Choosing the Best Travel Backpack: A Review & Guide for 2020

 
Best Travel Backpack

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When planning your backpacking adventure; the two most essential items for any aspiring traveler are a good pair of shoes and a quality traveling backpack.

Your backpack will carry every single one of your possessions on the road: it will become your home. You need your chosen backpack to be strong, durable, comfortable, and compact enough to save you some space! I for one, love my trusty old backpack – it’s become a travel buddy while I explore the world.

Choosing the best backpack for traveling is a bit of a minefield but I’ve been living out of backpacks for ten years now and I know what to look out for when choosing the best backpack to travel with.

To find the best bag for travel I did a heap of research and a ton of trial and error over the years. All of that experience has culminated in this guide!

I’m here to answer the age-old question: what is the best travel backpack? Join me as I explore several bags and what makes them more or less suitable for each person’s specific needs.

 

Quick Answer: These are the Best Travel Backpacks of 2020

 

So Why Choose to Travel with a Backpack?

If there is this much research to be done to find the best backpacks for traveling, why travel with one at all. Wouldn’t a suitcase be easier? The easy answer is no, it would not.

The cobbled streets of Europe, dirt roads of Nepal, and busy bus stations around the world are not suitcase friendly. Your suitcase is likely to get damaged, get in the way and, in general, piss you off. Trust me, carrying your suitcase because the wheels have fallen off while you search for the hostel, is not a great start to a trip plus you look like an idiot.

Backpacks to the rescue!

The best backpacks for travel make life when traveling, easier. Strapped to your back, with a good hip strap you’ll barely feel the weight of your travel pack on your back. On your travels, you will often pick up your luggage and hoist it over your head to access luggage compartments, lofts, treehouses, bunk beds, etc… This is significantly easier with a backpack compared to a suitcase.

a man with his best travel backpack surveys a lake

Crucially, when traveling with a backpack your hands are free to use Google Maps to find your hostel, tackling stairs is not a problem, and you can officially join the backpacker hordes! No one likes a suitcase.

Still not convinced? What if I told you that once you invest in the best travel bag you shouldn’t ever need to buy another one! A good quality travel backpack lasts years and does not get damaged as easily as suitcases. I’ve been dragging my pack around the globe for nearly ten years and it’s still going strong… even better, my pack has a lifetime guarantee.

The best backpacks for travel will be flexible in size and shape so when they are not full, there is more chance that you can take them on board planes. Some traveling backpacks even come with detachable day packs to make things even easier.

 

How This Article is Set Up

Over the course of this article, we’re going to highlight a grand total of 19 backpacks for traveling. 19! That’s a lot of options.

But there are different kinds of bags for different kinds of travelers. If you like to go camping and multi-day hikes while you’re traveling, you will obviously need a backpack that can accommodate all the extra gear. If you are a photographer, you will probably need a special backpack that can protect your gear. These are just a few examples.

Osprey farpoint 40 review

We’ve broken this article up into sections based upon what kind of traveler you are. Each section will apply (broadly) to different kinds of backpackers so find the one that suits you best and start reading.

After we cover the backpacks, we will then go into more detail about WHAT makes a great backpack for traveling. Be sure to keep reading to gain some extra insider information on choosing the right backpack.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

The Broke Backpacker team have been travelling and living out of their own backpacks for years now. Collectively, they must have 50+ years of travel experience and, by now, know what it takes to be successful on the road. They are experts in their field and take great pleasure in presenting the best possible gear to you.

 

Overview of the Best Travel Backpacks

I’ve taken the best travel packs in the world and explained EXACTLY what kind of traveler they are for. Each backpack is different depending on how you travel, and what you plan to do on any given adventure.

This makes things easy on you, so you can easily find a backpack that fits your style.

There is nothing worse than a traveling backpack causing pain, discomfort, and dread every time you pack up to move on.

Let’s go!

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION  
tbb-table__imageBest Overall Travel BackpackBest Overall Travel BackpackNomatic Travel Bag

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > Tarpaulin/Ballistic weave
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > Tarpaulin/Ballistic weave
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on Nomatic
tbb-table__imageBest Travel Backpack for Men (Large)Best Travel Backpack for Men (Large)Osprey Men’s Aether 70

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 70
  • Material > 210D Nylon Dobby
  • Best Use > Trekking, backpacking, hiking, international travel
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 60
  • Material > 210D Nylon Dobby
  • Best Use > Trekking, backpacking, hiking, international travel
  •  
Check on OspreyCheck on REI
tbb-table__imageOsprey Farpoint 40

  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on OspreyCheck on REI
tbb-table__imageOsprey Aura 50

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 50
  • Material > 210D Nylon Dobby
  • Best Use > Trekking, backpacking, hiking, international travel
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 50
  • Material > 210D Nylon Dobby
  • Best Use > Trekking, backpacking, hiking, international travel
  •  
Check on OspreyCheck on REI
tbb-table__imageBest Carry-on Backpack for WomenBest Carry-on Backpack for WomenOsprey Fairview 40

  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on OspreyCheck on REI
tbb-table__imageBest Daypack for TravelBest Daypack for TravelActive Roots Foldable Day Pack

  • Price > $
  • Liters > 34
  • Material > 420D Nylon Shadow Box
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $
  • Liters > 34
  • Material > 420D Nylon Shadow Box
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on Amazon
tbb-table__imageBest Full Size Carry On (Unisex)Best Full Size Carry On (Unisex)Tortuga Outbreaker

