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. Especially when it comes to functioning as carry on travel backpacks!

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 the 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 2022!

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 organised 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.

Need extra space for your camera gear in your bag travel, looking for a dedicated laptop pocket or just a lightweight carry on backpack for one bag travel? We’ve got you covered!

These aren’t just the 15 best carry on travel backpacks of 2022 – these might be some of the best backpacks on the market. Period.

Travel backpacks in 2022 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 2022

Best Overall Carry on Backpack
best minimalist backpack
Best Overall Carry on Backpack

Nomatic Travel Pack 2

  • Cost: > $$$
  • > Excellent ergonomics
  • > Not available in EU
Best Overall Carry on for EU Residents
aer travel pack 2 backpack
Best Overall Carry on for EU Residents

Aer Travel Pack 2 Backpack

  • Cost: > $$
  • > Good organization features
  • > Laptop compartment
Epic Recycled Carry on Duffel/Backpack
Epic Recycled Carry on Duffel/Backpack

Monarc Setra Duffel Backpack

  • Cost: > $$
  • > Carry on Compliant
  • > Made from recycled bottles
Best Women’s Carry on Backpack
Osprey Fairview 40
Best Women’s Carry on Backpack

Osprey Fairview (40 liter)

  • Cost: > $$
  • > All of the pros of the Osprey Farpoint 40
  • > A hiking and carry on backpack specifically designed to fit women!
Best Hiking Carry On Backpack
osprey stratos carry on
Best Hiking Carry On Backpack

Osprey Stratos (33 or 36 liter)

  • Cost: > $$
  • > New updated design
  • > Ventilated mesh back panel
Best Organized Carry On Backpack
Best Organized Carry On Backpack

Tropicfeel Shell

  • Cost > $$
  • > Adjustable Capacity (22-40L)
  • > Sleek Design with built-in wardrobe
Best Carry on Bag for International Travel
Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack
Best Carry on Bag for International Travel

Tortuga Outbreaker

  • Cost: > $$$
  • > Retractable plugs: Euro, UK, USA / Japan, Australia / China
  • > Charge a laptop and two usb devices at once
Best Suitcase Backpack Hybrid
Best Suitcase Backpack Hybrid

Osprey Sojourn (45 liter)

  • Cost > $$$
  • > Doubles as rolling suitcase and backpack
  • > Compression straps help keep your gear safe and secure
The Best Carry On Camera Backpack
Wandrd PRVKE Series Camera Bag
The Best Carry On Camera Backpack


  • Cost: > $$$
  • > Tons of awesome features
  • > Custom made for cameras
Simplest Backpack for Carry On
Standard Luggage
Simplest Backpack for Carry On

Swiss Gear SA1186 Bungee (26 liters)

  • Cost: > $$
  • > Durable
  • > Good organization options
Best Leather Carry On Bag
Kodiak Sitka Leather Messenger
Best Leather Carry On Bag

Kodiak Weekender

  • Cost: > $$
  • > Stylish and durable
  • > Fully carry on compliant

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The Best Carry-On Backpacks

Enough talking, let’s get right to it. Have a look at our favourite carry-on travel backpacks. Each of them has been tested to the max and reviewed so that you know exactly what to expect. If you do happen to need more space than a carry-on, be sure to check out our epic best travel backpack guide. You’ll find even more options there!

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L – Best Overall Carry On Backpack

The Nomatic Travel Bag

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 travellers – 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 traveller.

The Nomatic Travel Bag comes with 20 unique features including a shoe compartment, water bottle container, a secure valuables pocket and a ton of other features like padded shoulder straps and hip belt that made it an easy pick for the best carry on travel backpack. We have tested this pack extensively and several members of of team swear by it. The Nomatic looks and feels great and wins extra points for how softly it sits on our backs.

Our team loved this pack and commented on just how sturdy it felt no matter whether it was packed to the brim or half empty. It kept its shape due to the quality of the external material without adding too much extra weight.

Looking for more info? Check out our full review of the Nomatic Travel Bag!

