With a variety of designs, sizes, and features to choose from, finding the best travel backpack isn’t always easy. To save you the hassle of comparing options, we’ve rounded up our top 7 picks, along with what to look for when choosing the right one for you.
Our Favorite Travel Backpacks
Whether you’re hiking or sightseeing, a travel backpack is a convenient alternative to duffel bags and suitcases. You can keep both hands free and carry everything you need on your back.
Yet, travel backpacks also come in different sizes and designs to suit different situations. Finding the best travel backpack requires you to consider the length of your trip and the features that matter most to you.
We selected 7 of the best options to cover just about any travel situation, from the best bag for a short day trip to the top anti theft pick.
Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Travel Backpacks:
- Best Overall: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L
- Best for a Daytrip: Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip 15L
- Best for Long Trips: Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack
- Best Anti Theft Backpack: Pacsafe Venturesafe G3 28 Liter Backpack
- Best for Staying Organized: BANGE 35L Travel Backpack
- Best Sling Design: KL928 Canvas Sling Bag Daypack
- Best Budget Option: Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack
Travel backpacks come in a variety of sizes and designs to suit different environments and trip lengths.
Why You Need a Travel Backpack
Choosing the right travel backpack can save time and help you stay organized, allowing you to focus on having fun on your trip. Other options include suitcases, rolling luggage, travel totes, and duffel bags.
However, few other options offer the same convenience as a travel backpack. Suitcases and rolling luggage are difficult to carry around a city or take hiking. They’re mostly used to carry your items from the airplane to the hotel.
Yet, if you plan on staying on the move, you may need to pack lightly. A travel tote may work, but you may tire of needing to carry the bag everywhere. Duffel bags are often used for long treks but may be too cumbersome for some situations, such as a day trip or a walk through a city.
Totes and duffel bags also tend to lack extra pockets. You may need to stuff everything into a single compartment, making it difficult to stay organized.
Travel backpacks offer a better solution. You can carry the backpack on your back and sort items into different pockets. Most options are also small enough to meet the size requirements for carry-on luggage.
Keep reading to find the best travel backpack for your next trip.
The 7 Best Travel Backpacks in 2023
Selecting the best travel backpack depends on how you plan on spending your trip. To come up with our recommendations, we looked for backpacks that suit a variety of different travel situations.
So, think about your next trip and what you need to pack as you check out the following 7 best picks for a travel backpack.
1. Best Overall: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L
- Large capacity with an expandable design
- Made from durable material with a lifetime guarantee
- Weatherproof design should keep your items dry
- Doesn’t include a lot of pockets
- One of the more expensive choices
We’ll start with the best overall travel backpack. The Peak Design Everyday 30L V2 Backpack is well-suited for almost any trip. It has enough space to pack for several days, with a 22-liter capacity that you can expand to 30 liters.
The Peak Design 30L V2 Backpack is also one of the most durable options. It has a clean, simple design made with recycled nylon canvas. Based on customer reviews, the bag should hold up well during rugged travel and after frequent use.
The backpack doesn’t have a lot of pockets for organizing smaller items, but it includes dividers with Velcro for separating the main compartment into three sections. You can also access the inside from the top or either side, thanks to the dual-sided zippers, which also feature anti theft loops for added security.
Other useful features include quick grab handles on both sides, a removable sternum strap, and contoured shoulder straps for added comfort. While it’s one of the most expensive choices, the Peak Design 30L V2 Backpack should outlast other options.
2. Best for a Daytrip: Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip 15L
- Made with durable, weatherproof materials
- Adjustable design provides all-day comfort
- Includes top and dual-side access
- Relatively expensive for a daypack
- Doesn’t include a lot of pockets
If the top overall pick is too large for your needs, consider the smaller Peak Design Everyday Zip 15L Backpack. It’s our favorite choice for a day trip due to its compact size and durable design.
As with the larger Peak Design backpack, this option includes a removable sternum strap, side handles, and two dividers for separating the main compartment. A single zipper provides access to the top and both sides of the bag, which keeps you from needing to dig around to find items.
The interior also includes a protected laptop sleeve. It can hold laptops with screens measuring up to 13 inches. The exterior includes weatherproof nylon canvas with PU-coating and two hidden straps for securing extra items.
3. Best for Long Trips: Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack
- One of the largest travel backpacks
- Includes a zip-off daypack
- It should last for years due to the durable design
- Too large for carry-on luggage
- Not the most affordable option
Osprey is a popular brand known for producing high-quality hiking and travel bags. The Farpoint 70 is one of the largest options from Osprey. It has a capacity of 70 liters, making it perfect for longer trips. It also features durable materials and a rugged design for use in any environment.
The Osprey Farpoint 70 is a large backpack, but the size may be too cumbersome for a short trip or when traveling through crowded cities and towns. However, it also includes a zip-off daypack. You can remove the daypack and use it for short excursions or day trips from your main destination.
The front also includes two mesh pockets. Other highlights include a mesh back panel and a suspension system for minimizing the weight on your shoulders. It’s a comfortable choice for long treks and includes multiple attachments for attaching extra gear.
