The 30+ Best Travel Backpacks: Buyers Guide

The right travel backpack will make your backpacking trip much more enjoyable. For many of you, this may be the first backpack you’ll ever purchase and on top of that there is a good chance you’re going to live out of it for a week, a couple of weeks, months or even years on a trip.

The great thing about the right backpacks is that they last for years, so whatever you decide to purchase now will be an investment at first, but will last. That being said since it will last you so long you want to make sure you make the right purchase decision.

If you have plans to city-hop around the world you need a bag that can move as fast as you do. If you plan to go hiking you need something that will live up to the natural elements you will face. If you are somewhere in between those categories – don’t worry – there’s a travel rucksack for you.

Finding that best travel backpack can be tough with a plethora of options available on the market. On our first backpacking trip around Europe, we used traditional hiking packs but found them to be a pain and not suited for our style of travel.

Since then we’ve managed to accumulate a collection of various packs for our different travel styles. That means we have one backpack for hiking in North America and another pack for city hopping between Prague and Lisbon. There’s a travel backpack out there for everyone, and now we are going to help you find yours!

Best Travel Backpacks

Kumano Kodo

We’re going to get right into our favorite travel backpacks for backpacking trips. If you’re curious to understand the different models more in-depth head down to the bottom where I talk about the various attributes, what makes a good travel backpack, and how to make sure you purchase a good travel backpack for your trip.

When it comes to backpacks there are three main types and each comes with its pros and cons. The two general styles of the backpack are travel backpacks and hiking backpacks. I’m breaking down this blog post into those two categories.

We’ll start off with the specific travel backpacks as it’s my favorite category and what I recommend most travelers use on their trip. You can forget about those big clunky hiking backpacks and opt for something more stylish and streamlined. Then we’ll move on to the hiking specific travel backpacks.

Best Travel Specific Backpacks

1.) Osprey Farpoint/Fairview ($179)

Osprey Farpoint Best Osprey Bags For Women

*Best Travel Backpack For Hostels/Adventure*

  • Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
  • Fabric: 210-denier ripstop nylon/600-denier
  • Capacities: 40L, 55L, 70L
  • Pros: Lightweight, Manageable, Removable Daypack, Suspension, Compression Straps, Shoulder Strap, Stowaway Straps,
  • Cons: Few Pockets For Organization, Laptop Sleeve in Front DayPack, Outdoor Style

Osprey is one of our favorite backpack companies because of their All Mighty Guarantee and great value. The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview is their most fitting travel backpack. The large volume of the backpack will ensure you have plenty of luggage space yet remain under most airline carry on requirements.

The Farpoint is the earlier model and unisex bag that has a suspension system better suited for men. While the Fairview is the latest version of the bag built with a woman’s frame in mind.

The packs are well constructed and leave plenty of room for all of your clothes. It’s pretty lightweight for a robust travel backpack and easy to throw off your back when you hop on a bus or train. There are several versions of this bag, but the only the 40L version works as a carry-on-backpack sized, although it’s dimensions are technically too large.

It’s a front-loading backpack so it opens similar to a suitcase for easy access. I love the removable daypack, zip-away suspension, and shoulder strap that all bring something to the table. The side handle of the bag is an added bonus, making it easy to grab out of an overhead bin and carry it off of a plane. Most backpacks are built for hiking, but with the Osprey you get a travel-specific bag packed with hiking features.

There are some dumb design elements in the backpack though, most notably a laptop sleeve in the front. This means your laptop is susceptible to damage and theft along with throwing the balance of the backpack off to the front. For that reason, if you’re a digital nomad, business traveler, or travel with a laptop I’d look for another option.

The portability makes it an awesome choice for the best travel backpacks. The front load and the ability to keep your clothes folded is awesome. The 40L is great for carry on luggage while the 55L and 70L are good for long-term trips.

2.) Peak Designs Travel Backpack ($299)

Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

*Best Travel Backpack For Savvy Travellers*

  • Weight: 4.5 lbs
  • Fabric: Weatherproof 400D Nylon and poly melange
  • Capacities: 45L
  • Pros: Phenomenal Organization, Laptop sleeve, Carry On Friendly, Style, High Quality, Two Exterior Waterbottle Pockets, Hidden Pockets, Stowaway Straps, Carry Handles, Lockable Zippers
  • Cons: High Price, Heavy

We just got this new backpack from Peak Designs and so far I am in love! Peak Designs makes some incredible products, but they have outdone themselves with this backpack.

The first thing I love is that the backpack is made from recycled plastic. It has plenty of interior and exterior organizational compartments, which is definitely useful when traveling around Europe. There is an interior heavy-duty laptop compartment and plenty of space for rolled-up clothes. Unlike many other travel backpacks, Peak Designs thankfully put a water bottle holder on the outside of this pack.

There are a few complaints I have with this travel backpack. The first problem is the high price tag at $299. Then there is the weight, the backpack is loaded with features and heavy materials so it’s heavy. Its heavyweight and non-vented back panel makes for a pack that is not appropriate in hauling long distances or your average backpacker.

This bag has a weatherproof canvas shell, so none of your belongings should get wet if you get caught in a rainstorm. On top of that, it meets all international carry on size requirements, but expands to 45L and collapses to 35L. This beautiful, heavy-duty bag will be going with me on my next trip to Italy!

3.) Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L ($179)

Best Anit Theft Backpacks Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L

*Best Antitheft Travel Backpack*

  • Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz.
  • Size: 45L
  • Material: Nylon
  • Features: Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Cut Resistant Cables, Internal Frame
  • Pros: Feature-Packed, Carry-On Size, Comfortable, Versatile, High-Quality
  • Cons: Difficult To Access Your Items (theft-deterrent)

Pacsafe is the leading name in anti-theft backpacks and has been for almost 20 years. The Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L is just one example of their phenomenal products. It comes with all the essentials, such as the eXomesh Slashgaurd technology that houses a hidden stainless steel mesh, making it completely slash-proof. The bag is also made with ECONYL fiber which is produced from recycled fishnets, which is an awesome eco-friendly product.

The Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L also comes with an RFID pocket, and smart zippers and is the perfect carry on size for most airlines. Then if you do need to check the bag it has stowaway straps for safe transport. It opens and closes similar to a clamshell suitcase for easy access to your belongings and organization.

The style and functionality of this anti-theft backpack is superb and will give you peace of mind – whether on a weekend getaway or traveling the world! It’s a great backpack for solo travelers or people that want to secure their personal belongings.

4.) REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack ($140)

REI Rucksack Travel Backpack Carry On Backpack

*Best Outdoor/Travel Backpack*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon 210D
  • Capacities: 40, 65L
  • Pros: Best Suspension System, Hiking Pack Features, REI Guarantee, U Shape Open, Frame, Compression Straps, Carry On Compliant, Zip Away Straps, Color Choices, Affordable
  • Cons: Heavy, Doesn’t Sit Upright

Osprey had a monopoly on the travel backpack market for far too long. However, many backpack manufacturers have caught on and begun developing backpacks suited for the growing trend of travelers. We have transitioned from hiking packs to purpose-built travel backpacks within a few years. We’re longtime fans of REI and love the products they produce.

This pack is loaded with features the Fairview lacks. Highlights include a more robust suspension system that allows for an impromptu hike in the mountains or up to the top of the local hill. I love the addition of a laptop sleeve, hydration reservoir, rain cover, and straps for trekking poles. Altogether it’s a nice backpack that blurs the line as to which category it belongs.

It should be noted that this pack measures 24 inches long and most carry on restrictions cap at 22 inches. While this is not deal-breaker for a soft-sided backpack, it can squish.

To top it all off the pack has a lie flat feature with a large zip opening for easy access to all of your belongings. This is the travel bag for those who want to blend city hopping and adventure travel all in one bag.

5.) Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L Backpack ($229)

Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L Backpack  Women's Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Fabric: Poly 450 & 600D
  • Capacities: 40L
  • Pros: Laptop Sleeve, Multiple Compartments, Rain Cover, Clam Shell Open,
  • Cons: Ugly, Useless Front Pockets (Too Small), Lacks Side Handle, Permanent Straps,

This is a great backpack from Eagle Creek. They’ve specialized in travel products for a while now. The bag has a plethora of pockets and even a special one for shoes at the bottom of the bag.

It’s another great version of a clamshell-style backpack which provides easy access to your luggage. Other features include lockable zippers and a rain cover for bad weather.

6.) Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack ($279)

Nomatic Travel 40L Best Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Size: 40L
  • Material: Tarpaulin
  • Features: Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Quick Access Laptop Compartment
  • Pros: Feature-Packed, Carry-On Size, Comfortable, Versatile, Super High-Quality, Stowaway Straps
  • Cons: Not As Much Anti Theft Features As Other Bags, Heavy

Nomatic is fairly new to the anti-theft backpack game, only getting started after raising over 5 million dollars on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They claim to have created the “most functional travel bag ever!” Based on their design scheme, they just might have. 

A roomy 40L bag, individual removable organization panels, headphone and charger cord pass-throughs, magnetic snap-back side pockets, and backpack to briefcase versatility, it really does seem like they have thought of everything. 

However, it would be better stated that this is a business/travel backpack with anti-theft features, such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, rather than calling it primarily an anti-theft bag. This isn’t just great as an anti-theft backpack, but a general travel backpack.

7.) Topo Designs Travel Bag ($229)

Topo Designs - Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz.
  • Fabric: 1000D nylon, 400D nylon packcloth, 210D nylon pack cloth liner
  • Capacities: 30L & 40L
  • Pros: Organization Pockets, Multiple Compartments Laptop Sleeve, Multiple Carry Points, Carry On Friendly, Style, Heavy Zippers, Theft Deterrent Zipper Loop
  • Cons: Smaller Size, Style, No Water Bottle Holder, Price, Mixed Support

Topo Designs launched their latest pack the Travel Bag and it’s a slam dunk for a carry on backpack and I used it on my last trip. The interior features double zipper U-entry, one large compartment, a medium-sized compartment, two small pockets, and two mesh pockets. The exterior features a rear laptop sleeve, a front compartment with organization and U-entry, a vertical pocket with organization, and exterior loops.

The exterior is heavy-duty nylon and the bag uses robust zippers that are the best we’ve seen on a travel backpack, albeit a bit clunky. When it comes to support, it has side handles on both sides of the backpack, a detachable shoulder strap, and backpack straps with a hip belt and chest strap. The support and straps are detachable and can be stored inside a zippered compartment for travel.

It’s a decent size at 40L and should be enough for minimalistic travelers in one season for multiple weeks. If you’re an adventure seeker and like to hike, the support system is lacking when compared to top-loading packs. The colors and style are also better suited for younger travelers, but it all depends on your style they offer a black if you prefer a more neutral bag we have the olive color pictured above.

Altogether this is would be my vote for the best carry on backpacks and I’ll be reaching for it on my next trip. It’s loaded with features, space, and has a lifetime guarantee.

8.) Kathmandu Federate Adapt Pack ($160)

Kathmandu Federate Adapt Pack Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Fabric: Recycled Polyester
  • Capacities: 50L, 38L, 28L
  • Pros: Adaptable, Removable Luggage Compartment, Style, Support, Shoulder Strap, Great Different Sizes, Can Be Used As Daily Carry, Great Value,
  • Cons: Heavy

This is a great backpack that serves as a carry-on, but also can be used as a daypack or even your main pack. In fact, Cameron just used it is his main backpack on our last trip and it held everything!

Marketed as a three in one backpack the Federate is a great backpack for adventure and urban city escapes. It looks sleek while being 100% robust and durable.  Featuring a seriously breathable harness that’s durable and constructed to last.

This is a backpack, but also can transform into a more duffle bag backpack. It’s got numerous organizational pockets. So many that you may not even need packing cubes!

