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Traveling is complicated enough without worrying about how to transport your backpack. A simplistic, less-is-more approach can ease your mind, which is why travel backpacks are so helpful for people on the go.In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
In this post, we’ll review the 15 best travel backpacks, look at different types of backpacks, offer packing tips, and look at helpful backpack accessories.
We’ll also answer a few frequently asked questions. Let’s get started with some things to keep in mind before you buy a travel backpack.
|Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Matein Business Travel Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Deuter Transit 50 Travel Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Standard Luggage Flight-Approved Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Nomatic Water Resistant Travel Bag||Check on Amazon|
|Peak Design Travel Line Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Leaper Retro Shoulder Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|North Face Borealis Men’s Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 55 Liter Backpack||Check on Amazon|
|AmazonBasics Slim Carry-On Travel Backpack||Check on Amazon|
Before you buy: 7 Things to consider when purchasing a travel backpack
There’s a lot to think about it when buying a backpack because, for one, they generally have a multitude of features. You have to think about style, as well, so it often makes for a tough choice. Here are some things to consider:
While it might be simplistic to say that a backpack is only as good as its fit, there’s a lot of truth to it. If it’s uncomfortable, you’ll soon regret your purchase. The fit encompasses several factors, including:
- Shoulder straps – The shoulder padding should conform to your shoulder’s shape and extend about two to three inches below your armpit.
- Length – A good backpack fit means matching it to your torso length for optimal comfort. Your torso’s length extends from the bone that sticks out between your shoulder blades to the tops of your hips.
- Back panel – While it’s tempting to buy a backpack with extra padding in the back panel you can go overboard and cause excess sweating. Make sure the padding, no matter how much, has a good airflow system to help keep things cool.
- Hips – Backpacks include a hip belt suspension that helps shift the load’s weight away from the shoulders and towards your center of gravity.
Backpacks come in different sizes, and a couple of things to keep in mind include, 1) make sure it meets airline travel restrictions, and 2) bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Remember, you can make your travels a lot easier if you pack less – not more – so you may not need as big of a backpack you think. In general, a 50 to 70-liter backpack is sufficient for multi-day travel, while a 60-70-liter bag is good for conventional backpacking.
A crucial part of any backpack is its main compartment. Most travel backpacks have either a front-loading or top-loading compartment. Front-loading compartments, in general, tend to be more convenient for travel.
Check out the bags zippered pockets, as well. Some backpacks have more than others and the number may influence what you bring with you. Backpacks with lockable zippers better protect you from thievery.
Some bags allow you to conceal and stow the shoulder straps and hip belt. This is helpful when you’re checking your backpack; you don’t have to worry about straps and belts becoming caught in conveyor belts.
You never know when bad weather will hit, so look for water-resistant backpacks. Many manufacturers sell backpack covers separately.
You’re often best-served by choosing a reputable backpack manufacturer that’s known for making the highest quality products.
That seems obvious, and a bag that costs more doesn’t ensure its quality, but look for bags that have a strong reputation among fellow customers.
Your backpack’s shape should suit your size and build; a backpack that best fits your friend might not be comfortable for you to wear. You should always try on a backpack before you buy it.
Also, square and rectangular shapes usually work best for distributing weight evenly across your back and hips.
The best backpacks tend to have a back panel made from breathable mesh that provides the proper ventilation between your bag and back.
8. Frame design
You can choose from internal frame and external frame backpacks. Internal frame designs include a large main compartment and fewer external compartments – usually no more than one or two.
External frame backpacks, meanwhile, have several external compartments for better overall organizations.
An internal frame backpack typically is lighter and back-friendly than an external frame design, which makes them a good option for long trips. While external frames are heavier, you can pack more stuff in them.
Now that we’ve discussed what to look for in a backpack, let’s move on to our best backpack reviews.
The best travel backpacks for men in 2020
- Mesh helps keep users cooler
- Easy front access
Best travel backpack for:
Men who want a backpack that’s useful for city and trail use
The Osprey Farpoint is a lot of things, including that it combines size, portability, and comfort in a pack that’s ideal for use in the great outdoors or in the concrete jungle. You can use it as a duffel-style travel bag, or in full backpack mode.