  1. 40L = Carry on compliant
  2. Next level organisation
  3. Backpack or duffel bag
  1. Expensive
  2. Not for hiking/camping
  3. Too much organisation/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 organisation? 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 on this top rated 40l backpack carry on.

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Aer Travel Pack 2 Backpack – Best Overall Carry On Backpack for EU Residents

aer travel pack 2 backpack

Compact, but spacious enough to fit a ton of gear — the Aer Travel Pack 2 is easily one of the best everyday carry on backpacks.

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, so great for one bag travel. If you enjoy well-made travel backpacks, you’ll love this one.

Most of The Broke Backpacker staff use this bag when we travel and there is a reason why it fast became our top pick…

Even though we recommend the AER to European travellers, Americans can also get their mitts on it as the backpack is available worldwide!

It’s one of the best travel backpacks out there and is great for those who miss out on the Nomatic.

I took this bag on a recent trip to France and it performed great. One of the stand-out features for me was how strong the zips felt. These chunky zippers were still smooth and more importantly whilst travelling with my laptop, lockable!

This section was short and sweet – to get all the deets on this bag, then read our comprehensive review of the AER Travel Pack 2.

  1. Laptop compartment
  2. Good organisation features
  3. Carry on compliant
  1. Small water bottle sleeve
  2. No rain cover

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     Kodiak 30L Weekender Duffel – Best Leather Carry on Bag

    Kodiak Sitka Leather Messenger
    Sitka Leather Messenger is our top pick for the best messenger bag for nomads from kodiak

    If you’re not planning a long trip, you won’t need more than 30 Liters of top-grain leather. This sleek duffel bag carries easily and fits into your overhead compartment while providing enough organised space to pack everything you need for a quick trip, perfect for one bag travel. 

    No two Kodiak leather bags are the same. Your weekender duffel will bend and shift subtly with every trip to give your bag a more personalised look and feel. The reinforced brass straps will keep you out of trouble even if you have to gate check and the rugged interior features sidewall pockets for your passport and phone. 

    You’ll have your choice of carrying options, and thanks to the slim dimensions, you’ll never have trouble slinging it over your shoulder or carrying it with one arm unless you’re taking it to bowling practice! 

    This bag is the little brother of our favourite leather travel bag, but it’s proven more than capable of holding its own, especially amongst the more conventional travel backpacks on this list.

    Our team just loved the soft but durable material this bag was made from. The high-quality leather feels great in the hand and gives you great peace of mind that your gear is well protected.

    • Minimalist design
    • Built to last
    • Two external pockets
    • Expensive per liter
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    Tropicfeel Shell Backpack – Best Travel Backpack for Organisation

    Shell Backpack

    Let’s be honest, having everything put away neatly can be a full-on game-changer when travelling via aeroplane. That’s when the Tropicfeel Shell Backpack really starts to shine.

    Tropicfeels flagship product, the Shell, is a small to medium backpack-sized with big ambitions. First up, it is a 3-1 extendable backpack that starts out as a 22-litre pack, then rolls up to 30 litres before the addition of a detachable pouch turns it into a 40-litre titan – how cool is that?!

    Aside from being a 3-in-1 adjustable backpack, which you can adapt to use as a day pack, overnight pack and carry-on pack, the Shell also has another novel feature; its detachable hanging packing cube which acts as a portable, pre-loaded travel wardrobe. Packing and unpacking your backpack has never been this easy. When I first tested this backpack is blew my mind. Not only does it feel good to carry, but the organisational functionality made my packing and unpacking so much easier.

    While you’re on the road, the compartment system keeps all of your belongings organised and neatly put away, so you can easily access everything without leaving a mess afterwards.

    Our testers loved how easy this pack was for organising all your gear. They found that rather than being a gimmick the hanging packing cube was easy to use and strong enough to hold their gear.

    1. Really fucking versatile
    2. Truly novel and unique
    3. Packs up easily
    4. Fairly priced
    1. Not big enough for big trips
    2. Not cheap (yet not expensive)
    3. Shoulder straps and hip belt could have more padding

    Is the Tropicfeel Shell the best bag for you?