One of the packing cells is completely removable so you can keep your non-daypack items in your hotel room and only take out what you need to. However, what I love the most is its adaptability. This bag can easily transform from a 50 litre check-in pack to a 38 litre carry-on bag and even to a 28 litre day pack.

The only reason it’s this far down this list is the weight and availability. Kathmandu is a New Zealand based company and they make some great gear, but their merchandise is just entering the North American market so it’s not always in stock or available and only on their website.

9.) Tortuga Setout Travel Backpack ($199)

Tortuga Setout Carry On Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Fabric: Nylon 900D
  • Capacities: 40L
  • Pros: Laptop Sleeve, Multiple Compartments, Superb Suspension, Stow Away Straps, Side Handle, Water Bottle Holder, Quality, Lockable Zippers,
  • Cons: Difficult to Access Front and Rear Sleeves. Heavy. Style.

Companies have caught on to the demands of travelers these days. The idea of a hiking backpack to travel around is going out of style now we have proper carry-on backpacks — we’re stoked and own five travel bags including the Setout! Tortuga was one of the first bag companies to catch on to the trend and start producing travel-specific bags.

It’s been one of my favorite bags I’ve ever carried and it’s been wonderful with our snowboard season as dealing with a snowboard bag is already a pain in the butt. The bag is about 40 liters in size with a front-loading compartment, a front sleeve with organization, and rear laptop sleeve.

The compartment section is laid out with room for socks, toiletries, electronics, and essentials. The bags highlights for me include a padded laptop sleeve, detachable straps if you decide to check the bag, and the convenient side handle. The straps on the Setout are also the robust and comfortable straps of all the travel backpacks we tested.

It is a great backpack it doesn’t deserve to be number six on this list, but for only $30 Topo Designs Travel Bag delivers a more robust bag loaded with features and a better design. That being said it does have a water bottle holder that the Topo Designs Travel Bag lacks, a crucial element in the way you use a pack.

10.) Knack Large Expandable Backpack ($195)

Best Carry On Backpack Knack Bag
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon 1200D
  • Capacities: 37L
  • Pros: Best Organization. Style. Decent Suspension. Laptop sleeve. Internal Compression Strap.
  • Cons: Too Small For Long Trips. Triangle Front Pocket,

As far as design the Knack Expandable Backpack is one of my favorites in the travel world. It’s a new backpack and company for 2019 and from a number of executives who worked for the luggage company Tumi. The exterior and design of the pack is overwhelming positive. Compared to any of the other travel-specific bags we’ve had the chance to take a look at it delivers high quality with nice features.

Everything about this pack has been well thought out, and I’m impressed by the organization of the pockets and the ridiculous amount of features in such a small layout. Serious kudos to the designers of this pack.

It has some surprising features for its size such as a secret compartment and water bottle holder that is capable of holding our large 18oz Hydroflask water bottles.

It’s not well suited for those on long trips, but if you’re making a quick city escape for a long weekend or week to a city like London or Paris this pack would be a tremendous decision. Furthermore, it’s professional enough looking that it can even be used for business travel.

I’d love to see a larger version of this pack the current version is quite small and I can travel for a week with the interior space.

11.) Flight Approved Backpack by Standard Luggage Co. ($179)

Flight Approved Backpack by Standard Luggage Co Best Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (1680)
  • Capacities: 45L
  • Pros: Robust Design, Laptop Sleeve, Suspension, Side Handles, Water Bottle Holder, Heavy Duty Material, Compression Straps,
  • Cons: Heavy,

This minimalist 35L travel backpack is the perfect carry on for those looking to pack everything needed for their trip. It’s not flashy or complicated, but the simple design is the perfect bag for travel needs. With a clever design, the bag can expand to 45 liters from 35 thanks to an expandable zipper.

My favorite aspect of this bag is that is designed to open like a clamshell suitcase making for easy access. For digital nomads or business travelers, the removable laptop sleeve serves as a great asset. Other great features include a top and side handle, compression straps and two exterior pockets.

Standard has really thought out this bags design and it’s obvious in the finished product. It feels high-quality thanks to nice handles, zips, seams, and a heavy-duty nylon exterior material. They also include some nice features like a rollaboard strap and rain cover that you don’t see in many other carry on backpacks.

12.) Incase EO ($180)

Incase EO Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs.
  • Fabric: 100% Polyester Exterior
  • Capacities: 24L
  • Pros: Robust Design, Laptop Sleeve, Suspension, Side Handles, Water Bottle Holder, Heavy Duty Material, Compression Straps,
  • Cons: Small, Soo Many Pockets

The Incase EO gives the avid traveler a refreshing blend of style and durability mixed together in a pack that can also be expanded to fit those larger items or more gear for extended trips. As we should all expect by now, this pack features a padded laptop sleeve that can fit anything up to a 17″ computer. The rest of the bag features internal pockets for gear organization and the main compartment that can expand up to 35% to accommodate even more gear if the need arises.

The backpack material is universally weather-resistant, while the primary panel itself (which will take the brunt of any ill weather) is triple coated to ensure optimal rain protection. All of these features are blended into a very appealing and sleek design that make this backpack the perfect companion for almost any occasion.

13.) Arcido Faroe Backpack ($129)

Arcido Faroe Backpack
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Fabric: Kodra
  • Capacities: 35L
  • Pros: Price, Laptop Sleeve, Kodra Material, Style, Value,
  • Cons: Poor Suspension, No Chest Strap, Cheap Zippers, One Zipper Main Compartment,

Arcido’s Faroe backpack is a great bag for the price point. It’s lightweight, affordable, has a laptop sleeve, looks great, and a roomy main compartment. The bag is built to be lightweight and affordable which it excels at in our books. It’s one of the cheapest options on this list and it has some nice features and decent build quality.

It’s a simple design with one large main compartment and a laptop sleeve section. I like the two water bottle pocket on both sides of the backpack, but they’re not robust enough to securely fit my Hydroflask or Grayl wide mouth water bottles.

