your gear for travelling around the world. An optional camera cube fits snugly into the bottom of the pack and will have every piece of your set-up ready for action.

Because of its slim max capacity, PRVKE doesn’t provide much shoulder padding or waist straps. Instead, this bag hopes to be the best camera backpack for travel and to make your life so easy you’ll spend less time standing in line and more time relaxing at your destination.

  • Built to handle camera equipment
  • Your bag can be as small or large as you need it to be
  • Your gear will survive a rainstorm
  • The magnetic clasp is not the strongest
  • Not the most comfortable shoulder strap

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Osprey backpacks are always a safe choice. You don’t have to be heading out on an outdoor adventure to take advantage of this company’s commitment to sustainability, durability, and detail.

And you don’t have to buy a technical hiking pack to get the product guarantee.

Tackle the urban jungle with the same ease as Osprey brings to outdoor adventures with the Osprey Farpoint travel backpack.

Why choose a carry on backpack from an adventure sports company? Comfort.

Osprey’s compression straps and Airscape system are built to carry the load off your back while you put in serious miles, and they make their travel backpacks with those same protections. You won’t find many comfier backpacks this carry on friendly.

Ergonomic and compact, the Osprey Farpoint wants to be the perfect companion for one-bag travel. A large zippered compartment opens up like a suitcase and makes everything in your bag easy to access, and a front-facing laptop compartment never gets buried by sweaters.

If 40L travel isn’t quite enough, the Farpoint 40’s big brother, Farpoint 65, is the best backpack with wheels for travel, coming with carrying handles and increased portability at the cost of carry-on compliance.

  • You can tuck away any unnecessary straps
  • Blends hiking backpack comfort with carry-on travel bag convenience
  • Opens up like a suitcase
  • The main compartment can squish the front compartment
  • Not comfortable on long hikes

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

It’s a favourite laptop backpack for travel that can pack a ton of stuff inside a nonchalant frame that fits every adventure .

A padded laptop compartment just wasn’t good enough for Tortuga, so they added on an extra layer of foam that absorbs contact and helps keep everything in place.

To help further, the travel backpack’s interior spits into six smaller compartments.

Four work together to hold your clothes, cords, toiletries and accessories, and two are specifically designed for electronics.

In every pocket and the laptop sleeve, you’ll find that same luxurious foam that will bring a splash to your carry on travel. Some of these pockets simply serve as a replacement for packing cubes or plastic bags, while others help the Tortuga Outbreaker become even more carry-on friendly.

The best carry on backpack makes sure everything is easy to access. So Tortuga found a perfect place for everything.

You can even find some free space for camera gear and keep a pack of gum in your waist belt pockets. Built by a digital nomad for digital nomads, this travel pack works with its luxurious laptop compartment to bring carry on travel into the 21st century.

  • Built for laptop travel
  • Choose between 35 and 45-litre models
  • Main compartment splits into 6 separate storage spaces
  • Not enough versatility to use as an everyday pack
  • No padding on shoulder straps

Carry On Backpack For Travel North Face

Choosing the Best Travel Backpack

So how exactly did we come up with this list of the best travel backpacks for carry-on and long-term travel?

Well, besides over a decade of experience, we put them all to the test and broke down our ultimate criteria of designs, features and must-haves to ensure they all suit our needs.

Some of our bags may cater to the same crowds, but no two are serving up the same specs across the board.

Modern travellers have more options than ever, and that fact rings especially true when deciding how to store your camping essentials.

Ideally, you’ll have different storage options that fill different niches. But none of us has the closet space or budget for everything on the road.

The best bag for a business trip won’t be the same as the best travel pack, so we’ve got to build out a range of options that suits our agendas.

READ MORE: Before you hit the road, study our guide of the best travel tips so you don’t make any mistakes out there!

Your pack will be going everywhere you do, and their role is to make sure your belongings get there in good shape rain or shine.

Any bag made for a digital nomad or nomadic traveller should last a decade.

Most key durability features don’t jump off the page at first glance but keep the travel backpack squarely across your shoulders year after year.

Synthetic materials like nylon, canvas or polyesters are great indicators that your backpack is built to last.

Shoppers interested in a durable backpack first should look at a travel backpack for the great outdoors.

This category of backpacks utilises the lightest and strongest materials on the market to qualify for more rugged adventures.

Man Hiking In Mountains

Your bag will employ some combination of nylon, polyester and canvas. Canvas is the heaviest of the three, but also the most durable.

Nylon coated in polyurethane is a great synthetic material to aim for when shopping. Polyester’s main claim to fame is holding strong against the sun.

Front-loading backpacks are easier to access and pack. But a front-loading bag will also be harder to carry at a heavy load.

Top loading backpacks can sometimes end up as black holes with all your gear stuffed in one large compartment.

But with enough packing cubes and taking advantage of the laptop compartment, you can still find somewhat easy access.

Front loading is better on a smaller bag while top-loading is better for larger suspension system needs.

Top loaders are also the go-to for hiking and mountaineering adventures.

It’s always important to think about comfort when shopping for travel. Any bag worthy long walks will include a hip belt, sternum straps and superior comfort across all straps.

Padded straps provide lumbar support for heavy-duty suspension systems. Thick cushions on the hip belt and easy-to-adjust torso length systems will make sure the pack fits just right.

Bag With Mountains

Well-thought-out external pockets, water bottle holders and easy-access top pockets to keep your bus pass or tickets handy is practically a requirement for many carry-on backpacks, everyday carry options, and hiking expeditions.

Bags ready to take on outdoor activities should have a few water bottle pockets at the bare minimum.

The best carry-on backpacks should take things a few steps further, with plenty of efficient external pockets. That allows you to keep your travel documents within quick reach.

The larger your bag gets, the more important each pocket becomes. If you’re shopping for one bag that can work as the best travel backpack for Europe, you should equip pockets that work in your favour.

One-bag backpackers know that the key to getting the most out of your bag is organising well, and the best way to do that is through tons of different pockets.

There is one true king of the zipper industry: YKK . The Japanese manufacturers didn’t invent the technology but the entire industry believes they have perfected it.

Any best travel backpack for men should include YKK zippers.

Not only will your backpack protect your gear, but also your lower back. You’ll feel every single sock at the end of a long day.

So a good pack that takes the pressure off your muscles and meets you halfway can prove to be a lifesaver.

Any two shoulder straps will get you to a quick rendevous. But a backpack best built for serious walking needs a snug fit.

This is largely achieved through compression straps that are highly adjustable, a hip belt and padding in all the right places.

The best men’s travel backpack and the best women’s travel backpack will have varying litres of capacity and subtle differences that finish off a snug fit.

You may not think a few minute differences in the wearability of a pack really matters. And it might not, until mile 20.

Packs that allow you to adjust your shoulder, hip, and torso lengths will help your backpack grow with you throughout the decades.

Man Hiking With Travel Backpack

If you spend enough time wandering, you’re bound to hit some foul weather. A carry on backpack may not need to worry too much about rain delays. But any pack heading outside for long periods of time should probably include a rain cover.

A deployable rain cover will come with most backpacking backpacks in its own built-in pocket.

If your travel backpack comes without coverage, it’s easy enough to find an aftermarket poncho protector.

Some bags take weather resistance a step further by building taped seams over YKK zippers or utilizing synthetic water-resistant materials.

There are very few situations where weather resistance shouldn’t come into consideration when choosing your travel backpack.

Even the best rolling backpack for travel should have some waterproofing capability. If a bag is big enough to have wheels it’s big enough to check from time to time.

We’ve picked up too many soaked bags to risk travel without a weather resistant or waterproof backpack

Any great travel pack holds enough to get you through a day at the beach, on the slopes, in the woods or downtown.

A bag built for security will take things a step further by adding lockable zippers, knife-proof wire mesh and RFID blocking pockets that further protects your backpack.

Whether you’re hoping to head off into the woods, unknown countries, or unmatched heights, your perfect travel backpack is somewhere on this list.

Our editor’s choice for its versatility and eye-popping features, the Nomatic Travel Bag just might be that bag.

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

How to Choose & Buy the Right Travel Backpack

Last Updated: September 12, 2023

picking the right travel backpack

Picking the right travel backpack is an important part in planning your trip. Pick a bag that’s too big and you’ll have too much extra weight to carry around. Too small and you’ll never fit all your stuff in the thing! Pick the wrong material and your stuff will be soaked when it rains.

These days, there are so many backpacks out there that it can be confusing to know how to pick the right one. But there’s actually a science to knowing what the best travel backpack is — and how to pick it!

When I first started traveling, I spent weeks picking out my first travel backpack. I tried on dozens, did hours of online research, and tested them in the store to get a feel for what they would be like.

It was a time-consuming process. However, that research paid off though as my first backpack lasted me 8 years.

In fact, the only reason I bought a new backpack was because an airline lost that bag. Otherwise, that backpack would still be around today.

There are many travel backpacks in the world — and even more places where you can purchase one.

How do you pick the best backpack for traveling?

Today, I’m going to teach you how.

To save you hours upon hours of research, I’m going to lay out all the good qualities a backpack should have, the best backpack brands, and where you can buy them so can save yourself hours of time and simply purchase one knowing it’s amazing and going to last forever.

Table of Contents

  • What to Look for in a Good Backpack
  • Does Size Matter?
  • Backpack or Suitcase?
  • How Much Should I Spend?
  • My Favorite Travel Backpacks

Where to Buy Your Travel Backpack

What to look for in a good travel backpack.

Here’s a video of me dissecting my backpack and going over what I look for when picking the best backpacks for travel:

Don’t want to watch the video? No problem! Here’s a summary of it and how you can pick the best travel backpack for your trip:

The best backpacks — the ones that last the longest and stay in good condition no matter how much you abuse them — have all the following characteristics that make them durable, long-lasting, and weatherproof. Don’t get a backpack that doesn’t check off all the boxes on this list:

1. Water-Resistant Material

While your pack does not need to be 100% waterproof (unless you’re going on a long multi-day hike), make sure your bag is made out of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn’t get wet in a drizzle (most travel backpacks come with covers you can put over them in case of a severe downpour).

Moreover, make sure the material won’t stay wet long and thereby get musty. I look for material that is thick but lightweight. Treated nylon fiber is really good. You should be able to pour a cup of water over it without the insides getting wet. I’m not traveling a lot during torrential downpours or monsoons, but I have been caught in small rainstorms before. Because my backpack is made out of good material, I’ve never opened my bag to find wet clothes.

2. Lockable Zippers

Make sure each compartment has two zippers so you can lock them together. While I am not really worried about people breaking into my bag and stealing my dirty clothes in a hostel, I like locking up my bag when I am traveling. I’m always paranoid that someone is going to put something in my bag or that a grabby baggage handler in an airport is going to take my stuff.

When purchasing locks, make sure the package says they are TSA-friendly locks. These locks have a special release valve that allows the TSA to open the lock without breaking it so they can check your bag. You can purchase TSA locks at any large retail store, such as Target or Walmart.

If you’re extra concerned about security (such as if you’re a photographer that carries a lot of expensive equipment), you should consider getting a Pacsafe bag ). These bags are specifically designed with security in mind, and have a ton of features to ensure that your bag isn’t broken into or swiped.

3. Multiple Compartments

A good bag must have multiple compartments. This allows you to sort your belongings into smaller sections so it’s easier to find the stuff you need. For example, my clothes are in the main compartment of my bag, my umbrella and flip-flops in the top, and my shoes in a separate side compartment (that way they don’t get everything dirty). It saves having to dig around your bag. And while any bag you purchase should have multiple compartments, also pay attention to specialty compartments that might be important to you, such as a laptop sleeve or external water bottle pocket.

For added organization, purchase some packing cubes . They can keep your bag organized — even if you have multiple compartments.

4. Padded Hip belt

Most of the weight you will be carrying around will be pushing down on your hips, so you’ll want a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable. The belt will help provide support and distribute the load more evenly on your back, causing less strain. The hip belt should also be adjustable so you can tighten it for extra support. Look for a bag that has zippered pockets in the hip belt too for easy access. These pockets are good for loose change, bus passes, and other small things you need quick access to.

5. Padded Shoulder Straps

These make carrying your load more comfortable, as the weight of your pack will also be pushing down 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 up of a single piece of material as it will be less likely to split and thin out.

The best way to test this out is to visit a store and try the bag on. Have a staff member load the bag with things so you can see how it feels on your shoulders when fully weighted.

6. Contoured/Padded Back

A lumbar-shaped pack makes carrying it more comfortable, as it helps distributes weight more evenly (the same principle applies as is used in contoured chairs). It allows for a more natural arch to ensure no back pain. Moreover, this type of pack creates a small space between your back and the bag, allowing air to move through and help keep you slightly cool (lugging your bag around can work up a sweat!).

7. Front Loading

A front-loading backpack is one 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 (especially if it is at the bottom of your bag) really difficult. Always get a backpack that is “front loading” so you have easy access to all your gear.

The Best Travel Backpacks: Does Size Matter?

One of my most frequently asked questions about backpacks is about size. Everyone wants to know what the perfect size is. No one backpack size is better than another. What matters is that your backpack should be proportional to your body — that might mean a backpack that is 40 liters or 60 liters.

If your backpack is too big or too small, the weight won’t be balanced properly and will cause back pain or maybe even make you topple over. You don’t want a skyscraper rising up from your back, but you also don’t want a pack that is clearly too small and overflowing with your stuff.

You want a backpack that is big enough to hold just a bit more than the stuff you are bringing and not more than that. Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring everything but the kitchen sink when packing for your trip . Besides the essentials like your passport, wallet, and phone, it’s not hard to find the things you need on the road. I like to carry enough clothes for 7-10 days, do laundry, then repeat. There’s no need to bring a lot of stuff when you can just wash what you have.

If a backpack fits everything you want, has a bit of extra room, and feels comfortable, then you have found the perfect backpack size. Manufacturers also have suggested torso and waist sizes for each model they produce, but I’ve found that the best way to know if a backpack feels right is to simply try it on.

When you are at the store (and any good camping/outdoors store will do this), they should be able to stuff your backpack with the equivalent of 30 pounds (15 kilograms) so you can see how that much weight feels on your back.

It’s important to remember that the bigger your backpack is, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to carry it on the airplane. Additionally, since you can’t bring liquids in containers larger than three ounces on airplanes if your bag has soap and liquids in it, you’ll be forced to check the bag. Most baggage sizes are 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels so if you get a backpack with those dimensions, you’ll be able to carry on. This is roughly 40-45L (depending on the brand and shape). If you want to fly carry-on only, aim for a 40-45L bag.

You generally won’t 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. Even though my bag fits in the overhead bin, I often have to check it when flying a budget airline.  

The Eternal Question: Should you Buy a Backpack or Suitcase?

I have a confession: I hate suitcases for long trips. If you’re traveling around the world, your luggage is going to get thrown about and piled high on buses in random countries. It will get used and abused and it’s simply hard to walk up hills and stairs with your suitcase bumping everywhere. Try carrying a suitcase up five flights of stairs in a tiny hotel in Italy! It’s a pain!

Suitcases are great for weekends away or if you’ll be staying in one 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, it is far better to have a proper backpack. They are simply more versatile, easier to carry up flights of stairs, pack into tight places, and overall, they just make life simpler. I don’t need to pick them up when getting on the escalator or drag them up a flight of stairs or across cobblestone streets.

Backpacks just make more sense, which is why this page is devoted to them and not suitcases.

If you have back problems and can’t use a backpack, a smaller suitcase with wheels and a long handle can be a good substitute. It will still be difficult carrying it up and down stairs, and annoying as you roll it across uneven sidewalks, but there are many companies that make fairly good and lightweight travel cases.

Additionally, you can get a hard backpack with wheels that’s sort of a hybrid between the two so you can get the best of both worlds. (However, my personal preference is for a backpack so we’re going to talk about that!)  

Travel Backpacks: How Much Should a Backpack Cost?

Backpack prices depend a lot on size, fabric, and brand. Most backpacks cost between $99–300 USD. The medium-sized store brands generally cost around $199 USD. Store brands are cheaper than big-name brands like North Face, Osprey, and Gregory.

I don’t believe that any backpack is worth more than $300 USD, no matter how nice it is. These expensive backpacks tend to be large and have more bells and whistles, special padding, and material than you really need as a traveler.

Additionally, don’t limit yourself to whether a backpack is labeled as a “hiking” or “camping” or “travel” backpack. Buying a backpack that was meant to be used in the Rockies instead of the streets of New Zealand doesn’t matter.

Hiking-specific backpacks usually are more rugged-looking and have outdoor-specific features (such as straps for attaching camping and other gear), while the new generation of “travel packs” are usually sleeker-looking and designed for the modern urban digital nomad with a focus on organization.

You should aim to spend between $100–250 USD on a backpack.  

The Best Travel Backpacks: My 8 Favorite Packs

Osprey Farpoint 40

There are a lot of camping stores out there. Here are the best places to buy a backpack:

  • REI – This is my favorite outdoor store. They have amazing service, knowledgable staff, cool events, and the best refund policy ever. This is a place that cares.
  • EMS – Another great outdoor store with a wide selection of bags, great places, and friendly staff.
  • MEC (Canada) – The REI of Canada is the best place to buy a backpack if you’re Canadian.
  • GO Outdoors (UK) – The REI of the UK is the best place to buy a backpack if you’re a UK resident.

REI Backpacks

The quality of their products has made me an REI customer for life. I buy all my travel gear there — from daypacks to bug spray to tents to sleeping bags. Additionally, I love REI’s one-year warranty and return policy. I know if something goes wrong, I can take the gear back — even after I’ve used it!

Buying a backpack for your trip is going to be a time-consuming process. You’ll need to try a lot on. If possible, head to your nearest outdoor store to try the bags on. You can get input and advice from the store’s staff, who will be able to answer any and all questions you have about your backpack. They can walk you through the proper fitting process too.

Conversely, you can also just get a bunch sent to your house, load them with all your gear, and try them on to see what one feels right. That way you will know exactly how the bag fits when you have your gear in it, not padding in the store. Return the others (so make sure to check the return policy before purchasing).

However, this process doesn’t need to be too painful if you follow the rules laid out in this post. If you do, you’ll find the perfect travel backpack for your trip in no time at all!

And it will be a backpack that will last you years and years and years!

READ NEXT —-> What to pack on your trip (For women travelers, click here .)

P.S. If you found this article helpful, consider using this link to purchase your bag (whatever brand you go with). The small commission helps me keep the website community supported free from sponsored content.


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travelling the world in a backpack

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How To Choose The

Best Travel Backpack

The minimalist's guide to selecting a carry-on backpack for one bag travel.

  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Our Picks
  • 04. Function
  • 05. Aesthetic
  • 06. Conclusion

Fitting your life into one bag is no small task. We’re here to help.

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Best Travel Backpacks

Click to learn more about why we love these top picks.

  • 9.2/10: Aer Travel Pack 3 (Best for one bag travel)
  • 9.1/10: GORUCK GR2 (40L) (Best for rugged adventures)
  • 8.9/10: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L (Best for travel photographers)
  • 8.8/10: TOM BIHN Synik 30 (Best for built-in organization)
  • 8.6/10: Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L (Best for suitcase-like organization)
  • 8.5/10: TOM BIHN Techonaut 30 (Best for multiple carry modes)
  • 8.3/10: ULA Equipment Dragonfly (Best for lightweight carry)
  • 8.3/10: Able Carry Max Backpack (Best for daypack-like feel)
  • 8.2/10: Osprey Farpoint 40 (Best for budget travelers)
  • 8.2/10: Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Bag (Best for business travelers)
  • 8.0/10: EVERGOODS Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35) (Best for carry comfort)
  • 7.6/10: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L (Best built-in packing cubes)
  • 7.5/10: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack (Best for showing a little personality)

See all reviews: Travel Backpacks

How to Select The Best Backpack for One Bag Travel

There’s something so freeing about traveling with only one bag. All of your important stuff is within arm’s reach, and it forces you to cut down on many of life’s seemingly necessary consumer goods that you can probably live without. With one bag, you easily glide from location to location, always having just enough but never too much.

Digital Nomad Packing List ATP Tom

Choosing the perfect travel backpack for one bag travel can be a challenging endeavor. There are so many brands and models to choose from with varying degrees of durability, price, and try-on-ability (we made this word up for trying something out before buying it online). Add varying views and opinions into the mix from folks with different values, needs, and body types—and you’ve got a veritable clusterf*ck of options to wade through. Whether you’re a new traveler gearing up for your first trip, a digital nomad going through a “sell-all-my-stuff-and-put-it-in-a-backpack” phase, or somewhere in between, it’s essential to have the best travel backpack that works for you.

Here’s the bottom line: There is no “best” backpack that is perfect for every traveler in every scenario. However, we believe everyone can find a pack that’s perfect for their unique needs. In this guide, we’ll break down the factors we think are most important when choosing the ideal one-bag travel backpack for you.

This guide is written and informed by Pack Hacker staff, many of whom are frequent travelers and digital nomads. That means we’re using and testing these products every day to better understand what’s available out there and how each bag may appeal to different types of travelers.

If you’d rather skip all this info and get straight to the backpacks we’ve reviewed, you can take a look at our highest-rated travel backpack list in the next section, or all of our Travel Backpack Reviews . We’re constantly updating this list as we review and rate new bags frequently.

Is It Better To Travel With a Backpack or Suitcase?

We’ve found that backpacks give you much greater mobility. You can breeze through airports. You’ll never stand around a baggage carousel after a long haul again. And as long as your pack is carry-on size compliant, you’ll never lose your luggage, ever. Depending on your travel style and what you’re hauling, it comes down to your personal preference—both roller luggage and backpacks can be good options. In this guide, we’ll focus on travel backpacks for a couple of reasons:

They Feel Freeing

You’ve got both of your hands-free, and you’re not constantly dragging something behind you. No matter what terrain you’re walking on, you’ll never have the annoyance of loud or unsteady wheels behind you from standard travel luggage. Sure, roller bags work like a charm on smooth airport and hotel floors, but how about the winding cobblestone roads of Paris or a sandy beach in Ko Pha Ngan? You can traverse almost any terrain when you’re wearing a backpack.

Best Travel Backpack | Traveling with the Osprey Farpoint 40 in India.

Travel Backpacks are Versatile & Usually Lightweight

If you pack light enough, you can comfortably have all of your belongings with you at once . Did you arrive earlier than your hotel or Airbnb check in? No problem, just take your pack around with you for the day—no need to stop by and drop your luggage off. Versatility at its finest.

We can’t necessarily guarantee the pack will be lightweight if you fill it up with a bunch of heavy stuff (like camera gear), so we made a Travel Camera Guide too 🙂.

They Provide Flexibility

You’ll take up less room on the airplane or in public transit. You’ll generally feel more agile vs needing to drag around rolly luggage, with the added benefit of not looking like an out-of-place tourist. It caters to a more adventurous lifestyle by always being ready to go. And, you can easily catch that train that’s about to depart without awkwardly side-running with a roller bag or two.

