Best Travel Backpacks for Women (2020 Insider Review)

Your backpack will carry every single one of your possessions on the road; it will be your home away from home! Therefore, choosing the perfect one for you is essential for your travels.

Comfortable, durable, big or small – there are so many factors that play into the right backpack, and it’s different for everyone. Since there are so many options, it can be quite overwhelming to make a decision on your own. That’s why we’ve created a guide to the best travel backpacks for women.

With lots of research, travel experience and an eye for the important details, the Broke Backpacker Ladies have included all sorts of different bags (All packs have been extensively used by the team). No matter where you’re headed to, we’ve got the right backpack for you!

Finally, every pack in this comprehensive guide was designed to last you for years, both in wear-and-ear and style.

Besides our top picks, we’ve included a quick guide at the end to help you figure out what to look for in a backpack.

Osprey Fairview 40 is one of our favorite backpacks.

 

Quick Answer: What are the best Women’s backpacks of 2020?

In a rush? Here are the best women’s travel backpacks in this review…

 

Why Use a Women’s Travel Backpack?

First of all, there is nothing wrong with purchasing unisex or male backpacks at all. When buying a backpack, your main priority should always be a comfortable fit, no matter what your travel intentions are, so you can wear it all day.

Women’s backpacks are designed specifically with the female body shape and different weight-carry in mind. Padding, length, and straps are different from the male bags, which is crucial for a comfortable fit since the bag has to align with your center of gravity. 

Bottom line: there are some great uni-sex backpacks, a few of which I have reviewed below, but ladies backpacks tend to be more comfortable when the weight starts stacking up.

Osprey Renn 50

You want to make sure your hiking backpack fits like a glove!

So without further talking, here are our top travel backpacks for women. From small to big, trendy, minimalistic or super durable, you’ll find everything right here!

 

Overall Best Travel Backpacks for Women

#1 – Osprey Fairview 40

best travel backpacks for women Osprey Fairview 40

 

The Osprey Fairview 40 is one of the only female backpacks for travel designed with women in mind. Greatly fitting and adjustable straps, the right amount of padding, and enough compartments to keep all your stuff secure.

With 40L it’s suitable for carry-on luggage, however, the small volume doesn’t necessarily make it a great choice for long hiking trips. There are advanced-hiking style features built-in, like an extra harness and hip belt, but some reviews mentioned an uncomfortable fit when you load it up too heavy.

This pack is not as feature-rich as some of the newer Ladies backpacks on the market. Overall, though, this is a fantastic carry on travel backpack for women that can do a little bit of everything. It’s comfortable, durable, AND affordable, so you have nothing to lose.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Perfect carry on size
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Affordable, especially for the quality

Cons

  • Not as feature-rich as other backpacks
  • Tries to do the hybrid thing, but I wouldn't choose for hiking

Is the Osprey Fairview 40 the best bag for you?

If you want a badass carry-on backpack – this is an easy pick. Its suspension system means its extremely comfortable when you have to walk a couple of miles down dirt roads or cobblestone streets! It's one of the best backpacks for women specifically.

View on Amazon View on REI

 

#2 - REI Ruck Sack 40

best travel backpacks for women REI Ruck Sack

REI's rugged ladies rucksack is marketed as both a travel bag and a hiking bag – and we completely agree! This bag has plenty of organizational compartments and thought out innovation as well as a supportive back panel, ventilated mesh padding, and a sternum strap.

It's designed with women-specific features for hiking including harness straps that curve around the chest, a shortened torso length, and longer hip belt strap. With 40L volume it also lives up to the carry-on standards - a perfect overall backpack!

The compartments are easy to reach due to full-zip designs and multiple access points. The sleeve along the back panel is designed to hold a hydration sleeve or laptop. Even fully packed, it still sits incredibly comfortable.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Affordable
  • Classic rucksack look
  • Good pocket organization
  • Great ventilation/back support

Cons

  • No laptop compartment
  • Preferable for hikers/campers
  • Might be too big for ultra-light campers

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

Looking for a 40-liter travel bag but on a bit of a budget? Then this is a fantastic option! The Ladies Rucksack is well-designed, comfortable, and durable. It will do everything you need it to for your travels or camping.