Unlike the other nylon bags on this list, the Faroe is built with Kodra that has better moisture resistant properties. Which under our testing holds up to be true; however, the small zippers on the pack will not hold up to a heavy rainstorm.

At a lower price point, it does come with some drawbacks such as the cheap zippers, lack of features, and weak suspension system that lacks a chest strap, hip belt, and soft feeling straps. It’s a blend of a traditional backpack and travel designed one since it lacks excellent features like side handles or the ability to tuck away the back straps for travel. If you’re looking for something more, Arcido makes the Akra a larger and more robust version of the Faroe.

14.) Osprey Porter ($200)

Osprey Porter 45 - Travel Backpacks Europe
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon 420D
  • Capacities: 30L, 46L,
  • Pros: Organization Pockets, Osprey Suspension, Laptop sleeve, Compression Tech, Structure Sidewalls, Multiple Sizes, Great Value
  • Cons: Ugly, Questionable Carry On

You’re probably noticing a theme by now, but we love Osprey backpacks for travel in Europe and all around the world. The pack is well constructed and leaves plenty of room for all of your clothes. The bag is lightweight and easy to throw off your back when you hop on a bus or train.

The only problem with this bag is it’s not as robust so those who like to walk or cover distance the backpack will get uncomfortable. That being said it’s one of the cheapest Osprey backpacks you can buy which means you have more budget for your backpacking trip.

My recommendation for this pack is the 46L size, but if you want a bit more space the 65L should have more than enough room to pack for a trip around the world.

15.) Timbuk2 Wander Pack ($179)

Timbuk2 Wander Pack Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 11 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon 420D
  • Capacities: 40L
  • Pros: Style, Price, Laptop Sleeve, Exterior Material, Exterior Compression Straps,
  • Cons: Quality. Zippers. Suspension. No Chest Straps.

This is a stylish multi-use backpack. The sleek exterior is a nice touch and does a good job at fighting stains and moisture. It’s a well-designed bag that does a wonderful job as a functional travel pack.

I’d recommend it for anyone who cares about the looks of their pack and intends to travel around cities. It could even be used on business travel if it doesn’t require a suit and tie. With a padded rear sleeve designed for up to a 15″ laptop, you can travel in confidence as a digital nomad.

It has a number of drawbacks such as a lack of hip-belt, lackluster straps, and outdoor features. It’s wonderful because of its ability to fit in overhead bins and makes a great carry-on backpack.

Additional stand-out features include the side straps for compression and the various compartments that help with organization. If you combine this bag with packing cubes to protect your clothes you could have a well laid out backpack perfect for a stylish traveler who doesn’t want to look like a “backpacker.”

Other reviews do mention that Timbuk2 runs with some quality issues and the zippers on our pack seem to catch when we pull despite the tough look. It may look like a rough and tumble backpack like the duffel bags from Patagonia and Dakine below, but I wouldn’t expect it to hold up to their quality.

16.) eBag TLS Mother Lode ($149)

eBag TLS Mother Lode Best Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon 600D
  • Capacities: 45L
  • Pros: Price, Multiple Compartments, Roomy Interior, Nice Front Compartment, Compression Straps, Laptop Sleeve, Water Bottle, Organization, Clamshell
  • Cons: Really Ugly, Heavy, Meh Suspension

This bag is described as spacious with plenty of organization to boot. It’s an easy contention for one of the best carry-on bags around if not for its comfortability and style. However, as I talked about previously there is no one solution fits all in finding a bag.

This bag is tremendous for those looking to have a great bag to carry on the plane and then onto their hotel. I wouldn’t plan on spending a few hours with the pack on because it may become uncomfortable with flimsy straps.

We’ve used eBags extensively for their awesome harside suitcases. They offer well thought out luggage that is great quality. This carry on backpack is no exception with its multiple comparments, organization, laptop sleeve, and clamshell opening.

Best Travel Backpacks for Hiking

1.) Osprey Atmos AG

Osprey Atmos AG Best Travel Backpacks

*Best Overall Men’s Hiking Backpack*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (100D x 630D)
  • Capacities: 50, 65L
  • Pros: Amazing Suspension System and Strong Construction
  • Cons: Only top load access and it does not sit upright. It seems silly but with only a top load it’s a PIA.

The Atmos is the pack Cameron carries most often, and it’s treated him exceptionally well. The Atmos has two size options with a 50L and 65L that should fill the need of most needs from short overnights to extended treks. Don’t be afraid to load the bag up as I can carry 40lbs and it still sits comfortably on my back. This top loading pack has a removable floating top lid that can be utilized to lighten your load. As well as an internal frame and side compression straps that when combined with its anti-gravity back panel, make for excellent weight distribution. If you have a heavy load to carry the Atmos is undoubtedly one of the best choices for a hiking backpack.

I also love the dual front paneled pockets, a mesh area for dirty shoes, and straps for your tent poles. To back it all up, Osprey has one of the best guarantees in the business. They have been designing great bags for years now so it shouldn’t be any surprise they make one of the best hiking backpacks on the market. If you’re a minimalist hiker or a fast thru-hiker, you’ll probably want a lighter pack. My personal preference is a blend I like the versatility of a big backpack like the Atmos, but I also have a lightweight bag for objectives that is only a few days.

1.) Osprey Aura 65

Osprey Aura Best Hiking Backpack

*Best Overall Women’s Hiking Backpack*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (210D & 630D)
  • Capacities: 65L & 50L
  • Pros: Strong construction, anti-gravity system,
  • Cons: Top Load Access like Atmos

The Osprey Ariel is the perfect women’s trekking backpack. It’s a great all-around bag built to fit a woman’s torso. Made of Nylon ripstop material it comes in two sizes 55L and 65L. Complete with a custom fit and interchangeable IsoForm5 harness and even a padded hip belt the Ariel is great for long hikes.