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 35 and 45
  • Material > X-Pac waterproof sailcloth
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 35 and 45
  • Material > X-Pac waterproof sailcloth
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on Tortuga
tbb-table__imageBest Travel Bag for Digital NomadsBest Travel Bag for Digital NomadsNomatic Travel Bag

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > Tarpaulin/Ballistic weave
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 40
  • Material > Tarpaulin/Ballistic weave
  • Best Use > Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on Nomatic
tbb-table__imageBest Travel Bag with WheelsBest Travel Bag with WheelsOsprey Ozone

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 42
  • Material > 210-denier nylon honeycomb/450-denier packcloth
  • Best Use > Travel, international wheelpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 42
  • Material > 210-denier nylon honeycomb/450-denier packcloth
  • Best Use > Travel, international wheelpacking, urban lifestyle
  •  
Check on OspreyCheck on REI
tbb-table__imageBest Camera Backpack for TravelBest Camera Backpack for TravelWANDRD PRVKE 31

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 31 – 36
  • Material > Combination of tarpaulin and robic nylon
  • Best Use > Travel photography
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 31 – 36
  • Material > Combination of tarpaulin and robic nylon
  • Best Use > Travel photography
  •  
Check on WANDRDCheck on Backcountry
Best Travel Bag for LaptopsBest Travel Bag for LaptopsTortuga Setout Laptop Backpack

  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 25
  • Material > 900D heathered polyester
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, carry on, day pack
  •  
  • Price > $$$
  • Liters > 25
  • Material > 900D heathered polyester
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, carry on, day pack
  •  
Check on Tortuga
tbb-table__imageBest Travel Bag for Laptops #2Best Travel Bag for Laptops #2High Spirit Laptop Backpack

  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 19.5 
  • Material > Top quality leather exterior
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, carry on, day pack
  •  
  • Price > $$
  • Liters > 19.5
  • Material > Top quality leather exterior
  • Best Use > Travel, digital nomad lifestyle, carry on, day pack
  •  
Check on High Spirit
 

 

Best Overall Travel Backpacks of 2020

Let’s kick this off with what I feel are the TOP backpacks to travel with. Backpackers and digital nomads behold…

 

#1 Nomatic Travel Bag 40L – Our Favorite Backpack to Travel With

nomatic travel bag

Specs

  • Size: 40L
  • Straps: Adjustable, waist straps
  • Pockets: More than enough
  • Material: Tarpaulin/ballistic weave

Feature Highlights

  • Looks sexy!
  • Modern and efficient
  • Tons of room
  • Lots of awesome features

Here at The Broke Backpacker, we are big fans of Nomatic – and the Travel Bag is their best backpack to date.

Backed by a HUGE Kickstarter campaign (5 million!), this bag has gotten a ton of hype, which is why it’s our pick for the best overall travel backpack!

Nomatic bags are designed to be modern, sleek, and provide ultimate packing efficiency. This is accomplished by great design: tons of features, and more pockets and sleeves than you’ll know what to do with.

Whether you need a backpack for a business trip or are a digital nomad traveling the world, this will keep your laptop and valuables well secured all while looking stylish.

If you are a modern traveler who spends a lot of time in urban environments, the Nomatic Travel Bag is an awesome backpack. It looks great, is feature-rich, and can pack a lot more than it looks like. Nomatic is one biggest players in the backpack niche – this bag is why.

Read our full review of the Nomatic Travel Bag!

View on Nomatic

 

#2 Osprey Men’s Aether 70 – Best Hiking Travel Backpack (Men)

Osprey Men’s Aether 70: best travel hiking backpack

Specs

  • Size: 70L
  • Straps: Hip, Shoulder and Chest Compression Straps
  • Pockets: Multiple!
  • Frame:  IsoForm5 harness and CM™ hip-belt for a custom fit
  • Material: 210D Nylon Dobby

Feature Highlights

  • Anti-Gravity technology
  • Custom fit
  • Convertible top-lid day pack.

The Osprey Aether has all the advantages of every pack of the Osprey brand (the Osprey ‘All-Mighty Guarantee’, durability, comfort), but this model is slightly smaller than the standard 80+ liter. Making it the perfect backpack for travel on long-haul trips when a small travel bag just won’t do.

Additionally, it has plenty of pockets and compartments to keep things extra organized. An AirScape back panel to keep you cool on the warmest adventures. I can guarantee it’ll last a lifetime, if you don’t believe me, just ask Osprey!

Literally guys, they put a lifetime guarantee on every single product they sell to prove it. The only downside to this pack is you can’t avoid checked luggage fee’s with this bad boy. But at least you don’t have to dump any stuff! This is hands down one of the best backpacks for traveling around the world on a longer adventure.

Check out our review of the Aether 70 backpack to learn more!

View on Osprey    View on REI

 

#3 Osprey Aura 50 – Best Travel Hiking Backpack (Women)

Osprey Aura 50: best travel abckpack for women

Specs

  • Size: 50L
  • Straps: Hip, Shoulder and Chest Side Compression Straps
  • Pockets: Multiple – including top, front and water bottle pockets.
  • Frame:  Internal, full peripheral frame
  • Material: 100D X 630D Nylon Dobby

Feature Highlights

  • Anti-Gravity Suspension
  • Floating top-lid replaceable with FlapJacket
  • Multiple organisation options.

