Discover the Best Travel Backpacks for Every Explorer

Whether you’re on a trip around the world or just getting for the best weekend gateways, a well-designed travel pack can keep you relaxed and well-organized. Carry-on suitability for flight travel, enough space to store your stuff, pack weight, and preferences for storage and organisational layouts are important factors to take into account. The best travel backpacks for travel in 2023 are outlined here, ranging from small backpacks for short journeys to larger bags with detachable daypacks. See our comprehensive comparison table and purchasing recommendations after the top picks for more background information.

Best Travel Bag Overall

1. 35L of Cotopaxi Allpa ($200)

  • 35 L capacity
  • Size: 20 x 12 x 8 inches
  • 3 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Additional sizes: 28, 42L

What we like: Very tough organisation with entertaining styling.

What we don’t: We don’t have load lifters, a place to store water bottles, or outside compression straps.

Our criteria for selecting the best travel backpacks included practical organisation, convenient access when travelling, strong materials, and compliance with carry-on luggage. Our top pick for 2023 goes to Cotopaxi’s Allpa 35L Travel Pack since it resoundingly checks all three criteria.

With a combination of 1,000-denier, TPU-coated polyester and panels of 840-denier ballistic nylon, the Allpa is incredibly durable in addition to having the brand’s signature vivid styling and multicoloured patterning. The Allpa proved to be extremely durable and highly water-resistant during our testing, and it even comes with a stowable rain cover for truly bad weather.

Additionally, there are some issues with the inside pockets’ dimensions, and the absence of external compression straps makes it challenging to secure heavier weights. Water bottle storage is the only remaining feature that is missing, but it is not a feature that most people want and does little to lessen our enthusiasm for a bag that is otherwise comprehensive and gorgeous.

A Very Close Second (Excellent for Transporting Electronics)

2. Travel bag by Peak Design ($300)

  • 45 L capacity
  • Size: 22 x 13 x 9.5 inches.
  • 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 30L

We appreciate the features’ thoughtfulness, expandability, and ease of access.

Expensive, a little heavy, and too technical for some.

Don’t be misled by Peak Design’s best travel backpacks modest exterior; this backpack is stuffed with clever, travel-ready features. The expandable design is the first, and it enables you to switch between 35 and 45 litres by only zipping or unzipping the frontmost zipper.

Another plus is access, which includes openings at the top, sides, front, and back allowing quick retrieval of items almost anywhere in the pack. With padded laptop and tablet sleeves, a main compartment that is divided, huge, elastic twin side pockets (unusual for travel packs), and several inside pockets, the storage is also great. 

The Travel Backpack’s increased dimensions of 22 x 13 x 11 inches make it theoretically ineligible as a carry-on because the regular U.S. domestic carry-on limit is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Photographers in particular may appreciate the form, which fits many camera cubes, lenses, and other accessories well at the compacted 35-liter capacity (or smaller 30-liter variant).

Excellent Comfort for Trips with Lots of Gear

3. Osprey Porter 46 (185 dollars)

  • 46 L capacity
  • Size: 21.5 x 14 x 9 inches.
  • 3 pounds, 4.2 ounces.
  • Additional sizes: 30, 65L
  • What we like: Practical, plenty of storage, and designed specifically for travel on adventures.

What we don’t: We wish there was a variety only for ladies.

Osprey is a global leader in best travel backpacks, and a lot of that technology and know-how has made its way into their line of best travel packs. The Porter 46 is a prime example, fusing the brand’s renowned excellent carrying comfort with a useful, carry-on-friendly construction and feature set for travel.

Starting from the outside, you get a sturdy framesheet with comfortable shoulder and hipbelt straps that feel like they were inspired by Osprey’s backpacking designs, a useful compression system to efficiently cinch things down, lockable zippers for the main compartment and laptop sleeve, and a padded side handle that serves as a pass-through point for stacking onto a rolling suitcase.

The Porter 46 is the largest option available and still complies with most domestic and international flight regulations despite having 11 more litres of capacity than our top-ranked Cotopaxi Allpa 35L (for $15 less). The Porter is ultimately our top choice for longer, gear-intensive expeditions because, provided it fits you properly, it delivers an unbeatable combination of space, functionality, and comfort for the money.

