Best Travel Backpacks in 2021
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, a short weekender or simply thinking about heading out on the open road, picking the right travel backpack can make – or break – your trip. Simply put, pared-back traveling doesn’t have to mean two pairs of underpants, a clean T and a toothbrush squashed into an old-school haversack. Neither does it mean wearing most of your clothes when trying to check in your hand luggage at the airport. And gone are the days of towering rucksacks overstuffed with everything you don’t need when all you’re planning is a short trip away.
You can get a variety of lightweight backpacks to match your travel plans that are practical, comfortable, eat up all your gear…. oh, and are ruggedly good-looking to boot. To help get your short break or dream trip underway, we’ve scoured the internet to bring you what we think are the best travel backpacks currently on the market.
The Best Travel Backpack
Pack up all your gear and then some with this roomy, full features smart backpack ideally suited for those regularly on the go for work, or pleasure. The ScanSmart Laptop Backpack has been crafted from durable 1200D polyester fabric complete with rugged oversize zippers, adjustable compression straps and a comfortable back panel so you can rest assured it will serve you for years to come. What’s more, you can make use of ScanSmart lay-flat technology for handy in case TSA scanning. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Weather resistant polyester
Scan-smart lay-flat technology
Organized and spacious
- Model1900 ScanSmart Backpack
- Weight3.25 pounds
- Dimensions18.5 x 13 x 9 inches
- Volume31 litres
The Farpoint 40 is the perfect weekend travel bag that can really step it up for a trip off the beaten track. Osprey doesn’t disappoint with this 40L pack, bringing its outdoor tech to an urban-cool rucksack that’s equally at home in the wilderness. Mesh back panels, dual compression straps and just enough attachment points to hook on extra gear, and the Farpoint 40 provides a sufficiently comfortable ride.
With a deceptively large inner space and lots of internal protection for your gadgets, the Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack is also small enough to use as a carry-on bag for plane travel. Throw in a stowaway system that can turn it into a super streamlined duffel and you’ll find navigating airport security and baggage reclaim a breeze.
Two grab handles for convenient lifting
Includes Safety whistle
Padded laptop and tablet sleeve
- Weight3 pounds
- Dimensions27 x 17 x 5 inches
The Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack is a great little space-saver that’s deceptive in size – you’ll be amazed how much you can stash away and still use it as a smart looking carry-on for short business trips and weekends away.
It revels in its role as the bag around town, transforming from travel savvy luggage to city-ready duffel in seconds, and in a choice of over 20 colors and colorways you’ll be able to either fit in with or stand out in a crowd. Lightweight and uncomplicated, the Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack is also surprisingly sturdy and will take you from arrivals lounge to business – or social – meeting in no time.
Concealable shoulder straps
Multiple carry options
Adjustable sternum and waist straps
Tie downs for the main compartment
- BrandHynes Eagle
- Weight2.31 pounds
- Dimensions20.1 x 13.4x 9.8 inches
For day-to-day use or a quick overnighter, then the Outlander offers exceptional value. This lighter than lightweight backpack is made from water-resistant nylon and at under ½ a pound, can work what seems like a miracle, packing away a supersized 33L of essentials.
Yes, it’s packable structure means it is a tad on the shapeless side and with its lack of internal padding you could probably feel toothbrush poking you in the back but where it loses in comfort it more than makes up with versatility. And when not escorting you and your gear on your casual travels, it can be packed away into an inner pocket, shrinking to the size of a ‘generously sized hamburger’. All for under $2 – what’s not to like? Be sure to also check out our list of the best Patagonia Backpacks for more great items like this.
Rip and water-resistant
Lightweight and comfortable
Includes carabiner clip
Multi-compartments for organizational storage.
