Travel backpacks are the perfect option for travelers that don’t want rolling luggage to slow them down when they travel. If you’re going to “rough it” by only taking the bare essentials or want a mobile carry-on to complement your checked bag, the best travel backpack will have ample space and be comfortable to carry.
This isn’t going to be the backpack you wore to college or high school, but it won’t look like you’re getting ready to hike the Appalachian or Camino de Santiago either. For too many years, these were your only two options–too small or too large.
You will be able to carry your clothes, travel camera, and have room for a couple souvenirs too.
Now, let’s find you a backpack you’ll want to take with you everywhere.
Fan Favorite: Osprey Farpoint 55
The Osprey Farpoint 55 is one of the most popular recommendations for most travelers because of its comfort and sturdy construction.
Osprey produces three different sizes of the Farpoint backpack: 40, 55, and 70. Each model gets their number based on the liters of storage. So, the Farpoint 55 has 40L storage in the main pack and a detachable 15L daypack.
Both the Farpoint 40 and 55 are carry-on friendly. You will need to check the Farpoint 70.
All three Farpoint models have the following features:
- Padded top and side handles
- Stowaway back panel
- Front compression straps
- Front-zip access to the main compartment
Because you can access the main compartment from either the front or back, you don’t have to unload everything to pull out the item you’re looking for. If you currently use a rugged hiking backpack with a top-entry-only access, you know how cumbersome it can be to unpack and repack your entire backpack.
Smart Backpack: Energizer PowerKeep PRO
As you find yourself taking more gadgets with you with rechargeable batteries, you might find yourself running out of battery power before you find a charging station.
You will no longer have that problem with the solar-powered Energizer PowerKeep PRO.
Harness the sun’s rays (for free) with the removable solar panel and 10000 MA PowerBank developed by Ascent Solar Technologies. Note that airlines require smart luggage to have removable batteries when checked, hence the ability to remove. You also have a micro-USB cable to charge your travel camera, phone, and other tech devices.
If you’re concerned about the durability of the solar panel, it is more flexible than your standard solar panel that must remain stationary. The recent breakthroughs in solar technology are making solar power travel-friendly.
In addition to being a “smart backpack,” the PowerKeep PRO also holds a 17″ laptop, room for your clothes, and a side pocket to carry a water bottle.
Best Small Backpack: New Outlander Packable
If you’re going on a short trip, a travel minimalist, or only capable of carrying a small backpack, look at the lightweight New Outlander Packable.
The Packable comes in two different sizes:
- 20L: 16.92 x 10.63 x 7.08 inches
- 33L: 19 x 13 x 8.2 inches
Either backpack weighs less than 0.5 pounds and can fold up when you need to pack them inside a larger carry-on or suitcase.
The bag is rip-resistant and water-resistant. It also comes with multiple compartments that maximize the small space to make this backpack seem larger than it actually is. You can also purchase add-ons like water bottle carriers and day bags if you end up needing more space.
Best Medium Backpack: Kelty Redwing 44
If you want a one-piece medium backpack, the Kelty Redwing 44 is carry-on friendly, comfortable to wear, and holds 44L of your travel gear. The Redwing weighs a little more than three pounds and has a lightweight aluminum frame and an airflow back panel that keeps the pack stable and cool on your back.
It also comes with padded straps and hip belt straps as well. You will also find side compression straps to help keep your pack as small as possible when you travel and space is a premium.
Finally, you will find side pockets for water bottles and the Kelty Redwing is also hydration compatible when you plan on going on a trek or long intervals between respites.
Best Large Backpack: Deuter Transit 50
For a large backpack, you will want something in the 45-60L range. These packs will give you the required space to pack for hot and cold climate, rainy weather, and even a laptop.
The Deuter Transit 50 is a top contender when you need a large backpack for traveling.
You actually get two different bags with the Transit 50. The main backpack has 50L of space and is still small enough to qualify as a carry-on. The detachable zip bag is 10L in size and gives you 60L total storage.
You will also have the option to carry your backpack with the shoulder strap in addition to the regular straps and handles. It also comes with hip fins for additional stability and comfort.
One downside of this backpack is that it doesn’t have a separate laptop compartment and it’s only front-loading. For additional flexibility, you can consider our best overall recommendation–the Osprey Farpoint 55.
Optional hydration bladders and rain covers can also be purchased separately.
Most Rugged Backpack: Osprey Aether
If you are an adventure traveler, you will want to consider something a little more rugged than the other recommendations.
Consumers find that Osprey produces one of the best backpacks for camping, treks, rock climbing, and multi-day hikes:
There are several different sizes available. Just remember that you might regret getting the biggest size if you tend to overpack or are a small person.
With both backpacks, you will enjoy Osprey’s anti-gravity technology that makes the bag as light and comfortable as possible.
There are also plenty of storage pockets including the main compartment, side pockets, hip belt pockets, underside sleeping bag pocket, and even ice ax holders.
The flapjacket, internal compression straps, and side compression straps will help centralize your load for optimal comfort and space whether you’re carrying it or it’s stowed away during transit.
All models weigh approximately 5.3 pounds when empty.
Travel backpacks of all sizes can function as your only travel bag or a secondary bag to your carry-on luggage. All you have to do is decide how much storage space you need (so you don’t overpack), and you might find the most comfortable backpack ever!