The ladies-specific Osprey Aura is the best travel backpack for women. This is a high-quality backpack for women traveling on epic short or long haul adventures. Osprey as a brand are awesome and they guarantee to last many adventures! Seriously, all Osprey travel bags come with a lifetime guarantee making them undeniably the best value backpacks.

With the unique built-in Anti-Gravity suspension system, this bag is designed to carry up to 40lbs without the carrier even noticing! Meaning this travel backpack is stable, strong and can carry the weight without you having to suffer for it! If you’re a lady hitting the road, this is the travel backpack I recommend.

Overall, you should get the Osprey Aura 50 if you are traveling in a variety of weather (humidity and snow) and hike and backpack often. This backpack will be a great fit if you are looking for a high-quality backpack that can handle wear and tear.

Check out our awesome Osprey Aura 50 review!

View on Osprey    View on REI

 

#4 Osprey Farpoint 40 L – Best Carry-on Backpack (Men)

osprey farpoint 40 liter backapck

Specs
  • Size: 40L
  • Straps: Interior/exterior synches
  • Pockets: Exterior mesh pockets, more inside bag
  • Frame: Light, wire frame
  • Material: 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop

Feature Highlights

  • Large panel zip access to main compartment.
  • Stowaway backpanel, harness and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection.
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment.

Overall, you should get the Osprey Farpoint 40 if you are traveling the world, and like to pack super light (like me).

If you are looking for a nearly indestructible carry on backpack which can actually carry, and compartmentalize, a lot of stuff – this backpack might be your match made in heaven.

Because of it’s 40 liter size, the Farpoint 40 is a near-guarantee to carry on no matter the airline. This will save you hundreds of dollars in checking fees, and countless hours waiting in baggage claim. And as we will look at later, there is plenty of space to make sure that light-traveling does not mean bad-traveling.

In my opinion, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is the best value carry on backpack on the market right now.

Check out our epic Osprey Farpoint review here

View on Osprey    View on REI

 

#5 Osprey Fairview 40 – Best Carry-on Backpack (Women)

Osprey Fairview 40: best carry on backpack for women

Specs

  • Size: 40 Liters
  • Material:  210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
  • Best Use:  Travel, international backpacking, urban lifestyle

Feature Highlights

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

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.

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

This travel 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.

Is the Osprey Fairview 40 the best traveling backpack 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 pack that also functions as a carry on backpack, this is an easy pick.

View on Osprey    View on REI

 

The Best Carry On Travel Backpacks

I have about four different travel backpacks now and whilst I am almost always carrying my Osprey Aether, it’s well worth having a second backpack which is small enough to get by as carry-on luggage.

If you only travel with a compact backpack you can save a fortune on luggage fees and simply take your backpack on a flight as carry-on. Budget backpacking win right there!

Below are some of my favorite backpacks that I use as a carry-on. If you’d like to learn more about these sort of bags, then be sure to head over our comprehensive guide on the top carry-on backpacks to take traveling!

 

#1 Tortuga Outbreaker – Best Full Size Carry-on (Unisex)

best minimalist backpacks

The Tortuga Outbreaker 35 L is my top pick for best carry-on backpack for minimalists.

Specs

  • Size: 35 and 45 liters
  • Material: X-Pac waterproof sailcloth
  • Pockets: Multiple

Feature Highlights

  • . The design will leave you fairly impressed
  • It has tons of pockets/compartments
  • Amazing for organization
  • It packs huge – you can put A LOT in it

The first thing I noticed when packing my new Tortuga Outbreaker, was just how massive the main compartment was. It has the capacity to carry a ton of clothes. If you are a world traveler, then this is great because it means you have to do less laundry – score!

The Outbreaker’s design enables its the main compartment to be opened like a suitcase – which is 10 times more convenient than a traditional backpackers backpack. Reaching my stuff was simple, and because of the organization of the compartments, it was easy to know what was where.

Inside the main compartment are six smaller compartments. The first four smaller compartments are enclosed within the main compartment.

While there might be some gray-area on the size of this bag and how many times I’ll actually have to pay to check it, the Tortuga Outbreaker is still without a doubt one of the best backpacks on the market. It’s quality build, intuitive design, fantastic organization, and smaller size make it the perfect compact travel bag for anyone who wants to travel light, but travel in style.

Check out out our must-read Tortuga Outbreaker review.

View on Tortuga

 

#2 Active Roots Foldable Daypack – Best Daypack for Travel

Active Roots best daypack for travelers

Specs

  • Size: 34 liters
  • Material: Water-resistant nylon
  • Pockets: 7

Feature Highlights

  • Easy, packable, no fuss
  • Durable nylon
  • Portion of sale goes to charity

This foldable backpack is the best daypack for travel because it is extremely lightweight and (only 10o oz), yet still durable enough to handle any adventure. This is a great daypack to take on any of your travels because you can pack it away when not in use, yet always have a daypack for urban and hiking outings.

I even like bringing this daypack on multi-day treks, so I can leave my base camp  and still pack the essentials. With a 34 liter capacity you have PLENTY of space to bring extra water, food, and layers.

I love that it offers 7 easy-access pockets and pouches to organize your belongings. Honestly, I haven’t seen a foldable backpack with so much organization.

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.