But among the many other reasons we like this backpack is how comfortable it is to carry. It features Osprey’s LightWire frame suspension that transfers weight from the harness to the hip belt, while its mesh back panel improves ventilation and helps to reduce chafing.
There are other reasons why this backpack rocks, including:
- It has excellent front access.
- Dual compression straps keep your belongings from shifting during transit and help stabilize the load.
- It has padded top and side handles that are easy to grip and make it easier to stow the bag in a compartment.
- It fits as carry-on luggage on most airlines.
- The 40-liter version is perhaps the best small travel backpack for men.
The Farpoint also comes with a lifetime guarantee against damage and defects.
- Zippered pockets, including two interior pockets, help make packing easier and more efficient.
- While it’s smaller than some backpacks, it still offers enough room that you can use it on a long vacation abroad.
- The shoulder straps are well-padded and also include mesh that makes them more comfortable.
- The exterior pocket could be a bit bigger.
Any traveler will benefit from having the Osprey Farpoint to help carry the load. It’s comfortable, versatile, and offers enough room for everything that you need.
- Built-in USB charger
- Lightweight yet sturdy
Best travel backpack for:
Business travelers and students
Anyone will benefit from using the Matein Business Travel Backpack and many have – which, with over 6,000 reviews on Amazon and a near 5-star rating, is clear.
Whether you use it for business, school, or general travel bag, this backpack has all plenty of versatility. Made from water-resistant polyester fabric, it’s lightweight, durable, and you should get years of use from it.
There’s plenty of space, thanks to a large main compartment in which you can fit light clothing, books, lunch, travel accessories and more. There’s also a separate laptop compartment in which you can hold a laptop up to 15.6 inches.
The Matein backpack also includes a front compartment that has organizer pockets for everything from your cell phone to your keys and pencils. There’s also a theft-proof pocket hidden in the back that rests against the wearer’s body.
There’s also generous padding throughout that provides excellent back support, and it consists of mesh that makes it highly breathable. The top handle also features foam padding.
- It features a USB charger built into the pack and even comes with a charging cable.
- You can slide the strap on the back over to become a rolling luggage bag for easier transport.
- Handy side pockets allow you to carry items such as your water bottle.
- Could be a little more padding to protect laptops.
Whether you’re a business traveler, or a student, the Matein travel backpack offers all you need to make transporting your items easier.
Best travel backpack for:
Savvy business travelers
SwissGear is another trusted name for travelers and it’s easy to see why with their popular 1900 Scansmart backpack.
The latter has many features that make it a favorite among long-distance travelers – including travelers who need a top-quality day pack or carry-on.
Its Scansmart technology includes a lay-flat tech compartment that protects your laptop without holding you up during TSA scanning.
It also has a TabletSafe pocket that keeps your tablet secure, as well as a plethora of other compartments, an accordion file folder, and a large u-zip pocket in the front for easy access to travel essentials.
You’ll also like how easy it is to carry thanks to contoured, mesh fabric shoulder straps, adjustable side compression straps, and a padded back panel featuring Airflow ventilation technology.
The 1900 Scansmart consists of durable 1200D ballistic polyester that’s water-resistant and durable enough to withstand heavy use. It’s a good long-term investment.
- It features a padded media pocket that includes a headphone cord port.
- You can open it quickly and easily, which saves you time during airport security scanning.
- A roomy front compartment is handy for storing keys, travel documents, wallets, and writing tools.
- Zippers may be vulnerable to breaking.
The SwissGear 1900 Scansmart has over 8,000 reviews on Amazon and a long, long list of 5-star reviews. It’s a great men’s backpack for business travel, but for other types of travel, as well.
- Detachable daypack
- Allows for easy access
Best travel backpack for:
An easy-to-carry travel backpack that meets most carry-on requirements
A quality backpack must be able to handle the inevitable bumps and knocks of long-distance travel. Deuter’s Transit 50 makes that possible thanks to a 600d Polytex coating that adds water and abrasion resistance.