- Weight0.46/0.5 Pounds
- Dimensions20L: Unfold: 16.92×10.63×7.08 inches; 33L: Unfold: 19x13x8.2 inches
- Volume20L or 33L
The Extra-Large TSA Friendly Travel Backpack is made from premium quality polyester material with nylon lining for extra durability. With a 45L capacity, it takes on even more than your average travel backpack sporting a convenient and functional design. It features a USB port and a headphone hole perfect for charging devices on the go and listening to music respectively. This works via the built-in charging port that works when a power bank is connected from the inside. Travelling can get exhausting and boring especially if you’re traveling alone. The headphone hole will help you relax during long transit periods listening to calming or upbeat music.
There’s also a large compartment that suitably accommodates laptops ranging from 13 to 17 inches in size. With up to 3 zippered pockets in the front, there’s enough space to store vital documents and accessories for easy access on demand. Gadgets, stationeries, wallets and the likes can be arranged neatly in the front pockets while the side pockets hold a needful water bottle. The main compartments fold flat for easy screening when passing check-in points with the laptop splayed in a convenient position that prevents slipping or any damage. Going back to the design, it’s well ventilated with the help of a mesh design included in strategic areas for maximum airflow. An ergonomic design ensures the bag properly contours your back preventing unnecessary strain or pain. For more handy travel companions, check out our guide to the best shoe bags for travel.
Breathable and comfortable design
USB port and earphone hole
- ModelNY 1019A BRD
- Weight2.3 pounds
Mere looking at this fashionable, spacious travel bag, there’s no denying its quality and durability. The WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack Canvas Duffel Bag is made with quality cotton canvas and leather trimmings delivering a high fashion outlook on every side. With 2 front zipper pockets, keep stationery materials, small devices and necessary documentation well organized for easy access. The larger pocket contains laptops that are sized from 12- 16 inches as well as tablets in a well-padded and conducive environment. There are breathable sleeves these devices can be slipped into for maximum protection and ventilation. The buckles at the side keep the bag in tight form, preventing it from sagging due to the contents inside.
For a convenient traveling experience, it can be worn as a backpack, carried in the palm with its side handle or hung across the shoulders with the long single strap. Unzip the zipper at the back to reveal the extra comfortable, well-padded shoulder straps that can be concealed when not in use. The rectangular shape works great for packing a good amount of load for the road, with generous interior capacity and pockets for wears and accessories. It comes in a small and large size giving you the choice to pick a suitable and convenient bag for hiking, road travels and air travels alike.
Comes in two sizes
Zippered back-side pocket to reveal or conceal shoulder straps
Included duffel shoulder strap
1 year warranty
- Weight3.09 pounds
Rather than carrying a separate laptop bag, why not have it fitted in your carry on? For your convenience, AmazonBasics Carry on Travel Backpack has a zippered laptop sleeve which will have you packing smart. The main compartment itself is fitted with a zippered mesh space as well as internal and external compression straps. To complement this, it is equipped with a front pocket as well as a front top pocket which is perfect for documents, travel liquids and the likes.
Additionally, there is a main upper packing area which is stocked with an organizer and accompanying expandable storage space which is well suited to be used as an ID pocket. The best part of this all is the padded shoulder pads which are equally detachable. These can be stowed away conveniently in the zippered rear pocket. It also comes with add-ons like a removable sternum strap, waist belt, and shoulder strap as well as strategically places exterior handles.
Made of sturdy polyester which is lightweight and extremely flexible
Fitted with a front and front top pocket for storing smaller items
It has detachable padded shoulder straps
Fitted with a full expansion zipper that provides 10% extra packing space
- Weight3.64 pounds
Life can get busy and sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be one day to the next. If this sounds like you, then a ‘grab and go’ travel bag like the Porter 46 Gear Hauler can make things a little bit easier. This bag is like a holdall version of Superman – by day an attractive but business-like duffel bag with everything you need to keep you super organized but when it’s time to head for the hills it transforms into a high-flying travel pack.
At a whopping 46L capacity but with its size still making it carry-on compatible, this is an extremely versatile lightweight backpack/duffel hybrid, with just enough features to take it beyond simple luggage and into short break traveler territory. So, if you’re an overnight or weekend traveler on the go, then this backpack could well be your superhero.