View on Amazon

 

#3 Aer Travel Pack 2 – Best Backpack for Minimalist Carry-on Travel

aer travel pack 2 backpack

Specs

  • Volume: 33 liters
  • Weight:  3.7 lbs
  • Material: 1680D Cordura Ballistic Nylon Exterior
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes
  • Carry-On Compliant: Yes

Feature Highlights

  • Multiple compartments for organization
  • Durable
  • Lots of potential customization

This is a wonderful backpack for digital nomads on the go. It can fit your laptop as well as any other travel gear you tote around. Use it as a daypack around town or bring it on the pane for one bag travel.

There are many different compartments, pockets, and zippers to keep you organized. There’s a laptop sleeve and a very handy place just for shoes.

The minimalist outer design helps deter thieves, and what the outside lacks in pockets it makes up for with well-designed internal storage.

Read our Aer Travel Pack 2 review to learn more about thus bag!

Check on AER

 

Best Travel Backpacks for Hiking

A lot of people like to go hiking while they are out traveling the world. To do so, they need a special type of travel backpack, one that can go further, carry more, and last longer.

Aside from the Osprey Aether and Aura, here are a couple more options when looking for a good bag to go traveling and hiking with. If you would like to read more about these special pieces of gear, then be sure to check out our ENORMOUS hiking backpack guide!

 

#1 Osprey Aether 85 Backpack – A BIG Travel Backpack

 

Osprey Argon 85 Backpack

Specs

  • Size: 85L
  • Straps: Removable hip belt molding straps, comfortable shoulder straps
  • Pockets: Lots – mesh pocket for 1-liter size water bottle, a zippered storage pocket, and more
  • Frame: HDPE/aluminium rod
  • Material: High tenacity nylon

Feature Highlights

  • Removable top lid w/compartment and waterproof zipper
  • Converts to a lumbar pack with AirScape lumbar pad

Looking to head into the back country in search of adventure? Whether it is a couple of days hiking or an epic adventure The Osprey Aether 85 backpack is the best travel backpack on the market by far.

I’ve been adventuring with my Aether for nearly ten years now. The best thing about Osprey is that they operate an all-mighty guarantee. This means that they will repair any damage done to your pack, no questions asked, for free. Forever.

Osprey packs are expensive but you are effectively buying a pack for life. I’ve had my pack repaired once by Osprey, four years ago, and I will soon be sending it in for some more minor repairs to belt buckles and a ripped external pocket.The backpack is extremely durable; in ten years of constant backpacking I have never damaged or ripped the main pack’s body and only minor things have broken (usually after five years).

The Osprey Aether 85 is a big expedition backpack; it’s 85 liters, extremely comfortable thanks to the custom-molded hip belt, is compatible with hydration systems, has plenty of sections for storage and can easily be loaded up with a ton of stuff – I once strapped three tents to the outside and had a fourth tent on the inside plus cooking equipment, sleeping bags, food, clothes, electronics etc…

You can fit everything in this pack and it will remain comfortable and manageable. I cannot recommend Osprey enough. The best backpacks for travel are all made by Osprey. 

View on Osprey    View on REI

 

#2 Berghaus Freeflow 30L – A Smaller Backpack for Shorter Journeys

Berghaus Freeflow 30L best lightweight travel backpack

If you love the look then you’ll also love the durability of Berghaus bags

Specs

  • Size:  30L
  • Straps: Height adjustable chest strap and side compression straps
  • Pockets: Zipped internal lid pocket and front bungee system
  • Frame: Ultra-light 6001 aluminium frame
  • Material: Nylon

Feature Highlights

  • Walking pole attachments
  • Adjustable BIOFIT back system

For the days when you venture into the wilderness or walk the market streets, you need a pack that is both comfortable and practical. I’ve been using my Berghaus Freeflow for three years now as my go-to backpack for shorter adventures or hikes.

It’s one hell of a pack and is the best budget backpack I’ve come across. It’s pretty cheap considering the quality and it has plenty of pockets for storage, a padded hip belt, a safety whistle on the chest strap (always handy!) and an in-built rain cover.

The Berghaus Freeflow backpack is 35 liters so it’s a backpack best for weekends or ultralight hiking rather than long expeditions where you have to carry tents and food. It can just about handle long trips but space is limited so whilst it is one of the best backpacks for travel, it wouldn’t be my first choice for a long trip.

View on Amazon

 

#3 Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Backpack – A Cheaper Travel Backpack Osprey-Alternative

Deuter Air Contact the best backpack for hiking

Specs

  • Size: 65L
  • Straps: ActiveFit shoulder straps, VariFlex hip fins and Chest straps
  • Pockets: Lid, hip belt, wet, valuables, side, front and bottom compartments
  • Frame:  X-frame Construction
  • Material: Polyester: 20% / Nylon: 80%

Feature Highlights

  • 15% perspiration control
  • 3D AirMesh cover with breathable hollow chamber foam
  • Great ventilation

Hands down, this is one of the best backpacks for hiking. This is a fantastic backpack for those looking for comfort, support, breathability and freedom of movement. This backpack is absolutely one of my best picks and if it wasn’t for my trusty Osprey, I would probably be a Deuter man.

View on REI    View on Backcountry

 

The Best Backpacks for Travel Photographers

Photographers need to be very mindful of their gear while traveling. Rough rides and constant movement can imperil sensitive camera equipment, so it’s very important to have a reliable backpack that can keep everything safe.

These are a few more good travel backpacks, this time with the photographers and aspiring photographers in mind. If these suggestions aren’t enough, we’ve also written an in-depth guide to choosing the best camera backpacks too!

