Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks: Finding the Best Backpack for Travel

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Find the best travel backpacks for your next trip from our list. When I spend a good chunk of money to buy a backpack for travel, I would rather have one of the best backpacks on the market. That’s why we researched and created this list of the best backpacks for men, the best backpacks for women, the best backpacks for Europe, the best backpacks for Southeast Asia, the best carry-on backpacks and many others.

A good backpack is essential for many travelers. As full-time travelers since 2013, we know first hand. Get the right one for your trip. Through experience, research & talking with 100’s of travelers, here is our list of the best travel backpacks. Travel backpacks for Europe | best travel backpacks for men | best travel backpacks for women | best laptop backpacks | best backpack brands | best backpacks for Europe | carry on travel backpacks | travel backpacks on wheels | backpack for air travel

Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks:
Finding the Best Backpack for Travel

Finding the best travel backpacks can be one of the most important steps towards a successful trip. There is no one-size-fits-all backpack. Many quality backpacks for travel are designed differently. What kind of trip do you plan to make? That should influence what kind of backpack or luggage you plan to buy.

For example, when backpacking in Europe, expect lots of walking on narrow, cobblestone streets. You’ll likely be climbing up and down plenty of stairs, and stepping on and off countless trains and buses. Rolling suitcases aren’t always the best option here, and you wouldn’t want to have a backpack for Europe that’s too large or ill-fitting.

Along with size, body shape/height and gender can play a role in choosing the best travel backpacks. The best travel backpacks for women may be designed differently than those for men. Another factor is mobility. If you don’t want to carry it everywhere, and you’ll be in places with plenty of smooth floors and sidewalks, then consider wheeled backpacks. These are great if you’d like to use a backpack almost like a suitcase. That’s when it’s perfect to have a backpack with wheels.

Planning lots of flights with LCC (low-cost carrier) airlines in Europe, Asia, or South America? Check-in baggage fees can add up. That’s why traveling with just a carry-on backpack is an option worth considering.

Read on to discover the best backpacks for backpacking Southeast Asia, the best travel backpacks for Europe, the best carry on backpacks, the best backpacks for men, the best backpacks for women, the best laptop backpacks and business travel backpacks, as well as many other types of top-rated travel backpacks.

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Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks: Find The Best Backpack for Your Travel

Contents

Our Guide to Best Backpacks for Travel

No matter where you plan on traveling, one of the most important travel gear you’ll need is a quality suitcase or one of the best travel backpacks. Both suitcases and backpacks for travel serve specific purposes, but I’d argue that choosing the best backpacks for traveling can be more important than any other choice.

Why? Well, unlike a suitcase, you’ll be carrying a quality travel backpack on your body — sometimes for hours and hours. If it’s ill-fitting or uncomfortable, you’re in for a long trip.

For my first backpacking trip just after college, I just borrowed a friend’s backpack. “How much difference would it make, anyway?” I thought.

A huge difference, it turned out.

I borrowed a huge outer-frame backpack designed for camping. I needed a backpack for Europe.

It was enormous and uncomfortable (the owner was much shorter than me). My neck was constantly sore and I remember knocking over things (and occasionally people) all the time as I attempted to navigate stores and trains while backpacking Europe.

Bad, bad idea.

Good Travel Backpacks = Happy Travelers

If you’re planning to do any kind of travel with a backpack, I strongly urge you to invest in a quality backpack that fits your body and mode of travel. You’ll be glad you did. This goes double if you’re going backpacking with kids. Being able to move smoothly and comfortably with a backpack on will make family backpacking even better.

So what are the best backpacks for travel? Below we list up some of the best travel backpacks we’ve used, seen and heard about. Some of these are the best backpacks for women. Others are quality travel backpacks for men. Some are carry on backpacks for air travel, while others are also good hiking backpacks.

But first, let’s discuss what makes the best backpacks worthy of your money.

Other Travel Gear

What is the Best Travel Backpack?

You may be looking to buy the best travel backpack for hot and humid Southeast Asia. Others may be looking for travel backpacks for Europe. Are you looking for small backpacks for women? Do you need a backpack for international travel?

Perhaps you need both the best carry on backpack and a great best travel daypack, as well. Certain backpacks may fit your travel style better than others, but all of the below criteria should be considered.

Weight and Volume

Whatever you’re looking for, weight and volume are always essential in the best backpacks for travel. However, there are more aspects to consider. Just because a pack is light and holds a lot doesn’t make it’s one of the best backpacks for traveling.

Below I detail many of the aspects to consider when choosing the best backpacks for travel. For example, if someone looking for the best laptop backpacks or the best carry-on sized backpacks may need different features than someone looking for travel backpacks for Europe or some other backpack for international travel.

Size & Weight Matter

The best backpack brands address all of these features, but there is always a give-and-take in features and price. For example, the best rolling backpacks might be heavier and less form-fitting, while the best laptop backpacks for digital nomads might be too small or compartmentalized for the typical family backpacker. The best backpacks for men aren’t always the best backpacks for women, and the best hiking backpacks are not the best backpacks for air travel. The best travel backpacks for Europe aren’t always the best backpacks for Southeast Asia, and the best backpacks for air travel are…well, you get the idea.

