Traveling Light

Do you love to explore and travel?

Why make your trips more stressful than they need to be?

If you’re like me and a big fan of only bringing a backpack on your trip then you’ve come to the right place!

Check out our big selection of the best travel backpacks!

So ditch that old oversized, bulky suitcase and pick out a great backpack you’re sure to use more than just a time or two each year!

Editor’s Choice

OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L

Best Travel Backpack 2020

The exterior of the OutdoorMaster backpack is great, offering a number of mesh pockets as well as one designed for quickly accessing things you use often. Since fully loaded the backpack can really have some weight to it, OutdoorMaster have introduced padded straps that curve into an S-shape, allowing for a better weight distribution to not just your back, but neck and shoulders too. Underneath them there’s a waist belt which has a pocket you can keep more stuff in, as well as sleeping bag and tent straps.

Learn more on Amazon

Navigate Our Top 21 Travel Backpacks

Below are our top rated travel backpacks for 2020!

Backpack ImageBackpack NameCarry On FlightLaptop CompartmentPrice
Outdoor Master Hiking Backpack 50L (Editor's Choice)Yes15.6" Check Price
SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack - 19" eBags ExclusiveYes17" Check Price
Tortuga Air Travel Backpack - Carry-On-Sized, 27L, Expandable Weekend BagYes15" Check Price
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel BackpackYes15" Check Price
Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag, 46-LiterYes15" Check Price
Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel BackpackYes15" Check Price
Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L Wheeled LuggageYes15" Check Price
Osprey Packs Women's Tempest 30 BackpackYesNo Check Price
NeatPack Versatile Canvas Sling Bag / Travel BackpackYes12" Check Price
Incase EO Travel Backpack - Heather GrayYes17" Check Price
Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry on BackpackYes15.6" Check Price
Timbuk2 Aviator Travel BackpackYes17" Check Price
Patagonia Refugio Pack 28LYes15" Check Price
Manfrotto MB MA-BP-R Advanced Rear Backpack Yes13" Check Price
Kopack Lightweight Laptop BackpackYes15.6" Check Price
Travel Select Amsterdam Business Rolling Garment BagNo15.6" Check Price
JanSport Hatchet BackpackYes15" Check Price
eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender ConvertibleYes17" Check Price
TravPack-30L Best Quality Foldable Lightweight BackpackYes15" Check Price
Witzman Men's Vintage Canvas Duffel Shoulder Backpack Travel A2020Yes17" Check Price
Evecase Large Canvas DSLR Camera Backpack w/Rain coverYes15.6" Check Price

Be sure to also read up on our Travel Backpack Buying Guide first before making a decision on which bag to get!

Backpacks have much going for them – you don’t have to wait around at the baggage carousel to pick them up, they’re great as more than travel bags and can leave a great first impression not just at the airport, but in school or at a business trip too. Although all of these are appealing reasons to get one, a more interesting reason to do so is that a backpack makes you take a closer and thoughtful look at the things you really need, and can make you take up a smarter approach to packing and life in general.

Just ten years ago you could pick out trekkers and mountain climbers at the airport within seconds because they were the only ones with colorful backpacks while everyone else rolled their suitcases along. I’m happy to say that this is no longer the case – more and more people are realizing that backpacks are a more convenient, safer and less stressful way of transporting everything you’ll use without sacrificing much in terms of the amount of stuff you’re taking with you. If anything, they make you realize that you don’t actually need all that stuff and allow you to focus on enjoying your adventure more.

Once I started to write a guide that would examine some of the best travel backpacks and how they would benefit you, it quickly became clear that 10 just wouldn’t do this time around. There are simply too many good ones to pass up on, each with their own set of features that make them better suited for one specific situation or another. That’s why this guide is special, featuring thorough reviews of 21 different backpacks. At least a few of them are bound to catch your eye, and reading the handy guide towards the end will help you pick out the perfect one.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

1. OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L – The Best Travel Backpack

OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L Review

OutdoorMaster aren’t as well-known as some other brands I’ll be checking out, but they’ve managed to cause quite the buzz in online hiking and bushcraft communities due to their high-quality, versatile and sturdy gear. Their 50l hiking backpack spearheads this charge, and is my absolute favorite.

Its design is probably its best aspect – a full-fledged backpack you can take to an overnight camping trip that can also act as a more than capable luggage bag if ever you need it? Yes please! It is constructed from high-grade nylon resistant to ripping. The back is very comfortable and keeps you cool at all times. Its 50l capacity makes the backpack ideal for carrying a sizeable amount of gear, and the layout within it allows you to carry your smartphone, tablet or laptop with ease. Both of its large compartments are heavily padded, giving enough protection to everything inside.

Its exterior is equally great, offering a number of mesh pockets as well as one designed for quickly accessing things you use often. Since fully loaded the backpack can really have some weight to it, OutdoorMaster have introduced padded straps that curve into an S-shape, allowing for a better weight distribution to not just your back, but neck and shoulders too. Underneath them there’s a waist belt which has a pocket you can keep more stuff in, as well as sleeping bag and tent straps.

