Selecting the best travel backpack for women can be a daunting task. With the wide range of backpacks available, it’s easy to have decision paralysis. At least now, there is no a one size fits all unisex pack. They make lovely travel backpacks designed with a women’s frame in mind.
I fondly remember the first female-specific backpack I bought from REI. I loved that bag because it was comfortable, rugged, and fit my frame well. Since that first backpack years ago, I have tested many new women’s backpacks.
The Best Travel Backpacks For Women
Women’s Osprey Fairview
Best Travel Backpack for Women
MSRP: $185 | Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz. | Material: Ripstop Nylon | Capacities: 40L, 55L, 70L
- Excellent Build Quality
- Large Roomy Interior
- Removable Daypack
- Suspension System
- Excellent Features
- Great For “Backpackers”
- Not Versatile For Business or Hiking
- Capacity Includes The 15L Removable Daypack
The Osprey Fairview is well constructed with intelligent design features that are perfect for travel. It’s a highly functional bag that’s been a traveler’s favorite for years. It all starts with a lightweight frame and excellent suspension for comfortable carry. Osprey has a lot of experience in hiking backpack design, so they know how to create a fantastic bag for all-day comfort.
A large panel makes it easy to access the roomy interior and organize your luggage. More organization features include a sizeable top mesh zip pocket, a side mesh pocket, and two interior compression straps. A rear laptop sleeve offers secure placement and can hold a hydration reservoir.
The bag comes in four sizes (40, 55, 70, 80L), but we believe the 55L to be the best value. The 40L and 55L are the same backpack, but the 55L includes the removable Farpoint/Fairview Travel Daypack. When removed, the 55L is carry-on compliant and can attach to the front straps for secure carry if it holds valuables. It’s important to note that the 55L is a 40L bag with a 15L daypack which can create confusion.
Other stand-out features include the zip-away suspension, lockable zippers, and an adjustable torso fit. Even the padded carry handles to make life easy for placing in overhead bins or quick grabs. The Fairview is an easy decision as one of the best travel backpacks for women. Business travelers will want to look elsewhere, but the Farpoint is the gold standard for backpackers. It’s easily the best Osprey travel backpack for women.
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Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L
Women’s Anti-Theft Backpack
Price: $239 | Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz. | Size: 45L | Material: Nylon
- Antitheft Features
- Carry-On Size
- 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 one example of the company’s phenomenal products. Thanks to its size, the pack makes a great carry-on travel backpack for women.
It has fantastic antitheft features, such as the eXomesh Slashgaurd technology that houses a hidden stainless steel mesh, making it slash-proof. Other sweet security features include an RFID pocket and security zippers that self-lock.
The exterior bag fabric is ECONYL fiber produced from recycled fishnets for a reduced carbon footprint. A stowaway strap system allows for safe transport when the bag is checked on flights. Once at the destination, travelers can easily access their belongings as the backpack has a clamshell opening. The type of opening allows for a better organization with packing cubes.
The style and functionality of this anti-theft backpack are superb and will give you peace of mind – whether on a weekend getaway or traveling the world! It’s an excellent backpack for solo female travelers or women who want to secure personal belongings. We’d recommend this backpack for travelers staying in hostels.
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Women’s REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack
Travel & Hiking Backpack
Price: $149 | Weight: 2 lbs. 12.3 oz. | Fabric: Nylon 210D | Capacities: 18, 40, 60L
- Suspension System
- Hiking Pack Features
- REI Guarantee
- Compression Straps
- Zip Away Straps
- Rain-fly Placement
- Stiff Side Pockets
We have transitioned from hiking packs to purpose-built travel backpacks within a few years. Many backpacks are great for travel or hiking, but very few are good at both. However, REI Co-op has created a backpack that attempts to blur the line between hiking and travel with the RE Co-op Ruckpack.
The design is similar to the Osprey Fairview, except it has several features the Osprey lacks. A more robust suspension system allows for an impromptu hike in the mountains or up to the top of the local hill. I love the laptop compartment, hydration reservoir, rain cover, and straps for trekking poles. You can choose from three sizes 28L, 40L, or 60L. The 60L is capable of handling multiday backpacking trips in the backcountry.
