What was the single most important item you bought for your first day of school? The item that would not only carry all of your prized possessions but embody your personality and style…? You guessed it: a backpack.
Well, the days of pretty princess pink or ninja turtle green backpacks may be over (or it maybe they’re not, I don’t judge) but your pack is still one of the most important investments you’ll make for a trip.
That is why I have reviewed the best travel backpacks for women, as a woman myself! Your backpack will carry every single one of your possessions on the road; it will be your home away from home!
From school to travel, you’re going to have to invest in SOMETHING to carry your possessions, and it might as well be strong, durable, and comfortable!
Your pack should have your back through all for your adventures – near, far, urban, in nature. And even though we’re adults now, it’s difficult to sort through the endless options on your own. That’s why you’re reading my guide to the best travel backpacks for women.
To write this article and find the best ladies backpack possible, I did quite a bit of research combined with my own travel experiences.
I’ve included travel backpacks, hiking backpacks, trendy backpacks, and everything in between. All packs have been extensively used by me, or by someone from my team. We’ve been traveling and reviewing gear for years and we know exactly what to look for.
Finally, every pack in this comprehensive guide was designed to last you for years, both in wear-and-ear and style.
Besides my top picks for travel backpacks for women, I’ve included a quick guide to help you figure out what to look for in a backpack.
Table of Contents
- Quick Answer: What are the best Women’s backpacks of 2020?
- Why Use a Women’s Travel Backpack?
- How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack for Women?
- Top Women Backpacks Reviewed
- Best Travel Backpack for Women
- Alternate #1 for Best Women’s Travel Backpack
- Alternate #2 for Best Women’s Travel Backpack
- Best Travel Backpack (Unisex)
- Best Women Backpacks for Hiking
- Best Carry On Travel Backpack for Women
- Stylish Backpacks for Women – Bolso Lago
- Best Travel Bag with Wheels
- Most Lightweight Backpack for Women
- Best Camera Backpack for Travel
- Best Travel Backpacks for the Minimalist
- Best Laptop Backpack for Travel
- Is a Carry On Backpack Necessary?
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…
#1) Osprey Fairview 40L – Best Travel Backpack for Women
#2) Nomatic Travel Bag – Best Overall Travel Backpack
#3) Osprey Kyte 46 L – Best Hiking Travel Backpack for Women
#4) Tortuga Outbreaker –Best Carry On Travel Backpack (Unisex)
#5) Nomatic Travel Bag – Best Travel Bag for Minimalist Nomad
#6) Osprey Ozone – Best Travel Bag with Wheels
#7) Lumina 60 – Most Lightweight Female Travel Backpack
#8) WANDRD PRVKE 31 – Best Camera Backpack for Travel
#9) Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack – Best laptop backpack for travel
Why Use a Women’s Travel Backpack?
I don’t think that all women need a travel backpack that’s designed specifically for women. First and foremost you should choose a backpack that is comfortable enough to wear all day. Next, you want a bag that will last you for years. Finally, you’ll want a backpack that actually fits you and personifies your style.
This may very well mean that you need a backpack designed with your body type in mind. I prefer to look at backpacks holistically, taking size, shape, and weight into consideration.
There is nothing wrong with uni-sex backpacks (or purchasing a male-specific one), but women’s travel backpacks are designed with our body shape and weight-carry in mind.
This is especially crucial for women’s hiking backpacks, in which case the pack’s weight should align with your center of gravity. Shoulder and waist straps need to be as comfortable as possible to help you carry heavy loads.
Bottom line: there are some great uni-sex travel backpacks, a few of which I have reviewed below, but ladies backpacks tend to be more comfortable when the weight starts stacking up.
A women’s travel backpack can be the difference between walking on clouds or toppling under a rock-heavy bag. Keep reading to learn my top tips for how to choose the best travel backpack.
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.
Are you camping and hiking? Traveling for business? Going away for a weekend, a year? These are all important considerations to make before you purchase a travel backpack.
Capacity and Overall Size
Deciding on the capacity you need is the first step to narrowing down the never-ending list of backpacks.
Note: Ladies travel 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.
Size is a personal choice and the best travel backpacks for women have no definitive size. If you are a traveler who needs more space for camping gear, or a full wardrobe then maybe a pack over 60 liters is necessary.
