The 13 Best Backpacks For Travel In 2024

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If you’re someone looking to ditch the suitcase and try a backpack on your travels, then you’ve come to the right place.

When you’re traveling, flexibility is key. With a backpack, you can easily navigate crowded streets, hop on and off public transportation, and even tackle those unexpected bumps along the way.

Standard Luggage carryon backpack
Light and comfortable Standard Luggage Backpack

Plus, no need to worry about lugging a clunky suitcase up flights of stairs or trying to squeeze it into tiny hostel lockers.

A backpack is freedom. A backpack allows you to pack minimal, travel light, and become more resourceful.

But with so many travel backpacks on the market, it can be hard to choose which one will work for you.

In this guide, we’ve selected the best backpacks for travel so you can live your backpacking dream and ditch the suitcase.

All of these backpacks are carry-on size, so you can save on hold luggage fees and travel hand luggage only.

Ultimate Guide on How to Choose a Travel Backpack

Choosing the best travel backpack for your needs is an important decision, and just like no two backpacks are the same, your needs will be different from other travelers.

Throughout our years of traveling with a backpack, we’ve settled on a few features that make travel more convenient and comfortable.

Before we jump into the best travel backpacks, let’s quickly go over what features you should be looking for…

1. Longevity

If you’re like us, you’ll be traveling via many different means and you want a quality backpack that’s going to last and is practical for all travel occasions!

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your backpack whilst you get on and off public transport, climb stairs, navigate airports, stand in queues, walk city blocks or down dusty roads looking for your accommodation.

Not only will your backpack be dragged around all sorts of places, but baggage handlers are notoriously bad at handling baggage – the irony!

You’ll find your backpack thrown on top of buses in Asia, cramped in next to boxes of chickens in Central America, or tied onto the back of a scooter.

It’s going to go through a proverbial washing machine on the road, so durability and longevity will be the most important feature to look out for.

2. Organization Features

best laptop backpack Tortuga (1)

Your backpack will become your new best friend carrying your gear, so how your bag is organized will be an important consideration.

Do you need a laptop compartment for traveling? What about a secret pocket for your passport and other valuables?

Some backpacks come with one main compartment, whereas others have pockets and pouches for you to store things in.

If you have a lot of gear or you’re remote working, then having multiple compartments can be useful.

3. Comfort

How a backpack feels on your back is the number one thing you should check. Don’t just try it on when it’s empty, fill it with things and see how it feels with the weight.

Of course, it’s not always possible to test this before buying the bag, so here are some features you should look out for which are designed to increase comfort:

  • Padded shoulder straps – it goes without saying, but the better quality padded backpack straps will make a world of difference to your comfort when carrying your bag.
  • Padded hip strap – for comfort and for spreading the weight so your shoulders and back don’t carry the full load of your pack.
  • Waist strap – again, helpful for those with weak shoulders and backs as it distributes the weight around your whole body.
  • Sternum strap – our bags had this small mid-chest strap that connected between the two shoulder straps. Again this helps keep your bag stable and distributes the weight evenly.
  • Carry handles – top and side handles are good for when you’re not wearing it on your back and makes carrying your bag more ergonomic.
  • Ventilation – some backpacks come with a back panel made of suspended mesh (a trampoline-like design) that’s breathable and  provides separation between your back and bag to prevent your back from sweating against your bag.
  • Torso Length – adjustable torso allows the travel backpack to fit a large variety of sizes. Depending on the manufacturer, some backpacks are available in several sizes from extra small to large and fit a range of torso lengths.

Other Features to Look Out For

  • Cords for sleeping bags and tents – during our 5-month backpacking trip in Africa we carried a tent and sleeping bags and having cords to attach these to was priceless.
  • Elasticized water bottle pockets – not all drink bottles are the same size so pockets that expand and contract to keep your bottle secure are priceless! 
  • Hipbelt pockets having a few external pockets can be handy for those smaller items you need frequent and quick access to like phones and snacks etc.
  • Water-resistant material – make sure the material of your bag is weather resistant such as using nylon fabrics. Good quality bags come with better quality material that also dries quickly, not some cheap polyester. Some bags come with a rain cover, or clips where a rain cover can be attached.
  • Internal compression straps – like in a suitcase they help you pack more tightly and keep your gear such as camera, tablet, or laptop in place when the bag is upright.
  • Zip off day pack – a small detachable day pack that you can zip off your main bag is helpful for day trips and can add more storage to your overall packing capacity.
  • Dimensions – if you’re looking for a carry-on backpack, don’t forget to check the dimensions to make sure they work with your favorite airline’s carry-on restrictions.