More importantly, the best travel backpack for you may not be the best travel backpack for someone else — no matter who you are or where you’re going.

Consider the best travel backpack features below and determine what would make the best travel backpack for you.

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Size and Shape

When searching for the best travel backpacks for, consider the size and ergonomics of your bag first. You’ll be lugging this thing around for a while. Remember that.

At first, many people think about getting the largest backpack they can stand so they can carry more. If this is you, then I beg you to reconsider. We’re not minimalists by any stretch, but we can tell you that HUGE backpacks and kids aren’t an ideal mix.

Comfort is essential when choosing a good travel backpack. The best travel backpacks fit your form ergonomically. Also, make sure that the pack fits your body size. Men’s travel backpacks and women’s travel backpacks are designed differently, and for good reason: so they’ll fit better. The best backpacks for men and the best backpacks for women will be crafted to your back, chest, and hips, and will often have ways to customize the fit even further.

One of the most important backpack features is adjustable straps to ensure that they fit your shoulders and spine well. More on that later.

Frame

There are three main types of backpacks for travel: internal frame, external frame, and those without a frame at all. For most types of family travel, I believe that the best backpacks are internal frame backpacks. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of backpack.

Internal Frame (Recommended)

In my opinion, internal frame backpacks are the most versatile and least cumbersome way to carry a lot across varied terrain. You can deftly manage airports, mountain trails, subway cars and crowded festivals with a good internal frame backpack.

Internal frame backpacks form to your body so that you can carry more weight and maintain balance. You can adjust the weight to your center of gravity much easier than with external frame backpacks or with frameless backpacks.

I usually consider the internal frame design as the best travel backpacks Europe and the best backpacks for backpacking through Southeast Asia. Why? It’s because you will be navigating small, cramped spaces such as markets, train cars, and crowded festivals more in those areas. This can be very difficult with an outer-frame backpack.

Internal Frame Drawback

One drawback worth mentioning is less ventilation. Because of their body-forming design, internal frame backpacks often lay close to the skin, which can mean your back and shoulders get really sweaty. This can make a significant impact when backpacking Southeast Asia or other hot and humid places. Internal frame backpacks also often require a few more steps to put on, adjust, and secure.

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External Frame

Are you planning on lots of outdoor travel or carrying camping equipment? You could consider an external frame backpack. They often make your size considerably taller and wider. This is often ok on the trail, but a challenge in crowded surroundings. External frame backpacks give campers more versatility to carry larger loads away from their skin but can be a clumsy nightmare in crowded shops and subways.

No Frame

Frameless backpacks are often lighter and provide more agility in travel situations. However, they can be harder to carry for long distances. They also offer less balance if you’re moving over uneven terrain. The weight of your stuff can shift if you’re moving fast or bending over quickly. Both can throw you off or cause strain in your neck and shoulders.

Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks: Find The Best Backpacks for Travel

Straps

When considering the best backpacks for travel, look for padded shoulder straps with two places to adjust for neck and shoulder comfort. I also recommend backpacks that secure the pack at the hips and across the chest. A quality backpack for travel forms to your body as much as possible. You also want to redistribute the weight of the backpack to your legs when and where you can. Trust me.

Wider = Better

For me, when it comes to a backpack’s shoulder and hip straps, thicker is almost always better. Narrow straps become uncomfortable faster. The downside to thick straps is less airflow to your skin. Thick straps also are more difficult to stow away, which can be a great backpack feature. This is especially important if you’re looking at the best carry on backpacks, laptop backpacks or any other business backpack that needs to look neat in front of clients. However, for me, wide backpack straps are worth it to be comfortable and balanced.

Many of the best backpacks for travel also come designed with a ventilation area between your back and the pack itself. This makes them the best backpacks for backpacking Europe in the summer or Southeast Asia and other hot places because it will save you gallons of perspiration.

Internal Compression Straps

The best travel backpacks use internal compression straps to hold everything in place. Good travel backpacks also often have external compression straps that squeeze everything into an even more compact shape. With your stuff compressed and secure, you have better weight distribution, which increases your balance and agility when running down a sidewalk or airport concourse.

Another excellent backpack feature that you find in many of the best backpacks for travel is hide-away straps. Storing loose straps makes for much smoother travel, whether it’s a check-in backpack or a carry-on backpack. Loose straps can catch on people, on armrests, in luggage carousels and other things. Tucking them away keeps that from happening.

Pockets & Compartments

Whether you’re looking at the best carry on backpacks or the best backpacks for Europe, versatility is also something to consider. The best backpacks for travel have pocket arrangements that keep you organized. More pockets aren’t always better. Indeed, many backpack pockets are too big, too small or too specialized to be useful for everyone.

That said, think about what you need and where it might put it in your travel backpack. Will you be carrying a laptop? Where will it go? If you’re going somewhere hot, where will you place a water bottle? What kind of personal items and small items will you need to reach easily? Whether you’re looking for the best backpacks for men or the best backpacks for women, think about what you’ll carry and your particular packing style when you consider backpack pockets.