Heimplanet Travel Pack 28L (V2) in Cambridgeshire, England

Utilizing a Backpack in Travel Contexts

In this guide, we’re going for travel versatility. We want you to look good carrying these bags around in an urban environment and have the flexibility to head out on a hike for a couple of days of camping without having your backpack ruined by the elements. If you’ve got a piece of roller luggage, it’s going to be hard to do that spontaneous half-day trek on the trail to the neighboring city you’ve been wanting to check out. Likewise, if you’re going to post up at a coffee shop for a day of office work, you’re going to look out of place with a bulky, multi-colored hiking bag. The packs mentioned in this article will blend into most city environments and are durable enough to withstand the abuse of longer excursions.

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Some of our top-rated bags for your travel backpack consideration.

Aer Travel Pack 3 Review

The Aer Travel Pack 3 takes some of our favorite travel backpack features and puts them into one bag: helpful load lifters, easy-to-engage compression straps, and easy access to different compartments. It has Aer’s sleek signature style and is made with quality materials like CORDURA® ballistic nylon and YKK zippers, which add a ton of durability and make this a reliable bag that can withstand extended travel. In fact, this is one of our highest-rated bags and a Pack Hacker Pick because of how it’s held up on trips across the U.S., Thailand, South Korea, and more.

The organization is streamlined for easy packing, and it even includes a hidden pocket where you can tuck a smart tracker—a great feature for keeping track of your bag if it’s stolen or gets lost in transit. The harness system is super comfortable even when the bag is fully loaded and includes wide, cushioned shoulder straps with keepers to cut down on dangling. We also like that there’s an option to add a hip belt because it helps take a ton of weight off your shoulders when the bag is loaded. If you don’t need as much liter space, we recommend the Aer Travel Pack 3 Small because it takes key features from its bigger sibling and puts them in a smaller package built for shorter trips and smaller frames.

Why We Like It

  • It has just-right organization and open space
  • Compression straps don’t impede access to the compartments, so it’s easy to grab gear quickly

What You Should Know

  • Magnetic compression buckles sometimes come undone on their own
  • There isn’t a huge false bottom to the laptop compartment, which impacts tech protection—more of a nitpick, as we’ve found it’s still reliable

GORUCK GR2 In Detroit, Michigan

If you’re looking for a durable pack that can handle any adventure you throw at it, look no further than the GORUCK GR2. It’s a little on the heavier side (courtesy of the CORDURA® Nylon and beefy YKK zippers), though we think the durability is worth the weight sacrifice. We’ve fit its boxy shape under the seat in front of us on some budget airlines, which is great if you’re trying to avoid fees while you travel the world (who isn’t?). In fact, this is the bag that Pack Hacker’s founder Tom used to travel the world for over 2 years.

Though the organization inside is simple, there’s still plenty of room for packing cubes and pouches. It’s covered in PALS webbing, which we use to attach MOLLE accessories like pouches that we fill with items we want quick access to on the plane or while exploring. The customization options mean you can make the pack fit your specific needs, whether it’s Digital Nomad travel or a weekend fishing trip with your family. Plus, GORUCK has one of the best lifetime warranties in the business and a killer repair program, so if you have any issues, contact their customer service.

  • The external fabrics are some of the most durable we’ve seen—it even held up when we dragged it behind a car
  • Plenty of PALS webbing, so it’s easy to add modular MOLLE attachments to customize your organization
  • The rugged materials and hardware add a lot of weight to the pack
  • It has a tactical look and feel that’s hard to disguise if that’s not your style

Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L Back

Since this is a bag from Peak Design, it has some great camera features. There are plenty of attachment points inside and out for your photography gear. However, it’s an excellent travel backpack even if you don’t take a DSLR on every trip, thanks to its clean lines and clever design.

The main compartment has well-structured sides and opens clamshell to make it easy to pack, although we’ve noticed that anything we store on the bottom blocks built-in mesh pockets, so you’ll have to choose between gear storage or smooth access. They’re useful for gear you won’t need until you reach your destination, and side pockets help you get to things that you need as you travel, like your passport. There’s a well-padded sleeve for your laptop, and the front pocket has organizational features for tiny gear, which is great for getting to your essentials while sitting in your airplane seat or waiting at the gate. For times when you’re not packing as much, the compression system does an excellent job at holding gear in place.

If you find that 30L isn’t enough space or you want bring more of your photo kit, we recommend the Peak Design Travel Backpack , which has the same great features and added room for your gear. It expands to 45 liters if needed and has compression snaps to lock it down if you want to use it as a daypack.

  • It has a comfortable harness system, with a sternum strap that won’t slip out of place
  • Structured sides and clamshell opening create a bucket shape that’s easy to load with gear
  • ID pocket on the back panel is easy to overlook, so a stranger may not see it if they find your misplaced bag
  • Some main compartment pockets aren’t as accessible as we’d like, which slows you down when searching for gear

Tom Bihn Synik 30 In Detroit, Michigan

Going with a lower-capacity pack reduces size and weight, meaning you can even use it as a daypack once you arrive at your destination. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be short on features. Enter the TOM BIHN Synik 30. It’s a smaller version of the Synapse and features the same top-notch and customizable organization we’re used to seeing from TOM BIHN. That means it has multiple exterior pockets for storing gear and numerous attachment points on the interior for attaching modular pouches. While we like the ballistic nylon options because they’re sleek and durable, you can opt for a different material if you want (TOM BIHN has a ton to choose from).

The style won’t be for everyone, and its round shape can make it more challenging to pack some packing cubes and pouches, causing you to lose out on some storage space in the corners (or lack thereof). However, once you’re used to the internal organization, this is one of the smartest-designed internal layouts we’ve seen in a travel backpack.

  • The internal organization is great for both travel and daily carry
  • Plenty of options to add modular pouches to customize gear organization
  • Has a heritage look that may not be everyone’s taste
  • Rounded edges can make it harder to pack with some organizers and pouches

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 30L Review

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L has a thickly padded harness system, from the shoulder straps to the hip belt and the back panel, along with vertical height adjustment and load lifters for extra support. All of these features together make for a comfortable carry even when the backpack is completely full. There are plenty of places to pack your gear, including water bottle pockets on each side, a top pocket for small items like keys, a front pocket for wide but flat items, and smaller pockets on the hip belt. You can stash your tech accessories in a well-organized admin panel, and there’s a dedicated laptop compartment as well. It includes a zippered pocket for accessories, which we love for the trips where we don’t need to bring a separate tech pouch.

The large bucket space of the main compartment is simple, with no dividers to get in the way. This means you can pack however you please, whether you load up on packing cubes or fold your clothing into neat piles—though we recommend packing cubes so that things don’t get too jostled. A mesh compartment hinges along the main compartment opening for some built-in segmentation, and you’ll find a similar feature on the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L . While the 30L is great for smaller frames, we think the larger version is excellent if you want more space to pack. It’s even a Pack Hacker Pick !

  • The smaller size means this travel backpack doubles as a daypack if desired
  • Simple organization in other pockets while the main compartment is open to organize as you see fit
  • Can be slow to access the large mesh pocket in the main compartment because it opens toward the inside of the pack, not the outside
  • The harness system can feel a bit overkill for a bag of this size if it’s not full

Tom Bihn Techonaut 30 Review

The Techonaut 30 is a classic example of what makes a TOM BIHN bag great. There are a ton of durable fabric and colorway options—we like the 525D ballistic nylon because of its strength-to-weight ratio, though there are stronger and lighter-weight options available depending on your preferences. Plus, it has clever, functional organization that’s easy to load with all your gear. When we need to keep even more small items in check, we add TOM BIHN pouches to the included O-rings around the bag (we’re partial to the Ghost Whale pouches because of their size, but almost any will work).

You can carry the Techonaut 30 like a backpack, briefcase, or messenger bag, although you’ll have to get a separate strap to carry it as a messenger. We prefer backpack mode because the back panel is supportive even when all 30 liters are fully packed.

Inside, it has a variety of pockets, including an integrated water bottle pocket and two quick-grab pockets, which work in either horizontal or vertical orientation, meaning you can store gear based on the way you’re carrying the bag. Briefcase mode? Use the top pockets. Backpack? Go for the sides. However, if you need to carry some hydration, we find that the integrated water bottle pocket can cut into the main compartment, so you’ll have to trade some storage space. Though the main and bottom compartments are separated, you can expand the former via a collapsible floor, which is handy if you need a bit of flexibility with the available space. This is great if you like traveling with shoes but don’t want to buy a separate shoe pouch.

  • Bottom pocket unzips to merge with the main compartment for even more storage space
  • It can be carried three ways, and all of them are comfortable
  • It’s tricky to see inside the top pocket because of its sideways opening
  • The dedicated shoe pocket struggles to fit large shoes, which isn’t ideal for those with large feet

ULA Equipment Dragonfly Side

At less than 2 pounds, the Dragonfly is one of the lightest travel backpacks we’ve tested (and we’ve tested hundreds), yet it’s not lacking in features. The reason it’s so light is the Ultra 800™ Fabric. It’s 15 times stronger than steel by weight, twice as abrasion-resistant as nylons of the same denier, and waterproof to 200 psi, so you don’t have to worry about a rainstorm ruining your gear. The bag also has quality YKK AquaGuard zippers and Duraflex hardware. While it’s missing a ULA logo on the front, we appreciate the minimalist aesthetic.

As for gear storage, there’s a built-in carabiner and leash for your keys in the top quick-access pocket, and there are both internal and external UltraStretch™ mesh pockets to organize your gear, including large water bottle pockets. In fact, they’re so large that we’re even able to hold things like a travel tripod. Inside is a sleeve that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop or a hydration bladder, depending on what you plan to do that day. Once you’re all loaded up, internal compression straps help to hold your clothing or packing cubes in place.

However, you sacrifice a little in the harness system in the name of weight. A sturdy back panel has thin padding with aeration, and the shoulder straps have similar aeration but not as much padding. The sternum strap is also thin but helps take a little weight off when the pack is full. Plus, there are a lot of attachment loops all over the pack, which is great for modularity.

  • The oversized bottle pockets fit a variety of bulky gear and up to 64-ounce bottles
  • It has a quite spacious main compartment
  • It can be hard to zip when fully packed
  • The shoulder straps aren’t overly padded, which may not be suited for all body types

Able Carry Max Backpack | Using the backpack in Detroit

The VX21 X-Pac material on the Able Carry Max Backpack gives it a sporty look that we like, and there’s also 1000D CORDURA® nylon on the underside for durability. You won’t have to worry about the sturdiness of this bag, as it’s well-constructed, with reinforced stitching in key areas. There is plenty of room in the laptop compartment for up to a 17-inch computer and organization for your tech gear. Loops and strips of webbing around the bag give you the flexibility to pack it however you wish, and there are two quick-grab pockets for gear you want to get at as you travel. You can even get a third quick-access spot if you use the internal bottle pocket instead of the one outside the bag for hydration.

The Max Backpack is really comfortable to carry and easy to adjust. The shoulder straps have dense padding and breathable mesh undersides, with X-Pac on top for durability and style. While the tablet pocket is a bit shallow, we don’t have too many problems during regular use.

  • It’s easy to customize organization thanks to webbing and loop attachment points
  • The durable fabrics are held together with equally-sturdy stitching
  • The X-Pac material may not suit everyone, though you can always opt for CORDURA® nylon
  • A rear pocket is a bit narrow and tricky to access

Osprey Farpoint 40 V2 Review

This durable bag is made with recycled and bluesign® approved polyester and a PFAS-free DWR coating, which is great if you’re an eco-friendly traveler. It has a bit of an outdoorsy look, which is to be expected from Osprey. However, the external storage is hard to beat if you’re the adventurous type. A large front stash pocket holds a water bottle or damp gear like a rain jacket or towel, and there’s also a decent-sized top pocket for smaller accessories. We like that it’s big enough to tuck your 3-1-1 bag inside to keep it within reach through the security line at the airport. The main compartment opens fully clamshell, and is easy to pack since you can see all the space at once. A couple of mesh pockets inside help organize your gear, and compression straps hold clothing or packing cubes in place as you travel. The large laptop compartment is accessible from the outside of the bag, so you can get some work done as you wait for the plane to board.

What’s really great, though, is how comfortable you’ll be while carrying this bag. The breathable mesh back panel keeps things airy, and the harness shifts higher or lower so you can adjust it to your height and torso length. If you have a more petite frame but want to carry the same amount of gear, try the Osprey Fairview 40. As opposed to coming straight over your shoulders, these curve in and around, making it easier to carry for more petite users of any gender.

  • The harness system is comfy even when the pack is fully loaded
  • An ample-sized main compartment makes this a great pick for one bag travel
  • You can’t remove the bulky hip belt even if you don’t need it
  • There aren’t any dedicated bottle pockets, and the front pocket can be tight for larger bottles

Minaal Carry-On 3.0 in Detroit Michigan

The 35L Minaal Carry-On 3.0 for one bag travel is aesthetically sleek and has smart features to improve quality of life on your trip. If you carry a lot of tech, you may appreciate that the laptop compartment lays completely flat, making it easy to load and access on the go. It has a suspended laptop sleeve that you can adjust to different sizes, so your 13-inch MacBook Air isn’t drowning in a pocket designed for a big gaming computer. Plus, the shoulder straps hide away behind a zipping panel, which we find makes it easy to slide this backpack into an overhead bin.

The main compartment opens clamshell for easy packing and includes some built-in organization. However, unlike most other backpacks, you load the bag into the “scoop” section (the front of the bag) instead of the back. This takes a little getting used to, though it’s easy to use once you do. While we recommend taking advantage of packing cubes for most of your gear, there is a large mesh pocket at the top, along with a nylon pouch below it where you can pack shoes. Two external pockets give you quick access to your wallet, phone, and small accessories, and there’s also a security pocket behind the back panel for your passport. Just be careful when using the water bottle pocket, as they can slip out even when the bungee is tight.

  • It’s great to be able to securely carry devices of different sizes in the adjustable sleeve
  • Excellent accessibility since both compartments open fully clamshell
  • You have to pack it “scoop side down,” which can get unwieldy without packing cubes
  • The bungee designed to hold a bottle in place doesn’t always work as intended, and some bottles slip out

EVERGOODS Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35) Review

Some packs are designed with a specific use in mind, and others are designed to be as versatile as possible. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a bag that does both (and does it well). The features on EVERGOODS’ Civic Travel Bag 35L, or CTB35, make it one of the most versatile travel backpacks we’ve seen on the market.

There’s plenty of organization to choose from without going over the top, meaning there’s a spot for large and small gear alike. The main compartment has ample space, so we’re able to fit everything from a camera cube to bulky shoes inside, and it even has a few zippered pockets for small items like tech. As for external storage, there’s a built-in yoke pocket on the top and a vertical zippered pocket on the front that we like to use as a dump pocket for our phone, wallet, keys, and more while going through airport security. Plus, there’s an easily accessible laptop compartment if you work on the go. The harness system is contoured nicely, which makes this backpack incredibly comfortable to wear even when fully packed, so we have no problem carrying it all day long.

We like the 35-liter option because it’s big enough to work for long trips. However, if you’re into the organization but want something smaller, it also comes in a 26-liter size (which we like equally as much).

  • The harness is well-padded and comfortable even when the pack is completely full of gear
  • It strikes a balance between built-in organization and empty space, so you’re not pigeonholed into packing your gear a specific way
  • Since the organization is so minimal, you’ll need to find a way to manage things like clothing—we recommend utilizing packing cubes
  • We find it difficult to stow the hip belt without it twisting a bit, so it takes a bit of finesse to get right

Topo Designs Travel Bag 40L In Use

We like the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag so much that we chose it for the first iteration of our Vacation Packing List . The large size makes sense because you can fit more gear; however, there’s a smaller 30-liter size that we find is better for smaller-framed folks and people who want to save space. Why do we like it so much? We’re happy you asked!

These packs have built-in organization options inside the main compartment, including a divider with zippered pockets that we use to stow smaller items like socks and underwear, but it’s also great for tech or miscellaneous gear. There’s also a large second compartment, a dedicated laptop compartment, and a quick-grab pocket on the front that’s handy for gear you’ll need throughout the day. While all of this organization is great, it’s worth mentioning that all of these zippered pockets are pretty shallow, so you’ll have to pack strategically to ensure your bag will zip up when everything is loaded in. On the plus side, the liner is brightly colored, which makes finding your stuff that much easier!

If all of that space isn’t enough for you, there are attachment points on the front of the bag where you can attach an additional daypack. The harness system isn’t our favorite because there’s no frame sheet to add structure and it can feel pretty heavy when it’s all packed out, but the hip belt does a good job taking some weight off your shoulders.

  • There’s ample organization to segment your gear, making it easier to find
  • The bright liner material adds a ton of visibility when we’re looking for our stuff in the multiple zippered pockets
  • Can be difficult to slide a laptop into the dedicated compartment when the bag is fully packed because of how it starts to bulge
  • It’s not the most comfortable bag we’ve worn for extended periods because the back panel lacks significant structure

Wearing the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack in Jordan

While some travel backpacks fit best in an urban setting, the Allpa 35L Travel Pack works as a hiking or work bag as well as a travel pack. However, just because it can serve other purposes doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the travel department. It has a refined design and ample space that make it easy to pack for vacation, with mesh dividers and organizers inside to help you keep your gear sorted. While the exterior materials aren’t very structured, you’re unlikely to reach for this large of a bag unless you plan to pack it out, so it’s not always noticeable. The polyester is coated with TPU for water resistance, so your gear is safe as you walk in nearly any weather.

If you’re getting started on your journey into one bag travel, you can get the Allpa with an accessory bundle that includes mesh laundry bags, a nylon shoe bag, and a snap-on mesh water bottle sleeve. You also have the option to add-on Cotopaxi’s Batac Daypack, so you can have a complete travel system ready with just one click. And in case you needed another reason to consider Cotopaxi, you should know that their bags are made in the Philippines in a factory committed to fair labor and environmentally-sound practices, so you can feel good about your purchase, too.

  • It’s a ruggedly durable backpack if you’re a more adventurous traveler
  • The bag feels roomy and conveniently-placed pockets for small gear storage
  • Hip belt isn’t removable if it doesn’t fit, and the pockets often feel too snug when wearing the bag
  • It’s on the heavy side for its size

Decisions, decisions… Navigating the not-so-clear world of travel packs.

Video Guide Part 2: Form

Feel free to watch this guide section in video format. We’ll keep the written content on this page up to date.

Be sure to subscribe to Pack Hacker on YouTube and never miss a video. We also have these videos in a series playlist format on YouTube so you can watch them easier.

Best Backpack Size & Weight for Carry-On Air Travel

We favor smaller bags that fit in the overhead bin. Yes, it can be a challenge to fit your entire life into a 40L bag, but wow, is it worth it!. Trust us—you can fit your entire life into an 18L backpack if you’re disciplined, and we highly recommend staying under 50L for one bag travel. Life is just easier with a smaller & lighter backpack. If you want to cheat a bit and get some extra space, you can also go the sling bag on the front, backpack on the back route.

Airlines can get pretty stingy around the amount of weight you can bring on board. It’s essential to make sure your backpack itself isn’t too heavy, or you won’t be able to fit in as much clothing and other travel gear. We’re all for less clothing and gear, but we are not for getting hit with extra fees if your carry-on is overweight. Starting out with a bag that’s already too heavy before you’ve packed it is just setting yourself up for failure! We calculate a carry-on compliance score for every travel backpack reviewed on our site using its dimensions and data we collect from most airlines worldwide.

True Volume

It’s easy to get caught up in all this talk around liters of a backpack. There’s really no “industry standard” around this, and the liter size of a pack can vary from brand to brand. What’s more important is the “True Volume” of a backpack and how usable the space is. Some weird, trapezoid-shaped backpack will certainly be more of a challenge than something with a larger, rectangular compartment. The thickness and flexibility of the material matter as well. A thin, strong material will leave you with more space inside of a backpack than something with thick padding in the liner. However, a rigid material—Dyneema, for instance—doesn’t have much additional flex and isn’t very forgiving when you’re trying to pack your bag to the brim. The efficiency of space can make or break the usefulness of a pack.

Pack’s Exterior Profile

The slimness of a pack can help out quite a bit. Not only does it seem less heavy because the weight is close to your back, but it has the added benefit of giving you a smaller, slimmer form factor. With this, you won’t be taking up too much room on public transit or smacking people in the face when you’re boarding the airplane—it’ll be a better experience for you and everyone around you.

Max Legal Carry-On

Otherwise known as “MLC,” Max Legal Carry-On size covers the largest acceptable backpack size for carrying on most airlines. Make sure to check with your airline before arriving at the airport, though—size limits can vary based on the airline you’re flying with.

Peak Design Travel Backpack in Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Peak Design Travel Backpack is a well-executed travel bag from a company with an excellent track-record of bringing innovative and unique designs to the backpack world. This maximum legal carry-on can easily handle one bag travel, photography, or digital nomading with ease—and it will be a joy to use for any of those activities.

Top-loading vs Panel-loading (Clamshell) Backpacks

There’s a big debate around clamshell and top-loading packs. We’re personally a fan of clamshell for one-bag travel, as it gives you more open space to work with. Clamshell functions more like a suitcase and opens literally like a clam. You can easily open it up flat and see everything inside, so it tends to be easier to organize all your travel gear.

The Able Carry Max Backpack is a clamshell-style backpack that opens to give you easy access to a spacious main compartment—this works great for packing cubes or rolled up clothing—whichever you prefer! Also, it’s got a large but low-profile water bottle pocket.

Top-loading packs are great if you’re on a long, multi-day trek or participating in other outdoor-focused activities as there’s no main zipper that can fail you (which could be catastrophic if you’re halfway up Mt. Everest).

Thule Subterra in Spain

The Thule Subterra 34L is a top-loading backpack with a roll top opening. A top loader’s usual pitfalls are fixed by an easy to access side zip that allows entry to the main compartment. This zip comes in handy when you don’t have time to mess around with the roll top, or you want to grab something located at the bottom of the bag.

Weather Resistance

Best Travel Backpack | The GORUCK GR2 features “weather resistance” but it’s not “waterproof.”

Weather resistance is another key component to consider for one bag travel. With all your tech gear and expensive possessions in your pack, you don’t want it to get wet. We look for packs with some great weather resistance that’ll easily get you through light rain and ideally through 20 minutes of a monsoon in Southeast Asia. There’s a big difference between waterproof and water-resistant bags. We’re mainly focused on the latter, as this will be plenty in most situations. Sure, waterproof is more secure, but unless you’re leaving your pack outside in a torrential downpour for hours on end or plan to go snorkeling with your laptop on your back, there’s no need for that extra tech.

Mission Workshop Fitzroy VX

The Mission Workshop Fitzroy VX utilizes weatherproof materials and weather-resistant zippers. We’ve found it to hold up decently in a downpour. Even if you’re caught in a pretty torrential rainstorm, you should be okay with the PET waterproof membrane.