And make sure that you get the correct bag for your sex.

Travel backpacks for women are designed to fit differently.

They are not necessarily smaller but manufacturers consider that women generally have a shorter torso and wider hips.

If you are a tall female, like Caz, or have broader shoulders and slim hips you might be better off with a male backpack.

Once you have your backpack, check that it:

  • Fits your body shape and height
  • Has good weight distribution
  • Can carry and protect your belongings
  • Is functional and comfortable to carry
  • Is easy to pack and unpack
  • Meets your budget

What is the Best Size for a Travel Backpack?

Tortuga Setout backpack carry on luggage
Tortuga Backpack – carry on size

Travel backpacks come in a wide range of sizes, typically expressed in liters (the volume).

For carry-on luggage, a 40 litre backpack will probably be the maximum load you can carry.

To be honest, you don’t need much bigger than this, as you will find that the bag will become too heavy to carry.

If you are planning a longer trip, you might decide to go bigger to 60L, but we don’t recommend going higher than this. Too often we see people with 80L backpacks that are full to the brim and their face says it all.

You’re going to find that you’ll throw a lot of stuff away to make your pack lighter. And you can always buy more things.

So when choosing a size of your backpack, think more about the actual weight of your possessions over the capacity first.

It’s no secret airlines are getting tougher on weight limits as well, so you want to make sure the size of your backpack can hold everything you need under the weight limit – we can all do without the excess baggage fees!

Is a front loading or top loading backpack better?

Besides choosing the size, another major factor to consider when choosing travel backpacks is how you will access your bag.

Do you want front loading or top loading backpack? And so you don’t get confused, front loading is sometimes called panel loading.

Front-loading backpacks have a zipper that goes all around the front. You can unzip, peel off the front piece and your backpack’s belongings are laid out in front of you like the insides of a suitcase, making it so easy to find things.

They also seem to have greater support for your back and sit more comfortably. You can zip a daypack to the front as well, which you are really going to need for those short, yes you guessed it, day trips.

person putting laptop into bag

So consider a bag that has a U-zip system where the zipper goes around three sides of the bag. If you will be packing and unpacking frequently you definitely want to consider a front loader.

Top loading backpacks open up at the top only making it harder to access all your gear and tend to be narrower and taller.

These are a more old fashioned design and quite honestly I don’t see why they are still being manufactured. They make it hard to organize your backpack, you can never find anything fast, and you have to take everything out to get one thing.

After initially traveling with a top loader backpack, we detest them now.

If you get a top loader, definitely consider getting packing cubes.

We soon changed to a front-loading backpack.

Benefits of front loading backpacks:

  • Quicker and easier to pack and unpack.
  • You have a larger opening and don’t have to dig from the top down to get to contents on the bottom or pull everything out all the time which gets frustrating.
  • Can have several access points (top, front, bottom, side)
  • Front loading backpacks tend to be a little shorter (best for shorter torsos)
  • Have zipper closures while most top loading backpacks have drawstrings.
  • You can typically lock the zippers together for some peace of mind.

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2024

Now you know what to look for in a travel backpack, it’s time to show you the best travel backpacks for this year.

1. Osprey Farpoint/Osprey Fairview 55 L Travel Backpack

Without a doubt, the number one backpack on the market is the Osprey Farpoint (for men) or Osprey Fairview (for women).

It’s a 40L front loader backpack with an additional 15L day pack which zips onto the front, and can be disconnected easily.

The backpack is has been created with backpackers in mind, allowing travelers to easily access their belongings in the main compartment, and store accessories in the inside mesh pocket.

It also has a cool feature where the hip belt and harness system can easily be stowed away with a zip flap, so you can put the back in hold on the plane without getting the straps dirty.

The day pack is also great and has an inside padded laptop sleeve and several pockets for storage. It also has two mesh front pockets for storing a water bottle.

And listen up, the reason this backpack comes at number one is because Osprey have a lifetime guarantee on all Osprey products. If it breaks, they will repair it for free, or replace it, so this will be your bag for life.

Some other great features are:

  • Fixed, unisex back panel designed for men or women
  • Daypack conveniently attaches to the main harness of the pack to provide easy access to gear
  • Sleeping pad straps allow for quick, external gear attachment
  • Designed to handle loads up to 50 pounds.
  • Lockable zipper for additional safety

2. Gregory Mountain Zulu 55 Backpack

If you’re looking for a backpack you can take out into the wilderness, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and endless trails, then the only backpack you need is the Gregory Mountain Products Zulu.