Carry on compatible
Front zippered pocket for books, travel documents and more
Stowaway shoulder harness and hip belt with adjustable sternum strap
Protected rear panel lockable zip laptop/tablet sleeve
Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack
- Weight3.4 pounds
- Dimensions23 x 15 x 13 inches
- Volume46L (also available in 30L & 65L)
Travelling often throws up unexpected opportunities and a two-in-one travel pack is the perfect companion for those looking to see where the road takes them. The Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack provides an adequate main bag offering 42L of space while it’s zip-off 13L ‘mini-me’ is a versatile day pack for when the urge to sightsee takes over. Together, they are handy enough to keep your overnight luggage and your day-to-day accessories separate, primed and ready for whatever the day may bring.
The Farpoint 55 is also durable and contains a wealth of travel-specific features you would expect from Osprey, including a lightweight frame, mesh panels and padded hip belt and harness, plenty of gear loops as well as lockable compartments and compression straps. A mid-price travel rucksack that gives you a lot for your money, with its comfort, quality and flexibility justifying the price tag. Love this product? Check out our review of the best North Face backpacks for our top picks.
Two packs in one – for main luggage and day trips
Made from durable 210D Nylon Mini Hex
Multiple side buckle straps for adjusting the height
Stowable hip belt and harness system
Removable pad straps for external gear attachment
- Weight3.9 pounds
- Dimensions28 x 14 x 4 inches
- VolumeTotal 55L (42L main pack + 13L daypack)
Clean-lined and robust, the Osprey Daylite is an ideal lightweight backpack for the time-limited adventurer as well as a smart choice for the man about town. The Daylite may have city slicker looks but it’s also tough enough for a day on the trail, with just enough features to keep you hiking happy.
Less is more with this day pack, and its well thought out design gives you ample room for essentials without over complicating things. Side mesh pockets securely hold water bottles and there’s also space for an optional water bladder to keep you hydrated when the heat is on. Internal clips to secure small items, breathable back panels and padded, easily adjustable straps all help to make the Daylite a comfortable ride. And when your travel plans demand more space, this versatile backpack has been designed to attach to several of Osprey’s larger travel packs to keep you on the road. For more great items like this check out our guide to best backpacking backpacks.
Use as a standalone pod or buddy up with another Osprey
Multi-function interior sleeve for either a water bladder or small laptop
Easy access main compartment with durable zipper
Front zippered pocket with mesh organizer
Mesh-covered foam back panel for comfort and ventilation
- Weight15 ounces
- Dimensions18 x 9 x 9 inches
For those looking for a lightweight backpack that’s no wimp when it comes to traveling off the beaten track, the team at Deuter have come up with a beauty. The Deuter ACT Lite does what its name implies – it may feel a bit of a lightweight, but this comfortable, versatile 65L is built like a tank and more than tough enough for hiking rough terrain.
Deuter has packed in a range of essential features to support the most hard core of travelers – there’s nothing frivolous or surplus to requirements here. Compression straps, specialized compartments for your hydration pack, hiking poles, wet gear and clothing, additional pockets all in the right places – there’s even a label with life-saving tips should you get into a sticky situation. And its design keeps the load weight distributed close to your body, meaning you can keep going in comfort, for as long as the road takes you.
Made from hardwearing and water-resistant polyester and nylon fabric
Advanced ergonomics to deliver optimal comfort and performance
Ultralight, flexible internal frame that follows your body movements
Innovative AirContact back system for maximum ventilation
Anatomically shaped hip wings ensure even load distribution
- ModelACT Lite 65
- Weight3.88 pounds
- Dimensions3.88 pounds
When it comes to travelling light, a rucksack/duffel hybrid is the way to go and the Osprey Porter 30 is shaping up to be one of the leaders of the (back)pack. With the comfort of a rucksack and the storage simplicity of a duffel, there’s everything to like about this stylish bag. When a duffel isn’t enough and backpacking bags are too much, the Porter comes into its own.