Got something that needs some additional weatherproofing? Consider picking up a DAKA Pouch . It’ll give your valuables that extra layer of protection without requiring you to purchase an entirely waterproof bag—plus, these pouches double as organizers, separating your precious gear from the rest of your loadout with some additional protection to boot. It’s a win-win.

Durability and Quality

Whether you’re traveling for a week, a month, or a year plus, your backpack is pretty much your home, so you don’t want it to break. Take it from us—the last thing you want is to find out that you lost your phone charger because your zipper broke during the journey to your next accommodation. Investing in a good backpack will prevent loss and damage to your gear, and higher quality products will last for several years. It can be a challenge to tell if a backpack is durable right out of the box, which is why we test bags as much as possible to notice any faults. Higher durability usually means higher weight, but not always. Here are a couple of key considerations we’ve found when it comes to durability.

When it comes to durability, the Topo Designs Travel Bag 40L doesn’t mess around. The 1000D nylon, beefy YKK #10 zippers, and simplistic design all come together to create a bag that won’t let you down.

Best Travel Backpack YKK Zipper

YKK zippers are some of the best around, so naturally, the best travel backpack brands tend to use them. They’re super strong and have different weights depending on the area of the pack they’re used. A YKK #10 will keep a main compartment secure, whereas a YKK #5 may be suited for smaller side pockets that don’t receive as much use or tension.

YKK is obsessed with quality, and they do everything in-house. They smelt their own brass, forge their own zipper teeth, and even make the machines that make their zippers and the cardboard boxes they ship in! Needless to say, you probably won’t end up with any broken zippers with YKK on your side. YKK zippers also account for about half of all zippers in the world, so that says something. Although less popular, RiRi zippers are pretty great too. Both RiRi and YKK are superior to any other zipper made in-house by a bag manufacturer, and Zoom Zippers are climbing up on that list as well, though we still find intermittent issues with them.

Backpack Fabric and Material

There are a ton of fabrics and materials out there, too. When looking at fabrics, you’ll often see a number followed by a D—250D, 950D, 1500D, etc. The D stands for denier, a term used to measure the fabric’s thickness and weight—specifically the yarn. The formal definition is the mass (in grams) per 9,000 meters of thread, so lightweight fabrics (like silk) have a very low denier, while heavier fabrics have a higher denier. When it comes to backpacks, a higher denier is not necessarily better. In general, a higher denier will be more durable (depending on the fabric & weave) but also heavier. While the denier can tell you the weight and thickness of a material, the type of material, weave, and manufacturing involved will ultimately tell you more about its strength and durability. Here are some materials you’ll come across when selecting your pack, along with the pros and cons of each one.

Ripstop Nylon

Rip-Stop Nylon

Pretty close in property to standard nylon, “ripstop” nylon has a unique square weave that prevents further tearing from happening after a puncture. It has an incredibly high strength-to-weight ratio, and, as the name implies, it is highly resistant to rips and tears. The reason why it’s so strong is that additional fibers are sewn into the weave. Ripstop Nylon was developed in World War II as a more robust alternative to silk parachutes and is currently used in ejector seat parachutes for fighter pilots!

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon refers to any nylon fabric with a “ballistic weave,” a variation on the simple basketweave. This gives it excellent tensile and tear strength—especially when layered—and makes it heavier than a lot of other materials. Keep in mind that ballistic nylon almost exclusively comes in black. Why is it called ballistic? It was initially used on flak jackets for World War II airmen to protect them from artillery-shell and bullet fragmentations. PSA: We do not recommend the use of backpacks for protection in war zones.



CORDURA® is not a fabric in and of itself—it is a brand covering a whole host of different materials, from cotton to nylon to polyester. What they do is take fabric from various mills, inspect it to make sure it’s up to their standards, and then slap that CORDURA® tag on it. Yes, it’s a bit deceiving, but they do put out some high-quality stuff. You’ll mostly always see a “®” next to “CORDURA” (in all caps) because #branding and #lawyers.

Kodra Nylon

Kodra Nylon

Kodra is virtually synonymous with CORDURA® but made in Korea. Peak Design opted for this in V1 of their Everyday Backpack.


Polyester is one of the most common fabrics on the planet. It’s made from plastic fibers, and you can find it pretty much everywhere—in clothing, pillows, seat belts, upholstery, rope, the list goes on… Oh, and backpacks. Polyester is not the most durable fabric, so you’ll usually find it on lower-end packs (think of those classic Jansport backpacks everyone had in high school). It’s really not the most suitable choice for a travel pack—as it just won’t hold up through the years. Besides lacking in durability, polyester is also fairly heavy compared to other fabrics like nylon. If you’re looking for a low-budget day pack, polyester is fine. If you’re looking for something more serious, stay away from it.


Polypropylene & Nylon Blend

Polypropylene is a polymer that is used to make fabrics. This stuff is seriously everywhere—it is the world’s second most widely produced synthetic plastic! It’s used to make ropes, carpets, labels, plastic lids on tic-tac containers, plastic chairs, long underwear…basically, if you see something made of plastic, there’s a solid chance there’s some polypropylene in it. You’ll find it mostly in minor backpack components, but it’s also used to make drawstring bags and totes like the ones that are handed out for free at a college fair or festival. Polypropylene fabric has a few things going for it. It’s cheap, it’s a good insulator because it doesn’t transfer heat very well, and it won’t absorb water since it’s hydrophobic. The major problem with polypropylene is that it is not very UV resistant. If it’s repeatedly exposed to sunlight, the fabric will fade and break down over time. This is not great for backpacks. You may, however, see polypropylene used as a liner on the inside of some packs as it won’t be affected by UV light and adds some additional protection.


You could say that canvas is the OG backpack material. Back in the day, canvas was just about the only thing you would use for a “backpack,” outside of maybe a burlap sack thrown over your shoulder. In World War II, GI’s carried all their equipment around in canvas packs and slept in canvas tents. Canvas very thick and sturdy and was historically made from cotton, linen, or hemp coated in wax for waterproofing. Today, canvas tends to be made from things like nylon and polyester. Most modern backpack companies shy away from canvas because it’s usually heavy, not overly water-resistant, and easily damaged by abrasion. If you’re looking for a canvas one-bag travel pack, you’re not going to find much out there. However, if you want the nostalgia factor, you can still find a bespoke canvas bag to satisfy that.


We may need to scrap our statement on canvas because leather is arguably as OG as it gets. Its use has been traced back as far as Ancient Greece and Rome! Like canvas, you’re not going to see many travel packs made of leather. While a leather bag can make for an excellent, stylish daypack, it’s not ideal for a long-term travel pack, mainly because of its weight. There is also a lot of potential care involved. Between protective oils and various cleaning techniques, it can be a hassle to deal with if you’re on the move. There are three grades of leather—genuine, top-grain, and full-grain.

Contrary to popular belief, genuine is the lowest grade of leather while full-grain is the highest. Full-grain is used for heavy-duty use-cases like weapon holsters and work belts, so if you’re dead set on a leather pack, we’d recommend looking for full-grain leather. Ideally, you’ll want to find something thin enough to not be overly heavy while still thick enough to ensure durability.


The actual material is called ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene… but most know it as sailcloth (yep, the same material used on a sailboat). A relatively rare material for backpacks, brands like Tortuga have taken advantage of sailcloth due to its lightweight and water-resistant properties. It is by far the most lightweight and waterproof material on our list (no need for DWR or liners), but it does have some drawbacks. It’s stiff and crinkly with zero stretch, which can cause problems if you’re trying to utilize every nook and cranny of your pack. It isn’t quite as indestructible as some other materials listed, but it’s reasonably durable and can be patched. It also tends to be one of the most expensive backpack materials out there.

Dyneema® Composite Fabric

Dyneema® Composite Fabric

In May 2015, Dyneema purchased Cubic Tech, the creator and manufacturer of Cuben Fiber, and rebranded it as Dyneema® Composite Fabrics. So, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics = Cuben Fiber. This stuff was initially designed for high-tech sails on racing yachts because it is ridiculously light and robust. As such, it has been adopted wholeheartedly by the ultralight backpacking community. It’s sort of like the carbon fiber of the backpack world—high-tech, super strong, super light, and…super expensive. While Dyneema® Composite Fabric is popular within the ultralight backpacking community, it has yet to become commonplace in the one-bag travel scene. That being said, if you do see Dyneema® Composite Fabric, you should know that you’re getting some of the best stuff around.

tpu material best travel backpack guide

Thermoplastic polyurethane —TPU for short—is a polymer used to add strength to a material, either through a manufacturing process or coating. You’ll recognize it on products like inflatable rafts, phone cases, wire cables, and footwear. Think stuff that needs to be as durable as possible to avoid things going south for the user. It easily sheds water and oil, resists abrasions, and won’t crack in high or low temps, making it ideal for frequent outdoor use. Unlike polypropylene, TPU is UV-resistant and won’t be subjected to the same amount of fading over time. If you’re the type of traveler who wants extra peace of mind on the go, you’ll want to keep an eye out for TPU because of the extra strength it adds to a pack, but we wouldn’t consider a lack of TPU a deal-breaker.

x-pac material best travel backpack guide

X-Pac is not so much a fabric as it is a bunch of fabrics smooshed together. With the help of lamination technology, it combines complementary materials to make an overall higher-performing product. Though there are variations in denier and waterproofing, it’s most commonly made up of a nylon face for durability, polyester mesh for strength, and waterproof film that won’t disappear over time. Like Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, it was inspired by the efficiency of sailcloth but is a less costly option that provides a similar level of ultralight performance. It holds its shape over time, won’t fade with UV exposure, and easily sheds moisture, making it great for outdoor enthusiasts who hike and bike with their pack on the regular. However, it may be a bit overkill for casual travelers unless you’re looking for a backpack for epic mountain climbing adventures.

Ultimately, the production process and design will dictate whether your gear will stay together. If a bag is made with 1000D CORDURA®, but it doesn’t have good zippers to match, it doesn’t matter how good the fabric is. Look for brands that proudly back their product with generous warranties, like GORUCK and their “SCARS warranty” or Patagonia and their “Ironclad Guarantee.” These brands know they make quality products, so they’re happy to back it up. If a brand offers no warranty or a short warranty, there’s probably a financial reason for that, and the quality may not be as high. We’re all about buying quality pieces that last versus something that’s going to need repair or replacement year after year.

Whether you’re hopping on a plane or navigating city streets, you need a backpack that can hold up.

Video Guide Part 3: Function

Best Backpack for Comfortable Wear and Extended Travel

Comfort is a big deal when it comes to one-bag travel—especially if you plan to carry the bag around with you for hours on end. You’ll want a high-quality harness that works with the shape of your body. When selecting a bag, it’s crucial to take your height and body type into consideration. Although this matters more for hiking backpacks where you’re carrying a ton of gear, it’s less important for smaller, one-bag travel packs. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it before you make a purchase. A backpack suited for someone that’s 6’5″ and 250 pounds probably isn’t the best travel backpack for someone that’s 5’3″ and 140 pounds. Buying something that doesn’t fit your frame correctly will make for some seriously uncomfortable travel.

Men’s Focused Fit Vs Women’s Focused Fit

Osprey Farpoint vs Osprey Fairview

Some backpacks are only available with a “one size fits all” harness system, but there is an ever-increasing number of women’s focused fit and men’s focused fit travel backpacks on the market. For example, the Thule Landmark 40L , REI Ruckpack 40 , and Deuter AViANT Carry On Pro 36 are all available in two different fits. The differences are subtle but have a big impact on how comfortable the harness system is on your frame. Compared to a men’s focused fit, a women’s focused fit backpack will typically feature:

  • Smaller hip belt with a more pronounced curve

Backpack Straps

You’ll want to look for bags with high-quality straps that work for your body type. A mismatch here could lead to an uncomfortable carry, even with only a little weight inside.

Matador Globerider45 Review

Even though the GlobeRider45 has the functionality and looks of a travel backpack, it carries more like a daypack. Its shoulder straps feature dense padding that curves and falls naturally to the body. A relatively high top area does give it a very slight hiking backpack feel, but it’s an overall tameable bag to travel with, considering its 45-liter storage capacity.

The thickness of straps doesn’t necessarily matter. Thinner straps that use high-quality foam may be more comfortable than thicker, bulkier straps.

If you’re concerned with weight, look for bags that include load lifters – these are the adjusters that appear at the top of the straps. This concept is borrowed from larger hiking backpacks and does wonders for fitting the bag well to your back with different loads.

Some straps swivel and pivot to cater to different shoulder widths and make it easier to quickly flip the pack around to access the goods you’ve got inside.

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L (V4) Strap

We’re middle-of-the-road on hip belts for one-bag travel backpacks. They can help a ton if you’ve got a heavier load or plan to carry your pack for long stretches but aren’t necessary if you pack minimally in a smaller pack.

A good hip belt should be comfortable and secure without becoming too cumbersome. There are few things worse than hitting people with your bulky hip belt while walking down the aisle of an airplane. We’d recommend taking a look at travel backpacks that feature a detachable or hideable hip belt, so you don’t have to use it when you don’t need to.

Sternum Straps

Nearly all travel backpacks include a sternum strap. They’re designed to distribute some weight away from your shoulders and secure the shoulder straps across your chest.

While sternum straps are all pretty similar across the board, there are a couple of things we’d recommend looking out for. First, some will feature an elasticated portion that allows the strap to flex with your body as you walk. We’re big fans of these. Second, some sternum straps can be detached, leaving them vulnerable to falling off when not in use. We’re not kidding; this has happened to us on multiple occasions. Not good, especially when you’re traveling halfway around the world in remote locations! A detachable sternum strap is great when you don’t always need to use one, and it makes adjusting the height easy. Just make sure it’s secure and adequately anchored to the shoulder straps.

Osprey Fairview 40 Back Water Bottle

A well-designed back panel can make things much more comfortable. Although it’s hard to avoid the old sweaty back with more extended periods of wear in hotter climates, well-ventilated mesh and foam can help with this. A curved frame can help with ergonomics and ventilation, but we don’t see this on many travel-focused backpacks. Sometimes, it seems like overkill.

How Do you Pack the Thing?

With all these fancy features, it’s essential to consider how you should use them and how you pack your bag. Generally speaking, you want to load the heaviest items closest to your back. This’ll ensure the heaviest bits of your bag are the closest to your center of gravity, pulling you down less from the back of the bag.

Best Travel Backpack | Configuring a backpack.

If you’ve got all the features mentioned above, you want to strap and tighten your hip belt first, then adjust the shoulder straps, then tighten the load lifter straps (the straps on top) to a 45° angle, and finally, adjust and tighten the sternum strap.

Heimplanet Travel Pack 34L V2 Review

The Heimplanet Travel Pack 34L (V2) has a horseshoe zipper at the top front of the pack, which opens up to allow you to reach into the main compartment and grab essential items rather than opening up the full clamshell. It also features liter independent compartments and pockets, which are great for packing to the absolute limits. Check out the smaller 28L version, too.

Modular Backpack System

If you want more options for customization, check out modular gear. To put it simply, this is gear that brands design to work with their bags. They allow you to make a bag suit your preferences, adding and swapping parts as needed instead of trying to fit your gear into the organization already installed in your pack. Anyone who uses a bag with PALS webbing, for example, will tell you how convenient it is to have loops ready where they can stick MOLLE accessories. Whereas PALS webbing and MOLLE attachments are one of the better-known standards out there, brand-specific modularity and attachment systems also exist.

In fact, some brands, like ALPAKA , TOM BIHN , Boundary Supply , and Roark , are known for it. We like to count how many O-rings we can find on each TOM BIHN bag we buy because that’s where we can clip the brand’s key leashes, admin pouches, packing cubes, and more.

Tom Bihn Ghost Whale Pouches On A Desk

These great for carrying tiny travel accessories wherever we go. Sizes range from Super Mini, which can hold AirPods, chapstick, and similarly sized items, to A5, which is big enough for an A5-size notebook and pens. They’re made from scrap fabric, so you can feel good about saving them from the cutting room floor. They clip to the O-rings in a TOM BIHN bag or a loop on another backpack to save you from digging for small gear.

ALPAKA Elements Backpack Pro Accessories

ALPAKA’s HUB Ecosystem lets you swap your keys, sanitizer, card holder, and more between your bags. Pull the Hypalon tab to release the magnetic fastener to swap your gear, then attach it to different points throughout their bags or the HUB ModPanel hanging in your house. Then you’ll always be able to find your keys.

Boundary Supply Prima System In Detroit

The Prima System includes a 30L travel backpack, the Fieldspace admin panel, and Verge Camera Case. The Fieldspace holds a tablet or small laptop, plus small accessories, docking to the laptop compartment with a magnet, so it’s removable if you don’t need it. The camera case is also fully customizable and can sit inside the pack, connect to its exterior, or be carried separately.

Organization: Multiple Travel-Focused Features or One Big Compartment?

Some backpacks take the approach of having a massive inner compartment with no organization. This is great if you’re planning on using some packing cubes or compression sacks, but not so great if you want a little more internal organization out of the box. More things to consider: is there a dedicated place to put a pen or two for those pesky customs forms? Is it easy to grab? How about a dedicated laptop compartment (or, for that matter, a dedicated laptop bag )?

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L (V4) Review

This iteration of Tortuga’s travel backpack design gives more control to the user. It has fewer organization options than its predecessors, but the extra space and weight savings can be better used for packing cubes and organizers. Those already invested in such accessories will find the wide and spacious main compartment easy to fill and navigate.

Packing Cubes

Packing Cubes Flat Lay

Packing cubes can be a great addition to your luggage regardless of whether the bag is one massive compartment or has a couple of smaller pockets inside. Packing cubes allow you to organize clothing between type, outfits, clean or dirty, and much more.

Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On Back

The Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On’s size and shape make it easy to pack with cubes. Plus, the light gray interior makes it easy to find your gear.

Compression and Expandability

If you’re going with one bag, versatility is essential. Ideally, your pack will cater to different amounts of items that are packed in the bag.

Some packs even offer detachable daypacks, but they tend to be slightly larger in liters to justify the additional use of materials (extra zippers and extra straps.) If you’re looking for a small travel daypack , consider some highly compressible bags from Matador . There won’t be any padding on these, but you could also pair these with a padded field pocket from GORUCK or a padded laptop compartment if you want to cafe-hop and work for the day.

If you are looking for a more padded daypack, a Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable Daypack , or something like a Fjallraven Kanken 13″ Laptop Backpack could work. At the end of the day, you’re packing another set of straps, padding, and zippers—all space and weight that’s being subtracted from your main pack.

We like sticking to one bag whenever possible, and there are some bags out there with the right size and look that can be used as a daypack and for one bag travel.

Thule Aion 28L Backpack Review

The Thule Aion 28L Backpack expands to 32L when you need more space for a trip. Use the extra room when you’re traveling, then empty it and compress it back down when you arrive at your destination to have a slimmer bag that can be used as a daypack while walking around.

Another great option is the Osprey Farpoint 40 , mentioned above. One of our team members has utilized the compression straps to carry his tripod while traveling to numerous countries.

Security Backpacks

Be on the lookout for packs with great security features. Are the zippers lockable with TSA approved locks? Are there separate secret security compartments to place your passport and other valuables in hard-to-reach places? Is it made of a solid material to prevent the quick slash-and-grab? Are the outer pockets minimized to make it hard for a thief to unzip and grab what they want quickly?

A lot of safety when traveling comes down to common sense and your own self-awareness, but there are a couple of pack features that can make your trips a little bit safer.

Lockable Zippers & Anti-Theft Backpacks

Peak Design Travel Backpack Lockable Zips

Some packs offer lockable zippers, or special looped zipper pulls that can be configured to deter thieves. Locking the zippers on your pack won’t turn it into an anti-theft backpack—someone can still take it or cut through the fabric—but it can help stop wrongdoers from quickly unzipping your bag for a quick-grab, or make them move to the next easily accessible bag on a train or bus. No backpack is impenetrable, though, and some of these features on backpacks can be gimmicky—included just so the purchaser has some peace of mind—even if the benefit isn’t that great. Peak Design’s security features (example below) and PacSafe’s Tough Zip put a lot of emphasis on that extra layer of security.

The zippers on the Peak Design Travel Backpack come with multiple locking features. This won’t necessarily deter all theft, but it’ll stop anyone from the old unzip & grab trick, and it won’t be against TSA Guidelines.

Anti-Theft Backpack Materials

Some bags offer more robust fabric that naturally enforces the bag. As we mentioned before, materials like Ballistic Nylon, CORDURA®, and others are super helpful with this. Some companies even include special mesh wiring, like Pacsafe’s eXomesh®, that almost theft-proof your backpack, allowing you to lock it to a fixed object for added security. EXomesh® is either lined inside the fabric and can also be purchased externally with other backpacks. For the type of traveling we do, we think this is a little paranoid and adds some weight plus another thing to carry. But depending on your situation, it could be helpful. Strolling through Tokyo? Probably not necessary. Heading to Barcelona for the first time? Yeah, we’ll take that extra layer of security.

RFID Blockers (Identity Theft-Proof Backpacks)

We feel that having a bunch of RFID-blocking tech covering an entire backpack is overkill. Sure, it’ll stop folks from electronically scanning your passport, but If you’re concerned with this, you could get a special wallet or wrap your passport & cards in aluminum foil. Let’s face it—it’s much less effort for a thief to physically grab what they want from you than dicking around with RFID technology. But again, whatever helps you sleep at night. If it’s a 100% secure backpack you seek, we’re not going to stop you.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP35 Travel Backpack Review

If you’re looking for a secure travel pack, the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP35 offers some great features for exactly that. From the eXomesh® slash-proof material to the secure zippers and RFID secure pockets, there is some great thinking that went into this pack along with some solid materials.

You know what they say—“It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look.” Or something like that...

Video Guide Part 4: Aesthetic

Finding the Best Travel Backpack Style For You

At the end of the day, the look and feel of a travel backpack should be right for you and your tastes. There are many things to consider as far as aesthetics go we’ll pull in here for consideration. Stylish “urban travel” backpacks became a lot more popular within the last couple of years, and that’s the look we prefer. Gone are the days of international travel with a big blaze-orange hiking backpack. Those certainly have a utility, but that utility is in the wilderness. Here are a couple of overall style points for your consideration:

Minimalist Travel Backpacks

minimalist travel backpacks

When you’re in a new country, think a bit about how you want to be perceived. If you’re heading to a more crowded or dicey area, nothing screams tourist like having a large, colorful backpack while looking up at tall buildings or a landmark in awe. It’s easier to keep a low profile and blend in a little if you’re not carrying around a monstrosity of a bag that acts as an advertisement for thieves and wrongdoers looking to target travelers for their own gain. It’s an added bonus if you can roll into a meeting wearing one of these things. As one-bag travel has become increasingly popular in recent years, we’re seeing many solid urban packs coming out that are built specifically with one-bag travel in mind.