The fit is so comfortable, it’s like an extension of your body. The suspension system hugs your back, distributing weight evenly and making those long hikes feel like a breeze.

It’s a front-loader backpack, which allows you to access your belongings with ease. Plus, it’s got all the storage you need, from compartments for your gear to easy access pockets for your snacks.

This bag comes in 30L to 65L, but we recommend the 45L or 55L for general backpacking purposes.

Some other great features are:

  • U-shaped front access for easy loading
  • Access from the bottom or the top
  • Side-belt pockets
  • Freefloat 360 flex panels
  • Side pockets for water bottles and valuables
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Aircushion backpanel
  • Body hugging hip belts
  • Reservoir storage for hikes

3. Kelty Redwing 50 L

The Kelty Redwing 50 L is a stylish backpack with organization in mind. It has several pockets and pouches so you can organize your belongings, as well as a sleek design that looks sophisticated and stylish – you’ll never miss this bag at baggage claim!

The Redwing 50 L is small in size, but it’s like a TARDIS, bigger on the inside.

Plus, it has a tailored fit so it’s super comfortable, even when you’re carrying heavy loads. The Amp Flow backpanel ensures no more sweaty backs on day hikes.

Some other great features are:

  • Top Loading
  • Zippered side pockets, front pocket w/ organization
  • Hex Mesh back panel
  • Sternum strap, Load lifter strap
  • Size:26 x 16 x 12 in, Weight 3 lbs 11 oz, Volume 50 L, Torso Size 15.5 – 21 in

4. REI Vagabond 40 Pack

When it comes to backpacking, you need a pack that’s tough as nails and built to last.

REI is one of the top dogs in backpack manufacturers, and specialize in outdoor gear, so you know this bag won’t let you down.

The REI Vagabond has a rugged design that can handle anything you throw at it – rain, mud, even a few bumps on a chicken bus.

It’s not just tough, it’s smart too. With multiple compartments and pockets, you’ll have all the space you need to organize your gear like a pro.

Plus, the adjustable straps ensure a snug fit, so you won’t be weighed down by discomfort.

Some other great features are:

  • Backpack-style shoulder harness
  • Padded hip belt 
  • Zip-front panel provides wide-open access to contents
  • Inner compression straps
  • Side pocket can hold a water bottle

5. Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG Backpack

Ladies, listen up! If you’re planning an epic backpacking adventure, the Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG Backpack is your new best friend.

This pack is specifically designed for women, ensuring the perfect fit and ultimate comfort on the road.

The Anti-Gravity suspension system means you can carry a lot of weight but it feels light as a feather, distributing weight evenly and reducing fatigue.

With its spacious compartments and clever organization features, you’ll have all your gear at your fingertips.

Plus, let’s not forget the stylish design. The Aura 65 AG is sleek, feminine, and ready to turn heads.

Some other great features are:

  • Adjustable harness
  • Compression straps
  • Dual zippered front panel pockets
  • Sleeping bag compartment

6. Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack

Gentlemen, we haven’t forgotten about you. If you’re seeking the ultimate backpacking companion, the Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack is a game-changer in every sense.

With its cutting-edge Anti-Gravity suspension system, it distributes weight evenly and reduces strain, allowing you to carry heavy loads with ease.

The durable materials and craftsmanship ensure that it can handle any adventure you throw at it, plus since it’s an Osprey product, you get. alifetime guarantee with this pack!

With its spacious compartments and smart organization features, you’ll have quick access to your gear when you need it most.

Some other great features are:

  • Adjustable harness
  • Compression straps
  • Dual zippered front panel pockets
  • Five exterior zippered pockets and three slip pockets
  • Strong mesh panel that rests on your back

7. Gregory J 53 Backpack

If you’re in the market for a reliable and versatile backpacking bag, then the Gregory J 53 Backpack is designed to handle it everything from weekend getaways to longer expeditions.

The Gregory J 53 is all about comfort and customization. Its adjustable suspension system ensures a perfect fit for your body type, while the ventilated back panel keeps you cool during those challenging hikes.

With its ample storage space and organization pockets, you can easily stash and access all your gear on the go.

Some other great features are:

  • Top-loading main compartment with quick-draw top closure 
  • Full-body front U-zipper access
  • Lightweight construction
  • Back ventilation system

8. Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 Backpack

The Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 Backpack is designed specifically for women, offering unbeatable comfort and functionality on the road.

The Ariel 65 features a customizable suspension system that ensures a perfect fit for your body type, and it’s front j-zip allows you to access your possessions with ease.