A quality backpack needs to be travel-friendly in other ways, too. Again, the Deuter Transit 50 answers the bell with a pack that meets most airline carry-on requirements while offering plenty of room to hold everything you need.
The fact is, the Deuter Transit 50 delivers in many ways:
- The main compartment has a U-shaped zippered front panel that allows for easy access.
- It includes a detachable daypack you can use for day trips once you’ve reached your destination.
- It’s lightweight and easy to carry, and includes a padded, removable carry strap, two grab handles, and a breathable shoulder harness that offers extra stability.
- It has a separate bottom compartment in which you can store items such as your shoes and laundry.
All in all, the Deuter Transit 50 makes it easy to transition from the various points along your journey, i.e., the airport, train, trail, subway, and the city streets.
- The shoulder harness provides excellent stability as well as comfort on longer journeys.
- A zippered cover panel keeps straps and buckles out of the way when it’s time to stow it.
- It makes for an excellent carry-on backpack thanks to its many features.
- Somewhat heavier than some bags.
The Deuter Transit 50 with its removable daypack offers all the convenience and storage space you need in a travel backpack.
- Easy access
- Versatile design
- Balances load nicely
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone looking for a backpack that has multiple uses
One issue with wearing a trail backpack for non-trail use is that it looks like, well, a travel backpack. And that leaves you walking the streets of your favorite city while looking like you’re on your favorite forest trail.
Kelty addresses that issue with their Redwing 44, which is a travel backpack that is good for trail and city use, but doesn’t look like camping gear. Instead, it has a simple design that enhances its versatility.
It’s also the ideal size for quick getaways, whether to the woods or an urban environment, making it an invaluable piece of luggage no matter where you go.
While the Redwing may lack some of the bells and whistles you’ll find on other backpacks, it doesn’t come up short in any important category.
For one, it’s excellent for organizing your gear thanks to several compartments and zippered pockets. For another, it’s very comfortable and balances the load according to your center of gravity.
Comfort comes from padded shoulder pads, lumbar support, and a dual-foam hip belt.
Another nice feature is that you can use the Redwing 44 as a top or front-loading backpack thanks to a U-shaped zipper that provides full access.
While there’s plenty of foam padding, Kelty utilizes a Dynamic AirFlow system on the back panel that helps keep you cool.
- A lightweight aluminum stay and polyethylene frame sheet transfer the load effectively.
- The zippered pockets include two flow-through side pockets, a stash pocket, and front and top pockets.
- You can use it to carry your laptop without worries.
- The zippers aren’t lockable
There’s a lot to like about a backpack that combines versatility and comfort – such as Kelty’s Redwing 44.
- Serves multiple functions
- Water repellent exterior
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone who is looking for a lightweight travel backpack
No rule says travel backpacks have to put a strain on your back, shoulders, and hips. And products like the Hynes Eagle Travel Travel Backpack, provide plenty of storage without weighing a ton.
Hynes Eagle’s backpack is a lightweight backpack with a lot to offer. There’s plenty of interior space and interior and exterior slot pockets that keep valuables such as your wallet, cellphone, and passport safe while you’re on the move.
Padded laptop and tablet sleeves keep your devices secure, while four exterior compression straps stop unwanted movement while you’re in transit.
It comes with contoured shoulder straps that you can hide when not in use. The straps feature padded air mesh construction that makes them very comfortable.
There’s also a sternum strap that transfers weight from your shoulders while helping to keep your backpack in an upright position longer.
- Hynes Eagle is a well-respected luggage maker with a long line of quality products.
- It consists of a water-repellent polyester that can handle changes in the weather.
- You can wear it on your back or carry it in your hands.
- The design of the buckles is a concern.
The Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack takes the strain off of your back while allowing you to travel worry-free thanks to several design elements.
- Excellent carry-on
- Roll aboard strap
- 3-in-1 design
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone who wants a versatile carry-on bag
Standard Luggage’s Flight-Approved Backpack is a carry-on bag that’s more than a carry-on bag. After all, you can use it as a backpack, shoulder bag, and a (small) suitcase.