The pack has a lie-flat feature with a large zip opening for easy access to all of your belongings to top it all off. This is the travel bag for those who want to blend city hopping and adventure travel all in one bag. It’d be an excellent choice for travelers trekking along the Camino De Santiago or Inca Trail.
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Peak Design Travel Backpack
Best Backpacks For Savvy Travelers & Photographers
Price: $299 | Weight: 4.5 lbs. | Fabric: Weatherproof Nylon | Capacities: 45L
- High Quality
- Professional Look
- Excellent Accessories
- Wonderful Carry Handles
- Organization System
- High Price
The Peak Design Travel Backpack is my most used travel bag. Attention to detail is evident throughout the bag. It’s a sharp-looking bag, and its quality is evident through stitches and materials. You won’t look like a “budget backpacker” wearing the pack, and you can comfortably carry it in most environments.
An excellent pocket layout offers organization without consuming the bag’s roomy interior. That roomy interior works with Peak Design’s packing & camera cubes that lock to interior loops. It’s an intelligent system, but it does require further investment in an already expensive travel backpack.
An interior back pocket for a laptop/tablet is well-padded and sits closest to your back, which creates a more rigid, secure, and balanced backpack. It’s got some other slick features, such as a hidden luggage tag, theft deterrent zippers, a lined pocket, stowaway straps, two hidden external zip pockets, and compression straps. A luggage pass-through allows you to secure the bag to a roller handle.
The suspension on the bag feels robust, and the straps are comfortable for carrying heavy weight. This is needed as the bag is a little heavy because of the bag’s extensive features and durable materials. Its most significant negative is the weight with a non-vented back panel. This makes for a sweaty lower back in heat.
Despite that, the Peak Designs Travel Backpack is great for a minimalist, businessman, or more modern backpacker with a sleek design. At 45L, it’s a little small for extended travel, but with the right packing strategies, it’s very doable. If cost is not a concern, this is my favorite women’s travel backpack.
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Osprey Aura AG
Multi-Day Hiking Backpack
Price: $325 | Weight: 4 lbs. 4 oz. | Fabric: Denier Nylon | Capacities: 65L
- Amazing Suspension System
- Strong Construction
- Lightweight Mesh Ventilation
- Light Wire Frame
- Many Pockets for Organization
- Leading Class Hiking Backpack
- Leading Comfort
- Only top load access, and it does not sit upright.
It’s tough to beat that feeling of carrying yourself to the next destination. We find ourselves spending more and more time away from cities and out in nature on our trips. For those who love to go backpacking or thru-hiking, the Osprey Aura is an exceptional hiking backpack for women. The Anti-Gravity suspension system on the backpack feels fabulous on your back and carries weight like a champ.
It’s a top-loading hiking backpack that is made for women. The top load makes it difficult for everyday travel purposes, but it can get the job done. You can’t go wrong with the Aura AG, designed for the traditional backpacker or those on a hiking adventure. As Osprey designs backpacks for the trail, the build quality is lovely and durable.
Almost the whole back panel is made out of lightweight mesh for ventilation. I love how the harness can be fine-tuned for any sized woman. This pack has many compartments for organization, including space at the bottom for a sleeping bag.
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Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack
MSRP: $220 | Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz. | Capacities: 28, 35, 42L
- Fun Colorways
- Excellent Quality
- Clamshell Opening
- Great Internal Organization
- Little Bulky
- Loses Its Shape
Cotopaxi’s Allpa Travel Pack is an ultra-tough travel bag that carries the company’s signature look. It’s a versatile bag with a roomy main compartment that opens, similar to a clamshell suitcase. Allpa is a bag built around the premise of one-bag travel, and it has all the features you need for seamless travel.
The organization is the best we’ve seen in the main compartment for a travel backpack. Cotopaxi designed a practical interior with multiple compartments and mesh that make good use of the clamshell opening. A large front pocket provides easy access to quick-grab essentials such as toiletries, a wallet, or tech accessories. On the back of the bag is a spacious padded laptop sleeve.
