15 Best Carry On Backpacks of 2020 [Must Read Guide!]

Inateck Travel Carry on Luggage

When it comes to the best carry on backpack, there are a few things you need to know…

First – there are TONS of backpacks on the market right now. Some of them are amazing, but some of them are crap.

Second – the term ‘carry on’ will vary depending on the airline. What some airlines allow – others will not.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of confusion with on th subject. What is allowed on the plane? What makes a good bag? This is exactly why we put together this epic guide to the best backpacks for flying in 2020!

With the help of this one of a kind guide, you’ll be able to easily find the best carry on that suits your travel style. 

This is because we’ve organized this one of a kind list by different needs, so all you have to do is find what you need, and BOOM! You’ll have the carry on travel backpack of your dreams.

These aren’t just the 15 best carry on’s of 2020 – these might be some of the best backpacks on the market. Period.

Backpacks in 2020 are being taken to another level – make sure to check them all out. Some of them will definitely shock you with their awesomeness…

 

Quick Answers – The Best Carry On Packs of 2020

 

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION
tbb-table__imageBest Overall Carry on BackpackBest Overall Carry on BackpackNomatic Travel Bag 40L

  • Cost: $$$
  • > Amazing organization
  • > Backpack and duffelbag
  • Cost: $$$
  • > Amazing organization
  • > Backpack and duffelbag
Check on Nomatic
tbb-table__imageBest Women’s Carry on BackpackBest Women’s Carry on BackpackOsprey Fairview 40L

  • Cost: $$
  • > 20l storage space
  • > Made with high quality water and tear resistant nylon material
  • Cost: $$
  • > 20l storage space
  • > Made with high quality water and tear resistant nylon material
Check on REICheck on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Carry on for Hiking BackpackBest Carry on for Hiking BackpackOsprey Stratos 36L

  • Cost: $$
  • > Large pouch for easy access
  • > Sturdy and durable
  • Cost: $$
  • > Large pouch for easy access
  • > Sturdy and durable
Check on REICheck on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Packable Daypack for Carry-OnBest Packable Daypack for Carry-OnActive Roots Foldable Daypack

  • Cost: $
  • > Foldable and Lightweight
  • > Comfortable
  • Cost: $
  • > Foldable and Lightweight
  • > Comfortable
Check on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Carry on Laptop BackpackBest Carry on Laptop BackpackNomatic Travel Pack 30L

  • Cost: $$$
  • > Offers 10,000 combinations
  • > Small volume, light weight, fit through the holes of a lot of suitcases
  • Cost: $$$
  • > Offers 10,000 combinations
  • > Small volume, light weight, fit through the holes of a lot of suitcases
Check on Nomatic
tbb-table__imageBest Carry on Luggage Style BackpackBest Carry on Luggage Style BackpackOsprey Sojourn 45L

  • Cost: $$$
  • > Built-in adjustable light – read day and night
  • > A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours
  • Cost: $$$
  • > Built-in adjustable light – read day and night
  • > A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours
Check on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Carry on Bag for International TravelBest Carry on Bag for International TravelTortuga Outbreaker

  • Cost: $$$
  • > Retractable plugs: Euro, UK, USA / Japan, Australia / China
  • > Charge a laptop and two usb devices at once
  • Cost: $$$
  • > Retractable plugs: Euro, UK, USA / Japan, Australia / China
  • > Charge a laptop and two usb devices at once
Check on Tortuga
tbb-table__imageBest Carry on Camera BackpackBest Carry on Camera BackpackLowePro ProTactic 450 AW

  • Cost: $$$$
  • > Tons of awesome features
  • > Customizable
  • Cost: $$$$
  • > Tons of awesome features
  • > Customizable
Check on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Budget Carry on BackpackBest Budget Carry on BackpackREI Co-op Rucksack

  • Cost: $
  • > Has a very elegant appearance that looks good in any bathroom
  • > Waterproof fabric can ensure you that your favorite items won’t spill or leak out into your suitcase
  • Cost: $
  • > Has a very elegant appearance that looks good in any bathroom
  • > Waterproof fabric can ensure you that your favorite items won’t spill or leak out into your suitcase
Check on REI
tbb-table__imageBest 3 – in – 1 Carry-on BackpackBest 3 – in – 1 Carry-on BackpackStandard Luggage Carry On