The main compartment is a large open space with a strap and a mesh pocket. It doesn’t include an organizer or dividers for keeping your items organized.
4. Best Antitheft Backpack: Pacsafe Venturesafe G3 28 Liter Backpack
- Includes multiple anti theft features
- Multiple compartments and pockets
- Lightweight and meets carry-on requirements
- Not the most comfortable design
- Doesn’t include an organizer
The Pacsafe Venturesafe G3 28 liter Backpack is the best anti theft travel backpack, as it includes multiple security features. It has slash-proof fabric, interlocking zippers that you can lock with a padlock, and an RFID-blocking pocket.
The backpack is also durable and made with soft material, but the padding on the shoulders is light. The shoulder straps may dig into your shoulders when carrying a fully loaded backpack.
The Venturesafe Backpack is also lightweight. It weighs just one pound and measures 18.9 x 11.4 x 9.5 inches. It should meet carry-on requirements for most airlines if you avoid overpacking it.
5. Best for Staying Organized: BANGE 35L Travel Backpack
- Includes a large organizer compartment and multiple pockets
- Features an extendable main compartment
- One of the more affordable travel backpack recommendations
- The design isn’t very comfortable for long trips
- Some people may not find the design stylish
The BANGE 35L stands out for its variety of compartments, including a front compartment with a nifty organizer. It’s the best option for staying organized. It has a large main pocket that extends to adjust the capacity from 22 liters to 35 liters.
A shockproof 15.6-inch laptop compartment sits behind the main compartment. The organizer compartment is in the front of the backpack and includes pockets for phones, wallets, pens, and other small items. It also has a key hook for securing keys and other valuables.
The backpack resembles a suitcase with shoulder straps. It’s not the most comfortable or stylish design. However, it should meet carry-on requirements when the main compartment isn’t fully extended.
6. Best Sling Design: KL928 Canvas Sling Bag Daypack
- Convertible design for using one or two straps
- Includes an anti-theft pocket and a water bottle holder
- One of the more affordable recommendations
- Not enough space for a long trip
- Not weather resistant
If you prefer a single shoulder strap instead of double straps, the KL928 Canvas Sling Bag Daypack is a top pick. It includes a convertible design. You can quickly switch from two straps to one.
The versatile design allows you to carry the backpack over one or two shoulders. It also features an anti-theft pocket for storing your cash and valuables and a water bottle holder.
It’s also one of the most stylish options, thanks to its slim design. Travelers may prefer the sleek, discreet design when traveling through crowded areas.
The KL928 Canvas Sling Bag is smaller compared to most of the other recommendations but offers enough storage for a short trip. You can use it for a short day trip or weekend visit as you explore a city or town.
7. Best Budget Option: Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack
- Can fold into itself
- Not very padded
- Not much support
The Venture Pal 40L Daypack is the best budget recommendation and a great lightweight choice. It weighs just over 11 ounces and folds into itself when empty. It measures just 6.6 x 1.9 x 8.2 inches when folded but has a total capacity of 40 liters.
The bag has a front-opening zipper. The interior has two compartments and includes a zippered pocket while the exterior has a zippered front pocket and two side pockets.
The shoulder straps include padding and a slight contour. The bag is comfortable and versatile, but not the most durable choice. The nylon material may show signs of wear after just a trip or two. Yet, it’s also a cheap option.
Finding the Best Travel Backpack for You
Travel backpacks offer a variety of features, requiring you to consider which options matter most to you. Here’s a closer look at some of the main features to focus on as you narrow down your options.
Capacity is the most important feature in your search for the best travel backpack. A larger backpack allows you to pack more stuff but also increases the weight on your back. A small backpack is easier to carry but may leave your clothes wrinkled.
Here are a few recommendations for bag capacity based on the duration of your trip:
- 1 to 2 days – capacity of 15 to 20 liters
- 3 days – At least 30 liters
- 5 days – At least 50 liters
- 7 days or longer – At least 70 liters
Keep in mind that these suggestions are based on the need to pack enough food for the entire trip. If you’re traveling through cities and towns, you may not need to bring as much food, allowing you to pack a little lighter.
For example, a 30-liter backpack should offer more than enough space for several outfits and your essential items. You may only need a larger backpack when backpacking or hiking on long trips.
Compartments and Organizers
Most travel backpacks include multiple compartments and pockets. You can also find options with organizers for separating smaller items.
Not everyone needs a backpack with a variety of pockets and compartments, but multiple storage areas can help keep your items organized. A small organizer may offer separate spots for pens, maps, tools, and other items that you want to access quickly.
Laptop Sleeve or Pocket
You’ll often see the names of popular laptop models listed in the product descriptions of the top travel backpacks. If you want to bring your laptop on your trip, make sure that you choose the right backpack. Look for a backpack with a large enough sleeve or a pocket large enough for your laptop.
Weight and Overall Dimensions
If your trip includes an airplane flight, you may want to choose a bag that you can bring as your carry-on luggage. While each airline has separate carry-on restrictions, you typically need a bag that measures 9 x 14 x 22 inches or less.
