Pack Smart: The Best Travel Backpacks of 2022
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.
- Best Overall: Nixon Hauler 35L Travel Backpack
- Best For International Travel: Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
- Best With Compartments: Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack
- Most Lightweight: Outlander Lightweight Travel Backpack
- Best Laptop Backpack: Yorepek Extra Large Travel Backpack
- Most Stylish: WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack
- Most Versatile: Osprey Porter 46 Gear Travel Backpack
- Most Spacious: Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack
- Best Daypack: Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
- Most Comfortable: Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack
- Best For Hiking: The North Face Unisex Borealis
The Best Travel Backpack
Durable, comfortable to wear, and designed to keep all your belongings organized and secure, the Nixon Hauler 35L Backpack is, hands down, one of the best backpacks for travel. With 35L capacity and 16” laptop storage, it can take practically anything you throw at it, and then some.
Tested by our senior editor who took it on his two-week trip through South America, this handsome travelers backpack is as versatile as it gets – perfect both for jungle treks and schlepping through the airport. It comes with a cavernous main compartment that has lots of organization features, including internal organizers and zippered shoe or towel compartment, so you don’t have to waste your time fishing for your earbuds. As a bonus, it’s constructed with REPREVE recycled plastics, meaning plastic waste from the ocean. Read the in-depth review here.
Cavernous main compartment
Loads of organization features
16” laptop storage
Made from recycled plastic
- Weight2.38 Pounds
- Dimensions21.81 x 15.24 x 4.17 Inches
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, its packable structure means it is a tad on the shapeless side and with its lack of internal padding you could probably feel a 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.
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 a 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. This canvas backpack 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
Life can get busy and sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be from 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 ultralight 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? For more quality travel essentials, check out our list of the top smart backpacks.
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 overcomplicating 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 travel 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
When it comes to traveling 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 sidewalls 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)
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 on this North Face backpack, integrated reflective loop, and front stash pocket when you make use of your bag. Furthermore, you can use the bungee cord and mesh 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
Why Trust Us
Here at Gear Hungry, most of us (editors, writers and testers included) travel, camp or hike on a regular basis. Which is to say, we know a thing or two about good travel backpacks. While personal preferences and travel needs may vary from person to person, we believe – and our experiences have shown this to be true – that everyone needs the following things from good backpack luggage for travel: a durable, comfortable, and lightweight yet spacious design. If that’s what you, too, want from a travel backpack, we guarantee you'll like our selection.
Who This Is For
This guide is for hikers, campers and world travelers alike; basically, anyone who needs a good backpack travel bag to help keep their possessions secure and well-organized. Whether you’re looking for a simple and lightweight bag for weekend getaways, an ultra-spacious backpack for international travel, or a good mid-range model for regular camping trips, these backpacks have got your back.
How We Picked
When choosing backpacks for this guide, we tried to find models that would appeal to a wide range of users - hikers, campers, city dwellers and world travelers alike. We used the following criteria to determine which travel backpacks made our final list: overall quality of construction materials, organization features (main and side compartments and pockets included), how comfortable and lightweight the design is, as well as brand reputation. The backpacks you see on our list are the ones that passed these criteria and we liked best.
How We Tested
While we didn’t test all the backpacks in this guide, the ones we did were taken through a wringer during trips. Our senior editor, for example, took his Nixon Hauler 35L Backpack on a trip through South America recently, letting us know how it performed (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the reviews yet: it performed brilliantly). Aside from including the backpacks that our testers and editors liked the best, we also included top-rated models from the best backpack brands.
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 colors are more durable when it comes to dirt and help you blend into the crowd while splashes of color 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 FAQ
Q: Why do 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 traveling 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 traveling 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 50-60L.
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: The best 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 pillowcase 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 sponge or even a 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 onto 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.
- How to Pack a Hiking Backpack - WikiHow