Best Backpacks for Travel | 2020 Edition

best travel backpack osprey farpoint 40

Best Overall Backpack for Travel

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

Whether a business trip from coast to coast or a backpacking trip through Europe, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is arguably the most versatile travel backpack on the market. Their guarantee matches that of high end luggage brands: you break it, we fix it or replace it. No questions asked, period.

The bag works perfectly as a carry on and for most flights, as a personal item as well.

The LightWire frame suspension helps to transfer the load of the bag from your harness to the hipbelt. This results in less stress on the back by transferring it to your hips and legs. If you're overwhelmed with options and don't know what to purchase - go with the Farpoint 40. You won't regret it.

Pros of Osprey Farpoint 40

  • "All Mighty Guarantee" - Repair or replace, free of charge for any reason
  • ​Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper
  • ​Built-in interntal compression straps hold belongings in place
  • ​Padded top and side handles allow for easy ​movement of bag
  • ​Industry leading brand since 1974
  • ​Ideal for business, casual, and adventure travel. Best all around.

Cons of Osprey Farpoint 40

  • ​May not be considered a 'personal item' on some foreign flights. Can be carried on all domestic (USA) flights.
  • ​Fits most body types, may not fit everyone perfectly and cause some rubbing.
best business travel backpack birggs riley @work laptop

​Best Business Travel Backpack

​Briggs & Riley @work Laptop Backpack

​You read that right. This is renowned carry-on luggage manufacturer Briggs & Riley's entry into the travel backpack market with their @Work line.

If you're traveling for work, you know a first impression, and even the second and third impression, make a big difference in how people perceive you. You want to be viewed as a professional and the Briggs & Riley @Work line does so with subtle leather accents built into its stylish design.

This business backpack's look only compliments its practical features with tons of organizations for small items like pins, headphones, airpods, cables, etc. Not to mention its unbeatable 'Simple as That ​Guarantee', similar to Osprey's; you break it, they fix it, no questions asked.

Pros of ​@Work Business Backpack

  • ​Tons of organizaiton for small items like pens, headphones, chargers and more!
  • ​1600D nylon out fabric is incredibly durable and water resisitant.
  • ​Two-time top rated company by Consumer Reports for extensive quality and durability testing.
  • ​Integrated laptop compartment fits up to most 15.6 inch laptops.
  • ​A fairly lightweight bag, coming in at about 2.6lbs.
  • ​Easy-access pocket allows for quick retrieval of important items like a boarding pass or business cards.

Cons of @Work Business Backpack

  • ​​On the pricier side
  • ​Lining may occassionally catch in the zipper
  • ​Will not fit larger water bottles in outside pockets
best travel backpack for women kelly redwing 40

​Best Travel Backpack for Women

​Kelty Women's Redwing 40 Backpack

​​There isn't much of a difference between finding the a good backpack for man vs. a woman. The only real difference between the two is the structure of the pack. As modern science shows, women, on average, have less broad shoulders and a smaller frame then men.  

​For short trips, any of the backpacks listed on this page will do just fine. However, for hiking, and longer multi-day treks where the bag is with you for hours at a time, a proper fitting bag is a must.

The Kelty Redwing 40 is a moderately priced solution, that's lightweight and specifically built to provide women added convenience on any adventure.

Pros of ​​Kelty Redwing 40 Backpack

  • ​Ventilating back panel keeps you cool when worn for extended periods.
  • ​Large side compression strap allows you to carry larger items like an umbrella or trekking poles.
  • ​A front stash packet allows you quick access to lightweight items like a rain jacket.
  • ​Custom built shoulder straps and hip belt are built to a woman's body.

Cons of ​Kelty Redwing 40 Backpack

  • Zippers are not large enough to put a luggage lock on
  • ​Bottom lacks some shape, causing the bag to partially sag
  • ​Waist belt is not removable
best travel backpack for europe peak designs 45L

​Best Travel Backpack for Europe

​Peak Design's Travel 45L Travel Backpack

​If you're backpacking across Europe, this bag maximizes space for all of your belongings and even expands so you can bring home those extra little purchases that make your trip memorable. 

Despite its weight and lack of a vented panel on the back, this bag is incredibly durable. Made from 400D nyulon and poly melange, this bag holds up to all the treks, tosses, and tough conditions it may face. ​The bag meets international carry-on standards when not expanded and allows quick access to your tablet or laptop.

The best part of this bag is the open design. A large main compartment allows you to organize your clothes as you see fit and Peak Design's offers additional storage dividers so you can separate items like a DSLR camera or lenses from other items. That feature alone makes it a great backpack for camera gear.