View on REI

 

#3 - Kelty Redwing 40 - Women's

best women's travel backpacks Kelty Redwing

While Osprey seems to make backpacks for hiking or travel specifically, Kelty Redwing is a hybrid model. It features a suspensions system, padded hip belt, and shoulder straps designed specifically for a woman's build. Moreover, its front pocket. top stash pocket and dual-use laptop/hydration sleeve work great for travel.

It's a good overall pack: carry-on compliant and comfortable enough for multi-day hikes, but I would try this pack versus REI's rucksack and see which one fits you better.

Keep in mind that the woman-specific bag is slightly smaller than the men's, but fits on budget airlines. I didn't have a problem using this bag on Ryan Air, the ultimate test for carry-on size compliancy.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • J-opening zipper at the top
  • Carry on compliant
  • Woman-specific

Cons

  • The suspension system is not as good as other hiking-specific backpacks
  • No hip belt pockets
  • Front packet designed more for light travel

Is the Kelty Redwing 40 Liter for you?

Overall, you should get the Kelty Redwing if you plan to travel, train hop, and do a few multi-day hikes. I wouldn't get it if your main objective is urban travel nor if your main objective is backcountry hiking. It does both well, so if you want a pack that can do it all, then this is a good choice.

 View on REI

Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

#1 - Nomatic Travel Bag 40L 

nomatic travel bag

Our number one choice for the best carry on, as well as the best overall travel backpack (whether you're a woman or man) is the Nomatic Travel Bag. We have yet to find a travel backpack as good as this one.

Nomatic bags are designed to be modern, sleek, and provide ultimate packing efficiency. This is accomplished by an extremely thoughtful design and tons of features that will be fully appreciated by anyone who travels a lot.

It is exactly 40 liters, making it carry-on compliant just about everywhere. Its tarpaulin and ballistic weave materials mean this pack will last you for years to come.

Whether you are traveling for a business trip or you are a Digital Nomad traveling the world, this will keep your laptop and valuables well secured all while looking stylish. Plus, you'll have more pockets and sleeves than you know what to do with.

For more details and information on all of the pack's features, read our full review of the Nomatic Travel Bag!

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Modern and sleek
  • Endless features
  • Organization Galore

Cons

  • Urban environments only
  • Expensive
  • Not woman-specific

Is the Nomatic Bag 40 Liters for you?

If you are a modern traveler who spends a lot of time in urban environments, the Nomatic Travel Bag is going to be one of the best backpacks for you. This pack was designed specifically for people who live on the road.

View on Nomatic

 

#2 - Peak Design Travel Backpack

main compartment of Peak Design travel backpack

This bag is great for anyone who likes it's design, efficiency, and organization. It's easily one of the best minimalist bags on the market.

What sets this pack apart from Nomatic is its access points and style of organization. This pack was also designed to accommodate photographers with camera gear. With the external and internal pockets you can keep all of your belongings organized and safe.

The volume might be a bit too small if you're carrying a lot of equipment with you, which makes it more suitable for urban areas. A lot of full-time travelers can make 40-45L work for extended trips, while others will need more space.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Durable in every way
  • Straps are really easy to stow
  • Accessibility and pockets

Cons

  • Urban environments only
  • Expensive
  • Zippers are not heavy duty

Is the Peak Design 40 Liter Backpack for you?

Peak Design is leading the pack in innovation and design; if you want an ultra-modern and sleek backpack, look no further. This is a versatile, urban-style backpack perfect for city trips and weekend getaways.

View on Peak Design

#3 - Tortuga Outbreaker

tortuga outbreaker vs setout

Crush your travels with the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack...

The Tortuga Outbreaker real perks are in its design. It has tons of pockets/compartments, and the main compartment is massive with the capacity to carry a ton of clothes. The Outbreaker design enables its the main compartment to be opened like a suitcase.

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

This isn't specifically a ladies backpack but designed to be uni-sex. That said, it's quality build, intuitive design, fantastic organization, and smaller size make it the perfect bag for anyone who wants to travel light, but travel in style.