  • Minaal Carry-On 3.0

Tacticool Backpacks

tacticool travel backpacks

There are a ton of great, high-quality bags out there that are made to military spec. There’s some really great utility to things like MOLLE for customizing your pack and including other accessories on your bag, and the stronger materials make for highly durable bags. Keep in mind that some folks may perceive you as being in the military if your bag has too much digi camo going on. It’s one thing if the pack is all black & subdued, but another if it’s camo and filled with patches. If this is your look, go for it, but this type of pack might also bring about some “unwanted attention” in certain parts of the world.

  • Mission Workshop Radian

Outdoor & Hiking Backpacks

Outdoor & Hiking Travel Backpack Aesthetic

Think sportier packs with lots of pockets, brighter colors, and louder material. For a long time, outdoor backpacks were the only option for long-term one-bag travelers. They tend to be bulky and are built to carry big, heavy loads over long distances. This typically means lots of straps and a tall pack that will peek up over your head. Great for an extended camping excursion, not so great for a trip through the airport or a newly-discovered city square. They also tend to scream “TOURIST.” No one casually walks around with a giant hiking backpack.

  • Gregory Zulu 40

Backpacker Backpacks

Backpacker Travel Backpack Aesthetic

If it’s not already obvious, the “Backpacker Backpack” is designed specifically for backpacking around the world. Typically from manufacturers that also make outdoor and hiking backpacks, this is the go-to style for anyone on a gap year looking to tick off as many countries in Southeast Asia as possible. And because of that, they’re some of the most popular bags on the market today. Sure, you’ll still look like a tourist—albeit not as much as you would wearing a hiking backpack—but that’s fine because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

  • Gregory Detour 40

Heritage Backpacks

heritage travel backpacks

These bags are engineered with a classic look in mind. Most will be some variation of the one-compartment style with leather straps, subdued colors, and some type of canvas-y material. These packs look great but can sometimes lack functionality and comfort. Although there are a few bespoke style travel bags (we like Vinta and Rivendell Mountain Works), most will fall into the daypack category.

  • Red Oxx C-ruck Carry-on Rucksack

Having said all of this, aesthetic is subjective, and beauty remains in the eye of the beholder. This is why we conduct weekly polls over on our Instagram to get our communities’ take on the look of bags. Follow us on Instagram to cast your votes! You can find all the results of the polls on our individual review pages too, so you can see how well a bag you’re looking for has performed.

The humble backpack: It’ll get you through anything and everything...

There Really is No “Best Travel Backpack”

Although, there is a best travel backpack for you. All this boils down to your preferences.

When we first started creating this guide, we admittedly thought there would be one best bag for travel, but the deeper we dug, the more we realized it depends on your needs as an individual traveler. Sure, there are generally guiding principles to follow, and a bag made out of cardboard objectively won’t last, but there are too many quality backpacks out there to pick just one. If you’re on a short trip, a lighter, less durable pack will suit you well. If you’re headed to Southeast Asia during the monsoon season, you may want some heavy-duty weatherproofing.

We wish you the best of luck moving forward with your selection. Still want more? Be sure to check out our other guides and travel gear reviews too!

Our team at Pack Hacker developed the “best travel backpack” guide in partnership with our friends (and bag experts) at Carryology . We’re constantly updating this guide as new backpacks are released, and the travel landscape changes.


Author: Tom Wahlin

Tom has lived out of a 40L backpack for 2 years of travel, helping him learn what to pack and what to leave behind. His top achievements include designing for Apple and eating large quantities of ramen (ongoing).

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The 10 Best Backpack Brands for Travelers, Tested and Reviewed

From sporty to sleek, these are the best backpack brands for every occasion.

travelling the world in a backpack

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks

Our Testing Process

  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Whether you’re a frequent flyer, an outdoor enthusiast, a student, or a commuter, a reliable backpack will serve you well. These bags offer hands-free carrying convenience, and can be especially useful for travel, thanks to large capacities and numerous zippered compartments. Some styles even boast moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials that are great for active pursuits like hiking and climbing. 

We tested well over 150 backpacks so we feel confident recommending our favorite brands to suit any traveler’s style and needs, with options for those who prefer sleek designs, ample pockets, handy tech features, and more. When evaluating standout picks from our top brands, we kept durability, capacity, design, comfort, and overall value in mind with our top recommendations. We will update this article as we test even more backpacks to reflect our findings.

Best Overall

Herschel boasts a huge range of retro backpack styles, from packable day bags to roomy weekenders — all with ample pockets and comfortable straps.

Most of the bags feature prominent branding.

Herschel earns our pick for top backpack brand thanks to the wide range of styles and sizes, all crafted from high-quality materials that are designed to last a lifetime. From slick, weather-resistant weekenders to compact everyday bags made from recycled plastic, there’s something for everyone with a size range of five to 30 liters.  

As you shop the various silhouettes, you’ll spot a variety of vintage-inspired designs — the brand is instantly recognizable for its signature front straps with magnetic buckle closures — as well as more modern styles. The Kaslo Backpack Tech is our favorite of the bunch, thanks to its impressive capacity. We found that it fits a few days’ worth of clothing, as well as multiple laptops, toiletries, and a small camera. It’s perfect for travel days, as it slips right onto your carry-on via a luggage trolley sleeve, plus it has three compartments to help with organization and ensure your passport and other airport essentials stay within reach. 

The Details: 30-day return policy | Limited lifetime warranty

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

Best for Hiking

Gregory offers an extended size range from youth to 6XL.

The bags aren’t machine-washable, so you'll need to spot-clean them or hand-wash them.

For over 40 years, Gregory has been one of the leading names in outdoor gear, producing rugged and lightweight bags for day hikes or months-long backpacking trips — several of which make our list of ideal packs for backpacking . What sets the brand apart — beyond high-performance material that’s moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and ventilated for maximum breathability — is its size-inclusive range of backpacks, which runs up to 6XL. These bags feature extended padding, easier access to pockets, and larger hip belts for additional comfort. 

Gregory is also a favorite for sports enthusiasts thanks to revolutionary Hydro Tanks. Designed for hikers and cyclists, these 3D reservoirs make it easier than ever to hydrate on the go, without stopping to take off your backpack, and they also dry quickly and easily. When done, you can slip them into a dedicated pocket that doubles as a small laptop or tablet sleeve. The Swift 22 H2O was one of our favorite Gregory backpacks that we've tested, featuring ample padding and custom-fit straps that make it an extremely comfortable pick for hikers of all levels and body types.

The Details: 14-day return policy | Limited lifetime warranty

Travel + Leisure / Anna Popp

Best for Business Travel

Samsonite brings the same innovation and durability to its travel-ready backpacks — and some even come with wheels.

Multiple external pockets and zippered compartments make most of the brand’s pieces more functional than fashionable.

Samsonite is a legacy brand that has been making its mark on the luggage industry for over 100 years, crafting some of the most durable and functional pieces on the market — a reputation which extends to its backpacks as well. Whether you’re looking at a rolltop or a convertible leather bag, it’s bound to have ample compartments for all of your belongings, from a protected laptop sleeve to easy-access external pockets for travel essentials like a passport and boarding pass.

We’re big fans of the Samsonite Elevation Plus Backpack , which has the perfect amount of pockets for organization and a sneakily large capacity thanks to the expandable zipper that adds extra space. It has everything a traveler would want in a functional backpack, and it looks nice, too. We appreciated that the front pocket has a magnetic flap over the zipper to make it more secure, and we loved how easy it was to It was adjust the backpack straps (which is not always the case). There is also a ton of padding on the back of the bag and on the shoulder straps, making it comfortable to carry on long travel days.

The Details: 60-day return policy | Limited 10-year global warranty

Travel + Leisure / Joy Kim

Best Sustainable

Cotopaxi stands out for its vibrant, multi-colored designs that are also eco-friendly.

The bags don’t offer the same structure as a standard backpack.

Known for brightly colored outdoor gear prominently emblazoned with a llama, Cotopaxi strives to make a positive impact on the planet through a number of sustainability initiatives. Ninety-four percent of the carbon-neutral company’s products are crafted from recycled, repurposed, or responsible ( GOTS-certified ) materials at factory partners with exceptionally high codes of conduct. Through the Cotopaxi Foundation nonprofit, the brand is able to allocate one percent of its annual profits to support communities in need, providing health care and education to underserved areas in Latin America. 

Cotopaxi produces everything from barely-there drawstring bags to 42-liter packs that can fit everything you’d need for an extended trip. Our favorite Cotopaxi backpack is the Allpa 35L Travel Pack , which is so comfortable and loaded with handy features, like a hidden external laptop sleeve (so there’s no need to open up your entire bag in the TSA line). There’s also an easy-access zip pocket for your passport and keys, and four interior zippered sections to keep everything organized. Anti-theft zippers and a built-in rain cover are the cherry on top for this bag, which can easily replace your carry-on for long weekend trips, too. 

The Details: 60-day return policy | Lifetime warranty

Travel + Leisure / Jhett Thompson

Travel + leisure / Jhett Thompson

Best Classic

It genuinely doesn’t get more classic or convenient than an L.L.Bean backpack. 

The designs of the school and hiking backpacks all skew rather sporty. 

One of the most trusted names in outdoor gear since 1911, L.L.Bean has been innovating on classic forms for over a century. The brand’s school book packs in particular are the prototype for so many dupes on the market, thanks to their lightweight yet ultra-hardy material and features like padded straps and ample pockets of various sizes.

For younger kids in particular, the L.L.Bean Deluxe 32-liter Book Pack is a game changer in terms of staying organized and not feeling weighed down. The weatherproof, capacious bag has enough pockets to keep small belongings safe without losing track of them and space to comfortably fit several folders and binders, a textbook, some library books, a water bottle, and a snack  — plus, we found that there’s even room to stuff a packable winter coat inside. 

The Details: 1-year return policy | 1-year warranty

Travel + Leisure / Kate Rousu

Monos crafts sleek pieces for travelers who need the organization and portability of a backpack but typically struggle to find one stylish enough to suit them.

The brand only has one backpack style and size.

A favorite brand among travel editors and celebrities alike, Monos is a fairly young luggage label that makes some of the most streamlined silhouettes on the market. The minimalist pieces are easy to mix and match, and the Metro Collection in particular features durable nylon or vegan leather accessories designed to enhance any trip. 

While there is only one backpack available, it’s sure to please the more style-conscious jetsetter in your life. The Metro Backpack is perfect to use solo for weekend trips or as a personal item (in addition to a carry-on) for longer getaways. We found the clamshell design makes it super easy to pack, and it comes with a detachable Metro Classic Kit, which functions as a portable dopp kit where you can store all your in-flight essentials within easy reach. 

The Details: 30-day return policy | 2-year limited warranty

Best Convertible

Many of the brand’s backpacks can be attached to other bags so you can customize your total capacity.

Several features are geared toward advanced outdoorsmen, like built-in whistles and attachments for trekking poles or ice axes.

Launched in 1974, Osprey has earned its reputation as one of the most trusted backpack brands on the market thanks to its enormous selection of styles, which are tailored to all sorts of activities. Whether you’re a cyclist, climber, hiker, winter sports enthusiast, or world traveler, there’s a backpack made to suit your style. Osprey’s bags range in size from nine to 70 liters and are mostly compatible as attachments, so you can mix and match sizes to find your perfect fit. The environmentally conscious brand also strives to minimize waste, preferring to repair rather than replace applicable warranty products. 

For both day hikers and travelers looking for a small personal item, the Osprey Daylite Plus Pack is one of our top picks thanks to a number of features that can be interpreted based on your desired usage. A padded laptop sleeve doubles as space for an hydration reservoir, while a removable webbed hip belt allows for a custom fit. The best part about this water-repellent bag is how lightweight it is — just 1.3 pounds — and how evenly it distributes weight across your back.

Travel + Leisure /Jhett Thompson

Best for Commuters

City-dwellers will love the utilitarian design of these unisex backpacks, which are shockingly spacious for how compact they appear when empty. 

The features are best suited for everyday commuters or those traveling with multiple tech devices as the backpacks aren’t as breathable for outdoor pursuits.

Solo New York has a range of travel-ready backpacks that are designed to make city living and commuting easier, thanks to their sleek designs and an impressive number of compartments and zippered closures to offer additional security. While these aren’t the best choice for serious hikers — they’re not quite as breathable as other lightweight bags designed for more active outdoor use — they’re ideal for anyone looking to stay organized on the go. 

For daily use and on shorter trips, we love the Solo Re:Define Backpack for its deceptively slim design and exceptional storage capacity. There are plenty of zippered pockets to keep your valuables organized, plus modern details like an external USB port, a headphone jack, an RFID-blocking pouch, and a laptop compartment with lockable zippers.

The Details: 30-day return policy | 5-year warranty

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Best Folding

You can customize any Paravel piece with a monogram.

There aren’t many bells and whistles on the two sizes available of the pared-down backpack.

Paravel is one of the chicest brands on the market, making it a stylish and lightweight choice for travelers who are looking for a way to tote around just the essentials. The brand, which is famous for its luxurious luggage and coordinating duffel bags, offers two sizes of folding backpacks made from upcycled plastic bottles. 

For days when you’re looking to carry a few personal items (think: your phone, wallet, keys, plus sunscreen, a book, and a light sweater), the Paravel Mini Fold-Up Backpack is ideal for stashing your things without weighing you down. We especially love how it folds flat and zips up right into itself to fit into another bag or coat pocket without requiring a separate case. 

The Details: 30-day return policy (excluding personalized pieces)

Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Jansport makes some of the sturdiest student-style backpacks in a wide range of colors and patterns.

The fabric cover on the zippers makes it difficult to open them one-handed.

Jansport is one of the most beloved, well-priced backpack brands for students of all ages, thanks to ultra-durable packs that are structured enough to keep your things safe, yet flexible enough to stuff full without losing their shape. The brand is also famous for its generous warranty policy that will replace your bag under a wide range of circumstances, which only adds to the overall value. 

Everyone from travelers to students will appreciate the Jansport Main Campus , which features mesh straps for better breathability, an external water bottle holder, and a cushy laptop sleeve. We especially appreciated how the front zippered pocket comes with an organizer to keep your pens, phone, wallet, and other small essential always close at hand. 

The Details: 60-day return policy | Limited lifetime year warranty

Travel + Leisure

The Travel + Leisure team has tested more than 150 backpacks in our New York City testing lab as well as out in the real world. We checked out a wide variety of models from the most reliable, top-rated brands, considering legacy brands as well as newer additions to the market. We evaluated each bag for durability, capacity, design, comfort, and overall value by packing them with clothing; laptops (if they had a designated laptop sleeve); water bottles; and travel essentials like passports, headphones, clothes, and more. 

In our lab, we dragged the fully packed bags over various flooring materials, kicked them, and threw them off of tables to test for potential wear and tear and to see if the pockets kept everything in place. To see how they’d perform in real-life environments, we also brought these backpacks on hikes, to classes, and on train and plane trips, noting how they stood up to rugged use outside of the lab. The backpacks with the highest average ratings across categories were selected for this roundup, and we continue to test each bag for a period of six months through our personal travels. We will continue to update this article as we test more bags.

Tips for Buying a Travel Backpack

Get to know the brand.

While we’ve provided a brief overview of some of our top-ranked brands here, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few brands before selecting a backpack, especially if you need it for specific purposes like outdoor sports and want to get a sense of the special features on offer. You’ll want to pay close attention to the brand’s return policy and warranty, as these can add peace of mind in the event that your backpack arrives damaged or isn’t the right fit for your needs. Some brands, like Jansport, are famous for repairing and replacing warranty-approved items throughout their lifetime, too. 

Consider the style that suits your needs

If you’re a commuter looking for a sleek, secure pack that won’t bonk other people on the subway, your backpack is going to look and feel a lot different than an avid climber who needs all sorts of external attachments and pockets. Consider the primary use for your backpack, whether you’re regularly jetsetting on business trips and require carry-on capacity (and the ability to squish your bag under the seat in front of you) or if you need lots of pockets for keeping track of water bottles, layers, snacks and more for outdoor adventures. You're going to want to prioritize durability and weatherproof materials if you plan on using it for hiking, while you may want something more stylish for work or business trips. Deciding if you’d prefer a more sporty or sophisticated look will help you to narrow down brands as well. 

Prioritize durability and comfort

A backpack that rips or bursts open while you’re on the go is a nightmare — and so is one that chafes or bumps against your skin all day long. Invest in a backpack made from high-quality materials that are designed to stand the test of time and that feel comfortable enough for all-day wear. Breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics are ideal, as they tend to be more lightweight and will serve you well in a variety of situations. Look for padding on the straps to help make it easier on your shoulders, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether or not your backpack can be used as a personal item will depend primarily on its size. Generally speaking, most airlines allow for a personal item up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches in size — although budget airlines can sometimes be more particular, so always remember to check with your carrier first. Beyond fitting the size requirement, you’ll want to select a backpack with some give so you can comfortably squish it underneath the seat in front of you or stuff it into an overhead bin. Backpacks with external pockets are also ideal as personal items as they make it easy to access your travel essentials — like a passport, boarding pass, train tickets, laptop, and toiletries for longer flights — without having to open or unpack the entire bag. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this story, T+L contributor Sophie Dodd researched a variety of backpack brands and poured over testing results in order to select the top backpack brands for every type of traveler, as well as standout products from each one. As a seasoned traveler who’s relied on a number of backpacks over the years, she relied on her vast personal experience, too.

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

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What to Take in Your Backpack When Traveling: The Ultimate Packing List and Tips

Backpacking is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to travel the world. You get to explore new places, meet new people, and experience different cultures. But before you hit the road, you need to pack your backpack wisely. What to take in your backpack when traveling depends on many factors, such as your destination, duration, budget, and preferences. In this article, we will show you the ultimate packing list for backpacking, and give you some tips on how to pack smartly and efficiently.

1. Backpacking Essentials: What to Take in Your Backpack When Traveling

When you’re backpacking, you want to pack light and smart. You don’t want to carry unnecessary weight or items that you won’t use. You also want to pack items that are versatile, durable, and useful for different situations. Here are some of the essential items that you should take in your backpack when traveling:

a man is packing his backpack

1.1. Passport and Travel Documents

These are the most important items that you need to pack, as they are required for entering and exiting countries, booking flights, and proving your identity. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date, and that you have all the necessary visas, permits, and vaccinations for your destinations. You should also make copies of your passport and travel documents, and store them in different places, such as your email, cloud, or a separate bag. This way, you can access them in case you lose or damage the originals. You can also use apps like Google Drive or Evernote to scan and save your documents online.

1.2. Money and Cards

You need to have enough money and cards to cover your expenses and emergencies. You should have a mix of cash and cards, and use them wisely. Cash is useful for paying for small items, tips, and places that don’t accept cards. Cards are useful for paying for large items, online bookings, and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

You should also have a backup card in case you lose or damage your primary card. Sometimes, you should inform your bank of your travel plans, and check the exchange rates and fees for your destinations. In addition, use a money belt or a hidden pocket to keep your money and cards safe from theft or loss. You can also use apps like XE Currency to track exchange rates and manage your money abroad.

1.3. Clothes and Shoes

You need to pack clothes and shoes that are suitable for your destinations, weather, and activities. The clothes are needed to be comfortable, breathable, and easy to wash and dry. They should also be versatile and can be layered, mixed, and matched. You should avoid packing clothes that are bulky, heavy, or require special care. Furthermore, pack shoes that are comfortable, durable, and appropriate for walking, hiking, or other activities. A pair of flip-flops or sandals for showering or relaxing. A hat, sunglasses, and a scarf or a bandana for protection from the sun, dust, or cold. You can use packing cubes or compression bags to organize your clothes and save space in your backpack.

1.4. Toiletries and Personal Items

You need to pack toiletries and personal items that are essential for your hygiene, health, and comfort. Toiletries that are travel-sized, biodegradable, and multi-purpose. They should also be specific to your needs, such as medication, contact lenses, or feminine products. You should also pack personal items that are useful for your well-being, such as earplugs, eye masks, travel pillows, or a book. Pack a towel that is quick-drying, lightweight, and compact. You may also need a reusable water bottle that is leak-proof, durable, and easy to fill and clean. You can also use a toiletry bag or a ziplock bag to store your toiletries and prevent leaks or spills in your backpack.

1.5. First Aid Kit and Emergency Items

You need to pack a first aid kit and emergency items that are essential for your safety and survival. A first aid kit contains basic items, such as bandages, antiseptic, painkillers, and tweezers. The first aid kit also contains items that are specific to your destination, such as insect repellent, sunscreen, or altitude sickness pills. Emergency items that are useful for unexpected situations, such as a flashlight, a whistle, a knife, or a fire starter. You may also need a phone that is unlocked, charged, and has a local SIM card. Moreover, you should pack a power bank that is portable, powerful, and compatible with your devices. You can also use a waterproof bag or a dry bag to keep your electronics and valuables dry and safe in your backpack.

These are some of the backpacking essentials that you should take in your backpack when traveling. Of course, you may need to adjust your packing list according to your personal preferences, needs, and circumstances. But remember, the key to packing your backpack is to pack light, smart, and essential. This way, you can enjoy your backpacking trip without hassle or burden.

2. Backpacking Extras: What to Take in Your Backpack When Traveling

Besides the essential items that you need to pack for your backpacking trip, some extra items can make your trip more enjoyable, comfortable, or fun. These items are not necessary, but they can enhance your travel experience and suit your personal preferences. Here are some of the extra items that you may want to take in your backpack when traveling:

a black bag that packs a laptop, earphone, charger, smart phone,...

2.1. Camera and Accessories

If you love photography or want to capture your memories, you may want to pack a camera and some accessories, such as a tripod, a lens, a memory card, and a battery. You should choose a camera that fits your budget, skill level, and style, such as a DSLR, a mirrorless, a point-and-shoot, or a smartphone. Additionally, you can use apps like Snapseed or Lightroom to edit your photos and make them look more professional.

You should consider the weight, size, and durability of your camera and accessories, and pack them in a protective case or bag. Don’t forget to check the rules and regulations of your destinations regarding photography, and respect the local culture and privacy of the people you photograph.

2.2. Books and Games

If you love reading or playing games, you may want to pack some books and games that can keep you entertained during your downtime, such as on a long bus ride, on a rainy day, or a lazy evening. I love reading the travel books for inspiration. Yet, you can choose books and games that are relevant to your destinations, such as a guidebook, a novel, a puzzle, or a trivia. You can also use apps like Kindle or Audible to read or listen to books on your device.

You should consider the weight, size, and number of your books and games, and pack them in a compact and organized way. Also, you should check the availability and compatibility of your apps and games in your destinations, and download them in advance if needed.