No Ideal Compartment Layout

Most of the best backpacks for travel have a variety of compartment and pocket designs. Everyone has different needs so there isn’t one perfect storage strategy. The best backpacks for backpacking Southeast Asia may be different than the best rolling backpacks for backpacking Europe.

Some people want lots of pockets to store everything. Others want fewer pockets and use packing cubes or other methods to organize.

An increasingly popular element of the best travel backpacks is the detachable daypack. This all-in-one approach can be a huge space saver, but make sure that the daypack size and design are something you’ll actually enjoy using.

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Zippers

This may sound trite, but sturdy zippers make a huge difference. The best backpacks for traveling have quality zippers that work smoothly even under pressure or strain. They’re the difference between your stuff staying in the pack or spilling out onto the street.

Note the size of the holes in the zipper handles. Can you fit a small lock through these holes if you want to secure that space? Is a lock included? Some of the best travel backpacks for men and women come with locks or at least have lockable zippers.

Handles, Wheels & Mobility

A well-placed handle is also a very nice thing. Some of the best travel backpacks aren’t used as a backpack at all. After all, these things can get heavy and cumbersome. If it’s not on your back, a  large, poorly designed travel backpack can be hard to carry with one or even two hands.

A side handle means that you can hold it like a briefcase or guitar case. Top and bottom handles mean that you can pull it up from below or pull it out of an overhead spot.

Are Backpacks with Wheels for You?

Many of our previous guess on the Epic Education Radio Podcast praise the wheeled convertible backpacks. It’s no surprise that they’re popular. Some of the best backpack brands like Osprey have been dedicating a lot of their design and R&D departments into crafting backpacks that can be wheeled around as well. I’ve noticed these to be very popular with female backpackers, but whether you’re looking at the best backpacks for women or men, a wheeled backpack can be a huge help.

After all, they take all the strain off your back as you roll them through airports, down sidewalks, and through hotel lobbies. In fact, if you’re traveling in the developed world, you may use the rolling feature more than the backpack straps. This can make them one of the best travel backpacks for Europe, the United States and other places the wheels can roll freely.

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Durability

The best backpack for traveling must be rugged. Durability is an essential backpack feature. No matter where you go, you will put your baggage through a variety of stress tests. It’s best to know that it can be thrown around and won’t rip, tear or burst open. That goes double for backpack straps, handles, zippers, and wheels for the best rolling backpacks.

Most of the best backpacks for travel are water resistant. Water should roll off a backpack — at least at first. It should not soak in immediately. Bags made with 600D Polyester or similar are a good choice, but not everything uses that sturdy, waterproof material.

Some of the best travel backpacks also come with a rain shell. We’ve never used these personally, but I know a lot of people do. Think carefully about where you’re going and how much you’ll need a rain shell.

Storage & Organization

When you’re carrying everything you own for weeks or months at a time, you want a travel backpack that gives you access to what you want, when you want it. The best backpacks for travel help you keep your stuff organized.

Many of the best travel backpacks are top-loading. That said, many people prefer the side-loading type like a duffel bag or suitcase. Side-loading backpacks allow you to see almost all of your stuff at once. Top-loading bags don’t. If you choose a top-loading bag, make sure that it has zipper access to the bottom half.

You want this access. Nothing is worse than finishing packing a top-loading backpack only to realize that you need something from the very bottom. And realizing you now have to repack all over again. The best top-loading backpacks have a u-shaped zipper that allows you to access the bottom of the pack without digging down to it from the top.

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Best Travel Backpacks for Men and Women

We begin with the best travel backpacks for men and women. I know it’s essential to travel light as possible, but not all of us are carry-on only. We’ve been a nomadic family since 2013, and we still have check-in luggage. Below five backpacks for women and men that are very popular among travelers.

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Check-in
The Osprey Farpoint starts off our list of the best travel backpacks for men and women . This travel backpack opens like a suitcase. The hip strap has plenty of padding, and the straps all tuck away easily into specially designed flaps. This makes carrying and storage much easier. Epic Education Radio guests Sam and Nick Johnson enjoyed traveling with a 70L of Osprey Farpoint during their RTW travel.

The Osprey Farpoint also has a daypack attachment, which means one less piece of luggage to buy and carry around. Inside the daypack is a padded laptop sleeve that fits a 13″ MBA.

For those of you who want added backpack features, you should know that there are no zipper locks on the daypack. Also, no side pockets on the hip straps or the pack’s exterior, and the rain cover is sold separately.

Osprey Farpoint Backpacks PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Well-padded and very comfortable
  • Stow-away straps

Cons:

  • No zipper locks
  • No external pockets or pocket on hip belt
  • Rain cover an additional expense

Check Price: Osprey Farpoint 55L Travel Backpack

Osprey Farpoint 70L Travel Backpack

Osprey Porter 65 Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Check in
The Osprey Porter 65 has plenty of space and compartments for almost any type of traveler. However, it still looks trim compared to similarly sized packs. It easily qualifies as one of the best travel backpacks for men or women. Epic Education Radion guests Matt and Julie Urbanski travel with two Osprey Porter backpacks as they slow-travel the world with a toddler.

This backpack opens like a duffel bag, which gives you access to all your things quickly. The semi-circular zipper design opens the bag like a big mouth.

