Best Travel Backpacks For Europe

A proper travel backpack for Europe will make travelers’ lives much more manageable! For many of you, it’s the first backpack you’ll ever purchase, and there is a good chance you’ll live out of it for a couple of weeks, months, or even years.

If you have plans to city-hop between Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome, you need a bag that can move as fast as you do. However, finding that perfect pack can be tough with many 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 accumulated a collection of various packs for different travel styles. That means we have one backpack for hiking in Norway and another for city hopping between Prague and Lisbon.

This post breaks down the differences between travel-specific and hiking backpacks. That way, you can choose the perfect backpack for traveling in Europe. These are all of our recommendations after years of European travel. We’ll get right to our top picks for a European backpacking trip.


Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

European City in the summer

Best Travel Backpack for Europe: Featured Pick

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview

It is the gold standard of travel backpacks for Europe. We’ve used it extensively in our travels worldwide, and it’s always reliable. The Farpoint is the men’s version, and the Fairview is the women’s version.


Best Travel Backpacks For Europe

Edinburgh At Night

These travel-specific backpacks are great for the majority of travelers these days. We’re not all mountain lovers who need a pack built for multiday hikes and built to withstand a rain/snowstorm.

In recent years companies have caught on, making a slew of travel backpacks purpose-built for city hopping in Europe. It’s not all sleek travel backpacks for Europe, too, as many are a potent blend of hiking and travel, making them perfect for backpacking.

travel-credit-card

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview Travel Pack

Best For Backpackers In Europe

MSRP: $220 | Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz. | Capacities: 40L, 55L, 70, 80L

Key Features

Removable Daypack, Stowaway Straps, Hip Belt, Sternum Strap, Side & Top Handles, U Zip Opening, Laptop Sleeve, AirScape Panel, Compression Straps, Exterior Loops, Mesh Panels For Organization,

Pros
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Large Roomy Interior
  • Removable Daypack
  • Suspension System
  • Excellent Features
  • Great For “Backpackers”
Cons
  • Not Versatile For Business or Hiking
  • Capacity Includes The 15L Removable Daypack

The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview is well constructed with intelligent design features that are perfect for travel; it’s easily one of the best travel backpacks for Europe. The Farpoint is the men’s model of the bag with a frame better suited for men, while the Fairview is for a woman’s frame. 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 bags come 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 Farpoint or Fairview is an easy decision as one of the best travel backpacks for Europe. Business travelers will want to look elsewhere, but the travel backpack is the gold standard for backpackers.

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Women’s Fairview

Men’s Farpoint


Peak Design Travel Backpack

Best Travel Backpack For Savvy Travellers

Peak Design Travel Backpack

MSRP: $299 | Weight: 4.5 lbs | Material: 400D Nylon | Capacities: 45L

Key Features

Laptop Sleeve, Hip Belt, Sternum Strap, Multiple Carry Handles, Peak Design Accessories, Lockable Zippers, Expandable Front Pocket, Two Hidden External Pockets, Two Stash Pockets, Mesh Internal Organization, Soft Pocket, Luggage Pass Through,

Pros
  • High Quality
  • Professional Look
  • Excellent Accessories
  • Wonderful Carry Handles
  • Organization System
Cons
  • High Price
  • Heavy

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, stow-away 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 Design 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 European travel backpack.

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REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack

Best Outdoor/Travel Backpack

Men's REI Co-op Ruckpack 40L

Price: $149 | Weight: 2 lbs. 13.5 oz. | Fabric: Nylon 210D | Capacities: 18, 28, 40, 60L

Key Features

Stowaway Strap Panel, Hip Belt, Sternum Strap, Side Handles, U Zip Opening, Laptop Sleeve, Vented Back Panel, Compression Straps, Exterior Loops, Mesh Panels For Organization, Hydration or Laptop Compartment, Trekking Pole Attachment, Lockable Zippers

Pros

  • Suspension System
  • Hiking Pack Features
  • REI Guarantee
  • Compression Straps
  • Zip Away Straps
  • Value

Cons

  • 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 REI Co-op Ruckpack.

The design is similar to the Osprey Farpoint, except it has several features that 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 the Camino De Santiago.

