The Best Travel Backpacks For Europe

A proper travel backpack for Europe will make travelers’ lives 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 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 managed to accumulate a collection of various packs for different travel styles. That means we have one backpack for hiking in Norway and another bag 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’re going to get right into our top picks for a backpacking trip in Europe.


Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

European City in the summer

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 unisex, and the Fairview is women’s specific.


Best Travel Specific Backpacks

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, and they now make 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.

BackpackProsConsAvg. Price
Osprey Farpoint/Fairview
Lightweight, Manageable, Removable Few Pockets For, Organization, Laptop Sleeve in Front$179
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Peak Design Travel Backpack
Phenomenal Organization, Style, High QualityHigh Price, Lacks Ventilation on Back$299
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Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack
Feature-Packed,
Comfortable, High-Quality
Not As Much Anti Theft Features, Heavy$289
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Tortuga Outbreaker Travel Backpack
Tortuga outbreaker Backpack
Multiple Compartments, Great Suspension
Quality,
Difficult to Access Front and Rear Sleeves, Style$365
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REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack
Suspension System, Hiking Pack Features, REI GuaranteeDoes Not Sit Upright, Lacks Organization$140
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Knack Large Expandable Backpack
Decent Suspension, Feature Rich, Expandable CompartmentTriangle Front Pocket, Lacks Weatherproofing$195
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Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L
Feature-Packed, Anti-Theft, Carry-On, Size, ComfortableDifficult To Access Your Items (theft-deterrent)$199
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eBags TLS Mother Lode
Laptop Sleeve, Organization,
Clam Shell Open
Ugly, Meh Suspension, Heavy$229
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Topo Designs Travel Bag
Organization Pockets, Multiple Compartments, StyleNo Water Bottle Holder, Mixed Support$239
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Gregory Tetrad/Tribute 40L
Best Suspension System, Hiking Pack Hybrid, Features,No Side Pockets in 40L, Laptop Front Pocket$179
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Osprey Farpoint/Fairview Travel Pack

*Best Travel Backpack For Hostels/Adventure*

Osprey Farpoint Best Osprey Bags For Women

MSRP: $179 | Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz. | Capacities: 40L, 55L, 70L

Features

Detachable Daypack, Zippered Rear Flap, Top & Side Handles, Laptop/Tablet Sleeve In Lockable Compartment, Compression Straps, Dual Front Mesh Pockets,

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Manageable
  • Comfortale
  • Versatile
  • Excellent Value
  • Gold Standard
Cons
  • Few Pockets For Organization
  • Laptop Sleeve in Front Daypack
  • Outdoor Style

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

The packs are well constructed and leave plenty of room for all of your clothes. It’s pretty lightweight for a robust travel backpack and easy to throw off your back when you hop on a bus or train. There are several versions of this bag, but only the 40L & 55L versions work as a carry-on-backpack size, although the dimensions are technically too large.

It’s a front-loading backpack, so it opens similar to a suitcase for easy access. The feature allows you to keep your clothes folded neatly, which is incredible. I love the removable daypack, zip-away suspension, and shoulder strap that all bring something to the table. The side handle of the bag makes it easy to pull out of an overhead bin. Since Osprey specializes in hiking packs, the suspension is excellent for a travel backpack.

The laptop sleeve in the front is a dumb design choice and detracts from the bag. With the laptop sleeve in the front, it is susceptible to damage or theft, and it shifts the balance of the backpack to the front. If you’re a digital nomad, business traveler, or travel with a laptop, I’d recommend another bag. However, most travelers will be happy with the 55L with a detachable daypack or the 40L for minimalist travelers.

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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 lbs. 8 oz. | Capacities: 45L

Features

Theft-Deterrent Zipper Pulls, Luggage Pass-Through For Roller Bag Carry, Stowable Hip Belt, 360-Degree Grab Handles, Padded Laptop Sleeve, Expansion Zips, Peak Designs Cube Compatible

Pros
  • Phenomenal Organization
  • Carry On Friendly
  • Excellent Style
  • High Quality
  • Security Features
Cons
  • High Price
  • Lacks Ventilation on Back
  • Heavy

The Peak Design Travel Pack is the bag I reach for when I pack for the next trip. It’s a stylish travel bag for European travel. The first thing I love is exterior material comes from recycled plastic. It has plenty of interior and exterior organizational compartments, useful when traveling around Europe.