There’s just one minor issue with this backpack – its outer pocket doesn’t have a zipper. You’ll want to avoid placing valuable items in it because of this, but can comfortably use it for quick-reach items like sunglasses, wipes or snacks.

This is the best travel backpack I’ve used in a long while. Not only does it offer enough room for everything you could possibly want, but it does a tremendous job of keeping all of your items snug, dry and in perfect condition. Plus, its two-tone appearance makes it look amazing, only adding to the value. This is why the Outdoor Master is TRVNK’s pick for the best travel backpack!

  • Made from high quality materials
  • Roomy
  • Great weight distribution
  • Outer pocket has no zipper

2. SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack – 19″ eBags Exclusive – The Best Swissgear Travelgear to Carry Your Laptop In

SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack - 19

The digital nomad lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular – traveling the world with little more than your laptop and a few essential belongings sounds like loads of fun! If you want to minimize the hassle of going through airport checkups all the time, or if you just want a solid travel backpack that does much more than keeping your laptop safe, then the Scansmart Backpack 1900 should be at the very top of your items list.

Swissgear is an offshoot of Victorinox, the legendary company which first introduced the iconic Swiss army knife. It’s no surprise that they’d apply their craftsmanship and innovative approach to other products. Above all else though, as with the army knife, this backpack is the epitome of organization!

Its layout has been planned out to the smallest detail – the exterior is brimming with compartments of various sizes, all zipped up nicely with attractive metal zippers. Especially useful is the small front one which has a number of pockets built into it you can stuff with various small items like USB cables, pens and notebooks that can then be accessed without opening the main compartment up.

Speaking of which, there’s enough room inside that one to hold binders, thick textbooks and other larger items. The most appealing feature of its interior though is the brilliantly-designed quick-access laptop compartment. Dedicated exclusively to holding your laptop (and a tablet if you have one), you can unzip it, produce the laptop for inspection and zip it back up in a snap without having to get out the rest of your belongings.

Since its primary use is to hold your laptop, this model is somewhat smaller than a regular hiking backpack. If you only plan on using it for school, work and not much else, then it is ideal, otherwise you might be in need of a bigger model.

The Travel Gear 1900 is all around one of the best travel backpack with laptop compartment to keep your computer safe. Its ergonomic design will also help carry all of your supplies with maximum comfort. As an urban, multipurpose backpack, the Travel Gear 1900 is an excellent choice.

  • Great for organizing a lot of small items
  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Quality build
  • A bit too small to be used for camping or as luggage

3. Tortuga Air Travel Backpack – Carry-On-Sized, 27L, Expandable Weekend Bag – A Carry-on Tortuga Travel Backpack for All of Your Essentials

Tortuga Air Travel Backpack - Carry-On-Sized, 27L, Expandable Weekend Bag Review

Do you like to travel light and can’t stand waiting around for your luggage to arrive after you’ve landed? Tortuga has heard your cries for help and introduced their air travel backpack, a sleek small carry-on that will streamline your flying experience.

At first glance it looks very small. Don’t be fooled by its empty appearance however – when you start filling it up with clothes, electronics and small essentials, you’ll find that it will expand in size and can carry as much as 27l. This won’t be enough for a week-long trip to an exotic destination, but is perfect if you’re spending the night at a stateside hotel. Most importantly, it falls under the regulation guidelines for carry-on bags, meaning that you can take it with you inside the plane and keep it under your seat!

A nifty thing about the Tortuga travel backpack is that it opens like a suitcase which makes it one of the best travel backpack for clothes. Its middle is unzipped to offer two compartments, a deeper one to the back and a shallower one at the front. Surprisingly, both seem to be able to hold A LOT of clothes. The 2nd compartment can expand more, so you’ll get about equal use out of them.

Offering proper support for your back is very important to a backpack you need to carry all through the airport, and the Tortuga excels here as well, offering great balance thanks to its padded straps. Filled to the brim, it doesn’t even feel all that heavy, which is a real testament to its design.

You’ll have to pay for such high quality though. As we’ve seen with OutdoorMaster’s model for example, you can get a lot more space for far less money. Then again that might not be your primary concern when traveling as light as possible.

Tortuga’s backpack more than makes up for the difference with its convenience. Being able to zoom on through to your seat and still carry everything you took with you is well worth the extra investment, and makes this backpack one of the greats.

  • Lightweight
  • Compact yet roomy
  • Somewhat pricy

Osprey Backpacks – Dedicated to the Environment and Customer Satisfaction

Osprey Backpacks

Since the next five backpacks I’ll be taking a look at are all from the same company, it might be a good idea to also highlight what Osprey is all about. It was started by one man, Mike Pfotenhauer, back in 1974. Pfotenhauer is a hands-on guy who built his backpacks one by one back then and individually sold them to his customers. Word quickly got around that his creations were of top notch quality and the business soon expanded.

Today you’ll find city dwellers, survivalists, hikers and mountain climbers all around the world swearing by the quality of their Osprey travel backpack. All of their packs are covered by the “All Mighty Guarantee”. Osprey is very aware when it comes to preserving the environment and will always try to find a way to repair your backpack (within reason) rather than make it go to waste. Their environmentally-friendly approach doesn’t stop at that – Osprey has paired up with the European Union and is engaged in a number of bird conservation projects, taking concrete steps to protect the birds that inspired its creation.

4. Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack – Ideal for Lightweight World Travel

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack Review

Farpoint is Osprey’s dedicated line of backpacks for seekers of adventure in the great outdoors. These packs come with a slew of features that make them lightweight, comfortable and tough enough to brave any jungle or mountain path right along with you.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 travel backpack strikes a great balance between solid carrying capacity and convenience. It is just small enough to be classified as a carry-on, but has room for everything a minimalist would need for a trip lasting weeks. There are two compression straps which stretch across the bag’s front, protecting its contents from moving too much. On the other hand, the regular straps you carry it with can be put away using a flap on the back panel, reducing their movement and chances of damage during transit.

As with Tortuga’s model, you open the backpack’s main compartment like you would a suitcase. Naturally, there’s more room for your belongings, and there’s a specialized compartment for laptops up to 15’’ as well. You can lock the main compartment for extra protection, which is always appreciated.

For a travel backpack you’d use at campouts and treks, it is surprising that the Farpoint doesn’t come with a pocket to put your water bottle in or straps for your sleeping bag at the bottom. You can always place these inside the pack / secure them to the side, but dedicated places for both would have been better.

If you aren’t bothered too much with the above, the Farpoint 40l is a great choice for all of your nature adventuring needs. It keeps your stuff dry and won’t feel like a burden even after you’ve carried it on your back all day. There are cheaper backpacks out there, but the qualities this one has make it a worthwhile investment.

  • Spacious yet carry-on compatible
  • Good weight distribution
  • Main compartment lock
  • No water bottle pocket or bottom straps

5. Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag, 46-Liter – One of the Best carry-on Backpacks

Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag, 46-Liter Review

With Porter, Osprey are going for a backpack you can use in a wide variety of situations. It is a cross between a duffel bag and a traditional backpack, constructed in a way that makes packing simple and organized whether you’re carrying documents, books or supplies needed to survive in the wilderness.

The Osprey Porter 46 travel backpack bag is starting to push the definition of carry-on compatible, and yet it stays within its limits. There seems to be no end to the amount of stuff you can carry inside it, while still not going over the dimensions suitable for air travel.

The balance and comfort of this backpack are incredible. I was worried that this would be offset by the laptop compartment, which isn’t placed directly at the back as you’d expect, but this had no effect on how centered its balance was, even at full load.

Apart from the pockets and pouch you’ll find on the outside, there are two very useful straps you can use to adjust the volume of the pack. When tied, they also compress the items within, reducing their movement and making the Porter 46 much more stable.

While the back panel is quite comfortable and allows your back to breathe, it is thinner than one would expect from a backpack of this quality. You won’t have any trouble with this if you mostly carry around your books or clothes, but items that are awkwardly-shaped or pointy should be placed towards the front so that they don’t end up digging into your back.

The Osprey Porter 46 travel backpack bag proves that a hybrid bag with features suitable for both the urban and outdoor environments can offer great results. Its comfort and volume will keep delighting you with each use, and since it is so well made expect to depend on it for many years to come.

  • Superb balance and comfort
  • Good carrying capacity
  • Thin back padding

6. Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack – An Adaptable, Roomy Backpack for World Travel

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack Review

Farpoint 40’s big brother, the Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpack is a step up in terms of size and arguably versatility too. It should have enough room for all the things you’d take on your vacation or campout and then some without being cumbersome or hard on your back.

You definitely won’t feel like a pack mule while wearing it as the two main padded straps combine well with a waist and a chest strap, allowing you to carry more weight distributed more evenly across your entire back and shoulders. You won’t be able to stuff it under your airplane seat though, which is understandable given its size.

This travel backpack actually consists of two smaller ones put together. There’s the main 40l part and a 15l daypack you can detach and carry on its own. This is very useful when traveling because it lets you carry all of your valuables, including a laptop, with you at all times while your clothes are back at the hotel.

There’s really a lot of space inside the main compartment, and it even comes with a big mesh pocket for smaller items like socks or gloves. The 40l part of the backpack has no pockets though. Those are only located on the smaller daypack, which means that you can’t use the larger part for anything other than carrying the bulk of your stuff.

Even so, the Farpoint 55l is a versatile travel backpack built to accompany you on all of your journeys and offers enough storage space for a home away from home for someone whose needs are modest. If you’re that kind of person, you should jump at the chance to own it.

  • Two backpacks in one
  • Great weight support and balance
  • The bigger pack lacks pockets

7. Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″/50L Wheeled Luggage – Osprey’s Travel Backpack with Wheels

Osprey Ozone Convertible 22

What if you’re not satisfied with the versatility of having two backpacks in one, and want more options in transporting what’s inside too? Don’t worry, Osprey have thought of that scenario as well. Their travel backpack with wheels allows you to roll it along smooth surfaces like sidewalks and airport floors. Once the going gets tough it turns into a backpack you strap onto your shoulders and can carry even on the roughest trails.