It’s also flight approved for air travel and is the ideal carry-on size. And you can still get a lot in it thanks to a roomy-enough interior which includes laptop and tablet pockets and various internal mesh pockets.
It also features a comfortable design, including ergonomic shoulder straps, an adjustable hip belt, as well as a roll-aboard strap that attaches to conventional luggage. A full-perimeter zipper allows for easy opening, packing, and unpacking.
- It features interior compression straps to maximize space while keeping its contents secure.
- A removable hip belt adds stability and better weight distribution.
- It features convenient front pockets that hold document-sized and smaller items.
- Support in the lower back area could be better
Standard Luggage’s Flight-Approved Travel Backpack is convenient, compact, and easy to bring with you on any trip.
- Waterproof material
- TSA compliant
- Minimalist design
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone who wants to keep their backpack protected from the elements
Mother Nature often interferes despite our wishes. A sudden downpour or another weather event while you travel can be an aggravation or, worse, wreak havoc on your backpack.
Nomatic’s Water Resistant Travel Bag protects your belongings and your pack, however, thanks to a 100% waterproof tarpaulin material that stays strong in even the harshest weather conditions. Its exterior zippers also are waterproof.
But there’s a lot else to like about this back, including a minimalist design that fits in the overhead compartment and under the seat on most standard airlines.
It includes a laptop pocket that can hold a 15-inch Macbook Pro and another pocket that has enough room for an 8.5 x 11 tablet. There’s also an RFID pocket with a TSA approved lock that offers plenty of security for your most valuable items.
Perhaps the best description comes from the folks at Nomatic, who say they’ve created a travel bag that combines the best features of a backpack, duffel bag, and general luggage. All in all, it makes for a versatile, functional bag.
- There’s plenty of storage space thanks to a water bottle pocket, a shoe compartment, cord organizer, laptop and tablet pockets, and more.
- Detachable waist straps help to distribute the weight from your back to your hips and they also include two waterproof pockets.
- It’s built to last a long time thanks to its waterproof materials.
- Some reviewers say the zippers aren’t of the same high quality as the rest of the backpack.
The Nomatic Water Resistant Travel Bag is one of the most functional backpacks around, and it’s built to hold up during weather extremes.
- Makes for easy organization
- Holds its shape
- Carry-on friendly
Best travel backpack for:
Savvy business travelers
What makes for a “savvy” business traveler? A lot of things, including one who’s well organized.
That’s one of the reasons Peak Design’s Travel Line Backpack is so effective: it makes it easy to keep all of your things organized no matter where your destination or how many stops you’ll make along the way.
The Travel Line’s main back zipper allows for quick access and storage of your tablet and laptop. The laptop/tablet compartment provides heavy-duty protection.
Dual side zippers make it easy to access items such as a camera or video gear, and you can buy camera cubes that fit snugly inside.
A zippered dividing panel separates the bag into two compartments, or you can remove it to create a single, larger one.
What else? There’s plenty – including two exterior water bottle pockets, stowaway straps, comfortable carrying handles, lockable zippers, and more.
- Unlike many other travel backpacks, Peak Design’s Travel Line bag features two external pockets.
- The Travel Line comes with a weatherproof canvas shell that keeps your belongings dry should you get caught in a rainstorm.
- It meets international carry-on standards for most major international airlines.
- Can feel a little heavy
The Peak Design Travel Line has many features that make traveling easier and more well-organized.
- Anti-theft technology
- USB port
- Good for travel and business
Best travel backpack:
For business travelers seeking anti-theft protection
Dutch-based XD Design launched in 2016 on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter and now sells its products in over 50 countries through more than 3,000 retailers worldwide. It’s safe to say that its products have caught on.
The XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is very representative of the quality of the company’s work, and offers nice protection for business travelers worried about security.
It’s also the first product the company sold and it has been a steady seller ever since.
The anti-theft design includes compartments with room to hold 17-inch laptops and 9.7-inch table, while an integrated USB charging port allows you to charge your devices while you’re on the move.
