Shopping for new travel accessories can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. There are many options, especially when shopping for luggage, like a carry-on backpack.
But don’t worry — we’ve found the 7 best carry on backpacks to save you the hassle of doing the research yourself.
What Are the Best Carry-On Backpacks?
Travel can be stressful and overwhelming, so you want to choose a backpack to help keep your things organized and alleviate that stress. The best backpacks are sturdy, well-organized, and fulfill your travel needs.
Each person’s ideal backpack may be different. One person may need a roomy backpack with plenty of storage space, while another may prefer something more compact with compartments for electronics.
We searched and found some of the best carry-on backpacks for all types of travelers. Here are our top picks.
Our Picks for the 7 Best Carry-On Backpacks:
- Best Overall: Matein Travel Backpack
- Best for Replacing Luggage: Taygeer Weekender Bag
- Best for Business: Molnia 3-in-1 Laptop Backpack
- Best for Adventure: Venture Pal Travel Hiking Backpack
- Best for Style: Ytonet Laptop Travel Backpack
- Best for Heavy Packers: Shrradoo Extra Large Travel Laptop Backpack
- Best for Travelers With a Baby: DEBUG Diaper Bag Backpack
These backpacks all allow travelers to take the necessities with them. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or family, there’s a carry-on backpack for you.
Why You Need a Carry-On Backpack
Taking a carry-on with you while traveling is always prudent, especially on long journeys. Taking a carry-on with you gives you a place for:
- Important documents, such as passports
- A change of clothes and basic toiletries in case the airline loses your luggage
- Entertainment for the flight
- Snacks, especially if you have dietary restrictions
Carry-ons also have the potential to take the place of luggage. If you’re taking a short trip or aren’t planning on taking a lot, you can skip checking a bag and take only your carry-on.
This saves you the time you would have spent checking and picking up your bag and the anxiety of worrying that your luggage could go missing. Depending on the airline, it may even save you money.
Backpacks are an ideal type of carry-on for several reasons. They’re convenient to carry, unlike duffle bags or satchels that put stress on one side.
They offer several pockets for storage, some even with cushioned laptop layers and secured pockets for things Like passports. Travel backpacks also come in various sizes, styles, and colors, so you can find one that fits your needs.
Best Carry-On Backpacks: Our Top 7 Picks
Backpacks are the ideal carry-on for travel, and choosing the right one for you could be the key to a stress-free trip. Carry-on backs packs need to fit everything you want and be within the airline’s size limits. We’ve found our favorite backpacks that fit these parameters.
1. Best Overall – Matein Travel Backpack
This Matein travel backpack is the ideal multipurpose backpack for travel. It features three layers for all your storage needs.
The spacious back layer includes a laptop pouch, the middle layer holds other large and mid-sized items, and the front layer has multiple small pockets for organizing your little things.
The backpack also includes several exterior pockets. Each side has an elastic pocket for water bottles and umbrellas. The front side pocket is great for easy access. A rear padded pocket creates a secure place for items like passports and wallets.
The backpack also features an external USB, allowing you to still use your phone while it’s connected to your portable charger tucked inside your backpack.
The Matien Travel Backpack comes in a version that can hold up to a 15.6-inch laptop and a version for up to a 17-inch laptop.
The 15.6-inch version has a 32 L capacity and is available in tawny brown, austere gray, black charcoal, blue, camouflage, and gray and black camo, while the 17-inch version comes in black, light gray, and navy blue.
2. Best for Replacing Luggage – Taygeer Luggage Bag
If you’ve had bad experiences with the airline losing your bags, or you just aren’t a fan of checking your luggage, this bag is the perfect option. The main compartment is divided into mesh organizers for packing clothes and accessories.
The compartment offers a dozen pockets for toiletries and makeup and several loops for makeup brushes and other smaller objects. The exterior pockets are great for travel necessities like your phone, wallet, passport, and other small items.
The bag has a sternum strap for comfort, adjustable side buckles, and shoulder straps that you can hide away so you can carry it like a duffel bag.
The bag does not have a compartment for a laptop and doesn’t have as much space for odds and ends like chargers, books, and keys as some others. The Taygeer Luggage Bag averages 4.8 stars, with 86% of reviewers rating the product five stars.