The ideal weekend travel bag

4. The $99 Topo Designs Global Travel Bag

  • 30 L capacity
  • Size: 20 x 12.5 x 7 inches.
  • 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 40L

What we like: Stylish, extremely thick fabrics with almost endless organisation in a weekend-friendly size.

What we don’t like: The straps and complex structure might use a little more padding.

Topo Designs is a little less well-known than Cotopaxi and Osprey, but don’t let that stop you. This business creates very well-made and attractive packs for a variety of activities, from bicycling and climbing to more demanding travel and commuting.

Their Global Travel Bag 30L is a prime example and our pick for the year’s best weekend-ready style. The sheer quantity of pockets and attachment points on this pack immediately caught my eye, from the vertical daisy chain webbing on the front to the expandable side water bottle pockets, ample zippered storage inside and out, a laptop sleeve along the backpanel, and numerous interior mesh pockets.

Best Travel Backpack on a Budget

5. $50 for the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack

  • 45 L capacity
  • 21.5 x 15.75 x 8.25 inches in size.
  • 3.10 pounds, 10.2 ounces.
  • Various sizes: none

What we like: Excellent organisation and capacity for far less than the competitors.

What we don’t like: The absence of lockable zippers and a lack of cushioning and support for transporting hefty things.

Best Travel backpacks can be rather pricey, but Amazon’s Carry-On Travel Backpack is a reasonably priced and surprisingly capable option. Let’s start with the good news: The bag is carry-on compliant, as its name suggests, and it includes the majority of the typical features we seek in a useful travel pack.

These include a laptop sleeve with a zipper, internal and external compression straps, compartments with quick access for best travel backpacks, and a main compartment with good organisation. The Amazon Basics may be stretched to increase packing capacity while still fitting in a carry-on, just like the Peak Design Travel Backpack mentioned above. 

Best Large Travel Pack for Extended Trips

6. REI Co-op Rucksack 60+ (199 dollars)

  • 80 L capacity
  • Size: 27 x 14 x 9 inches.
  • 4 pounds, 1 ounce.
  • Others: 18, 28, and 40L

What we like: Huge capacity with a detachable and useful daypack of 20 litres.

What we don’t like: Doesn’t fit in a carry-on.

The aforementioned packs are excellent for tourists and travellers leaving for a week or two, but those setting off on longer international journeys will almost probably require additional storage and capability. Enter the Ruckpack 60+ from REI Co-op. The “+” designator refers to the accompanying 20-liter daypack, which may be used separately for adventures around town once you arrive or linked to the front of the main pack for a staggering 80 litres of storage.

The main pack has excellent cushioning along the straps and backpanel, a practical compression and daisy chain system, easy access via the zippered back or side panels, water bladder storage, even trekking pole attachments and a stowable rain cover. Importantly, both come well equipped. The daypack has a dedicated tablet/hydration sleeve and water bottle pockets.

Among the Best

7. Osprey Farpoint 40 (185 dollars)

  • 40 L capacity
  • Size: 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
  • Three pounds, 7.8 ounces.
  • Others: 55, 70, and 80L

What we like: Attractive price, minimalist design, and excellent carrying comfort.

What we don’t want: A Porter that is smaller, heavier, and less robust.

Osprey’s Farpoint is another very comfortable and well-built design at a decent price. We also discussed their Porter model. Our tester was especially taken with the Farpoint’s accommodating yet streamlined shape during a trip to Patagonia last year, which managed to swallow all of his camera gear along with clothing and other essentials while still fitting into the overhead compartment during air travel.

Osprey recently improved durability, which is good news for people who abuse their gear (the newest pack uses 450D materials, compared to the preceding model’s very thin 210D). And unlike the majority of the rivals.

8. Eagle Creek 40L Tour ($159)

  • 40 L capacity
  • 20.5 by 13.13 by 8.75 inches
  • 2 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 55L

What we like: Two sizes available; functional organisation both inside and out.

What we miss: Compared to many tried-and-true solutions here, new and unproven.

Eagle Creek began producing packs in the middle of the 1970s, and their Tour 40L travel bag amply illustrates this lengthy history in the industry. The first time we packed the Tour, we were struck by how incredibly functional it was.

