Whether you are a seasoned globetrotter, a backpacker, or a casual weekend traveler, you could benefit from a travel backpack. You may also want a travel backpack if you enjoy hiking or do frequent air traveling for work. While some travelers prefer a suitcase on wheels, a backpack will be a better choice in many situations, such as when walking on uneven pavement, sand, or snow.
We went ahead and researched the 10 best backpacks for travel out there, whether it's for business, the outdoors, and more. Our top pick is Opsprey's 46 Travel Backpack for its carry-on-friendly size, ample storage, and multiple access modes. Read on for more of our choices, and scroll to the bottom for an in-depth buying guide!
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When it comes to travel backpacks, there's no "one size fits all." That's why you should look for a backpack that fits your body and frame as well as suits your travel style and packing needs. Use these tips to help find your perfect backpack for traveling.
Keep the kind of travel you'll be doing in mind and that will help you narrow your search. Also, keep in mind that men and women have different physiques, and while there are unisex backpacks out there, women greatly benefit from using backpacks designed for the female body.
Whether you're a full-time traveler or just travel occasionally, there's always a chance you'll get caught in a drizzle. Unless you are planning a hike in the jungle, you can usually get away with semi-water-resistant material.
However, you should consider your travel destination. If you're going to places that receive a lot of precipitation, such as Southeast Asia during the rainy season, it might be wise to look for a completely waterproof option. This is especially important if you have a lot of digital gadgets to protect.
While polypropylene is the most waterproof material, it's not UV-resistant and thus not very durable in the great outdoors. For full protection against downpours, look for a backpack that comes with a rain cover. You can also buy these separately. Other materials that are water-resistant include canvas coated with wax and sailcloth.
Furthermore, you should consider when, where, and how often you'll use the backpack. If you're a frequent hiker or backpacker, you'll want a strong and durable backpack. Nylon, especially ripstop nylon, is a good material to look for. It's durable and prevents further tearing if damaged. Avoid polyester, as it's heavier than nylon and not as tenacious.
If you're planning a long trip, such as a strenuous hike or backpacking in Europe or Asia, extra support is vital. A suspension system is designed to distribute weight evenly across your back. This helps prevent pinching, soreness, and back pain. It also often comes with adjustable shoulder straps, a hip belt, load positioning straps, and sternum straps that wrap around your chest.
Additionally, look for a bag with proper padding on the shoulder straps as well as the back panel. This will help keep both your back and your shoulders protected as you are carrying around the weight. Don’t forget a properly padded waist-strap either!
Whether you are traveling in a hot climate or not, contoured padding will be a lifesaver. The contouring allows air to flow between your back and your bag, and as a result, you won’t turn into a sweaty mess on a hot day or if you have to carry your bag for an extended period of time.
The contoured padding will also help with weight distribution and ensure that you maintain a good posture while wearing your backpack.
For city trotting or simple weekend trips, a bulky backpack might be cumbersome. For example, it can be hard to bring the backpack on packed trains or into shops. A small and lightweight backpack may be the better choice in this case, especially if you frequently travel by airplane.
Luckily, some travel backpacks can be taken on a plane as your carry-on, meaning you don't have to check them in. Generally, the size requirement for carry-on luggage is a maximum of 22 x 14 x 9 inches, and it shouldn't weigh more than 22 pounds. This varies by airline, though, so make sure to check with yours before you fly.
Another concern is anti-theft. Some destinations are renowned for their pickpockets. A secure backpack will have secret pockets or even a locking system so that it's harder to break into. You can also buy a separate lock to use on your double-zippers, but make sure it's TSA-recognised if you're a frequent flyer.
The features can matter just as much as the basics depending on your journey. These features will help you stay safe, secure, and organized.
Consider what goes in your backpack. If you want to bring a big laptop, for example, a big laptop pocket will be helpful. Regardless of your screen size, a padded pocket provides extra protection for your digital gadgets.
For smaller items, check whether a backpack has a convenient way to store them. If you're on the go, they should be easily accessible. Side or front pockets are your friends. Many travel backpacks are equipped with easy-access pockets, wherein you can store your passport, keys, and phone, and access them without having to take off the bag.
Decide whether you prefer a top-loading or side-loading backpack. Many backpacks open at the top, but sometimes this means you will have to dig around or even unpack your bag completely in order to reach items that are at the bottom. It can also be difficult to see the entire contents of your bag.
A side- or front-opening backpack can solve these problems. This style opens just like a suitcase and gives you a full view of the bag as well as easy access to your belongings. However, this type of backpack might be difficult to open when out and about, like on the street, and offers less structure than a top-loading option.