2.3. Snacks and Drinks

If you love snacking or drinking, you may want to pack some snacks and drinks that can satisfy your cravings, boost your energy, or quench your thirst. Remember to choose snacks and drinks that are healthy, tasty, and easy to carry, such as nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, chocolate, tea, coffee, or water.

You should also consider the shelf life, temperature, and packaging of your snacks and drinks, and pack them in a sealed and insulated container or bag. Make sure you check the customs and quarantine rules of your destinations regarding food and drink and avoid bringing any prohibited or restricted items.

2.4. Souvenirs and Gifts

If you love shopping or giving gifts, you may want to pack some souvenirs and gifts that can remind you of your trip, express your gratitude, or share your culture. You can choose souvenirs and gifts that are unique, meaningful, and affordable, such as magnets, postcards, stickers, keychains, jewelry, or handicrafts.

You should also consider the weight, size, and value of your souvenirs and gifts, and pack them safely and securely. Remember to check the customs and duty rules of your destinations regarding souvenirs and gifts, and avoid bringing any illegal or taxable items.

3. Backpacking Tips: How to Pack Your Backpack When Traveling

Now that you know what to take in your backpack when traveling, you also need to know how to pack your backpack properly. Packing your backpack well can make a big difference in your comfort, mobility, and safety. Here are some tips on how to pack your backpack when traveling:

3.1. Choose the Right Backpack

You need to choose the right backpack that fits your body, budget, and needs. You should choose a backpack that has a comfortable and adjustable harness, a sturdy and waterproof material, and a suitable capacity and weight. It would be best if you also chose a backpack that has multiple compartments, pockets, and straps to help you organize and secure your items.

3.2. Pack by Weight and Frequency

You need to pack your items by their weight and frequency of use. You should pack the heaviest items, such as clothes, shoes, and toiletries, in the bottom and center of your backpack, close to your spine. This will help you balance your load and reduce strain on your back. You should pack the lightest items, such as a sleeping bag, towel, and hat, in the top and sides of your backpack. This will help you fill the gaps and stabilize your backpack. You should pack the most frequently used items, such as your passport, money, phone, and snacks, in your backpack’s front and outer pockets. This will help you access them easily and quickly.

3.3. Pack by Category and Color

You need to pack your items by their category and color. You should pack your items in separate bags or containers, such as packing cubes, compression bags, ziplock bags, or dry bags. This will help you keep your items organized, clean, and dry. You should also pack your items in different colors, such as red, blue, green, or yellow. This will help you identify your items quickly and avoid confusion.

3.4. Pack by the Rule of Three

You need to pack your items by the rule of three. This means that you should pack only three sets of clothes: one to wear, one to wash, and one to spare. This will help you save space, weight, and money. You should also pack only three pairs of shoes: one for walking, one for hiking, and one for relaxing. This will help you cover different terrains, activities, and occasions. You should also pack only three toiletries: one for cleaning, one for moisturizing, and one for protecting. This will help you maintain your hygiene, health, and comfort.

a man is packing his bag's front compartment

4. Frequently Asked Questions

4.1. how do you prepare a backpack for a flight.

To prepare a backpack for a flight, you need to follow the airline’s regulations and guidelines regarding carry-on and checked baggage. Here are some steps to prepare a backpack for a flight

Check the Airline’s Baggage Policies

You need to check the airline’s baggage policies before packing your backpack, as they may vary depending on the airline, destination, and fare type. You need to check the size, weight, and number limits for carry-on and checked baggage, as well as the fees and restrictions for oversized, overweight, or extra baggage. Also, you need to check the prohibited and restricted items for carry-on and checked baggage, such as liquids, aerosols, gels, sharp objects, weapons, batteries, and electronics.

Choose Your Backpack Type

You need to choose whether you want to bring your backpack as a carry-on or a checked bag, depending on your preference, needs, and circumstances. If you bring your backpack as a carry-on, you can avoid baggage fees, lost or damaged luggage, and waiting time at the baggage claim. However, you need to make sure your backpack meets the size and weight limits for carry-on baggage, and that it contains only items that are allowed in carry-on baggage. If you bring your backpack as a checked bag, you can pack more items, including those that are not allowed in carry-on baggage, and have more freedom and comfort during the flight. However, you need to pay the baggage fees, secure your backpack from theft or damage, and label it with your name and contact information.

Pack Your Backpack Properly

You need to pack your backpack properly for a flight, following the tips mentioned above for packing a backpack for travel. In addition, you need to pack your valuables, essentials, and fragile items in your carry-on backpack, and your bulky, heavy, and non-essential items in your checked backpack. Besides that, pack your liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in a clear, quart-sized, zip-top bag, and place it in a separate bin for screening. Remember, you need to remove your laptop, tablet, and other large electronics from your carry-on backpack, and place them in a separate bin for screening. You also need to lock your checked backpack with a TSA-approved lock and attach a luggage tag with your name and contact information.

4.2. How Strict are Airlines about Backpacks?

Airlines can be strict about backpacks, especially if they exceed the size, weight, or number limits for carry-on or checked baggage. The airlines may measure, weigh, or inspect your backpack at the check-in counter or the gate. They possibly ask you to check it, pay a fee, or remove some items if it does not comply with their baggage policies. Definitely, airlines may refuse to accept your backpack if it contains any prohibited or restricted items, such as weapons, explosives, flammable substances, or illegal drugs. To avoid any problems or delays, it is advisable to follow the airline’s baggage policies and guidelines and check your backpack before flying.

4.3. What is not Allowed in Personal Item Bag?

A personal item bag is a type of hand luggage that you carry onto the plane with you and is smaller than a carry-on. It must fit under the seat in front of you or the overhead bin. A personal item bag can include a purse, briefcase, laptop bag, backpack, or tote bag. However, some items are not allowed in a personal item bag, such as:

Sharp Objects

Anything with a blade, such as knives, scissors, razors, or corkscrews. These are not allowed in carry-on baggage and must be packed in checked baggage.

Anything that could be used as a potential weapon, such as guns, ammunition, fireworks, pepper spray, or martial arts equipment. These are not allowed in carry-on or checked baggage and may be confiscated or reported to the authorities.

Liquids, Aerosols, Gels, Creams, and Pastes That are Larger than 3.4 Ounces (100 Milliliters) per Item

Such as shampoo, lotion, perfume, or toothpaste. These are not allowed in carry-on baggage and must be packed in checked baggage. You can bring liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes that are 3.4 ounces or less per item in a clear, quart-sized, zip-top bag, and place it in a separate bin for screening.

Batteries, Electronics, or Power Banks That are Damaged, Defective, or Recalled

Such as lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries, hoverboards, or e-cigarettes. These are not allowed in carry-on or checked baggage and may pose a fire hazard or an explosion risk.

Food or Beverages That are not Sealed, Wrapped, or Packaged

Such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, or liquids. These are not allowed in carry-on baggage and may be subject to agricultural inspection or quarantine. You can bring food or beverages that are sealed, wrapped, or packaged, such as snacks, candy, or water, as long as they comply with the liquids rule.

Wrap-Up: What to Take in Your Backpack When Traveling

Packing your backpack for traveling can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With our ultimate packing list and tips, you can pack like a pro and enjoy your backpacking adventure. Remember to pack only the essentials, choose versatile and durable items, and organize your backpack well. And don’t forget to have fun and be flexible along the way. What are your backpacking essentials? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below. And if you liked this article, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and check out our other travel guides.


what to take in your backpack when traveling - the broad life pinterest board


We hope you enjoyed this article on what to take in your backpack when traveling. If you want to learn more about how to pack your luggage, suitcase, or other travel items, check out our other articles on packing tips for travelers. You’ll find useful advice, hacks, and recommendations on how to pack like a pro and travel light and smart. Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your packing skills and make your travel experience more enjoyable and hassle-free. Read our other articles on packing tips for travelers now!

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5 Valuable Packing Tips for Travel You Need to Know

  • Travel Essentials Checklist: 10 Items You Shouldn’t Forget to Pack

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Khoi Nguyen

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.

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I found this article to be most helpful. I always overpack on trips so I am using your advice for my next trip!

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I hope the article’s info helps you to enjoy your trip!

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Nikki Wayne

These tips are really helpful especially for me because i really like travelling in different cities or countries.

I’m glad that the tips are helpful for you.

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Good Info! Not much of a back packer myself but I know many who are and shall pass this on. Thank you

Thanks for your comment!

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Renata Feyen

That’s a great list, and many people could benefit from it. I have never done it, and given my fysical condition, I don’t think I ever will.

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Fransic verso

This is cool, we will be traveling soon and this will help a lot. Important things to have. Thank you for sharing!

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Not much of a back-packer when it comes to my city travels. I have wanted to do a back pack and camping adventure trip in the mountains. Your tips will come in handy.

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How to Travel the World With 1 Backpack

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One common issue many travelers have as they prepare for an exciting trip is over-packing. From too many clothes to bulky electronics, it’s easy to bring way more than you need and that will ultimately slow you down from enjoying the things you really want to do.

Camping Backpack

Camping Backpack

For a hiker, having a backpack is essential. You can pack a snack, water and other supplies for your day's journey and keep them at hand right on your person. 

Photo by: Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

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Faced with this problem, I started to think about whether or not it would be possible to travel the world with only one backpack and still have everything you need. As I researched space-saving solutions, I soon learned that not only is it possible, but you can pack your bag and still have room for souvenirs.

Whether you’re planning to backpack through Europe, a road trip across the country or just want to learn how to pack smarter, the video below highlights minimalist tips you need for your next adventure.

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1 Backpack Travel Tips

Here’s what you need:


Choose a light pack with plenty of compartments. While you’re at the store looking at options, try different packs on and see which one is the most comfortable. You’re not going to make it far with a cumbersome pack that has a piece of plastic poking you.


Stick to wrinkle-free garments in neutral colors and only bring the essentials. Layering is your friend and will help you create different outfits daily. Cut down on the volume of clothes you need to bring by packing a wash kit (sink stopper and packets of detergent).

Shoes are obviously important but make sure you only bring your most comfortable pairs that can be worn during different activities (hiking, walking, going out and casual).

Pro tip: Valuable packing space can be found inside your shoes! Fill them with socks, jewelry, etc.


If you’re roughing it and don’t have access to a hotel where they provide towels, bring your own but make sure it’s of the quick-dry variety. A quick-drying towel takes up less space and you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more knowing a damp towel isn’t ruining your other possessions.

For smaller items, lightweight storage bags are the ideal way to keep everything organized. Use them to pack your toothbrush, dry toiletries–which last for weeks–and sample-size makeup.


Bottles of water can be pricey when traveling abroad so you’ll want to bring your own to fill up where you can. Instead of hanging your bottle on the exterior of your bag where it will bounce around and make noise with every step, purchase a collapsible one that can be smooshed down to about an inch tall.


Unless you’re a professional photographer I recommend leaving the bulky, expensive camera at home and use your smart phone with a clip-on lens instead. The latest smartphones are capable of capturing stellar moments and the lens will make them sharper and Instagram-worthy.

Planning on bringing your laptop with you on your trip? I wouldn’t for the simple fact your bag will be bouncing around and it could get damaged. Instead, bring a thin tablet that you can tuck between your clothes. You’ll still be able to browse the web and video chat with friends without the worry of damaging your more expensive computer.

 Ultimate Space Savers

Compression bags and packing cubes will be your best friend when it comes to saving space. Place your clothes one-by-one inside the compression bag and roll it to remove the air once filled. What was once a stack of clothes that would take up valuable real estate is now a much smaller cylinder that can easily be tucked into your backpack.

Like the lightweight storage bags, packing cubes help to keep your mid-size items organized. What you want to avoid is having to go on a scavenger hunt to find items. Label your cubes if necessary.


Place your shoes, compression bags and packing cubes into your backpack and try to roll everything else you might be bringing to save as much space as possible. Now you’re ready for anything. Au revoir!

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Home » Budget Travel » How To Pack A Backpack: Travel Hacks and Inside Tips For 2024

How To Pack A Backpack: Travel Hacks and Inside Tips For 2024

As world travellers, there are many diverse skills that we must all develop and refine in order to survive. These skills or arts even, include the art of blagging lifts across entire countries from total strangers. They include the art of driving impossible room rate bargains with unwilling guest house proprietors, and of course, the art of holding in ones poo for heroic lengths of time once the single squat toilet on the Indian train overflows.

But of all the skills a traveller must acquire, perhaps none has proven quite so elusive as the dark art of correctly packing ones backpack.

Indeed, effective packing can make or break an entire trip. It is the difference between having everything you need and not having it, between being able to find things in a hurry and not being, and between keeping packed valuables safe and valuables being at risk. Perhaps above all though, proper packing even makes the very difference between been able to carry your backpack, or not been able to carry it.

Today we are sharing the sum total of our collective experience with you our dear readers. Welcome our to epic How To Pack a Backpack For Travelling Guide!

Choose Your Stuff Carefully

How to pack a backpack with clothes, use packing cubes, get a toiletry bag, get a laundry bag, how to pack a backpack for travel, don’t over pack, top tips for packing a backpack for a trip.

Backpacking packing list

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Before we can even think about how to pack a backpack for travel, we need to carefully examine what exactly we are intending to pack into it. Whether you’re looking at doing some one bag travel or taking a few different packs, you need to think long and hard.

Now, this is an exercise which you should take your time over and do in a relaxed frame of mind. Therefore feel free to pour yourself a glass of wine, get the tunes on, and even burn some incense.

To start, find an empty room with either a decent amount of clear floor space or a double bed (ideally one with nobody trying to sleep in it) and then lay out every single item that you are even thinking about taking. This includes travel documents, clothes, shoes, toiletries, electronics, first aid kits and skipping ropes – I repeat, if you’re considering bringing it, get it out!

At this point, you should have a big, sprawling ungodly mess of worldly goods and consumer items, which will incidentally serve as a pretty concise snap-shot of who you are and what your life is about. What we now do is identify all the items which you are going to take as carry on such as passports, laptops, a book to read, dynamite, and whatever else you want to take into the airplane cabin with you. Put these items to one side.

Always Try To Pack Light

travelling the world in a backpack

From the remaining pile, it’s time to weed out every last bit of excess. For example, 2 pairs of shoes is usually more than enough for any trip. For my upcoming 2 month Goa/Bali trip I am bringing Converse All Stars for both day to day and dressed up wear, and my running trainers for running, and trekking. As you will presumably already be wearing one pair of shoes to catch to your flight, you only need to pack 1 into your backpack.

Any “nice to have” items such as a formal shirt, high heels or the collected world of Leo Tolstoy should be purged and removed from the pile. If there is any room left at the end, we can always bring them back.

In order to help you assess how much stuff you need, check out this epic backpacking packing list. As a rule though, one weeks worth of clothes is more than enough. Do bring some nice items for “best” wear, but try to keep them as versatile as possible – for example, short sleeved, nicely made Hawaiian shirts look equally ridiculous both for cocktails and on the beach alike so they’re a win/win! Ladies, note that hippy chic and trance wear is purpose made for travellers as it’s easy to dress up and dress down so can also be worn on the beach or at the/da club.

If you already have experience of backpacking then you will probably have learned that less is more and this pile of “prospective items” will be more or less ready to go minus a final edit. For beginners and first timers though, it is quite likely that your short list is ridiculously excessive. A rule some find useful is to try and cut your pile by 50% – yep, first timers have a tendency to try and bring twice as much stuff as they actually need!

How To Pack a Backpack With Clothes

How to pack a backpack with clothes? Well we will tell you. Now that the boring prep work is out of the way, we can begin the real magic – rolling things up!

In order to maximise space, roll up as many of your clothes as you can. Roll up those socks, those underpants, those trousers and those t-shirts. In case you have never rolled up a T-shirt before the process is simple;

  • Fold the arms in so it takes on a rectangular shape
  • Fold it in half across the middle and then fold in half again
  • You will now have a long, thin rectangle
  • Turn it round and roll tightly from one end to the other

Be sure to put as many rolled items inside of your shoes as you can, as this saves even more room. Shoes themselves however should not be rolled up…

Of course, most of you already know these tried and trusted techniques for packing a backpack with clothes. But… for the benefit of the 8% of you who don’t, here it is! Deepest apologies if I am teaching you how to suck eggs, but nobody gets left behind here (by the way, in case do not know how so suck eggs, then be sure to check out our epic Egg Sucking Guide!)

travelling the world in a backpack

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And that’s all the minimising and culling we can do. Unless of course, by the time you read this, somebody has invented a shrinking machine, in which case this entire post will possibly be obsolete.

So from now on, the focus of this guide is on compartmentalisation and sub-categorisation.

And one of the smartest things you can do here, is to use packing cubes.

What Are Packing Cubes?

Packing cubes are zippered fabric containers generally made into a rectangular, “cube” shapes, purpose built to help you organise your stuff! They come in a myriad of different sizes (and sometimes shapes) and are usually sold in sets.

How To Use Packing Cubes

If you’ve never used Packing cubes before, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. They are a magnificent invention and a true game changer when it comes to how to pack a travel backpack. However, you may be wondering exactly how to pack with packing cubes.

You can use packing cubes to organise all manner of gear and they help you to sort and organise items together logically. For example, you could have a cube for socks, another for t-shirts and then one for electronics.

Packing cubes are great for many reasons. As well as making packing that little bit easier, they make unpacking a whole lot easier. For example, if you are looking for a particular t-shirt then you know it’s in the t-shirt cube ( as long as you packed it properly) .

Packing cubes can seem expensive at first flush – especially if you have just paid out $000 for a backpack and another $0000 for a one way ticket to Paradise. That said, we’ve found that good quality cubes last many years and they really are worth it to save space, and keep your luggage organised.

Choosing The Right Packing Cubes

There are a lot of different packing cubes out there. They do come in different sizes and sometimes different shapes, but the biggest difference between them is material, build and quality.

After working our way through countless different packing cubes, we strongly recommend this set of 3 compression packing cubes from Nomatic . Nomatic are fast establishing themselves as a leader in making top class travel gear and their cubes can help maximise storage space by 50%!

If you do decide to use packing cubes, put your belongings into the packing cubes and stop there for now. Don’t try to put the packing cubes into your actual backpack just yet.

Oh, and with all this cube stuff going on, do feel free to give the Tetris theme music a quick play. Your glass of wine may also be empty by this point so do feel free to replenish it.

Nomatic Toiletry Bag

Packing cubes are very handy and will make your life on the road so much easier. They are however, definitely not “essential”. What absolutely is essential though, is a toiletry bag so do not leave home without one!

In case you don’t know, a toiletry bag is a small(ish) bag used to house the hygiene, beauty and health products which you need when you travel. Typically, the toiletry bag will hold a toothbrush and paste, some soap or body wash, shampoo, hair styling products and maybe some feminine hygiene products. Some have extra zippered pouches on both the inside and outside which are great for storing things like paracetamol, condoms and rehydration sachets.

Ideally you should get a hanging toiletry bag one which you can hang from your bathroom mirror or hostel bed wherever you go. It is worth spending a bit of money on this as it will get twice daily use so please remember the old adage, “buy cheap, buy twice”. The last thing you want is for the zip to break or the cloth to tear because of water damage.

Note that if you are struggling to zip your toiletry bag closed, you’ve probably packed too much stuff. This means excess weight and also puts some undue strain on the toiletry bag which may result in damage. So if this is you, then go through it and have a wee purge – do you really need that coconut scented hair conditioner and bottle of Hugo Boss aftershave?

Which Is The Best Toiletry Bag?

There are loads of toiletry bags out there and choosing between them can be overwhelming. Most of them are very similar and the only meaningful differences are in the materials and build which ultimately impacts its lifespan.

Over the years, we have gone through loads of different toiletry bags and are proud to recommend the Toiletry Bag by Nomatic . It’s made from high-quality, water-resistant polyester to handle the roughest of travels. It has 4 sections to help you better organize your travel essentials.

Laundry Bag

Another great addition to your collection of bags within a bag is a laundry bag . These are great for keeping dirty items in and are easy to discreetly hand over to washer ladies. A word from the wise (or embittered) though, don’t buy a laundry bag that is too nice or you risk some unscrupulous swine swapping it for their own vastly inferior wash bag (yep, that actually happened to me).

You could simply use a packing cube for this function. However, note that it will sometimes hold very dirty clothes and you may also sometimes have to put wet clothes into it. This is why I prefer to use a purpose built washable, waterproof, fully sealable mesh laundry bag .

How To Pack a Backpack For Traveling

This is what we’ve waited for, this is it boys, this is war and it is now time to actually pack that backpack! By the end of this exercise, you’re going to be a certified expert on how to pack a rucksack for travelling and your backpack is going to be filled up with your worldly treasures, ready to rock and roll.

Let’s start…

  • Pack From The Bottom

When packing, you should always start from the bottom up and from the inside out. If you are packing a sleeping bag, then put this in first. Depending on which backpack you use for travel , it may even have a dedicated sleeping bag section located at the very bottom of the back which opens independently with a cross zip and rope tie. These sleeping bag compartments are ideal for easily accessing sleeping bags – you can get it out each night and pop it back each morning without unpacking your entire bag.

If your backpack does not have one of these compartments, then it’s probably a smalish bag. Are you sure you have the right sized bag for your trip?

If you are not taking a sleeping bag, then you can use the lower compartment for other things. Maybe pop a pair of shoes in there or perhaps wedge your rain-coat or kagool in? Whatever, you’re the boss!

  • Pack To The Corners

Utilise every gap you see and pack right to the corners. If there is a bit of space next to your sleeping bag or something, then get something stuffed in there; socks, t-shirts or towels are perfect for this type of task. Remember that your belongings don’t have feelings and they don’t need their personal space for the long journey (incidentally this is exactly how Ryanair view you).

By the way, my girlfriend is always getting on my case for wasting valuable corners of space in my backpack. The reason I do it is because I know that if I save space in my bag she’ll only make me carry more and more stuff for her.

  • Leave Essentials Near To The Top

If there is anything essential or anything you might hastily need to get out of your bag, then try to leave it near the top so that you can easily and readily access it. As I said earlier, anything immediately essential such as passports should be kept about your person and not packed away into your backpack. But what I mean here is things like a travel rain jacket /kagool or a sarong you may wish to whip out and use a blanket for an overnight train journey.

When I set off for India next week, I know that I will want to change from my UK winter clothes to my Goa clothes immediately as soon as I arrive (because a 5 hour bus Goan ride dressed in jeans and a jumper would probably kill me) . So, I will be sure to leave a pair of shorts and a summer shirt near the top of my bag so I can quickly change right at the airport.

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Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

  • Pack Heavy Things Near The Middle

Now we turn to the middle and this is where the benefits of our experience truly comes into fruition. Try your best to put any heavy items in the middle area, this doesn’t need to be exact but aim for the general mid-area.

This is because this is where you will carry most of the weight. Putting the heavy items here will make your backpack feel a lot lighter and it will be easier to carry.

Heavy items include things like hiking boots, camera’s, Lonely Planet tomes, and maybe that toiletry bag your overstuffed with bryl-cream.