Generally, I advise sticking with the 40-50 Liter sized travel backpacks. This size is manageable, easy to carry-on flights, and will make sure you don’t overpack. Sometimes you need much more space, like if are traveling for a long time or going somewhere cold.
Of course, if you’re traveling with a suitcase or wheels, a bigger and heavier bag may not be as big of an issue. If you are going to be boarding a lot of buses, trains, and planes, tuk-tuks, taxis, and magic carpets, then a smaller backpack will always be more convenient.
The only times I recommend traveling with 65 liters or more is if you are backpacking in the mountains and will need to carry water, food, and other heavier essentials. If you’re going to South East Asia, don’t bother. Packing your fourth pair of shoes isn’t worth the checked baggage fees and a large pack on your bike.
Think carefully about the size of your pack and what’s best for you, the best backpacks for travel are different for everyone – I travel with a 40-liter pack unless I am carrying a lot of camping gear, then I use a 65-liter pack.
Torso Size and Length
Travel Backpacks 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.
You’ll also want to measure your torso length. Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you have a long torso; you could be all legs! That said, generally, women have a shorter torso than men, so women’s travel backpacks have less distance between the shoulder straps and hip belt.
This helps keep the pack closer to your center of gravity so the load is better balanced against your back.
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 Placement
In women-specific travel 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.
Women-specific travel backpacks come with a slightly narrower hip belt to help the weight distribute evenly across your hips. This also places the weight closer to your center of gravity, an important feature for a trekking backpack. Women hip belts can also have extra padding for comfort.
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
Aside from the perfect fit, durability is the next most important to thing to look for in the best travel backpacks for women. You are investing in this backpack, and want to make sure it’s going to last you!
Look out for a material that will last for years – the last thing you want is a ripped bag halfway through your travels.
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.
Buying a backpack is an investment, and spending a little extra to make sure the materials are durable, rip-proof, and water-proof, and the zippers are hardy are important. Bonus if the backpack comes with a lifetime warranty.
Note: Generally, the more durable the material the heavier too. It’s a trade-off, so figure out what you prioritize.
Okay, I lied. Perhaps more important than size and durability is comfortability. No point of buying a backpack that will last you for years if it sits in your closet because it’s uncomfortable to use.
You’ll find the best travel backpacks feel half the weight on your back. When you try a pack on, load it up with some solid weight and take it for a test drive.
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 essential.
This is more of a matter of preference, but an important one! How your travel backpack opens will determine the convenience, accessibility, and practicality of a pack.
I’m personally not a fan of top-loading backpacks only, even for hiking backpacks. It’s nice to have a pack that zips open like a suitcase to pack and unpack your things. If it doesn’t open up entirely, I want my pack to have front access or side access. Multiple access points will help you stay organized.
Call it sexist, but women-specific bags often come in different colors as men. There is still usually a darker color or black available, and I prefer darker colors only because lighter colors tend to show dirt and mark easier. Pastel colors are pretty though!
Extra features might just be nice-to-haves or they may be deal-breakers depending on your travel style! These features include side pockets, rain covers, compression straps, organizational pockets, and waterproof material.
Generally, the more features the pricier the pack. Find what works for you and be realistic of your needs!
Top Women Backpacks Reviewed
You’ll find women’s travel backpacks in all shapes and sizes. Of course, that’s not to say that all are the right choice for your next trip.
As minimalist travelers, we’re a little biased towards the smaller end of the spectrum. There’s no doubt you’ll find some excellent choices by top manufacturers in the 55-65L range; we just feel they are often unnecessarily bulky and large for the shorter trips that the majority of backpackers make.
With this in mind, we’ve selected backpacks that are not just high quality but support fast and convenient travel. Most of our top picks linger in the 40-50L range, our admittedly-biased sweet spot for short-term travel abroad. We’re confident that all of these choices will be faithful companions in helping you trounce from point A to point B with as little hassle as possible. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Best Travel Backpack for Women
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.
The hip belt is padded and wide enough to off real support, and the easy-to-remove top lid works great as a day pack or smaller bag to keep valuables when you’re on a plane, bus, or even in a tent!
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.
Perhaps the best feature is its build, which allows you to fill this bag with a ton of things, seemingly much more than 40 liters worth. When packed full, it is still well-balanced and sits comfortably on hips.