Pros of ​​​Peak Design's 45L Travel Backpack

  • ​Durable materials keep your belongings dry and protected
  • ​Meets carry-on standards for most domestic and international airlines
  • ​Tri-access allows you to access your belongings from the side, front, and back!
  • ​Minimal branding and design keeps your bag from drawing the attention of potential thieves.

Cons of ​​Peak Design's 45L Travel Backpack

  • ​Although more durable, this bag is about 1-2 lbs heavier than most competitors.
  • ​Higher price tag
  • ​Non-vented back panel can make it hot to carry
Tips For First Time Flyers Main Airplane

What Makes a Good Travel Backpack?

A backpack is just a backpack until you subject it to hours and hours of travel, carrying, and endless torment. Just the good ol’ ‘break-in,’ if you will.

Take it from experts, the serial backpackers who spend just as many hours on the road, braving the harshest weather, commute, and exotic trails to get the experience of a lifetime. You would want a travel companion that can carry all of your essentials, withstand even the harshest conditions, and still look good without much effort.

Is that wishful thinking? Not exactly.

If you’re going to travel anytime soon, you may want to invest in a good travel backpack that you can use for longer. Today, we will be discussing some of the most important features that you have to look for in a travel backpack.

There are four main points to consider when buying a travel backpack:

  • Consider the overall quality of the bag and special features (compartments, pockets, zippers, anti-theft quality, etc.)

  • The reputation of the brand

  • Firsthand accounts from friends and family, as well as online reviews

  • Price range - nothing too cheap, or you may sacrifice quality!


​Does size really matter? Yes. You don’t have to be Dora and carry a magical bag that fits an entire closet.

Most of the time, you just need one that’s sturdy enough to hold all of your essentials in an organized way.

Try to list all of your stuff first and take that mental image with you as you purchase the backpack. Make sure to include a considerable amount of space, just enough to hold a bit more than planned.

Some travelers would suggest backpacks with a few practical pockets, and not necessarily those with lots of ‘em (or else you’ll waste time fishing for stuff inside).

Material and Weight

​Make sure that you choose a backpack made out of quality, durable, and lightweight material. If you’re about to navigate tough terrain or steep valleys, choose a reliable backpack that’s rip-resistant, but light enough not to add the additional weight on top of your gear.

Usually, bags made out of nylon and a metal mesh underneath (for anti-theft bags) are an excellent place to start.

It should also have a sturdy internal frame, with built-in rods that maintain the shape of the bag and support the weight of your stuff effectively.

For the standard traveler, a 30-40L rucksack is enough for all of your belongings.

Experienced backpackers who traverse multiple cities over a long period usually opt for 60L bags. Don’t choose a backpack that’s too narrow, or you may have a problem when it comes to logistics.

You may want to experiment a bit on the sizing, and actually find out what’s best for you.

​Water Resistance

​If it’s your first time buying a travel backpack, make sure that you’re getting the most out of your purchase.

Get a water-resistant backpack that would definitely keep all of your essentials dry, especially belongings with sensitive electronics such as gadgets, checkbooks, and passports.

Some backpacks even have an additional tarp attachment, which would be useful during harsh weather or a sudden downpour.

​Design and Color

​The jury is out on this one since we’ve got our own tastes, styles, and preferences. The standard for travel backpacks is that it has to be designed for proper weight distribution.

This means that it has to look the part and sometimes be a bit more off in the design department (though there are more stylish alternatives).

Anyhow, it’s good to choose a streamlined design with dirt-resistant colors. They are also easy to clean and can stand any kind of situation.

If you insist, you can get a bag with some splashes of color on the piping or straps to identify yours quickly.

​Straps and Zippers

​More on comfort, good straps are essential to prevent any injuries related to carrying your belongings and maintaining a proper posture while you put the bag on.

Straps should be adequately and appropriately padded with safety belts to keep tension in the right places.

Padded hip belts also ensure that the weight is distributed easily, making the experience more comfortable for you.

Zippers must also be secure, with anti-theft properties and extra loops to hold safety locks. Some backpacks even have built-in TSA-approved locks, which could save you time and money in the process.

​Special Features and Compartments

​​You may want to invest in a front-loading backpack. This allows you to zip the bag open from the sides to get a hold of your stuff.

There are top-loading bags which only allow for top access, via a hole on top. ​Try to avoid these kinds of styles and choose wisely.

Also, be on the lookout for special compartments, such as side pockets, secret pockets, hidden zippers, additional accessories, and other freebies that come with every purchase.


Essentially, it all boils down to proper research and identifying your needs thoroughly.

Buying a travel backpack, like any other major purchase, takes a bit of time and effort to do, especially if you’re planning to have it for the long haul.

With some patience and good judgment, you may find yourself a travel companion that will be with you throughout the years.