Reviewers loved how much the bag holds and all the interior compartments. The negatives mentioned include issues with the zippers and complaints that the toiletry pockets were too small. The Taygeer Luggage Bag has a 30 L capacity and comes in pink.
3. Best for Bussiness – Molnia 3-in-1 Laptop Backpack
The Molina 3-in-1 Laptop backpack is geared toward business people on the go. This is the perfect option if you frequently have to hop off the plane and head straight to a meeting.
This leather-accented bag looks indistinguishable from a briefcase at first glance, but you can also wear it like a backpack or messenger bag. The two spacious interior compartments are partitioned to separate personal items from business supplies.
Multiple exterior pockets provide easy access to chargers, pens, and cell phones. The waterproof material keeps electronics and files safe, and leather accents lend a touch of classic professionalism.
With tuck-away straps, you can wear this bag as a backpack, messenger bag, or briefcase. This bag averages 4.7 stars on Amazon.
Reviewers love the professional style, durable material, and that it can fit up to a 17.3 laptop. Negative reviews mentioned that the interior is a little cramped and that there were some quality control problems.
However, several reviewers updated to say that the company reached out and sent them a replacement. The Molnia 3-in-1 Laptop Backpack comes in black and gray, both with sienna-brown leather accents.
4. Best for Adventure – Venture Pal Travel Hiking Backpack
Whether you’re hiking through Yosemite or vacationing at Disney, this backpack is perfect if you’re on the go. Despite being made of high-quality nylon and heavy-duty zippers, the bag weighs only a pound.
The large main compartment and the smaller front compartment offer interior pockets to store smaller items. One of the interior pockets is a waterproof wet pocket meant for storing damp items like goggles and swimsuits.
Both sides of the backpack have large side mesh pockets to hold beverages; this is especially important if you use the backpack for biking or hiking. The backpack can also fold into itself, so you have the option of folding it away once you’re at the hotel.
With an average of 4.7 stars, five-star ratings made up 79% of the total 27,331 ratings. Reviewers frequently mentioned how lightweight and durable the bag was, and many appreciated details like the waterproof pocket.
The Venture Pal Travel Hiking Backpack comes in several fun colors and patterns, including a teal green, black, navy, orange, gray, red, purple, blue, purple leaf print, black leaf print, and a navy peony print. The bag holds 40 L.
5. Best for Style – Ytonet Laptop Travel Backpack
Airline travel can be exhausting, and sometimes it’s nice to have an accessory with you that’s functional and fashionable. This sleek bag offers one large compartment with multiple interior pockets perfect for holding your wallet, phone, and passport.
The outer compartment and small front pocket offer organized accessibility as you travel through security and grab snacks before takeoff. Inside the main compartment is the padded laptop pocket.
The USB port is on the side, and each side has a side pocket for water bottles. A discrete anti-theft pocket in the back is ideal for storing valuables. The bag is water-resistant polyester and can hold a laptop 15.6 inches or smaller.
This laptop travel backpack averages 4.8 stars; out of over 7,000 ratings, 85% gave five stars. Reviewers rave about the size of the bag, the durability, and the interior pockets.
Many also loved that the top stood open and was wide enough to easily pack the bag. Most negative reviews mention the zipper breaking easily, and a few mention the handle ripped.
The Ytonent Laptop Travel Backpack is available for up to a 15.6-inch laptop in solid black, blue, gray, and pink, as well as two different black floral patterns. There is also a size that holds up to a 17.3-inch laptop available in gray. The 15.6-inch laptop size holds 24 L.
6. Best for Heavy Packers – Shrradoo Large Travel Laptop Backpack
There are a lot of reasons you might want to pack a lot in your carry-on. Maybe you’re traveling with kids. Maybe you really hate checking luggage. Maybe you just like to be prepared.
Regardless, this extra-large backpack is an excellent choice if you want to pack as much as possible for your flight.
The back compartment unzips all the way down for easy access to the semi-padded laptop pouch, while the main pocket is wide and spacious. Inside the exterior front, compartment are several pockets for easy access and organization.
Each side has a water bottle pocket, and there’s a discrete card pocket on the straps. The backpack also has cushioned shoulder straps, a sunglasses strap, an external USB hub, and an anti-theft password padlock.
Of the over 17,000 ratings, 58% gave five stars for an overall average of 4.8. Reviewers loved the durability and comfort. Most loved the size, but a few negative reviews thought it was too big.