Support for the bag is interesting as there are a variety of ways to carry the bag. You have four exterior handles for quick grabs and an over should strap for messenger bag carry. Traditional backpack suspension feels robust and comfortable with a hip belt and sternum strap. It’s not the best suspension we’ve seen in a travel bag, but it doesn’t leave much to be desired unless you’re on long hikes.
The only negative to the bag is it’s bulky when packed. Some bags chose to lengthen and distribute the luggage vertically, while the Allpa extends horizontally off the back. This makes the bag less attractive and difficult to close when full. However, it’s still an excellent backpack for a European trip.
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Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack
MSRP: $289 | Weight: 3.42 lbs. | Material: Tarpaulin | Size: 40L
- Excellent Organization
- Carry-On Size
- Tech Focused Design
- Super High-Quality
- Smart Carry Feature
- Organization Consumes Bag Interior Space
- Not Great For Extended Travel
The Nomatic Travel Bag is the perfect travel bag for short trips. It’s a bag built around the premise of one-bag travel, and it has all the features you need for seamless travel. Excellent construction quality makes the backpack extraordinarily durable and stylish. We love the bag’s exterior tarpaulin material, which provides water and abrasion resistance.
A patented strap system allows the bag to go from a backpack to a duffel bag. The pass-through system on the front attached the travel bag to the handle of the wheeled suitcase. Other great exterior features include a removable hip belt, water-resistant zippers, a top handle, and a sternum strap.
The organization is the bag’s most compelling feature, with a multitude of pockets to organize your luggage. It includes a top pocket, laundry bag, phone pocket, water bottle pocket, side panel for electronics, shoe pocket, and laptop/tablet sleeve. Nomatic has a suite of accessory bags to design an organization system best for the individual traveler.
The sleek design and size make the backpack highly versatile. At 40L, the bag is best suited for 3-5 day one bag trips or can support a suitcase for extended journeys. Its sleek design and intelligent features make it an excellent fit for everyone, from business travelers to backpackers.
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Tortuga outbreaker Backpack
MSRP: $299 | Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz. | Capacities: 35L, 45L
- Excellent Suspension
- Roomy Interior
- Internal Organization
- High Quality
- Quick Access Pockets
- Bulky Style
- Stiff Exterior Material
Tortuga has some experience in designing travel backpacks as they are one of the original companies in the market. The Outbreaker is one of their latest offerings and it’s an impressive travel backpack. It has all the features travelers come to expect and some innovative ones.
It’s a boxy backpack and the exterior material is a little stiff, but the bag still looks pretty sharp. The material is super durable and water resistant. You would think the boxy bag is uncomfortable to carry, but it has one of the best suspension systems we’ve tested in a travel backpack for men.
It’s easy to access the main compartment with a front loading panel. In the main compartment are a top mesh panel pocket and side pockets for easy organization of socks, delicates, and essentials. Travelers will appreciate that the organization offers plenty without consuming too much interior room — to maximize the bag we recommend packing cubes.
It helps when a travel backpack is carry-on compliant and the Outbreaker comes in two carry-on compliant sizes. You can purchase an “international” 35L, and “USA” 45L bag to match airline requirements. Although, we never have an issue with the 45L traveling internationally. The Tortuga Outbreaker is an excellent bag that any female traveler will love.
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eBags TLS Mother Lode
MSRP: $119 | Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz. | Capacities: 45L
- Great Price
- Multiple Compartments
- Roomy Interior
- Stowaway Straps
- Nice Front Compartment
- Compression Straps
- Laptop Sleeve
- Water Bottle
- Meh Suspension
This bag is spacious, with plenty of organization to boot. It’s an easy contention for one of the best carry-on bags if not for its comfort and style. However, as I talked about previously, no one solution fits all. However, it’s tough to dismiss the travel backpack for women as it’s the most affordable on this list.
The bag is of great value for a carry-on-compliant backpack. I wouldn’t plan to spend a few hours with the backpack on my back because of the flimsy straps. Not everyone needs to carry their luggage for extended periods, though, and the interior is very roomy. As it opens like a clamshell suitcase, travelers can quickly access their belongings.