Ideally, you should never put your heavy stuff near the top. This will make the backpack feel heavier and it will also pull back away you from making it pretty awkward to pick up and carry.

  • Pockets And Straps

You may have noticed that your backpack has a few straps and pockets.

The hip pockets are primarily intended for things you may need to access when carrying it such as a lighter, a Swiss army knife or a buff. However, you can also cram a t-shirt or a vest in there if you need to do so. I keep an inflatable pillow in mine purely because it fits so well.

The straps are great for attachming things like tents, roll mats and yoga mats. Do make sure you attach them nice and tight especially if you are going to be checking the backpack in for a flight.


So how does the backpack feel and look? Ideally you should be able to comfortably lift it and walk with it for at least short distances. Ideally, it should not be too heavy to lift and carry, and it should not look overstuffed like it is full to the point of bursting.

If it full to bursting point then you run the risk of putting strain on the backpack and it eventually, erm, bursting. If this happens out on the road it it is a total fucking disaster.

Furthermore, you should also leave some left over space because you will most probably accrue more stuff on your journey. Even if your a minimalist and a tightwad, you will still most probably want to pick up some kind of souvenir. When I look back at my time in Nepal I wish to God (and the many Hindu Gods) that I had brought back more art and handicrafts but unfortunately my backpack was full.

You may also need to leave a bit of room so you can carry home that 10kg white-powder brick that the nice men in Colombia asked you to pass to their cousin once you get to London.

As well as souvenirs, you will also probably want to buy some new clothes at some point when you realise that the person who left home is no longer the person you are now and so you don’t feel comfortable wearing their western, “straight person” clothes. I’m been serious, this does happen.

travelling the world in a backpack

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  • Do a Dummy Run

One big piece of advice we will offer you is to practice packing and unpacking your bag and do a dummy run at least a week before your first trip. There are a number of benefits to doing these dummy runs;

  • You get adept at packing and unpacking n a hurry. Something you will need to do a lot on the road.
  • You can identify anything that you forget to buy (such as that toiletry bag we mentioned!)
  • If you leave it to the last minute, you risk panicking and forgetting something.

So make sure you do that dummy run!

Is Turkey safe to travel alone?

  • Bring Duct Tape

For a full packing list, check out this post . However, one thing I will recommended here is to pack some duct tape. Duct tape has many uses, it can be used to patch up rips & tears and hold bits of your backpack together in the unfortunate event it begins to come apart. Keep it in a side pocket or in the top lid so you can retrieve it quickly when it’s needed.

  • Bring Padlocks

There will be times when your backpack is out of your site and vulnerable to would be thieves. You can try to countenance this by locking the zips together using a padlock or padlocks. Note that not all backpack zips will allow you to do this but it can still be worth attaching a padlock so at least it kind of looks like your bag is locked at a first, casual glance!

  • Get a Bike Lock

As well as padlocks, a bike lock is great for your backpacks security. Bike locks can be used for attaching your backpack to your hostel bed or to the overhead luggage rack on busses and trains. They can also be used for securing bikes, if you have a bike.

  • Get Insurance

In case your backpack or the contents get damaged or stolen, why not obtain Insurance? We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers –  check it out here , or if you’re low on time, get a quote from  World Nomads , our favorite travel insurance provider.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

travelling the world in a backpack

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts On How To Pack a Backpack for Travel

I hope you found that very helpful. Now you are fully equipped with my tips and tricks on how to pack a rucksack for travelling, it’s over to you fellow globe trotter.

travelling the world in a backpack

Chris Lininger

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travelling the world in a backpack

I appreciate the emphasis on weight distribution and balance when packing a backpack. It’s something I often overlook, and then I end up with a sore back after a long day of hiking. The advice to place heavier items closer to the back makes a lot of sense. Can you suggest any specific exercises or stretches to help prevent back pain while carrying a loaded backpack?

Thank you for this article. This is wonderful advice for a beginner traveller like me. I was supposed to travel to Europe mid May but I had to cancel due to covid-19. I’m planning to reschedule though probably before the end of the year. I bought a new backpack that I can easily attach on my luggage. I’ll be packing light and bring a few personal hygiene essentials. The rest I can buy once I arrive at my destination.

Thanks for reaching out Drew. We hope you have an excellent trip once Europe travel is possible (and safe) again!.

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16 Best Places To Backpack In The World

travelling the world in a backpack

After many years of traveling around the world I have come to the conclusion that I am a big fan of countries where you get a lot of bang for your buck! Every time I earn some money with my blog I calculate in 'months in Thailand'. As Thailand is one of the best places to backpack in the world I stranded there a lot of times and it never really cost me more than $800 a month. In this list I will give you the best backpack destinations that I have visited and some backpack destinations for beginners.

1. Nicaragua

backpacking destinations for beginners 1

On my first trip around the world in 2008 I literally had no clue where I was going. I just knew that there were a lot of countries to explore in Central America and that they were one of the cheapest countries to travel to as well, so I decided to take a leap of faith and booked a ticket to Mexico. After 5 weeks traveling through Mexico and Belize and Guatemala I ended up in Nicaragua.

Here I probably stayed in one of the cheapest hostels. I paid only about $1,5 for a bed. I admit there was no AC, but the fans did a great job too. Doing laundry was only $0,30 per KG but I a lost a couple pieces and was pissed I lost two expensive swimming pants in a week worth $80 a piece! It made me buy a new one, guess for how much? Exactly $1 and they were just as fine! LOL

backpacking destinations for beginners 4

There was one night I went out to a bar in Antigua and ran out of cash so I went to the ATM and took out $60 and got two notes worth $30. When I wanted to pay the guy said I couldn’t pay with a $30 note so he would star a tap for me as I was the only 'gringo' in the club anyway. When I wanted to pay my 8 rum-coke or so at the end of the night they were still asking for a smaller note as I only had to pay less than $10. Just like in the Philippines, the more rum, the cheaper the drink! Countries where alcohol is cheaper than water should definitely be rated as the best places to backpack in the world! Lol

2. Thailand

best places to backpack in the world 4

It is no secret that traveling to Thailand is extremely popular with backpackers, but no wonder as Thailand has some amazing places to visit.

The country has some amazing hiking, jungle trekkings, endless temples, the bustling and unique city of Bangkok and of course the gorgeous Thailand islands and beaches.

One of my favorite polaces to go in Thailand is Koh Tao. It was scuba diving that once lured me to the island. In fact Koh Tao it is competing with Roatan in Honduras as the cheapest place in the world to get your Scuba diving certificate. Getting your PADI as many people name it cost about $250 including 3 days accommodation.

I have been living and diving on the island for a couple months and I can tell you that there is an amazing vibes and some great things to do in Koh Tao besides diving . The islandlife feeling is guaranteed and with daily sunset cocktails for about $3 that Thailand backpacking feeling can’t get any better. If you want some adventure you should climb up to the spectacular viewpoints in Koh Tao for some the best views over the island.

Renting a studio for one month cost about $300, for a 2 bedroom villa with a private pool you won't pay more than $700. A tiny apartment in San Fransisco costs easily $2,500 a month, that means you can live 6 months on an island in Thailand. Still thinking that traveling the world is expensive?

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Thailand is undeniable a cheap country to travel when you can find $1 beers in the supermarket and hostel beds for under $10. Some islands are more expensive than other find here which islands in Thailand are best for backpackers .

I have lived in Bangkok for a couple months not spending more than $500. How cheap is traveling in Thailand ? Click on the link and I break down the prices for you. The Country of Smiles is also one of the best backpacking destinations for beginners and definitely among the best places in the world to travel solo. If there is one country where you sometimes will find more travelers than locals then it is definitely Thailand. I wrote a ton of blogs about Thailand , also including its safety issues .

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I have only been one time to Laos and that was already 9 years ago when I was backpacking around the world the first time. I remember that I woke up a sleeping tuk-tuk driver for a ride of 15min that was supposed to be around $0,50, the going rate! He was a little upset I woke him up, refused to give me a ride, closed his eyes and went back to sleep. Later I thought damn this guy was right if someone would wake me up for $0,50 I would be upset as well. LOL!

Life in Laos looked like it stood still and everywhere I went there was this super laid back vibe. I rented a scooter in the South of Laos to explore the region for a couple days. I paid only $9 for 4 days for a nice motorbike. It was actually the first time I rode a bike with gears. It was a roadtrip to remember! I stayed overnight at an old grandma somewhere in a village next to a waterfall that was mentioned in the Lonelyplanet South East Asia on a shoestring. I paid only $3 and that included the best pancake for breakfast I have ever eaten. A huge pancake (probably with a ton of sugar), a couple bananas and a complete pineapple on it! It was more like a fruit platter on a pancake! This lady told me a story that she found $1,000 under the mattress one day and saved the envelop for about 2 months until an Australian backpacker came back to pick it up. She didn’t want any reward for it and the Aussies hit the road. Half an hour later they came back she said. A truck stopped in front of her house and the Aussies came back with rice for a whole year. The lady had tears in her eyes telling me the story. Don’t only travel here because it is the cheapest country in the world to travel but also do it for the amazingly lovely people!

4. Philippines

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Although traveling from one island to another can be a pain in the ass and time consuming, the price you pay for ferry trips in Philippines are a joke for Western travelers. Long distance ferries are only a couple bucks and are actually a great travel experience. Choose one of the many bunk beds all clustered next to each other and sleep on an overnight ferry that brings you from one island to another.

Street food will costs you as less as $1-$2, a haircut in is $2, consulting a specialist for my ruptured eardrum was $30. Some travelers are moaning about the Philippines becoming more expensive, but I guess those travelers are getting too spoiled. I admit I hardly take the ferries anymore and hop on a plane for island hopping in the Philippines.

But what about camping on Kalanggaman Island ? Such an amazing thing even if you are not traveling on a budget! Or travel to Siquijor an island off the tourist trail! There are even cheap ways to make it to Palawan by boat, because you can't miss  island hopping in El Nido .

How can you not admit that traveling in Philippines is cheap if the rum costs more than coke, so a double shot rum coke is cheaper than a normal rum coke! Get it!? ;) With this fact it definitely has to be listed as one of the most affordable countries to visit. Let me help you create an itinerary for the  best places to travel to in Cebu .

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Island hopping in the Philippines is a little more off the beaten path as it is not part of the banana pancake trail  that draws everyone to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. If you are debating to travel to Thailand or to Philippines then take a look at the differences in transportation, cost of living, food and many other things in my article.

Hostel and hotel prices in Philippines are going to make you smile!

5. Indonesia

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Of course Indonesia cannot be missed in this list of best countries to go backpacking. A place where meals cost you less than $1 in local restaurants and an ice cold beer in a bar less than $2.

But wait Indonesia is NOT Bali, Bali is just 1 of the 17,500 islands in Indonesia. The vast majority though will go backpacking in Bali. Understandable... as it is the most popular place to visit in Indonesia.

Bali is one of the best backpacking destinations for beginners, but it also is getting way too crowded and prices are rising fast. In a lot of places in Java and Sumatra you will not even spend more than $5 dollar per day for food & drinks. Fruits on markets are incredibly affordable, hotels costs less than $20 and you can find the most amazing waterfalls around. If you like to go off the beaten path in Indonesia I can recommend you to head to Sulawesi and check out the amazing things to do in Tana Toraja . This is the area of the walking death, no jokes!

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When traveling around Bali I recommend you to get a scooter. This way you will get the feel with the island, because if you don't I feel you miss most of what it is going on this beautiful island. For some people it is hard to believe that  renting a scooter in Bali  only costs $3 per day.

Want to swim with manta rays? It is not as expensive as you think! Check out my Nusa Penida blog on how to explore the rough coastline, chill on deserted beaches, driving from one amazing viewpoint to another and stay in some unique treehouses.

The real adventure traveler should head to Lombok and do the  Mount Rinjani trekking  to almost 4,000 meter above sea level (13,000 ft) or get high on magic mushrooms in Gili Trawangan . I told you already enough reasons  why is Bali so popular , but check my article and find even more. 

6. Guatemala

If you are traveling on a budget and looking for the cheapest country in the world to travel then definitely think about Central America as your destination. Over the last years Guatemala quickly became one of my favorite places to visit in the world. Very recently I traveled again to Guatemala and prices are still very affordable.Backing in Guatemala is very easy as there are public busses and cheap shuttles services throughout the country.

In 2008 I decided to study Spanish in Panajachel, an absolutely stunning village on Lake Panajachel. For 30h one-on-one with a Spanish teacher I paid $105 and for $55 more I stayed with a local family for one week, all meals included.

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Some hostels in Guatemala are as little as $5 but the standards are good. I did not take part in any tours and traveled through Guatemala all by myself. Tikal, an ancient MAya city and one of the best places to visit in Guatemala was easy to visit on my own by public transport.

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A cinema ticket in Antigua was only $2, but I remember a traveler saying that it was expensive. First I laughed but then I think he had a point as he told me he paid the same price for his hostel bed. ;)

One of the best things to do in Guatemala is an overnight trip to Acatenango Volcano. From the top of Acatenango you have the most amazing views over Volcan de Fuego an active volcano that erupts around 3 times per hour. The hike is very though, but the reward is unbelievable.

Central America is definitely among the best backpack destinations in the world. Guatemala is my favorite place, but I can also recommend the best places to visit in Honduras and the best places to visit in El Salvador .

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Bolivia definitely deserves a spot In this list of cheap countries to travel. With 10 hour bus rides for just $6, pizzas for $2 and a bar where backpackers get free cocaine, Bolivia is a hidden gem. Fair enough, I am not sure if free cocaine should be a reason to travel to Bolivia. Also not sure if that last thing is still going on in La Paz's Coke Bar.

When traveling my first time in Bolivia this was a popular bar to go. I swear I refused, read more about it in 30 amazing things I experienced while traveling the world to get to know what I think about using drugs while traveling.

However there are uncountable amazing places to visit in Bolivia that are much more worth it. Personally the Uyuni Salt Flats Tour that takes you across the Bolivian Altiplano in 3 days for less than $150 is absolutely amazing and one of my best travel experience of all time.

The things you will see on your way from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia re simply incredible. This tour alone is already enough reason why Bolivia deserves a prime spot in this list of best place to backpack in the world.

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Another amazing thing to do in Bolivia is mountaineering. I climbed up to the summit of Huayna Potosi over 6,000m (20,000ft.) and this 4-day expedition only cost me $120.

Hostels and hotels in Bolivia wont cost you more than a couple bucks per night, which makes it the cheapest country to travel in South America. Street food is super cheap and alcohol is often so cheap that you will get drunk for just a couple bucks. I start to sound like an alcoholic now! Lol.

The world's most crazy tourist attraction  is also in Bolivia. In La Paz you can visit San Pedro Prison and yeah it is illegal, but I managed to get in on my first visit to Bolivia in 2008. Shaking hands with convicted killers was a weird thing to do, it made a deep impression and when you are into dark tourism, this is your number one thing to do in Bolivia.

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From South America we go back to Asia where Vietnam deserves a mention for its cheap transportation and damn it again cheap alcohol here. Lol. Did you know that some hostels in Vietnam give you free beer between certain times at night? Beer Hoi can be bought from street vendors for as much as $0,20 for a pint. No wonder that these hostels are rated as big party hostels. Look for them in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. The two most popular hostels are are: Hanoi Party Backpacker Hostel and Hanoi Backpackers Hostel - Downtown .

It is not only the beer that is cheap. There is also a thing called rice wine. It can be found on the menu for $1,5 for a 500ml. It comes in a random plastic bottle but don’t let that fool you. No one knows what's the percentage of alcohol. As it was so cheap we ordered a bottle. Locals fill the top of the plastic bottle and skull the rice wine. You can feel it go down your throat and I assume that tells you how strong it is, right? We ended up sharing with a Vietnamese family next to us and after a lot of laughter and handing over plenty of rice wine shots the drunk dad decide it was time to go. He jumped on his motorbike put his little kids and wife into place and drove off! :)

Other amazing places to visit in Vietnam are of Halong Bay, the beutiful karst mountain islands in the north of the country withe hidden beaches and Sapa, the endless rice fields where you can sleep in a homestay of local tribe people.

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Another amazing and popular thing to do in Vietnam is to buy a motorbike and driving around the country. This makes it one of the best places to backpack alone. You save transportation costs and you are free to go wherever you want. It is best to buy and sell your motorcycle through a Vietnam Motorbike Facebook Page .

Although this is a fabulous way to see the country I understand that it is not everyone’s cup of tea but don’t worry. Hop-on-hop-off tourist class busses drive you across the complete country for just $50 only. This makes Vietnam one of the most affordable countries to visit regarding transportation. In the South you should definitely take a tour to see the best things to in Mekong Delta after you saw the crazy motorbike city of Ho Chi Minh.

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May be not directly a backpacking destination for beginners, but why not!? Traveling in Iran is an absolutely amazing experience and a far more authentic budget travel destination if you compare it with the ones in South East Asia. You don’t need to get off the beaten track in Iran you are already off the beaten track.

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Welcome to the Middle East, a pretty much undiscovered region in the backpacking world! Traveling to Iran really surprised me and gave me an inside into a world we don’t see much of in our media. Because of its beauty, the relaxed vibe and the tourist friendly budget accommodations I considered Iran as one of the best places to travel on a budget.

How much do you think a  2-weeks itinerary for Iran  going around the country and visiting the most epic places has cost me? Click on the link above to read how I was possible to do all that for as little as $300.

backpacking in turkey

Not really part of the Middle East anymore but an Islamic country with a big European influence, a great mix of cultures and a very underrated country. Traveling to Turkey is always a good idea and there is more to see besides Istanbul and the coastal areas.

Check out my list of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey and find hidden monasteries, UNESCO World Heritage sites, Maldives like beach in the middle of the country, the rugged Black Sea coast, Ottoman Empire cities, majestic mosques, ancient Greek cities and unique landscapes. Turkey is a great backpacking destination with cheap prices for food, drinks, accommodation and tours.

Renting a car in Turkey for 2 weeks was just $400, a Liter of gas less than $1. These are perfect conditions for an ultimate road trip and experience some of the best things to do in Turkey. Check out my ultimate 2 week Turkey itinerary  for more info about the costs of traveling in Turkey. 

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So many travelers have told me that China was not the cheap backpack destination they had hoped for! But what did you do mate?

I traveled around China for exactly one month from Beijing to Tibet, to Chengdu and back to the East coast. Rode multiple bullet trains, took a domestic flight, experienced 3 times a 24+ hour train ride, did a 3 day tour to a secluded National Park, saw the biggest Buddha, met the Terracotta Warriors, explored the Chinese Wall, did a boat tour on the Yangtze River in Yongsue, explored Beijing, saw giant Pandas in Chengdu and that all for $900.

I guess you understand now why I think China is one of the cheapest places to travel in the world!

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I know China does not sound appealing, but hey have you been there? Prejudice? Yes, we are all complaining about Chinese tourists around the world, but what is it really like to be traveling in China? Go and find it out, you will be surprised! Plus I told you already . There are endless amazing places to visit in China: culture, history, stunning nature and a lot of super cool adventures. I truly think China is among the best places to backpack in the world!

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One of my favorite countries to visit is Nepal. Not just because it is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel it also has the most magnificent landscapes and super friendly people. The Nepali people will make your backpacking trip one to remember for sure. On top of that you will hear the mountains calling all the time. The majestic Himalayan peaks are hard to resist.

When visiting Nepal for the first time in 2013 I thought I was definitely not the hiking type, but I totally fell in love with it. Don't get me wrong I am still not that traveler that has his hiking boots hanging off his backpack. In fact I think that hiking boots are among the most overrate travel product there is. Check my packing list for Nepal for all the gear recommend you to bring with you for your trip to Nepal.

In 2013 I conquered the Annapurna range on my Nikes and Havaianas. In total I stayed up in the mountains for 15 days and guess how much money I spent? The total amount of $180 USD! That comes down to $12 USD per day and in return I got one of the best travel memories in my life.

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Hiking in Nepal is a life changing experience that everyone should try. These majestic mountains make you realize that we humans are not as cool as we think. Nature is a beast and it is so unbelievably stunning! Beds up in the mountains all cost $1, meals start from $1 at the bottom, and will cost you $4 at base camp on more than 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) altitude.

Trekking in Nepal unites travelers. You eat all at the same time at the same table, there is no internet, no electricity and all you do is interact with random strangers that have the same goal and mindset. For this fact I would definitely recommend Nepal as being one of the most amazing places to travel solo and if you are looking for a budget destination where you get the most for your money then please put Nepal high on your list. Trekking in de Himalaya? Dont skip the Poonhill Trek  or go off the beaten trek and do the Langtang Valley trek towards the Chinese border.

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Another great budget destination is India. A lot of people start hesitating when they hear stories about traveling in India, but this crazy country has so much to offer it is undeniable one of the most amazing places in the world. Yes, India also is a very intimidating destination. But above all it is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel.

Traveling in India will not hurt your wallet at all and in return you get to try amazing food, see spectacular landscapes and experience the most unbelievable things. To me India is one of the best countries to travel for food. Everyone warns you to not eat on the streets and to be really cautious with food and drinks, but when people tell me things like that I do the opposite. I try street food all the time, eat in local restaurants and totally love their delicious juices. I never got sick or anything like that.

India is one big travel adventure! Cost of street food: <$1. Restaurants: $2. Hostels: $3-$5. Some cities can be overwhelming at first, but there are some places where you can escape the bustle a little bit. India's capital was not really my favorite and therefore I think spending 24 hours in Delhi is enough, but please travel to Pushkar ; you will love this holy Brahma town on the lake.

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There is no need to sleep in hostels if you have a little bigger budget. Nice mid range accommodation in India costs around $8-$15 per room. I hiked around in the North of India where I slept for like $2 a night in a tent in the mountains. Cost of backpacking in India? Not more than $20 per day. I don’t think I need to tell you that this is one of the best places to travel on a budget. Looking for more of my India travel blogs click on the link.

14. Sri Lanka

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Recommending people a Sri Lanka holiday feels a bit trciky. Personally I think it is an amazing backpacking destination, but if you limited on time, Sri Lanka can be tedious. I have been to this great country twice, but I describe it as a budget friendly destination and rather a place where I send travelers and not people on a holiday. Going around in Sri Lanka simply takes time and people on a holiday don’t want to waste time traveling around too much.

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A train from Ella back to Colombo will easily take about 10 hours, but might only be around 200 kilometers. In first class a ticket will cost you about $25. The same trip can be taken in tourist class with the windows and doors open for only a couple bucks. This train ride though is rated among the most scenic in the world but be careful you might lose your iPhone trying to take a picture! Yes, that happened to me.

Cheap homestays can be found all around for as less as $10 per night for a double room. If you live like a local Sri Lanka is one of the best places to backpack in the world. It is may be not one of those backpacking destinations for beginners as traveling around can be an adventure and a hassle sometimes, but at least English is widely spoken which makes it a lot easier. Check out one of my first blogs ever:  Traveling Through Sri Lanka In A Tuktuk .