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Tortuga outbreaker Backpack

Tortuga Outbreaker

MSRP: $349 | Weight: 5 lbs 1 oz. | Capacities: 35L, 45L

Key Features

Front Loading Panel, Two Front Pockets, Hip Belt, Sternum Straps, Two External Water Bottle Pockets, Suspension System, Internal Mesh Pockets, Laptop Pocket, Top Pocket With Key Lanyard, Water Resistant Material, Height Adjustable

Pros
  • Excellent Suspension
  • Roomy Interior
  • Internal Organization
  • High Quality
  • Quick Access Pockets
Cons
  • Bulky Style
  • Stiff Exterior Material

Tortuga has some experience designing travel backpacks as they are one of the original companies in the market. The Outbreaker is one of their latest offerings and 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 tested in a travel backpack for Europe.

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, underwear, 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 delivers plenty of stoke to any traveler.

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Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack

MSRP: $220 | Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz. | Capacities: 28, 35, 42L

Key Features

Weather Repellant Exterior, Ventilated Back Panel, Hip Belt, Sternum Strap, Top & Side Handles, Clamshell Opening, Shoulder Carry Strap, Padded Laptop Sleeve, Padded Phone Sleeve, Carabiner Lash Points, Exterior Water Bottle Pocket, Rain Cover,

Pros
  • Fun Colorways
  • Excellent Quality
  • Clamshell Opening
  • Great Internal Organization
Cons
  • 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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Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L

Best Anti-Theft Backpack

Best Anit Theft Backpacks Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L

Price: $239 | Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz. | Size: 45L | Material: Nylon

Key Features

Laptop Compartment, Locking Cable, Lockable Zippers, Cut Resistant Cables, Internal Frame, Internal Compression Strap, Mesh Interior Pocket, Tech Organized Front Pocket, Top & Side Handle, Stow-away Straps, Side Pockets

Pros

  • Antitheft Features
  • Carry-On Size
  • 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 one example of the company’s phenomenal products. Thanks to its size, the pack makes a great travel backpack for Europe.

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 travelers who want to secure personal belongings. We’d recommend this backpack for travelers staying in hostels.

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eBags TLS Mother Lode

eBag TLS Mother Lode Best Travel Backpack

MSRP: $119 | Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz. | Capacities: 45L

Key Features

Laptop Sleeve, Tablet Sleeve, Sternum Strap, Clamshell Opening, Two Exterior Pockets, Compression Straps, Top Handle, Side Handle, Bottom Handle,

Pros
  • Great Price
  • Multiple Compartments
  • Clamshell
  • Lots of Organization
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Cheaper Materials
  • Suspension

This bag is spacious, with plenty of organization to boot. It’s an easy contention for one of the best travel backpacks for Europe, 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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Nomatic 40L Travel Bag

Nomatic Travel 40L Best Travel Backpack

MSRP: $289 | Weight: 3.42 lbs. | Material: Tarpaulin | Size: 40L

Key Features

Laptop Sleeve, Tablet Sleeve, Sternum Strap, Duffel Bag Carry, Nomatic Travel Accessories, Theft Deterrent Zippers, Tech Pocket, Water Bottle Pocket, Phone Pocket With Cord Pass Through, Luggage Pass Through, Laundry Bag, Separate Shoe Compartment,

Pros

  • Excellent Organization
  • Carry-On Size
  • Tech Focused Design
  • Versatile
  • Super High-Quality
  • Smart Carry Feature

Cons

  • Organization Consumes Bag Interior Space
  • Not Great For Extended Travel

The Nomatic Travel Bag is a good 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. However, all those features can make the bag a little clunky and difficult to pack effectively. The bag’s exterior tarpaulin material on the top panel 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.

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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Topo Designs Travel Bag

Topo Designs - Travel Backpack

MSRP: $229 | Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz. | Capacities: 30L, 40L

Key Features

Front Loading Panel, Two Front Pockets, Hip Belt, Sternum Straps, Suspension System, Internal Mesh Pockets, Laptop Pocket, Water Resistant Material,

Pros
  • Organization Pockets
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Style
  • Heavy Zippers
Cons
  • Style
  • 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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Tropicfeel Shell Travel Backpack

MSRP: $199 | Weight: 3.3 lbs | Fabric: Polyester | Capacities: 22L-40L

Key Features

Side Handle, Wadrobe Accessory, Two Exterior Pockets, Laptop Sleeve, Sternum Strap, Shoe Pouch, Expandable Bag, Hip Belt, Padded Back Panel, Roll Top, Large Rear Access Panel

Pros
  • High Quality
  • Shoe Pouch
  • Two Exterior Pockets
  • Innovative Wardrobe Feature
  • Side Handle Carry
Cons
  • Small For Extended Travel
  • Roll-Top Opening Is Okay
  • Laptop Sleeve Requires Opening Whole Bag

The Tropicfeel Shell is excellent, and it feels like a high-quality backpack. It starts with the outer material used in the bag, a durable recycled nylon/polyester blend that is weatherproof and abrasion-resistant. The craftsmanship and the stitching on the bag feel durable, but the roll-top design and Fidlock accessory system feel a little sloppy.

