Whether you are traveling to a neighboring state or around the world, travel backpacks are the most functional piece of luggage available. Regardless of whether you are navigating a cobblestone street or traveling overland between cities, the convenience of carrying a pack allows the traveler to move about hands free. The array of packs on the market vary in size, shape and style. There is not a one-size-fits-all backpack that will fit everyone’s needs.
The main features we look for in travel backpacks include:
- Packability and Accessibility
- Appropriate size for intended use
- Any security features (added bonus)
We have broken down out list into three categories:
Personal Item Backpack
Again, a backpack frees up your hands. These items can count as your personal item when flying and easily stow under the seat in front of you for quick access to the items you need most while traveling.
Ameribag Healthy Back Bag – $35-$220
Available in three sizes (x-small, small and medium), this tear drop shaped bag is designed to replace the typical handbag or become a lightweight carry-on for all of your essentials. We like that the main zipper remains against your back to secure your valuables.
SOG EVAC Sling – $150
This 18L sling pack is the perfect item for carrying all of your essentials, including laptop. The impact-resistant top pocket is ideal for storing glasses, camera and phone.
Typically, a 50L backpack is about the largest size for carry-on inclusion. While some travelers can make this work as their primary luggage, it still makes an ideal adventure pack at your final destination.
Deuter Transit 40 – $149
The U-shaped zipper on this travel pack meets carry-on suitcase make it an ideal companion. Utilize the shoulder strap for lighter loads or deploy the pack straps and hip belt for heavier outings.
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 – $145
While containing many of the same features as other packs in this roundup (organization, large accessible main compartment and straps that stow easily for transport), we really like the many anti-theft technology integrated throughout this pack.
Mountainsmith Wizard – $140
Don’t let the simplistic design fool you. This 29L bag is a modern twist on a 90’s climbing bag. It features a backpanel access laptop compartment, interior hanging pocket and sunglass holder along with enough room to carry all of your essentials from tarmac to trail and beyond.
Thule Capstone – $200
While the Capstone is available in other sizes, we wanted one to be on the upper end of the carry-on spectrum. This minimalist, overnight bag is ideal as a carry on as it provides ample storage in a daypack (or overnight) for off-road adventures at your final destination.
Gregory Border 35 – $160
This modern looking commuter bag was recently overhauled to make it sleeker, lighter and more functional for the traveler. The dedicated laptop/tablet sleeves are easily accessible while the clamshell opening to the main compartment allows for quick access to all of your contents.
Large Travel Backpack
These packs are ideal for checking through to your final destination and can contain everything you will need for weeks or even months on the road.
Osprey Farpoint 55 – $180
While just slightly larger than the 50L max that we typically use as our carry-on pack, the Farpoint is actually a 40L backpack with a detachable 15L daypack. The main compartment is accessible via lockable zipper pulls. Inside the main compartment, the bag contains designated laptop and tablet sleeves. The pack’s suspension system stows away inside a zippered panel for a sleeker profile.
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor – $200
Expandable from 40-60L, the Flex Capacitor is unique in that it doesn’t expand upwards like most packs but rather the overall circumference expands to provide a more stable and comfortable load carry. This multi-day pack is ideal for trail and travel.
Eagle Creek Deviate – $167
This 60L travel pack is a carry-on 45L pack with a detachable 15L daypack. Items that we like on this pack include the lockable, self-repairing zippers on the main compartment, the integrated RFID Blocker pocket and the padded, e-fleece electronics pocket.