Its Anti-Gravity technology is throughout the entire back and can be found in the lightweight mesh material in the upper torso and lumbar area. My favorite feature of the Ariel is the convertible top lip day back which can be removed if you want to climb a nearby peak without the entire pack. The pack has trekking pole attachments and hydration sleeves to keep hydrated. With their LightWire peripheral frame, the Ariel is also one of the lighter backpacks on this list.

2.) Granite Gear Blaze 60

Granite Gear Blaze Bestt Hiking Backpack

*Close Second For Overall Hiking Backpack*

  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Capacities: 60L
  • Pros: Lightweight, Organization, Compression System, Comfort
  • Cons: Hot, Durability,

Granite Gear’s Blaze has picked up a slew of awards and great reviews from outdoor editors and users alike. It’s a lightweight bag that is rated to carry a heavy load (50lbs). That substantial payload rating means a sturdy frame and a well-padded suspension system that’s comfortable to carry on long treks. It’s padded

Granite Gear has their patent-pending ReFit Hipbelt on the backpack that allows for the perfect size adjustment. It takes some time to adjust properly, but it’s not a problem once the pack fits. One of my favorite features on the backpack is the massive front and side compartments, capable of carrying sleeping pad, jacket, and water bottles. The only complaint is the padded back panel lacks ventilation, so it runs a little hot when ascending steep terrain or in hot weather. Altogether, it’s easily one of the best backpacks on the market that is a full pound lighter than the Atmos!

3.) Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Best Hiking Backpacks

*Best Ultralight Backpack*

  • Weight: 2 lbs. 0.6 oz.
  • Capacities: 60L
  • Pros: Lightweight, Organization, Comfort, Robic Nylon, Comfortable Suspension
  • Cons: Hot, Backpack Panel Moves Around

I’m a minimalist traveler and always love cutting out whatever weight or unnecessary features I can. Ultralight packs are a popular option for a lot of multi-day and thru-hiker for a good reason. When covering long distances every pound counts such lightweight options like the Mariposa can save your knees and back in the long run. The result is often a pack that is less comfortable and durable due to lightweight materials and suspension. What’s exceptional about the Mariposa is how few tradeoffs there are in a backpack that weighs just over 2 pounds.

The backpack has an internal frame and a suspension system that does an excellent job at distributing weight evenly. The bag comes in a new lightweight material called Robic nylon. Robic Nylon feels more substantial than Dyneema used in other ultralight packs like the Z-Pack and Hyperlight; however, you’ll still want to be mindful of potential punctures.

I love the number of pockets, including one large side and front pocket for stashing items such as a rain fly. Another stand out feature is the egg crate backplate that can be removed and used as a seat, which eliminates the need of carrying a Z-Seat. Altogether, it’s the best ultralight pack that blends the more robust features of the Atmos, Baltoro, or Traverse into a lightweight package.

4.) Fjallraven Kaipak

*Best Eco-Friendly Hiking Backpack*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 9.6 oz.
  • Capacities: 58L
  • Pros: Canvas Shell, High Quality, Comfortable Suspension, Style
  • Cons: Heavy, Canvas Needs Wax Applied

Fjallraven does not get a lot of credit in the outdoor. Fjallraven makes the Kaipak from their G-1000 Heavyduty Eco fabric that is similar to canvas. The material is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton and then waxed for water resistance. Over time the wax will come out of the fabric, but Fjallraven sells the bar that can be applied. We already have the bar for the Keb-1000 trousers, which are some of my favorite hiking and mountaineering pants. What we love the most is this pack is eco-friendly avoiding the article material not made from oil.

The system has a fixed back length and is very stable for the size of the backpack so it carries very well. I would like the bag to be adjustable, but the stability is nice. It’s a top loading backpack with plenty of room and a snow lock with two loop attachments for ice axes or trekking poles. Kaipak also includes a rain cover and compression straps. Above all, it’s pretty affordable for a high-end brand and stylish bag.

5.) Gregory Baltoro/Deva 65 Pack

Gregory Baltoro Best Hiking Backpack

*Best Hiking Backpack For Heavy Loads*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 10 oz
  • Fabric: Nylon (210D)
  • Capacities: 65, 75, 85, 95L
  • Pros: Large Capacity, Durability, Feature Packed, Suspension
  • Cons: Heavy Bag, Top Loading

Gregory has been building bags for a long time, so they know how to make a quality pack. This hiking backpack is a workhorse designed to be used and abused. The Baltoro/Deva is designed to carry a heavy load without breaking your back on the trail. It has a superior suspension system with plush padding and a great organization. If you’ll be on extended thru hike trips and don’t mind sacrificing a pound or two, this is your ideal hiking backpack.

A comfortable mesh backpack makes for excellent ventilation, and it has attractive features like a built-in rain-fly, water bottle holder that offers easy access on a hike, and hydration compatible. It’s still a heavy pack, but with the quality of the build and substantial load capability, it’s a reliable backpack. The Backpack comes in the men’s, Baltoro, and women’s, Deva, version. It’s in close competition with the Atmos and its versatility is admirable.

6.) REI Co-op Flash Pack 55 Pack

REI Co-op Flash 45 Pack Best Hiking Backpack

*Best Small Hiking Backpack*

  • Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (420D)
  • Capacities: 55L
  • Pros: Lightweight, Manageable, Nice Features
  • Cons: Thin Material

We love to shop at REI and love the gear the design. It’s often high value, and we’ve personally used their backpacks for years. The Co-Op Flash Pack is made out of ripstop nylon and is an excellent 45 L trekking backpack for both men and women. With 45L it’s manageable for a gear-heavy day hike or even an overnight. The REI compression technology helps keep your belongings up and in to improve your balance, stability, and posture while hiking. Its super lightweight frame is exceptional and appreciated on the trail.