    If you want to keep all of your belongings organised, be flexible with the volume of your backpack and tick off the sleek-style box, the Tropicfeel Sheel is ideal for you. It’s also great for minimal packers who like everything to have a place. It’s the best carry on backpack for those who want to be totally organised.

    Monarc Settra Duffel Backpack – Epic Recycled Carry on Duffel/Backpack

    Monarc Backpack
    Monarc Backpack

    The realities of travel can really take their toll on the planet. It’s no surprise that Ecological and Sustainable travel initiatives are now really gaining momentum. The Monarc 2-in-1 Duffle-Backpack is the world’s first backpack made from 100% recycled bottles and the producers have been awarded a highly coveted “plastic negative” rating.

    But here this, not only is this backpack totally eco-friendly but it’s also a bloody great pack. Firstly, its 2-1 concept design means it can be worn as a backpack or carried as a duffel using the comfortable handle. If you do wear it on your bag, there are adjustable straps to help carry the weight.

    Monarc Settra

    Then there are the organisational possibilities. Its’ 40L of storage can go pretty far and the pack offers a shoe compartment and a 17” laptop sleeve. Coming in at $149.00, it’s well worth the bucks although if you have the budget we also recommend picking up the full set including camera cube, compression cubes and laundry bags. I will be honest, when I tried this pack I loved it as duffel as it made my packing and organisation easy. However, as a backpack it didn’t feel entirely comfortable to me and I would not want to have had to carry it long distances.

    Anything else? Oh yeah, it’s also water-resistant, TSA Carry-on compliant and comes with a lifetime guarantee!

    Our testers loved this pack and one feature they pointed out was the strength and durability of the material, making it perfect for outdoor adventure and long term use.

    Looking for more options? Check out our guide to the best carry on duffel bags.

    1. Duffel bag or backpack
    2. Carry on compliant
    3. Lifetime guarantee
    1. Not as much tech-organization
    2. Some people prefer a more modern look

    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 the best backpack for carry on travel.

    If you are trying to decide between the Aer 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 AER, 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 AER Travel Pack 2 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.

    The Osprey Farpoint is a popular bag amongst our team and one of the stand-out features everyone seems to mention is just how much you can fit inside this for its size. The clamshell opening combined with internal and external compression straps are a gamechanger.

    Be sure to read our full Osprey Farpoint 40 review.

    1. Duffel bag or backpack
    2. Can be doubled as camping bag
    3. Lifetime guarantee
    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 the best carry on convertible 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 and if you’re looking for the perfect 40 liter backpack carry on then this might be the perfect one!

    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 a bag for shorter trips, and everyday use, I think the Minaal or Aer 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.

    On testing out team pointed out how durable and strong the zippers were. They really put them through their paces packing this guy out to the max and the zips held strong throughout without issue.

    Want to know more? Read our comprehensive review of the Tortuga Setout then!

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

    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 warranty.

    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 AER Travel Pack 2 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 travellers who are looking for a sleek, efficient carry-on.

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

    Yes, the Minaal still has amazing tech organisation, it just seems more like a bag for the common person. Where a travelling professional or a digital nomad might make more use of AER design, the Minaal definitely seems to cater to non-travelling professionals which gives it enormous appeal.

    In practical use one of the stand-out features here is the sturdy and comfortable side handle. It feels strong yet soft in the hand and allows the bag to be carried like a briefcase, making it feel much more professional.

    1. Tons of incredible features
    2. 35 litres might be the perfect size
    3. Sleek, minimal design
    1. Not for the super tech-savvy
    2. 35 Litres 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 organisation? Because of its minimalist backpack design, the Minaal can be used for international travel, daily use and everything in between. Heed our advice – this is a badass bag.

    Osprey Fairview (40 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, AER, 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 padded hip belt. At a square 40 litres, you’ll rarely have to worry about this bag being checked.

    What we all loved about this bag was how well-designed the back brace was. In use, it really made a difference to my aging back! The system contours well to your shape and braces the weight evenly making it the best 40 liter backpack for the ladies!

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

    All of the cons of the Osprey Farpoint 40

    Is the Osprey Fairview 40 the best bag for you?

    If you’re a woman 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 backpack just for women – this is an easy pick.

    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 and it rates as one of the best ultralight backpacks on the market.