There are an interior heavy-duty laptop compartment and plenty of space for rolled-up clothes. A Peak Design camera cube locks into place within the backpack and protects camera equipment for photographers. The two external pockets on the pack are great for a water bottle or a camera tripod.

There are a few complaints I have about this travel backpack for Europe. The first problem is the high price tag at $299. The pack is full of features and durable materials, so it’s heavy. That material is a weatherproof canvas shell, so it protects your belongings and has a sleek look.

Combined with a non-vented back panel, the weight makes for a sweaty lower back in heat. That means the backpack is not great for wearing over long distances or your average backpacker. However, the Peak Design Travel Backpack is great for a minimalist, businessman, digital nomad, or more modern backpacker with a slick design.

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Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack

Nomatic Travel 40L Best Travel Backpack

MSRP: $289 | Weight: 4 lbs. | Capacities: 40L

Features

Water Bottle Pocket, Tablet Sleeve, Roller Bag Sleeve, Detachable Waist Straps, Easy Access Pocket, Laundry Bag, RFID Safe Pocket, Innovative Strap System

Pros
  • Feature-Packed
  • Phenomenal Organization
  • Digital Nomad Focus
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Super High-Quality
  • Stowaway Straps
Cons
  • Not As Much Anti Theft Features
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

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

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

The Nomatic bag is an excellent business/travel backpack with anti-theft features, such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, rather than calling it primarily an anti-theft bag. It isn’t just great as an anti-theft backpack, but a general travel backpack for Europe. You can read our in-depth review of the Nomatic backpack for European travel.

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Tortuga outbreaker Backpack

Tortuga outbreaker Backpack

MSRP: $349 | Weight: 3 lbs. 1o oz. | Capacities: 35L, 45L

Features

Large Laptop Sleeve, Lockable Zippers, Water Bottle Holder, Stow Away Straps, Laptop Sleeve, Side Handles

Pros
  • Great Suspension
  • Roomy Interior
  • Side Handle
  • Quality
  • Durable
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Bulky Style
  • Expensive

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

It’s been one of my favorite bags I’ve ever carried, and it’s been fantastic with our snowboard season, as dealing with a snowboard bag is already a pain in the butt. The bag comes in two carry-on compliant sizes, an international 35L, and USA 45L. Although, we never had an issue with the 45L traveling internationally.

The compartments offer plenty of room for socks, toiletries, electronics, and essentials. For me, the bag’s highlights include a padded laptop sleeve, detachable straps if you decide to check the bag, and the convenient side handle. The straps on the Outbreaker are also the robust and comfortable straps of all the travel backpacks we tested.

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REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack

Best Outdoor/Travel Backpack

REI Rucksack Travel Backpack Carry On Backpack

MSRP: $149 | Weight: 2 lbs 13.9 oz. | Capacities: 40, 65L

Features

Padded Straps, Ventilated Back Panel, Hidden Daisy Chain, Easy Access Side Panel, Sleeve For Laptop Or Hydration Reservoir, Dual Bottle Holders, Stowable Rain Cover, Trekking Pole Attachments, Side Handles

Pros
  • Suspension System
  • Hiking Pack Features
  • REI Guarantee
  • Frame
  • Value
Cons
  • Doesn’t Sit Upright
  • Lacks Organization
  • No Top Handle

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. Within a few years, we have transitioned from hiking packs to purpose-built travel backpacks. We’re longtime fans of REI and love the products they produce.

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

This pack measures 25 inches long, and most carry-on restrictions cap at 22 inches. While this is not a deal-breaker for a soft-sided backpack, it can squish. With an update to the bag, REI now uses Blue-Sign certified nylon fabric for the exterior. They also managed to shave off over a pound of weight from the pack’s dry weight.

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. It is a travel backpack for those who want to blend city hopping and adventure travel all in one bag. It is one of the most versatile backpacks for Europe as it can handle the city streets of Budapest or trails like the Camino De Santiago.