  • Cost: $$
  • > Custom designed for the modern airport
  • > You will almost NEVER have to check this bag
  • Cost: $$
  • > Custom designed for the modern airport
  • > You will almost NEVER have to check this bag
Check on Standard Luggage
tbb-table__imageBest Digital Nomad Carry OnBest Digital Nomad Carry OnAer Travel Pack 2 Backpack

  • Cost: $$$
  • > Laptop compartment
  • > Carry on compliant
  • Cost: $$$
  • > Laptop compartment
  • > Carry on compliant
Check Price on Aersf

 

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L – Our Favorite Carry On Backpack

The Nomatic Travel Bag

Nomatic Travel Bag isn’t just our pick for best overall carry on backpack… it could just be the greatest travel bag ever made.

Why is this our #1 recommendation for best overall carry on bag? Simply – it fits the bill.

Nomatic Travel Bag is 40L of backpack-engineering-perfection. This bag is carry on compliant with the large majority of airlines, and you’ll be doing it in style and with optimal efficiency.  This is a bag designed for modern, tech-savvy travelers – NOT for hikers/campers.

Not to be confused with the Nomatic Travel Pack (which we cover later) this brilliant piece of equipment is a modern backpack for a modern traveler.

The Nomatic Travel Back comes with 20 unique features including a shoe compartment, water bottle container, a secure valuables pocket and a ton of other features that made it an easy pick for the best carry on travel backpack.

Looking for more info on the Nomatic Travel Bag? Check out the full review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. 40L = Carry on compliant
  2. Next level organization
  3. Backpack or duffel bag

Cons

  1. Expensive
  2. Not for hiking/camping
  3. Too much organization/flash for some

 

Is the Nomatic Travel Bag 40L the best bag for you?

Are you looking for a 40L backpack for carry on that looks awesome and has next-level organization? The Nomatic Travel Bag is suited for modern, tech-savvy travelers, so as long as you aren't looking to go hiking or camping, it's nearly impossible to beat this bag. Click the link below for the best price.

Check on Nomatic

 

Osprey Farpoint (40 liter) - A Close Second for Carry On of the Year

osprey farpoint 40 travel backpack

No one likes a tie. But the first two bags are so dominant, it was impossible to pick one over the other.

If you are trying to decide between the Nomatic and the Osprey, then it simply comes down to one thing - your personal style.

Specifically, it comes down to one thing. Are you the camping/hiking type? If so, steer clear from the Nomatic, and get excited for the Farpoint 40 (aka the carry on travel backpack of your dreams).

Being 40 liters, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is the perfect size for a carry on, as you'll be able to take this on 99% of flights. This bag is very well designed, has amazing organization, while still being super minimalistic.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 can be used as for traveling, camping, hiking, hitching, and even for your work. This bag is really the best of all worlds, as even Digital Nomads and tech-savvy travelers use it as their number one backpack.

Similar to the Nomatic Travel Bag, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is also both a backpack, and a duffel bag, which enables you to use the bag in different ways depending on your situation.

Read our full Osprey Farpoint 40 review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Duffel bag or backpack
  2. Can be doubled as camping bag
  3. Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  1. Not as much tech-organization
  2. Some people prefer a more modern look

 

Is the Osprey Farpoint 40L the best bag for you?

Are you looking for an incredible, convertible carry on backpack, with solid features, and a lifetime warranty? Then look no further than the Osprey Farpoint 40.  This is a serious bag for people who love to travel and also want the option to do some camping or hiking. This backpack is Osprey's masterpiece.

Check on Amazon              Check on REI

 

Tortuga Setout - Best 45L Carry On Travel Backpack

Tortuga Setout (45 liter)

Tortuga makes some of the best travel backpacks on the market

The Tortuga Setout is a serious bag for a serious traveler

First off - Tortuga makes amazing bags.

Between the Setout and the Outbreaker (which we'll cover in a bit!), Tortuga is certainly one of the best backpack companies on the market.

The Tortuga Setout is a serious piece of equipment. At 45 liters, it's designed for urban travel, but because of it's design it also will be able to pass for a carry on... most of the time. It is the very maximum that a carry on can be, so be ready for some weary looks from over-attentive gate agents.

