12 Best Travel Backpacks in 2018
A backpack is one of the handiest things to take along on your travel adventures.
You can use it as your main piece luggage or even as “backup luggage” if you want a small, lightweight bag that you can store in your main luggage and use in the event of an unexpected shopping spree.
Since there are quite a few backpacks styles available and not all of them are worth your money, we decided to highlight the best ones for you here in our guide.
If you’re not sure what features to pay attention to as you shop or which brands are the most reliable, we have all of the info you need in order to find the best travel backpack for your needs here.
Top 12 Travel Backpack Comparison Table
|1. Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag||Carry-on, Daypack||46-Liter||4.7|
|2. eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible||Carry-on, Daypack||21.5” x 13” x 5.5”||4.7|
|3. OutdoorMaster Sling Bag Backpack||Daypack||18.9” x 12.6” x 4”||4.6|
|4. High Sierra Appalachian||Backpacking||75-Liter||4.6|
|5. SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack||Carry-On||18.5” x 13.5” x 9”||4.6|
|6. Aqua Quest Mariner||Daypack||30-Liter||4.6|
|7. WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack Hiking Backpacking Packs||Backpacking||55-Liter||4.4|
|8. LARGE35L! Outlander Packable Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack||Daypack||35-Liter||4.5|
|9. TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack||Backpacking||55-Liter||4.5|
|10. Outdoor Products Sea-Tac Rolling Backpack||Carry-on||21” x 14” x 9”||4.4|
|11. Mountaintop Hiking Backpack||Backpacking|| 55-Liter +|
|12. High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack||Carry-on||22” x 13.5” x 9”||4.2|
Size and Activities
Since some of you may be traveling through big cities or small towns across the globe while others may be planning a hiking adventure, you’ll need to take the size into consideration based on the activities you’ll be doing as you travel.
- Daypack – These backpacks are designed to be lightweight and large enough to hold a few basic items as you head about your daily adventures.
Think about it holding a camera, a sweater, your phone, wallet and any other small, personal items you need as you wander.
These are also great for day hiking excursions (your main bag would be back at base camp or your hotel, for example) since most of them are water-resistant.
- Hiking or Camping Backpack – As you can imagine, a backpack that is designed for those of you who will be hiking or camping as you travel are completely different from a daypack.
Even within this category, the sizes vary, so based on the number of days you’ll be hiking/camping, where you’re at and how much gear you need to pack, you’ll have to plan accordingly.
You’ll notice as you search for the best travel backpack that the load style is mentioned, and based on the previous section, we would say that front load backpacks are best if you’re using a daypack and top load backpacks are ideal for hikers.
- Front Load – Front load bags have a panel on the front of the bag that you zip down in order to access the contents.
The opening here is much wider than a top load backpack so you can access the contents much easier.
- Top Load – Since you don’t want the entire contents of your pack spilling out when you open it, it’s best to get a top load backpack for hiking.
They require a bit more planning (obviously you don’t want the most commonly used items sitting at the bottom of the bag), but so for daypacks, we wouldn’t recommend this load style.
Those of you who plan to travel light and want to use your backpack as your carry-on luggage should always double check the dimensions before you chose.
In this case, it’s best to get a backpack that has wheels to make it a little easier to maneuver around airports, train terminals or to/from your lodging.
Treaded wheels are best since they provide you with more grip and traction, and be sure you check to the quality of the hardware (zippers, snaps, rings, straps, etc.) so you don’t have any backpack malfunctions in the middle of your trip
Consider a Waterproof Cover
Let’s say that you’ve chosen a backpack: it’s the right size, it has the storage space you need and it’s comfortable to wear but maybe it isn’t made of a very water-resistant or even waterproof material.
Not to worry…just look for a waterproof backpack cover to slip right over the top!
These are really handy and you can store them in the backpack itself when not in use.Bluefield has a great one that we would recommend for daypacks and Osprey has larger ones for hiking backpacks – just be sure to choose one based on the size of your backpack (in liters).
Top 4 Best Travel Backpack Reviews
If you’re interested in traveling light with only one bag that you would like to carry-on, then this is the backpack for you.
This bag actually comes in different sizes – this being the 46-liter version – so if you want something a little larger, there is that option.
In terms of features, this has a padded laptop sleeve, a zip-away hip belt, lockable zippers, a liquids/valuables pouch, plenty of internal pockets and pouches along with handles both on the top and the side of the bag so you can carry it in whichever way is most convenient when it’s not on your back.
Another handy feature is the side compression panels that allow you to compact the bag to help stabilize the contents and keep them from moving around.
This is a sturdy, well-constructed backpack that will get you through trip after trip, but the next one is a tough contender and you might want to check it out, too, before you decide.
It was a tossup between this bag and the Osprey, but someone had to take first place!
It is super lightweight – only 3.5 pounds – and it even has a laptop compartment if you plan to travel with your computer.
In terms of space, this may seem small, but it has plenty of handy features that make organizing it a breeze.
This bag has a fold-down shelf, tie-down straps, a snap-out mini pocket on the inside, a zippered forehead pocket, a front face pocket for important documents, a travel organizer to hold your small items and gadgets, a water bottle pocket, ID pocket, compression straps and even hide-away contoured back straps that you can store when the backpack goes through security scanners.
We could go on and on about this bag because it is one of the most popular choices for those who want to carry-on only.
The manufacturer has addressed every single small issue that you can think of so it is definitely the best backpack for travel if you want a to carry-on only!
No matter where you go or what your travel plans are, a backpack like this needs to join you for the journey.
This is the perfect daypack as you walk around and explore big cities, small towns and everything in between.
It has three different zipper compartments and even a side pouch for your water bottle, and for more important items such as a passport or wallet, they’ve even included a secret pocket on the back/side where you can stash these goods.
We realize that this type of pack would be easy for a thief to access from behind when you’re not looking, but the nice thing about a Crossbody bag is that you can turn it around and wear it in front if you’d like to keep your items safer. Thanks to the D-rings on both sides of the backpack, the strap can switch sides so that you wear it in whichever way is most comfortable to you.
A very handy little bag to store in your main luggage and use on your daily excursions!
If you’ll be backpacking during your trip but you’ll have to pit stop at a few airports before your final destination; we would recommend a bag like this.
One of the main reasons that it travels so well is because there aren’t straps flapping around everywhere. Anyone who has experience traveling with a bag like this knows how easy it is for them to get caught in conveyer belts, so we love that the straps here are easy to store and keep out of the way.
It’s quite light – only 6 pounds 8 ounces – with a 75-liter storage capacity.
There is a drop-bottom sleeping bag compartment, it comes with a rain cover, there is a padded and breathable waist belt and plenty of pockets and storage space to keep your items divided and organized.
You can even adjust the load-lifters on the shoulder harness thanks to the ERGO-FIT design on the back.
This is a great backpacking pack both during your travels and when you’re out on the trail.
Available in two other colors, too!