It’s not quite as sleek as the Nomatic or Peak Design travel backpacks. However, the feature-rich backpack delivers some well-executed travel bag ideas. It also has the tech features we expect, like a dedicated laptop sleeve and organization for tech accessories. Other helpful features include side handles, a hip belt, sternum straps, and an ergonomic back panel.

The stand-out feature of the backpack is the Tropicfeel Shell Wardrobe System. It’s a compartmented mesh packing cube that can organize, hang, and compress your luggage. It is the best feature of the Tropicfeel Shell and works wonderfully if you can fit all your clothes into the system. The negative is that all accessories, including the Wardrobe system, are sold separately.

The additional accessories are a camera cube and two Fidlock system bags. Fidlock refers to the four tabs on the front of the backpack, which allow you two swap between external organizational bags. The accessory bags come at an additional charge.

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Best Travel Backpacks for Europe and Hiking

best hiking clothes for women

Hiking backpacks for Europe aren’t always our first choice. However, they have their time and place. If you plan to go for a multiday hike in popular locations like Iceland, Sweden, or Norway, a solid backpack is necessary. If you want to learn more about hiking backpacks, we have a post that goes more in-depth.


Osprey Atmos/Aura AG

Osprey Atmos AG 65L

Price: $325 | Weight: 4 lbs. 4 oz. | Fabric: Denier Nylon | Capacities: 50L, 65, 70, 80L

Pros
  • Best Suspension System
  • Excellent Durability
  • Reliable Backpack
  • Organization
  • Compression Straps
  • Removable Day Pack
  • Feature Packed
Cons
  • Only Top Load Access
  • Does Not Sit Upright

The Osprey Atmos/Aura AG are the gold standard of multiday backpacks. They are loved for their versatility, comfort, fit, and durability. It’s the same backpack, but the Amos is for men and Aura is for women. The backpack has faithfully served hikers for millions of miles underfoot. It’s because of Osprey’s AntiGravity System, which feels great on your back.

This is another top-loading Osprey backpacking backpack specifically made for each gender’s frame making it one of the best hiking backpacks. Designed for the traditional backpacker or those on a hiking adventure, you can’t go wrong with the Aura. It’s not a lightweight hiking pack, but one built for maximum space and comfort.

The back panel is made out of mesh for ventilation which adds to the comfort and fit. I love how the harness can be fine-tuned. This pack has several compartments for an organization that includes space at the bottom for a sleeping bag. I also love the top compartment can be removed if you don’t need the space and prefer a more compact bag.

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Women’s

Men’s


Gregory Baltoro/Deva

Gregory Baltoro Best Hiking Backpack

MSRP: $319 | Weight: 4 lbs. 14.4 oz. | Capacities: 65, 75, 85, 100L

It is the most comfortable men’s hiking backpack for travel. I use this on long multiday treks or camping when I need to carry my gear. Gregory has been building bags for a long time to know how to make a quality pack. This hiking backpack is a workhorse designed to be used and abused.

The Baltoro/Deva is to carry a heavy load without breaking your back on the trail. It has a superior suspension system with plush padding and excellent 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. It has attractive features like a built-in rain fly, a water bottle holder that offers easy access on a hike, and hydration compatibility. It’s still a heavy pack, but it’s a reliable backpack with build quality and substantial load capability.

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Women’s

Men’s


Teton Sports Scout 3400

Best Hiking Backpacks Teton Sports Scout3400

*Best Hiking Backpack for the Money*

  • Price: $75
  • 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 rainfly for when you get caught in a downpour. No bladder is included, but 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.

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Our Featured Pick

Osprey Farpoint Best Osprey Bags For Women

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview

It is the gold standard of travel backpacks for Europe. We’ve used it extensively in our travels worldwide, and it’s always reliable. The Farpoint is the men’s, and the Fairview is women’s specific.


How to pick a travel backpack For Europe

There are three main types when it comes to backpacks, and each comes with its pros and cons. The three general styles of the bag are top-loading, panel-loading, and non-traditional packs.

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.


What Size Backpack?

assiniboine

The sweet spot for me and a travel backpack for Europe 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.

SizeIdeal Use
15-35L Too small for most trips unless you’re a super minimalist. It’s a decent size for weekends or commuters.
35-45LThis 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-65LIt’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.

