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Best Travel Backpacks for Your Next Adventure

Travel Backpack

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Updated March 10, 2024

I love the idea of getting out of town and traveling. I don’t care if it’s an overnight trip, a weekend getaway, or visiting a new city for a week or more. The idea of discovering new places, trying out new restaurants, and shopping appeals to me. When I hit the road, I also take a travel backpack. It doesn’t matter if I’m traveling by train or plane—there’s me and a travel backpack.

I’m confessing here: I own three travel backpacks. No, it’s not that I am a shopaholic (I take the fifth on that); each type of travel backpack serves a different purpose. The one thing that all my backpacks have in common is a padded sleeve for my laptop.

I use my small top-loading backpack for quick overnight trips, the gym, and working away from home. It’s roomy enough to hold a change of clothes and has compartments to organize things while securely holding my electronics.

Travel backpack number two is my carry-on item when flying—it’s a 24L bag that neatly keeps my electronic equipment safe. The main compartment has room to hold my valuables and shoes. The outer zippered pockets carry my wallet, passport, and items I must grab quickly. It fits under the airplane seat with ease.

A 35L bag is my bag for week-long trips. It has a secret top compartment, a separate shoe compartment, and a padded laptop sleeve, and it can be overstuffed. To keep things balanced, I use both the chest and hip straps.

Travel backpacks allow you to easily hop on a plane or train and bypass waiting for your bags at the end of a long flight. The best travel backpack will enable you to kick up your heels and go anywhere immediately.

What to keep in mind when shopping for a travel backpack

Airline regulations

The largest backpack that would be allowed on a domestic flight would be 22” x 14” x 9” for it to be considered a carry-on bag. If taking a large backpack on an international flight, the largest backpack can not be bigger than 21.5 “ x 15.5” x 9” as a carry-on item. If the backpack is bigger than either of those measurements, it must be checked in as luggage. 


The best way to pick a travel backpack is to match it to the length of your trip. We checked in with eco-friendly, sustainable travel bag company Timbuk2’s Director of Merchandising, Brandon McCarthy, on choosing the best travel backpack for your vacation. McCarthy echoed my packing philosophy. When asked how to find the right size travel backpack, McCarthy wrote  in an email interview, “For a one to two-day overnight trip, a 20 to 25 liter pack can accommodate all your gear and needs.” McCarthy continued, “Opt for bigger travel backpacks like 35 to 40 liter bags for longer trips. They offer lots of storage space, have smart pocketing, and a comfortable carry with the additional lumbar support and sternum straps.”


Looking at the larger travel backpacks is a good idea if you’ll be on the road for over two weeks. That means travel backpacks that are 40L or over will generally hold everything you need for a long trip on the road. If you’re a packing whiz and can make packed clothing into tiny rolls or extremely small squares, use a 35L. (And don’t forget your toiletry bag.)

However, if you’re a maximalist, opt for a long-haul travel backpack. The larger size (55L and over) will hold multiple wardrobe changes.

If you’re like me and cannot live without your laptop, make sure the travel backpack that you select has a dedicated padded laptop compartment.  

Lastly, expandable backpacks are great for people who travel a lot. Because they expand, their size can be adjusted for your needs.

Cost-to-benefit ratio

The final factor to contemplate is the dreaded cost-to-benefit ratio. While owning and showing off a top-of-the-line travel backpack is nice, you can find a great backpack that won’t cost you a mint. After all, you want a backpack that works, not one that will make your fellow passengers green with envy. 

Take into account how often you travel. If you go on frequent vacations or work trips, investing in a pricey travel backpack that can withstand constant travel stress makes sense. A moderately-priced backpack is a better investment if you only travel once or twice a year.

No matter how much money you may spend, you want one that works for your trip and needs. Some bags are marketed specifically for travel, like certain backpacks for women, but most are for any and everyone. You can even buy travel backpacks for kids, which are sized proportionately for smaller frames. Narrow down your choices on what type of backpack you need. That should include size and options. After you do that, then look at price tags. 

This curated list has travel backpacks with rave reviews and tons of options that are under $100. 