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Knack Large Expandable Backpack

Best Carry On Backpack Knack Bag

MSRP: $265 | Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz. | Capacities: 37L

Features

Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Stowaway Straps, Water Bottle Holder, Handles, Bottom Pocket For Electronic Cords, Suede Pocket For Sunglasses

Pros
  • Organization
  • Style
  • Feature Rich
  • Expandable Compartment
Cons
  • Too Small For Long Trips
  • Triangle Front Pocket
  • Lacks Weatherproofing
  • Straps Are Good, Not Great

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 several executives who worked for the luggage company Tumi. The exterior and design of the pack are overwhelming positive. Compared to any of the other travel-specific bags we’ve had the chance to look at, it delivers high quality with excellent features.

I’m impressed by the organization and the ridiculous amount of features in such a small layout. Serious kudos to the designers of this pack. It has some surprising features for its size, such as a secret compartment and water bottle holder 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 for business travel.

I’d love to see a larger version of this pack; the current version is relatively small, and I can travel with the interior space for a week. It’s a tremendous backpack and great for those who strive for one bag travel in Europe.

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Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45L Travel Pack

Best Antitheft Travel Backpack

Best Anit Theft Backpacks Pacsafe Venturesafe Travel Pack 45L

MSRP: $199 | Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz. | Capacities: 30L

Features

Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Cut Resistant Cables, Internal Frame

Pros
  • Feature-Packed,
  • Anti-Theft
  • Carry-On Size
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • High-Quality
Cons
  • Difficult To Access Your Items (theft-deterrent)
  • Some Wasted Space

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 their phenomenal products. It comes with all the essentials, such as the eXomesh Slashgaurd technology that houses a hidden stainless steel mesh, making it completely slash-proof. The bag uses ECONYL fiber made from recycled fishnets, a fantastic eco-friendly product.

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

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 a great backpack for Europe and people that want to secure their personal belongings.

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eBags TLS Mother Lode

eBag TLS Mother Lode Best Travel Backpack

MSRP: $149 | Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz. | Capacities: 45L

Features

Clamshell Opening, Laptop Sleeve, Water Bottle Pocket, Four Compression Straps, Two Quick Zip Pockets, Breathable Back Panel,

Pros
  • Price
  • Multiple Compartments
  • Roomy Interior
  • Stowaway Straps
  • Nice Front Compartment
  • Compression Straps
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Water Bottle
  • Organization
  • Clamshell
Cons
  • UGLY!
  • Heavy
  • 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 around if not for its comfortability and style. However, as I talked about previously, no one solution fits all.

The bag is of great value for a carry-on compliant backpack. I wouldn’t plan to spend a few hours with the pack because it may become uncomfortable with flimsy straps.

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.

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Topo Designs Travel Bag

Topo Designs - Travel Backpack

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

Features

Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Side and Top Handles, Organization Compartments, Quick Access Laptop Compartment

Pros
  • Organization Pockets
  • Multiple Compartments
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Multiple Carry Points
  • Carry On Friendly
  • Style
  • Heavy Zippers
  • Theft Deterrent Zipper Loop
Cons
  • Smaller Size
  • Style
  • No Water Bottle Holder
  • Price
  • Mixed Support

Topo Designs launched their latest pack, the Travel Bag, and it’s a slam dunk for a carry-on backpack, and I used it on my last trip. The interior features 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. When it comes to 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, but it depends 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 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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Gregory Tetrad/Tribute 40L

Best Suspension Travel Backpack

Gregory Tetrad Travel Backpack Europe

MSRP: $179 | Weight: 3 lbs. 0.8 oz. | Capacities: 40, 55, 70L

Features

U Zip Opening, Carry On Compliant, Compression Straps, Frame

Pros
  • Best Suspension System
  • Hiking Pack Features
  • Decent Price
  • Quality
Cons
  • No Side Pockets in 40L
  • Laptop Front Pocket
  • Blends Outdoor and Travel (Pro or Con)

We’re pretty big fans of Gregory as they deliver an excellent range of packs with tremendous support and a great feature set. The Tetrad/Tribute is their latest travel pack released this past fall. Its feature set and design make it a close competitor to Fairpoint/Fairview, offering a superior suspension design.