There’s a 28’’ model with the same properties, but this smaller 22’’ one has the added benefit of being carry-on compliant. Switching from one mode of transportation to the other is easy and seamless – to use the wheels, you just extend the handle and place the pack on the ground. When you’re using it as a backpack, the handle is put away and gives way to two shoulder straps that are hidden inside a zipped-up pouch when not in use.

Like the Farpoint 55l, this model comes with a removable daypack. Its laptop compartment is a bit smaller, but there are pouches on either side you can easily store water bottles in. The main pack doesn’t just have one big compartment though. Rather, it is divided into a few compartments. There are mesh and nylon pockets too best used for small unsorted items.

Once the handle is retracted and the straps are tucked away, there isn’t that much room to be had in this backpack. The nylon construction allows for it to expand, but since there are more interior compartments than seen with other Osprey models, you can’t place as many large or bulky items inside it.

With some item management this shouldn’t be much of a problem, and you can always choose the bigger version if this one is too small for your needs. Still, as a wheeled, airplane-approved travel backpack, this is one of the most well-rounded entries in the guide, and among my personal favorites.

  • Can be wheeled or carried
  • Many compartments and pockets
  • Can’t hold as much as bags of similar size

8. Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 30 Backpack – A Travel Backpack Women Will Love

Osprey Packs Women's Tempest 30 Backpack Review

When it comes to a good backpack, women’s needs are slightly different. Their packs need to be stylish as well as functional, and that is why Osprey’s Tempest line caters specifically to the outdoorsy lady who doesn’t want to compromise on either of those.

At 30l, it is big enough to take everything you need for a day hike or cycling tour. It even has Osprey’s signature loops you can fasten your walking sticks with on either side. Thankfully there’s no trace of the stereotypical pink you’d think the backpack would come in – its vibrant green and white combo makes the Tempest both unique and attractive without insisting on the gender of its intended audience.

You’ll find no short supply of pockets and compartments here as the Tempest comes with heaps of them. The most notable are the hydration sleeve which allows you to quickly fill up your water reservoir on the go, waist belt pockets useful for storing your smartphone or wallet, and a handy compartment for your laptop. Additional welcome features include a point to which you can attach your bike light and additional straps that secure the pack firmly to your body while cycling.

Although the shoulder and waist straps are comfortable, the chest strap leaves much to be desired. If you are particularly well-endowed in that area, the chest strap might not fit you comfortably.

Even so, the multitude of its features and its feminine yet badass look make the Tempest 30l the best travel backpack women can buy right now. It is bound to be a step up from a backpack which doesn’t take women’s needs into consideration, and once you get used to it you won’t want to switch back.

  • Good support on foot and when cycling
  • Lots of pockets and compartments
  • Stylish appearance
  • The chest strap can be a bit uncomfortable

9. NeatPack Versatile Canvas Sling Bag / Travel Backpack – A Small Travel Backpack for the Urban Explorer

NeatPack Versatile Canvas Sling Bag / Travel Backpack Review

A big city has its own set of challenges, and a big backpack certainly doesn’t always have what it takes to overcome them. Having realized this, NeatPack has introduced its versatile canvas sling bag, a pack that will help you traverse the urban jungle without breaking a sweat.

They weren’t kidding when they put the “versatile” in its name. Not only is this a pack with about as many pockets as I’ve ever seen on one, it can also be worn in a number of ways. You can hold onto its thick broad strap and carry it over the shoulder. It can also be carried over your whole back messenger style, or you can turn it around and carry it across your chest.

Although it is a small travel backpack, NeatPack have put a lot of effort into its design and construction. The polyester it is made from will keep the items within out of the rain. Other than the elements, it protects your items from digital threats too – the pack comes with a RFID-blocking pocket useful for storing your wallet and credit cards.

If you wear the pack too tightly, the bottom part of its shoulder strap can start chafing against your clothes. Since its edge is hard and rugged, there’s the possibility of damage over time to clothes like sweaters and wool jackets.

Provided you wear it properly, this backpack might be just what you need. Its small size, comfortable strap and pockets galore make it an unobtrusive, useful and welcome item that will enhance both your daily commute and your sense of security.

  • Allows for different carrying styles
  • Water resistant
  • Anti-theft and RFID blocking
  • Shoulder strap can damage your clothing

10. Incase EO Travel Backpack – Heather Gray – The Stylish Backpack for Tech Enthusiasts

Incase EO Travel Backpack - Heather Gray Review

The EO is another appealing backpack for tech lovers who are always on the go. It has a quick-access laptop compartment similar to the Travelgear 1900, but its design is more in line with a modern and sleek business-style suitcase than an enhanced backpack you’d bring to school.

The professional look is brought about with its well-chosen monotone color and angular appearance. Don’t think that it makes the Incase EO travel backpack look uninspired though! More importantly, the blocky exterior conceals three large compartments, each with their own unique use.

The one closest to the back is well-padded and can house a laptop up to 17’’ big along with a tablet. The middle one is also the biggest and can stretch out to an additional third of its size, providing enough room for everything you need for a short vacation or business trip. The outer compartment is home to a lot of smaller pockets that will keep your loose belongings secure. Whether you fill just one compartment or all of them, the pack’s shape always stays the same and the things you store in one compartment don’t press up against the other two.