There are attachment loops on the front to allow ice axes, poles, and other tools to be stored as well as snappable water bottle pockets on the hip belt.  The mesh back panel allows for airflow keeping you cooler when walking in the sun and the removable top lid offers customizable pack volume. We think this pack is perfect for those on a long weekend hiking trip in the mountains or on cross-country trails and has even been named the “Best Women’s Fit” backpack by Backpacker Magazine.

7.) Arc’teryx Bora AR 63

  • Weight: 5lbs
  • Fabric: Nylon (420D & 630D)
  • Capacities: 50L, 63L
  • Pros: Robust, Innovative, Comfort, Superior Design
  • Cons: Price, $$$$$$$

Arc-teryx needs no introduction as they’re well known for their top of the line gear. The Bora is the most expensive pack on this list and probably the most robust with a wide range of features. It’s a workhorse of a bag and super tough, but you pay good money for that with a price tag over $500. It’s a great pack meant to handle a heavy load and will appreciate for multiday objectives in mountaineering conditions. If you carry climbing ropes, harness, crampons, helmets, and an ice axe lightweight backpacks are not a tremendous option.

Arc’teryx knows their intended market and has implemented a feature called RotoGlide. It’s a hip belt that moves up and down as you lean forward on a climb or descent (nose over toes). The Bora AR is for harsh mountain conditions and bushwhacking expeditions on rough trails. It’s very likely the toughest and most comfortable backpack on this list, but you do pay the price.

8.) Teton Sports Scout 3400

Best Hiking Backpacks Teton Sports Scout3400

*Best Hiking Backpack for the Money*

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 8oz.
  • Capacities: 55L
  • Pros: Affordable, Nice Features
  • Cons: Cheap Feel, Okay Suspension

This durable top hiking back is one of the cheapest on the market and is suitable for men, women, and even children. The internal frame makes the Teton an excellent choice for camping and hiking. Even though this pack is well under $100 it still has sturdy zippers, open-cell foam lumbar pad support, and extra padded waist and shoulder straps.

There are loops for your ski poles. Although this pack is not waterproof it comes with an integrated rain fly for when you get caught in a downpour. There is no bladder included, but there are side holsters to place your water bottles while trekking. In our opinion, this pack is one of the best packs you can get for your money. It might not be the right fit for serious hikers, but those just getting their toes wet will love its affordability.

9.) Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest

Best Hiking Backpacks Hyperlite 3400 Southwest
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 0.6 oz.
  • Fabric: Dyneema
  • Capacities: 40, 55, 70L
  • Pros: Lightweight and Water-Resistant
  • Cons: No Organization Features, Suspension Drawbacks,

The Hyperlite 3400 is easily one of my favorite packs on the market. The material in this bag has allowed for weight previously not seen. It’s impressively durable, super lightweight, and close to waterproof. Hyperlite Mountain Gear specializes in building outdoor gear with this unique material called Dyneema Composite Fabric. Their backpack line comes in several sizes, but the 3400 is their middle of road backpack with 55L of storage. Personally, If I’m going to be carrying a large load like 70L, I’d prefer the support of the Atmos at 65L.

We have a few nitpicks with the bag such as a lack of organization, but that is the price of being ultralight. The suspension systems leave a little to be desired with a lack of a women’s fit and a large hip belt. If you’re big on buying American made this company is based and manufactures in Maine, bonus point. The higher price point may deter some, but it comes with the territory of buying top of the line materials.

10.) REI Co-op Traverse

REI Traverse Best Hiking Backpacks
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 14 oz
  • Fabric: Nylon (200D & 420D)
  • Capacities: 35, 65 (women’s), 70 (men’s), 85L
  • Pros: Large Capacity, Durability, Feature Packed, Suspension, Love the J-Zip Access
  • Cons: Heavy Bag, Top Loading

Another stand out from REI is their feature-packed Traverse hiking backpack. It’s on par with the Atmos/Aura and Baltoro/Deva backpacks at a more affordable rate. We have a lot of love for REI gear, and this backpack delivers a lot of features. The Traverse is a large hiking backpack designed to carry heavy loads in all four seasons. It’s loaded with features and the pack carries weight comfortably.

I love the large hip belts perfect for stashing some snacks, gloves, sunblock, or an extra layer. Then there is an adjustable water bottle holder that is easy to access while hiking and fits wide/slim bottles snugly thanks to a quick snap. Other standouts include a large j-shaped zipper for access to the main compartment, rainfly, removable daypack, and a stuff-it pouch. When it comes to the ride, REI has their UpLift compression system which effective at pulling the gear up and close to your back for a good center of gravity. It’s about $50 cheaper than the other two competitors, or the cost of a camp burner, I like that value.

11.) Osprey Levity 60

Best Hiking Backpacks Osprey Levity
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 0.6 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon and Silnylon (100D & 300D)
  • Capacities: 45, 60L
  • Pros: Lightweight, Water Resistant
  • Cons: Like The Atmos Falls Over, Durability

The Osprey Levity is their answer to the wide range of ultralight packs popping up everywhere these days. The levity is their updated version of the previous ultralight model the Osprey Exos. The Levity weighs less than 2lbs, which is pretty amazing while still providing you with a metal frame. Like most Osprey packs it has a solid construction.

Despite its lightweight build, the bag is surprisingly robust, and the straps sit well on your shoulders and back. The vented back ensures you don’t overheat when carrying the pack. It does have an internal frame and can carry a load up to around 30lbs, but any past that it will likely be uncomfortable to wear on extended periods.

12.) Zpacks Arc Blast 55L

Best Hiking Bakcpacks Z Pack Arc Blast
  • Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz
  • Fabric: Dyneema
  • Capacities: 55L
  • Pros: Super Lightweight, Water Resistant
  • Cons: Fragile, Lacks Organization

If you’re an ultralight fiend, the Z-Pack Arc Blast is the lightest pack on this list at 1 pound 8 ounces. It’s a minimalist pack that has the options to include hip belt pockets or simple straps. Z-Packs uses the water-resistant Dyneema found in the Hyperlite that delivers good strength in a lightweight form. They have managed to shave off a good half pound compared to the Hyperlite with fabric, smaller size, and a more bare-bones approach.