 

#1 WANDRD PRVKE 31 – Best Travel Camera Backpack

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

Specs

  • Size: 31 Liters
  • Material: Combination of tarpaulin and robic nylon
  • Pockets: Multiple pockets and 3 main storage compartments

Feature Highlights

For those who want a backpack that can does a little bit of everything, is durable, and looks damn good in the process, the WADNRD PRVKE 31 is an excellent investment. At 31 (expandable to 36) liters, this backpack can hold quite a bit and there are plenty more pockets to hold everything else.

Thanks to its robust weather-resistant design, your belongings will be safe as well. Add in some customizable straps and sleek sexy design and you have a backpack that can do damn near anything.

Though the PRVKE 31 has lots of padding and additional straps for distributing weight, it lacks certain key features that make it truly adept at carrying heavier loads. During our tests, both of the women on our trip struggled somewhat while carrying this bag as it did not fit snugly against their bodies.

I was impressed with the number of customizable options that PRVKE 31 offered. Between the many loops found on the pack as well as the ability to attach adjustable accessory straps (sold separately), users will be able to find many alternative means of packing. Overall, a badass camera backpack!

Read our WANDRD PRVKE 31 review!

View on WANDRD    View on Backcountry

 

#2 National Geographic Explorer – A Useful Bag with a Vintage Look

National Geographic Explorer - Best hiking backpack for photographers

Unleash your inner photographer with National Geographic’s bag!

Specs

  • Size:  11.8 X 7.0 inches
  • Straps: Adjustable, padded shoulder straps.
  • Pockets: Generous external pockets
  • Material: Environmentally friendly hemp and cotton, treated for water resistance.

Feature Highlights

  • Modular dividers let you customise to fit your gear
  • Concealed pocket to keep valuables
  • Made of environmentally friendly hemp

I’ve only had this pack for six months but I absolutely love it. Whilst it is not the most comfortable pack to carry on long hikes it is the best hiking backpack for photographers. It is super strong, probably the most durable backpack I’ve ever owned, and is beautifully designed with photographers in mind.

There are separate sections for lenses, cables, camera bodies etc and plenty of options to attach your tripod to the outside of the pack. Best of all, you can get into the pack from the top and from the front, meaning you can have your camera assembled and ready to go in record time.

If you want to truly turn it into one of the best backpacks for hiking, I recommend pairing this with the peak design camera clip so you can carry your camera on your hip or on the chest strap of your bag, making it accessible in seconds.

Check on Amazon

 

Best Backpacks for Digital Nomads

These days, traveling without a laptop is just not going to happen. For many of us, a laptop is just as essential as a phone and if you are a digital nomad hitting the road, you need to protect your baby. So amigos, let me share the best travel backpacks for digital nomads and laptop lovers.

 

#1 Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack – Best Travel Backpack for Digital Nomads

Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack

This backpack was designed for smooth laptop travel

Specs

  • Size: 25 liters
  • Material: 900D heathered polyester
  • Laptop Fit: Up to 15 Inch

Feature Highlights

  • Very functional
  • High-quality manufacturing
  • Super organized

This one is pretty obvious – the Setout Laptop Backpack is great for…. laptops!

But seriously, if you are looking for a sturdy pack to carry your laptop around– look no further, this bad boy is as good as it gets. This is for a few reasons.

First off, Tortuga Backpacks are possibly some of the most well designed and durable backpacks on the market. We’ve reviewed tons of Tortuga products and they all have an incredible amount of detail to them, and are made of the highest quality materials. High quality/durable materials means your precious laptop will be safe and sound.

Secondly, to make the world’s greatest laptop backpack, Tortuga put a lot of time and effort into the laptop-features of this backpack.

Simply put? This backpack has tons of organization features, all of which are designed specifically for laptops. Notice in the pictures above and below, that this bag is loaded with ways to keep your gear safe, and very organized.

Tortuga markets this bag as an “organized daypack for air travel”– and it’s certainly true!

The design and features of this backpack make it perfect for air travel. Whether it’s the sleek laptop sleeve, the easy to lock zippers, the luggage handle pass through or the hideaway shoulder straps, this bag thrives in airports and airplanes.

Whether you are a road warrior looking for an upgraded carry on backpack, or you just love to travel the world, this is the backpack that will make your life easier and stress free while traveling via air.

Check out our in-depth Tortuga Setout Laptop backpack review

Check on Tortuga

 

#2 High Spirit Laptop Backpack – Supreme Organization, Style, and Security

stylish black travel backpack

The High Spirit Laptop Backpack is one sexy beast.

Specs
  • Size: 19.5 liters 
  • Material: Top quality leather exterior
  • Laptop Fit: Up to 15 Inch
Feature Highlights

  • Anti-theft
  • Extremely well made
  • Durable shock absorbing base

High Spirit Bags have broken onto the travel backpack scene with an emphatic BANG. Their brand new Laptop Backpack is the perfect choice for travelers who prioritize style, security, and functionality all rolled up into one tidy package.

Every inch of the Laptop Backpack is thoughtfully designed to provide the best possible user experience. The high quality leather exterior is the ideal combination of sleek and anti-theft – which when you are toting around expensive electronics – this feature is very important.

Perhaps my favorite feature is the pack’s access design. The zippers are located on the back panel making it virtually impossible for thieves to unzip your backpack whilst you are wearing it.

The organizational layout of this backpack provides more than enough storage options for your work day in the city or a weekend jaunt to Barcelona.