It has anti-theft features such as such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, while also including hidden zippers and pockets, and protective layers. It even consists of water-repellent fabric that helps keep your devices dry and functional.
- The XD Anti-Theft bag is cut-resistant and durable. You’re not only more protected from theft, but the bag can take a beating without breaking down.
- The laptop and tablet compartments are roomy and protective.
- Hidden zippers and pockets make it tough for would-be thieves.
- A bit heavier than some travel backpacks.
On-the-go business travel can leave people vulnerable to theft and other security issues, but XD Design has you covered with its Bobby XL Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack.
- Sling pack design
- Easy to access
- Soft, comfortable feel
Best travel backpack for:
Men who need a smaller backpack for day trips
There are times when you don’t need a large backpack, such as when you take a day trip, or for school, shopping, and even cycling.
Leaper’s Retro Shoulder Backpack is ideal for those occasions: it has enough storage space for what you need for short outings and it’s comfortable to carry. Function aside, it also has a retro look helps it rank among cool travel backpacks.
It’s also a lightweight backpack (not a surprise given its scaled-back design) and consists of soft and durable canvas with leather enhancements.
It has enough room to carry a smaller laptop and features one zipper pocket in the front flap, one open pocket under the flap, as well as a handful of inner pockets.
The zipper pocket on the top flap is ideal for carrying tickets, your passport, iPhone, and other smaller items while providing easy accessibility.
Another nice feature of this pack is that it comes with additional straps so that you can carry it with the shoulder strap or with a traditional handle.
- It comes in a variety of masculine colors and has a nice retro feel.
- The shoulder strap is easy to adjust and rests comfortably across the back and chest.
- While it’s not the biggest pack on the market, it has enough room to carry a variety of items, including a small laptop.
- It’s not waterproof
Shoulder “sling” backpacks are a great alternative to larger backpacks, especially for shorter trips and outings. Leaper’s Retro Shoulder Backpack is among the best of the lot.
- Excellent for urban use
- Large main storage compartment
- Padded air-mesh back panel
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone looking for a budget-friendly backpack
We talk a lot about comfort and functionality when discussing the best travel backpacks for men. They’re two very important factors, to say the least.
North Face qualifies in both categories with its Borealis men’s backpack. It features injection-molded shoulder straps and lumbar support that helps users to remain comfortable even when wearing the pack for long hours.
It also has a large main compartment that allows you to store all of your items, and includes a protective padded laptop compartment.
A front compartment features multi-use pockets, while there’s also a mesh water bottle holder and an elastic bungee holder for additional external packing.
While this backpack is for everyone, it’s marketed – in part – as being ideal for urban trekkers, but it’s rugged and durable enough for trail use. And it’s available at a very reasonable price.
- It fits any size laptop up to 15 inches while offering ample protection.
- North Face’s FlexVent suspension system provides comfortable support in the shoulder pads and back paneling.
- The shoulder pads are thick, supportive, and very comfortable.
- It’s not water-resistant like many other backpacks.
North Face knows a thing or two about the great outdoors, including when the outdoors feature more skyscrapers than trees. The Borealis backpack is versatile, comfortable, and very functional.
- Anti-theft design
- Light and compact
- Roomy enough to hold various items
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone looking for a practical anti-theft backpack
Pacsafe helps provide peace of mind when you travel with its Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft Backpack. Among its many features are lockable zippers, cut-proof materials, and an RFID-blocking pocket to help keep your credit cards and ID cards safe from thieves.
It’s also roomy enough to hold a variety of items and includes a laptop sleeve that ensures your device won’t fall to the bottom of the bag while making it more susceptible to damage.
You can even use it to carry a large camera, headphones, and even bulky clothing such as a sweater.
Moreover, its an extremely lightweight backpack – it weighs in at only 1.46-pounds, and consists of a soft, durable nylon and polyester blend.
The straps include lightweight, flexible stainless steel wire that helps keep thieves from slashing through them and running off with your bag. And the lockable zippers make it safe to use in high-volume pickpocketing areas.
- It features two lockable zipper exterior pockets, two side pockets for water bottles, two zippered interior pockets, and a padded and suspended interior laptop sleeve.