That design has resulted in a less durable bag that I would not feel comfortable carrying in the Rockies or Alpine regions where sharp scree makes it easy to tear. However, for dessert and low elevation thru-hikes, the lightweight nature of this bag will surely be appreciated. Don’t worry about heat either as the name Arc from the unique cinch system in the back panel to pull the backpack away from the middle of your back for ventilation. If you’re about weight than the Arc Blast is the best hiking backpack for you.

13.) Deuter AirContact

Deuter AirContact Best Travel Backpack
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 14 oz
  • Fabric: Nylon 210D
  • Capacities: 60, 75L
  • Pros: Rugged, Comfortable, Price
  • Cons: Not Perfect

The Aircontact is a decent all-around pack for an affordable price from a reliable bag manufacturer. The capacity is rated as +10 which refers to an expandable top portion of the main compartment. It provides some options for size and keeping your bag compressed.

It’s a robust backpack that is meant to comfortably carry a heavy load and considering the price that’s a great value. Deuter has loaded the bag with features such as multiple compression straps, a hydration port, bottom access, trekking pole loops, and an adjustable back length. It comes in a variety of size options and men/women’s versions.

I wouldn’t consider it to be one of my favorite backpacks; however, it’s worth a mention as it’s a quality pack that’s cheaper than the more robust Atmos/Aura or Baltoro/Deva. It would be a mistake to count this backpack out for being this far down on our list best hiking backpacks.

14.) The North Face Banchee

The North Face Banchee
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz
  • Fabric: Nylon 210D
  • Capacities: 35, 50, 55L
  • Pros: Solid, Comfortable, Price
  • Cons: Not Perfect

This is one of the first hiking backpacks I bought and it’s still sitting in my closet. I don’t use it as much, but the new Banchee is feature rich and comes in just under 4 pounds. It has a solid organization system with multiple pockets, eight, on the exterior and a few interiors.

The Banchee is rated to carry 40lbs with comfort thanks to the aluminum frame and cushioned straps. I really like the Banshee for the price and it’s a great pack similar to the REI Traverse. However, the primary difference is a more feature rich Traverse or the Banshee which a full pound lighter. Either, way I’d weigh my options and look at the intended use if considering either of the two hiking backpacks.

Styles Of Travel Backpacks

best travel backpacks

When it comes to backpacks there are three main types and each comes with its pros and cons. The three general styles of the backpack are top-loading, panel loading, and non-traditional backpacks.

Let’s take a look at all three to weigh their various advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to pick the right style to have the best travel backpack for you.

Panel Loading Travel Backpacks:

Travel Taiwan - Taipei

Panel-loading backpacks are purpose-built for the traveler on the go and are a great option. Their design is similar to a traditional suitcase. They fully unzip giving easy access to your stuff. They have a sleek design without all the straps that are likely to get hung up, making it easy to throw them in an overhead compartment or under a bus.

Many of these packs are often designed to meet checked baggage standards. These packs are quickly becoming the traveler’s favorite bag. They’re very well adapted for transitioning between urban environments making them one of the best backpacks for Europe.

Pros of Panel  Loading Backpacks:
  • Size, not having to worry about having to check your bag is a big plus. The majority of these packs come in a size designed to be carry-on friendly.
  • Easy access, with a compartment that fully opens to give you access to your clothes and whatever else you carry. This is the big one, making packing and unpacking a breeze.
  • Side handles, this may seem like such a small thing, but as a frequent traveler, I can attest it is not. A side handle makes hopping on off public transportation, running through the airport, or just carrying your pack around much easier. You do not need to worry about clubbing that woman behind on the subway with your massive pack on.
  • Compartmented, these packs have more compartments built in so you can organize your stuff much better.
Cons of Panel Loading Backpacks:
  • Comfort, the design of these packs is both a positive and negative much like the top-loading packs. In order to keep a low profile, the back straps are often thinner and not as comfortable. Ouch.
  • Zippers, the biggest weak point on panel loading packs is the use of a zipper as the main way to access your goods, meaning they run the risk of breaking over time. Especially on a particularly rough trip.
  • Weight distribution, these packs are similar in shape to a suitcase and not exactly good for long distances on your back. The ergonomics and weight distribution just aren’t there.

Hiking Travel Backpacks

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These are generally the most common backpack used by travelers in Europe. However, it may not be the most convenient. It is slim lined and very comfortable for those long treks.

The problem, or strength, lies in the fact that these backpacks were not created for those traveling the world, but those on multiday hikes with their packs on all day. This leads to a durable pack that is lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof.

Pros of Top-loading backpacks:
  • Durable: A decent top-loading pack is designed to withstand the elements.
  • Drawstring opening: These packs are designed to last and to be waterproof. So things like zippers aren’t used.
  • Comfort: These packs are built for comfort on long hikes and are made for the adventurous. Meaning long walks when moving locations are easier.
  • Flexibility: These packs are probably the most versatile since they are purpose built for multi-day hike trips that allow for you to bounce between urban and natural landscapes.
  • Waterproof: Another reason to love the design of a top-loading pack is the waterproof capabilities.
Cons of top loading backpacks:
  • Packing: The top-loading feature can make packing and unpacking a pain. Meaning if something is at the bottom of your pack, you better start digging.
  • Checked baggage: These bad boys can be large and often can’t fit in overheads meaning you get hit with additional baggage fees.
  • Straps: The straps hang all over the place. They might be helpful for hiking the Rockies, but not so helpful when throwing under a coach bus.
  • Awkward: They’re designed for riding on your back, not for waiting on a metro platform. My top-loading pack is wonderful on my back, but due to its shape cannot stand upright on its own.
  • Sore thumb: With a top loading pack on there is almost no chance of looking like a local. You’re pretty much pegged for being a tourist right off the get-go, which can be a nuisance.

