Whether you’re a frequent flyer or take intermittent vacationer, a sturdy and dependable travel backpack is an essential piece of luggage. We’ve tested the top travel backpacks on the market and are here to report back to you about our top 11 best picks!
When purchasing a travel backpack, several important factors need to be considered, such as the weight, capacity, and price. From there, you can work your way down to your personal preferences, including the numbers of compartments, the shape of the internal frame, the presence of a laptop holder, etc. The right travel backpack could last a lifetime (many include lifetime warranties). We have reviewed all the details meticulously to help you select the backpack that’s right for you.
Below is a table of our top travel backpack choices for 2016, each one handpicked by our team!
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Let’s jump into the detailed product reviews of our top travel backpack picks!
1. Osprey Farpoint – Best Overall Pick
The Osprey Farpoint 40 is our best overall pick. This backpack works as a carry on the plane. You can fit a ton of stuff in this backpack and it’ll still feel pretty light on your back. Also, this bad boy holds up in a diverse amount of travel situations, whether that be trekking between terminals in the airport or hiking to a far-flung destination.
Its features include exterior and interior zippers and can easily fit a week’s worth of gear and clothing for a trip. You could essentially use it as your sole piece of luggage if you didn’t want to check any bags. The size is extremely suitable for airplanes, allowing you to avoid tedious bag checking or easily slip backpack under your seat. We are featuring the M/L 40L model here, but it’s also available in a S/M with a 38L capacity
The Osprey Farpoint 40 has padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, and a harness system for optimal comfort. The exterior zipper can be locked, and there are multiple ID windows for faster checkout. It has an internal frame for weight distribution, resulting in the comfort of the user.
This backpack is also excellent for a weekend getaway. Internal compression straps keep the travel pack’s weight from shifting and most important the Osprey Farpoint 40 is extremely comfortable on your back. A majority of backpacks experience issues with shifting weight while walking, but this is a steady fit. Pick up the Osprey Farpoint 55 below if you need a daypack also!
This is a great backpack for a variety of travel situations: at the airport, on a train, while walking, and much more. The diversity of the uses behind the Osprey Farpoint 40 makes it an excellent choice for travel newbies or seasoned travel warriors. All of the features, including the padded straps, internal frame, and hip belt are designed for your comfort. We recommend this backpack to travelers in any situation who value comfort and functionality. Finally, we really value Osprey’s lifetime warranty on their products!
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2. Osprey Farpoint 55 – Best Runner Up
We hate to play favorites here, but our second best travel backpack choice is another model from Osprey, the Osprey Farpoint 55. This travel backpack is very straightforward, utilizing 1 exterior zipper and 1 interior zipper.
This isn’t a carry on backpack since it could be too big for some budget airlines. It is, however, a sturdy backpack and you can adjust the weight of the backpack from the shoulders to the hips for longer trips. It features a removable daypack, which you can use as a carry-on. We M/L has a capacity of 55L and it’s also available in a S/M with a 38L capacity
The unique feature behind the Osprey Farpoint 55 is the extra day pack attached to it. The daypack is meant to make essentials more easily accessible, but you can also use the daypack on its own for a short trip. The Osprey Farpoint 55’s materials are generally water resistant. There is no need to worry about light rain; your gear and clothing inside will stay dry!
We love the daypack feature and it can be utilized to keep smaller, more important items close during trips. This backpack also has places to hold and store water. The nylon material is lightweight yet durable. Finally, being able to zip up the straps for easier flight and train travel is a plus.
The main difference between the Osprey Farpoint 40 and 55 is the capacity and the fact that the 55 comes with a daypack! The 55 can hold much more gear.
Overall, the Osprey Farpoint 55 is a generally diverse backpack with tons of capacity. It’s designed to carry up to 50 pounds of weight. Travelers of all types can make use of it. We love especially love the detachable day pack. The Osprey Farpoint 55 scores high on comfort and ease of travel.