The Tortuga setout is one of the best backpacks for flying for a ton of reasons. It's got a phenomenal design, it's got great organization, and it has HUGE amounts of space. Tortuga might be the company that best knows how to create space within their bags so you can pack the compartments to your heart's content.

At the end of the day this is a big bag. And for some people it might be great, but for others it might be too big - it all depends on what you need this bag for.

If you are looking for something for weekend trips, and everyday use, I think the Minaal or Nomatic will work better. But if you are a serious traveler and expect to be on the road for weeks or months at a time, a 45L will give you tons more space and capacity to take your clothes, and belongings with you.  The ability to take a bag like this on long term travels is amazing.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. HUGE and very spacious
  2. Great design
  3. Able to transform into duffel bag

Cons

  1. Some airlines may think that this bag is too big to be a carry on
  2. 45 Liters might be way too big for some

 

Is the Tortuga Setout the best bag for you?

While Tortuga markets the Setout as an urban bag... it's not. It's an awesome bag for long-term travelers. This bag is a shockingly spacious work of art and allows you to maintain some style points in the process. Tortuga is one of the best, and this bag is the reason why.

Check on Tortuga

 

Minaal Carry On (35 liter) -  Best Carry On for Commuters

The Minaal 2.0

The Minaal 2.0 is a well designed carry on travel backpack, and perfect for urban travel

The Minaal Carry On 2.0 is the sequel to their hugely popular Carry On 1.0 - and wow... they did not disappoint.

Minaal makes super high quality equipment, as their products are made with incredible craftsmanship, and backed with a lifetime warrantee.

Some of the coolest features are its 3D fabric pockets, lockable zippers, adjustable chest strap, magnet clips, and the fact that it comes with a carry on rain cover. Also we LOVE that the laptop compartment is suspended away from the sides of the bag (to keep your computer extra safe).

Here's the truth.

The Nomatic and the Minaal Carry On 2.0 are quite similar. Both are well organized, urban-style travel bags that should not be used for hiking or camping. They are both marketing to modern travelers who are looking for a sleek, efficient carry on.

But the Minaal Carry On 2.0 separates itself from Nomatic by being less of a tech-bag, and more of an urban bag.

Yes, the Minaal still has amazing tech-organization, it just seems more like a bag for the common person. Where a traveling professional or a Digital Nomad might make more use of Nomatics design, the Minaal definetaly seems to cater to non-traveling professionals which gives it enormous appeal.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Tons of incredible features
  2. 35 liters might be the perfect size
  3. Sleek, minimal design

Cons

  1. Not for the super tech-savvy
  2. 35 Liters might be too small for some
  3. Pricey

 

Is the Minaal Carry On 2.0 the best bag for you?

Do you want a super sleek, super modern travel backpack, but don't have any need for all of the super-tech organization? Because of it's minimalist design, the Minaal can be used for international travel, daily use and everything in between. Heed our advice - this is a badass backpack.

Check for Best Price

 

Osprey Fairview (45 liter) - Best Women's Carry on Backpack

The Osprey Fairview 40

The Osprey Fairview 40 was designed specifically for women - making this category an easy choice!

To clarify for the ladies...

ANY of the bags mentioned prior can be used for women. Whether you are interested in Minaal, Tortuga, Nomatic, or any of the others - all of these bags are unisex.

Except for the Osprey Fairview 40, which was designed specifically for women.

The only non-unisex backpack on this list, the Fairview is basically a carbon copy of the Osprey Farpoint 40 (#2 on this list), just tailored for the female form.

Just as the Osprey Farpoint 40, the Farview 40 is a masterpiece, and is taken to the next level by being tailored for women.

The backpack can transform into a duffel bag, which is made even more awesome by the included shoulder strap, and the ability to stow the bag's harness and hip belt. At a square 40 liters, you'll rarely have to worry about this bag being checked.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. All of the pros of the Osprey Farpoint 40
  2. A hiking and carry on backpack specifically designed to fit women!

Cons

  1. All of the cons of the Osprey Farpoint 40

 

Is the Osprey Fairview 40 the best bag for you?

If you are a lady, and want all of the glory of Osprey in a bag that is specifically designed for you - then hell yes! Please, don't be hesitant to purchase any of the other bags (as they are all unisex!) but if you want a badass hiking/carry on backpack - this is an easy pick.