For more information on its features, check out our must-read Tortuga Outbreaker review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Organization
  • Size
  • Hip Belt

Cons

  • Made in China
  • Rectangular shape
  • Urban Travel Only

Is the Tortuga Outbreaker for you?

This is one of the top backpacks for women and men. It is perfect if you want a carry on backpack that keeps your things organized and secure.

View on Tortuga

 

Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

#1 - Osprey Kyte 46 L

Osprey Kyte 46 best travel backpacks for women

The Kyte 46 is highly functional and fully-featured that works for pretty much any occasion. It's the best small hiking backpack on this list.

With 46L it's a go-to pack for 3-5 day hiking trips because of its size, weight, and durability. Features include an incredible suspension system (so comfortable and breathable), padded and adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt, external hydration sleeve, tuck-away ice tool loops/trekking pole attachments, and an integrated rain cover.

When it comes to travel and hiking, this is going to be one of the most versatile, small backpacks for women. The Kyte 46 is also quite affordable when you consider the quality and versatility you get!

Check out our awesome review of the Osprey women's backpack - Kyte 46

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Versatile for hiking and camping
  • Very comfortable suspension system
  • Affordable for quality

Cons

  • Not as many features for travel; more hiking specific
  • 46L will work for most airlines, but not all

Is the Kyte 46 Liter for you?

Osprey specializes in producing a range of backpacks for very specific activities and practical applications, from long trips to urban travel, to commuting, running, and school. Specificity is great, but sometimes you just want a backpack that works for everything rather than buying a backpack for every occasion.

This is one of the most versatile women’s rucksacks for hiking you'll find. Your closet space, bank account, and the planet will thank you for buying fewer backpacks.

View on Amazon          View on REI

 

#2 - Osprey Aura AG 50

Osprey Aura 50 best travel backpacks for women

The Osprey Aura is the best female travel backpack to hit the trails with. Its unique Anti-Gravity suspension system makes this bag comfortable up to 40 lbs! I recommend comparing it to the Kyte 46 above and figuring out which women’s rucksack is best for you.

Features include water bottle pockets, compression straps, anti-gravity suspension system, and multiple organization options.

Check out our awesome Osprey Aura 50 review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Versatile for hiking and camping
  • Comfortable suspension system
  • High-quality

Cons

  • Not as many features for travel (more hiking specific)
  • 50L is often not carry-on compliant

Is the Aura 50 Liter for you?

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.

View on Amazon View on REI

 

#3 - Osprey Women's Backpack Ariel 65

front of Osprey Ariel 65 review

Are you noticing a trend here? We may be biased, but Osprey is our favorite brand when it comes to durable and ultra-comfortable hiking backpacks.

This backpack is probably overkill for most, but if you plan to travel with a ton of gear for a long time, or hit the trails for a week, then this is an excellent pack that will last you for years and years to come.

Ultimately, Ariel has an incredible suspension system and tons of customizability when it comes to its compression straps, hip belt, and shoulder straps. This means that it provides great stabilization and weight carry for heavy loads (think over 35 pounds.)

Check out the full review of the Ariel 65 for more information!

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Extremely Durable
  • Comfortable for heavy loads
  • Best for women on long treks

Cons

  • No laptop compartment
  • Too big for most travelers
  • Heavy

Is Osprey's Ariel 65 the best bag for you?

If you are looking for a heavy-duty Osprey women's backpack that is durable enough to take long journeys across rough terrain, then this is the perfect bag for you. If you only plan to go on hiking trips for a few days, or travel by plane and train frequently, then consider one of the Aura instead.

Essentially, the Aura is better for loads under 30 pounds, and the Ariel for heavier ones. If you know how much weight you plan to carry, let that be the determining factor when deciding between these packs.

View on Amazon

 

 Best Travel Backpacks for the Minimalist

#1 - Nomatic Travel Pack

Nomatic Travel Pack

Nomatic Travel Pack is our top pick for the best travel daypacks

The Nomatic Travel Pack is another great offering from this brand! While not designed just for us, it is still one of the best small backpacks for women and wears pretty comfortably.

This 20-liter daypack can be expanded to 30 liters, making it extremely adaptable for travel... if you travel light. An internal zip-shut mesh divider means you can keep clean and dirty clothing separate, and there are a compression packing cube and separate shoe compartment incorporated.