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3. Osprey Meridian 60 – Best Wheeled Travel Backpack
The Osprey Meridian truly maxes out your total carry-on size with its 60ML capacity. Although it feels light on your back, you can easily toss it off your back, pull up the handle and wheel it on the ground. We also love the padded laptop sleeve and the detachable daypack. It’ll hold a laptop of up to 15 inches.
This backpack has great capacity but it has no problems fitting into the smallest spaces in the overhead bins. It also features a variety of or large and small compartments. For organization freaks, you can use the internal compartments to separate each of your little doodads. Also, the main compartment is lockable and accommodates a TSA approved lock.
The shoulder straps and waistbelt help to cushion heavier loads but are also conveniently removable. It also features a variety of handles on the sides of the backpack if you just want to grab it with your hand. This bag is versatile and easy to take along with you; people who need higher capacity bags will love this model.
The Osprey Meridian is our top wheeled travel backpack choice. It’s versatility as a backpack and wheeled piece of luggage is valuable and it’s perfect as your sole piece of luggage because of it’s large capacity. No more waiting at the baggage claim after a long flight. You can just jump off the plane and out the door to your next adventure!
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4. The Cabin Max Metz – Most Affordable Travel Backpack
The Cabin Max Metz Backpack is a flight approved carry on even for budget airlines with strict restrictions. It also features chest straps and waist straps to help with heavy loads. The padded straps are optimal for comfort and adjustable side, shoulder and internal compression straps help to pack a large amount of gear and clothing into the backpack.
The main compartments in this backpack are deep and easily accessible. The backpack has three extra compartments on the outside and two extra “hidden” compartments on the inside. It’s a sizeable backpack! You should be able to fit all your gear inside of it with more room to spare, making it excellent for long trips.
This backpack holds true to what it can carry. You may be surprised at how much you can pack into the Cabin Max Metz . Most importantly it’s also steady on your back. You can conceivably get up to two week’s worth of clothing and necessities into this trusty backpack! It also has multiple side handles, including the one on the top plus the straps, making it easy to grab and go.
Even though it’s a big boy, the Cabin Max Metz is lightweight and easy to carry around. Also, it fits easily under airplane seats and in overhead bins which is an important plus. Every bit of space is useable and useful; nothing feels wasteful. If you are not a fan of packing, then this backpack is for you because you can just throw everything into this backpack and get going!
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5. Osprey Waypoint 80 – Best Large Capacity
The Osprey Waypoint 80 isn’t the lightest backpack around but it’s a durable beast, made of high-quality materials. This backpack is made of 320 Denier Nylon in its main body and 420HD accents. It’s made to last for the serious, long-term world traveler yet still convenient to carry all your needs on a shorter trip. It’s also better suited for a sturdy man traveler.
The backpack features an adjustable harness and a grab handle for convenience. The zippers are located in the main compartment for storing clothes and a smaller compartment for smaller items. Typically, these items include toiletries and even light shoes, but just about anything that’s small and needs to be organized can fit in there! The adjustable harness is for shorter people (like us!) and the grab handle is for easier transportation.
The main pocket has a few compression straps that are used to fit more clothes and gear into the bag. On top of that, the suspension components are removable, meaning that you can fit more clothes into the main compartment! It also has a laptop holder on the inside, which is something we value in our travel backpacks.
Overall, Osprey Waypoint 80 this is one of Osprey’s most durable backpacks. It also has important features such as it’s compression straps and it’s removable components. It’s pricier than some of the other models on the list but totally worth the price if you are planning some serious traveling.
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6. Targus Drifter II – Best Laptop Travel Backpack
The Targus Drifter II fits up to a 17-inch laptop perfectly along all your necessary travel supplies. We also like that it has a removable pocket specially designed to hold your smartphone. It also features a little loop where you can attach your sunglasses. We love a well thought out backpack!