With its spacious compartments and clever organization features, you’ll have easy access to all your gear when you need it most.

As with all Osprey backpacks, this backpack is built to last. The durable materials and craftsmanship guarantee it can withstand rugged terrains and unpredictable weather conditions.

  • Front J-zip provides quick access to main compartment
  • Adjustable shoulder strap height is also
  • Padded hip belt
  • Outstanding load carrying comfort

9. Minaal Carry-On 2.0

Renowned for its sleek and streamlined design, this backpack excels in both style and functionality. It’s particularly well-suited for business trips, with a professional and sophisticated look.

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 boasts impressive features, including padded and comfortable shoulder straps, a shock-proof laptop compartment, and ample storage space.

Its minimalist aesthetic and well-organized interior make it a dream for those who like to stay organized on the move.

Some other features include:

  • Most-funded bag in Kickstarter history
  • Built for international carry-on rules
  • 4 point harness adjustment system
  • Lie flat open system

10. Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

Another sleek and stylish backpack is the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L, which has a versatile and innovative design with the needs of globetrotters and adventurers in mind.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L combines style, functionality, and durability into one remarkable package.

With its thoughtfully designed compartments and customizable dividers, you can effortlessly organize and access your gear on the go.

The expandable capacity allows you to pack everything you need, while the weatherproof construction ensures your belongings stay safe and dry in any conditions.

Some other features include:

  • Laptop sleeve
  • Retractable shoulder pads and hip pads
  • The side pocket for water bottles and tripods
  • Front loading, U-Shaped zip

11. Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L

The Topo Designs Global Travel Bag is another great backpacking pack for those who value versatility and style. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, this pack offers a perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics.

With its 30L capacity, this bag provides ample space for all your essentials without compromising on comfort.

The innovative clamshell design allows easy access to your belongings, while the multiple pockets and compartments keep you organized on the go.

Made with durable materials and featuring sturdy YKK zippers, this bag is built to withstand the rigors of backpacking.

Some other features include:

  • U-shape entry to main compartment
  • Padded recycled ballistic nylon back panel
  • Internal organization pockets
  • Larger zippered security pocket
  • Dual slip pockets

12. Cotopaxi’s Allpa 42L

The Cotopaxi Allpa 42L is another bag that combines functionality and durability, but also adds sustainability.

Crafted with high-quality materials and a rugged design, this pack is built to withstand the demands of any adventure.

The spacious main compartment and cleverly designed pockets keep your gear organized, while the comfortable shoulder straps and padded back panel ensure a comfortable fit even on long journeys.

What sets the Allpa 42L apart is its commitment to sustainability. Cotopaxi uses repurposed and recycled materials, making each bag unique.

Some other features include:

  • Weight-distributing harness system.
  • Carry-on-compatible
  • U-Shaped zipper opening on the main compartment.
  • Large zippered mesh compartment on the right side.
  • Subdivided zippered mesh compartment on the left side.
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeve.
  • Security YKK zippers.
  • Carabiner lash loops.
  • Tuck-away straps.
  • 4 reinforced grab handles.
  • Includes a rain cover

13. Patagonia Black Hole 32L

With its rugged construction and weather-resistant materials, the Black Hole 32L is built to withstand the toughest adventures. From rocky trails to rainy conditions, this pack will keep your gear safe and dry.

The spacious main compartment and multiple pockets provide ample storage and organization options.

Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability also bleeds into the Black Hole 32L, which is made from recycled materials.

By choosing this bag, you’re not only investing in quality but also supporting a brand dedicated to environmental conservation.

Some other features include:

  • Extremely Durable, Weather-Resistant fabric
  • 100% Recycled Fabric
  • Zippered, easy-access main compartment
  • Interior zippered mesh pocket
  • Laptop Compartment
  • Breathable Back Panel
  • Stacks on Luggage
  • Stretch Water-Bottle Pockets
  • Fair Trade Certified

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, those are the best travel packs for this year, and we hope you find a couple of contenders to choose from on this list.

Whether you’re backpacking for a week or taking a year-long adventure, there can be no doubts that a reliable, sturdy backpack is one of travels true essentials.

Did you find a backpack on this list? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We earn a small commission when readers make a purchase from Amazon after clicking on our links (including those above). 

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Looking for a travel backpack? Check out this list of 10 travel backpacks from the most popular backpack brands

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Need more travel gear for your travels? Then these other guides may be useful to you…

Can you add to this list of the best travel backpacks for traveling? Would love to hear any thoughts in the comments below.

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