The downside to this model is that it lacks a waist strap. While this isn’t really that big of a deal, it does mean that you don’t get optimal weight distribution and support.

All in all this is a solidly constructed, visually appealing backpack for the modern traveler. No waist strap aside, it provides all the features you need from a backpack for a well-prepared traveling experience. Add bonus points for how good you’ll look while wearing it at the airport, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

  • Sturdy construction
  • Modern look
  • Laptop compartment
  • No waist strap

11. Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry on Backpack – An Innovative Combination of Duffel Bag and Men’s Travel Backpack

Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry on Backpack Review

If there’s one common theme with all of these backpacks, apart from their high quality, it is that each company strives to make models that have something unusual to offer. It is no different with Hynes, who have come up with the Eagle, a men’s travel backpack you can just as easily carry as a duffle bag.

There’s really nothing to it. You simply tuck the straps away into their storage compartments and use the conveniently-placed side handle instead. This is useful when you don’t have much stuff inside and don’t want to carry everything on your back. Hynes has also listened to what its customers had to say and has provided the newest version of this model with an additional water bottle pocket and a waist strap which enhances its stability even more.

Whichever way you decide to carry the backpack, there are suspension straps on the outside secured with plastic buckles that will tightly hold your things in place. Whether it’s an electronic device, important file or an item of clothing, once you place and secure it, your stuff will stay put. It will also remain completely dry if you happen to get caught in the rain thanks to the water-resistant polyester used to make the pack.

The quality of the straps isn’t in line with the rest of the pack’s materials. Fill it up with too much stuff and they’re likely to snap, leaving you with one less crucial feature. This can be avoided by storing fewer items inside of it, but you lose out on a portion of its capacity in that way.

There’s almost nothing bad about this particular backpack. It is a large carry-on that adjusts itself to your carrying preferences and will easily hold more than just the bare essentials. On top of that, you get a lot of quality for a reasonable price, which makes owning this backpack doubly appealing.

  • Can act as a duffel bag
  • Carry-on compatible with a lot of space
  • Low-quality suspension straps

12. Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack – One of the Best Backpacks for Minimalists and Digital Nomads

Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack Review

Many of the backpacks I’ve reviewed pride themselves in having a whole lot of space to work with. Timbuk2’s Aviator won’t be going toe to toe with the likes of Osprey’s larger models when it comes to that. Nevertheless, its construction and features warrant special consideration, particularly if you consider yourself part of one of the groups mentioned in the title.

Women enjoy using it too because of its compact size and elegant yet subdued appearance. With a carrying capacity just shy of 29 liters, it is one of the smaller backpacks in the list. You’ll have no trouble getting it with you into any place though, even on cheaper flights that allow only smaller carry-ons.

Design-wise the Timbuk2 Aviator travel backpack was made to be secure and well-organized. It loads from the top which can be both zipped up and clasped so thieves will have a very hard time getting to your valuables. There are handy compartments you can easily reach that are well-suited for items you’ll need to have at the ready. As with other models, there’s also a laptop sleeve which can hold one as big as 17’’. There’s even a rain cover in one of the compartments, and a bottle opener attached to its waist strap.

Since the Aviator is so small, you’re gonna have to prioritize what you’ll carry inside of it. The laptop sleeve can’t be flattened, so if you aren’t carrying your laptop you still can’t take advantage of the extra space that would provide.

The Aviator has everything someone traveling as light as possible could want from their trusty backpack. In it nough space for bare necessities, security from theft and weather and instant access to everything it holds combine into a recipe for a backpack worthy of your next purchase.

  • Good theft protection
  • Easy-access front pocket
  • Can be carried onto any plane
  • A bit too small for some
  • Laptop sleeve can’t be flattened

13. Patagonia Refugio Pack 28L – The Patagonia Travel Backpack for Everyday Use

Patagonia Refugio Pack 28L Review

Wouldn’t it be great if you could trade in your sports bag, school bag and hiking backpack for one versatile solution that can act as any of the three? Patagonia’s Refugio is the elegant answer to all three of these backpack problems!

Due to its dimensions the Refugio occupies a sweet spot between a daypack and a full-fledged travel backpack, allowing you to use it around town or on a fieldtrip without looking out of place at either. Whatever you’re currently transporting inside, the organizational pockets in its interior will make sure that everything is in place and easily reachable. There’s space for your laptop and smartphone as well as a pocket made from microfibers used to store your sunglasses without getting them crushed or scratched.

It’s made out of ballistic nylon which offers superb durability and water resistance. The back has a breathable mesh and the straps fit comfortably. Staying hydrated won’t be a problem either because there’s a compartment dedicated to a water reservoir. The wide selection of colors it comes in allows you to match it perfectly to your style.

My only complaint with this Patagonia travel backpack is that it doesn’t have a waist strap. You won’t necessarily miss it if you mostly use it for smaller trips and don’t max out its carrying capacity. However, when it is totally full the lack of a waist strap makes it less stable.