Check on Amazon              Check on REI

 

Osprey Stratos (33 or 36 liter) - Best Hiking Carry On Backpack

osprey stratos carry on

Are you seeing a trend with Osprey bags here at The Broke Backpacker? We kind of love them.

But how could you blame us? They make quality backpacks, and the Osprey Stratos 36 is a sterling example of that.

The Osprey Stratos is a hiking bag first, and a travel bag second. But if you LOVe hiking, you'll love this bag for many reasons.  This bag is a go-to for short hikes and can even be done for super lightweight overnight camping excursions. It comes with an integrated rain cover, and has an impressive amount of organization capacity for it's minimal design.

And also, at 33 or 36 liters (depending on the size you buy) you can be 100% assured that this bag is ALWAYS going to be with you on the plane.

This bag comes in two sizes. The S/M is 33 liters and the M/L is 36 liters. While we adore lightweight travel here, 33 liters is small, and is not recommended to travel for long periods of time.

The 36 liter could definitely double as a hiking bag and a travel bag - you just need to be prepared to go super minimal. If you do then you'll have one of the coolest hiking bags on the market! If you aren't sold on the Stratos, the Osprey Cirrus 36 is another great option.

Read our full Osprey Stratos 36 review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Always carry on compliant
  2. The cream of the crop for ultra-light hiking backpacks
  3. New updated design 
  4. Ventilated mesh back panel

Cons

  1. Likely too small for most travelers
  2. Only good for hikers/campers
  3. Mixed reviews on the pocket sizes

 

Is the Osprey Stratos 36 the best bag for you?

You love to hike. You love to camp. If this is the case, then you probably do it a lot, and you need to seriously need to consider this for your carry on bag. The only downside is it's size - but if you are used to day-hikes, and lightweight camping then I think the size won't be much of a problem for ya!

Check on Amazon              Check on REI

 

Active Roots Foldable Daypack - Best Packable Daypack for Carry On

Active Roots best daypack for travelersThis foldable backpack is the best foldable carry-on backpack for travel. It's lightweight enough to bring on type of transportation, yet durable and water-resistant enough to bring on any adventure.

The fact that it is foldable and weighs less than 10oz means there is no excuse NOT to pack this pack. You can easily bring this backpack along as your daypack while using another one of the packs on this list as your main carr on.

Even though this is a foldable daypack, it's still spacious enough to hold 34L of gear and offers 7 easy-access pockets and pouches to organize your belongings.

Finally, with each purchase, Active Roots donates to one of the several environmental charities they work with that help clean up our planet. If you don't love your foldable backpack, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Foldable daypacks make travel super easy - and Active Roots does it best.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Foldable and Lightweight
  2. Thoughtful design and organization
  3. Comfortable
  4. Great for hikers or travelers

Cons

  1. Not as hefty as other packs on this list
  2. Not ideal for one bag travel
  3. Not as feature rich as other travel backpacks

 

Is Active Roots the best foldable backpack for you?

Whether you are exploring a city or jungle, this daypack will take you anywhere. Not only does this backpack look stylish and sleek, but it's also a FOLDABLE daypack made from strong, water-resistant nylon material. We can't believe this pack holds 34L of stuff. With each purchase, they're donating to one of several environment-saving charities to help clean up our planet so that we can enjoy more adventures for years to come.

View on Amazon

 

Nomatic Travel Pack - Best Carry on Laptop Backpack

nomatic backpack for travelers

Nomatic has done it again, and if this bag were slightly bigger, it could be our overall number one choice.

But since it's only a 30 liter, we thought it best to put it here, as the best carry on laptop backpack of 2020.

The Nomatic Travel Pack is technically a 20 liter, but with some creative engineering, the Nomatic crew has given their Travel Pack users the opportunity to expand into a 30 liter. This is probably one of the coolest features to any bag we've seen, and becuase of this the Nomatic Travel Pack is one of the most badass bags on the market.

This bag comes down to one thing - is it big enough for you? (If it's not, the next one on the list will be).

If you can swing 20-30 liters, then this bag will be a godsend for you. It's super stylish, and incredibly modern and sleek and also includes a compression packing cube, a waist strap, and a TSA approved lock. This is why it's one of the best carry on bags for electronics.