- Lightweight, durable, and water-resistant to better protect your belongings.
- You can use one of the straps to secure the bag to the table when eating in crowded airport restaurants.
- Sometimes too secure and somewhat difficult to open.
Unfortunately, thieves are everywhere and travel backpacks are often a favorite target. But backpacks such as Pacsafe’s Metrosafe make their job a lot tougher.
- Very roomy
- Easily accessible
- Enhanced lumbar support
Best travel backpack for:
Anyone who needs to pack a lot of gear
The Gregory Mountain 55-liter backpack is ideal for longer trips for the same reason it’s good for shorter trips in which you need a lot of stuff: because it has a lot of room.
Indeed, this is a spacious bag with ample storage room. It also has a streamlined shape that makes it comfortable to carry, as well as a dual-density hip belt and shoulder harness that helps stabilize heavier loads.
You can easily access the main compartment of this bag via a front u-shaped zipper while there’s a front bucket pocket for storing gear when you hike. Further storage comes from two quick-access waist belt pockets, as well as two external water bottle pockets.
While this backpack is excellent for hiking, it’s also great for travel in general and longer trips.
- The hip belt and shoulder harness includes foam that provides excellent comfort.
- Lumbar foam helps increase load-bearing comfort.
- It comes with an integrated rain cover.
- It’s too big to fit into an overhead airline compartment is you over-pack it.
The Gregory Mountain Multi-Day backpack has everything you need for long backpacking trips and general travel. It’s spacious and comfortable to carry.
- Excellent for carry-on use
Best travel backpack for:
Travelers who prefer a basic design that’s comfortable to carry
There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with the AmazonBasics Slim Carry-On Travel Backpack, but that’s OK. It still offers everything you need in a travel bag.
Among the many things we like about it is that it’s comfortable and easy to carry. It has an Airmesh back panel that’s fully-vented and well-padded, and it’s easy to transport whether you carry it over one shoulder or two.
It also has enough room for everything you need, and includes a dedicated laptop sleeve and a top-load, fleece-lined tablet pocket. Its front pocket provides enough storage space for smaller items.
Moreover, it has a low-profile top and side grab handles that make for easier portability.
- It’s ideal for shorter trips thanks to its slim design and ease of use.
- You can store all of the items you need without weighing you down.
- You can also load it onto a rolling luggage handle thanks to vertical and horizontal pass-through panels.
- Compartments are somewhat narrow
AmazonBasics offers everything you need in a no-frills design with its Carry-On Travel Backpack. You’ll appreciate how comfortable it feels and its ease of use.
Types of travel backpacks
Backpacks come in all shapes, sizes, and types. The basic travel backpack zips open like a suitcase to make it easier to pack and unpack, unlike hiking backpacks with a single opening at the top.
Technically, you can use any backpack for travel (for the most part), but front-loading backpacks with a zipper that goes all around the front are the handiest for travel. Let’s check out some other travel backpack types:
1. Carry-on backpacks
Carry-on backpacks are slightly smaller than other types and fit nicely into an overhead airline compartment, or even under your seat on the plane. They’re suitable for shorter trips and usually feature one or two main compartments for organizing your belongings.
Many carry-on backpacks also come with a laptop sleeve or a dedicated area for digital and technical necessities.
2. Wheeled backpacks
A wheeled backpack offers the organizational benefits of a backpack with the ease of transport. It comes with shoulder straps, like a traditional backpack, but also with wheels for when you don’t feel like carrying it.
Wheeled backpacks typically come with multiple compartments, pockets, and come in carry-on and checked bag sizes.
3. TSA friendly backpack
A TSA “friendly” backpack is one in which the laptop compartment can be unzipped to lie flat on the scanner so that you don’t have to remove your computer at TSA checkpoints. The rest of its features are pretty standard to most backpacks.
4. Sling backpacks
Sling backpacks get their name because you sling them over your shoulder with a strap. They allow you to wear the pack across your body or close to your chest, while breathable, padded back panels prevent you from becoming too hot while wearing the backpack.