In addition to a flexible side water bottle pocket and an expansion zipper that adds 5 litres to the main compartment’s size, the bag offers excellent outside storage. Additionally, the bag’s book-style opening makes it simple to retrieve its contents, while inner and external compression straps make it simple to secure items.

Although the water bottle compartment on our pack started to unravel after just one trip, the overall design is pretty sturdy and employs strong 600-denier polyester in other places. The Tour strikes us as a terrific and well-rounded travel pack despite being relatively new and unproven in comparison to the other alternatives here, and may very well see a climb in ranks during a future update.

9. Tortuga 40-liter Travel Backpack

  • 40 L capacity
  • 21.7 by 13.8 by 7.9 inches.
  • 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 30L

What we like: It has every function we want in a high-quality, comprehensive travel bag.

What we don’t Know: This design is tied for being the heaviest and most expensive.

In 2023, there are a lot of alternatives for travellers, but Tortuga’s Travel Backpack 40L—which takes the place of their Outbreaker 35L—stands out as one of the best-equipped and well constructed options available.

A large front pocket with multiple sleeves for separating small valuables and documents, a practical clamshell-style opening with zippered compartments for separating clothes and shoes, and padded laptop and tablet sleeves with zippered mesh pockets on the other side for storing cords and accessories are just a few of the features that make organisation a clear highlight.

Although you do gain an extra 5 litres of capacity and a jump in useful space, notably in the main compartment, the Tortuga best travel backpacksdoes have a little more streamlined storage organisation compared to the outgoing Outbreaker that it replaces.All things considered, it adds a welcome level of assurance and helps to justify the high price, but the Tortuga’s bulky construction and poor value drag it down a bit in our rankings.

10. The $250 YETI Crossroads 35L Backpack

  • 35 L capacity
  • Size: 20 x 13 x 8 inches.
  • 3.14 pounds, 14.4 ounces.
  • Additional sizes: 22, 27L

We appreciate the premium YETI craftsmanship and exceptional durability.

We dislike that the webbing hipbelt reduces overall comfort and is expensive and heavy for the capacity.

Although coolers and insulated drinkware are YETI’s main products, attention to fine craftsmanship is given to other areas as well. Their Crossroads 35L Backpack is precisely what we’ve come to expect from the brand in terms of travel accessories: superb durability and usefulness in a sleek design.

Last but not least, the 35-liter Crossroads is a bit on the tiny side and will need careful packing to contain more than around three to five days’ worth of goods. Again, though, the build quality is excellent, so minimalists who are accustomed to travelling light would not mind the little reductions in comfort and storage.

11. The Matador SEG45 Travel Pack is $110.00.

  • 45 L capacity
  • 22 x 13.4 x 10.25 inches in size.
  • 2 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 28L

What we like: The lightest pack here; segmented layout makes it simple to customise organisation.

What we don’t: You’ll need to pack carefully; minimalist builds lack support and structure.

Don’t be fooled: Despite Matador’s lack of household name recognition compared to companies like Osprey, Cotopaxi, and REI, the Boulder-based startup is expanding swiftly because of their innovative ideas. The SEG45 Travel Pack (formerly the SEG42) stands out from their travel line for its distinctive segmented design that enables customization of organisation by day or activity. 

Unzipped, the pack’s five compartments expose separate, stackable storage cube-like regions for clothing and other soft items, while the main compartment below offers more room for soiled clothing, heavier objects like shoes, and other stuff. Several grab handles, a stretchable, zippered water bottle compartment that is quite secure, backpack straps that tuck away neatly when not in use, and sturdy materials with reinforcements in high-wear areas make up the rest of the feature set, which also works well.

12. The $200 Thule Aion Travel Pack

  • 40 L capacity
  • 20.5 by 13 by 9.1 inches.
  • 3 pounds, 3 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 28L

What we like: High-quality construction; convenient removable roll-top bag for soiled clothes.

What we don’t have: A different, unproven hipbelt that is sold separately.

The Swedish company Thule is well known for its bike and roof racks, but they also produce excellent packs. The 40-liter Aion, which combines the renowned Thule premium build quality with a decent selection of travel-ready features, is our favourite item in their lineup this year.