As any great laptop backpack should do, the laptop sleeve is also TSA friendly, meaning you can simply unzip the back panel (Where your laptop lays) and can send the bag through the security without having to take the laptop out. As any professional traveler knows, this small convenience really adds up over time.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Can expand from 20 to 30 liters
  2. Sleek and protected laptop sleeve
  3. Magnetic water bottle pockets

Cons

  1. Pricey
  2. Way too small for long term travelers

 

Is the Nomatic Travel Pack the best bag for you?

If you are looking for an everyday use backpack for your laptop that is also 100% carry on compliant - the Nomatic Travel Pack is going to be hard to beat. While on the pricey side, this bag one of the most innovative on the market. Believe us, your laptop will thank you.

Check on Nomatic

 

Osprey Porter (46 liters) - Best Carry On for Adventurous Techies

Osprey Porter

The Osprey Porter is the best hiking style backpack for laptops - and it's mostly carry on compliant

The Osprey Porter 46 one of the largest carry on backpacks on this list - and while it still can be carry on compliant... you're rolling the dice with this one.

But for some people, this might be the perfect bag to roll the dice with ! Aside from being a great hiking/camping/traveling backpack, the Osprey Porter 46 is hands down the best old-school backpacking backpack that handles a laptop.

There are two distinct reasons why...

  1. Do you see that side panel? That panel is basically a tank-like forcefield of protection. Those side panels are one of the stand out features of the Porter 46, as they help stabilize and compress your bag (while keeping your goods safe and secure!). Very good for laptops!
  2. The laptop compartment is on the BACK of this bag, which is a fantastic design choice by Osprey. By having the laptop compartment against your back, it means your laptop will always remain flat. This is one of our biggest flaws against the Osprey Farpoint 40. The Farpoint 40 has the laptop compartment in the front of the bag - which means the more stuff you pack, the more pressure gets put on the laptop.

Because of the side panels, the Osprey Porter 46 is one of the sturdiest and strongest bags on the market - which has obvious benefits if you are traveling with a laptop.

Aside from that you are obviously still getting the perks of buying Osprey gear, including amazing customer support, and the lifetime guarantee.

Check out our full review of the Osprey Porter here. 

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. A hiking bag with great laptop protection
  2. Well priced
  3. Good for hiking, camping or traveling

Cons

  1. Big. This is not going to be carry on compliant for all airlines
  2. Lacks some features of newer, more modern bags

 

Is the Osprey Porter 46 the best bag for you?

If you are looking for an awesome hiking bag that can double as a travel bag that will keep your laptop safe and secure - this is the only choice. The Porter is one of Osprey's flagship products, and while we think the Farpoint is an overall better bag, the Porter can be a dream bag for the right person.

Check on Amazon              Check on REI

 

eBags Professional Slim Laptop - The Best Carry On for Business Trips

incase carry on backpack grey

Incase puts together some great bags, and this one is our favorite on their line.

The Incase EO Travel Backpack is a well designed carry on laptop backpack, made with heavy duty materials, and built for style and durability.

This bag is marketed as a 'business professional backpack', but we think they did a great job with the design, and can be used for casual travelers and every day use as well.

We put this on the list for a few reasons. Obviously it's a great bag. But also, out of the three laptop carry on options - this is the smallest. If you are looking for something more manageable (as opposed to the Nomatic 40 liters, and the Osprey Porter 46 liters) the Incase is a great choice for shorter trips (2-3 days max).

This is because of it's cool features. Similar to the Nomatic Travel Bag, the EO Travel Backpack has a feature that allows it to expand or contract its size. Meaning if you need it to be an every day backpack - it can be! And if you need it to be a backpack for a three day trip - it can do that as well!

This bag can double for a day to day bag as well, giving you the best of both worlds.

PS - check out more of our top laptop backpacks. 

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Fits up to a 17″ laptop
  2. Super easy laptop access
  3. Nice padding with back panels

Cons

  1. Too small for a long-term primary travel bag
  2. Not cheap

 

Is the Incase EO Travel Backpack the best bag for you?

If you are looking for a large laptop backpack to keep weeks of travel equipment in - look elsewhere. This is a great every day bag, a 2-3 day trip bag, OR a really nice daypack. The great design of the Incase EO Travel Backpack means your laptop will be safe and protected, and it's size will ensure you'll NEVER have to check it.