You can take advantage of all the pockets available to keep your belongings organized. This backpack is extremely well padded on the back and made to carry for extended periods of time. The comfortable fit is a big plus. It also features a sturdy molded plastic handle which is well secured for easy lifting.
The Targus Drifter II holds its shape well when filled and doesn’t look like it’s about to burst or tear open, even when filled to the seams. This bag has huge amounts of storage space and it carries well even when at capacity. It’s good to note that Targus also offers it’s customers a lifetime warranty for its backpacks.
Overall, this backpack features a super comfortable fit. Having to carry around a bulky, uncomfortable bag is not how we would want to spend our trips. The Targus Drifter II is a great pick for travelers looking for comfort, functionality, and diverse uses.
7. Kelty Redwing 44 – Best Top Loading Travel Backpack
Kelty’s backpacks are built to endure and the Kelty Redwing 44 is great for long backpacking trips. This backpack easily swallows up all the clothing and gear that you need for extended trips. We also value that it’s a very comfortable backpack and has many separate compartments, making it easier to organize your belongings.
The padding in this pack makes it one of the most comfortable backpacks and even with a full load it doesn’t strain your neck or back. The hip belt also works to keep the backpack stable on your back even on wonky terrain.
We also really love the look of this backpack. The overall design of the backpack is very appealing.
We give the functionality of the Kelty Redwing 44 a definitive ten out of ten. With this bag, you don’t have to feel like you’re committing to a single purpose. The multi-purpose design of this backpack fits an adventurous lifestyle well!
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Similar to the Osprey brand of backpacks, the eBags TLS Mother Lode also has a lifetime warranty. It is constructed out of durable twisted poly materials and has a convenient expandable zipper option. It’s many large and small compartments allow for easy organization, and the lightweight build means it is not too much of a monster to carry around.
The bag has a lot more room than you would think just by looking at it. It’s pretty easy to organize everything, giving yourself extra room and saving time when you need to find a specific item on the go. The bag has a special laptop compartment, which is especially useful. The eBags TLS Mother Lode has two outside compartments and all of the zippers can lockable. It’s also the maximum size that you carry on to the plane! This backpack truly utilizes all of its storage room to the max.
The eBags TLS Mother Lode is a spacious beast. It is also compatible for people of all sizes and shapes! If you’re the type of person that hates taking multiple pieces of luggage on a trip, then this backpack is for you. It’ll take anything that you throw at it, no sweat! On top of all that, those padded straps are a great plus, very comfortable for the heavy loads that it can carry.
By far, the best feature of the eBags TLS Mother Lode is the laptop compartment with its patent pending laptop sling designed to keep your laptop super safe. The rest of the compartments are great features of this bag as well! If you need a bit more capacity, there’s a full expansion zipper to free up at least 10% more space. With this well-organized backpack, you can easily find an item you need without having to unpack.
The Osprey Porter 46 is a great carry-on bag, you’ll shouldn’t have any problems bringing it on to the plane. It’s essentially a duffel bag and roomy inside because of its interior zipping. It can also be used as a one size fits all kind of backpack.
The backpack has a straightforward design. It includes a wide variety of compartments inside, allowing for optimal organization. It also has multiple card slots. As for the feel, it’s very sleek and lightweight; also recommended for day hikers. The outside straps do a great job of keeping the weight balanced on your back.
The best function by far is the internal compartments, but that’s just the start. The Osprey Porter 46 also feels sturdy and durable. The strength of the backpack makes it great for longer trips. The multi-function of the backpack is by far a no brainer; if you travel and hike, it’s for you!
The Osprey Porter 46 is a sleek, well-designed, nylon travel backpack and is one of the lightest backpacks on this list. It’s also made of breathable materials so it’s comfortable in hotter temps. If you appreciate a versatile, smaller backpack which still has ample storage space, this one’s for you!