    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 organizational capacity for its minimal design.

    And also, at 33 or 36 litres (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 litres and the M/L is 36 litres. While we adore lightweight travel here, 33 litres is small and is not recommended to travel for long periods of time.

    The 36 litres 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 backpacks on the market!

    If you aren’t sold on the Stratos, the Osprey Cirrus 36 is another great option for the best carry on hiking backpacks.

    Our Broke Backpacker team love this pack and one of the main features they pointed out to me was how light the bag was before packing. Trust us, that makes a huge difference!

    Read our full Osprey Stratos 36 review if you need more details.

    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
    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 its 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!

    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 30 litres which is a little small for one bag travel, we thought it best to put it here, as the best carry on laptop backpack of 2022.

    The Nomatic Travel Pack is technically a 20 litre, but with some creative engineering, the Nomatic crew has given their Travel Pack users the opportunity to expand into 30 litres. This is probably one of the coolest features of any bag we’ve seen, and because of this, the Nomatic Travel Pack is one of the most badass bags on the market and a great option for carry on luggage.

    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). There is also a bigger version with wheels.

    If you can swing 20-30 litres, then this bag will be a godsend for you. It’s super stylish, 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 security without having to take the laptop out. As any professional traveller knows, this small convenience really adds up over time.

    Our team have given this bad boy a test run and the main thing they loved about it was just how high-quality the material and zips feel. These guys are smooooth!

    UPDATE for 2022: Nomatic is not available for purchase for those living in the EU.

    1. Can expand from 20 to 30 litres
    2. Sleek and padded laptop compartment
    3. Magnetic water bottle pockets
    1. Pricey
    2. Way too small for long term travellers

    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 is one of the most innovative on the market. Believe us, your laptop will thank you.

    Looking for something similar? Check out our rundown of the best everyday carry backpacks instead.

    The best present of all… is CONVENIENCE!

    Now, you could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

    So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card! REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

    Buy on REI!

    WANDRD PRVKE 31 – Best Carry On for 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. Its versatility and durability are awesome because it means the WANDRD PRVKE 31 can be used for more than just a camera bag. Good for hiking with the comfy shoulder straps, a great daypack, or even a small travel backpack if you pack light – 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, a clip-on hip belt, 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. WANDRD also do a belting packable backpack which is great for taking along for day trips.

    If you’re looking for specialised camera backpacks for your carry on luggage then this is a great shout. The great thing is the packing space can be easily reconfigured if you don’t have camera equipment or you need to remove it for the day.

    I’ve personally had this bag now for a couple of years and there’s plenty I love about it, but the main one is organisation. The sections of the bag allow me to keep all my camera equipment together and accessible whilst leaving space in the top section for everything else.

    To learn more about this sweet bag, check out our brutally honest review of the WANDRD PRVKE 31!

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

    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 is the largest backpack for carry-on 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/travelling 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 travelling with a laptop, it’s one of the best nomad backpacks for this reason.

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

    Our team are big fans of Osprey and most of us have plenty of travel miles in the bank with one of their product on our back. The stand-out features of the Porter for me are the protective side straps that double as compression straps. It meant no matter what I had in the bag it kept it shape and my stuff safe.

    Check out our full review of the Osprey Porter! 

    1. A hiking bag with great laptop protection
    2. Well priced
    3. Good for hiking, camping or traveling
    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 those looking for a carry on hiking backpack.

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

    incase carry on backpack grey

    In case puts together some great bags, and this one is our favourite 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 travellers and everyday 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 AER 40 litres, and the Osprey Porter 46 litres) the Incase is a great choice for shorter trips (2-3 days max).

    This is because of its cool features. Similar to the AER Travel Pack 2, the EO Travel Backpack has a feature that allows it to expand or contract its size. Meaning if you need it to be an everyday 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.

    Looking for something similar but different? Check out the dedicated laptop travel backpacks on offer and see what suits you.

    Our team usually travels with laptops and plenty of other tech accessories, and it was the organisation for these bits and pieces that they highlighted as a feature they loved the most about this this sleek pack.