If that wasn’t enough, the bag also contains a sleeve for a laptop of up to 15” which is TSA approved as it lays flat, hidden pockets, and a pocket with RFID-blocking technology for the protection of your electronic data!

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Expandable
  • Internal divider
  • RFID-blocking pocket

Cons

  • Only for the minimalist traveler
  • Weight of 1.9 kg

Is the Nomatic Travel Pack for me?

The 20+10 liter Nomatic Travel Pack is a great alternative to the 40-liter Nomatic travel bag I've reviewed. This pack has a wealth of features for such a small space. If you don't need a pack quite as big as the Nomatic travel bag, then this is an excellent choice.

View on Nomatic

 

#2 - Patagonia Black Hole 25L

best backpacks for women patagonia refugio

This is an awesome, small hiking backpack. It's a high-quality and durable pack made by one of our favorite brands, Patagonia. It's a great go-to backpack for your everyday life as well, as it's suitable for short-time travel and urban areas.

It is custom-tailored in both size and fit for a woman's torso. Like a school backpack, it has a second zippered pocket for smaller items and accessories, a front stash pocket for small items, and the main compartment for your things.

It's ultra-soft yet highly breathable. This is a small travel backpack ideal for shorter trips. Its internal pocket secures a laptop so it makes for a great city bag as well. Another great feature is the daisy chain loops that allow you to attach climbing gear or a yoga mat.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Versatile for normal use or hiking
  • Perfect for organization
  • Uses recycled materials

Cons

  • Only for the minimalist traveler
  • Sport look may not appeal to some
  • No waist strap

Is the Patagonia Refugio for me?

This ladies small backpack is perfect for everyday use. Whether you want to hit the trails in the rain or bike to your local coffee shop with your laptop, this backpack is an awesome choice!

View on REI

Best Travel Bag with Wheels - Osprey Ozone

osprey ozone best backpack with wheels

Designed for the savvy traveler, Osprey’s Ozone Travel Pack 46 is pretty much one of the best backpacks with wheels out there.

The padded hip-belt and shoulder harness stow away for easy transport. It can clip on to the wheeled range for easy transport. It even has an inside zipped compartment - perfect for smelly hiking boots!

We've been using this pack on and off for two years and can comfortably say that it fits a shocking amount of stuff, but it's not comfortable to wear when the load is super heavy.

This is one of the best backpacks for travel if you have a ton of valuables, but it's not good for hiking!

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Carry On Size
  • Wheels
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Not a trekking backpack
  • Not comfortable with heavy loads

Is Ozone the best bag for you?

If you want a women's backpack with wheels, then this is the pack for you. The backpack feature is great for dirt roads, cobblestone, stairs, and other situations where you can't wheel it, but it's not comfortable to wear for long periods. Get this backpack if you plan to primarily wheel it around.

View on Amazon View on REI

 

Best Lightweight Backpack for Women - Lumina 60

lightweight backpack for women

This women’s rucksack was specifically designed for ultralight hiking, though at 60-liters, this pack is in the mid to large size spectrum.

60-liters is enough volume for a multi-month backpacking trip, or for an extended hiking trip (about 3-7 days depending on how much warm clothing, food, and water - if any - you need to carry). 

This is one of the lightest hiking backpacks on the market. While this is awesome, we wanted to know what we are sacrificing for weight. After testing this pack, the team concluded that its lightweight fiber materials are durable and will last for years, just not as long as other more heavy-duty Osprey packs.

Plus, Osprey offers the “All Mighty Guarantee” lifetime warranty to indemnify against defects.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Perfect for Thru-hikes and minimalists
  • Osprey Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Not carry on sized
  • Made for hiking versus travel
  • The lighter color shows dirt and marks

Is the Lumina 60 for you?

This is one of the most lightweight backpacks for women. It is specifically designed for ultralight thru-hikes, so unless that is your specialty, we recommend choosing a different pack. A couple of the Osprey backpacks above are excellent choices for hiking and travel.

