Whether you're on a long vacation abroad or a quick weekend getaway, having the right backpack can make or break your trip in terms of efficiency and comfort. The best backpacks for travel will vary depending on your destination, but there are a few qualities they will usually have in common.
First, they should be constructed from durable material. The last thing you need while you're exploring a foreign country or embarking on a tropical getaway is a bag with broken zippers or worn-out fabric. Materials such as ripstop nylon, Oxford canvas, polyester, and other tough fabrics will be best, along with strong metal components.
Secondly, they should have the right amount of storage space with pockets and compartments that fit your specific needs. These will be different, depending on the trip. If you're on a day or weekend trip, for example, a pack in the 20- to 35-liter range will be perfect. If you're packing for three weeks in Europe, on the other hand, you'll want to be in the 50- to 55-liter range.
Lastly, check out the structure of the bag to determine if the pockets and pouches fit the belongings you're planning to bring. For instance, you may want a padded laptop sleeve to store your computer, or a smaller designated compartment to hold your tablet.
Below is a list of the best backpacks for travel in a variety of sizes and styles, so you can easily find the one you need.
1. The Best For Day Trips
ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack
Capacity: 20 liters
Why it's great: This super compact travel backpack is lightweight and unbelievably packable. On top of offering 20 liters of storage space, it also packs away into a tiny wristlet when not in use, so you can throw it in your luggage. Available in 11 colors choices, it's made with tough, tear-resistant nylon and a strong SBS metal zipper.
What fans say: "I was looking for a small daypack for an upcoming trip to India and Italy when I stumbled upon this one. It is everything I could want and more! It arrived in its small compact size and unfolded very easily into the full sized backpack ... The bag easily stuffs [back] inside the compact packet making it ideal for traveling or camping when space is tight. Great buy!"
2. The Best For Weekend Trips
AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack
Capacity: Not specified, but reviewers found it spacious
Why it's great: Built with robust polyester that won't tear or snag, this durable travel backpack makes a great choice for weekend getaways. With seven different colors to choose from, it has a slender profile, yet it's still roomy enough to pack enough for several days. It also has a protective laptop sleeve, a fleece-lined pocket made just for tablets, and a thick, padded panel in the back for comfort.
What fans say: "Excellent comfortable and roomy backpack. The padding on the back provides comfort for both the upper and lower back. There are a lot of different and spacious [pockets and] compartments that would more than satisfy the need for a trip. It includes a zippered and expandable compartment for a drink bottle. It is also designed to look stylish. A great supporting item for any traveler."
3. The Best For Hiking
OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack
Capacity: 50 liters
Why it's great: If you spend a lot of time outdoors when you travel, this high-quality hiking backpack is the perfect trail companion. On top of being constructed with water-resistant nylon throughout the main compartment, it has an additional waterproof cover that you can pull out of the bottom pocket if it starts raining. With 1,300 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating, this popular bag is available in your choice of seven colors.
What fans say: "The backpack is comfortable to wear, easy to adjust, and holds quite a lot of things. This was intended to be a day hiking backpack, but quite honestly is better suited (when filled) to be a multi-day hiking or camping or traveling backpack. The pack being 50 L can really holds its own. Also it is waterproof, which is helpful for those looking to use it for outdoor activities."
4. The Best For Backpacking Trips
TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack for Backpacking
Capacity: 55 liters
Why it's great: If you're backpacking around Europe or doing any sort of extended travel where you'll be carrying your luggage on your back, this lightweight backpacking pack is an excellent option. Constructed with strong, 6000-denier ripstop and Oxford canvas, it offers 3,400 cubic inches of storage space, plus packing-friendly features like big zippered pockets, side compression straps, and special gear loops. Also, the lower back boasts a soft lumbar pad made of open-cell foam for comfort and ventilation.
What fans say: "I purchased this backpack for my short section hikes of the Appalachian Trail and it performed very well. The shoulder strap assembly was adjustable to my shorter frame and it was generally very comfortable to carry. It's a smaller, narrower pack, but it held quite a bit of gear. The narrow shape made it easier to squeeze through those tight spots on the trail."
5. The Most Secure Backpack
Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack
Capacity: 25 liters
What's great about it: With a discreet, low-profile appearance, this moderately sized travel backpack is spacious enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, but it's not overly bulky. It features lockable zippers, slash-proof material, and a padded laptop sleeve. Best of all, it has a high-tech RFID-blocking pocket to store your credit cards to keep you safe from identity theft.
What fans say: "Absolutely LOVE this backpack!! If you are on the fence about purchasing this product just do it. I know it's not cheap but the quality is worth it. I purchased other anti-theft backpacks in an effort to try to save money but had to return them for a variety of reasons ... I have not experienced any back or shoulder pain while carrying this, even when packed with heavy items. I am certain that this is my new go-to travel bag!"
6. The Most Waterproof Backpack
ZBRO Waterproof Backpack with Airtight Zipper
Capacity: 33 liters
Why it's great: Unlike some bags that are just water-resistant, the main section of this lightweight travel backpack is fully waterproof. It also has a splash-proof front pocket to store things like keys or cash. The comfortable pack has sleek neoprene straps and a soft, padded laptop sleeve inside that will offer extra protection for your computer, too.
What fans say: "I love this thing. I travel a lot for sailboat crewing and this bag is my personal item for flights, my day bag when taking the dinghy ashore to explore, my floating gear bag when free diving or just swimming to shore. It is well constructed and the perfect size."
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