    1. Fits up to a 17″ laptop
    2. Super easy laptop access
    3. Nice padding with back panels
    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 everyday 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 its size will ensure you’ll NEVER have to check it.

    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 travellers. 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 its 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 its 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.

    When we asked our team of testers what they loved the most about this bag it had to be the shape and clamshell opening. The squared-off corners make fitting in packing cubes easy and simple making it possibly the best carry on backpacking backpack for fellow OCD sufferers!

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

    1. Most packing space of any carry on travel backpack
    2. Incredibly durable
    3. An organisational masterpiece
    4. Dedicated laptop compartment is well protected and easily accessible
    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 its 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 traveller looking for ONE carry on – this is literally the last purchase you’ll ever need to make.

    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 an incredible bag… for the right person.

    The most important thing to realise is this – this is a rolling suitcase FIRST, and a backpack as a very, very, very far second. It’s got hidden backpack straps that can be unzipped and put into action whenever needed.

    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. Use the backpack straps, 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!

    Osprey Sojourn Wheels Backpack
    Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Backpack

    While the 45 litres 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. However, that means that one bag travel is easy with this bad boy, especially if you throw in a few packing cubes for organisation. If it does go in the hold, then it’s got lockable zippers to keep your gear safe.

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

    After putting it through its paces, the thing our testers made particular note of was the stability of this case/ bag. The weight distribution being in the bottom of the bag means it won’t easily tip over, great if you’ve got expensive gear inside!

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

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

    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 the 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.


    These bags are designed with the ultimate efficiency and are nothing short of a godsend 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 customisation, so you can create compartments personalised for your photography needs. If you combine that with some packing cubes for your clothing, you can easily have a super organised bag that will hold all your gear.

    With its 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 emphasise – this is a bag for hardcore camera enthusiasts, and it was an easy choice for the best carry on camera backpack. With all that gear things can get heavy, so you need your bag to be comfy, lucky this guys got padded shoulder straps and a hip belt.

    If you are interested in something less professional, check out our best camera bags or the WANDRD PRVKE 31. However, if you’re after something even more professional, the Peak Design travel backpack 45l is a great shout.

    After using this bag on a few trips my favourite feature as a photographer has to be the side access. The zip is smooth and easy to use in those situations where you want to whip your camera out quickly.

    1. Tons of awesome features
    2. Customisable
    3. Stylish and well designed
    4. Dedicated laptop sleeve
    5. Padded shoulder straps & hip belt
    1. Tons of awesome features
    2. Customisable
    3. Stylish and well designed
    4. Dedicated laptop sleeve

    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 its customization is what takes it to another level. This is easily the best carry on camera backpack of 2022.

    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 one 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 than 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 AER will be available on this bag. So if you want to keep everything organised it might be worth investing in a few packing cubes and tech pouches.

    But! Having said that, this is still a fine bag, it will be very durable, and it’s probably the best value 40l backpack carry on, on the market right now.

    For our team, what they really loved about this bag was how much of an all-rounder it was. It’s perfect for urban trips or hiking adventures being comfortable and durable enough to withstand all your activities.

    1. Super affordable
    2. Classic rucksack look
    3. Great ventilation/back support
    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-litre travel bag but on a bit of a budget? This is a great option, especially if you are new to travelling 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.

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

    Swiss Gear 1186

    Swiss is a reputable brand, and its 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 fibre, is fairly large and has a bungee cord 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 day bag or if you travel super light, it could be good for a 1-2 day trip.

    For our testers, they loved how this carry on backpacking pack was simple, durable and didn’t overcomplicate matters. It’s the ideal bag for those short last minute trips.

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

    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 a similar line to AER and Minaal – very modern, sleek, well organised and tech-friendly. Our team particularly loved how well it fits a laptop, cables, chargers and all the other accessories that come with being a blogger!

    1. Feature heavy
    2. Great for laptops
    3. Super stylish – great design
    4. Light
    1. Not cheap
    2. Not a hiking/camping bag

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

    Standard Luggage
    The Standard Luggage Co. 35 Litre approved.

    The backpack market is constantly changing and evolving so 2022 sees another contender make it onto our illustrious list!