The major disadvantage of a sling backpack is that it doesn’t provide nearly the storage space as other packs.
5. Anti-theft backpacks
You probably wouldn’t know an anti-theft backpack at first glance, but perhaps upon closer inspection. You’ll notice that zippers aren’t visible on many of these backpacks which helps keep them safe from would-be thieves.
But they may also several other anti-theft features, such as hidden zipper pulls, zipper locks, slash-proof fabric, as well as RFID-blocking pockets that keep wearers safe from electronic thievery.
6. Duffel backpacks
Duffel backpacks have shoulder straps that allow you to carry them as backpacks. They’re an excellent alternative for workout enthusiasts who normally use traditional duffel bags which aren’t as easy to carry, in most cases.
Duffel backpacks also come in a variety of sizes; you can choose the size that best fits your storage needs and activity.
7. Hiking backpacks
Let’s not forget about hiking backpacks, which are meant for treks in the great outdoors. Larger than most backpacks, they offer plenty of storage but can weigh a lot.
Fortunately, most of them come with thick padding and harnesses which make touting them around not so tedious.
10 Tips for packing effectively
One could argue that how you pack is as important as what you pack. Packing too much, or not using your backpack’s space efficiently, can create problems before and after you reach your destination. Here are some tips that will help make the process easier.
1. Pack only what you must have
Taking a minimalist approach to packing will help you in many ways, including that it can save you money by avoiding hefty check-in fees. Layout everything you think you’ll need for travel and then separate what you absolutely need from what you can leave at home.
Remember, while packing “more” may give you peace of mind initially, it can become a burden during your journey.
2. Think about weight (and balance)
Keep in mind that you’re the one who’ll spend long hours with a pack on your back. Be cognizant of not only how much the pack weighs, but also how it balances on your back.
Pack heavier items close to your back to help you maintain your center of gravity. You can store lighter items toward the top.
3. Bring versatile items
Make sure to pack items that have multiple uses or are useful all of the time. On the flip side, you may want to disregard items that you’ll use only on unique occasions. You can usually find what you need at stores and shops, even in the most remote locations.
4. Use soft items for cushioning
This tip is especially helpful for backpacking when you may carry hard items such as pots and pans. Place softer items, such as a jacket, between harder items for extra cushioning.
5. Pack one week’s worth of clothing
You’ll save space in your backpack if you only pack one week’s worth of clothing. You can always do laundry when you travel.
6. Rely on accessories
Travel accessories, which we’ll talk about in a bit, can provide a huge assist as you pack. For example, packing cubes are handy for storing socks and underwear.
7. Always consider the weather
You’ll probably add more weight to your backpack when you travel to colder or rainy climates but that doesn’t mean you have to overdo it, either.
You’ll probably have your heavier jacket on your body, or in the overhead compartment when traveling by plane, while a lightweight raincoat doesn’t take up significant space in your backpack.
8. Store toiletries in the front compartment
You can save space by packing your toiletries in a small(er) kit bag and placing it in the front compartment of your backpack. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel: all can go in the bag but do keep in mind airline and international rules for the sizes you can bring.
9. The back compartment – laptop, books, etc.
Your backpack’s rear compartment is a great place for storing your laptop as well as your reading device (such as a Kindle) or an actual book. If you travel internationally, make sure to bring a universal travel adaptor with two USB ports.
10. Roll clothes instead of folding them
Rolling your clothes when you pack them helps to avoid wrinkles and creases, plus it’s more space-efficient.
10 Useful travel backpack accessories
A quality backpack represents a huge step towards ensuring a hassle-free travel experience. But you can up your game, so to speak, even more with helpful accessories such as these:
Packing cubes offer many benefits for travelers, including that they maximize backpack space. They also help to keep your things contained, clean, and organized.
Eagle Creek’s Pack-it Specter Compression packing cubes are lightweight, durable, and water-resistant. You can also zip them down to half their size to create even more space in your backpack.
2. Boost cube
Some travel backpacks have a USB charger built into them. Don’t despair if your pack doesn’t have one, however, because iClever’s BoostCube has you covered. It features a 24-watt dual-port wall charger that’s compact and doesn’t take up much space.