Our top picks for best travel backpacks

Best small backpack for travel: DELSEY Paris Peugeot Voyages Backpack Tote Bag

Best small backpack for travel
DELSEY Paris Peugeot Voyages Backpack Tote Bag

DELSEY Paris Peugeot Voyages Backpack Tote Bag

Peugeot Voyages luggage has the exact details of luxury brands without the nosebleed price tag.  While it’s a unisex travel item, it’s a great travel backpack for women, as the exterior compartments can hold a French wallet, a small makeup bag, and other sundries. Their backpack tote bag has a weatherproof exterior made from eco-friendly materials, and the roomy interior is lined with antimicrobial fabric that absorbs odors. That’s a win-win if you’re toting smelly sneakers or laundry on the trip home. 


  • Material: Exterior - poly/nylon made with recycled water bottles, Interior- recycled polyester treated with antimicrobial SILVADUR. Leather trim.
  • Dimensions: 14.25 x 6.5 x 16.25 inches
  • Capacity: 24.4L
  • Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Colors: Navy Price on publish: $195

The bottom line:

It’s a little pricey, but I find it incredibly durable as someone who owns it. It looks new even after two years of use.

Get it here: DELSEY Paris Peugeot Voyages Backpack Tote Bag

Best large backpack for travel: Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Best large backpack for travel
Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

We like Timbuk2 products because they stand behind their sustainably made gear. If you have a problem with it, activate their lifetime warranty, send the backpack to them, and they’ll fix it for free. The Never Check expands three liters, from 24.50L to 27.5L, making it adaptable for any type of trip, barring a long-haul one. 


  • Material: Sustainably sourced fabric sourced from bluesign® certified mills
  • Dimensions: 10.6 x 11.4 x 18.9 inches
  • Capacity: 24.50L to 27.5L expanded
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Colors: Black
  • Price at publish: $209

The bottom line: 

The Timbuk2’s travel expandable backpack is great for business and leisure travelers. 

Get it here: Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Best travel backpack for men: The North Face Jester Backpack

TNF prides itself on creating rugged gear that lasts forever. Made from recyclable materials, this 28L travel backpack’s FlexVent™ suspension system frame comfortably distributes weight, and includes injection-molded shoulder straps, a padded back panel, and a breathable lumbar It has padded laptop and tablet sleeves and two external water bottle pockets. The main roomy compartment can hold a week’s worth of neatly rolled clothing.


  • Materials: 600D recycled polyester with non-PFC, durable, water-repellent, non-PFC DWR finish. Trims are made with recycled plastic.
  • Dimensions: 11 x 8.25 x 18.13 inches
  • Capacity: 18L
  • Weight: 1.63 pounds
  • Colors: Black, Gray, Leather Brown, Pine
  • Price at publish: $74.99

The bottom line:

This well-made, eco-friendly backpack was designed to protect your back while carrying a week’s worth of clothing.

Get it here: The North Face Jester Backpack

Best travel backpack for women: Baggallini Soho Backpack

Best travel backpack for women
Baggallini Soho Backpack

A word of warning: once you buy one Baggallini backpack, you want more. Baggallini’s Soho Backpack was my gateway drug. It’s sleek-looking and can be used for commuting and overnight trips. I use it when I’m working away from home or when traveling on short trips. The Soho clocks in a little over a pound and fits a 16-inch laptop. The top loader expands when opened, making finding things a breeze inside the main compartment. Inside, it has RFID card slots, a pen holder (!), and a waterproof exterior. 


  • Materials: Water-repellent nylon
  • Dimensions: 11 x 15 x 6 inches
  • Capacity: 455 cubic inches
  • Weight: 4.25 pounds
  • Colors: Black, Black Camo Jacquard, Black Cheetah, Black Croc Jacquard, Black Neoprene, French Navy, Gray Camo, Heather Gray Neoprene, Smoke, Smoke/Faux Python
  • Price at publish: $87.95 - $140

The bottom line:

Baggallini’s stylish Soho backpack chicly holds gear for an overnight trip or carries valuable items you don’t want to stow in checked luggage.