So what about cost?

Surprisingly, the High Spirt Laptop Backpack is much more affordable than many other laptop-focused travel backpacks out there. The verdict is in: you are not going to find a more high-quality laptop backpack that looks and functions this well for the given price point (£110).

High Spirit – you have won over our entire gear review team – good on you!

Check on High Spirit

 

#3 Arcido Akra 35L – A Large yet Lightweight Travel Backpack

 

Arcido Akra 35L

Specs

  • Size: 35L
  • Straps: Shoulder, chest, and hip
  • Pockets: Exterior sleeves, hidden pockets, back passport pocket
  • Frame: None
  • Material: Kodra Nylon, Polyurethane

Feature Highlights

  • Sleek, stylish design
  • Super lightweight makes travel easy
  • Organized + customizable

This is the perfect carry on travel backpack for urban travelers. Its laptop harness, organizational pockets, and integrative packing cubes (in the Arcido Akra and Vaga Daypack Bundle) make this the perfect travel backpack for digital nomads too.

At only 2.4 lbs, this is a lightweight backpack for travel that can become even lighter when the sternum straps and waist belt are removed.

In essence, Arcido makes simple, tough, and well-designed travel backpacks equipped with enough storage and organizational features make any modern traveler happy. We love that this is an affordable backpack for its high-quality design.

Check out our full Arcido Akra review!

Check on Arcido

 

#4 Incase Icon Pack – One of the Toughest Laptops Bags

 

Incase icon slim pack travel backpack

Specs

  • Size:  9 x 13 x 19 inches
  • Straps: Shoulder and Chest Straps
  • Pockets: 5 exterior pockets, 1 interior zippered pocket
  • Frame: None
  • Material: 100% Nylon

Feature Highlights

  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Multiple organisation options
  • Airflow channels in back panel

The Incase Icon Pack is the best travel backpack if you’ll be working on the road and need a sturdy, durable pack to keep your laptop safe while exploring new areas. Featuring multiple exterior and interior pockets, the Icon laptop backpack allows maximum organisation and easy access to your belongings, with a dedicated laptop compartment to stow your gear away safely.

Check out our in-depth breakdown of the best laptop backpacks for more intel!

Check on Amazon

 

Other Special Travel Backpacks Worth Considering

Sometimes traveling calls for a unique bag. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior who needs something both professional and rugged. Maybe you just like to mix things up. Either way, these backpacks maybe more appropriate for you.

 

#1 Osprey Ozone – Top Wheeled Backpack for Travel

Osprey Ozone the best travel backpack

Specs
  • Size: 42 Liters
  • Straps: Compression straps, shoulder straps and hip strap.
  • Pockets: Stretch Mesh Pockets
  • Frame: Ultra-light 6001 aluminium frame
  • Material: Nylon
Feature Highlights
  • Will attach to any of the wheeled luggage by Osprey
  • Can be combined with other Osprey bags to make a nimble beast

Wheeled luggage sometimes get a bad reputation. We’ve all seen those travelers trying to roll giant pieces luggage around cobble stone streets or busy Asian alleys, clearly in over their head.

But wheeled backpacks are different.

Designed for the savvy traveler, Osprey’s Ozone Travel Pack 46 is pretty much one of the best travel backpacks out there. The padded hip-belt and shoulder harness stow away for easy transport. It can clip on to the wheeled range by osprey for easy transport and it is super breathable. It even has an inside zipped compartment perfect for smelly hiking boots!

I’ve been using this pack on and off for two years: you can fit a TON of stuff in it – a genuinely surprising amount considering it still qualifies as hand luggage most of the time – however, once it’s heavy it quickly becomes a tad uncomfortable – not ideal if you plan on taking it hiking. This is one of the best backpacks for travel if you have a ton of valuables you want to keep in your hand luggage – i.e. if you are a digital nomad!

Check on Osprey    Check on REI

 

#2 Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible – The Choice in Convertible Backpacks

 

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Specs

  • Size: 60L
  • Straps: Detachable back straps, side handle, and shoulder strap.
  • Pockets: Pop-out bottle holder, “grab-n-go pocket,” mesh pockets, laptop slot
  • Frame:  Internal, full frame
  • Material: 840 denier twisted polyester

Feature Highlights

  • Cushy backpack straps that easily unclip and zip inside the bag.
  • Can be carried by a side handle or by a separate shoulder strap

If you’re looking for a backpack like a Mary Poppins suitcase this is it. Although it’s defined as a weekend backpack, this backpack can actually extend out to hold up to sixty liters of stuff! Which as we all know, makes it one of the best backpacks for us budget, round-the-world travelers.

This compact backpack is great for those planning to travel light or for those escaping on frequent long weekend trips. For those more adventurous, the only draw back to this travel pack is the lack of waist strap. It does come with an attachable strap that can be used around the waist, but it doesn’t offer the same comfort and support as other backpacks.

I wouldn’t recommend to take this pack hiking or on a real backpacking adventure; you wouldn’t want to carry this bad-boy fully loaded through the streets of Delhi.

If you’re traveling lightweight round the world and need a backpack that can shrink and grow; The Motherlode TLS Weekender Convertible is a good travel backpack for you.