The straps of the Osprey Porter 65 can be completely hidden, and the bag itself is remarkably light. Less than 4lb (1.8kg)! That makes it the lightest backpacks for travel in its class.

Most of the best backpacks for travel have an external compression system, and the Osprey Porter 65 is no different. However, this backpack uses wider straps to keep everything secure. It also offers a way to attach something to the outside of the pack while walking, such as sarong, jacket or shoes that are too muddy to go in the pack.

There are also “D-ring” external clips that allow you to attach other travel accessories to the outside.

Osprey Porter 65 Backpacks PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Plenty of space
  • One of the lightest backpack in its class
  • Easy access to everything

Cons:

  • No water bottle pockets

Check Price: Osprey Porter 65 Backpack

Deuter Transit 65 Travel Backpack Review

Deuter Transit 65 Travel Backpack: Best Travel Backpacks
Deuter Transit 65, a large internal frame travel backpack, also has a clamshell design. Its curved zipper opens to show all the interior at one time.

All but the bottom compartment, actually. This is intentionally separated so that you have a place for wet clothes and dirty sandals — a common occurrence on the road. This feature makes it one of the best backpacks for women and men in its class.

Compression straps keep everything in its place. They also improve your weight distribution, as well as let that wet swimsuit dangle out as it dries. There aren’t any side pockets for water bottles.

Straps are padded and ergonomically designed for comfort. Expect breathable foam and a solid hip strap. You can also switch to a shoulder strap or put the straps away completely. Extra handles allow you to carry the pack from the top and the side, as well. Very useful at check-in at airports.

There’s a small front pocket for easy access while the pack is on your back, and the daypack is very easy to attach and detach. However, the daypack may not be big enough for some traveler’s demands, and it can be a challenge to attach when the main pack is stuffed to capacity.

Deuter Transit 65 Backpacks PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Good side carry handles
  • Separate component for wet & dirty clothes/shoes
  • Front pocket for access to smaller items

Cons:

  • Detachable daypack too small for some travelers
  • Can be hard to attach the daypack when the travel backpack is filled to capacity

Check Price: Deuter Transit 65 Travel Pack Backpack

Osprey Waypoint Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Check in
Yes, Osprey again. Osprey makes some of the best travel backpacks for women and men. They are one of the best travel backpack brands. The Osprey Waypoint Travel Backpack comes in a 65-liter and 85-liter version with a small, medium and large adjustments to body size. That includes a great zip-off 15-liter daypack for day trips and carry-on bags. Take the day pack off and readjust the volume accordingly. Side pockets are big enough to hold water bottles.

The hip belt is adequately padded and comfortable, and all the straps can be zipped away when needed. Carry handles on the top and side allow you to carry or move it with one hand.

Lay the bag down and it opens like a suitcase with a curved zipper design, making it easy to pack or organize your things. Zippers are lockable for better security. Internal compression straps keep everything together, and there’s a second set on the exterior, too.

Three zippered pockets line the inside, with mesh storage in the lid.

There’s also one of those mesh-lined ventilation systems for your back. Getting some airflow back there can be really nice in tropical climates, making this one of the best backpacks for Europe in the summer or for backpacking Southeast Asia any time of year.

A top pocket gives you access to crucial everyday items quickly. There’s a secret internal pocket lets you keep valuables hidden deep within.

At 5 pounds 10 ounces (2.56 kilos), it’s a little on the heavy side. Another factor to consider is the daypack size. While small and lightweight, it’s not big enough for a laptop and DSLR camera, but it fits a tablet and smaller electronics nicely.

Osprey Waypoint Travel Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable and adjustable for a pack this size
  • Good ventilation
  • Water bottle pockets!

Cons:

  • A little heavy
  • Daypack too small for many travelers

Check Price: Osprey Waypoint Travel Backpack

Kelty Redwing 50 Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpack for Europe
What I like most about the Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack is that there are several outer pockets to organize travel items. You’ll find two side pockets, one front pocket, and another pocket on the top.

The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack has unique U-zipper opening for both top loading and panel loading. For example, keep the front part of the backpack clipped and you can open it like a regular top loading backpack. However, if you unclip the front part of the pack, the Kelty Redwing will open like panel loading. Versatility like this makes it one of the best backpacks for women.

Another feature the Kelty Redwing offers is a laptop sleeve that can also serve as a hydration pocket as well (not at the same time, of course). Knowing this, keep in mind that the hydration reservoir is sold separately.

The back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt are all padded well with good ventilation thanks to its mesh material. Ventilation is a crucial feature of the best backpacks for Southeast Asia because the region’s heat and humidity can be oppressive.

Kelty Redwing 50 Travel Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Many pockets for better organization
  • Well padded back panel, shoulder straps and hip belt with good ventilation

Cons:

  • No compression strap inside
  • Rain cover is not included

Check Price: Kelty Redwing 50 Travel Backpack

Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpacks with wheels
As I mentioned earlier, Osprey is one of the best travel backpack brands with our podcast guests and many travel bloggers. The Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Backpack is the most mentioned and recommended travel backpacks with wheels. The Clark family mentioned on the Epic Education Radio podcast that they traveled around the world with two Osprey Sojourn wheeled backpacks for their two gap year travel.