Get it here: Baggallini Soho Backpack

Best lightweight travel backpack: Venture Pal 35L Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Best lightweight travel backpack
Venture Pal 35L Ultralight Lightweight Packable Foldable Travel Camping Hiking Outdoor Sports Backpack Daypack

Venture Pal 35L Ultralight Lightweight Packable Foldable Travel Camping Hiking Outdoor Sports Backpack Daypack

If a travel backpack could knock one out of the park, it’s the Venture Pal. Over 200 people bought it this month alone, and it has over 16,000 reviews on Amazon. It’s one of the lightest travel backpacks that can store many items. This is one of the few backpacks that can go from traveling by plane to camping in the forest. Its main compartment has two separators, allowing you to pack to the max and be organized simultaneously.


  • Materials: Ultra-light, tear- and water-resistant nylon
  • Dimensions: 20.1 x 14.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Weight: 0.31 kilograms
  • Colors: Black, Orange, Orange/Navy, Army Green, Navy Blue, Green, Fuchsia, Royal Blue, and Purple Price at publish: $24.99 - $25.99

The bottom line: 

This bag is a great bargain with a lifetime guarantee and warranty. The Venture Pal backpack can be used as a hiking day pack for travel or camping. 

Get it here: Venture Pal 35L Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Best travel backpack for international travel: Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack for Men

Best travel backpack for international travel
Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack for Men

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack for Men

Osprey has honed its reputation for creating outstanding long-haul travel backpacks among the digital nomad and gap year crowds. Virtually indestructible, it safely holds a 16-inch laptop and your worldly goods. The harness, back panel, and hip belts can be stowed away when unused. No need to carry a small bag for daytime excursions as it comes with a detachable daypack with a lockable laptop/tablet sleeve. It can be used as a domestic flight carry-on item. Simply detach the daypack, place it under the seat, and stow the main pack in the overhead compartment. Shopping tip: Osprey also made our lists for the best backpacks for college and high school, best lightweight luggage, and best laptop backpacks.


  • Materials: Bluesign® approved 450D recycled twist dobby polyester, PFAS-free DWR
  • Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
  • Capacity: 55L
  • Weight: 4.234 pounds
  • Colors: Gopher Green, Muted Space Blue, Black, Tunnel Vision Gray
  • Price at Publish: $220

The bottom line: 

With Osprey’s “All Mighty Guarantee” that covers damages and defects, this backpack is a great investment for long-term travel.

Get it here: Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack for Men

Best travel backpack on Amazon: BAGSMART Compression Travel Backpack

Best travel backpack on Amazon
BAGSMART Compression Travel Backpack, 40L Expandable Airline Approved Carry On Backpack with Packing Cubes, Water Resistant Weekender Backpack Fits 17 Inch laptop, Luggage Daypack with Shoe Bag, Grey

BAGSMART Compression Travel Backpack, 40L Expandable Airline Approved Carry On Backpack with Packing Cubes, Water Resistant Weekender Backpack Fits 17 Inch laptop, Luggage Daypack with Shoe Bag, Grey

BAGSMART makes packing easy as its travel backpack has two packing cubes and a shoe bag. It unzips like a suitcase, and just like a suitcase, it has compression straps to keep items in place. With multiple inner and outer zippered compartments, you can organize everything. Designed for comfort, the travel backpack has ergonomically designed adjustable straps and breathable back padding. 


  • Materials: Water-resistant polyester Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.2 x 10.23 inches
  • Capacity: Expands from 25L to 40L Weight: 2.21 pounds
  • Colors: Beige, Obsidian Black, Gray, Purple
  • Price at publish: $39.99

The bottom line:

Bagsmart’s travel backpack expands from 25L to 40L, making it a great choice for business and leisure travelers—and it includes packing cubes and a shoe bag. 

Get it here: BAGSMART Compression Travel Backpack

Best stylish travel backpack: Ghurka Blazer No. 78

Best stylish travel backpack
Ghurka Blazer No. 78

Ghurka Blazer No. 78

Fans of the quiet luxury trend will swoon over Ghurka’s chic leather backpack. The soft, supple leather is as strong as it is beautiful. This travel backpack is lined in cotton twill and has an interior key ring. It holds a laptop or documents securely in its snap-closure sleeve. 