The removable TPU rolltop bag for dirty laundry storage is a distinctive—yet very useful—addition that keeps odours and grime from spreading to the rest of your belongings. The rest of the design is tastefully finished, with designated water bottle storage, a clamshell opening that is simple to use, and numerous zipped compartments for valuables and gadgets.

13. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 (260 dollars)

  • 45 L capacity
  • Dimensions: 21.7 x 13 x 7.9 inches.
  • 4.48 pounds and 4.8 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 35L

What we like: Materials that are cut-resistant and anti-theft technologies provide a great level of assurance.

What we dislike: Expensive and favours safety features over carrying convenience.

Travelling may be tiresome, especially if you’re constantly concerned that your belongings or luggage will be stolen. Because of this, anti-theft solutions like Pacsafe’s Venturesafe EXP45 are spreading in popularity, especially for foreign travel.

The Venturesafe EXP45 is loaded with protective features, including cut-resistant fabrics, lockable and puncture-resistant double zippers, and built-in stainless steel cable locks, similar to the majority of Pacsafe’s products. The Venturesafe is nevertheless neatly organised with plenty of inside and exterior pockets and compression straps, offers several carry choices, and complies with carry-on regulations. It’s also important to note that these are tastefully integrated and don’t significantly reduce the Venturesafe’s functionality as a travel pack.

14. Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L ($239)

  • 45 L capacity
  • 22 by 14.5 by 7.6 inches.
  • 3 pounds, 10 ounces.
  • Various sizes: 30L

We appreciate its strength and nice aesthetics.

What we don’t like: Lack of structure and carrying comfort; absence of a valuables-safe pocket on the outside.

The MLC 45L travel pack version of Patagonia’s iconic Black Hole duffel bag shares its exceptional durability and good looks in a more organised and carry-on-friendly shape. The Black Hole Pack, like the duffels, is constructed of durable (and recyclable) polyester ripstop that is extremely tear-resistant and has a TPU coating on the exterior to ward against moisture.

Additionally, it features the recognisable daisy chain webbing on the sides for fastening additional gear. However, it’s crucial to note that the focus is clearly on travel: You have three carrying options (backpack, over-the-shoulder or briefcase-style), compatibility with a roller bag and a practical clamshell opening with three distinct compartments for tailoring organisation.

15. The $300 Nomatic Travel Pack

  • 30 L capacity
  • 18.5 by 12 by 9.5 inches.
  • 4 pounds, 2.6 ounces.
  • Various sizes: none

Almost all the elements we look for in a well-made travel bag are present, which is what we enjoy.

What we don’t like: Exorbitantly expensive given the capacity; hipbelt is separate.

Many of the aforementioned options are created by respectable backpacking manufacturers, but Nomatic is first and foremost a travel brand. Their signature Travel Pack epitomises this focus by combining careful storage and organisation with simple access in a stylish and elegant design. 

Highlights of the features include an expandable design that lets you switch between 20 and 30 litres of storage space, a thoughtfully divided accessory compartment at the front, useful cord pass-through points for charging electronics, a lockable RFID pocket for passports and other scannable documents, and a hidden compartment for valuables at the backpanel.

16. Mystery Ranch Mission Rover 45 ($249)

  • 45 L capacity
  • Size: 21 x 13 x 12 inches.
  • 4.48 pounds and 4.8 ounces.
  • Additional sizes: 30, 60+L

Strong fabrics, a variety of carry choices, and a thoughtfully split inside are things we enjoy.

What we dislike: A little costly and heavy for the value.

For those of us who aren’t very good at packing light, Mystery Ranch’s Mission Rover 45 is a fantastic alternative to Osprey’s Porter 46 mentioned above. The Mission Rover, billed as a “workhorse gear hauler,” offers three useful carry options.

The majority of the basic travel-ready features that we seek for are included in this price range as expected, including a lockable zipper, a sleeve to attach to a rolling luggage, and a padded laptop compartment that can hold devices up to 15 inches wide.

Size and Volume

How much capacity you anticipate needing should be the first consideration when purchasing a travel pack. In order to provide some context, the sizes of the aforementioned options range from 30 litres on the small end (the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag and Nomatic Travel Pack) all the way up to 80 litres for the REI Co-op Ruckpack (with the 20L daypack connected). The sweet spot for many travellers is between 40 and 45 litres, so it’s no surprise that more than half of the models listed above fall into this category, partly because of their carry-on-compliant dimensions. 