Backpacks get heavy, and having the ability to roll them instead of carrying them is a huge benefit. If you’re going off-road for most of your travel, maybe you won’t need the wheeled feature, but for many of travelers I’ve talked to, this is one of the best travel backpacks with wheels on the market. Whether you’re looking for the best backpacks for women or men, having backpacks with wheels is a great option.

When you travel, you notice you’ll be spending time walking in concourses, on sidewalks, and through buildings. For these occasions, don’t carry it all. Roll it. When you hit stairs or gravel roads, you can quickly pull out the backpack straps and carry it. It may not be as comfortable or ergonomically designed as some interior frame backpacks, but you’ll carry it a lot less often.

The Osprey series look great, but they are extremely rugged. The wheels, the zippers, and the material — all tough, but work smoothly. The wheels roll like a dream, but remember the size of the pack when turning a corner quickly!

The Osprey Sojourn comes in an 80-liter and 60-liter size. Both have two main components that run lengthwise. Inside are a variety of other zippered areas to store toiletries, electronics, dirty clothes, books or anything else. Interior mesh pockets keep things separate. Use packing cubes for the rest.

Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Huge: carries a lot in 80L or 60L sizes
  • Saves lots of energy/back strain by pulling

Cons:

  • Not as ergonomically designed as packs made for wearing 24-7
  • Can overturn if running around a corner while pulling it

Check Price: Osprey Sojourn Backpack with Wheels 80L

Check Price: Osprey Sojourn Backpack with Wheels 60L

Best Travel Backpacks for Women

While many of the best backpacks are made for both men and women, we all know that women’s bodies are built differently from men’s.  Thankfully, some companies decided to create specialized travel backpacks for women. Most features you’ll find in the best travel backpack for women are same as travel backpacks for men as well. Think volume, weight, frame, straps, and so on.

That said, travel backpacks for women, are made with a woman’s body in mind. In general, that means shorter torsos, rounder hips, and narrower shoulder widths. These are more about body types than anything else, so if you’re a woman with broad shoulders and a longer, lankier frame, you might want to stick to unisex backpacks or the best backpacks for men. By the same token, if you’re a male with a short torso and narrow shoulders, these best backpacks for women might be worth looking at. Aside from these measurements, they’re pretty much the same otherwise. No “feminine” or “masculine” colors or designs to worry about.

The most important point here is to find a travel backpack that fits your body type.

Osprey Fairview 55L Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpack for Women

The Osprey Fairview comes in first on our list of the best backpacks for women. It opens wide for easy access to the main compartment. Its zipper is lockable so your travel items remain safely. Another feature you may like is the two internal compression straps that allow you to pack in one more travel clothes snuggly.

Another great travel backpack feature is the zip-off daypack. This offers a nice padded area for your laptop with a lockable zipper in the main compartment that secures your personal belongings. As the Osprey Fairview is a travel backpack designed for women, it’d also fit well for anyone with a shorter torso and narrower shoulders.

The shoulder straps and hip belt can be easily stowed away. This makes it easy to check in at the airport without worrying about straps or clips getting broken.

The capacity of 55 liters is including the zip-off daypack. So if you are a pack rat like us, you may want to consider a larger size, such as of Osprey Fairview 70 Travel Backpack for women.

Pros:

  • Designed to fit for women’s body
  • Lockable zippers for both main compartment and zip-off daypack (but lock not included)

Cons:

  • No hip belt for the zip-off daypack
  • Rain cover not included

Check Price: Osprey Fairview 55 Travel Backpack for Women

Check Price: Osprey Fairview 70 Travel Backpack for Women

Deuter Traveller 60+10 SL Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpack for Women

The Deuter Traveller is a travel backpack for women designed by women. The main compartment has a capacity of 60L and opens fully like a suitcase with U-shaped zipper. This makes it easy to pack and unpack. Want to squeeze in a little more? It can expand another 10L. In addition, the zip-off daypack gives you another 15L for your personal items.

Inside the main compartment, there’s a zipped divider if you want to split the space. Five mesh pockets inside the backpack help you keep everything organized.

When you check in for your flight, the straps and hip belt are stowable. This helps prevent straps being town or clips being broken in transit.

Pros:

  • Three sturdy side handles to carry whichever the way you want
  • Several mesh pockets and a zipped divider in the main compartment to organize your belongings

Cons:

  • No padding in the zip-off daypack for laptops
  • Rain cover not included

Check Price: Deuter Traveller 60+10 SL Travel backpack for Women

Best Travel Backpacks for Europe, Asia, and South America

When backpacking in Europe, Asia, and South America on a budget, you will be using a lot of public transportation with local commuters. You’ll also be walking through narrow crowded streets, or flying one of those LCC (low-cost carriers) airlines such as Ryan Air that charge extra (and occasionally exorbitant) fees for check-in luggage.

Packing light is always recommended wherever you travel. When you plan on backpacking in Europe, Asia, and South America, it’s best to travel with backpacks no larger than 50L. Why? Because it’s much easier to navigate through trains, buses, and crowded streets. It’s also much easier getting in and out of taxis. Trust me.