I love this backpack and think it’s one of the best travel backpacks for women if you want a backpack that can do it all. While I’m biased to Osprey for hiking, my boyfriend uses this men’s version pack for all of our 3-5 day hiking trips as well as for travel. This thing can go anywhere and it’s affordable too.
- Classic rucksack look
- Good pocket organization
- Great ventilation/back support
- 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.
Alternate #1 for Best Women’s Travel Backpack
The Osprey Fairview 40 is one of the only female travel backpacks designed with women in mind. FYI, this was my FIRST travel backpack ever!
I can speak from experience that this backpack is extremely versatile: it’s a comfortable travel backpack that can convert into a duffel bag. Its shoulder straps and hip belt are much more padded than other travel backpacks and both are designed for women bodies.
The straps are easy to stow when not in use! And at a square 40 liters, you’ll rarely have to worry about this bag being checked. It’s one of the best carry backpacks for women.
Plus, it’s comfortable and has many features of a travel backpack – it opens like a suitcase, secures your electronics, and has some pockets for organization.
This front-loading backpack has an advanced hiking-style shoulder harness and hip belt so it’s comfortable to wear for long periods. I have done an overnight (extremely strenuous hike) with this pack and it pulled through.
That said, it would NOT be my first or even second choice for a hiking backpack, which is probably its biggest downfall. Even though it carries comfortable, it carries weight awkwardly which makes uphill treks hard. Notice how most hiking backpacks pack “up” and stay close to your body.
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.
Plus, it is hard to beat the Osprey Lifetime Warranty. You know this bag will last you for life. (My sister still uses hers for every trip. 5 years later and it’s going strong!)
- Perfect carry on size
- Durable and extremely comfortable
- Affordable, especially for the quality
- Not as feature-rich as other travel 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 travel backpacks for women specifically.
Alternate #2 for Best Women’s Travel Backpack
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.
I’ll admit, this is not the best trekking backpack I’ve used, nor is it the best travel backpack. It does both well but doesn’t necessarily place in either category.
It’s still a great 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.
Note: The teal color is a much deeper and nicer teal than in the picture.
- J-opening zipper at the top
- Carry on compliant
- The suspension system is not as good as other hiking-specific backpacks
- No hip belt pockets
- Front packet designed more for travel and commuting than hiking
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.
Best Travel Backpack (Unisex)
Our number one choice for the overall best 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!
- Modern and sleek
- Endless features
- Organization Galore
- Urban environments only
- 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 travel backpacks for you. This pack was designed specifically for people who live on the road.
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. (You can even invest in the camera cubes that integrate with its side panel openings.)
I think this bag is big enough for a multi-week trip IF you are not carrying very much photography/electronic gear. A lot of full-time travelers can make 40-45L work for extended trips, while others will need more space.
The majority of this backpack is made from 400D nylon canvas with built-in water resistance. You can rest easy knowing that your stuff is going to stay dry if you get caught in a rainstorm.
The Peak Design travel backpack’s main compartment can be accessed from the back, front, and both sides, though its main access point is a full zipper from the back.
There is a good amount of external and internal pockets as well as a few hidden ones to keep your things organized. The interior pockets are perfect for storing your electronics, smaller items, and books.
Plus, the side pockets are made from durable nylon, not mesh, which is often the first material to give out on backpacks. I am also a big fan of the easy to stow waist straps for when you are en route or storing your backpack away.
- Durable in every way
- Straps are really easy to stow
- Accessibility and pockets
- Urban environments only
- 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.
Best Women Backpacks for Hiking
Below I have reviewed the 5 best-hiking backpacks for women.
When you are hiking with heavy loads for long periods, you want the utmost comfortable backpack for your torso, height, body type, etc. Generally, women are shaped differently than men, so women-specific hiking backpacks are key!
Osprey Kyte 46 L (#1)
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.
The Kyte 46 is my go-to pack for 3-5 day hiking trips because of its size, weight, and durability. I can count on this pack to be comfortable through high elevation climbs too!
It’s also a great pack for traveling because of its 46L capacity and weight. I just used it in Bali and felt its access points, pockets, and features were perfect for my trip, even though I wasn’t hiking.
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. I love this pack, and it’s quite affordable when you consider the quality and versatility you get!
Check out our awesome review of the Osprey women’s backpack – Kyte 46
- Versatile for hiking and camping
- Extremely Comfortable suspension system
- Affordable for quality
- 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.
