The best travel backpacks are designed for people who want to travel around the world unencumbered by slow-moving, heavy wheeled suitcases. Internal frame packs range in size from forty to sixty liters and offer more than enough room to store all of the possessions you need to travel anywhere in the world.
Whether its clothes, a laptop, hiking or camping supplies, or other types of bulky gear, you need a pack that’s bigger, yet streamlined and designed for comfort.
However, the right type of travel backpack often boils down to personal preference. You know what you need and want and that might be different from what another traveler needs. So in order to find the right travel backpack for you, you’ll need to assess your traveling needs and determine how much gear you plan on taking, the type of organization you’re looking for, and what size you’ll need.
Surprisingly, these travel packs come with a number of features to choose from, which can make it even harder for the avid traveler to narrow in on a few choices.
We’ve created a list of the top five models of travel backpacks on the market to date. Each of these models has something special to offer, whether it’s organization, size, or value.
This list can help you to narrow down your choices and find the best travel backpack to meet your travel and budget needs.
You can also take a look at our extensive travel backpack buying guide which lists the different features available and the importance of suspension, lumbar support, and even weight distribution. This guide will explain the number of benefits you can experience using a backpack that’s specially designed for the international traveler.
Top Travel Backpacks Comparison Chart
Now, it’s time to list some of the best models this year. We’ve compiled a list of 8 travel backpacks all ranked according to their distinct features and qualities.
Top Travelling Backpacks
Venture Pal Travel Hiking Backpack
You’ve probably never heard of Venture Pal but they have surprised us all this year. Their travel hiking backpack is one of the current best-sellers on the market. This is mainly due to its incredibly low price and great quality. This bag has enough storage for your basic needs and will last you longer than some far more expensive bags. It is the most deserving model of our first place.
Wasing Internal Frame Travel Backpack
As with the Venture Pal backpack, this one is extremely cheap and made out of god materials. Its slight increase in price is mainly due to the larger volume and more pockets. There are a variety of compartments which you can use to store your everyday items which makes an even better bag to travel around with.
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack
Timbuk2 is a brand with a solid reputation behind it mainly for their designer backpacks. All of their models look great and there is a model for each occasion. On this Uptown backpack, there is a laptop compartment which makes it ideal for air travel. Furthermore, it is lightweight and everything on it is highly adjustable.
Osprey Porter Travel Backpack
The Osprey is a perfect carry-on backpack, but we think that there are better options if you are looking for a backpack for a hunting trip. Either way, this is the best carry-on backpack on the market and has a great value to money ratio. Its weight, design, and shape make it ideal for air travel.
Kelty Redwing 50 Travel Backpack
The Redwing backpack made by Kelty offers a lot of advanced features. It is really comfortable and has a decent price tag. It also has a suspension system, a hip belt, and well-padded shoulder straps. Its back panel is ventilated which will keep you cool during those long hot journeys.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
Here we have another Osprey model. The Farpoint 40 is a big backpack capable of holding everything you pack into it. Even though it has a huge volume it is lightweight and comfortable. The materials used in it are premium but so is the price. It has a lot of pockets, storage spaces, and various compartments.
eBags TLS Mother Lode
Unlike the other bags with similar internal volume, the eBags TLS Mother Lode comes as a cheaper alternative. It has numerous storage options and is often referred as the best weekender backpack. All the materials are on par with the price it comes at, and you can expect it to last quite a while.
Osprey Ozone Travel Backpack
Last on our list is yet another Osprey model – the Ozone. It offers quite a lot of storage, as well as countless storage options, but comes on a higher than usual price. The suspension system on it isn’t the best but does a decent job on shorter trips. If you want to go downtown for the day and want to have all your gadgets with you this is the right bag.
Best Travel Backpack Buying Guide
These days, companies are finally starting to get serious about the design of travel backpacks. In the past, people traveling to South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, or wherever else their wanderlust took them were forced to bring along a traditional hiking pack that was designed for trips through the backcountry. However, for the bus, train, or plane, the standard hiking pack is just the wrong fit. The best travel backpacks are comfortable to wear, convenient to use, lightweight, highly adjustable and packed with pockets. Now, many of the same brands that are known for their tough, durable hiking backpacks are producing some of the best travel backpacks on the market.
So, what exactly are traveling backpacks?