Check on Amazon

 

Tortuga Outbreaker (45 liter) - THE Longterm International Carry On Backpack

Tortuga Outbreaker

Durability and packing power make this the best carry on backpack for international travel

The Outbreaker was built for two things - organization and durability for long term travelers. And it has absolutely accomplished both.

We put this bag as the best carry on backpack for international travel because of how much stuff you can fit in here. It's easily the largest carry backpack bag we've ever seen, and you'll be astonished how much you can actually fit in it.

This is because of it's luggage-esque design. The Tortuga Outbreaker has a square shape, so what you lack in style, you certainly make up for in space.

Also, the Outbreaker is made from the same material that boat sails are made from - this is one TOUGH bag, and it will last you a lifetime.

But because of it's material, this bag isn't the most stylish, nor is it the most malleable, but it's a phenomenal bag for long term, international travel (and also a great carry on backpack for Europe!) .

The Tortuga Outbreaker is basically luggage with a well designed strap system so you can wear it as a backpack.

A lot of people ask us which do we prefer - the Outbreaker or the Setout?

To answer that you need to consider what is more important to you. Simply put - if you are looking for something more stylish and light, go with the Setout. If you are looking for something a bit bigger and that will last through the apocalypse, go with the Outbreaker.

The Outbreaker comes in a 35L and a 45L - both are viable options, but the 45L seems to be much more popular.

Need more info? You gotta check out our full Tortuga Outbreaker review!

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Most packing space of any carry on travel backpack
  2. Incredibly durable
  3. An organizational masterpiece
  4. Dedicated laptop compartment is well protected and easily accesible

Cons

  1. It's huge, and some airlines will absolutely make you check this bag
  2. Very expensive

 

Is the Tortuga Outbreaker the best bag for you?

Out of all the carry ons we've reviewed, this one has far and away the most packing power. Because of it's square-like design, it's almost shocking how much stuff you can pack in this bag. While you might have to check this bag every now and then, if you are an international traveler looking for ONE carry on - this is literally the last purchase you'll ever need to make.

Check on Tortuga

 

Osprey Sojourn (45 liter) - Best Suitcase Backpack Hybrid

osprey sojourn backpack with wheels

The Osprey Sojourn doubles as a backpack and a suitcase, making it the best carry on backpack luggage

The Osprey Sojourn is truly a one of a kind product. 1/2 backpack, 1/2 luggage, the Sojourn is the best of both worlds and is truly and incredible bag... for the right person.

The most important thing to realize is this - this is a rolling suitcase FIRST, and a backpack as a very, very, very far second.

If you are looking for a backpack - look elsewhere. While the Sojourn's backpack feature is well designed, it's only meant to be used when you need it. If you are looking for a backpack, the Sojourn's wheel system is giving you additional weight that your back will not appreciate it. Use the backpack feature, but do so sparingly. This baby is meant to roll 90% of the time.

But! If you are looking for a rolling suitcase - this could be the bag of your dreams!

While the 45 liters might be a bit big for some budget airlines, you should be good to take the Sojourn as a carry on on most of your flights.

Like most Osprey packs, we love this bag's design and durability. The Sojourn 45 is easily the best luggage backpack carry on available, and if you are looking for some sort of carry on rolling luggage - we think you found your bag.

Still not sold? Check out our monster guide to the Osprey Sojourn.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Doubles as rolling suitcase and backpack
  2. Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee
  3. Compression straps help keep your gear safe and secure
  4. Great organization

Cons

  1. It's heavy when used as a backpack
  2. Pricey

 

Is the Osprey Sojourn 45 the best bag for you?

This one is easy. Do you want a carry on rolling luggage that can also transform into a backpack in time of need? If you answered 'YES!' - then this is your bag.

View on Amazon

 

WANDRD PRVKE 31 - Best Carry On for Electronics (including Cameras!)

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

The WANDRD PRVKE 31 is the best camera backpack on the market for non-professional photographers.

We think this for a few reasons...

First off - the bag is extremely versatile and extremely durable. It's versatility and durability is awesome because it means the WANDRD PRVKE 31 can be used for more than just a camera bag. Good for hiking, a daypack, or even a small travel backpack - the magic is in the WANDRD's ability to be more than just a camera backpack.