Osprey Aura AG 50 – #2
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.
- Versatile for hiking and camping
- An extremely comfortable suspension system
- 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.
Are you noticing a trend here? I may be biased, but Osprey is my favorite brand when it comes to durable and ultra-comfortable hiking backpacks. The Ariel 65 was my first hiking backpack EVER and still accompanies me on hardy treks and adventures.
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 my full review of the Ariel 65 for more information!
- Extremely Durable
- Comfortable for heavy loads
- Best hiking backpack for women on long treks
- No laptop compartment
- Too big for most travelers
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.
Best Carry On Travel Backpack for Women
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.
- Hip Belt
- Made in China
- Rectangular shape
- Urban Travel Only
Is the Tortuga Outbreaker for you?
This is one of the best travel backpacks for women AND men. It is perfect if you want a carry on backpack that keeps your things organized and secure.
Stylish Backpacks for Women – Bolso Lago
The terms sustainable, ethical, and slow fashion have been used and abused in the industry, and consumers must be vigilant for the companies taking advantage of the environmental movement.
While I cover stylish tech, travel, and adventure backpacks in this review, I also wanted to include a Women’s Leather Backpack.
My top pick for a leather rucksack for women (or men) is the Bolso Lago. If you want a Women’s leather backpack that is also sustainable and ethical, Bolso is a great company to buy from. They are a small shop in Guatemala that makes the most affordable high-quality leather bags I’ve seen.
Vegetable-tanned leather means the hides are treated with plant-based dyes as opposed to chemicals. The process is less harmful to the environment and fully biodegradable. Also, if an animal is mistreated, marks and scars will show up on vegetable-tanned leather, which further encourages humane animal treatment.
Vegetable tanning takes weeks to complete. Many high-end fashion brands won’t wait this long and buy from factories in underdeveloped countries with dangerous working conditions. High-quality leather, like full-grain, is more durable and less wasteful than “genuine leather.”
The Bolsa Lago is a minimalist bag. It conceals a fitted 13-inch laptop sleeve and an interior utility pocket. Its pull-through shoulder straps can neatly be tucked away. They use vegetable tanned leather, ethically sourced from Guatemalan farms, and every bag is hand-cut and hand-stitched to provide for a lifetime of use.
I’m recommending this bag with no affiliation, but rather to shed a light on small companies doing good things. This is an excellent women’s backpack purse – yes, purse – perfect for travel and everyday use.
- Made to last for life
- Stylish and timeless
- Every day women’s backpack purse
- Laptop sleeve
- Too small for one bag travel
- Expensive (the price you pay for high-quality leather)
- Not a trekking backpack
Is the Bolso Lago the best bag for you?
If you are looking for the highest-quality leather rucksack for women (and men), then this is an excellent choice. This is a stylish women’s backpack, but not a girly backpack, like other high-end leather bags. It was designed to be timeless and to last both men and women for years to come.
This is more of an everyday travel bag, and too small for one bag travel, so consider something bigger as your main travel backpack.
Best Travel Bag 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!
One of my co-workers has been using this pack on and off for two years and says 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!
- Carry On Size
- 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.
Most 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.
The Osprey Lumina 60 is perfect if you are an ULTRALIGHT hiker and traveler. It’s designed to be extremely comfortable for light loads. Plus, at 60 liters, it is a pretty generous size for a week of thru-hiking or months of travel.
Plus, Osprey offers the “All Mighty Guarantee” lifetime warranty to indemnify against defects.
- Extremely Lightweight
- Perfect for Thru-hikes and minimalists
- Osprey Lifetime Warranty
- 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.
Best Camera Backpack for Travel
For those who want a backpack that can do a little bit 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 is stylish and functional enough for the streets, but its padding and additional straps make it comfortable enough for the trails.
The biggest drawback is that this is not specifically a ladies backpack. During our tests, it did not fit the women as comfortably as the men as did not fit snugly against their bodies.
I was impressed with the number of customizable options that PRVKE 31 offered. It’s an awesome camera backpack for travel. Although it’s not as comfortable for women as other packs on this list, I also have yet to try out a camera backpack whose number one focus is comfort in hiking settings… often the most important thing is security, protection, and organization. This pack excels in all three.
Check out the WANDRD PRVKE 31 review here.
