Best Travel Backpacks For Europe in Summer 2019

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The right travel backpack for Europe will make your life a lot easier! For many of you, it’s 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 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 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 different travel styles. That means we have one backpack for hiking in Norway and another pack for city hopping between Prague and Lisbon.

In this post, we break down the differences between panel loading bags, top loading backpacks, and non-traditional bags. That way you can choose the perfect backpack for traveling in Europe. These are all of our personal recommendations after years of European travel.

Best Backpacks for Europe

We’re going to get right into our top picks for a backpacking trip in Europe. If you’re curious to understand the different models more in-depth head down to the bottom where I talk about the various attributes.

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. Below is a selection of our favorite backpacks from a myriad of companies.

Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

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 multi-day hikes and built to withstand a rain/snow storm. In recent years companies have caught on and they now make a slew of travel backpacks that are purpose-built for city hopping in Europe.

1.) Osprey Porter

You’re probably noticing a theme by now, but we love Osprey backpacks for travel in Europe. 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. This may be the best travel backpack for Europe.

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 in Europe.

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 beyond Europe and around the world.

Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
Fabric: Nylon 420D
Capacities: 30L, 46L, 65L
Pros: Organization Pockets. Osprey Suspension. Laptop sleeve. Compression Tech. Structure Sidewalls. Multiple Sizes. Great Value.
Cons: Ugly. Questionable Carry On.

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2.) Topo Designs Travel Bag

Topo Designs - Travel Backpack

Topo Designs launched their latest pack the Travel Bag and it’s a slam dunk for European travel. 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 the bag 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 is 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 one of the best travel backpack for Europe and I’ll be reaching for it on my next trip. It’s loaded with features, space, and has a lifetime guarantee.

Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz.
Fabric: 1000D nylon, 400D nylon pack cloth, 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.

Topo Designs Travel Bag

3.) Peak Designs Travel Backpack

Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

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.

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!

Weight: 4.5 lbs
Fabric: Weatherproof 400D Nylon and poly melange
Capacities: 45L
Pros: Organization Pockets. Laptop sleeve. Carry On Friendly. Style. Heavy Zippers. Exterior waterbottle holder. Sleek
Cons: High Price.

Peak Designs

4.) REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack

REI Rucksack 40 - Best Travel Backpack Europe

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 Farpoint 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. All together it’s a nice backpack that blurs the line as to which category it belongs.

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.

Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz.
Fabric: Nylon 210D
Capacities: 40L
Pros: Best Suspension System. Hiking Pack Features. REI Guarantee. U Shape Open. Frame. Compression Straps. Carry On Compliant. Zip Away Straps.
Cons: Heavy. Hiking/Travel.

REI Co-op Rucksack

5.) Tortuga Setout Travel Backpack

Totuga Setout Backpack

Companies have caught on to the demands of travelers these days. The idea of a hiking backpack to travel around Europe is going out of style now we have travel bags — we’re stoked and own five travel specific 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 compartments are well thought out with room for my 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 four 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.

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.

Tortuga Setout Travel Backpack

6.) Knack Large Expandable Backpack

Knack Backpack

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 are overwhelmingly 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. There are a lot of travel backpack companies popping up these days, but the vast majority of them are lacking in terms of build quality — not the case with this pack.

It has some surprising features for its size such as a secret compartment and a 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 more space.

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. Small.

Knack Large Expandable Backpack

7.) Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L Backpack

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 in 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.

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.

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8.) Timbuk2 Wander Pack

Timbuk2 Wander Pack - Best Travel Backpacks Europe

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.

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.

Timbuk2 Wander Pack

9.) Osprey Farpoint 70

This has become the golden standard for travel packs. With a big easy access zip, solid suspension for hopping around cities, lightweight, a removable daypack, zip-away suspension, and a side handle to top it off.

For the new digital nomad traveler, this pack is a terrific choice. The only drawback of the pack is the less comfortable suspension and its unisex design. However, it’s portability makes it an awesome choice for the best women’s backpack or men’s.

It’s also awesome for carry on luggage as we named smaller sized 40L version of this bag is also our pick for the best carry on backpack. The 40L is awesome as a piece of carry on luggage while the 55L and 70L are good for long-term trips.

