Whether you’re spending the weekend in the wilderness or embarking on an urban adventure, having the right travel backpack can make or break your trip. You want something roomy, with designated places for everything from your laptop to your toiletries. At the same time, you need to be able to carry it without it weighing you down. The right travel backpack checks all those boxes, and then some.
But with nearly as many options as there are destinations, it’s hard to know which backpack will serve as the ultimate travel companion. We found the best travel backpacks for both long and short stays, ones that will have you whisking through security checkpoints with ease — without breaking your back. Now all you need to do is book those tickets and you’re good to go.
The ultimate modular travel backpack, the Peak Design backpack features top, side, front and rear access via weatherproof zips. It meets international carry-on size requirements, but expands to be a 45L gear-hauler and collapses to be a 35L day bag.
Pros: The Peak Design travel backpack is equipped tons of internal and external pockets, plus a main cavity that’s divisible via a zippered mesh sleeve. It has tuck-away shoulder straps. The exterior is a sleek, weatherproof 100 percent recycled 400D nylon canvas shell. And it shrinks down to suit your travel needs.
Cons: It’s a lot of money to spend on a backpack.
We love that this travel backpack has numerous front pockets, so you can access any documents or devices right when you need them, instead of having to dig around. Plus, it grows with you.
Pros: This is your carryon companion. It has padded shoulder straps plus a back panel that makes toting it around easy and comfortable. It fits your iPad, plus clothes, plus gadgets, plus whatever else you need. And it has wraparound handle so you can hoist it out of the overhead bin without breaking your back.
Cons: It’s not cheap, and the straps aren’t as solid or padded as some would like.
If you're looking for the perfect backpack, this is it. The TUMI backpack is roomy enough for all your daily stuff, plus your electronics and a change of clothes.
Pros: The venerable luggage brand scores again with an ideal travel backpack that’s sleek yet practical. It has a water-resistant pocket for your water bottle, a quick-access phone pocket, and the fact that it’s nylon makes it lightweight and durable. It’s just as suited for day trips as it is for the office.
Cons: The price.
This is the travel backpack for the hyper-organized traveler, because it comes equipped with packing cubes so you never misplace anything.
Pros: No more digging around, frantically searching for socks or chargers. Just store your necessities in one of the three packing cubes for easy and instant access. Better yet, the Hynes travel backpack is convertible, transforming into a duffle bag. It has one front zip pocket, multiple interior slip pockets, room for your laptop, a side bottle pocket, and an adjustable sternum strap.
Cons: The comfort level and lack of padding leave something to be desired.
Slim Durable College School Computer Bookbag for Women, Men, Outdoor Camping&Fits Up to 16-inch Notebook -Grey” description=”Sterling reviews plus a price this low make this travel backpack an excellent value for travelers on a budget.” tracking=”fatherly-travelbackpack-20″]
Pros: It bears repeating: this thing is just $20, by far the least expensive option on our list. For the Jackson you get plenty of storage space, clever features like a luggage strap and external USB port, and a lightweight, durable fabric.
Cons: One of the few gripes reviewers have with this backpack is that it’s not the most well-padded option out there, so it might not be the best if you’re planning on having it on your back all day.
While it's known for its small daypacks, Fjallraven makes solid larger backpacks as well. This one has 30 liters of space contained within its G-1000 Heavy Duty material, a waxed blend of polyester and cotton.
Pros: You can fit a laptop up to 17 inches in the padded sleeve, and there are side pockets for a water bottle and other small items you want quick access too. There’s also a removable pad that cushions your back while carrying and can be removed to serve as a seating pad in a pinch.
Cons: The double strap, top flap enclosure over a drawstring means it’s difficult to get to the main compartment quickly.
This travel backpack, available in eight colors, is designed for adults or large children. It features oversized pockets and pouches for everything from sunglasses to water bottles, as well as a laptop-only compartment that fits most devices up 17 inches.
Pros: This travel backpack is suitable for long-term use thanks to its ergonomically-contoured shoulder straps, made from mesh fabric that rests easily on your shoulders. You will benefit from its airflow ventilation technology, which lets you keep this on your back for hours without turning into a sweaty mess.
Cons: It can be complicated to use, thanks to its many features.
At just over 2 pounds, this lightweight Pacsafeback pack offers plenty of room. It was designed by travelers. With a padded laptop sleeve that’s suspended so your device doesn't clunk around the bag’s bottom and side pockets for water bottles or umbrellas, this backpack is accepted as a carry-on by most airlines.
Pros: Travelers can feel secure using this backpack, which features securable zippers and cut-proof material. Plus, it has an RFID blocking pocket to keep your credit cards secure.
Cons: It’s better-suited for folks who have larger frames, and not so great for the petite.
This backpack is actually two packs: a 45-liter standard pack and a 15-liter day sack that easily detaches for those times when you can stash your pack in your hotel or at your campsite and only need a few of the essentials until you return.
Pros: This pack is highly adjustable, with straps that pull together the shoulder pads at both chest and hip level. It’s also affordable when you consider the impressive 60 total liters of space you get with this pack.
Cons: There are two water-related issues we have with this pack. One, it’s not waterproof, so you have to be careful if the weather turns inclement. Two, there’s no water bottle holder, a bizarre omission of a feature that’s standard on the vast majority of packs.
Designed to handle loads up to 40 pounds, this Osprey backpack’s LightWire frame suspension transfers the weight from harness to hipbelt, making it more comfortable for the carrier. If you need to hoist it overhead, you’ll appreciate the padded carry handles at the top and side of the pack.
Pros: Owners of this travel backpack liked the extra padded support on both the chest and waist straps as well as the fact that the fabric didn’t tear when stretched to the max.
Cons: The back of the pack doesn’t have enough pockets.
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