    Standard Luggage has been on our radar, making high-quality packs for a while now. This pack, the dedicated 35 litres 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 the backpack 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 its wearability, you will almost certainly never be asked to check this one which is a big plus for me.

    What our testers loved most about this bad was its versatility, the strap design was easy to reconfigure from a backpack to a shoulder bag for example and was comfy in all its incarnations.

    1. Great features
    2. Very comfortable
    3. Very high-quality materials
    1. Not ideal for taking outdoors
    2. Not the cheapest on the list

    How We Tested To Find The Best Carry on Backpack

    While there is no perfect science at play here, we nevertheless gave these packs a pretty good and solid testing. Over a period of time, various members of our team took these different carry on packs on various trips to out them well and truly through their paces.

    In all cases we were paying close attention to a number of different factors which are;


    Carry on packs are limited when it comes to how much you can fit in them. Therefore any decedent carry in needs to make sure it maximises the space it does have and facilitates effective packing. Equally though, we also paid attention to how easy the pack was to unpack – being able to retrieve items quickly and easily bags a bag, bags of bonus points!

    Weight and Comfort of Carrying

    If a pack is overly heavy or awkward to carry then taking it along on trips becomes uncomfortable. Believe me on this, I have had more than my fair share of backpacks that just weighed an ounce or two, too much or perhaps had crappy straps that dug into my shoulders. As such we awarded full marks for packs that minimise weight and maximum comfort.

    Dimensions and Carry-On-Ability

    You would be surprised at how many “carry on packs” don’t actually fit into the overhead cabins on flights. Basically a well made carry-on is universally “carry-on” compliant, keeps its shape even when fully packed and avoids the malevolent glare of zealous Ryanair employees who seem hell bent on making you check your bag in to the hold.


    Some people say that travel gear doesn’t need to look good as long as it functions. Well those people are fools because good gear can be both practical and cool. As such we also awarded points for how sexy a pack looks.


    Ideally, in order to really test out how durable a backpack is we would drop it from a plane and then run over it. Unfortunately though that is not entirely feasible so instead, we simply inspected the materials used and the build quality off the packs paying attention to things like the seem sewing, the traction of the zips and other pressure points that tend to break.

    Best Carry on Backpacks
    NameCapacity (Litres)Dimensions (CM)Weight (KG)Price (USD)
    Nomatic Travel Pack 24035.56 x 53.34 x 22.861.55
    Aer Travel Pack 2 Backpack3355 x 34 x 221.68230
    Kodiak Weekender Duffel3050.8 x 25.4 x 27.942.18349
    Tropicfeel Shell Backpack4050.8 x 30.5 x 19.11.5290
    Monarc Settra Duffel Backpack4038.1 x 30.48 x 20.322.04199.95
    Osprey Farpoint4053.34 x 35.56 x 22.861.36185
    Tortuga Setout4553.34 x 35.56 x 22.861.49199
    Minaal Carry On3555 x 35 x 201.41349
    Osprey Fairview4049.02 x 35.05 x 20.321.41160
    Osprey Stratos3668 x 37.26 x 271.36210
    WANDRD PRVKE 313148 X 30 X 181.5191.20
    Osprey Porter4680.01 x 35.56 x 22.861.79175
    eBags Professional Slim Laptop45.72 x 32.39 x 21.590.29
    Tortuga Outbreaker4556 x 36 x 232.3349
    Osprey Sojourn4555.88 x 35.56 x 22.863.63345
    LowePro Pro Tactic 450 AW4530 x 16 x 442.7224.45
    REI Co-Op Rucksack4060.96 x 35.56 x 25.41.81
    Swiss Gear SA1186 Bungee2645.09 x 33.02 x 17.780.4559.99
    Incase Icon48.26 x 33.02 x 22.860.79199.95
    Standard Luggage Backpack3554.61 x 34.29 x 19.051.68219

    FAQ about the Best Carry On Backpacks

    Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

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      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 decide, our top two options are Nomatic Travel Bag 40L (for more modern, tech-savvy travellers) and the Osprey Farpoint 40 (for travellers 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 2022? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

      Bye for now, but not forever!

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        And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!