- Awesome camera backpack
- Waterproof and durable
- Organization galore
- 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 travel backpacks 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.
Best Travel Backpacks for the Minimalist
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!
- Internal divider
- RFID-blocking pocket
- 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.
Patagonia Black Hole 25L
This is an awesome, small hiking backpack. It’s a high-quality and durable pack made by one of my favorite brands, Patagonia. I’ve owned an older version of this pack for 6 years now, and it is my go-to backpack to everyday use because it transfers just as well on the trails as in the city.
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 urban bag as well. Another great feature is the daisy chain loops that allow you to attach climbing gear or a yoga mat.
The only drawback that it doesn’t have a waist strap. It makes the design sleeker but the pack less comfortable with a lot of weight.
- Versatile for urban or hiking environments
- Perfect for organization
- Uses recycled materials
- Lots of colors to choose from
- 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!
Best Laptop Backpack for Travel
Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack – Best Travel Laptop Bag
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.
- Perfect for laptops
- Excellent organization
- Only for the techie traveler
- 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.
Is a Carry On Backpack Necessary?
Generally speaking, backpackers are some of the most warming, understanding, agreeable people on the planet, but when it comes to backpacks, all hospitality goes out of the airplane window.
Every backpacker has an opinion on the topic, which makes it difficult for newbie travelers to know which side to pick, and most importantly, which bag to buy.
I, however, am a woman of reason. Sometimes I travel with my 65-liter hiking backpack. Sometimes I use my 40-liter travel backpack. Context is everything!
Let’s go over both options.
In Favor of a Big Backpack (60L – 80L)
Pros of Traveling with a Large Bag
- If you are camping, hiking or hitching long term – You NEED the extra space
- Great if traveling to cold weather destinations (boots/jacket/etc)
- Great for a long duration, off the beaten path travel
Cons of Traveling with a Large Bag
- Have to check it on airplanes and buses
- Can be a recipe for OVER PACKING things you don’t need
- Not ideal for urban travel
- Not ideal if you plan to fly a lot on your trip (checked baggage costs add up)
In Favor of a Carry On Bag (35L – 50L)
First off – if you are sure you will NOT be hiking, trekking, or camping… then you don’t need a big backpack. If you are traveling in warmer climates without photography or camping gear, then 40 liters is plenty of space.
Traveling with a light bag means traveling with less stress. Less stress on your back, fewer things to keep track of, and less stress in your life in general.
The law of physics says that if there is space it will be filled. In other words, you will fill a bag full whether it’s 40 liters or 65… and travelers who carry large bags often fill it with things they don’t need.
Pros of Traveling with a Carry On Bag
- Less shit to worry about
- Lighter bag and freer type of travel
- Carry on compliant, so less money and time spend on checked luggage
- Great for urban travel
Cons of Traveling with a Carry On Bag
- Forget about camping or trekking
- Not ideal for nomads or photographers with a ton of gear
- Probably not enough space for cold-weather clothing unless you layer on the flight
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 light attractive to you? Do you plan to camp? Or do you travel mostly to cities? Do you plan to fly a lot?
In my opinion, the best choice for a typical European backpacking trip – spent mostly in cities and boarding plenty of transportation – is an urban-style 40-liter travel backpack.
If you are traveling in nature settings often, getting around mostly on land or sea, and plan on hiking into the bush (like backpacking South America, Africa, or even South Asia), then a hiking backpack from 50 liter – 65 liters and onward is going to make the most sense.
I’d even go as far as to say that a 65 liters pack is a MINIMUM for hiking in Patagonia or alpine trekking in general because you need extra space for warm layers, food, and sometimes water.
If you are traveling in warmer climates with a combination of urban and nature, like traveling in South East Asia, or the backpacking the United States, the answer is less clear and mostly depends on YOUR specific trip.
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, I have provided a few examples for when a carry on travel backpack makes sense versus a larger hiker backpack (and vice versa).
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 (here you are), you’ll quickly figure out which backpack is best for you.
This guide covered the best travel 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 I missed anything, let me 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!
Need More Inspiration?
- The Best Daypack for Your Travels
- The Best Hiking Backpacks for Your Next Adventure
- Ultimate Backpacking Packing List
- Best Laptop Travel Backpacks
- 31 Best Travel Bags: Favorite Duffels, Backpacks, Suitcases
Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.