What’s more, few places in the world have as many elevators and escalators as North America. If you’re backpacking in Europe, South America or Southeast Asia, you’ll be taking the stairs a lot more than you might expect. When your room or your Airbnb is on a 6th-floor walk-up, you’ll be very happy that you’re packing light.

Packing light and traveling with some of the smaller backpacks for Europe and elsewhere has an additional benefit. When you travel carry-on only, you get in and out of airports so much faster.

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack Review

Best Backpacks for Europe

The Osprey Porter 46 is one of the best backpacks for Europe and beyond. It’s small enough to travel as a carry on for most airlines including low-cost carriers like Ryan Air (if you don’t overfill it, that is). It’s also big enough to carry a good amount of your travel items and possibly a few souvenirs. Our podcast guests, Bronwyn Leeks, the Tatransky family and Karen King all used (or are presently using) Osprey Porter 46L travel backpacks for family travel.

This is a front loader, which makes packing and unpacking easier. What’s more, it compresses nicely with external straps from padded sidewalls. With a padded lockable zip sleeve for your laptop, you can quickly access your device (up to 15″) at security or while traveling.

The shoulder strap and hip belt can be easily stored away, which makes it easy to put the backpack into an overhead bin without worrying about damaging the clips.

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Lockable padded sleeve for laptops
  • Hip belt and shoulder straps can be zipped up

Cons:

  • No rain cover included

Check Price: Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

Kelty Redwing 44 Travel Backpack Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry On
This lightweight backpack from Kelty has a fixed suspension system but good lumbar support. Thick straps and a hip stabilizer belt help redistribute the weight away from your shoulders. So does the sternum strap. Two-time podcast guest Sharon Gourlay used a Kelty Redwing backpack for Europe travel and beyond.

It’s water resistant material is sturdy. Its mesh strap design is breathable and more comfortable than conventional webbing. The back also has good ventilation so your back doesn’t get as sweaty. If you’re getting hot, two external pockets can hold water bottles.

Need more water? The Redwing can hold a hydration pack as well.

This can be a top-loading or front-loading pack, with compression straps to keep everything in place.

The Redwing weighs only two pounds, yet holds up to 44liters, with three external zippered pockets. This is considered one of the best carry-on backpacks for travel.

Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack PROs & CONs
Pros:

  • Super light, yet versatile
  • Hydration options (water bottle & hydration pack pockets)
  • Good ventilation

Cons:

  • No hip belt pockets, rain cover or lockable zippers

Check Price:  Kelty Redwing 44 Travel Backpack

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry On

For those who travel light, here are our best carry-on backpacks for travel. These backpacks rarely leave your side, so choosing the best backpack for air travel (and the best backpack for international travel) can be a very important decision.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack for Carry On Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry on
The Tortuga Outbreaker is one of the best backpacks for air travel and a great carry-on backpack because it’s designed for a smooth trip through airport customs. It’s a great travel backpack for digital nomads and anyone traveling with laptops and other electronics. It has a great laptop sleeve that easily comes out of the back for easy inspection at the airport.

The suitcase-style opening means you can access everything quickly.

Shoulder straps and the hip belt are comfortable and well-padded. The new suspension system allows you to adjust the backpack to your torso length.

The hip belt is adjustable so that you can redistribute the pack weight to your legs. It also has zippered pockets for quick access to smaller things like tickets, coins, and devices. Don’t want the hip belt? It comes off.

A rugged handle on the top of the backpack means it’s easy to carry with one hand.

The zippers are strong and water resistant, while the fabric is super sturdy and waterproof, making it an excellent backpack for remote workers concerned about their laptop.

Compared to some similarly-sized packs, the Outbreaker is a bit heavy: 4.6 lbs (2.15 kg) for the 35L version and 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg) for the 45L. It’s possible that this is due to zipper weight, as this bag is more compartmentalized than some others. One other disadvantage is no pocket to tuck away the shoulder straps.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Very comfortable & customizable straps, handles, and hip belt
  • Good protection against the elements

Cons:

  • Heavier than other packs in its class
  • Shoulder straps not stowable

Check Price: Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack for Carry On

Osprey Daylite Backpack for Carry On Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry on
Osprey Daylite Backpack is an excellent choice for the best carry-on backpack or the best day pack for travelers. Its narrow, form-fitting shape has lots of internal pockets, making it one of the best travel backpacks for Europe and elsewhere.

In fact, the pocket design is perfect for hydration packs, as well, making it one of the best travel backpacks for Europe, Southeast Asia and other hot and humid destinations. All this and it weighs only one pound.

Shoulder straps can be stowed away for easy hand-carrying.

All Osprey packs are sturdy and long-lasting. If needed, however, Osprey has an impressive guarantee. The guarantee alone makes Osprey one of the best backpack brands.

Osprey Daylite Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Very lightweight
  • Super-comfortable straps. A sternum strap also included — rare for this size of travel backpack

Cons:

  • Only tablets or the smallest of laptops can fit inside
  • Water bottle pockets slightly too small for some water bottles

Check the price: Osprey Daylite Backpack for Carry On

Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack for Carry On Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry on
Another great pack from the Osprey family — one of the best travel backpack brands. Osprey Farpoint 40L has a hip belt, a laptop compartment, and stowable straps. Epic Education Radio guest Katrisha Stuler told us that she loved her Farpoint 40L while traveling Latin America. It’s one of the best backpacks for women as well.