If you think you can get away with taking your old hiking backpack on your next international trip, think again. Hiking backpacks usually open from the top, so trying to access anything inside it will require you to unpack most of your stuff. Basically, using them for travel can be a major hassle. When you’re hiking, a top-loading bag is great because you’re just hauling your gear to the next campsite where you’ll then unpack everything. But when you’re traveling, the last thing you want to have to do is unload all of your belongings in cramped quarters, just to get to your sweater. Instead, you need a bag that allows you to quickly access what you need.
The idea behind travel backpacks is pretty simple. This type of backpack will typically open like a suitcase, so you won’t have to deal with all of that top loading nonsense. You’ll be able to easily access whatever you need without all the hassle. Additionally, most models don’t have a ton of extra straps like a hiking pack will and the suspension system can be stored behind a zippered panel which makes it safe for transport on planes, buses, or trains. Because travel backpacks are still relatively new, they’re not quite as advanced as hiking backpacks and because of this, they do have some drawbacks.
Travel Backpack Features
On the travel backpack, the suspension systems aren’t quite as advanced as the type you’ll find in a hiking backpack, however, it does really depend on the backpack. A travel pack is designed to be worn for an hour or two, assuming you don’t over pack. This should be more than enough time to wear it as you hop a plane or use public transportation. But if you plan on doing any type of long distance hiking during your trip, you may want to consider using a hiking backpack instead.
When it comes to the hip belt, most models tend to skimp on the design. Some models may not even have a hip belt, which can place too much weight on the shoulders instead of the hips which is where all the weight should be. Very few models of travel backpacks include a hip belt that’s fully functional, so this is another reason you don’t want to wear this type of pack for an extended period of time.
On any type of pack, the zipper will always be the weakest point. Typically, most manufacturers will use only heavy-duty zippers, so you won’t have to worry about breaking one, however, it is possible. Another issue is that the traditional zippers used aren’t waterproof. Higher end bags offer waterproof zippers, but it yours doesn’t come equipped with one we recommend purchasing a cover for your bag.
Compared to the average hiking backpack, a travel backpack is much boxier because they’re more similar to a suitcase than a backpack. However, all travel packs are designed to work with the allowed dimensions most major airlines have put in place for carry-on bags.
Comfort is Essential
Finding a travel backpack that fits is important. Begin by trying on a variety of backpacks, and keep in mind that packs with hip belts will be easier to carry as the load gets heavier since they work to shift the weight to your hips. It can also be helpful to have experts at your local gear shop measure your torso and try fitting different styles of backpacks to your torso. If this is your first time choosing your pack then having your measurements taken will be important.
When you’re trying on a pack, adjust the hip belt properly. Make sure you cinch it down tightly across the belly button. The hip belt should rest along the top of the pelvis. Additionally, the shoulder straps should be adjusted to ensure that you’re able to pull the load closer to your body, which will increase stability.
When trying out a pack, after it’s been adjusted, walk around, move your head and arms, and bend over. The weight should mainly rest on the hips instead of the shoulders.
A backpack doesn’t have to be totally waterproof, but some weather resistance will come in handy if you’re visiting a part of the world that’s known for their rainfall during tourist season. Look for a model with a built-in rain cover for added convenience.
Storage is a Must
The best travel backpack will have multiple compartments. The typical twin compartment setup is usually perfect for travel. The second compartment can give you a great place to store muddy gear, a sleeping bag, a soggy beach towel, or a change of clothes. You should also check to see if the backpack features an internal organizer, which can help keep your clean clothes, dirty clothes, and electronics, separate.
Make sure every compartment has a couple of zippers which you can lock together. You don’t need to worry if your pack doesn’t come with its own padlocks, instead, shell out the extra cash and purchase your own. The odds are the lock you purchase separately will be much stronger than any padlock that comes with your travel backpack.
Try to avoid a pack with a totally flat back. Look for one that offers a little lumbar support. This will help you avoid lower back pain, while also improving your posture by keeping the spine in a neutral arch.
A pack with an internal support frame can also provide much-needed back support, while also helping to keep your gear secure. Many models of travel backpacks feature internal frames.
A pack with compression straps is also a big plus. When your pack is fairly empty, you can tighten it up to prevent your gear from rattling around. When your pack is full, it will make it more compact. Additionally, these straps are practically weightless.
While many people tend to travel light, some people tend to get a little carried away with the low affordable prices that they come across when they’re abroad, so they want to bring home the whole market. If this sounds like you, then you may want a pack with an expansion gusset.