3. Travel lock
Travel locks provide excellent security and the peace of mind that comes with it. But, in some cases, a travel lock is cut or damaged during a TSA security check. The Master Lock 4688D luggage lock is TSA-accepted and features a set-your-own combination feature.
4. Dopp kit
No self-respecting traveler would be caught dead without a dopp kit at his fingertips.
Dopp kits hold toiletries and other personal items and the good ones, such as Leatherology’s Black Onyx Multi-Pocket Hanging bag has many cool features – including a loop that allows you to hang the bag from a hook.
5. Shoe bags
Your shoes can pick up a lot of dust and grime (and more) as you travel, which makes it important to separate them from the rest of your clothes when packing.
Yamiu’s travel shoe bag set features two standard-sized bags and two large sizes. They consist of high-quality nylon and are waterproof.
Not just any passport holder, mind you, but one that offers RFID protection. Travel Navigator’s leather passport holder offers superior protection and enough room to hold credit cards, money, and other items.
7. Kindle cover
A Kindle reader gives you access to hundreds of books without having to overload your backpack or travel bag with hardcovers and softcovers. Amazon’s Paperwhite Leather Case keeps your Kindle Paperwhile protected at all times.
8. Travel towel
The convenience of a quick-dry microfiber travel towel shouldn’t be undestimated. Whether you’re backpacking, camping, or going on a long weekend trip, Shandali’s Microfiber Travel & Sports Towel will help keep you dry and comfortable.
Keeping your backpack protected from the elements is important and Gryps makes it easier with its waterproof backpack cover. It’s easy to put on and take off, lightweight, and features buckle straps that prevent it from slipping off.
10. Water filter
Clean drinking water isn’t always accessible out on the trail and carrying multiple water bottles in or on your backpack isn’t always convenient.
But a water filter, such as LifeStraw’s lightweight personal water filter removes 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and allows you to make lakes, rivers, and streams your go-to water sources.
How we chose these backpacks for our review
Travel backpacks have many moving parts and it’s safe to say that not all are the same. Far from it. But we looked at several core functions when evaluating the bags for our review: functionality, storage space, ease of access, comfort, and design.
Other factors we looked at included TSA readiness, i.e., is it convenient enough to get through security checkpoints easily, durability, water-resistance, and adjustability.
While you should always match a travel backpack to your torso, features such as adjustable shoulder straps help make it easier to carry.
And, as always, we considered the reviews of others, particularly actual users, to get a sense of what works with a particular backpack and what doesn’t.
Frequently asked questions
How to clean a backpack
The least labor-intensive method of cleaning a backpack is to put it into the washing machine. It depends on the material, of course, but most packs consist of nylon and canvas. Don’t machine wash it if it has leather trim, however.
How to fix a backpack zipper
You can remedy a backpack zipper that’s stuck in one position with graphite – use a common No. 2 pencil – or laundry soap. Use a pair of plyers to straighten bent teeth gently.
How to measure your torso for a backpack
To measure your torso, tilt your head forward and feel for the bony bump between your shoulders. Next, slide your hands down to the top of your hip and draw an imaginary line between your thumbs.
Measure the distance of the imaginary line to the space between your shoulders.
What size backpack do I need?
Backpacks range in size from extra small to large. Waist size and fit is an important measurement because your hips support 80 percent of a backpack’s weight.
Also, backpacks range in volume from 25 to 85-liters and which volume you choose depends on how you plan to use the pack.
How should a backpack fit?
The correct backpack fit is one in which is appropriate for your torso length (not overall height) and how comfortably it rests on your hips.
Who invented the backpack?
Dick Kelty gets credit for inventing the first backpack in 1952. Meanwhile, Greg Lowe developed the first internal frame backpack in 1967.
In a world where less is often more, travel backpacks are the go-to type of luggage for many travelers. No matter what your destination, or activity, a well-designed backpack helps make your journey simpler.
Do you have a travel backpack? If so, what brand? What do you like best about it? We’d love to hear from you.