The Shrradoo Extra Large Travel Laptop Backpack holds laptops up to 17 inches and is available in solid black, blue and black, and red and black. The backpack holds 52 L.
7. Best for Travelers With Children – DEBUG Diaper Bag Backpack
The DEBUG Diaper Bag Backpack comes in black, army green, camo, dark purple, gray, navy, pink, blue, and a black and gray style. Most of the bags on this list can be used when traveling with children.
However, if you’re traveling with a baby, you have a whole different set of needs. Babies need bottles, diapers, wipes, a change or three of clothes, burp cloths, blankets…and this bag has room for it all.
The roomy main compartment offers pockets for organization, and the front compartment boasts three insulated pockets for bottles. The sides also have pockets, perfect for tubes of sunscreen, an umbrella, or a drink for mom or dad.
The bag also features a hidden pocket for valuables, a key chain, and a fold-out diaper changing station that also serves as a bassinet. This makes traveling with an infant much easier, especially if you expect to spend a lot of time waiting at the airport.
Finding the Best Carry-On Backpacks
We’ve highlighted a lot of great carry-on options. How do you choose the best one? There are a few things you can take into consideration.
There are a lot of reasons you might avoid checking luggage for a trip. If you’re not going to be gone for more than a few days, you might be able to pack everything you need into your carry-on.
If that’s your plan, you need to ensure the backpack you choose has enough room for your necessities. Sometimes, checking luggage makes sense, like if you’ll be gone for several days. In that case, you can choose a smaller backpack.
You may still be more comfortable bringing your toothbrush and a change of clothes with you if your luggage is lost, but a standard-sized backpack should hold that with no problem.
Traveling Solo vs. With Family
Parents of small kids know that any excursion out of the house involves taking a long way more than you do if you’re going out alone. While older kids can bring their own backpacks, it often falls on mom and dad to make sure they have everything the young ones need.
That means you need a backpack big enough for your stuff and the kids’ stuff.
If you’re traveling by yourself, you can opt for something smaller, but traveling with kids means choosing something with enough space to pack entertainment, snacks, and possibly diapers or pull-ups.
Your Technology Needs
Many backpacks today come with a laptop pocket so you can safely bring your computer. However, not every laptop fits in every backpack.
If you’re traveling with your laptop, you want to choose an option that is large enough for your laptop’s size while also providing insulation in case of a drop or fall. Many of the backpacks on our list also offer external USB ports.
These ports connect to a power block inside your backpack, allowing you to plug your phone into the backpack for easier carrying. Those who run out of battery fast may find this an imperative feature, while others may not care if their backpack has it or not.
Your Personal Style
While it’s always a good idea to put function over aesthetics for smooth traveling, you still want a bag you like. Many of the bags on our list come in multiple styles and colors so that you can choose whatever makes you happiest.
If you find all other things to be relatively equal, a bag’s style may be the deciding factor. You may prefer a more professional style if you’re also using your bag for business.
Parents sharing a diaper bag may want something they both feel comfortable carrying around. While style isn’t paramount when choosing a bag, it shouldn’t be discarded as a factor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions in regard to carry ons and finding the best one for your needs.
Is a backpack okay for a carry-on?
Backpacks are very commonly used as carry-ons. So long as the backpack is within size limits and you aren’t bringing contraband, you can use a backpack as a carry-on.
What liter-size backpack is considered carry-on?
It will depend on the dimensions of your backpack. Normally anything less than 45 L is safe, and you should measure anything above.
What are the dimensions for a carry-on?
The standard airline carry-on size is 22 x 14 x 9 inches maximum. Anything larger will likely need to be checked.
How many bags can you take on a plane for free?
This will depend on the airline you’re using. However, travelers are generally allowed one carry-on and one personal item. A personal item may include a pillow, but it can also include a handbag or purse.
Can I take a laptop bag with my carry-on?
Again, this will depend on the airline. Many airlines will allow your laptop bag as a “personal item,” much like a purse.
So, What’s the Best Carry-On Backpack?
We found the Matein Travel Backpack to be the best overall, but the best backpack will depend on your personal needs.
You may really like the wealth of pockets in the Matein but prefer something with more padding for your laptop. The most important thing is choosing the backpack that fits your travel needs, your life, and your personal style.