Tetrad is the men’s version of Gregory’s new travel backpack, while the Tribute is the women’s version. It’s a robust travel backpack for Europe that feels well suited for outdoor adventures and everything in between. It would work for famous treks like the Camino De Santiago, Inca Trail, or Kumano Kodo. Granted, the lack of side pockets for water bottles or hiking poles in the 40L version is a deal-breaker for a long hike.

It’s built with a large main compartment easily accessed via a panel with easy-to-grip anti-theft lockable zippers. The most notable feature of the main compartment is the “Activeshield Compartment,” a zippered section that features a heavy nylon lined section for dirty gear or shoes. Its placement on the back of the bag makes it cumbersome for packing cubes or people who like flat storage.

An additional outside compartment offers organization with pockets, including a large one capable of holding a 15″ MacBook pro and tablet. This pocket feels protected as the compression strap features a padded section designed to protect your valuables.

Overall, the performance feels better than the Farpoint; however, time will tell as we’ve only taken it on a few short trips. We also find that the suspension system is bulkier and less effective than the classic Farpoint.

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Women’s Tribute

Men’s Tetrad


Best Travel Backpacks for 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.

BackpackProsConsAvg Price
Osprey Atmos AG
Leading Class Amazing Suspension System, Strong ConstructionOnly Top Load Access, Does Not Sit Upright.$270
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Osprey Aura AG
Leading Class Amazing Suspension System, Strong ConstructionOnly Top Load Access, Does Not Sit Upright$270
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Gregory Baltoro/Deva 65 Pack
Large Capacity, Durability, Feature-Packed, Fantastic SuspensionHeavy Bag, Top Loading$300
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Teton Sports Scout 3400
Affordable, Nice FeaturesCheap Design and Feel, Okay Suspension,$75
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Osprey Atmos AG

Osprey Atmos AG Best Travel Backpacks

*Best Overall Men’s Hiking Backpack*

  • Price: $270
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (100D x 630D)
  • Capacities: 50, 65L
Pros
  • Leading Class
  • Amazing Suspension System
  • Strong Construction
Cons
  • Only Top Load Access
  • Does Not Sit Upright

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

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

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Osprey Aura AG

Osprey Aura Best Hiking Backpack

*Best Overall Women’s Hiking Backpack*

  • Price: $270
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Fabric: Nylon (210D & 630D)
  • Capacities: 65L & 50
Pros
  • Strong Construction
  • Anti-gravity System
Cons
  • Top Load Access like Atmos

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

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

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Gregory Baltoro/Deva 65 Pack

Gregory Baltoro Best Hiking Backpack

*Best Hiking Backpack For Heavy Loads*

  • Price: $300
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 10 oz
  • Fabric: Nylon (210D)
  • Capacities: 65, 75, 85, 95L
Pros
  • Large Capacity
  • Durability
  • Feature Packed
  • Suspension
Cons
  • Heavy Bag
  • Top Loading

Gregory has been building bags for a long time, so they know how to make a quality pack. This hiking backpack is a workhorse designed to be used and abused. The Baltoro/Deva is great for carrying 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 with the quality of the build and substantial load capability, it’s a reliable backpack. The Backpack comes in the men’s, Baltoro, and women’s, Deva, version. It’s in close competition with Atmos, and its versatility is admirable.

Check Prices On Deva/Baltoro

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. There is no bladder 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 unisex, and the Fairview is women’s specific.


Styles Of Travel Backpacks for Europe

Things to do in Innsbruck

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


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

Hiking 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 multiday 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 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


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

Which Travel Backpack Style Is For You?


Cost To Backpack Europe: Edinburgh

Deciding on the pack style 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 hitch-hike. 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. You need something that addresses your travel needs like a digital nomad.

How to Choose a Backpack for Europe?

Vals Switzerland

Price

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


Comfort

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 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 will want to carry in your backpack, which will determine the volume bag 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 piece of 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 are carrying a lighter load. The same goes for the opposite.


Trip Length

It’s essential to consider your trip length when picking a hiking backpack. There are great day backpacks on this list that 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 six years. 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 Ireland, Scotland, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Japan.

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

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