  • Materials: Vintage leather, cotton twill
  • Dimensions: 12 x 15 x 6.25 inches
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Colors: Chestnut, Black, Khaki Twill Vintage Chestnut, Walnut, Tan 
  • Price at Publish: $1725

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a luxe bag for a quick trip or as a companion to your suitcase, this is the bag. 

Get it here: Ghurka Blazer No. 78

Best travel backpack for organization: Nomatic Travel Backpack

Best travel backpack for organization
Nomatic Travel Backpack

Nomatic Travel Backpack

This is your travel backpack for those who dream about being organized and those who are organized (lucky people). It has dedicated compartments for everything. That includes a waterproof internal water bottle zippered spot, places for electronics, passports, wallets, laptops, and everything you need for any type of trip. It can be configured into a duffel bag.


  • Materials: Water-resistant tarpaulin made with nylon/polyester interior, polyester/PU foam interior, and YKK zippers
  • Dimensions: 9 x 19 x 13 inches
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Weight: 3.27 pounds
  • Color: Black
  • Price at publish: $279.99

Get it here: Nomatic Travel Backpack

Best affordable large travel backpack: SHRRADOO Extra Large Travel Backpack

Best affordable large travel backpack
SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack with USB Charging Port, College Backpack Airline Approved Business Work Bag Fit 17 Inch Laptops for Men Women,Black

SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack with USB Charging Port, College Backpack Airline Approved Business Work Bag Fit 17 Inch Laptops for Men Women,Black

This oversized travel backpack is great for long trips or those who hate leaving stuff at home. It’s light for its size, has multiple compartments, will hold a 17-inch laptop, and has an external USB charging port for your phone. Just supply your power bank. It is designed with an easy-access front zippered compartment, open-top pockets, a mesh zippered pocket, and a key ring. 


  • Materials: Water-resistant nylon, lined in nylon
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 15 x 11 inches
  • Capacity: 52L
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Colors: Black, Blue/Black, Gray/Black, Purple/Black, Red/Black 
  • Price at publish: $27.99 - $32.99

What we like:

  • Breathable mesh straps and a U-shaped back ventilation system
  • Built-in combination lock for laptop compartment
  • 20 pockets of varying sizes
  • Three main compartments that have hidden pockets

What we don’t like:

  • No waist or chest belt
  • Buyers complained of the external USB charging port wires disconnecting but stated it’s easy to fix

The bottom line:

Buyers state that the travel backpack is a workhorse and indestructible.

Get it here:

Most comfortable backpack for travel: Briggs & Riley HTA Large Cargo Backpack

Most comfortable backpack for travel
Briggs & Riley HTA Large Cargo Backpack

Briggs & Riley HTA Large Cargo Backpack

This sleekly tailored travel backpack was made for comfort. The back has extra lumbar support with aerated mesh-backed antimicrobial padding, and the adjustable straps are also thickly padded. Created from recycled water bottles, the durable nylon fabric is weather-resistant. Add a dash of personal style with a complimentary monogram.


  • Materials: Recycled poly/nylon ballistic
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 14 x 8 inches
  • Capacity: 22.66L
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Colors: Forest Green, Black
  • Price at publish: $329

The bottom line:

Thoughtfully designed and gentle on your spine, this travel backpack has a compartment built like a mini-desk: spots for pens, papers, and notebooks—making it good for a daily commute or a quick trip away from home.  

Get it here: Briggs & Riley HTA Large Cargo Backpack

Best backpacking bag for carry-on: FENGDONG 40L Waterproof Camping Backpack

Best backpacking bag for carry-on
FENGDONG 40L Waterproof Lightweight Hiking,Camping,Travel Backpack for Men Women (Green)

FENGDONG 40L Waterproof Lightweight Hiking,Camping,Travel Backpack for Men Women (Green)

Heading off to Coachella, the forest of a big city, this large-capacity travel backpack is waterproof and has multiple compartments. Ergonomically designed with adjustable straps, and a padded back panel, it can hold 40 pounds worth of stuff, yet weighs a little under two pounds.