15. Georgia

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One of my latest additions to this list of cheap countries to travel is Georgia. Some people consider it part of Europe and with that it would be the first country on the list from Europe. As you all know I love traveling in Asia way more as the value for money is simply the best in the world for backpackers. But in Georgia though you can take a 4 hour train for just $7 and going out for food won't cost you more than $6. Even buying a lift ticket to go skiing won't break your budget: $15.

The two biggest cities are Tbilisi and Batumi and they are full of world travelers and nomads. Meeting people when traveling to Georgia is easy. Where to go and what to do? Check my Batumi Travel Guide and Tbilisi Travel Guide .

If you book an Airbnb there is a big chance you get some free bottles of wine with it as Georgians love to make their own wines. And another reason why Georgia deserves a spot in this list of best places to backpack in the world is that is has the most easy-going visa policy. Europeans, Americans, Australians, Koreans, etc. get a visa for 365 DAYS! Say what!?!? :)

16. Bangladesh

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Very recently I was the first international travel blogger to be invited by the Ministry of Tourism Bangladesh to take a trip to Bangladesh . Especially travelers that are looking for cheap countries to travel AND unique destinations this is where you want to go next. If you  travel to Bangladesh  you won't regret it. 

This country is not where you get your amazing Instagram pictures taken, this country is absolutely f$*king unbelievable for adventurers like you. Please consider a trip to this amazing country, a more authentic travel experience is hard to find. Foreigners are like gods in Bangladesh and the people are the most friendly I have come across in the more than 100 countries I have visited so far.

There is no need to tell you that traveling to Bangladesh is cheap and affordable for almost everyone. Bangladesh is just one adventure after the other. Everywhere you look you see something you have never seen before. Click on the links above to get a feel of what I experienced traveling to this amazing country and see how I sat on top of a riding train!

How to travel on a budget

Now you know what the most affordable countries to visit are but that doesn’t mean that you know how to travel on a budget ! Click on the link to read all my tips and tricks to safe money while traveling the world . Rather working while traveling ? Then there are a bunch of options and you don’t always need a visa or a computer. Let me explain to you how!

Obviously Central America and Asia are the have the most affordable countries to visit, but there are also some unexpected places you would never think would be cheap to travel. In 2008 I went to Fiji, yes the honeymoon island in the Pacific and found out that budget travel was easy. Even some expensive countries can be done on the cheap but then you need to be a bit more creative and sacrifice a little more of your privacy. Seychelles on a budget ? Yes possible too!

Some other tips on how to save money while traveling? Forget roaming cost and buy a local sim card, this way you will save a lot of money being connected to the internet. Dont think you are going to travel and you dont need your phone! Especially as a solo backpacker you are going to use it all the time. Nowadays this is one of the easiest ways to meet people. There are meet up apps, Facebook Groups and many more ways to reach out to other solo travelers.

Buying a local sim card is a must do! To show you how easy it is check for example my articles about buying a prepaid sim card in Indonesia  or find out more about  buying a sim sim card in Turkey .

Backpack destinations for beginners

If you are looking for the best places to travel on a budget than you found the right list. I have traveled to all of the following budget friendly countries at least once and made amazing memories in each one of them. I am not saying these are the cheapest countries in the world to travel but this is a list of some of the best places to travel on a budget. The best backpack destinations for beginners are mostly clustered in South East Asia for the very simple reason that English is widely spoken, there are heaps of travelers from all over the world around, getting around is super easy and on top of that these are some of the most affordable countries to visit. Think about countries like: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia.

Looking for tips on how to pack your backpack? From my friend I got a valuable tip to use packing cubes . Try them!

I hope you enjoyed reading my article and you going to use the tips. If I missed a great backpacking destination for beginners let me know. Tell me what is for you the cheapest country in the world to travel? I am curious…

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Thanks you for keeping up with Traveltomtom!

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Backpacking | Budget Travel | Living Abroad

Backpacking Routes around the World

backpacking routes

Below, you will find more than 30 backpacking routes around the world featuring travel itineraries in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas. You’ll find examples of popular and well trodden routes such as the “banana pancake trail” in Southeast Asia and “gringo trail” in Latin America, but there’s also plenty of more off the beaten track ideas which should serve up some inspiration for your next trip.

In all cases, they are only designed to be a rough guide or starting point that can be easily tailored to your own interests and time/money restrictions.

Backpacking Routes around the World – Where to explore in 2024!

We have four main regional routes, one for each of the four best known regions when it comes to backpacking and shoestring travel. These key routes may be best for first-time travellers or anyone looking for a big trip across one region.

You could also potentially combine some of these itineraries if you are trying to figure out how to plan a backpacking trip around the world. It would take a little over a year to complete them all!

Popular Backpacking Routes

If you are looking for something a bit smaller or just a bit of inspiration for your next travel adventure, there are plenty of other options. Below you can see a selection of backpacking itineraries in individual or neighbouring countries. Scroll down the page to find suggested time-frames and a shoestring budget for each of these routes .

The budgets are geared towards backpackers willing to stay in shared dorms and try to watch what they spend whilst still having a good time and moving to a new place every 2-3 days on average. Exact costs may vary wildly according to your own travel style and habits though.

All our other Independent Travel Itineraries

Europe backpacking routes, interrailing around central europe.

Time – 3-4 weeks | Budget – US$1450 + Railpass (cost depends on nationality/age)

Nowhere else in the world is so much history, culture and variety packed into such a small area. Just a few hours on a train can transfer you from one great European capital to another as languages and customs change on an almost daily basis. Perfect for anyone looking to go backpacking for a month or a bit less.

Spain & Portugal

Time – 6 weeks | Budget – US$2200-2750

San Sebastian beach

Take a trip around Iberia’s best cities, towns and beaches. Spending a summer in Spain and Portugal is certainly up there with the best backpacking routes in Europe.

Two Months in the Balkans

Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1800-2400

Backpacking route for Montenegro

The Balkans is a relatively under-visited part of Europe but it makes for a great budget travel destination. Explore medieval towns, mountains, lakes and beautiful coastlines as you take in six countries in two months.

Baltic Backpacking Itinerary

Time – 2-3 weeks | Budget – US$800

Take a trip around the chilly Baltic Sea region and visit some of Europe’s most beautiful cities including Tallinn and Vilnius.

Scandinavia Backpacking Route

Time – 3 to 5 weeks | Budget – US$2300-2850

Featuring some of the main travel highlights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, our compact travel itinerary explores the best Scandinavia has to offer and also suggests some tips for trying to get by on a shoestring budget in an expensive part of the world.

South Caucasus Travel Itineraries

Time – 3 weeks | Budget – US$650

Get firmly off the beaten track and explore the natural wonders and quirky mix of old and new in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Island Hopping in Greece

Time – 4 Weeks | Budget – US$1450

Best islands in Greece

Explore Athens and around before hopping over to some of the very best Greek islands with this 4 week itinerary. Amble around ancient ruins, sip Ouzo on a cobbled patio and stuff your face full of Dolmades and Moussaka in a country packed with history and gorgeous scenery.

3 Week UK Itinerary

Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – US$1200

Taking in England, Scotland and Wales, our backpacking route from London to Edinburgh takes in historic towns and cities and the best of Britain’s countryside.

Hungary, Bulgaria & Romania Backpacking Itinerary

Featuring historic cities, Transylvanian castles, coastal resorts and mountain retreats, get off the beaten path in Europe with our backpacking route for Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

Oceania Backpacking Routes

Big australia travel itinerary.

Time – 2-3 months | Budget – US$6000

Our Oz route features an exploration of the largest island on the planet which ranks up there with the very best backpacking trips . We visit the cities, beaches, rainforests and locate the best parties in one of the world’s easiest and most popular countries to travel in with a lively backpacker scene.

5 Weeks Exploring New Zealand

Time – 5 weeks | Budget – US$2000

Starting in Christchurch, loop around the South Island for some of New Zealand’s best wildlife, camping, glaciers, and adventure junkie destinations. The route then heads to North Island, home of indigenous culture, natural wonders and the famous filming locations from the Lord of the Rings films.

Asia Backpacking Routes

Southeast asia backpacking route.

Time – 3-4 months | Budget – US$3000

The most famous of the major backpacking regions and it seems to get more popular every year. From visiting ancient temples to chilling out on stunning Thai Islands, everyone can find their scene here. That said a big draw for many backpackers was the crazy party culture including the infamous full moon parties which may come alive again as we head deeper into the 2020’s after a quiet few years.

2 Months Travelling Around India

Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1200

India is one of the most intoxicating countries to travel in and this is one of Asia’s best backpacking routes . Culture shock awaits on every corner and for better or worse, it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

Ultimate Thailand Backpacker Route

Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1500-2500

Take in all the best that the ever popular backpacker destination that is Thailand has to offer. The best beaches, party destinations and islands as well as the cultural highlights of the North.

Time – 3-4 weeks | Budget – US$650

Looking for the traditional Southeast Asia then look no further than Myanmar (Burma), home to some of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist temples and palaces. Travellers started to come here in bigger numbers during the 2010’s but ethical concerns about the Burmese regime have returned in recent years leading to a fresh drop.

Vietnam’s Reunification Express

Time – 3 weeks | Budget – US$550

Take a ride on the famous train line that reunited a country and trundles its way down from Hanoi in the North to Saigon in the South taking in the best of Vietnam as you go.

Island Hopping in Indonesia

Time – 5-6 weeks | Budget – US$1100

Looking for more than a standard trip around Southeast Asia? Indonesia offers up limitless opportunities for adventure without, for the most part, the crowds you find on the backpacker trail elsewhere in the region.

Laos Backpacking Route

Time – 15-30 days | Budget – US$600-800

The shortest of our Southeast Asia backpacking routes, it could be condensed into a 2 week trip should you have less time , particularly with fast trains now cutting travel times in Laos.

Philippines 4 Week Itinerary

Time – 4 Weeks | Budget – $900

Our backpacking route for the Philippines explores some of the world’s best scuba-diving locations. Featuring the best of Palawan and the Central Visayas, you will discover just how beautiful this country is.

Taiwan Itinerary

Time – 2-3 Weeks | Budget – $700

Taiwan is small, budget-friendly and boasts great transport links. It’s built for independent travel and more backpackers are starting to realise that!

Japan by Rail

Time – 2-3 Weeks | Budget – $1400

Explore the land of the rising sun by bullet train as you whizz around Japan in two to three weeks taking in all the most popular destinations including Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima.

Cambodia Backpacking Route

Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $500

A nation of great contrasts, with incredible ancient ruins and unspoiled islands as well as extreme poverty and tales of recent horrors. Our itinerary covers the best Cambodia has to offer in the space of just a few weeks.

Sri Lanka for Backpackers

Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $450

One of the world’s emerging backpacker and indeed travel destinations, Sri Lanka is a very affordable country with loads to see and do and an extensive train network perfect for anyone seeking a new adventure.

Mainland Malaysia Itinerary

Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $600

From culture in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to wild rainforests and island retreats, Malaysia is another great Southeast Asian destination with a manageable size and relatively low costs.

South America Backpacking Routes

Full south america backpacking route.

Time – 5-6 months | Budget – US$6000

South America is an exhilarating continent to visit and has long been a favourite destination for backpackers. From the beaches of Brazil to adventures in the Andes, there is something for all tastes in this part of the world and this is our longest itinerary which could take up to half a year! 

2 Months in Brazil

Time – 2 months | Budget – US$3000

Explore fantastic coastal cities, glorious beaches, waterfalls, giant areas of diverse nature and take in the biggest carnivals on the planet before venturing into the Amazon to round off your Brazilian adventure.

Backpacking Route for Patagonia

Time – 5-6 weeks | Budget – US$2000

Explore the weird wilderness of South America’s far south here as you head towards the end of the world. Hop in and out of Chile and Argentina to experience glaciers, volcanoes, stunning hikes, beautiful lakes and wonderful wildlife. Nature lovers look no further!

Backpacking Itineraries for Central America & North America

Central america itinerary.

Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1800

This is the land of chicken buses, explosive volcanoes, cloud forests, ancient ruins and so much more. Central America never lacks for colourful surprises and at times can be completely bonkers. It is a small region so it is much easier to visit several countries in a short space of time, although travel can still be slow.

Panama Itinerary

Time – 2 weeks | Budget – US$500

Short but sweet, this two week Panama itinerary takes in jungle hikes, Caribbean islands and one of the region’s best cities. Start in Bocas del Toro and end up in the wonderful San Blas Islands.

Mexico Route

Time – 5 weeks | Budget – US$1100-1700

With Maya ruins, mountain towns and mighty waves, there’s plenty of fun to be had on our Mexico backpacking route. Taking a little over a month, it’d make for a great summer break and offers a nice balance with a dose of culture and history as well as plenty of time to relax and enjoy the odd lively Mexican night out.

Jamaica on a Budget

Time – 2 Weeks | Budget – US$600

Short but sweet, our two week Jamaica itinerary takes in the best that the Caribbean island of Jamaica has to offer. Learn about the life and times of Bob Marley and the reggae music he pioneered in Kingston. Explore some of the island’s natural wonders in the Blue Mountains and Ocho Rios areas before chilling out on the long beach in Negril at the end of the trip.

2 Week California Itinerary

Time – 2 Weeks | Budget – US$1000

Possibly the most famous state in the USA, California is home to a little bit of everything with vibrant cities, stunning coastlines, giant national parks, mountainous regions, massive forests and even a desert. This ambitious two week itinerary tries to squeeze as much in as possible and features iconic destinations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Yosemite National Park.

Africa Backpacking Routes

Morocco itinerary.

On the doorstep of Europe, Morocco is easily accessible and boasts one of Africa’s best rail networks. It’s also very cheap and full of fascinating places to visit so it makes for a great travel destination. From maze-like souks to the wonders of the Sahara, Morocco is full of mystery and intrigue.

Extend your Backpacking Trips

While travelling is affordable in many of the regions detailed above, a big backpacking trip is still going to require some significant savings, even in the cheapest parts of the world. There are various tips and tricks that will help you cut your travel costs, but your best bet for lengthening your time abroad will most likely be to find short-term work as you travel or some form of work exchange.

As well as saving you money, a work exchange can prove to be one of the most rewarding parts of a backpacking trip. It can offer you the chance to really get to know local people and learn about their way of life rather than just passing through towns and moving on every few days.

You can sometimes find such opportunities as you travel. However, some advanced planning may help. Sign up to Worldpackers using our $10 discount code to apply for placements in 170 countries around the world.

travelling the world in a backpack

14 best business travel backpacks for every budget

Zach Griff

If you travel regularly for work, you won't need us to tell you that a good travel backpack is essential. That's especially true if a backpack can double as a decently sized carry-on luggage item while still housing your laptop in an easily accessible compartment.

We looked at some of the best (and most stylish) backpacks out there to take the hassle out of searching for the best item.

Without further ado, here are the best business travel backpacks that maximize form and function across various budgets.

Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack, $33.47

travelling the world in a backpack

If you don't want to break the bank, the Amazon Basics range offers a reliable and, dare we say, fairly stylish backpack for less than $40.

The bag has a dedicated (and padded) laptop sleeve that can easily hold a laptop up to 17 inches in size; it has additional compartments for pens, keys, cellphones and other items.

There's also a water bottle pocket on both sides of the bag for easy access when you're on the go.

Buy from $33.47

Lenovo Legion Gaming Laptop Bag, $55.19 (normally $79.99)

travelling the world in a backpack

Admittedly, we've never seen Batman carry a backpack, but if he did, we're pretty sure it'd look something like this robust bag by Lenovo. It has a 20-liter capacity and room for a 16-inch laptop, alongside seven inside pockets to suit all your work travel needs — including a hidden compartment for valuables.

Built for carrying electronic items, the bag features foam antishock bumpers on the corners of the laptop compartment for extra protection against bag drops and other jolts.

There's also a high-quality magnetic lock to keep your items safe.

Buy from $55.19 (normally $79.99)

Tangcorle Travel Carry On Backpack, $58.90

travelling the world in a backpack

Part backpack and part carry-on suitcase, this bag has an expandable design. This means it has a capacity of 36 to 50 liters and should easily fit the maximum carry-on size for most airlines.

Other features include an external USB port with a built-in charging cable, allowing you to attach your own power bank and keep your devices charged while on the go.

The main compartment is similar to one in an ordinary carry-on suitcase and can easily store five to seven days' worth of clothes, depending on how you like to pack. It is perfect for long weekends and short business trips.

Buy from $58.90

Samsonite Novex Laptop Backpack, $69.99 (normally $99.99)

travelling the world in a backpack

If you are shopping for a travel backpack from a reliable brand with a more down-to-earth budget, this Samsonite bestseller has a lot going for it.

Despite its price, the Novex Laptop Backpack doesn't compromise on the basics. The separate laptop and tablet pocket features a special webbing system that provides extra durability in case you drop the backpack. Plus, thanks to the special supportive lining on the top front pocket, you won't have to worry about misplacing your headphones, glasses or cellphone.

The main storage compartment has room for all the essentials, though you may not find it large enough for a full change of clothes or a pair of shoes.

Buy from $69.99 (normally $99.99)

The North Face Recon Everyday Laptop Backpack, $109

travelling the world in a backpack

A modern classic, the Recon Everyday Laptop Backpack is a popular, on-trend design you'll frequently see on the backs of young professionals in buzzy city centers.

The backpack has two external water bottle holders and a main compartment capable of carrying up to 30 liters. Its laptop sleeve is also sizable and should easily hold machines up to 18 inches.

Perhaps its most interesting feature is the comfortable design of its shoulder straps, which are certified by the American Chiropractic Association.

Buy from $109

Ogio Renegade Backpack, $128.24 (normally $149.99)

travelling the world in a backpack

If you're looking for the bag with the most pockets, this might be it. Ogio's flagship backpack has dedicated space for everything (laptop and iPad included) and then some. With a phone pocket, two zippered side pockets and five main pockets, you might just get lost looking around for your gear.

No matter how full you stuff this nearly 30-liter backpack, you shouldn't have much of a problem carrying it around, thanks to its supportive padded back panel and shoulder straps. This makes it easy to lug it around the airport or corporate campus.

Buy from $128.24 (normally $149.99)

Incase ARC Daypack, $129.95

travelling the world in a backpack

Apple aficionados will no doubt be familiar with Incase, a popular brand of cases and protection solutions for iPhones, iPads and Macs.

The laptop pocket is big enough for a 16-inch computer, and it's lined in faux fur for additional protection. Its travel tech compartment also includes RFID-blocking technology, preventing thieves from stealing your digital information.

A water- and stain-resistant coating, two dedicated water bottle holders, and a pass-through system for rollaboard bags make this the ideal bag for anyone going from the gym to the office to the airport. If you need something bigger, Incase also makes a larger A.R.C. travel pack.

Need more convincing? Both bags are made from a sustainable mixture of recycled polyester, giving the company its A.R.C. acronym, which stands for "a responsible carry."

Buy from $129.95

Aer Pro Pack 20L, $179

travelling the world in a backpack

As far as business travel backpacks go, Aer's is certainly quite stylish. It comes in three colors (black, navy and olive), and it's made of sustainable materials without compromising on durability. A separate laptop compartment safeguards your most precious technology, while the main compartment is large enough for all your chargers and other travel accessories.

The standout feature is the main compartment's 180-degree flat-open zipper system, giving you unobstructed access to all your belongings.

There's even a hidden pocket to store an AirTag or other tracker so that you can locate your bag even if it's stolen or misplaced.

Buy from $179

Away The Everywhere Zip Backpack, $195

travelling the world in a backpack

Made with water-resistant nylon, the Everywhere backpack by Away has a full wraparound zip that provides access to the main compartment. Not only can you fit more things in an orderly fashion, but you'll also be able to easily see your things when you need to retrieve them from the backpack.

Alongside the main compartment, the bag also houses a 15-inch laptop pocket with a magnetic locking zipper and padded shoulder straps for comfort. It's available in five colors — including the limited-edition garnet colorway.

Buy from $195

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack, $209

travelling the world in a backpack

The Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack has space for everything and then some. The padded rear pocket is the perfect spot for a laptop, so you won't have to dig through the main compartment to find your computer.

The main compartment is spacious and can expand by nearly 3 liters, giving you more room for your belongings. Plus, the front pocket has a dedicated organizer with multiple pockets, so you'll never forget where you put your passport, charger and cables.

Buy from $209

Nomatic 20L Backpack, $279.99

travelling the world in a backpack

Although you may not have heard of Nomatic, this brand receives rave reviews from its loyalists. The company's bestselling backpack comes in two sizes: 14 liters and 20 liters. Both are expandable by nearly 20%.

The flat rectangular design may be controversial at first glance, but at least you can't complain about finding space for all of your gizmos. The bag has a staggering 24 unique storage compartments, ranging from enclosed pockets to mesh nets. It's a great bag for those who like to stay extremely organized when they're on the road.

Buy from $279.99

Briggs & Riley Traveler Backpack, $329

travelling the world in a backpack

The Briggs & Riley backpack has an impressive amount of storage capability thanks to its multitude of pockets and 180-degree, lie-flat opening that allows unfettered access to every nook and cranny.

The laptop sleeve and tablet sleeve are in the same area as the main packing compartment, but they're separated by a zippered inner pocket to keep your clothes all by themselves.

There's also a so-called PowerPocket that fits an external battery pack and keeps a charging cable within easy reach — perfect for a quick boost of juice while you're on the go.

Buy from $329

Tumi Alpha Bravo Navigation Backpack, $525

travelling the world in a backpack

Though Tumi makes a handful of durable bags, the Navigation Backpack excels for a wide range of travel needs. It features a separate padded laptop compartment (that can fit even the largest MacBooks), a main storage area and plenty of other smaller pockets.

It also has a zip expansion feature if you decide to grab some souvenirs during your travels.

The backpack comes in five colors, giving you plenty of choices to match your personal travel style.

Buy from $525

Rimowa Flap Backpack Large, $1,725

travelling the world in a backpack

If you're looking to make a statement and are willing to spend some serious cash, Rimowa's travel bags are the way to go.

This luxury Italian-made large canvas Flap Backpack features a padded laptop sleeve and a large drawstring compartment to fit all of your travel essentials. It is secured by a flap-top enclosure with a magnetic buckle emblazoned with the Rimowa logo.

Buy from $1,725

Related reading:

  • Key travel tips you need to know — whether you're a beginner or expert traveler
  • The best travel credit cards
  • The 18 best places to travel in 2024
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases

travelling the world in a backpack

How to Pack Like a Pro: Navigating the World of Suitcases & Backpacks

  • Rolling clothes can save space and reduce wrinkles.
  • 65% of travelers admit to overpacking woes.
  • Diane Von Furstenberg suggests packing less.
  • Strategic placement of items can prevent creases.
  • Always be ready with a packable tote for those unexpected souvenirs.