Dimensions of a travel bag

For the majority of travellers, especially those going overseas, dimensions are an important factor. Given this, we have provided the length, breadth, and height measurements for each of the aforementioned travel packs in the descriptions and comparison table. As you may have noticed, the dimensions of travel packs of similar sizes don’t vary all that much. This is primarily because of the carry-on baggage size limitations, which we go into more detail about below.

Size Restrictions for Carry-On Bags

We’ll start by pointing out that there isn’t really a set size restriction for carry-on bags, either domestically or internationally. However, when L+W+H are added, the standard dimensions in the US are 22 x 14 x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches. In our comparison table, we’ve noted if each of the aforementioned travel packs satisfies these criteria, and REI Co-op does the same on each of their product pages. The REI Ruckpack 60+, which measures 27 x 14 x 9 inches, is the lone exception to the rule listed above.

Access to pockets and the main compartment is organised

Each of the aforementioned packs is designed specifically for travel, with thorough organisational systems and strategic placement of pockets for isolating valuables, gadgets, and other supplies. However, some best travel backpacks more practical than others, and your ultimate choice will mostly depend on how you want to use it and what will work best for the things you intend to bring.

Sleeves for tablets and laptops

A travel pack must have a compartment for storing a laptop, and all of the choices above have one specifically for larger equipment. Most sleeve sizes can hold laptops up to 15 inches in size, and many include smaller compartments inside the same space for tablets as well.

Pockets for Water Bottles

Side water bottle pockets are not a regular component of best travel backpacks, in contrast to laptop sleeve pockets. The Cotopaxi Allpa and Osprey Farpoint omit them, whereas some versions like the Topo Designs Global best travel backpacks, Peak Design Travel Backpack, REI Ruckpack (on its detachable daypack), Eagle Creek Tour, and Thule Aion do. 

Styles and Access Opening

A best travel backpacks should have easy access. With the pack laid flat, you can see and access the whole main compartment with the clamshell-style opening, which is by far the most common form. Some backpack-inspired designs, such as the REI Ruckpack and Osprey Porter 46, instead use roomy U-zip designs, which are quite practical but make it a little more difficult to access items at the very bottom of the bags.

The Comfort of

Although comfort is partly individualised, some qualities make some best travel backpacks stand out from the competition. The most comfortable designs often have thickly padded shoulder straps and hipbelts with good adjustability for customising fit. Straps for the sternum and weight-lifters are also quite useful for evenly spreading a big load.

Grab Handles and Other Carrying Techniques

Although the aforementioned models are intended to be worn as backpacks on your back, many tourists choose to carry their luggage over their shoulders or like a suitcase. When waiting in queue to check in at the airport or to get your travel documents, these options are extremely useful. The Peak Design Travel Backpack, for instance, has 360-degree grab grips that make it simple and quick to remove the pack and carry it one-handed through security checkpoints or confined aeroplane aisles.

Additional Packing List Features

In addition to pockets and electronics sleeves, travel bags have a few other characteristics that are particularly useful. Budget designs like the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack omit features, although lockable zippers, removable and/or stowable straps and compression straps or dividers to keep things organised in the main compartment are quite common at the mid- to upper-end of the market.

Women’s-Specific Backpacks for Travel

The Osprey Fairview, which is the Farpoint’s counterpart, and the REI Co-op Ruckpack also come in dedicated women’s-specific variants. As we said above, most best travel backpacks are unisex by design. Different colour schemes, mild weight variances, and somewhat smaller torso and waist measures are the main distinctions.

Are Travel Backpacks Necessary?

While the aforementioned packs make it simple and convenient to transport your belongings throughout the world, not everyone need a specialised design. Another common method for travelling with a lot of clothing and equipment is to use duffel bags. Many contemporary models come with detachable backpack straps for easier transport through airports and throughout cities.

As an alternative, some tourists might decide to utilise a typical rucksack. When you’re travelling to go hiking, backpacking, or on other activities and want to use your pack for both travel and outdoor use when you get there, it can make a lot of sense to do this.

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