By choosing a bag with multiple compartments, you will be able to easily separate and organize your belongings. This is a good way to keep your shoes or dirty laundry away from your clean clothes. It's also a great way to keep your laptop or tablet safe and easy to access. You might also want a water bottle pocket that's easy to reach when carrying the backpack.
Some backpacks will have side handles or multiple handles that allow you to handle the backpack more easily. This can be a huge time saver if you're in a rush or find yourself constantly having to take off and put on your bag.
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Osprey Farpoint 40
The Best Versatile Backpack
Osprey Fairview 40
Best for Backpacking Women
Best for Lightweight Air Travel
The Best Convertible Travel Bag
Pacsafe Venturesafe X40
The Best Anti-theft Backpack
Best for Business Travel
The Best Carry On Backpack
Osprey Farpoint 55
The Best Backpacker's Pack
Osprey Atmos 65
Best Travel and Trekking Backpack
Best for the Traveling Minimalist
With this, you get a sturdy and customizable bag that you can adjust to your body. It’s front-loading, which makes it easy to access your things. It fits most airlines' carry-on requirements, too. Additionally, it's available in 30- and 65-liter sizes.
Reviewers agreed that this was a great back to take on a trip to Europe or similar, as well as on business trips. It was uncomfortable for a handful of people, but most loved its space, convenience, and quality.
Being made for women, this backpack has a better fit and weight distribution for traveling ladies. With this, your back and posture are better protected. It fits in the overhead compartment on flights, but it can also be checked in as luggage.
Reviewers said this bag was perfect for backpacking trips. Many took it through Asia and Europe. Some also said it worked well for hiking. It was a good fit for small and short people, a few added.
This backpack is perfect for the urban traveler. If you like to travel light, this is a backpack you won't have to check in on your flight. Take it as your carry-on when traveling by plane. It's also available in 45 liters, suited for domestic flights.
The bag is popular with reviewers for how easy it is to keep things organized in it. According to many, it has a good distribution of pockets. Some warn against overpacking due to its size, but it's generally loved for its high quality.
This wheeled backpack lets you roll and carry it. This is useful if you travel on different types of terrain. It has several compartments as well as a detachable day pack that you can take with you when you go out during your trip.
A few reviewers warned that the bag seemed smaller than advertised. Still, many adored its versatility and convenient design. It proved to be a good companion for both backpacking and business trips.
This bag from PacSafe has security in mind. It's ideal to take on trips to big cities where theft and pickpockets are of concern. The material is made with steel mesh, making it harder to cut through. The bag also has various safety pockets.
With a volume of only 28 liters, though, it might not be the best option for longer trips. Still, reviewers loved how convenient the backpack is and said it makes for a great daypack.
If you travel for work, you might want to consider this versatile and sturdy backpack from Matein. It has several anti-theft measures, such as a hidden pocket on the back and lockable zippers. It also has a charging port if you need to charge your phone on the go.
Reviewers found the backpack to be functional and lightweight. Some thought the laptop pocket isn't padded enough, but overall, it's a very popular choice for business and short trips.
This flight-approved backpack has multiple compartments, allowing you to stay organized while traveling. Its design makes for a professional look, even during air travel. Since it's made of plastic, it's waterproof.
Many reviewers agreed that this back is perfect for lightweight travel, as it fits comfortably in both the overhead compartment and under-seat storage. A handful said the zipper on their bags broke easily. Still, most said this back was great for weekend trips.
This is the mens' equivalent of Oprey's Fairview 55, and a popular option for backpacking through Europe or Asia. It comes with a detachable day pack. It's perfect for long trips or the traveler who just wants a little extra packing space. This model is also available in a 70-liter version.
While it does fit with the overhead compartments on planes, reviewers recommended that you check with your airline's carry-on requirements before a trip, to make sure it fits their size requirements, too. Aside from that, they said this backpack was perfect for backpacking.
This bag has a fully adjustable torso length and great suspension, which makes it a very comfortable bag. It also has a separate compartment for a sleeping bag and many other things you might need during a trek or hike.
Some reviewers noted that the bag squeaks. Still, they loved its comfortable fit and high quality. They said it was the best backpack for hiking and outdoor trips.
If you prefer to travel light, look no further. This extendable backpack from Bopai is perfect for short trips and business travel. It has plenty of pockets for organizational purposes as well as a USB port and hidden pocket for valuables.
Reviewers liked its stylish design as well as its quality functionality. A few said their bag wasn't very durable, but many claimed this is the bag that has everything. It works great for work-related trips, they added.
Why stop at backpacks? Optimize your entire travel experience!
Take a look at Amazon's best-selling backpacks. It might give you an idea of what you're looking for, as well as show you what's popular and successful with other users.
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