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When it comes to carry-on luggage, it’s hard to beat a travel backpack in terms of sheer functionality. They are lighter and often offer more storage space than a small rolling suitcase or bag, and they come with organizing pockets and zippers already included, making for a neater packing job every time. You don’t need to be going on a big “B” backpacking trip to benefit from a travel backpack, and smaller, lighter packs are just the ticket for business travelers, weekend trips, and light packers as well as long-haul adventurers, as many a travel blogger will tell you.
“Backpacks are perfect for every travel scenario. Whether you’re going backpacking or looking to hold your photography gear, there’s a backpack,” according to Kiersten Rich of The Blonde Abroad. James Feess of The Savvy Backpacker blog says, “Traveling with only a backpack gives you a freedom that you won’t experience with a suitcase. It’s a very zen-like way to travel that you won’t truly understand until you do it.”
The first thing to consider when purchasing the best travel backpack is the type of travel you’re going to be doing. Will you be trekking around the world for a month or are you just heading upstate for a weekend mini-break? Does it need to fit in an overhead? Decide how important the style and design of the backpack is to you, and make sure you pick a backpack that’s well-constructed from high-quality materials. This is the backpack that will serve you well for years.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best travel backpacks to consider for your next adventure, from lightweight options to TSA-friendly carryalls and more.
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
1. Osprey Farpoint Travel Backpack
The Osprey consistently tops blogger lists for best travel backpack, and we can see why. The brand makes trusted, high-quality backpacks like this one, which we like because it is relatively small and light and evenly distributes weight making it more convenient to carry. According to The Blonde Abroad, “This is a great lightweight backpack for a shorter trip. It has a mesh back panel that allows ventilation and the mesh on the harness and hip belt reduce chafing on your long travel days!”
2. Pacsafe Venturesafe Backpack
If safety is a high priority for you, we’d definitely recommend the Pacsafe brand, which is designed with security in mind. “Pacsafe’s bags are all about their extra security features, like exomesh slash guard fabric to protect against ‘slash-and-run’ thefts. It’s a good option if you carry expensive gear,” blogger Nomadic Matt notes.
3. X-Bag Travel Urban Backpack
For short, weekend, or work trips where you need something light, stylish, and efficient for hauling around a strange city for a day or two, we love this simple black napsack. Its water-resistant exterior is trimmed with smart black leather and classic brown zipper toggles, and is roomy enough to fit a few days’ worth of belongings (depending on how light you tend to pack).
4. Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
We love an Everlane product, and this compact commuter backpack is no different. Another excellent option for short or weekend trips, we like this one for the convenient laptop and water bottle pockets, as well as the eco-friendly recycled materials and earth-friendly dyes.
5. Nomatic Travel Duffel Backpack
Nomatic backpacks, as the name suggests, were designed with frequent travelers in mind — which you can tell immediately from all the airport and TSA-friendly features and pockets. The exterior laptop pocket, for instance, allows for stress-free access to your device at security, and the cubic shape and size is made to fit in an overhead bin. We also like that it has specific pockets for everything from shoes to water bottles.
6. Tortuga Outbreaker Laptop Backpack
Another backpack with seriously clever design features that we love is the Tortuga, which opens like a suitcase, combining the space efficiency of your rolling luggage with the carry-on convenience of a backpack. It also has plenty of accessory pockets, lockable zippers, extra cushy shoulder straps, and even a latch to attach to your suitcase if you need.
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