  • Materials: Tear-resistant, water-resistant, anti-abrasion polyester
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 13 x 7.1 inches
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Colors: Blue, Black, Green, Camo, Orange, Purple, Blue Leaf, Dark Green, Yellow
  • Price at publish: $33.99

The bottom line:

This travel backpack is sturdy enough to use for camping trips.

Get it here: FENGDONG 40L Waterproof Camping Backpack

Best travel backpack for parents: Ivy Cove Genesis Diaper Backpack

Best travel backpack for parents
Ivy Cove Genesis Diaper Backpack

Ivy Cove Genesis Diaper Backpack

It’s not easy traveling with little ones. Hands-free luggage can be a lifesaver while corralling a toddler through an airport, but not if you also have to haul a diaper bag on your shoulder, too. Ivy Cove’s diaper backpack saves the day when on the road—while the handles look like a traditional tote, two back straps allow you to easily carry it on your back. The roomy outer pocket can store picture books or small toys.


  • Material: 100% cotton-coated canvas, leather handle, and 100% polyester with PVC backing (interior)
  • Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 6 inches
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Color: Cobalt/Brown
  • Price at publish: $268

The bottom line

It’s a sleek-looking convertible diaper backpack that will be useful after the potty training stage.

Get it here:

Best designer travel backpack: Longchamp Le Pliage Recycled Nylon Canvas Backpack

Best designer travel backpack
Longchamp Le Pliage Recycled Canvas Backpack in Cognac at Nordstrom

Longchamp Le Pliage Recycled Canvas Backpack in Cognac at Nordstrom

Stay on-trend while protecting your valuables on the road with this stylish and eco-friendly designer backpack. When traveling, it can hold valuables, like a passport, wallet, and other necessities. Once at your destination, it can be folded away or used as a day bag. 


  • Materials: Recycled nylon with leather trim, water-resistant lining
  • Dimensions: 11 x 10.25 x 4 inches
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Weight: 0.6 pounds
  • Colors: Cognac, Navy, Cornflower, Graphite, Black, Tomato, Forest, Bilberry 
  • Price at publish: $140

The bottom line

Buyers liked its durability and its ability to hold essentials while traveling chicly

Get it here: Longchamp Le Pliage Recycled Nylon Canvas Backpack

Best travel backpack that does everything: Able Carry Max Backpack

Best travel backpack that does everything

This travel backpack is compartment city. Each is cleverly designed to lie flush and not create a bulky look. There are two main compartments: one for clothes and the other for work-related things: padded laptop and tablet sleeves and lots of slots to hold office things. There are more zippered compartments on the top, at the sides, and in the front. The front zippered compartment has a detachable key ring. A side zippered compartment can stow a bottle of champagne, thermos, or water bottle. It’s like a mobile office and clothing storage unit in one travel backpack.


  • Materials: X-Pac and Cordura 1000D, 420 Ripstop nylon (lining), Duraflex buckles, YKK zippers
  • Dimensions:  20.4 x 12.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Capacity: Total 30L (main compartment 25L, work compartment: 5L)
  • Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Colors: Tarmac Black, Ocean Blue, Earth Green
  • Price at Publish: $278

The bottom line:

Buyers rave about its sturdiness and Able Carry offers a two-week test run—try it for 14 days and if it doesn’t work for your needs, return it. 

Get it here: Able Carry Max Backpack

Best travel backpack for long journeys: Nols Expedition Pack

Best travel backpack for long journeys
Nols Expedition Pack

Nols Expedition Pack

Designed for long wilderness treks, this huge travel backpack has lightweight aluminum, shapeable stays, and straps that can be adjusted 12 ways to create the perfect fit. There are two outside pockets on the lid of this top-loading backpack. It’s the ideal place to store snacks. 


  • Material: Nylon
  • Dimensions: N/A Capacity: 80 + 10L
  • Weight: 5.63 pounds
  • Color: Glacial Blue
  • Price at publish: $277.99

The bottom line:

If you’re an avid outdoors person, this backpack will accompany you through all terrain.