Non-Traditional Travel Backpacks

Best Duffel Bag For Travel

This is a wide range of packs some purpose-built for travel while others like duffel bags are purpose-built for a different task. I love duffel bags for shorter trips and they have established themselves as favorites for adventure sports enthusiasts. These packs are extremely varied since no real design seems to reign supreme different companies have different styles.

It really depends on individual comfort when it comes to determining which bag is right for you. I’ve seen a few interesting designs that may work well for a traveler who’s on the go with short weekend trips. I personally don’t see a ton of practicality extending beyond that. For me, a traditional bag, or duffel bag are far more stylish and just as practical, but to each their own.

Pros of Non Traditional Backpacks:
  • Size, not having to worry about having to check your bag is a big plus. The majority of these packs come in a size designed to be carry-on friendly.
  • Easy access, with a compartment that fully opens to give you access to your clothes and whatever else you carry. This is the big one, making packing and unpacking a breeze.
  • Side handles, this may seem like such a small thing, but as a frequent traveler, I can attest it is not. A side handle makes hopping on off public transportation, running through the airport, or just carrying your pack around much easier. You do not need to worry about clubbing that woman behind on the subway with your massive pack on.
  • Compartmented, these packs have more compartments built in so you can organize your stuff much better.
Cons of Panel Loading Backpacks:
  • Comfort, the design of these packs is both a positive and negative much like the top-loading packs. In order to keep a low profile, the back straps are often thinner and not as comfortable. Ouch.
  • Zippers, the biggest weak point on panel loading packs is the use of a zipper as the main way to access your goods, meaning they run the risk of breaking over time. Especially on a particularly rough trip.
  • Weight distribution, these packs are similar in shape to a suitcase and not exactly good for long distances on your back. The ergonomics and weight distribution just aren’t there.

Which travel backpack style is for you?

Cost To Backpack Europe: Edinburgh

Deciding on the pack style really comes down to what kind of traveler you are. It depends on what you’re looking to do and where you’re going. Some need a heavy-duty bag, while others need comfort, and then you have the slower moving travelers. If you need help purchasing the backpack read how we save money for travel.

There really is no way to go wrong with what is your world travel backpack. It’s all about personal preference and where you are in life. As a twenty-five-year-old guy, outdoor activities are very appealing to me, not to mention I feel I have a strong back so carrying around a top-loading pack was my choice.

So what suits you? I’ve broken down each pack and who they may appeal to, there’s no right or wrong here though (maybe hiking the alps with a convertible pack isn’t a good idea, but anyone doing that knows that already).

  • Top-Loading: Adventure enthusiast. Hiking. Likes to walk and hitch-hike. Long haul.
  • Panel-loading: Quick moving. Mostly moving from city to city or town to town. Long haul.
  • Convertible: Going with the flow isn’t your style. You need something that addresses your travel needs like a digital nomad.

How to Choose a Good Travel Backpack?

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The first thing to think about when it comes to picking a great backpack is your budget. Good quality backpacks are expensive, but you also don’t want to blow your entire budget on a backpack.

However, if you invest in one of the best backpacks on the market chances are it will stand the test of time. I’ve had my Osprey Farpoint for five years and counting, and my REI backpack for even longer. Many companies like REI, Osprey, and The North Face will offer to repair your products if there are defects.


Like with anything, make sure that the backpack you choose is comfortable on your back. You should be able to wear it comfortably for at least an hour. When buying online it’s a good idea to check the return policy in case the backpack does not fit you the way you would like.


A travel backpacks design capability is crucial. A good backpack doesn’t necessarily mean a bunch of bells and whistles. Make sure you narrow down if you want a top loading backpack or front loading, and check for any extra straps, harnesses, zippers, and clips you may or may not want and need.


Make sure you pick a travel backpack that is made out of good material. Most backpacks are made out of either Ripstop Nylon or Dyneema. Dyneema is generally more expensive since it is lighter, but both are extremely durable.


Determine everything you will want to carry in your backpack for that will determine the volume bag you buy. A good starting point is 40-50L. You’ll want to choose a relatively lightweight backpack since you will be hiking with it for long treks. A backpack can easily be your heaviest piece of gear so choosing something lightweight could make all the difference for your comfort. And finally, choose a frame that serves its purpose for what you need. If you are carrying a lighter load then a lightweight frame is a great option, same goes for the opposite.

Trip Length

It’s important to consider your trip length when picking a travel backpack. There are great day backpacks on this list that are great for just that – a day. While others can serve you for traveling for a week, a month, or even years.

The ideal backpack size for traveling longer term is somewhere around 60 liters. Anything smaller than that is for short extended jaunts if you have plans to travel for several weeks you’ll have a tough time with a pack smaller than 60 liters.

Elements of a Good Travel Backpack

Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

Main Compartment

You’ll want to make sure that the main compartment of your backpack is large enough to carry all of your belongings while still having easy access. Store the heavier things at the bottom of your bag so that the weight is closer to your back. Additional compartments are good for storage of small items or valuables like your passport.

Hip Belt

A good hip belt is essential for any travel backpack especially for women. In case you haven’t heard women have hips and putting your pack weight on your hips helps take the pressure off your back, so you will want a good, well-cushioned hip belt that is sturdy to help do that.

Shoulder Straps

Along with the hip belt, your shoulder straps carry a lot of the weight of your pack. Thick and comfortable padding will keep your shoulders from hurting after a long days hike or walk through a city.

Water Bottle Holders and Hydration Ports

Hydration ports are great for those long hot days.If you aren’t using the hydration ports or a bladder you will want at least one water bottle holder to hold your liquid.


We look for bags that are waterproof or have a rain fly in case your stuck in a rainstorm. Nothing is worse than wet gear.

Cushioned Back

A well cushioned back panel can make the difference between having a backache or not.

Trekking pole/ Ice Axe loops

If you’ll be doing any hiking during your travels these are great little additions to any bag that can really optimize your comfort and free your hands if you use poles or ice picks on hikes.

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About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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