The SwissGear ScanSmart 1900 is one of the most affordable backpacks on this list. It’s a well-designed backpack with many organizational features.The 1200D polyester design is comfortable and the shoulder straps are definitely reliable.
This backpack will fit up to a 17-inch laptop and also features a laptop compartment. We were impressed by the strong material and trust it not to rip anytime soon. It should fit easily under the seat of the plane.
This travel backpack functions on flights and during hikes, we would recommend it for both. It has a lay-flat design, meaning that it checks out faster through airport security. On top of that, the weight distribution works like a dream.
The SwissGear ScanSmart Backpack is great for hikes and airplane travel. It’s not too big to fit under the seat, and it’s not too heavy to walk with. We appreciate the multiple compartments and zippers for travel. On top of its functionality, it looks good too! This is a good backpack for versatile travel.
With ample space, good material, and an overall functional build, the Deuter Transit 50 has a lot of room to utilize for traveling purposes. Sporting much more space than a typical backpack, we recommend this pack for heavy traveling. Being able to fit a ton of items and still find comfort in the fitting is rare, but the Deuter Transit 50 pulls it off.
We were drawn to this backpack because of its unique look. We immediately noticed that it had more space than other backpacks. This travel backpack has one main thing over other travel packs: it is big! Stabilizing straps, carry straps, and compression straps, however, allow for even weight distribution; so the weight of the travel pack does not take away from the comfort!
The Deuter Transit 50 is versatile; it can be used for long-term hikes and packing. The day pack is a unique, detachable feature that gives travelers extra space. You can live off of this bag for a long time, from days to weeks. If you are planning an around-the-world trip, then the Deuter Transit 50 is for you.
We recommend this bag for heavy packers. People who like to bring the essentials and then some will enjoy the Deuter Transit 50. The day pack has multiple uses, ranging from single-day usage to storing dirty clothes to bringing extra items. There are multiple uses for the endless space in this travel pack!
Travel Backpack Buying Guide
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BACKPACK FOR YOU
When purchasing a travel backpack, several important factors need to be considered, such as the weight, capacity, and compartments. From there, you can work your way down to your personal preferences, including the numbers of compartments, the shape of the internal frame, the presence of a laptop holder, etc. Here are some important things to consider.
Front Loading VS Top Loading Backpacks
We included just one top-loading backpack on this buying guide, the Kelty Redwing 44. Top loading backpacks generally work better for small backpacks ones you would wear to school or work, for example.
When you have a large backpack, packed to the brim with your travel goodies, you’ll generally need a front loading backpack. A front loading backpack opens like a suitcase, you can open it up and see everything at once. This is ideal if you are trying to organize everything.
Front loading backpacks also include compression straps.
With a top loading backpack, things get lost at the very bottom of your backpack and can be impossible to retrieve if you’re packed into an airplane seat.
The capacity- or amount of weight the pack holds- of a travel pack is an important feature to consider. Are you using your travel backpack to solely carry a few important items on the plane or will you be using it off the plane while exploring a different country. With a higher capacity travel pack, you can take more extended trips from your hotel and off the plane. All the backpacks on our list are versatile for a variety of travel situations.
The weight of a travel backpack is an important factor! Typically you want something lightweight so that you can travel through the airport comfortably. On the other hand, a backpack that is too lightweight may not be able to accommodate all your other travel needs. The best travel backpack is somewhere in between, and all our backpacks achieve a solid balance of portability and performance.
An internal frame in a travel backpack takes weight off of key points on the user. This is a critical; evenly distributed weight is the difference between successful travel and constant discomfort.
Compression straps work to squish the contents of your bag. This has a couple main purposes, one being that you can cram more precious travel essentials and clothing into your backpack. Second, it creates stability so that the bulk of the weight is against your back so that you are kept steady during your travels.
10 Insanely Easy Packing Hacks
You’ve picked up a killer travel backpack for your next rendezvous but you still gotta maximize your space. We love these quick and easy travel hacks
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