How to pack a backpack for travel

McCarthy kindly explained the best way to pack a travel backpack. He suggested placing the heavier items (shoes or boots) at the bottom of the bag. To make room for all your clothes, roll them instead of folding them. Rolling clothes will maximize space in the travel backpack. Any items needed for traveling should be placed on the top of the backpack or in separate, easy-to-reach compartments. Place water bottles and chargers in exterior pockets to use while moving. 

How we chose the best travel backpacks

I picked the best travel backpacks based on a few factors: personal experience, buyer reviews, and brand reputation.

With very few exceptions, most travel backpacks on this list are unisex. Whenever I used a new travel backpack, I noted how it fulfilled my needs. Below are the criteria for judging whether a travel backpack could withstand hard travel.


One of the most important factors when choosing a travel backpack. Look for backpacks that have solid construction. Inspect it to ensure that stress points are reinforced and check the seams to see if they’re tightly sewn and appropriately finished. Test the various closures (snaps, buttons, zippers, etc.) and see how easy or difficult they work. A travel backpack material should feel sturdy and robust. It shouldn’t thin out if it’s overstuffed. In other words, does the material feel like it would break if you added one extra item to the backpack, or does it hold securely?


When choosing a travel backpack, be mindful of the backpack’s initial weight. Each airline has a domestic and international weight limit for carry-on items, which includes travel backpacks.

 Domestic Airlines:

  • Frontier: 35 pounds for any carry-on item
  • Jet Blue: No weight limit
  • Southwest Airlines: No weight limit
  • United Airlines: Unpublished weight limit
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 25 pounds
  • Delta Airlines: None

International airlines:

  • Aer Lingus: 22 pounds
  • AeroMexico: 22 pounds
  • Air Canada: None
  • Air France: 26.4 pounds
  • All Nippon Airways: 22 pounds
  • British Airways: 51 pounds

It’s best to contact the airline you’ll be using to find out their weight restrictions.

Another reason to consider a travel backpack’s weight is comfort. Because you’ll carry it on your back, you want it not to impede your movement or cause discomfort. A heavy empty backpack will be heavier when packed; it can cause shoulder and back issues.


Whether long or short-haul travel, look for a bag that is designed to keep the traveler feeling comfortable no matter what they’re doing. Choose travel backpacks with a mesh ventilated back—mesh keeps the back cool and does not allow sweat to pool on the skin.

All travel backpacks should have padded, adjustable shoulder straps. Larger-sized backpacks should come with a padded sternum and a padded hip belt. Padded belts help provide stability. Travel backpacks should also have easy-to-use closures. 

Ease of use

Travel backpacks with multiple pockets and compartments help keep you organized on your trip. There are travel backpacks with separate document compartments with slots for passports, wallets, phones, and items that you need to grab quickly when you’re on the go. 

If you’re packing shoes, look for travel backpacks with separate shoe compartments. 

While some travelers prefer a top-loading backpack, a clamshell or side-zippered backpack is more accessible to pack and easier to organize and find items.

A padded laptop compartment is a must if traveling with a tablet, laptop, or both. The padding will secure them and prevent any damage while traveling.


To prevent theft, choose a travel backpack that has RFID shielding pockets. Another good security feature is hidden pockets and compartments on the front or back of the backpack. Sturdy, tear-resistant materials prevent pickpockets from slashing the backpack when traveling.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why choose a travel backpack over a suitcase when traveling?

I prefer traveling with a backpack over a suitcase for many reasons. The main one is cost. American Airlines recently raised their check bag fee from $30 to $40. The average checked baggage fee for domestic airlines is $40 and $75 for international flights. Most airlines don’t charge a carry-on fee. And since most travel backpacks will fit within the size parameters of a carry-on, it’s a win-win situation to use a travel backpack as your carry-on luggage

It’s wiser to fly with a travel backpack because of security or the lack of it. We’ve all heard horror stories about luggage being lost en route, broken into, or destroyed while flying. I stuff my valuables into my travel backpack, take it with me on the plane, and relax while flying. 