The Overpacking Epidemic: Are You One of the 65%?

According to a survey by OnePoll, a whopping 65% of travelers confess to overpacking. If this sounds like you, then fret not! The following tips are designed to tackle this very epidemic.

The Roll Revolution: Wave Goodbye to Wrinkles

A simple, yet transformative fact: Rolling clothes instead of folding them does wonders. It not only conserves space but also ensures your clothes come out less wrinkled. When packing your suitcase, lay tops facedown, fold in the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up. For pants , synchronize the legs and roll from the waist down. Diane Von Furstenberg , a fashion designer, emphasizes this minimalist approach, quoting, "I have learned that I always have more than I need when I travel, so I am trying to pare down and carry less."

Pack Smart, Not Hard

  • Choose travel-friendly fabrics : Opt for knits and stretchy fabrics. These materials tend to wrinkle less than their woven counterparts like linen or cotton twill.
  • Priority Packing : Whatever you plan to wear first – perhaps after landing – should be packed last. This strategy ensures that your chosen outfit is easy to access and remains wrinkle-free.
  • Weight Management : Keep heavier items, like books or shoes, near the wheeled end of your suitcase. This helps in stability and ensures other items remain uncrushed.
  • Packing Cubes : These are lifesavers for organization. Consider investing in a set. They not only keep everything compartmentalized but also use space efficiently.

How to Pack Suitcases & Backpacks: The Step-by-Step Guide

Packing, for many, can be a daunting task. But with the right approach, it can become more organized, efficient, and even enjoyable. Whether you're packing a suitcase for a lengthy vacation or a backpack for a weekend trip, this guide has got you covered.

Packing a Suitcase

1. Plan Ahead:

  • Make a checklist of essentials. Consider the length of your trip, activities you'll be doing, and the climate of your destination.

2. Lay It All Out:

  • Spread out everything you intend to pack on your bed or floor. This will help you visualize and ensure you don't forget anything.

3. Roll Your Clothes:

  • As per the tried-and-true advice: roll, don't fold. This conserves space and reduces wrinkles.

4. Prioritize:

  • Begin with heavier items like shoes and jeans. Place them at the bottom near the wheels.
  • Next, add rolled clothes, placing them strategically to fill gaps.
  • Consider using packing cubes for additional organization.

5. Delicate Items:

  • Place delicate items or breakables wrapped in soft clothing, positioning them in the center of the suitcase.

6. Toiletries and Liquids:

  • Store in a clear, sealable bag to prevent spills and for easy access during security checks.

7. Use Spaces Wisely:

  • Utilize the insides of shoes to store small items like socks or chargers.

8. Zip It Up:

  • Before zipping your suitcase, do a final check. Ensure all essentials are packed and nothing unnecessary is taking up space.

Packing a Backpack

1. Plan and List:

  • Consider the duration of your trip and list down the essentials.

2. Weight Distribution:

  • Heaviest items (like camping gear or laptops) should be placed close to your back and centered. This will help in balancing the weight.

3. Compartmentalize:

  • Use the different compartments of your backpack wisely. Essentials should be in easily accessible pockets.
  • Packing cubes or zip-lock bags can be useful to segregate items.

4. Clothes Strategy:

  • Roll clothes to save space.
  • If expecting a climate change, pack layers rather than bulky items.

5. Limit Toiletries:

  • Only pack essentials, and if possible, opt for travel-sized toiletries.

6. Food and Snacks:

  • If you're carrying food, make sure it's in a tight-sealed container or bag to avoid spills.

7. Electronics and Valuables:

  • Store them in padded compartments or wrap them in clothing for protection.

8. Quick Access Items:

  • Items like water bottles, maps, or snacks should be in side or top pockets for easy reach.

9. Check and Adjust:

  • Once packed, wear the backpack to check for comfort. Adjust the straps and ensure even weight distribution.

Whether you're packing a suitcase or a backpack, the key is to stay organized, prioritize essentials, and ensure weight is evenly distributed. With these tips in hand, you're ready to embark on your journey with confidence!

Insider Hacks from Flora Goodwin

As a seasoned traveler, Flora spills some beans on her personal favorite tips:

  • Plastic Bags : Reuse those dry cleaning plastic bags. Layer them between clothes to reduce friction and wrinkling.
  • Souvenir Strategy : Always have a foldable tote bag. It hardly consumes space initially but can be a boon when you collect mementos from your journey.
  • Laundry Logic : Two small laundry bags - one for lights and one for darks. No mixing and easy laundry once back home!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I prevent my liquid items from spilling in my bag? A: Always store your liquid essentials in a clear, sealed bag. This not only prevents any accidental spills but also facilitates a smooth security check at airports.

Q: What about items that I buy during my travels? A: Consider carrying a foldable tote bag or backpack. This won't take much space initially, but you can use it for all your purchases and souvenirs.

Q: Any recommendations for quick wrinkle fixes? A: Yes! Carry a mini steam iron or a portable garment steamer. They're lightweight and perfect for those unexpected creases.

Q: How to ensure I don't overpack? A: Start by making a list. Prioritize essentials and always remember: when in doubt, leave it out!

Packing might feel like an insurmountable mountain, but with the right techniques and a sprinkle of patience, it can become a breeze. So, the next time you're prepping for a journey , remember these guidelines and watch as packing transforms from a chore to a delightful pre-travel ritual.

  • The Ultimate Packing List  – Travel + Leisure
  •  The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase: Five Methods Compared  – The New York Times
  •  How to Pack a Backpack: Tips for Balance, Comfort, and More  – REI Co-op Journal
  •  Packing Light: 10 Tips for Traveling with Just Hand Luggage  – Lonely Planet
  •  Maximizing Space and Minimizing Wrinkles: The Definitive Guide to Packing a Suitcase  – Conde Nast Traveler

These sources provide readers with further insights, tips, and details to make their packing journey even smoother. Always remember to read from trusted publications and experts to ensure accurate and useful information! Safe travels.

How to Pack Like a Pro: Navigating the World of Suitcases & Backpacks

Protect Your Trip »

The 9 best cooler bags of 2024.

Carry your beverages and picnic to the beach in cool styles.

The Best Cooler Bags

Group of friends sitting in chairs around a cooler on a beach at sunset.

Getty Images

Keeping snacks and drinks cold when you're on a road trip, at the beach or car camping is essential. Depending on what you want to pack, where you're going to be and how much you need to take, there are different cooler bags to meet your needs.

The right cooler bag can save you money, keep the kids happy with fresh snacks and offer convenience. U.S. News researched online retailers, travel industry review sites and more to come up with this selection of the best cooler bags.

Best Overall: ICEMULE Classic Medium 15L

  • Jump to features and traveler insights ↓

Best for Beach: Alameda Mesh Tote Beach Bag

Best insulation: arctic zone titan deep freeze cooler, best small: igloo retro square lunch bag, best wheeled: coleman chiller 42-can soft cooler with wheels, best backpack: everlasting comfort beach cooler backpack, best collapsible: clevermade tahoe collapsible cooler bag, best tote: creative green life jumbo insulated cooler bag, best durable: yeti hopper flip 18 soft cooler.

(Note: Prices and availability were accurate at the time of publication; they may fluctuate due to demand or other factors.)

ICEMULE Classic Medium 15L in light blue against a white background.

Courtesy of ICEMULE

Capacity: Up to 16 cans with ice or 24 cans with no ice

What sets it apart: This soft-sided cooler from ICEMULE is rugged, versatile, waterproof and collapsible. It's perfect for the beach, river, lake or pool since it floats. The compressible zipperless design makes it easy to pack for travel. You can sling it over your shoulder to leave your hands free to carry your beach or camping gear. Your food and drinks will stay cold for up to 24 hours with this cooler. The ICEMULE Classic comes in three other sizes and a range of bright colors.

Travelers appreciate: Many reviewers comment that the bag is lightweight and compact, making it easy to transport.

Price: $84.95 or less

Alameda Mesh Tote Beach Bag in blue against a white background.

Courtesy of Alameda

Capacity: Up to 12 cans

What sets it apart: This two-in-one cooler bag by Alameda is perfect for the beach. It has a detachable insulated cooler section on the bottom to keep things cold and a mesh section on top that's perfect for towels, sunscreen and more. The mesh is made from environmentally friendly and sand-resistant nylon. This bag features six pockets and a zipper closure on top to keep items secure.

Travelers appreciate: Beachgoers praise this bag for keeping items cold and keeping sand out.

Price: $34 or less

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler in moss against a white background.

Courtesy of Arctic Zone

Capacity: Size options range from 9 to 48 cans

What sets it apart: This totable hard-body cooler bag includes a SmartShelf to keep crushable items on top. It keeps beverages and snacks cold with Deep Freeze Performance Insulation and has a zipperless top that flips open so you can access items quickly and easily. The bag is easy to keep clean since the exterior is made from water- and stain-repellent material and the interior hard liner is removable.

Travelers appreciate: This Amazon's Choice product has a 4.6-star rating from more than 48,000 ratings. Product owners appreciate the zipperless lid since zippers can break, as well as the removable liner that is easy to clean.

Price: $62.99 or less for 30-can size

 Igloo Retro Square Lunch Bag in teal and pink against a neutral background.

Courtesy of Igloo

Capacity: Up to 9 cans

What sets it apart: This cute, colorful and compact cooler is perfect for taking lunch or drinks on outings. It has a front zippered pocket to hold things like keys, a phone or sunscreen, as well as a lightweight insulated liner to keep snacks and drinks cold. The top handle and shoulder strap make it easily portable. This small cooler bag comes in a retro neon color combination or Care Bears design.

Travelers appreciate: The nostalgic Care Bears print is a hit with recent reviewers, as well as the fact that it's easy to wipe clean.

Price: $29.99 or less

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Coleman CHILLER 42-Can Soft Cooler with Wheels in blue against a white background.

Courtesy of Coleman

Capacity: Up to 42 cans

What sets it apart: With durable wheels and a telescopic handle, this Coleman cooler can easily travel to and from your destination. It features leak-resistant welded seams, front and inside pockets for additional storage, and a hard plastic liner that can be removed for easy cleaning. Your goodies can stay cold for up to 12 or more hours, thanks to the TempLock insulation. This cooler is also eco-friendly with recycled exterior fabric. Coleman also has options in smaller sizes that don't have wheels, as well as a backpack style.

Travelers appreciate: Reviewers say it keeps items cold for many hours and the wheels are convenient, though some caution that the wheels don't do as well on sand or rough terrain.

Price: $64.99 or less

Everlasting Comfort Beach Cooler Backpack in gray against a neutral background.

Courtesy of Everlasting Comfort

Capacity: Up to 54 cans and 4 pounds of ice

What sets it apart: For an easy-to-carry cooler with lots of room, this backpack cooler from Everlasting is a great option. Made from PVA and insulated foam, this bag will keep your food hot or cold for up to 24 hours. Stash napkins and utensils in the front zippered pocket and wine or water bottles in the side pockets. It features a leakproof design and heavy-duty bottom, plus padded, adjustable straps.

Travelers appreciate: The spacious storage and leakproof material were favorite features of customers.

Price: $49.99 or less

CleverMade Tahoe Collapsible Cooler Bag in white and brown pattern against a white background.

Courtesy of CleverMade

Capacity: Size options range from 24 to 50 cans

What sets it apart: Not only is this CleverMade cooler collapsible, but it also has top handles and shoulder straps for easy carrying. Its solid, sturdy base is designed to hold up to between 30 and 55 pounds (depending on the cooler size). It is made from recycled polyester with a durable wire frame. This cooler is lightweight and stores easily since it folds down.

Travelers appreciate: The features that reviewers praise the most are its anti-leak material, effectiveness at keeping things cool and collapsibility.

Price: $39.99 or less for 30-can size

Creative Green Life Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag in gray against a white background.

Courtesy of Creative Green Life

Capacity: Up to 30 cans

What sets it apart: For a tote bag that keeps things cool, this bag by Creative Green Life fits the bill. Its extra-large capacity with zipper-close top and shoulder handles make it easy to bring plenty of snacks and drinks for your outing. It has a leak-resistant liner and machine-washable, stain-resistant fabric. The handles can be adjusted to carry food either horizontally or vertically. With the thermal foam insulation, your food can stay hot or cold for eight or more hours.

Travelers appreciate: Customers love that this bag keeps food consistently cold and is easy to store, making it great for the beach, the park or grocery shopping.

Price: $34.99 or less

YETI Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler in light purple color against white background.

Courtesy of YETI

Capacity: Up to 16 cans with ice or 30 cans with no ice

What sets it apart: The material of this sturdy YETI cooler is designed to protect the bag from punctures, UV rays, and mildew both inside and out. This rugged cooler is ready for any adventure with a high-performance zipper, a leakproof construction and closed-cell rubber foam insulation. If you want a smaller cooler than the 18, the cooler comes in sizes 8 and 12 as well. A Rambler Bottle Sling can be attached using the Hitchpoint Grid system. For keeping things on ice for one person, YETI also makes a lunch box and lunch bag .

Travelers appreciate: Shoppers who purchased this cooler bag recently appreciated the quality and size of the cooler, noting that the ice did not melt for hours. Some felt the zipper was difficult to open and close.

Price: $300 or less

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. To ensure the contents of your cooler bag are kept properly cold, here are some tips for how to effectively use ice:

  • Add the right type of ice: YETI suggests using a combination of block ice and cubed ice, since block ice melts more slowly and cubed ice cools items faster. YETI also makes a YETI ICE hard ice pack for even cooler temps.
  • Layer the ice correctly: The ideal way to fill your cooler is to put ice on the bottom and the top with your food and drinks in between (as this Arctic Zone video demonstrates).
  • Use the right amount of ice: Be sure not to overfill your cooler with ice, as the lid must be able to close tightly. The amount of ice compared to cooler contents may depend on your cooler and what works for you: Arctic Zone recommends a 50-50 ratio of ice and food, for example, while YETI suggests filling two-thirds of your cooler with ice.

In addition to getting the ice right, there are some other ways you can optimize your cooler's performance.

  • Pre-chill the cooler bag: Starting with a cool bag is a great trick. The Igloo website recommends pre-chilling your bag overnight with a bag of ice inside to maximize ice retention.
  • Add cold drinks: Adding drinks that are already cold will help with ice retention, according to ICEMULE. Frozen water bottles are a great option too.
  • Keep the lid closed: Be sure to keep the lid shut (and locked, if that's an option) to keep the cold air in.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Sharael Kolberg is a U.S. News & World Report contributor with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cooler bags. She often uses a cooler bag for road trips, hikes and days at the beach. Kolberg used her experience as a frequent traveler and research expertise to curate this list of top cooler bags.

You might also be interested in:

  • Beach Packing List: Essentials to Bring
  • The Best Beach Bags
  • The Best Beach Wagons
  • The Ultimate Camping Checklist
  • Road Trip Essentials

The 26 Best Beach Resorts in the World

Aerial over beach at Montage Laguna Beach

Tags: Travel , Travel Gear

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Branson Shows

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travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Beach Toys for Kids

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travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Charleston Tours

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travelling the world in a backpack

The Best Savannah Tours

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travelling the world in a backpack


  1. 5 of the World’s Best Backpacking Destinations

    travelling the world in a backpack

  2. 11 Pro Tips for Packing for Your First Backpacking Trip

    travelling the world in a backpack

  3. Backpacking Travel Packing Guide

    travelling the world in a backpack

  4. Benefits of Exploring the World with a Travel Backpack

    travelling the world in a backpack

  5. The best travel backpacks for your next adventure

    travelling the world in a backpack

  6. 5 of the best travel backpacks for global adventures

    travelling the world in a backpack


  1. How to pack for backpacking around the world

  2. How to Pack for an Endless Backpacking Trip Around the World


  4. 11 GENIUS backpacks for international travel (#5 is my fav)

  5. How to pack for backpacking around the world

  6. How to Pack for an Endless Backpacking Trip Around the World


  1. 19 BEST Travel Backpacks (for Adventuring in 2024)

    This is hands down one of the best backpacks for traveling around the world on a longer adventure. Check out our review of the Aether 70 backpack to learn more! View on REI #4 Osprey Aura 50 - Best For Backpacking (Women) Specs. Price: $315; Size: 50L; Dimemsions: 81.28 x 38.1 x 30.48 cm;

  2. The 3 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Fairview has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel. $220 from REI. $220 from Osprey. The Osprey Fairview 55 and the nearly ...

  3. Tips On How to Backpack & Travel Round The World

    6. Stay In Backpackers Hostels. Our hostel shack in Malawi. Backpackers hostels are a great option for budget travel, and a great place to meet other travelers and get top backpacking tips. Rooms in hostels can consist of dormitory style (both same sex and unisex), private single, and private double rooms.

  4. The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Best Budget Travel Backpack: JanSport Journey Pack. Best Carrying Travel Backpack: Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs. Best Organization in a Travel Backpack: Matador SEG45 Travel Pack ...

  5. The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

    Best small carry-on bag for most situations: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack. Best large bag for most situations: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L. Best mobile office: Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L ...

  6. Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    Best Overall Travel Backpack 1. Cotopaxi Allpa 35L ($200) Capacity: 35L Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 8 in. Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz. Other sizes: 28, 42L What we like: Very tough, well-executed organization, and fun styling. What we don't: No load lifters, water bottle storage, or exterior compression straps. When compiling our list of the best travel packs, we prioritized functional organization, easy ...

  7. 16 BEST Travel Backpacks

    OUR TOP RECOMMENDATION - Osprey Talon 22. If the Swiss Army Knife was a backpack, it'd be the Talon 22. From the extra pocket in the shoulder straps to the hydration pack reservoir, every inch of this travel backpack serves a higher power. For us, the hip belt and sternum straps set this bag apart.

  8. 10 Best Travel Backpacks (2023 Buyers Guide & Reviews)

    The backpacks listed below have enough space to accommodate a sleeping bag, tent, and cooking equipment needed for typical trekking and overnight camping adventures, as well as your travel gear. 6. Gregory Mountain Zulu 55 - Adventure Travel Backpack.

  9. Your Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Backpack in 2024

    Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack. Designed for both quick trips and longer journeys, the unisex Porter looks and feels a lot like the Farpoint (but with a bit more room) thanks to its large front panel opening. This is one of Osprey's best-selling packs - it also gives you the option to add a daypack. Size: 46L.

  10. Best Travel Backpacks 2024 Buyer's Guide (Tips + Top Picks)

    Check out Peak Design or the Pakt Travel Backpack for more of a city/air/commute travel focus, the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite for adventure trips, or other recommendations below. $300+. There are some truly high-end packs such as the Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro and the Tom Binh Techonaut. But… they may be overkill.

  11. Best Travel Backpack: How To Pick In 2024

    8.2/10: Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Bag (Best for business travelers) 8.0/10: EVERGOODS Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35) (Best for carry comfort) 7.6/10: Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L (Best built-in packing cubes) 7.5/10: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack (Best for showing a little personality) See all reviews: Travel Backpacks.

  12. Everything You Need to Travel the World in One Backpack

    GoToob Travel Bottles: Fill these up with whatever you want. I've got Dr. Bronner's Castile soap (a little of this goes a long way), Face Lotion, and Sunscreen. Toothpaste: Getting it as close ...

  13. The Complete Backpacking Packing List

    This is a comprehensive packing checklist and packing advice for budget backpacking and light travel for adventurers (travel or hiking) — including backpacking essentials, electronics & accessories, adventure gear, toiletries, clothing, useful things and admin. Carrying all backpacking essentials on a wilderness trail in Canada.

  14. The ULTIMATE Backpacking Packing List for 2024

    A good micro-fibre travel towers is essential travel gear on any ultimate backpacking gear list. The Matador micro-fibre towel range are made by travellers for travellers. They are super light, and most importantly dry very quickly and are perfect for all types of backpacking trips. Check Best Price.

  15. The 11 Best Carry-on Travel Backpacks of 2024 ...

    Best Overall: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack at Amazon ($200) Jump to Review. Best for Long Trips: Away The Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L at ($220) Jump to Review. Best Budget ...

  16. The 10 Best Backpack Brands for Travelers, Tested and Reviewed

    The Travel + Leisure team has tested more than 150 backpacks in our New York City testing lab as well as out in the real world. We checked out a wide variety of models from the most reliable, top ...

  17. What to Take in Your Backpack When Traveling: The Ultimate Packing List

    A pair of flip-flops or sandals for showering or relaxing. A hat, sunglasses, and a scarf or a bandana for protection from the sun, dust, or cold. You can use packing cubes or compression bags to organize your clothes and save space in your backpack. 1.4. Toiletries and Personal Items.

  18. Travel the World With a Backpack

    How to Travel Around the World With Just a 20lb Backpack. Editor's note: This is a guest post by David Danzeiser. All photos provided by David. I hung up the phone with the travel agent. I had just finished booking 45,000 miles worth of flights around the world. The trip would last a year and take me to 23 different countries.

  19. How to Travel the World With 1 Backpack

    Cut down on the volume of clothes you need to bring by packing a wash kit (sink stopper and packets of detergent). Shoes are obviously important but make sure you only bring your most comfortable pairs that can be worn during different activities (hiking, walking, going out and casual).

  20. How To Pack A Backpack For Travel

    Top Tips For Packing a Backpack For a Trip. Do a Dummy Run. One big piece of advice we will offer you is to practice packing and unpacking your bag and do a dummy run at least a week before your first trip. There are a number of benefits to doing these dummy runs; You get adept at packing and unpacking n a hurry.

  21. 16 Best Places To Backpack In The World

    Central America is definitely among the best backpack destinations in the world. Guatemala is my favorite place, but I can also recommend the best places to visit in Honduras and the best places to visit in El Salvador. 7. Bolivia. Bolivia definitely deserves a spot In this list of cheap countries to travel.

  22. Backpacking Routes around the World

    Scandinavia Backpacking Route. Time - 3 to 5 weeks | Budget - US$2300-2850. Featuring some of the main travel highlights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, our compact travel itinerary explores the best Scandinavia has to offer and also suggests some tips for trying to get by on a shoestring budget in an expensive part of the world.

  23. Best business travel backpacks for every budget

    Tumi Alpha Bravo Navigation Backpack, $525. TUMI. Though Tumi makes a handful of durable bags, the Navigation Backpack excels for a wide range of travel needs. It features a separate padded laptop compartment (that can fit even the largest MacBooks), a main storage area and plenty of other smaller pockets.

  24. How to Pack Like a Pro: Navigating the World of Suitcases & Backpacks

    Packing a Backpack. 1. Plan and List: Consider the duration of your trip and list down the essentials. 2. Weight Distribution: Heaviest items (like camping gear or laptops) should be placed close ...

  25. The 9 Best Cooler Bags of 2024

    Best Overall: ICEMULE Classic Medium 15L. Jump to features and traveler insights ↓. Best for Beach: Alameda Mesh Tote Beach Bag. Jump to features and traveler insights ↓. Best Insulation ...