The WANDRD is also a super convertible carry on! There are lots of ways that you could pimp this bad boy: extra straps for accessories, packing cubes for different camera kits, and a rainfly for when it rains!

Not to say it's not a great camera backpack - it totally is! The WANDRD PRVKE 31 can handle a ton of camera gear, but it will not be able to accommodate larger photography kits.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Very durable and robust
  2. Great design 
  3. Tons of pockets
  4. Comes with handy accessories

Cons

  1. Limited space for cameras/equipment
  2. Magnetic handles are just OK

 

Is the WANDRD PRVKE 31 the best bag for you?

This bag looks great, can handle simple camera gear, and is super versatile. The lack of dedicated photography compartments means we can't recommend this backpack for photo-pros, but any amateur photographers in search of an awesome camera backpack - look no further!

Check for Best Price

 

LowePro Pro Tactic 450 AW (45 liter) - The Most Professional Carry On Camera Backpack

lowepro photography carry on backpack

The LowePro 450 has always been our go-to for best carry on camera backpack

Over the years, we've looked at a ton of camera backpacks, yet we always come back to the LowePro.

Why?

These bags are designed with the ultimate efficiency, and are nothing short of a god-send for professional and aspiring photographers.

This bag can safely and securely fit 2 DSLR's, up to 8 lenses, and a laptop. The design is impressive, as the bag allows for customization, so you can create compartments personalized for your photography needs.

And with it's size, you can guarantee the LowePro 450 AW is 100% carry on compliant.

The LowePro 450 comes at a hefty price tag, but it's worth it. Not only do you get this amazing camera bag, but it also comes with a bunch of accessories including a bottle pouch, and a rain case. If you are looking for the best carry on camera backpack - this is it!

Let us emphasize - this is a bag for hardcore camera enthusiasts, and it was an easy choice for best carry on camera backpack. But if you are interested in something less professional, check out our best camera bags or the WANDRD PRVKE 31.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Tons of awesome features
  2. Customizable 
  3. Stylish and well designed
  4. Dedicated laptop sleeve

Cons

  1. Expensive
  2. Only good for hardcore photographers 
  3. Heavy
  4. Might be scrutinized by gate agents

 

Is the LowePro 450 AW the best bag for you?

If you are a hardcore DSLR enthusiast, it's hard to beat the LowePro 450 AW. While pricey, this bag has everything you'll ever need, and it's customization is what takes it to another level. This is easily the best carry on camera backpack of 2020.

Check on Amazon

 

REI Co-Op Rucksack (40 liters) - Best Budget Carry On Backpack

rei carry on backpack

The rucksack is a serious hiking bag that also doubles as a nice travel bag and is carry on compliant!

REI deserves a bit more credit for their backpacks - they are well crafted, well reviewed, and the Rucksack 40 is on of their finest!

If you are looking for the best budget carry on hiking backpack (and you the rucksack look!) meet your new carry on.

The Rucksack is marketed as both a travel bag and a hiking bag - and we completely agree! While certainly a bit more on the camping-side then the travel-side, this bag can do whatever you need it to do. REI's bags are extremely durable, so no matter where in the world you take this bag it'll stand the test of time (while also being carry on compliant!)

The Rucksack is simple - but you get what you pay for.  None of the mouthwatering features on Osprey or Nomatic will be available on this bag.

But! Having said that, this is still a fine bag, it will be very durable, and it's probably the best value backpack on the market right now.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Super affordable
  2. Classic rucksack look
  3. Great ventilation/back support

Cons

  1. Lacks the features of other bags
  2. Preferrable for hikers/campers
  3. Might be too big for ultra-light campers

 

Is the REI Co-Op Rucksack the best bag for you?

Looking for a 40 liter travel bag but on a bit of a budget? This is a great option, especially if you are new to traveling and want to get a fee for it. The Rucksack is simple, but will be durable and do everything you need it to do for your travels or camping.

Check for Best Price

 

Swiss Gear SA1186 Bungee (26 liters) - The Simplest Backpack for Carry On

Swiss Gear 1186

Swiss is a reputable brand, and their backpacks are no exception. The Swiss Gear 1186 is a simple bag - but for the price it's actually pretty impressive!