Check on Amazon

 

#3 Kelty Redwing 50 – An Excellent Unisex Backpack

 

kelty redwing 50 travel backpack

Specs

  • Size: 50L
  • Straps: Side Compression Straps
  • Pockets: Multiple – including top, front and water bottle pockets.
  • Frame:  Internal, HDPE frame sheet
  • Material: Poly 420D

Feature Highlights

  • Perfect-Fit suspension for on-body adjustments
  • Easy access
  • AirFlow back panel for increased comfort

Although a little smaller than the Osprey Aether, the Kelty Redwing still makes for a quality unisex backpack for travel on long haul trips. Ideal for use in both cities and in the mountains, the Redwing is a versatile, sturdy backpack with multi-functional pockets, a comfortable fit and easy access compartments allowing you to get to your travel essentials whenever you need to. This is one of the best travel bags around for compact, convenient travel for both men and women.

Check on REI                        Check on Amazon

 

What Makes a Good Travel Backpack?

Picking the best backpack to travel with doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive…

It’s easy to grab a great discount deal from a top brand and, to be honest, if you buy anything from Osprey, Nomatic, or Tortuga you won’t be disappointed. However, not all backpacks are created equal and there’s a few factors you should always look at when picking a backpack for traveling…

Want to save the world? Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.

The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.

View on REI  View on Grayl

 

1. The Right Travel Backpack Size

Size is a personal choice and the best travel packs have no definitive size. If you are a traveler who needs more space for camping gear, you want to pick up lots of trinkets or you travel with a full wardrobe then a 60-liter plus backpack will suit your travels.

Larger backpacks however mean checked baggage fees and you are less likely to be able to take your backpack into the bus with you, instead you’ll have to strap it to the roof and hope it doesn’t rain!

Is Turkey safe to travel alone?

source: Sanchik (shutterstock)

The smaller your travel bag, the less you can take, but the big bonus is no checked bag fees and it’s easier to keep tabs on your pack at all times. If you can keep your backpack below fifty liters you will save a fortune when flying.

Think carefully about the size of your pack and what’s best for you – the best backpacks for travel are different for everyone. Personally, I travel with a seventy liter pack as I am often carrying camping gear.

 

2. Straps on Your Travel Backpack

Carrying everything you need to travel the world on your back doesn’t come lightly… even when you pack light!

Wandering lost, trying to find a hostel in the heat of the day with a travel bag is not fun, even the lightest packers will agree.

So how do you combat this? Well the best backpacks will include well designed load bearing straps to help turn that heavy backpack into a fairly light backpack.

The aim of the game is to take weight off your shoulders and onto the hips. This is significantly better for you and you can walk, climb and even jump around pretty comfortably if your pack’s weight is distributed evenly. These days most larger backpacks include hip belts as standard.

For me, quality hip belts are what makes a great travel backpack. Without a hip belt, even the best backpack in the world can turn into a nightmare. Some traveling backpacks have heat-molded custom made hip belts that may appear somewhat gimmicky but are very comfortable.

Your shoulder straps are equally important and should be comfortable to wear, without the hip belt. Look for shoulder straps that have plenty of padding.

A swagman with a durable backpack

Before the days of heat-molded custom straps with anti-gravity bearings and attached safety whistle.

 

3. Pockets, Pockets, POCKETS

Well organised travel bags make the best travel bags. There’s nothing more annoying than a typical backpack which only opens from the top meaning that each and every time you need something you’ll be pulling literally, everything else but that, out.

Pockets alleviate this problem; allowing you to assign certain segments of your travel backpack to particular items (e.g. clothes, toiletries, passport and money) for easier access. The best pocket is a U-shaped opening pocket as this allows easy access.

Nomatic bag features

Nomatic and all those sexy, sexy pockets.

 

4. Travel Backpack Weight

Great travel backpacks are those which are as light as a feather, right?

Sadly these don’t really exist and instead, you need to consider the best weight for what you’ll be doing. Backpacks themselves are not weightless, the heavier the frame, the more weight you have to start with.

In general, you want to go for the lightest, but toughest, pack you can find. Gregory Packs are some of the lightest packs on the market but they are simply not as tough as Osprey or Nomatic and that is there downfall…

Osprey Renn 50: a light travel backpack

The lighter the pack, the easier the walk!

 

5. How Comfortable Should a Travel Backpack Be?

Your travel backpack will become your new best friend, it’s where you will store all of your shit, it will basically become your home; therefore you need to try and choose the most comfortable backpack.

You’ll find the best travel pack by trying it on in the store before buying. When trying it on, load it up with some weight to take it for a proper test drive. I strongly recommend trying a bunch of different backpacks on at an REI or Outdoor Store before making your choice.

When it comes to fitting a backpack, you want an even distribution of weight across your hips, shoulders and chest, and to make sure there are no pressure points that may cause the bag to rub or pinch as you walk. Cushioned shoulder pads and padded hip belts are always a winner my friends…

The better your hip belt, the better your pack will sit upon your body and the more comfortable it will be.

osprey exos 58 review: one of the most comfortable backpacks

The longer the walk, the more comfortable you want your backpack.

 

6. Material and Construction of a Good Travel Backpack

So it’s raining and you’re still trying to find your hostel? Or you can see your backpack from the plane window waiting to be loaded and it’s sitting in the rain? (Fuck you Kingfisher Airlines).

Water-resistant material is essential when traveling!

Your bag will be exposed to rain, puddles or leaks at some point. There’s nothing worse than opening the bag to find your clothes soaked and stinking or worse, your electronics damaged. The most durable backpacks are made from strong, durable, stretchy, waterproof material.