Overall though this is a fantastic choice for anyone who needs a smaller backpack which can take on many roles and do a good job with all of them. Its versatile nature will make the Refugio your faithful companion, and its quality make will keep it that way for a good long while.

  • Versatility
  • Durability
  • Comes in many attractive colors
  • Has no waist strap

14. Manfrotto MB MA-BP-R Advanced Rear Backpack – The Most Secure Backpack for Photographers

Manfrotto MB MA-BP-R Advanced Rear Backpack  Review

Manfrotto are best known for the innovative work they do in helping photographers protect their valuable equipment and looking sharp at the same time. This newest example of their philosophy showcases another layer of protection with its innovative rear compartment.
Basically this is a zipped up compartment that presses directly against your back, making stealing from it virtually impossible. It can comfortably hold a camera and a number of camera accessories. Apart from being secure, everything is protected from violent movement thanks to the generous padding the Manfrotto advanced travel backpack comes with.

In its main compartment there’s a ton of room for a bigger laptop, some more lenses, notebooks and important documents. To the side there’s also a specialized pocket used to transport tripods. Best of all, if you find yourself not needing any of your equipment for the day, getting everything out and removing the camera compartment turns this into a completely functional and spacious daypack.

Since this is a small and specialized backpack, it isn’t built with hiking or longer travel in mind. This is seen most clearly when you fill up its tripod and side pockets. This cuts into the pack’s interior space quite a lot, reducing the amount of things you can carry.

When taken as what it is, a purposeful pack with additional uses, the Manfrotto advanced travel backpack is one of the best things that happened to traveling photographers in recent years. It is meant to protect your valuable gear above all else, and does this with excellent results. It probably won’t replace a larger travel backpack, but it certainly has the potential to become your new favorite one.

  • Fantastic protective camera compartment
  • Great padding
  • Small
  • Loses on interior space if outer pockets are full

15. Kopack Lightweight Laptop Backpack – A Lightweight Backpack for Travel that Keeps Your Laptop Secure

Kopack Lightweight Laptop Backpack Review

Not everyone needs to carry around a camera all the time, but many of us need our trusty laptop wherever we go. Losing such an expensive piece of gear, not to mention the valuable files stored on it, can be a disaster you’ll want to avoid at any cost. Kopack have stepped up to the challenge of securing your laptop wherever you may go through this sharp-looking backpack.

The principle behind its protection is very similar to what the Manfrotto does. There’s a separate laptop compartment with its own zipper protected by being right next to your back. The zipper is located behind the shoulder straps, so opening this compartment up and actually stealing something from it isn’t likely.

Apart from being secure, this is a classy and lightweight backpack for travel that comes with twelve different compartments, ergonomic back padding and S-shaped straps. It’s perfect as a stylish school bag or a travel backpack you’d take with you on a short business trip. It is one of the least expensive items in the guide, yet it doesn’t feel that way at all. The stitching holds up very well, its zippers are solid and the color is cool enough to get noticed, but definitely not obnoxious like some backpack colors tend to be.

Although Kopack claims that the backpack is water-resistant, you wouldn’t want to wear it during a heavy downpour without bringing an umbrella. Although it is a necessity, the way in which the anti-theft laptop compartment is accessed means that you’ll have to move the shoulder straps all the way to the side and back each time you want to put your laptop in and take it out, which, although understandable and safe, can become annoying.

For a very reasonable price, Kopack have managed to present the customer with a safe and stylish backpack that won’t fall apart after you’ve used it for a couple of months. This is definitely more than just a backpack for the budget-conscious and can easily go toe to toe with models that are more expensive, giving it even more value and appeal.

  • Great balance of quality and price
  • Anti-theft laptop compartment
  • Ergonomic
  • Questionable water resistance

16. Travel Select Amsterdam Business Rolling Garment Bag – The Best Business Travel Backpack

Travel Select Amsterdam Business Rolling Garment Bag Review

In the business world, first impressions can make or break a career. You wouldn’t want to meet a prospective client in a wrinkled-up suit, and the best way to prevent this is to have a spacious business travel backpack that can handle all of your suits, ties, toiletries and more without leaving creases or wrinkles. Travel Select’s garment bag takes care of this annoyance thanks to its superior design.

Everything about it has been made to accommodate your clothes with as little need for folding as possible so that either a suit or a little black dress can be taken out of it and worn straight away. Its big interior has easily enough room for three to four full suits. There are suspension straps in place that keep the clothes from moving about. You can even leave the clothes on their hangers since there’s a point you can secure their hooks to.

On top of that, the interior is lined with several meshed pockets you can zip up and comfortably store your toiletries inside of. The outside features gusseted pockets that can store even more items and are flattened when not in use.

The handle and inline wheels make going through the airport or hotel hassle-free, but you can also attach an ergonomic shoulder strap to the bag, turning it into a full-fledged backpack.

Since it was meant to accommodate suits, the bag is wider than most. It might not get accepted as a carry-on with some airlines because of this. There’s also no dedicated laptop sleeve, so you’ll have to bring an extra bag along for that if you don’t want it to jostle about.