This 30L travel backpack offers ample internal space yet is the perfect size for carry-on luggage. The main compartment is perhaps too fuss-free, ie. no straps or internal sections, but a few packing cubes and you’ll have this sorted. The Porter also offers a comfortable and secure ride, complete with padded side walls and back suspension as well as a stowaway harness to keep things streamlined when needed.
Lockable zip access to main compartment
Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack
Lockable zip laptop/tablet sleeve for quick access
Stowaway harness and hip belt
Substantial suspension for backpack-style carry
- Weight2.8 pounds
- Dimensions20 x 13 x 12 inches
- Volume30L (also available in 46L & 65L)
The Osprey Atmos hiking backpack certainly makes light work of long haul and adventurous travel, with its innovative antigravity suspension system and 65L capacity enabling you to carry all your essentials in style and comfort.
Extending from the top of the back panel to bottom of the hip belt, a seamless mesh panel contours your body, evenly distributing the pack’s weight and allowing for unrestricted movement, no matter how tough the trail or incline. Adjustable hip belt and pack torso length work to optimize comfort, and the whole pack allows for effective ventilation when the heat rises. With more pockets and internal space than you can shake a (walking) stick at, and well-thought out zip positioning for ease of access, this impressive travel backpack means you can pack a serious amount of gear for your epic adventure. Our handy guide to the best Black Diamond backpacks features more great products like this.
Anti-Gravity suspension system for superior comfort and ventilation
Easily adjustable torso length optimizes fit
Side and internal compression straps to stabilize load
Access gear via the top of the pack or a zippered front panel.
Dual zippered front panel pockets provide extra storage and easy access
- Weight3.9 pounds
- Dimensions10 x 16 x 23 inches
Named for the coldest, moat unforgiving side of a mountain, North Face help explorers from all four corners of the globe to reach new heights every single day. North Face have lightened the load with this Borealis backpack, whilst offering you ample space to head off on adventures with all of your essentials. You’ll appreciate the comfortable padded and adjustable straps, integrated reflective loop and front stash pocket when you make use of your bag. Furthermore, you can use the bungee cord and mes side pockets should you need a little extra storage.
FlexVent injection moulded shoulder strap with foam
Additional outer storage space
Adjustable straps and spine channel for additional support
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight1.1 pounds
- Dimensions20.8 x 13.2 x 3.2 inches
- Volume29 Litres
Whether you’re traveling long-haul, are on an extended adventure or exploring a new city, you can feel vulnerable when carrying your essentials on your back. So, if security is a top priority in your travel plans then take a look at the popular Pacsafe range, which includes the rather impressive Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack.
Lightweight and durable, this secure travel backpack comes loaded with anti-theft technology all neatly packaged in a sizeable pack that has simple outdoorsy good looks. A hidden steel wire mesh and ultra-strong strap webbing helps protect against slash and run thefts while RFID safe blocking material built into its pockets helps protect your ID and credit cards from hacker scanning. Even its design screams low profile, with just the right number of pockets and discrete looks to blend in with the crowd. Practical, lightweight and durable, the Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack is a safe bet. Our handy guide to the best rolling duffel bags features more amazing travel gear, so check it out.
Embedded with Slashguard mesh to protect your gear from slash-and-run theft
Dual release security buckles allow you to secure the bag to a fixture for added security
Rfidsafe blocking pocket helps prevent your personal data falling into the wrong hands
Built-in waterproof rain cover and breathable shoulder and waist straps
Padded hydration pack compartment that’s compatible for a 15-inch laptop
- Weight2.7 pounds
- Dimensions8 x 12 x 21 inches
This two-in-one backpack or duffel bag from American Stoic Weekender might just be the only travel bag you’ll ever need. Granted, it’s not the cheapest option on offer, but it’s a pretty good option. If you value simplicity when you’re on the go, you can wave good bye to checked luggage and pack all of your essentials into this handy luggage solution. This international approved carry on comes with plenty of space to securely hold your laptop, cables, and trip essentials with ease. It’s a big thumbs up from us!