We’ve been using Osprey products without an issue for years! It has become the golden standard for travel packs and is one of the best backpacks out there. The pack has a big easy access zip pocket, solid suspension for hopping around cities, is lightweight, features a removable daypack, zip-away suspension, and a side handle to top it off.  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.

Weight: 3 lbs. 14.4 oz.
Fabric: 210-denier ripstop nylon/600-denier pack cloth
Capacities: 40L, 55L, 70L
Pros: Lightweight. Manageable. Removable Daypack. Large Size. Osprey All Mighty Guarantee.
Cons: Lacks Organization. Price. Small Water Bottle Holders.

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10.) Arcido Faroe Backpack

Arcido Faroe Backpack

Arcido’s Faroe backpack is a decent 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 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 poor suspension system that lacks a chest strap, hip belt, and soft feeling straps. It definitely could have been built with more durability in mind as it does feel flimsy compared to many other backpacks. It’s a blend of a traditional backpack and travel designed one since it lacks nice features like side handles or the ability to tuck away the back straps for travel.

If you’re looking for something more robust, but still lightweight Arcido makes the Akra a larger and more robust version of the Faroe.

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 Faroe Backpack

11.) Cabin Max Metz Backpack

Okay, so I have referenced a lot of expensive packs. The Cabin Max is similar to many of the other travel backpacks in this category, but at less than half the price. It’s not backed by some great company with an “All Mighty Guarantee,” but it certainly gets the job done and at a fraction of the price.

It is highly reviewed on Amazon and its rugged construction suggests it will indeed hold up in the long-run, or at least until you get your money out of it. This is a great option for a travel backpack in Europe.

Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Fabric: Nylon 600D
Capacities: 44L
Pros: Price. Multiple Compartments. Roomy Interior. Nice Front Compartment. Compression Straps.
Cons: Really Ugly. No Laptop Sleeve. Lacks Water Bottle Storage. Cheap Straps. Poor Quality.

Cabin Max Metz Backpack

Best Top-Loading Backpacks for Europe

1.) Osprey Atmos 65 AG Men’s

This is the pack I use to carry. Its large size works well for those who will travel the wide range of climates in Europe. The suspension system in the bag is also top of the line, I haven’t found a pack that fits better on my back. My largest complaint is it’s a rather odd shape, weight, and inability to stand up on its own due to an internal frame.

However, it is rugged and carries heavy weight effortlessly. I chose this pack also for a number of long-term treks I plan to do on our journey around the world, something I would not feel comfortable with a travel pack. Backpacker Magazine even gave it the Editors choice for the best multiday backpack several times over.

It’s a great bag that would be a solid choice for any travelers as its a well rounded top-loading pack. The major drawback to this pack is it does not really excel at anything any in 2019. There are far more backpacks purpose-built for city travel and ultralight packs built for those looking to head into the mountains on multi-day treks.

However, it does a solid job at being comfortable and tackling both the mountains and city streets. Toss in your favorite packable down jacket, hammock and travel camera and prepare to conquer the world!

Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (100D x 630D)
Capacities: 50, 65L
Pros: Amazing Suspension System. Strong Construction. Reliable.
Cons: Top Load Access. Does Not Sit Upright.

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2.) Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack – Women’s

Osprey knows how to design a pack and with the new antigravity system this pack feels great on your back. It’s the women’s version of the Atmos, and is said to fit like a glove.

It’s an easy choice for the best backpack for women. We love the comfort of this bag since it is an accomplishment to fit the female figure. It has almost all of the same strengths and drawbacks as the bag above and it’s a worthy consideration for any adventurous woman out there.

Weight: 4.42 lbs
Fabric: Nylon (210D & 630D)
Capacities: 65L & 50L
Pros: Strong construction, anti gravity system,
Cons: Top Load Access like Atmos

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3.) REI Co-op Flash Pack 45 Pack

REI Co-op Flash 45 Pack - Men's

We love to shop at REI and love the gear the design. It’s often great value and we’ve personally used their backpacks for years. The Co-Op Flash Pack is made out of ripstop nylon and is a great 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 help your balance, stability, and posture while hiking. Its super lightweight frame is great and really 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.

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.

Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (420D)
Capacities: 45L
Pros: Lightweight. Manageable. Nice Features
Cons: Too small for any longer than three days

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4.) Deuter Aircontact Lite 45+ 10 SL Pack

A great pack option for the more adventurous woman. This pack has a comfortable fit, solid construction, internal frame, and a multilayer hip belt. We’ve picked a handful bags that are well suited for women and this is another great option.

Weight: 3 lbs. 12 0z.
Fabric: Poly 600D
Capacities: 55L, 65L, 75L
Pros: Strong Construction. Suspension System, Internal Frame. Lightweight. Hydration Pack.
Cons: Top Load Access. Price.

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5.) Teton Sports Scout 3400

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.

Weight: 4 lbs. 8oz.
Capacities: 55L
Pros: Affordable. Features. Price.
Cons: Cheap Feel. Suspension.

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6.) Gregory Baltoro

This pack may not be as fancy as the Atmos and Aura and their antigravity system, but it has some great features to give it a run for its money. Things such as a removable daypack, a weatherproof pocket for electronics, pivoting belt, integrated rain cover, and u-zip pockets that give easy access to the body of the pack make this pack a great choice. Gregory is a great company that stands behind their gear.

Weight: 4 lbs 7 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (210D)
Capacities: 65L
Pros: Strong Construction. Suspension System, Internal Frame.
Cons: Top Load Access. Price. Heavy

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Non-Traditional Bags For Europe

1.) Patagonia Black Hole Duffle

We’re avid fans of the Patagonia’s products and it’s likely anyone who’s big into outdoor adventure sports is in love with them too. The Patagonia Black Hole bag is one of the largest of the Patagonia brand and perfect for extensive travel.

The bag can pack down small when empty so it’s great to stick in your bag. It was also plenty easy to stuff and organize, thanks to the large U-shaped zipper and two mesh pockets on the top flap.

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2.) Dakine Ranger Duffel Bag

Dakine Ranger

This is a pretty similar bag to the Patagonia Black Hole. It has a heavy duty exterior that is water resistant with enough handles to sling the bag around. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and in some pretty attractive colors. I have the ginger color and have loved the pack for all of my more adventurous trips.

It is lightweight and features straps that connect for an over the shoulder bag or backpack. The top opens wide with two J zippers allowing you to access all your stuff in the main compartment. The interior also includes a few internal mesh pockets for organization.

I’ve also used the pack as a secondary bag since it can pack up into a small exterior pocket which can be carried in a larger suitcase. So, while in Italy we had our suitcases, but pulled the water resistant backpack for some island hopping and left the suitcase on the mainland.

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3.) eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender

Is this a convertible bag? I’m throwing it into the realm of front-loading. It claims to have a lifetime guarantee, has a great organization system, glowing reviews, and it’s carry on friendly.

This is another viable option for those looking for a no-fuss bag and to escape the inconveniences of traditional suitcases or a large hiking bag.

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4.) Osprey Ozone Convertible

This bag has a hefty price tag on it and is a newcomer on the scene, but it looks very promising. Similar build to the Farpoint, with the added addition of a more compact frame and a pullout handle with wheels.

It may not be for every European traveler, but I’m certain this bag is the perfect fit for someone. (Digital Nomad?)


Styles Of Travel Backpacks for Europe

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 Europe.

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Panel Loading 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 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.

Top-Loading Backpacks:

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 Backpacks

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?

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 Backpack for Europe?


The first thing to think about when it comes to picking a great hiking 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 hiking backpacks on the market chances are it will stand the test of time. Many companies like REI, Osprey, and The North Face will offer to repair your products.


Like with anything, make sure that the hiking backpack you choose 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 in case the backpack does not fit you the way you would like.


A hiking 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 hiking 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 hiking backpack. There are great day backpacks on this list that are great for just that – a day. While others can serve you well for hikes longer than a week.

The ideal backpack size for Europe 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.

Wondering what to pack for Europe next?

Europe Packing List

Plan Your Trip to Europe

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Hey, we’re Cameron and Natasha — We’re the head writers and creators of The World Pursuit. Over the last five years, we’ve traveled around the world. Let us send you some great tips and inspiration straight to your inbox every month.

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