Don’t be Afraid to Get Rid of Your Rolling Luggage
When you’re packing for any kind of trip, whether it’s an extended vacation or a quick business trip, you don’t have to drag your giant rolling suitcase with you. While that type of bag does have its own practical uses, using just a travel pack can be a must better fit for your specific trip, especially those trips that involve hopping from train to plane to bus and finally to a hostel. You may walk across beaches, through a train station, down a dirt road, or up several flights of stairs, which will definitely be difficult if you store most of your gear in your wheeled luggage.
The travel backpack offers versatility and it’s the perfect alternative to traditional suitcases and luggage. These packs are one part backpack, one part suitcase. With a travel backpack, the suspension straps will zip into a fully enclosed compartment, so you’ll easily be able to get your bag through security without worrying about the size of the pack or snagging any straps on the luggage scanning machine. Remember, these packs are built especially for travel, so many models will have RFID protection and a bottom compartment to store a blanket or sleeping bag, and other smart features.
A good travel pack will have a place for everything, especially hidden pockets and compartments for important documents, your cash, and passport.
A backpack with a detachable pack will allow you to leave any unnecessary gear behind. Some models feature a waist pack or removable day pack. This will provide you with the freedom to ditch your loaded pack and hit the town for your next adventure.
Does Size Really Matter?
Getting the right size is probably the biggest concern most consumers have regarding travel backpacks, and everyone wants to know what the perfect size is. But truthfully, no one pack size is better than another. The pack should be proportional to your body, that’s what really matters. This can mean a pack that’s forty or even eighty liters. If your pack is too small or too big, the weight won’t be properly balanced and will eventually cause you upper and lower back pain, or it can even make you topple over. You don’t want a pack that’s too tall, but you also don’t want one that’s way too small and overflowing with your gear. You’ll want a travel backpack that’s large enough to hold a little more than the stuff you’re bringing. If a pack can hold everything you want and has a little extra room, feels comfortable, and offers easy access, then you’ve found the perfect size.
Manufacturers also suggest waist and torso sizes for each model they produce, but most people have found that the best way to determine if a particular pack is the right choice is to try it on. If you’re ordering your pack online to save some serious cash, you can always go to your local sporting goods store and try on the list of packs you’re interested in. This way, you know the backpack you’re ordering online will be a perfect fit so there are no surprises when it arrives.
Keep in mind, the bigger the pack is, the less likely you’ll be able to use it as a carry-on the next time you fly. Additionally, since you’re no longer able to bring liquid containers that hold more than three ounces of liquid on a plane if your bag holds all of your toiletries, then you may have to check the bag anyway.
Fortunately, most major airlines won’t charge you for checked baggage when you’re flying internationally. However, some budget airlines will charge a fee for checking your bag based on its weight, so the heavier your bag is, the more you’ll have to pay.
The price of a travel backpack will be based mainly on brand, fabric, and size. Most models have a cost that ranges from one hundred to three hundred dollars. Medium-sized brand name packs generally cost around two hundred dollars. Of course, big name brands such as Osprey, North Face, and Gregory will cost more. The more expensive packs tend to be larger and offer more features, storage compartments, and a more comfortable fit.
Additionally, you’ll find that many models of travel packs are similar to hiking backpacks and are meant for multi-day treks in the woods and camping. Buying a pack that’s meant to be used in the backcountry instead of the streets of Paris doesn’t matter. Most models these days are pretty interchangeable, and getting a pack that’s designed for outdoor use simply means you’ll have a more durable, stronger pack. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to carry this pack with you wherever you go, so keep your pack light, make sure it’s comfortable and definitely pay close attention to how well it fits. This will be your constant travel companion so it’s important that you take the time to choose wisely and find the one that offers the best fit for you, quality wise and budget wise.
Ultimately, if you’re someone who travels frequently, or you’re planning on an extended stay abroad then you’ll need a more versatile pack that offers optimal storage, organization, and comfort. If you’re simply searching for a travel pack that can keep you well-organized on a short business trip or a weekend getaway, then you’ll want a more compact model that’s TSA friendly. For a one or two week trip, you should go with a pack that’s somewhere in between these two options. For a more versatile model, one that you can use for hiking as well as nights on the town, try to find a pack with an internal frame, comfortable straps, and a number of storage options that will allow you to remain well organized when you’re far away from home.