Convertible from backpack to duffel
Approved for check luggage
Securely fits up to 19” laptop
- BrandAmerican Stoic
- ModelWeekender Bag
- Weight2 pounds
- Dimensions22 x 12 x 7 inches
- Volume50 Litres
The SwissGear Travel Gear is an urban rucksack with adventurous qualities, taking you from your daily commute to your favorite trail faster than you can say jack rabbit.
Made from durable polyester and designed with a host of convenient features, the Travel Gear Lightweight is great for college or urban travel, with oodles of interior space for your laptop, gadgets and papers. An easy access cell phone pocket and a headphone port will keep you connected and its external bungee system means you can tuck away extra gear.
And although compact, this travel backpack is built for comfort with contoured padded shoulder straps, airflow back system and easy access filtered water bottle pockets. For an urban, lightweight backpack that performs well over a range of both inner city and open terrain, you can’t go wrong with the Travel Gear.
Audio interface with headphone pull through
Padded shoulder strap system
Airflow back system
Mobile device pocket
Water bottle pocket
- Weight1.6 pounds
- Dimensions17.5 x 11.5 x 7.5 inches
Pounding the streets on a weekend city break, you need a travel backpack that can take the heat and stand up to the demands of an urban adventure. eBags’ TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is well-equipped to take on the challenge, with its flight-friendly size and flexible internal space, heavy duty fabric and zippers, airmesh back straps and lightweight design.
With the waist strap lacking a bit in support, the TLS is more suited to weekend or city travel rather than anything more rugged, but it is in an urban environment that this clean and simple travel pack excels. It’s accordion-style packing system allows for all your weekend clothes without adding unnecessary bulk while its internal expandable laptop pocket will safely swallow up your tech gadgets no problem. A well-designed and deceptively spacious carry on backpack for the urban traveler, or a perfect gift for travelers in your life.
Internal adjustable tie-downs
Contains up to a 19-inch laptop
Adjustable sternum straps
- Weight4.1 pounds
- Dimensions9 x 22 x 14 inches
Travel Backpack Buying Guide & FAQs
How We Chose Our Selection of Travel Backpacks:
You may think a backpack is just a backpack but with the rigors of travel and the adventures you have planned, it’s essential to select a bag that is totally up to the job. From short city breaks to full-on wilderness trails, we used the following criteria to determine which travel backpacks made our final list:
- Overall quality of materials and features
- Brand reputation
- Firsthand accounts as well as online reviews
- Price – when it comes to your backpack it’s about the right features at a good price rather than praising the cheap and cheerful
Features to look for in Travel Backpacks:
You’ll be wanting to consider the following before buying your new travel bag:
Size – look for a travel pack that is roomy enough to hold just a little bit more than the stuff you plan to pack and that you can carry comfortably on your travels.
Material – always go for a lightweight, quick-drying water and rip-resistant material that is tough enough for the wear and tear of the travels ahead.
Weight - you’ll be carrying your travel backpack everywhere and possibly navigating some tough terrain so aim for lightweight without compromising on quality and durability.
Durability – lightweight but hardwearing materials are one of the most important things to look for in a travel backpack as it needs to be tough enough to last. Nylon fabric is the most durable.
Design – the design of the backpack depends on what you want it to do. For larger or more adventurous travel packs, the internal frame design needs to be lightweight and designed for weight distribution and comfort. In all travel backpacks look for quality and simplicity of use.
Color - this is mostly down to personal preference although how you use your new travel backpack could influence your selection. Darker colours are more durable when it comes to dirt and help you blend into the crowd while splashes of colour can speed up your time spent at the luggage reclaim.
Straps – essential to comfort and fit, straps can make or break a travel backpack. Look for adjustable straps and hip belts with padding in the right places, and ideally with mesh panels to help keep you cool. A stowaway harness and an additional carry-on strap are very useful additions when checking in your luggage.