This is a front-loading style bag with front compression straps to keep everything in place.

It has lockable zippers and sturdy carry handles on the top and side. There are padded sleeves for both a laptop and a tablet, making this one of the best travel backpacks for digital nomads and remote workers.

The Farpoint series also have adjustable suspension systems and varied sizes for different body types. Take advantage of this if you’re shorter or taller than average.

One disadvantage is that there is no rain cover included.

Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Stowable straps & lockable zippers
  • Good laptop backpack alternative
  • Adjustable support

Cons:

  • Rain cover costs extra

Check Price: Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack for Carry On

High Sierra Access Backpack for Carry On Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Carry on
For those who like to stay organized, the High Sierra Access Backpack is one of the best travel backpacks for carry-on. The High Sierra Access Backpack has loads of specialized pockets, including specialized cushioned sleeves for both a tablet and a laptop up to 17”.

For carrying comfort, you get a sternum strap, padded shoulder straps and suspension, and a padded back panel that allows air in. There’s also a waist belt to redistribute weight, and it packs away when you don’t need it.

But the real benefit here is all the specialized compartments. There is a side compartment and a deep mesh pocket for bottles. There is a mesh pouch on the strap for small items like cards, keys, and batteries. The accessory compartment keeps phones, chargers and other small electronics. Keeping all your gear dry is a tuck-away rain cover.

High Sierra Access Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Easy access to laptops & tablets
  • Specialized pockets for almost every traveler’s needs
  • Comfortable and versatile fit

Cons:

  • If you overpack or use heavily, the zipper may give up sooner than expected

Check Price: High Sierra Access Backpack for Carry On

How to Choose the Best Backpacks for Laptops

Okay, so far we’ve covered the best check-in backpacks and the top carry on backpacks for travel. Many of these will cover your needs, but some people, such as digital nomads and remote workers, will want to know about the best backpacks for laptops. For these travelers, storage for laptops and other electronics is very important. So what are the best laptop backpacks?

Before looking at top 5 best laptop backpacks, let’s talk about what are the essential backpack features for the best backpacks for remote workers and digital nomad types. What makes the best laptop backpacks of 2017 so good? Consider the quality of the design, the material, and the features to find out.

Laptop Sleeve

Most laptop backpacks in 2017 have a laptop sleeve, but the best laptop bags take the sleeve design seriously. You should too.

Different sleeves fit different laptops. Make sure that your backpack choice is designed for your laptop size. If the pocket is too big, then your most precious piece of equipment will be bouncing around too much.

If you’re flying a lot, you may want to consider how you’ll access your laptop when going through airport security. You usually have to take your laptop out for the X-ray machine anyway. A removable laptop sleeve really comes in handy here, but only if it slides in and out easily — even if the bag is fully packed. Another solution is a pack that opens so the laptop can be visible to the TSA without pulling it all the way out.

Pockets and Accessory Storage

Think about what you’ll be carrying with you and where you’ll be putting each item in the laptop backpack. Do you carry a lot of external hard drives? Where will they go? What about small zippered pockets for SD cards, camera batteries, and a stylus? Do you have a lot of wires? Should they have their own pocket or would a packing cube or accessory bag be better?

We always have a folder or two of papers that we want easy access to as well. So for me, I always want a sleeve or other place where they can slide them in and out easily.

Comfort

Make sure that the straps or harness system of your laptop backpack is secure and well-ventilated. This won’t be as heavy and the check-in backpacks for 2017 mentioned above, but it does weigh you down. It also probably contains the most expensive items you’ll be carrying around during your trip.

Security and Protection

What kind of padding does the pack have? And how much of it? Foam padding or compressed air are often what you’ll find in the best laptop backpacks of 2017. For any laptop backpack for travel you consider, think about what would happen if fell out of an overhead compartment. Horrible thing to imagine, I know, but worth thinking about before buying a poorly padded bag.

Protection From the Elements

Laptops and thunderstorms don’t mix. While none of the best backpacks for digital nomads are 100% waterproof, the level of water resistance is worth considering. This goes double if backpacking in Southeast Asia or any other place with a prominent and unpredictable rain.

Best Backpacks for Laptop

Osprey Flapjack Laptop Backpack Review (& Osprey Flapjill)

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop
This top-loading backpack has a large flap-over design (thus the name). The laptop sleeve holds all variety of 15″ laptops. The sleeve doesn’t come out, but it’s easy to access and is a bit higher on the side against your back for extra protection.

There’s also has extra padding on the bottom of the sleeve so that your laptop is protected even when the bag is set down hard. Once your laptop is secure, the interior still has plenty of space left for a tablet (in its own sleeve), other devices/accessories, an extra set of clothes, and some headphones.

Other pockets hold pens and smaller items, and a narrow, specially-designed pocket under the top handle is for easy access to passports, tickets, and other important items.