View on Amazon                                       View on REI

 

Best Camera Backpack - WANDRD PRVKE 31

wndrd prvke 31 review best travel backpacks for women

For those who want a backpack that can do a little bit of everything, is durable and looks damn good in the process, the WANDRD PRVKE 31 is an excellent investment. At 31 (expandable to 36) liters, this backpack can hold quite a bit, though isn't as large as we'd like for travel.

Thanks to its robust weather-resistant design, your belongings will be safe. Add in some customizable straps, plenty of pockets, and a sick design, and you have yourself a versatile travel backpack. It's not a backpack specifically made for women, so the fit might not be the best.

It is stylish and functional enough for the streets, but its padding and additional straps make it comfortable enough for the trails

Check out the WANDRD PRVKE 31 review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Awesome camera backpack
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Organization galore

Cons

  • Too small for one bag travel
  • Not women-specific
  • Not the best option if you don't have camera gear

Is the Wandrd 31 for you?

If you are traveling with camera gear, then this is one of the best packs for you. However, if photography isn't one of your priorities on your travel, then check out one of the other travel backpacks for women above.

View on WANDRD

 

Best Laptop Backpack - Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack

Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack

 

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.

Tortuga put a lot of time and effort into the laptop-features of this backpack, all of which are designed specifically to keep your gear safe, organized, and accessible.

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.

Check out our in-depth Tortuga Setout Laptop backpack review here.

What We Like and Don't Like
Pros

  • Perfect for laptops
  • Excellent organization
  • Feature-rich

Cons

  • Only for the techie traveler
  • Expensive
  • Not a full-sized travel backpack

Is the Tortuga Laptop Backpack for me?

If you are looking for a travel backpack to carry your laptop and electronic gear then this is a great choice for you. It is only 25 liters, so we recommend this bag for airplane travel and business use over longer trips.

View on Tortuga

 

How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack for Women?

When selecting the best backpack for females there are a few things you should consider, including size and capacity, features, and price. This is all, of course, completely subjective and depends on the type of travel you will be engaging in.

Choosing the best backpack for travels is one of the most important gear-decisions you'll make

Capacity and Overall Size

  • Choose the size according to your travel gear
  • 40-50L are manageable, count as carry on and it's an overall best choice
  • 60+L are great for camping, hiking and long travels

Note: Ladies backpacks are often smaller than the counterpart men's version. For example, a men's version can be 44 liters while the women's is 40 liters. Women's packs are also a bit narrower to better fit a smaller frame. You may be trading-off fit for capacity.

Torso Size and Length

Backpacks for travel have a torso measurement to help you find one that will have the most comfortable fit. Most women’s torsos will be between 14-18 inches, however, you should measure your torso and try a few packs on (with weight) to make sure.

osprey measuring guide

Osprey measuring guide.

If you're a taller woman, then maybe a uni-sex backpack will fit you better. Again, the trick is to measure and try packs on in-store.

Shoulder Strap Shape and Hip belt

In women-specific backpacks, the shoulder straps are often shaped/curved and the sternum strap redesigned to better fit female chests. The shoulder straps are often set a little closer together since women tend to have narrow shoulders and neck.

The hip belt should be slightly narrower than the male's version to distribute the weight equally across your hips. They can also have extra padding for a bit more comfort.

walking in australia

The hip belt can take some weight off your shoulders.

Don't underestimate the importance of a comfortable hip belt. This is what helps take weight off of your shoulder so you can walk, hike, and climb comfortably, even with 35+ pounds.

Materials and Durability

Keep in mind, your travel 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 or your electronics damaged. The best backpacks are made from strong, durable, stretchy, waterproof material.

Look out for a material that will last for years – the last thing you want is a ripped bag halfway through your travels.

 

Final Thoughts on the Best Travel Backpacks for Women

The best ladies backpack for you will not only depend on your travel style but on where you plan to go at any given time. If you read the section above this one, you should be well prepared and ready to but your backpack.

Ultimately, you need to consider what your trip consists of, without stressing over it, of course! It's difficult to find a pack that is perfect 100% of the time, but with a little bit of research, you'll quickly figure out which backpack is best for you.

This guide covered the best backpacks for urban travel, the best hiking backpacks for women, the best women-specific bags altogether, and a few that are versatile enough for urban travel and the trails.

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments!

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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