The total dimensions of the backpack shouldn’t exceed 45 inches. If the backpack is a little shorter than the maximum length, it can likely be a little thicker or wider. However, it needs to be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.
Luckily, most of our picks meet the carry-on size requirements. The Osprey Farpoint 70 is the one option that’s too large for carry-on luggage.
Along with the dimensions of the bag, you should pay attention to its weight. You may want a lighter backpack if you’re planning on spending all day with it strapped to your back. Backpacks typically weigh one to four pounds.
A heavier backpack adds to your overall load. However, the extra weight is typically due to the heavier material used to make the bag more durable or weather-resistant.
Most travel backpacks offer at least moderate protection against the elements. However, some options offer enhanced weather protection, allowing you to keep items dry when spending all day in the rain.
For example, the Peak Design backpacks include a polyurethane (PU) coating. PU is one of the top waterproofing materials and is often used to waterproof homes and buildings.
Weather-resistant bags may include nylon, polyester, canvas, or extra-long staple (ELS) cotton. These materials help deflect beads of water but won’t provide complete protection if your bag is submerged in water.
The most durable options tend to come from recognizable brands. Peak Design, Osprey, and Pacsafe are all major brands that backpackers trust.
Durable travel backpacks also tend to cost more. If you spend less than $50 on a backpack, you can’t expect it to last for years, but it may hold up for at least one trip. If you want a backpack that can hold up better, you need to spend more.
Top, Front, or Side Loading Designs
Travel backpacks typically open at the top, which can be inconvenient when digging for something at the bottom. If you plan on packing a lot of stuff, a side-loading or front-loading design may work better.
A backpack with a side-loading or front-loading design makes it easier to find items anywhere in your bag. Some of the front-loading bags also open on all three sides, as with a standard suitcase.
If you plan on spending all day carrying a backpack, choose an option with padded shoulder straps. Padding offers a little more comfort, as it keeps the straps from constantly rubbing against your shoulders and chest.
Shoulder straps are also available in straight or contoured designs. Straight shoulder straps tend to cause more rubbing and discomfort during long trips. Contoured shoulder straps are curved to better fit the shape of your body.
Anti Theft Features
Anti theft backpacks include one or more special features intended to reduce the risk of theft. Common anti theft features include:
- Hidden, lockable, or interlocking zippers
- Slash-proof fabric
- Hidden pockets
The most basic anti theft feature is a hidden zipper. After closing the backpack, the zipper remains concealed by another part of the pack, such as a small pocket or the lip of the flap.
More secure options include lockable and/or interlocking zippers. Interlocking zippers prevent someone from quickly zipping your backpack open. Lockable backpacks include zippers with double pulls. The pulls include larger holes, allowing you to add a padlock.
Antitheft backpacks also typically include slash-proof fabric. The material has a thick weave that prevents someone from slashing the bag open with a sharp object. Choosing a backpack with hidden pockets may give you a greater sense of security.
Hidden pockets are often found inside one of the main compartments and are difficult to find without a thorough search of the backpack. You can hide your most important items, such as your cash and passport.
Design and Style
Some travelers prefer a stylish backpack over something more functional. Many travel backpacks are available in multiple colors and designs to suit your tastes or match your outfits. However, you should still make the previous features a priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers to the following questions may help in your search for the best travel backpack and address any remaining concerns about choosing the right option:
Can a 40-Liter Backpack Be a Carry-On?
Most airlines require that carry-on bags measure 22 x 14 x 9 inches or less. A 40-liter backpack should meet the size requirements for carry-on luggage, but a 35-liter backpack is more likely to stay within the size limits when fully packed.
How Heavy Is a 75-Liter Backpack?
The typical 75-liter backpack weighs 3 to 6 pounds when empty. A fully packed 75-liter backpack may weigh 45 pounds or more, depending on the weight of the items that you pack.
How Heavy of a Backpack Can I Carry?
Most experts recommend carrying no more than 20% of your body weight. If you weigh 160 pounds, you should carry 32 pounds or less on your back. If you weigh 200 pounds, you can likely handle a 40-pound load.
What Size Backpack Do I Need for a 10-Day Trip?
You may want to use a backpack with a capacity of at least 70-liters for a 10-day trip if you intend on bringing enough food for each day. Backpackers often use 45-liter to 55-liter backpacks for weekend hikes. A 10-day trip is likely to require something a little bigger.
Is It Better to Travel with a Backpack or a Suitcase?
Suitcases work best when you’re staying in a single hotel or resort throughout your trip. However, if you’re frequently on the move, a backpack is much more convenient. You can carry all your belongings just about everywhere that you go.
So, What’s the Best Travel Backpack?
While we came up with a variety of options for different situations, our top choice for the best travel backpack is the Peak Design Everyday V2 30L Backpack.
It’s a good size for a multi-day trip, made with durable materials, and includes side and top access for increased convenience. However, we think any of the 6 others on our list are solid picks as well.