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop

The Flapjack (backpack for men) and Flapjill (backpack for women) use 900-denier polyester, which is rugged and about as water-resistant as it gets. The side pocket holds large water bottles easily and securely, while the other side has a zippered sleeve ideal for a small tripod or monopod. A place for a water bottle and a monopod?  This is why it’s one of my picks for best backpack for travel.

Straps aren’t overly padded, but breathable, and there’s a sternum strap and waist strap if you want. For this size of laptop backpack, however, you can remove the waist strap.

If you’re looking for the best laptop backpacks for women and men, these are some of the best.

Osprey Flapjack Laptop Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Comfortable, breathable straps
  • Lots of room for a bag this size

Cons:

  • No removable laptop sleeve

Check Price: Osprey Flapjack Laptop Backpack for Men

Check Price: Osprey Flapjill Laptop Backpack for Women

Targus Drifter II Backpack for Laptop Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop
This rugged laptop backpack comes in versions that 16″ and 17″ laptops (your 15″ MacBook would be ok in the smaller one of these).

The padded straps and back padding work together to absorb the weight and shock of your gear, and there are plenty of specialized zippered pockets and compartments for your earbuds, camera, and accessories. There’s even a secret compartment for passports, money and other valuables. There are also specialized storage options for files, water bottles, and your smartphone.

The bottom of the case is water resistant, so you can set it down without immediate worry of getting the interior wet. The top handle is molded to be easy to pick up and carry with one hand.

Targus Drifter II Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Lots of zippered storage and 2 water bottle pockets
  • Good handles and straps
  • Water-resistant base you can sit on wet surfaces

Cons:

  • Laptop sleeve slightly larger than necessary

Check Price: Targus Drifter II Backpack for Laptop

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack for Laptop Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop
One of the best features of this great laptop backpack is its airport-friendly design. Its laptop compartment doesn’t come out, but you can zip down the sides of the pack and lay it on the x-ray without even taking it from the pack. This design makes it ideal for any size laptop.

I love the exterior design: two large side pockets *and* two plastic pockets for water bottles. There’s also a built-in carabiner and additional loops for those of us who like to hook stuff to the outside.

The U-shape zipper on the outside opens to plenty more storage, including a media pocket at the top for storing devices and plugging in headphones.

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Large interior pockets
  • Unique Laptop sleeve for fast airport security checks

Cons:

  • Close to 3 pounds, so slightly on the heavy side

Check Price: SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack for Laptop

Incase EO Travel Backpack for Laptop Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop
This stylish entry to the best laptop backpacks makes the list for a number of reasons. Few professional-looking laptop bags prioritize ergonomics or multi-functionality, but the Incase EO travel backpack does both.

First of all, it can expand its size by 30% to fit in more stuff, which can be handy when you need to carry a bit more books, souvenirs or warm-weather clothing. Plenty of zippers and mesh pockets for storage inside.

Like the SwissGear bag mentioned above, the Incase EO has the great zip-open laptop compartment for airport security. Simply unzip, open the compartment and lay the bag down flat through the scanner. Zip it back up and you’re on your way. If you’re like me and would like to shave a minute or two off your airport screening time, this easily makes it one of the best laptop backpacks for travel.

There are compression straps to keep everything secure, and sturdy top and side handles for carrying the bag with one hand.

Incase EO Travel Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • Coolest-looking pack
  • Expandable storage
  • Zip-open laptop compartment for airport security

Cons:

  • Backpack straps aren’t stowable

Check Price: Incase EO Travel Backpack for Laptop

Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack for Laptop Review

Best Travel Backpacks for Laptop
When it comes to the best travel backpacks with security features, few companies do as well as Pacsafe. If you’re heading into parts of the world where pickpockets, slashers, and other dubious thievery is common, then this is the best laptop backpack for you.

Pacsafe’s exomesh material is designed to be slash-proof, and their zippers can all be locked quickly and discretely. The webbing is built to withstand cutting, and the bag also works well with Pacsafe’s popular portable safes, which can be easily locked to any fixed object. Now you can sleep more soundly on a train or other common spot for theft. TSA approved locks are included, and an interior pocket can be locked on its own.

The bag exterior has two mesh side pockets that can hold umbrellas, monopods or water bottles and the rain cover is included. The bag has padded shoulder straps and a waist belt that can be removed.

Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack PROs & CONs

Pros:

  • The most durable and secure bag on the market

Cons:

  • Slightly heavier and less water protection

Check Price: Pacsafe Venturesafe X-30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack for Laptop

What’s Your Choice of the Best Travel Backpacks?

We live in a great time for travel equipment. These are just a few of the best travel backpacks for backpacking in Southeast Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

We hope this list of the best travel backpacks helps you select the best backpack for your travels. Whether you’re looking for the best small carry-on backpack or a huge backpack for backpacking Europe, we aim to help. Which of the best travel backpacks would you choose? What are your experiences with the best travel backpacks for men or the best travel backpacks for women? Tell us in the comments!

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Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks: Find The Best Backpacks for Check-in, Carry On, Laptops and More
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best travel backpacks, the best check-in backpacks for travel, the best carry on backpacks, the best backpacks for men, the best backpacks for women, the best backpacks for Europe and the best backpacks for laptops.

Comments

  1. That’s is one long but quite informative post. Kudos

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