With that said, this garment bag does exactly what it is supposed to do, transport your suits and gown from point A to point B, and it does so flawlessly. With it business trips, weddings and other formal events become a little bit less stressful, and that alone makes it worth every penny of its already attractive price.

  • Keeps suits and dresses free from creases
  • Lots of space for items of various sizes
  • Can be rolled or carried
  • Might be too wide as a carry-on
  • No dedicated laptop compartment

17. JanSport Hatchet Backpack – The Perfect JanSport Travel Backpack for EDC

JanSport Hatchet Backpack Review

Like its namesake, the Hatchet by JanSport is small, hardy and can be used in a lot of different ways. It is a bit bigger than a daypack, but still not as large as a standard travel backpack, giving you the best of both worlds and allowing you to keep all of your everyday carry gear with you while still leaving a lot of room for other items.

The inside consists of one big compartment which has several smaller pockets and sleeves built into it. There’s your standard 15’’ laptop sleeve, a sleeve you can put your hydration bladder into along with a hole for its hose, some mesh pockets and zippered ones too. Its exterior features water bottle pockets on the sides, suspension straps for reducing its size and also a few loops you can attach an icepick or a real hatchet to.

The backpack comes in a wide variety of styles both guys and girls will enjoy. Everyone will also enjoy the fact that it is water resistant and that its zippers do not leak in the slightest.

The Hatchet comes with a lot of pockets, but almost none of them are big enough to house some bulkier items. If you go to school and need a bigger scientific calculator or want to transport your tablet, you won’t find pockets that can accommodate that effectively. Also the straps don’t seem to be as well-made as the rest of the backpack and can break even with little use.

An EDC bag, a school bag, a hiking daypack… there’s little the Hatchet isn’t good for. Its plethora of pockets and roomy interior will find good uses in any of these scenarios. All you need to do is pick out a nice color scheme and fill the pack up with all your stuff. Chances are you’ll still have plenty of room left once you do.

  • Versatility
  • Lots of color options
  • Excellent water resistance
  • Straps may break after some use

18. eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible – The Convertible Travel Backpack with Endless Adjustment Options

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Review

I’ve already talked about a number of backpacks that offer some customization options, but nothing comes close in that regard to the Mother Lode! It truly is a convertible travel backpack that adapts itself to your current needs and performs as it should in each of its forms.

When you look at it for the first time, it looks like a sturdy and fun backpack they’ll let you stow above your seat on an airplane. Not enough room for you? There’s an expander in place which you can unzip, increasing the capacity to almost 60l! You can use this pack for an overnight stay or for a 3-month backpacking stint through South America, and that’s really saying something about its value!

The customization doesn’t end there. Its large interior can store all of your clothes, accessories and books, plus it has a laptop sleeve. You can bundle your stuff together, but you can also place a divider inside it, giving you two smaller specialized places to work with. Don’t want to carry the backpack on both shoulders all the time? No problem – either tuck the straps away and use the larger single strap to wear it like a messenger bag, or simply use its side handle and carry it like a duffel instead.

The only thing keeping this backpack from being one of my absolute favorites is the lack of suspension straps and a waist strap. It could use the suspension to keep the items inside in one place better. More importantly, without proper weight distribution a backpack with so much capacity can start to feel very heavy and awkward after a short while.

Still, if you like to bring along as few bags as possible and aren’t planning on lugging it around all the time, the Mother Lode is an effective, innovative and good-looking backpack that will brave the world alongside you.

  • Excellent customization
  • Large capacity
  • No suspension or waist straps

19. TravPack-30L Best Quality Foldable Lightweight Backpack – A Space-saving Europe Travel Backpack

TravPack-30L Best Quality Foldable Lightweight Backpack Review

There’s one annoying thing almost all backpacks have in common, especially if they are large and bulky – they take up space. Even when empty, some that have many fixed compartments don’t lose much if any of their volume, taking up precious space for months when they aren’t being used. Not so with this beauty from TravPack!

The best thing about the backpack is that you can fold it up! Once folded, you can store the backpack in its own pouch which takes up only a fraction of the size. You’d think that this would make it less robust, but it doesn’t. While the backpack is a bit thinner than most, the high-grade nylon it is made from retains its shape well when unfolded and the inner compartments don’t bleed over into one another nearly as much as you’d expect.

The zippers are this backpack’s major drawback. They tend to get stuck both when opening and closing. After a while they might not be able to close the backpack all the way as well. Since it folds up, there is no padding to support your back adequately. You’ll need to pay extra attention to the order in which you pack your things for your back to remain comfortable.

While these issues cost it the title of best backpack for international travel, expect it to do very well in an environment like Europe where you can hop from city to city and don’t need to carry the full load all the time. It will perform even better as a cool-looking school or sports bag and is sure to attract attention.

  • Saves space
  • Durable nylon construction
  • Faulty zippers
  • Back isn’t padded

20. Witzman Men’s Vintage Canvas Duffel Shoulder Backpack Travel A2020 – A Canvas Travel Backpack with a Great Retro Feel

Witzman Men's Vintage Canvas Duffel Shoulder Backpack Travel A2020 Review

There was something special about the way canvas duffel bags of old looked and felt. Witzman set to work on recreating that recognizable look and has done a very good job of it. The vintage shoulder backpack has a distinct retro feel while also sporting almost everything a modern traveler needs.