So look out for backpack material that will last for years – the last thing you want is a ripped bag halfway through your travels!

Does the sound of having a super-durable backpack speak to you? Check out our in-depth best heavy duty backpacks review!

a most durable backpack in snowy mountains

Weather resistance is key!

 

7. Best Travel Backpacks for Men vs Women

There are literally thousands of backpacks for traveling on the market and the best packs tend to be made with one gender or another in mind. Unisex backpacks usually will fit pretty much anybody but you can get a man’s backpack, which will take into account broad shoulders, for the same price so I definitely recommend finding a gender-specific backpack when you hit the road.

Finding the best travel backpack for women requires more research than nice colors and comfortable straps. I am, of course not a woman. So to help me out on this I spoke to a bunch of kick-ass women adventurers for advice.

A woman hiking with a medium size backpack

The best travel backpack for women takes into account the feminine frame.

Size is perhaps the most important consideration along with comfortable straps and weight distribution. This doesn’t mean that women have to buy travel bags specifically for them, but the feedback from my girlfriend and friends; is that they’re so much better.

Other than the different design for a typical woman’s body, there is not much difference between the women’s and the men’s travel backpacks. Most of the points that you’ll below apply to both genders so keep these in mind.

 

The Great Backpacker Debate (Must Read!)

Generally speaking, backpackers are some of the most warming, understanding, agreeable people on the planet.

But there is one decisive issue among backpackers.

To travel with a carry on backpack, OR to travel with a large backpack.

This has proven to be quite the epic debate. Every backpacker has an opinion on the topic, making it difficult for newbie travelers to know which side to pick, and most importantly, which bag to buy.

Let’s go over both options.

 

In Favor of a Big Backpack (60L – 80L)

backpacking with a big backpack

The most obvious reason to have a larger backpack is that you can carry more stuff! A 65-70 liter backpack can hold all kinds of extra items from food to gear to photography/videography equipment!

Now not everyone is going to want or necessarily need to deal with all of these extra pieces of kit. More kit means more weight, more check-in fees, and more tedious packing and unpacking sessions. Ultimatly, you should only be packing what you need.

So choosing to ditch a smaller travel backpack en lieu of a larger one really comes down to how specialized your trip is going to be. If you’re going to be participating in a wide variety of activities and for longer periods of time, you’ll want a bigger bag. If you just need a backpack for traveling around Europe and don’t intend on doing anything crazier (than usual), then you probably don’t need something too large.

Why Invest in a Larger Travel Backpack?
Pros

  • Can accommodate extra gear for hiking, camping, etc
  • Great if traveling to colder destinations
  • Great when traveling off the beaten path
  • More room=more options
Cons

  • Additional strain on your back
  • Have to check it on airplanes and buses
  • Many travelers simply don’t need it
  • Not as ideal for urban travel

 

In Favor of a Carry On Bag (35L – 50L)

 
best travel backpack Nomatic travel bag

This bag (Nomatic) is ready for anything!

While traveling with a  60L+ bag might make sense for some people, it is completely unnecessary for other people.

First, if you are sure you will do ZERO hiking, trekking or camping… then you probably have no need for a large bag. If you just need a backpack for the weekend, 65L is too much.

40L bags are still very large and can carry a ton of stuff. If you are not bringing camping or hiking gear, then a 40-50L bag can be more than enough to handle all of your stuff.

Traveling with a light bag means traveling with less stress. Less stress on your back, less stress in your bag, less stress in your life in general. Travelers who carry large bags often fill it with things they don’t need.

But traveling light does require a sense of dedication, and if this minimalist bag style doesn’t appeal to you, then go big baby!

Why Invest in a Smaller Travel Backpack?
Pros

  • Less shit to worry about
  • Less stress on your back
  • If your bag is under 40L, you don’t have to check it
  • Great for urban travel
Cons

  • Forget about camping, trekking or hitchhiking
  • Limited space means less stuff
  • Not a great option if you want to bring a lot of clothes

 

Should you get a Large or Carry On Backpack?

This is completely up to you and should depend on your travel style.

Take into consideration the type of person you are… is traveling super lightweight attractive to you? Do you plan to camp? Do you plan to travel mostly to cities? Will you be flying a lot and want to avoid luggage fees?

By determining your travel plans and travel style, you’ll be able to better make a selection for which travel bag is best for you

Osprey Renn 50: a light travel backpack

You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.

GET IT HERE

 

Conclusion of the Best Travel Backpacks Mega-List

 

So there you have it amigos, the best tips to help you find the best travel packs for your upcoming adventures. Remember, the most important thing that makes a travel bag one of the best backpacks for travel is the comfort.

The last thing you want is a bag that rubs on your shoulders or hips while walking. Follow these tips, try some bags on before buying, and you'll end up with a bag to last you years of adventures!

Still not sure which backpack to buy?

OK, let's break it down... The best backpacks for travel are:

You are now armed with all of the best travel backpack options. Our hope is that you find the backpack of your dreams and have many, many awesome adventures with your new best friend.

Happy travels!

Active roots foldable backpack: best day backpack for travel

Something heart-meltingly fantastic to send it off. Be safe, amigos! But not too safe 😉

 

Want to learn how to travel the world on $10 a day? Check out the Broke Backpacker’s Bible…

Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you buy any of the products using our links we’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Never fear, we actually use and/or want all of these things. We don’t endorse crappy stuff!


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