When I flew to a destination wedding, I had to use a suitcase to pack outfits for all the events. My travel backpack held my jewelry, laptop, makeup bag filled with necessities, and clothing change in case something went wrong with my luggage. Yes, I overthink and over plan for any contingency. However, if something went south, I could enjoy myself until my luggage arrived.

Lastly, does anyone enjoy waiting for luggage to arrive on the carousel? No one. With a travel backpack, you exit the airport in seconds, grab a taxi, and your vacation starts immediately. Everything is more accessible when your luggage is securely attached to your back.

What is a travel backpack?

Travel backpacks are designed to complement a suitcase or be used in place of one. They are considered carry-on items by airlines. Travel backpacks are sturdier than regular backpacks and contain more storage space than regular backpacks. 

Are travel backpacks carry-on friendly?

More travelers are choosing travel backpacks as their carry-on bag of choice. Many travel backpacks are designed to fit under the seat or in the overhead cabin. As long as the travel backpack’s size fits the airline's requirements for a carry-on, traveling with a backpack will be carry-on friendly.

What size travel backpack do I need?

For a weekend trip, use a 20 to 25L backpack. For a weeklong trip, go up a size to a 35 to 40L backpack. If a destination wedding or many activities happen during the week or two-week trip, try a bigger backpack that’s 40 to 50L. The bigger the bag, the more compartments.

What features should I look for in a travel backpack?

For any travel backpack, whether long or short-haul, look for a bag with padded straps and a padded and ventilated back. Larger-sized backpacks should come with a padded sternum and a padded hip belt. The padded belts provide stability. A good feature to have in travel backpacks is compartments with RFID shielding. If taking a laptop or tablet, ensure the backpack has a secure, padded compartment explicitly designed for the device. Travel backpacks with multiple pockets and compartments help keep you organized on your trip. If you’re packing shoes, look for travel backpacks with separate shoe compartments. 

What type of backpack should I choose? Front-loading or top-loading design?

Front-loading backpacks are designed like a suitcase. It’s easy to find any item that you’ve packed. Top-loading backpacks can hold more stuff, but you may need to unpack it to find one item. It comes down to personal preference. 

What’s the best material for a backpack?

Look for backpacks that have reinforced stitching, especially in stress areas. Look for sturdy zippers, and a good option is zippers that lock. Most backpacks are made with durable, non-tear, water-resistant, heavy-duty nylon, polyester, Cordura, or a combination of those materials. 

Do travel backpacks have security features?

Many backpacks have secret or hidden compartments to keep essential items safe and lockable zippers. Many travel backpacks have at least one compartment that has RFID shielding. 

Can I use a travel backpack for hiking or camping?

There are multi-use travel backpacks that are designed for both travel and camping. Looking over the list of the best travel backpacks, you’ll notice a few are also good for the great outdoors. 

Can I use a backpacking backpack as a carry-on?

When choosing a travel backpack as a carry-on item for flying, it’s not so much the type of backpack; it’s more the size of it. Most airlines use the same size regulations for any kind of carry-on bag. As long as the backpack fits between 22” x 14” x 9” for domestic flights and 21.5” x 15.5” x 9” for international flights, you can use it as a carry-on item. So, if you own a backpacking backpack that fits that size parameter, you can bring it on the plane.

What size backpack is best for long-haul travel?

There are travel backpacks that are designed explicitly for multiple-month trips. Digital nomads and those who plan to spend a season traveling opt for 50 to 70L backpacks. The larger-sized travel backpacks are designed to hold everything needed for long trips. 

How do I fit a travel backpack?

Before traveling, try on the backpack and adjust the shoulder straps. Take a moment to check the fit of the sternum and hip belts. If they’re too loose or too tight, take the time to adjust the straps. 

How do I clean a travel backpack?

It’s best to read the care tag on the backpack before washing it. Most travel backpacks can be cleaned with soap and a moist cloth. Some backpacks can be washed in a machine.

What is the largest backpack allowed on a plane?

The largest backpack that’s allowed as a carry-on item is 22” x 14” x 9” for domestic flights and 21.5 “ x 15.5” x 9” for international flights.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.