Waterproofness – look for water-resistant material such as treated nylon that is quick drying and will protect your contents from the rain. It doesn’t have to be 100% waterproof and many packs come with an additional tarp for dealing with heavier downpours.
Compartments – look for just enough compartments, pockets and sections to keep you organized without overcomplicating your travel pack. Three to five are ideal and one should be lockable. Look at easy access too, to take the stress out of check in and passport control.
Travel Backpack FAQs
Q: Why you need a Travel Backpack?
A: When your travel plans mean you need to be ready for anything, then solid suitcases simply won’t cut it and a travel backpack is the only way to go. Unlike heavier luggage, travel and hiking backpacks can be extremely lightweight, meaning you can pack well and travel more easily. They are designed for comfort and for different types of travelling and terrain, giving you an adaptable bag that can take you from city to hills with ease. And with many carry-on size options available, a lightweight backpack can make short breaks and airport travel a breeze.
Q: How to choose a Travel Backpack?
A: The first question to ask is what you want the backpack for. Is it for getting around town and the odd weekend away, flying off on city breaks or taking you into the great outdoors? Or are you planning a once in a lifetime long haul trip or global adventure? While comfort, size, space and ease of carrying are key to all these, thinking about why you want the pack will ensure you get the right bag for the job.
For urban use and short travel, go for a lightweight, carry-on backpack with enough space for all your travel essentials, including padded compartments for your gadgets. For longer breaks, bump up the capacity and choose a breathable back support system and padded harness. And for that trip of a lifetime, look for technical extras to keep you and your belongings happily on the road. For all travel backpacks, durable, water-resistant material is a must and if possible, try it on before you buy.
Q: What size Travel Backpack should you get?
A: The size of your pack depends on the type of travelling or activity you want to do. If it’s a daypack or rucksack for everyday or urban use, then a 20-30L pack size is more than adequate. Rather than liter volume in a day pack, look for dimensions if you want to fit in your laptop and gadgets. For extra flexibility, you could opt for a larger travel pack which a smaller detachable day pack. For short overnighters or weekend city breaks a 30-35L pack works well and is very carry-on friendly while for longer trips of say 3-5 days on the trail opt for a 40-50L hiking backpack. Long-haul or round-the-world travelers, you’re looking at the large but lightweight category, so that’s a minimum of 60L.
Q: How to pack a Travel Backpack?
A: Start from the bottom and work your way up! Pack your overnight or heaviest items at the bottom and then layer upwards, in the order of the items you need to access the most. Make the most of the extra pockets and compartment features to keep your wash gear away from your clothes and your gadgets, ID and cash safe and secure. Look at using packing cubes if your rucksack is a bit light on internal compartments. Finally, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen all go in the top pocket and extra gear and water bottles can be attached to the outside.
Q: How to wash a Travel Backpack?
A: Most travel backpacks are made of robust and water-resistant material, so keeping your bag clean shouldn’t be too much of a chore. Daily wipe downs can help minimize dirt build up, but if it’s really dirty or smelly you can do a full wash. Not all packs are machine washable so check the label before you start. Remove the frame and turn the pack inside out before putting it in the machine; popping it into a pillow case can also prevent any damage. Use a small amount of gentle detergent and wash on a cold cycle. If you are cleaning on the go, immerse the pack in cold water and use a small toothbrush to scrub away stains and grime. Once washed, let your backpack dry naturally – upside down if possible – and you’ll be ready to get on the road in no time. Rucksack liners and covers are also handy additions to help keep your travel bag clean on the go.
Q: What size backpack can you bring on a plane?
A: Every airline sets its own maximum size for carry-on luggage, although as a guide most allow bags
22" long, 14" wide, and 9" deep to be carried on to the plane so make sure your bag is no larger than this. Also, just because a bag is advertised as carry-on sized, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is for your flight so check the airline’s website for their guidelines before you fly.