The bag is made of durable polyester fiber, is fairly large and has a bungee chord system in front to further help your organization.

This bag is a bit small, but we wanted to give a budget option for a smaller bag. This is more of a great budget daybag or if you travel super light, it could be good for a 1-2 day trip.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Durable
  2. Good organization options
  3. 100% carry on compliant

Cons

  1. Lacks many features
  2. Not the most stylish option

 

Is the Swiss Gear 1186 the best bag for you?

If you are on a budget and want a small carry on backpack that can 100% get the job done - the Swiss Gear 1186 is a solid choice. Swiss is a great brand and have been making solid gear for decades. This bag will last a long time.

Check for Best Price

 

Incase Icon - Best Carry On for Comfort

incase minimalist backpack

Just in case you weren't blown away by any of the previous 14 best carry on bags, we included the Incase Icon as a bonus bag.

This bag is in the similar line of Nomatic and Minaal - very modern, sleek, well organized and tech friendly.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Feature heavy
  2. Great for laptops
  3. Super stylish – great design
  4. Light

Cons

  1. Not cheap
  2. Not a hiking/camping bag

Check on Amazon

 

Standard Luggage Backpack - Best 3-in-1 Carry On

Standard Luggage

Standard Luggage is anything but standard!

The backpack market is constantly changing and evolving so 2020 sees another contender make it onto our illustrious list!

Standard Luggage have been on our radar, making high-quality packs for a while now. This pack, the dedicated 35 liter carry on pack, is custom designed for the modern airport.

What makes this bag unique is its 3-IN-1 convertible design which allows you to wear it as a backpack, suitcase or shoulder bag. It is also ergonomic and straps are comfortable and ventilated. Then there is the lockable zips, the rain cover and custom pockets for water bottles and tablet.

Also, many airlines are now asking passengers to check even Carry-on bags which causes hold-ups upon landing. Because of the design of this as well as it's wearability, you will almost certainly never be asked to check this one which is a big plus for me.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Great features
  2. Very comfortable
  3. Very high-quality materials

Cons

  1. Not ideal for taking outdoors
  2. Not the cheapest on the list

Check Price on Standard Luggage

 

Aer Travel Pack 2 Backpack - Best Carry On for Digital Nomads

aer travel pack 2 backpack

Aer Travel Pack 2

This backpack has all the bells and whistles of an awesome backpack for carry on without having unnecessary features. There's even a very valuable shoe pocket.

Pack this bag full for your flight and then carry around just your necessities once you're at your destination.  It transitions easily from daypack to carry on without screaming, "Backpacker carrying my entire life in my backpack" as you walk by. If you enjoy well-made backpacks, you'll love this one.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  1. Laptop compartment
  2. Good organization features
  3. Carry on compliant

Cons

  1. Small water bottle sleeve
  2. No rain cover

Check Price on Aersf

 

Final Thoughts on the Best Carry On Bags

There you have it!

These are without a doubt the best carry on bags. With the help of this guide we know that you'll easily be able to find the best backpack for flying.

And remember, in case you can't descide, our top two options are Nomatic Travel Bag 40L (for more modern, tech-savvy travelers) and the Osprey Farpoint 40 (for travelers who like to camp a bit, or prefer the old school backpacker look).

What are your thoughts? Have we forgotten any of the best carry on packs of 2020? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

3 Comments

  • Avatar James Walsh says:

    Aaron – happened upon your site and approve of your ‘brutal honesty’. Thank you for your research and insightful opinion. Among the ‘pros and cons’ though, there is no mention of the bags respective weights or is this info embedded in your article? Not long ago I was restricted to a single carry-on bag as my only luggage for nearly two months, and with numerous flights and just 7kg, every gram counts! This critical specification was a major factor in choosing the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Travel Bag which weighs about 1kg, but as you rightly say, it all depends on one’s travel needs and style. Happy trails fellow pilgrim! Regards, James

  • Avatar Bruno says:

    Great article, full of useful information and comparisons to help select the backpack that fits your needs the most.
    Thank you.

  • Avatar Thullraven says:

    I loved this article. Thank you. I love Osprey in general and really like the Farpoint 40, but I don’t hike or camp and need a bag that is carry on 100 Percent of the time. I usually need to pack for only a few days. My Osprey Porter 30 is perfect.

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