Like a number of other packs in the guide, this one can be worn in a number of ways. What’s different about it is that the main compartment can be opened differently depending on which one you choose. If you use its side handle and carry it like a suitcase, you open it up with a side zipper. When it is carried like an ordinary backpack or messenger bag, it opens up from the top.

There are several color schemes and two different sizes to choose from. Whichever size you go for, expect that you’ll be able to fit a week’s worth of clothes, a laptop and an assortment of smaller items into it with ease.

Since it is made from canvas, this backpack isn’t water resistant. You’d think that knowing this the manufacturer would have put a layer underneath the canvas that wouldn’t let water through. Sadly, your things will get wet if you leave it out in the rain, so get a protective rain cover to fix the problem if you like everything else about the pack.

Within the limits of the materials used though, this is a very well-made canvas travel backpack that manages to capture the look of the packs our dads used to carry around. A roomy interior, versatile carrying options and that classic feel all come together in making this a useful backpack you’ll love to be seen with.

  • Vintage look
  • Good capacity
  • Main compartment can be accessed from two sides
  • Not water resistant

21. Evecase Large Canvas DSLR Camera Backpack w/Rain cover – The Best Camera Backpack for Travel

Evecase Large Canvas DSLR Camera Backpack w/Rain cover Review

Wrapping up the reviews is another travel backpack dedicated to photographers. It doesn’t have the secure camera compartment we’ve seen with the Manfrotto, but Evacase has ensured that their own model is its worthy contender.

The backpack’s first great feature is its unassuming appearance. It looks good, sure, but it doesn’t really look like your typical camera bag, and that’s great since would-be thieves won’t assume you’re holding your valuable cameras and lenses inside.

The front compartment is home to your equipment and has enough room for a camera and up to five lenses or three different zooms. You can customize this compartment with several dividers so every bit of gear has its own space.

The rest of the backpack is neatly organized too – its five accessory pockets will take care of all your small belongings, and the top compartment has room enough for your jacket and stuff like press packets or other documents. There’s even a rain cover which will protect your precious belongings from getting wet.

Straps seem to be many backpacks’ weak point, and the Evacase has its problems with them too. For starters, you can’t adjust them without taking the pack off. If you’re on the taller side, even that might not be enough to keep them from digging into your shoulders. Finally, there’s no padding on them.

When it comes to carrying your camera, all of its accessories and then some in an efficient and organized manner though, this is still the best camera backpack for travel around. At this price point, the number of features far exceed its negative sides, so if you’ve spent almost all of your cash on that expensive new filter, investing the rest into this backpack will not turn out to be a disappointment.

  • Lots of space for camera and accessories
  • Great organization options
  • Rain-proof cover
  • Lower quality straps that are hard to adjust

Travel Backpack Buyer’s Guide

It seems that picking out a travel backpack is no easy matter. The variety of sizes and features alone is enough to make you unsure of what to choose. Here are a few broad things to keep in mind which will help you narrow your choices down.

  • Straps & Ergonomics – In order to make full use of your backpack, the quality of these two features is absolutely essential. It’s one thing to be able to make use of every square inch of your backpack, and another to be able to actually carry that full backpack comfortably and safely to your destination. If you’re going for anything larger than a daypack, make sure that the model you choose has at least a waist or hip strap, and a chest strap on top of that would be ideal. Before you purchase, take a look at the pack’s back padding and whether it offers lumbar support. All of these will let you properly distribute and carry the pack’s weight longer and without experiencing back or shoulder pain afterwards.
  • Quality Materials & Water Resistance – It goes without saying that these are important for everyone, but they can mean the greatest difference between having a good time or feeling miserable on your outdoor adventures. If you’re big on connecting with nature, always choose the best-quality materials resistant to tearing and ripping as well as the elements.
  • Size – How big your backpack is shouldn’t depend only on how much stuff you need to put in it, but on your frame too. Overstuffing one that’s too small will kill your back, and doing the same with one that’s too large might cause you to fall over. Carefully consider all the things you need to take with you. If everything fits inside the backpack and there’s still some breathing room left, congratulations, you’ve got the right size.
  • Organization – Unless you’re using your backpack only for clothes, it is always better to go for one that has multiple compartments and pockets. Even so it is a good idea to have organizational pockets you can use to store your dirty clothes and towels. Too many smaller compartments can reduce the amount of bulkier items you can carry though, so choose a backpack that has a good balance of space and separation.
  • Anti-Theft Features – Nothing can turn a delightful vacation into a stress-filled nightmare faster than having the contents of your backpack stolen. You might not be able to keep an eye on everything all the time, but there are features your backpack can come with that help make it safer. These include double zippers you can secure with a lock, compartments on the back you shield with your body and RFID-blocking compartments for your credit cards and passports. You’ll sleep easier knowing your backpack has some or all of these features, so consider investing into one that does.

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