We’ve used eBags extensively for their fabulous hard-side suitcases. They offer well-thought-out luggage that is of excellent quality. This carry-on backpack is no exception with its multiple compartments, organization, laptop sleeve, and clamshell opening. Our only real complaint is that it’s painfully ugly, and the straps suck.
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Topo Designs Travel Bag
MSRP: $229 | Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz. | Capacities: 30L, 40L
- Organization Pockets
- Multiple Compartments
- Laptop Sleeve
- Multiple Carry Points
- Carry On Friendly
- Heavy Zippers
- Theft Deterrent Zipper Loop
- Smaller Size
- No Water Bottle Holder
- 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 a 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 external 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. Regarding suspension, it has side handles on both sides of the bag, a detachable shoulder strap, and straps with a hip belt and sternum strap. The support and straps are detachable and 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 compared to top-loading packs. The colors and style are better suited for younger travelers, depending on your style. They offer a black if you prefer a more neutral bag, we have the olive color pictured above. It’s loaded with features and space and has a lifetime guarantee. I love this pack and have taken it on several trips to Europe and Asia.
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How to pick a travel backpack
Deciding on the pack style depends on 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.
There 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. 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 for travel. 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 hitchhike. Long haul.
- Panel-loading: Quick moving. Mostly moving from city to city or town to town. Long haul.
What Size Travel Backpack Should You Get?
The sweet spot for me and a travel backpack for women is 40-45L, which should be a carry-on size for most bags. I believe it’s better to be fast and light rather than bogged down by a heavy backpack. It also saves time.
|15-35L||Too small for most trips unless you’re a super minimalist. It’s a decent size for weekends or commuters.|
|35-45L||This is the sweet spot! It’s not too big for short trips, and it can carry enough for months with intelligent packing strategies. Plus, it’s carry-on compliant.|
|45L-65L||It’s a good pack size for a bit more space if you don’t mind checking your luggage—the standard for size thru-hikers and multiday backpacking trips.|
|70L+||Too big! It’s only suitable for extended expeditions—I’d say it’s too big for most multi-day hikes.|
How to Choose a Good Travel Backpack?
Your budget is the first thing to consider when picking a great backpack. Suitable backpacks are expensive, but you don’t want to blow your entire budget on a pack. You can read some of our tips on how to save money for travel.
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 great backpack brands will offer to repair your products if there are defects.
Like anything, make sure that your backpack 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 if the backpack does not fit you the way you would like.
A travel backpack’s design capability is crucial. A good pack 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 with excellent exterior material. Most packs use either Ripstop Nylon or Dyneema. Dyneema is generally more expensive since it is lighter, but both are highly durable.
Determine everything you want to carry in your backpack, which will determine the volume of bags you buy. A good starting point is 40-50L. You’ll want to choose a relatively lightweight pack since you will be hiking with it for long treks.
A backpack can easily be your heaviest gear, so choosing something lightweight could make all the difference for your comfort. And finally, select a frame that serves its purpose for what you need. A lightweight frame is a great option if you are carrying a lighter load. The same goes for the opposite.
It’s essential to consider your trip length when picking a travel backpack. Great day backpacks on this list are great for just that – a day. At the same time, others can serve you for traveling for a week, a month, or even years.
The ideal backpack size for traveling long-term is somewhere around 60 liters. Anything smaller than that is for short extended excursions. If you have plans to travel for several weeks, you’ll have a tough time with a pack smaller than 60 liters. Of course, every woman is different, but I like to travel with at least a pair of travel boots and sneakers that take up a lot of room.
Elements of a Travel Backpack For Women
You’ll want to ensure that your backpack’s main compartment is large enough to carry all your belongings while still having easy access. Store the heavier things at the bottom of your bag so the weight is closer to your back. Additional compartments are suitable for storing small items or valuables like your passport.
A good hip belt is essential for any travel backpack for women. Hip belts effectively place the weight of your pack on your hips. It helps take the pressure off your back. We love to see a form-fitting hip belt on hiking backpacks and, at the very least, a strap on travel-specific models.
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 day’s 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.
A well-cushioned back panel can make the difference between having a backache and not. On top of that, ventilation is vital to avoid large sweat stains on the back of your shirt.