What Type of Backpack

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. 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 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.
  • Non-Traditional: These aren’t necessarily backpacks, but have some elements like a wheeled backpack or convertible duffel bag.

Travel Specific Backpacks

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 meet carry-on baggage standards. These packs are quickly becoming the traveler’s favorite bag. They’re perfect 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 checking your bag is a big plus. Most 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. It’s a great feature that can make packing and unpacking your bag a breeze.
  • Side handles may seem like such a small thing, but as a frequent traveler, I can attest it is not. A side handle makes hopping on or off public transportation, running through the airport, or carrying your pack around much more manageable. You do not need to worry about clubbing that woman behind on the subway with your massive pack.
  • Compartmented, these packs have more compartments, so you can organize your stuff much better.
Cons of Panel Loading Backpacks
  • Comfort, the design of these packs is both positive and negative, much like the top-loading packs. To keep a low profile, the back straps are often thinner and not as comfortable. Ouch.
  • Zippers, the most significant weak point of panel loading packs are using a zipper as the primary 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 unsuitable for long distances on your back. The ergonomics and weight distribution aren’t there.

Hiking Backpacks


Osprey Atmos AG Best Travel Backpacks

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

The problem, or strength, is that these backpacks are for multi-day hikes. It 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 more accessible.
  • Flexibility: These packs are probably the most versatile since they are purpose-built for multi-day hike trips that allow you to bounce between urban and natural landscapes.
  • Waterproof: Another reason to love the design of a top-loading pack is its waterproof capabilities.
Cons of top loading Backpacks
  • Packing: The top-loading feature can do the packing and unpacking a pain. You better start digging if something is at the bottom of your pack.
  • 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 help you on a hike in the Rockies, but they are not so helpful when throwing under a coach bus.
  • Awkward: They’re designed for riding on your back, not waiting on a metro platform. My top-loading pack is lovely on my back, but its shape cannot stand upright.
  • Sore thumb: With a top-loading pack, 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 Backpacks


Dakine Ranger

It 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 incredibly varied since no actual design seems to reign supreme different companies have different styles.

It depends on individual comfort in determining which bag is right for you. I’ve seen a few exciting designs that may work well for a traveler on the go with short weekend trips. I don’t know a ton of practicality extending beyond that. For me, a traditional or duffel bag is far more stylish and just as practical, but to each its own.

Pros of Non-Traditional Backpacks
  • Size, not having to worry about checking your bag is a big plus. Most 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.
  • Side handles may seem like such a small thing, but as a frequent traveler, I can attest it is not. A side handle makes hopping on or off public transportation, running through the airport, or carrying your pack around much more manageable. You do not need to worry about clubbing that woman behind on the subway with your massive pack.
  • 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 positive and negative, much like the top-loading packs. To keep a low profile, the back straps are often thinner and not as comfortable. Ouch.
  • Zippers, the most significant weak point of panel loading packs is using a zipper as the primary 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 precisely suitable for long distances on your back. The ergonomics and weight distribution aren’t there.

Which Travel Backpack Style Is For You?


Cost To Backpack Europe: Edinburgh

Deciding on the pack style comes down to your kind of traveler. 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 is no way to go wrong with 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 category. 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).

  • Hiking Backpack: Adventure enthusiast. Hiking. Likes to walk and hitchhike. Long haul.
  • Travel Specific: Quick moving. Mostly moving from city to city or town to town. Long haul.
  • Convertible: Going with the flow isn’t your style. It would help if you had something that addresses your travel needs, like a digital nomad.

How to Choose a Backpack for Europe?


Price

Your budget is the first thing to think about when picking a great hiking backpack. Suitable backpacks are expensive, but you don’t want to blow your entire budget on a bag. However, investing in one of the best hiking backpacks on the market will stand the test of time. Many companies like REI, Osprey, and The North Face will offer to repair your products.


Comfort

Like anything, make sure that your hiking backpack is comfortable on your back. You should be able to hike comfortably for at least two hours. 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.


Design

A hiking 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.


Material

Make sure you pick a hiking backpack made out of good material. Most packs use either Ripstop Nylon or Dyneema. Dyneema is generally more expensive since it is lighter, but both are incredibly durable.


Volume/Frame/Weight

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 light 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 carry a lighter load. The same goes for the opposite.


Trip Length

Best Travel Backpack for Europe

It’s essential to consider your trip length when picking a hiking backpack. Great day backpacks on this list are great for just a day. In contrast, others can serve you well for hikes longer than a week.

The ideal backpack size for Europe is somewhere around 40 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 40 liters.

About Cameron

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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